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Five Suspected Terrorists Killed After Twin Attacks on Spain
Law & Politics
Spanish police killed five suspected terrorists after a confrontation
in a town south of Barcelona, just hours after a van rampaged down the
city’s iconic Las Ramblas avenue and left 13 people dead.
Six civilians and a police officer were injured in the second incident
in the resort town of Cambrils, which the government said was
connected to the Barcelona attack. The suspects broke through a
checkpoint early Friday and began running over pedestrians on the
oceanfront promenade, after which they were shot by police, La
Vanguardia newspaper said. They wore explosive belts, the report said.
Local media said that the rented van drove about 600 meters (2,000
feet) down the avenue in Barcelona, striking pedestrians. The driver
is still at large.
Spain is the world’s biggest tourist destination after France and the
U.S. and the Catalan city of Barcelona is among its star attractions.
Spain received more than 75 million foreign visitors last year and
tourism is a key provider of jobs.
“London, Brussels, Paris, and other European cities have suffered this
experience,” Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, told
reporters Thursday. “And today it has happened to Barcelona.”
Man Without a Country @JulianAssange @WikiLeaks and the 2016 Presidential election. @raffiwriter @NewYorker
Law & Politics
The Ecuadorian Embassy in London is situated at the end of a wide
brick lane, next to the Harrods department store, in Knightsbridge.
Sometimes plainclothes police officers, or vans with tinted windows,
can be found outside the building. Sometimes there are throngs of
people around it. Sometimes there is virtually no one, which was the
case in June, 2012, when Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks,
arrived, disguised as a motorcycle courier, to seek political asylum.
In the five years since then, he has not set foot beyond the Embassy.
Nonetheless, he has become a global influence, proving that with
simple digital tools a single person can craft a new kind of power—a
distributed, transnational power, which functions outside norms of
state sovereignty that have held for centuries. Encouraged by millions
of supporters, Assange has interfered with the world’s largest
institutions. His releases have helped fuel democratic
uprisings—notably in Tunisia, where a revolution sparked the Arab
Spring—and they have been submitted as evidence in human-rights cases
around the world. At the same time, Assange’s methodology and his
motivations have increasingly come under suspicion. During the
Presidential election last year, he published tens of thousands of
hacked e-mails written by Democratic operatives, releasing them at
pivotal moments in the campaign. They provoked strikingly disparate
receptions. “I love WikiLeaks,” Donald Trump declared, in exultant
gratitude. After the election, Hillary Clinton argued that the
releases had been instrumental in keeping her from the Oval Office.
Assange is not an easy man to get on the phone, let alone to see in
person. He is protected by a group of loyal staffers and a shroud of
organizational secrecy. One friend compared him to the central figure
in Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle”—a recluse trying to
reset the course of history. In many ways, the Embassy has become a
surreal redoubt: a place of extreme seclusion in the center of a
bustling world capital; a protective stronghold that few can enter,
even though it is the target of millions of dollars’ worth of covert
The easiest route to the Embassy, if you are using the London
Underground, is through the Knightsbridge station, next to Harrods.
The building, at 3 Hans Crescent, is a block away. Although Assange
has remained in his sanctum for years, he is attuned to his immediate
surroundings: real-estate ownership, the Lamborghinis parked nearby,
the habits of Arab sheikhs descending on local night spots. The lane
between the station and the Embassy is packed with tourists. Assange
knows the street artists and buskers there (for years, one has been
playing the theme song to “Knots Landing” over and over). At the end
of the block, the brick façade of the Embassy is visible—its tricolor
flag hanging from the white Juliet balcony where, from time to time,
Assange issues proclamations.
Arriving at the building’s front entrance, I rang the buzzer, and a
heavyset doorman came out, wearing the look of a bouncer accustomed to
turning people away.
“I’m here to see Mr. Assange.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Ah,” he said, brightening. “Then come in.”
Most visitors—even celebrity friends, like PJ Harvey and Brian
Eno—meet Assange only here. Like the rest of the Embassy, the room is
small, and the windows are cloaked with drapes. There is a poster,
published by the Ecuadorian ministry of foreign relations, of a tubby,
grinning pre-Columbian figurine. There are cabinets filled with books,
including dusty rows of a red-bound series, “Biblioteca Ecuatoriana
Mínima” (1960). Near the ceiling, there is a surveillance camera.
Hanging above the conference table from thin rods are two curious
white orbs, each about the size of a volleyball.
After a few minutes, Assange walked in. “Mr. Khatchadourian,” he said,
seriously, as he opened the door. I extended my right hand to shake
his, and he responded by giving me his left hand, palm up, redefining
the exchange on his terms. He was once rail thin, but, at forty-six,
he is softening in the middle. He looked pale—one close friend
described his skin as “translucent.” His hand trembled a little. His
hair was short, white, messy.
Assange’s physical universe for the past five years has been roughly
three hundred and thirty square feet, comprising his private quarters
and a few rooms that he shares with Ecuadorian staff. “It’s like
living in a space shuttle,” a friend of his told me.
Assange explained that his landscape was becoming a blur. “The walls
of the Embassy are as familiar as the interior of my eyelids,” he
said. “I see them, but I do not see them.”
“Nothing is before or after,” he told the doctor. “There are
diminishing reference points.”
In his confinement, Assange has become a quixotic cultural icon,
helping to give the solitary act of whistle-blowing the contours of a
Assange’s harshest critics know him personally, too. They see that,
beneath his maze of deflections, there is a man with no core beliefs
except in augmenting his own power. They see someone with a romantic
view of himself in the world—he once wrote, “The surest escape from
the mundane is to teleport into the tragic realm”—who is also
titanically self-absorbed, and desperate never to appear reactive.
Assange told me in 2010, “When you are much brighter than the people
you are hanging around with, which I was as a teen-ager, two things
happen. First of all, you develop an enormous ego. Secondly, you start
to think that everything can be solved with just a bit of thinking—but
ideology is too simple to address how things work.”
“This wholesale campaign to portray Julian as a supporter of Trump has
done a great deal of damage,” Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek
finance minister, told me. His defenders have had to withstand
blistering attacks from critics. “I don’t let them win,” another
friend assured Assange.
One afternoon, while I was at the Embassy, Pamela Anderson, the former
“Baywatch” star and a vegan activist, walked in, dressed in a demure
tweed overcoat, and took a seat in the lobby. Since last October,
Anderson has been stopping by the Embassy regularly. Assange led her
to the conference room, and they spoke for about an hour—their
conversation disguised by white noise, though Assange’s voice
dominated, in long soliloquies. (“I’m being persecuted!” he declared
at one point, loud enough to be audible through the walls.) After
their meeting, the two emerged. Anderson held a notebook and a pen.
“Hours go by, and I take a lot of notes,” she later told me.
Anderson told me that she was a “bridge” between Assange’s cloistered
world and life beyond it. But it was a bridge that primarily went one
way. “I was in the rain forest in Brunei, and I was at home in Canada
and it was snowing, and I made these videos and sent them to him, and
it devastated him,” she said. “Seeing the great outdoors is very
difficult for him. So that’s something that I did wrong.” She defended
him as a visionary, a David casting stones at Goliaths. “He’s a
political prisoner,” she said. “He is the hard line—and I always say
that there has to be an extreme for there to be a middle ground.” She
shared some adoring odes that she had been writing:
Late in the evening, with everyone sprawled on a rug, he spoke about
Edgewalkers. “It’s a Julian thing,” Gittoes explained to me. “He
reckons that many people think they walk on the edge, living a risky
life, but an Edgewalker really walks on the edge, and that he is a
real Edgewalker.” Gittoes had worked out a painting that would depict
this by having Assange gaze over a precipice that was crafted from
smashed bits of mirror.
“I can see the painting,” Gittoes wrote in his diary. He imagined
Assange surrounded by images of himself on television screens. “It
will have a mystical quality with the screens seeming both like ghosts
and a personal nightmare.”
“We can say that the Russian government is not the source” of the
election e-mails—a denial that did nothing to quell a growing
suspicion, even among close supporters, that he was not being honest.
“He says they’re not Russians,” one of them told me. “Well, he can’t
know that. It could be his source was a front for the Russians. I
think the truth is important, however it’s acquired, but if he knew it
was the Russians, and didn’t declare it, that would be a problem for
“WikiLeaks is providing a reference set to undeniably true information
about the world.” But what if, in the interest of source protection,
he was advancing a falsehood that was more significant than the
reference set itself? Arguably, his election publications only
underscored what was known about the Democratic National Committee and
Hillary Clinton. His denials, meanwhile, potentially obfuscated an act
of information warfare between two nuclear-armed powers.
Almost feels like the Singularity is coming, there’s such
acceleration,” he said. Assange was once a member of a transhumanist
discussion group; given the right software, he believed, a
revolutionary reordering of human affairs could be possible. His
vision for WikiLeaks resembled a Silicon Valley startup—a
technological creation intended to disrupt the normal way of doing
“Sure,” he said. “If you are good at leading with unpredictability,
then create a board arrangement that suits your abilities better than
In late November, he promised followers, “The coming months will see
a new world, where global history is redefined.” A week later, he
began to release the State Department cables.
. “I’m in my element,” he told me. “Battles with governments come
easy. Battles with treacherous women are another matter.”
Assange is an atheist, but at times he adopts the mode of a mystic—a
seer of deep conspiracies. “Human beings are not very good at
perceiving the unseen,” he once told me. “They look out over the sea,
and they don’t perceive that if there are waves on top there must be a
body of water underneath holding the waves up. When I see something, I
think, What is it that I am not seeing that this thing must be
“I was a decent colonial boy who came to a town that specializes in
lying and climbing the class ladder, so I was fresh meat to be
exploited,” he told me. “I needed a trusted introducer—especially
because this has been the dark heart of empire for four hundred years,
and I was dealing with the outraged security structure of a
In isolation, Assange came to resemble the Wizard of Oz, a pallid
inventor hidden behind a grand machine.
Putin offered the first of several responses. He described the Panama
Papers as an American-run operation. “They are trying to destabilize
us from within,” he said. The Kremlin presented the leak as a personal
blow, and as an effort to undermine Russian parliamentary elections.
Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, in a forthcoming update of their
book, “Red Web,” about the Russian Internet, make the case that the
decision to target the American Presidential election with an
information-warfare campaign likely originated at a high-level meeting
that Putin called the following day. “There is a line you cannot
cross, and this line is Putin’s family and his immediate friends,”
Soldatov told me.
So he worked out an algorithm, which he called the Stochastic
Terminator, to help staff members select e-mails for each day’s
release. He told me that the algorithm was built on a random-number
generator, modified by mathematical weights that reflected the pattern
of the news cycle in a typical week. By introducing randomness into
the process, he hoped to make it impossible for the Clinton war room
“to adjust to the problem, to spin, to create antidote news
Whatever one thinks of Assange’s election disclosures, accepting his
contention that they shared no ties with the two Russian fronts
requires willful blindness. Guccifer 2.0’s handlers predicted the
WikiLeaks D.N.C. release. They demonstrated inside knowledge that
Assange was struggling to get it out on time. And they proved,
incontrovertibly, that they had privileged access to D.N.C. documents
that appeared nowhere else publicly, other than in WikiLeaks
Russian military intelligence—the same group that appeared to control
Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks—released the D.N.C. and the Podesta e-mails
to WikiLeaks through a third party. In intelligence vernacular, this
is called using a “cutout.”
This kind of judgment—deciding what is signal and what is noise—is
precisely what Assange’s system was designed to eliminate.
05-DEC-2016 :: "We have a deviate, Tomahawk."
Law & Politics
However, my starting point is the election of President Donald Trump
because hindsight will surely show that Russia ran a seriously
sophisticated programme of interference, mostly digital. Don DeLillo,
who is a prophetic 21st writer, writes as follows in one of his short
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice
breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
The euro has strengthened against 26 of its 31 major peers.
The euro has strengthened against 26 of its 31 major peers, with only
the Mexican peso, the Czech koruna, the Polish zloty, the Hungarian
forint and the Swedish krona withstanding its advance.
“The U.S. macro dynamic is starting to improve, but the dollar is
clearly suffering from a political discount in our view,” said Ned
Rumpeltin, head of currency strategy at Toronto Dominion Bank in
London. “That will keep markets reluctant from fully embracing USD
strength going forward.”
The big story of 2017 is the euro, he said, which is likely to extend
its uptrend when the ECB provides more clarity on tapering.
Alibaba Uses Its Shopping Leverage
Get used to hearing those words a lot when you examine earnings at
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The term pops up six times in the company's
June quarter press release and helps explain how the Chinese
e-commerce provider managed to post income growth that surpassed the
pace of revenue expansion. Across all line items -- product
development, sales and marketing, general and admin, and share-based
compensation -- Alibaba trimmed costs as a proportion of revenue. This
shows the incredible economies of scale Jack Ma has built at the
company, including his success in moving to mobile to extract more
Average revenue on mobile at Alibaba has more than doubled in the past two years
Angola Ruling Party Candidate 'A Chauffeur,' Opposition Says
Angola’s ruler Jose Eduardo dos Santos will keep his grip on power if
his party wins elections this month, even though he steps down as
president after 38 years in office, according to the country’s main
The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola has picked
63-year-old Defense Minister Joao Lourenco as its presidential
candidate for the Aug. 23 vote. Dos Santos will remain the party’s
chairman and has appointees in the security services that will
probably stay in their posts under a new law passed by parliament last
After decades as president, Dos Santos is now set to direct the
government from behind the scenes, according to Isaias Samakuva, head
of the opposition National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola,
“Lourenco will be just a chauffeur, with the boss sitting in the back
seat and directing him where to turn, when to accelerate, to slow down
and when to stop,” Samakuva said in an Aug. 15 interview in the
capital, Luanda. “Lourenco didn’t win his candidacy via a contest or
Asked whether Unita will accept the outcome of the poll should it
result in defeat by the ruling party, Samakuva replied: “Only if that
is the will of the people expressed in the ballots.”
The MPLA's grip on Angola is weakening Economist
IT IS fitting that the black-and-red flag of Angola is hardly
distinguishable from that of its ruling party. The People’s Movement
for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has led the country since
independence from Portugal in 1975. At the parliamentary election in
2008 it won 82% of the vote; in 2012 it won 72%. Few doubt it will win
again when Angolans go to the polls on August 23rd.
Many Angolans credit the MPLA with bringing peace to the country after
nearly three decades of civil war that ended in 2002. The party then
presided over an oil-fuelled boom, with annual GDP growth averaging
7.2% between 2003 and 2015. New roads, railways and other
infrastructure won it the support of voters. But just in case, the
party is also accused of beating opponents, bribing local chiefs and
keeping a tight grip on the media.
There are signs, though, that the MPLA’s stranglehold on Angolan
politics is loosening. Its leader, José Eduardo dos Santos, is
stepping down as president after 38 years in power. His handpicked
successor, João Lourenço, does not have the same standing within the
party—nor does he inspire the same fear in its opponents. Moreover,
66% of the country’s 28m people are under 25. Many will be voting for
the first time. With little memory of the war, they tend to be more
cynical about the MPLA.
The party’s lustre has faded as the low price of oil turned Angola’s
boom into a bust. In April the official statistics agency reported
that GDP shrank by nearly 4% last year (it has since removed the
figure from its website). The unemployment rate hovers above 20%.
Foreign firms are leaving the country because of a shortage of hard
currency. On the streets of Luanda, the capital, a dollar changes
hands for more than double the official rate. Many Angolans wonder why
the country’s oil wealth has not made them better off.
A big part of the answer is corruption. According to reports, the
government is unable to account for billions of dollars in public
funds over the past decade
“The MPLA needs to free itself of the control of dos Santos,” says
Marcolino Moco, who served as Mr dos Santos’s prime minister and is
now a critic of the government. But without a strong mandate, Mr
Lourenço may find it difficult to do what is necessary. The government
must devalue the currency, say analysts. Fast-rising debt, which
helped the government maintain spending in the run-up to the election,
may force Angola to ask the IMF for help. For any benefits to trickle
down to the masses, Mr Lourenço must tackle corruption. To do that, he
must stand up to the elite in his own party.
Congo Republic's Prime Minister Clement Mouamba and his cabinet have resigned amid a growing economic crisis, the president's office said in a statement on Thursday.
Export revenues have dropped and public debt has shot higher, raising
questions about the country's ability to meet coupon payments for its
$363 million Eurobond.
"Prime Minister Clement Mouamba presented on Wednesday...the
resignation of the government to the President of the Republic who
accepted it," the statement said.
It was not clear when the parting cabinet would be replaced.
Congo authorities did not fully disclose the country's debt to an IMF
mission in March and it ended up being higher than reported, a fund
spokesman told Reuters this month.
Congo is in dispute with rating agencies over what they say is a
default on the latest coupon payment of its $363 million Eurobond.
Congo denies it is in default.
"The situation in the country is troubling. I will need to lean on a
government that is effective and ... fully mobilised to implement bold
reforms and appropriate policies in order to revive the national
economy," Nguesso said in a speech on Monday.
Krugerrand Are Top South African Investment Since 2000
In the 50 years since the first Krugerrand was minted in South Africa,
the one ounce gold coins have turned out to be one of the best
investments in the country. Originally sold for 27 rand (then worth
$35) back in 1967, an ounce of gold is now worth 16,840 rand ($1,273),
boosted by a combination of rising global gold prices and a
depreciating local currency. Since 2000, the rand value of the coin
has outperformed local property, the stock market and gold priced in
"Nothing is impossible." These three words are on a plaque that @AlikoDangote keeps on his office desk in Lagos
“Nothing is impossible.” These three words are on a plaque that Aliko
Dangote keeps on his office desk in Lagos, Nigeria, constantly
reminding Africa’s richest man how to approach the world. Dangote, who
was worth $12.3 billion as of mid-August, according to the Bloomberg
Billionaires Index, is modest in his personal life but bold in
business. Presiding over an empire that includes cement, freight,
infrastructure, agriculture, and—soon—oil refining, Dangote, 60,
possesses a towering ambition that matches the scale of his projects.
His Dangote Group has expanded rapidly, spreading into new territory
across Africa as well as into new industries. Undaunted by the size
and scope of his investments, Dangote, who once lost almost $6 billion
in a single year, says he chooses to make daring moves that others
would shy away from. Plowing almost $5 billion into sugar, rice, and
dairy production and now $11 billion into the construction of an oil
refinery just outside Lagos, he says he’s looking to begin investing
60 percent of his business outside Africa starting in 2020. One
investment he says he’s keen to add to his portfolio: Arsenal Football
Club, a top-tier team in the English Premier League. Not surprisingly,
for a man not given to standing still in business, Dangote says that
if he played for the club, he wouldn’t be the manager or goalkeeper
but rather a striker—someone out there scoring goals.
AD I think it’s boldness. We make a lot of bold moves, which other
people find really difficult to take. We always dream very big, and
we’re committed to investing in Africa. That’s really what makes the
difference. Other people have different priorities, but our dominant
priority is here in Africa. We believe that other people have actually
done much bigger projects than us in other parts of the world, so the
only way to move Africa forward is for people like us to take very
FL Do you ever worry about being too bold?
AD I never worry about being too bold. In business it’s good to be
aggressive, but with a human face.
|But it seems more likely that Mr Odinga’s protests will fizzle out
than that they will explode. He called for non-violent protests and
said that he will contest the result at Kenya’s supreme court, rather
than on the streets. Neither prospect will much trouble Mr Kenyatta.
Unless Mr Odinga can provide definitive evidence of rigging,
ambassadors of Western countries have made clear that he should give
And while political uncertainty about the election retreats, another
sort might emerge. The biggest victor may not have been Mr Kenyatta,
but his vice-president, William Ruto. Mr Ruto wants to maintain the
ethnic alliance between Kikuyus, Mr Kenyatta’s tribe, and Kalenjins,
his own group, when he runs for president in 2022. Yet many question
whether Kikuyus will really back him. Since running for president in
Kenya is an extravagantly expensive operation, usually funded by
looting the state, a long succession battle could worsen corruption,
one of Kenya’s biggest economic problems.
Perhaps the most powerful message from Mr Odinga’s ultimately failed
campaign was the claim that Kenya’s affluence is not reaching the
poor. Because of a prolonged drought, more than 2m Kenyans are at risk
of starvation—for the rest, food prices are soaring. If the economy
slows, a relatively calm election may mark just the start of Mr
Housing Finance reports H1 EPS 2017 -74.074% Earnings here
Par Value: 5/-
Closing Price: 11.90
Total Shares Issued: 352416667.00
Market Capitalization: 4,193,758,337
H1 Loans and advances to customers (net) 52.768234b vs. 53.465918b -1.305%
H1 Total Assets 71.622852b vs. 71.302429b +0.449%
H1 Total shareholders’ funds 11.304186b vs. 10.984948b +2.906%
H1 Total interest income 3.679927b vs. 4.497201b -18.173%
H1 Net interest income/ [loss] 1.559214b vs. 2.085914b -25.250%
H1 Total operating income 1.983696b vs. 2.502853b -20.743%
H1 Loan loss provision [380.866m] vs. [304.998m] +24.875%
H1 Total other operating expenses [1.752545b] vs. [1.613163b] +8.640%
H1 Profit/ [Loss] before tax and exceptional items 231.151m vs.
H1 Profit/ [Loss] after tax and exceptional items 159.012m vs. 612.553m -74.041%
EPS 0.91 vs. 3.51 -74.074%
No interim dividend
Gross NPL and Advances 7.914856b vs. 5.363759b +47.562%
Total NPL and Advances 6.763375b vs. 4.601851b +46.971%
Net NPL and Advances 5.065696b vs. 3.356270b +50.932%
Liquidity ratio 26.40% vs. 21.77% +4.630%
soft H1 Earnings - They are actually in the Tier most affected by the
Interest rate Cap.
"The drop in our performance is as a result of the prevailing impact of the interest rate capping law," said HF chief executive Frank Ireri
He added that results also show the impact of “the unfavourable
macroeconomic environment that resulted in a significant drop in
interest related income and an increase in interest related expenses”.
The company’s stock of bad debt surged 47.5 per cent to Sh7.9 billion.
HF’s ratio of total capital to total risk weighted assets weakened to
stay above the statutory minimum of 14.5 per cent by 1.64 percentage
points, reducing its ability to lend more.
Mr Ireri said the lender is ready to settle its Sh7 billion bond in
October. He added that the company is likely to perform better in the
second half, anticipating the unclogging of property transactions at
the Land ministry.