|Monday 01st of November 2021
Christina Lamb meets the Amazon tribe fighting miners, farmers and @jairbolsonaro for survival @thesundaytimes @christinalamb
Law & Politics
The children tumble from the trees into the igarapé, or forest brook, sending up beads of water. Fingers of sunlight break through the patchwork-green canopy overhead, illuminating them. A cobalt-winged butterfly flits past, mesmerising in its brilliance.
Drying off quickly in the hot Amazon sun, the youngsters scramble up a muddy path to their village of Sawré Muybu, home to about 130 indigenous Munduruku people — one in a chain of Munduruku settlements that stretch along the Tapajos River in the northern Brazilian state of Para.
One small girl wears a silvery marmoset on her head as if it were a hat. A boy clutches a pet coati with a long striped tail.
Under a thatched shelter behind the chief’s house, their parents sit around a communal cooking fire.
Many have fish-scale or tortoiseshell designs inked across their faces, arms and legs.
A bright-green parakeet darts from shoulder to shoulder and a pet monkey chatters under a table.
A few hunters with knives and bows wander in, bearing a wild boar that will be skinned, cooked and shared, eaten with yams grown in their small plantations.
There are a few incongruous signs of modernity — a fridge, a satellite dish, mobile phones, a generator and a sit-on toilet — but in other ways life for these people, existing side by side with nature, has barely changed for centuries.
Any sense of an idyll, however, is shattered by a droning, throbbing hum — the unmistakable sound of a large motor.
Immediately in front of the village on the river is a monstrous dredging platform, two storeys high, cobbled together Heath Robinson-style from scrap metal and parts including the landing gear of an Airbus.
Inside, four men are sifting through silt pumped up from the riverbed, which cascades down wooden ramps. They are garimpeiros — gold prospectors — looking for nuggets.
The residue is made into what look like black doormats that will be taken along the river to the nearby town of Itaituba to process.
The men, all from the northeast of Brazil, the poorest part of the country, dredge from dawn to dusk, for 12-14 hours, and on a good day will retrieve 20g of gold: “Da para sobreviver,” they tell me — “Enough to live on.”
The Munduruku, who number about 14,000, have the misfortune to live in the most gold-rich region in Brazil and though mining for gold in indigenous lands is illegal, the Brazilian government has no intention, it seems, to enforce the law — indeed, it is trying to change it.
“These gold-dredgers are not new. What’s new is how brazen it is — it’s a free-for-all. Before, they used to hide up channels,” says Mauricio Torres, a professor at the Federal University of Para who has been travelling in the area for 20 years, studying conflicts on indigenous lands.
“The real villains are not these men but the owners outside,” he adds. “Dredges like these cost a million reals [£135,000] and are run by organised groups.”
The damage is clear to see. The dredging has turned the river, which the Munduruku consider sacred, from pale blue to muddy brown.
Large sandbanks have piled up in front of the village jetty. The mercury the dredgers use to separate the gold from the sandy soil pollutes the river and contaminates their fish.
Last year a child died of mercury poisoning. Mercury has also been linked to birth defects and neurological disorders.
A recent study by Brazil’s Fiocruz health institute in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund found that 58 per cent of Munduruku tested in the Tapajos River region had levels of mercury higher than that considered safe.
That’s not all the Munduruku have to contend with. To get to Sawré Muybu involved me taking two flights from Rio, an eight-hour boat trip along the Tapajos, a two-hour car journey, then two hours in a canoe.
But being remote has not protected them. Illegal loggers have invaded the area. Then there is what is known locally as grilagem — land-grabbing to grow soya or rear beef cattle for the global food industry.
Brazil is the world’s biggest meat exporter. In 2016 the Munduruku narrowly avoided having their lands flooded when government plans to build a vast hydroelectric dam across the Tapajos were halted by protests.
Now the government wants to construct a ferrogrão — grain railway — to transport soya to the huge port in Itaituba, from where it is exported to China and Europe.
The fate of the planet’s largest rainforest will be high on the agenda when world leaders gather in Glasgow today for the Cop26 climate change conference, which the host, Boris Johnson, has insisted must be a “turning point for humanity”. For those on the ground in the Amazon, the turning point has arrived.
“We are in a state of war,” says Cacique Juarez Saw Munduruku, 61, the village chief, his lined face furrowing.
This is nothing new for the Munduruku, a warrior clan who over the centuries have fought off rival tribes and Portuguese colonialists alike, and are known as “fire ants” because of their mass assaults.
Their word for stranger — pariwati — also means enemy and they once had a reputation for placing the severed heads of their adversaries on spikes.
Today their main enemy is the Brazilian government. Since the end of the military dictatorship in the 1980s, no regime has been as openly hostile towards the Munduruku and other indigenous groups as that of President Jair Bolsonaro.
A former army captain, he has long contested the amount of land reserved as tribal territory. As a congressman in the late 1990s, he raged: “It’s a shame the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”
During his presidential campaign in 2018, many of Bolsonaro’s backers were in agribusiness.
He vowed that once elected, he would not designate “a single centimetre more” of land as indigenous territory, insisting the tribes had too much already.
Although the country’s constitution of 1988 guaranteed land to all Brazil’s 305 tribes and stated that indigenous territories should have all been demarcated by now,
Bolsonaro’s administration has halted the process, leaving a third of indigenous land yet to be demarcated and 237 requests pending — including that of Sawré Muybu.
He has also reduced Brazil’s capacity to protect existing reserves by slashing funding to the country’s environmental agency, Ibama, and sacking thousands of government functionaries charged with monitoring them.
This has emboldened those intent on plundering the forest, pushing deforestation to its highest level for 13 years, and has left indigenous communities even more vulnerable to encroachments and violent attacks.
The Sunday Times Magazine first alerted the world to the plight of the indigenous people living in the Amazon in 1969, in a cover story by the writer Norman Lewis headlined “Genocide”.
That led to an international outcry and campaign. Fiona Watson, director of advocacy for Survival International, an organisation created in response to Lewis’s article to give indigenous peoples a voice on the world stage, says the situation is desperate.
“President Bolsonaro has launched the biggest assault on indigenous peoples since the military dictatorship,” she says.
“The situation is without doubt the worst I’ve seen in 35 years working in Brazil and certainly the most dangerous time in decades to be indigenous, as violence against their communities is escalating and the destruction of their Amazon homeland has reached catastrophic proportions.”
Last year was the most violent to date, with a record 1,576 land disputes, according to Brazil’s Pastoral Land Commission, a church organisation that has been tracking land invasions since 1985.
Almost half were against indigenous people. Few aggressors are ever brought to justice, and nowhere are there more attacks than in the state of Para.
Garimpeiros have turned particularly aggressive. In May this year, gold prospectors invaded a village in the Munduruku reserve, firing guns and setting houses on fire.
One of the houses burnt to the ground belonged to the village chief and another was the home of Maria Leusa Munduruku, an indigenous leader and co-ordinator of the local women’s movement.
“Please come, it’s chaos, they’re going to burn my house … They are shooting, please help me!” she cried in an audio message sent to APIB, Brazil’s largest indigenous organisation, just before communication with the village was cut off.
“They arrived with petrol in soft-drink bottles, armed and shooting,” she said afterwards. “We received phone messages saying we had to be killed because we were getting in the way, that we were denouncing their activities.”
Many of the Munduruku now leading the battle against the invaders are women.
On my third morning staying with the community, sleeping in a hammock in their school room, I hear a commotion.
“The warriors are back!” The shout resounds through the village, sending parrots and chickens squawking and children with painted faces scurrying.
Juarez Saw Munduruku, the village chief, and a small band of men, women and teenage boys with hair dyed green or purple, have spent the past four days armed with GPS devices as well as bows and arrows and machetes, hacking their way through dense jungle to hammer wooden signs printed with the words Terra Protegida (Protected Land) onto tree trunks on the edges of their territory.
The signs look official but are in fact copies. Though their land was mapped by Ibama in 2014 the authorities have never officially declared it a reserve, so the Munduruku have been forced into what they call self-demarcation — installing signs around the edge of all 434,900 acres of their ancestral land, as a warning to those who would plunder its riches.
Lagging behind in flip-flops, exhausted after the long hike, battling with humidity as well as the threat of venomous snakes, scorpions, spiders, even jaguars, walks a pint-sized woman dressed in a grass skirt with a headband of orange and black feathers over her long black hair.
“The world talks about environment but we’re the ones whose feet are cut to pieces,” says Alessandra Korap Munduruku, 37, a mother of two boys and the tribe’s campaign co-ordinator, who tells me she will be travelling to Glasgow to alert the world to their plight.
After a refreshing dip in the brook, she sits by a mango tree from which a monkey swings on a rope and explains how she became the Munduruku’s first female warrior.
“I got involved in 2015 when I attended a course on the rights of indigenous people,” she says. “I’d never thought how, when they stopped us fishing by polluting our water, they were actually taking our rights. So I joined the fight with the cacique [chief] — only I couldn’t because I am a woman and women have to stay quiet. In our society, women are married off at 12 or 13. I was lucky, as I didn’t marry till 21.
My own mother said, ‘Alessandra, you can’t speak, let the cacique speak.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ I had always been a rebel and questioned everything, was always in fights.
So I began to speak at meetings. To start with people were shocked but now they say, ‘Let’s wait for Alessandra to see what she thinks.’ ”
She started accompanying Cacique Juarez to Brasilia, the capital, for meetings, but soon branched out on her own. Last month she addressed the senate to warn of the impact of the proposed railway.
“I discovered many things from dealing with whites,” she says. “If they give, they always want something in return.”
She began studying law at the Federal University of Western Para after learning that two places were being offered for indigenous students.
More than 500 applied but she was chosen. She has struggled to keep up with the course alongside her work organising resistance.
“It’s a challenge to be a woman, to be in the struggle, to be a mum, to be a warrior — it feels as if I have the world on my shoulders,” she says.
Like Maria Leusa, she risks her life for her cause. “I am threatened like mad but I refuse to stay quiet,” she shrugs.
“This is war and we must prepare for it.” In 2019, when she travelled to Brasilia with other indigenous leaders, her house was broken into and her bag and documents stolen.
“Afterwards my son hugged me and said, ‘Mum, I don’t want them to kill you.’ ”
Since then she rarely stays in one place. “Why should I feel fear? The people who should feel fear are those who are doing wrong. The greatest fear I have is my people being expelled from their territory.”
Yet the war people like Alessandra are fighting is for the whole of humanity. The Amazon not only contains 10 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity but plays a vital role in mitigating climate change by acting as a sink, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, and is often referred to as the lungs of the world. When cut or burnt down, the forest not only ceases to fulfil this function but also releases the stored carbon back into the atmosphere.
Under Bolsonaro deforestation has continued relentlessly. Between August last year and this July, 10,476 sq km of forest was wiped out — an area nearly seven times bigger than Greater London, according to data released by Imazon, a Brazilian research institute that has been tracking Amazon deforestation since 2007.
So much so that for the first time, parts of the forest are emitting more CO2 than they absorb.
Scientists are warning that as much as 40 per cent of the Amazon has been so devastated that it is reaching a point of no return, at which it could switch from a rainforest to a savanna, which would have profound effects on the global climate.
Christina Lamb meets the Amazon tribe fighting miners, farmers and @jairbolsonaro for survival @thesundaytimes @christinalamb [continued]
Law & Politics
“We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3-5C this century,” warned Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN.
“Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top priority for everyone, everywhere.”
Bolsonaro insists he agrees. “Which other country in the world has a policy of environmental protection like ours?” he asked in his speech at the UN general assembly last month.
In a way he is correct: other countries have long ago cut down their forests, whereas international alarm at the terrifying rate of Amazonian deforestation in the 1980s led Brazil to enact conservation measures and the rate slowed.
But now Bolsonaro’s administration has been trying to roll back these measures.
He claimed that deforestation was down in August, but shocking photos released by Greenpeace suggested otherwise.
Bolsonaro’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, was forced to resign in June after the Brazilian supreme court announced an investigation into allegations that he and top officials in his ministry helped companies traffic illegally logged rainforest wood to Europe and the United States.
That followed the largest seizure of illegal timber in Brazil’s history — eight million cubic feet of wood — on the border between Para and Amazonas states, which police claimed they had been instructed to release.
“No one protects the forest better than indigenous people,” says Professor Torres at the University of Para.
“Munduruku are the front line of resistance — particularly the women. They are preserving the forest for themselves and their children, but it has an impact for the whole world.”
Earlier this year Alessandra’s bravery was recognised with the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award. “I never imagined I’d get a prize in my life,” she laughs.
“My relatives always complained I was a troublemaker. But now they’re proud and want their daughters to be like us. In the past I walked alone, it was just me and Maria Leusa. Today there are a band of girls.”
Not only are women at the forefront but they are employing very different means from warriors of the past.
Among them is Beka Munduruku, just turned 18, often referred to as the Greta of the Amazon, who posts photos on Instagram of herself and her jungle habitat.
“My life used to be just playing but then I saw how they were destroying our river and home,” she says.
“My people need to get our story out. Now we use WhatsApp, Facebook and Insta as weapons.”
Beka is part of a high-tech all-female team headed by Aldira, a former village teacher. While her husband looks after their four children, including a three-month-old baby, Aldira travels around with a drone, mapping deforestation and land invasions, then sends her videos to the authorities.
“They don’t do anything, but at least we register it,” she says. I watch her launch the drone over an area stripped of trees, dressed in a grass skirt and feathers, arms and legs decorated with black war paint.
“If we don’t fight for the forest, who will?” she adds. “The forest gives us life and has life like us. To us, everything in the forest and river are sacred and this banditry will have consequences.”
She tells me how the Munduruku have become fearful of eating fish, once a mainstay of their diet, owing to the fear of contamination from mercury. The problem is not just the dredger.
One morning Anderson Paygo, 32, wearing a graphic T-shirt printed with the words “F*** You” over his thickly muscled arms, takes us by canoe up the river to see a goldmine.
The grandson of the former chief, he is co-ordinator of 11 villages on the river, representing about 1,200 people.
“We have a lot of richness in wood, gold, even diamonds — and this government encourages people to take them,” he says.
Last year Bolsonaro introduced a draft bill in congress to allow mining and other commercial activities in indigenous territories, part of what Greenpeace has denounced as the Destruction Package.
The bill is listed as one of Bolsonaro’s priorities. The National Mining Agency has received 2,899 requests to mine in indigenous territories, 1,265 in lands where there are uncontacted tribes).
Among them are 86 applications from the mining giant Anglo American, including in Munduruku land, though it is believed to have withdrawn some recently after questions were raised at a shareholders’ meeting.
“Neither Anglo American nor any of its subsidiaries hold any exploration permits on indigenous lands in Brazil,” the company says.
“We have withdrawn all applications for mineral exploration in areas located within indigenous lands, but several of these applications have not yet been removed from the database of the National Mining Agency (ANM).”
Some communities might lose their land altogether if a case known as Marco Temporal, or the “Time Limit Trick”, is passed by the supreme court.
It follows a federal regional court ruling that it would only recognise tribal lands occupied by native communities at the time Brazil’s constitution was ratified in 1988 — which saw the territory of one tribe, the Xokleng, drastically reduced on the basis they were living on only a fraction of it.
“It feels like we are fighting grileiros [invaders] from every side,” Paygo says.
“And if the government passes those laws it will be much worse. In the past our life here was very free, just hunting and fishing, but now we have to patrol our land and our leadership have to leave the village a lot to campaign. It’s not just time and effort but risk — they want the heads of me and Alessandra. But we have to do it to defend the future of our families. We don’t have fear for we are a warrior people and have always fought.”
Paygo points out a strange indentation in the trees like a ski slope — the Passage of the Wild Pigs — which he says is one of the tribe’s most sacred sites.
According to their legend, the Munduruku were created by their god, Karosakaybu, born from the seed of a palm tree in Sawré Muybu. He first created fish and the river, then pigs that came down this passage to the river.
Shortly after passing it, we come to a small beach and climb out. Three scrawny men are waiting on the bank for the fortnightly supply boat.
Ze, 57, Manuel and Guido, both 56, are garimpeiros from the goldmine a few miles inland.
Tracks from heavy machinery mark the way towards large craters, like scars in the forest.
“Six years ago there were as many as 2,000 people here with bars, shops and women,” Ze says. “Now there are just a few. There’s not much gold left.”
The garimpeiros tell us they had no idea this was indigenous land. They say they haven’t been home in two years and had no alternative but to find work here.
Two are divorced, one is separated and conditions in the jungle are grim, with frequent bouts of malaria.
The supply boat comes and they load up with cooking oil, frozen chickens, a sack of corn, a long coil of sausage, tobacco and a couple of bottles of cachaça sugarcane spirit.
Not all garimpeiros are outsiders. Among those who attacked Maria Leusa were Munduruku who have turned their back on their ancient culture.
The government has been trying to split the tribe, Paygo says.
“Our God taught us to share, so when our people hunt and fish they always share everything, but it’s the strategy of this government to pit one family against another. Unfortunately some Munduruku joined our enemy and became garimpeiros. Some of our own family threaten us.”
Last year Bolsonaro posted a video on social media declaring: “The Indian has changed, he is evolving and becoming more and more a human being like us. What we want is to integrate him into society so he can own his land.”
Alessandra and Cacique Juarez are trying to counter this by finding new sources of income.
The chief has been planting coffee and cacao. Alessandra has opened a craft store in Itaituba, a steamy Wild West town full of gold shops and brothels as well as hardware stores selling tree-cutting tools.
One gold shop has a “Bar do Garimpeiro” inside, offering prospectors free drinks as their nuggets are weighed by young women in tight T-shirts and men in suits.
Some 17.7 tonnes of illegal gold entered the market from the state of Para last year, according to new figures from federal prosecutors, a third of it from garimpeiros in the Munduruku and Kayapo reserves.
Some of this is believed to end up in the UK, which is the third biggest buyer of Brazilian gold.
Next to a pecking macaw, a small group of surly teenage Munduruku boys with blue-dyed hair sit smoking and playing on their phones.
The chief worries that young people are losing interest in their heritage.
“We chiefs are like libraries for our tribes,” he says. “In the past we didn’t have TV but they have phones and games. Our children are not interested in the old stories and are losing their language. If we lose our language and culture, what will we have? Soon the government will say these are not indigenous people, they are Brazilians like any other.”
To protect them, he is uniting with other indigenous tribes — even old enemies. “We must come together or this government will do away with all of us,” he says.
“Today we’re living through a period of legislative genocide,” says Dario Kopenawa, a leader of the Yanomami people, who have seen 20,000 garimpeiros flood into their territory. “They are killing us with a pen.”
A few days after we leave, Alessandra herds 46 Munduruku onto a bus to Brasilia, a three-day journey, to take part in the country’s biggest ever demonstration by indigenous people.
More than 6,000 representatives of some 176 tribes pitch tents and build bamboo shelters in which they camp for a seven-day protest titled Luta pela Vida, or Struggle for Life.
They make a striking vision dressed in their brightly coloured feathers against the gleaming white space-age buildings of congress, the supreme court and the presidential palace. Among them is Beka, live streaming to her followers.
“A lot of people still think of indigenous people as they were back in 1500, like something in a museum,” she says.
“We still have our traditions but we’ve learnt to use modern ways — mobile phones, social media, speaking Portuguese — and we women are feminists. It doesn’t mean we’ve stopped being indigenous people.”
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
"At one point I decided to repeat some of the computations in order to examine what was happening in greater detail. I stopped the computer, typed in a line of numbers that it had printed out a while earlier, and set it running again. I went down the hall for a cup of coffee and returned after about an hour, during which time the computer had simulated about two months of weather. The numbers being printed were nothing like the old ones. I immediately suspected a weak vacuum tube or some other computer trouble, which was not uncommon, but before calling for service I decided to see just where the mistake had occurred, knowing that this could speed up the servicing process. Instead of a sudden break, I found that the new values at first repeated the old ones, but soon afterward differed by one and then several units in the last decimal place, and then began to differ in the next to the last place and then in the place before that. In fact, the differences more or less steadily doubled in size every four days or so, until all resemblance with the original output disappeared somewhere in the second month. This was enough to tell me what had happened: the numbers that I had typed in were not the exact original numbers, but were the rounded-off values that had appeared in the original printout. The initial round-off errors were the culprits; they were steadily amplifying until they dominated the solution." (E. N. Lorenz, The Essence of Chaos, U. Washington Press, Seattle (1993), page 134)
Elsewhere he stated:
One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.
.@WHO Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 26 October 2021
During the week of 18 to 24 October 2021, the global number of new cases increased slightly (4%) compared to that of the previous week, with just over 2.9 million new cases (Figure 1).
The European Region accounted for more than half (57%) of global new weekly cases and was the only region which reported an increase (Table 1).
Other regions reported declines in the number of new cases.
The largest decrease in new cases was again reported from the African Region (21%), followed by the Western Pacific Region
The regions reporting the highest weekly case incidence rates per 100 000 population were
the European Region (179.1 new cases per 100 000 population)
Region of the Americas (72.9 new cases per 100 000 population)
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from
United States of America (512 956 new cases; -12%)
United Kingdom (330 465 new cases; -16%)
Russian Federation (248 956 new cases; +15%)
Turkey (196 850 new cases; -8%)
Ukraine (134 235 new cases; +43%)
Membrane fusion and immune evasion by the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant @ScienceMagazine
The Delta variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has outcompeted previously prevalent variants and become a dominant strain worldwide.
We report the structure, function, and antigenicity of its full-length spike (S) trimer and those of the Gamma and Kappa variants and compare their characteristics with the G614, Alpha, and Beta variants.
Delta S can fuse membranes more efficiently at low levels of cellular receptor ACE2, and its pseudotyped viruses infect target cells substantially faster than the other five variants, possibly accounting for its heightened transmissibility.
Each variant shows different rearrangement of the antigenic surface of the N-terminal domain of the S protein, but only causes local changes in the receptor-binding domain (RBD), making the RBD a better target for therapeutic antibodies.
Is China Succeeding at Shaping Global Narratives about Covid-19? @ChinaPowerCSIS.
China’s international image was severely tarnished by Beijing’s handling of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
The Chinese government and its proxies have heavily leveraged social media, especially Twitter, in an attempt to repair China’s reputation and cast doubt on prevailing global narratives about the pandemic.
In-depth analysis of Chinese disinformation and propaganda campaigns by ChinaPower reveals new details about the scope and objectives of Beijing’s efforts.
To date, Chinese social media campaigns have consisted of two major components. Throughout the pandemic—most frequently in early 2020—Chinese state-linked accounts on Twitter focused on defending and praising China’s handling of the pandemic and criticizing other countries’ responses to the pandemic.
Faced with renewed scrutiny over the origins of the coronavirus in 2021, Chinese state-linked accounts turned to deflecting criticisms that China is to blame for the pandemic, especially accusations that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese research lab.
Assessing the efficacy of Chinese disinformation and propaganda campaigns is difficult, but available evidence suggests these efforts have had limited impacts.
Perceptions about China’s handling of the pandemic have improved with time, but Beijing has not shaken accusations that it is ultimately to blame for the pandemic, and unfavorable views of China remain near record highs in many countries.
China’s Initial Response to Covid-19 Sparked Criticism
The Chinese government’s approach to the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan was hampered by a desire to control information and prevent public panic.
Beijing’s reticence resulted in mistakes and bureaucratic inefficiencies that ultimately allowed the virus to spread more rapidly throughout the world.
These failures severely damaged China’s international image and set the tone for how Beijing would use social media to try to re-shape global narratives about the pandemic.
Public opinion polling indicates widespread negative views on China’s handling of the pandemic. A YouGov-Cambridge poll conducted in July and August of 2020 found that large majorities of respondents in two-dozen countries believed that Beijing had “tried to hide the truth” about its initial outbreak.
A similar share of respondents believed that Chinese authorities could have prevented the spread of Covid-19 internationally if they had responded faster.
These views were not only common in developed countries—where negative views of China tend to be highest—but also in the developing countries surveyed.
Concerns about China’s handling of the pandemic contributed to plummeting overall perceptions of China.
In a 2020 Pew Research Center poll of 14 developed economies, a majority of respondents in each country had unfavorable views toward China.
In nine of those—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States—unfavorability toward China reached record-breaking levels within Pew polls.
Negative views of China’s handling of the pandemic were driven in large part by perceptions that Chinese officials were not transparent and slow in responding to the outbreak in Wuhan.
Experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) learned of the outbreak through Chinese social media reporting and repeatedly requested more information and access, only to be provided with the bare information required from China.
Despite completing a full genetic sequencing of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, by January 3, Chinese government scientists did not publicly declare that the virus is capable of human-to-human transmission until January 20.
The Chinese government also punished medical professionals who attempted to publicly warn others about the virus—most notably Dr. Li Wenliang, who died of Covid-19 after having been detained by Chinese security authorities.
Beijing eventually took steps to control the spread of the virus by locking down Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province on January 23, 2020.
By then the virus had spread well beyond China’s borders, including to Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.
It took China another week to share more information with the WHO, and officials only did so after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made an extraordinary trip to Beijing to meet President Xi Jinping and request more details about the virus.
Immediately after this meeting, the WHO declared an international health emergency, prompting countries like the United States to impose limits on travel from China.
In addition to concerns about China’s mishandling of the outbreak, there is evidence that the Chinese government has not been transparent about the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths within China.
Through mid-October 2021, Chinese authorities recorded about 8 cases and 0.35 deaths per 100,000, while the United States had reported about 13,500 cases and nearly 217 deaths per 100,000.
However, Chinese authorities publicly disclosed far fewer cases of confirmed and suspected patients than documented in internal reports, and the official tally of cases and deaths likely deeply undercounts the actual impact of the virus within China.
A study by China’s own Centers for Disease Control suggested that the actual number of cases in Wuhan may have been 10 times higher than officially reported.
A study of how the virus spread through international air traffic found that actual cases in China may have been as much as 37 times higher than what was reported in January 2020.
The death toll from the pandemic was likely also higher than reported. According to one estimate, the death toll in Wuhan may have varied 2-3 times higher than officially reported.
The number of excess deaths in China likewise suggests the Covid-19 death toll in China may be higher than reported.
Excess deaths are a measure of how many people died compared to what would be expected under normal circumstances. In countries such as the United States, Italy, Brazil, and the United Kingdom, estimated excess deaths to date are relatively consistent with the reported number of Covid-19 deaths, differing by less than 30 percent.
In China, however, estimated excess deaths during the pandemic total more than 130 times higher than the number of officially reported Covid-19 deaths.
It is impossible to determine the exact number of excess deaths, or conclude that Chinese excess deaths were the result of Covid-19, but it adds additional evidence that the death toll from the virus may have been higher than reported.
Beijing’s Use of Social Media to Shape Narratives Abroad
Faced with criticism over its handling of the pandemic, the Chinese government and its proxies have leveraged social media—especially Twitter—to spread its narratives and propaganda abroad.
According to a study by researchers at Oxford University, the number of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) diplomats on Twitter nearly quintupled, from 39 to more than 188, between January 2019 and December 2020.
The number of Chinese state-linked media accounts on Twitter also grew from 58 to 76 accounts over the same period. China’s presence increased on Facebook as well, but to a lesser extent.
As of March 2021, there were 84 Chinese MFA diplomats and officials and 95 state-linked media accounts identified on Facebook.
These accounts used their digital megaphones to push Beijing’s narratives around the world. Using data provided by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, ChinaPower’s analysis reveals that Chinese state-linked accounts tweeted about Covid-19 more than 270,000 times between January 2020 and September 2021.
Chinese Twitter activity peaked at roughly 29,400 tweets in April 2020 as China reined in its outbreak at home.
In subsequent months, Chinese accounts have averaged about 11,000 tweets per month.
Defending China, Criticizing Others
Much of China’s initial efforts focused on defending China’s response to the pandemic. State-linked accounts emphasized China’s success in containing the virus by praising domestic efforts to combat the virus, from rapidly building new makeshift hospitals to sharing heartwarming photos of frontline health professionals working long hours to treat patients.
The most popular Chinese pandemic-related tweet in January 2020 was a retweet of Donald Trump’s post praising China for working “very hard” to contain the virus.
According to content analysis by ChinaPower of the top 20 Covid-related tweets from each month, Chinese state-linked accounts shifted their approach as the pandemic wore on.
As China battled its outbreak at home from January to March 2020, nearly 47 percent of tweets were aimed at praising or defending China’s approach.
However, as China gained control over its outbreak and as the severity of the pandemic increased worldwide, these Twitter accounts turned to criticizing other countries.
From April to June 2020, 50 percent of the top tweets focused on criticizing or highlighting the failings of other countries, while only 18 percent focused on defending or praising China.
This shift has persisted. Through September 2021, about 43 percent of the top pandemic-related tweets promoted by Chinese-linked accounts were aimed at criticizing other countries.
Another 20 percent of all top tweets were aimed at defending or praising China, and 12 percent were praising other countries for their handling of the pandemic. The other 24 percent did not fit within any specific category.
Chinese state-linked Twitter accounts aimed much of their attacks against the United States.
Through September 2021, the United States was mentioned in roughly 23,400 tweets about Covid-19—more than four times the next most-mentioned country, the United Kingdom.
Many of these were retweets of U.S. politicians and journalists criticizing and covering the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.
As the 2020 U.S. presidential election grew closer and criticism of the Trump administration increased online,
Chinese accounts exploited political divisiveness to ramp up criticism of the United States’ handling of the pandemic.
In October 2020, one month before the election, 14 of the 20 top tweets were targeted at criticizing the United States.
The most popular tweet that month was MFA Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s retweet of President Donald Trump announcing that he and First Lady Melania Trump had contracted Covid-19.
The third most popular tweet was a retweet by China Daily EU Bureau Chief Chen Weihua of Senator Bernie Sanders criticizing Trump.
Through these efforts, Beijing sought to promote a common narrative that its successes were thanks to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China’s governance model while framing U.S. failures as shortcomings of democracies.
Early in the pandemic, the CCP-run newspaper Global Times published an article arguing that the United States needs to “learn from China” in fighting Covid-19.
In March 2021, the Chinese State Council issued a report which stated that the U.S. government’s “incompetent pandemic response…. added to the human rights violations in the country, the so-called ‘city upon a hill’ and ‘beacon of democracy.’”
The report added that the pandemic in the United States was “accompanied by political disorder, inter-ethnic conflicts, and social division.”
Besides the United States, China conducted significant propaganda and disinformation campaigns against Europe.
The United Kingdom, Italy, and France all ranked among the top seven most-mentioned countries, and together they were mentioned in more than 10,000 pandemic-related tweets.
Not all tweets were critical of European countries: one top 20 retweet in April praised Chancellor Angela Merkel for Germany’s handling of the pandemic.
However, Chinese accounts regularly shared perceived criticisms of European countries.
A top 20 tweet in February 2021 was a retweet by Chen Weihua about a court ruling in the Netherlands ordering government-imposed coronavirus curfews to be lifted.
In early 2021, Chinese media also spread claims that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are risky and even deadly, highlighting extremely rare sudden deaths or illnesses from people who received the vaccine in France, Germany, Mexico, Norway and Portugal.
George Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated in a press conference that mRNA vaccines developed in the United States and Britain are not without risks and should be utilized with caution.
Taiwan was another major target of Chinese Covid-19 disinformation tactics—an unsurprising development given Beijing’s persistent use of disinformation against the island.
China repeatedly sought to cast doubt on Taipei’s success at curtailing the spread of the virus.
In 2020, The Investigation Bureau of Taiwan reported a significant increase in the dissemination of misinformation on social media about Taiwan’s Covid-19 responses originating from mainland China.
In May 2021, Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-Yu initiated an investigation into a widescale disinformation campaign targeting Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center.
Wang stated that the spread of false information—such as fabricated Covid-19 death data, claims of hospitals dumping bodies of Covid-19 victims into rivers, and funeral parlors burning bodies of patients—were indicative of a well-coordinated “cognitive-warfare” campaign by mainland China.
Deflecting Blame for the Pandemic
In addition to criticizing and spreading disinformation about other countries’ handling of the pandemic, Chinese media outlets and diplomats amplified unfounded conspiracy theories that SARS-CoV-2 originated outside of China.
Chinese government proxies have suggested a handful of potential origins of the virus. Chinese state media, for example, distorted an Italian doctor’s statements to suggest that Covid-19 originated in Italy in November 2019.
More frequently, China has accused the United States of causing the pandemic. One narrative pushed by Chinese media and officials holds that the U.S. military spread the virus at an international sports competition held in Wuhan in 2019.
Chinese officials and state media have specifically suggested without evidence that the virus may have been created at Fort Detrick, a U.S. military biological laboratory in Maryland.
Chinese diplomats and state-backed media drastically ramped up tweets about Fort Detrick in mid-2021 in the wake of President Joe Biden’s announcement that he had directed the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a 90-day investigation of the origins of the virus.
From May to August 2021, the combined number of tweets by these accounts mentioning Fort Detrick jumped nearly ninefold from 47 to 402, before tapering off significantly in September.3
Impacts on Global Perceptions of China
So far, there is no clear evidence that Chinese disinformation and propaganda campaigns have produced significant results.
China’s image has recovered somewhat with regards to its handling of the pandemic, but China’s overall unfavorability remains historically high, and perceptions that China is to blame for the pandemic persist.
Public opinion polling indicates significant improvements in perceptions of China’s handling of the pandemic around the world.
Among a dozen countries polled by Pew Research Center in 2020 and 2021, there was a median increase of 11 percentage points (from 39 to 50) in the share of respondents saying that China has done a good job dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Favorable views of China’s Covid-19 handling saw the greatest gains in Europe, where China was seen as performing well relative to Europe itself and the United States.
In South Korea and Japan, where the prevalence of Covid-19 was much lower, views of China’s handling of the pandemic remained more negative.
Despite growing perceptions that China has handled the pandemic well, there have not been sizable improvements in China’s overall image.
In a dozen wealthy countries, a median of 72.5 percent of people had unfavorable views of China in 2021—virtually unchanged from 2020 (median of 73 percent).
This represents a significant increase from 2019, when those same countries had a median of 58.5 percent unfavorable views of China.
Concerns about the origins of Covid-19 continue to dog China diplomatically. Beijing has repeatedly sought to deter WHO investigations into the origins of the coronavirus amid pressure from the United States and Australia.
However, Beijing’s obfuscation and attempts to sow uncertainty about the virus may have backfired: on October 13, 2021, the WHO announced the establishment of a scientific advisory group that will study the virus’ origin and how to better prepare for future outbreaks of new pathogens.
On the day of the announcement, WHO Director-General Tedros wrote that “laboratory hypotheses must be examined carefully, with a focus on labs in the location where the first reports of human infections emerged in Wuhan.”
The efficacy of Chinese disinformation and propaganda campaigns may ultimately be limited by the simple fact that people already holding negative views of China are unlikely to be receptive to Chinese narratives.
For example, one study concluded that competing U.S. and Chinese narratives were outweighed by “master narratives” about the world that existed prior to the pandemic.
The study found that key states, including Australia, India, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, largely ignored U.S. and Chinese narratives about the pandemic, or hedged to avoid choosing one side over the other.
In addition to using disinformation and propaganda to shore up China's international image, Beijing has also engaged in sweeping efforts to supply the world with medical aid and Covid-19 vaccines.
Taken together, this evidence suggests China’s disinformation and propaganda campaigns have not had a sizable impact.
Shaping global narratives is difficult, and even in countries where publics increasingly believe China has handled the pandemic well, Beijing’s combativeness and lack of transparency have engendered persistent negative views of China. ChinaPower
08-MAR-2021 :: Xi has taken calculated risks. The muscular and multi-faceted nature of Chinese Power is seen in its handling of COVID19
.@FHeisbourg François Heisbourg: «Le coronavirus, c’est un Tchernobyl chinois à la puissance dix»
First, they staged their "exemplary handling" of the pandemic in a very loud manner, in order to avoid interest in the regime.
And then they severely punished countries that demanded an impartial international investigation, made up of the best experts.
Australia, which had insisted on the need for transparency, was imposed economic sanctions and a block on its imports.
The debate on the origin of the virus remains totally open, fundamental and potentially explosive.
Controlling the COVID19 Narrative, suppressing the Enquiry, parlaying the situation into one of singular advantage marks a singular moment and Xi Jinping has exhibited Chinese dominance over multiple theatres from the Home Front, the International Media Domain, the ‘’Scientific’’ domain over which he has achieved complete ownership and where any dissenting view is characterized as a ‘’conspiracy theory’’
It remains a remarkable achievement.
African Region WHO regional overviews Epidemiological week 18-24 October 2021
The declining trend observed in the African Region since mid-July continued this week with over 22 000 new cases and over 800 new deaths reported, a decrease of 21% and 11% respectively as compared to the previous week.
While this is reassuring, ten out of the 49 countries (20%) in the Region reported increases in new weekly cases as compared with the previous week, with the greatest increase observed in Réunion (578%), Botswana (116%), and Gambia (100%).
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from
South Africa (3153 new cases; 5.3 new cases per 100 000 population; a 33% decrease)
Botswana (3063 new cases; 130.3 new cases per 100000; a 116% increase)
Ethiopia (2908 new cases; 2.5 new cases per 100 000; a 38% decrease).
The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from
South Africa (327 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000 population; an 11% increase)
Ethiopia (136 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 45% decrease)
Nigeria (52 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 12% decrease).
‘They Lied.’ Inside the Frantic Days Leading to Sudan’s Coup @nytimes
For days, the American envoy navigated between Sudan’s army chief and prime minister, striving to head off the collapse of a tenuous democratic transition in the country that had been two years in the making.
In a frantic series of meetings in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum last weekend, Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. envoy to the Horn of Africa, sought to narrow the differences between the army chief, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, who had been sharing power since the 2019 ouster of the longtime autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
At a final meeting late Sunday afternoon, General al-Burhan argued that Sudan’s cabinet should be dismissed and replaced with technocrats, but gave no indication he was preparing to seize power.
With that reassurance, the American diplomat wrapped things up and caught a flight to Qatar where, on landing, his phone lit up: A coup was underway in Sudan.
“They lied to him,” said Nureldin Satti, Sudan’s ambassador to the United States, referring to his country’s military leadership. “This is very serious, because when you lie to the U.S., you have to pay the consequences.”
No one factor appeared to prompt General al-Burhan to call a halt to Sudan’s democratic transition.
Nor is it certain his coup will succeed, given the mass demonstrations called for this Saturday.
In a series of interviews with analysts and multiple American, Sudanese and European officials, a picture emerged of a military that had grown frustrated with its civilian partners and was intent on maintaining its privileged position and avoiding any investigations into its business affairs or human rights abuses during Mr. al-Bashir’s three decades of rule.
Some also faulted the civilian opposition for failing to assuage the generals’ fears of prosecution while the transition to democracy was still underway, while one U.S. official said that Russia had encouraged the coup in hopes of securing commercial advantages and a port on the Red Sea.
Sudan’s civilian leadership had been living in fear of a military coup for at least 18 months.
Last weekend, as pro-military protesters camped outside the presidential palace and a pro-military ethnic group closed off the country’s main seaport, it seemed imminent.
Around noon on Monday, General al-Burhan announced the dissolution of the country’s governing bodies, arrested the prime minister, blocked the internet and announced a nationwide state of emergency.
He also disbanded the committees managing the country’s trade unions, while his security forces arrested top civilian leaders, at least one of whom was badly beaten, according to Western officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, under normal diplomatic practice.
His moves plunged the nation into a wave of deadly protests and work stoppages, and drew condemnation from regional and global leaders who insisted on the need to return to civilian leadership.
But none of that has seemed to soften the resolve of General al-Burhan and his confederates.
“We are back to square one,” said Dr. Jihad Mashamoun, a Sudanese researcher and analyst.
“General al-Burhan has once again set the seal on the military’s dominance in Sudanese affairs, and the people will come out to face him.”
Little known before 2019, General al-Burhan, 61, rose to power in the tumultuous aftermath of the military-led coup that ousted Mr. al-Bashir.
Then the inspector general of the armed forces, he played a role in sending Sudanese troops, including children, to fight in Yemen’s civil war.
He had also served as a regional army commander in Darfur, when 300,000 people were killed and millions of others displaced in fighting between 2003 and 2008.
A close associate of Mr. al-Bashir, the general firmly believed the military was the most important institution in the country, tantamount to the state itself, said Cameron Hudson, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
Thrust into the public eye following a popular uprising against the strongman ruler, he proved a reluctant leader, unaccustomed to the international stage.
Under the long decades of isolation and international sanctions under Mr. al-Bashir, his sphere of travel had been limited to a handful of Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
By contrast, Prime Minister Hamdok, 65, an economist by training, had spent much of his career working at international financial institutions and consulting firms.
The two leaders remained amicable in the beginning, with Mr. Hamdok’s government overseeing a raft of reforms that succeeded in removing Sudan from the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, banned female genital cutting and scrapped apostasy laws.
He also signed a peace agreement with rebel groups.
But their relationship soon soured over the question of how best to manage the country and the economy. Those differences deepened after a coup attempt in September.
Tensions rose further in recent months, as pro-democracy groups stepped up calls for the military to relinquish power to civilians and for the transitional government to investigate human rights abuses and corruption under Mr. al-Bashir.
The military balked, analysts and officials said, fearful that any measures of accountability would expose their personal, financial and factional interests.
“It’s all tactical retreat,” said Mr. Hudson, arguing that the generals signed the power-sharing agreement in 2019 in order to relieve pressure on the military, not because they truly believed in it. “The only through line in all of this is the military’s survival.”
Another divisive issue was whether to hand over Mr. al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court, where he has been charged with crimes against humanity and other offenses.
Neither General al-Burhan nor Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, also known as Hemeti, the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that were accused of genocidal violence in Darfur, have been indicted by the court, and analysts say they are keen to maintain the status quo.
“The two generals have had very close relations since Darfur and have everything to worry about if Mr. al-Bashir is taken to the I.C.C.,” Mr. Mashamoun said. “They would like to see some sort of immunity.”
The armed forces and intelligence services have also resisted efforts to rein in their extensive financial power.
Together they control hundreds of state-owned enterprises dealing in the production and sale of minerals including gold, imports and exports of livestock, construction materials and pharmaceuticals.
Rife with corruption, the companies rarely contribute their profits to the national budget, said Suliman Baldo, a senior adviser at The Sentry, a Washington-based group that seeks to expose corruption in Africa.
General al-Burhan also heads the board of trustees for Defense Industrial Systems, one of the military’s biggest firms.
“He is doubling up as a corporate baron while he’s also the general commander of the army and now the de facto head of state,” Mr. Baldo said.
But civilian leaders in the transitional government bear some of the blame for the breakdown in relations, said Mr. Satti, the Sudanese ambassador, whom the military said Thursday it had fired along with other ambassadors who had publicly condemned the coup. Mr. Satti insisted that he was still on the job.
“There is a tug of war and a mutual provocation between the two sides,” he said. He added that some civilians did not understand the importance of alleviating the military’s fears.
With rising inflation and a shortage of basic goods, Mr. Hamdok faced a lot of pressure, too.
A technocrat by training and temperament, he lacked the political skills to manage the tensions, Mr. Satti said.
There were “too many actors, a lot of disagreements and not a proper background to understand the requirements of the moment,” he said. “And he pushed too hard, too fast.”
Analysts said that General al-Burhan would not have undertaken the coup without at least the tacit approval of powerful allies in the Middle East.
Two of those, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, have yet to criticize the coup, while Saudi Arabia has condemned it, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
General al-Burhan has defended the coup as necessary to avert a “civil war” and promised to transfer power following elections in 2023.
It is a timeline many young Sudanese say they do not agree with, a point they plan on making in Saturday’s protests.
“It’s going to be a showdown,” Mr. Mashamoun said.
The street confronts the army @Africa_Conf
The military's power-grab after weeks of negotiations deepens the crisis over the country's return to constitutional rule
With his proclaimed dissolution of the transitional government in Khartoum and the arrest of the prime minister and other civilian leaders on 25 October, the armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al Burhan is defying hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protestors as well as several regional and international organisations.
Next month, Gen. Burhan was due to hand over the chairmanship of the country's ruling Sovereignty Council to a civilian appointee.
Hundreds of thousands of protestors across the country took to the streets, calling on the military leaders to make good on their commitment to transition.
This shift, said civilians in the transitional government, could have cleared away some of the military's blocks to reforming the judiciary and the security services as well speeding up the setting up of a legislative council.
Meeting in emergency session, the African Union's Peace and Security Council suspended Sudan's membership.
Significantly, Egypt, until now regarded as one of Burhan's strongest supporters, didn't demur from the AU statement.
Thousands of protestors were marching across Khartoum within hours of the coup in the early hours of 25 October, some setting up barricades of burning tyres.
Many were heading towards military headquarters, site of the mass occupation which preceded the toppling of President Omer el Beshir's Islamist regime in April 2019.
Hundreds of soldiers and militia fighters have been patrolling the area, some firing live rounds and others lobbing tear-gas canisters at the activists.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was arrested along with his wife and several ministers, urged Sudanese to 'resist' peacefully, condemning Burhan's takeover as a 'rupture' of the 2019 accord between civilian and soldiers on the transition.
The Sudan Professionals' Association and Resistance Committees across the country, which led civil activists in the 2019 revolution, added their own call for mass protests and a general strike.
Local groups are distributing timetables for street protests and preparing for mass nationwide demonstrations.
AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat tried to stop Burhan's putsch in its tracks, calling for the release of detained political leaders, strict respect of human rights and the resumption of negotiations between the civilians and the military on the transition.
The UN and the Arab League say they are 'concerned' about the takeover, calling on 'all sides' to respect the 2019 accord on the transition.
This follows the United States' and the European Union's condemnation of the coup along with warnings that it would trigger the suspension of international aid.
The military's action came at the end of a weekend of meetings between the US special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, and sundry civilian and military leaders in Khartoum.
US officials are said to be frustrated with Burhan for launching his putsch just hours after his meeting with Feltman, in which he reported his determination to reach a functioning agreement with civilians in the transitional government.
Given widespread domestic and international opposition to the coup, and the probability it will further damage living standards in the country, rivalries between the separate factions of the military and security services might worsen.
So far, the usually taciturn Gen. Burhan has been the frontman for the coup.
Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti', the former Janjaweed militia leader turned Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has taken a step back.
This could be a tactical move should Burhan be dropped overboard like his predecessor, Beshir.
With his network of diplomatic contacts and ties to the leaders of several armed groups, Hemeti has shown some negotiating acumen over the past two years.
Yet he shared the same fears as Burhan about the direction of the transition: that it would strip the generals of their access to state funding and practical immunity from prosecution for war crimes
Allying itself to the AU's condemnation of Burhan's coup is the Intergovernmental Association on Development (IGAD), the main regional organisation in the Horn and currently chaired by Sudan.
Backed by the AU, it could play a mediating role in Sudan's crisis, although it found itself sidelined by Addis Ababa when it attempted diplomacy over Ethiopia's war in Tigray.
Ethiopian Premier Abiy Ahmed will be watching developments closely in Khartoum. Burhan and other senior officers had been pushing for more aggressive action against Ethiopia over its territorial dispute with Sudan
At a training session for Ethiopian diplomats late last month, we hear, Prime Minister Abiy asked Redwan Hussien, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, whether he had known about the failed coup attempt in Khartoum on 21 September.
Abiy shocked his audience by telling them that he had known about it two weeks before and criticised the foreign service for not being better informed.
In turn, Egypt wants a government in Khartoum that will unambiguously side with Cairo in its dispute with Addis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile.
So far, President Abdel Fatteh el Sisi seems to have calculated, like Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, that open support for Burhan's putsch could backfire.
First, there is the awkwardness of Burhan copying so obviously from Sisi's route to power via a coup d'etat in July 2013.
But there are critical differences in Sudan.
Most importantly, there is mass support for civilians in the transitional regime in Khartoum and widespread distrust of the army's high command and the Islamist factions aligned to it.
The next few days will prove critical for Burhan and his new junta.
There is little sign that it has a plan other than regime survival in the face of widespread opposition.
That suggests something akin to the junta in Myanmar but presiding over a more volatile situation and a crashing economy.
Even the obvious supporters for Burhan's junta – China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates – are yet to offer any diplomatic support, let alone hard cash.
10-JUN-2019 :: The "zeitgeist" of the Revolution in Khartoum was intoxicating
As I watched events unfold it felt like Sudan was a portal into a whole new normal.
And now we have two visions of the Future. One vision played out on our screens, the protestors could have been our wives, children.
The other vision is that of MBS, MBZ and Al-Sisi and its red in tooth and claw.
Hugh Masekela said ‘’I want to be there when the people start to turn it around.’’ Sudan is a Masekela pivot moment.
Nigeria’s Currency Set for Biggest Weekly Drop in Eight Months @markets
Currency traded at 420 naira to the dollar on Oct. 26
Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for the currency to be traded more freely, adding that the central bank’s approach favors those able to obtain dollars at the official rate, because they can then sell the foreign currency in the more expensive parallel market where the greenback is freely traded around 575 naira.
There has been more flexibility in the spot rate since the vice president’s comments.
KenGen reports FY Earnings EPS 0.18 Earnings here
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
Par Value: 2.50/-
Closing Price: 4.76
Total Shares Issued: 6243873667.00
Market Capitalization: 29,720,838,655
KenGen reports FY Earnings trough 30th June 2021
FY Revenue 45.901b versus 44.110b
FY Revenue less reimbursable expenses 41.741b versus 39.822b
FY Other Income 495m versus 473m
FY Other (losses)/gains-net forex and fair valuation of financial assets 1.125b versus 6.383b
43.361b versus 46.678b
FY Depreciation & amortization [11.520b] versus [12.030b]
FY Operating expenses [12.877b] versus [10.884b]
FY Steam Costs [3.029b] versus [3.161b]
FY Operating Profit 15.935b versus 20.603b
FY Finance income 1.881b versus 1.431b
FY Finance costs [3.053b] versus [8.244b]
FY Profit Before Tax 14.762b versus 13.790b
FY Income tax expense [13.574b] versus 4.587b
FY Profit After Tax 1.188b versus 18.377b
FY Other Comprehensive Income [205m] versus [375m]
FY Total comprehensive income 983m versus 18.002b
FY Basic and diluted earnings per share (KShs) 0.18 versus 2.79
FY Dividend per share (KShs) 0.30 unchanged
Our business fundamentals are strong and contributed to a 7% increase in the Profit Before Tax from KShs. 13.79 billion to KShs. 14.76 billion.
It is important to note that as a result of the reversal of the government tax relief COVID-19 measures on the corporate tax rate from 25% back to 30%, there was a substantial impact on our profit after tax.
In year 2021, we were blessed with favourable hydrology. In line with KenGen’s affordability agenda to lower the cost of electricity to the consumers, we prudently prioritised dispatch of competitively priced hydro generation.
The Company benefited from a full year operation of the 172.3MW Olkaria V geothermal power plant whose construction was completed in November 2019, resulting in a 12% displacement of thermal generation.
Overall, there was a growth of 2.5% in unit sales from 8,237GWh in 2020 to 8,443GWh in 2021.
Revenue increased by 4.06% from KShs. 44,110 million in 2020 to KShs. 45,901 million in 2021. This was mainly attributed to revenues from geothermal, hydro generation and diversification venture atTulu Moye in Ethiopia.
The ongoing geothermal drilling services inTulu Moye contributed KShs 1,784 million compared to KShs 440 million in the previous year.
Operating Expenses increased by 18% from KShs 10,884 million to KShs 12,877 million mainly attributable to cost of drilling operations in Ethiopia, operation and maintenance costs of power plants and Corporate Social Investment(CSI) such as the construction of the Naivasha Level 5 County Referral Hospital among others.
Profit before tax grew by 7% from KShs 13,790 million in 2020 to KShs 14,762 million in 2021.
Profit after tax however declined from KShs 18,377 million in FY2020 to KShs 1,188 million owing to reversal of COVID-19 mitigation tax measures put in place by the Government.
The corporate tax rate was reduced from 30% to 25% in FY2020 but reversed back to 30% in FY2021 resulting in a tax expense of 8,794 million on deferred tax compared with a credit of KShs 8,145 million in the previous year.
This contributed signicantly to the high tax expense of Kshs 13,574 million compared to previous year tax credit of Kshs 4,587 million.
The Board is pleased to recommend a first and final dividend of KShs 0.30 for the year 2021 (2020: KShs 0.30) per ordinary share which amounts to KShs 1,978 million (2020: KShs 1,978 million).
Kengen Kenya Plc - Audited Financial Results for the Year Ended 30-Jun-2021. @tradingroomke
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
FY Profit Before Tax 14.762b versus 13.790b
FY Income tax expense [13.574b] versus 4.587b
Kenya Power & Lighting Company Ltd. reports FY 21 PAT 1.490b versus [0.939b]
Par Value: 20/-
Closing Price: 1.70
Total Shares Issued: 1951467045.00
Market Capitalization: 3,317,493,977
The energy company in charge of national transmission, distribution and retail of electricity throughout Kenya.
Kenya Power reports FY Earnings through 30th June 2021
FY Revenue from contracts with Customers 144.12b versus 133.258b +8.1511%
FY Cost of Sales [94.220b] versus [87.499b]
FY Gross Margin 49.900b versus 45.759b
FY Transmission Distribution and Administration expenses [39.861b] versus [[47.834b] -16.66%
FY Operating Profit 17.085b versus 5.312b +221.63%
FY Finance costs [9.050b] versus [12.477b] -27.46%
FY Profit [Loss] before Tax 8.198b versus [7.042b]
FY Income tax [expense] /credit [6.708b] versus 6.103b
FT Profit [Loss] after Tax 1.490b versus [0.939b]
FY Other comprehensive Income 0.787b versus [0.396b]
FY Total comprehensive Income for the year 2.277b versus [1.335b]
FY EPS 0.76 versus [0.48]
FY Dividend 0
FY Cash & Cash Equivalents at end of Year 6.053b versus 3.809b
an 8.4% increase in electricity revenue (excluding foreign exchange surcharge and fuel recovery) resulting from growth in electricity sales by Shs.9,755 million to Shs.125,927 million, and a decrease in operating costs by Shs.7,973 million from Shs.47,834 million to Shs.39,861 million.
In addition, finance costs went down by Shs.3,427 million from Shs.12,477 million the previous year to Shs.9,050 million.
The increase in electricity revenue was mainly driven by growth in unit sales of 400 GWh from 8,171 GWh the previous year to 8,571 GWh owing to an expanded customer base and increased economic activity.
Operating expenses reduced by 17% from Shs.47,834 million to Shs.39,861 million. This is due to lower provisions
Finance costs reduced from Shs.12,477 million to Shs.9,050 million following the partial conversion of overdrafts and continued repayment of commercial loans.