|Monday 19th of August 2019
19-AUG-2019 :: Safe Havens are Priced for Armageddon Now
The c21st Real Time not only unfolds itself at the Speed of Light but
is full of mind bending twists and turns. Jeffrey Epstein ''had a
collection of eyeballs on his wall'' [Counterpunch]
The eyeballs make sense, because Epstein was a watcher. ..Is it a
coincidence that we all live in a watch-and-collect digital economy?
Maybe. But we feast upon each other in the 21st century.
He was, in the words of the New York Times, “not closely monitored.”
Jeffrey Epstein was a spy, in a society of spies. He was a collector,
in a collector’s economy. He was a watcher, and he died while nobody
“To the millennials who are looking at the world through their phone
Johnnie Walker is way more aspirational than any other brown spirit in
East Africa,” Mr Andrew Cowan told African Business Magazine.
The Point is that the Smart Phone is ubiquitous even in the furthest
corners of the World and we are all peering at a newsreel. Except, of
course, if you are in Kashmir which was described by Nehru as “the
snowy bosom of the Himalayas” and which is currently switched off
from the c21st. Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Article 370,
which protected Kashmir’s demography by restricting residency to
Kashmiris alone and, under a sub-section known as Article 35A, forbade
the sale of property to non-Kashmiris. Essentially, Modi is seeking to
flood the zone. The Periphery is a Tinderbox in many parts of the
World. Xinjiang in China is also under lock down and a c21st
experiment. Writing in the Washington Post earlier this year, Xiao
Qiang, a professor of communications at the University of California,
Berkeley, dubbed China’s data-enhanced governance “a digital
totalitarian state.” In the last two years thousands of checkpoints
have been set up at which passersby must present both their face and
their national ID card to proceed on a highway, enter a mosque, or
visit a shopping mall. Uighurs are required to install
government-designed tracking apps on their smartphones, which monitor
their online contacts and the web pages they’ve visited. Kashmir, Gaza
and Xinjiang are being managed in precisely the same way and it is
precisely because they all reside at the Periphery and can be cut off
from the World.
Interestingly, The Wall Street Journal reported last week that China's
Huawei had exported this same model to many parts of Africa.
While many of the projects are rudimentary, Huawei has sold advanced
video-surveillance and facial-recognition systems in more than two
dozen developing countries, according to data gathered by Steven
Feldstein, an expert in digital surveillance at Boise State University
and a former Africa specialist at the State Department. Huawei lists
foreign firms among its partners in its safe-city products, including
U.S. smart-sensor manufacturer and systems
integrator Johnson Controls International PLC and iOmniscient Pty.
Ltd., an Australian producer of A.I. systems that analyze video, sound
Hong Kong is presenting a serious challenge to the Chinese
authorities. It is not possible to Xinjiang Hong Kong, I think. The
Citizens in Hong Kong have been Virilian.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”
The amophorous Leaders of the Hong Kong Protests called on ''Friday
(August 16) for Hong Kong citizens[to] take out all bank deposits.
primary goal is Chinese banks, but he said other banks should also be
targeted, otherwise Chinese banks can borrow money from other banks to
This is a sophisticated response and speaks to the sophistication of
the Protestors in Hong Kong. China will surely flood the zone.
The Frontier from Xinjiang to Kashmir, from Gaza to Crimea from Hong
Kong to Taiwan [Trump has Approved $8BN Sale Of F-16 Jets To Taiwan;
Congress Urged To "Move Quickly"] are c21st flash points. Of course,
there are many other Frontiers, the Mediterranean Sea, the Sahara
desert, Islands because of the EEZ's they control.
Emerging and Frontier Markets have been encountering a bout of serious
turbulence. The rand [which can be viewed as a Proxy for the Global
appetite for risk] is back as the world’s most volatile major
currency, and options pricing suggests it’s not going to lose that
status any time soon. The premium of options to sell the rand over
those to buy it, known as the 25 Delta risk reversal, widened 23 basis
points to 338. South Africa’s currency has depreciated 6.5% versus the
dollar in August, the worst performance among emerging-market
currencies after Argentina’s peso. Argentina'a MerVal Index fell 37%
in a single day the largest 1-day decline in its history. This was a
17-sigma event which means that it should not have happened even once
in the history of the universe (assuming a normal distribution which
markets do not follow). Stock Markets from Lagos to Nairobi to
Johannesburg are in reverse. There is a big negative spillover
happening in front of our eyes.
Meanwhile far from the volatile Frontier, we are witnessing whiplash
inducing moves at the centre. There has been a Major Flight to
''quality'' in 2019. Treasuries, gold and the Japanese yen are
clocking “the largest number of outsized rallies” combined since at
least 1990, according to Bank of America Corp. The latest milestone in
the haven frenzy arrived this week, when the yield on 30-year U.S.
Treasuries slipped below 2% for the first time.
“Investors have not been so worried about the future in the past
thirty years,” BofA strategists led by Stefano Pascale wrote in an
Aug. 13 note.
The charge into havens this month has been spurred by flashing
recession indicators, trade-war tit-for-tat and data disappointments
-- all amid thin liquidity. Gold is up about 18% this year, while the
yen is the top performer against the dollar across G-10 currencies
Safe Havens are priced for Armageddon now.
Now the last time G7 Economies went full on ''zombie'' the liquidity
surge washed up just about everywhere in every corner of the World. It
was characterised as the Global Hunt for Yield. Now when Safe Haven
Demand turns parabolic, Investors are signalling they are not
interested in the return but only in getting their Principal back.
Emerging and Frontier Markets look in big trouble this time around.
Iqbal: “In the bitter chill of winter shivers his naked body / Whose
skill wraps the rich in royal shawls''
China Missiles Could Overwhelm U.S. Military in Asia in 'Hours', Says Think Tank @bpolitics
Law & Politics
A decade of “delayed and unpredictable funding” for the U.S.
military’s budget has seen America lose its primacy in the Western
Pacific, giving the edge to an increasingly sophisticated China, a
Sydney-based think tank warned.
China’s “growing arsenal of accurate long-range missiles poses a major
threat to almost all American, allied and partner bases, airstrips,
ports and military installations in the Western Pacific,” the
University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre said in a report
“As these facilities could be rendered useless by precision strikes in
the opening hours of a conflict, the PLA missile threat challenges
America’s ability to freely operate its forces from forward locations
throughout the region,” it said, referencing China’s People’s
The report recommended that Australia, a major ally of the U.S.,
should “increase stockpiles and create sovereign capabilities in the
storage and production of precision munitions, fuel and other material
necessary for sustained high-end conflict.”
While China is Australia’s largest trading partner, the nations have
been at odds over series of issues, including the Australian
government’s ban on Huawei Technologies Co. from bidding for 5G
contracts and its accusation that Beijing has been “meddling” in
Who needs democracy when you have data? @techreview
Law & Politics
In 1955, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov published a short story
about an experiment in “electronic democracy,” in which a single
citizen, selected to represent an entire population, responded to
questions generated by a computer named Multivac.
The machine took this data and calculated the results of an election
that therefore never needed to happen. Asimov’s story was set in
Bloomington, Indiana, but today an approximation of Multivac is being
built in China.
For any authoritarian regime, “there is a basic problem for the center
of figuring out what’s going on at lower levels and across society,”
says Deborah Seligsohn, a political scientist and China expert at
Villanova University in Philadelphia.
How do you effectively govern a country that’s home to one in five
people on the planet, with an increasingly complex economy and
society, if you don’t allow public debate, civil activism, and
How do you gather enough information to actually make decisions? And
how does a government that doesn’t invite its citizens to participate
still engender trust and bend public behavior without putting police
on every doorstep?
Hu Jintao, China’s leader from 2002 to 2012, had attempted to solve
these problems by permitting a modest democratic thaw, allowing
avenues for grievances to reach the ruling class.
His successor, Xi Jinping, has reversed that trend. Instead, his
strategy for understanding and responding to what is going on in a
nation of 1.4 billion relies on a combination of surveillance, AI, and
big data to monitor people’s lives and behavior in minute detail.
It helps that a tumultuous couple of years in the world’s democracies
have made the Chinese political elite feel increasingly justified in
shutting out voters. Developments such as Donald Trump’s election,
Brexit, the rise of far-right parties across Europe, and Rodrigo
Duterte’s reign of terror in the Philippines underscore what many
critics see as the problems inherent in democracy, especially
populism, instability, and precariously personalized leadership.
Since becoming general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in
2012, Xi has laid out a raft of ambitious plans for the country, many
of them rooted in technology—including a goal to become the world
leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. Xi has called for “cyber
sovereignty” to enhance censorship and assert full control over the
domestic internet. In May, he told a meeting of the Chinese Academy of
Sciences that technology was the key to achieving “the great goal of
building a socialist and modernized nation.” In January, when he
addressed the nation on television, the bookshelves on either side of
him contained both classic titles such as Das Kapital and a few new
additions, including two books about artificial intelligence: Pedro
Domingos’s The Master Algorithm and Brett King’s Augmented: Life in
the Smart Lane.
“No government has a more ambitious and far-reaching plan to harness
the power of data to change the way it governs than the Chinese
government,” says Martin Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute for
International Economics in Washington, DC. Even some foreign
observers, watching from afar, may be tempted to wonder if such
data-driven governance offers a viable alternative to the increasingly
dysfunctionallooking electoral model. But over-relying on the wisdom
of technology and data carries its own risks.
Chinese leaders have long wanted to tap public sentiment without
opening the door to heated debate and criticism of the authorities.
For most of imperial and modern Chinese history, there has been a
tradition of disgruntled people from the countryside traveling to
Beijing and staging small demonstrations as public “petitioners.” The
thinking was that if local authorities didn’t understand or care about
their grievances, the emperor might show better judgment.
Under Hu Jintao, some members of the Communist Party saw a limited
openness as a possible way to expose and fix certain kinds of
problems. Blogs, anticorruption journalists, human-rights lawyers, and
online critics spotlighting local corruption drove public debate
toward the end of Hu’s reign. Early in his term, Xi received a daily
briefing of public concerns and disturbances scraped from social
media, according to a former US official with knowledge of the matter.
In recent years, petitioners have come to the capital to draw
attention to scandals such as illegal land seizures by local
authorities and contaminated milk powder.
But police are increasingly stopping petitioners from ever reaching
Beijing. “Now trains require national IDs to purchase tickets, which
makes it easy for the authorities to identify potential
‘troublemakers’ such as those who have protested against the
government in the past,” says Maya Wang, senior China researcher for
Human Rights Watch. “Several petitioners told us they have been
stopped at train platforms.” The bloggers, activists, and lawyers are
also being systematically silenced or imprisoned, as if data can give
the government the same information without any of the fiddly problems
The idea of using networked technology as a tool of governance in
China goes back to at least the mid-1980s. As Harvard historian Julian
Gewirtz explains, “When the Chinese government saw that information
technology was becoming a part of daily life, it realized it would
have a powerful new tool for both gathering information and
controlling culture, for making Chinese people more ‘modern’ and more
‘governable’—which have been perennial obsessions of the leadership.”
Subsequent advances, including progress in AI and faster processors,
have brought that vision closer.
As far as we know, there is no single master blueprint linking
technology and governance in China. But there are several initiatives
that share a common strategy of harvesting data about people and
companies to inform decision-making and create systems of incentives
and punishments to influence behavior.
These initiatives include the State Council’s 2014 “Social Credit
System,” the 2016 Cybersecurity Law, various local-level and
private-enterprise experiments in “social credit,” “smart city” plans,
and technology-driven policing in the western region of Xinjiang.
Often they involve partnerships between the government and China’s
The most far-reaching is the Social Credit System, though a better
translation in English might be the “trust” or “reputation” system.
The government plan, which covers both people and businesses, lists
among its goals the “construction of sincerity in government affairs,
commercial sincerity, and judicial credibility.” (“Everybody in China
has an auntie who’s been swindled. There is a legitimate need to
address a breakdown in public trust,” says Paul Triolo, head of the
geotechnology practice at the consultancy Eurasia Group.) To date,
it’s a work in progress, though various pilots preview how it might
work in 2020, when it is supposed to be fully implemented.
The algorithm is thought to highlight suspicious behaviors such as
visiting a mosque or owning too many books.
Blacklists are the system’s first tool. For the past five years,
China’s court system has published the names of people who haven’t
paid fines or complied with judgments. Under new social-credit
regulations, this list is shared with various businesses and
government agencies. People on the list have found themselves blocked
from borrowing money, booking flights, and staying at luxury hotels.
China’s national transport companies have created additional
blacklists, to punish riders for behavior like blocking train doors or
picking fights during a journey; offenders are barred from future
ticket purchases for six or 12 months. Earlier this year, Beijing
debuted a series of blacklists to prohibit “dishonest” enterprises
from being awarded future government contracts or land grants.
A few local governments have experimented with social-credit “scores,”
though it’s not clear if they will be part of the national plan. The
northern city of Rongcheng, for example, assigns a score to each of
its 740,000 residents, Foreign Policy reported. Everyone begins with
1,000 points. If you donate to a charity or win a government award,
you gain points; if you violate a traffic law, such as by driving
drunk or speeding through a crosswalk, you lose points. People with
good scores can earn discounts on winter heating supplies or get
better terms on mortgages; those with bad scores may lose access to
bank loans or promotions in government jobs. City Hall showcases
posters of local role models, who have exhibited “virtue” and earned
“The idea of social credit is to monitor and manage how people and
institutions behave,” says Samantha Hoffman of the Mercator Institute
for China Studies in Berlin. “Once a violation is recorded in one part
of the system, it can trigger responses in other parts of the system.
It’s a concept designed to support both economic development and
social management, and it’s inherently political.” Some parallels to
parts of China’s blueprint already exist in the US: a bad credit score
can prevent you from taking out a home loan, while a felony conviction
suspends or annuls your right to vote, for example. “But they’re not
all connected in the same way—there’s no overarching plan,” Hoffman
One of the biggest concerns is that because China lacks an independent
judiciary, citizens have no recourse for disputing false or inaccurate
allegations. Some have found their names added to travel blacklists
without notification after a court decision. Petitioners and
investigative journalists are monitored according to another system,
and people who’ve entered drug rehab are watched by yet a different
monitoring system. “Theoretically the drug-user databases are supposed
to erase names after five or seven years, but I’ve seen lots of cases
where that didn’t happen,” says Wang of Human Rights Watch. “It’s
immensely difficult to ever take yourself off any of these lists.”
Occasional bursts of rage online point to public resentment. News that
a student had been turned down by a college because of her father’s
inclusion on a credit blacklist recently lit a wildfire of online
anger. The college’s decision hadn’t been officially sanctioned or
ordered by the government. Rather, in their enthusiasm to support the
new policies, school administrators had simply taken them to what they
saw as the logical conclusion.
The opacity of the system makes it difficult to evaluate how effective
experiments like Rongcheng’s are. The party has squeezed out almost
all critical voices since 2012, and the risks of challenging the
system—even in relatively small ways—have grown. What information is
available is deeply flawed; systematic falsification of data on
everything from GDP growth to hydropower use pervades Chinese
government statistics. Australian National University researcher Borge
Bakken estimates that official crime figures, which the government has
a clear incentive to downplay, may represent as little as 2.5 percent
of all criminal behavior.
In theory, data-driven governance could help fix these
issues—circumventing distortions to allow the central government to
gather information directly. That’s been the idea behind, for
instance, introducing air-quality monitors that send data back to
central authorities rather than relying on local officials who may be
in the pocket of polluting industries. But many aspects of good
governance are too complicated to allow that kind of direct monitoring
and instead rely on data entered by those same local officials.
However, the Chinese government rarely releases performance data that
outsiders might use to evaluate these systems. Take the cameras that
are used to identify and shame jaywalkers in some cities by projecting
their faces on public billboards, as well as to track the prayer
habits of Muslims in western China. Their accuracy remains in
question: in particular, how well can facial-recognition software
trained on Han Chinese faces recognize members of Eurasian minority
groups? Moreover, even if the data collection is accurate, how will
the government use such information to direct or thwart future
behavior? Police algorithms that predict who is likely to become a
criminal are not open to public scrutiny, nor are statistics that
would show whether crime or terrorism has grown or diminished. (For
example, in the western region of Xinjiang, the available information
shows only that the number of people taken into police custody has
shot up dramatically, rising 731 percent from 2016 to 2017.)
“It’s not the technology that created the policies, but technology
greatly expands the kinds of data that the Chinese government can
collect on individuals,” says Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the
Lowy Institute and the author of The Party: The Secret World of
China’s Communist Rulers. “The internet in China acts as a real-time,
privately run digital intelligence service.”
Writing in the Washington Post earlier this year, Xiao Qiang, a
professor of communications at the University of California, Berkeley,
dubbed China’s data-enhanced governance “a digital totalitarian
state.” The dystopian aspects are most obviously on display in western
Xinjiang (“New Territory”) is the traditional home of a Chinese Muslim
minority known as Uighurs. As large numbers of Han Chinese migrants
have settled in—some say “colonized”—the region, the work and
religious opportunities afforded to the local Uighur population have
diminished. One result has been an uptick in violence in which both
Han and Uighur have been targeted, including a 2009 riot in the
capital city of Urumqi, when a reported 200 people died. The
government’s response to rising tensions has not been to hold public
forums to solicit views or policy advice. Instead, the state is using
data collection and algorithms to determine who is “likely” to commit
future acts of violence or defiance.
The Xinjiang government employed a private company to design the
predictive algorithms that assess various data streams. There’s no
public record or accountability for how these calculations are built
“The people living under this system generally don’t even know what
the rules are,” says Rian Thum, an anthropologist at Loyola University
who studies Xinjiang and who has seen government procurement notices
that were issued in building the system.
In the western city of Kashgar, many of the family homes and shops on
main streets are now boarded up, and the public squares are empty.
When I visited in 2013, it was clear that Kashgar was already a
segregated city—the Han and Uighur populations lived and worked in
distinct sections of town. But in the evenings, it was also a lively
and often noisy place, where the sounds of the call to prayer
intermingled with dance music from local clubs and the conversations
of old men sitting out late in plastic chairs on patios. Today the
city is eerily quiet; neighborhood public life has virtually vanished.
Emily Feng, a journalist for the Financial Times, visited Kashgar in
June and posted photos on Twitter of the newly vacant streets.
The reason is that by some estimates more than one in 10 Uighur and
Kazakh adults in Xinjiang have been sent to barbed-wire-ringed
“reeducation camps”—and those who remain at large are fearful.
In the last two years thousands of checkpoints have been set up at
which passersby must present both their face and their national ID
card to proceed on a highway, enter a mosque, or visit a shopping
mall. Uighurs are required to install government-designed tracking
apps on their smartphones, which monitor their online contacts and the
web pages they’ve visited. Police officers visit local homes regularly
to collect further data on things like how many people live in the
household, what their relationships with their neighbors are like, how
many times people pray daily, whether they have traveled abroad, and
what books they have.
All these data streams are fed into Xinjiang’s public security system,
along with other records capturing information on everything from
banking history to family planning. “The computer program aggregates
all the data from these different sources and flags those who might
become ‘a threat’ to authorities,” says Wang. Though the precise
algorithm is unknown, it’s believed that it may highlight behaviors
such as visiting a particular mosque, owning a lot of books, buying a
large quantity of gasoline, or receiving phone calls or email from
contacts abroad. People it flags are visited by police, who may take
them into custody and put them in prison or in reeducation camps
without any formal charges.
Adrian Zenz, a political scientist at the European School of Culture
and Theology in Korntal, Germany, calculates that the internment rate
for minorities in Xinjiang may be as high as 11.5 percent of the adult
population. These camps are designed to instill patriotism and make
people unlearn religious beliefs. (New procurement notices for
cremation security guards seem to indicate that the government is also
trying to stamp out traditional Muslim burial practices in the
While Xinjiang represents one draconian extreme, elsewhere in China
citizens are beginning to push back against some kinds of
surveillance. An internet company that streamed closed-circuit TV
footage online shut down those broadcasts after a public outcry. The
city of Shanghai recently issued regulations to allow people to
dispute incorrect information used to compile social-credit records.
“There are rising demands for privacy from Chinese internet users,”
says Samm Sacks, a senior fellow in the Technology Policy Program at
CSIS in New York. “It’s not quite the free-for-all that it’s made out
Christina Larson is an award-winning foreign correspondent and science
journalist, writing mostly about China and Asia.
05-MAR-2018 :: China has unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang
Law & Politics
Dissent is measured and snuffed out very quickly in China. China has
unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang where a combination of data
from video surveillance, face and license plate recognition, mobile
device locations, and official records to identify targets for
detention [CDT]. Xinjiang is surely a Precursor for how the CCCP will
manage dissent. The actions in Xinjiang are part of the regional
authorities’ ongoing “Strike-Hard” campaign, and of President Xi’s
“stability maintenance” and “enduring peace” drive in the region.
22-JUL-2019 :: Trump is a unique political phenomenon otherwise he would not have parlayed his way to the @WhiteHouse
Law & Politics
.@realDonaldTrump has already established his credentials as a
linguistic warfare specialist. Look at the names he gave his
opponents: crooked Hillary, Lyin’ Ted, little Marco, ‘low-energy’ Jeb
— which were devastating and terminal
His linguistics actually derive from the world of wrestling and
between 1988 and 2013, he ran wrestling events, appeared ringside
(notably in the Battle of the Billio- naires), and was even inducted
into the world wrestling entertainment Hall of Fame.
[Financial Times’Stephen Grosz]. In wrestling, as in literature, names
are never neutral. Naming a character is an essential part of creating
There’s always a “face” (short for baby-face, or hero) and a “heel”
(villain). Hulk Hogan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are faces. Jake
“The Snake” Roberts and Rick Rude are heels.
Wrestling pits good against bad, a genuine he-man against a phoney
rascal. To emasculate his oppo- nents, Trump uses this trope: “low
Energy Jeb”, “Mr Magoo” (Jeff Ses- sions) “Lyin’ James” (Comey), “Rat”
(Michael Cohen), “Highly conflicted Bob Mueller”.
As part of his two-fisted swagger, Trump tweets in wrest- ling-speak:
“lightweight Marco Rubio was working hard last night. The problem is,
he is a choker, and once a choker, always a choker! meltdown.
Sterling ended a record run of losses against the common currency last week @markets
Sterling has had a tumultuous few weeks since Boris Johnson succeeded
Theresa May as U.K. Prime Minister, with a promise to deliver Brexit
on Oct. 31 “do or die”.
That saw the pound extend its slide against the euro to 14 straight
weeks and had fund managers and strategists considering the risk of a
plunge to parity against the dollar.
With the pound recovering 2% in the past five days to 91 pence per
euro and bouncing above $1.21 after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sought
rival parties’ support, the market’s bearish view might be coming
under pressure, according to Jordan Rochester, a currency analyst at
Nomura International Plc.
He sees the odds of Brexit by October at 41% now, from over 50%
earlier this month.
02-JUL-2018 :: .@PMEthiopia Dr Abiy Ahmed is evidently a Virilian and Gladwellian Figure.
In matters language and linguistics, he has tapped into a ‘’Nelson
Mandela’’ 1994 mood. These 90 or so days represent the most
consequential arrival of an African politician on the African stage
since Mandela walked out of prison blinking in the sunlight and
constructed his ‘’rainbow nation’’
It’s all about speed and velocity. Paul Virilio terms it ‘dromology’,
which he defined as the “science (or logic) of speed“. He notes that
the speed at which something happens may change its essential nature,
and that which moves with speed quickly comes to dominate that which
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”
Virilio argues that the traditional feudal fortified city disappeared
because of the increasing sophistication of weapons and possibilities
For Virilio, the concept of siege warfare became rather a war of movement.
Abiy Ahmed has moved at lightning speed, the old guard is like ‘’the
traditional feudal fortified city’’.
Mood darkens in Tanzania as @MagufuliJP silences his critics @thetimes
It is peak tourist season in Tanzania, where the great migration of
wildebeest has drawn thousands of foreign tourists to witness one of
the great miracles of nature.
Away from their gaze, however, the east African state is sliding into
a dictatorship in which critics of the president are shown no mercy.
The detention last week of Erick Kabendera, 39, an independent
journalist who has written for The Times and other international
newspapers, has drawn a sharp rebuke from Britain and the US, which
are among the country’s biggest aid funders. The charges which have
since been brought against him are widely seen as a tactic to silence
President Magufuli, 59, nicknamed “the bulldozer”, was elected in 2015
on a pledge to root out corruption and public mismanagement. Instead,
political and civic freedoms have been stamped out in what was once
regarded as a burgeoning beacon of democracy in Africa.
Tundu Lussu, 51, perhaps the most vocal opponent of Mr Magufuli, was
fortunate to survive after being shot 16 times by unknown assailants
“Tanzania has become a land of horrors in recent years,” he told The
Times. “We have descended into the kind of obnoxious dictatorial
regime we thought was a thing of the past.”
An unprecedented number of murders, kidnappings and disappearances of
political, business and media figures have been recorded in Tanzania
in recent years. The journalist Azory Gwanda has not been seen since
his abduction in 2017.
In May the prominent dissident Mdude Nyagali was snatched by four
gunmen after leaving work and was beaten severely before being dumped
in remote bush two days later. The incident came hours after he had
branded Mr Magufuli a “hypocrite” on social media.
In February last year Daniel John, a politician with the opposition
Chadema party, was kidnapped while campaigning. His body was found
later with machete wounds to the head. A party colleague, Ben Saanane,
disappeared two years before that and has not been seen since.
Last year the UK provided aid worth £153 million to Tanzania and the
US gave more than $500 million, a third of it channelled through the
In a joint statement issued today, the US embassy and the British High
Commission said they were “particularly concerned” by the Kabendera
case, which they said appeared to breach Tanzanian law. They called on
the government to respect human rights and judicial process.
The Magufuli government denies any links to the attacks and
disappearances, but an atmosphere of fear and suspicion has set in
across the east African state.
“People don’t talk about politics on public transport and bars
anymore. They are scared of the people sitting next to them. No one
feels safe,” said a bus driver in Arusha, the northeastern city that
is the gateway to Tanzania’s exquisite safari destinations and Mount
Mr Lussu was the Chadema party’s chief whip when gunmen fired 39
bullets at his car as he was leaving his home in the capital Dodoma.
After 20 hospital operations and nearly two years spent recovering in
Belgium he is planning his return to Tanzania to challenge Mr Magufuli
in next year’s presidential elections — if, his fearful supporters
say, he survives that long.
“I have never stopped calling out his abuses of his government and
even though I am the president’s public enemy No 1 I am not going to
stop now,” he said.
There is no doubt that Tanzania has a lot to offer tourists, we have
many places of spectacular natural beauty. But perhaps tourists
thinking of coming to enjoy them should reflect on whether they really
would like to endorse such a sinister and autocratic regime.”
US-China trade war hits Africa's cobalt and copper mines with 4,400 jobs expected to vanish @SCMPNews
The US-China trade war is partly to blame for Anglo-Swiss mining giant
Glencore’s move to shut a cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of
Congo and copper mining shafts in Zambia, with the probable loss of
about 4,400 jobs, analysts say.
Glencore, which also is a commodity trading juggernaut, is placing its
Mutanda mine in Congo – the world’s largest cobalt producer and one of
the world’s poorest countries – on care and maintenance because of a
slump in cobalt prices.
The mine, which produces about one-fifth of the metal used to make
batteries for mobile phones and electric cars, provides about 3,000
jobs. It paid US$600 million in taxes last year, or one-tenth of the
Congolese government’s budget.
Glencore’s Zambian unit, Mopani Copper Mines, is also shutting two
copper mining shafts at its Nkana facility, probably putting 1,400
people out of work. Copper accounts for more than two-thirds of the
country’s export revenue and a fifth of tax revenue.
The price of cobalt, an essential material in the rechargeable
batteries that power smartphones and electric cars, has plunged from
more than US$90,000 per tonne early last year to about US$28,000 per
tonne, according to the London Metal Exchange.
Copper prices have also tumbled from a high of US$6,555 per tonne in
February to about US$5,700.
But analysts say that while countries that export cobalt, copper and
iron ore will be hardest hit as Beijing – the major buyer of Africa’s
hard commodities – diversifies the sourcing of its imports during the
trade war, opportunities are opening up for exporters of soft
commodities, such as agricultural products.
The AfDB’s African Economic Outlook 2019 report noted that Africa’s
chances of being hurt by the trade war were high, given that over 60
per cent of Africa’s exports go to the US, China and Europe, and more
than 70 per cent of Africa’s imports originate from these countries.
“So, a decline in demand for Africa’s exports due to a slowdown in the
global economy prompted by tariffs is an important channel that could
affect Africa,” the AfDB wrote.
Martyn Davies, managing director of emerging markets and Africa at
Deloitte, said China’s demand for commodities has underpinned Africa’s
growth for 20 years.
“Any commodity-exporting economy’s growth model has been underpinned
by China’s demand for commodities in the last generation,” Davies
“This in itself has resulted in complacency in many commodity
exporting countries because if you had China growing at 7 or 8 per
cent, you don’t need to struggle.
“Unfortunately,” Davies said, “the world has changed. China is
becoming more services driven, [so] countries now have to work hard to
grow. The ones able to wean off this commodity-driven model will
Development Reimagined, a Beijing-based consultancy building
Africa-China links, said that in 2017, eight African countries
exported more than half their products (minerals or otherwise) to
China compared with other members of the group of 20 leading
The analysis of Africa-G20 trade also said the most exposed country
was South Sudan, which – with 15 of its oil operators now under US
sanctions – exported 95 per cent of its oil to China.
It was followed by the Republic of Congo (63 per cent), Angola (61 per
cent), Eritrea (60 per cent), Zambia (58 per cent), the Democratic
Republic of Congo (56 per cent), Gambia (54 per cent) and Guinea (51
“Capturing even a small portion of the dislocation from increasing
trade protectionism could benefit Africa.”
China has exerted the power of pull over a vast swathe of the world
over the last two decades. We can call it the China, Asia, EM and
Frontier markets feedback loop. This feedback loop has been largely a
positive one for the last two decades.
With the Yuan now in retreat [and in a precise res- ponse to Trump],
this will surely exert serious downside pressure on those countries in
the Feed- back Loop.
To wit, emerging market stocks closed down for 11 days running , 12
being an all-time record which was narrowly missed.
Kenya is hoping to benefit from the current standoff between India and Pakistan to push the 16 percent share New Delhi supplies to Karachi.
East Africa Tea Traders Association (Eatta) said Kenya has an
opportunity to raise its exports to Pakistan, the leading buyer of the
local beverage whose numbers have been going down of late.
Pakistan and India are at the moment in another standoff after the
latter suspended the semi-autonomous status of the contested Kashmir
“We would like to use this impasse to further our tea exports to
Pakistan as Kenya stands to benefit from this standoff,” said Edward
Mudibo, Managing Director at the Eatta.
India supplies Sh3 billion tea to Pakistan every year making it the
second country in terms of market supply after Kenya.
Whereas Kenya might benefit in terms of volumes, the earnings could be
lower as the Pakistan rupee has of late been losing value against the