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“The combination of a darkened surface and a lot of people watching
made it much more likely that the flash of impact was seen – and it
reminds us that the solar system is still a very dynamic place,” says
Robert Massey at the Royal Astronomical Society.
Africans may have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar 4000 years ago
Ancient people from sub-Saharan Africa may have crossed the Strait of
Gibraltar into current-day Spain 1300 years earlier than we thought. A
genetic analysis of human samples is the first evidence of such a
migration in prehistoric times.
“We are finding that the Strait of Gibraltar was not a barrier for
human contact, migration or gene flow between Africa and Spain,” says
Gloria Maria Gonzalez Fortes at the University of Ferrara in Italy.
Previous research suggested that African genes flowed to Spain and
Portugal during the Islamic occupation of Spain, which started in the
8th century and lasted about 800 years.
“We found that it may be from a time much earlier than that,” says
Gonzalez Fortes. She and her team analysed the DNA from 17 ancient
people found on the Iberian Peninsula, from the south of Spain to the
north of Portugal, carbon dated to 3000 to 4500 years old.
They compared their mitochondrial DNA to archaeological samples from
Mitochondrial DNA is inherited through maternal genes, and doesn’t
combine with paternal DNA, so it can be traced through the
generations. “My mitochondrial DNA is identical to my mother’s, and
hers is identical to her mother,” she says. They found similarities
between the samples from Iberia and Africa, with more African genetic
markers in the Spanish samples. This fits with the archaeological
record, which shows similarities in tools and pottery decoration made
by North African people and those who populated Andalusia in southern
“4000 years ago, people were already building ships and sailing, so
why wouldn’t they cross the Strait of Gibraltar? You can see the coast
of Africa from the coast of Spain. The sea there is very dangerous, so
people were sceptical about this, but it’s likely this was the path
they took,” says Gonzalez Fortes. She says their data show that this
migration happened at least 4000 years ago, but it may have happened
Ischia is one of those places that, if you've been, you tend to keep to yourself
Ischia is one of those places that, if you’ve been, you tend to keep
to yourself. After all, part of its charm, besides its low-key vibe
and lack of American tourists, is waking up to a view like this of the
Tyrrhenian Sea from the Mezzatorre Resort & Spa. “It’s the
anti-Capri,” says Michael Williams, founder of the men’s style site A
Continuous Lean, of the island, a 17-square-mile speck in the Gulf of
Naples. “There’s no scene, no Gucci stores.” While Ischia has flown
largely under the radar for Americans—with the exception of its recent
cameo in the wildly popular Elena Ferrante quartet—Williams was tipped
off when he asked a friend for recommendations in Sicily. “He said,
‘Go to Ischia instead and stay at Mezzatorre,’ so I did, and that’s
what I’ve done for the past seven years.” Besides lounging seaside or
soaking in a thermal bath (the volcanic island is covered in them),
there’s really not much to do. “You read by the sea, have a great
seafood lunch at the hotel, then hop a cab into town for sunset and a
fantastic dinner.” Here’s how Williams masters the art of doing
The mask slips as Zimbabwe's 'new' regime bares its teeth @FinancialTimes's @davidpilling
Emmerson @edmnangagwa’s crackdown is as vicious as anything seen in
the Mugabe era
This week, Emmerson Mnangagwa, president and ostensible new face of
Zimbabwe, cut short a foreign trip, skipping Davos to attend to things
at home “in light of the economic situation”.
In his utter failure to capture the gravity of events, Mr Mnangagwa
echoed Japan’s Emperor Hirohito who, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki had
been vaporised by atomic bombs, declared that “the war situation has
developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage”. Presumably he would
have skipped Davos, too.
The truth that Mr Mnangagwa missed in his milquetoast assessment is
this: Zimbabwe is bankrupt. Zimbabwe is on fire. The crisis, years in
the making, was ignited 10 days ago when the president announced on TV
that petrol and diesel prices would more than double to $3 a litre.
Having dropped his bombshell, he absconded to Moscow, leaving the
country in the hands of his nominal deputy, General Constantino
In what has become a national “good cop, bad cop” routine, Gen
Chiwenga — architect of the 2017 coup that brought Mr Mnangagwa to
power and a man who looks suspiciously like the country’s de facto
ruler — ordered a crackdown on the inevitable protests that followed.
For long-suffering Zimbabweans, the fuel price rise was the final
straw. It topped months of economic meltdown that have stripped
supermarket shelves bare and sucked any remaining value from the
country’s phoney electronic currency. Zimbabwe’s paper notes were
scrapped a decade ago after raging hyperinflation. That the country
survives at all is due almost entirely to the dollars sent home by the
millions of Zimbabweans forced to seek a livelihood abroad.
Bus fares rose with fuel prices. Many Zimbabweans now spend the
entirety of their earnings getting to and from work. Destitution or
worse beckons. Even police have been spotted traipsing for miles with
handcuffed prisoners because their vehicles have no petrol.
For years, Zimbabwe’s people have suffered silently, both through fear
of reprisal and because of civic norms that shun violence. For many,
the fuel price rise proved too much. The trades union congress called
a general strike.
In Harare, the capital, and Bulawayo, a centre of opposition to the
ruling Zanu-PF, youths barricaded streets and even attacked police
If Max Weber’s definition of a state is a group with a monopoly on
violence, it is a definition Zanu-PF takes to heart. Gen Chiwenga’s
military responded with a crackdown every bit as vicious as during the
era of former president Robert Mugabe. Soldiers fired live rounds at
demonstrators. They went house to house, beating up people and
dragging off youths to prison. So indiscriminate is the violence that
even people who voted for Zanu-PF are victims.
George Charamba, once the spokesman of Mr Mugabe and now the voice of
President Mnangagwa, described the crackdown as “just a foretaste” of
things to come. He accused the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, which claims it was defrauded in last year’s election, of
seeking power through blood.
Authorities killed at least 12 people, according to the Zimbabwe Human
Rights NGO Forum, during what it has called the “days of darkness”.
That alludes to both the severity of state violence and to an internet
shutdown intended to keep it under wraps. Zimbabweans living aboard
used expensive airtime to call relatives, getting the news out anyway.
“People are not scared any more because they already killed us,” says
Simon Mafuu, a 35-year-old Uber driver in Cape Town, who fled
Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation a decade ago. “They have no work. They have
nothing to lose.”
It is the dearth of prospects that has brought Zimbabwe’s diligent and
well-educated population to the brink. Mr Mnangagwa was supposed to
breathe life into the economy by wooing foreign investors and
repairing relations with international bodies.
His efforts, if they were genuine, have been stillborn. Vested
interests within Zanu-PF stand to lose by opening up the economy to
competition and scrutiny. Many reap rich rewards through control of
state coffers and supplies of the fuel whose rationing has tipped the
country into chaos.
Last year at Davos, a smiling Mr Mnangagwa told the world that
Zimbabwe was “open for business”. Dressed in a rainbow-coloured scarf
that has become a symbol of a supposedly new, more enlightened
Zimbabwe, he told assembled delegates that his nickname of “the
crocodile” was unwarranted.
A year has passed. Like many other liberation movements, Zanu-PF
appears irredeemable. The new Zimbabwe looks very much like the old
one. And Mr Mnangagwa’s teeth — or at least those of Gen Chiwenga —
are as sharp as ever.
African Borrowers Face Risk of Debt 'Tipping Point' @MthuliNcube tells @Business' @economics at @wef in @Davos
A third of African countries have unsustainable debt positions and the
continent must reduce its reliance on foreign funding for projects
that don’t help them service loans, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli
Global investors in search of higher yields have been “gobbling” up
African debt over the past decade, he said. Governments on the
continent used the financing to build infrastructure and fund
recurrent expenditure, neither of which create enough foreign earnings
that can be used to repay creditors, said Ncube, a Cambridge-trained
former chief economist of the African Development Bank.
African countries “must stop borrowing to finance infrastructure,” he
said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday. “You don’t
export roads. The bulk of the financing must come from domestic
sources or public-private partnerships of Build-Operate-Transfer”
models, Ncube said.
Some countries appear to be entering “debt-restructuring mode,” Ncube
said, without identifying them.
“I hope that we’re not at the tipping point of another round of Highly
Indebted Poor Countries initiatives to extinguish African debt, but
it’s beginning to feel like that,” he said.
08-OCT-2018 :: One Domino that has suddenly tipped over is Zimbabwe
Reuters reported that People again formed long queues to fill up their
cars in the capital, with others panic-buying basic goods like
cookingoil and sugar. There are $9.3 billion of Zollars in banks
compared to $200 million in reserves, official data showed, a mis-
match that creates a premium for the U.S. dollar and fans the black
market. On the black market, the premium for the U.S. dollar spiked to
a new record on Saturday, reaching 165 percent from 120 percent on
Monday, traders said that means buying $100 in cash via a bank
transfer cost $265, up from $220 earlier this week. The Government’s
''’Voodoo Economics’’ where it spent $1.3b pump-priming the economy
ahead of the election [money it did not have] was the straw that broke
the camel’s back.
@algore's Firm Leads $100 Million Investment in African Outsourcing Startup @business
Outsourcing isn’t generally seen as the most high-minded of
industries. But when the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic
organization backed by the wealth of Facebook’s founder, looked to
write checks to startups, the first investment it led was for Andela,
which places African computer programmers to work remotely for
American corporations. By training Nigerian computer programmers, the
thinking went, Andela’s office in Lagos would speed the development of
the technology industry in those countries. “Technology is the exact
opposite of an extractive industry,” says Jeremy Johnson, Andela’s
chief executive officer. “Success begets success.”
Andela now operates in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, and has about 1,100
developers on staff working for more than 200 companies, nearly 90
percent of which are located in the U.S. Now former U.S. Vice
President Al Gore’s sustainability-focused investment firm, Generation
Investment Management, is leading a $100 million funding round in the
outsourcer, bringing Andela’s venture capital haul to date to $180
Generation’s interest in Andela parallels CZI’s—with the bonus, it
says, that large-scale remote work could help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. “Remote collaboration, and allowing people not to get on
planes, obviously has carbon benefits,” says Lilly Wollman, who led
the Andela investment. She expects the company to be placing 10,000
developers with clients within the next several years.