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World's Biggest Piggy Bank Grows by $285 Million a Day
As many investors question a global stock-market rally that’s now in
its eighth year, the world’s biggest wealth fund is prepared to
Norway’s $970 billion wealth fund has been ordered to raise its stock
holdings to 70 percent from 60 percent in an effort to boost returns
and safeguard the country’s oil riches for future generations. Any
short-term view on growing risks will play little part, according to
Trond Grande, the fund’s deputy chief executive.
“We don’t have any views on whether the market is priced high or low,
whether bonds and stocks are expensive or cheap,” he said in an
interview after presenting second-quarter returns in Oslo on Tuesday.
The decision to add stocks “was made at a strategic level, on a
long-term expected excess return that we’re willing to take risk to
achieve. And parliament has said that they wish to spend some time to
phase in that increase.”
The fund has doubled in value over the past five years and is
continually adding risk to its portfolio. It returned 202 billion ($26
billion) kroner in the second quarter, and 499 billion kroner in the
first half, the best on record for the period.
Trump Assails News in Selective Defense of Virginia Response
Law & Politics
President Donald Trump delivered an angry and forceful defense of his
response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, declaring at a
campaign-style rally of supporters in Phoenix that the news media had
distorted his position.
Addressing thousands of supporters Tuesday evening at the Phoenix
Convention Center, Trump accused major media organizations of being
“dishonest” and of failing "to report that I spoke out forcefully
against hatred, bigotry.”
Trump spent more than 20 minutes of a 75-minute speech delivering a
selective account of his handling of the violence in Charlottesville,
where he overlooked his initial statement blaming “many sides,” as
well his subsequent remarks that there were good people marching
alongside the white supremacists.
As the rest of the Republican party was eager to move on from
Charlottesville, where one counter-demonstrator was killed and 19
people were wounded, Trump seemed like he couldn’t wait to go back and
rehash one of the worst weeks of his presidency -- even carrying his
much maligned initial statement to the podium. The controversy sparked
intense objections from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and
prompted an exodus of corporate executives from White House business
"It’s time to challenge the media,” Trump said, for their role "in
fomenting divisions." The president added, "The only people giving a
platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news."
Before the speech was over, Trump had mocked the state’s two
Republican senators, threatened to shut down the government if he
doesn’t get his way on border wall funding and suggested he might pull
out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index reversed gains to slip as much as 0.3
percent as Trump spoke. The yen strengthened, while the Mexican peso
weakened 0.2 percent.
After the rally, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James
Clapper went on CNN and said that “the real Trump came through” in the
speech. Clapper, who served under President Barack Obama and has
emerged as a Trump critic, questioned his fitness for office and
expressed concern that he has access to the nuclear codes. Clapper
said it would be up to Republican lawmakers to step forward.
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker last week voiced one of the strongest
Republican rebukes of the president, saying "radical changes" needs to
take place at the White House. Trump "needs to take stock of the role
that he plays in our nation and move beyond himself -- move way beyond
himself -- and move to a place where daily he’s waking up thinking
about what is best for the nation,” Corker said.
Trump also walked up to the line of offering a pardon to former
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying the lawman had been
punished for “doing his job,” yet left open the possibility one would
Arpaio, 85, the county sheriff for more that two decades until being
voted out of office in November, was convicted July 31 on one count of
federal misdemeanor criminal contempt for defying a 2011 court order
to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. He faces a maximum
of six months at his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Oct. 5.
Responding to chants from the crowd calling for a pardon of Arpaio,
Trump demurred, saying, “I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to
cause any controversy.”
"If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,"
he said to cheers from the crowd.
McConnell, in Private, Doubts if Trump Can Save Presidency NYT
Law & Politics
The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell,
the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not
spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately
expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his
administration after a series of summer crises.
What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of
mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the
position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s
cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their
imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have
devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose
Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to
The rupture between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell comes at a highly
perilous moment for Republicans, who face a number of urgent deadlines
when they return to Washington next month. Congress must approve new
spending measures and raise the statutory limit on government
borrowing within weeks of reconvening, and Republicans are hoping to
push through an elaborate rewrite of the federal tax code. There is
scant room for legislative error on any front.
A protracted government shutdown or a default on sovereign debt could
be disastrous — for the economy and for the party that controls the
White House and both chambers of Congress.
Yet Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell are locked in a political cold war.
Neither man would comment for this story. Don Stewart, a spokesman for
Mr. McConnell, noted that the senator and the president had “shared
goals,” and pointed to “tax reform, infrastructure, funding the
government, not defaulting on the debt, passing the defense
In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell
publicly, then berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into
a profane shouting match.
During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New
Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the
health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated
was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of
Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans
briefed on the conversation.
Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against
fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr.
Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr.
McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump
as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.
In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of
bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has
mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the
Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to
people who have spoken to him directly.
While maintaining a pose of public reserve, Mr. McConnell expressed
horror to advisers last week after Mr. Trump’s comments equating white
supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., with protesters who rallied
against them. Mr. Trump’s most explosive remarks came at a news
conference in Manhattan, where he stood beside Ms. Chao. (Ms. Chao,
deflecting a question about the tensions between her husband and the
president she serves, told reporters, “I stand by my man — both of
Mr. Trump has also continued to badger and threaten Mr. McConnell’s
Senate colleagues, including Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, whose
Republican primary challenger was praised by Mr. Trump last week.
Mr. Trump was set to hold a campaign rally on Tuesday night in
Phoenix, and Republicans feared he would use the event to savage Mr.
If he does, senior Republican officials said the party’s senators
would stand up for their colleague. A Republican “super PAC” aligned
with Mr. McConnell released a web ad on Tuesday assailing Mr. Flake’s
Republican rival, Kelli Ward, as a fringe-dwelling conspiracy
“When it comes to the Senate, there’s an Article 5 understanding: An
attack against one is an attack against all,” said Senator Lindsey
Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has found himself in Mr.
Trump’s sights many times, invoking the NATO alliance’s mutual defense
The fury among Senate Republicans toward Mr. Trump has been building
since last month, even before he lashed out at Mr. McConnell. Some of
them blame the president for not being able to rally the party around
any version of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, accusing
him of not knowing even the basics about the policy. Senate
Republicans also say strong-arm tactics from the White House
backfired, making it harder to cobble together votes and have left bad
feelings in the caucus.
When Mr. Trump addressed a Boy Scouts jamboree last month in West
Virginia, White House aides told Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a
Republican from the state whose support was in doubt, that she could
only accompany him on Air Force One if she committed to voting for the
health care bill. She declined the invitation, noting that she could
not commit to voting for a measure she had not seen, according to
Republican briefed on the conversation.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told colleagues that when Mr. Trump’s
interior secretary threatened to pull back federal funding for her
state, she felt boxed in and unable to vote for the health care bill.
Former Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, a Republican who is close
to Mr. McConnell, said frustration with Mr. Trump was boiling over in
the chamber. Mr. Gregg blamed the president for undermining
congressional leaders, and said the House and Senate would have to
govern on their own if Mr. Trump “can’t participate constructively.”
“Failure to do things like keeping the government open and passing a
tax bill is the functional equivalent of playing Russian roulette with
all the chambers loaded,” Mr. Gregg said.
Others in the party divide blame between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell.
Al Hoffman, a former finance chairman of the Republican National
Committee who has been supportive of Mr. McConnell, said Mr. McConnell
was culpable because he has failed to deliver legislative victories.
“Ultimately, it’s been Mitch’s responsibility, and I don’t think he’s
done much,” Mr. Hoffman said.
But Mr. Hoffman predicted that Mr. McConnell would likely outlast the president.
“I think he’s going to blow up, self-implode,” Mr. Hoffman said of Mr.
Trump. “I wouldn’t be surprised if McConnell pulls back his support of
Trump and tries to go it alone.”
Connell’s Senate colleagues, however, have grown bolder. The
combination of the president’s frontal attacks on Senate Republicans
and his claim that there were “fine people” marching with white
supremacists in Charlottesville has emboldened lawmakers to criticize
Mr. Trump in withering terms.
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee rebuked Mr. Trump last week for
failing to “demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence”
required of presidents. On Monday, Senator Susan Collins of Maine said
in a television interview that she was uncertain Mr. Trump would be
the Republican presidential nominee in 2020.
There are few recent precedents for the rift. The last time a
president turned on a legislative leader of his own party was in 2002,
when allies of George W. Bush helped force Trent Lott to step down as
Senate minority leader after racially charged remarks at a birthday
party for Senator Strom Thurmond, Republican of South Carolina.
For the moment, Mr. McConnell appears to be far more secure in his
position, and perhaps immune to coercion from the White House.
Republicans are unlikely to lose control of the Senate in 2018, and
Mr. Trump has no allies in the Senate who have shown an appetite for
combat with Mr. McConnell.
Still, some allies of Mr. Trump on the right — including Stephen K.
Bannon, who stepped down last week as Mr. Trump’s chief strategist —
welcome more direct conflict with Mr. McConnell and congressional
Roger J. Stone Jr., a Republican strategist who has advised Mr. Trump
for decades, said the president needed to “take a scalp” in order to
force cooperation from Republican elites who have resisted his agenda.
Mr. Stone urged Mr. Trump to make an example of one or more
Republicans, like Mr. Flake, who have refused to give full support to
“The president should start bumping off incumbent Republican members
of Congress in primaries,” Mr. Stone said. “If he did that, Mitch
McConnell and Paul Ryan would wet their pants and the rest of the
Republicans would get in line.”
But Mr. McConnell’s allies warn that the president should be wary of
doing anything that could jeopardize the Senate Republican majority.
“The quickest way for him to get impeached is for Trump to knock off
Jeff Flake and Dean Heller and be faced with a Democrat-led Senate,”
said Billy Piper, a lobbyist and former McConnell chief of staff.
Living in a void: life in Damascus after the exodus
Law & Politics
My sister, whom I haven’t seen for more than two years, told me she
was going to cross the sea in a rubber dinghy. She hung up, not
wanting to hear what I thought. She merely said something profound and
sentimental and entrusted her three children to my care in the event
that she drowned. A few minutes later I tried to call the unfamiliar
Turkish number back, but the phone had been turned off. Hundreds of
images from our childhood flooded my memory. It’s not easy to say
goodbye to half a century of your life and wait for someone you love
to drown. My fingers and toes felt cold and my head empty, and I
didn’t feel able to argue anyway. What can one offer a woman who has
lost her home and everything she owns and, not wanting to lose her
children too, carried them off into exile to seek a safe haven in
Turkey? Things are not easy for a woman like her there. She looks like
millions of other Syrian women and does not have any special skills.
All that’s left is the hope of asylum, even if it requires crossing
the sea in a rubber dinghy. It’s as if she’s trying to tell me
something I know already – that the sea is Syrians’ only hope.
Skyscrapers Stand Unfinished as Angolan Election Marks New Era
Ruling-party candidate Lourenco expected to win Aug. 23 vote
Angola grapples with economic crisis after oil prices dropped
Around the horseshoe-shaped bay of Luanda, Angola’s capital,
unfinished skyscrapers stand as a testament to the challenges facing
Africa’s second-biggest oil producer as it prepares for its first
leadership change in almost four decades.
Before the oil slump, hundreds of container ships waited near the
palm-tree lined waterfront to offload their goods at the port. Today,
only a handful of vessels are visible. In the suburbs, gated
communities built for foreign workers and a middle class that never
materialized are standing practically empty.
“Where did all the ships go?” said Matias Joaquim, who owns a small
restaurant in the Sambizanga slum, a maze of huts on a hill
overlooking the port of Luanda. “If the rich are already not doing
well, imagine the poor.”
Angola will hold elections on Wednesday as President Jose Eduardo dos
Santos, 74, prepares to step down after 38 years in power. His
successor, almost certainly from the same party, will face the
challenge of reversing the worst downturn since the country emerged
from civil war in 2002. While Dos Santos’s departure marks a new era
in Angolan politics, the change in leadership won’t necessarily ease
the economic crisis, according to Manuel Alves da Rocha, chief
economist at the Catholic University of Angola in Luanda.
“The MPLA will win the elections,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa
program at the London-based policy center Chatham House. “The question
will be the size of the majority.”
Dos Santos, who will remain MPLA chairman until at least 2018, will
probably continue to wield influence even after he steps down,
according to Isaias Samakuva, the 71-year-old head of Unita, which
abandoned its armed struggle in 2002.
“In the past, investors thought they could land in Angola, shake a
tree and collect the profits,” Antonio Cunha, owner of 7 Cunhas, a
conglomerate of companies ranging from construction firms to
restaurants, said in an interview. “That wasn’t normal. What’s
happening today is the normalization of the economy.”
Crime Wave Stalks South Sudan's Capital as War Ruins Economy
When three rifle-toting men in army uniforms barged into Silvano
Pitia’s supplies store this month, he became the latest victim of a
crime wave that’s rocking South Sudan’s war-weary, hunger-stricken
“They told me that if I didn’t make them happy that night I would
visit heaven or hell,” said Pitia, who was charging mobile phones and
laptops for customers until the armed men seized the devices and about
200,000 South Sudanese pounds ($1,590) in cash. One gunman said they
had the right to take directly from the city’s inhabitants because the
government hadn’t paid them, the 43-year-old shopkeeper recalled.
The Aug. 12 theft was part of a surge in crime in Juba, a city of an
estimated 500,000 people where armed robberies have claimed at least
53 lives this month and are almost twice as common as in July,
according to the local Community Empowerment for Progress
Organization, which collates figures. Authorities say they’re
investigating claims that soldiers are mainly responsible and blame
economic upheaval linked to the almost four-year civil war that’s
caused prices to soar.
The war has decimated agriculture and sparked widespread food
shortages, while reduced oil production and lower prices have slashed
government income. The International Monetary Fund said in March the
economy was set to contract 10.5 percent in the 2016-17 financial
year, while annual inflation was 115 percent in July, slowing from 362
percent the month before. Judges and university lecturers have staged
strikes after they weren’t paid.
Congo Republic president reappoints PM after resignation
Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso reappointed Clement
Mouamba as prime minister on Monday, four days after Mouamba and his
cabinet resigned, the president's office said in a statement.
Mouamba, who resigned last week, is now charged with forming a new
government, the statement said.
ISS Today: Can the Zambian intervention resuscitate the Commonwealth? Daily Maverick
In the dying days of the British Empire, as Whitehall mandarins
grasped for new ways to maintain their global influence, the
Commonwealth of Nations came into being. The institution is designed
to link all of Britain’s former colonial territories into one
intergovernmental organisation; and, in true imperial style, its
titular head – from its modern inception in 1949 – is none other than
Queen Elizabeth ll.
“The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the empires of the past. It
is an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the
spirit of man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and
peace,” the queen gushed in a speech in 1956.
Today the Commonwealth boasts 52 member states representing some
2.4-billion people. But its lofty profile has rarely been matched by
its effectiveness. It regularly sends election observer missions to
monitor votes in member states, and has previously played a role in
international mediation efforts, including in South Africa at the end
But a push for more political relevance has so far proved more
successful for the Commonwealth, with a timely intervention in Zambia
helping to secure the release of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema
Hichilema, the head of the United Party for National Development, was
arrested in April. He was charged with treason, in connection with a
bizarre incident in which his convoy allegedly failed to give way to
President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade en route to a traditional ceremony.
Many commentators dismissed the charges as spurious, but HH, as he is
popularly known, languished behind bars while waiting for his trial to
Enter Patricia Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth. She
arrived in Zambia in early August and met with both Hichilema and
President Lungu. From Lungu, she secured an agreement to drop the
charges against his opponent; from HH, she received an undertaking to
participate in a political dialogue designed to ease tensions between
the opposition and the government.
The deal stuck. HH was released on Wednesday after the prosecution
entered a nolle prosequi – a decision not to pursue charges. He
returned to his Lusaka home amid jubilant celebrations from
Nairobi Securities Exchange reports H1 2017 EPS -6.25% Earnings here
Closing Price: 23.75
Total Shares Issued: 259503194.00
Market Capitalization: 6,163,200,858
H1 Operating income 282.603m vs. 266.796m +5.925%
H1 Interest income 47.125m vs. 51.766m -8.965%
H1 Other income 17.077m vs. 15.734m +8.536%
H1 Total income 346.805m vs. 334.296m +3.742%
H1 Administrative expenses [254.664m] vs. [235.782m] +8.008%
H1 Profit before taxation 99.659m vs. 106.652m -6.557%
H1 Profit for the year 77.770m vs. 81.962m -5.115%
Basic and diluted EPS 0.30 vs. 0.32 -6.250%
Total Assets 2.021336b vs. 1.936759b +4.367%
Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the period 130.804m vs.
No interim dividend
Total Income increased by 4% from 334.3m in the six months ended 30
June 2016 to 346.8m for 6 months to June 2017.
This was driven mainly by an 11% increase in equity turnover from 73.6b to 82b.
Its a volume Game and volumes are trending higher.