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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Thursday 30th of January 2020
 
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Africa

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Macro Thoughts

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World Uncertainty Index @qz
Africa


No one is sure what will happen in 2020, partly because of all the
looming political uncertainty. There’s the trade war, the US election,
Brexit (still), and global protests—and that’s the short list.

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Ajmer Sharif Dargah is a sufi shrine (Dargah) of sufi saint, Moinuddin Chishti located at Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Africa


The shrine has the grave (Maqbara) of the revered saint, Moinuddin Chisti.
Ajmer Sharif Dargah is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away from the main
central Ajmer Railway station and situated at the foot of the Taragarh
hill, and consists of several white marble buildings arranged around
two courtyards, including a massive gate donated by the Nizam of
Hyderabad and the Akbari Mosque, built by the Mughal emperor Shah
Jahan. It contains the domed tomb of the saint.
Akbar and his queen used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra
every year in observance of a vow when he prayed for a son. The large
pillars called "Kose ('Mile') Minar", erected at intervals of two
miles (3 km) along the entire way between Agra and Ajmer mark the
places where the royal pilgrims halted every day. It has been
estimated that around 150,000 pilgrims visit the site every day.

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Big Bang May Have Created a Mirror Universe Where Time Runs Backwards @PBS
Africa


Why does time seem to move forward? It’s a riddle that’s puzzled
physicists for well over a century, and they’ve come up with numerous
theories to explain time’s arrow.
The latest, though, suggests that while time moves forward in our
universe, it may run backwards in another, mirror universe that was
created on the “other side” of the Big Bang.
Two leading theories propose to explain the direction of time by way
of the relatively uniform conditions of the Big Bang.
At the very start, what is now the universe was homogeneously hot, so
much so that matter didn’t really exist.
It was all just a superheated soup. But as the universe expanded and
cooled, stars, galaxies, planets, and other celestial bodies formed,
birthing the universe’s irregular structure and raising its entropy.
One theory, proposed in 2004 by Sean Carroll, now a professor at
Caltech, and Jennifer Chen, then his graduate student, says that time
moves forward because of the contrast in entropy between then and now,
with an emphasis on the fact that the future universe will so much
more disordered than the past.
That movement toward high entropy gives time its direction.
The new theory says a low entropy early universe is inevitable because
of gravity, and ultimately that’s what gives time its arrow.
To test the idea, the theory’s proponents assembled a simple model
with nothing more than 1,000 particles and the physics of Newtonian
gravity.
Here’s Lee Billings, reporting for Scientific American:
The system’s complexity is at its lowest when all the particles come
together in a densely packed cloud, a state of minimum size and
maximum uniformity roughly analogous to the big bang.
The team’s analysis showed that essentially every configuration of
particles, regardless of their number and scale, would evolve into
this low-complexity state. Thus, the sheer force of gravity sets the
stage for the system’s expansion and the origin of time’s arrow, all
without any delicate fine-tuning to first establish a low-entropy
initial condition.
But here’s the twist: The expansion after the simulated Big Bang
didn’t just happen in one direction, but two. The simple Big Bang they
modeled produced two universes, one a mirror of the other. In one
universe, time appears to run forwards. In the other, time runs
backwards, at least from our perspective.
Here’s Billings again, interviewing lead author Julian Barbour from
the University of Oxford:
“If they were complicated enough, both sides could sustain observers
who would perceive time going in opposite directions. Any intelligent
beings there would define their arrow of time as moving away from this
central state. They would think we now live in their deepest past."
From that perspective, maybe George Lucas’s Star Wars didn’t take
place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in the far
future—our deepest past—of our mirror universe.

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President Putin reportedly to become "Supreme Ruler" when he steps down in 2024 under his proposed changes to Russia's constitution @cobbo3
Law & Politics


Seems Burundi President Nkurunziza, who'll become “Supreme Guide of
Patriotism” when/if he retires in May, has his first international
student.

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Here's an example of the kind of village quarantine "road blocks" we encountered @EmilyZFeng
Law & Politics


Around 1,200 ppl returned home from Wuhan for holidays; they didn't
know how severe the outbreak was. Now they're under house watch.

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27-JAN-2020 :: #WuhanCoronavirus #nCoV2019 #coronavirus
Law & Politics


President Xi warned The Corona virus is 'accelerating' [and the]
country [is] facing 'grave situation'.
So who had ‘mutated bat-snake flu’ as their top market risk for 2020?
tweeted @tracyalloway.
The Precise origins of the Corona virus are yet to be established with
Wiley's Journal of Medical Virology saying it may be may be
snake-to-human transmission and some even pointing the Finger at the
Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan bio-safety level four
(BSL-4) laboratory
and surmising that the only explanation left is artificial DNA
modification, possibly by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which since
2007 has collected samples from thousands of bats across the country
and done genetic experiments with them.
What is clear is that the CCP suppressed information until we reached
a Groucho Marx ''Who Ya Gonna Believe, Me or Your Own Eyes'' moment.
Epidemiologists speak of Tipping Points. Malcolm Gladwell described
the ''Tipping Point''  as the name given to that moment in an epidemic
when a virus reaches critical mass. It's the boiling point. It's the
moment on the graph when the line starts to shoot straight upwards.
In an article in 2014 about Ebola I called it the moment of ''escape
velocity'' and wrote ''viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential
characteristics''
The Mathematics is the basic reproduction number of the infection
(R_0), which represents how many People each person infected with the
coronavirus is passing the disease on to. A number of less than 1,
means the virus dies out.
For a Frame of Reference, the typical R0 attack rate for the seasonal
flu is around an R0=1.28. The 2009 flu pandemic R0=1.48. The 1918
Spanish Flu =1.80. The R0 range is somewhere between 2.00-2.6 with Dr.
Eric Ding speaking of 3.8 over the weekend.
@DrEricDing tweeted the new coronavirus is a 3.8!!! How bad is that
reproductive R0 value? It is thermonuclear pandemic level bad - never
seen an actual virality coefficient outside of Twitter in my entire
career [before adjusting his calculations lower to 2.5]
Each person infected with coronavirus is passing the disease on to
between two and three other people on average at current transmission
rates, according to two separate scientific analyses of the epidemic.
Ferguson’s team suggest as many as 4,000 people in Wuhan were already
infected by Jan. 18 and that on average each case was infecting two or
three others.
A second study by researchers at Britain’s Lancaster University also
calculated the contagion rate at 2.5 new people on average being
infected by each person already infected.
''Should the epidemic continue unabated in Wuhan, we predict (it) will
be substantially larger by Feb. 4,” the scientists wrote.
They estimated that the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the
outbreak began in December will alone have around 190,000 cases of
infection by Feb. 4., and that “infection will be established in other
Chinese cities, and importations to other countries will be more
frequent.”
The Lancet now reports that the coronavirus is contagious even when
*no symptoms*: specifically: “crucial to isolate patients...
quarantine contacts as early as possible because asymptomatic
infection appears possible”
The overarching Point is that whether its 2.5 or 3.8 this is off the
charts. The CCP is building hospitals in a record breaking 7 days but
who will man them? China has locked down a total of 47m of its
Citizens.
Given the new hyperconnectedness of the World [For example, did you
know there is a daily Ethiopian Flight between Wuhan and Addis Abeba -
As of Thursday Ethiopian Airlines, which has multiple daily passenger
and cargo flights to China and Africa’s busiest airport hub, said it
was waiting for guidance from Ethiopia’s Health Ministry on how to
respond], I have to assume that the Corona virus is already in Africa
but just not diagnosed. Thats a racing certainty.
Paul Virilio wrote ''With every natural disaster, health scare, and
malicious rumor now comes the inevitable “information bomb”–live feeds
take over real space, and technology connects life to the immediacy of
terror, the ultimate expression of speed''
And in his book City of panic he described The city reconstructed
through the use mediatized panic.
Markets bought Gold and G7 Bonds on Friday as Investors dived into
Safe Havens, Next week we could see these moves turn parabolic.
“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.’’

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The official story about Coronavirus 2019 nCoV is that it "appears to have originated in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan @Medium
Law & Politics


The official story about Coronavirus 2019 nCoV is that it “appears to
have originated in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, a
Chinese city about 650 miles south of Beijing that has a population of
more than 11 million people.”
This tale has been officially reported as early as January 9th by
CCP’s state-owned and operated news channel, Xinhuanet, New-type
coronavirus causes pneumonia in Wuhan: expert, reported by local
Chinese authorities to the US National Library of Medicine database,
Outbreak of Pneumonia of Unknown Etiology in Wuhan China: the Mystery
and the Miracle and to the International Journal of Infectious
Diseases database, The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel
coronaviruses to global health — The latest 2019 novel coronavirus
outbreak in Wuhan, China.
What’s typically not included in most mainstream news stories,
however, is that the claimed epicenter of the outbreak is just 8.6
miles from Wuhan Institute of Virology, which houses China’s only
P4-Level Biosafety Laboratory capable of storing, studying, or
engineering Pathogen Level 4 microbes such as other coronaviruses,
Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, H5N1 influenza
virus, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue.
Bill Gurtz of the Washington Examiner reports, “the deadly animal
virus epidemic spreading globally may have originated in a Wuhan
laboratory linked to China’s covert biological weapons program,
according to an Israeli biological warfare expert.”
The journalist states that an unnamed U.S. official revealed that
false rumors have been circulating for weeks on the Chinese Internet
claiming the new coronavirus is “part of a U.S. conspiracy to spread
germ weapons” — possibly preparing propaganda outlets to counter
future charges the new virus escaped from one of Wuhan’s civilian or
defense research laboratories.
The article refers to statements provided by Dany Shoham, a former
Israeli military intelligence officer who holds a doctorate in medical
microbiology, and served as a senior analyst with Israeli military
intelligence for biological and chemical warfare in the Middle East
and worldwide from 1970 to 1991.
“Coronaviruses (particularly SARS) have been studied in the Institute
and are probably held therein”, Shohan reveals, as has anthrax, adding
that “certain laboratories in the Institute have probably been
engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese [biological
weapons]. Work on biological weapons is conducted as part of a dual
civilian-military research and is “definitely covert.”
Troublingly, even a State Department report issued last year raised
suspicions that China has been engaged in covert biological warfare
work. “Information indicates that the People’s Republic of China
engaged during the reporting period in biological activities with
potential dual-use applications, which raises concerns regarding its
compliance with the BWC,” the report said, adding that the United
States suspects China failed to eliminate its biological warfare
program as required by the treaty.
Thus, it seems rather astute to examine the details of government- and
media-disseminated reports in contrast to the background of activity
conducted at Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as look into the
specifics of the new coronavirus in comparison with viruses already
isolated, identified, stored, studied, and/or engineered at the
Institute’s Biosafety Laboratory, in an effort to glean the truth.
Claims of surprise by Chinese scientists and State officials are
arguably inauthentic
Let’s begin by examining the glaring discrepancies in the official
story to the underlying and background reality of coronaviruses,
especially in the SARS-scarred land of China. The Sun reports that the
current consensus centers on the belief that the origin of the
coronavirus outbreak is linked to bat soup sold at the market.
However, the article states that experts “had thought the new virus
wasn’t capable of causing an epidemic as serious as [previous deadly
outbreaks of SARS and Ebola] because its genes were different,”
something that simply isn’t true. In 2006, renowned virologist
Professor Zhengli Shi co-authored the study, Review of Bats and SARS,
concluding that “a SARS epidemic may recur in the future and that
SARS-like coronaviruses (SL-CoVs) that originate from different
reservoir host populations may lead to epidemics at different times or
in different regions…. The recent discovery of a group of diverse
SL-CoVs in bats support the possibility of these events….”
A concurrent article published in the South China Morning Post on
January 22, 2020, entitled Coronavirus weaker than SARS but may share
link to bats, Chinese scientists say reports the latest findings on
the coronavirus by scientists at China’s Center for Disease Control
and Prevention. “The scientists’ findings, published on Tuesday,
suggested that the danger posed by the pneumonia-like virus may have
been underestimated by the research community.” However, Prof. Zhengli
and her co-authors published a study early last year on March 2, 2019
entitled Bat Coronaviruses in China which explicitly warned,
“During the past two decades, three zoonotic coronaviruses have been
identified as the cause of large-scale disease outbreaks⁻Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),
and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome (SADS). SARS and MERS emerged in
2003 and 2012, respectively, and caused a worldwide pandemic that
claimed thousands of human lives, while SADS struck the swine industry
in 2017. They have common characteristics, such as they are all highly
pathogenic to humans or livestock, their agents originated from bats,
and two of them originated in China. Thus, it is highly likely that
future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from
bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in
China. Therefore, the investigation of bat coronaviruses becomes an
urgent issue for the detection of early warning signs, which in turn
minimizes the impact of such future outbreaks in China” (emphasis
added).
The South China Morning Post article continues with the beguiling
assertion, “Previously, most scientists believed the new virus could
not cause an epidemic as serious as that of SARS because its genes
were quite different. But the new study found that, like SARS, the
virus targeted a protein called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2
(ACE2).” Apparently, the virology scientific community not only failed
to heed Prof. Zhengli’s explicit, recent dire warnings about the “high
likelihood” that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks would
originate from bats — they also ignored Zhengli’s incredibly pertinent
report published ten years ago in July, 2010, Identification of key
amino acid residues required for horseshoe bat angiotensin-I
converting enzyme 2 to function as a receptor for severe acute
respiratory syndrome coronavirus. The study’s abstract can’t be
clearer on the immunological risks associated with protein ACE2, with
its obvious liability for usurpation by viral agents with a little
modified genome sequencing:
“Angiotensin-I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the receptor for severe
acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV). A previous
study indicated that ACE2 from a horseshoe bat, the host of a highly
related SARS-like coronavirus, could not function as a receptor for
SARS-CoV. Here, we demonstrate that a 3 aa change from SHE (aa 40–42)
to FYQ was sufficient to convert the bat ACE2 into a fully functional
receptor for SARS-CoV. We further demonstrate that an ACE2 molecule
from a fruit bat, which contains the FYQ motif, was able to support
SARS-CoV infection, indicating a potentially much wider host range for
SARS-CoV-related viruses among different bat populations.”
This old but remarkable study concludes that only a minor genome
sequence change was required to convert a non-susceptible bat ACE2
protein into a functional receptor for SARS-CoV, something that could
easily happen in nature. “Considering that there are more than 60
different horseshoe [bat] species around the world (Flanders et al.,
2009; Rossiter et al., 2007), it is possible that one or some of them
may serve as the natural reservoir of SARS-CoV and/or its progenitor
virus(es).” Why is it that current State virologists are apparently
ignorant of these essential discoveries of yesteryear?
The South China Morning Post article cited above summarizes two
primary known facts about the new coronavirus: first, that a “virus
found in fruit bats is [the] common ancestor of the two strains
[Coronavirus 2019-nCoV and SARS],” and that this “new strain has [an]
unusually high ability to bind to a human protein.” And the new study
on Coronavirus 2019-nCoV by the joint research team from the Chinese
Academy of Sciences, the People’s Liberation Army, and Institut
Pasteur of Shanghai indeed found that, like SARS, the virus targeted
the ACE2 protein. It’s just as Prof. Zhengli predicated a decade ago:
“…the fact that an ACE2 protein from a megabat, the fruit bat
Rousettus leschenaultia, can function as a receptor for SARS-CoV would
suggest that the host range for SARS-CoV or SL-CoVs may be much wider
than originally thought.”
So what happened — did the virology and surrounding scientific
community drop the ball on these well-established findings and
warnings, or what? After all, at least as February, 2008, they knew
three key facts about ACE2:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused by the
SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which uses ACE2 as its
receptor for cell entry. SL-CoVs and SARS-CoVs share identical genome
organizations and high sequence identities, with the main exception of
the N terminus of the spike protein, known to be responsible for
receptor binding in CoVs.
Whereas the SL-CoV spike protein was unable to use any of the three
ACE2 molecules as its receptor, and the SARS-CoV spike protein failed
to center cells expressing the bat ACE2, the chimeric spike protein
the study created did gain its ability to center cells via human ACE,
and
A minimal insert region (amino acids 310 to 518) was found to be
sufficient to convert the SL-CoV S from non-ACE2 binding to human ACE2
binding, indicating that the SL-CoV S is largely compatible with
SARS-CoV S protein both in structure and in function.
We know they knew these facts way back in 2008 because Prof. Zhengli
published the findings of these facts in her report, Difference in
Receptor Usage between Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Coronavirus and SARS-Like Coronavirus of Bat Origin. Therein the
scientists concluded, “Knowing the capability of different CoVs to
recombine both in the laboratory and in nature, the possibility that
SL-CoVs may gain the ability to infect human cells by acquiring spike
protein sequences competent for binding to ACE2 or other surface
proteins of human cells can be readily envisaged.” Thus, it seems
strange and perhaps even disingenuous that the new joint CCP
government-joint Coronavirus 2019-nCoV task force is seemingly
ignorant about coronavirus targeting the ACE2 protein, apparently
pretending it’s only just now discovered this. After all, Zhengli’s
2008 report was quite clear about the role that this ACE2 protein
would play in future pandemics: the study “strengthened our belief
that ACE2 from certain bat species could be able to support SARS-CoV
infection because of the predicted genetic diversity of bat ACE2
variants in different bat species.”
At any rate, the forgoing storyline is the official word on
Coronavirus 2019-nCoV, manifesting itself somehow in a seafood market
in Wuhan. But what else might be found in Wuhan? After all, Wuhan is
the capital city of the Hubei Province, home to some 11 million
Chinese citizens. Well, curiously underreported is the fact that
China’s first high-level biosafety laboratory is located just 8.6
miles away. “Used to study class four pathogens (P4), which refer to
the most virulent viruses that pose a high risk of aerosol-transmitted
person-to-person infections,” Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is
the darling, cutting-edge hi-tech baby of the Wuhan Institute of
Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and is the only such lab in
China where dangerous, highly communicable viruses such as Ebola,
SARS, MERS, H5N1 influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis, dengue, and
assorted coronaviruses can be “safely” toyed with.
What’s odd is that despite completing the decade-long construction and
having the official inauguration of this P4 laboratory on January 31,
2015 — announced by the General Office of Hubei Provincial People’s
Government, it wasn’t until 2 and 1/2 years later in January 2018,
that the Chinese government announced that the lab was actually in
operation. And ahead of the lab’s second opening in January 2018,
biosafety experts and scientists from the United States expressly
warned “that a SARS-like virus could escape,” much in the same way the
SARS virus had escaped multiple times from a lab in Beijing.
UPDATE — JANUARY 29, 2020: What’s also odd, and outright suspicious,
is that as of January 29, 2020, the location of Wuhan Institute of
Virology (where the National Biosafety Laboratory is headquartered) on
Google Maps has inexplicably moved since I first viewed it on January
24, 2020 and published this article on January 27, 2020. Its new
location is now over twice the distance from the claimed epicenter of
the novel coronavirus, Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Even its
satellite imagery of the original site has been altered as well. Good
thing I took screenshots.
Whether Wuhan Institute of Virology actually remains at its original
location displayed a few days ago — or has suddenly packed up and is
now holed up in the nearby woods like a crouching tiger or hidden
dragon — former Israeli military intelligence officer and
microbiologist, Dany Shoham, exposes the institute as “one of four
Chinese laboratories engaged in some aspects of the biological weapons
development.” He adds that although the institute is under the Chinese
Academy of Sciences, it has certain laboratories within it that are
linked to the Chinese defense establishment. Indeed, the annual State
Department report on arms treaty compliance stated last year that
China engaged in activities that could support biological warfare. In
fact, in 1993, China declared a second facility, the Wuhan Institute
of Biological Products — located 21.6 miles away from Wuhan Institute
of Virology, and only 9 miles away from Huanan Seafood Wholesale
Market — as one of eight biological warfare research facilities
covered by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) which the communist
country joined in 1985.
“This means the SARS virus is held and propagated there, but it is not
a new coronavirus, unless the wild type has been modified, which is
not known and cannot be speculated at the moment,” Shoham explains. So
that means, significantly, there are actually two laboratories linked
to the Chinese biowarfare program — though the only one certifiably
deemed safe for coronaviruses is the new Pathogen-4 rated National
Biosafety Laboratory at Wuhan Institute of Virology. And whether this
enigmatic facility is a philanthropic, health services-related
institute, a covert, biological warfare research installation, or some
combination of the two — what on earth could the scientists
sequestered here have been up to in their brand new, state-of-the-art
biotech base for two and a half years, if it wasn’t officially in
operation? And what have they been doing since their second opening in
2018?
Well, storing, researching, and experimenting with numerous fulminant
disease pathogens, of course. After all, the lab is “preservation
center for virus seeds, a fulminant disease pathogen storage facility,
a reference laboratory of WHO, a node for disease network, and
finally…a core in China’s emerging disease research network.”
Basically, in all of China, Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is the
only place to store and experiment with the most lethal, most
virulent, most rapidly-spreading disease pathogens known to humanity.
The lab is in “the central region of Central China, with mountains at
three directions, convenient transportation and relatively independent
environment” [sic]. And convenient it is, as you can play with Ebola,
SARS, Hantavirus, and assorted coronaviruses in the morning…and then
hop in your car and have some bat soup for lunch at the Huanan Seafood
Wholesale Market on the other side of the Yangtze River. Maybe BYOB —
bring your own bat?
Do you believe in coincidences? Because it just so happens that Prof.
Zhengli has been ardently researching and experimenting with
coronaviruses for years at Wuhan Institute of Virology — even before
ground was broken over a decade ago on the new P4 National Biosafety
Laboratory. Interestingly, the scientist seems uniquely perfect for
her role — like a “Neo” figure in a laboratory version of The Matrix.
In fact, Prof. Zhengli has been Senior Scientist and Principal
Investigator of Wuhan Insititute of Virology for the last 20 years,
initially starting as a Research Assistant in 1990 before upgrading to
Research Scientist in 1993, serving in that role until 1995. Aside
from a 5-year leave from 1995 to 2000 to get her PhD at University of
Montpellier in France, she’s been at the Institute for an amazing 30
years.
Notably, starting in 2014, Prof. Zhengli began to win particularly
large sums of grant funding for the express purpose of researching and
experimenting with coronaviruses — often receiving numerous,
overlapping grants for the same time period. What’s just as
interesting is where a lot of this funding originated — the US
government. On January 6, 2014, Prof. Zhengli received a US$665,000
grant from the National Institute of Health for a study named The
Ecology of Bat Coronaviruses and the Risk of Future Coronavirus
Emergence (NIAID R01 AI1 10964) and then four days later on January
10, 2014, an additional US$559,500 grant from the United States Agency
of International Development for research studied entitled Emerging
Pandemic Threats PREDICT 2_China (Project No. AID-OAA-A-14–00102).
On top of these lucrative American grants she concurrently received
similarly significant grants from the National Basic Research program
of China, the Chinese Academy of Science, the National Natural Science
Foundation of China, and from the Strategic Priority Research Program
of Chinese Academy of Sciences totaling over US$2,500,000 for
researching interspecies transmission of zoonotic viruses, the
identification, genetic evolution and pathogenesis of bat viruses, the
genetic variation of pathogens in Africa, the evolution mechanism of
the adaptation of bat SARS-related coronaviruses to host receptor
molecules, the risk of interspecies infection, genetic evolution and
transmission mechanism of important bat-borne viruses, and pathogen
biology studies on novel swine coronaviruses.

In just the past five years alone, Prof. Zhengli Shi has almost US$10
million in grants to study coronaviruses.
We can quite safely conclude that when it comes to interspecies
coronaviruses, Professor Zhengli Shi is a bona fide Jedi master. In
fact, her Wikipedia page credits her and her colleague, Cui Jie, with
the actual discovery that the SARS virus originated in bats. Her noted
“Research Interests” on her C.V. include “Discovery of unknown viruses
in wild animals especially bats, molecular epidemiology of emerging
zoonotic viruses, and interspecies infection mechanism of zoonotic
viruses.” Prof. Zhengli appears to be one of the world’s leading bat
virologists — and most definitely the leading bat virologist in China.
Indeed, her C.V. explicitly state
OK, but how is Prof. Zhengli relevant to the current new outbreak of
Coronavirus 2019-nCoV?
Chinese scientists, researchers, and doctors examining the emergent
2019-nCoV Coronavirus report that the new viral menace appears to be
“a recombinant virus between the bat coronavirus and an origin-unknown
coronavirus. The recombination occurred within the viral spike
glycoprotein, which recognizes cell surface receptor.” But Prof.
Zhengli appears to have worked with recombinant Coronavirus
derivations involving viral spike proteins for over a decade at Wuhan
Institute of Virology, all the way back to 2006 and up to as recently
as December, 2019 — the very month that 2019-nCoV Coronavirus was
first reported as having infected visitors at Huanan Seafood Wholesale
Market just down the road from her laboratory!
In fact, on the day before the new coronavirus would find its first
victims just 8.6 miles away at the market on December 12, 2019, Prof.
Zhengli and her team published the study entitled Molecular mechanism
for antibody-dependent enhancement of coronavirus entry on December
11, 2019. The abstract reads,
“Coronavirus spike protein mediates viral entry into cells by first
binding to a receptor on host cell surface and then fusing viral and
host membranes. Our study reveals a novel molecular mechanism for
antibody-enhanced viral entry and can guide future vaccination and
antiviral strategies. This study reveals complex roles of antibodies
in viral entry and can guide future vaccine design and antibody-based
drug therapy.”
And immediately after this study was published — literally the
following day — the first victims became infected with what would soon
be named Coronavirus 2019-nCoV began to get infected…just a few miles
away from Prof. Zhengli’s laboratory. And as The Sun reports, victims
of the new coronavirus are infected via a strong binding affinity to a
human protein called ACE2,” in precisely the identical manner as Prof.
Zhengli’s just-discovered “novel molecular mechanism” identified (or
engineered) literally weeks if not days before. Do you believe in
coincidences?
In conclusion, though admittedly much investigation remains to be
performed (especially into the numerous unanswered questions posed in
this essay), it seems the likeliest source of origin for Coronavirus
2019-nCoV is the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan
Institute of Virology. Further, it appears to me that, at best, there
may be concerted efforts to conceal the precise nature of the virus,
its source, and the parties responsible, or that, at worst, the
dissemination of the epidemic coronavirus is intentional.

read more




7. Very strange: new mystery middle segment that has no #coronavirus history "This genomic part comprises also half of the spike region encoding a multifunctional protein responsible also for virus entry into host cells[30,31]". @DrEricDing
Law & Politics


7. Very strange: So what is in this new mystery middle segment that
has no #coronavirus history? The study authors continue: “This genomic
part comprises also half of the spike region encoding a
multifunctional protein responsible also  for virus entry into host
cells[30,31]”.

read more


Chinese bioengineers were the first to use CRISPR/Cas9, an RNA-guided targeted genome editing tool to fiddle with human DNA. @euripedies
Law & Politics


 #武汉华南海鲜市場 一直被指是播毒源头,但近日出现另一论证,位于武汉的中科院病毒研究所因被指存在安全隐患,也引发是播毒源头的疑虑。该研究所未有公开回应公众质疑,仅私下否认与今次病毒危机有关。
https://twitter.com/RfaCantonese/status/1222127139652169729


#武汉新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情 持续扩散,世界多个国家也出现传入个案。#武汉华南海鲜市場
一直被指是播毒源头,但近日出现另一论证,位于武汉的中科院病毒研究所因被指存在安全隐患,也引发是播毒源头的疑虑。该研究所未有公开回应公众质疑,仅私下否认与今次病毒危机有关。

#武汉新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情 The spread has continued, and cases have been introduced
in many countries around the world. #武汉华南海鲜市場 It has been accused of
being the source of virus spreading, but another argument has emerged
recently. The Virus Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of
Sciences in Wuhan has also been suspected of being the source of virus
spreading because of alleged security risks. The institute has not
publicly responded to public questions, and has only privately denied
that it is related to the virus crisis.

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9. BOTTOMLINE: 1) Seafood market not source. 2) RNA #coronavirus mutates really fast. 3) 🧬 has unusual middle segment never seen before in any coronavirus. 5) mystery middle segment encodes protein responsible for entry into host cells. @DrEri
Law & Politics


9. BOTTOMLINE: 1) Seafood market not the source. 2) This RNA
#coronavirus mutates really fast. 3) 🧬 has unusual middle segment
never seen before in any coronavirus. 4) Not from recent mixing. 5)
That mystery middle segment encodes protein responsible for entry into
host cells.

read more


20 OCT 14 :: it is about its 'escape velocity' viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential characteristics. EBOLA #WuhanCoronavirus
Law & Politics


“It is a numbers game, the more cases you have the more likely there
are going to be mutations that could change the virus in a significant
way,” said David Sanders, a professor of biological sciences at Purdue
University who studies Ebola.
“The more it persists, the more likely we are going to be thrown a curve.”

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.1011
Dollar Index 98.063
Japan Yen 108.86
Swiss Franc 0.9723
Pound 1.3002
Aussie 0.6727
India Rupee 71.5218
South Korea Won 1188.66
Brazil Real 4.2307
Egypt Pound 15.80
South Africa Rand 14.7009

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@Facebook Shares Slump After Results Show Slowing Growth @technology
World Currencies


The world’s biggest social-media company reported record
fourth-quarter revenue of $21.1 billion, boosted by ads on Instagram
and in video.
The 25% increase from the period a year earlier was the slowest-ever
quarterly sales growth for Facebook, though it topped analysts’
average estimate of $20.9 billion. Shares fell about 7% in extended
trading on the news.
Facebook said it had 2.89 billion monthly active users of its products
around the world, but growth stagnated in the U.S. and Canada on the
main social network -- the primary source of advertising sales.
Monthly active users hit 2.5 billion on the main network as of Dec.
31, slightly topping analysts’ estimate of 2.49 billion.
The company’s trajectory is limited by the number of world internet
users, most of whom already have an account on Facebook or its
WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger properties.
That means finding new revenue streams will be increasingly
challenging, requiring experimentation that might not pay off, such as
in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and shopping.
What Facebook “has to grapple with is a rising cost framework while
each incremental dollar of revenue growth gets tougher,” said James
Cakmak, a partner at Clockwise Capital.
“My goal for this next decade isn’t to be liked, but to be understood,
because in order to be trusted people need to know what you stand
for,” he said on a conference call with analysts.

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26 MAR 18 :: Facebook. @TheStarKenya
World Currencies


“It’s no use fighting elections on the facts; it’s all about emotions.”
“So the candidate is the puppet?” the undercover reporter asked.
“Always,” replied Nix.
A 1997 US Army Quarterly concluded “One of the defining bifurcations
of the future will be the conflict between information masters and
information victims.” and this has come to pass.
The fundamental challenge for Facebook is this: It has represented
itself as an ‘’Infomediary’’ An infomediary works as a personal agent
on behalf of consumers to help them take control over information
gathered about them.
The concept of the infomediary was first suggested by John Hagel III
in the book Net Worth.
However, Facebook has been hawking this information as if it were an
intermediary. This is its ‘’trust gap’’. That gap is set to widen
further. Facebook is facing an existentialist crisis.

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Lebanese Bonds Sink to Record Lows Amid Concern Over Repayment @markets
Emerging Markets


As investors count down to Lebanon’s next bond maturity on March 9, a
fresh meltdown in the debt market reflects their concern over the
government’s solvency.
Many of the crisis-ridden nation’s Eurobonds have slumped to record
lows as relief over the formation of a new government last week proved
to be short-lived:
The price of the $1.2 billion security due in March has declined 5
cents this week to 76 cents on the dollar, a record low; that equates
to a yield to maturity of almost 300%
A $2.1 billion bond maturing in April 2021 slid below 50 cents for the
first time this week and traded at 45 cents on Wednesday
Notes due May 2029 have fallen 8 cents in the past five trading days to 34 cents
Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic and political crisis in
decades, following months of protests.
International reserves can only finance external needs until March
2021 before being depleted, according to Bloomberg Economics, and
attempts to secure financial assistance from Gulf allies have so far
come up empty.
“Lebanon is running out of time to find a solution to service its debt
and some type of debt restructuring appears inevitable within the next
three to six months,” said Anders Faergemann, a London-based money
manager at Pinebridge Investments, which sold all of its Lebanese bond
holdings last year.
“We are obviously very conscious of the March 9 bond maturity.”
Top of the agenda for the new government, led by Prime Minister Hassan
Diab, will be whether to repay the March Eurobond.
One of the world’s most indebted countries, Lebanon nevertheless has
an unblemished record of bond repayment through war and political
strife.
Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni met with central bank Governor Riad
Salameh on Tuesday to discuss monetary and banking issues, according
to a tweet from Wazni.
Earlier this month the central bank suggested getting local holders of
the March notes to swap into longer-dated bonds as a way of preserving
the country’s foreign reserves.
But the Finance Ministry asked it to hold off after ratings agencies
warned they would view it as a distressed exchange and downgrade
Lebanon.

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21-OCT-2019 :: "The New Economy of Anger".
Emerging Markets


Prolonged stand-offs eviscerate economies, reducing opportunities and
accelerate the negative feed- back loop.

read more


Record 1.2 mln investors subscribed to the latest IPO in #Iran @mwojtal Zinc Company to Launch IPO
Emerging Markets


IZSC manufactures zinc ingots in Isfahan. As stated in its website,
the company’s production capacity exceeds 15,000 tons per year. It
started operation in 1998.
The company’s IPO is the 12th of its kind that is going public on IFB
since the beginning of current fiscal year on March 20, 2019.
Four companies have been listed on Tehran Stock Exchange in this period.

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Can Africa's wall of eurobond repayments be dismantled? @emsovdebt
Africa


There has been a wave of African eurobond issuance over the past
decade. South Africa started the eurobond  trend for the continent in
1995, but it has only been since the global financial crisis that push
and pull factors have encouraged broader African issuance.
The asset class has grown to 21 African countries with outstanding
sovereign eurobonds, totalling $115 billion.
This follows a big increase in issuance since 2017, led by the
eurobond heavyweights: Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.
The larger economies have been followed by eurobond middle-weights:
Ivory Coast, Angola, Kenya and Ghana; who have been extending their
curves over the past three years.
The issuance has been mainly in USD, but EUR issuance has become more
common since 2018, especially for countries with close trade links to
Europe (Morocco and Tunisia) or with currencies pegged to the euro
(Ivory Coast, Senegal and Benin).
Longer maturities are also becoming more common. Five-years ago most
eurobonds were issued with maturities of around 10-years, with a few
exceptions from sovereigns who had longer issuance track-records, such
as South Africa.
But since Nigeria successfully tested the market with 30-year paper in
November 2017, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Angola, Egypt and Senegal
have all come to market with 30-year paper.
Annual issuance was small before 2013, hence there are not many
African eurobonds maturing between now and 2023.
But given larger issuance from then, of mainly 10-year paper, there is
a spike of maturities coming in 2024 and 2025, creating a wall of
sovereign debt repayments.
How worried should we be about this wall of eurobond debt?
African eurobonds and other frontier markets offer higher yields than
the emerging market norm, but investors need to be mindful of the
increased risks.
A specific concern is whether a spike in African maturities in 2024
and 2025 will overwhelm the sovereigns ability to refinance their
bonds, especially if sentiment towards emerging market is weak in
these years.
The wall of repayment is of concern, but three factors suggest there
could be more resilience than some of the more gloomy takes on African
indebtedness have suggested.
First, there is a growing number of African countries who have now
repaid eurobonds. Second, there have been few recent events of
default. Third, African countries’ debt management is improving. It is
becoming less passive and more active.
Growing repayment record
There is a well told story of Africa’s debut eurobond issues of the
past 10 years, but less attention is given to a growing record of
repayment.
South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt each have a growing
track-record of repayment. But other countries have also now repaid
sovereign eurobonds, including: Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria.
Few eurobond defaults
To date only a few African countries have defaulted on sovereign
eurobonds. Including the Seychelles (in 2008) and Mozambique (in
2017), who both later exchanged new eurobonds with bondholders.
Also Ivory Coast did not pay coupons in 2011 following post-election
violence, but did later reimburse investors for the missed coupons.
Since these events, Ivory Coast and Seychelles have developed much
better economic and debt management practises. It is hoped Mozambique
works to do the same.
It should be noted that the context for the defaults during the
African debt crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was very different, as debt
stocks were then predominately official.
There had been sizeable commercial bank lending to Ivory Coast,
Morocco and Nigeria in the 1970s (who like Latin American countries
received Brady plan support).
But for most African countries, commercial debt was by and large
linked to bilateral export credit agreements, later replaced by
multilateral lending.
Active debt management
Active debt management is becoming common among African countries. It
is important because a $750 million eurobond does not sound large when
compared to issuance across emerging markets, but that amount is large
relative to the size of many African frontier economies.
Further, some African sovereigns are yet to establish a track-record
in the markets (this comes with regular repayment and not just regular
issuance).
Hence there would be concern if some of the African issuers were
waiting right until their bonds’ maturities to refinance them.
To avoid such heightened repayment risks African countries are
increasingly coming back to the market with dual narratives. They are
raising money for their budgets and for liquidity management.
Gabon and Ghana came early to the eurobond market in 2007, but ahead
of maturities in 2017 they came to the market and tendered some of
their debut eurobonds, reducing the repayment risk.
More recently Ivory Coast and Senegal followed this trend, reducing
some of their shorter dated eurobonds with proceeds from new issuance.
Also Kenya repaid one of its debut eurobonds due in 2019 plus
syndicated loans, using issuance from earlier that year.
Another approach is to save hard currency in a sinking fund, as
Namibia has done to prepare for its debut eurobond maturing in 2021.
With this trend of more active debt management it appears like the
wall of debt in 2024 and 2025 can be slowly picked apart, with the
spikes in maturity being smoothed out.
Risks are being spread out over subsequent years and a more positive
view of the asset class now makes sense.  Debt slips over the next
five to seven years, appear more likely to be country specific, rather
than following a systematic hit to the continent’s debt.
This suggests that navigating country-by-country risk is essential.
Monitoring country vulnerabilities
There are a few things important things to look out for. First, are
build-ups of China’s official lending, as such debt currently falls
outside the Paris Club structures for creditor reporting and
restructuring  (for example Angola, Ethiopia and Kenya among eurobond
issuers are particularly exposed).
Second, unsustainable debts of state owned enterprises hitting the
sovereign balance sheets (for example in South Africa where the
electricity utility Eskom is running huge debts).
Third, collateralized lending from commodity traders (for example
Angola and Republic of Congo have oil-backed debts). And finally where
countries are complacent and ignoring the debt alarm bells (Zambia
sits in this camp).

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14-OCT-2019 :: Xi Jinping "The End of Vanity" which I characterised at the time as a "a substantive linguistic recasting of China Africa by Xi Jinping"
Africa


I recall #FOCAC2018 and the famous photograph where all the Chinese
officials had a pen and paper and not one African official was taking
notes. Had they been taking notes they would have heard Xi Jinping
specifically speak of ‘’The End of Vanity’’ which I characterised at
the time as a ‘’a substantive linguistic recasting of China Africa by
Xi Jinping’’
I only recently discovered Ecclesiastes and clearly Xi was ahead of me
in this regard.
Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 2 Vanity[a] of vanities, says the Preacher 2 Vani-
ty[a] of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is
vanity. 11 There is no remembrance of former things,[c] nor will there
be any re- membrance of later things[d] yet to be among those who come
after.

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13-AUG-2019 :: The Feedback Loop Phenomenon
Africa


The Purest Proxy for the China, Asia, EM and Frontier markets feedback
loop phenomenon is the South African Rand aka the ZAR.

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If you've just arrived in Kenya, felt mood, looked at newspapers you would conclude country is about to go to a general election. @RAbdiCG
Africa


BBI is now an existential intra-elite civil war.
Meanwhile economy tanks, more borrowing, Al-Shabaab threat grows.

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Kenyan Ambassador to China, Sarah Serem, says they'd [Kenyans] rather remain in China to be monitored there instead of coming back home to put at risk an entire country. @gabrieloguda
Africa


Kenyan Ambassador to China, Sarah Serem, has been asked why Kenya
hasn't sent a plane to evacuate Kenyans in Wuhan in the wake of the
corona virus epidemic. She says they'd rather remain in China to be
monitored there instead of coming back home to put at risk an entire
country.

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"The governor accordingly ceases to hold office," @Ken_Lusaka Lusaka said. @bpolitics @eombok
Africa


Senators voted on three charges - gross violation of the constitution
and county governments law, crimes under national law, and abuse of
office and gross misconduct, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said
The successful impeachment of Ferdinand Waititu, governor of Kiambu
county, came after the authorities charged him and some family members
with alleged crimes including money laundering and the fraudulent
acquisition of public funds. They have all denied any wrongdoing.
Waititu’s deputy, James Nyoro, was due to be sworn in as the new
governor at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, according to an emailed statement
from the judiciary.

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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January 2020
 
 
 
 
 
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