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Putin, the African Queen

Putin, the African Queen

While filming “The African Queen” everyone fell sick from drinking the water except for Humphrey Bogart and John Huston, who drank whiskey

Luke Harding is a former journalist for the Guardian. I say former because while he is still writing for the paper, he lost his one remaining shred of credibility last November with an article about Paul Manafort visiting Julian Assange multiple times in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which soon was discredited as badly as an article can be, but has still not been retracted or corrected by the paper.

If you get caught in that kind of nonsense, you’re surely not a journalist. Of course that was just one in an endless list of blubber that Harding produced about the likes of Assange and Trump. And Putin of course. And now he’s back with more. About Putin.

Somewhere in this new article by Luke Harding and Jason Burke for the venerable publication, they say that Russia only became interested in Africa in 2014. And obviously you know you can stop reading right there. Russia’s been interested in Africa for decades. Because it’s laden with resources. Because everybody else is there to get to those resources.

But Harding manages to write up a piece that makes Russia’s interest terribly suspicious and menacing. Because, you know, Skripal. The Russians did it. He’s basing this on docs he claims to have seen, but doesn’t provide, given to him by an “investigative unit” based in London and funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin’s worst domestic enemy.

Leaked Documents Reveal Russian Effort To Exert Influence In Africa 

Russia is seeking to bolster its presence in at least 13 countries across Africa by building relations with existing rulers, striking military deals, and grooming a new generation of “leaders” and undercover “agents”, leaked documents reveal.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Africa’s Sovereignty Over Food

Africa’s Sovereignty Over Food

Local food and seed systems must be rebuilt for Africans.

Africa is facing dire times. Climate change is having major impacts on the region and on agriculture in particular, with smallholder farmers —many of them women — facing drought, general lack of water, shifting seasons, and floods in some areas. 

Smallholder farmers are often women because in the prevailing division of labor, women are generally responsible for food acquisition and diets. Smallholder farmers are facing the loss of agricultural biodiversity, deforestation, declining soil health and fertility, land and water grabs by the powerful, loss of land access, marginalization and loss of indigenous knowledge and generalized lack of essential services and support.

A cassava farmer in Ghana's Northern Region. (Neil Palmer with CIAT via Flickr)

A cassava farmer in Ghana’s Northern Region. (Neil Palmer with CIAT via Flickr)

At the same time, economies are weakening and remain heavily dependent on foreign aid, with extractivist interventions from outside. There is a strong authoritarian orientation in governments in the region, with secrecy and lack of transparency and accountability, weak and fragmented civil society organization and top-down development interventions.

There has been corporate capture of key state institutions, decision making processes and functions. Seed and food systems have been appropriated for multinational corporate profit.

Unchecked Corporate Power 

At present, corporate power is almost unchecked in agricultural input supply. The dominant narrative of agribusinesses being indispensable for feeding the world holds great sway on the continent, where corporations have captured policy making processes.

Although most seed on the continent is sourced from farmers’ own savings, sharing and local markets, this system is not recognized in policies and laws in most countries. Instead, farmer seed practices are marginalized and generally denigrated as poor quality and backward.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Africa, A New Tactic to Suppress Online Speech: Taxing Social Media

In Africa, A New Tactic to Suppress Online Speech: Taxing Social Media

Think things are bad in the US and Europe when it comes to social media speech suppression?

Check out, Africa.

Will this be our future?

Aware of the threat that social media poses to their power, repressive regimes in Africa have employed various methods to stifle internet-based mobilization. These include internet shutdowns, targeted social media applications shutdowns, website takedowns, extensive surveillance of digital communications, online propaganda, and the detention of online critics, writes Babatunde Okunoye for Foreign Affairs.

According to Okunoye, in 2018, repressive governments adopted yet another tactic: taxes on social media usage. In countries such as Uganda, Benin, Tanzania and Zambia, there are now laws in place which impose daily taxes on social media and other over-the-top services. In Uganda, for instance, citizens have to pay 200 Ugandan Shillings (US $ 0.05) per day to access Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp as a law adopted last year. Citizens of Benin have had to pay 5 CFA francs ($0.008) per megabyte consumed through social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter as stipulated by Decree No. 2018 – 341 of July 25 2018. The decree also introduces a 5 percent fee, on top of taxes, on texting and calls. These laws also make the cost of maintaining personal websites by citizens prohibitively expensive. As a result of the Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations 2018, citizens in Tanzania now must pay a $920 fee to receive the government’s permission to maintain a website…

Most citizens believe that these measures were drawn up to restrict the space for freedom of expression in worsening human rights contexts in countries like Uganda and Tanzania. While some of these social media taxes have been couched as measures to raise government revenue, given the poor economic situation prevalent in much of Africa, virtually everyone sees them for what they really are—attempts to stifle the right to freedom of expression and association of the millions of Africans demanding more from their governments.

CDC Director: Congo’s Ebola Outbreak May Not Be Containable

CDC Director: Congo’s Ebola Outbreak May Not Be Containable

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people need to be prepared for the worst.  Redfield said the Democratic Republic of Congo’s newest Ebola outbreak may not be containable.

Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, said that if the Ebola outbreak becomes endemic in the Congo’s North Kivu province, it shows “we’ve lost the ability to trace contacts, stop transmission chains and contain the outbreak.” In this situation, Ebola could spread, which could negatively impact both trade and travel, according to a report by Becker’s Hospital Review.

“I do think this is one of the challenges we’ll have to see, whether we’re able to contain, control and end the current outbreak with the current security situation, or do we move into the idea that this becomes more of an endemic Ebola outbreak in this region, which we’ve never really confronted,” Dr. Redfield told The Washington Post.

According to The Washington Post, if international Ebola containment efforts fail in the Congo, it would mark the first time the virus was not stopped since 1976 when Ebola was first identified. The current Ebola outbreak is going on its fourth month, totaling 300 cases and 186 deaths as of November 4th.

The problems with containment of this particular Ebola outbreak stem from the fact that the disease is spreading in an active war zone with several armed groups attacking health officials, government aids and civilians. Some civilians with Ebola have refused treatment, and health care workers are still being infected. About 60 to 80 percent of new cases do not show an epidemiological link to prior cases.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Preppers Can Learn from Cape Town, Where Residents Live on 13 Gallons of Water Per Person Per Day

What Preppers Can Learn from Cape Town, Where Residents Live on 13 Gallons of Water Per Person Per Day

Living in Cape Town South Africa, after we have gained experience with rolling blackouts, our city (and surrounds) ran out of water … a first-world major metropolis ran out of water.

This is my summation of what happened and how we personally dealt with it.

Two things to note:

  • Cape Town falls in a winter rainfall area. (Similar to Northern California)
  • In our country, clean water is a constitutional right. Building dams, desalination plants, and maintaining the dams is the responsibility of the national government. Local governments are responsible for distributing the water. They are not allowed to build dams or desalination plants. Cape Town was forced to do both, at taxpayers’ cost.

This is to give you some background on how things are (or are supposed to be) here. You will see that how things are supposed to be are not how things are.

How did Cape Town almost run completely out of water?

There were basically four main reasons, as Cape Town knew of this pending problem:

  • An unforeseen severe drought triggered it all.
  • Unbeknownst to most, because of “state capture” (a kind phrase for corruption), the National Department of Water and Sanitation had no funds left to build dams. The South African public was blissfully unaware of this.
  • The local budgets, the part that the city must budget in order to distribute the water, was used to build a dam, effect some repairs to local national water infrastructures, and because year after year there were good rains, the rest was used for other pressing political promises, like schools, toilets (yes toilets), and housing etc.
  • There was a huge influx of people into Cape Town from other provinces, seeking jobs, as the Western Cape is one of the best-run provinces in SA.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

De-Dollarization Escalates: “African Economy Needs More Usage Of Chinese Yuan”

The world’s push towards de-dollarization continues to accelerate as Americans go about their daily lives worrying more about blasphemous comedians, participation trophies, and Kim and Kanye’s traitorous behavior.

From yuan-denominated oil futures (and soon to be yuan-denominated metals contracts) to Europe’s decision to use Yuan to pay for Iranian oil; and from non-dollar settlement systems for Russia/Chinese trade to Turkey’s call for citizens to dump the dollar, it appears each action of the Trump administration deepens the distrust in the dollar hegemony, coalescing the world against Washington’s reserve currency unipolar order.

All of which leads to this…

In a well-placed interview in China’s Xinhua news – the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China – officials from Africa are seen calling for more yuanification of the massive continent’s economies.

There has been a general consensus among some eastern and southern African countries that there should be more usage of the Chinese yuan in the region because of China’s growing influence in business and trade, a financial expert said Thursday.

Executive director of the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI) Caleb Fundanga said a forum for financial experts earlier in the week had agreed that there was need to use the Chinese yuan as a reserve currency because China was playing an active role in their economies.

The forum was attended by deputy central bank governors and deputy permanent secretaries of finance from 14 countries that fall under MEFMI.

“The general conclusion is that we should use the yuan more because its time has come. We are doing more business (with China) so it’s natural that we use the currency of the country with which we are trading.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Introducing Empire Oil: A DeSmog UK Special Investigation

Introducing Empire Oil: A DeSmog UK Special Investigation

The UK likes to brag about its credentials as a global climate leader. But a new DeSmog UK investigation reveals that beneath the green veneer lies some dirty business.

At the centre of it all is the City of London and its junior stock exchange, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

DeSmog UK’s new three-part investigative series Empire Oil: London’s Dirty Secret, lifts the veil on a “boys’ club” that generates wealth for The City from environmentally damaging activities in politically unstable regions.

Through detailed analysis of company activity and market data, it exposes how AIM’s “light touch” regulation and complex offshore company structures create an opaque corporate environment in which conflicts of interest have been shown to thrive.

Part one, ‘Black Gold’: London’s African Oil Hub, maps the London oil companies operating in Africa. It identifies:

  • How the UK government provides ongoing support for international fossil fuel exploration despite its domestic and international climate change commitments;
  • 12 private and public limited oil and gas companies headquartered in London that have operations in Africa, all of which have ties to tax-havens in British overseas territories and crown dependencies;
  • The failure of international regulation to tackle issues regarding a lack of transparency for companies operating in unstable markets.

Part two, Taking AIM: London’s Wild West Stock Market, lifts the lid on London’s junior stock exchange, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). It shows:

  • A history of scandals and company collapse on AIM, and a lack of public sanction and enforcement;
  • A “light touch” regulation system behind which companies are rarely named and shamed for abusing the system;
  • Fundamental problems with AIM’s regulators, known as nomads, that also act as company brokers and can have vested interests in the companies they oversee;
  • The potential for oil, gas, and mining companies to manipulate information about assets in politically unstable regions, and the obstacles to verification for investors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

WHO Prepares For “Worst Case” As Congo Ebola Outbreak Spreads

In the week since we first noted the new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the number of cases has risen by 50%, and The World Health Organization has now said it is preparing for “the worst case scenario.”

The WHO has tallied 32 suspected or confirmed cases in the northwestern area of Bikoro, on the shores of Lake Tumbathe near the border with the Republic of Congo, including 18 deaths, between April 4 and May 9.

The outbreak, declared by the DRC health ministry on Tuesday, is the DRC’s ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the deadly viral disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team.

Scientists are greatly concerned that this outbreak in the remote Bikoro region will travel 175 miles to the city of Mbandaka – the capital of Equateur province and home to around 1.2 million residents.


We’ve updated this map. Turns out that the provincial capital of Equateur, Mbandaka, is home to roughly 1M people. It’s less than 300 km or 175 miles from Bikoro and reachable by water.


What’s worrisome is that the most recent WHO update says that there are two probably cases at Wangata – which is very close to Mbandaka.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Top General Issues Urgent Warning Over US-China Collision Course in Africa

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) Djibouti — China is the rising world power. This much is clear, but nowhere is that reality felt more than behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. The global hegemony of the United States is being challenged, and the contest is perfectly encapsulated in what’s happening now in the small African nation of Djibouti.

Strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal, Djibouti is home to both U.S. and Chinese military bases, and the two are only miles apart. The U.S. base houses around 4,000 military personnel and is used as a launching pad for operations in Yemen and Somalia.

On Tuesday, Reuters highlighted how the situation at a key port in Djibouti has U.S. officials worrying over China’s growing reach:

“Last month, Djibouti ended its contract with Dubai’s DP World, one of the world’s biggest port operators, to run the Doraleh Container Terminal, citing failure to resolve a dispute that began in 2012.

“DP World called the move an illegal seizure of the terminal and said it had begun new arbitration proceedings before the London Court of International Arbitration.”

It also described the reaction in Washington at a session of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee:

“During a U.S. congressional hearing on Tuesday, which was dominated by concerns about China’s role in Africa, lawmakers said they had seen reports that Djibouti seized control of the port to give it to China as a gift.”

Speaking before lawmakers, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the top U.S. commander in Africa, warned that the military’s ability to resupply and refuel ships would be greatly affected if China restricted access to the port:

“If the Chinese took over that port, then the consequences could be significant.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Exposing Africa’s Manmade Water Crisis

The imminent shutdown of Cape Town’s piped water network should serve as a wake-up call for all of Africa to overhaul urban water-management systems. Unfortunately, like Africa’s water resources themselves, Cape Town’s crisis seems likely to be wasted.

About a decade ago, at a meeting of South African mayors convened by Lindiwe Hendricks, South Africa’s then-minister of water and environmental affairs, we predicted that an unprecedented water crisis would hit one of the country’s main cities within 15 years, unless water-management practices were improved significantly.

That prediction has now come true, with Cape Town facing a shutdown of its piped water network. The question now is whether African leaders will allow our other projection – that, within the next 25-30 years, many more of the continent’s cities will be facing similar crises – to materialize.

Africa has long struggled with urban water and wastewater management. As the continent’s population has swelled, from about 285 million in 1960 to nearly 1.3 billion today, and urbanization has progressed, the challenge has become increasingly acute. And these trends are set to intensify: by 2050, the continent’s total population is expected to exceed 2.5 billion, with 55% living in urban environments.

The challenge African countries face may not be unique, but it is, in some ways, unprecedented. After all, in Western countries, urbanization took place over a much longer period, and against a background of steadily improving economic conditions. In building effective systems for water and wastewater management, cities had adequate investment funds and the relevant expertise.

In Africa, cities’ financial and management capacities are already overwhelmed. As a result, water and wastewater management has often fallen by the wayside, with policymakers focusing on water-related issues only when droughts and floods occur. The Third World Centre for Water Management estimates that only about 10-12% of Africa’s population has access to adequate domestic and industrial wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pay Any Price, by Robert Gore

Pay Any Price, by Robert Gore

Empires get stupider and more corrupt as they age.

Why are US Green Berets, four of whom were recently killed, in Niger? Why does the US have at least 36 bases, outposts, and staging areas in Africa, located in 24 countries? Why does a website, TomDispatch, have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get that information, which contradicts years of assurances from AFRICOM, the US’s African military command, that the US has only one base in Africa, in the Republic of Djibouti? Why is AFRICOM headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany? How does anything that happens in Niger, or most of the rest of Africa for that matter, affect anyone’s way of life in the US? Why do we say the dead were heroes protecting our way of life when the country where they died poses no threat?

From the AFRICOM website:

The United States and Niger have a long-standing bilateral relationship. Our militaries have been stalwart allies focused on working together to deter and to defeat terrorist threats in the West African nation and across the Sahel region.

A war on a tactic, terror, can provide the rationale for anything. Terror is ubiquitous, it can be fought anywhere. Anyone who uses or threatens to use violence in furtherance of political or economic ends can be deemed a terrorist. Any “terrorist” who yells, “Death to the United States!” can be deemed a threat to Americans. Terrorism will never be eradicated, so the war against it is perpetual. President George W. Bush even arrogated the right to wage that war preemptively, before terrorists actually struck the US or its citizens. And that’s how the US finds itself in Niger, its “long-standing” and “stalwart” ally that 999,999 out of a million Americans can’t find on an unlabeled map.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Plague is Starting in Africa

Panic has ensued in Madagascar where a recent outbreak of the plague has claimed the lives of at least 24 people. Prime Minister Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana has announced a ban on all public gatherings and demonstrations in effect until the outbreak can be contained.

The plague is a deadly disease caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. It usually begins as the bubonic plague, which is spread from small mammals (such as rats) and fleas to humans. If detected early, the bubonic plague can generally be treated and controlled with antibiotics and proper environmental measures. However, half of all reported cases in Madagascar are the pneumonic plague –- the deadliest form of the disease.

The pneumonic plague is transmitted person to person. Since this form of the plague is airborne, it spreads extremely rapidly and can have catastrophic consequences. Those who contract the pneumonic plague must be treated immediately as it can be fatal within less than 24 hours of onset.

Health officials in Madagascar are now rushing to identify anyone who has come into contact with those affected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), those at risk will be treated with antibiotics and possibly quarantined.

Formerly known as the “Black Death,” this is the same plague that claimed the lives of 50 million Europeans during the Middle Ages. The disease first reached Europe in October 1347 and quickly turned into a contagion that destroyed nearly 1/3 of the population.

“Time To Panic”? Nigeria Begs World Bank For Massive Loan As Dollar Reserves Dry Up

“Time To Panic”? Nigeria Begs World Bank For Massive Loan As Dollar Reserves Dry Up

Having urged “don’t panic” just 4 short months ago, it appears Nigeria just did just that as the global dollar short squeeze forces the eight-month-old government of President Muhammadu Buhari to beg The World Bank and African Development Bank for $3.5bn in emergency loans to help fund a $15bn deficit in a budget heavy on public spending amid collapsing oil revenuesJust as we warned in December, the dollar shortage has arrived, perhaps now is time to panic after all.

In September, Nigerian central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele ruled out a naira devaluation on Thursday and told people not to panic about a government order which risks draining billions of dollars from the financial system.

In an interview with Reuters, Emefiele said he was ready to inject liquidity if needed into the interbank market, which dried up this week following the directive to government departments to move their funds from commercial banks into a “Treasury Single Account” (TSA) at the central bank.

The policy is part of new President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to fight corruption, but analysts say it could suck up as much as 10 percent of banking sector deposits in Africa’s biggest economy – playing havoc with banks’ liquidity ratios.

With global oil prices tumbling, banks and companies are already struggling with the consequences of a dive in Nigeria’s energy revenues that has hit the naira currency and triggered flows of capital out of the country.

Then JP Morgan kicked Nigeria out of its influential Emerging Markets Bond Index last week due to restrictions that the central bank imposed on the currency market to support the naira and preserve its foreign exchange reserves.

Since taking office in May, Buhari has vowed to rein in Nigeria’s dependency on oil exports which account for 90 percent of foreign currency earnings.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

GPM Global Forecast (01-18-16)

GPM Global Forecast (01-18-16)

Middle East Header

Iran Enters a New Era as Nuclear Sanctions are Lifted

Background

The United States and EU have lifted economic sanctions on Iran following confirmation from the United Nations that the country is following through on its obligations set out in last year’s nuclear accord.

Outlook

Implementation Day arrived earlier than many expected, probably because the Iranian government wanted to rush sanction relief ahead of February elections, which won’t just determine the next parliament but also the Assembly of Experts – the clerical body that might be called on to pick Iran’s Supreme Leader should Ayatollah Khamenei die or step down in the next eight years.

One immediate impact of sanction relief is an increase in global oil supply. Iran used to be OPEC’s second-largest producer, and although its energy infrastructure is aging and investment-starved after years of sanctions, the country expects to sell an additional 500,000 barrels a day right out of the gates. The lifting of sanctions caused an immediate plunge in the stock markets of oil-producing Gulf states, with Saudi Arabia seeing a drop of 5.4% and Qatar 7% in Sunday trading.

While EU companies will now be free to trade and invest in Iran, many US sanctions will remain in place beyond the full implementation of the deal. These pertain to Iran’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism and its human rights record. New sanctions are also a possibility following Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests. As a result, in the global rush to get a foothold in Iran’s untapped market of some 80 million people, US companies will be at a distinct legal disadvantage vis-à-vis their European and Asian competitors.

The nuclear deal and the future tone of US-Iran relations will feature prominently in the upcoming US presidential race, evident in Hilary Clinton’s declaration that she supports new sanctions against Iran mere hours after the deal was officially implemented.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UN says Ebola outbreak ‘not yet finished’

UN says Ebola outbreak ‘not yet finished’

About 30 people are still getting infected with Ebola virus each week in West Africa, says UN’s envoy David Nabarro.

The worst recorded outbreak of Ebola has already killed more than 11,200 people across West Africa [AP]

Africa’s Ebola outbreak has not run its course and about 30 people are still getting infected each week, the United Nations’ special envoy for the deadly disease has said.

Under normal circumstances, such an infection rate would be considered “a major, major outbreak,” David Nabarro said on Monday.

“Probably about one third of these people are not coming from the contact list, which means they are surprise cases, and that’s a big worry,” Nabarro told a conference organised by the World Health Organization in Cape Town.

The worst recorded outbreak of Ebola has already killed more than 11,200 people across West Africa.

Infection rates are down from the peak of the crisis. But Liberia reported a 17-year-old boy tested positive for the virus on June 30 – almost two months after the country was declared free of Ebola.

Liberia, the country worst hit by the virus, had been hailed as an example for neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, which are also struggling to stop the spread.

Source: Reuters

 

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