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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Wednesday 05th of January 2022
 
Morning
Africa

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29-NOV-2021 :: Regime Change
Law & Politics




A REGIME CHANGE IS UNDERWAY [in the markets]
There is no training – classroom or otherwise.. that can prepare for trading the last third of a move, whether it's the end of a bull market or the end of a bear market. 

There's typically no logic to it; irrationality reigns supreme, and no class can teach what to do during that brief, volatile reign. Paul Tudor-Jones
I have been warning
The Music has been playing for Eternity and its about to stop
https://bit.ly/2Wzp4Fg
And below captioned is my favourite musical snippet of recent times
Just played #laritournelle with @ESKAonline and some amazing musicians @southbankcentre paying tribute to the legendary #tonyallen @thenitinsawhney
https://twitter.com/thenitinsawhney/status/1459652573812695040? s=20

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Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice
Misc.

Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door

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Tsunamis also start by receding For years now Central Banks have been enabling governments unwilling to confront structural problems by flooding economies with money. @ELuttwak
World Of Finance

For years now Central Banks have been enabling governments unwilling to confront structural problems by flooding economies with money.  But when we had deflation instead of inflation, the Krugmans told us not to worry ("different this time") Tsunamis also start by receding

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100 years from today, for example in 2121 all of us will be underground with our relatives and friends. @Iyyesa
Misc.

Strangers will live in our homes. Our property will be owned by strangers.
They will not even remember us. How many of us think of our grandfather's father?

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We will become part of history in the memory of our generations,while people will forget our names and shapes. @Iyyesa
Misc.


At that time we will realize how ignorant and deficient the dream of getting everything was

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Posada Ayana, one of the latest hotels to open in José Ignacio. SOURCE: POSADA AYANA @luxury
Misc.


The tiny, stylish fishing village of José Ignacio is popular with discerning travelers not just because it’s a fashionable place to remain unseen. 

Its Francis Mallmann restaurants and discreet beach bars attract a cosmopolitan crowd to stay at boutique bed-and-breakfast spots tucked away amid the dunes.
Choose your own foodie adventure: At the six-suite Luz, set on 35 acres of olive groves and vineyards, you can either go by horseback to white-tablecloth picnics or join locals for pop-up dinners served at communal tables in a pine forest. 

Posada Ayana, a new 17-room hotel with a stunning green marble pool, doesn’t even have a restaurant—it throws dinner parties. 

Robert Kofler, the Austrian art buff behind the project, commissioned artist James Turrell to build one of his famous, monumental Skyspace installations, this one with a 16-foot roof aperture that reflects the brightest part of the Milky Way onto a circular piece of granite laid into the floor.
Need even more social media fodder? The 75,000-square-foot Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Atchugarry, Uruguay’s first contemporary art museum, opens this month with a retrospective honoring late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

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Namibia at its most deserted A road trip from Windhoek to Etosha Heights delivers empty dunes, pronking springbok and astonishing desolation @thetimes
Africa


About 25 years ago the Spreetshoogte Pass was as hard to drive through as it was to say. A detour on the road from Windhoek to the Sossusvlei, it was an initiation test that few tourists cared to take

Serpentine and slippery, the steepest pass in Namibia had a reputation that was exacerbated by the horror stories you heard in Joe’s Beerhouse — the capital’s liveliest bar — of cracked sumps, broken steering rods and ruined road trips.
In the 1990s I suffered a blowout on the steepest section, but since then the Spreetshoogte has been tamed. 

Mostly paved, it’s as easy to drive as Cumbria’s Hardknott Pass and the only bit that will make you weak at the knees is the view from the top. 

This is where the Khomas Highlands drop into the Namib Desert and, from the summit, it looks like your final approach on a mission to Mars.
The cliché says Namibia is the land God made in anger, but from where I’m standing a more fitting image comes to mind. 

As the world caught fire in 1940, the German geologists Henno Martin and Hermann Korn, with their dog Otto, fled internment in Windhoek to spend the war hidden in this 55-million-year-old desert. 

They spent two and a half years in the Kuiseb Canyon, 40 miles northeast of here. 

One dawn early in their stay Korn gazed across God’s abandoned building site — the neat 100ft rock piles seemingly swept by house-proud Titans; the bone-white chalk pans like polished concrete; the mountains streaked with spilt minerals; the unfinished canyons; and, far away, dunes the colour of molten iron — and proclaimed this “the first morning after creation”.

It’s a hydrophobic world built by a beginner and enslaved by immutables. The sun bakes the desert every day, forcing hot air to rise and allowing cold, moisture-laden air from the South Atlantic to fill the vacuum. This blocks life-giving rain clouds from the east and advances the invincible desert.

In the afternoon gales it swirls like a red plague, blocking the sun, stinging your eyes and scratching your teeth, crossing roads like floodwater and forming dust devils hundreds of feet high. Immeasurable billions of grains move eastwards every day in a creeping menace of astonishing beauty.

Back when tourism sold the world as “Unmissable icons to be instagrammed before you die”, visitors came to Sesriem and the Sossusvlei to climb Dune 45 and Big Daddy, and wait in line for selfies at the Deadvlei. 

If that’s a box that you still need to tick, go now — an intrepid Belgian told me she had had the place to herself last month. Otherwise push on and help consign such box-ticking to the pre-pandemic era.

Head instead to Kwessi Dunes, 27.6 miles past Sesriem on the C27, a road like a causeway over a lake of liquid heat. 

The precision is important, as is getting into the habit of measuring distances, because if you miss the turn-off, the next stop is Helmeringhausen, 170 miles south.

The camp — 12 safari tents, a deep commitment to conservation and the kind of welcome you only get from the lonely — sits amid a geological fantasia. 

In front, red sand, white salt and the black, leopard-prowled Nubib mountain range. Less than 100 yards behind, a bold salient of advancing desert — a glowing, 200ft-high dune that, grain by grain, will one day bury the entire camp.

Isolation is easy to find: a couple of miles from here, the wind erasing my footsteps behind me, I stumble into silence so profound that it roars. 

The wonders appear slowly: the sidewinding tracks of a Peringuey’s viper; darkling beetles harvesting water from the dawn air; a jackal pushing an ostrich egg home with his nose; springbok pronking on the crest of a dune; a fleet of Angolan giraffes sailing across the sand; and a column of oryx, in matching white knee socks, heading west at sunset. 

At night I see shooting stars so bright that I brace for impact as they streak overhead.
I need to drive north: 600 miles to the western edge of Etosha National Park, past Solitaire, where the grave of Moose McGregor lies in the car park of the roadhouse that he made famous with his apfelstrudel; through the gramadoelas — or black canyonlands — of Namib-Naukluft National Park; over the Tropic of Capricorn and into the eerie fog bank at Walvis Bay, where the wind is so strong it rips the tarps from a passing freight train and blows sand across the road like Arctic spindrift. I pass four cars in 243 miles and spend the night in chilly Swakopmund, where Namibians anticipating a new lockdown are partying like it’s 1999.
The next day I follow the Skeleton Coast road north past seal colonies, the cormorant-colonised wreck of the Zeila, which foundered in 2008, and the seaside communities of Wlotzkasbaken and Hentiesbaai, brooding in the fog like Namib-noir crime scenes. 

I turn inland into the 3,100 square miles of the Tsiseb Conservancy and the temperature rockets. The desolation is exhausting — never has such emptiness been so distracting. 

So few visitors pass through these days that the roadside souvenir stands operate on an honour system.

“It works just fine,” says Toki. “Tourists usually leave more than the asking price, so one sale a week can feed a family.” 

I picked up Toki and her two babies when she burst out of a roadside bush north of Uis. It has taken me three hours to get here from Hentiesbaai. It has taken her four days — possibly, I suggest, due to the alarming way in which she solicits lifts.

“You don’t hitchhike much, do you?” Toki replies. She is heading to Palmwag, out west over the Grootberg Pass, with a cargo of fur seal oil, hugely popular, she says, with Kaokoland’s nomadic Himba people. 

In the two hours we are together she shows me the Erongo that tourists never see: in this village the people are kind to stranded hitchhikers; in that riverbed there are naughty elephants that keep the locals indoors for two hours every afternoon; two dangerous lions live near that farmstead; and if I pinch a goat I’ll get two years in prison.
I drop her in Kamanjab and drive 90 minutes northeast through an infinity of cattle ranches to Safarihoek Lodge in the privately owned Etosha Heights reserve.

More mountaintop hotel than bush camp, Safarihoek was built to accommodate the less intrepid, with 11 solid-walled, air-conditioned rooms, a bar-restaurant, a wine cellar and a pool. 

My heart sinks, but then I see the view: a water hole 500 yards below with a split-level hide and 18 dusty elephants arriving to drink. 

Everyone else — zebras, wildebeest, oryx, springbok and kudu — is heading off into the reserve’s 231 square miles of dolomite hills and mopane-studded savannah, which, since I’m the only guest, is all mine.

Once a cattle farm, Etosha Heights shares a 40-mile porous border with the national park and has become the equivalent of a secure, upmarket suburb for wildlife escaping overcrowding in Etosha. 

For now at least there’s enough water and grazing here to support a healthy trophic pyramid, from plants through rare beasts, such as sable and black-faced antelopes, up to the full deck of apex predators.

It is an ecosystem that is so finely balanced, so perfectly symbiotic, that as my guide, Michael Haindongo, and I sit beside a hidden water hole, surrounded by 47 elephants and a single risk-loving oryx bull, I can’t help but consider intelligent design.
Michael doesn’t want to discuss it. As a naturalist he is all about the science and wildlife’s dependence on tourism revenue for its survival. 

But he accepts at least the possibility of a divine hand and agrees that, compared with His earlier work down south, Etosha is a masterpiece.

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Putin’s Ukrainian War Is About Making Vladimir Great Again @bopinion @nfergus
Law & Politics


Don’t be fooled by last Thursday’s conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden, with its promise of further negotiations in January. 

When one party is bent on war, this kind of diplomatic activity often continues until just hours before hostilities begin. We should not be deluded: Putin is bent on war against Ukraine.
What is coming is the opposite of a surprise attack — though no doubt when it happens Biden will insist that, like the omicron variant, no one could have anticipated it. 

Back in July, Putin published a lengthy essay, “On the Historical Unity of the Russians and Ukrainians,” in which he argued tendentiously that Ukrainian independence was an unsustainable historical anomaly. 

This made it perfectly clear that he was contemplating a takeover of the country along the lines of Nazi Germany’s 1938 Anschluss of Austria. 

Even before Putin’s essay appeared, Russia had deployed around 100,000 troops close to Ukraine’s northern, eastern and southern borders.
The news these days reminds me unpleasantly of the English historian A.J.P. Taylor’s “Origins of the Second World War,” which — in prose that simmered with his trademark irony — traced the diplomatic steps that led from appeasement to war in 1938 and 1939.
Repeatedly this year, the Russian president has warned of “red lines” with respect to Russia’s security, the crossing of which would elicit an “asymmetric response.” 

On Nov. 30, for example, he declared that “if some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine … we will have to then create something similar in relation to those who threaten us.”
On Dec. 17, Russia issued a virtual ultimatum to the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — the keystone of European security since its founding in 1949 — by publishing two draft security agreements, one a bilateral U.S.-Russia treaty and the other a multilateral NATO-Russia agreement. The documents made six key demands:
NATO must not accept new members, including Ukraine.
The U.S. and NATO must not deploy short- or intermediate-range missiles within range of Russian territory.
The U.S. must not station nuclear weapons abroad.
NATO must not deploy forces or arms to member states that joined after the so-called Founding Act of May 1997. This includes all former Warsaw Pact states such as Poland as well as the formerly Soviet Baltic states.
NATO must not conduct military exercises above the brigade level (3,000 to 5,000 troops) and within an agreed-upon buffer zone.
The U.S. must agree not to cooperate militarily with post-Soviet countries.

True, some of Russia’s demands amounted to resuscitating defunct security arrangements that NATO and Russia signed in the past. 

A ban on short- or intermediate-range missile deployments, for example, would be akin to reviving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which collapsed in 2019 following U.S. claims of Russian violations.
An agreement not to deploy NATO forces to former Warsaw Pact member states would reinstate the 25-year-old Founding Act, which NATO partially froze after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. 

NATO still does not permanently station troops in Eastern Europe because it never formally abrogated the Founding Act. 

Russia’s proposed limits on military exercises similarly recall the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which Moscow suspended in 2007.

However, since 2017 the alliance has “rotated” approximately 1,100 troops apiece into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland under its policy of Enhanced Forward Presence. 

(The term “rotation” was used at Germany’s insistence to avoid explicitly violating the NATO-Russia Founding Act.) Ending rotation would be a significant concession to Moscow.

The Russian demands also include several obvious non-starters. NATO is highly unlikely to revoke its promise, made in 2008, of eventual membership for Ukraine and Georgia. 

Even if Biden wanted to accede to Russia’s demand that the U.S. end military cooperation with Ukraine, Congress would almost certainly not let him, and could legislate military aid on its own. 

Finally, Russia’s demand that the U.S. not station nuclear weapons abroad would overturn a founding principle of NATO — nuclear sharing between member states.

Taken together, the Russian demands imply nothing less than a “new Yalta” that would effectively concede to Russia a sphere of influence extending across the former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe, much like the original Yalta Agreement of 1945, as well as eroding the security of former Warsaw Pact countries. 

Such demands would be worth discussing only if Russia offered something major in return — for example, a withdrawal of all its forces from Ukrainian territory. 

But Putin has no intention of making concessions. He is preparing a casus belli.

On Dec. 23, Putin held his usual marathon year-end press conference. He explained that even if Russia’s “red line” security guarantees were met on paper, Russia still could not trust the U.S. assurances because he had been “lied to, blatantly” over NATO expansion. 

For the U.S. to have offensive strike weapons on “Russia’s doorstep,” he said, was like Russia having such weapons in Canada or Mexico. 

Asked by a journalist if Russia was angry, he quoted the 19th-century tsarist foreign minister Prince Gorchakov: “Russia is not angry, it is concentrating” — as in “concentrating its forces.”

Western commentators often make the mistake of thinking that Putin’s goal is to resurrect the Soviet Union, recalling his notorious comment in 2005 that the collapse of the Soviet empire was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” 

To judge by the ruthless way his government has gone after Memorial — an organization dedicated to preserving the evidence of the Soviet system’s crimes and commemorating its millions of victims — Putin does indeed owe some residual fealty to the baleful shade of Stalin. 

Last week, a Moscow court shut Memorial down on the specious ground that it had failed to acknowledge publicly that it was a foreign agent.

“Memorial creates a false image of the Soviet Union as a terrorist state,” declared state prosecutor Alexei Zhafyarov before the court’s verdict. 

“It makes us repent for the Soviet past, instead of remembering glorious history … probably because someone is paying for it.”

It is not hard to imagine Zhafyarov having a walk-on role in “The Master and Margarita,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s unforgettable magical-realist depiction of the Stalin era. 

And yet it is not Stalin’s Soviet Union for which Putin hankers. It is the rising Russian Empire of Peter the Great. 

He made this quite clear in a fascinating interview with Lionel Barber, then editor of the Financial Times, 

in 2019. “A towering bronze statue of the visionary tsar looms over his ceremonial desk in the cabinet room,” noted Barber. Peter I was Putin’s “favorite leader.” “He will live,” declared the Russian president, “as long as his cause is alive.”

To understand what exactly Putin meant by this, you need to travel back three centuries, to the time of the Great Northern War (1700–1721). 

The dominant military power of northern Europe in those days was not Russia but Sweden, then under the leadership of that most extraordinary of Scandinavian warriors, Charles XII. 

The Great Northern War pitted Charles against Frederick IV, the king of Denmark and Norway; Augustus the Strong, who was simultaneously elector of Saxony, king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania; and the Muscovite tsar, Peter I. 

By 1709, the Swede had defeated both Frederick and Augustus. But he met his match in Tsar Peter.

At the Battle of Poltava (July 8, 1709), Peter the Great won the most important victory of his reign

Because of Russian scorched-earth tactics, the Swedish army had been forced to abandon its advance on Moscow and instead marched south to establish winter quarters. 

The location Charles XII picked, the town of Poltava, is around 200 miles east of Kyiv. Today it lies in eastern Ukraine, not far from the contested areas around Luhansk and Donetsk, which are controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

Where was Poltava then? Certainly not in Russia. But you could not really say that it was in Ukraine, either — not in the modern sense, anyway. 

When Ivan Mazepa, hetman of the Zaporizhian Host, threw in his lot with the Swedish king, he said he was acting “for the common good of our mother my fatherland poor Ukraine, for all of the Zaporizhian Host and the Little Rossian [Ruthenian] nation …”

The Cossack Hetmanate had been founded in 1649 by Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who had thrown off Polish rule over the Ruthenian palatinates of Volhynia, Bratslav, Kyiv and Chernihiv, though he ended up being confined to the region around Kyiv. 

What is Ukraine today was pulled both westward toward Poland and eastward toward Muscovy. The Battle of Poltava decided the issue.

Because of the ravages of severe winter weather, Charles was left with an estimated 22,000 Swedes to face Peter’s 40,000 Russians plus 5,000 irregular troops.

Charles himself was wounded when a stray bullet hit his foot. Due to poor reconnaissance and errors during their initial attack, about a third of Swedish forces were lost before the decisive battle. 

Outnumbered and outfought, the Swedes were put to flight. The survivors surrendered at Perevolochna on the River Dnieper. Charles himself made his escape across the Dnieper into Ottoman territory. Peter had triumphed.

The legacy of Poltava has been an enduring one, as Lindsey Hughes shows in her biography of the tsar.

According to legend, Peter narrowly escaped death at three points during the battle. 

One bullet pierced his three-cornered hat, which is preserved in the Hermitage’s collection of the tsar’s personal effects. (Although no bullet hole is visible, there are traces of military action on his bronze breastplate, which is also preserved.)

Poltava also inspired two of the great paintings of Peter’s reign, J.G. Tannauer’s “Peter I at the Battle of Poltava” and Louis Caravaque’s Poltava panorama. 

And generations of Russian soldiers have heard recitations of the speech the tsar is supposed to have given before the battle:

Let the Russian troops know that the hour has come which has placed the fate of all the fatherland in their hands, to decide whether Russia will be lost or will be reborn and improve its situation. 

Do not think of yourselves as armed and drawn up to fight for Peter but for the state which has been entrusted to Peter, for your kin and for the people of all Russia, which has until now been your defense and now awaits the final decision of fortune. … Of Peter know only that he sets no value on his own life if only Russia and Russian piety, glory and well-being may live.

This is the history that inspires today’s Tsar Vladimir, much more than the dark chapters of Stalin’s reign of terror, which will forever be associated in Ukrainian minds with the Holodomor, the genocidal man-made famine inflicted on Ukraine in the name of agricultural collectivization. 

It is a history that reminds us how crucial victory in the territory that is now Ukraine was for the rise of Russia as a European great power. It also reminds us that this territory was as contested in the early 18th century as it is today.

Is Putin merely a fantasist when he imagines himself the heir of Peter I? 

Not necessarily. It is not true, as I often hear it asserted, that Russia’s population is shrinking. In fact, it grew every year from 2009 to 2020. 

True, Russia’s GDP may be less than South Korea’s, and just 20% the size of America’s (based on purchasing power parity, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook figures for 2020). 

But consider the economic size of the aggressor states at the outbreak of World War II. The British economic historian Angus Maddison estimated that the Soviet Union’s GDP then was roughly half that of the U.S., Germany’s was 43%, Japan’s 24% and Italy’s 18%. You do not need to be Goliath to start a war.

In any case, Putin does not need to go to war in the style of 1939, with columns of tanks rumbling across the Ukrainian fields. A full-scale land invasion is just one of his options. 

He could also launch an amphibious assault on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, or a precision bombing and missile campaign against key Ukrainian targets. 

He could seize additional territory in Ukraine’s eastern region by ramping up the weaponry of its militias in the region. 

Or he could launch large-scale cyberattacks, crippling Ukrainian communications and infrastructure. 

Russia’s most recent wars — not only in Ukraine since 2014 but also in Syria since 2015 — have been marked by steady, stepwise escalation, not by surprise large-scale invasions. 

You have to go back to Georgia in 2008 to see anything resembling a Russian Blitzkrieg, but even that was over in five days and didn’t involve taking the Georgian capital.

There is no doubting the willingness of many young Ukrainians to fight to defend their country. But without assistance they stand little chance. 

Unfortunately, no one seems likely to help. For years, Ukrainian governments have sought membership of the EU and NATO. 

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba renewed these requests in two Foreign Affairs articles in August and December last year. 

Ukraine hoped to be invited to join a NATO Membership Action Plan at the alliance’s June 2021 Brussels summit. No invitation came.

Kyiv suffered another blow when the Biden administration waived sanctions against the company overseeing the construction of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. 

The pipeline, which is now finished but not functioning, bypasses Ukraine and will deprive the country of annual transit fees worth between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Along with Georgia and Moldova, Ukraine is keen to be part of a new phase of EU enlargement. 

However, Brussels is in no hurry to start the accession process in earnest. 

The EU’s formal reason for not expediting Ukraine’s application is that the country doesn’t yet meet the Copenhagen criteria:

The Ukrainians not unreasonably complain that Romania and Bulgaria scarcely met all these criteria in 2006 (the year before they became EU members), to say nothing of 2000, when negotiations began. 

The fact that a current EU member — Hungary — today ranks not far above Ukraine in the Freedom House rankings of political freedom is also not lost on the Ukrainians.  

However, this is just an additional reason for EU foot-dragging. So unpopular is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Brussels these days that many European leaders and officials worry that admitting Ukraine would add another illiberal semi-autocracy within the EU fold, which might then join forces with Hungary, Poland and any other populist-led states against an increasingly woke European Commission.

If Putin does take military action, it is therefore pretty clear that Ukraine will receive no significant military support from the West. 

Indeed, on Dec. 8 Biden explicitly ruled out sending U.S. troops, and the White House has delayed the delivery of military aid to Kyiv for fear of provoking Putin.

So what does Biden mean when he says, as he told Putin on Thursday, that the U.S. will “respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine”? The answer is that, as in 2014, violence will be met with sanctions. 

On Dec. 7, Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, testified to Congress that the U.S. and EU are preparing “Day 1 measures, Day 5 measures, Day 10 measures, etc.” 

She declined to outline the specific sanctions being considered, but said they would amount to “isolating Russia completely from the global financial system.”

In practice, that probably means canceling Nord Stream 2, sanctioning Russian sovereign debt on the secondary market, sanctioning state-owned banks (including Sberbank of Russia PJSC, the country’s largest financial institution), restricting ruble-dollar currency conversions, restricting imports of Russian commodities, and barring Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the dominant system for cross-border payments between banks.

These are certainly much tougher sanctions than anything imposed in 2014. However, all the measures that would seriously impact Russia would inevitably have knock-on effects for the West. 

Russia is aware of this, particularly after 2018 sanctions on the aluminum company United Co. Rusal International PJSC shocked global aluminum markets and forced the U.S. to backtrack.

Sanctioning Russian commodity exporters would be costly not only to Russia, but also to many other countries. 

The U.S. could add Rosneft, the Russian oil company, to the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals blacklist, but that would hardly help the administration’s inflation problem.

Sanctions on Nord Stream 2, which have dominated media coverage, are a relatively minor punishment and would not affect Russia’s ability to generate gas revenues. 

And Moscow is well-poised to withstand secondary sovereign debt sanctions since it has $620 billion in foreign-exchange reserves, a debt-to-GDP ratio of just 18%, and planned budget surpluses for the next two years.

The weakest link in the West’s strategy is, of course, the dependence of the European Union on Russian natural gas shipments, which accounted for 43% of the EU’s total gas imports in 2020. 

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels and reiterated the usual pledges of “massive consequences” and “severe costs” if Russia takes military action against Ukraine. 

But such tough talk was undercut by Scholz’s call — in his first speech as chancellor — for a new Ostpolitik, an allusion to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s Cold War policy of normalizing relations between the Federal Republic and the Soviet bloc countries, including East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union.  

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We exist in a Tripolar World [US China and Russia] with rapidly emerging Middle Powers.
Law & Politics

I am not discounting Fortress Europe but one senses the Fortress is keener on a more defensive posture unlike the US [notwithstanding its withdrawal from Afghanistan], China and Russia. 

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Taiwan and Ukraine are the immediate geopolitical flashpoints.
Law & Politics


It's all garbage. If Biden can't stand up to Putin, Iran and China will just see him as a joke. @Kasparov63

https://twitter.com/Kasparov63/status/1468296931940122626?s=20

No more State Dept blah-blah about "cooperation" with Putin's mafia dictatorship on Iran or triangulation against China. It's all garbage. If Biden can't stand up to Putin, Iran and China will just see him as a joke.

Conclusions

This is where I disagree with the inestimable @Kasparov63, Biden has to peel off Putin to escape triangulation. 



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The US has entered a new era where it can no longer change regimes by force of arms or sanctions. It has discovered the uselessness of force @MiddleEastEye
Law & Politics


29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change


Regime Change came to Saddam’s Iraq and for a while regime change was de rigeur.
Muammar Gaddafi was decapitated and the domino effect only stopped when Vladimir Putin decided he was going to put a stop to it and intervened on behalf of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

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Current global omicron wave. I can't fit a model to this stuff anymore. @DFisman
Misc.


29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change

https://j.mp/32AZEK5

The Invisible Microbe has metastasized into Omicron and what we know is that COVID-19 far from becoming less virulent has become more virulent.
The transmissibility of #Omicron is not in question, it clearly has a spectacular advantage.
The Open Question is whether it is more virulent. If it is less virulent then #Omicron is breaking the Trend of increasing virulence.

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COVID-19 infections are still rising in 113 countries. @ReutersGraphics
Misc.


43 countries are still near the peak of their infection curve

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1294
Dollar Index 96.251
Japan Yen 116.05
Swiss Franc 0.91607
Pound 1.352790
Aussie 0.722535
India Rupee 74.4640
South Korea Won 1198.575
Brazil Real 5.6776
Egypt Pound 15.6900
South Africa Rand 16.060205

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African Region WHO regional overviews .@WHO Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 28 December 2021
Africa


The African Region reported over 274 000 new cases, however, the weekly increase in incidence was smaller (7%) as compared to the incidence of the previous week (53%)

Increases in case incidence of over 50% were observed in nearly two-thirds (32/49; 65%) of countries in the Region. 


29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change

https://j.mp/32AZEK5

The Invisible Microbe has metastasized into Omicron and what we know is that COVID-19 far from becoming less virulent has become more virulent.
The transmissibility of #Omicron is not in question, it clearly has a spectacular advantage.
The Open Question is whether it is more virulent. If it is less virulent then #Omicron is breaking the Trend of increasing virulence.


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Still see commentary attributing all reduction in severity of Omicron waves to inherent virus properties, rather than immunity accumulated from earlier waves/vaccine. @AdamJKucharski
Africa

Still see commentary attributing all reduction in severity of Omicron waves to inherent virus properties, rather than immunity accumulated from earlier waves/vaccine. It's important to distinguish, because affects ability to extrapolate to other places

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More Than 140 People Killed in Air Strikes in Northern Ethiopia Since October @bpolitics
Africa


At least 143 people have been killed and 213 wounded in air strikes in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region since October last year, according to aid agencies.

But diplomats with knowledge of Abiy’s campaign and dispatches from aid agencies attribute much of the successes to its aerial assaults, utilizing drones and other equipment that they said had been bought from the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. 

They asked not to be identified because they feared government retribution or being expelled from Ethiopia. 
The humanitarian aid agencies have recorded 40 aerial strikes since Oct. 18 last year. One barrage carried out on the northern town of Alamata of Dec. 16 claimed 38 lives, while 86 people sustained injuries, the dispatches show. 

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Sudan’s army is incapable of running the impoverished country and new leaders are needed to stem further unrest, the United Nations special envoy said
Africa


The generals, who launched a coup in October before restoring Premier Abdalla Hamdok to office the following month, are unable to salvage a democratic transition that was supposed to lead to free elections in 2023, Volker Perthes said in an interview. 

The process must be spearheaded by credible civilian politicians backed by the street, he said.
“I don’t see any single actor being able to do that -- certainly not the powers that be,” said Perthes. 

Instead, it needs “a comprehensive conversation” that’s “as inclusive as possible and brings at least a minimum agreement on the next steps.” 

He said he’d met with senior officials to discuss the issue, without elaborating.
Sudan, where long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019 amid mass protests, has been mired in new unrest since the military overthrew the civilian component of a power-sharing government and derailed a transition that appeared a rare bright spot in the Horn of African region marked by civil war and tyranny. 

At least 57 protesters have been killed in the subsequent crackdown.

The U.S. and World Bank were among those to suspend aid, compounding a bleak economic outlook. 

“I think it will take the international community some time to resume it if you don’t have a new credible government in Khartoum,” Perthes said.
Hamdok, an ex-UN economist, was restored to office in November in a deal rejected by protesters, but quit Jan. 2 saying attempts to share power with the army had failed. 

Hamdok repeatedly complained the military, typically the arbiter of power since Sudan’s 1956 independence, was preventing him from making political appointments, according to foreign officials aware of the disputes.
In a statement Monday, top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan suggested Sudan should form an independent, technocratic government.
“The country is on a slippery slope,” Perthes said, adding that the coup had inflamed inter-communal violence in the western region of Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes.
The envoy declined to describe Sudan’s democratic experiment as a failure. “That would mean giving up on the aspirations of all those Sudanese who want and still want a transition to democracy and peace,” he said.

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Hugh Masekela said ‘I want to be there when the people start to turn it around.’ Sudan is a Masekela pivot moment.
Africa

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. 

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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January 2022
 
 
 
 
 
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