16 January 2016

Zimbabwe and China

Africa-China exports fall by 40% after China slowdown
13 Jan 2016
African exports to China fell by almost 40% in 2015, China's customs office says. China is Africa's biggest single trading partner and its demand for African commodities has fueled the continent's recent economic growth. The decline in exports reflects the recent slowdown in China's economy. This has, in turn, put African economies under pressure and in part accounts for the falling value of many African currencies.

China's Xi Jinping in Zimbabwe for talks with Mugabe
China's President Xi Jinping has arrived in Zimbabwe, making him the most prominent global leader in many years to visit the country. The two nations had a "deep and firm" friendship, Mr Xi said in an article in Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has strongly pursued a "Look East" policy since the West isolated him over his controversial land reform program. China is major investor in Zimbabwe, helping to keep its economy afloat.

Kenya breaks 'Chinese-run cybercrime network'
Kenyan police say they have cracked a cybercrime center run by 77 Chinese nationals from upmarket homes in the capital, Nairobi. Police believe they were involved in hacking and money laundering. The foreign ministry summoned a Chinese diplomat to discuss the arrests. A Chinese official said the embassy was co-operating with investigations. The BBC's Paul Nabiswa in Nairobi says the raids come at a time when many Chinese companies are investing heavily in Kenya, especially in the construction industry. The Kenyan government has signed many bilateral agreements with China and Chinese nationals have roles in government programs, including in higher education institutions, he says.

Zimbabwe economy: Investments plunging, says bank governor
Foreign investment in Zimbabwe more than halved in the first six months of the year, the country's central bank chief John Mangudya has said. The government policy to hand economic control to black Zimbabweans had been misunderstood by investors, he said. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has signed nine investment deals in China during President Robert Mugabe's visit. They included investment in sectors such as energy, roads, railways, telecommunications, agriculture and tourism - but no figures were given. Zimbabwe does not have its own currency and uses eight others as legal tender, with the US dollar and South African rand most commonly used.

China to build new East Africa railway line
12 May 2014
Formal agreements for plans to build a new railway line in East Africa with Chinese help have been signed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. It is to run from Mombasa to Nairobi and will extend eventually to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. "This project demonstrates that there is equal co-operation and mutual benefit between China and the East African countries, and the railway is a very important part of transport infrastructure development," said Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. A subsidiary of China Communications Construction Co has been named as the main contractor. China's Eximbank is to provide 90% of the cost of the first phase put at $3.8bn (£2.3bn) of the line, with Kenya putting up the remaining 10%.

Japan and China criticize each other's Africa policies
10 Jan 2014
China and Japan are criticizing each other's policies in Africa as each country pledges more money for the continent. Japan has suggested China is buying off African leaders with lavish gifts. Meanwhile China accuses Japan of courting African support for a place on the United National Security Council. Japan's leader Shinzo Abe is touring three nations in Africa, the first trip there by a Japanese prime minister for eight years. Mr. Abe is expected to pledge more than $14bn in aid and trade deals during his trip to Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Mozambique. China has hailed Africa a "golden ground" for foreign investment and has pledged to double its aid to the continent to $20bn a year.

Zambia seizes control of Chinese-owned mine amid safety fears
20 Feb 2013
The Zambian government has taken over the running of a Chinese-owned coalmine after revoking its license because of safety lapses. As well as the safety issues, Mr Mukanga also stated that the company had failed to pay royalties or properly declare how much coal was produced. The mine in question has been controversial. A Zambian miner was charged with the murder of a Chinese supervisor at the Collum mine last year. In 2010, Chinese managers were accused of firing on protesting miners. China has invested more than $2bn in the Zambian mining industry. According to Beijing, China has created 50,000 jobs in Zambia, with trade between the two countries reaching $3.5bn in 2011.

Africa and China: Workers face clash of cultures
24 Dec 2012
China's new leadership has made it clear that it is still committed to developing its interests in Africa. China's embrace of Africa in recent years has boosted trade volumes and foreign investment, and provided new infrastructure. Business links between China and Africa may be cordial and efficient, but it does not mean that friendship and mutual liking necessarily follow in their wake. There have been anti-Chinese sentiments in Zambia over the treatment of African workers in Chinese-run mines and rising hostility to Chinese immigrants in other African states.

China pledges $20bn in credit for Africa at summit
19 Jul 2012
China has pledged $20bn (£12.8bn) in credit for Africa over the next three years, in a push for closer ties and increased trade. President Hu Jintao made the announcement at a summit in Beijing with leaders from 50 African nations. He said the loans would support infrastructure, agriculture and the development of small businesses. Africa is an important source of raw materials to feed China's economic boom and a market for cheap Chinese products, and has benefited from huge infrastructure projects in return.

Zimbabwe trade fair boycotted by India and Russia
27 Apr 2012
India and Russia have boycotted a major international trade fair in Zimbabwe in protest against the country's policy of taking control of foreign companies. Chinese firms, however, have come to the trade fair in Bulawayo in droves. China is the single biggest investor at the trade expo, with Chinese companies taking up 90% of the stands.

South Sudan's Salva Kiir says Sudan has declared war
24 Apr 2012
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir says Sudan has "declared war" on his country, following weeks of fighting along their common border. Kiir was speaking in China as he met Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Beijing, which is a major buyer of oil from both countries, but has long been an ally of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. China's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Tuesday that oil was "the economic lifeline for both countries". He added: "To maintain the stability and sustainability of the oil cooperation is consistent with the fundamental interests of both countries. It is also consistent with the interests of Chinese enterprises and their partners.”

Khaki Capitalism by Schumpeter, The Economist
03 Dec 2011
Zimbabwe’s army has recently formed joint ventures with Chinese partners in farming and mining.

China Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Zimbabwe visit
11 Feb 2011
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has arrived in Zimbabwe at the start of a five-nation tour of Africa. He described the country as a "good brother" to China, ahead of an expected meeting with President Robert Mugabe. The China Development Bank has plans to spend $10bn in Zimbabwe's mining, agriculture and infrastructure sectors, according to comments made several weeks ago by Zimbabwe's investment promotion minister. China's ties with Zimbabwe, which go back to pre-independence times, have helped protect Mr. Mugabe's government at the United Nations. The Chinese use of its veto in 2008 was "a landmark diplomatic decision where it basically saved Zimbabwe from punitive sanctions instigated by an irate and sulky former colonial power", the Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Mr. Mumbengegwi as saying. "So, now this visit will give an opportunity for Zimbabweans to finally thank China for this act," he said.

China 'agrees huge Zimbabwe loan'
30 June 2009
China has agreed to give Zimbabwe a loan of $950m (£573m) to help it revive its battered economy, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said. "We will encourage and facilitate more Chinese companies to seek development in Zimbabwe," Chinese official Zhou Yongkang told state news agency Xinhua.

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell, 2010, Excerpts
[Fictional speech to Communist Party gathering regarding Africa]

“Let us travel,” said Wan Ba, “to an entirely different continent, to Africa. In recent years, in order to secure sufficient supplies of raw materials, not lest oil, to meet our needs, we have built up increasingly strong relationships with many African states. We have been generous with loans and gifts, but we do not interfere in the internal politics of these countries. We are neutral; we do business with everybody. As a result, it makes no difference to us if the land we are dealing with is Zimbabwe or Malawi, Sudan or Angola. Just as we reject any kind of foreign interference in our internal affairs and our legal system, we acknowledge that these countries are independent and that we cannot make any demands with regard to the way in which they are run.”

“Now we can see that large areas of land, often very fertile, are lying in waste. Unlike ours, the Dark Continent is sparsely populated. And we have now realized that it offers us at least part of a solution to the circumstances that threaten our own stability. In the deserted plains, in the fertile valleys through which the great African rivers flow, we shall farm the land my moving there millions of our peasants, who, with no doubt at all, will begin to farm land lying fallow. We shall not be getting rid of people; we shall simply be filling a vacuum and everybody will benefit from what comes to pass. There are lands in Africa, especially in the south and southeast, where enormous areas could be populated by the poor people from our own country. We would be making Africa fruitful and at the same time eliminating a threat that faces us.”

Mugabe and China President Hu Jintao

The Dragon’s Gift by Deborah Brautigam, 2009, Excerpt
At the end of December 1982, Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang headed to Africa. He visited eleven countries in a trip that lasted over four weeks. Zhao was greeted like a visiting rock star. Cheering throngs lined the streets of his motorcade In Zimbabwe, five thousand people waiting at the airport to greet the Chinese leader stampeded onto the runway when security officials opened the gate an hour before Zhao was due to arrive. Five women were trampled to death, sixty-four people were injured and scores fainted in the crush.  

12 January 2016

Public Opinion Series

Public Relations - Public Opinion, National Will, Group Mind, and Social Purpose

Father of Spin, Edward Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations by Larry Tye, 1998, Excerpts
Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernay’s uncle, had revolutionized the way the world thought about individual behavior. He used his uncle’s ideas in the commercial realm to predict, then adjust, the way people believed and behaved, without them realizing it. And just as Freud was rewarded with the title Father of Psychoanalysis, so Bernays became known around the world as the Father of Public Relations.

Bernays was the man who, more than any other, got women to smoke, put bacon and eggs on breakfast tables, Ivory in soap dishes, books in bookshelves and Calvin Coolidge back in the White House, and in 1954, he helped to topple Guatemala’s democratic government. He died in 1995 at age 103. His story is about how public thought is routinely shaped or, some might say, manipulated by singular powers in our culture.

Tobacco and Bernays

Guatemala and Bernays

Bernay’s legendary public relation campaigns literally qualified him to write the book on:
Propaganda by Edward Bernays, 1928, Excerpts

Bernays studied mass psychology from Walter Lippmann, who was the first to coin the term ‘Manufacturing Consent’
Public Opinion by Walter Lippman, 1921, Excerpts
“The skillful propagandist knows that you must start with a plausible analysis and then stoke up energy by brandishing a passport to heaven.”

Tools to Shape Public Opinion
Public Opinion Shapers

Media Control by Noam Chomsky, 2002, Excerpts

Manufacturing Consent by Herman and Chomsky, 1988, Excerpts

Edward Bernays started his public relations career on The Creel Commission which was created to influence U.S. public opinion regarding American participation in World War I.

Documentary: The Century Of The Self - Freud, Bernays, Mass Mind Control

Other catchy monikers for Edward Bernays
The Baron of Ballyhoo
Sire of the Big Sell
Master of Mass Psychology
High Priest of Press Agents
Pontiff of Publicity
Pope of Propaganda
Prince of Propaganda
Prince of Puff

03 January 2016

Religions and Usury

Old and New Testament

Deuteronomy [Old Testament]
XXIII:19 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to a brother.
XXIII:20 Unto a stranger thou may lend upon usury.

Usury could be applied to a stranger, but not to a brother.  The New Testament proclamation of universal brotherhood negated the use of usury in any circumstance, separating Judaism and Christianity by economic philosophy.

The Idea of Usury by Benjamin N. Nelson, Princeton University Press, 1949
St. Jerome (340-420) contended that the prohibition of usury among brother in Deuteronomy had been universalized by the Prophets and the New Testament. There was, in short, no scriptural warrant for taking usury from anyone.

For some, usury was viewed as a weapon to be used against an enemy who could not be defeated in direct confrontation.

De Tobia by St. Ambrose (340-397)
From him, it says there, demand usury, whom you rightly desire to harm, against whom weapons are lawfully carried. Upon him usury is legally imposed. On him whom you cannot easily conquer in war, you can quickly take vengeance with the hundredth. From him exact usury whom it would not be a crime to kill. He fights without a weapon who demands usury: he who revenges himself upon an enemy, who is an interest collector from his foe, fights without a sword. Therefore, where there is the right of war, there also is the right of usury.

The 16th century Protestant Reformation made a distinction between interest and usury, thus not violating the scriptures against usury.

Usury (Random House Dictionary)
1. the lending or practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest. 2. The exorbitant amount or rate of interest, esp. in excess of the legal rate.
Usury (Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)
The practice of charging more than the legal interest rate.

Law separates interest and usury by defining what is exorbitant. From a mathematical perspective, the determination is arbitrary. Interest, at any rate, is still an exponential growth algebraic concept applied to money. Today, the mechanism of interest is omnipresent in the global monetary system.

Islamic Perspective

The historical importance of interest/usury is evidenced by its prominent mention in the Bible, Koran, and other religious texts. The Koran, the Holy Text of Islam delivered by the seventh century prophet Muhammad, mentions usury:

The Glorious Qur’an, Translation by Marmaduke Pickthall
Surah II – 275: Those who swallow usury cannot rise up save as he ariseth whom the devil hath prostrated by (his) touch. As for him who returneth (to Usury) - such are rightful owners of Fire. They will abide therein.

Surah II – 276: Allah hath blighted usury and made almsgiving fruitful.

Surah II – 278:O ye who believe! Observe your duty to Allah, and give up what remaineth (due to you) for usury, if ye are (in truth) believers.

Surah III – 130: Devour not usury, doubling and quadrupling (the sum lent).

Surah XXX - 39
That which ye give in usury in order that it may increase on (other) people’s property hath no increase with Allah; but that which ye give in charity, seeking Allah’s countenance, hath increase manifold.

It is interesting to note that the New Age translation of Surah III - 130 [above] incorporates the modern concept of usury as separate from interest.

The Essential Koran, Translation by Thomas Cleary
Faithful believers, do not take usurious interest, multiplied and compounded, and be wary of God, that you may prosper.

Today, the use of usury remains a source of contention within the Islamic world.

Jesus Casting out the Money-Changers, by Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1834 – 1890