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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Friday 04th of December 2020

Executive summary: encourage the free market to push nominal Treasury yields negative. Go pick a fight. @hendry_hugh
World Of Finance

Executive summary: encourage the free market to push nominal Treasury yields negative. Go pick a fight. What's the worst that could happen? That the $ falls... Would that be so bad? Watch me lather my head space in CBD oil in contemplation of alll the crazy bleating hearts. Enjoy

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MARCH 1975 H. L. Hunt’s Long Goodbye @TexasMonthly
World Of Finance

That last weekend in November was almost too much, even for astrol­ogers and students of the absurd. It began predictably enough—former President Nixon was too ill to testify at the Watergate cover-up trial, doctors had decided—but then strange headlines began to hop out. Popular Princess Eliz­abeth Bagaya, the foreign minister of Uganda, was dismissed by President Idid Amin after he charged that she had made love to a European in the restroom of the Orly Airport in Paris. In Philadel­phia, family pressure and the delicate political position of Vice-President desig­nate Nelson Rockefeller forced Happy Rockefeller’s 77-year-old millionaire aunt, Rachel Fitler, to call off her engagement to Michael Wilson, her 29-year-old chauffeur. In our other staid, conservative, oldline town, Harvard stu­dents were giving standing ovations to none other than Fanne Fox, the Tidal Basin Bombshell who had stripped Congressman Wilbur Mills of his doughty dignity and made of him a dirty old man.

It was a seductive, if lurid, time to be alive, and every health faddist knew that H. L. Hunt was trying. At 85 he was munching dates and doing the full lotus and aiming at a century and more. But then secretly, before only family and friends, he began to fail. And on that last Friday in November, he died in Dallas’ Baylor University Medical Center, of pneumonia and complications from cancer.

If the highest estimates of H. L. Hunt’s wealth are true, he was not only four times as rich as all the Rockefellers, he was nine times richer than all the accumulated wealth of all the presidents of the United States—all 38 of them from George Washington to Gerald Ford. Some sheiks of Araby may scoff at that two or five billion now—whatever it is—but if they hadn’t taken the Libyan fields from him two years ago, he’d still be the richest man in the world. I’m not hung up on his money, though. What I liked about old H. L. was the originality and richness of his character.

Legend has it that H. L. was equally rollicking, and history knows that Ruth Ray Wright brought him to heel in a chorus of hallelujahs.

He was a genius in a way, an entrepreneur, an impresario, a maestro of money. Most of us pass through town unnoticed. He made rip­ples, made men note his passing. He had made his mark, like the conquista­dor of old who, traveling in the wilder­ness of New Mexico, had inscribed upon the rock, “Pasó por Aquí.”

Sitting there licking my fingers, I de­cided to outline Hunt’s career the way the Colonel had his. This is what I came up with, and it probably isn’t com­plete: never went to school, farmhand till fifteen, freight train and flophouse hobo, dishwasher, cowboy, lumberjack, laborer, sheepherder, carpenter, mule-team driver, card shark gambler, cotton planter, oil lease hound, oil operator, big-time gambler, farmer, rancher, real estate man, food processor, manufactur­er, author, philosopher, political propa­gandist, unsuccessful advisor to four presidents, and, of course, at one time or another the world’s richest man. Com­pared to Hunt, the Colonel was chicken feed.

But Hunt didn’t lay back. For $50,000 in cash, $45,000 in notes, and a guarantee of $1.3 million from future production, he took over a field that turned out to tap a lake of oil 43 miles long and up to nine miles wide. Hunt’s share of the profits came to $100 mil­lion, at least. By 1940, H. L. was a billionaire and expanding into the Middle East. During World War II, he produced more oil, here and abroad, than did Germany, Italy, and Japan. By 1960, he was the world’s richest man. By this time, his old partner in East Texas, Columbus Marvin (Dad) Joiner, had been broken and buried thirteen years.

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Brothers Nelson Bunker Hunt and Herbert Hunt attempted to corner the world silver markets in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at one stage holding the rights to more than half of the world's deliverable silver.
World Of Finance

During the Hunts' accumulation of the precious metal, silver prices rose from $11 an ounce in September 1979 to nearly $50 an ounce in January 1980.

Silver prices ultimately collapsed to below $11 an ounce two months later, much of the fall occurring on a single day now known as Silver Thursday, due to changes made to exchange rules regarding the purchase of commodities on margin.

“Hunt had a paranoid world view and it made sense to him to amass silver and hang on to it.”

Most traders buy and sell paper. The actual stuff represented by that paper is delivered to someone else. Hunt wanted the silver.

He chartered three 707 jet aircraft to haul the metal to warehouses in Switzerland and hired a dozen sharpshooting cowboys to provide security, according to Knight.

When he began buying silver with his brothers in 1973, it cost $2 an ounce and a big consumer was Eastman Kodak to make film.

Before the Hunts were through, seven years later, they’d stockpiled more than 200 million ounces, the price was soaring past $45 an ounce and regulators were preparing to take measures to make sure nothing like what Nelson Bunker Hunt had done would ever happen again.

“They broke the ascent by basically outlawing the buying of silver,” said Knight, who blogs at slopeofhope.com.

“Only liquidation orders would be accepted. It’s almost criminal what they did.”

On March 27, 1980 — what came to be known as “silver Thursday” — Comex asked Bache Group, the Hunts’ broker, for $134 million.

The three Hunt brothers had $4.5 billion in silver holdings, $3.5 billion of it profit, Knight said. But they didn’t have $134 million.

A $180 million judgment against them pushed the Hunts into bankruptcy.

All Bunker Hunt had left from his billions were a few million, a stable of racehorses and a $90 million tax bill to be paid over a 15-year period, Knight said.

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The next conjunction is December 20th 2020. @aaolomi

Every few hundred years, Jupiter and Saturn meet in a Great Conjunction. For medieval Muslim astrologers the cycles would represent the rise and fall of empires, the coming of messiahs, and foretell the apocalypse. 

The next conjunction is December 20th 2020. 

A thread-

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Jupiter and Saturn are the two slowest classical wandering stars of astrology. Many civilizations from the Babylonians to the Greeks associated them with world-changing events. @aaolomi

But it would be the Persian Sassanians who would use their movements as unique time-periods.

According to scholars like Pingree, the idea was picked up by medieval astrologers of the Islamic world like Ma’shallah, Abu Mas’shar, Ibn Hibinta, Al Qabisi and others.

In this theory the whole of creation was born on the first conjunction in Aries and from there cycled through a recognizable pattern: 

Every 200ish years Jupiter and Saturn would move from one elemental triplicity to another

Every 900ish years the cycle would begin again Every 20 years Jupiter and Saturn would meet in a zodiac sign within one elemental triplicity

While the movement of the two planets are often treated as transits, they also fall into another category; that of planetary periods alongside fardars and dawr. 

These planetary periods formed the basis of a theory of history in medieval thought.

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According to astrologers like Mashallah all of world history was shaped by these planetary periods and their cycles signified momentous events @aaolomi

Abu Ma’shar for example claimed the Great Flood happened during a conjunction in Cancer while Christ was born during a conjunction in Sagittarius.

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Even the rise of Islam was mapped out onto this framework. @aaolomi

Mashallah and Abu Ma’shar both noted the birth of Muhammad and Islam under the auspices of the Great Conjunction in Scorpio.

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Reflecting the deep anxieties of a turbulent world, astrologers warned the Great Conjunction in Aquarius would foretell: @aaolomi

-the fall and rise of dawla (dynasties)

-old and corrupt rulers

-corruption of the wind (plague)

-turbulent transitions

-the coming of false messiahs

-righteous religions 

-violence in Iraq, Iran, and Shams

-violence in the streets


-danger for swamplands (like DC)

-Miraculous events

The Great conjunction was used as a planetary period technique alongside more specialized methods to draw out precise predictions including 2 other conjunctions, eclipses, comets, special calculations known as lots, and symbolic progression of planets and the ascendant.

The theory of Jupiter and Saturn conjunctions was adopted by European astrologers who translated the writings of the medieval Muslims. 

Jewish astrologers like Ibn Ezra commented extensively on the methods of Mashallah, who was also Jewish.

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In the 14th century Levi Ben Gerson used the technique in his prediction about the Black Plague. @aaolomi

Meanwhile Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius was claimed as the auspicious sign of the rise of Timur i lang and an omen of his death.

Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions became one of the more significant contributions to historical astrology and modern astrologers who talk about the great transits of the outer planets are often working in the modern descendent of an older theory.

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So ends the cycle of earth and so begin the cycle of air. @aaolomi

In 2020, the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius marks the beginning of the Air period (though technically we had its first taste in Libra in 1980). They will continue to conjunct in air signs for a period of 240 years

So ends the cycle of earth and so begin the cycle of air.

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And while a thousand years has passed from the era of the medieval astrologer, their anxieties still resonate with our apocalyptic fears and utopian hopes. @aaolomi

For historians of science and religion, the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions are a fascinating topic revealing the truly unique synthesis of knowledge: of Hellenic horoscopic astrology, ancient Babylonian astral omens, Persian planetary periods, and Indic calculations.

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19-OCT-2020 :: Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent
World Of Finance

Ibn Khaldun sought to explain the intrinsic relationship between political leadership and the management of pandemics in the pre-colonial period in his book Muqaddimah

Historically, such pandemics had the capacity to overtake “the dynasties at the time of their senility, when they had reached the limit of their duration” and, in the process, challenged their “power and curtailed their [rulers’] influence...”

Rulers who are only concerned with the well-being of their “inner circle and their parties” are an incurable “disease”.

States with such rulers can get “seized by senility and the chronic disease from which [they] can hardly ever rid [themselves], for which [they] can find no cure”

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I read M.G Vassanji's The Magic of Saida

M. G. Vassanji: I would describe it as a love story that in its development and description tells other stories. It is set in Kilwa, the ancient town on the east coast of Africa, which is associated historically with slavery, international (Indian Ocean) trade, and twentieth-century colonialism, as well as Swahili culture and poetry. 

This history is manifest in various forms in the lives of the people. The story of Kilwa is therefore also the story of the two childhood sweethearts in the book. Thus, the boy Kamal is mesmerized by the history narrated by the old poet of the town.

Vassanji: Sometimes, it's hard to remember. I think I had the town of Kilwa in mind, having read about it. It has a certain romance to it, being ancient. It's one of the oldest urban settlements in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The Arab traveler Ibn Batuta mentions it in the fourteenth century; the English poet John Milton mentions it. It's older than Delhi. Its descriptions in old Portuguese texts are fantastic. 

Then there was the mystique of magic--which is very strong in Tanzania. I got fascinated by Swahili culture.

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"The past is a dangerous business, warned Akilimali; it is best to keep it buried."

Vassanji deftly develops a rich portrait of village life, with its close bonds and closer conflicts. It's a world steeped not only in faith, but in magic. 

Saida's grandfather, for example, is reportedly in control of a djinn, which contributes to his poems; when the djinn is spurned, it seems to take revenge on the old poet, and is blamed when the man is found hanged.

The world of the past, of Kamal's boyhood in Kilwa, and his forced relocation to Dar es Salaam, where he lives with his father's family to reclaim his Indian heritage, blurs together with Kamal's present-day exodus to Tanzania to try to locate Saida, whom he last saw as he was about to leave for university in Uganda. 

The narrative is framed and recounted by Martin Kigoma, a Tanzanian publisher, who encounters Kamal in a hospital in Dar es Salaam where he is recovering from what he believes to be poisoning.

It's an interesting narrative approach, and allows for fluid, non-linear storytelling that brings the past and the present, the recounted and the shown, the pedestrian and the magical, into a crystalline narrative immediacy. It's a bravura performance, but subtle and understated.

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Trump Tells @SecPompeo Go Wild on Iran, Just Don’t Risk ‘World War III’
Law & Politics

President Donald Trump may only have seven weeks left in office, but he’s given his top advisers the green light to batter the Iranian regime—anything that doesn’t hazard a full-on war before Joe Biden is inaugurated.

According to multiple U.S. officials familiar with the matter, in recent weeks Trump has taken a more passive role in personally overseeing Iran policy for the critical final months until Inauguration Day. 

One White House official last week described Trump as mostly “checked out” on this major foreign policy issue, having become consumed by his bumbling legal effort to steal the 2020 election amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as by other his pet grievances of the moment.

But Trump has given some of his most hawkish administration officials, particularly his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, carte blanche to squeeze and punish the Islamic Republic as aggressively as they wish in the coming weeks. 

All Trump asks is that they don’t risk “start[ing] World War III,” as the president has specifically put it in several private conversations with Pompeo and others, according to two senior administration officials.

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Will the upcoming @WHO investigation in China look into the possibility of a lab leak starting the pandemic? Minerva

In March 2004, it happened again. A 26-year-old laboratory researcher got infected with SARS Coronavirus while she worked for two weeks at the Chinese National Institute of Virology in Beijing.

Before the breach of safety at the Beijing lab was discovered, the researcher subsequently infected her mother, who died, and a 20-year-old nurse in a Beijing hospital where she was being treated. 

In turn, the nurse infected her mother, father, aunt, and a fellow patient.

Almost 1,000 people were eventually placed in quarantine or under close medical supervision before the contagion finally came under control.

In the early years after the first SARS-epidemic was contained, the World Health Organization (WHO) was particularly worried about these incidents starting a new SARS-epidemic.

In a statement from 2003, the organisation issued new guidelines for the handling of SARS-CoV specimens, along with a stark warning:

«The possibility that a SARS outbreak could occur following a laboratory accident is a risk of considerable importance, given the relatively large number of laboratories currently conducting research using the SARS-CoV or retaining specimens from SARS patients. 

These laboratories currently represent the greatest threat for renewed SARS-CoV transmission through accidental exposure associated with breaches in laboratory biosafety», the WHO wrote in the accompanying statement.

To prevent the next pandemic

The call for increased laboratory safety had an important impact and laboratory safety was significantly strengthened in the aftermath of the Beijing incident. 

No further incidents of the first SARS-Coronavirus escaping laboratory containment has ever been reported.

In 2003, the Chinese Academy of Sciences also approved the construction of China’s first biosafety level 4 laboratory in Wuhan, which was put into operation in 2018, becoming the first Chinese laboratory to operate at the highest level of laboratory safety.

The ambitions for the new lab and its researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were high: To search for and prevent the next human pandemic, with a specialized focus on coronaviruses.

But according to an embassy cable authored by American diplomats that visited the facility, the ambitions of the lab were set back due to a lack of appropriately trained staff to securely operate the lab and approvals, but nevertheless made progress with coronavirus research:

According to later statmenent by Dr. Shi Zhengli at the Wuhan Institute, the coronavirus research at the Wuhan lab was therefore conducted at the lower security levels BSL 2 and BSL 3 prior to the recent coronavirus pandemic.

WHO to investigate all options

Since the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the US administration led by President Donald Trump has on numerous occasions indicated that they believe the virus originated in a laboratory, but without offering any evidence to support the claim.

WHO has recently released its plan to investigate the origins of the COVID pandemic. The mandate for investigation is given by a resolution passed by the WHO general assembly that tasks the researchers with identifying “the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population.

» The final draft of the “WHO-convened Global Study of the Origins of SARS-CoV-2” does not mention lab origin as a target of the investigation.

The search will start in Wuhan – the Chinese city where SARS-CoV-2 was first identified – and expand across China and beyond.

Asked whether or not the WHO still considers laboratory accidents to be «a risk of considerable importance» as the organisation stated in 2003, a spokesperson for the WHO responds:

«The post-outbreak biosafety guidelines in question were published in following up reports of laboratory-acquired accidents that happened only a couple of months after the announcement of the end of the SARS outbreak. WHO and its Member States took these events very seriously and adopted a World Health Assembly resolution on enhancement of biosafety in 2005, leading to much improved awareness and practices».

«Since then, there has been no report of inadvertent release or infection of SARS-CoV. The context of the guidelines, therefore, is not directly related to the present outbreak caused by a different and novel pathogen now known as SARS-CoV-2», the WHO goes on explaining.

The WHO is, however, open to investigating the possibility that the recent SARS-Cov-2 outbreak started as a laboratory accident:

«The studies into the virus origins will look into all options. If initial studies point towards a lab role, this will be looked into. However, it cannot be compared to the situation in 2003, where laboratory accidents implicated laboratories knowingly handling the SARS-CoV virus. This time around, no laboratories are known to have knowingly handled this virus prior to the end of 2019», a spokesperson stated.

Viruses in the freezer

The question of whether or not labs have held and worked with viruses that either is SARS-CoV-2 or very closely resembles it, is another subject.

Two lab freezers in Asia have recently yielded some unexpected discoveries. In an article posted in Nature, researchers have reported that they have found a coronavirus that is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the pandemic, in horseshoe bats stored in a freezer in Cambodia. 

A team in Japan has reported a similar finding of another closely related coronavirus. However, no data on potential infectivity of the new strains for humans are yet given.

These findings indicate that researchers might need to look beyond China and Wuhan to track down the source that has transmitted the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans.

But when considering the inventory of the virus lab in Wuhan, it is the other way around. The lab´s proximity to the initial outbreak looks suspicious to many when combined with indications that they stored viruses that could easily have been developed into the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 makes a lab origin impossible to dismiss, Italian and Russian-Canadian researchers Rossana Segreto and Yuri Deigin argue in a recent article published in the peer-reviewed journal BioEssays. 

This is in sharp contrast with the analysis presented by Kristian Andersen in the Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2 published in Nature at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Beside describing peculiar genetic features of the virus, the authors point out a series of incongruences regarding key samples used to support its natural origin.

One of the arguments presented by Segreto and Deigin relates to the closest known relative of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, namely the RaTG13 virus, which was first described in the Nature article “A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin,” that was authored by the research team in Wuhan and published in February 2020.

The RaTG13 virus is 96,2 percent identical to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and was the closest related virus to SARS-CoV-2 known at the time of publishing.

«This sequence basically came out of nowhere», Segreto explains to Minerva.

But not only did it come out of nowhere. Segreto and Deigin also believe that the origins of the sequence has not been clearly described. 

«In the article that first mentioned the RaTG13 sequence, the authors failed to mention which sample the virus was collected from, and made it sound like they have never sequenced its full genome prior to the start of the pandemic» Deigin elaborates.

Segreto and Deigin consider this to be of special significance, since it has later been discovered that this sample was collected from a mine in Yunnan where six miners came down with severe pneumonia that killed three of them in 2012.

The cause of disease in the miners is still a mystery. The world-known virologist Shi Zhengli at Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has earlier stated that the disease was caused by a fungus.

However, this information has since been contrasted to the accounts in Chinese-language MSc and a PhD thesis which were brought to international attention by an anonymous Twitter user. 

These theses claim that the miners most likely suffered from an infection from an unknown coronavirus and has fuelled speculations on whether the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) prior to the start of the pandemic had stored and worked with a coronavirus that either is SARS-CoV-2 or that can easily be manipulated into becoming the novel coronavirus.

Segreto and Deigin point out that the Wuhan-based authors of the Nature article “A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin” make no indication that the sequence was worked upon by the Wuhan research lab prior to the start of the pandemic, but did instead write: 

«We then found that a short region of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) from a bat coronavirus (BatCoV RaTG13) —which was previously detected in Rhinolophus affinis from Yunnan province — showed high sequence identity to 2019-nCoV. We carried out full-length sequencing on this RNA sample», implying that this virus had not been sequenced before the pandemic started.

This interpretation of the wording in the article has also been mirrored by a close collaborator to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Dr. Peter Daszak, the President of EcoHealth Alliance.

In an interview for the NY Times in April, Daszak stated that they found «the closest relative to the current SARS-CoV-2 in a bat in China in 2013» and added:” We sequenced a bit of the genome, and then it went in the freezer; because it didn’t look like SARS, we thought it was at a lower risk of emerging.»

But the interpretation by Daszak would also soon come under scrutiny.

The following month, the Wuhan Institute of Virology uploaded the raw data from the sequencing of the RaTG13 genome, and this data contained files that pointed to something else.

«Some of the file names that were stored by the software users to sequence the virus indicated that the sequencing of the virus occurred in 2017 and 2018», Segreto and Deigin explained to Minerva.

And when Shi Zhengli was interviewed by Science Mag in July, she gave a new explanation as to why this virus was sequenced: 

«In 2018, as the NGS sequencing technology and capability in our lab was improved, we did further sequencing of the virus using our remaining samples and obtained the full-length genome sequence of RaTG13 except the 15 nucleotides at the 5’ end. 

As the sample was used many times for the purpose of viral nucleic acid extraction, there was no more sample after we finished genome sequencing, and we did not do virus isolation and other studies on it», Shi Zhengli told Science Mag.

In Segreto and Deigin´s recently published article, they call on the Wuhan team to clarify what actually happened: 

«The reversal in WIV’s stance on when exactly RaTG13 was fully sequenced could have been due to the discovery by independent researchers into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 that the filenames of the raw sequencing reads deposited by WIV on May 19, 2020 seem to indicate that sequencing for RaTG13 was done in 2017 and 2018. 

However, no formal erratum about the year of sequencing and sample renaming from the authors of Zhou et al. have yet appeared, or as far as is currently known, have been submitted».

Nature publishes addendum

A response to the criticism posited by Segreto and Deigin appeared in Nature on the very same day their article was published in BioEssays, the 17th of November, which coincidentally also marks the one-year anniversary for the SARS-CoV-2 index case.

In an addendum to “A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin,” published by Nature, the authors clarify that the RaTG13 sequence was collected from the same mine that the sickened miners had ventured into.

It also makes clear that samples from the sick miners have been stored and now retested for SARS-CoV-2 and confirmed that “these patients were not infected by SARS-CoV-2,»hence, dismissing the idea that the miners suffered from Covid-19.

On why and when the RaTG13 virus was sequenced, the addendum writes in contrast to the original article the following statement: 

«in 2018, as the next-generation sequencing technology and capability in our laboratory had improved, we performed further sequencing of these bat viruses and obtained almost the full-length genome sequence (without the 5′ and 3′ ends) of RaTG13.»

Given the disagreement on how the original article is supposed to be interpreted, Minerva has asked Nature to clarify whether or not they consider the content of the original article to be incorrect as to why and when the RaTG13 virus was sequenced. On this question a spokesperson from Nature responds:

«We appreciate that, given global events, the methodology of this paper is of particular interest and we are committed to ensuring that we carefully assess issues raised with us and responses from the authors, and ensure that clarity is provided to our readership. 

When we were contacted about this issue, we considered it very carefully and concluded that the original paper was insufficiently clear about when the full-length sequencing of the bat virus was performed. 

Our addendum format provides a vehicle for publishing clarification or significant additional information necessary for readers’ understanding of an article, whereas we would generally publish a correction if there was an error in an article that affected its scientific integrity or the scientific record. 

In this case, we concluded that publishing an addendum was the most appropriate course of action, given that the original description of the timing of the sequencing was not inaccurate but was unclear»

Asked about whether Nature has received any additional information from the authors of the article on why the original article indicated that the virus was only sequenced after the discovery of SARS-CoV-2, Nature informs that they treat all correspondence submitted to the journal as confidential.

Conspiracy or plausible explanation?

Vegard Eldholm is a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health who has actively participated in the debate on SARS-CoV-2 origins and the RaTG13 sequence. 

He believes the addendum provides credible sufficient clarifications from the Wuhan scientists:

«This addendum is a response to the massive rise of conspiracies around RaTG13 and an outbreak of serious lung disease among miners in Mojiang, Yunnan. I think this clarification seems credible, perhaps mostly because it is precisely this course of events that I have counted as most likely all the way».

He does however not consider it to have much impact on the ongoing debate on whether or not the virus originated in the Wuhan lab:

«I do not think the update will have much to say for the discourse further among conspiracy theorists. No evidence is presented, only a clarification of the order of various findings and analyses», Eldholm elaborates.

When Deigin and Segreto are asked about whether they are conspiracy theorists, Deigin denies it: «Although there are many conspiracy hypotheses involving a lab release, that does not mean that all hypotheses that involve a lab leak are conspiracies”.

«You can consider it as a range of theories and explanations, whereby some of them are indeed far-fetched, but others are quite plausible in light of available evidence and considering also that lab leaks of pathogens are not rare events », he elaborates.

Deigin and Segreto do however agree that there is no conclusive evidence either way: neither for a natural origin, nor for a lab leak, but the absence of a credible zoonotic scenario a whole year after the outbreak, when combined with various peculiarities of the virus and the way WIV and its collaborators have behaved, make Segreto and Deigin very surprised.

«When you consider the fact that an outbreak occurred in Wuhan, which is a thousand miles away from where these viruses are found naturally, combined with the fact that WIV have been actively collecting such coronaviruses for many years and then modifying them in the lab; when you also look at the history of other, worldwide lab accidents, and finally match this up with the lack of transparency from Chinese authorities – all that together makes one highly suspicious that a lab leak might have occurred in Wuhan», Deigin says.

Regarding the information given in the addendum, Segreto and Deigin feel vindicated and insist that there is still more information that WIV should release – for example, what are the other eight SARS-like coronaviruses that WIV claims to have collected from the Mojiang mine and full sequenced together with RaTG13?

The authors also wonder why WIV didn’t re-test the miners’ samples for SARS antibodies, because the 2016 Huang PhD thesis reported that back in 2013, WIV confirmed the presence of IgG SARS antibodies in 4 miners’ samples.

«One of the key questions that we have to ask is: why is information released by WIV in such a limited and often not clear way?», Segreto adds. 

In her view «there should be no scientific reason for not sharing all relevant information regarding the pandemic and all related viruses up front. When this is not done, the reasons might be political, not scientific».

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'’Zoonotic’’ origin was one that was accelerated in the Laboratory.
Law & Politics

There is also a non negligible possibility that #COVID19 was deliberately released

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.” ― Origin of the #CoronaVirus #COVID19

“There's always more to it. This is what history consists of. It is the sum total of the things they aren't telling us.”

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on. ”

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However, after sequencing the full genome for RaTG13 the lab’s sample of the virus disintegrated, he said. “I think they tried to culture it but they were unable to, so that sample, I think, has gone.”

According to Daszak, the mine sample had been stored in Wuhan for six years. Its scientists “went back to that sample in 2020, in early January or maybe even at the end of last year, I don’t know. They tried to get full genome sequencing, which is important to find out the whole diversity of the viral genome.”

However, after sequencing the full genome for RaTG13 the lab’s sample of the virus disintegrated, he said. “I think they tried to culture it but they were unable to, so that sample, I think, has gone.”

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Volunteer Dies During @AstraZeneca #CovidVaccine Trial @GreatGameIndia

A volunteer has died during trial of COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. 

No further details were provided citing medical confidentiality of those involved in trials. After the news broke out AstraZeneca shares fell 1.7%.

Brazilian health authority Anvisa said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but added that the trial would continue despite the death.

Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.”

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No-one has ever produced a safe and effective vaccine against a coronavirus. Birger Sørensen, Angus Dalgleish & Andres Susrud

What if, as I fear, there will never be a vaccine. I was involved in the early stages of identifying the HIV virus as the cause of Aids. 

I remember drugs companies back then saying there would be a vaccine within around 18 months. Some 37 years on, we are still waiting. Prof ANGUS DALGLEISH @MailOnline

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Protesters storm the San Francisco de Borja church, in Santiago, Chile, on Oct. 18, 2020, the first anniversary of the start of anti-government mass protests over inequality. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Protesters storm the San Francisco de Borja church, which belongs to the Carabineros, Chile's national police force, in Santiago, Chile, on Oct. 18, 2020, the first anniversary of the start of anti-government mass protests over inequality. 

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2153

Dollar Index 90.624

Japan Yen 103.87

Swiss Franc 0.8905

Pound 1.3463

Aussie 0.7432

India Rupee 73.722

South Korea Won 1082.80

Brazil Real 5.1524

Egypt Pound 15.6711

South Africa Rand 15.1667

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CoViD19-ΛFЯICΛ: Confirmed: 2 200 218 (+ 15271) Actives: 277 918 (+ 2729) @NCoVAfrica

Confirmed: 2 200 218 (+ 15271)

Actives: 277 918 (+ 2729)

Deaths: 52 533 (+ 285)

Recoveries: 1 868 217 (+ 12257)

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Turning to Africa The Spinning Top

So far Africa has dodged the Virus from a medical perspective though it remains in my view a slow burning Fuse and we all know by now ''viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential characteristics'

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With 4 400 new #COVID19 cases in South Africa today, The last 100k cases have been reported over the past 48 days, with the last 50k over the past 18 days @rid1tweets

With 4 400 new #COVID19 cases in South Africa today, the cumulative total of confirmed cases in SA has now surpassed the 800k mark (800 872)  The last 100k cases have been reported over the past 48 days, with the last 50k over the past 18 days 

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War resets the region The Federal government’s war with Tigray upsets geopolitics throughout the Horn, and puts Eritrea centre-stage @Africa_Conf

Democracy from Tanzania to Zimbabwe to Cameroon has been shredded.

We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point

“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street''

Political leadership in most cases completely gerontocratic will use violence to cling onto Power but any Early Warning System would be warning a Tsunami is coming

10 NOV 14 : African youth demographic {many characterise this as a 'demographic dividend"} - which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic terminator

Martin Aglo, a law student from Benin, told Reuters: “After the Arab Spring, this is the Black Spring”.We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000?

This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.

The Event is no longer over the Horizon.

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Citadel falls but the war goes on @Africa_Conf


Tigray leaders vow guerrilla war against the Federal government as they withdraw to the hills

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed may have declared success for his 'law and order operation' with the fall of Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital, on 28 November, but it is far from clear that the fighting is over (AC Vol 61 No 23, Hard choices ahead in Addis). 

There have been thousands of casualties on both sides and among the Eritrean troops committed to the conflict by President Issayas Afewerki, who shares Abiy's aim of destroying the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). 

Bombing raids and artillery have caused widespread civilian casualties and over 40,000 refugees have fled into Sudan from western Tigray. 

The Ethiopian army has closed the border to try to prevent more of them crossing.

Amid the news blackout, certain disturbing reports remain clear. 

Although the Federal government has spoken strongly against ethno-nationalism, Abiy has allowed Amhara militia and 'Special Forces' to spearhead the move into western Tigray, an area historically under Amhara control but controversially given to Tigray under the 1995 constitution

There have been ample reports of atrocities in western Tigray, with claims and counter-claims of responsibility. 

Against this background, there is great concern about the Federal government decision to allow the Amhara Regional State to administer the parts of Tigray it has taken over.

The Federal government has also been acting against Tigrayans outside Tigray, accusing them of supporting the TPLF and giving rise to fears of ethnic profiling

The National Bank of Ethiopia has frozen all bank accounts opened in Tigray State. 

The 34 important companies which form part of the regional state-owned Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) have been delisted and their assets frozen; an asset manager has now been appointed to oversee their assets and resources (AC Vol 59 No 11, All things to all factio

I wrote this in 2 JUL 18 :: :Ethiopia Rising

I recalled watching the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi order on a night of a full moon in Konya, Turkey. 

 It’s all about speed and velocity. Paul Virilio terms it ‘dromology’, which he defined as the “science (or logic) of speed“. 

He notes that the speed at which something happens may change its essential nature, and that which moves with speed quickly comes to dominate that which is slower.

“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a matter of movement and circulation.”

Virilio argues that the traditional feudal fortified city disappeared because of the increasing sophistication of weapons and possibilities for warfare. 

For Virilio, the concept of siege warfare became rather a war of movement.

Abiy Ahmed has moved at lightning speed, the old guard is like ‘’the traditional feudal fortified city’’.


However, It is Debretsion who has the 'dromology'' advantage and that is why 


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@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed

PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst

@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

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The fugitive leader of Ethiopia’s defiant Tigray region on Monday called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to “stop the madness” and withdraw troops

The fight is about self-determination of the region of around 6 million people, the Tigray leader said, and it “will continue until the invaders are out.” 

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Will #Angola be spared the outcome of #Zambia? “They will default at some point,” says @Markbohlund of REDD Intelligence. @TheAfricaReport.

A debt moratorium, or an “extend and pretend deal” will buy Angola time, but nothing more, says Mark Bohlund
, senior credit research analyst at REDD Intelligence in London. “They will default at some point.”

The country’s debt-relief package with China Development Bank is yet to be finalised, with only a framework agreement reached. 

It’s hard to know what’s holding it up, says Bohlund. Angola is reported to have owed China US$28.6bn at the end of last year, with China Development Bank accounting for $14.5bn.

Time is the one thing in Angola’s favour. The next eurobond redemption is not until November 2025. Still, it has commercial debt redemptions amounting to $3.4bn in 2021. 

Deutsche Bank and Gemcorp Capital are among heavy corporate lenders to the Angolan government and state-owned enterprises, says REDD Intelligence.

Angola and Zambia struggle with a very high level of debt service payments as a proportion of government revenue, says Bohlund.

Research from Renaissance Capital in November arrives at a similar conclusion using a different measure.

Both countries have high levels of elderly and children in relation to their working-age populations.

Such countries are most at risk of excessive debt burdens, as seen in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, says Renaissance, which picks out Angola as a default risk.

According to the European Network on Debt and Development, the overall sub-Saharan Africa proportion of government revenue spent on external debt service payments more than doubled between 2010 and 2018 to 10.8%.

Angola’s share is volatile and high, surging from 14% in 2014 to 40% in 2016, before falling back to 32% in 2018.

REDD Intelligence says that commercial creditors in emerging and frontier markets are more dispersed than in the run-up to the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s. 

This time around, asset managers have a bigger share of frontier and emerging market sovereign debt than international banks.

That makes negotiating a co-ordinated private sector position much harder as asset managers all have their own fiduciary duties, says REDD Intelligence.

The scale of losses faced by lenders in Zambia have yet to be faced, adds Bohlund. Fund managers can’t come clean about the scale of their exposure as their clients would dump them.

“Bondholders have an incentive to say the default is isolated and that everything will be fine.”

On the plus side, REDD Intelligence says, dispersal means that potential creditor losses don’t threaten banking solvency, as was the case in the 1990s among US banks who had lent to Latin America.

China’s need to secure a reliable supply of oil drove its involvement in Angola in the early 2000s. Global oversupply of crude now means that China needs Angola less than it used to, says REDD Intelligence.

Angola is Africa’s second-biggest oil exporter, but its main oilfields are maturing and new discoveries are needed just to maintain production levels, says Bohlund.

He notes that the country used to be a major coffee exporter, but sees no easy way to diversify the economy away from oil. “There are no quick fixes. There’s nothing that’s pain-free.”

Stronger African credits that are more likely to be able to sell new debt, he says, include the Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Kenya.

The international creditors of oil-dependent countries such as Angola will have to bite the bullet and write off debt. 

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Islamic State Fighters’ First Claimed Attack in Tanzania: Strategic Calculations and Political Context @JamestownTweets

On October 15, Islamic State (IS) fighters in Mozambique staged their first claimed attack into southern Tanzania, killing at least 20 people in Kitaya, Mtwara Province. 

The fighters also burned down houses, destroyed an armored vehicle, and stole money and military equipment. Mtwara borders Palma district in the Mozambican Province of Cabo Delgado, which is the base of the group known as Ahlu al-Sunna Wal Jamaa or al-Shabaab (“The Youth”) locally but officially as Islamic State in Central Africa Province (ISCAP) (The Citizen, October 23; Club of Mozambique, October 20).

Some ISCAP members were initially followers of Kenyan Islamist ideologue, the late Aboud Rogo, and resettled in northern Mozambique after Rogo was killed extrajudicially in a drive-by shooting in Mombasa in 2012. 

ISCAP also has religious, commercial, and training ties with jihadist networks in Kenya, Tanzania, and elsewhere in East Africa (Club of Mozambique, June 14, 2018). 

The group, however, only started carrying out attacks in northern Mozambique in 2017 and has since killed an estimated 700 civilians. 

Like other Islamist militants in Africa, ISCAP demands that governments rule by sharia (Islamic Law) (The Africa Report, July 29).

Since IS’ ‘territorial caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq began collapsing, its leadership has been keen to expand in Africa. 

In August 2018, IS’ former “caliph,” Abubakar al-Baghdadi, indicated plans to create a Central Africa province (wilaya) (Twitter.com/SimNasr, August 22, 2018). 

Less than one year later, in April 2019, IS claimed an attack in Beni, Democratic People’s Republic of Congo (DRC), killing two soldiers and one civilian, which heralded the launch of ISCAP as a formal IS province (The East African, April 19, 2019). 

By that time, attacks were also intensifying in northern Mozambique, whose fighters, along with the DRC insurgents, soon became subsumed under ISCAP.

The jihadists gained access to Kitaya village after entering into Tanzania by sea and moving up Ruvuma River, which forms the border between Mozambique and Tanzania (Club of Mozambique,October 20). 

Photographs of the attack that IS released on its social media platforms and that were released outside official IS media channels further showed an attacker decapitating a man and throwing his head on the road as well as weapons and ammunition that the fighters pilfered (Club of Mozambique, October 20). 

in a video, the attackers were also heard speaking in Swahili, which is widely spoken in East Africa. 

They were also heard speaking Makua, which is a Bantu dialect in southern Tanzania and Mozambique, and Mwani, which is a Swahili dialect spoken in Cabo Delgado. 

This language diversity indicates northern Mozambique is a meeting point for East African jihadists from the Swahili Coast and perhaps elsewhere in East Africa (Club of Mozambique, October 20).

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.@BaloziYatani Brace yourselves for tough times @NationAfrica
Kenyan Economy

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has warned of tough times ahead that could lead to delayed disbursement of money for State operations as Kenya’s debt level hits Sh7.1 trillion.

Appearing before the National Assembly Finance and Planning Committee, the minister said the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out sources of revenue, leaving the government with no option but to borrow more from local and external markets.

“Supporting the budget and preventing the economy from crashing is our main priority. We borrow to support the budget because revenue is either limited or not there,” Mr Yatani said on Wednesday, despite protests from lawmakers that Kenya has neglected small and medium enterprises “and is on a pathetic borrowing spree”. 

“I will be dishonest if I say everything is okay. We are in a state never witnessed before. The drastic reduction in revenue and underperformance of the economy is a concern.”

The country plans to spend Sh3 trillion in the current financial year but Treasury will borrow more to bridge the Sh841 billion gaping hole.

Mr Yatani said Kenya’s public debt stands at Sh7.2 trillion, about 71.2 per cent of the GDP.

The composition of Kenya’s external debt is 39 per cent multilateral, 30 per cent bilateral and 31 per cent commercial.

The debt, which is about Sh1.9 trillion shy of the borrowing ceiling as provided for in the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, is inclusive of the Sh1.87 trillion Kenya borrowed between February 1, 2017 and August 31, 2020, according to documents submitted to the House.

“I am not convinced the figures you are giving are telling everything. This is a rosy picture you are painting about the country’s debt management,” Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the civil society have raised concerns about the continued piling of public debt.

They say the situation may see the government fail to honour its repayment obligations.

Of the public debt stock, some Sh3.66 trillion is external (51 percent) with the remaining Sh3.45 trillion – translating to 49 per cent – being domestic.

Internal debts attract an average yearly interest of 11 per cent, compared to the 4.2 per cent for external loans.

China is Kenya’s leading bilateral lender at Sh750 billion. The loans attract an annual interest of about three per cent.

The public debt includes about Sh169 billion in guaranteed loans extended by the government to loss-making Kenya Airways, Kenya Power, KenGen and Kenya Ports Authority.

Despite concerns from MPs, Mr Yatani said Kenya has never defaulted on her repayment and that debt indicators would improve as the country opens up.

“Our debt strategy is sustainable. Kenya has never been given relief on account of being unable to repay her loans,” Mr Yatani said. 

But even as the furore over the piling of debt continues, Treasury has acquired a $1 billion loan from the Bretton Woods institutions to support the budget.

About $780 million is from the IMF and the rest from the World Bank.

The MPs said they are concerned the IMF loan, which the CS praised as “highly” concessional as it comes with a zero interest and a 10-year repayment period, has strings attached. 

The World Bank loan has a Sh1.4 per cent interest rate. It should be repaid in 30 years.

The IMF wants Treasury to abolish income tax relief, reduce public service workers and freeze employment.

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“Key to the slowdown were weaker increases in business activity and sales, as firms commented on issues with money circulation and economic stress caused by a rise in local Covid-19 cases” @BD_Africa
Kenyan Economy

“Key to the slowdown were weaker increases in business activity and sales, as firms commented on issues with money circulation and economic stress caused by a rise in local Covid-19 cases,” analysts at Stanbic Bank and UK’s Markit wrote in the November PMI report.

“Reintroduced curfew measures meanwhile led to a drop in client demand at some businesses, while lockdowns in Europe curtailed growth in foreign new orders.”

They added that “lower capacity pressures led to a stalling of workforce expansion” which had only started in October after a job-shedding streak that started in February.

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

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