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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Wednesday 17th of February 2021
 
Morning
Africa



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BofA | Evolution of Global FMS “biggest tail risk” @PriapusIQ
World Of Finance



COVID-19 vaccine roll outthe top “tail risk” at 28% of FMS investors

#2 A “tantrum” in the bond market

#3 Higher than expected inflation 

#4 A bubble on Wall St.

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08-FEB-2021 :: The Markets Are Wilding
World Of Finance



The rise and fall of RCA, the biggest growth story of the 1929 bull market: @WalterDeemer


Anybody can be decisive during a panic It takes a strong Man to act during a Boom. VS NAIPAUL

“The businessman bought at ten and was happy to get out at twelve; the mathematician saw his ten rise to eighteen, but didn’t sell because he wanted to double his ten to twenty.”


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The Brits who fled to paradise for lockdown @thetimes
Africa




Picture the scene. You tiptoed abroad for a short break somewhere hot and sunny over Christmas and new year only to find yourself “stranded” thanks to flight cancellations, quarantine and so on

Far from feeling trapped, you are loving the freedom of being isolated in a far-flung idyll with more space and freedom than you ever dreamt of under lockdown in the UK. 

Meanwhile, you have carried on working seamlessly via Zoom. Somehow the sordid struggle to put food on the table while keeping the roof intact seems less brutal when viewed from the perspective of a palm-fringed beachside villa.

Better still, none of your colleagues has twigged. Except that they have, but are pretending they haven’t because they are, er, in the same position, probably in a cabana three doors away.

This is the reality for thousands of people who find themselves prisoners of paradise. As one blissfully exiled British chief executive of a Berlin tech firm tells me, 

“There are loads of people ‘working from home’ who are not WFH at home at all. They are in the Maldives, the Caribbean, South Africa or Kenya. All you need is a good internet connection, a bit of cash and a certain attitude.” 

Other survival tips for Covid castaways include a second screen for making notes during Zoom meetings and portable speakers on which to play desert island discs via Spotify.

Many exotically exiled WFH-ers find that long-haul remote working has brought unanticipated opportunities and challenges. 

One top QC who took his family to the Indian Ocean archipelago of Lakshadweep for Christmas remains stranded in an over-water villa

Commuting digitally between court hearings in Singapore, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands, he is far more productive than under “normal” conditions. 

Meanwhile, his children are home schooling with little incentive to return home until schools resume on March 8. His only concern is that his car is in Heathrow’s short-term car park.


One challenge is how to eke out one week’s packing. “In a warm climate you don’t need much,” says one lotus-eating high-flyer. 

“I love that feeling of being unencumbered.” 

However, one public sector worker stranded in a beach hut says, “I have managed to conjure an unidentifiable background for Zoom meetings, but I only packed one blouse and have worn it at every meeting. I’m also worried about small tropical birds putting in cameo appearances.”

“The psychology is strange,” says an exiled executive from an island off Mozambique. 

“At first you feel guilty. After two weeks the guilt wears off, but then you feel guilty that you no longer find paradise special. But I’ll never get blasé about the fresh prawns.”

Lucy Sykes has discovered another shade of guilt. She, her husband, Nick, and their ten-month-old daughter, India, are renting a cottage in Four Twenty South, a resort on the coast of Kenya. 

“Among my friends in the UK there is a sense of camaraderie about lockdown. We are all in this together! But when they realise I am in Kenya they stop calling,” Lucy says.



Lucy works in the aid sector; Nick is in the process of selling a business in Dubai and setting up a consultancy that turns “business processes into interactive web-based comic books”. 

Ordinarily they live in North Kensington in London, but they decided to head to Kenya. “Once we arrived we thought, ‘Sod it, let’s stay indefinitely.’ 

We commute between the veranda and the beach. One benefit of living here is that one month of childcare costs the same as one day in a nursery off Harrow Road,” Lucy says.

The internet connection “has been patchy ever since road workers accidentally cut the cable”. However, Lucy has played the dodgy connection to her advantage. 

“During Zoom meetings I wear a bikini. I say, ‘Hi everyone, the internet connection here is bad,’ and switch off the video. 

Working in the aid sector, I am used to hardship locations. Before the pandemic I was in Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Iraq — anywhere you don’t want to go on holiday.”


The Sykeses’ day begins at 5am when they feed India. At 6am they go swimming or running along the beach. After yoga and breakfast the working day begins. 

“I take calls on the beach,” Lucy says. “Nick works on the veranda, talking very loudly into his phone. At 5pm we go kitesurfing. Most of London has arrived here. I keep hearing, ‘Oh my God, what are you doing here?’”

Conor MacGillycuddy left his flat in Aldgate East, London, to spend Christmas in his cottage on the west coast of Ireland near Baltimore. 

After repeated cancellations of flights home he has set up an office in his sitting room with its postcard views of Roaring Water Bay and the islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear. It all sounds bodice-rippingly romantic.



“Having grown up in Ireland, I can hardly call this exotic, but it is a massive difference to the mean streets of E1,” he says. “The food here is so much better. The madeleine of McCarthys of Kanturk’s sausages takes me back to my youth.”

MacGillycuddy works in investment research editing for City banks. “The underlying terror of any home worker is IT failure,” he says, “especially when your internet comes fresh via satellite dish and is vulnerable to storms.”

Many find that enforced exile awakens dormant interests that can prompt deeper re-evaluation. MacGillycuddy has discovered his bird table. No, seriously. 

“I’m in competition with my mother to see whose table attracts the greatest number of species. It’s like the set of an Alfred Hitchcock film here. I had no idea I would find this sort of thing interesting. Am I sounding like a monologue in The Archers?”


Catherine Hudson and her partner, John Harrington, flew to Cape Town on December 2 expecting to return to Britain on December 15. Due to flight chaos and lockdown they decided to stay with friends in Newlands, Cape Town. 

“We have been in paradise ever since,” Hudson says. She has repaid her friends’ kindness by looking after Willem, their Dutch shepherd dog, reorganising their IT and helping their children with home schooling; Harrington has taken care of shopping and cooking.


Hudson, 55, a coach and counsellor helping people with ADHD, says, “Work has been fine. I do a lot with teenagers. I have also been quietly helping local people. I only found out I had ADHD when I was 48. Now I am evangelical. If I can help, I will.”

Hudson and Harrington spend their down time hiking up Table Mountain and swimming in rivers (the beaches are closed). Hudson initially thought she should dress up for Zoom meetings, but now wears a kikoi over a bathing costume. 

“It has been incredibly liberating living with less stuff,” she says. “We dread going back.”

One person who specialises in working anywhere, any time and any place is Oriana Tickell. Her expertise is “wellbeing at work and getting teams to work better together”. 

In February 2020 she left the UK with a small bag, thinking she would be back in three weeks. 

One year later she is still on the move in Mexico and Florida, dodging Covid outbreaks. 

With her professional expertise and her experience of living out of a suitcase, she is doubly qualified to talk about how to cope with remote WFH-ing.

“I often work at strange times,” she says. “It’s like getting jet lag but without having to fly. Last year I gave training sessions to more than 600 people. People crave human connection, but how do you achieve this when everyone is on Zoom? A new style of leadership must evolve that takes into account what is going on in other people’s lives.”


Over Christmas Tickell caught up with her children’s lives by renting a house in Florida with enough space for them all to work in peace. 

“I recommend noise-cancelling headphones,” she says. “It was absolutely lovely. Everyone was thinking, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ The question is, will big organisations allow us to work in this hybrid way in the future?”

First people need to smash the convention that says that professionalism necessarily involves a degree of discomfort and even privation. 

“Then you have to ask yourself, ‘What am I getting out my job? Am I engaged? Would I prefer to dance with elephants in Africa? How can I strike the balance between what I want and my professional obligations?’ Many people are asking these questions.”

Matt Samuel’s unwonted exile sounds like the first steps on a longer journey of spiritual enlightenment. 

A restaurateur who owns the Pig on the Hill in Westward Ho!, north Devon, Samuel has been living in a treehouse in Antigua with his girlfriend, Cheyenne, and expects to remain there until April. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a tax exile,” Samuel says. “Instead I have become a Covid exile.”

With living costs at “about £100 a day”, Samuel says that their final month will “go on the credit card”. 

While his staff at the Pig on the Hill refurbish the restaurant, Samuel has been trading bitcoin. “It fits the lifestyle choice of working abroad.”


When not taking conference calls and trading cryptocurrency, Samuel has been catching up on audiobooks. 

“I enjoy being in a place where I can grow spiritually,” he says. “It’s not something I would have the time or inclination for in the UK, but I have been giving it some thought. One book I enjoyed is The Untethered Soul.”


The greatest discovery of all these untethered WFH-ers is that the gap between working from home and working from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection is tiny. 

This feeds into the debate about how “different” things will be when we no longer have to work from home. 

For some this way of living and working is inspiring them to extrapolate and speculate new trajectories that a post-Covid world promises.

“It’s all rather thrilling,” says one chief executive, stress-testing a hammock in Mauritius. “This Covid thing makes you realise you can do this. It makes you realise that you have permission to live this way.”





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Global cases continue down, though R is rising slightly towards 0.9. @video4me
Misc.


>5%: Benin¹⁵⁵ Eritrea¹⁶⁷ Barbados¹⁷³ Dominica²⁰⁰

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Two variants have merged into heavily mutated coronavirus @newscientist
Misc.




The hybrid virus is the result of recombination of the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant discovered in the UK and the B.1.429 variant that originated in California
 and which may be responsible for a recent wave of cases in Los Angeles


If confirmed, the recombinant would be the first to be detected in this pandemic

In December and January, two research groups independently reported that they hadn’t seen any evidence of recombination, even though it has long been expected as it is common in coronaviruses.

Unlike regular mutation, where changes accumulate one at a time, which is how variants such as B.1.1.7 arose, recombination can bring together multiple mutations in one go

Most of the time, these don’t confer any advantage to the virus, but occasionally they do.

Recombination can be of major evolutionary importance, according to François Balloux at University College London. It is considered by many to be how SARS-CoV-2 originated.

Recombination could lead to the emergence of new and even more dangerous variants, although it isn’t yet clear how much of a threat this first recombination event might pose.


The implications of the finding aren’t yet clear because very little is known about the recombinant’s biology. 

However, it does carry a mutation from B.1.1.7, called Δ69/70, which makes the UK virus more transmissible, and another from B.1.429, called L452R, which can confer resistance to antibodies.






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08-FEB-2021 :: We are at peak vaccine euphoria
Misc.




We are at peak vaccine euphoria

Global covid19 cases [are] falling at just under 2%/day @video4me

No one wants to think that

If you have a "normal" pandemic that is fading, but a "British variant" that is surging, the combined total can look like a flat, manageable situation. @spignal


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

We've updated our preprint on the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01, aka B.1.1.7, with new statistical and modelling methods. 

Headline: we estimate VOC is 43–82% more transmissible than preexisting variants.

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“If the second or third wave came from the first, we would see the mutations that the virus picked up over time in the viruses of the second and third waves. But this is not the case'' @GreatGameIndia
Misc.



“The spring virus was the first, the second in September, the third in December and the new one, the British, is the fourth. I would almost exaggerate to say that it was SARS-CoV-2 in the spring, SARS-CoV-3 in September, and SARS-CoV-4 in December until now.”

“And the British mutation should be called SARS-CoV-5. Each wave behaves clinically a little differently, the virus has a different genome, a different program, according to which it is written, “Peková specified.

“If the second or third wave came from the first, we would see the mutations that the virus picked up over time in the viruses of the second and third waves. But this is not the case. I have no idea where they came from, “Peková said.

“But it’s something else. And I don’t know where the cave they are flying from is, “the microbiologist pointed out, adding that the viruses are artificially modified according to her.

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It is remarkable that the Propaganda is still being propagated more than a year later.
Misc.



Today only the Paid for Propagandists and Virologists and WHO will argue that there is a ''zoonotic'' origin for COVID19. 

It is remarkable that the Propaganda is still being propagated more than a year later. 

There is no natural Pathway for the Evolution of COVID19.

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Anatomy of a conspiracy: With COVID, China took leading role @AP.
China




The rumors began almost as soon as the disease itself. Claims that a foreign adversary had unleashed a bioweapon emerged at the fringes of Chinese social media the same day China first reported the outbreak of a mysterious virus.

“Watch out for Americans!” a Weibo user wrote on Dec. 31, 2019

Today, a year after the World Health Organization warned of an epidemic of COVID-19 misinformation, that conspiracy theory lives on, pushed by Chinese officials eager to cast doubt on the origins of a pandemic that has claimed more than 2 million lives globally.


A nine-month Associated Press investigation of state-sponsored disinformation conducted in collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, shows how a rumor that the U.S. created the virus that causes COVID-19 was weaponized by the Chinese government, spreading from the dark corners of the Internet to millions across the globe. 

The analysis was based on a review of millions of social media postings and articles on Twitter, Facebook, VK, Weibo, WeChat, YouTube, Telegram and other platforms.

Chinese officials were reacting to a powerful narrative, nursed by QAnon groups, Fox News, former President Donald Trump and leading Republicans, that the virus was instead manufactured by China.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Beijing has used its expanding megaphone on Western social media to promote friendship and serve facts, while defending itself against hostile forces that seek to politicize the pandemic.

“All parties should firmly say ‘no’ to the dissemination of disinformation,” the ministry said in a statement to AP, but added, “In the face of trumped-up charges, it is justified and proper to bust lies and clarify rumors by setting out the facts.




The battle to control the narrative about where the virus came from has had global consequences in the fight against COVID-19.

By March, just three months after COVID-19 appeared in central China, belief that the virus had been created in a lab and possibly weaponized was widespread, multiple surveys showed. 

The Pew Research Center found, for example, that one in three Americans believed the new coronavirus had been created in a lab; one in four thought it had been engineered intentionally. 

In Iran, top leaders cited the bioweapon conspiracy to justify their refusal of foreign medical aid. 

Anti-lockdown and anti-mask groups around the world called COVID-19 a hoax and a weapon, complicating public health efforts to slow the spread.

“This is like a virus, like COVID, a media pathogen,” said Kang Liu, a professor at Duke University who studies cultural politics and media in China, comparing the spread of disinformation about the virus to the spread of the virus itself

“We have a double pandemic -- the real pathological virus and the pandemic of fear. The fear is what is really at stake.”

SPREADING RUMORS

On Jan. 26, a man from Inner Mongolia posted a video claiming that the new virus ravaging central China was a biological weapon engineered by the U.S. 

It was viewed 14,000 times on the Chinese app Kuaishou before being taken down. The man was arrested, detained for 10 days and fined for spreading rumors.

People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, broadcast news of his detention in early February, showing the man, face pixelated, wrists shackled, and legs caged in a chair. 

It was a stern reminder to the citizens of China that fake news can lead to arrest and part of a broader effort by Chinese state media to debunk COVID-19 conspiracies.

But just six weeks later the same conspiracy would be broadcast by China’s foreign ministry, picked up by at least 30 Chinese diplomats and missions and amplified through China’s vast, global network of state media outlets.


During those six weeks, China’s leadership came under intense internal criticism. 

On Feb. 7, Li Wenliang, a Chinese doctor punished for circulating an early warning about the outbreak, died of COVID-19. 

The outpouring of grief and rage sparked by Li’s death was an unusual – and for the ruling Communist Party, unsettling -- display in China’s tightly monitored civic space.

Meanwhile, powerful voices in the U.S. -- from former President Trump to congressional Republicans -- were working to rebrand COVID-19 as “the China virus,” amplifying fringe theories that it had been engineered by Chinese scientists.

Social media accounts that appeared to be pro-Trump or QAnon followers pushed the disinformation, repeatedly retweeting identical content that claimed China created the virus as a bioweapon, researchers at the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology found.





As U.S. rhetoric intensified, China went on the offensive. On Feb. 22, People’s Daily ran a report highlighting speculation that the U.S. military brought the virus to China, pushing the story globally through inserts in newspapers such as the Helsinki Times in Finland and the New Zealand Herald.

The New Zealand Herald said it has an “ad hoc commercial relationship with People’s Daily,” labels their content as sponsored and reviews it before publication. 

“Upon further review of the story that you have referred to, we have removed this particular item from our website,” a spokesman said in an email.

The Helsinki Times said it has a “barter-exchange” content agreement with People’s Daily, whose content it labels but does not vet. 

“We believe that the western media coverage is at times extremely one-sided and biased,” said Alexis Kouros, the editor of the Helsinki Times. 

“Even though People’s Daily is state-owned, like the BBC, we believe it is beneficial for the global audience to have both sides of stories.”

As China embraced overt disinformation, it leaned on Russian disinformation strategy and infrastructure, turning to a long-established network of Kremlin proxies in the West to seed and spread messaging.

“One was amplifying the other…How much it was command controlled, how much it was opportunistic, it was hard to tell,” said Janis Sarts, director of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, based in Riga, Latvia

Long-term, he added, China is “the more formidable competitor and adversary because of the technological capabilities they bring to the table.”
‘THE TRUTH AS I SEE IT’
In January, long before China began overtly spreading disinformation, Russian state media swept in to legitimize the theory that the U.S. engineered the virus as a weapon.
On Jan. 20, the Russian Army’s media outlet, Zvezda, announced that the outbreak in China was linked to a bioweapons test, citing a four-time failed political candidate named Igor Nikulin.
Nikulin claims to have worked with the United Nations on disarmament in Iraq from 1998 to 2003, including as an adviser to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
But the U.N. has no record of his service. Richard Butler, the lead U.N. weapons inspector at the time, told AP he’s never heard of him. 

Neither has Hans Corell, who served as Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel of the United Nations from 1994-2004, where he worked closely with Annan.
Nikulin said records of his U.N. work may have been destroyed and stuck by his theory that COVID is a U.S. bioweapon – a claim that has been repeatedly debunked. “What other proof is needed?!” he said in an email to AP.
Over the next two months, more than 70 articles appeared in pro-Kremlin media making similar bioweapons claims in Russian, Spanish, Armenian, Arabic, English and German, according to AP’s analysis of a database compiled by EUvsDisinfo, which tracks disinformation for the European Union.
Online journals identified by the U.S. State Department and others as pro-Russian proxies picked up the bioweapons narrative, enhancing its reach and resonance.
Russian politicians joined the chorus. Parliamentarian Natalia Poklonskaya argued that the novel coronavirus could be a biological weapon created “by those who want to rule the planet” to undermine China. 

Shortly after, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the nationalistic leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, suggested that the U.S. and its greedy pharmaceutical companies were to blame.


Meanwhile, Nikulin kept flogging his theory, which morphed as the pandemic spread from an attack on China to an attack on Trump. 

Despite his inconsistency and questionable bona fides, by April, Nikulin had appeared at least 18 times on Russian television. 

U.S. officials also said Russian intelligence had been covertly spreading COVID-19 disinformation, including claims that the virus was a U.S. bioweapon.

On Jan. 23, Beijing began to roll out the largest medical quarantine in modern history, sealing tens of millions of people at the epicenter of the outbreak in central China. 

The images were harrowing, as people desperate to slip out thronged train stations.

Shortly after 11 a.m. the next morning, Francis Boyle, a Harvard-trained law professor at the University of Illinois, emailed a “worldwide alert” to 300 contacts warning, without evidence, that China had been developing the coronavirus as a bioweapon at a biosafety lab in Wuhan.

Over the next few weeks, Boyle refined his theory, now asserting that Chinese scientists had not developed the virus themselves, but taken it from a North Carolina laboratory.

“This is clearly an offensive biological warfare agent,” Boyle told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on a Feb. 19 Infowars broadcast.

The theory spread via outlets like One America News Network, a pro-Trump channel, Iran’s Press TV, Global Research and its erstwhile partner, the Strategic Culture Foundation, an online journal that masquerades as independent but is actually directed by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, according to the U.S. State Department.

Boyle told the AP his conclusions are based on research and that he can’t stop conspiracy theorists or foreign governments from using his claims for their own ends.

“My job is to tell the truth as I see it,” he said.

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Anatomy of a conspiracy: With COVID, China took leading role @AP [continued]
Misc.




“INFORMATION LAUNDERING”

On March 9, a public WeChat account called Happy Reading List reposted an essay claiming the U.S. military created SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at a lab at Fort Detrick, in Maryland, and loosed it in China during the Military World Games, an international competition for military athletes, held in Wuhan in October 2019.

The account, which has been suspended, was registered in May 2019 by a woman from Henan province in central China, who did not reply to messages. 

It’s not clear who first wrote the article, which can still be found on other WeChat accounts.

The next day an anonymous petition appeared on the White House’s now-defunct “We the People” portal. 

It urged U.S. authorities to clarify whether the virus had been developed at Fort Detrick and leaked from the lab. 

The petition was lavishly covered by China’s state media, despite getting only 1,426 signatures, far shy of the 100,000 needed to merit a response from the White House.



On March 11, Larry Romanoff, who claims to be a former management consultant based in Shanghai, posted an article on Global Research Canada that cribbed heavily from the Happy Reading List posting, citing it as a source.

“There have been a number of stories where the origin of a story is in Russian-controlled space but it’s picked up by Global Research and then put forward as their own story. 

Then you get Russian media saying western analysts in Canada say that. We call that information laundering,” said Sarts, the NATO StratCom director. “They have been helpful for a long time to Russian information operations and recently to the Chinese as well.”

Neither Romanoff nor Global Research responded to requests for comment.

The day of Romanoff’s article, the World Health Organization officially designated the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.



Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, spent part of the next afternoon retweeting cute dog videos. 

Then, late that night, he sent out a series of tweets over 13 minutes that launched what may be China’s first truly global digital experiment with overt disinformation.

“When did patient zero begin in US?” Zhao wrote. “How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe (sic) us an explanation!”

The next morning, Zhao urged his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers to read and retweet Romanoff’s piece. 

An hour and a half-hour later he gave Global Research another boost, referring his followers to an earlier Romanoff article that cited Chinese state media reporting to cast doubt on the origins of the virus.

Twitter later added a fact-check warning to Zhao’s tweet about the US Army – but only in English. 

An identical post in Mandarin carried no such alert. Twitter also put a fact-checking label on only one of Zhao’s two reposts of Global Research content.


A Twitter spokesperson said that the platform has expanded its policies to deal with misleading COVID-19 information but did not address specific posts flagged by AP.

Zhao’s tweets were now global news, and they hijacked mainstream discussion of the coronavirus. 

On Twitter alone, Zhao’s aggressive spray of 11 tweets on March 12 and 13 was cited over 99,000 times over the next six weeks, in at least 54 languages, according to analysis conducted by DFRLab

The accounts that referenced him had nearly 275 million followers on Twitter – a number that almost certainly includes duplicate followers and does not distinguish fake accounts.

Influential conservatives on Twitter, including Donald Trump Jr., hammered Zhao, propelling his tweets to their largest audiences.

China’s Global Times and at least 30 Chinese diplomatic accounts, from France to Panama, rushed in to support Zhao. 

Venezuela’s foreign minister and RT’s correspondent in Caracas, as well as Saudi accounts close to the kingdom’s royal family also significantly extended Zhao’s reach, helping launch his ideas into Spanish and Arabic.

His accusations got uncritical treatment in Russian and Iranian state media and shot back through QAnon discussion boards. 

But his biggest audience, by far, lay within China itself -- despite the fact that Twitter is banned there. P

Popular hashtags about his tweetstorm were viewed 314 million times on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, which does not distinguish unique views.

Late on the night of March 13, Zhao posted a message of gratitude on his personal Weibo: “Thank you for your support to me, let us work hard for the motherland 💪!”

CONTAGION

The same day Zhao tweeted that the virus might have come from the U.S. Army, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also announced that COVID-19 could be the result of a biological attack.

State media outlets reinforced Khamenei’s message, drawing on foreign sources for validation. 

Tasnim News, for example, quoted Nikulin, the self-proclaimed Russian bioweapons expert, to suggest the U.S. engineered the virus to target China. 

Javan Online quoted Zhao’s tweets to claim Chinese officials had evidence the U.S. was behind the pandemic.


Military and religious leaders in Iran repeatedly referred to the virus as a U.S.-made bioweapon. 

Their remarks were, in turn, amplified by Russian media and picked up in China, where they fueled further speculation.

The International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM), an Iranian network that has been purged repeatedly by Facebook, Google and Twitter, activated a network of websites and covert social media accounts to accuse the U.S. of engineering the virus and praise the leadership and benevolence of China.

Khamenei again cited the conspiracy theory that the virus was made in America during his annual Persian New Year speech on March 22 -- this time as justification for refusing U.S. assistance.

“I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?” Khamenei told the nation. 

“Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more.”

That same day, the first of two cargo planes loaded with doctors and supplies for a 50-bed field hospital from Doctors Without Borders landed in Iran.

On March 23, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted a Global Research reprint of an article from Chinese state broadcaster CGTN that questioned the origin of the coronavirus, again suggesting it had been made in a U.S. government lab at Fort Detrick.

The next day, Iran’s Ministry of Health withdrew permission for Doctors Without Borders to deliver COVID-19 aid.




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Anatomy of a conspiracy: With COVID, China took leading role @AP [further continued]
China




A MEDIA PATHOGEN

Ten days after Zhao’s first conspiratorial tweets, China’s global state media apparatus kicked in to push the theory that Zhao, and now Khamenei, were broadcasting.

“Did the U.S. government intentionally conceal the reality of COVID-19 with the flu?” asked a suggestive op-ed in Mandarin published by China Radio International on March 22. 

“Why was the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick in Maryland, the largest biochemical testing base, shut down in July 2019?”

“Clearly pushing these kinds of conspiracy theories, disinformation, does not usually result in any negative consequences for them.”

MAREIKE OHLBERG, A SENIOR FELLOW IN THE ASIA PROGRAM OF THE GERMAN MARSHALL FUND.

Within days, versions of the piece appeared more than 350 times in Chinese state outlets, mostly in Mandarin, but also around the world in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic, AP found.

The story flew across China, through social media accounts run by police, prosecutors, propaganda departments, anti-cult associations and Communist Youth Leagues. S

even prisons in Sichuan province, five provincial and municipal traffic radio stations, and a dozen accounts run by state media giant CCTV also pushed it out.

China’s Embassy in France promoted the story on Twitter and Facebook. It appeared on YouTube, Weibo, WeChat and a host of Chinese video platforms, including Haokan, Xigua, Baijiahao, Bilibili, iQIYI, Kuaishou and Youku. 

A seven-second version set to driving music appeared on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

“Clearly pushing these kinds of conspiracy theories, disinformation, does not usually result in any negative consequences for them, ”said Mareike Ohlberg, a senior fellow in the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund.

AP found the story was viewed over 7 million times online, with more than 1.8 million comments, shares or reactions. 

Those numbers are an undercount because many platforms did not publish metrics, and they don’t account for television viewership or circulation in closed groups. 

Accounts promoting the content had a combined total of over 817 million followers, though many are likely to be duplicates or fakes.

Conspiracies brewing in the United States reinforced China’s messaging. 

In late March, George Webb, a for-profit conspiracy theorist in Washington D.C., doxed a U.S. Army reservist as Patient Zero, claiming on YouTube that she brought the virus from Fort Detrick to Wuhan during the October military games.

Webb’s video circulated widely in China and was picked up by state-run Global Times. The falsely accused woman got death threats and Webb’s video was pulled from YouTube, but it’s still live in China on Weibo, where it has accrued millions of views.

IN SEARCH OF AN ENDING

In April, Russia and Iran largely dropped the bioweapon conspiracy in their overt messaging. They had a more pressing concern: Surging numbers of dead.

China carried on.

Beijing was besieged by demands for accountability. In the U.S., there were calls for a “pandemic tariff” and canceling U.S. debt with China. 

Republicans in Congress began introducing legislation to strip China of its sovereign immunity so Americans could sue.

Australian officials called for an inquiry into the origins and spread of coronavirus. 

China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, issued a veiled threat. “Maybe the ordinary people will say, ‘Why should we drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef?’” he said.

Within a month, China banned beef from four big Australian producers and slapped an 80% tariff on Australian barley -- moves widely seen as retribution, though China has denied that charge.

Chinese officials and state media continued to promote made-in-America COVID-19 conspiracies.

State broadcaster CGTN jumped in on May 16, releasing a slick documentary about Fort Detrick set to spooky music that has been viewed on its YouTube channel more than 82,000 times. 

YouTube has not flagged the video as state-sponsored content, despite a 2018 policy to label government-funded videos. 

A YouTube spokesperson said that because the video is about COVID-19, it was labeled with an information panel about the virus instead of the publisher.


The video has been played on China’s Bilibili platform 378,000 times and broadcast in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Indonesian, Filipino -- as well as by NTV, a Houston TV station that failed to note the content was Chinese government propaganda.

NTV said it has removed the video flagged by AP. “I have warned our newsroom department for the future,” said Navroz Prasla, the CEO of NTV, which says it is the largest South Asian TV network in North America.

In July and August, Zhao, the foreign ministry spokesman, rekindled the Fort Detrick conspiracy in Tweets that have not been flagged for fact-checking: 

“Much remains unclear about US’ #FortDetrick and over 200 bio labs in the world,” he wrote on Aug. 11.

On Jan. 14, 2021, a team from the World Health Organization landed in China to investigate the origins of the outbreak. 

The next day, in one of the final acts of the Trump administration, the U.S. State Department put out a “Fact Sheet” stating that the pandemic could be the result of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which it claimed has collaborated on secret projects with China’s military.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned those allegations as “the ‘last-day madness’ of ‘Mr. Liar.’”




“I’d like to stress that if the United States truly respects facts, it should open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, give more transparency to issues like its 200-plus overseas bio-labs, invite WHO experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a Jan. 18 press conference.

Her remarks went viral in China.

COVID-19 disinformation has been good for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Within China, Zhao and his colleagues have a growing fan base and their followers on Twitter have soared. Zhao now has over 879,000 Twitter followers.

Questions have been raised about how much of this audience is real and how much is from fake accounts — speculation China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said is groundless.

“Spreading disinformation about the epidemic is indeed spreading a ‘political virus,’” the ministry told AP. 

“False information is the common enemy of mankind, and China has always opposed the creation and spread of false information.”


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Algorithmic Master [Blaster] and Sun Tzu Maestro
Law & Politics


''The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting''

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04-JAN-2021 :: we are witnessing massive decline in the cognitive capacity of leadership and a steep decline in the intellectual capacity of the corpus.
Law & Politics



we are witnessing massive decline in the cognitive capacity of leadership and a steep decline in the intellectual capacity of the cognitive capacity of the corpus. 

We live in an Era of gobbledygook debate, a moment of complete combustion. 

Just open your social media account and its a torrent of bite sized nonsense. 

This is the Achilles Heel which the Sun Tzu Maestro Xi Jinping understood and the Viral War he launched was a perfectly aimed Bullet.

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01-MAR-2020 :: The Origin of the #CoronaVirus #COVID19
Misc.



“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.”― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

 “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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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
Misc.

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

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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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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies



Euro 1.2077

Dollar Index 90.727

Japan Yen 106.00

Swiss Franc 0.8938

Pound 1.3882

Aussie 0.7747

India Rupee 72.85

South Korea Won 1107.64

Brazil Real 5.3707

Egypt Pound 15.63

South Africa Rand 14.73

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Turning To Africa Spinning Top
Africa



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

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



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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@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.
Africa



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 Debre Damo Monastery in Tigray can only be reached by scaling 80ft cliffs Ancient monastery ‘looted and bombed’ in Ethiopia @thetimes
Africa



Ethiopia’s most famous monastery has been bombed and looted of its ancient treasures according to reports emerging from the north of the country where fighting has left tens of thousands of people at risk of starvation.

Aid organisations warned they are “preparing for the worst” after four months of conflict between state forces and regional fighters in Tigray that has killed thousands amid reports of multiple massacres.

 Authorities in the capital have confirmed the rapes of scores of women and girls.

International experts have also raised the alarm over reports of “cultural cleansing” in the heritage-rich region with thefts and destruction of centuries-old artefacts at historically significant sites. 

In one recent alleged incident, troops from neighbouring Eritrea, which is backing government forces, ransacked manuscripts from the remains of the remote sixth-century Debre Damo monastery after clambering 80ft up a cliff to reach it.

Other buildings on the flat-topped mountain that were also “completely destroyed” included the monks’ ancient dwellings and the earliest existing church in Ethiopia that is still in its original style, according to the Europe External Programme with Africa.

Attacks have also been reported in recent months at the seventh century mosque of Negash, one of Africa’s oldest, and the Church of St Mary of Zion, which many Ethiopian Christians believe houses the Ark of the Covenant.

Specialists have warned that Tigray’s stolen gems could be spirited out of the country and sold to collectors. Video taken by Belgian journalists reporting on the conflict apparently showed an Eritrean tank loaded with plunder.


Alessandro Bausi, an expert in Ethiopic texts and manuscripts at Hamburg University, said he had heard from multiple sources that key sites were being targeted and “irreplaceable” artefacts destroyed or pillaged.

Mary’s Meals, a Scottish-based charity working in Tigray, said that millions of people were at imminent risk of starvation and lacked access to proper sanitation or medical care.

It said: “The region’s capital, Mekelle, is being overwhelmed by displaced and traumatised people arriving every day. Many are unaccompanied children who have lost their parents.”


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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
Africa


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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The Rolling weekly average of daily new confirmed cases COVID19 @NKCAfrica
Africa



active #Covid19 cases record 520,000 was in January 2021 @NKCAfrica




According to @NCoVAfrica [1st wave] Peak Daily Infections was 24th July 2020 and 20,873



Africa is currently reporting a million new infections about every 44 days  @ReutersGraphics



7 countries are still at the peak of their infection curve. Benin, South Sudan, Mayotte at peak Somalia 99% Senegal 97% Ivory Coast 93% Ghana 91%






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Tanzania in focus as Oman mulls halting flights from certain places @muscat_daily
Africa



 H. E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, said the Supreme Committee is studying the prospect of stopping flights coming from countries that have high prevalence of coronavirus infections, including Tanzania.

Speaking to Oman TV on Monday evening, H E Dr Sa’eedi said data shows that travellers arriving from Tanzania in the sultanate have a high number of infected passengers among them. 

“Eighteen per cent tested positive for COVID-19, which is a very high number. The Supreme Committee is considering stopping flights coming from countries with high infection rates,” he said.

According to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report dated February 8, Tanzania has spent more than six months trying to convince the world that it has been cured of the coronavirus through ‘prayer’, while refusing to take measures to curb its spread. 

However, dissent is mounting, along with deaths attributed to ‘pneumonia’.

“COVID-19 is killing people and we see a lot of cases but we cannot talk about the disease,” AFP quoted a doctor as saying at a public hospital in Tanzania’s biggest city Dar es Salaam, who like many asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

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Merkel pronounced “You cannot fight the pandemic with lies and disinformation...the limits of Populism are being laid bare.”
Africa


Merkel pronounced “You cannot fight the pandemic with lies and disinformation...the limits of Populism are being laid bare.”

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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”
Africa









Ibn Khaldun explained 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”






The African @jairbolsonaro is of course @MagufuliJP





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Congo President Names Mining Company CEO as Prime Minister @bpolitics
Africa



Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi named mining executive and ally Sama Lukonde Kyenge as prime minister of the world’s biggest cobalt producer.

The appointment entrenches the president’s break with predecessor Joseph Kabila, whose allies Tshisekedi has accused of blocking his political and economic reform program

It’s likely to result in the overhaul of the central African nation’s cabinet in the coming weeks.

Lukonde is currently the chief executive officer of Gecamines, Congo’s state-controlled copper and cobalt mining company. 

Tshisekedi’s spokesman Kasongo Mwema Yamba Yamba confirmed his appointment as premier in a text message Monday.

Lukonde, 43, previously served as minister of youth and sports and as a representative to parliament, according to the Twitter account of Congo’s presidency. 

The premier didn’t immediately respond to a message requesting comment.

The immediate challenge for the new government is its need to raise more revenue to support an expansion of social programs, particularly in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Lukonde said Monday after meeting Tshisekedi in Kinshasa, the capital. 

His remarks were broadcast over the Twitter feed of Congolese media outlet Actualite.cd.

The appointment comes after the previous prime minister and Kabila ally, Sylvestre Ilunga, was forced to resign last month after lawmakers passed a motion of censure against his administration.

Tshisekedi, who took over from Kabila in 2019 after a disputed election, has struggled to implement his agenda in the face of pushback from the former president’s supporters, who dominated most of the country’s institutions of government after the vote.

In recent months, allies of Tshisekedi have been appointed to the Constitutional Court and the leadership of the National Assembly. The country’s Senate head -- another Kabila ally -- was also forced to resign.

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Nigeria to Convert $25 Billion of CBN Financing to 30-Year Debt @markets
Africa



Nigeria’s federal government has set the terms for the conversion of its stock of central bank overdrafts into long-term notes in a bid to create transparency around its dependence on that source of funding.

The 10 trillion naira ($25.6 billion) debt will be exchanged for 30-year notes issued to the central bank, Patience Oniha, head of the Debt Management Office said by email. 

The agreement on timing for the conversion needs to be finalized to get the required approval from the cabinet, at the earliest in the second quarter, Oniha said.

The Nigerian government becme dependent on central bank borrowing after oil prices collapsed in 2015. 

Earnings from crude sales account for about half of government income in Africa’s largest economy. 

The financing helped plug spending shortfalls as non-oil revenues failed to cover the gap created by lower earnings from crude exports.

The increasing reliance on CBN overdrafts has come with negative consequences, the International Monetary Fund said in a report published last week.

“The financing is costly for the federal government at interest rates of the monetary policy rate plus 300 basis points, and for the CBN, with sterilization done through issuance of open market operation bills,” the IMF said.

The converted debt will be amortized over 30 years starting with a two-year moratorium when the government will not pay anything, Oniha said. 

The central bank will decide whether the securities will be sold to the public.

The conversion will add to Nigeria’s debt stock, which stood at 49 trillion naira at the end of last year, according to estimates by the IMF. 

Public debt, including the central bank overdrafts, as a proportion of gross domestic product rose to 34.4% in 2020 from 29.1% in 2019, IMF data shows. 

The fund forecasts the debt to GDP ratio will remain largely unchanged until 2023 when it will rise to 35.5% of GDP.

Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed and central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele last year agreed to end CBN overdrafts to the government by 2025 in a letter of intent to the IMF before the release of emergency financing. 

However, Emefiele rebuffed criticism on the danger of the practice by Fitch Ratings, saying it would be irresponsible not to finance the government when revenues drop.

Money printing in Africa’s most populous nation has increased the excess liquidity in the system, and pressured the naira to be devalued twice, with inflation jumping to a four-year high in January.

There will be strict adherence to the statutory limit of the central bank overdraft to the government going forward, which is 5% of the preceding year’s revenue, Oniha said.

“There is a statutory limit, but it is then a question of if it is being implemented. Let’s clean the books and going forward the intention is to comply,” she said at a meeting with market players last week.

In a strategy paper released last week, Africa’s biggest crude producer raised the amount it could borrow as a proportion of GDP to 40% from 25% to accommodate its growing debt portfolio and stimulate an economy that is recovering from its second recession in four years.

The government will borrow mainly from domestic markets, while external debt will be raised mainly from multilateral and bilateral lenders, according to the debt office head. 

The government is seeking to raise the dollar equivalent of 2.3 trillion naira in offshore markets and will consider issuing a Eurobond depending on market conditions.

The government also plans to issue Sukuk and green bonds to finance some projects, Oniha said.

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Hit rate of samples tested today SURGED to 6.11%. @MihrThakar [has bottomed out]
Africa



Weekly hit rate has risen for 4 STRAIGHT weeks from a low of 2.62% to 4% in the week ended 15th Feb.

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.@SafaricomPLC shortlisted for Ethiopia telco licence bid @BD_Africa
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services






Firms will be required to submit their technical and financial bids by April 5, compared with a previous deadline of March 5.

Safaricom, which last year expressed an interest in a consortium with Vodafone and Vodacom, has signed an agreement to borrow up to $500 million (Sh55.7 billion) from America’s sovereign wealth fund US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to fund the Ethiopia expansion

“There are about five to six consortia who are qualified to bid. Bids are due to be submitted in April,” said Michael Joseph, Safaricom chairman, in an interview. 

“We are working towards the final submission around March/April.”


Winners will be given full operating licences, but they will not be allowed to offer mobile phone-based financial services like M-Pesa, government officials said last year.

They will also be required to set up their own network infrastructure, such as cellphone towers.

The financial investment in Ethiopia is expected to top the $1 billion (Sh111 billion) mark, with the DFC loan deal seen as part of the project’s fundraising efforts.

Safaricom had earlier said it was ready to take more debt in its role as the majority shareholder of the consortium with a 51 percent stake.



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.@SafaricomPLC share price data
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services








Price: 38.35 Market Capitalization: 1,536,509,163,800 EPS:1.84 PE:20.84


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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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February 2021
 
 
 
 
 
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