|Friday 28th of February 2020
History Shows Gold's Rally May Only Just Be Getting Started @markets
Even with gold at seven-year highs, there’s still room for more gains
if history is anything to go by.
Prices have surged this year as haven-seeking investors pour in.
Markets have been shaken by worries that the coronavirus outbreak will
cripple global growth, coupled with expectations for looser monetary
policy around the world.
Assets in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds are at the highest ever
and money managers are holding a near-record bullish bet.
Yet gold remains a relatively small percentage of portfolios by
historic standards. And as investors assess the virus threat to the
world’s biggest economies, it’s worth remembering that the metal’s
haven qualities are especially evident during recessionary periods.
Here are four charts that show why gold’s still got room to run.
After an unprecedented 25 straight days of inflows, the total value of
gold held by exchange-traded funds tracked by Bloomberg is closing in
on the record of over $144 billion reached in 2012.
But while bullion holdings have jumped this year, they’re still
relatively low as a proportion of total ETF assets.
Fewer than 10% of investors own gold and the metal probably makes up
less than 2% of portfolios on average, according to Peter Grosskopf,
chief executive officer of Sprott Inc., a money manager that
specializes in precious metals.
“Investor participation in gold is still anemic,” Grosskopf said. He
argues that investors should have at least 5% of their assets in gold
as a form of insurance. “Even a small move in this direction would
have the effect of squeezing a relatively smaller market much, much
While gold is now quite expensive compared with copper or oil, the
ratios remain below their historic peaks.
Gold-copper and gold-oil ratios are elevated but not records
Gold’s nominal peak would be about $2,700 in today’s U.S. dollars,
Hsueh said. There’s likely “quite a fair share of investors who are
looking for a pullback just so that they could buy.”
The Answer BY BEI DAO
Debasement is the password of the base,
Nobility the epitaph of the noble.
See how the gilded sky is covered
With the drifting twisted shadows of the dead.
The Ice Age is over now,
Why is there ice everywhere?
The Cape of Good Hope has been discovered,
Why do a thousand sails contest the Dead Sea?
I came into this world
Bringing only paper, rope, a shadow,
To proclaim before the judgment
The voice that has been judged:
Let me tell you, world,
If a thousand challengers lie beneath your feet,
Count me as number thousand and one.
I don't believe the sky is blue;
I don't believe in thunder's echoes;
I don't believe that dreams are false;
I don't believe that death has no revenge.
Nearly half of the atoms that make up our bodies may have formed beyond the Milky Way and travelled to the solar system on intergalactic winds
Nearly half of the atoms that make up our bodies may have formed
beyond the Milky Way and travelled to the solar system on
intergalactic winds driven by giant exploding stars, astronomers
The dramatic conclusion emerges from computer simulations that reveal
how galaxies grow over aeons by absorbing huge amounts of material
that is blasted out of neighbouring galaxies when stars explode at the
end of their lives.
Powerful supernova explosions can fling trillions of tonnes of atoms
into space with such ferocity that they escape their home galaxy’s
gravitational pull and fall towards larger neighbours in enormous
clouds that travel at hundreds of kilometres per second.
“Science is very useful for finding our place in the universe,” said
Daniel Anglés-Alcázar, an astronomer at Northwestern University in
Evanston, Illinois. “In some sense we are extragalactic visitors or
immigrants in what we think of as our galaxy.”
“Our origins are much less local than we thought,” said
Faucher-Giguère. “This study gives us a sense of how things around us
are connected to distant objects in the sky.”
China prepares 100,000 ducks to battle Pakistan's locust swarms A single duck can eat more than 200 locusts a day @BBCWorld [now debunked]
Law & Politics
Chinese agricultural experts say a single duck can eat more than 200
locusts a day and be more effective than pesticides.
Pakistan declared an emergency earlier this month saying locust
numbers were the worst in more than two decades.
Millions of the insects have also been devastating crops in parts of
The Chinese government announced this week it was sending a team of
experts of Pakistan to develop "targeted programmes" against the
Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of
Agricultural Sciences, described the ducks as "biological weapons".
He said that while chickens could eat about 70 locusts in one day a
duck could devour more than three times that number.
#coronavirus far more likely than Sars to bond to human cells due to HIV-like mutation, scientists say @SCMPNews #COVID19
Law & Politics
Scientists say the new coronavirus may be significantly different from Sars.
The new coronavirus has an HIV-like mutation that means its ability to
bind with human cells could be up to 1,000 times as strong as the Sars
virus, according to new research by scientists in China and Europe.
The discovery could help to explain not only how the infection has
spread but also where it came from and how best to fight it.
Scientists showed that Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome)
entered the human body by binding with a receptor protein called ACE2
on a cell membrane.
And some early studies suggested that the new coronavirus, which
shares about 80 per cent of the genetic structure of Sars, might
follow a similar path.
But the ACE2 protein does not exist in large quantities in healthy
people, and this partly helped to limit the scale of the Sars outbreak
of 2002-03, in which infected about 8,000 people around the world.
Other highly contagious viruses, including HIV and Ebola, target an
enzyme called furin, which works as a protein activator in the human
Many proteins are inactive or dormant when they are produced and have
to be “cut” at specific points to activate their various functions.
When looking at the genome sequence of the new coronavirus, Professor
Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin found a
section of mutated genes that did not exist in Sars, but were similar
to those found in HIV and Ebola.
“This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new coronavirus] may be
significantly different from the Sars coronavirus in the infection
pathway,” the scientists said in a paper published this month on
Chinaxiv.org, a platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to
release scientific research papers before they have been
“This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV.”
According to the study, the mutation can generate a structure known as
a cleavage site in the new coronavirus’ spike protein.
The virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host
cell, but normally this protein is inactive.
The cleavage site structure’s job is to trick the human furin protein,
so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct
fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes.
Compared to the Sars’ way of entry, this binding method is “100 to
1,000 times” as efficient, according to the study.
Just two weeks after its release, the paper is already the most viewed
ever on Chinarxiv.
In a follow-up study, a research team led by Professor Li Hua from
Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei
province, confirmed Ruan’s findings.
The mutation could not be found in Sars, Mers or Bat-CoVRaTG13, a bat
coronavirus that was considered the original source of the new
coronavirus with 96 per cent similarity in genes, it said.
This could be “the reason why SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than other
coronaviruses”, Li wrote in a paper released on Chinarxiv on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a study by French scientist Etienne Decroly at
Aix-Marseille University, which was published in the scientific
journal Antiviral Research on February 10, also found a “furin-like
cleavage site” that is absent in similar coronaviruses.
A researcher with the Beijing Institute of Microbiology, Chinese
Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said the studies were all based on
“Whether [the virus] behaves as predicted will need other evidence
including experiments,” said the researcher who asked not to be named.
“The answer will tell how the virus makes us ill,” he said.
Scientists’ understanding of the new coronavirus has changed
dramatically over the past few months.
At first the virus was not considered a major threat, with the Chinese
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention saying there was no
evidence off human-to-human transmission.
But that assumption was soon invalidated, and as of Wednesday, there
had been more than 81,000 confirmed infections around the world.
Chinese researchers said drugs targeting the furin enzyme could have
the potential to hinder the virus’ replication in the human body.
These include “a series of HIV-1 therapeutic drugs such as Indinavir,
Tenofovir Alafenamide, Tenofovir Disoproxil and Dolutegravir and
hepatitis C therapeutic drugs including Boceprevir and Telaprevir”,
according to Li’s study.
This suggestion is in line with reports by some Chinese doctors who
self-administered HIV drugs after testing positive for the new
coronavirus, but there is as yet no clinical evidence to support the
There is also hope that the link to the furin enzyme could shed light
on the virus’ evolutionary history before it made the jump to humans.
The mutation, which Ruan’s team described as an “unexpected
insertion”, could come from many possible sources such as a
coronavirus found in rats or even a species of avian flu.
16-FEB-2020 :: possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao #COVID19 @TheLancet
Law & Politics
Surgery was performed on the caged animals and the tissue samples were
collected for DNA and RNA extraction and sequencing 4, 5. The tissue
samples and contaminated trashes were source of pathogens.
The principle investigator participated in a project which generated a
chimeric virus using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, and
reported the potential for human emergence 10.
A direct speculation was that SARS-CoV or its derivative might leak
from the laboratory. In summary, somebody was entangled with the
evolution of 2019-nCoV coronavirus
I am a senior Chinese military intelligence officer and I know the truth about the coronavirus outbreak. It is far worse than the media are telling you. @reddit Posted byu/Wuhanvirusthrowaway #COVID19
Law & Politics
Let me return to the virus. Last year, large-scale anti-government
protests erupted in Hong Kong. The Standing Committee of the Chinese
Communist Party considered these to be a grave threat to the integrity
and stability of the motherland. The U.S. government and the EU both
knew that the Chinese were secretly working on a biological agent that
was supposed to make the protesters docile and obedient. Without going
into detail, I worked on that project. We tried to develop a sort of
spray that could be dispersed from helicopters or drones and that
would lead to mental retardation and behavioural change. Naturally, as
Hong Kong is one of the most open and international cities in the
world, the Party decided that it was too risky to release the agent in
Hong Kong without first testing it. For this, it needed a great number
of human guinea pigs. Two groups were identified for this. First, we
rounded up a large number of so-called "islamic radicals" in Xinjiang
Province and took them to what we called "training camps". We exposed
the inmates to various "alpha" experimental agents. As these were
odourless and invisible, the subjects were not aware that they were
taking part in medical trials. The resulting high rates of cancer,
premature dementia, suicidal depression and death by organ failure
could easily be suppressed, as the camps are located in very remote
parts of our motherland.
Xi Jinping has buried the truth about coronavirus @guardian Ma Jian
Law & Politics
Over the past 70 years, the Chinese Communist party has subjected its
country to a succession of manmade catastrophes, from the Great
Famine, the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square massacre, to
the forceful suppression of rights in Hong Kong and Tibet, and the
mass internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Official coverups and corruption have multiplied the death toll of
natural calamities, from the Sars virus to the Sichuan earthquake.
Xi Jinping’s mishandling of the coronavirus epidemic must now be added
to the party’s shameful list of crimes.
With serious outbreaks occurring in Japan, South Korea, Iran and
Italy, it is clear that the virus of Xi’s totalitarian rule threatens
the health and freedoms not only of the Chinese people, but of all of
Appointing himself “president for life”, Xi now has more power than
any party leader since Mao Zedong, and has crushed all dissent by
attempting to build a hi-tech totalitarian state.
The Communist party is an insidious pathogen that has infected the
Chinese people since 1949. But under Xi’s rule, it has mutated into
its most sinister form, allowing capitalism to grow rapaciously while
reaffirming Leninist control.
The promise of wealth and national glory has blinded many Chinese
people to the chains around their feet, and to the barbed wire around
the faraway internment camps.
Over the next two weeks – the critical window of containment –
authorities claimed the problem was under control.
But coronavirus is indifferent to the vain desires of despots. Left
unchecked, it spread. By the time Xi deigned to publicly acknowledge
the outbreak, on 20 January, ordering it to be “resolutely contained”,
it was too late.
A healthy society cannot have just one voice.” In that one sentence,
he identified the root cause of China’s sickness.
Xi suppresses truth and information to create his utopian “harmonious”
society. But harmony can only emerge from a plurality of differing
voices, not from the one-note monologue of a tyrant.
Chinese officials have today reported 78,064 infections and 2,715
deaths, mostly in Hubei. But no one trusts the party’s figures. The
only certainty about the numbers it releases is that they are the
numbers it wants you to believe.
In an effort to change the narrative after Li’s death, the party has
called for a people’s war against the virus, and has urged journalists
to replace “negative content” on social media with “touching stories
from the frontline of combating the disease”.
Having buried the truth about the calamity of the Cultural Revolution
and other earlier crimes, the party is now dragging the nation back to
its Maoist past.
2-SEP-2019 :: the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. #COVID19
China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. This Phenomenon was
positive for the last two decades but has now undergone a Trend
The Fall-out is being experienced as far away as Germany Inc. The ZAR
is the purest proxy for this Phenomenon.
African Countries heavily dependent on China being the main Taker are
also at the bleeding edge of this Phenomenon.
This Pressure Point will not ease soon but will continue to intensify.
23-SEP-2019 :: I, therefore, am putting out a "conviction" Buy on Netflix at Friday's closing price of $270.75.
And this brought me to Netflix. Netflix spearheaded a streaming
revolution that changed the way we watch TV and films. As cable TV
lost subscribers, Netflix gained them, putting it in a category with
Facebook, Amazon, and Google as one of the adored US tech stocks that
led a historic bull market [FT].
Netflix faces an onslaught of competition in the market it invented.
After years of false starts, Apple is planning to launch a streaming
service in November, as is Disney — with AT&T’s WarnerMedia and
Comcast’s NBCUniversal to follow early next year. Netflix has
corrected brutally and lots of folks are bailing big time especially
after Netflix lost US subscribers in the last quarter.
Even after the loss of subscribers in the second quarter, Ben
Swinburne, head of media research at Morgan Stanley, says Netflix is
still on course for a record year of subscriber additions.
Optimists point to the group’s global reach. It is betting its future
on expansion outside the US, where it has already attracted 60m
subscribers. And this is an inflection point just like the one I am
signaling in the Oil markets.
Netflix is not a US business, it is a global business. The Majority of
Analysts are in the US and in my opinion, these same Analysts have an
international ‘’blind spot’’ Once Investors appreciate that the Story
is an international one and not a US one anymore, we will see the
price ramp to fresh all-time highs.
I, therefore, am putting out a ‘’conviction’’ Buy on Netflix at
Friday’s closing price of $270.75.
Maverick Investor Ashmore Group Plc's CoombsTests Default-Free Streak in Riskiest Bet Yet @markets
For the third time in six months, British billionaire Mark Coombs is
betting on bonds that many on Wall Street deem destined for default.
Ashmore Group Plc, the $98 billion money manager led by Coombs, has
been piling into Lebanon notes due March 9 just as many of its rivals
warn a missed payment is all but certain.
The firm boosted its holdings to more than 25% of the $1.2 billion of
bonds, enough for a blocking stake if there’s a restructuring.
Last week, an Ashmore representative visited Beirut to discuss the
payment with senior officials, according to people familiar with the
Coombs and Jan Dehn, a spokesman at the firm, declined to comment.
Officials at Lebanon’s finance ministry and central bank didn’t
respond to requests for comment.
The Lebanon gambit puts Ashmore in the middle of another potentially
large and politically charged restructuring, one that sparked a local
investigation and condemnation from President Michel Aoun after
Lebanese banks unloaded some of their bonds to Ashmore.
The firm has bought up so many notes maturing this March, April and
June that it can reject potential restructuring proposals backed by
The 59-year-old Coombs, meantime, is one of the investors behind a
lobbying push to get paid on defaulted Venezuela bonds, enlisting the
same public affairs team that worked for hedge fund billionaire Paul
“Ashmore can play hardball but given their important role here, it’s
in their interest to facilitate an orderly outcome,” said Adel
Afiouni, a former Lebanese minister, who’s encouraging the government
“An orderly restructuring should be more important for Ashmore in the
long run than just getting fully paid on the March bonds.”
The note maturing March 9 inched lower on Wednesday, approaching a
record low it touched earlier this week. The security currently trades
at about double the value of longer maturities, reflecting the higher
chance of repayment.
The London-based firm could redeem itself if Lebanon repays the March
debt and others due later this year. Several factors point in its
favor. For one, the nation has a spotless record: Zero defaults since
independence in 1943.
Earlier this year, central bank chief Riad Salameh signaled Beirut’s
desire to pay, proposing a debt swap with local bondholders, while
Prime Minister Hassan Diab had expressed support for honoring the
nation’s 2020 obligations.
“Ashmore’s bet is that Lebanon has been rescued in the past and
they’ll get rescued again,” said Carmen Reinhart, an economist at
Harvard University and former deputy director of the International
Monetary Fund’s research department. “It’s not about their
exceptionalism for abiding by contracts.”
Still, there’s mounting pressure from Lebanese politicians and even
some creditors to default and save the country’s dwindling reserves
for imports of food and medicine.
The nation met $71 million in interest payments due Wednesday,
according to a government official.
While pundits have cautioned about unsustainable debt levels for more
than a decade, such warnings reached fever pitch this past year as
Lebanon failed to carry out measures to fix its ailing power sector,
reduce its budget deficit and tackle corruption in exchange for
Regional political tensions have also caused diaspora inflows to shrivel.
If Lebanon defaults, it would be the latest in a series of
high-profile blunders for Ashmore. In August, the firm hung onto
Argentine notes as they tumbled following Alberto Fernandez’s upset
win in the presidential primary. Soon after, bets on Ecuador and
Lebanon suffered as protests swept Quito and Beirut.
The dagger came in late October when a wager on bonds from Venezuela’s
state oil company went awry as it went into default.
“We’ve seen multiple countries sell off: Argentina, followed by
Ecuador, followed by Lebanon,” said Haley Tam, a London-based analyst
at Credit Suisse Group AG who has covered Ashmore for more than a
“If an investment strategy keeps tripping up again and again, that
surely takes its toll.”
Those struggles stray from Ashmore’s track record of winning wagers.
One of its successful strategies has been snatching up high-yield
notes shortly before maturity.
Ashmore’s $5.9 billion Emerging Markets Short Duration Fund has beaten
90% of peers over the past five years, according to data compiled by
The company’s stock has returned 85% in dollar terms during that span,
surpassing both the S&P 500 Index and the MSCI Emerging Market Index.
Plus, investors inflows surged by $3.3 billion in the final quarter of
In the past year, though, the short duration fund slumped 6.6%,
falling to the back of the pack. Ashmore’s Lebanon bet isn’t helping:
The March 2020 bonds have slid to 54 cents on the dollar, from 87
cents at the start of the year.
Coombs’s fortune surpasses $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg
Billionaires Index. One of the U.K.’s richest financiers, Coombs has
kept a low profile, even as his net worth swelled.
After studying law at the University of Cambridge, he joined the Latin
America desk at Grindlays Bank in 1983, which later became Australia
and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. In 1999, Coombs led Ashmore’s
buyout from the Melbourne-based bank.
In the ensuing two decades, his firm has branded itself as a
buy-and-hold investor that weathers sell-offs and avoids the sort of
litigation undertaken by hedge fund rivals. But Ashmore’s recent moves
suggest that may be changing.
Late last year, the firm snatched up just enough Lebanon bonds
maturing in March, April and June 2020 to hold a blocking stake,
increasing its leverage over other investors.
And since PDVSA’s default on the 2020 notes, Ashmore has been pushing
for repayment, even as the nation remains in crisis.
Lebanon’s tumultuous past week has all the signs of another nation
teetering toward the edge. Its credit-default swaps surged to a record
high, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Two of the three major rating companies downgraded Lebanon deeper into
junk territory. Senior officials have also hinted at the risk of a
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the best solution to the financial
crisis is a restructuring, while Diab’s government has turned to the
IMF for help and hired debt advisers.
“Lebanon is like Venezuela all over again,” Reinhart said. “What can
you say but good luck.”
Pentagon's @USAfricaCommand African bases obtained via the Freedom of Information Act @theintercept @nickturse
LAST MONTH, ABOUT a dozen al-Shabab fighters infiltrated the perimeter
of a military base in Manda Bay, Kenya. One of them took aim with a
rocket-propelled grenade, firing at a U.S. surveillance plane and
touching off an hourslong firefight.
When it was all over, the two American pilots of that plane and a U.S.
soldier were dead, two other U.S. military personnel were wounded, six
surveillance aircraft and helicopters were destroyed, and parts of the
airfield were in flames.
Where there are U.S. bases, there is the potential for such attacks,
because bases are not just launching pads for offensive military
operations, but targets for them too.
Since 9/11, the U.S. military has built a sprawling network of
outposts in more than a dozen African countries.
The Intercept has obtained U.S. military documents and a set of
accompanying maps that provide the locations of these African bases in
2019, including the one at Manda Bay.
These formerly secret documents, created by the Pentagon’s Africa
Command and obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, offer an
exclusive window into the footprint of American military operations in
During testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee late last
month, Stephen Townsend, the commander of AFRICOM, echoed a line
favored by his predecessors that AFRICOM maintains a “light and
relatively low-cost footprint” on the continent.
This “light” footprint consists of a constellation of more than two
dozen outposts that stretch from one side of Africa to the other.
The 2019 planning documents provide locations for 29 bases located in
15 different countries or territories, with the highest concentrations
in the Sahelian states on the west side of the continent, as well as
the Horn of Africa in the east.
Since the plans were created, according to AFRICOM spokesperson John
Manley, two bases have been shuttered, leaving the U.S. with an
archipelago of 15 “enduring locations” and 12 less-permanent
The documents note, however, that AFRICOM is actively seeking to
enhance its presence and is primed for expansion in the future
Violent extremism and insecurity on the continent has increased
exponentially during the very years that the U.S. has been building up
its network of bases, providing billions of dollars in security
assistance to local partners, conducting persistent counterterrorism
operations that include commando raids, combat by U.S. Special
Operations forces in at least 13 African countries between 2013 and
2017, and a record number of U.S. airstrikes in Somalia (just over one
attack per week in 2019). There are now roughly 25 active militant
Islamist groups operating in Africa, up from just five in 2010 — a
jump of 400 percent — according to the Defense Department’s Africa
Center for Strategic Studies. Militant Islamist activity also hit
record levels in 2019. There were 3,471 reported violent events linked
to these groups last year, a 1,105 percent increase since 2009.
Reported fatalities resulting from African militant Islamist group
activity also increased by 7 percent over last year, to an estimated
The situation has become so grim that U.S. military aims in West
Africa have recently been scaled back from a strategy of degrading the
strength and reach of terror groups to nothing more than
THE CURRENT ARCHIPELAGO of U.S. outposts in Africa represents a
decrease of seven sites from the 34 bases detailed in a set of
briefing documents by AFRICOM science adviser Peter Teil that were
published by The Intercept in 2018.
The new 2019 AFRICOM planning documents provide information on five
bases slated for closure, including a longtime “enduring” site in
Gaborone, Botswana, and four contingency locations, or CLs, in Faya
Largeau, Chad; Lakipia, Kenya; Benina, Libya; and Gao, Mali.
Shuttering the CLs, according to the documents, is part of an effort
to “seek efficiencies by consolidating … functions at a reduced number
of posture locations,” while the removal of Gabrone was chalked up to
“a lack of DoD [Department of Defense] property or routine DoD
presence” and the fact that “Botswana does not acknowledge or desire
any formal DoD access at the international airport.”
Manley refused to say which two additional bases were dropped from the
2019 list. “The fluctuation in the number is not related to Misrata
and Tripoli,” he told The Intercept in response to a question about
whether the Libyan outposts were the others closed.
But it is worth noting that since the 2019 base posture document was
produced, the U.S. pulled its forces out of the North African nation.
“Due to increased unrest in Libya, a contingent of U.S. forces
supporting U.S. Africa Command temporarily relocated from the country
in response to security conditions on the ground,” AFRICOM announced
last April as the Libyan civil war flared up.
Those troops have never returned, according to Manley, and a recent
inspector general’s report states that they won’t be redeployed until
there is a ceasefire in Libya’s civil war.
It’s also worth noting the documents state that U.S. Army Africa uses
space at “host nation facilities” in Theis, Senegal, and Singo,
Uganda, even though the bases are not listed on AFRICOM’s maps.
While these “cooperative training locations” are not officially
considered outposts by the command, they raise the question of whether
29 bases is actually a more accurate count.
Whatever the real number of bases, the recent alteration of AFRICOM’s
footprint in 2019 appears to be a strategic consolidation as the
command fortifies its presence in some of the continent’s hottest
Of the 6,000 or more U.S. personnel deployed in Africa, about 1,200,
according to Manley, are in West Africa, with a significant percentage
in Niger, which has become the key American hub on that side of the
Around 500 Special Operations forces are reportedly deployed on the
other side of the continent in Somalia, the site of America’s most
intense and longest-running undeclared war in Africa.
While the five U.S. outposts in Somalia rank second only to the six in
Niger when it comes to America’s footprint on the continent, AFRICOM
is actively seeking to expand its presence in the Horn of Africa.
“Additional posture and/or capacity is required in East Africa to more
efficiently employ limited aviation resources in support of U.S.
activities in southern Somalia,” according to the formerly secret
files, which also mention the “potential establishment of one or more
[contingency locations] in Somalia to support Somali National Security
The 2019 planning documents also state that five “contingency
locations” were recommended to be upgraded to “semi-permanent” status:
Baledogle, Kismayo, and Mogadishu in Somalia, and Arlit and Diffa in
What are the forces at these bases doing there? In Diffa, according to
a recent inspector general’s report, a small unit of U.S. Special
Forces has been providing advice and assistance to Niger’s 51st
Special Intervention Battalion, which conducts operations in the Lake
Another Special Forces detachment has been engaged in train, advise,
and assist activities with a local counterterrorism force in Arlit,
The presence of U.S. commandos at Diffa and Arlit first came to
widespread notice in the wake of the October 2017 ambush by Islamic
State militants in Tongo Tongo, Niger, that killed four U.S. soldiers.
The U.S. base at Baledogle received attention last September when it
was attacked by the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabab. Manda Bay,
Kenya, where al-Shabab killed the American soldier and U.S. pilots, is
still another “enduring” location from AFRICOM’s 2019 list.
In the wake of the attack last month, its defenses were also hardened
and its troop strength markedly increased.
“I think it’s self-obvious we were not as prepared there in Manda Bay
as we needed to be,” AFRICOM’s Townsend told the Senate Armed Services
Committee on January 30.
“Al-Shabab managed to penetrate onto that airfield. A lot of people
don’t know, but the base where our troops live is not where the
airfield is. But they were able to get access to that airfield, kill
three Americans and destroy six aircraft there. … There’s about 120
infantrymen there on the ground now who are securing that place, and
they’ve been working hard since 6 January to put in the appropriate
level of defenses. So I am confident that by the time they are done,
Manda Bay will be much more properly defended.”
The attack in Kenya came at a time when Defense Secretary Mark Esper
was already considering proposals for a major drawdown of U.S. forces
on the other side of the continent, in West Africa, including the
possible abandonment of a recently built $110 million drone base in
According to Manley, the Pentagon’s so-called Blank Slate Review
process is still ongoing, and there has been no change to U.S. “force
posture” in Africa as of yet.
“I haven’t made any decisions yet on West Africa or East Africa,”
Esper said recently, while at the same time calling on European
nations to “step up in Africa.”
Talk of scaling back U.S. posture and presence in Africa has prompted
fierce pushback in Congress. “These personnel and installations are
critical in combatting the ever-increasing number of violent extremist
groups throughout the region that pose an immediate threat to our
partners and allies,” wrote U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and
Chris Coons, D-Del., in a January 15 letter to Esper.
The senators argued that “any withdrawal or reduction would likely
result in a surge in violent extremist attacks on the continent and
beyond as well as increase the geopolitical influence of competitors
like Russia and China.”
James Inhofe, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee echoed
these concerns. “Today, more than a dozen terrorist groups with ties
to Al Qaida and ISIS are operating across Africa,” he said late last
“Many of these groups have ambition to attack Americans and our
partners. Without sustained pressure, the threat posed by these groups
But in the face of deteriorating security and gloomy Pentagon
assessments, some experts question this rationale. “The current,
overly militarized approach to fighting terrorism in Africa is not
working,” said William Hartung, the director of the arms and security
project at the Center for International Policy, or CIP.
“As the U.S. military footprint and military activities have
increased, terrorist violence has grown and terrorist groups have
His colleague, Temi Ibirogba, a program and research associate with
the Africa Program at CIP, noted that the rise of violent extremism in
Africa in the face of persistent U.S. military engagement since 9/11
should be cause for skepticism of the “more is better” strategy.
“The U.S. military should be considering alternative approaches like
better coordination with African regional and continental
organizations and encouraging African governments to consider
negotiations in certain cases,” she told The Intercept.
In recent years, the U.S. military has carried out no fewer than 36
named operations and activities in Africa, including at least eight
“127-echo” programs, which are named for the budgetary authority that
allows U.S. Special Operations forces to use host-nation military
units as proxies in missions aimed at violent extremist organizations,
Run by Joint Special Operations Command, the secretive organization
that controls the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s Delta Force, or by
theater special operations forces, these 80- to 120-person units,
operating with the assistance of U.S. commandos, are primarily engaged
in counterterrorism operations, especially ones aimed at high-value
The 2019 AFRICOM planning document notes that U.S. forces will
“continue to conduct counter-VEO-focused activities” from 16 separate
Even discounting the two counter-VEO bases in Libya that appear to
have been closed since the map was created by AFRICOM, this leaves one
each in Kenya, Mali, and Tunisia, as well as five in Somalia, four in
Niger, and two in Cameroon at Garoua and Maroua.
The site in Garoua is a drone base that was profiled by The Intercept
in 2016. In 2017, the Intercept revealed that while the U.S. military
fortified its base in Maroua, known as Camp Salak, the outpost also
served as a scene of illegal imprisonment, torture, and even killings.
Facing a potential drawdown of forces, AFRICOM has been making the
case that its bases and the missions run from them are integral to
“Strategic access to Africa, its airspace, and its surrounding waters
is vital to U.S. national security,” Townsend told the Senate Armed
Services Committee late last month.
He and others have argued for what they contend is AFRICOM’s supposed
bang for the buck.
“What U.S. Africa Command accomplishes with relatively few people and
few dollars, on a continent three-and-a-half times the size of the
continental United States, is a bargain for the American taxpayer,”
Manley told The Intercept.
But a recent inspector general’s report, examining U.S.
counterterrorism efforts in Africa, raises serious questions about the
utility of billions of tax dollars spent on U.S. bases, operations,
and assistance to local partners.
Even after a decade-plus spent fighting militants in Somalia, “the
threat posed by al Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia in East Africa remains
‘high,’ despite continued U.S. airstrikes and training of Somali
security forces,” the Defense Intelligence Agency told the Defense
Department’s Inspector General.
The DoDIG further noted that al-Shabab not only “remains a potent
threat” due to its “ability to conduct high-profile attacks, recruit
fighters, and finance ongoing operations,” but that the group “appears
to be a growing threat to U.S. personnel and interests in the region.”
The DoDIG’s assessment of West Africa was even more dire. “VEO
violence in West Africa grew rapidly over the past 2 years; in Burkina
Faso, Mali, and Western Niger, VEO violence increased by 250 percent
since 2018,” according to the report.
AFRICOM told the DoDIG that security in West Africa continued to
deteriorate during the final quarter of 2019 as terrorist groups
“launched a growing number of offensive attacks against military
facilities and troops … often resulting in large numbers of
casualties” to U.S.-allied armed forces.
“VEOs in West Africa are not degraded nor contained to the Sahel and
Lake Chad region,” the command admitted.
Given the current state of affairs, the Center for International
Policy’s Hartung believes that the United States needs to reevaluate
“It’s time for an honest reassessment of U.S. anti-terror strategy in
Africa, including greater transparency about the size and scope of
U.S. military operations there,” he told The Intercept.
“The underlying drivers of terrorism, including poverty, corruption,
and repression, do not have military solutions.”
13-JAN-2020 :: The Manda Bay attack is the first al-Shabab has carried out on a U.S.military installation inside Kenya
The Manda Bay attack is the first al-Shabab has carried out on a
U.S.military installation inside Kenya Among the aircraft destroyed at
the Manda Bay base were manned surveillance planes that collect data
across the border in Somalia, as well as over Kenya’s dense Boni
forest, Also reportedly destroyed were aircraft operated by U.S.
Special Operations Command and modified Havilland Canada Dash-8 spy
aircraft, which carries the U.S. civil registration code N8200L. This
is a mind bending Jedi Level intrusion and asymmetric warfare coup de
grace. The U.S. Africa Command has sent its crack East Africa Response
Force to secure the airfield and augment security. This is in fact a
The protocol gives U.S. exporters full access to Kenya's wheat market, valued at nearly $500 million annually. @USDA
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that,
effective immediately, U.S. wheat may now be shipped to Kenya
regardless of state of origin or port of export.
This important step will allow U.S. wheat from Idaho, Oregon, and
Washington to be added to the list of states that can ship wheat to
“American farmers in the Pacific Northwest now have full access to the
Kenyan wheat market,” said Greg Ibach, U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.
“This action proves our commitment to securing fair treatment and
greater access for U.S. products in the global marketplace.”
For the last 12 years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS) has worked closely with Kenyan officials to address
plant health concerns that kept U.S. wheat exports from Idaho, Oregon,
and Washington out of Kenya.
The U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group, established after
an August 2018 White House meeting between President Donald Trump and
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, provided the forum for APHIS, USDA’s
Foreign Agricultural Service and the Office of the U.S. Trade
Representative to finally resolve this longstanding issue with Kenya.
On January 28, 2020, Kenya’s national plant protection organization
officially signed the Export Certification Protocol between Kenya
Plant Health Inspectorate Service and APHIS/PPQ on Wheat Grain
Consignments to Kenya for immediate implementation.
The protocol gives U.S. exporters full access to Kenya’s wheat market,
valued at nearly $500 million annually.
KenGen reports FY 2019 EPS unchanged Earnings
Par Value: 2.50/-
Closing Price: 5.38
Total Shares Issued: 6243873667.00
Market Capitalization: 33,592,040,328
KenGen PLC FY 2019 results through 30th June 2019 vs. 30th June 2018
FY Revenue 45.966b vs. 45.290b +1.493%
FY Reimbursable expenses (fuel and water) [10.192b] vs. [9.406b] +8.356%
FY Revenue net of reimbursable expenses 35.774b vs. 35.884b -0.307%
FY Other income 619m vs. 274m +125.912%
FY Other net gains 3.179b vs. [1.050b] +402.762%
FY Depreciation and amortization [10.360b] vs. [10.148b] +2.089%
FY Steam costs [3.357b] vs. [3.549b] -5.410%
FY Operating expenses [10.571b] vs. [9.969b] +6.039%
FY Operating profit 15.284b vs. 11.442b +33.578%
FY Finance income 1.423b vs. 3.341b -57.408%
FY Finance costs [5.054b] vs. [3.037b] +66.414%
FY PBT 11.653b vs. 11.746b -0.792%
FY Income tax expense [3.769b] vs. [3.855b] -2.231%
FY PAT 7.884b vs. 7.891b -0.051%
FY EPS 1.20 vs 1.20 –
Cash and cash equivalents balance at end of period 9.324b vs. 3.383b +175.613%
KenGen PLC HY 2020 results through 31st December 2019 vs. 31st December 2018
HY Revenue 22.361b vs. 22.185b +0.793%
HY Reimbursable expenses (fuel and water) [3.447b] vs. [4.145b] -16.840%
HY Revenue net of reimbursable expenses 18.914b vs. 18.040b +4.845%
HY Other income 479m vs. 211m +127.014%
HY Other net gains 246m vs. 158m +55.696%
HY Depreciation and amortization [5.708b] vs. [5.133b] +11.202%
HY Steam costs [1.661b] vs. [1.667b] -0.360%
HY Operating expenses [5.569b] vs. [4.980b] +11.827%
HY Operating profit 6.700b vs. 6.629b +1.071%
HY Finance income 723m vs. 733m -1.364%
HY Finance costs [1.145b] vs. [1.340b] -14.552%
HY PBT 6.278b vs. 6.022b +4.251%
HY Income tax expense 1.892b vs. [1.898b] +199.684%
HY PAT 8.170b vs. 4.124b +98.109%
HY EPS 1.24 vs. 0.63 +96.825%
Cash and cash equivalents balance at end of period 5.229b vs. 8.763b -40.329%
Basis of Preparations
The condensed financial statements for the six months period ended
December 31, 2019 has been prepared in accordance with the
International Accounting Standard 34 (lAS 34) “Interim Financial
The same accounting policies, presentation and methods of computation
have been followed in these condensed financial statements as were
applied in the company's unaudited financial statements for the year
ended June 30, 2019 and the audited financial statements for the year
ending 30 June 2018
Business Commentary for the six months ended 31 December 2019
Revenue net of reimbursables increased by 4.8% from KShs. 18,040
million in 2018 to KShs. 18,914 million for the six months ended 31st
This growth was buoyed by a 6.4% increase in electricity revenue from
KShs. 15,040 million earned in 2018 to KShs 16,006 million for the six
months ended 31st December 2019 following completion of 165MW Olkaria
V geothermal power plant and 127% growth in other income from KShs.
211 million in 2018 to KShs 479 million for the six months ended 31st
December 2019 following rollout of our business diversification
strategy that has seen the Company clinch two drilling contracts in
Depreciation and amortization increased by 11.2% from KShs 5,133
million to Kshs. 5,708 million attributable to depreciation expense
for Olkaria V and Right of use assets following adoption of IFRS 16.
Operating profit remained flat, gaining marginally by 1.1% from KShs.
6,629 million to KShs. 6,700 million. Profit before tax rose by 4.3%
from KShs 6,022 million to KShs. 6,278 million impacted by lower
finance costs following final repayment of the infrastructure bond.
Profit After Tax increased by 98% from KShs 4,124 million to KShs.
8,170 million for the six months to 31st December 2019.
The increase is as a result of capital allowances arising from the
completion of Olkaria V 165MW.
This resulted into a tax credit of KShs 1,892 million compared to a
tax expense of KShs. 1,898 million in the previous period.
Net cash and cash equivalent declined from KShs. 8,763 million to
KShs. 5,229 million attributable to lower disbursement from borrowings
of KShs 1,900 million following completion of Olkaria V and payment of
dividends of KShs 1,846 million.
Our Good-to-Great (G2G) Strategy
We continue to focus on our revamped strategy which is to grow our
core business of power generation amid an increasing competitive
market. We also continue safeguarding and creating value for our
stakeholders as well as providing a low-cost tariff to our economy in
support of the Government's Big Four Agenda. In addition, we are
pursuing best operational practices and our power plants continue to
deliver the lowest priced energy.
We are continuing with our geothermal led growth strategy. We
completed Olkaria V 165MW geothermal power plant in November 2019,
construction of 83MW Olkaria 1 Unit 6 geothermal power plant is
ongoing. We are also driving our business diversification strategy. We
have ongoing geothermal drilling and consultancy services projects in
Ethiopia and Kenya. These initiatives are expected to have positive
contribution to our future performance.
The Board of Directors does not recommend an interim dividend for the
period ended 31 December 2019.
The Board of Directors shall make a recommendation regarding any final
dividend for the year ended 30 June 2019 once the Audit of the
financial statements for the said period is completed following the
appointment of the Auditor-General.
We acknowledge with appreciation the support we continue receiving
from the Government and other stakeholders in our endeavour to deliver
safe, clean, reliable electricity to the economy while optimizing
The increase is as a result of capital allowances arising from the
completion of Olkaria V 165MW.
This resulted into a tax credit of KShs 1,892 million compared to a
tax expense of KShs. 1,898 million in the previous period.
That was a Big Assist.