A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘angola

[NEWS] Four science links, from water on the frontier to climate change to Tau Ceti exoplanets

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  • At Wired, Matt Simon explores the remarkably wrong-headed theory of the 19th century US that “rain follows the plough.”
  • These National Geographic photos of the unexplored lakes in Angola that feed the Okavango are remarkable.
  • Rachel Brown examines billy burr, the Colorado hermit whose collection of decades of climate data is invaluable.
  • Universe Today notes a new study confirming the existence of Tau Ceti e and f, potentially habitable rocky exoplanets just 12 light years away.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 9, 2017 at 10:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Bad Astronomy notes the discovery of massive ice deposits underneath Mars’ Utopia Planitia.
  • blogTO shares photos of what the new TTC buses will look like.
  • Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly describes a lovely exhibition of the artifacts of the life of Charlotte Brontë in New York City.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers on the detection of exomoons.
  • Itching for Eestimaa notes how Estonia, despite wanting solitude and independence, keeps getting dragged into global geopolitics.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Mike Pence’s improbable arguments that he did not, in fact, support ex-gay conversion “therapy”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Castro’s positive contributions to the fight against apartheid, and looks at the colonial booze trade.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the economic incentives for prostitution in a time of austerity.
  • The Map Room Blog maps the shifting and shrinking ice of the Arctic.
  • Marginal Revolution links to an interview with an anthropologist who wonders about the knowledge of others that ubiquitous AI would allow. (The example given is of cows who can adjust their milking schedules.)
  • THe NYRB Daily reflects on Cuba after Castro.
  • Otto Pohl talks about the fate of Soviet Kurds under Stalin.
  • Window on Eurasia argues the Soviet Union was falling apart and is skeptical of a Russian plan to create a hierarchy for Russia’s Muslim populations.

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • Bloomberg notes growth in Nigeria’s telecommunications industry and looks about Huawei’s plans to compete with Apple.
  • Bloomberg View looks at India’s advantages over China and considers narrow European definitions of religious liberty.
  • CBC reports that a Japanese boy abandoned in the forests of the north by his parents has been found, and describes plans to restore Kingston’s prison farm.
  • CNBC notes economic desperation among oil-exporting states like Venezuela and Angola.
  • The Inter Press Service looks at the exclusion of LGBT communities from HIV reduction efforts and considers Sri Lankan efforts at food security.
  • The National Post reports on Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s enlistment as conductor of the Metropolitan Opera.
  • Open Democracy considers prospects for a coup in Saudi Arabia.
  • The Toronto Star notes the durability of Kathleen Wynne.
  • Universe Today looks at Tutankhamen’s blade of meteoritic iron.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • The Inter Press Service suggests climate change is contributing to a severe drought in Nicaragua.
  • Reuters notes China’s plan to implement sanctions against North Korea.
  • Atlas Obscura explores the now-defunct medium of vinyl movies.
  • Science goes into detail about the findings that many pre-contact American populations did not survive conquest at all.
  • CBC notes evidence that salmon prefer dark-walled tanks.
  • Universe Today notes the discovery of a spinning neutron star in the Andromeda Galaxy.
  • Vice’s Motherboard notes how Angolan users of free limited-access internet sites are sharing files through Wikipedia.
  • MacLean’s notes how an ordinary British Columbia man’s boudoir photos for his wife have led to a modelling gig.

[LINK] NPR on the anti-Muslim policies of Angola

At NPR’s Goats and Soda blog, Anders Kelto writes about Angola’s suppression of Islam. This seems to be a consequence of a repression of civil society generally.

The oil-rich, southern African nation of 21 million is thousands of miles away, but looks a lot like the U.S. when it comes to religion. Both countries are roughly three-fourths Christian (Roman Catholicism dominates in Angola) and less than 1 percent Muslim.

But in contrast with the U.S., the Angolan government has made it extremely difficult for non-Christian religious groups to practice their faith.

“The problem is that the men in government believe that Angola is a Catholic country,” says Elias Isaac, program director for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

He says freedom of religion is protected in the Angolan constitution but is restricted by many laws. For example, the Angolan government only grants legal standing to religious groups that have at least 100,000 members. There are roughly 90,000 Muslims in the country, the vast majority of whom are immigrants from West Africa. Without legal religious standing, Isaac says, Muslims face many challenges.

“They don’t have permission to build mosques, to open schools, to build clinics, to do outreach,” he says.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 16, 2015 at 4:22 pm

[LINK] Claudia Gastrow at The Conversation on Angola after the oil boom

In “Why Luanda’s residents are asking: where did all the oil riches go?”, doctoral student Claudia Gastrow notes the vulnerability of the established order in oil-rich Angola after the drop in global oil prices.

After the oil price crash Luandans are left wondering what was actually achieved. Between 2004 and 2014 Angola failed to diversify its economy significantly. Foreign reserves are drying up and inflation hit a three-year high of 10.4% in July this year.

This has been partially driven by a fuel price increase imposed after the fuel subsidy was slashed as a means of decreasing spending. This has led to a rise in food and consumer goods prices, negatively affecting even the small gains that the urban poor made during the boom years.

Ever stronger evidence is emerging of financial mismanagement and large scale corruption in the administration of oil funds. A 2011 IMF report identified that public funds of US$32 billion linked to the state oil company, Sonangol, were unaccounted for. Although it later found that $US27.2 billion was due to unrecorded expenditure by Sonangol on behalf of the Angolan government, this left open the question of what had happened to the outstanding amount.

China has also launched investigations into allegations of corruption involving its economic deals in Angola. This has led to the arrest of Su Shulin, former head of Sinopec, the Chinese state oil company responsible for oil investment in Angola, and of Sam Pa, the kingpin of the Queensway Group, who brokered many of the agreements between Angola and Chinese business.

While Angola is now searching for new sources of financing, seen in its issuing of $US1.5 billion of Eurobonds, the general feeling is that its economic problems are set to continue.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 29, 2015 at 5:03 pm

[LINK] “In Angola we’re proud – we have the upper hand over our former coloniser”

In a Guardian opinion piece, one Lucia Kula notes the extent to which the Angolan oil boom has transformed the Portuguese-Angolan relationship, but wonders about the durability of this.

In 2011 there were 21,563 Angolans in Portugal, compared to 100,000 Portuguese living in Angola. The attraction is clear, the same reason why people have always moved: to make a better life for themselves and the families they leave behind. In this case, Portuguese escaping austerity and high unemployment have been heading to Angola, currently enjoying a boom.

Angola’s economy, tethered tightly to the oil industry, may lack diversity. But oil (which accounts for more than 70% of government revenue and over 90% of exports) and diamonds helped give Angola 15% growth at its height between 2002 and 2008. Even when the rate dropped to 8-10% in 2012, it was doing much better than Portugal, whose economy shrank by 3% in the same period. The government’s decision to invest heavily in Angola’s banking sector saw its assets grow from $3bn in 2003 to $57bn by 2011, ranking it third after South Africa and Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa.

With growing wealth has come a flurry of foreign investment and acquisitions of Portuguese banks and media outlets. Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the Angolan president José Edudardo dos Santos and Africa’s first female billionaire, has bought up shares in several Portuguese banks, such as Banco BIC and Banco BIP, Portugal’s fourth largest bank. The infiltration is so comprehensive that in June 2015 al-Jazeera called the media buyout “reverse colonialism”.

The change in fortunes has not only been visible on a balance sheet but in the attitudes of Angolans: proud of our presence in Portugal, proud of the fact we have the upper hand over our former coloniser. Angolans are visiting Portugal more often, and are even buying second homes. Away from home, the narrative about Angola is also changing, with Angolans enjoying the praise and admiration of strangers. Whenever people learn I am Angolan, the response is almost always: “You guys are really doing well, right?”

But is this progress credible? The petrodollars have started to trickle down; entirely new towns are being built; and plans are being developed for large shopping centres. But this is as much as most Angolans have seen of this new economic growth. Angola has the world’s highest death rate for children under five; in 2013 36% of the population lived below the poverty line, and unemployment was at 26%.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 11, 2015 at 7:03 pm