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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 18th of August 2022

How to Read "Gilgamesh" @NewYorker

How to Read "Gilgamesh" @NewYorker
A carnelian tree was in fruit,
hung with bunches of grapes, lovely to look on.
A lapis lazuli tree bore foliage,
in full fruit and gorgeous to gaze on.

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It's a gloomy afternoon as we pass Desolation Sound, so named by Capt George Vancouver in 1792. he wrote: "There was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eyes.." @NicholasCoghlan

It's a gloomy afternoon as we pass Desolation Sound, so named by the equally gloomy Capt George Vancouver in 1792. Frustrated that there was no sign of the Northwest Passage hereabouts, he wrote: "There was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eyes.."

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Death Fugue Paul Celan

Death Fugue Paul Celan

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
    he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden
    hair Margarete

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“No one at all sees Death,'' "Gilgamesh" @NewYorker

“No one at all sees Death,''  "Gilgamesh" @NewYorker

“No one at all sees Death,
no one at all sees the face [of Death,]
no one at all [hears] the voice of Death,
Death so savage, who hacks men down. . . .
Ever the river has risen and brought us the flood,
the mayfly floating on the water.
On the face of the sun its countenance gazes,
then all of a sudden nothing is there!”

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The moment we find ourselves is in is one of extreme stress and complexity. Geopolitical fault lines are emerging all over the global landscape and exhibiting multiple feedback loops, which feedback loops all have viral and exponential characteristics.
Law & Politics

The moment we find ourselves is in is one of extreme stress and complexity. The Geopolitical fault line is most visible in Ukraine and therefore at the European periphery, however, fault lines are emerging all over the global landscape and exhibiting multiple feedback loops, which feedback loops all have viral and exponential characteristics.

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The policymakers to follow are no longer central bankers, but heads of state at the pinnacle of power who aren’t known for the transparency of their thinking – especially not when at war. @CreditSuisse Zoltan Pozsar
Law & Politics

By extension, Russia and China have been the main “guarantors of macro peace”, providing all the cheap stuff that was the source of deflation fears in the West, which, in turn, gave central banks the license for years of money printing (QE).

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Maybe to understand the path of inflation from here, we should read less Friedman and Schwartz and much-much more Brzezinski and Mackinder @CreditSuisse Zoltan Pozsar
Law & Politics

Wars are hard to forecast...
...as are all the “tits” for “tats” in an unrestricted, geostrategic game of Go (or chess, depending on your perspective

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These words were written in 1899 by Sir Halford Mackinder at the start of his epic journey to conquer Mount Kenya (17,057 feet)

These words were written in 1899 by Sir Halford Mackinder at the start of his epic journey to conquer Mount Kenya (17,057 feet)

“I went out into the freshness of sunrise, & beyond great herds of game grazing peacefully within a few hundred yards, saw to the south on the horizon 100 miles away the snowy dome of Kilimanjaro, and 100 miles to the north the twin peaks of Mount Kenya, streaked with glaciers.”

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Jimmy Carter’s former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted that the C.I.A. set a trap four decades ago for Moscow by arming mujahiddin to fight the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan and bring down the Soviet government.
Law & Politics

Any argument that seeks to understand Putin’s and Russia’s concerns is shouted down in a barrage of ‘’You are with us or against us’’ 

There is a strong argument that the US actually set a Trap for Russia in Ukraine just as Jimmy Carter’s former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted that the C.I.A. set a trap four decades ago for Moscow by arming mujahiddin to fight the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan and bring down the Soviet government.
He said:
“According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
He then explained that the reason for the trap was to bring down the Soviet Union. Brzezinski said:
“That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.’ Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”
Secretary Blinken has refused to meet Lavrov, Biden calls for ‘’Regime Change’’ on a daily basis and ‘’defensive’’ weapons are being shoveled into Ukraine at an unprecedented speed. 

There is clearly zero intention to resolve this matter anywhere other than on the battlefield and through an insurgency which will bleed Russia to death and the Ukrainians as well.

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"The West Is Really In Deep Trouble On Many Fronts – Many Self-Inflicted" @zerohedge
Law & Politics

"The West Is Really In Deep Trouble On Many Fronts – Many Self-Inflicted" @zerohedge 

We have some wildly bullish markets out there right now. US equities have to be beaten back whack-a-mole style, it seems, as regardless of what happens it is ‘always time to buy stocks’. Especially when “important indicators” say it is; until “important voices” say it isn’t.  

Moreover, and running counter to that enthusiasm, natural gas prices just hit new 14-year highs in the US and close to record levels in Europe, as other energy sources literally dry up in the summer heat. 

After a lag, that will drag up other energy with it because of substitution, and then everything else will get dragged up too as a result.

We also have wildly bearish takes on such matters, however, among which the recent missive from Pepe Escobar, 'The Second Coming of the Heartland’, takes the cake.
The title deliberately apes Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’ and its infamous beginning: 

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre; The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere; 

The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 

The best lack all conviction, while the worst; Are full of passionate intensity.”  

It also nods to Mackinder’s ‘Heartland Theory’ that who controls the Eurasian “World Island” controls the world. 

Then he quotes philosopher Byung-Chul Han, who directly channels Marx on the disruptive power of “financialization” to such a degree that the Bearded One might want to sue for plagiarism. All good points.
Yet the writing’s tone and passion leans towards Coleridge, Byron, and Shelley: “This unelected gaggle of insufferable mediocrities --from von der Leyden and Borrell to that piece of Norwegian wood Stoltenberg-- may dream they live in the pre-1914 era, when Europe was at the political centre. 

Yet now not only “the centre cannot hold” (Yeats) but Eurocrat-infested Europe has been definitely engulfed by the maelstrom, an irrelevant political backwater seriously flirting with reversion to 12th century status.
The physical aspects of the Fall --austerity, inflation, no hot showers, freezing to death to support neo-Nazis in Kiev-- has been preceded, and no Christianized imagery need apply, by the fires of sulphur and brimstone of a Spiritual Fall. 

The transatlantic masters of those parrots posing as “elites” could never come up with any idea to sell to the Global South centred on harmony and much less “community”…. We still do not have a post-Tik Tok Tintoretto to depict the collective West’s multi-wallowing in Dante-esque chambers of pop Hell. “
And you thought this Daily could get a bit colorful at times!

Of course, this West-bashing is contrasted with the marvels of the Silk Road (and, unspoken, its gas resources), its stalactites, and the spiritual-and-economic promise of a “community of shared future for mankind”. 

Indeed, all the piece really lacks is, “In Xanadu did Vlad Putin a stately pleasure dome decree.”

On which note, the Russian president just railed against the US-led “unipolar world order”, stating its time “has now come to an end”, and that the only way to diffuse global tensions is by reinforcing “the modern multipolar world system,” – or, to militarily escalate in order to deescalate. 

That’s as he also just used an arms expo to claim Russia’s weapons were “significantly superior” --read cheaper-- than their western counterparts, as tried to plug them to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. 

Meanwhile, in economic terms, he stressed: "[Western] hegemony means stagnation for the whole world, for the whole civilization. [It means] obscurantism, the abolition of culture, and neoliberal totalitarianism."
Against this backdrop, many in the West are still focused on whether now is the time to buy frivolous stocks, assets, or housing.
Note that Escobar’s and Putin’s latest offerings come just over a year since the collapse of Afghanistan’s pro-Western democracy; as Iran haggles like a bazaar merchant with the EU and US’s bizarre negotiating team over a nuclear deal – 

as it looks like the US is walking out without buying despite the EU flashing them a give-away look that says, “But honey, I really want it!”; 

as Russia embraces North Korea, whom nobody else will touch with a bargepole; as Turkey strikes a closer economic relationship with Moscow too; and as Taiwan remains in the headlines.
Things are really happening, and fast. And the West is really in deep trouble on many fronts – many self-inflicted. Frivolity and been the order of the day for far too long.
Yet if coloring in countries on maps was the key to success then the Soviets would have won the Cold War. Making geographical connections work economically is the key. 

As covered in ‘Why Bretton Woods 3 Won’t Work’, the countries lining up to forge a ‘Heartland’ are largely large, sparsely populated places that sell the same stuff. 

Turkmenistan can export gas to Kazakhstan, which can export gas back in return: both can export gas to Russia, in exchange for more gas. 

Only China stands out as a producer of things - and yet it still relies on Western markets to prop up its own economy and currency, given it has too little demand and far too much supply.

Indeed, not only are we seeing headlines about “multipolar world systems”, but ones saying ‘China’s Belt and Road initiative on brink of crisis as numerous projects fail’; 

and ‘G7 infrastructure plan to rival Belt and Road Initiative could force Chinese firms to ‘match global standards’’. (None of which surprises someone who years ago gave a presentation titled ‘One Belt, One Road?’)
Moreover, China’s grand strategy actually apes Mahan instead, who said the ‘World Island’ doesn’t matter: coastal areas and oceans do. 

Ironically, Byron and Shelley would have shared Mahan’s thoughts, through an opium fog, even though they lived before him, because that was the British grand strategy before it was the American or the Chinese. And it can be anyone’s again.
Even the far east of the West such as Australia, whose focus on Xanadu is all about the sad passing of Olivia Newton-John, is now aware of these ‘big picture’ issues. 

The US is passing bills to try to bring back high-tech industry, and regulations to stop China advancing in the same field. 

Europe is rearming, and talking about changing its environmental regulations to allow it to dig for home-sourced lithium, cobalt, and graphite. In short, things are starting to stir.
Moreover, rates are going to continue to rise to keep a lid on inflation and, whisper it, to keep capital flowing to the West. 

The RBNZ is seen going another 50bps today, despite signs of its housing market slowing sharply, though we will look to see if they back another two 50s after that to take rates to 4%.

 Expect the same trend from the Fed despite the poor US housing data seen twice this week(?) Let’s wait for the latest minutes later today and see. 

That said, Australia’s new monthly CPI measure sends the message that ‘local inflation has peaked’ according to Bloomberg: and the RBA are still among the least willing to wake up and smell the coffee despite their being replete with commodities making them a geopolitical winner.
In short, the West has made enormous strategic errors, is suffering for it, and will continue to. 

But that doesn’t mean it can’t get its act together long-term under the sudden realisation of the fight it is in. We’ve been here before, after all.
Churchill, writing on June 5, 1938 noted:
“There is at the present an almost total absence of defence... We have not got a dozen modern anti-aircraft guns in the country…. it is a delusion to think that for the next two or three years there will be any contribution to our defence from [scientists]. 

As to the R.A.F., it is at present less than one-third of the German Air Force, and the rate of production is at present less than one-third… The Germans know our position very accurately, and it is our own people who are living in a ‘Fool’s Paradise’.”
Yet the British turned it round to win WW2 – albeit with US and then USSR help after 1941. Then again, where is the British pound trading today?
The UK, and the West, must focus on the structural ‘Heartland’ challenge --however flawed that rival also is-- and now scarce resources. 

That is what economics is supposed to be about: and it does NOT involve cutting interest rates to prop up meme-stonks, pictures of monkeys wearing sunglasses, frivolous consumption, rentier housing markets, or the price of commodities the West is still reliant on from “multipolar” rivals.
Neither is it about tax cuts. Churchill never said,  “All I have to offer you is blood, sweat, and tears, lower taxes, and higher house prices.”
There is me going down my own ‘Escobar’ path, perhaps. But I leave the last word to Shelley – and feel free to interpret it however you want:
“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay,
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

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Vanity of Vanities! All is vanity
Law & Politics

Vanity of Vanities! All is vanity

Blofeld: Kronsteen, you are sure this plan is foolproof?
Kronsteen: Yes it is, because I have anticipated every possible variation of counter-move.
Politics therefore suffers from a surfeit of narcissists.

In terms of a method to ‘manage’ government, it is not far from tribal elders howling incantations around the camp fire after inspecting the entrails of slaughtered animals. 

The democratization of authority spurred by the digital revolution has flattened cognitive hierarchies along with other hierarchies, and political decision-making is now driven by often weaponized babble.
At a time when what is required is agile multi disciplinary thinking we have ''weaponized babble''

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27 NOV 17 :: Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!". #Bitcoin
World Currencies

27 NOV 17 :: Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!".  #Bitcoin

T.S Eliot said in The Hollow Men 

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom.

Let me leave you with Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

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EU imports of Russian energy @RobinBrooksIIF
Minerals, Oil & Energy

EU imports of Russian energy @RobinBrooksIIF

1. Oil (black)
Jan. - Jun. 2021: EUR 31 bn
Jan. - Jun. 2022: EUR 52 bn
=> +70%

2. Natural gas (blue)
Jan. - Jun. 2021: EUR 7 bn
Jan. - Jun. 2022: EUR 24 bn
=> +240%

3. Coal (red)
Jan. - Jun. 2021: EUR 1.8 bn
Jan. - Jun. 2022: EUR 4.9 bn
=> +170%

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State pension on average £185.15 per week, depending on your NI contributions. @Depheruk
World Of Finance

State pension on average £185.15 per week, depending on your NI contributions. @Depheruk

The average fuel bill will be £80.72
The average food bill will be £46.25
The council tax £28.84
The water bill £8.18
The TV £3.05
The phone £12.64
Total left on average £5.47
Thousands will Die

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The Masque of Pandora Alastair Crooke

The Masque of Pandora Alastair Crooke

This, however, is but the initial step. When the western financial authorities say they ‘welcome’ a recession to destroy demand – and so to reduce inflation – implicit in this statement is an élite conviction that protest can and will be successfully squashed.
All the signs are that a ruthless, violent, and administrative suppression of popular disquiet is being contemplated.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was shouted down in an eastern German town, by people protesting over rising costs of living. @dwnews
Law & Politics

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was shouted down in an eastern German town, by people protesting over rising costs of living. @dwnews

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz struggled to be heard as he was met with loud protests while addressing a civic meeting in the eastern German town of Neuruppin.
Both the far-right Alternative for Germany party and the socialist Left Party had urged demonstrations over the rising cost of living amid spiraling inflation.

Some brandished signs urging the chancellor to resign amid boos and chants of "traitor to the people," "liar" and "get lost."

Scholz also fielded a question from a child who asked if the shortage of gas caused by tensions with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine could affect school operations in the winter.
"I'm pretty confident we can make it work," Scholz said.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ

Euro 1.017460
Dollar Index 106.632
Japan Yen 134.9465
Swiss Franc 0.95156 
Pound 1.204200
Aussie 0.692685
India Rupee 79.65750 
South Korea Won 1319.59 
Brazil Real 5.1663 
Egypt Pound 19.137400 
South Africa Rand 16.677545 

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A $379 Billion Hole Emerges in Developing Nations’ War Chests @markets @SriniSivabalan @karllesteryap & Ruth Carson
Emerging Markets

A $379 Billion Hole Emerges in Developing Nations’ War Chests @markets @SriniSivabalan @karllesteryap & Ruth Carson 

The US dollar’s relentless climb higher is blowing a hole in the finances of developing nations.
Policy makers in these countries are, collectively, burning through the equivalent of more than $2 billion of foreign reserves every weekday in an attempt to prop up their currencies against the dollar. 

In total this year, they’ve drained reserves -- the emergency stash they hold to fend off severe economic crises -- by $379 billion.

In a sign, though, of just how powerful the forces are driving the dollar higher, and of how perilous the current moment is, these efforts have done little to stabilize foreign-exchange markets in the most vulnerable countries.

From Ghana to Pakistan to Chile, currencies have plunged to record lows, exacerbating spikes in inflation, deepening poverty and fanning unrest that was already simmering after two years of economic malaise brought on by the pandemic. 

Worldwide, 36 currencies have lost at least a 10th of their value this year. Ten of them, including the Sri Lankan rupee and Argentine peso, are down more than 20%.
It all bears a certain resemblance to the great emerging-market crises of the past half century: Latin America’s debt debacle of the 1980s and the wave of currency devaluations that swept over Asia a decade later. 

For now, most analysts see those kind of extreme crashes as unlikely but at the same time point out that the Federal Reserve, the principal driver of the dollar’s surge, has a lot more work to do to quell inflation. 

And the higher it ratchets up US interest rates to achieve that goal, the greater the risk that more developing nations sink into a full-blown currency crisis that could in turn fuel a debt crisis.

“Without a doubt, we could get a real crisis in emerging markets,” said Jessica Amir, a strategist at Saxo Capital Markets in Sydney. 

“They’re already at a breaking point. The strong dollar is the peak of all uncertainties especially for vulnerable emerging markets.”

Of course, emerging nations aren’t the only ones getting hammered by the strong dollar -- just ask the Europeans and Japanese. 

The euro plunged to parity with the greenback for the first time in 20 years last month, while the yen tumbled to its weakest since 1998. 

But while those slides mean real pain for companies and consumers shelling out more for goods from overseas, developing countries that depend on the dollar to finance their governments face an almost existential threat from the same dynamic.

So, even though reserves exhausted this year represent less than 6% of holdings, according to data from the International Monetary Fund for 65 developing nations, investors are taking note. 

It’s the fastest drop since a 2015 currency meltdown led by China’s surprise devaluation. 

This time around, some of the biggest declines in reserves are in Ghana, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Bulgaria -- also some of the same places seeing the worst currency sell-offs. 

Soaring bond yields and a $215 billion wall of debt payments due by the end of 2023 are set to deepen the agony, and analysts only differ on the scale of expected declines, with some predicting manageable losses while others such as Renaissance Capital and HSBC Holdings Plc go so far as to pencil in crisis-like slides for the more vulnerable nations.
“In an environment of tightening global liquidity, falling growth expectations, elevated inflationary pressure and a strong US dollar, it is reasonable to assume that emerging-market countries with acute macro difficulties will face continued currency stress,” said Paul Greer, a money manager at Fidelity International. “We are cautious.”

Ghana, which has sought a bailout from the IMF to tide over a post-Covid economic crisis, sells dollars every two weeks to defend the cedi. 

While the country has lost $2.60 out of every $10 of reserves in this process, the currency is still down by a third this year. 

Ukraine, Pakistan and Mongolia have lost about 30% of their reserves, though in Ukraine, much of that drawdown can be attributed to the war.

Bigger countries are feeling the pain too. Chile’s reserves were down more than 10% in the first half of the year and tumbled $1.2 billion in the first week of August as it sold dollars, helping bring the peso back from a record low. 

In Turkey, billions poured into spurring demand for the lira haven’t stopped a 26% rout in the currency, its 10th successive year of declines. 
With much of the Fed’s tightening and the full extent of global economic risks yet to unfold, emerging nations risk exhausting their dollars too soon. 

Any sense in the markets that countries are running out of dollars could lead to a sharper raid on their currencies. 

That could shut weaker nations out of international capital markets, leaving them unable to fund their governments. 

And any further uptick in the price of imports could exacerbate that issue, delaying a peak in inflation and potentially fueling popular discontent -- as Sri Lanka experienced.

“Some emerging-market currencies are facing significant depreciation pressures, namely those with low reserve adequacy,” said Paul Mackel, the global head of foreign-exchange research at HSBC

“I don’t think there is a strong argument to say a broad currency crisis is developing. However, some have faced crisis-like moves, in particular those in the frontier.”

Irrespective of how big this rout turns out to be, it already has some drivers in common with the systemic shocks of the past. 

Both the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the Latin America’s “lost decade” of the 1980s followed periods of excessive external borrowing, then a sudden stop in capital flows when Fed rates started rising

Similar trends are taking hold now as the developing nations move from a decade of cheap funding to confronting dollar scarcity.

Capital flows into emerging markets have fallen this year to the lowest level since the period following the onset of the pandemic, a Bloomberg gauge shows, while exchange-rate volatility signaled by options prices has jumped by a third over the past year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. data. 

Carry traders, who borrow dollars and invest in higher-yielding assets in developing nations, are suffering losses for a third consecutive year.
Derivative traders are now betting against every emerging-market currency over the next six months, using options strategies that deploy out-of-the-money puts and calls.
Indeed, there’s little incentive for traders to even selectively buy the currencies of nations with a well capitalized central bank. 

That’s because -- despite the year’s selloff -- many of these exchange rates remain overvalued relative to history, with the MSCI Emerging Market Currency Index still trading in the 92nd percentile of its 25-year range. 

By contrast, emerging-market stocks trade in the 68th percentile of their range, making them a far more attractive proposition when traders want to add risk.
“The conditions to like a broad group of emerging-market currencies has been missing for a while,” Mackel said. “With a strong dollar fueled by a hawkish Fed and weak global growth, it’s a challenging set-up.”

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29 NOV 21 :: Regime Change
Emerging Markets

29 NOV 21 ::  Regime Change

And below captioned is my favourite musical snippet of recent times

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Expect a resumption of full-scale war in Ethiopia. @RAbdiAnalyst

Expect a resumption of full-scale war in Ethiopia. @RAbdiAnalyst

Multiple probing attacks by ENDF on TDF positions on number of fronts this week.

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Egypt: “President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi accepted the resignation of central bank Governor Tarek Amer @ZiadMDaoud

Egypt: “President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi accepted the resignation of central bank Governor Tarek Amer @ZiadMDaoud

A shock decision one day before an interest-rate meeting and with pressure mounting on the currency”

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9 DEC 19 :: Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes

9 DEC 19 :: Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes

we were all popping Quaaludes [Quaaludes ‘’to promote relaxation, sleepiness and sometimes a feeling of euphoria. It causes a drop in blood pressure and slows the pulse rate. These proper- ties are the reason why it was initially thought to be a useful sedative and anxiolytic It became a recreational drug due to its euphoric effect’’].

Everyone knows how this story ends. When the music stops, everyone will dash for the Exit and the currency will collapse 

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CJ KOOME to determine the legal consequences of 0.01% on the Presidential results. CJ should order all parties to send their submission of a single tweet of 280 character and then render a judgement of a single tweet. @ahmednasirlaw
Law & Politics

CJ KOOME should not conduct an open hearing of the Supreme Court to determine the legal consequences of 0.01% on the Presidential results. CJ should order all parties to send their submission of a single tweet of 280 character and then render a judgement of a single tweet.

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I still doubt they’d file a Petition. Reasons: @hervegogo
Law & Politics

I still doubt they’d file a Petition. Reasons: @hervegogo

1. Cherera's axiom was to be the clincher, but it ended up as the own-goal- of-the-century;
2. Many signal emitters -the real attack dogs- @makaumutua @orengo_james  are not really emitting;
3. A Double or Quit, hence a major risk.

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Chinese and American interests vie for Kenyan spaceport @AfricanBizMag

Chinese and American interests vie for Kenyan spaceport @AfricanBizMag 

Africa is seizing the opportunities offered by space technology. More than 20 African countries have established space programmes and at least 13 have developed satellites, according to the consultancy Space in Africa.
But Africa’s burgeoning space industry is viewed with suspicion in some quarters. 

Right-wing British tabloids often attempt to manufacture outrage with stories about recipients of UK development funding having the temerity to launch their own space programmes. 

Rose Croshier, policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, notes that critics seek to present a binary choice for countries in the Global South: either they combat hunger, or they splurge on vanity projects in space.
But, as she points out, satellite technology can directly contribute to development objectives. 

For example, satellite data can provide accurate crop forecasts that help people and governments prepare for food shortages. 

Satellites are also key to extending access to broadband internet. Investing in space infrastructure is “worth it” for Africa, Croshier insists, “as long these programmes are anchored to delivering a service to the civilian population”.
One of the next milestones will be to establish a spaceport, enabling African satellites to launch from African soil. 

This priority will become increasingly urgent in the coming years. Existing facilities around the world are under growing pressure due to ever-increasing demand. 

Satellite consultancy Euroconsult predicted in a report last December that the next decade will see 17,000 satellite launches, a fourfold increase on the previous 10 years.
Kenya’s advantage

Although South Africa leads the continent in building satellites, there are few signs that it is keen on a spaceport. Instead, it is Kenya that has a head start in the race to host the continent’s first major launch facility.
Mike Grace, CEO of US-based aerospace company Longshot Space Technology, says he first became interested in Kenya’s spaceport potential simply by opening the map. 

“I started looking at the world and I thought ‘first principles – if you were going to put a launch system for putting stuff into space somewhere, where would you want it?’”
“First, you’d want it near the equator – basically the rotation of the Earth functions like a sling,” says Grace. As the Earth’s rotational speed is highest at the equator, such a location ensures big savings on the amount of fuel required.
Both the US and the Soviet Union built their main spaceports as close to the equator as possible, in Florida and Kazakhstan respectively, for this reason

Additionally, satellites are generally launched in an easterly direction – again, to take advantage of the slingshot qualities offered by the Earth’s easterly rotation – and, where possible, over large bodies of water. This minimises the risk of damage should a rocket misfire during launch.

There are only a handful of places on Earth where the equator bisects an east-facing coastline. Kenya’s Indian Ocean seaboard, which lies just south of the equator, therefore represents prime spaceport real estate. 

This potential has been recognised since the early days of the space race. T

The Italian space programme actually established a facility on a former oil platform off the coast of Malindi in the 1960s that was occasionally used to launch small satellites over the following two decades.

That platform has since fallen into disrepair. But the Kenya Space Agency, formed in 2017, is now working to enable launches to take place from Kenya once again.
“One of the key elements in developing national space capability is looking at the potential of having a launch facility in Kenya,” says Hillary Kipkosgey, director-general of the KSA. 

He says the agency is working on a master plan for the space sector, along with a legislative framework to regulate launches from the country. With these elements in place, Kipkosgey estimates that satellites could be taking off from Kenya in the next five to 10 years.

Geopolitics a stumbling block

Kipkosgey tells African Business that the KSA is seeking to collaborate with other actors to make a Kenyan spaceport a reality.
“We are cognisant of the fact that that the capital to put up such a facility would be immense, and we may not have the resources as a nation to do that,” he says. 

One possibility is a revenue-sharing model, though Kipkosgey emphasises that the KSA is “still open to discussions on what model would work best for us”.
Longshot commissioned a report last year on the feasibility of a Kenyan spaceport. 

The report, authored by a team of Kenyan student engineering researchers, estimated that a facility in Kenya could eventually see up to 60 launches annually. Each launch would generate an estimated $8.9m in revenue.
But Grace says that Longshot has not been able to progress with plans for a launch site in Kenya – due in large part to regulations that govern US aerospace companies operating abroad. 

“My challenge in trying to build space infrastructure in Kenya,” he says, “is convincing the Americans – not the Kenyans.”
The US International Traffic in Arms Regulations require American companies to obtain an export license before cooperating on satellite technology with foreign countries. 

According to Grace, US authorities are “hesitant” to allow transfers of space technology to Kenya, “because they would be concerned the Kenyans could not defend it from the Chinese.”
The ironic result of this US reticence is that China itself may be poised to step in. 

Victor Mwongera, head of mechanical engineering at Kenyatta University, who advised the authors of the Kenya spaceport report, notes that China has “been making a significant investment in Kenya on the aerospace side”.
Mwongera says that China is “very keen” to work with Kenya. The Chinese, he notes, realise the country’s geographic advantages would allow a Kenyan spaceport to serve as an “efficient launch platform” to send more of its Long March rockets into orbit high above the Earth.
Kipkosgey would not be drawn on China’s future role. But Kenya has received “expressions of interest from around the world,” he says. “The good thing is that we have options from Europe – and other parts of the world.”
Whichever players ultimately seek to develop a spaceport in Kenya will also have to contend with Kenya’s domestic politics. Mwongera notes that the location of a launch facility will inevitably be contentious.
“From a purely technical aspect, the coast is the obvious answer,” he says. But a decision to opt for a site on the relatively developed coast, would “bring a whole host of political problems because there’ll be a lot of Kenyans who’ll be feeling that the coast keeps getting more and more development funding.”
African innovation in space
The advantages of Kenya as a spaceport location mean that there is a strong incentive for the KSA, commercial operators, and Kenyan aerospace professionals to work together to overcome the challenges. 

Mwongera notes that last year’s report examining a Kenyan spaceport generated considerable excitement and “changed the conversation in Kenya”.
Kipkosgey shares this enthusiasm, but underlines that patience is required.
“Of course, if we had the resources, this is something we would start immediately,” he says. “But we realised that in the space sector you cannot do it alone. It has to be a collaborative effort, it has to be a partnership. That is what makes sense.”

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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August 2022

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