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Hannah loved her visit to Diani 20 Aug 2015
“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused,
deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with
glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms
timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.” ― George
“History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by
people who weren't there. . . . History is always written wrong, and
so always needs to be rewritten” ― George Santayana
Look Inside the Most Expensive House on Earth @luxury
The South of France has been home to a revolving door of the superrich
for the past century. As their fates rose, industrialists, princes,
and bankers built palaces along the Mediterranean, and as they
fell—first the Russian aristocracy, Americans after the 1929 stock
market crash, then much of the European upper class after World War
II—they sold them to the world’s next crop of newly wealthy.
Now the owner of Villa Les Cèdres, a 187-year-old, 18,000-square-foot,
14-bedroom mansion set on 35 acres, hopes that its property will be
the next to pass from old money to new. With a list price of €350
million ($410 million), the owner, the Italian distiller Davide
Campari-Milano SpA, is betting that the house’s combination of
history, luxury, and a prime location along the coast of
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat will be enough to make it the most expensive
residential sale in history.
"But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola"
Gravity’s Rainbow is a 1973 novel by Thomas Pynchon which is about the
design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military.
In particular, it features the quest undertaken by several characters
to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the “Schwarzgerät”
(black device), slated to be installed in a rocket with the serial
number “00000”. As the world watches PyongYang, I cannot help
wondering if Kim Jong-Un has read Pynchon which speaks of “A screaming
comes across the sky” and North Korea. “But it is a curve each of them
feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once
or twice -guessed and refused to believe -that everything, always,
collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the
sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return.’’
18-SEP-2017 :: PyongYang is in fact a near perfect (geopolitical) attack dog.
Law & Politics
Consider that PyongYang is a buffer state between China and the US and
that PyongYang is in fact a near perfect (geopolitical) attack dog.
The attack dog is not on a Chinese leash but its surely aligned with a
resurgent rising China whose aim is to surely eject the US and its
allies from what it considers its sphere of influence. Just take a
look at the South China seas where the US and its allies have largely
capitulated and the US is now left performing some half-hearted and
quite forlorn FONOPs once in a blue moon. North Korea by lobbing those
missiles over Japan is seeking to prise Japan away from its US
alliance, something that China is surely trying to achieve as well.
When you look at geopolitical alignment, it is entirely unlikely that
the West has anything to offer the Chinese that can compensate them
for the loss of their hinterland, buffer and instrument of attack.
The world's most powerful man Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump. The world should be wary @TheEconomist
Law & Politics
AMERICAN presidents have a habit of describing their Chinese
counterparts in terms of awe. A fawning Richard Nixon said to Mao
Zedong that the chairman’s writings had “changed the world”. To Jimmy
Carter, Deng Xiaoping was a string of flattering adjectives: “smart,
tough, intelligent, frank, courageous, personable, self-assured,
friendly”. Bill Clinton described China’s then president, Jiang Zemin,
as a “visionary” and “a man of extraordinary intellect”. Donald Trump
is no less wowed. The Washington Post quotes him as saying that
China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, is “probably the most powerful”
China has had in a century.
Mr Trump may be right. And were it not political suicide for an
American president to say so, he might plausibly have added: “Xi
Jinping is the world’s most powerful leader.” To be sure, China’s
economy is still second in size to America’s and its army, though
rapidly gaining muscle, pales in comparison. But economic heft and
military hardware are not everything. The leader of the free world has
a narrow, transactional approach to foreigners and seems unable to
enact his agenda at home. The United States is still the world’s most
powerful country, but its leader is weaker at home and less effective
abroad than any of his recent predecessors, not least because he
scorns the values and alliances that underpin American influence.
The president of the world’s largest authoritarian state, by contrast,
walks with swagger abroad. His grip on China is tighter than any
leader’s since Mao. And whereas Mao’s China was chaotic and miserably
poor, Mr Xi’s is a dominant engine of global growth. His clout will
soon be on full display. On October 18th China’s ruling Communist
Party will convene a five-yearly congress in Beijing (see Briefing).
It will be the first one presided over by Mr Xi. Its 2,300 delegates
will sing his praises to the skies. More sceptical observers might ask
whether Mr Xi will use his extraordinary power for good or ill.
On his numerous foreign tours, Mr Xi presents himself as an apostle of
peace and friendship, a voice of reason in a confused and troubled
world. Mr Trump’s failings have made this much easier. At Davos in
January Mr Xi promised the global elite that he would be a champion of
globalisation, free trade and the Paris accord on climate change.
Members of his audience were delighted and relieved. At least, they
thought, one great power was willing to stand up for what was right,
even if Mr Trump (then president-elect) would not.
Mr Xi’s words are heeded partly because he has the world’s largest
stockpile of foreign currency to back them up. His “Belt and Road
Initiative” may be puzzlingly named, but its message is clear—hundreds
of billions of dollars of Chinese money are to be invested abroad in
railways, ports, power stations and other infrastructure that will
help vast swathes of the world to prosper. That is the kind of
leadership America has not shown since the post-war days of the
Marshall Plan in western Europe (which was considerably smaller).
Mr Xi is also projecting what for China is unprecedented military
power abroad. This year he opened the country’s first foreign military
base, in Djibouti. He has sent the Chinese navy on manoeuvres ever
farther afield, including in July on NATO’s doorstep in the Baltic Sea
alongside Russia’s fleet. China says it would never invade other
countries to impose its will (apart from Taiwan, which it does not
consider a country). Its base-building efforts are to support
peacekeeping, anti-piracy and humanitarian missions, it says. As for
the artificial islands with military-grade runways it is building in
the South China Sea, these are purely defensive.
Unlike Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, Mr Xi is not a global
troublemaker who seeks to subvert democracy and destabilise the West.
Still, he is too tolerant of troublemaking by his nuke-brandishing
ally, North Korea (see Schumpeter). And some of China’s military
behaviour alarms its neighbours, not only in South-East Asia but also
in India and Japan.
At home, Mr Xi’s instincts are at least as illiberal as those of his
Russian counterpart. He believes that even a little political
permissiveness could prove not only his own undoing, but that of his
regime. The fate of the Soviet Union haunts him, and that insecurity
has consequences. He mistrusts not only the enemies his purges have
created but also China’s fast-growing, smartphone-wielding middle
class, and the shoots of civil society that were sprouting when he
took over. He seems determined to tighten control over Chinese
society, not least by enhancing the state’s powers of surveillance,
and to keep the commanding heights of the economy firmly under the
party’s thumb. All this will make China less rich than it should be,
and a more stifling place to live. Human-rights abuses have grown
worse under Mr Xi, with barely a murmur of complaint from other world
Liberals once mourned the “ten lost years” of reform under Mr Xi’s
predecessor, Hu Jintao. Those ten years have become 15, and may exceed
20. Some optimists argue that we have not yet seen the real Mr Xi—that
the congress will help him consolidate his power, and after that he
will begin social and economic reforms in earnest, building on his
relative success in curbing corruption. If he is a closet pluralist,
however, he disguises it well. And alarmingly for those who believe
that all leaders have a sell-by date, Mr Xi is thought to be reluctant
to step down in 2022, when precedent suggests he should.
Mr Xi may think that concentrating more or less unchecked power over
1.4bn Chinese in the hands of one man is, to borrow one of his
favourite terms, the “new normal” of Chinese politics. But it is not
normal; it is dangerous. No one should have that much power. One-man
rule is ultimately a recipe for instability in China, as it has been
in the past—think of Mao and his Cultural Revolution. It is also a
recipe for arbitrary behaviour abroad, which is especially worrying at
a time when Mr Trump’s America is pulling back and creating a power
vacuum. The world does not want an isolationist United States or a
dictatorship in China. Alas, it may get both.
28-AUG-2017 :: China Rising. @TheStarKenya
Law & Politics
China’s parabolic rise has been simply breath-taking. Millions of
Chinese have been lifted out of poverty and China continues to expand
at a pace that other big economies can only dream about. Xi Jinping’s
One Belt One Road [OBOR] program binds the world to Beijing because
all the roads and railways have but one destination and that is China.
Washington has metastized into an epicentre of risk [Donald Trump
refers] and talk of a unipolar US-dominated world have largely
evaporated. President Putin refused to be rolled over by a Victoria
Nuland inspired ‘’Colour Revolution’’ in the Ukraine and drew a line
in the sand and one of the collateral consequences of that was to send
President Putin into the ready embrace of Xi Jinping. In fact, far
from being a unipolar world, we have entered a bipolar or even a
Tripolar world [US, China and Russia].
Apart from a few half-hearted and timid FONOPs [freedom of navigation
operations], China has established control over the South China Sea.
It has created artificial Islands and then militarised those
artificial islands across the South China Sea. It is a mind-boggling
geopolitical advance any which way you care to cut it. China has
advanced its footprint
in Pakistan, where it has leased the Gwadar Port [giving China and
Central Asia access to the Gulf region and the Middle East] for 43
years. Sri Lanka, which gorged on Chinese debt, has had to disgorge
the Hambantota Port to its creditor. And recently, we saw China
formally open a miitary facility in Djibouti. ese moves taken
together speak to a material Chinese advance. e pivot to Asia which
was supposed to contain China is dead in the water and China has
sprung that trap.
China opposes U.S. provocation in South China Sea: defence ministry
Law & Politics
BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Defense Ministry on Wednesday
voiced strong opposition to the unauthorized entry of a U.S. warship
into China's waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea.
The Chinese navy dispatched a missile frigate, two fighter jets and a
helicopter to warn the U.S. ship away, the ministry said in a
The U.S. navy missile destroyer Chafee entered China's territorial
waters near the Xisha islands on Tuesday, said the ministry, adding
the provocation infringed upon China's sovereignty and security,
harmed mutual trust between the two armies as well as regional
Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica. Trump's 'Psychographic' Data Gurus Daily Beast
A data firm backed by some of Donald Trump’s closest allies is now
facing scrutiny as part of an investigation into possible collusion
between the president’s team and Russian operatives, The Daily Beast
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is
looking at Cambridge Analytica’s work for President Donald Trump’s
campaign as part of its investigation into Russian efforts to meddle
in the 2016 race, according to sources familiar with the probe.
The company is in the process of turning over documents to HPSCI,
according to a source familiar with the committee’s work. Another
source close to the investigation said that the probe’s focus on
Cambridge Analytica is “fruitful.”
Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, had holdings in
Cambridge Analytica worth between $1 million and $5 million as
recently as April of this year, Bloomberg reported. Bannon, now back
as the chairman of the pro-Trump media outlet Breitbart, hasn’t been
publicly mentioned as a potential witness for or target of Russia
investigators. He previously sat on the board of Cambridge Analytica.
Another key Cambridge Analytica investor is Robert Mercer, the
reclusive hedge fund billionaire who also generously backed Trump’s
presidential campaign. Mercer and his daughter Rebekah introduced
several top officials to Trump’s campaign, including Kellyanne Conway
and Bannon. The Mercers also are partial owners of Breitbart—among
their many, many investment in far-right media outlets, think tanks,
and political campaigns.
“Cambridge purports to go beyond the typical voter targeting to
construct a picture of a voter’s mental state.”
A recent Vanity Fair piece highlighted speculation among Washington
Democrats that the Trump campaign’s data operation could point to
collusion between Trump and Russia.
Cambridge purports to go beyond the typical voter targeting—relying on
online clues like Facebook Likes to give a hint at a user’s political
leanings and construct a picture of a voter’s mental state. The
“psychographic” picture Cambridge ostensibly provides to a campaign is
the ability to tailor a specific message based on personality type –
angry, fearful, optimistic and so forth – rather than simply aiming
ads at voters from likely convivial candidates.
Those purported capabilities have generated some speculation that
there was a Russian link to the outfit, as Vanity Fair detailed. The
Kremlin-orchestrated propaganda efforts on Facebook have evinced a
level of sophistication surprising for a foreign entity, prompting
speculation that Russians may have received some kind of targeting
help. Such targeting reached voters in states where Clinton enjoyed a
traditional advantage but went for Trump, including Michigan and
Wisconsin, CNN reported.
As The Daily Beast and others have reported, Russian propaganda on
Facebook and other social-media platforms passed itself off as
authentic American voices; targeting refugees, posing as an American
Muslim group and backing an Atlanta-based duo supporting Black Lives
Matter. Depending on which cohort was being targeted, the efforts
encouraged pro-Trump voters to intensify political participation,
black voters to abandon Hillary Clinton for Trump, and Muslim voters
to consider Clinton an Islamophobe.
Trump's horrifying Iran deal gambit
Law & Politics
President Trump is creating another crisis, and this could be the
worst of all. He is planning next week to begin pulling the United
States out of the agreement made with the nations of the world to stop
Iran’s nuclear program. He reportedly will say that the accord, the
product of years of exhaustive negotiations that was approved
unanimously by the United Nations Security Council in 2015, is not in
our national security interest.
Hardly any one agrees with him — including his Secretary of Defense
James Mattis, who told the Senate on Tuesday that the accord is in the
national security interest. The entire national security team is with
Mattis. At the same hearing, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs Gen. Joseph
Dunford said the Iran is complying with the agreement, echoing the
unanimous conclusion of our intelligence agencies and repeated reports
from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is following all
the limits the deal imposed.
He is right. A small group of neoconservative groups in Washington
have stroked Trump’s ego and fanned his obsessive hatred of former
President Obama to convince him that he could and must tear down
Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement.
They manufacture “violations” no agency can find, invent a “spirit of
the deal” than never existed, and imagine an alternative future where
Iran caves to new, unilateral American demands — or we use military
force to remove the regime once and for all.
This is not a dream, but a nightmare.
"I HATE EVERYONE IN THE WHITE HOUSE!": TRUMP SEETHES AS ADVISERS FEAR THE PRESIDENT IS "UNRAVELING" Vanity Fair
Law & Politics
At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war.
But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times
interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as
“adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an
inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open
what several people close to the president have recently told me in
private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”
Trump’s ire is being fueled by his stalled legislative agenda and, to
a surprising degree, by his decision last month to back the losing
candidate Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary. “Alabama
was a huge blow to his psyche,” a person close to Trump said. “He saw
the cult of personality was broken.”
There have been few movie executives as dominant, or as domineering, as Harvey Weinstein The New Yorker
Law & Politics
Since the establishment of the first studios, a century ago, there
have been few movie executives as dominant, or as domineering, as
Harvey Weinstein. He co-founded the production-and-distribution
companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company, helping to reinvent the
model for independent films with movies including “Sex, Lies, and
Videotape,” “The Crying Game,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,”
“Shakespeare in Love,” and “The King’s Speech.” Beyond Hollywood, he
has exercised his influence as a prolific fund-raiser for Democratic
Party candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Weinstein combined a keen eye for promising scripts, directors, and
actors with a bullying, even threatening, style of doing business,
inspiring both fear and gratitude. His movies have earned more than
three hundred Oscar nominations, and, at the annual awards ceremonies,
he has been thanked more than almost anyone else in movie history,
ranking just after Steven Spielberg and right before God.
In the years that followed, Evans encountered Weinstein occasionally.
Once, while she was walking her dog in Greenwich Village, she saw him
getting into a car. “I very clearly saw him. I made eye contact,” she
said. “I remember getting chills down my spine just looking at him. I
was so horrified. I have nightmares about him to this day.”
'Hey Google, our breasts aren't sexual' Mail and Guardian
But they noticed that something strange was happening to many of the
videos that showed their bare breasts: they were being marked as
“age-restricted” by YouTube, or taken down entirely, as if the content
was somehow sexual in nature.
“The last Reed Dance, we got all excited, we wanted to show off. I
could tell you that half of the girls…say their images had been taken
down. You get this message saying your images are inappropriate,” she
For Mtshali this is a direct attack on her culture - and also a threat
to the longevity of its traditions. “As black South Africans, we’ve
always been told our culture is uncivilised, our culture is backward.
Because of social media platforms reinforcing these stereotypes it
becomes harder. As a young person why would you want to celebrate
something that is constantly being mocked on social media platforms?”
simple sudanese Citizen thanks @realDonaldTrump beacuse he lift
the sanctions from Sudan 😁 @A_alnager
Africa's Economic Future Depends on Its Farms
When the economies of Nigeria and South Africa recently rebounded, it
wasn't oil or minerals that did the trick. It was agriculture. Faster
and more sustainable agricultural growth is crucial not only to the
continent's economy, but also to its ability to feed and employ its
Agriculture still accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product and
as much as two-thirds of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact,
agricultural growth has the biggest impact on non-farm income and
Unfortunately, Africa's agricultural productivity is about half the
global average, while population pressures and intense cultivation
have degraded 65 percent of its cropland and 30 percent of its
pasture. African agriculture, which is overwhelmingly rain-fed, is
also uniquely vulnerable to climate change.
Growing more food in a more sustainable way will require buy-in from
small-plot farmers, who account for 90 percent of all farms in
sub-Saharan Africa. While there were three farmers for every city
dweller in 1990, rapid urbanization means that by 2020 one farmer will
have to feed two of his or her urban counterparts. Even as regional
famines have revived debate about the need to scale up agribusiness,
making small-scale farming more productive, sustainable and profitable
will remain key to feeding and employing the continent.
Ghana Preparing $1.4 Billion Bond Sale to Clear Energy Debt
Ghana will hold roadshows in the U.S. and London next week to sell 6
billion cedis ($1.4 billion) in local-currency debt to clear arrears
owed to banks by state-owned electricity and petroleum utilities,
according to Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.
The sale is the first tranche of a plan to sell as much as 10 billion
cedis in bonds through a special-purpose vehicle and backed by a tax
on the sale of petroleum products, Ofori-Atta said by phone from
Washington on Thursday. The debt will carry a maturity of no longer
than 10 years, he said.
“We will do the first tranche, size up the market and then come back,”
Ofori-Atta said. “You don’t necessarily need to do all the 10 billion
cedis right now.”
The roadshows will take place next week in Washington, New York,
Boston and London, pending approval for the sale by the country’s
Securities and Exchange Commission, he said.
Ghana is selling the debt, which will not be backed by a sovereign
guarantee, to clear arrears owed to banks by state-owned electricity
and petroleum utilities. The 10-month old government of President Nana
Akufo-Addo has vowed to boost banks’ ability to lend and strengthen
the financial industry as part of an agreement under a International
Monetary Fund extended-credit facility program with the West African
Ghana appointed the local unit of Standard Chartered Plc and
Accra-based Fidelity Bank Ltd. in June as advisers for the sale.
The stock of non-performing loans at banks was 8 billion cedis on June
30, according to Bank of Ghana data. The three major power utilities,
Electricity Company of Ghana, Volta River Authority and Ghana Grid
Company, had 7.7 billion cedis in payable loans at the end of 2015,
according to the International Monetary Fund.
"African oligarchs do a lot more than accepting bribes," AIPC notes. Quartz Africa
“What we unearthed indicated that these elites have, to some extent,
morphed into the very colonialist plunder structures that they
In Togo, for instance, the highly strategic phosphate sector is
managed from the office of president Faure Gnassingbé—selling it to
“whomever they want and at which price they want.” The widespread
poverty in the west African country is now at the center of protests
calling for Gnassingbé, who is in his third term, to leave office. In
Botswana, AIPC says that president Ian Khama controls the lucrative
tourism industry through the ownership of key agencies along with his
relatives and friends, and funnels the returns to offshore accounts.
The situation is similar in Mozambique, where villagers in Montepuez
region were violently removed from ruby fields licensed to generals
and ministers. In Burundi, generals and powerful businessmen have
developed patronage systems within the government—bagging contracts
and exporting large caches of unaccounted for gold annually.
In Rwanda and DR Congo, the ruling party and family respectively,
privately control and invest in almost all sectors of the economy. In
DR Congo, president Joseph Kabila’s family—especially his siblings
Jaynet and Zoe—has established a vast business empire that has
interests in dozens of companies and brings in hundreds of millions of
dollars every year. Crystal Ventures, the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s
holding company, dominates the economy investing in everything from
real estate to publishing and furniture trading.
What Happens Next in Kenya's Political Crisis Is Anyone's Guess Bloomberg
“There is no precedent, there is no legal provision, there is no
constitutional provision for what is happening now in Kenya,” Robert
Besseling, executive director of EXX Africa Ltd., a political risk
advisory firm, said Thursday in an interview in Cape Town. “There is
no way that you can lay out a definite forecast for Kenya’s electoral
process at the moment.”
“I have no idea how this is going to end -- there are just too many
variables,” Ahmed Salim, vice president at Teneo Strategy, said by
phone from Dubai. “If the election doesn’t happen, after Nov. 1 we are
really in a constitutional crisis.”
The Supreme Court remains a curve ball especially because whilst
characterising the IEBC's “contumacious disobedience” did not set out
a Road Map. So the challenge is where we have a ''rinse and repeat''
However, I expect the Election to be held on the 26th and for more low
level street-based responses thereafter.
09-OCT-2017 :: Politics Landing Blows on Economy @TheStarKenya
What is clear is that the advantage of incumbency in fact accelerates
in this Round 2 of the Election. Therefore, I expect the Opposition to
boycott the Election entirely. And that the strategy of tension will
be maintained via degrading and denigrating the entire process. Market
Participants need to model this scenario because this is the direction
''Essentially Kenya faces a very uncertain 21 days'' @DaMina_Advisors.
Mobile payments in August posted the largest month-on-month drop this year, coming after intensive political campaigns in July.
Latest Central Bank of Kenya data shows cash transacted through mobile
money channels dropped by Sh22.55 billion, or 7.3 per cent to Sh286.34
billion compared with Sh308.89 billion in July amidst reduced business
activity on political uncertainty.
The value of payments in July was the fourth largest ever after a
record Sh320.18 billion in March, December 2016’s Sh316.77 billion and
May’s Sh315.45 billion.
The drop in August may also be attributed to reduced business activity
due to poll jitters in the wake of credit rationing by risk-averse
commercial banks following capping of loan charges in September 2016.
"The equity market is currently a rabbit trapped in the political headlights"
Traders are deserting Kenya’s stock market, a star performer earlier
this year, as the unresolved crisis around the country’s presidential
election discourages foreign investors.
Volumes traded on the Nairobi stock exchange have slumped to the
lowest this year, dropping to less than 46 million shares in the week
ended Oct. 6 from as high as 285 million in June. Values have also
dropped, with $870,000 of shares traded Thursday, 76 percent down from
the $3.6 million that changed hands on Aug. 31, before judges ordered
a rerun of the vote.
Kenya’s benchmark index, which gained 26 percent in the 12 months to
Aug. 31, has slumped to become the worst-performer in Africa and the
second-biggest decliner globally since the Supreme Court ordered Sept.
1 that a new vote be held within 60 days, the first time an African
presidential election has been overturned by a court. The stocks have
dropped 6 percent since the ruling in local currency terms, the most
of any benchmark after Greece.