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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Monday 11th of May 2020
 
Afternoon
Africa

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Macro Thoughts

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10-MAY-2020 :: #COVID19 and the Spillover Moment
Africa


''They fancied themselves free'' wrote Camus, ―''and no one will ever
be free so long as there are pestilences''
―In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up
in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved
in pestilences.
A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell
ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that
will pass away.
But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it
is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they
have taken no precautions
We are trending in the 80,000-100,000 #COVID cases a day now. We have
crossed 4,000,000 cases.
The Winners are easy to see @balajis
https://twitter.com/balajis/status/1257159480816488448?s=20
Developed World ex US has bent the Curve
The European Trend is down now
May 6 In Europe, the number of daily cases is decreasing... @RemiGMI
https://twitter.com/RemiGMI/status/1258021362762948609?s=20
We are witnessing a Spill Over into EM and Frontier Geographies
―Brazil is the global epicenter of the coronavirus.
In Brazil we have a toxic mix of a „‟Voodoo‟‟ President @jairbolsonaro
and a runaway #COVID19
Brazilians aren‘t infected by anything, even when they fall into a sewer
“It‟s tragic surrealism ... I can‟t stop thinking about Gabriel García
Márquez when I think about the situation Manaus is facing.” Guardian
Bolsonaro rides jet ski while Brazil's COVID-19 death toll tops 10,000 EFE
https://j.mp/35O1o0o
The South American country with a population of 210 million reached
10,627 deaths after 730 fatalities were recorded overnight, while
cases stood at 155,939.
Viruses are in essence non linear exponential and multiplicative and
COVID19 has „‟escape velocity‟‟ in Brazil.
Brazil Real touched a Record Low of 5.884 May 7th
Brazil is a real time Laboratory experiment and the African
@jairbolsonaro is of course @MagufuliJP
According to the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,
Tanzania has conducted just 652 tests (as of 7 May). This compares to
over 26,000 tests conducted in Kenya and nearly 45,000 in Uganda.
BRICS ex China is accelerating – covid 19 tracker list. @ vivekmoffical
https://twitter.com/vivekmoffical/status/1259318696784396288?s=20
#COVID19
 Stephen B. Streater @video4me https://twitter.com/video4me
Hot countries up. >10%: Mayotte93
>5%: Russia5 Brazil8 Mexico18 Pakistan21 Qatar28 Dominican Republic43 South Africa44 Egypt45 Kuwait49 Bahrain58 Ghana59 Nigeria60 Afghanistan61 Azerbaijan69 Bolivia72 Senegal82 Somalia92 DRC94 Guatemala97
now: >10%: Ghana59, Honduras80, Sudan89
>5%: Russia5, Brazil8, Peru13, India14, Mexico19, Pakistan22, Chile23, Qatar28, Bangladesh36, Colombia41, South Africa44, Egypt45, Kuwait49, Kazakhstan56, Bahrain58, Nigeria60, Afghanistan62, Bolivia73
Coronavirus: @WHO warns of 190,000 deaths in Africa @TheAfricaReport
WHO warns that the coronavirus pandemic could 'smoulder' in Africa for
several years
Should the various lockdowns currently being eased in many African
countries fail to  ̳bend the curve‘, between 29m – 44m Africans risk
being infected, with deaths potentially reaching 190,000.
The WHO believe that transmissions will likely be slower — because of
Africa‘s age pyramid, and social and environmental factors — the
pandemic risks lasting for far longer.
―While COVID-19 likely won‘t spread as exponentially in Africa as it
has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission
hotspots,‖ said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for
Africa.
“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several
years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the
region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”
Over 56,000 confirmed #COVID19 cases on the African continent - with
more than 19,100 associated recoveries & 2,100 deaths.
https://twitter.com/WHOAFRO/status/1259109368416649221?s=20
The worrying development is Transmission Hotspots
Kano in Nigeria for example
• Western Cape growing at an alarming rate @sugan250388
https://twitter.com/sugan250388/status/1259178779727015942
Someone with close knowledge of the medical profession said it was
almost impossible to secure a hospital bed in several cities.
The Aga Khan hospital in Dar es Salaam had a well-equipped ward for 80
coronavirus patients, but several were dying each night, he said.
The Question for SSA is whether these Transmission Hot Spots expand
and conflate?
America lost so many jobs in April that we could barely fit the
numbers in this chart of historic downturns (and that includes all of
the Great Recession)
https://twitter.com/businessinsider/status/1259141875115667463?s=20
Unemployment Rate versus Stocks
https://twitter.com/TaviCosta/status/1258807948102389772?s=20
Last week for a moment The FED FUNDS rates went negative for June 2021
which is a remarkable and never seen before thing.
We are in the realms of Behavourial Economics.
I had a clinically “mild” case for 8+ weeks. There was nothing mild
about it. @ ElissaBeth
https://twitter.com/ElissaBeth/status/1259301645776805890?s=20
For example Tourism – I believe it is stopped out through Q4 2021
Business Travel is Toast.
Tourism dependency globally (top 25 most dependent). @Trinhnomics
DEUTSCHE: Our global forecast "has turned decidedly gloomier .. [M]uch
of the world has struggled mightily with the virus and the economic
fallout. .. we now see global GDP falling 10% in Q2 and remaining well
below pre-virus levels through most of next year.
What‘s certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an
insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. #COVID19
https://bit.ly/2WD1tl0
The US Stock Market has rebounded mightily but this is a Venezuela or
a Zimbabwe Trade, as it were H/T @Adammancini4
Its all about the Print Shop [Scott Burke]
Some Folks dived into BITCOIN which topped $10,000.00 on Friday
Take Your Pick
Paul Tudor Jones
“The best profit-maximizing strategy is to own the fastest horse,”
Jones, the founder and chief executive officer of Tudor Investment
Corp., said in a market outlook note he entitled „The Great Monetary
Inflation.‟
“If I am forced to forecast, my bet is it will be Bitcoin.” Jones, who
said his Tudor BVI fund may hold as much as a low single-digit
percentage of its assets in Bitcoin futures, becomes one of the first
big hedge fund managers to embrace what until now has largely been
snubbed by the financial mainstream.
.@Nouriel Roubini https://twitter.com/Nouriel/status/1259290961336827904
Bitcoin crashes by 15% in 7 minutes on NO news: a rigged, totally
manipulated, whales- controlled market where most transactions (90%)
volumes are false as exchanges pretend to have liquidity they don't
have. Massive pump & dump, spoofing, front running, wash trading!
Total Scam!
Crude Oil rebounded
Will it last?
Of course it won’t. But where will it stall?
The drop in worldwide oil consumption in April has been put as high as
35 million barrels a day
https://j.mp/3feQGUN
Population Density the whole of Africa @undertheraedar
Africa will go Juche
Juche (Korean: 주체/主體, lit. 'subject'; Korean pronunciation: [tɕutɕhe];
usually left untranslated or translated as "self-reliance") is the
official ideology of North Korea
described by the government as "Kim Il-sung's original, brilliant and
revolutionary contribution to national and international thought".
The IMF has put some money to work but It is a Band Aid
biggest African recipients of the #IMF's emergency #coronavirus funding
Amid the #COVID19 shock, lower commodity prices and regional
dependence on tourism & #remittances will push current accounts in
most Sub-Saharan African countries to deficit in 2020. @IIF
https://twitter.com/IIF/status/1258052709510496256?s=20
The Outliers are rolling over
 ZAMBIA On the brink of sovereign default @Africa_Conf
https://j.mp/2Lj65Wc
The government is getting no help from the IMF because it won't stop
borrowing unsustainably and covertly
After stopping payments on several commercial loans this year, Zambia
is set to default on its US$3 billion Eurobonds, now trading at
'distressed debt' levels, with yields over 50%, Africa Confidential
has learned.
Ratings Agencies are throwing in the Towel.
Another devaluation looms as Naira depreciates at forwards market, now
N570 to $1 @nairametrics
Nigeria‟s 5 years onshore Non-Deliverable forward contract posted its
biggest drop by plunging 27% from N413.36 to close at N569.69 a price
differential of N156.
The 1-year Non-Deliverable forward contract was down 5% from N394.29
to close at N421.22 a price differential of N26.93.
Regime Implosion risk in SSA is trending higher.

Home Thoughts

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COVID19 has brought us all to an inevitable question. What is it all about? Can it ever return to what it was? #COVID19
Africa


As I try and peer through into the Future the one thing I do know is
that its not reverting to what it was.
We are turning the Page here and the uncertainty is because we all
know collectively that's what we are about to do.
The book is in front of us and the page might turn itself but turn it
will. The Question is what is on the next page and I cannot answer
that.

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Flying during a pandemic turned out to be more stressful—and surreal—than I’d planned for. @TheAtlantic
Africa


The scenes played out like a postapocalyptic movie: Paranoid travelers
roamed the empty terminals in masks, eyeing one another warily as they
misted themselves with disinfectant.
Dystopian public-service announcements echoed through the
airport—“This is a message from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention...” Even the smallest, most routine tasks—such as dealing
with the touch-screen ticketing kiosk—felt infused with danger.
My first flight was so empty that the pilot warned we would experience
“a very rapid acceleration for takeoff.” The plane leapt into the sky
and my stomach dropped. I spent much of the flight using my baggie of
Lysol wipes to scrub and re-scrub every surface within reach.

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The Hot Zone
Africa


The Hot Zone captures the terrifying true story of an Ebola outbreak
that made its way from the jungles of Africa to a research lab just
outside of Washington, D.C.
In the excerpt below, author Richard Preston describes the symptoms of
this deadly virus as they appeared in one of its first known human
victims.
The headache begins, typically, on the seventh day after exposure to
the agent. On the seventh day after his New Year’s visit to Kitum
cave-January 8, 1980-Monet felt a throbbing pain behind his eyeballs.
He decided to stay home from work and went to bed in his bungalow. The
headache grew worse. His eyeballs ached, and then his temples began to
ache, the pain seeming to circle around inside his head. It would not
go away with aspirin, and then he got a severe backache.
His housekeeper, Johnnie, was still on her Christmas vacation, and he
had recently hired a temporary housekeeper. She tried to take care of
him, but she really didn’t know what to do.
Then, on the third day after his headache started, he became
nauseated, spiked a fever, and began to vomit. His vomiting grew
intense and turned into dry heaves.
At the same time, he became strangely passive. His face lost all
appearance of life and set itself into an expressionless mask, with
the eyeballs fixed, paralytic, and staring.
The eyelids were slightly droopy, which gave him a peculiar
appearance, as if his eyes were popping out of his head and half
closed at the same time. The eyeballs themselves seemed almost frozen
in their sockets, and they turned bright red.
The skin of his face turned yellowish, with a brilliant starlike red
speckles. He began to look like a zombie. His appearance frightened
the temporary housekeeper. She didn’t understand the transformation in
this man.
His personality changed. He became sullen, resentful, angry, and his
memory seemed to be blown away. He was not delirious. He could answer
questions, although he didn’t seem to know exactly where he was.
When Monet failed to show up for work, his colleagues began to wonder
about him, and eventually they went to his bungalow to see if he was
all right.
The black-and-white crow sat on the roof and watched them as they went
inside. They looked at Monet and decided that he needed to get to a
hospital.
Since he was very unwell and no longer able to drive a car, one of his
co-workers drove him to a private hospital in the city of Kisumu, on
the shore of Lake Victoria.
The doctors at the hospital examined Monet, and could not come up with
any explanation for what had happened to his eyes or his face or his
mind. Thinking that he might have some kind of bacterial infection,
they gave him injections of antibiotics, but the antibiotics had no
effect on his illness.
The doctors thought he should go to Nairobi Hospital, which is the
best private hospital in East Africa. The telephone system hardly
worked, and it did not seem worth the effort to call any doctors to
tell them that he was coming.
He could still walk, and he seemed able to travel by himself. He had
money; he understood he had to get to Nairobi. They put him in a taxi
to the airport, and he boarded a Kenya Airways flight.
A hot virus from the rain forest lives within a twenty-four hour plane
flight from every city on earth. All of the earth’s cities are
connected by a web of airline routes.
The web is a network. Once a virus hits the net, it can shoot anywhere
in a day: Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, wherever planes fly.
Charles Monet and the life form inside him had entered the net.
The plane was a Fokker Friendship with propellers, a commuter aircraft
that seats thirty-five people. It started its engines and took off
over Lake Victoria, blue and sparkling, dotted with the dugout canoes
of fishermen.
The Friendship turned and banked eastward, climbing over green hills
quilted with tea plantations and small farms. The commuter flights
that drone across Africa are often jammed with people, and this flight
was probably full.
The plane climbed over belts of forest and clusters of round huts and
villages with tin roofs. The land suddenly dropped away, going down in
shelves and ravines, and changed in color from green to brown.
The plane was crossing the Eastern rift valley. The passengers looked
out the windows at the place where the human species was born. They
say specks of huts clustered inside circles of thornbush, with cattle
trails radiating from the huts.
The propellers moaned, and the friendship passed through cloud
streets, lines of puffy rift clouds, and began to bounce and sway.
Monet became airsick.
The seats are narrow and jammed together on these commuter airplanes,
and you notice everything that is happening inside the cabin. The
cabin is tightly closed, and the air recirculates. If there are any
smells in the air, you perceive them.
You would not have been able to ignore the man who was getting sick.
He hunches over in his seat. There is something wrong with him, but
you can’t tell exactly what is happening.
He is holding an airsickness bag over his mouth. He coughs a deep
cough and regurgitates something into the bag. The bag swells up.
Perhaps he glances around, and then you see that his lips are smeared
with something slippery and red, mixed with black specks, as if he has
been chewing coffee grounds.
His eyes are the color of rubies, and his face is an expressionless
mass of bruises. The red spots, which a few days before had started
out as star-like speckles, have expanded and merged into huge,
spontaneous purple shadows: his whole head is turning black-and-blue.
The muscles of his face droop. The connective tissue in his face is
dissolving, and his face appears to hang from the underlying bone, as
if the face is detaching itself from the skull.
He opens his mouth and gasps into the bag, and the vomiting goes on
endlessly. It will not stop, and he keeps bringing up liquid, long
after his stomach should have been empty.
The airsickness bag fills up to the brim with a substance know as the
vomito negro, or the black vomit. The black vomit is not really black;
it is a speckled liquid of two colors, black and red, a stew of tarry
granules mixed with fresh red arterial blood. It is hemorrhage, and it
smells like a slaughterhouse. The black vomit is loaded with virus.
It is highly infective, lethally hot, a liquid that would scare the
daylights out of a military biohazard specialist. The smell of the
vomito negro fills the passenger cabin.
The airsickness bag is brimming with black vomit, so Monet closes the
bag and rolls up the top. The bag is bulging and softening threatening
to leak, and he hands it to a flight attendant.
When a hot virus multiplies in a host, it can saturate the body with
virus particles, from the brain to the skin. The military experts then
say that the virus has undergone "extreme amplification." This is not
something like the common cold.
By the time an extreme amplification peaks out, an eyedropper of the
victim’s blood may contain a hundred million particles. In other
words, the host is possessed by a life form that is attempting to
convert the host into itself. The transformation is not entirely
successful,
however, and the end result is a great deal of liquefying flesh mixed
with virus, a kind of biological accident. Extreme amplification has
occurred in Monet, and the sign of it is the black vomit.
He appears to be holding himself rigid, as if any movement would
rupture something inside him. His blood is clotting up and his
bloodstream is throwing clots, and the clots are lodging everywhere.
His liver, kidneys, lungs, hands, feet, and head are becoming jammed
with blood clots. In effect, he is having a stroke through the whole
body. Clots are accumulating in his intestinal muscles, cutting off
the blood supply to his intestines.
The intestinal muscles are beginning to die, and the intestines are
starting to go slack. He doesn’t seem to be fully aware of pain any
longer because the blood clots lodged in his brain are cutting off
blood flow.
His personality is being wiped away by brain damage. This is called
depersonalization, in which the liveliness and details of character
seem to vanish. He is becoming an automaton. Tiny spots in his brain
are liquefying.
The higher functions of consciousness are winking out first, leaving
the deeper parts of the brain stem (the primitive rat brain, the
lizard brain) still alive and functioning. It could be said that the
who of Charles Monet has already died while the what of Charles Monet
continues to live.
The vomiting attack appears to have broken some blood vessels in his
nose and he gets a nosebleed. The blood comes from both nostrils, a
shining, clotless, arterial liquid that drips over his teeth and chin.
This blood keeps running, because the clotting factors have been used
up.
A flight attendant gives him some paper towels, which he uses to stop
up his nose, but the blood still won’t coagulate, and the towels soak
through.
When a man is ill in an airline seat next to you, you may not want to
embarrass him by calling attention to the problem. You say to yourself
that this man will be all right. Maybe he doesn’t travel well in
airplanes. He is airsick, the poor man, and people do get nosebleeds
in airplanes, the air is so dry and thin. . . and you ask him, weakly,
if there is anything you can do to help.
He does not answer, or he mumbles words you can’t understand, so you
try to ignore it, but the flight seems to go on forever. Perhaps the
flight attendants offer to help him. But victims of this type of hot
virus have changes in behavior that can render them incapable of
responding to an offer of help.
They become hostile, and don’t want to be touched. They don’t want to
speak.. They answer questions with grunts or monosyllables. They can’t
seem to find words. They can tell you their name, but they can’t tell
you the day of the week or explain what has happened to them.
Excerpted from The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Copyright 2002 by
Richard Preston. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be
reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the
publisher.

Political Reflections

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US and UK intelligence agencies 'examining report on mobile phone data at Wuhan laboratory' @Telegraph
Law & Politics


US and British intelligence agencies are reportedly examining mobile
phone data suggesting there could have been an emergency shutdown in
October at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
According to a report, obtained by NBC News, there was no mobile phone
activity in a high-security part of the Chinese laboratory complex
from Oct 7 to Oct 24. Previously, there had been consistent use of
mobile phones.
The report, carried out by private experts, suggested there may have
been a "hazardous event," specifically at the institute's National
Biosafety Laboratory, between Oct 6 and Oct 11.
Analysis of mobile phone data from the area surrounding the institute
also suggested roadblocks were in place between Oct 14 and Oct 19.
Experts urged caution over the report, suggesting it may be based on
only limited commercially available mobile phone data, and that there
could be other reasons for varying levels of phone usage.
However, the document could be what Donald Trump was referring to when
the president recently said he had seen evidence giving him a "high
degree of confidence" the pandemic began accidentally at the Wuhan
laboratory.
The prevailing theory is that the virus originated in bats and crossed
over to humans at a market in Wuhan.
But US intelligence agencies continue to investigate the Wuhan
laboratory and Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has said there
is a "significant amount of evidence".
It was unclear which private organisation carried out the leaked
analysis of the mobile phone location data.
But the 24-page report suggested it "supports the release of Covid-19
at the Wuhan Institute of Virology" and that the pandemic began
earlier than previously thought. The first confirmed case so far in
China was on Nov 17.
The document was obtained by NBC News in London. In addition to
intelligence agencies it has been seen by the US Senate intelligence
committee.
Several days ago Marco Rubio, the Republican senator who sits on the
committee, wrote on Twitter: "Would be interesting if someone analyzed
commercial telemetry data at & near Wuhan lab from Oct-Dec 2019.
"If it shows dramatic drop off in activity compared to previous 18
months it would be a strong indication of an incident at lab & of when
it happened."
China has denied that the virus escaped from the Wuhan laboratory.
US officials said they had previously looked at other reports, also
based on publicly available mobile phone data, suggesting a shutdown
at the Wuhan laboratory.
They went on to examine their own data, including satellite images,
and could not establish that there had been a temporary closure at the
Wuhan lab, deciding that the suggestion was "inconclusive".

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德情報局揭秘:習近平親自要求譚德塞壓下疫情訊息
Law & Politics


中央社〕國際追究武漢肺炎疫情責任的聲浪不斷,德國情報單位指出,中國國家主席習近平親自要求世衛秘書長譚德塞淡化疫情的嚴重性,中國的隱匿造成全球至少損失一個月的時間抗疫。
(Central News Agency) There has been a continuing wave of
international accountability for Wuhan ’s pneumonia epidemic. The
German intelligence unit pointed out that Chinese President Xi Jinping
personally requested WHO Secretary-General Tan Desai to downplay the
severity of the epidemic. China ’s concealment has caused the world to
lose at least one month to fight the epidemic.
最新一期「明鏡周刊」(Der Spiegel)報導,根據德國聯邦情報局(BND)情資,中國國家主席習近平1月21日與世界衛生組織(WHO)秘書長譚德塞(Tedros
Adhanom Ghebreyesus)通話時,要求世衛不要發布病毒人傳人的訊息和延後全球大流行的警告。
In the latest issue of Der Spiegel, according to the German Federal
Intelligence Agency (BND), Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Secretary General of the World Health
Organization (WHO), on January 21 At that time, the World Health
Organization was asked not to publish messages from virus-to-human and
to postpone a global pandemic warning.
結果世衛沈默多天,直到1月底才宣布2019冠狀病毒疾病(COVID-19)是「國際關注的公共衛生緊急事件」。
As a result, the WHO was silent for many days, and it was not until
the end of January that the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was
declared a "public health emergency of international concern."
The report pointed out that Western countries generally believe that
if it is not for China to conceal the information, the epidemic will
be much easier to control. The German Federal Intelligence Agency
concluded that due to the Beijing blockade, the world has lost 4 to 6
weeks of time to fight the virus.

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@mtaibbi gets its: “The people who want to add a censorship regime to a health crisis are more dangerous and more stupid by leaps and bounds than a president who tells people to inject disinfectant.”
Law & Politics


As journalist Chet Bowers explains, “Technofascism’s level of
efficiency and totalitarian potential can easily lead to repressive
systems that will not tolerate dissent.”
Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become
a revolutionary act.
We’re almost at that point now.
What you are witnessing is the modern-day equivalent of book burning
which involves doing away with dangerous ideas—legitimate or not—and
the people who espouse them.
As Orwell concluded, “Freedom is the right to say two plus two make four.”

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They now turn to rule over the people by means of what could be dubbed “big data totalitarianism” and “WeChat terror.” @ChinaFile #COVID19
Law & Politics


you will all be no better than fields of garlic chives, giving
yourselves up to being harvested by the blade of power, time and time
again. @ChinaFile #COVID19

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Wuhan Denialism Dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from a lab in China as ‘a conspiracy theory’ is bad science @KhaledATalaat
Law & Politics


The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has infected at least 3 million
people worldwide and 1 million people in the United States alone. The
debate surrounding the origin and source of the virus has heated up
with many accusing the opposite side of rejecting scientific evidence.
It is more important now than ever to understand the difference
between scientific skepticism and a conspiracy theory.
The term conspiracy theory is often used to suggest that an
explanation is an implausible hypothesis or is anti-scientific. Yet
the existence of bad actors or a cover-up in a hypothesis isn’t enough
to constitute a conspiracy theory.
Take the Iranian nuclear program as an example. Is it a conspiracy
theory to consider that the Iranian pursuit of nuclear energy or
uranium enrichment is motivated by nuclear weapon capability
ambitions?
It’s a fact that there are bad actors in the world—and that
individuals and states alike often lie about their actions and aims in
order to advance what they understand to be their own self-interest.
Take India’s so-called peaceful nuclear explosion in 1974 as an
example. India took advantage of the Atoms for Peace program and used
the information provided by the United States and Canada as well as
the CIRUS research reactor to develop its nuclear weapons program.
Even more interestingly, they declared that their nuclear weapons were
intended for civil applications such as large-scale excavation and not
intended for military use. It is a fact that India now possesses a
large arsenal of nuclear weapons.
It’s no secret to anyone—and therefore not a conspiracy theory—that
communism and other forms of totalitarian rule are built on a culture
of secrecy. Communism necessitates a strong central government, and
for a central government to maintain strong control over a country,
it’s necessary for them to control information flow into, within, and
out of the country.
This involves both direct and indirect censorship of the media and
internet—and often, more importantly, tight administrative controls
that govern the transfer of information within the country.
A good example from recent history is the Chernobyl nuclear disaster
of the Soviet Union. Delays in reporting the initial nuclear explosion
caused many fatalities that could have been avoided had the Soviets
acted and evacuated early, which in turn motivated a Soviet attempt to
cover up the true extent of the disaster to maintain a strong
government image.
Cover-ups don’t generally involve evil conspirators who try to hide
some important truth with the primary aim of injuring large numbers of
people.
They often follow naturally from the structure and functioning of a
state—or they can be rational if arguably selfish means of pursuing
what a group of people understands to be matters of national
self-interest, like ensuring adequate supplies of medicine and
protective gear for one’s own citizens.
Therefore, it’s not a conspiracy theory to consider the possibility of
a cover-up relating to the origin and the source of COVID-19 in Wuhan,
Hubei, China. In fact, there is good evidence of Chinese cover-ups
from the beginning of the pandemic.
There are certain elements that are usually present in conspiracy
theories that are not present in a sound scientific hypothesis.
Conspiracy theories often involve lack of physical connections. A good
example of this is the 5G conspiracy theory in its different forms.
Basic elementary school science education is enough to refute such a
“theory,” which it is painful to even call a theory.
A conspiracy theory may also be a bad and malicious hypothesis that is
promoted despite available, reliable data directly proving that it
can’t be true. One example of this is the false claim that SARS-CoV-2
was engineered to selectively infect non-Asians.
Simple inspection of infection demographics in the United States
refutes this hypothesis. While there are some differences in human
ACE2 receptors among different races, the differences are not strong
enough to provide immunity to a particular race or group especially as
coronaviruses rapidly adapt and evolve into new strains.
It is important to clarify, however, that not every false hypothesis
is a conspiracy theory. For instance, some researchers pointed out the
presence of HIV-like segments in the SARS-CoV-2 genome and claimed,
based on an incomplete investigation, that it is evidence of
intentional manipulation.
The presence of HIV-like segments is an observation that is clearly
explained by natural acquisition of those segments in a manner similar
to that in related naturally occurring bat coronaviruses such as ZC45
and ZXC21, which contain similar segments.
Conversely, there are elements that are present in a sound scientific
hypothesis that are not present in a conspiracy theory. One such
element is justification.
Scientists can’t investigate every idea or hypothesis. Justifying a
hypothesis is one of the most tedious steps in research. This process
involves gathering evidence, demonstrating that the hypothesis is
plausible, and clearly explaining the need for the work in the context
of the ongoing scientific conversation.
Assessing the plausibility of a particular hypothesis is important to
justify investigating it. This, however, must be done in context of
the effect in question.
A stronger effect would justify investigating even less plausible
hypotheses. On the other hand, justifying the need for the work can be
as simple as explaining gaps in the knowledge or finding discrepancies
and loopholes in published work that are significant enough to affect
the conclusions.
The hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 leaked out of a laboratory is, by
scientific standards, a sound and a well-justified hypothesis.
Media sources that claim to refute the lab source hypothesis often
refer to the public comments of zoologist Peter Daszak, the flawed
correspondence of Andersen et al., or the emotional Lancet letter in
which some scientists basically expressed their support and compassion
with their Chinese peers.
While there are some virus hunters like Peter Daszak who assert
zoonotic transfer and discount the possibility of a lab leak, there
are also leading microbiologists like professor Richard Ebright who
assert that a lab or lab-related accident is a possible cause of the
outbreak.
Notably, virus ecologists like Peter Daszak and Jonna Mazet have an
inherent conflict of interest as they are involved in similar bat and
wildlife sampling activity—and, in Daszak and Mazet’s case, in
research with the Wuhan labs.
As an example of such activity, Daszak and collaborators sampled
12,333 bats for viruses in a big wildlife surveillance project. A
lab-related accident in China involving similar research would likely
affect the funding for their work as it would demonstrate the risks
involved.
As it happens, the NIH recently cut the funding to Daszak’s EcoHealth
Alliance after realizing the risks involved in that research.
Daszak’s relentless and heavily amplified public assertions that the
outbreak must have originated due to a zoonotic jump, and his denial
of the possibility of a lab accident involving a natural virus, even
long before the SARS-CoV-2 genome was published, would appear to be
motivated by the apparent conflict of interest that he has denied.
Daszak’s denial of his conflict of interest raised concerns of many
scientists and experts, with many explicitly describing that denial as
a bold lie.
Daszak has presented no direct evidence that the outbreak started as a
result of a zoonotic jump outside of a laboratory.
In case the outbreak is a result of a natural zoonotic jump, that
would underscore the importance of Daszak’s risky wildlife sampling
and “early outbreak warning” work and increase their research funding.
It is important to consider conflicts of interest when assessing
anyone’s claims.
Daszak’s main argument is that the majority of viruses evolve in
nature and some may be transmitted to humans through natural animal
contact that is frequent in Southeast Asia.
This argument, however, is meaningless unless we are trying to blindly
throw bets without looking at any other factors.
Daszak’s argument would be a very poor and mathematically flawed
reason to call off investigations on the origin and source of the
virus.
Facts at the population level don’t make SARS-CoV-2 in particular any
likelier to be natural in its origin or transmission source.
To illustrate this with a simple mathematical example, suppose that we
know from established statistics that an overwhelming 80% of the
people in a particular small town are doctors.
You enter a fish market in that town and see someone selling fish. Is
it reasonable to say that there is an 80% probability that he is also
a doctor?
While there is a very small chance now that this person is also a
doctor, we would need to look at the probability that someone in the
town is both a doctor and a fishmonger if we wish to throw bets.
If we wish to find out for certain, we could follow him, and research
his background, and see if he is a doctor.
Data and statistics are useful at the population level but not at the
individual level, as that information could be obtained by direct
measurement.
At the individual level, population statistics translate into a
probability if we blindly pick a random individual. If the individual
isn’t really random, i.e., if we know some other information about
them, the statistics we have on the population as a whole break down
and become meaningless.
Given that the 96.2% sequence match of bat RaTG13 and human SARS-CoV-2
is not enough to rule out even a chimeric origin, Andersen et al.
analyzed the mutations in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of
SARS-CoV-2 and compared features of its spike protein with that of bat
RaTG13, pangolin coronavirus, human SARS-CoV, and two bat SARS-like
coronaviruses.
They highlighted two notable features in SARS-CoV-2, particularly the
optimized binding of the spike protein of SARS CoV-2 to human ACE2
receptor and the existence of a functional polybasic site at the two
subunits of the spike of nonobvious function that’s likely a result of
natural mutations.
Their analysis of the mutations showed that the so called RaTG13
couldn’t have been the backbone of SARS-CoV-2 had it been chimeric,
with many unverified assumptions.
However, after their brief and informative scientific endeavor, the
authors then presented flawed arguments on the nature and source of
the virus and conclusions that only reflect their beliefs and opinion.
The approach they used to reach their conclusions is not sound for
verification purposes, as it relies fundamentally on faith and trust.
While trust is usual and healthy in academia, it’s not suitable for
verification of lab accidents involving large-scale damage or
potential WMD/dual use activity backed by a state.
First, Andersen et al. don’t conduct independent sequencing of bat
RaTG13 samples which were sampled in 2013 but only sequenced and
uploaded to GenBank in 2020.
Therefore, Andersen’s analysis is just an extension of the published
work of Zhou et al. from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is one
alleged source of a possible leak of the virus.
Second, they assume that published information from a lab where a
source is suspected is complete, and they don’t verify that bat RaTG13
is, indeed, the closest relative of human SARS-CoV-2 encountered by or
known to the two labs where the origin or source is suspected.
The conclusions of Andersen et al. on the nature of the virus almost
all hinge on the assumption that they know all backbone viruses
studied at the Wuhan lab, which reflects circular reasoning, given
their sources and assumptions.
The closest known virus to human SARS-CoV-2 and bat RaTG13 is bat
BtCoV/4991—but only a partial sequence for the RdRp gene of BtCoV/4991
was uploaded to GenBank in 2016.
It’s unclear if BtCoV/4991 is RaTG13 itself or a closer progenitor of
SARS-CoV-2, because only a partial sequence was uploaded and
BtCoV/4991 wasn’t referenced by Zhou et al. It’s unclear why it would
be renamed.
Third, as professor Richard Ebright had pointed out, the authors
dismiss the possibility that bat RaTG13 is a proximate progenitor of
SARS-CoV-2 based on unverified assumptions on the evolutionary rates
and about the possibility of passage in cell culture or animal models.
While Andersen et al. do briefly acknowledge the possibility of
passage in cell culture, they go on to assumptively conclude that the
virus is natural in both origin and source when in fact a closely
related bat coronavirus could have adapted to human cells in cell
culture experiments.
Fourth, Andersen argued that discrepancies between the computational
analysis work of one study they cited and experimental results is
“strong evidence” of the absence of any purposeful manipulation of the
virus.
This argument should be dismissed as a reductionist fallacy, as it
underestimates degrees of freedom and available types of computational
analyses.
Other scientists using molecular dynamics simulations showed that
SARS-CoV-2 had a much higher binding affinity to human ACE2 receptors
than SARS-CoV, with predictions in agreement with experiments.
The fact that Andersen’s discussion is flawed doesn’t say anything
about the nature or the source of the virus. It, however, shows that
their work can’t be considered conclusive and justifies further study
on the origin and source of the virus.
There are many other reasons that justify investigating the Wuhan
labs, and possibly even other labs in China that work with the same
viruses. In particular, (a) the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in a highly
populated city in central China like Wuhan and close to the Wuhan CDC;
(b) the existence of two labs in Wuhan that extensively sample bats
and study coronaviruses; (c) the relatively close relationship between
the SARS-CoV-2 virus and bat RaTG13 or BtCoV/4991 that the researchers
obtained from bats in a cave that is 1,200 miles away from Wuhan,
which suggests that SARS-CoV-2 progenitors came from the same Yunnan
caves; (d) the widespread use of cell culture experiments in
infectious disease transmission experiments that can allow closely
related viruses to adapt to human receptors; (e) the use of chimeric
coronaviruses in civil research with different backbones—the lack of
knowledge of the pre-outbreak collections of the Wuhan labs justifies
international inspections, and the diversity of bat ACE2 receptors can
also obscure the origin of the virus as the spike proteins of natural
bat coronaviruses are very diverse; (f) evidence of lax security and
knowledge that lab accidents aren’t improbable; (g) evidence that not
all sampled viruses are sequenced and published—the full BtCoV/4991
sequence hasn’t been published and remains a mystery despite ~99%
similarity of the known portion to SARS-CoV-2, while that of RaTG13
was sampled in 2013 and published in 2020. (The large similarity of
the small partial sequence of BtCoV/4991 [published in 2016] with
SARS-CoV2 is evidently what motivated the WIV to release the sequence
of RaTG13 which matches the known portion of BtCoV/4991. It has not
been independently verified that the sequence uploaded for bat RaTG13
is accurate); (h) the available data doesn’t suggest that closely
related SARS-CoV-2-like bat relatives are common among bats in China
but unique to bats from a particular Yunnan area; (i) the available
data doesn’t support the wet market hypothesis which prompted some lab
accident deniers to propose the alternative farm source hypothesis.
The farm hypothesis is highly improbable as the bats that carry
SARS-CoV-2-like coronaviruses are 1,200 miles away from Wuhan. It
would have been a more probable cause had the outbreak started in the
Yunnan province. Further, there is no circumstantial evidence to
support the farm hypothesis or even suggest it; it’s pure speculation.
A notable fact is that most bat species near Wuhan hibernate in
December as pointed out by Lu et al. If the farm hypothesis was true,
multiple spillovers in different cities would have taken place which
is not suggested by the data, unless transmission within the
intermediate species is improbable which would have made it much less
likely for the outbreak to start in Wuhan from the first place. Before
the farm hypothesis, there was the pangolin hypothesis which was
rejected by experts because pangolins are critically endangered in
many areas and it’s improbable that they acted as an intermediary, at
least outside a lab.
The genome sequences of human SARS-CoV-2 in just nine early patients
exhibited 1%-2% difference among the subjects. Samples of bat RaTG13,
96.2% similar to SARS-CoV-2, should be obtained, sequenced, and
studied in cell culture as part of scientific verification efforts.
Scientific skepticism is not the same as propagating conspiracy
theories. It’s important to acknowledge that it was Chinese scientists
who first brought up the possibility of an accidental leak in a short
letter. As has been pointed out by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, the available
circumstantial evidence indeed suggests a lab leak, with the simplest
scenario being the leak of a bat coronavirus closely related to
SARS-CoV-2 from cell culture or animal model experiments after
adapting to human/humanlike receptors. Investigators must carefully
consider conflicts of interest of researchers, especially those who
relentlessly promote Chinese government types of propaganda to protect
personal interests that they don’t clearly acknowledge and their
collaborations inside China. Researchers should also not be credulous
and should follow systematic step-by-step approaches to avoid falling
into traps of circular reasoning and repeating propaganda messaging
that is controlled and spread by centralized governments.
In closing, it’s important to emphasize that science needs more
evidence-based, objective research with technical rather than broad
conclusions. Speculations are good for forming hypotheses but should
never be presented as conclusions. The Andersen-type speculative
conclusions are of questionable scientific value and make no useful
contribution to available knowledge about the coronavirus pandemic.
Emotions such as peer sympathy, anger, fear, personal self-interest,
and partisan political attachments should all be put aside when
investigating matters with broad consequences for global security and
human health.
While speculative conclusions of any kind may turn out to be true,
science doesn't give credit to speculations. Scientists shouldn't play
dice in their analysis and discussion.

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I googled “where did SARS come from”. I was shocked by the top results. “Today we still do not know where the SARS virus came from and how it disappeared.”
Law & Politics


So - if we take the hypothesis of SARS-CoV-2 being a lab escape as
being true, there are two scenarios: SARS was actually a natural
zoonotic crossover event, or they astroturfed the science to cover up
a lab escape of a virus being researched. And the same playbook is
being used.
In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the first attempts were to pin it on Bat >
Pangolin > Human. But the pangolin vector has since been ruled out. In
the case of SARS-CoV, they tried to pin it on Bat > Civet Cat > Human.
“Many people believe that the virus might come from wild animal
market, and its hosts might include civets, cats, snakes, wild boars,
muntjac, rabbits, pheasants, and bats. However, no specific source has
been identified.”

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They cite two deletions, one 29-nucleotide sequence, and one 82-nucleotide sequence. They match those sequences to coronaviruses from a Shenzen live animal market, and farmed civets in Hubei Province, respectively. @scottburke777
Law & Politics


That is used as evidence to claim wild zoonotic crossover.

These strains seemingly wouldn’t have been available for scientists
from outside countries to study and verify, as the claim is that the
deletions happened in the earliest phase of the epidemic. Scott BurkΞ
@scottburke777
It may be the case that in a zoonotic crossover, "old-host" RNA
sequences commonly mutate out as selection proceeds, but given the
evidence showing suppression of information this pandemic, and
uncertainty about the origins of SARS, it may be worth looking at more
closely.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.0841
Dollar Index 99.786
Japan Yen 107.19
Swiss Franc 0.9713
Pound 1.2395
Aussie 0.6537
India Rupee 75.6455
South Korea Won 1219.18
Brazil Real 5.7331
Egypt Pound 15.75
South Africa Rand 18.2279

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Coronavirus: @WHO warns of 190,000 deaths in Africa @TheAfricaReport @NickNorbrook
Africa


World health body also warns that the coronavirus pandemic could
'smoulder' in Africa for several years
Should the various lockdowns currently being eased in many African
countries fail to ‘bend the curve’, between 29m – 44m Africans risk
being infected, with deaths potentially reaching 190,000.
The WHO believe that transmissions will likely be slower — because of
Africa’s age pyramid, and social and environmental factors — the
pandemic risks lasting for far longer.
“While COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it
has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission
hotspots,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for
Africa.
“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several
years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the
region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”
African healthcare systems would likely be overwhelmed by such a wave,
say the WHO:
an estimated 3.6 million–5.5 million COVID-19 hospitalisations,
of which 82 000–167 000 would be severe cases requiring oxygen,
with 52 000–107 000 would be critical cases requiring breathing support

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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’s gamble: Anatomy of a totally novel coronavirus response #COVID19 @africaarguments
Africa


Chapter One of Tanzania’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic came
to an end in late April. The second half of that month had seen the
number of confirmed cases rise to 480, up sharply from the 32 in
mid-month.
As I wrote at the time, the chance for early containment looked like
it had already passed us by.
President John Magufuli had opted not to listen to the global
scientific advice. Instead, he had put his trust – and the lives of
millions – in the hands of God.
And in some odd (and potentially dangerous) “scientific” thinking of
his own. And in the belief, shared by some experts, that locking down
cities such as Dar es Salaam might do more harm than good.
That was Chapter One. Chapter Two is now being written. And it is
being written in the dark.
Are cases really much higher or…lower?
We no longer have any reliable estimates of the number of cases or
deaths from COVID-19. According to the African Centres for Disease
Control and Prevention, Tanzania has conducted just 652 tests (as of 7
May). This compares to over 26,000 tests conducted in Kenya and nearly
45,000 in Uganda.
Tanzania’s number is so low it almost defies belief. Have more tests
been done but the results not released? Or is this the true figure, in
which case is it the result of staggering incompetence or shocking
indifference to the potential suffering of millions?
For some years now, statistics and the media have been a highly
charged political battleground in Tanzania.
Controlling the narrative means silencing facts that contradict the
official line. Someone suggests economic growth may not be as strong
as the government claims? Charge them with sedition. Someone publishes
data showing political leaders are not as popular as they once were?
Strip them of their passport.
The COVID-19 numbers are no different. The government is giving
updates only every week or so, and sometimes the new data doesn’t even
include basic figures such as the number of new cases and deaths.
In such a vacuum, widespread reports of night-time burials and people
dying with coronavirus-like symptoms take on more than anecdotal
credibility.
Many understandably question whether the true number of cases and
deaths is substantially higher than the official figures.
On the other hand, even President Magufuli seems to distrust the
official numbers – though in the opposite direction.
In a speech on 3 May, he accused unnamed imperialist foreign powers of
sabotaging the national response by providing ineffective testing kits
or buying off laboratory employees.
He said he had sent “samples” from a pawpaw and goat for testing, with
some producing positive results. Heads rolled at the national health
laboratory.
In the same speech, the president also suggested international media
organisations – the BBC was not named, but the implication was clear –
have been deliberately spreading scare stories to undermine Tanzania
while ignoring the extent of the outbreak in their home countries.
He called this “another form of warfare”. (Incidentally, he had
previously wondered aloud whether masks and disinfectant sprays might
have been deliberately contaminated with the coronavirus.)
In short, nobody believes the official figures and nobody know how
many cases we have. That ship has sailed. Local community transmission
has been going on for weeks. We have no meaningful lockdown. And the
process of testing, contact tracing and isolation can no longer cope.
The true numbers could be anywhere between one thousand and one
hundred thousand. Even within the Ministry of Health, in quiet
corridors well away from both political bosses and media scrutiny,
nobody really knows.
Four pillars of Magufuli’s approach
What else can we say about Chapter Two?
Well, the president has continued to infuse the national response with
his own personal style. His pronouncements are watched keenly by the
nation and followed closely by public servants.
And those statements appear to be informed more by his own personal
worldview than any input from scientists.
If the first strand of Magufuli’s approach is a tight control of
information, the second is an emphasis on religious faith.
Having previously argued the virus could not survive in the body of
Jesus, the president again called for religious services to continue
on 3 May. He concluded: “My fellow Tanzanians, stand firm. We have
already won this war. God cannot abandon us, and our God loves us
always.”
The third element of the president’s approach is to put a premium on
the avoidance of fear. “Fear is a very bad thing,” he said. “There
might well already be people in this situation who have been killed by
fear. Let us put an end to fear. Let us defeat fear.”
This is the logic that saw him criticise international media and young
people online for scaremongering.
There is some truth in this perspective. Fear and stress bring genuine
dangers. But the argument has limits. The point at which
fear-avoidance means the government reports only on recoveries but not
new cases or deaths, insists religious services should continue
despite the risks of transmission, and asserts that God will protect
us, it starts to look more like denial. And with potentially
devastating consequences.
The fourth strand of Magufuli’s approach is a determination to keep
the country and its economy going. Schools and universities have
closed, sporting events remain suspended, and people are being
encouraged to main distance from others and wear masks when out in
public.
But the president has strongly resisted calls to introduce any tighter
lockdown measures. Instead, he has emphasised the importance of
working hard, keeping the economy going strong, and maintaining a
healthy supply of food and other goods.
This all adds up to something very different to the responses seen in
other countries. Every context is different, of course, and the
president has rightly warned against a copy-and-paste approach.
But is Tanzania really so different? It is facing the same virus that
has caused havoc and heartache elsewhere, and epidemiologists’ advice
to Tanzania must surely be similar to that being offered in Kenya,
Uganda and elsewhere.
Turning bullets into water
Only time will tell whether Magufuli’s gamble pays off. But we should
be in no doubt that it is a huge gamble.
The stakes are the lives and livelihoods of millions of Tanzanians.
Two lessons from history illustrate this particularly keenly.
The first is the 1918 Spanish Flu. This pandemic hit Tanganyika hard
and came hot on the heels of the First World War, which itself had had
a devastating impact.
There are no exact figures – sound familiar? – but it is estimated
that half the country of 4.2 million people was infected and over 5%
(over 200,000 people) died.
At the same time in Zanzibar, authorities introduced stringent
quarantine measures that limited the impact considerably.
The second may be even more relevant. In 1905, Kinjeketile Ngwale
(also known as Bokero) persuaded his followers in southern parts of
the country that a certain “medicine” – a mix of water, castor oil and
millet seeds – would turn German bullets into water.
Maybe he truly believed this. Maybe it was an attempt to inspire
confidence and overcome fear. Either way, the gamble failed. The
Maji-Maji Rebellion against German rule was a disaster.
Once again, nobody knows the true death toll, but it is likely that
tens thousands of soldiers were killed and as many as 250,000
civilians died of hunger.
Kinjeketile was arrested and hanged in 1905, but the fighting
continued. Later that year, Ngoni soldiers retreating from battle are
reported to have thrown away their war medicine as they cried out “the
maji is a lie!”
Suggestions that Tanzania has found a new Kinjeketile spread online this week.

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Angola may never become the diversified multi-faceted economy cooked up in economic models by unrealistic analysts in a university study room.
Africa


A recent ranking by The Economist of 66 countries that are in distress
and are relatively safe, places Angola just ahead of Bahrain, Zambia,
Lebanon, and Venezuela.

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ZAMBIA On the brink of sovereign default @Africa_Conf
Africa


The government is getting no help from the IMF because it won't stop
borrowing unsustainably and covertly
After stopping payments on several commercial loans this year, Zambia
is set to default on its US$3 billion Eurobonds, now trading at
'distressed debt' levels, with yields over 50%, Africa Confidential
has learned.

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14-OCT-2019 :: Ozymandias The Canary in the Coal Mine is Zambia.
Africa


“Investors have lost faith in government promises to get spending
under control and the government has fallen out with the IMF as well,”
he said.
It seems to me that we are at a pivot moment and we can keep
regurgitating the same old Mantras like a stuck record and if we do
that this turns Ozymandias
''My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare. The lone and level sands
stretch far away.”

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