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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Monday 15th of June 2020
 


Hertz went bust but can now sell $1 billion worth of shares to survive. When shares of a bankrupted company sell like hot cakes (due to Central Bank liquidity) you know that this is not even capitalism any more @yanisvaroufakis
World Of Finance


Hertz went bust but can now sell $1 billion worth of shares to survive. When shares of a bankrupted company sell like hot cakes (due to Central Bank liquidity) you know that this is not even capitalism any more. Socialism for the very, very few, insolvency for the rest.



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Thucydides wrote his description of the plague as part of his narrative, History of the Peloponnesian War
Misc.

 


Michael Grant explains Thucydides’ intention and final goal for writing his history:

Thucydides differs from Herodotus, who from time to time displayed a moral, didactic, viewpoint, in that he continuously and deliberately intended to be instructive. He was writing his history, he said, “as a possession forever,” in order to provide “a clear record” of what had happened in the past and will, in due course, tend to be repeated with some degree of similarity 

The following narrative comes from the History of the Peloponnesian War, II.vii.3-54 as translated by scholar P. J. Rhodes and given by Michael Grant in his Readings in the Classical Historians:   

[The plague] is said to have broken out previously in many other places, in the region of Lemnos and elsewhere, but there was no previous record of so great a pestilence and destruction of human life. The doctors were unable to cope, since they were treating the disease for the first time and in ignorance: indeed, the more they came into contact with sufferers, the more liable they were to lose their own livesNo other device of men was any help. Moreover, supplication at sanctuaries, resort to divination, and the like were all unavailing. In the end, people were overwhelmed by the disaster and abandoned efforts against it.

The disease began with a strong fever in the head and reddening and burning in the eyes; the first internal symptoms were that the throat and tongue became bloody and the breath unnatural and malodorous. This was followed by sneezing and hoarseness, and in a short time the affliction descended to the chest, producing violent coughing. When it became established in the heart, it convulsed that and produced every kind of evacuation of bile known to the doctors, accompanied by great discomfort. Most victims then suffered from empty retching, which induced violent convulsion: they abated after this for some sufferers, but only much later for others.

The exterior of the body was not particularly hot to the touch or yellow, but was reddish, livid, and burst out in small blisters and sores. But inside the burning was so strong that the victims could not bear to put on event the lightest clothes and linens, but had to go naked, and gained the greatest relief by plunging into cold water. Many who had no one to keep watch on them even plunged into wells, under the pressure of insatiable thirst; but it made no difference whether they drank a large quantity or a small. Throughout the course of the disease, people suffered from sleeplessness and inability to rest. For as long as the disease was raging, the body did not waste away, but held out unexpectedly against its suffering. Most died about the seventh or the ninth day from the beginning of the internal burning, while they still had some strength. If they escaped then, the disease descended to the belly: there violent ulceration and totally fluid diarrhea occurred, and most people then died from the weakness caused by that.

The disease worked it way right through the body from the top, beginning with the affliction which first settled in the head. If anyone survived the worst symptoms, the disease left its mark by catching his extremities. It attacked the privy parts, and the fingers and toes, and many people survived but lost these, while others lost their eyes. Others, on first recovering, suffered a total loss of memory, and were unable to recognize themselves and their relatives.

The nature of the disease was beyond description, and the sufferings that it brought to each victim were greater than human nature can bear. There is one particular point in which it showed that it was unlike the usual run of illnesses: the birds and animals which feed on human flesh either kept away from the bodies, although there were many unburied, or if they did taste them it proved fatal. To confirm this, there was an evident shortage of birds of that kind, which were not to be seen either near the victims or anywhere else. What happened was particularly noticeable in the case of dogs, since they live with human beings.
The most terrifying aspect of the whole affliction was the despair which resulted when someone realized that he had the disease: people immediately lost hope, and so through their attitude of mind were much more likely to let themselves go and not hold out. In addition, one person caught the disease through caring for another, and so they died like sheep: this was the greatest cause of loss of life. If people were afraid and unwilling to go near to others, they died in isolation, and many houses lost all their occupants through the lack of anyone to care for them. Those who did go near to others died, especially those with any claim to virtue, who from a sense of honor did not spare themselves in going to visit their friends, persisting when in the end even the members of the family were overcome by the scale of the disaster and gave up their dirges for the dead.

Those who had come through the disease had the greatest pity for the suffering and dying, since they had previous experience of it and were now feeling confident for themselves, as the disease did not attack the same person a second time, or at any rate not fatally. Those who recovered were congratulated by the others, and in their immediate elation cherished the vain hope that for the future they would be immune to death from any other disease.

The distress was aggravated by the migration from the country into the city, especially in the case of those who had themselves made the move. There were no houses for them, so they had to live in stifling huts in the hot season of the year, and destruction raged unchecked. The bodies of the dead and dying were piled on one another and people at the point of death reeled about the streets and around all the springs in their passion to find water. The sanctuaries in which people were camping were filled with corpses, as deaths took place even there: the disaster was overpowering, and as people did not know what would become of them, they tended to neglect the sacred and the secular alike. All the funeral customs which had previously been observed were thrown into confusion and the dead were buried in any way possible. Many who lacked friends, because so many had died before them, turned to shameless forms of disposal: some would put their own dead on someone else’s pyre, and set light to it before those who had prepared it could do so themselves; others threw the body they were carrying on to the top of another’s pyre when it was already alight, and slipped away.

No one expected to live long enough to have to pay the penalty for his misdeeds: people tended much more to think that a sentence already decided was hanging over them, and that before it was executed, they might reasonably get some enjoyment out of life.

 

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I don't understand. - the man who stopped us all from having to salute like a Nazi is celebrated by men doing Nazi salutes. I mean, it's very 2020, but still. @dannywallace
Law & Politics


I don't understand. -  Police are protecting a statue from people who want to protect it from people who don't seem to be there. 

- Meanwhile the man who stopped us all from having to salute like a Nazi is celebrated by men doing Nazi salutes.

I mean, it's very 2020, but still.

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This was the kind of extremely rare CCP ‘signalling event’ @Scholars_Stage wrote about a few weeks ago. @Comparativist
Law & Politics


The message wasn’t meant for exiled dissidents or the masses. It was an argument from a Central Party School professor that the Politburo or NPCC needs to demand Xi step down.



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TRANSLATION: FORMER PARTY PROFESSOR CALLS CCP A “POLITICAL ZOMBIE” @CDT
Law & Politics

About 20 minutes of audio in which a retired Central Party School professor sternly criticizes the state of the Party under Xi Jinping, and declares the current system beyond repair, circulated widely online earlier this month. The recording is from an address given by Cai Xia, a legal scholar and longtime internal Party advocate for rights and the rule of law, to a private group online. Cai is currently outside China. CDT has determined the recording to be authentic. The speech has been translated in full by CDT.Without directly naming him, Cai’s speech sharply denounces Xi Jinping’s heavy-handed rule of the Party and country, and blames him for turning the CCP into a “political zombie.” Cai is known for criticizing authorities’ breaches of law and crackdowns on individual rights. In 2016, Cai defended businessman and Party critic Ren Zhiqiang after he was banished from social media for lambasting Xi’s domination of the media. In March of this year, after a document criticizing Xi’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic that Ren had allegedly shared with only a few people spread widely online, Ren went missing for nearly a month. He was later revealed to be under investigation by CCP disciplinary authorities.So we have not solved the [main] problem—that is, our system. With this system, we’ve made it to where we are today, we’ve chosen this individual [ruler]—or, I should say, those at the top propped such a person up to the leadership position. What does this tell us? This tells us that this system is going nowhere. It is useless to try and change it. Fundamentally speaking, this system must be abandoned. As for the reform we are talking about, it is no longer about changing within the framework of the current system.

Because the thing about politics is that it changes over time, it can be overturned one way, and then the other. But if you dig out the theory from its roots, destroying the ideological foundation underneath, then it would be very difficult for this Cultural Revolution business to come back. I therefore feel that, since reform and opening up, we have not solved these two most fundamental problems. One is the system, and the other is the theory. So what do we do now? My personal opinion, how should I put this… If we were to talk about the situation, we should start from the revision of the constitution. From that we would be able to see that the Party is actually already a political zombie.

The constitutional amendment is clearly illegal in terms of internal Party procedures. He took the [last] Plenum Session of the 18th National Congress of the CCP hostage. Two days before the [final plenary] session, he rushed to throw out the term limit system. He forced everyone at the [plenum] to swallow the revision like he was stuffing dogshit down their throats. So many Central Committee members were at the session, yet not one dared to raise this issue.

So, the Party itself is already a political zombie. And this one person, a central leader who has grasped the knife handle [police apparatus], the gun barrel [military], and faults within the system itself—that is: one, corruption among the officials; and two, the lack of human rights and legal protection for Party members and cadres. With these two grasped in his hands, he has turned 90 million Party members into slaves, tools to be used for his personal advantage. When he needs it, he uses the Party. When he doesn’t need it, Party members are no longer treated as Party members. He can easily put you somewhere and label you as a corrupt official.  
Nowadays, not supporting the real economy is a crime, being defiant against the Party is a crime, being dishonest towards the Party is a crime. Where is rule of law? What kind of political party is this? He has become a total mafia boss who can punish his underlings however he wants. That’s why I say that this Party is already a political zombie.

In the current state of affairs, it is impossible for anyone to remedy this dangerous situation, not to mention that he [Xi] is determined to continue down this path until the end. No matter who speaks, it won’t work. I’ve thought about this problem. When he first came to power, he both covertly and overtly wanted to fan his personality cult in order to improve his prestige. But it didn’t work. Sister [Ma] Xiaoli, you may remember, in May of 2016, there was that performance planned at the Great Hall of the People. You took the lead and resisted, and the whole thing blew up. The performance was then halted.

Next, see what happened in November of 2016? Defiance against the Party was put into the Party disciplinary code of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee. After that, the “four consciousnesses” were made into a part of correct political speech, what we call standard political speech. What “four self-confidences,” “four consciousnesses,” and “two maintenances?” Especially the “two maintenances,” about the whole Party revolving around one person. Can you even still call this a political party? It is no longer a political party, and hasn’t been one for a long time. It is just a tool in the hands of a mafia boss.

Therefore, this party has become a political zombie. Right now, it is impossible for anyone to come forward and to change itIf it is possible to replace the person, that would be the first step. I think the best solution is of course to replace the person. As a matter of urgency, I think that is the first step. But you can see what he is doing now: holding military power in his hand, holding the entire Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and the police in his hands. Putting everyone under surveillance using high-tech tools. Who can come out and say “let’s solve this problem”? It’s impossible. Even at the Central Standing Committee meetings, we say majority rule, but does the majority actually rule? No. 

That’s why I think with this current situation, if [there is majority rule] that would, of course, be a good thing. Let me start by saying that if there is a collective resolution from the Standing Committee, with the minority obeying the majority, that you are not doing a good job, that you can’t lead 90 million party members and 1.4 billion people to a dead end to be buried with you, that is not okay. With that said, if these people in the Standing Committee still have a sense of responsibility to the Party, and to the country and the people, then I think these seven Standing Committee members should meet to make a resolution, and just change the person in power. In fact, by changing the person in power, the external environment will start to relax, because this is a signal, telling the outside world that we are moving in a different direction. As long as this person is still in charge, that environment will only get worse, it will not  ease up on us. But if you change the person in power, external tensions will then be capable of being alleviated, because you would then have done a thing that shows that you are able to turn around without having to say a word. This would, I think, be the best thing to happen.

But does any member of the Standing Committee have that sense of responsibility to the Party and people? No. Right now, these people can’t even be considered politicians, I think they are just slaves under the command of one person




 

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TRANSLATION: FORMER PARTY PROFESSOR CALLS CCP A “POLITICAL ZOMBIE” @CDT(part 2)
Law & Politics


 We don’t need to implement new policies, we just want you to stop. For example, we should stop deleting WeChat accounts, stop punishing speech. You can stop doing these things, right? This is how I see this.

Take entrepreneurs as another example, jailing them at the drop of a hat. Not to even mention the arrest of Ren Zhiqiang, the two leaders of Alashan were also arrested. Dong Guoqiang has disappeared for days, and there has been no news at all. They then arrested Qian Xiaohua just a few days ago. On what grounds was this done? It is easy for you to arrest someone, but you have scared away a large group of entrepreneurs. That’s why what we see now is that very few Chinese private enterprises still talk about making money, everyone is first and foremost concerned about their safety. To protect their livelihoods, those who have the means to flee outside of China and move their assets offshore have already done so. Those with money have already left, those who are capable have left.  What are we left with? We are left with just the blood-sucking red elitists and a large number of poor working people who would never have the means to emigrate. That’s why I think these are the only two groups of people left here, everyone who can leave has already left. Is there still hope for this country? There is no hope. 

That’s why I say that after his removal, we just need to stop [these absurd policies], it’s not about what we need to do going forward. We need to correct past mistakes and set things right–this is a step we must take. Just like when the Cultural Revolution ended, we corrected past mistakes and set things right. But the clean-up this time has to be done from the root. We must completely abandon the theories of the so-called New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. They are nonsense. For something that does not even make sense logically nor read with any sense of flow, it is preposterous that we are making the entire Party study them as if they were some kind of a divine text. I am saying all this with disdainBut we simply cannot be blind to the fact that the Party, this enormous Party, and the country is using these lies to indoctrinate 90 million Party members, and hold 1.4 billion Chinese people hostage. It has let Chinese people become the laughing stock of the world, with its 7 billion people laughing at the so-called members of the Chinese Communist Party.

This is a sign, presented before the whole world, indicating that the Party is moribund. I believe we must correct our mistakes and set things right.  If there are a few things that we can do, the following are some that can actually be done quite easily. Because we have to believe that the vast majority of Party members know in their hearts what is right and what is wrong. They have had no choice but to go along with him. I have been thinking about the Party’s political zombies, why is it that officials nowadays are always talking about “required actions”? What “voluntary actions”? No one can perform “voluntary actions.” Everyone is performing “required actions.” Why? Because of the notion that one must toe the line and remain completely loyal. As a result, no Party members or cadres dare to make policies based on local realities. How can you when they can easily find a pretext to label you as disloyal, or defiant of the Party. The Party and the country have been put to death.

That’s why I think Party members know what is going on in their hearts. As soon as we ask that person to step down with dignity, we can correct past mistakes and set things right. There should be no resistance from within the Party. In Mao’s era, quite a few senior Party comrades needed to be persuaded, but that’s not the case now. Everyone knows in their hearts what’s going on. The key is whether our high-ranking officials have the political courage to be accountable to the Party and the people. Whether they have the courage to take that step.

We are just here talking. We are talking because we have no power to change the system. We can only entertain ourselves, and say things that make us feel better, and that is all, isn’t that right?

Because right now society can’t be counted on, he’s already atomized the entire Chinese society into scattered sand. All of civil society and the capacity for self-organization have been shattered. Running the country with the police, violently monitoring the people. Society itself is at the point of death. 

The fact is, Chinese society is not without vitality. It’s not that we lack energy or talented people. Society is being devastated, the ability to think is being devastated, the Party is being devastated. If this threat can be lifted, I believe everything will get better. Just like in 1976, after Mao’s passing, many believed that was the end for China, yet we’ve come through. That’s why we need to believe in this nation—it is resilient and alive.  However, the problem is that this person has blocked the path forward for the country and the Party.   

With this current situation, If we don’t get rid of this person, we will witness the political system in free fall. We will wait for a hard landing, for society to collapse, and then start overI think there is a large likelihood that that is going to happen. I personally think that by the end of this year, or the first half of next year, the economy will completely collapse. When that time comes, we will see what becomes of this country. Although we are feeling a lot of external pressure at this moment, he can probably still weather the storm for a while, because there is still money to squander. But when there is no more money to squander, when he can no longer bear it, when domestic conflicts boil over, then we shall see. 

So I think during the lifetime of our generation, within five years, we will witness China go through another period of major chaos. It is difficult to tell how this chaos will end. Chaos breeds ruthless characters. And then we’ll walk that former path all over again.

So much misfortune for the Chinese people. Maybe it’s fate.

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16-FEB-2020 :: They now turn to rule over the people by means of what could be dubbed “big data totalitarianism” and “WeChat terror.” @ChinaFile #COVID19 Xu Zhangrun
China


"When agents of the state fear no external checks and balances, it is rational for them to bury bad news, right up until a crisis becomes too big to hide: a dynamic that builds instability into the way China is run."

 ̳This may be the last piece I write‘: prominent Xi critic has internet cut after house arrest


That‘s right, we, We the People, for [as I have previously said] how can we let ourselves ―survive no better than swine; fawn upon the power-holders like curs; and live in vile filth like maggots?!

As I write these words I reflect on my own situation which also dramatically changed in 2018 [when the author published his famous anti-Xi Jeremiad]. For having raised my voice then, I was punished for ―speech crimes.

Thereafter, I was suspended from my job as a university lecturer and cashiered as a professor, reduced to a minor academic rank. I was placed under investigation by my employer, Tsinghua University; my freedoms have been curtailed ever since.

Writing as I do herein, I can now all too easily predict that I will be subjected to new punishments; indeed, this may well even be the last piece I write. But that is not for me to say.

Confronted by this Great Virus, as all of us are right now, I feel as though a vast chasm has opened up before us all and I feel compelled to speak out yet again. There is no refuge from this viral reality and I cannot remain silent.


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 

[ “garlic chives,” Allium tuberosum, often used as a metaphor to describe an endlessly renewable resource.]

What is thriving, however, is all that ridiculous ―Red Culture and the nauseating adulation that the system heaps on itself via shameless pro-Party hacks who chirrup hosannahs at every turn @ChinaFile #COVID19

A polity that is blatantly incapable of treating its own people properly can hardly be expected to treat rest of the world well Such places will only be able to find their assumed pulchritude reflected back at them in mirror of their imperial self-regard



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With social media posts about the #coronavirus being censored in #China here‘s a bit of cool protest art going around...@StephenMcDonell
China

If you look closely here you'll see references to #China's tech companies Huawei, Wechat (微信), Alibaba etc. Also 和谐 hexie over the eyes means "harmony" (from former Pres Hu catchphrase). In China if you've been censored you've been "harmonised".

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07-OCT-2019 :: The World in the 21st century exhibits viral, wildfire and exponential characteristics and feedback loops which only become obvious in hindsight.
World Of Finance


They have “stood up.” Xi’s model is one of technocratic authoritarianism and a recent addition to his book shelf include The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos. Xi is building an Algorithmic Society.

But Xi has taken the propagation of ideology and the cult of personality to extremes not seen since the days of Chairman Mao.


The Chinese Dream has become a nightmare at the boundaries of the Han Empire.

The World in the 21st century exhibits viral, wildfire and exponential characteristics and feedback loops which only become obvious in hindsight. I would venture that Xi’s high water mark is behind him. 


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27-MAY-2019 :: In one fell swoop, President Xi Jinping was President for Life. President Xi is on a Pedestal #國慶節 #国庆节
Law & Politics


In China, however, there is only one decider who was pronounced as much by Xinhua in a historical announcement in March 2018.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China “proposed to remove the expression that ‘the president and vice-president of the people’s republic of China shall serve no more than two consecutive terms’ from the country’s constitu- tion.”

In one fell swoop, President Xi Jinping was president for life. President Jinping is on a Pedestal and is faced with the Strong Man Conundrum. 

The Political Brand will not permit a retreat let alone a Surrender.

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Tavi Costa tweeted
China


1/12 The idealization of Chinese economic success has always been a big scam. Throughout history we have had several similar examples of communist countries that have reached unsustainable levels of internal and external debt and have suffered marked collapses.

2/12 Para elaborar nessa proposição, considere a seguinte reflexão. De acordo com o PIB publicado pelo governo chinês, a China foi responsável por mais de 60% do crescimento econômico global desde 2008.

2/12 To elaborate on this proposition, consider the following reflection. According to GDP published by the Chinese government, China has accounted for more than 60% of global economic growth since 2008.

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?

3/12 As a result, it has become, by far, the largest importer of commodities in the world. If your GDP growth had been so expressive, how would we justify the general drop in commodity prices in the world?

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.

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Beijing district in 'wartime emergency' after virus spike shuts market
China


The virus was first reported at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, in December.

Chu Junwei, an official of Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai district, told a briefing on Saturday that the district was in “wartime emergency mode”.

Throat swabs from 45 people, out of 517 tested at the district’s Xinfadi wholesale market, had tested positive for the new coronavirus, though none of them showed symptoms of COVID-19, Chu said.

A city spokesman told the briefing that all six COVID-19 patients confirmed in Beijing on Friday had visited the Xinfadi market. 

Reflecting concerns over the risk of further spread of the virus, major supermarkets in Beijing removed salmon from their shelves overnight after the virus causing COVID-19 was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at the market, the state-owned Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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“We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible,” concluded one paper in @nature So where did Covid come from? @unherd @ianbirrell
China


Given the stakes, it is not surprising Prof Yuan has suddenly become so convinced about his laboratory’s security. He is also the most senior Communist Party official on the premises. 

If this pandemic were ever proven to be down to mistakes or poor safety, the consequences would be huge — and not just for him and his laboratory. 

It would devastate public faith in science, especially for those explorers pushing at frontiers of biological knowledge. 

It would turbo-charge the bubbling demands around the world for reparations. 

It would also shake — and possibly shatter — the dictatorial Chinese regime if it was exposed for connivance in history’s worst medical cover-up just as it attempts to assume global leadership.

Donald Trump’s public condemnation of the Wuhan lab, saying he had seen “strong evidence” to back his case, only makes these matters more complex. 

His allegations, lacking any data, served to inflame a contentious and toxic issue. Some prominent scientists and journalists have been quick to dismiss the idea as a conspiracy theory. 

“We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible,” concluded one influential paper in Nature Medicine (although it failed to mention one author is a guest professor at a body running one of the suspect units while another has just been honoured by Beijing for his work in China).

Another tireless figure insisting “scientists know Covid-19 wasn’t created in a lab” is former Kingston University parasitologist Peter Daszak, $402,000-a-year head of a charity that investigates spillovers of disease from animals

Daszak is understandably furious after his 15-year collaboration on bat diseases with Wuhan was disrupted by the National Institutes of Health’s decision to stop funding their research due to biosecurity concerns. 

This was widely seen as typical Trump, lashing out at his enemies. Yet the health body’s director is Francis Collins, a well-respected geneticist appointed by Barack Obama.

”Whether [the coronavirus] could have been in some way isolated and studied in this laboratory in Wuhan, we have no way of knowing,” he said later.

He is right. For scientists, like journalists, should deal in facts — and at this stage we have no clear idea about the origins of this nasty disease. 

It may be a natural zoonotic virus, crossing over from animals like several previous epidemics including Ebola and the Sars outbreak at the start of this century. 

Few experts would be surprised if this turned out to be the case, although any intermediate host species has yet to be found. 

Meanwhile there are some wild conspiracy theories swirling around about bio-weapons and deliberate release by the Communist regime. 

Yet anyone who denies with certainty that Sars-Cov-2 — the new strain of coronavirus — might have leaked accidentally from one of Wuhan’s high-security laboratories is talking tosh.

We know one thing for sure: this pandemic did not emerge from the Wuhan wild animal market instantly identified as the source by Beijing. 

“The possibility that a non-genetically engineered precursor could have adapted to humans while being studied in a laboratory should be considered,” they concluded.

Then came another significant pre-print paper by an Australian team of vaccine researchers, which found the virus was “not typical of a normal zoonotic infection” since it was “uniquely adapted to infect humans”. 

Nikolai Petrovsky, the professor of medicine at Flinders University who led the study, echoed Gao when telling me he had never seen a zoonotic virus behave in such a way. 

He dared point in public to something being muttered privately by some other scientists: the coincidence of the most closely-related known viruses to Sars-Cov-2 being studied in Wuhan in conjunction with collaborating US laboratories. 

“There is currently no evidence of a leak but enough circumstantial data to concern us,” he said. “It remains a possibility until it is ruled out.”

The closest relative to the new virus is called RaTG13, which was disclosed in a paper submitted to Nature on the same January day that China belatedly admitted human transmission. 

It was found by Shi Zhengli, a famous scientist from WiV who helped discover that Sars was ‘amplified’ from bats by civet cats

Although little information has been shared about this virus strain, it seems to have been collected from horseshoe bats living more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan and has 96% genetic similarity to Sars-Cov-2. 

This sounds close — yet as pointed out by the first scientist to publish the new virus’s genetic composition, this “likely represents more than 20 years of sequence evolution”.

But she also admitted to Scientific American that she never expected such an outbreak in Wuhan, so far from the sub-tropical home of the bats she studied, and that her first thought was: “Could they have come from our lab?”.

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“We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible,” concluded one paper in @nature So where did Covid come from? @unherd @ianbirrell (part 2)
China


A paper posted by two Chinese scientists in February on a site for sharing research — then pulled two days later — claimed that 605 bats were kept at this laboratory, describing how the creatures had attacked, bled and urinated on a researcher. 

“It is plausible that the virus leaked,” the mysterious study concluded. There is also a cluster of laboratories at a university hospital, which includes a high-security research unit into infectious diseases and a breeding centre that has made more than 1,000 types of genetically engineered animals from mice to monkeys.

N
Indeed, it is hard not to wonder why some other prominent scientists insist this virus must be a natural zoonotic transmission — and also question why some key research centres that specialise in virus evolution have stayed silent

Could it be more evidence that academic institutions fear Beijing’s retribution if they raise challenging questions? 

We know, after all, that US federal authorities are investigating some major universities for failing to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts and contracts from foreign donors while earlier this month Charles Leiber, a world-renowned Harvard nanoscientist, was indicted on charges of lying over lucrative links to China. 

In Britain, MPs on the foreign affairs select committee recently highlighted “alarming evidence” of China’s efforts to restrict academic freedom in universities.

Clearly we must be cautious when there is so much at stake — unlike former spy chief Sir Richard Dearlove when he blamed a lab leak based on a weak new Norwegian-British study. 

But, equally, we cannot simply dismiss the idea as conspiracy theory. 

Not least when the Chinese government engaged in a cover-up over the initial outbreak of the disease, even silencing doctors trying to warn people in Wuhan — and then moved fast to tighten laboratory safety, especially for handling of viruses, in February. 

Beijing’s suggestion the virus may have arisen in a US lab also shows acceptance such events can happen. “In making this suggestion they are endorsing the possibility the Covid-19 virus has a lab origin – just not in China,” said one sceptical Western scientist.

ow go back to Sars-Cov-2. This disease is far more infectious than the previous Sars that sparked a global epidemic, partly due to its efficient ability to enter different human organs. 

One specialist told me to think of viruses like hitchhikers seeking a lift from cells in the human body, which they then enter to infect. Something found on this new parasite, the furin cleavage site, ensures its spike protein — sticking out of the virus particle — can bind on to cells in human tissues including the lungs, liver, small intestines and even nerve cells. 

This is not found on either Sars or the most similar coronaviruses — and those coronaviruses that do have this feature are genetically very different.

We also know that WiV — the biggest repository of bat coronaviruses in Asia — had been carrying out ‘gain-of-function’ experiments on bat coronaviruses since 2015

It had been playing around with the Sars virus, inserting snippets from other bat diseases and constructing new chimeric coronaviruses

He points out WiV was creating chimeric coronaviruses using “seamless, unidirectional ligation” procedures that leave no signatures of human manipulation in the resulting genome sequences.

Ebright is an outlier on these issues. Another microbiologist who works with viruses in high-security labs told me she could never “design a virus that is this diabolical”. 

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A tiny genetic mutation in the SARS coronavirus 2 variant circulating throughout Europe and the United States significantly increases the virus’ ability to infect cells @scrippsresearch
Market Crashes / Panic


“Viruses with this mutation were much more infectious than those without the mutation in the cell culture system we used,” says Scripps Research virologist Hyeryun Choe, PhD, senior author of the study.

The mutation had the effect of markedly increasing the number of functional spikes on the viral surface, she adds. Those spikes are what allow the virus to bind to and infect cells.

“The number—or density—of functional spikes on the virus is 4 or 5 times greater due to this mutation,” Choe says.

The spikes give the coronavirus its crown-like appearance and enable it to latch onto target cell receptors called ACE2. 

The mutation, called D614G, provides greater flexibility to the spike’s “backbone,” explains co-author Michael Farzan, PhD, co-chairman of the Scripps Research Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

The SARS-CoV-2 variant that circulated in the earliest regional outbreaks lacked the D614G mutation now dominating in much of the world.Choe and Farzan’s paper is titled “The D614G mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein reduces S1 shedding and increases infectivity.” 
With both, under an electron microscope, the spike has tripod shape, with its three segments bound together at a backbone-like scaffold. But SARS-CoV-2 is different. Its tripod is divided in two discreet segments, S1 and S2. 

Initially, this unusual feature produced unstable spikes, Farzan says. Only about a quarter of the hundreds of spikes on each SARS-CoV-2 virus maintain the structure they need to successfully infect a target cell. 

With the mutation, the tripod breaks much less frequently, meaning more of its spikes are fully functional, he says.

The addition of the D614G mutation means that the amino acid at that location is switched from aspartic acid to glycine. That renders it more bendable, Farzan says

Evidence of its success can be seen in the sequenced strains that scientists globally are contributing to databases including GenBank, the duo reports. 

In February, no sequences deposited to the GenBank database showed the D614G mutation. 

But by March, it appeared in 1 out of 4 samples. In May, it appeared in 70 percent of samples, Farzan says.

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Currency Markets At A Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.1241

Dollar Index 97.338

Japan Yen 107.39

Swiss Franc 0.9538

Pound 1.2490

Aussie 0.6789

India Rupee 76.116

South Korea Won 1216.36

Brazil Real 5.0523

Egypt Pound 16.1814

South Africa Rand 17.2799



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10-MAY-2020 :: ―Brazil is the global epicenter of the coronavirus.
Emerging Markets


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

Viruses are in essence non linear exponential and multiplicative and COVID19 has „‟escape velocity‟‟ in Brazil.



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The Graveyard Talks Back Fiction in the time of fake news @thecaravanindia Arundhati Roy
Asia


Graveyards in India are, for the most part, Muslim graveyards, because Christians make up a minuscule part of the population, and, as you know, Hindus and most other communities cremate their dead. The Muslim graveyard, the kabristan, has always loomed large in the imagination and rhetoric of Hindu nationalists. “Mussalman ka ek hi sthan, kabristan ya Pakistan!”—Only one place for the Mussalman, the graveyard or Pakistan—is among the more frequent war cries of the murderous, sword-wielding militias and vigilante mobs that have overrun India’s streets.

I will speak today about the Muslim graveyard, the kabristan, as the new ghetto—literally as well as metaphorically—of the new Hindu India.

The other, the ethereally beautiful valley of Kashmir, which is now, after thirty years of war, covered with graveyards, and in this way has become, metaphorically, almost a graveyard itself. So, a graveyard covered by the Jannat Guest House, and a Jannat covered with graveyards.

Let me spend a moment on the subtitle of my talk: “Fiction in the time of fake news.” Fake news is at least as old as fiction is—and, of course, both can often be the same thing. Fake news is the skeletal structure, the scaffolding over which the specious wrath that fuels fascism drapes itself. The foundation on which that scaffolding rests is fake history—possibly the oldest form of fake news. The history being peddled by Hindu nationalists, that hackneyed tale of spurious valour and exaggerated victimhood in which history is turned into mythology and mythology into history, has been very ably perforated and demolished by serious scholars. But the tale was never meant for serious scholars. It is meant for an audience that few serious scholars can hope to reach. While we laugh in derision, it is spreading like an epidemic and blossoming in the popular imagination like a brain-deadening malignancy. 

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Cemeteries and crematoriums in the capital New Delhi are overwhelmed. @dwnews
Market Crashes / Panic

They fancied themselves free, wrote Camus, ―and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.

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If GOI doesn’t inject cash to start the economy now: @RahulGandhi
Emerging Markets


1. The poor will be decimated.

2. The middle class will become the new poor.

3. Crony capitalists will own the entire country.

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A DEAD INFORMANT, AN UNTRUSTWORTHY ALLY: HOW A U.S. OPERATION TO SNARE RWANDAN GENOCIDE FUGITIVE FÉLICIEN KABUGA WENT AWRY @VanityFair
Law & Politics


The world’s most wanted war criminal was captured in France last month. Now, former American officials break their silence about how their own mission went awry.

The daring capture of Félicien Kabuga, the hunted Rwandan fugitive, has been in the news for three weeks now. 

But the untold backstory—of how an American squad of operatives nearly snared him 17 years ago—has remained a secret. Until now.

His life on the lam ended on May 16, 2020. At 6:30 a.m., as half the world slept and the rest battled a pandemic, a black-hooded SWAT team of French gendarmes raided an upscale apartment near Paris where Kabuga had been living as Antoine Tounga—the latest and last of the nearly two dozen identities he has assumed over the years

Diplomats, prosecutors, and intelligence and law enforcement officials claimed he had financed the genocide in Rwanda; helped instigate war in neighboring Congo; and was complicit in the murder of American, British, and New Zealand citizens. 

For a quarter century he’d managed to elude a series of international manhunts. But all that ended with the predawn arrest, and he will likely stand trial before a U.N. war crimes tribunal. 

(Kabuga’s attorney has claimed he should be presumed innocent, and his two recent motions to be tried in France have been rebuffed.)

Kabuga’s dramatic seizure summoned memories of another era; one in which accountability mattered, and people paid for their crimes. 

Operation Finale, from 1960, comes to mind—when Israel’s Mossad targeted Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Nazis’ Final Solution, getting him off a street near Buenos Aires, into a Jerusalem courtroom, and onto the gallows.

What makes Kabuga’s case so extraordinary, though, is not simply that it involves the gravest of charges: five counts of genocide and two crimes against humanity (persecution and extermination). 

It’s that it is taking place in an era when the likes of Syrian leader Bashar Assad and his patrons are able to kill hundreds of thousands and displace millions with complete impunity. 

Kabuga’s trial, in contrast, promises to restore a modicum of accountability; it also seems destined to shine a bright light on a network of individuals—a latter-day ODESSA—who have grown wealthy serving as his partners and protectors.

They are, to put it bluntly, accessories after the fact to the horrific crimes of which he stands accused.

Which brings us back to that clandestine plot in the early 2000s. It is impossible to understand who Kabuga is, or the improbable nature of his extraordinary apprehension, without examining why a high-stakes U.S. operation to grab him was compromised. 

For the first time those involved in the star-crossed mission are breaking their silence to disclose how an accused mass murderer, masquerading as a benevolent businessman, slipped through their fingers. 

Danni (whose name Vanity Fair has altered for security reasons) was one of the American team’s Kenyan informants at the time. 

He is finally stepping out of the shadows now that his nemesis is behind bars: 

“We should have caught this man 17 years ago. He has terrorized a lot of people. I am one of them. But with his arrest, I no longer have to look over my shoulder.”

In 1994, Félicien Kabuga was among the wealthiest men in Rwanda and a close friend and ally of the country’s president Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death—in a plane brought down by a missile—ignited what was perhaps the fastest killing spree on record. 

According to prosecutors, Kabuga, in response, fomented a genocide. Not only did he turn his media outlet, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), into a giant megaphone, exhorting his fellow Hutus to kill their Tutsi neighbors, but he also used his fortune to purchase thousands of machetes, the very implements used to commit the slaughter of nearly 1 million Rwandans.

Kabuga’s purported crimes did not end when the genocide did. That July perpetrators fled west into Congo, rearmed and rebranded under various names, including the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR) and the Party for the Liberation of Rwanda (PALIR). 

With Kabuga’s encouragement and financial backing, these militants repeatedly tried and failed to “liberate” their homeland. 

They did, however, succeed in helping engulf the region in conflicts so large they are known as Africa’s First World War (1996-1997) and the Great African War (1998-2003). 

There was nothing great or noble about either. By the time the mayhem subsided, according to the International Rescue Committee, 3.9 million men, women and children were dead.


On March 2, 1999, Kabuga’s minions took a fateful detour, ambushing Western tourists trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Over the span of several hours, the rebels kidnapped, forcibly marched, tortured, and then hacked to death four Britons, two Americans, and two New Zealanders. 

(Some of the victims were also said to have been raped.) 

The incident was so brazen and vicious that American officials labeled ALIR-PALIR a terrorist organization and placed a $5 million bounty on Kabuga’s head.



The man who spearheaded these efforts was Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, responsible for the war crimes portfolio under President George W. Bush. 

“This wasn’t some historical exercise,” he now tells me, shortly after Kabuga’s capture. In Congo and Africa’s Great Lakes region, according to Prosper, “Kabuga continued to sow death, destruction, and terror. He continued to pose a real-time threat to peace and security.”

The son of Haitian immigrants, Prosper began his career as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, where he targeted gang-related hits. 

In 1996, after taking on drug cartels for President Bill Clinton’s Justice Department, the administration sent him to Africa to help jump-start the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). 

He was appointed lead trial attorney and successfully prosecuted a Rwandan mayor turned killer named Jean-Paul Akayesu in the first case ever brought under the 1948 Genocide Convention. 

Prosper also helped persuade the tribunal to recognize rape as an act of genocide and a crime against humanity.

By the time President George W. Bush appointed him ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, Prosper, based in Washington, was ready to operationalize what he had absorbed as a prosecutor, a job that had required him to go after people who exhibited little regard for human life. 

“Everyone was on board,” he recounts. “The NSC, the FBI, the CIA. And we had full backing from President Bush, Condi [Rice], and [Colin] Powell. We built this coordinated strategy to go after the génocidaires. And Kabuga was our number one target.” 

But snatching him was another thing entirely. Intelligence agencies and the ICTR’s own tracking team placed Kabuga in Belgium, Congo, the U.K., France, Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, and the Seychelles. He was everywhere and nowhere.“I presented him with a lot of information that gave him the impression I knew what I was talking about. Moi insisted [Kabuga] was not in Kenya, that they were not shielding or hiding him, and that they were not complicitous in his continued ability to remain at large.”
“He was very pleasant and knowledgeable,” Gallo says of 27-year-old William Munuhe, who worked as a freelance journalist but had a more lucrative side-hustle working for Zakayo Cheruiyot, a Kenyan politician who oversaw internal security matters for President Moi. 

Cheruiyot, in effect, controlled the country’s sprawling police and domestic intelligence services. He was not a man to be trifled with. Yet Munuhe was enticed by the lure of a $5 million bounty. 



“I’m listening to this story,” Gallo remembers. “I don’t have a lot of background. I’m keying in on his body language, watching his eyes and his hands. He’s not blinking too much. He’s willing to answer uncomfortable questions. And he implicates Cheruiyot.”

Soon, with Ambassador Carson’s blessing, Gallo called the FBI in Washington and asked it to dispatch a polygraph examiner to Nairobi to double-check Munuhe’s veracity. 

In this instance, the fact that the wheels of justice turn slowly turned out to be a blessing. While embassy officials waited to finish the vetting, another informant fell into their lap.

Danni was a studious 17-year-old high school senior. One day he was passing through a cloistered neighborhood, known as Lavington, when he happened upon a motorcade idling in front of a well-appointed house. 

He couldn’t help but notice as a bespectacled man in a colorful shirt moved between two government vehicles. He recognized the face but could not place the name.

The chance encounter seemed innocuous enough. But suddenly the man’s security detail accosted him, seizing his school identity card and demanding to know what he was doing there. 

When they offered to drive him back to school, Danni politely declined. “Something told me it would be a one-way trip,” he tells me, remembering the encounter as if it were yesterday. 

Danni had the presence of mind, he says, to memorize and later scribble down the license plate numbers and the street address.

Focused on his studies, Danni did not think much more about the incident. After all, in President Moi’s Kenya, police work was all too often a predatory enterprise and civil liberties an abstraction. 

Though the armed men stole Danni’s wallet, along with his I.D.—warning him that they knew where they could find him—he considered himself lucky to have walked away unscathed.

Days later, however, Danni stumbled across one of the full-page ads that Prosper and his colleagues placed in local papers. 

The teenager stared at the dapper, 60-something man whose picture was sandwiched between the incongruous phrases “Wanted for Genocide” and “Financed the massacre of Rwanda’s men, women and children.” 

His temples began to throb. He was certain he was staring at the face of the man from Lavington. 

With his adrenaline racing, he made his way to a cybercafe and immediately emailed the Rewards for Justice address listed in the paper. 

“I was 17 years old,” he says. “I thought I was doing something good. I thought I hit the lottery. I didn’t know I was going to get myself mixed up in some international nightmare.”

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A DEAD INFORMANT, AN UNTRUSTWORTHY ALLY: HOW A U.S. OPERATION TO SNARE RWANDAN GENOCIDE FUGITIVE FÉLICIEN KABUGA WENT AWRY @VanityFair (part 2)
Law & Politics



Back in Washington, Ambassador Prosper was exasperated. “We were always a step behind him,” he says. “We’d get intel on houses where Kabuga was staying, and we’d stake them out only to discover he’d just departed. He was always tipped off.” 

Prosper, a senior diplomat, resorted to scanning the Rewards for Justice email account for promising tips. When Danni’s email arrived in September 2002, he picked up the phone and called Gallo.

With an FBI agent flying over—toting a polygraph machine—Gallo’s still-nascent Kabuga task force arranged to put Danni on the box as well. 

The lie detector tests took place inside the embassy’s temporary quarters, abutting Nairobi National Park. Gallo and Prosper say they were impressed by the results; the FBI concluded that both Danni and William Munuhe were credible. 

But that assessment carried ominous overtones. Not only did top Kenyan officials appear to be using state assets and personnel to harbor a fugitive wanted for genocide—and the gruesome murder of Western tourists—but President Moi had been lying about it to top American officials for quite some time.

“My immediate concern was that Cheruiyot controlled the police,” Gallo says. “And if he had any inkling William and Danni were cooperating with us, they’d be in danger.” 

He consulted Prosper by phone and caucused with Ambassador Carson, Deputy Chief of Mission William Brencick, FBI legal attaché Paul A. Hayes Jr., and their intelligence counterparts. 

The group settled on a security protocol: Gallo would keep the two informants in perpetual motion, moving them to different locations every three days or so. 

Munuhe and Danni, who were unaware of one another, received burner phones to communicate with their U.S. handlers. 

They expected their share of the reward money—if their tips paid off—would be forthcoming.


Efforts to capture Kabuga were heating up just as the security situation in Kenya was melting down. 

On November 28, 2002, al-Qaida operatives drove a car strapped with explosives into the Paradise Hotel, near Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city. 

Thirteen people were killed in the blast. At virtually the same time, a second terror squad fired a surface-to-air missile at an Israeli airliner during its takeoff from Moi International Airport. 

A week later Moi himself got his coveted Oval Office visit. President Bush welcomed him with a euphemistic introduction: 

“President Moi is a strong leader of Kenya. He is leading the country through a transition period through open elections, and, Mr. President, you have distinguished yourself by your service to your country, and I appreciate that.”

Back in Nairobi, embassy officials had their hands full, investigating the twin attacks in Mombasa while conducting a manhunt for a génocidaire. 

But after weeks being shuttled around to throw the Kenyans off the scent, Munuhe went dark. 

When he finally emerged, he called Gallo with unsettling news. He had been yanked off the street at night, he said, and thrown into the trunk of a car before being driven to a farmhouse. 

There he was beaten up by men who warned him, “Stop talking to the Americans, or next time it’ll be worse.” 

When I ask Gallo who was responsible, the decorated Diplomatic Security officer doesn’t hesitate: “These were men William knew who were working for Cheruiyot and helping move Kabuga around Kenya.”


Munuhe was not the only one in danger. “The Kenyan police found me while I was out and about,” Danni recalls. 

“They whisked me away and held me in the basement of a house for many days. I thought they were going to kill me. They slapped me around, obviously. 

They wanted to know what the U.S. embassy knew. They wanted to find out how many people were working for the Kabuga task force, who they were, where they lived.” 

When I press him about how things ended, I get a glimpse of the savvy and intellect that made Danni an attractive asset. 

“I told them the U.S. embassy had a confession tape of me talking about seeing Kabuga and that the U.S. would play it in the media if the Kenyans killed me. I had to say what I had to say to get out.”

In early January 2003, shortly after Munuhe’s assault, Gallo met up with him. The informant had a swollen face and various cuts and bruises. 

The RSO was surprised to find that he remained eager to catch Kabuga and to collect his share of the bounty. 

Munuhe explained that Cheruiyot’s men, having just learned of the cash reward, were willing to split the proceeds with him. It sounded strange to Gallo. These were the same individuals who had recently kidnapped Munuhe; now they wanted to join forces. 

But U.S. officials were long past accounting for the conduct of Kenyan officials when it came to Kabuga, and the promise of an easy payday sounded as plausible an explanation as any for why things appeared to be back on track. 

The plan was simple: Cheruiyot’s underlings would bring Kabuga to Munuhe’s house for a social visit and would then pull back, giving him time to call the embassy and let officials move in to take Kabuga into custody.


“I thought, Okay, we are getting to the point where we’re going to put our hands on this guy,” Gallo says. 

“Here’s a guy who’s been running around these countries with impunity. We thought, Boy, if we pull this off, what a coup for everyone.”


Gallo and several assistant security officers joined forces with Special Agent Hayes and his deputy, forming an ad hoc arrest squad. It felt like all the pieces were falling into place: 

Two credible informants had information that was not only corroborative, but was also consistent with a separate string of intelligence reports that suggested Kabuga had kept up a business relationship with someone very close to President Moi. 

“It finally made sense,” Prosper tells me, referring to the Kenyans’ strident denials and increasingly heavy-handed tactics. 

This was not about sovereignty or some philosophical objection to cooperating with a war crimes tribunal. 

“Serious money was flowing from one of the world’s most wanted men to Moi’s family and the top echelon of the Kenyan security apparatus,” Prosper maintains.

At one of the final planning sessions, however, a U.S. official purportedly said he was obliged to give his Kenyan counterparts a heads-up about the operation. 

Gallo was astonished and insists he pleaded with the individual not to tip off any Kenyans, much less Cheruiyot’s direct reports. 

Gallo says he left the meeting confident that the Kenyans would remain in the dark until after Kabuga’s capture. 

For his part, Prosper remembers following up with Ambassador Carson to reiterate that doing otherwise risked certain death. 

When asked about this chain of events, Carson recalls, “I’m not going to go into any of that.”

To avoid being spotted by Kenyan security forces, Gallo and Munuhe had a pre-operation meeting in an empty Nairobi parking lot. 

Gallo says he told him, “‘You have my number. Once Kabuga is in your house, call me and we’ll come pick him up.’ I gave him another chance to back out, but he said he wanted to do it.” 

He recalls Munuhe telling him to expect the “go” signal within 24 to 48 hours. “We can make this work,” the informant said as he departed.

The arrest team was on standby at the embassy. Prosper monitored events from his office on the State Department’s seventh floor. One day passed without word. Then another. 

By the following morning, on January 17, the sense of dread was palpable, and Gallo—eager to keep things low-profile—drove to Munuhe’s house alone. 

“I see his car out front. I go up to the door. No answer. It’s locked. I try looking in the windows. No luck. Now I’m getting suspicious.” 

Gallo called a Kenyan national who worked at the embassy and asked him to send the police. 

When they arrived, Gallo told them obliquely, “Look, there’s someone I’ve been working with closely. I’m concerned about his welfare.” 

One of the Kenyans then shimmied up a drainpipe, entered through a second-floor deck, and came down to open the front door. 

The living room looked out of sorts: framed photographs of Munuhe with family and friends were arranged in a shrine-like fashion on a coffee table.

“We go upstairs, and I see William on his bed faceup,” Gallo recounts. “Blood had soaked through the mattress, onto the floor, and all the way to the door of his bedroom.” 

Gallo observed a quarter-size indentation on Munuhe’s temple and rope marks on his wrists and ankles—a sign that he had been forcefully restrained. 

The Kenyan police accompanying Gallo, however, seized on a bucket of charcoal nearby and towels propped against the door and concluded that he died of self-inflicted carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Before the cops could move the body, however, Gallo says the FBI’s deputy legal attaché arrived and photographed the scene.


When he learned of Munuhe’s death, Prosper tried to console Gallo: “As a former prosecutor, I know what it’s like to lose an informant.” 

The men did not have time for reflection, however. Confident that Cheruiyot’s men were behind the murder, the Americans scrambled to get Danni out of the country.


As those plans were in motion, a tug-of-war ensued over Munuhe’s autopsy. Gallo wanted the FBI to conduct it in Kenya, or in the U.S. with the Kenyans present. Both suggestions were dismissed out of hand. 

The Kenyans told Gallo that the embassy could have representatives present, but when U.S. officials arrived at the appointed time, according to Gallo, the medical examiner had already removed Munuhe’s skullcap. 

As with the crime scene, empiricism was not the order of the day. 

“At one point,” says Gallo, “the coroner evidently reached down into the skull with tweezers and pulled out a quarter-size fragment of skull then tried to argue it was an old injury. But there was bruising of the brain, and it clearly looked to our folks like he’d been hit in the head with a blunt object. The Kenyans always maintained it was suicide. And that’s how it was left.”

Any sadness Gallo or Prosper might have felt about losing Munuhe was tempered by the knowledge of official complicity. 

“I was mad as hell,” Prosper recalls, “because it was clear the operation was compromised by corrupt Kenyan officials.” 

Worse, both men say, is that the Kenyans were tipped off about the operation by a U.S. embassy official—despite strident warnings. 

Carson disagrees: “I don’t think any information was shared with the Kenyans with respect to that. We were careful about what we shared, recognizing that there were some Kenyans on the inside who were ably assisting Kabuga.”

The fugitive had disappeared, and it was Danni who now had his own protective detail. 

Diplomatic security officers whisked him from a hotel room, where he’d been stashed after the murder, and put him in an armored car. 

He was told he would be flying out of the country. “We stopped at Gallo’s house so he could hug me goodbye,” Danni remembers. 

“He said he tried his best, but there was nothing more he could do to keep me safe in Kenya. The bastards were going to kill me.”

At the airport he was escorted through security and to a waiting plane. He arrived in the United States: a teenager with no family. 

Soon, however, he says he came to regard Scott and Karin Gallo as his godparents. 

The young Kenyan continued his studies and is now an auditor in a small town on the East Coast. 

In 2008, he became a U.S. citizen and has clearly mastered our idiomatic tongue: “They say justice delayed is justice denied. But Kabuga’s arrest is a big win. He tortured me psychologically, and I will never be the same again. But I am glad he is now toast.”


Three years after the ill-fated U.S. mission, Kenya’s commissioner of police ordered an undercover squad of investigators to establish whether Kabuga was (or had been) in the country and who, if anyone, was protecting him. 

Their conclusions, according to a sensitive internal report obtained by Vanity Fair, were unequivocal: “Credible information indicates that [Zakayo Cheruiyot] is still actively involved in the protection of the fugitive with assistance from some undisclosed senior officials in the current Government.” 

The report lists 10 positive sightings of Kabuga, including at one of Cheruiyot’s homes. 

Moreover, the report notes that the country’s National Security Intelligence Service was “following the issue cautiously because they believe there is very high profile involvement in the case.” 

Finally, investigators recommended: “Surveillance on Cheruiyot should be mounted, as he is likely to hold the secret behind the whereabouts of Félicien Kabuga.”

Kabuga, apparently, felt the heat. Kenya was no longer a safe haven. In subsequent years he spent long stretches in Europe, hiding out in Germany and, most recently, in France. 

As his case winds through the courts, one consequence might be that Kabuga’s helpers will be identified and held accountable as well. Or maybe not.


Just to circle the square, I call Cheruiyot, who still lives in Kenya. “Is this Zakayo Cheruiyot?” I ask, having been given his number by someone with ties to the highest level of the government. 

“Yes.” When I inquire about his connection to Félicien Kabuga and the U.S. manhunt, he is dismissive. 

When I ask about the files that link him to Kabuga, he bristles. 

“There was nothing at all of the sort,” he tells me. “I’m saying I have no information about that. I had no information before. I have none even now.” 

When I ask about William Munuhe, the U.S. informant, he hangs up on me.


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“We have a new Ebola epidemic in Mbandaka,” Longondo told reporters
Market Crashes / Panic


The outbreak was confirmed by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who tweeted: “This outbreak is a reminder that #COVID19 is not the only health threat people face.”

Congo has been struggling to put an end to a nearly two-year-old Ebola outbreak near its eastern borders with Rwanda and Uganda, which has killed more than 2,200 people, the world’s second-deadliest outbreak of the disease on record.

It was days away in April from declaring the end of that outbreak, its tenth since the virus was discovered in 1976, when a new chain of infection was confirmed in the east. However, no new cases have been detected there in over 30 days.


The first known emergence of Ebola Zaire—the hottest subtype of Ebola virus— happened in September, 1976, when the virus erupted simultaneously in fifty-five villages near the Ebola River. Ebola Zaire is a slate-wiper in humans. It killed eighty- eight per cent of the people it infected. 

Apart from rabies and the human immunodeficiency virus, H.I.V., which causes aids, this was the highest rate of mortality that has been recorded for a human virus. Ebola was spread mainly among family members, through contact with bodily fluids and blood. 

Many of the people in Africa who came down with Ebola had handled Ebola-infected cadavers. It seems that one of Ebola’s paths wends to the living from the dead.

These remain precarious times.


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02-MAR-2020 :: The #COVID19 and SSA and the R Word
World Of Finance



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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10-MAY-2020 :: The worrying development is Transmission Hotspots #COVID19 and the Spillover Moment
Africa

Kano in Nigeria for example
Western Cape growing at an alarming rate @sugan250388
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?

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@CentumPLC reports FY EPS +10.928% Earnings
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment


Par Value:                  0.50/-

Closing Price:           25.95

Total Shares Issued:          665441775.00

Market Capitalization:        17,268,214,061

EPS:             7.41

PE:              3.502

Centum reports FY Earnings through 31st March 2020

FY Investment Income 14.996b versus 9.549b

FY Trading Profit 0.395b versus 1.117b

FY Profit Before Tax [before one off provisions] 8.198b versus 4.439b

FY Profit after Tax [before one off provisions] 7.380b versus 4.120b 

Provision for impairment of Assets [2.572b]

FY Net Profit 4.628b versus 4.120b

FY EPS 7.41 versus 6.68

FY Total Assets 101.861b [18.202b Investment Portfolio 8.182b Cash and Cash Equivalents 75.477b Other Assets]

NAV 71.29 versus 79.05

FY Dividend 1.20 per share 

During the Year Group disposed stakes in Almasi Beverages limited, Nairobi Bottlers limited and King Beverage limited 2.7b booked gain

Real Estate 999 of 1442 residential units have been sold 

one off impairment provision against debt instrument in Amu Power Company 3.6b impairment 


Total debt repayment: KES 14.4 billion

▪ KES 7.8 billion bank term loan repaid by 31 March 2020.

▪ Maturing KES 6.6 billion bond retired post-balance sheet date on 8 June 2020

▪ KES 1.8 billion in annual finance cost savings to be realised looking forward.


Real Estate 65% of Total Assets 


In the short term, the company said its private equity business is likely to witness a substantial fall in earnings for the full year that ends March 2021, due to the coronavirus related crisis.

“In the long term, however, the current market conditions present opportunities to make investments at reasonably priced valuations and rise the growth in earnings ... as economies recover from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

Centum said in its real estate business, sales in new houses had dropped 40% due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but those expected to be completed by end March 2021 had sold out.


Centum Company Plc (the listed entity) saw a 192.6% y-o-y decline in total comprehensive income to a loss of KES 4.4 BN mainly on the back of a one off provision of KES 3.6 BN for their investment in Amu Power.  

Two Rivers Mall and the two office towers are 81.0% and 20.0% let respectively while converted bulk land sales as at March 2020 stood at KES 2.8 BN. 

Management highlights that with Centum’s share price of KES 25.95 as at June 11th 2020, its cash and marketable securities value of KES 13.50 per share, implies a market valuation of KES 12.45 for the rest of its portfolio. 

This is against a total portfolio NAV per share of KES 57.80 (excluding marketable securities) comprising KES 42.03 from the real estate portfolio, KES 13.36 from the PE portfolio and KES 2.41 from the development portfolio.

Conclusions

well managed. Whilst it might look more like a Real estate Play now, James Mworia understands risk and the risk in the RE Portfolio is well managed.

Its cheap on a PE Basis 


In Oct 1960 the Vice-Premier of Portugal, Pedro Pereira, visited Malindi and unveiled a monument to explorer Vasco da Gama. @Reuters @Unseen_Archive


The monument was funded by the government of Antonio Salazar.


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