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Monday 03rd of February 2020
 
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Africa

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03-FEB-2020 ::  The #nCoV2019 #coronavirus and the Non-Linearity and
Exponential Risks
http://j.mp/2uhaSma

Macro Thoughts

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There is certainly a Fin de siecle even apocalyptic mood afoot. The conundrum for those who wish to bet on the End of the World is this, however. What would be the point? The World would have ended.
Africa


【隔离病房内叫人沮丧的一幕】在武汉医院隔离病房内,令病人最难受的一刻,就是看著旁边患者离世。大家心𥚃都担心,死神什么时候降临到自己身上。#武汉肺炎
@RFA_Chinese
https://twitter.com/RFA_Chinese/status/1223593359412871168?s=20

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EL CHAPO OUTRAGED THAT HIS TRIAL INCLUDED WITNESSES @BorowitzReport
Africa


FLORENCE, COLORADO (The Borowitz Report)—The convicted drug lord known
as El Chapo said on Thursday that he was “outraged” his 2019 trial had
included witnesses. He also revealed that he was demanding a new trial
without them.
Speaking from ADX Florence, a maximum-security facility in Colorado,
the former drug kingpin complained that his trial would have resulted
in a speedy acquittal had it not been for the irritating presence of
witnesses.
“If I had to point to one reason why I was convicted of all of those
crimes, it would have to be witnesses,” he said. “Once the decision
was made to include witnesses, things really went downhill for me.”
FLORENCE, COLORADO (The Borowitz Report)—The convicted drug lord known
as El Chapo said on Thursday that he was “outraged” his 2019 trial had
included witnesses. He also revealed that he was demanding a new trial
without them.
Speaking from ADX Florence, a maximum-security facility in Colorado,
the former drug kingpin complained that his trial would have resulted
in a speedy acquittal had it not been for the irritating presence of
witnesses.
“If I had to point to one reason why I was convicted of all of those
crimes, it would have to be witnesses,” he said. “Once the decision
was made to include witnesses, things really went downhill for me.”

Political Reflections

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I'm not going to sugar coat things for you. I'm sure it makes you feel better convincing yourself that this is some media invention @StephenMcDonell
Law & Politics


I'm not going to sugar coat things for you. I'm sure it makes you feel
better convincing yourself that this is some media invention however
with 14,483 official infections; 19,544 suspected+ doctors in #Wuhan
saying people have died after being turned away it's important info.

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If transmissibility of 2019-nCoV were similar everywhere domestically & over time, we inferred that epidemics are already growing exponentially in multiple major cities of China with a lag time behind Wuhan outbreak of about 1-2 weeks @TheLancet
Law & Politics


Interpretation Given that 2019-nCoV is no longer contained within
Wuhan, other major Chinese cities are probably sustaining localised
outbreaks.
Large cities overseas with close transport links to China could also
become outbreak epicentres, unless substantial public health
interventions at both the population and personal levels are
implemented immediately.
Independent self-sustaining outbreaks in major cities globally could
become inevitable because of substantial exportation of presymptomatic
cases and in the absence of large-scale public health interventions.
Preparedness plans and mitigation interventions should be readied for
quick deployment globally.

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Estimates: multiple sources: 500,000+ infected:China. R0 2.5-3+ Doubling time 3 days. Unprecedented speed. @rtnarch via @ScottGottliebMD
Law & Politics


Estimates: multiple sources:  500,000+ infected:China. R0 2.5-3+
Doubling time 3 days. Unprecedented speed. Fatality rate range .1-1%+:
truly unknown. 2-14 day incubation. 20% diagnosed at hospital need
critical care.  If sustained transmission, could infect 15-20 percent
world.

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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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they also found their models suggest potentially earlier epidemic start date around Dec 1-15th fit their results the best. @DrEricDing
Law & Politics


This is actually consistent with other previous @NEJM  study that had
indeed confirmed this in their figure 1:

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On the Origins of the 2019-nCoV Virus, Wuhan, China
Law & Politics


RECOMBINATION technology has been in use in molecular virology since
the 1980’s. The structure of the 2019-NCoV virus genome provides a
very strong clue on the likely origin of the virus.
jameslyonsweiler.com
Unlike other related coronaviruses, the 2019-nCoV virus has a unique
sequence about 1,378 bp (nucleotide base pairs) long that is not found
in related coronaviruses.

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There is no doubt that there is a novel sequence in 2019-nCoV; we confirmed this via sequence alignment. Here's the DOT plot:
Law & Politics


The gap in the line shows a lack of sequence homology beween the most
similar bat coronavirus and 2019-nCoV. The inserted sequence, which
should not be there is here:
inserted-portionDownload
A database search by the first team to study and publish the whole
genome sequence for the origins of the inserted sequence turned up no
hits (Ji et al., 2020). They conducted a codon-bias analysis which led
them to speculate that perhaps there had been a recombination event
between a coronavirus in snakes with a coronavirus from bats (Ji et
al., 2020). [Full Text]
This led to criticism on Wired(3) with quote dismissing the snake
origin hypothesis as lacking evidence. There is, however, clear
evidence that the novel sequence, which I will refer to henceforth as
INS1378, is from a laboratory-induced recombination event.
Specifically,
(1) The sequence similarity to other coronavirus sequences is lower to
its most similar sequences in any coronavirus than the rest of the
genome (IPAK finding)
(2) The high sequence similarity of INS1378 to a SARS spike protein
(2; IPAK Confirmed).
(3) We also found significant sequence similarity of INS1378 to a
pShuttle-SN vector that was in use in the 1980’s in China to create a
more immunogenic coronavirus (IPAK finding, details below, Option 4).
Here, I review four Option on the origins of the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus
isolated from human patients from Wuhan, China.
Option 1. Natural coronavirus related to bat coronaviruses, Not a
Recombined Virus.
Evidence for: Phylogenetic clustering with Bat coronaviruses.
Evidence against: Low bootstrap support (N=75) and presence of a INS1378.
Status: Falsified hypothesis.
Test: Survey coronviruses in animals in the wild.
Option 2. A recombined virus that naturally picked up a SARS-like
spike protein in it N-terminus (3′ end) of the viral genome.
Evidence for: The INS1378 codon bias similar to snakes ($)
Evidence against: Insufficient match in database search to other known
CoV spike proteins (Ji et al., 2020)
Status: Speculative hypothesis. Unlikely.
Test: Find an isolate that matches 2019-nCoV in the wild and
reproducibly independently isolate the virus from a wild animal (a
match will confirm).
Option 3. A recombined virus made in a laboratory for the purpose of
creating a bioweapon.
Both China and the US hinted at the other side’s potential liability
in playing a role in bringing about a novel coronavirus in the lab
specifically for the purpose of being used as a bioweapon.
To add to the intrigue, a Chinese Scientist was released from BSL-4
laboratory in Manitoba, Canada for violating protocols, allegedly
sending samples of deadly viruses to mainland China.
Option 4. A recombined virus made in a laboratory for the purpose of
creating a vaccine.
IPAK researchers found a sequence similarity between a pShuttle-SN
recombination vector sequence and INS1378. Here’s a shot of the
alignment and the DOT Plot.

This particular technology was used in 2008 to attempt to develop a
more immunogenic vaccine against coronavirus. Here’s a Chinese patent
for that technique and product intended for use in a vaccine.
The patent summary reads:
SARS vaccine of adenovirus vector and preparation method, application
of coronavirus S gene
Abstract
(translated from Chinese)
The present invention belongs to the field of genetic engineering,
particularly relates to adenoviral vector SARS vaccines, their
preparation and coronavirus S genes in SARS (SARS) on vaccines for the
prophylaxis. By means of biological engineering, the coronavirus S
gene in combination with deficient recombinant adenovirus, the
protective immunogen protein or polypeptide expressed therein, through
expansion culture, purification, and formulation to prepare a mucosal
immunogenicity can cause the gene vaccine, respiratory mucosal immune
response induced by the body to produce antibodies against the virus
infection. Specific conditions of the present invention, compared with
conventional inactivated virus particle vaccine, safe, easy to use,
without limitation intramuscular, have broad clinical applications.
In 2015, The US called for an end to research creating new viruses in
the lab that have increased threat (higher transmissibility, higher
pathogen

The disease progression in of 2019-nCoV is consistent with those seen
in animals and humans vaccinated against SARS and then challenged with
re-infection. Thus, the hypothesis that 2019-nCoV is an experimental
vaccine type must be seriously considered.
Evidence for: Sequence homology between INS1378 to pShuttle
Coronavirus vaccine; presence of a SARS-like Spike protein in bat
coronavirus, otherwise most similar to bat coronaviruses; low
bootstrap value.
Evidence against: Low sequence homology (but highly signifiant). NB
these viruses are RNA viruses and they can evolve quickly, even under
laboratory conditions.
Status: Most likely.

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China Virus Cases May Be Undercounted Even With 3,000% Surge @BloombergQuint
Law & Politics


The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in China has
skyrocketed to more than 9,000, surpassing the official count during
the SARS epidemic.
But the true number of infections may be even higher, as health
workers struggle to catch up with the disease.
A shortage of testing kits and overworked hospital staff are straining
China’s health system, hampering efforts to accurately track ho
Jonathan Yu, a doctor at a university hospital in Wuhan, is on the
front lines, testing patients for the coronavirus.
Accurately spotting the virus isn’t easy and can take several
attempts, he said. “A patient may be found as negative for the first
or second test, and then found to be positive the third time,” said
Yu.
“It is like fishing in a pond: You did not catch a fish once, but that
does not mean the pond does not have fish.”

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#coronavirus Coronavirus : China accused of 'burning bodies in secret' @nzherald
Law & Politics


Chinese-language news outlet Initium interviewed people working at
local cremation centres in Wuhan, who said bodies were being sent
directly from hospitals without being properly identified and added to
the official record.

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And in Inner Mongolia, there is another 40-year-old male patient who was confirmed to have contracted the virus even though he never left his city, never got close to anyone being feverish @WilliamYang120
Law & Politics


And in Inner Mongolia, there is another 40-year-old male patient who
was confirmed to have contracted the virus even though he never left
his city, never got close to anyone being feverish, never went to any
agricultural trading market and never been around wild animals.

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"Kushner went on to suggest that Bolton and other senior former officials, including James Mattis and John Kelly, didn't have the chops to perform their jobs to the level needed." @BillKristol
Law & Politics


“Kushner went on to suggest that Bolton and other senior former
officials, including James Mattis and John Kelly, didn't have the
chops to perform their jobs to the level needed.” Kushner really seems
to combine vanity and idiocy to an unusual degree.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.1072
Dollar Index 97.53
Japan Yen 108.68
Swiss Franc 0.96452
Pound 1.3154
Aussie 0.6704
India Rupee 71.51
South Korea Won 1193.76
Brazil Real 4.2827
Egypt Pound 15.7913
South Africa Rand 14.9332

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The Middle East's Complicated Engagement in the Horn of Africa @smallwars
Africa


Has the involvement of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey helped
or hurt East Africa?
Middle East states’ involvement in conflict resolution efforts in the
Horn has demonstrated their assertiveness in the region, underpinned
by a host of national interests and an argument for the need to
promote stability.

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Malawi's Top Court to Decide on Challenge to Mutharika's Rule @bpolitics
Africa


Claims by Malawi’s opposition that last year’s election that returned
President Peter Mutharika to power was rigged should be decided upon
on Monday when the nation’s top court is due to rule on whether to
annul the vote.
The electoral commission declared Mutharika, the leader of the ruling
Democratic Progressive Party, the winner of the May 21 ballot with
38.6% support in the first-past-the-post race.
The main opposition Malawi Congress Party, whose leader Lazarus
Chakwera was said to have secured 35.4% backing, alleged that ballot
papers were altered to change the outcome and filed a lawsuit to have
it overturned.
The dispute has sparked violent demonstrations in the normally
peaceful southern African nation.
A child and a police officer died and businesses and vehicles were
torched. Jane Ansah, the chairwoman of the Electoral Commission, has
faced calls from the opposition to quit.
Unrest is likely to intensify unless the court calls for a new vote,
according to George Phiri, a political scientist at the University of
Livingstonia in the northern city of Mzuzu.
“The evidence presented in court was clear and it was not disputed
that the election in May last year were marred by irregularities,” he
said.
Church and business leaders have also raised fears of ongoing violence
and called for the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the vote’s
validity to be respected.
The government and the electoral commission have denied the election
result was manipulated.
Malawi is Africa’s biggest supplier of burley tobacco, a low
quality-variety of the leaf used to fill cigarettes rather than flavor
them and the crop accounts for the bulk of its exports.
While Mutharika, a former law professor, has made headway in boosting
the economy, improving infrastructure and containing inflation in his
first term, he drew criticism for failing to do enough to tackle
corruption in one of the world’s least-developed nations.

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Africa mobilises against coronavirus as fears mount @AFP @YahooNews
Africa


African countries are scrambling to avert an outbreak of the rapidly
spreading coronavirus strain, as health officials warn that the
poorest countries are ill-equipped to combat the deadly disease.
Across the continent, governments have stationed nurses at airports to
check for feverish passengers and have suspended Chinese entry visas,
while ordinary people grow increasingly nervous.
There have been no verified infections in Africa to date, but deep
trade links with China and often overstretched healthcare systems are
raising concerns about the capacity to respond to an outbreak.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday declared a global
emergency as coronavirus infections spread, after initially
downplaying the threat.
"Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to
countries with weaker health systems," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus said.
J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at
the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said
the disease risked taking root if it reaches certain African
countries.
He warned that such a scenario could usher in a "global pandemic".
Several poor African states have recently suffered disastrous viral
outbreaks -- and they're keenly aware of the threat.
On Saturday, the Democratic Republic of Congo became the latest
African nation to ask citizens to avoid travel to China "until further
notice".
The government is also "studying the possibility of repatriating
citizens presently in China," government spokesman David-Jolino
Diwampovesa Makelele said.
The Ebola virus raged through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in
2014-2016, killing about 11,300 people.
Mosoka Fallah, the head of Liberia's public health institute, told
lawmakers this week that the rapid spread of the new coronavirus was
"catastrophic".
"Steps must be taken as early as possible to prevent it from entering
here," he said, adding that the government had ramped up airport
checks.
Anciao Fabiao Paulo, an Angolan student, told AFP that "it's over" if
coronavirus reaches his country.
"Our health system is vulnerable and there are no good specialists.
With malaria, people are already dropping like flies," he said.
Coronavirus has killed more than 200 people in China -- where it
emerged in the central city of Wuhan -- and infected thousands more.
- Screenings at airports -
At Senegal's Blaise Diagne International Airport, health officials
peer into a small thermal camera before the passport check.
"The first sign of these communicable diseases is a fever," said
Barnabe Gning, in charge of sanitary control in the West African
country's airports.
However, Gning cautioned that thermal cameras are not foolproof.
Similar thermal cameras which detect feverish passengers are now going
up across African capitals.
These allow people with a high temperature to be identified -- the
camera screen shows their body heat -- and then quarantined pending a
lab test confirming a coronavirus infection.
Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Mauritius
are expected to "enhance screening" because of frequent traffic with
China, he said.
- 'Avoid Chinese shops' -
Elsewhere, governments have enacted travel bans or urged people to
remain indoors, adding to a sense of alarm.
Fears of an outbreak were rife in Nigeria this week, when authorities
shut a Chinese supermarket in the capital Abuja. But they did so to
remove expired products.
The southern African country of Botswana announced a suspected case on
Friday, also sparking fears.
"The first thing is to avoid going to Chinese shops as much as
possible," said Mqondisi Dube, a journalist in the capital Gabarone.
And in the West African archipelago of Cape Verde, locals are rushing
to buy fennel because of false claims it heals coronavirus.
In a sign of extreme caution, some governments are also asking Chinese
nationals to remain indoors.
Nigeria has urged any person arriving from China to "self-isolate" for
at least two weeks, even if they are not ill.
The Chinese embassy in Mauritania has similarly asked its recent
arrivals in the West African country to remain indoors for two weeks.
In Mozambique, the government has suspended visas for Chinese citizens
and forbidden its citizens from travelling there.
South African authorities are checking passengers' temperatures at
airports and have listed 11 hospitals that will deal with emergencies
if they arise.
- Suspected cases rising -
Though Africa is one of the few continents not to have confirmed
coronavirus cases, the number of suspected cases is increasing.
Several countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Angola, Botswana and
Ivory Coast, have signalled possible infections.
But confirming coronavirus can take time, as health authorities
lacking expertise have to send samples to labs in countries such as
South Africa.
"It is very possible that there are cases that are going on the
continent that have not been recognised," John Nkengasong, the
director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,
told reporters this week.

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Has coronavirus reached AFRICA? Sudan and Equatorial Guinea quarantine six patients with symptoms of the killer SARS-like infection @MailOnline
Africa


The killer coronavirus sweeping the world may have reached Africa as
Sudan and Equatorial Guinea have reported suspected cases.
Two citizens of Sudan are being monitored after displaying symptoms of
the virus following a visit to Wuhan, local reports say.
And officials in Equatorial Guinea have quarantined four travellers
who arrived from Beijing amid fears they may have the killer SARS-like
infection.
the two patients in Sudan – a country in the northeast of Africa – had
returned from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the escalating
outbreak.
The man and woman are currently being monitored by doctors. Officials
have not yet confirmed their identities or locations.
No other details have yet emerged for the Sudanese residents. The news
agency Reuters said it was given the information by a minister.
Sudanese officials have already enforced strict screening of
travellers arriving at airports and shipping ports to try and prevent
the spread.
It came as Equatorial Guinea – small central African state – said it
had quarantined four travellers who arrived from Beijing.
The four had arrived on Tuesday aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight at
the airport in the capital of Malabo, the government said.

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The South African Rand is under-performing and we have been warning that this is an idiosyncratic story: @RobinBrooksIIF
Africa


- 15% real effective overvaluation
- current account deficit with increasingly tenuous financing
- heaviest foreign investor positioning across EM
- growth that has flat-lined

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02-SEP-2019 :: the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon.
Africa


This Phenomenon was positive for the last two decades but has now
undergone a Trend reversal.
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.

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Former Nigerian Militant Says Oil Amnesty Is Price of Peace @business @WTBClowes
Africa


Ebikabowei Victor Ben sips French red wine at his plush home in
Nigeria’s capital as he reminisces about a daring speedboat attack on
one of the nation’s most critical oil installations.
The raid in June 2008 targeted Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Bonga
production vessel 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the nation’s coast,
escalating a three-year insurgency by showing oil companies they could
be targeted anywhere, on and offshore.
Ben’s success pressed the government to accelerate an amnesty program
aimed at encouraging fighters to lay down their weapons.
Better known as General Boyloaf, Ben, 47, is one of half a dozen rebel
commanders who in 2009 disarmed in return for monthly government
stipends and vocational training.
He now owns Bensam Maritime Oil & Gas Ltd., which does subcontracting
work for Shell and Chevron Corp. -- the very companies he once tried
to hound out of Nigeria.
“I prefer the life of a businessman,” Ben, who is completing a degree
in international relations, said in an interview at his compound in
Abuja.
The amnesty has largely brought peace to the Niger River delta, the
main source of Nigeria’s crude, by providing opportunities in business
and politics to militant commanders like Boyloaf, and cash to their
former troops.
A recent threat by some former militants to return to hostilities
provides a reminder of how critical stability is in the region, as the
government looks to increase oil revenue to plug persistent budget
shortfalls and revive faltering growth in one of Africa’s biggest
economies.
Ben was a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger
Delta, or MEND, a loose coalition of militias whose fight for greater
local control over the region’s oil wealth wreaked havoc on the
economy.
With violence and kidnappings that intensified from the mid-2000s
slashing average daily output by 40% to 1.6 million barrels,
then-President Umaru Yar’Adua cut a deal with the campaign’s leaders.
The enrollment of about 30,000 MEND fighters into the amnesty program,
each of whom receives 65,000 naira ($179) a month, ushered in a period
of relative calm that ensured crude was flowing again. The annual
budget for the program is currently about 65 billion naira.
While leaders like Ben don’t appear to benefit more than their foot
soldiers from the amnesty program, they profited handsomely from
government deals to protect pipelines they previously sought to blow
up, said Tarila Marclint Ebiede, a research fellow at the Centre for
Research on Peace and Development at Belgium’s Catholic University of
Leuven.
“Oil majors awarded contracts to ex-militant leaders as a way of
keeping the peace,” he said. Spokesmen for Shell and Chevron didn’t
respond to requests for comment.
Human Catastrophe
The cost of the program is dwarfed by the human and financial
catastrophe of MEND’s peak years. Fifty attacks on oil installations
and rampant crude theft resulted in the state and oil companies losing
at least $23.7 billion in 2008, according to a government report.
At least 1,000 people were killed and 300 others were taken hostage
over the same period, it said, while a brutal military response proved
unable to crush the insurgency.
“When you compare it to the cost of addressing the developmental
challenges in the Niger Delta, 65 billion naira is cheap,” Ebiede
said.
Still, the factors that caused the unrest – including corruption,
poverty and pollution – haven’t been adequately tackled and many
former militants are yet to find alternative employment, he said. “The
drivers of conflict are still there and, if anything, they have
intensified,” according to Ebiede.
After President Muhammadu Buhari won elections in 2015 that ousted the
former ruling party, his government ordered large cuts to the amnesty
project, ended pipeline-surveillance contracts and announced plans to
terminate the program.
Within months, a new militant group emerged under the banner of the
Niger Delta Avengers. Attacks on oil facilities resumed, slashing
Nigeria’s output by as much as a half and helping plunge the country
into its first recession in a quarter century.
Negotiations through community leaders, who reached out to fighters,
ended the violence as amnesty funding was restored and payments
resumed.
Ben endorsed Buhari before his re-election last year and thinks the
president is a “man of principle” committed to maintaining the flow of
crude.
“Peace is very hard to come by and it’s very expensive,” Ben said.
“Anyone who wants to close the program will have to face the
repercussions.”

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Exodus 10 The Plague of Locusts "If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5 They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen"
Africa


''If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country
tomorrow. 5 They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot
be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail,
including every tree that is growing in your fields. 6 They will fill
your houses and those of all your officials and all the
Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever
seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’”

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09-DEC-2019 :: Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth
Africa


Revelation 6:12-13  When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and
behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as
sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky
fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken
by a gale.

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