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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Monday 04th of May 2020
 
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Africa

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Macro Thoughts

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19-APR-2020 :: The End of Vanity China Africa Win Win
Africa


And the entire China Africa relationship has been an extraordinary
exercise in Narrative Framing and linguistic control, accompanied by a
chorus of Party Hacks chirruping Hosannas at every turn amplifying
largely meaningless feel good Phrases artfully placed in the mouths of
our Politicians and our Newspapers. It is remarkable.
4/12 Curiosamente, esse período marcou uma das piores décadas para
esse mercado na história. É incontestável a contradição entre esses
números, presumivelmente mais apurados, e os números “criados” pelo
próprio governo comunista Chinês.
4/12 Interestingly, this period marked one of the worst decades for
this market in history. The contradiction between these numbers,
presumably more accurate, and the numbers “created” by the Chinese
communist government is undeniable.

Home Thoughts

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The Way we live now #COVID19
Africa


''You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years
ago, to what had been there always.”
Don DeLillo wrote "Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We
have minutes to live."

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'Utter disaster': Manaus fills mass graves as Covid-19 hits the Amazon @guardian
Africa


Day and night, the dead are delivered into the tawny Amazonian earth –
the latest victims of a devastating pandemic now reaching deep into
the heart of the Brazilian rainforest.
On Sunday 140 bodies were laid to rest in Manaus, the jungle-flanked
capital of Amazonas state. On Saturday, 98. Normally the figure would
be closer to 30 – but these are no longer normal times.
“It’s madness – just madness,” said Gilson de Freitas, a 30-year-old
maintenance man whose mother, Rosemeire Rodrigues Silva, was one of
136 people buried there last Tuesday as local morticians set yet
another grim daily record.
Freitas – who believes his mother contracted Covid-19 after being
admitted to hospital following a stroke – recalled watching in despair
as her remains were lowered into a muddy trench alongside perhaps 20
other coffins.
“They were just dumped there like dogs,” he said. “What are our lives
worth now? Nothing.”
The city’s mayor, Arthur Virgílio, pleaded for urgent international help.
“We aren’t in a state of emergency – we’re well beyond that. We are in
a state of utter disaster … like a country that is at war – and has
lost,” he said.
“It’s tragic surrealism ... I can’t stop thinking about Gabriel García
Márquez when I think about the situation Manaus is facing.”
The coronavirus appears to have reached this isolated, riverside
metropolis of more than 2 million people on 11 March, imported by a
49-year-old woman who had flown in from London.
Six weeks later it is taking a terrible toll, with gravediggers so
overworked that two men were this week forced to bury their own
father.
“Manaus is in a race against time to avoid becoming the Brazilian
version of Guayaquil,” one local newspaper, A Crítica, warned last
week in reference to the Ecuadorian city where bodies have been left
rotting in the streets and thousands are feared to have died.
With more than 100 people dying each day and Manaus’s overwhelmed
authorities performing nighttime burials, many fear it is already too
late.
City officials say they expect to bury up to 4,500 people in the next
month alone. Funeral homes have warned they will run out of wooden
coffins by this weekend.
In Parque Tarumã – Manaus’s biggest cemetery – excavators have carved
out mass graves called “trincheiras” – trenches – in which the dead
were being stacked in three-high piles until a revolt from mourning
families saw the practice halted.
“It’s chaos in there,” said Freitas, whose 58-year-old mother was
consigned to the trenches last week. “She spent her whole life working
… she paid all of her taxes. She deserved more. We all do.”
Edmar Barros, a local photographer who has been documenting the
burials, said he had never seen anything similar. “It’s absurd what is
happening here,” he said. “It’s a situation of just devastating
sadness.”
Emergency and health services in Manaus are also buckling under the
strain, with ambulances roaming for up to three hours in search of
hospitals with space to admit the patients they have collected.
Gruesome video footage has emerged from hospitals showing corridors
lined with corpses shrouded in body bags and sheets. Another video
shows an unconscious patient with his head wrapped inside a ventilator
hood improvised from a large plastic bag.
“There’s a shortage of mechanical ventilators, of oxygen, of staff, of
stretchers. Everything is lacking,” said Dr Domício Magalhães Filho,
the technical director of the ambulance service, Samu.
Experts and officials say multiple factors explain the intensity of
the catastrophe affecting the Amazon region’s biggest city.
One is that the coronavirus epidemic has struck at the tail end of the
rainy season, when respiratory illnesses are rife and hospitals
already stretched.
Another is that Manaus’s chronically underfunded health service was
poorly equipped and understaffed even before medical workers began
contracting Covid-19 themselves.
But many also blame corruption and the government’s failure to
effectively implement containment measures once Covid-19 was detected.
Only on 23 March – 10 days after the first case was confirmed – did
the state governor declare a state of emergency, ordering all
non-essential businesses to close.
“We took too long to ask people to stay at home,” said Leonardo
Steiner, the archbishop of Manaus, which is a four-hour flight north
of São Paulo.
Even now, with the death toll soaring, social distancing is being
flouted in some areas on the city’s outskirts, with huge queues
outside banks and locals refusing to wear masks or remain at home.
Emergency and health services in Manaus are also buckling under the
strain, with ambulances roaming for up to three hours in search of
hospitals with space to admit the patients they have collected.
“It comes from China, doesn’t it?” he said vaguely on Tuesday as
President Bolsonaro sparked outrage by shrugging his shoulders at the
country’s dead.
“All of us are afraid because we don’t know what tomorrow might
bring,” Freitas said. “Today we’re alive. Tomorrow we just don’t
know.”

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Zeqway Clarke was in the back pew in the upstairs chapel at the Andrew D. Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn when he chanced to gaze under the coffin and see what looked like a bare foot @thedailybeast
Africa


“You could see it,” he later told The Daily Beast. “You could actually
look under the casket and see it. I asked somebody else, ‘Is that a
foot?’”
Clarke was there on April 9 with his wife and daughters and a small
number of relatives in masks and gloves, bidding farewell to her
grandfather, 88-year-old Francois Jules.
The pastor continued conducting the service as Clarke gazed at what
was indeed a bare foot visible beneath the hem of the cloth backdrop
closing off the front of the room.
At the end of the service, Clarke went up for a final parting moment
with Jules, a military veteran and retired graveyard security guard,
who was recovering from a stroke in Kings County Hospital when he was
fatally struck by COVID-19.
Clarke used the moment by the coffin to raise his cellphone above the
cord on which the backdrop hung.
“I stuck the phone up and took a picture,” the 39-year-old
entrepreneur recalled.
He did not see the result until he returned to his seat and checked his phone.
“It was just bodies, bodies on the floor, people on top of each
other,” he said.
The picture, which he later shared with The Daily Beast, showed at
least eight bodies had been left haphazardly on the floor.
They were only partly covered by sheets or quilts and appeared to be
unclothed. Three of the faces were visible.
“Horrified,” Clarke said of his reaction.
Twenty days later, the whole city was horrified when police responded
to complaints of a foul odor coming from two trucks parked in front of
this same funeral home.
They discovered dozens of bodies decomposing inside.
The owner, 41-year-old Andrew Cleckley, told police that he had been
unable to get cemeteries and crematories to accept enough bodies to
keep his facility from overflowing.
“I am out of space,” he was quoted telling The New York Times. “Bodies
are coming out of our ears.”
Clarke lives in the neighborhood, and he had walked past the funeral
home with his daughters, aged 15 and 16, as the pandemic was
intensifying.
He noticed that the usual hearse and men in suits and ties had been
replaced by rental trucks and men in work clothes.
“It looked like they just picked up some winos off the street: ‘Yo,
we’ll give you some money,’” Clarke recalled.
“I said to my kids, ‘It looks like they’re bringing these bodies in
U-Haul trucks.’ It looked like they were bringing in more and more
bodies and the place is not even that big.”
He noted to himself that there was no air conditioning in the chapel.
“Not cool,” he said in more than one sense. “In regular room
temperature like that, what’s going to happen?”
As he and his family resumed sheltering in place, Clarke considered
reporting to the authorities what he had photographed.
“[But] there was so much going on with the pandemic, social
distancing, I figured it hell or high water to get in contact with
somebody,” he recalled.
He decided just to post the photographic evidence on Facebook. Some
commenters noted that funeral homes were overwhelmed. Most comments
were unalloyed outrage.
Then came the discovery of the decomposing bodies in the trucks
outside the funeral home.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams responded to the scene. He later
said that much the same is happening throughout New York as the usual
progression from hospital and morgue to funeral parlor to cemetery and
crematorium has backed up.

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there is something Karmic in this #COVID19
Africa


The COVID19 is invisible but it has already defeated the most
expensive Aircraft carriers, it lurks everywhere and in silence and
has put down Mecca, St. Peters Square and the Vatican, Qom

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Macabre thing about covid is that the same demographics are at highest risk whether you open up slowly or quickly — the poor and unhealthy @vgr
Africa


Only question is whether they die of covid or destitution+desperation.
If you try to minimize deaths, I think they end up being balanced?

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Coronavirus NSW: Dossier lays out case against China bat virus program #COVID19 The Daily Telegraph Australia
Law & Politics


China deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus
outbreak in an “assault on international transparency’’ that cost tens
of thousands of lives, according to a dossier prepared by concerned
Western governments on the COVID-19 contagion.
The 15-page research document, obtained by The Saturday Telegraph,
lays the foundation for the case of negligence being mounted against
China.
It states that to the “endangerment of other countries” the Chinese
government covered-up news of the virus by silencing or “disappearing”
doctors who spoke out, destroying evidence of it in laboratories and
refusing to provide live samples to international scientists who were
working on a vaccine.
It can also be revealed the Australian government trained and funded a
team of Chinese scientists who belong to a laboratory which went on to
genetically modify deadly coronaviruses that could be transmitted from
bats to humans and had no cure, and is not the subject of a probe into
the origins of COVID-19.
As intelligence agencies investigate whether the virus inadvertently
leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, the team and its research led by
scientist Shi Zhengli feature in the dossier prepared by Western
governments that points to several studies they conducted as areas of
concern.
It cites their work discovering samples of coronavirus from a cave in
the Yunnan province with striking genetic similarity to COVID-19,
along with their research synthesising a bat-derived coronavirus that
could not be treated.
Its major themes include the “deadly denial of human-to-human
transmission”, the silencing or “disappearing” of doctors and
scientists who spoke out, the destruction of evidence of the virus
from genomic studies laboratories, and “bleaching of wildlife market
stalls”, along with the refusal to provide live virus samples to
international scientists working on a vaccine.
Key figures of the Wuhan Institute of Virology team, who feature in
the government dossier, were either trained or employed in the CSIRO’s
Australian Animal Health Laboratory where they conducted foundational
research on deadly pathogens in live bats, including SARS, as part of
an ongoing partnership between the CSIRO and the Chinese Academy of
Sciences.
This partnership continues to this day, according to the website of
the Wuhan ­Institute of Virology, despite concerns the research is too
risky.
Politicians in the Morrison government are speaking out about the
national security and biosecurity concerns of this relationship as the
controversial research into bat-related viruses now comes into sharp
focus amid the investigation by the Five Eyes intelligence agencies of
the United States, Australia, NZ, Canada and the UK.
In Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, not far from the now infamous
Wuhan wet market, Dr Shi and her team work in high-protective gear in
level-three and level-four bio-containment laboratories studying
deadly bat-derived coronaviruses.
At least one of the ­estimated 50 virus samples Dr Shi has in her
laboratory is a 96 per cent genetic match to COVID-19.
When Dr Shi heard the news about the outbreak of a new ­pneumonia-like
virus, she spoke about the sleepless nights she suffered worrying
whether it was her lab that was responsible for the outbreak.
As she told Scientific American magazine in an article published this
week: “Could they have come from our lab?” Since her initial fears, Dr
Shi has satisfied herself the genetic sequence of COVID-19 did not
match any her lab was studying.
Yet, given the extent of the People’s Republic of China’s lies,
obfuscations and angry refusal to allow any investigation into the
origin of the outbreak, her laboratory is now being closely looked at
by international intelligence agencies.
The Australian government’s position is that the virus most likely
originated in the Wuhan wet market but that there is a remote
possibility — a 5 per cent chance — it accidentally leaked from a
laboratory.
The US’s position, according to reports this week, is that it is more
likely the virus leaked from a laboratory but it could also have come
from a wet market that trades and slaughters wild animals, where other
diseases including the H5N1 avian flu and SARS originated.
It notes a 2013 study conducted by a team of researchers, including Dr
Shi, who collected a sample of horseshoe bat faeces from a cave in
Yunnan province, China, which was later found to contain a virus 96.2
per cent identical to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused COVID-19.
The research dossier also references work done by the team to
synthesise SARS-like coronaviruses, to analyse whether they could be
transmissible from bats to mammals. This means they were altering
parts of the virus to test whether it was transmissible to different
species.
Their November 2015 study, done in conjunction with the University of
North Carolina, concluded that the SARS-like virus could jump directly
from bats to humans and there was no treatment that could help.
The study acknowledges the incredible danger of the work they were conducting.
“The potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be
weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens,” they
wrote.
You have to be a scientist to understand it, but below is the line
that the governments’ research paper references from the study.
“To examine the emergence potential (that is, the potential to infect
humans) of circulating bat CoVs, we built a chimeric virus encoding a
novel, zoonotic CoV spike protein — from the RsSHCO14-CoV sequence
that was isolated from Chinese horseshoe bats — in the context of the
SARS-CoV mouse-adapted backbone,” the study states.
One of Dr Shi’s co-authors on that paper, Professor Ralph Baric from
North Carolina University, said in an interview with Science Daily at
the time: “This virus is highly pathogenic and treatments developed
against the original SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to
fight ebola fail to neutralise and control this particular virus.”
A few years later, in March 2019, Dr Shi and her team, including Peng
Zhou, who worked in Australia for five years, published a review
­titled Bat Coronaviruses in China in the medical journal Viruses,
where they wrote that they “aim to predict virus hot spots and their
cross-species transmission potential”, describing it as a matter of
“urgency to study bat corona­viruses in China to understand their
potential of causing another outbreak. Their review stated: “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.”
It examined which proteins were “important for interspecies transmission”.
Despite intelligence probes into whether her laboratory may have been
responsible for the outbreak, Dr Shi is not hitting pause on her
research, which she argues is more important than ever in preventing a
pandemic.
She plans to head a national project to systemically sample viruses in
bat caves, with estimates that there are more than 5000 coronavirus
strains “waiting to be discovered in bats globally”.
“Bat-borne coronaviruses will cause more outbreaks,” she told
Scientific American. “We must find them before they find us.”
Dr Shi, the director of the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at
the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Wuhan Institute of Virology, spent
time in Australia as a ­visiting scientist for three months from
February 22 to May 21, 2006, where she worked at the CSIRO’s top-level
Australian Animal Health Laboratory, which has recently been ­renamed.
The CSIRO would not comment on what work she undertook during her time
here, but an archived and translated biography on the Wuhan Institute
of Virology website states that she was working with the SARS virus.
“The SARS virus antibodies and genes were tested in the State Key
Laboratory of Virology in Wuhan and the Animal Health Research
Laboratory in Geelong, Australia,” it states.
The Telegraph has obtained two photographs of her working at the CSIRO
laboratories, including in the level-four lab, in 2006.
Dr Shi’s protégé, Peng Zhou — now the head of the Bat Virus Infection
and Immunity Project at the Wuhan Institute of Virology — spent three
years at the bio-containment facility Australian Animal Health
Laboratory between 2011 and 2014.
He was sent by China to complete his doctorate at the CSIRO from 2009-2010.
During this time, Dr Zhou arranged for wild-caught bats to be
transported alive by air from Queensland to the lab in Victoria where
they were euthanised for dissection and studied for deadly viruses.
Dr Linfa Wang, while an Honorary Professor of the Wuhan Institute of
Virology between 2005 and 2011, also worked in the CSIRO Office of the
Chief Executive Science Leader in Virology between 2008 and 2011.
Federal Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said it was “very concerning”
that Chinese scientists had been conducting research into bat viruses
at the CSIRO in Geelong, Victoria, in jointly funded projects between
the Australian and Chinese governments.
“We need to exercise extreme care with any research projects involving
foreign nationals which may compromise our national security or
biosecurity,” she said.
While the US has cut all funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,
the CSIRO would not respond to ­questions about whether it is still
collaborating with it, saying only that it collaborates with research
organisations from around the world to prevent diseases.
“As with all partners, CSIRO undertakes due diligence and takes
security very seriously,” a spokesman said. “CSIRO undertakes all
research in accordance with strict biosecurity and legislative
requirements.”
The US withdrew funding from controversial experiments that make
pathogens more potent or likely to spread dangerous viruses in October
2014, concerned it could lead to a global pandemic.
The pause on funding for 21 “gain of function” studies was then lifted
in December 2017.
Despite the concerns, the CSIRO continued to partner and fund research
with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The CSIRO refused to respond to questions from The Saturday Telegraph
about how much money went into joint research collaboration with the
Chinese Academy of Science and its Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Wuhan Institute still lists the CSIRO as a partner while the US
has cut ties since the coronavirus outbreak.
The argument is whether it is worth developing these viruses to
anticipate and prevent a pandemic when a leak of the virus could also
cause one. Debate in the scientific community is heated.
There have also been serious concerns about a lack of adequate safety
practices at the Wuhan Institute of Virology when dealing with deadly
viruses.
A ‘‘Sensitive but Unclassified’’ cable, dated January 19, 2018,
obtained by The Washington Post, revealed that US embassy scientists
and diplomats in Beijing visited the laboratory and sent warnings back
to Washington about inadequate safety practices and management
weaknesses as it conducted research on coronaviruses from bats.
“During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted
the new lab has a serious shortage of ­appropriately trained
technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this
high-containment laboratory,” the cable stated.
Scientific consensus is that the virus came from a wetmarket. But the
US’s top spy agency confirmed on the record for the first time
yesterday that the US intelligence committee is investigating whether
COVID-19 was the result of an accident at a Wuhan laboratory.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence acting director
Richard Grenell said the virus was not created in a laboratory.
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing
critical support to US policymakers and those responding to the
COVID-19 virus, which originated in China,” he said.
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific
consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically
modified. As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by
surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital
to US national security. The IC will continue to rigorously examine
emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the
outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the
result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
Despite Mr Grenell’s statement and scientific consensus that the virus
was not created in a laboratory, based on its genome sequence the
governments’ research paper obtained by The Telegraph notes a study
that claims it was created.
South China University of Technology researchers published a study on
February 6 that concluded “the killer coronavirus probably originated
from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety level may need to be reinforced in
high-risk biohazards laboratories”.
“The paper is soon withdrawn because it ‘was not supported by direct
proofs’, according to author Botao Xiano,” the dossier noted,
continuing to point out that: ‘“No scientists have confirmed or
refuted the paper’s findings’, scholar Yanzhong Huang wrote on March
5.”
The Saturday Telegraph does not claim that the South China University
of Technology study is credible, only that it has been included in
this government research paper produced as part of the case against
China.
The paper obtained by The Saturday Telegraph speaks about “the
suppression and destruction of evidence” and points to “virus samples
ordered destroyed at genomics labs, wildlife market stalls bleached,
the genome sequence not shared publicly, the Shanghai lab closure for
‘rectification’, academic articles subjected to prior review by the
Ministry of Science and Technology and data on asymptomatic ‘silent
carriers’ kept secret”.
It paints a picture of how the Chinese government deliberately covered
up the coronavirus by silencing doctors who spoke out, destroying
evidence from the Wuhan laboratory and refusing to provide live virus
samples to international scientists working on a vaccine.
The US, along with other countries, has repeatedly ­demanded a live
virus sample from the first batch of coronavirus cases.
This is understood to have not been forthcoming despite its vital
importance in developing a vaccine while potentially providing an
indication of where the virus originated.
Out of all the doctors, activists, journalists and scientists who have
reportedly disappeared after speaking out about the coronavirus or
criticising the response of Chinese authorities, no case is more
intriguing and worrying than that of Huang Yan Ling.
A researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the South China
Morning Post reported rumours swirling on Chinese social media that
she was the first to be diagnosed with the disease and was ­“patient
zero”.
Then came her reported disappearance, with her biography and image
deleted from the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s website.
On February 16 the institute denied she was ­patient zero and said she
was alive and well, but there has been no proof of life since then,
fanning speculation.
On December 31, Chinese authorities started censoring news of the
virus from search engines, deleting terms including “SARS variation,
“Wuhan Seafood market” and “Wuhan Unknown Pneumonia.”
On January 1 without any investigation into where the virus originated
from, the Wuhan seafood market was closed and disinfected.
It has been reported in the New York Times that individual animals and
cages were not swabbed “eliminating evidence of what animal might have
been the source of the coronavirus and which people had become
infected but survived”.
The Hubei health commission ordered genomics companies to stop testing
for the new virus and to destroy all samples.
A day later, on January 3, China’s leading health authority, the
National Health Commission, ordered Wuhan pneumonia samples be moved
to designated testing facilities or destroyed, while instructing a
no-publication order related to the unknown disease.
Doctors who bravely spoke out about the new virus were detained and
condemned. Their detentions were splashed across the Chinese-state
media with a call from Wuhan Police for “all citizens to not fabricate
rumours, not spread rumours, not believe rumours.”
A tweet from the Global Times on January 2 states: “Police in Central
China’s Wuhan arrested 8 people spreading rumours about local outbreak
of unidentifiable #pneumonia. Previous online posts said it was SARS.”
This had the intended effect of silencing other doctors who may have
been inclined to speak out.
So the truth about the outbreak in China has remained shrouded in
secrecy, with President Xi Jinping aggressively rejecting global calls
for an inquiry.
The dossier is damning of China’s constant denials about the outbreak.
“Despite evidence of human-human transmission from early December, PRC
authorities deny it until January 20,” it states.
“The World Health Organisation does the same. Yet officials in Taiwan
raised concerns as early as December 31, as did experts in Hong Kong
on January 4.”
The paper exposes the hypocrisy of China’s self-­imposed travel bans
while condemning those of Australia and the United States, declaring:
“Millions of people leave Wuhan after the outbreak and before Beijing
locks down the city on January 23.”
“Thousands fly overseas. Throughout February, Beijing presses the US,
Italy, India, Australia, Southeast Asian neighbours and others not to
protect themselves via travel restrictions, even as the PRC imposes
severe restrictions at home.”
In the paper, the Western governments are pushing back at what they
call an “assault on international transparency”.
“As EU diplomats prepare a report on the pandemic, PRC successfully
presses Brussels to strike language on PRC disinformation,” it states.
“As Australia calls for an independent inquiry into the pandemic, PRC
threatens to cut off trade with Australia. PRC has likewise responded
furiously to US calls for transparency.”
Chair of Australia’s Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and
Security Andrew Hastie said after the cover-up and disinformation
campaign from China, the world needed transparency and an inquiry.
“So many Australians have been damaged by the mismanagement of
COVID-19 by the Chinese government, and if we truly are as close as
Beijing suggests we are then we need answers about how this all
started,” he said.
KEY DATES IN COVID COVER-UP
November 9, 2015:
Wuhan Institute of Virology publish a study revealing they created a
new virus in the lab from SARS-CoV.
December 6, 2019
Five days after a man linked to Wuhan’s seafood market presented
pneumonia-like symptoms, his wife contracts it, suggesting human to
human transmission.
December 27
China’s health authorities told a novel disease, then affecting some
180 patients, was caused by a new coronavirus.
December 26-30
Evidence of new virus emerges from Wuhan patient data.
December 31
Chinese internet authorities begin censoring terms from social media
such as Wuhan Unknown Pneumonia.
January 1, 2020
Eight Wuhan doctors who warned about new virus are detained and condemned.
January 3
China’s top health authority issues a gag order.
January 5
Wuhan Municipal Health Commission stops releasing daily updates on new
cases. Continues until January 18.
January 10
PRC official Wang Guangfa says outbreak “under control” and mostly a
“mild condition”.
January 12
Professor Zhang Yongzhen’s lab in Shanghai is closed by authorities
for “rectification”, one day after it shares genomic sequence data
with the world for the first time.
January 14
PRC National Health Commission chief Ma Xiaowei privately warns
colleagues the virus is likely to develop into a major public health
event.
January 24
Officials in Beijing prevent the Wuhan Institute of Virology from
sharing sample isolates with the University of Texas.
February 6
China’s internet watchdog tightens controls on social media platforms.
February 9
Citizen-journalist and local businessman Fang Bin disappears.
April 17
Wuhan belatedly raises its official fatalities by 1290.

Conclusions

Whether it was a Leak or deliberate - The World Wide Propagation was
deliberate and an act of War

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What are the odds that a SARS-like coronavirus with overlapping genetics from HIV mutated and crossed over into humans @scottburke777
Law & Politics


What are the odds that a SARS-like coronavirus with overlapping
genetics from HIV mutated and crossed over into humans, next door to a
laboratory which had been enhancing coronavirus with HIV for over a
decade? And conversely, what are the odds it leaked out of the
laboratory?

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Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2
Law & Politics


To date we have identified fourteen mutations in Spike that are
accumulating. Mutations are considered in a broader phylogenetic
context, geographically, and over time, to provide an early warning
system to reveal mutations that may confer selective advantages in
transmission or resistance to interventions.
The mutation Spike D614G is of urgent concern; it began spreading in
Europe in early February, and when introduced to new regions it
rapidly becomes the dominant form. Also, we present evidence of
recombination between locally circulating strains, indicative of
multiple strain infections.
SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to SARS-CoV; the two viruses share ~79%
sequence identity (Lu et al., 2020) and both use angiotensin
converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) as their cellular receptor (Hoffmann et
al., 2020; Li et al., 2005; Wrapp et al., 2020), however the
SARS-CoV-2 S-protein has a10-20-fold higher affinity for ACE2 than the
corresponding S-protein of SARS-CoV (Wrapp et al., 2020).
D614G is increasing in frequency at an alarming rate, indicating a
fitness advantage relative to the original Wuhan strain that enables
more rapid spread. S943P is located in the fusion core region, and is
of particular interest as it is spreading via recombination.
The combination of these three mutations forms the basis for the clade
that soon emerged in Europe (Fig. 1). By the time of our second report
in mid-March, D614G was being tracked at the GISAID due to its high
frequency, and referred to as the “G” clade; it was present in 29% of
the global samples, but was still found almost exclusively in Europe.
In Europe, where the G614 first began its expansion, the D614 and G614
forms were co- circulating early in the epidemic, with D614 more
common in most sampled countries, the exceptions being Italy and
Switzerland (Fig. 2A).
Through March, G614 became increasingly common throughout Europe, and
by April it dominated contemporary sampling (Fig. 2 and 3).
In North America, infections were initiated and established across the
continent by the original D614 form, but in early March, the G614 was
introduced into both Canada and the USA, and by the end of March it
had become the dominant form in both nations.
Asian samples were completely dominated by the original Wuhan D614
form through mid-March, but by mid-March in Asian countries outside of
China, the G614 form was clearly established and expanding (Figs 2 and
3).
The status of the D614G mutation in China remains unclear, as very few
Chinese sequences in GISAID were sampled after March 1
his approach revealed that viruses bearing the mutation Spike D614G
are replacing the original Wuhan form of the virus rapidly and
repeatedly across the globe (Fig. 2-3).
We do not know what is driving this selective sweep, nor for that
matter if it is indeed due the modified Spike and not one of the other
two accompanying mutations that share the GISAID “G-clade” haplotype.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.0932
Dollar Index 99.372
Japan Yen 106.74
Swiss Franc 0.9644
Pound 1.2441
Aussie 0.6391
India Rupee 75.74
South Korea Won 1227.15
Brazil Real 5.4865
Egypt Pound 15.6634
South Africa Rand 18.88

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The drop in worldwide oil consumption in April has been put as high as 35 million barrels a day
World Currencies


Who knows what the new normal for oil demand will be once Covid-19 is
firmly in the rear view mirror? Not me, that's for sure.
But it is likely to be lower than it was in 2019, and it could be that
way for many years. That’s going to create overcapacity throughout the
oil supply chain and weigh on prices.
While signs are emerging that we might have passed the worst of this
historic oil demand rout, they’re very tentative.
No one is predicting a swift recovery to where we were before the
pandemic struck.
Some, including Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s chief executive officer, Ben
van Beurden, suggest that oil demand may never recover fully.
Citigroup analysts don’t see jet fuel consumption back at last year’s
level until well into 2022, and they’re at the optimistic end of the
spectrum.
Boeing’s CEO suggests passenger traffic might not get back to 2019
levels for three years, and even when the flying public does return,
airlines will use their newest and most efficient planes to carry
them, as my colleagues Liam Denning and Brooke Sutherland note here.
So let’s make a guess about the loss in future demand, and let’s make
a fairly small one. Let’s assume it’s about 5 million barrels a day.
That doesn’t sound like too much; it’s about 5% of last year’s global
oil demand.
The drop in worldwide oil consumption in April has been put as high as
35 million barrels a day, and forecasts estimate 2020 oil use will be
about 10 million barrels a day (or 10%) lower than in 2019.

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06-APR-2020 : The Way we live now
World Currencies


What I do know is this. Regime implosion is coming to the Oil
Producers and Trump can game the price a little more sure but its a
pointless exercise. Demand has cratered and a return to a hyper
connected 100m barrels per day world is not going to happen for the
foreseeable future. Putin will survive because he prepared for this
moment. Others are as good as terminated.

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22-MAR-2020 :: COVID-19 and a Rolling Sudden Stop #COVID19
World Currencies


We are moving from a World of Hyper Connectedness to a World of
Quarantine. A complete Quarantine is the only way to vaccine this
c21st World of ours
#Coronavirus "has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century
pathogen we've been worried about." - @BillGates
The Price of Crude Oil is perfectly correlated to the #COVID19 Sudden Stop

Commodities

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24-FEB-2020 :: The Viral Moment has Arrived #COVID19
Commodities


At this point I would venture Gold is correlated to the #Coronavirus
which is set to turn parabolic and is already non linear and
exponential ~

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The trajectories of non-resident portfolio flows between China and EM x/China had been disjointed for the previous weeks, an example of the cascading effect of this #COVID19 shock. @econchart
Emerging Markets


The trajectories of non-resident portfolio flows between China and EM
x/China had been disjointed for the previous weeks, an example of the
cascading effect of this #COVID19 shock. More recently this divergence
seems to be closing

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the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. #COVID19
Emerging Markets


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


Paul Virilio pronounced in his book Speed and Politics, “The
revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of
production, but in the street, where for a moment it stops being a cog
in the technical machine and itself becomes a motor (machine of
attack), in other words, a producer of speed.’’

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China's expensive bet on Africa has failed @NAR
Africa


Minxin Pei is professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and
a nonresident senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United
States.
China's commercial activities in Africa, such as investments,
infrastructure projects and bank lending, have long attracted scrutiny
and criticism.
Critics have accused Beijing of practicing a new form of economic
colonialism to gain control of the continent's valuable natural
resources by luring unsuspecting African nations into so-called debt
traps.
While this perspective dominates the narrative about Beijing's
economic ties with Africa, it likely exaggerates Chinese strategic
foresight and overlooks the pitfalls of China's big bet on the
continent.
As the prices of oil, copper and minerals found in Africa have plunged
in the global economic meltdown, the prospects for China-funded
projects look bleak.
China is facing growing pressure to forgive the tens of billions of
dollars of loans it has made to African countries since the early
2000s.
The mistreatment of African residents in China during the outbreak has
fueled cries of racism and prompted diplomatic protests against
Beijing.
Even the crown jewel of China's economic engagement with Africa, the
trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure program, is at
risk.
The coronavirus has dealt a body blow to the Chinese economy, with its
economic output falling 6.8% in the first quarter.
It is doubtful that Beijing will have the resources to fund the BRI in
the future.
One telltale sign is the absence of references in the communiques of
recent Politburo meetings of the Chinese Communist Party to BRI as a
priority.
In retrospect, the unraveling of China's Africa project should not
come as a surprise. Beijing's strategy has been based on flawed
assumptions and was executed at the wrong moment.
Chinese leaders see Africa mainly as a source of natural resources.
China's fast-paced growth since the early 1990s has generated a
voracious demand for oil and subsoil minerals, and Africa appeared a
perfect fit since dominant multinationals had a weak hold on the
continent and Beijing could easily outbid them to gain equity stakes
in mines and oil fields.
For unknown reasons, the Chinese government believed that, as an
equity holder and creditor, it could better ensure secure access to
critical raw materials there.
As a result, China has opened its checkbooks and become the most
active nontraditional lender in Africa.
According to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins
University, China loaned $152 billion to 49 African countries between
2000 and 2018.
The World Bank estimates that, as of 2017, the value of China's loans
to sub-Saharan African countries was $64 billion, or more than 60% of
the stock of bilateral debt.
Besides showering Africa with credit, China has bet big on direct
investments, mainly through its state-owned enterprises.
Between 2008 and 2018, Chinese FDI in Africa rose from $7.8 billion to
$46 billion, according to official data.
On paper, China may seem to have got its money's worth. Merchandise
trade between China and Africa rose from $107 billion to $204 billion
in 2018, based on data provided by the Chinese government.
But the question is whether China could have expanded its trade with
Africa and maintained its access to raw materials without committing
nearly $200 billion in bilateral loans and FDI in a distant continent
full of political and economic risks.
In all likelihood, China might not have paid more for the same raw
materials had it chosen to purchase them on the open market.
Beijing's hope that direct or semi-direct control of resources would
provide greater security is illusory.
For one thing, once China extended the credit or made the direct
investments in mines, oil fields or roads, it was at the mercy of the
recipients, Africa's national governments and political elites.
China has no power to prevent the nationalization of its investments
or defaults on its loans.
If supply disruption occurs because of conflict in Africa or along
China's long sea lines of communication, the theoretical advantage of
direct control will be worthless because China, at least for the
foreseeable future, lacks the military capabilities to protect its
mines and railways in Africa or escort its merchant ships on a
sustainable basis.
China's gamble in Africa also flopped thanks to bad timing. Its foray
into the continent coincided with the peak of the most recent
commodity supercycle, skyrocketing prices of raw materials, this time
driven by Chinese demand.
As a result, Chinese companies paid top price for assets that most
probably have lost huge value after the collapse in commodity prices.
Now that the coronavirus outbreak is about to devastate Africa's
fragile economies and societies, China needs a pragmatic exit
strategy.
Beijing must realize that it is unlikely to recover most of its sunken
investments or loans because of the economic impact of the virus on
Africa.
The only sensible policy flowing from such a reckoning is to write off
its loans as a humanitarian gesture.
But this dramatic step will be a bargain since it will earn Beijing
goodwill, with the money that it has no realistic hope of recouping.

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Will we see a post-Covid China-Africa reset? @dailymaverick H/T @mmnjug
Africa


Stepping back from the day-to-day predictions and prognostications
about Covid-19, two things are of longer-term interest concerning the
politics of recovery in Africa:
First, internally, what will be the effect of the crisis on African
governments and, particularly, on the relationship between the state
and citizens?
And second, externally, how will the relationship between Africa and
other powers – specifically China – alter in the aftermath?
On the first question, the immediate answer depends in part on who
appears to have done better in managing the Covid crisis.
This understanding is influenced invariably by the availability of
information. If China has – or is perceived as having – done better
than the West in managing the crisis (and we probably will never know
entirely), this could embolden calls for a more powerful and
authoritarian state and centralised administration.
The extension of powers under national crisis conditions has already
given some leaders a taste of dictatorship.
There are pluses and minuses for African leaders of this outcome.
Following more closely a China model offers the prospect of more
efficient delivery without the bother of managing the politics of the
economy.
Covid and the lockdown enables statists to display their power and
prowess – one only has to look at the instances of bully-boy
enthusiasm of the South African National Defence Force in cracking
down during the lockdown.
Many African leaders might like the idea of the Chinese system because
it offers the prospect of staying in power and making money, rather
than because of the development advantages of an efficient,
centralised state.
But democracy protects leaders and citizens. The Nirvana of relatively
unobstructed, unfettered power does not provide the constitutional and
institutional safeguards for leadership.
Unlike the Asian development experience, post-colonial African history
saw a slide into militarism, autocracy and incessant instability, not
least because the government lacked the competition and competency to
deliver prosperity.
In a vicious cycle, this is because the state is weak and fragmented.
It is one thing to mobilise against a common enemy (coronavirus) or
for a short-term national goal (the World Cup); it is another to keep
this machinery up, running and motivated for the longer term, not
least because it is expensive.
The Chinese model comes at an immense political and economic price.
This includes (but is not limited to) the cost of exchange rate
manipulation to remain competitive in trade, and continued
infrastructure investment to drive demand for commodities, job
creation and urban expansions.
These aren’t costs that many African governments can afford to incur,
without falling ever-deeper into a debt trap.
Statist overreach by African governments – mimicking the developed
world’s response in a developing world reality on behalf of elites –
can only have dramatic and negative economic consequences.
These will, sooner rather than later, inevitably have a political
impact. Populism thrives in situations of dearth and excess, and
desperation.
It is also not clear where the emergency anti-coronavirus provisions
end and the benign development state supposedly takes over.
African history suggests that this authoritarian path is invariably
costly and fraught with personalised, fragmented interests.
The benefits of this path depend, also, on the flow of external
capital, skills and technology.
Yet the dilution of democracy suggests that investors will be less
forthcoming absent constitutional and legal safeguards, and donors are
less likely to invest beyond humanitarian assistance.
The political resilience of African citizenry also might well surprise
in this regard. Africa is not China. African democracy is not a system
which was once upon a time benevolently handed out by leaders; it is
the system favoured by the vast majority of citizens given the
previous experience. And its freedoms have been hard fought for in
most instances.
The answer to the second issue – what changes the pandemic might bring
in external relations – in part depends on the outcome of the first,
and to the nature of global engagement post-Covid.
China might well face other areas of push-back, not least given the
allegations of the poor treatment of Africans in China during the
Covid pandemic, and calls for China to pay damages for its role in the
spread of the virus.
Also, a surge of other sources of debt might shift attention away from
China as a source of capital.
The outcome will depend, as ever, on how all these partners respond:
Africa, China and Western lenders.
Global growth, according to the IMF, is set to contract sharply by -3%
in 2020, much worse than during the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth is predicted to fall by -1.4%, with
Nigeria at -3.4% and South Africa -5.8%, the two giants comprising 45%
of regional economic output.
This crisis has laid bare Africa’s differentiation, often overlooked
in sweeping descriptions of the continent as “hopeless” or “rising”,
one where there are “lions on the move”.
But one generality is accurate. The continent is likely to become
increasingly debt-stressed as a consequence of Covid.
This reflects the debt position of African countries before Covid, the
depth of their domestic markets and resources, and their options
today.
It also relates to the extent outside actors and specifically Chinese
institutions are willing to renegotiate African debt.
It’s now a case of all hands on deck with debt and funding. The IMF
released emergency funds to at least 39 countries in March.
The World Bank has expedited $14-billion for crisis relief, and earmarked more.
The Bretton Woods institutions have also called on the G-20 group of
creditor nations to suspend collecting interest payments on loans they
have made to low-income countries.
On April 15, the G-20 agreed to do so until the end of the year – all
except one: China.
According to Benn Steil and Benjamin Della Rocca, writing in Foreign
Affairs, China loaned more than $120-billion to 67 mostly developing
nations through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for infrastructure
development.
Beijing has, they report, caveated “preferential loans” such as those
made by the Export-Import Bank of China (EximBank) for debt relief,
thereby making “a mockery” of the G-20 pledge.
EximBank has financed more than 1,800 BRI projects in dozens of
countries. As Steil and Della Rocca conclude:
“By continuing to demand interest payments on the loans, China will
force poor nations to choose between servicing debts and importing
essential goods such as food and medical supplies. Some BRI projects,
such as the Standard Gauge Railway loans to Ethiopia and China, for
example, are believed (since these are opaque arrangements) to carry
interest rates of around 8%, double the cost of capital to the Chinese
lenders.”
According to their analysis, since 2013, “China has provided nearly
half of all new loans to nations considered to be at a high risk of
default”. Ethiopia owes nearly 20% of its GDP to China, South Africa
some 4%, or $14-billion, and Kenya more than 11%.
Sub-Saharan Africa has around $400-billion in total public external debt today.
And they will now inevitably take on more, as governments try to
reinvigorate stagnant economies post-Covid.
Remember Jubilee 2000, the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
initiative, Bono on the White House lawns, and the Gleneagles G8 “Make
Poverty History” summit?
Under the debt relief provisions of the early 2000s, Africa was
forgiven more than $100-billion in debt.
In effect, these measures supported subsequent Chinese debt issuance.
It is unlikely that G20 nations will want to similarly support Chinese
debt maintenance.
If Beijing does not offer debt relief, it will stand accused of
profiting from Africa’s poverty, and gaming the international
development system.
Jack Ma’s generosity with face masks and testing kits notwithstanding,
without commitment on financial relief, China’s relationship with
Africa will be exposed as shallow and transactional.
Beyond Covid-19, a step-change in debt flows to Africa based on a
“freedoms’ means test” on delivery and governance is what Africa’s
performers and their citizens want and need.
The question is: Can donors offer this disaggregated alternative? DM

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19-APR-2020 :: The End of Vanity China Africa Win Win
Africa


Growth in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 is projected at –1.6 percent, the
lowest level on record
Among the sub- Saharan African region’s key trading partners, the euro
area is expected to contract (from 1.2 percent in 2019 to −7.5 percent
in 2020), and growth in China is to slow considerably (from 6.1
percent to 1.2 percent).
Lets Turn now to the defining Engagement of the last two decades for
SSA – The SSA China relationship.
And the entire China Africa relationship has been an extraordinary
exercise in Narrative Framing and linguistic control, accompanied by a
chorus of Party Hacks chirruping Hosannas at every turn amplifying
largely meaningless feel good Phrases artfully placed in the mouths of
our Politicians and our Newspapers. It is remarkable.
I reference excerpts from Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at the
opening ceremony of 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit
BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a
keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Beijing Summit of
the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) here on Monday.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
September has just set in Beijing, bringing with it refreshing breeze
and picturesque autumn scenery. And we are so delighted to have all of
you with us, friends both old and new, in this lovely season for the
reunion of the China-Africa big family at the 2018 Beijing Summit of
the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
path of win-win cooperation
"The ocean is vast because it rejects no rivers."
China's Xi says funds for Africa not for 'vanity projects' Reuters #FOCAC2018
2-SEP-2019 :: the China EM Frontier Feedback Loop Phenomenon. #COVID19
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
“China had a singular and positive influence on Africa. It rebalanced
the demand side for Africa’s commodities and also bought those
commodities on a long-term basis. It was this which triggered the
African recovery some two decades ago, However, since then a
freewheeling China has favourited elites, has facilitated large-scale
looting via inflated infrastructure, some of which were white
elephants and has lumped the African citizen with the tab. How this
plays out is now the key to Sino-African relations going forward. A
Hambantota scenario would be problematic,” referring to the Sri Lankan
port which has been leased to China for 99 years.
3/12 Com isso, ela passou a ser, incomparavelmente, a maior
importadora de commodities no mundo. Se caso o seu crescimento de PIB
tivesse sido tão expressivo, como justificaríamos a queda geral de
preços de commodities no mundo?
The Hambantota Moment has arrived 18-JUN-2018 :: So the first
overarching Point, is that creditors are not Santa Claus and miscues
will exact a very heavy price, Countries will be "Hambantota-ed"
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Some African governments who
are already bilaterally petitioning China for relief say Chinese
envoys are citing provisions in loan agreements that would transfer
collateral, in some cases strategic state assets, into Beijing’s
hands:
Basically China has an Option to buy in SSA Assets at fire-sale Prices.
In an interview, The World Bank’s Malpass cited liens against Angola’s
oil revenues associated with Chinese debt that were hidden by
non-disclosure agreements, convenient for politicians and contractors.
The Terms of these debts are hidden precisely because they are so egregious.
And this is now precisely the Point we have arrived at.

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"The BRI loans are not foreign aid. We need to at least recoup principal and a moderate interest." @CollinSLKoh
Africa


Let this sink in for those BRI partners who may have harbored some
kind of wishful thinking about pandemic-linked debt relief from
Beijing.

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A papaya, a quail and a goat tested positive for the virus at a Tanzania lab -- according to President Magufuli @AFP #COVID19
Africa


Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Sunday questioned his country's
coronavirus numbers, and called on the authorities to investigate
"sabotage" at the national laboratory.
The East African country had recorded 480 cases of the virus and 16
deaths at its last update on Wednesday.
The government has come under fire from the opposition for allegedly
hiding information and failing to take the disease seriously.
Magufuli said that people who tested positive for the virus may not be
sick, and cast doubt on the credibility of laboratory equipment and
technicians.
"The equipment or people may be compromised and sometimes it can be
sabotage...," Magufuli said in a Swahili speech broadcast live through
state-run TBC.
He said he had secretly had a variety of animals, fruits and vehicle
oil tested at the laboratory.
According to Magufuli, a papaya, a quail and a goat tested positive
and he suspects a "dirty game" in the laboratory.
"That means there is possibility for technical errors or these
imported reagents have issues. Probably, the technicians are also
bought to mislead."
Magufuli was swearing in the new Minister for Constitution and Legal
Affairs Mwigulu Nchemba, and urged him to "go and investigate if there
is criminal possibility at the national laboratory and take action".
Nchemba is taking over after the death of Augustine Mahiga -- one of
three MPs who died in the space of 11 days.
No reasons were given for the lawmakers' deaths.
However one MP tested positive for the coronavirus in April, and the
opposition announced Friday it was ordering its lawmakers to stop
going to parliament and to isolate themselves after the string of
deaths.
Tanzania is one of a few countries in Africa that have not taken
extensive measures against the virus, and Magufuli is among a handful
of world leaders still playing down the seriousness of the disease.
Schools and universities have been shut but markets, bus stops and
shops bustle as usual, with Magufuli urging citizens to continue
working hard and not stop going to church or mosques.
On Sunday he criticised a Muslim leader who on Friday shut a large
mosque in Dar es Salaam as a precaution against the spread of the
virus.
"It's strange to stop believers from entering a mosque which they
built themselves. If you fear going there, let others go and pray. By
the way we are still in the elementary stage of coronavirus," he said.
Magufuli also said Tanzania was in talks with Madagascar for a potion
that the island nation claims cures COVID-19 patients within 10 days.

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02-MAR-2020 :: The #COVID19 and SSA and the R Word
Africa


We Know that the #Coronavirus is exponential, non linear and multiplicative.
what exponential disease propagation looks like in the real world.
Real world exponential growth looks like nothing, nothing, nothing ...
then cluster, cluster, cluster ... then BOOM!

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Tanzania Opposition Stop Going to Parliament After Three MPs Die @bpolitics
Africa


Tanzania’s biggest opposition party asked its members to suspend
attending parliament sessions after a minister became the third
lawmaker to die in 11 days.
Justice Minister Augustine Mahiga died suddenly on Friday morning in
the capital, Dodoma, President John Magufuli announced in an emailed
statement. He was 74.
Mahiga’s demise followed the death of Getrude Rwakatare on April 20
and Richard Ndassa nine days later.
The authorities haven’t given information on causes of the deaths,
prompting speculation after Covid-19 cases in the country jumped to
480 and 16 deaths in one month.
Members of the Chadema party “should immediately stop attending
parliament sessions and should not go anywhere near parliament
offices,” Chairman Freeman Mbowe said in a statement on Friday.
The party also asked it’s lawmakers to go into self-isolation for 14
days on fears the coronavirus outbreak could be wider than reported.
On April 20, Deputy Speaker Tulia Ackson announced that one lawmaker,
she didn’t identify, was infected with the virus.
The government hasn’t linked the politicians’ deaths to the virus, and
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Wednesday said “fear-mongering”
should stop.
“We forget that there are other deadly diseases out there such as
malaria, blood pressure, diabetes and AIDS,” he said.
Criticism of Magufuli’s approach to the pandemic is mounting, being
one of few African leaders to have shied away from movement
restrictions, saying they will devastate the economy.
Chadema also asked parliament’s leadership to suspend sessions on the
budget for 21 days and test all members and staff for the virus.

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Nigeria is facing significant external pressure. The IMF support of $3.4bn is helpful, but unlikely to be enough to fully close the external financing gap @elinaribakova
Africa


Nigeria is facing significant external pressure. The IMF support of
$3.4bn is helpful, but unlikely to be enough to fully close the
external financing gap, even assuming other multilateral lenders come
through (how likely is large WB support w/o IMF program)
@BHilgenstockIIF

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5 March 2020 07:30 A Currency Devaluation is now predicted and predictable.
Africa


Nigeria’s oil revenue is cratering and there is $16bn of ”hot money”
parked in short term certificates which is all headed for the Exit as
we speak. A Currency Devaluation is now predicted and predictable.

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The @MoodysInvSvc downgrade in two graphs @nonso2
Africa


This week @MoodysInvSvc downgraded Nigeria to negative and we learnt
that Foreign Investors are propping up the Naira to the tune of NGN5.8
trillion ($16 billion) via short-term certificates.
Everyone knows how this story ends. When the music stops, everyone
will dash for the Exit and the currency will collapse just like its
collapsing in Lusaka as we speak.

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The Maldives' tourism industry, accounts for 28% of GDP, has been hit hard by the pandemic, Tourism Minister @ali20waheed says "right now, we are in the middle of the storm," hopes to welcome back visitors by Q3.
Africa


The #Maldives' tourism industry, which accounts for 28% of the island
nation's GDP, has been hit hard by the pandemic, as borders remain
closed. Tourism Minister @ali20waheed says "right now, we are in the
middle of the storm," and that he hopes to welcome back visitors by
Q3.

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Zambia Inflation Surges as Currency Tumbles @economics
Africa


Key Insights

The kwacha has weakened 2.5% against the dollar this month, taking its
plunge for the year to 24%, the worst-performing currency in Africa.
The depreciation was partly driven by investor fears that the southern
African nation will default on its debt.
Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings both flagged that risk
when they downgraded their assessments of the country’s debt in April.
Inflation has now been above the target band of 6% to 8% for 12
consecutive months and is expected to remain high in the earlier part
of the central bank’s two-year forecast period.
That’s preventing the Bank of Zambia from cutting interest rates to
help cushion the economy against the the impact of the coronavirus
pandemic.
The International Monetary Fund projects gross domestic product will
contract 3.5% this year.
Africa’s second-largest copper producer experienced a severe drought
in the southwest of the country during the 2018-19 rainy season, which
pushed food prices higher and slashed output at the hydropower plants,
resulting in daily rolling blackouts lasting as long as 12 hours.
The southern African nation relies on hydropower for about 80% of
electricity generation.

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Zimbabwe government close to collapse as Ncube sends plea for cash @Africa_Conf
Africa


In an extended mea culpa on behalf of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's
government, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has written to the
international financial institutions (IFIs) in Washington saying it
takes 'responsibility for the recent policy missteps during late 2019'
which have led to inflation currently running at an annual rate of
over 500% year.
Ncube then writes that the government and economy are near to
collapse, with the coronavirus pandemic dealing the final blow.
The letter, dated 2 April, came a few days after reports of a coup
plot against Mnangagwa had been circulating.
A security source said the authorities had delayed the lockdown in
Harare for fear that dissident officers might exploit conditions to
move against the president and his circle.
In the letter, a copy of which has been seen by Africa Confidential,
the usually upbeat Ncube paints a relentlessly grim picture.
'Zimbabwe's economy could contract by 15-20% during 2020 – with very
serious social consequences. Already 8.5 million Zimbabweans (half the
population) are food insecure,' he writes.
So bad is the situation, says Ncube, that it could cause an implosion
of the state and threaten security in neighbouring states.
'The global pandemic will take a heavy toll on the health sector, with
many lives being lost and raise poverty to levels not seen in recent
times, including worsening food security. A domestic collapse also
would have potentially adverse regional effects, where spillovers are
significant.'
Concerns in southern Africa about conditions in Zimbabwe are
deepening. They might explain a call by South Africa's President Cyril
Ramaphosa, at an African Union teleconference on 28 April, for Western
states and the IFIs to lift sanctions against the Mnangagwa
government.
On the previous day, Zimbabwean telecoms magnate Strive Masiyiwa
called for urgent aid for his country to fight the pandemic.
His Econet cellphone and money transfer companies have been a lifeline
for many Zimbabweans.
Masiyiwa said the World Bank, the IMF and other multilateral
institutions should create humanitarian trusts for Zimbabwe and Sudan,
both under United States sanctions, to be managed by third parties to
ensure a fair distribution of life-saving aid.
'For the avoidance of doubt; this is not an appeal for the lifting of
sanctions,' said Masiyiwa. 'I don't want to get into the issues around
how and why there are sanctions. Everyone knows I had to flee my
country because of persecution 20 years ago.'
The state media in Harare covers every donation from business
supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic
Front (ZANU-PF) to the government's coronavirus campaign but is more
reticent about contributions from non-partisan donors such as
Masiyiwa's Higher Life Foundation.
Earlier this year, Higher Life paid health workers' salaries after the
government said it had exhausted the budget.
Ncube's letter is addressed to David Malpass, President of the World
Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International
Monetary Fund, and Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African
Development Bank.
He asks them to support the rescheduling or cancellation of all
Zimbabwe's foreign bilateral debt arrears and help in clearing all its
multilateral arrears (AC Vol 60 No 6, Ncube wins foreign fans).
The government also needs $200 million, says Ncube, for unplanned
spending to fight the pandemic, referring to World Bank estimates that
the country's financing gap is nudging $1 billion for health,
education, food security and social protection.
Without those funds, Ncube says, the government will have no choice
but to revert to printing money, risking a return to hyperinflation
and the crash of the local currency.
In exchange for the Bank and the IMF agreeing to an emergency debt
rescheduling, the government promises a 'time-bound programme' of
economic, political and governance reforms. Ncube, who has been at
odds with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya, pledges the
government will introduce a market-determined exchange rate and end
what he calls the reserve bank's 'quasi-fiscal operations' and its
direct lending programme. It will also include all state subsidies in
the budget documents presented to parliament and scrutinised by the
Public Accounts Committee, he adds.
This, according to finance officials in Washington, is code for saying
conditions are so horrendous that Ncube has been the given the
political cover to promise a crackdown on grand corruption at the
heart of the government.
They add that it is well-known among banks and business people as well
as foreign diplomats that RBZ subsidies to gold-mining companies have
directly benefited President Mnangagwa's inner circle.
This group and senior army officers have also benefited from
preferential access to foreign exchange and schemes that profit from
arbitrage between the official and parallel rates of the Zimbabwe
dollar, the officials add.
Even if he wanted to, there is no way that Mangudya could have stood
up to those factions.
Ncube's letter also promises to 'limit the fiscal costs of the
financing of agriculture, ensure transparency, and resolve all the
related governance issues'.
This would deal with another big leakage of state funds: the financing
with zero accountability of Mnangagwa's favoured Command Agriculture
scheme (AC Vol 60 No 18, Cash at the generals' command).
Apart from failing to boost productivity substantially – due to poor
distribution of seeds and fertiliser as much as the latest regional
drought – the Command Agriculture Programme has become a formidable
source of patronage for Mnangagwa's ally Kudakwashe Tagwirei, owner of
the Sakunda group of companies working with Swiss-based Trafigura to
import fuel, and well as running its own agricultural projects (AC Vol
60 No 23, Cashing in on the crisis).
One of Zimbabwe's canniest operators, Tagwirei, who financed ZANU-PF's
election campaign in 2018, has evaded any attempt to limit his
sprawling empire, and maintains close ties to both Mnangagwa and
Vice-President General Constantino Chiwenga even though they are
bitter rivals (AC Vol 61 No 8, Rule by rivalry).
Against this, Ncube's promise of an 'ambitious anti-corruption
strategy' rings hollow to finance officials.
Neither do they take seriously his promises of political reform, most
of whose elements have been on the government's agenda for the past
five years.
Ncube's final pledge to continue with 'engaging in National Dialogue'
elicited the response of 'what dialogue?' from an official in
Washington.
We hear that neither the World Bank nor the IMF have responded
formally to Ncube's letter, nor do they intend to, despite him
following up with phone calls over the past week.
 'Zimbabwe is in a political, not an economic policy, crisis …without
credible change on that level, nothing else will move,' concluded the
official.
Failing that, the country's best hope might be for an international
organisation to work with Masiyiwa's plan for an independent
humanitarian trust to distribute food and medicine to the most
threatened people.

read more






Today was the highest %TPR we’ve had this week at 3.4% @DrAhmedKalebi
Africa


The number of tests per day reported by @MOH_Kenya has been on the
increase this week but the % of confirmed #COVID19 cases out of the
total tested daily (% test positive rate or % TPR ) has fluctuated.
Today was the highest %TPR we’ve had this week at 3.4%

read more


Flooding has submerged homes, displacing thousands after the River Nzoia broke its banks. @ReutersAfrica
Africa


The Kenya Red Cross says 1,800 families have been made homeless after
heavy rainfall caused flooding and landslides across the region. David
Doyle reports.

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