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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Wednesday 03rd of March 2021
 
Morning
Africa


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"The FBI kept a 238-page file on Said, and he had the only office at Columbia, besides the president’s, with bulletproof windows and a buzzer straight to campus security." Said by Said
Law & Politics


His groundbreaking Orientalism (1978), considered the founding text of postcolonial studies, has been translated into over thirty languages.

Meanwhile, Said’s concepts have become so canonical that they appear almost intuitive. 

Terms like “Orientalism,” “worldliness,” and “secular criticism” are now indelibly associated with Said’s name. 

(The FBI kept a 238-page file on Said, and he had the only office at Columbia, besides the president’s, with bulletproof windows and a buzzer straight to campus security.) 

If there was one thing Orientalism was about, it was that the humanities have political consequences, not only because of the weight and scope of influence wielded by Orientalist scholars but in the particular sense that literary critics (rather than politicians, journalists, or social scientists) study representation. Only they can explain how a mania like Orientalism takes shape and acquires, as he put it, “mass density and referential power.”

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Knowing about the present can be a source of insights into what's coming - and not just because sf reveals what's going on in the present, but also because it INFLUENCES it. @doctorow
Misc.


And since the present is the standing wave where the past is being transformed into the future, knowing about the present can be a source of insights into what's coming - and not just because sf reveals what's going on in the present, but also because it INFLUENCES it.

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Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades, Muda-se o ser, muda-se a confianca; Todo o mundo e composto de mudanca, Tomando sempre novas qualidades. Luis De Camoes
Misc.


— Time changes, and our desires change. What we believe—even what we are—is ever- changing. The world is change, which forever takes on new qualities.

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Global cases rose for the first time in almost two months in the past week, mainly in the Americas, Europe and Southeast Asia, the @WHO @business
Misc.


“If the last week tells us anything, it’s that this virus will rebound,” said Maria van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead officer on Covid-19. “This virus will rebound if we let it. We cannot allow it to take off again.”

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World yet to see ‘full extent of coronavirus evolutions’, warns leading UK scientist
Misc.



Professor Sharon Peacock told The Independent that the dominance of the new and emerging variants, including the UK, South African and Brazilian versions, suggests the virus is approaching “a fitness peak”.

Across the globe, the same mutations have been cropping up independently in the spike protein of Sars-Cov-2 – a result of what is known as “convergent evolution”.


“Lots of mutations have just lit up almost at the same time, which is really fascinating,” said Prof Peacock, who is director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium (Cog-UK). 

“The one in Brazil, the first dated sample was 4 December, but I expect it probably predates that a bit. 

“It seems to me that around November there’s been a very high number of cases combined with a partially resistant population, which has led to this natural selection and convergent evolution.”



The “infamous” E484K mutation that has emerged in the Sars-Cov-2 spike protein – and is found in the South African and Brazilian variants – is thought to help the virus partially evade neutralising antibodies produced by the body following natural infection or vaccination. 

Although the effectiveness of vaccines is likely to be diminished by those variants carrying E484K, limited evidence suggests the jabs still provide protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death.

N501Y is another spike protein mutation of concern. It features in the UK, South African and Brazilian variants, and is associated with higher levels of transmissibility but does not appear to impact vaccine efficacy.

Prof Peacock said these mutations were a “signature of convergent evolution – they’re coming up all around the place and behave the same way”. 

However, she insisted scientists needed to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

“It’s likely that the virus will also be constrained by certain configurations of mutations, after which it could lose fitness and it would not be able to outcompete others.

“And there’s quite a lot of mutations we don’t really understand yet but are probably quite important that we’re really not talking about that much.

“There's also probably lots more out there at the moment but we’re not sequencing [enough to detect them].

“I don’t think we’ve seen the full extent of the evolution of the virus and what it can possibly do. The last few months, it’s like the time before variants and then the time of variants. Our whole mindset has been changed by that.”

Professor Eleanor Riley, an immunologist at the University of Edinburgh, explained that Sars-Cov-2 is evolving to become a “better human virus” but was “walking a bit of a tightrope”.


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Countries w/ high COVID-19 avg case/day increase past 2wks @jmlukens
Misc.



#PapuaNewGuinea: 2107%

#Yemen: 857%

#EquatorialGuinea: 271%

#Guinea: 185%

#Cameroon: 179%

#Somalia: 179%

#Hungary: 145%

#Jordan: 127%

#GuineaBissau: 2%

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies



Euro 1.2094

Dollar Index 90.736

Japan Yen 106.82

Swiss Franc 0.9150

Pound 1.3977

Aussie 0.7831

India Rupee 72.9075

South Korea Won 1119.59

Brazil Real 5.67

Egypt Pound 15.6763

South Africa Rand 14.8752

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Is the online rebellion of small investors a sign of a wider revolt against capitalism, or financialization in a new form? @ROAR_Magazine
World Of Finance


There is an apocryphal story that, in the ancient mediterranean, slaves being transported to market in the hold of a ship realized that, though otherwise powerless, if they could coordinate their collective movement, hurling themselves from side to side of their crowded cabin their shared momentum would rock the ship to the point of overturning it. Imagine the debate: the most short-sighted might have said “now we, not our captors, are in charge of our fate!” Others urged the immediate use of this suicidal tactic: better to die free, together, and have a last revenge. Still others, counselled negotiations with the ship’s crew with this desperate tactic as a bargaining chip. Some, perhaps all, must have silently thought to themselves: If I betray my fellow slaves to the captain, maybe I will be rewarded.

In our day, the ship is part of the armada of world-destroying digitalized capitalism, currently presided over by the financial sector. The GameStop revolt represents our discovery of a new expression of the power of collective movement, hidden in plain sight. Unfortunately, unlike the movement of the slaves in the story, and contrary to the starry-eyed hype of many of its self-styled prophets, this momentary rebellion has no real potential in itself to sink Wall Street. The capsizing of one or even several ships in a slaving fleet would not overturn the system that put those boats and others to sea. Neither will the decapitation of a few over-leveraged hedge funds lead to the collapse of the financial sector. Yet the questions asked below deck then are the same: having discovered our power, how can we make the most of it?

WHAT HAPPENED?

Let’s recap: last week headlines began to run announcing that amateur investors using stock-trading apps that allow nearly anyone to play the stock markets were eagerly buying discounted shares in brand-name companies hard-hit by the pandemic. The bricks-and-mortar video game chain store GameStop was the most popular, but they also bought shares in the ailing cinema giant AMC, the outmaneuvered smartphone maker Blackberry and others. The rush of newbie investors to familiar stocks is nothing new — usually it is orchestrated by Wall Street wolves to make a quick buck.

But last week it turned out that the irrational enthusiasm of the rubes was unintentionally sabotaging the strategy of some major hedge funds who were already “shorting” these companies: essentially betting against their future success. Hedge funds are essentially investment clubs for rich people and corporations that borrow a lot of money to hire allegedly smart people to make risky bets against the market. In this case, they were outsmarted  by the mob and forced to shell out millions to cover their positions (which also drove up the price of the shares in question).

Hearing the “smart money” hedge fund managers cry foul, an interet full of “dumb money” amateurs, egged on by forums on Reddit, Telegram and elsewhere, began to swarm towards their favoured stocks as a kind of lucrative revenge. This created a cascade of market maneuvers and, as the dust settled, billions of dollars had been wiped off the balance books of significant Wall Street firms entangled with the hedge funds (though others appear to have made huge gains) and many amateurs made a tidy return on their usually quite small investments.

Many did it for money, others for the delightful joke of it all, still others for revenge. Today’s retail investors who are putting the squeeze to the hedge funds are very far from slaves in the story above and the stakes are relatively low. They are, for all intents and purposes, seeking to use the masters’ tools to dismantle the masters’ house. It is not simply that they are literally using “fin tech” (financial technology) apps like Robinhood that were bankrolled and ultimately benefit hedge funds and other investors. For decades, neoliberal thought-leaders, government agencies and NGOS have been strenuously encouraging us “little guys” to dabble in stock trading, based on an ideology which instructs that capitalist markets are the most perfect of humanity’s inventions and, if only we all had access, they would manage society better, fairer, with greater freedom and prosperity, than any other system.

REVENGE AGAINST WALL STREET, OR WALL STREET’S REVENGE?

Though it has caused some hedge funds to suffer heavy losses and given Wall Street a black eye, the GameStop affair in many ways signals the victory of financialization: it has been so successful at recasting social reality as a series of “investments,” and recasting each of us as an isolated, competitive risk-taker, that even our resistance takes financial form. In fact, far from a neoliberal’s nightmare, this incident in some way fulfills their prediction that markets always bend towards openness, disruption, the ascent of the little-guy and the creative destruction of old forms.

And yet for those of us who, for a decade since the Great Financial Crisis (or more), have dreamed of revenge against Wall Street, this moment is sweet. Especially so as we witness the blatant and naked (even at times absurd) hypocrisy of those who, even weeks ago, championed neoliberal “market participation” as the magical solution to the problems neoliberalism itself had created (rising inequality, racist exclusion, international conflict, etc.) and are now caught trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

But the history of capitalism (or its financial sectors) shows that simply because one of its many contradictions has been revealed for all to see does not mean that anything necessarily changes. The problem with pointing out the threadbare velvet glove that covers the iron fist is that, of course, the fist remains. Ultimately, the GameStop episode will be remembered as merely a momentary blip on markets, a strange and funny abnormality when a swarm of ill-informed market newbies, meant to be a light lunch for professional and institutional investors, crashed headlong into some overleveraged hedge funds, causing a momentary confusion.

It is like a cat walking onto a street and causing a traffic jam as cars swerve to avoid it: for all the cat might arrogantly think he caused the world to turn upside down, the chaos and damage was due to reckless speeds of the rush-hour traffic it momentarily interrupted.

REMEMBERING OUR COLLECTIVE POWERS

For all of that, there is that vengeful frisson, the chill up the spine: we can do this, we can make them pay, we are more powerful than they, or we, ever imagined. As anyone who has ever watched riot cops run in retreat, or has watched a regime topple from the streets knows, that feeling is as profound as it is haunting. For a moment one holds in one’s hand a long-stolen inheritance: the power to be free together. Beyond the particular ideology or tactics that led to the moment of revolt it is that irreducible kernel of collective potential from which we are all made — the radical imagination — that sparks in the darkness. Afterwards, you can never see the world in the same old light.

Any system of power cannot tolerate the persistence of that flame because it is a constant reminder that the ruling order we have made is arbitrary, temporary and can be changed. Systems of domination not only work to stuff it out through direct violence but also through subversion, cooptation and divide-and-conquer tactics. In the moments following its flare, it is crucial that we mobilize the radical imagination to fan the flames of transformation.

In the case of the GameStop affair, there is indeed profound potential: a collective power to disrupt and destabilize capitalism has emerged from within that system’s own contradictions. Its insistence that we all become miniature capitalists and play the market casino has opened a small and limited space for tactics of refusal. But of what broader strategy will those tactics be a part? And how will that strategy be oriented by an imagination that reframes this world and allows us to envision worlds yet to come?

THINK TANKS OF THE INSURGENT COMMON

We desperately need a proliferation of and cooperation between think tanks of the insurgent commons that could analyze these contradictions and potentials and discover ways to leverage them in solidarity with other anti-capitalist movements. These might look like gatherings of activists, artists, scholars and hackers that would assemble to create opportunities for creative rebellion and reinvention. The GameStop affair was a happy accident and was animated by no unified strategic vision. What would it mean to leverage the power it revealed towards other ends?

There are precedents. Anti-debt activists in the US and UK have found ways to use the same mechanisms subprime debt buyers use and have crowdfunded to buy people out of debt. In the US, the Debt Collective is trying to mobilize millions of financial subjects into a movement of collective refusal and organizing debt-repayment strikes and other forms of solidarity to leverage policy change and build mutual aid and solidarity.

At this point there are more questions than answers. How could the same techniques used to put the squeeze on hedge funds be used to accelerate the defunding and abolition of police and prisons? How might it allow us to take revenge on corporations building mines and pipelines on sacred lands, or against climate criminals? What if tens of thousands of mortgage holders refused to pay en masse until their conditions were met? What if everyone withdrew their money from a bank on a specific day? What if we researched how the hedge funds responsible for environmental destruction were placing their bets and sabotaged them not at random (as essentially happened with GameStop) but intentionally?

I am decidedly not calling for more shareholder activism, boycotts or “voting with one’s wallet.” Rather, I am calling for thinking that will sharpen, aim and popularize these tactics as part of larger movements, not just juvenile gestures. I want revenge too, but revenge in the service of a greater abolitionist avenging where not only this or that fund crashes but cracks open in the system such that real change is possible.

Key to this will be forming new narratives of the insurgent “we.” Today, the “we” that mobilized around Gamestop was an ideologically confused online swarm, some seeking to make money, others in it for the lulz, others seeking vengeance. All of them had, to some extent, been drawn in by technologies and platforms that have, at their base, the financialized idea that, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, “there is no such thing as society,” simply competitive individuals or households managing risk and investment in an unforgiving world. Thus, the overriding narrative in the wake of the GameStop affair has been a celebration of the “little guys” finally being able to break-in to the casino and play with the high-rollers. But the casino, and its necessary corruption and violence, is unchanged.

It is vital to recognize that capitalism survives and adapts by constantly cycling through new capitalists drawn from the ranks of the oppressed. That some newcomers got rich from an unexpected loophole is not evidence capitalism is failing but that it is working as planned. Capitalism is singularly and terrifyingly adept at using its own contradictions and crises to drive its mutation because it encourages each and every person to orient their ingenuity, creativity and even, to a certain extent, their sense of justice, fairness and charity to the task of finding new ways to survive and compete within the system.

What other “we” is hiding in plain sight? How else might we tell the story of our strange collectives that are assembling and evaporating online? Most importantly, how can we link the aspirations and dreams of these collectives to those of other people in struggle around the world? Much hinges on if we can imagine how the drives that animate the GameStop protagonists connect to the struggles of the Zapatistas, the revolution in Rojava, to the Movement for Black Lives, to struggles for decolonization and popular autonomy and to humanity’s battle against capitalism’s climate and ecological terrorism. If we fail to develop such narratives and make them irresistible, we will lose this potential to the far right, who have never been shy of criticizing the “parasitism” of finance and stroking the egos of the mob, and to the revanchist centrists who will connive to return us to the deadly normal.

NEW FORMS OF COOPERATION

Finally, what the GameStop affair reveals is that ubiquitous, networked digital technologies give us profound new methods for cooperating. Even though, today, these potentials are everywhere foreclosed by corporate paywalls, proprietary code, surveillance capitalism and the get-rich-quick slogans of false prophets, they nonetheless hold the promise to allow us to coordinate the cooperation of seven billion people in ways that go beyond the chaos of global capitalist markets and the failed model of the nation state. If thousands, perhaps millions of people can move like a swarm to take swift and decisive cooperative action using these tools, what else are we capable of?

Capitalism is a system of coerced human cooperation (including cooperation with non-humans like animals, plants and minerals). It uses money and other forms of violence as a lure and a whip to harness our labor and time, to place us in a now increasingly global network of relations that produce the goods and services we need, or have learned to need. It is unequal, exploitative, unsustainable and brutal, but underneath that it is a self-replicating pattern of cooperation. To defend and extend its inequalities and exploitation it has generated new digital tools of communication and coordination. But capitalism’s one and only goal in organizing this cooperative potential is its own limitless reproduction expansion.

Today, there are a proliferation of profoundly interesting experiments in how to use new digital tools to not only organize our movements but to begin to coordinate our cooperative production and distribution of goods and services, of creative and of care, in ways that do not rely on markets or an overarching coercive state apparatus. The power exists to reassemble social cooperation fairly, sustainably and democratically beyond capitalism.

The GameStop frenzy does not, in and of itself, have the power to disrupt or challenge the financial order or the system of capitalism of which that order is a part. But it has opened millions of eyes to the fragilities of that order and the possibilities for resistance and reinvention within our grasp.

Max Haiven

Max Haiven is Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice and co-director of the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL) at Lakehead University. His recent books include Revenge Capitalism: The Ghosts of Empire, the Demons of Capital, and the Settling of Unpayable Debts and Art After Money, Money After Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization.

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Protests flare as Lebanese pound nears record 10,000 to the US dollar @TheNationalNews H/T @AlOraibi
Emerging Markets



Protests ignited in Beirut and across Lebanon on Tuesday evening as the Lebanese pound dropped to 9,975 to the dollar, a record low since an economic crisis began in October 2019.


The pound, also referred to as the lira, is officially pegged at 1,500 to the dollar. It has steadily fallen in the past 18 months, losing more than 80 per cent of its market value.

Salaries are unchanged but the prices of basic goods, most of them imported in dollars, have shot up, pushing more than half of the Lebanese population into poverty, UN data show


"The situation is very bad, very, very bad," Roy said. "I would like to see our political organisations fall down and see a new political organisation come to rule and let us see a plan.

"We cannot continue like this."



The hashtag "Lebanon Is Not OK" was the number one trend on the platform on Tuesday.

Inflation weighs heaviest on the poor.

Mohamed Abdel Karim, a Syrian concierge, said on Tuesday afternoon that he dreamt of leaving Lebanon after having escaped war at home.

"My salary was worth $600, now it's equal to $90," said Mr Abdel Karim, 46.

"I have nine kids, and the prices of goods are going up. How am I supposed to feed my family?"



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21-OCT-2019 :: The New Economy of Anger
Emerging Markets




Paul Virilio pronounced in his book Speed and Politics,

“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street, where for a moment it stops being a cog in the technical machine and itself becomes a motor (machine of attack), in other words, a producer of speed.’’


We have recently witnessed the ‘’WhatsApp’’ Revolution in Lebanon, where a proposed Tax on WhatsApp calls sent up to 17 per cent of the Lebanese Population into the street


The Phenomenon is spreading like wildfire in large part because of the tinder dry conditions underfoot. 

Prolonged stand-offs eviscerate economies, reducing opportunities and accelerate the negative feed- back loop.

Antonio Gramsci wrote, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear. now is the time of monsters.”


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A big drop. Dubai's population fell by 8.4% to just under 3.1 million last year, S&P reckons. Around 92% of the people in the emirates are expats. @business.
Emerging Markets




Dubai’s population dropped by 8.4% last year, the steepest decline in the Gulf region, as expatriate workers were forced to leave amid the economic upheaval wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, S&P Global Ratings said.

The drop in Dubai -- the Middle East’s hub for business and tourism -- compares with a 4% decline for the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, according to S&P estimates. 

Job losses accelerated in the region last year as the pandemic spread.

Expatriates make up the majority of the population in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part. 

Residency permits in the country are usually tied to employment and many expatriates have to leave if they lose their jobs.

The launch of the World Expo 2020 exhibition, delayed for a year, is set to “provide a platform for a recovery in activity,” analysts including Sapna Jagtiani wrote. 

Still, the ratings agency expects Dubai’s gross domestic product in dollar terms to return to 2019 levels only in 2023.


Key sectors in Dubai, particularly real estate, tourism, hospitality, and retail, will likely remain under pressure for the next 12-24 months, S&P said.

To combat the effects of the pandemic and lower oil prices, the UAE took unprecedented measures last year. 

The country started allowing full foreign ownership in firms, eased rules for obtaining citizenship and tried to lure in foreigners with retirement programs.


Oxford Economics had predicted a 10% drop in the UAE’s population in May. 

In an updated report issued in December, its economists said the country’s expatriate population will likely decline in line with their previous estimate, given significant cuts in key sectors.


Real estate companies’ profitability set to “remain under pressure and leverage to be high.”

Property firms are seen focusing on cost optimization, managing liquidity and preserving cash flow if there is no substantial recovery in their revenues.

“Rated Dubai-based real estate companies still have good liquidity and access to funding, however, despite currently trying times.”

The normalization of relations with Israel restoration of ties between Qatar and the four Arab countries seen supporting tourism and real estate investments.



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10-MAY-2020 :: #COVID19 and the Spillover Moment ―Brazil is the global epicenter of the coronavirus
Emerging Markets



.@jairbolsonaro ''Brazilians aren‘t infected by anything, even when they fall into a sewer''

“It‟s tragic surrealism ... I can‟t stop thinking about Gabriel García Márquez when I think about the situation Manaus is facing.” Guardian

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

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Virus Variant in Brazil Infected Many Who Had Already Recovered From Covid-19 @nytimes
Emerging Markets



Now three studies offer a sobering history of P.1’s meteoric rise in the Amazonian city of Manaus. 

It most likely arose there in November and then fueled a record-breaking spike of coronavirus cases. 

It came to dominate the city partly because of an increased contagiousness, the research found.

But it also gained the ability to infect some people who had immunity from previous bouts of Covid-19. 

And laboratory experiments suggest that P.1 could weaken the protective effect of a Chinese vaccine now in use in Brazil.

The researchers tested these possibilities by tracking P.1 from its earliest samples in December. By early January, it made up 87 percent of samples. By February it had taken over completely.

They estimate it is somewhere between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than other lineages of coronaviruses.

Dr. Faria said “an increasing body of evidence” suggests that most cases in the second wave were the result of reinfections.

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Workers buried a person who died of Covid in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida public cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, in January. Raphael Alves/EPA, via Shutterstock
Emerging Markets


New studies of the P.1 variant that ravaged the city show that it can reinfect people who have already had the virus, and may make vaccines weaker. Raphael Alves/EPA, via Shutterstock

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.@SecBlinken Presses Ethiopia PM For Atrocity Probe @AFP via @barronsonline H/T @rcoreyb
Africa




US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday urged Ethiopia's leader to allow an international investigation and called for Eritrean troops to leave after allegations of a massacre.

In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Blinken "asked that the government of Ethiopia work with the international community to facilitate independent, international and credible investigations into reported human rights abuses and violations and to hold those responsible accountable," the State Department said.

Blinken said there were a "growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses."

Amnesty International last week alleged that Eritrean soldiers fighting in the northern Tigray region had killed hundreds of people in November in what the rights group described as a likely crime against humanity.

The top US diplomat "urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence."

Blinken also called for an "immediate end" to hostilities and the withdrawal of all outside forces, including troops from neighboring Eritrea.


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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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We Can No Longer Deny the Atrocities in Ethiopia @BostonReview ALEX DE WAAL
Africa







At terrifying speed, a humanitarian disaster of is unfolding in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. 

Amidst an ongoing civil war that broke out in November, the Tigrayan people are starving en masse. 

Occupying soldiers are killing, raping, and ransacking, mercilessly and systematically. 

The personable, reformist prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali—who little more than a year ago was basking in the glow of a Nobel Peace prize—is driving his country into the abyss. 

There are indications that he wishes it wasn’t so, but every sign points to the fact that the forces he has unleashed are beyond his control. They include ethnic militia and the vast army of neighboring Eritrea, both implicated in sickening atrocities.





Meanwhile, the world pretends not to know just how bad it is—allowing other storylines, assumed or invented, to fill the void. Harsh truths need to be faced. Far more urgent, concerted action is needed.

Believing this narrative demands a greater and greater effort. The dates, events, and protagonists are correct, but they conceal more than they tell.

 A remark that Isaias made a few days before the peace signing—that it was “game over” for the TPLF—began to take on a more sinister meaning. 

The Eritrean despot was not just welcoming the eclipse of the old Ethiopian regime that had threatened him, he was planning their annihilation.

At the heart of the Ethiopian government is a desperate cover-up. Many others still want to believe that they can salvage their much-cherished reform agenda from the wreckage. 

But that has become confabulism—an imaginary alternative road that cannot now be travelled.

The Eritrean leader Isaias Afewerki has followed another informational strategy: silence. He has said nothing. 

Yet Eritrea has committed its army to the war: Eritrean military sources and Tigrayans such as Mulugeta estimate that about 80,000 Eritrean troops are in combat inside Tigray and that they are the occupying power in the northern third of the country.

 If the Eritreans were to withdraw, the Tigray resistance would control most of the region—and Abiy could no longer pretend that his “law enforcement operation” didn’t deliver a quick, clean victory. 

He would be forced to negotiate, as if he were in a civil war. But he and many in the Addis Ababa diplomatic community don’t want to face that reality.


“The Emirates effectively disarmed Tigray. [Their drones] started killing tanks, then howitzers, then fuel, then ammunition. Then they started hunting small vehicles, targeting leaders, all over.”

He has good reason to suspect the United Arab Emirates. Six years ago, shortly after entering the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, the UAE leased the Eritrean airbase and port of Assab for its Yemen operations including drone flights. 

In November, when a Chinese-made drone was photographed on Assab runway, suggestions that it might have been flying to Tigray were rebuffed on the grounds that it was likely heading for Yemen. 


What we do know is that the belligerents are committing starvation crimes at scale. 

If the worst is indeed happening, we won’t be able to say we didn’t know.

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324,167 Active COVID-19 Cases in Africa 324,167 @BeautifyData
Africa


-37.66% % below 520,000 record high from January 2021 

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The reproduction number (R) of SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa remains just over 0.8 @lrossouw
Africa


FS and NC were near 1 but have come down (see NC below left).  At present KZN is at 1 on a steeply rising trend (below right)

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Nearly $30bn invested in Egypt's local debt market thanks to a credible FX regime, IMF support and a home grown reform process that is now 7 years old. @RencapMan
Africa


I've been recommending these bonds since the devaluation in late 2016 for all these reasons + Egypt can now industrialise

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Kenyan Grain Handler Denies Causing Delays Amid Competition Push @markets @herbling
Kenyan Economy



The sole grain handler at East Africa’s busiest port denied that it’s responsible for delays in moving cargo as a Kenyan parliamentary committee seeks to end the monopoly.

Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd.’s specialized facilities mean a “four-time faster vessel discharge rate, translating to a $10-$15 saving per ton on freight costs due to a quicker turn-around time for vessel owners,” Chief Operating Officer Jared Locklear said 

Annual growth of grain handled at the Port of Mombasa is projected at 7%, having increased more than sixfold over almost two decades to 2.7 million metric tonnes in 2019

The port serves Kenya and neighboring countries including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the World Food Program, who import cereals including corn and wheat.

The National Assembly’s finance committee said in a report that persistent delays in clearing cereals by GBHL have resulted in high demurrage costs for importers, and want competitors licensed by 2022

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote to adopt or reject the committee’s report on Tuesday.

The committee also reported that the company’s handling charges exceed what millers would pay if they collected their grain directly from the Kenya Ports Authority by $5.6 per unit. 

GBHL says that isn’t accurate and that the difference is smaller.

The port agency’s cumulative charge comes to $17.90 per ton while GBHL’s comparable fee is $20.35, according to Locklear. 

Additionally, the company’s facilities and processes ensures minimal losses and users get seven days of free storage, benefits that are not available to those using the traditional bagging, Locklear said.

The Cereal Millers Association backs the lawmakers’ push to license more handling companies. Having one bulk grain handler isn’t ideal, according to Paloma Fernandes, the lobby’s chief executive officer. 

It increases the risk of food insecurity should the only grain handler fail for a substantial time, Fernandes said in an emailed response to questions.

Separately, GBHL said it’s eyeing opportunities to expand by potentially building a grain handling facility at the Lamu port currently under construction in Kenya, to serve countries including South Sudan and Ethiopia.

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