Poly….what? Politics!

It is almost a week ago, yet the news is still rustling through the Middle Eastern meadows. The news is partially all over it. Yet, it is the Business Insider who gave us ‘a plot to shore up the country’s depleted coffers’ (at http://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-corruption-crackdown-looks-like-a-plot-to-plug-deficit-2017-12), Ambrose Carey makes an interesting point here. The beginning quote “Now a more probable motive for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s unprecedented detention of members of the country’s rich elite is emerging. Reports suggest that detainees are signing away cash and assets to secure their freedom in what looks like an unorthodox bid to plug the kingdom’s gaping budget deficit” could be a given truth. When we consider the Guardian last week with ‘Saudi prince Miteb bin Abdullah pays $1bn in corruption settlement‘, some of us thought that it was interesting not just that the counts of corruption had already been investigated, the idea that there was a ‘get out of jail card‘ for a mere $1,000,000,000 is equally stunning, that I beside the fact that the sum has been agreed upon and that the head of the Saudi National Guard is apparently still smiling after having paid the amount. In light of one of the accusations “awarding contracts to his own firms, including a $10bn deal for walkie talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals” we could see that the price is interestingly light. So does the Business insider have a case?

Well, when we consider how the oil prices have slumped from the almighty $135 to $58 we all have to wonder how the impact on the long term has been. pumping oil might be like printing money at your own convenience, but once the spending spree and the high rises are there, the long term issue is that oil is at 42% of what was and upping production by 193% is just not realistic in the long term. Yet there is another worry. the quote “a huge budget deficit, which stood at $79 billion in 2016. The government has had to use foreign reserves to help cover the revenue shortfall, with the former shrinking by about a third over the last three years. The recession has forced MbS to rein back public spending, alarming cosseted Saudis long accustomed to cradle-to-grave subsidies” does not give it. Even as that is merely the deficit, that and the selling of domestic debt in July gives rise to thoughts, yet we need to wonder how inflated this issue is, as it seems to be presented. Lets not forget that it is less than 10% of the Greek debt and unlike Greece, Saudi Arabia is still getting income from the oil fields. So the need to panic should not be there. And lets face it, who is actually panicking?

Even as the Business Insider is making a nice case. I fear I cannot agree on some of the ‘findings‘ and ‘assumed speculations‘ that they offer. With “So, in all likelihood, MbS will struggle to generate the money he needs. Worse still for him, his actions could have deleterious consequences for the economy. While the acquisition of assets and cash is likely to play well with ordinary Saudis weary of corruption amongst the royals and the business elite, it may unnerve already jittery foreign investors whose engagement is critical to the Crown Prince’s economic plans. Though allies have sought to portray the detentions as an anti-graft campaign aimed at cleaning up the corporate landscape, its apparently arbitrary nature and disregard for property rights and due process will worry the investment community“. You see, it might be correct to some extent, but knowing the greed that some have for mere millions, roughly 99.32554% of that population will not run away from optional billions, that is a given you can take to the bank. From my own point of view, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman can still have it all, the timeline might slip a little, but there are clear signs that there are options to grow opportunity within Saudi Arabia. They still have options to rival Al Jazeera if certain censoring is changed, By investing into tertiary degrees for Saudi’s its dependency for foreign workers will go down, which would be a massive boost for Saudi Arabia and as Saudi Arabia grows its entertainment network it can start opening doors on setting a 5G environment which will have them being amongst those leading the charge in the next mobile evolution which will enable a lot more industry all over the Middle East. In this aging day, pharmaceutical options seem to be the next step. There is no way it can compete with India, but in partnership with India they will have options to grow this industry internally. It seems like that need is too small for Saudi Arabia, yet with 28 million people it could profit by having an industry that is mainly for export within the Middle East that is comprised of 410 million people. That is still a large market that cannot be ignored and as the quality is proven and the export grows, Saudi Arabia could see a drastically reduced need for oil soon thereafter. There are more technology options for Saudi Arabia to enjoy, but the clear path of larger growth has been proven on several counts in several nations to be within the mobile and pharmaceutical industry and that could be the growing start for an entire next generation, because these two fields will have an almost exponential need for Patent lawyers, which means that the legal field will be pushed into revolutionary growth soon after that. Mind you, not merely a local growth, the IP field would enable global growth for Saudi Arabia as well and as this field is set in stone (or marble) it will attract even more foreign investors and opportunity seekers. All issues clearly set in this field and in this the Business Insider is still on the horse that states “The Crown Prince has staked his reputation on the success of an ambitious economic transformation plan, Vision 2030, to wean the country off its dependence on oil, but he needs to fund planned reforms and projects. He was banking on a part-floatation of the national oil company Aramco, which appears to have been postponed for at least a year. The ruthless purge and financial strong-arming could now deter the very western investors and regulators needed to move forward with the sell-off“, yet there is no given that other fields need to stop getting a foothold and as these two (or three) elements are grown within Saudi Arabia, other players will find options to get their own kind of fuzzy drink labelled ‘profit’ in their hands and as such they will still be fighting for a seat at this table called vision 2030. Even as the venue per plate is much higher than expected, the long terms gains are beyond what they are able to make now. With US deficits on the rise, the EU currently has 6 nations that are at risk of breaking the deficit rule (France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Portugal and Slovenia), so there will be consequences there too, which would imply diminished profit, so those players are looking for seats at tables with loads of gain and that is where Saudi Arabia is one of the few that would accommodate their needs. So as such, Saudi Arabia has options if they have optional controls for greedy mobs. And even as there will be good news stories coming from Strasbourg, there will be eyes on the EU as it will likely dial down the consequences for these six nations. In addition with the Mario Draghi stimulus game where we will see a likely extension into 2018 yet at a lessened 30 billion a month implies that Europe will be diving into close to half a trillion of additional debt, with the likely result that there will be nothing to show for it, no actual economic growth, so in all this debt driven society, Saudi Arabia could have a larger windfall if it plays its cards right. Once certain plays are in place, Saudi Arabia would be more and more primed for export and exporting opportunities to places that ignored and neglected its own infrastructure. In this the US would have to cut costs and corners to a level never seen before as it optionally faces the ridicule for being at best at par and more likely to stray behind Saudi Arabia in the 5G mobile networking, a field they were once the only one dominating in. What a massive set back that will be for the old USA. In this Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could have the forefront by preferring the Polytechnic sciences over Politics. In his role he cannot avoid politics, but by focussing on Science and technology he has the option to propel Saudi Arabia beyond what others thought possible. So even as it has its issues with deficits and treasury needs, can we rely on the Business Insider that it is so much worse than we expect? I for one am not convinced that this is the case. I might be wrong, but the fact that the larger players are still willing to sell their first born for a seat at that table makes me think that there are a lot more opportunities for investors than many perceive. the question becomes does the House of Saud feel safe letting these opportunities go beyond the national borders to other players? It is always a rocky road to travel. In the end I do believe that it is more about the speed of growth and less about who owns the growth. that should keep plenty of investors tallying their optional profits for some time to come.

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Enabling crime

Thursday saw the light of an unsettling situation, unsettling to some that is. You see the article ‘UK police to lose phone and web data search authorisation powers‘ is very one sided. At https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/30/police-to-lose-phone-and-web-data-search-authorisation-powers we see “Senior police officers are to lose the power to self-authorise access to personal phone and web browsing records” and as it ends with “an attempt to comply with a European court ruling on Britain’s mass surveillance powers“, this merely fuels my setting for Brexit. Yet it is not that simple. As people are shouting, screaming and considering how they are allowed, in rights of, and needing privacy. I stopped caring and worrying. When you consider the following parts:

SS7 hack explained (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/19/ss7-hack-explained-mobile-phone-vulnerability-snooping-texts-calls), in 2016.

Here we see “Hackers can read text messages, listen to phone calls and track mobile phone users’ locations with just the knowledge of their phone number using ‘a vulnerability’ in the worldwide mobile phone network infrastructure“. We hear that something was done. It is given with “Since the exposure of security holes within the SS7 system, certain bodies, including the mobile phone operators’ trade association, the GSMA, have set up a series of services that monitor the networks, looking for intrusions or abuse of the signalling system“. So guess what! It was not or ever solved. It is merely monitored, the moment that this monitoring number is tweaked; organised crime has full access to you. This is only the first piece of evidence that European Laws have been enabling criminals and organised crime.

And with the quote “Reportedly, recent security testing of SS7 by an operator in Luxembourg took Norway’s largest network operator offline for over three hours due to an “unexpected external SS7 event”.” we see clear evidence that the criminals are winning. I wonder if those extremely high paid judges are considering that. Because their claim “mass harvesting of personal communications data could only be considered lawful if accompanied by strong safeguards including judicial or independent authorisation and only with the objective of fighting serious crime including terrorism” has no hold on criminals as they are in it for the money, not terrorism.

So even as the Guardian trivialises the danger in the correct way with “given the billions of mobile phone users across the globe, is small”, yet these criminals are learning and learning really fast. The contact book shows them who is connected to important people (for example @RBS.co.uk or @natixis.fr), that list goes on for a while as the contacts are lining up, the tally shows that the value of that person goes up by a lot. And let’s not forget, this level of data mining can be done with most ordinary computers. So as they are seeking data, downloading dumps for later, 99% gets washed and 1% is kept on the computer. I reckon that 99% gets burned on discs for later use and verification. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai gave warning in an article on May 4th 2016 (at https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mg7bd4/how-a-hacker-can-take-over-your-life-by-hijacking-your-phone-number), here we see “In 2014, UK authorities warned that criminals were taking over victim’s cell phone numbers and using them to get into the victim’s bank accounts. Now, a social engineering expert is warning that taking control of someone’s phone number is easier than previously thought, thanks to a code normally made of three letters and six numbers called the Porting Authorisation Code, or PAC“, the consequence is given with “De Vere was simply testing this on numbers he owned, but if he had been a criminal taking over other people’s phone numbers, he could have done real damage. Once in control of the numbers, he said, he could’ve use it to approve bank transactions with SMS notifications, bypass two-factor authentication on online accounts such as Gmail, and do other types of fraud” and that was three years ago. So how many operators have increased their levels of security? When I designed the initial solution towards the UK NHS issues, the largest issue I had was to contemplate a new level of non-repudiation, that person and only that person could have requested the medication for a patient. It is that part that gave me an insight on just how casual the online banking security is and this has seemingly been the case for over three years now.

I do believe that security is on the mind of every bank, yet absolute security is an illusion so they resorted to the bank vault principle. They started to design time based security. When you know that burning a bank vault takes 12 hours, you merely need to walk past it every hour to keep it secure. Even with sensors and other things, bank robberies never stopped, they merely became very rare, or better stated extremely rare being successful. In this online efforts are pushed, yet the same issue stays. Now it can be attempted every Nano second by billions, the banks consider that and see the effort as working because only a few ever get through. Yet the end is not near. As given by CNBC (at https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/01/consumers-lost-more-than-16b-to-fraud-and-identity-theft-last-year.html). Here we see “15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research. That’s up 16 percent from 2015“, so even as the bank is not all in this, we see in equal measure “Card-not-present fraud — transactions made online or via phone where the cardholder does not need to present the physical card to complete the purchase — jumped the most, increasing 40 percent compared to 2015“, so this implies that 40% more successful actions. This gives us “In all, thieves stole $16 billion, the report found — nearly $1 billion more than in 2015“. That is just the acts of cyber criminals out for cash. The more organised peers are collecting data for other needs. Inside trading data, options to make large cash drops from intelligence, that is the game that does not bring $16 billion, that is the stuff that brings 1000% more, yes, ten times more than current. The issue of non-repudiation could solve part of that, but the banks suddenly become all about ‘customer care’ and not being a hassle. Because their flood comes from casual use with no extra effort required. Their existence is set on that and ‘non-repudiation’ is a more toxic thought for their KPI’s and bonus needs. Even the trivial: “thanks to fraud protections governing credit and debit cards. The mean cost to the consumer was just $48, down from $56, according to the report“, you see it is not the $48 that matters, it will be the fact that your data is out there that matters, when that is flagged the highly priced job you want will be forever out of your reach, because your data is out there and now we see “We warned the government from the start that the authoritarian surveillance powers in the Investigatory Powers Act were unlawful. It should be a source of deep embarrassment that, less than a year after it passed, ministers have had to launch a public consultation asking for help to make it comply with people’s basic rights.“, from an ideological point of view I would side with Silkie Carlo, Liberty’s senior advocacy officer, yet the other side in me stops this, because if the cyber world is a prison, than you gave the prisoners the keys, you made the prison staff vacate the building and these advocates are stating that they prisoners are still in that prison and the doors are watched. But these prisoners can casually go past every wall, tunnel and high rope out of the building never needing the front door and everyone is now in the dark on what is actually happening in that prison, we did not merely lost oversight, we lost sight and visibility of what is going on and that is also the most dangerous of situations, that is when the people forget that by blocking the government and openly giving this all to criminals they are merely shooting themselves in the foot, demanding that the NHS pay for all the needs, medication and staffing to keep them ‘active’, so as the ‘snooper laws’ are altered, the people are forgetting one part that the article is hiding from them. You see, there is a truth in “Restricting the use of communications data to investigations of serious crime but using an offence carrying a six-month prison sentence rather than the usual three-year threshold so that offences such as stalking and grooming are not excluded“, even as that is true, those facilitating for these criminals because they sold other items like routers and computers, those people are out of the race, they are safe and that changes things because finding those stalkers, paedophiles and groomers just became a lot harder, it will take longer to find them and collect enough evidence to make a case against them. At that point remember that the altered snooping laws just gave those roaches 3 times the span to do damage and do 300% more damage to the number of victims.

Yet that casual usage also comes with other prices. As reported in CNBC we see Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse stating: “Third-party budgeting apps, like Prosper Daily and Mint, also flag unusual spending and suspicious charges. Keep tabs on your credit report for new inquiries or accounts opened in your name, said Stephens. Free sites such as CreditKarma and CreditSesame offer free monitoring, and you can also pull reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Pay attention to any changes in your credit score, too. “A significant shift in your credit score might be a heads up that there’s something wrong with your credit report,” he said“. So now we have to keep tabs on things we never needed to keep tabs on before, how is that any better? It might not be an issue for 80% of the people, but the 20% that ends up getting hit will be in deeper water, deeper than ever before.

That is a part we do not see and matters will get worse with the upholding of this European ideological agenda bullet point. It was a nice to have in an economy of plenty, but those times are forever over and the rule of land and law seems to be shifting, the question becomes in what direction do you want to see it shift into a direction where every household will be required to have some kind of cyber insurance? How much will that set you back? And when you decide not to take it, what will the cost be when you lose a lot more than the inventory of your house because you were on Barbados or St. John’s? It gets even worse, when one of your litter (I think you call them children) decides to Facebook their friends showing off their new fashion or cool item conquest. What happens when the insurance does not cover the house damage because everyone apparently knew you were out of the country?

That is less and less of a speculation, with “Posting pictures of your holiday on social media could leave you open to being burgled – and have an insurance claim invalidated” is becoming a reality. You see, the insurance companies will phrase it as ‘contents insurance limits the number of consecutive days your home can be unoccupied without invalidating your cover‘, apparently it is already in place in some places. This is an issue that has seen the limelight well over 2 years now, and many also state ‘expect you to take ‘reasonable care’ when it comes to security‘, the ambiguity of that goes beyond close windows and locks, it actually includes you bragging on Instagram that you got lucky and ended up blissfully satisfied 2,000 miles from home.

All these issues are now coming more and more to the surface and you do not get to blame the police for that, you yourself voted to give away the keys and limit the options the police had to stop cyber-crimes. It was all connected, you were merely unwilling to see that floodlight and very soon you will see the impact around you. In a world that is mere and more depending on a credit score, on online savvy actions and on knowing who you divulge information to, you decided to give it all to the criminals out there whilst stopping the police all in the same action. So in all this we watch whilst we blame the police and enable cybercrime with our thumbs as we dabble statements through a non-upgraded smartphone. That too is important, because by the end of this year (more likely Q1 2018) over 15% of the current smartphones in use (android phones) will have a phone that will no longer be patched or updated, meaning that at that point we are all open to new forms of attacks, bigger and to a much larger audience. You can read more about that in Tom’s guide (at https://www.tomsguide.com/us/old-phones-unsafe,news-24846.html). Yet, do not worry, the police will be there.

Oh, they won’t be, you stopped that from happening too. Well, good luck to you!

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View from a balcony

On one side I feel like I am missing out on certain matters. On the other side there is the view that is not comprehended by me in light of certain revelations. Now, this is not a new feeling, I have always had certain issues with certain dilemma’s. Mostly they do not make common sense, so I write about them and let you decide. In a western world we get to see the illuminated part and as such we give light to the BS matters that politicians and media cling to. Yet, it is not always that simple. I would like to state that this is always the case in every matter, but that is stretching several levels of truth.

Now, I get shown a Reuters story on CNBC that gives equal doubt. Not on CNBC or Reuters mind you. The setting that is given to us is somewhat of an issue and it needs to be exposed.

With ‘Saudi Arabia, Arab allies in Cairo talks on Iran, Hezbollah’ (at https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/19/saudi-arabia-arab-allies-in-cairo-talks-on-iran-hezbollah.html), we might consider certain matters, but it is the quote “Discussions will focus on confronting Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs” that sets the matter. The second quote makes sense and is equally important the quote “Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters last week the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were only a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran“. We can agree that Iran might be an issue, yet when looking at the first part. How does Hezbollah have the pull to get any decent level of interference up and running in places like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait? Iran yes, there is no denying that part. But in all this Hezbollah seems to be a facilitating annoyance at best, with their power-base remaining North of Israel. Now, some might wonder why it matters, why we need to look into this. You see, it does matter, if we cannot properly categorise and analyse the actions of Iran and the more extreme parts of the Iranian military, clergy and VAJA, we cannot paint the opponents in the right colour and classes they need to be in. Do you think for one moment that the youthful Gadi Eisenkot is unaware of not merely who the actual players are, and to what degree they are active? Now, we can argue that we do not need to know (and that might be very valid), but as others are painting the image differently, we are being misled. Not misled in the way that we are sold the wrong package, but misled that we are not told just how dangerous the situation is. As I forgot where I saw the original image, lets take the example. There is a 40×60 portrait that shows an estate by the fields, the actual image is 60×60 and shows that the ocean on the right side was cut off for ‘aesthetic’ reasons, but the tragedy is that this shows that the person living there has no escape, if the fields catch fire, he is literally with his back to the water, he might live but the water will not safe his house, there will be no aid coming from there.

Iran is painted in the same way now. Iran is shown to be moderate and that view cannot be dis-proven by the views the media gives on President Rouhani. You see, there is a slowly growing hill of evidence implying that Rouhani has less power than we think he has and behind the curtains the less moderate generals in Iran are beefing Hezbollah and other elements up to be more and more aggressive against the state of Israel as well as the Arabian Nations that are not willing to sing the song of extremism that they want to hear. This is becoming more and more an issue. And as Iran is willing to use the PKK as cannon Fodder they are getting more and more support from Turkey, which now makes Iranian extremism a European issue as well. We might now ‘suddenly’ decide to hide behind the UK Telegraph ‘truths’ (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/19/irans-growing-military-threat-blind-spot-british-politicians/), yet that is equally simplifying an image that has been pushed and tweaked for the longest of times by all kinds of parties (and the UK intelligence branch is not innocent in that part either, most notably GCHQ and MI6). You see they might come out with guns blazing stating: “British MPs have a “blind spot” when analysing Iran’s growing military powers and destabilising influence through it support for terrorism in the Middle East, a senior Conservative politician has warned“, but that is short sighted as some layers of filtering will always be there, some for essential security reasons, some for other reasons and only the second one should bear scrutiny and the media themselves have been part of the second layering for the longest of times, so there!

Yet the issue remains, the painting we see and the one that is a viewing of framed reality are exceedingly different. As we tend to expect something like a ‘Edouard Cortès Pont Au Change Au Crepscule‘ to give a certain view of reality of what we see, it becomes more of a worry when the image shown is something resembling the works of Albert Gleizes and that is what we are starting to face more and more. As Hezbollah is shown as a lot more than a facilitator because Iran played it that way and we are not shown the evidence as such, we tend to get pushed into a mindset that is starting to question a few more items than we should and that is how I saw myself trying to see the light in the Reuters article. Now, the article is not wrong and not inaccurate. Yet the view pushed by the parties in these Cairo talks are making a similar mistake by not colouring the opposing parties in the right light, at the right size representing them as the annoyance they actually are. It is almost like there is a play where Iran is the bogeyman and as soon as the facilitators have been taken care of, we can focus on the real evil, yet there is the issue! As the players have been shown as less evil, too many other players who want to try and sit at the grown up table will suddenly come with political options that will only make things worse. Even as we are wiling to see Iran as not evil, we need to acknowledge that the moderates have a vacuum where others dictate strategies and tactics, and there is the danger. The danger for Saudi Arabia, the danger to a much larger extent to the state of Israel and as the European players are unwilling to face up to the dangers we see, they end up facilitating for Iran through Turkey sooner rather than later which will be disastrous for a few more reasons than most are willing to face the reality of and that is a much larger danger. It is a much larger danger not just to the PKK (regardless of their validity and political play wherever they are). The danger is seen in the Sunday Times with ‘President Erdogan: Let Turkey join to save EU’s reputation‘, so when we see: “President Erdogan has told the EU that allowing Turkey to become a member could save its reputation in the Muslim world“, so is that the story, or should they have stated “Europe ready to embrace the Iranian tool into the EEC for Europe“. The Times of all places might report one side, but the dangers that we are not seeing printed at present are still up for debate, because as I see it, at present, if we need to see a decent approach towards Turkey, we might best call the Butterball hotline, you know, as Thanksgiving is an upcoming event after all.

In all this we still see the same old polarisation. As newspapers report on the Arab nations uniting calling Hezbollah a threat and a terrorist organisation, we see the same response we expected. With “Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reports that terror group Hezbollah has raised its alert level in all of Lebanon for fear that Israel will start a war” we see the sad reality of what is happening in the Middle East, players like Hezbollah can always blame the state of Israel, that whilst we have it on good authority that this youthful young chief of the Israeli Defense Forces (read: Gadi Eizenkot) has not even flexed his muscles at present. How easily and ill prepared can Hezbollah get? in that I will avoid going deep in on the the Dahiya Doctrine that shows how to deal with terrorist organisations in an asymmetrical war. What is important is that there is a conflict between Gadi Eizenkot and Richard A. Falk, the American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. I take Gadi’s side when we see Professor Falk’s side of “the civilian infrastructure of adversaries such as Hamas or Hezbollah are treated as permissible military targets“, which he opposes, yet the truth is that a terrorist organisation has no ‘civilian infrastructure‘, it is a plain occupied target that can be destroyed if need be, collaborators and all. In this by colouring ‘parts’ of any terrorist organisation as out of bounds is just not on. If an organisation can indiscriminately fire hundreds of missiles on civilian targets, all bets are off and as such whatever infrastructure they have becomes part of the terrorist organisation and a valid option for targeted killing and/or demolition.

So as we are looking at the view from whatever balcony we think we are on, we need to consider what we think we see, what we are told to see and what the actual size of the frame is supposed to be, three elements, all of them in flux through media, our own perception of what we think we see and the mirror image of what we comprehend we are shown. It is a biased view and we are all (me inclusive) part of what we perceive to see. That is often more troubling than we realise, but as long as we are aware that we cannot see the whole picture, we would be able to set our minds to consider what an actual represented danger is, which is a good first step.

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A second view, what can we see?

Some might have wondered how last Friday’s blog was weird (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/11/10/two-streams-one-view/). That is not a bad thing; it is not with the reader. The writer (read: that would be me) watched too many data sources and too much information on several sides from several fronts, I merely illuminated one path, one journey ever streams of data. More important, even as the Story was published (read finalised) on Friday morning, we see that Reuters reported (at http://www.businessinsider.com/frances-macron-flies-to-saudi-arabia-to-discuss-lebanon-crisis/?r=AU&IR=T) the mention “French President Emmanuel Macron booked a last-minute flight to Riyadh as tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon heat up“. I am not so sure how ‘last minute’ it was. You see, I already reported on “Credit Agricole SA is selling half its stake in Banque Saudi Fransi to billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal at a discount“, you see, I reported on part of this and I mentioned the Forbes part which had given me “International banks are grappling with how to approach the Middle East’s biggest economy, which blocks foreign control of local lenders. Some are positioning themselves for what’s expected to be a free bonanza as the kingdom overhauls its economy and plans to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co. in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering” already. This free bonanza is part why some of the most eager people trying to become a wave of new billionaires are there. If they have the Gaul, the vastly above average intelligence and the backers, those three will allow for the next few years to make another 300-500 new billionaires. In that light the move of Credit Agricole to leave did not make sense to me. You see, they are greed driven like pretty much any other bank, walking away from a profit bonanza makes no sense at all. The fact that these parties are trying to unload what they have to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal makes little sense. That is until you realise that these people might have been in business with the 200 arrested individual. Yet in this we see that the entire issue goes further when we see that ‘Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Arrested in Saudi Crackdown‘, so was the event set up for tactical reasons? Do you think that if he had seen his arrest he would have bothered with the sale as it is? The fact that his links with JP Morgan and their facilitation of the sale means that there is a lot more going on behind the screen. You see that share is well over £372 billion; do you think that the media is showing us all? There might be a crackdown, but is it a crackdown? Is it royal annexing of squandered goods or is its trial and a showdown where the other members of the Saudi Royal family are shown that disruption within the ranks are no longer tolerated. In all this what is next? You see, from the view we are given, the existence of these international banks are essential to creating a non-oil depending economy. A new economy set towards services, technology and pharmaceuticals. There is plenty of value in all this for Saudi Arabia to move forward, yet the track will be a lot longer if there is disruption in the ranks. France might have been hard on Hezbollah and as such they are a pleasing presence towards the Royal family of Saudi Arabia, but more important, Banque Saudi Fransi is merely one of several players with trillions in value available. In military terms France is a better beachhead for Saudi Arabia to enter the new fields of economic growth in several ways. The moment the growth in France is seen the other nations will jump like hungry rabbits to the fields of vegetables in a mere instant. France is leading the way because it is figuring out that the present course is not working.

Yet, is any solution so polarised?

No, it never is. Yet again the situation changed. Iran has not been seen in a good light and their nuclear options have been met with large waves of distrust. Not in light of Hassan Rouhani and the path he is on, but the realisation that there was a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before him and that level of extremism is a danger to most of the world, and the clear danger and additional risk we see that when another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes after President Rouhani. It is not merely a risk, it is closer to an actual likelihood and whilst their nuclear knowledge grows, the danger becomes a lot larger. France and Saudi Arabia see that danger too and they are beyond concerned. They are not alone. At https://www.businessinsider.com.au/saudi-arabia-iran-tensions-2017-11 we see the tweet from Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman:

  Lebanon=Hezbollah.
Hezbollah=Iran.
Iran=Lebanon.
Iran endangers the world.
Saad Hariri has proved that today. Period.
 

It is the view we have always seen and as such that truth is pretty much undeniable, so now the moment is primed to get this sorted and to get the changes made earlier, there is seemingly no downside to any of this, political Europe merely preferred to sit on their hands when it came to this terrorist organisation (Hezbollah that is). I believe that Saudi forces are considering that Iran will be more and more limited to create turmoil when there is no Hezbollah. As they can no longer facilitate through others, Iran must openly act and turn the world against them or fall in line with the Arabian Leagues and behave according to those voices. At that point Qatar must also adjust many of their policies, and the impact might not be predictable, there would be enough evidence out there to show that they need to adjust in many ways. I believe that this would end up with Saudi Arabia wielding the only voice of power, dissent in the Middle East would end to a much larger degree. As I personally see it, there would be clear benefits for the state of Israel as well. As the threat to Israel ends, it can focus on growth in a way they have not been able to do for decades. There will be clear impacts for the UK, Russia and the USA too. Their diplomatic games will likely fall on ears much less eager to please them. It will be about growth for the Middle East. I believe that this shift will continue into Europe and several Commonwealth nations as well. India might be a frontrunner to grow the generalised pharmaceutical markets. The US will have to water down their wine to a much larger extent and there are options for the US, but no longer at the vulture driven profit margins they used to have. A shift that will take several years and that is where those ‘free bonanza runners‘ currently in Riyadh could make their billion(s) over the next decade. It will be risky to some extent, but art present you run large risks and end up making nothing in Europe at present. So why stay there?

How right am I?

I could be wrong but there is enough evidence out that that I am more likely than not correct. Business Insider, Forbes and the Financial Times have shown these paths over the last 6 months more than once. There is one premise that needs to be pointed out. The direction that this path opens is based on two elements. The first being how the drill-down on corruption in Saudi Arabia is playing out and their true intent on shifting their economy away from their petrochemical side. The more correct those paths are, the more reliable the outcome is that I predict. The corruption crackdown remains a factor as this has never happened before to this degree. I applaud it but I also realise that as this becomes a success a new Saudi Arabia will rise up in the global markets, one that is not in internal strife and one that is breaking out all borders to grow their economic footprint. It is not the status quo the current powers in charge have ever considered and it will make a lot of ‘old’ billionaires very nervous.

This might not be a bad thing either!

 

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Two streams, one view

As I see the news pass by, events shown on separate media, I notice myself wondering if my life had any meaning at all. I was young and I went to the Middle East in 1982, I would return in 83 and 84 only to learn that there was change. Terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas were only small and Hamas rose as I would see in 1984, yet I thought that change would be inevitable. I saw Hezbollah as nothing more than pesky small minded terrorists, a tool to be used by Iran and Syria. Yet even as Lebanon was trying to move forward, there were signs in media and some places that the US needed Syria too much, in their case dealing with Saddam Hussein and as such many of us thinking we would fight for peace, we only fought for the borderlines that the US decided needed to be in place. It must have been the late 80’s, I was not longer in the Middle East and not all clued in towards the events of the day there. You see DARPA had not rolled out the internet at that point; ARPANET was not available for the audience at large. So today I see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now we see another push against Hezbollah. You see Saudi Arabia has had enough of those terrorists and is pushing back hard, it is also willing to push against Iran. I see two issues. One is that this issue will be bloody and even as we hope for the victory of Saudi Arabia there, there are more than just a few markers showing us that the three largest players (US, Russia and UK) are not completely in agreement whether the Middle East should have one clear dominant party. The issues in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait that have been going on for half a century should show that. If that had not been the case Hezbollah and Hamas would have been little more than an inconvenience and they would have been dealt with a long time ago. So even as I see certain steps being taken I need to wonder if Saudi Arabia is pushing for a resolution, what will the larger picture show as it shifts. As that unfolds where will the US and Russia stand? What actions, or inactions will they use to leave the Status Quo in the middle east in a place called ‘as is’? The evidence for the longest time has shown that they pronounce whatever allies they have, but in the end, they only care for their needs and options. Now, this is not wrong or immoral, it is merely the way any nation plays its game. It is not a new game, it goes back even before Nicola Machiavelli thought it was a god idea to write down certain options for politicians to be.

As per Friday morning, we see: ““Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing there to leave immediately,” a Foreign Ministry source quoted by the news agency said, adding that Saudis were advised not to travel to Lebanon from any country“, so even as we can merely speculate on what comes next, the onus is now pushed on Iran and what it is going to do with its terrorist ally Hezbollah. There is one opposing side which was shown by Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-insight/deep-in-yemen-war-saudi-fight-against-iran-falters-idUSKBN1D91UR). With: “The dysfunction is a reminder to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his campaign to counter arch-enemy Iran in the Middle East, including threats against Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, may be hard to implement” we acknowledge that Iran has resources and skills and they are driven, both sides clearly are. In my mind, is the additional theatre (read: change of scenery) a workable factor? It does put larger pressures on Iran to get the logistics and goods underway, which will be their weakness to some extent. It is equally an issue how Russia will react. They might not openly act in this placement, yet the clear support to Hezbollah and as the times of Israel states: “the truth is that since Russia began its open military activities in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are also learning Russian methods of war, becoming familiar with advanced Russian weaponry, coming to understand the latest Russian technologies, and in some cases, actually fighting alongside Russian special forces“, we might comprehend the skills and training of the Spetsnaz Malcheks, or the ‘Войска специального назначения’ as they call themselves. In one part Avi Issacharoff omitted or decided not to implement one view in his story. In the end when the Spads are not holding their hands, Hezbollah remains what they were trained enthusiastic terrorists, they are only an army in the smallest sense of the total concept, this also means that as logistics falters, as support dwindles the armed Saudi forces will be more than a match and should gain the upper hand. Now, this can only play out if there is a stalemate between Russia and USA, because if the USA backs down and Hezbollah gets open on the ground Russian support, it becomes an entirely different slice of cake and all bets are off at that point. Only the Russians could push Hezbollah in way that the Iranians could never do. You see, if Iran enters the theatre the game changes as they become a clear and present danger to the state of Israel, their vocal insinuations made that so, so as Iran is trying to get a foothold whilst Israel has a few ways to counter them, we will see a more underground event of escalations where Iran is unable to counter a war they never have faced. You see their words (Iran that is) might look good on the news and on PowerPoint presentations, yet in the true data parks there is no setting, because in the end, this generation of Iranians have never faced anyone like Israel before and their faith in their own internal governmental presentations will make them even less prepared. So at that point it is merely a scuffle between Hezbollah and Saudi armed forces and in that equation there is no option of even a remote stalemate for Hezbollah. Is that the goal? I believe that Russia saw Hezbollah as a tool for what they needed, the US has always been hostile and Europe requires high earnings, so the ECB is very much not in favour of any outspoken hostilities against anything that can downgrade their earnings, so they are seemingly steering away from these events as much as they can, yet I will admit that is just me speculating on European events in this case. Even as London is more and more outspoken anti-Hezbollah. Amsterdam and Stockholm are not taking that path. In my mind it is the liberal multicultural flag that they embrace, in that atmosphere a group like Hezbollah can easily hide under this ‘veil’ whilst hating multicultural events as much as possible.

This again has speculative sides, but it is based on solid data and events. You might think that it does not matter, but it does. As more and more nations in their liberal mindset hold off on an actual war on terror, being it for economic or philosophical reasons. Not being part of it is equally a problem down the track. So as we move back towards Lebanon and Hezbollah, we need to realise that not only will this become ugly to a larger degree, there is every chance that unless certain actions are taken the issues seen in Aleppo will be seen in Aleppo too, there is just no way to tell to what extent. In this we can look at Survival Analyses (or listen to the song ‘as time goes by’), where the point in time and the prolongation of all this is the setting on just how much Beirut will look like Aleppo in the end, time is the only factor required here and the people in Europe know this. So as we see the news prepare on how there should be talks and there should be armistices, they all better remember that it was their need for status quo that is pushing the consideration for a terrorist organisation.

Who in Europe would have ever thought that support of a terrorist organisation would be the cool thing to do on September 12th 2001? So consider that and now wonder why Europe is, for now, again sitting on their hands or even contemplating siding to the larger extent with Hexbollah? Yet there is also good news because with the actions by JP Morgan to push into large chunks of the Middle East and more notably the push towards the Kingdom Holding Company. You might think it is not related, but it is. It gives the view that JP Morgan is a facilitator for setting maximised profits and these profits are not to go towards France. There has been a thought that the US is not commitment, but as there is profit in war, the clear fallout of any war is opportunity. It seems to me that the US wants to get as much profit out of that as possible, so as the dominoes are pushed into place, we see a situation where the media proclaims JP Morgan to be a mere financial advisor. I believe that to be incorrect. Even as Reuters reported “JPMorgan is in early talks with Saudi Arabian companies about overseas listings“, that might be true, but JP Morgan has been pushing itself and its ‘friends’ into powerful places where lucrative revenues are not set in millions, but in billions. I cannot answer whether Credit Agricole did the right or wrong thing, they are pretty clever all by themselves. I think that the Saudi issues in play now are pushing for polarising fields of options and opportunity on a global scale. In this case my view will be proven over the next 2 years as we follow the money. They question is where the source will be set and who gets to fill their bucket list from that well. when the options are returned in billions there will be plenty of players, although in this instance I believe that the outside opportunities (non-Saudi based companies) are offered to the friends of JP Morgan and them only, which is again a speculation. Whether I am right or wrong will be initially shown in the next 20 weeks.

There are however facts available to see that there is a direction in place. Reuters show on part (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-jpmorgan-saudi/jpmorgan-sees-more-saudi-firms-looking-at-overseas-listings-after-aramco-idUSKBN1D7107), some might think that “He said listings in New York, London, Hong Kong or Singapore might help increase the liquidity of these companies and make them attractive for international investors, he said” is the part that gives the goods, yet it is the part not seen and more interestingly not implied that gives power to it all. The implied part is seen with “Commenting on the anti-corruption drive, Pinto said: “If it is done in the right way and for the right reasons it is good to do for the future of the kingdom.”” It is however only the first part. The news given with ‘Saudi Arabia detains 201 princes, businessmen in $100 billion corruption probe’ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-10/saudi-anti-corruption-probe-finds-$100-billion-embezzled/9136608). This was not a sudden part, this had been in play for some time. It was not merely the fact that at present 201 people are now in custody. Even as we see mention of Iran and the Lebanon pressures, we see that there is a larger play. His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud have been on a path to get the nation reformed and moved away from oil dependency. In this the pool of plenty does not last too long when 100 billion get lost one handshake at a time as more and more people are connected to unlimited resources and wealth. As the press seems to be focussing on the crown prince and the ‘wild ride’ he created, there is a larger issue that is not too much in focus. No matter what the sceptics state, There is a clarity that Saudi Arabia is seriously considering that the age of oil is dwindling, as this happens they need to be able to push into other directions and they do have the wealth to create vested interests in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, consultancy services and educational advantages. Forbes has had its share of articles on the matter, and whilst some look at ‘Saudi Arabia Looks To The Private Sector To Meet Growing Healthcare Demands’ it seems to me that 5G facilitation has much larger and more profitable sides as other providers are considering what to do, Saudi Arabia has the option to facilitate to the largest 4 cities and exceed in opportunity what Sweden has for its entire nation. When there is such a population (9.5 million) in 4 cities, there is an option to grow and grow fast. Now we know that there is a lively market already, but the idea that other services could be added grows the Saudi options to add markets and manufacturing opportunities through investment. I all this JP Morgan is potentially the spider in the centre of the web, growing in value and wealth from all sides at the same time. There is no way to state why Crédit Agricole walked away from those opportunities, but I feel certain that they did not walk away, the merely moved to a place around the corner. Even as the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0e629bab-494c-34d0-8fe0-f71c8b089118) show mixed results, yet I believe that this French bank is moving into different fields, acquiring other banks and setting new goals. I have no way to tell on the why of it but I feel that moving away was only one as the clever people in this bank have agreed on a strategy that allows to grow faster and on larger fields. How?

We will learn this over the next 20 weeks. Yet no matter what is done and how the banks react is not a given, the direct dangers on how things escalate in Lebanon and with Iran seems to be crucial in all of this and I reckon that we will see the shifts quite soon. These shifts will not be through armed conflict, but will rely on the pressures and stresses that exist at present. In this Europe seems to take a ‘diplomatic’ stance (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_destabilising_lebanon_will_only_strengthen_hezbollah_7235), yet with “Europeans should veer the other way, taking measures that aim to preserve Lebanon’s stability and governance structures, and to prevent wider conflagration. Iran is clearly a key source of regional instability, and Hezbollah has become increasingly assertive in Lebanon” it seems to advocate a path of inaction, 3 decades of inaction have shown that there is no solution on that path, a stream of casualties, of non-actions and broken promises. Saudi Arabia (and the USA) both had enough, and as Iran seems to be an annoying thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia, they have seemingly decided to take Hezbollah out of the equation. This will be interesting, because the moment Hamas and Iran realise that the gig is finally up, I wonder how must tearful pleads of ‘negotiations’ will be shown on nearly every soft hearted news channel on the planet. Perhaps a recollection of March 2016 is needed. With: “Hamas on Sunday sent a delegation to Egypt in an effort to beseech Egyptian security officials to stop destroying its tunnels out of Gaza. These terror tunnels, employed by the terrorist group for nearly a decade, are used to store weapons, smuggle supplies, and infiltrate enemy territory – Israel – as well as carry out surprise attacks in which people are killed and soldiers abducted.” (source: Breaking Israel News). It reads like “please let us be terrorists a little longer, we need the tunnels to do naughty things”. There is every chance that this falls on deaf ears, because as Israel is optionally no longer pressured in possible two front wars, they can fully focus on Hamas whilst Saudi Arabia will only have to deal with Iran after that. It will truly change the Balance of Power in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia as the only true power in that region, all because to a larger extent, Europe decided to remain in a self-imposed state of inaction. After three decades they still haven’t learned that inaction against terrorists will never ever lead to any solution.

Yes, there are a few elements of speculation from my side, but it is based on gathered facts and it I do not believe it is less likely on the balance of probabilities, it is merely one optional setting in a larger game that has been played for much too long.

 

 

 

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Consideration in 3 parts

There are several things playing and I think it is only fair that I jump a little this time around. In the first jump I will take us into the realm of technology. First the hardware where Keith Stuart gives us ‘is it worth a £100 upgrade?‘ This is a valid question, yet in all the issue is not merely the £100, it is more so “Microsoft has always marketed Xbox One X as an elite product for true enthusiasts and that’s exactly what it is“, which is something I cannot agree with. You see, Microsoft has refused to listen to the gamers, the actual gamers for the longest of times and with the Xbox One X, I expect (read: I hope) that they will get the pounding they have so deserved for the longest of times. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/03/xbox-one-x-review-4k-console-gaming-upgrade) gives you some of the goods, but not all of the goods. You see, the £450 with a 1TB drive is a joke, it always has been. The article names a few games and there a few sources re stating that Destiny 2 is 50GB WITHOUT the 4K assets. There is no clear way for me to find a reliable number there, but with the OS also taking a chunk of the hard-drive, which will be 300Mb at least, we are looking at a console where one game takes well over 5% of that drive. Forza 7 will take well over 10% of that system, now with all the reserved spaces and mind you not ALL these games are that big, you are looking at a dozen games at the most and that is in many cases not including the extra space that the 4K libraries need, so when I stated even before the Xbox One came out (the first one) that Microsoft was not giving consideration to their gamers, I was not kidding. With the Sony PS4 (both old and pro) we have the option to switch the drive at our own expense to a 2TB drive and these things are a mere $105, so one extra cost has kept me safe and hassle free for well over 3 years. Microsoft never allowed their gamers that option, which could be seen as another indicator that Microsoft is actually not giving true consideration to the ‘true enthusiasts‘ as they label them. There are additional flaws in the OS that give less consideration that the Xbox 360 did, so there is that to consider too. A console that might be seen as overpriced, overvalued and overdue a real upgrade. There are more issues, but they are for another day, for now we await the over-hyped release in 2 days.

The second part is one where I have to show fairness (which I have always done). The second part is Assassins Creed Origins. Now, it is on my list to get as I was not trusting Ubisoft after all the things they have done in the past, with the additional embargo of any publications of the game until the day before launch, their approach was shoddy and shady at best. In this case it worked against them. I have watched well over a dozen videos with Eurogamer and IGN showing the best sides, but also leaving us with questions. Yet I had a few questions of my own and i think they need to be put into the limelight. You see, I have slammed Guillemot and Ubisoft for the longest time for not doing their job (or better stated, the job they were capable of). For relying on average scripted events and what I still label as ‘bad programming’. This is not the case in ACO (Assassins Creed Origin). Now when we pull away from the 4K events (which are close to breathtaking), we see a game that has been through quite the change and as such should get some praise, praise on several levels.

First are the reviews, they are like mine all opinions, and even though I was relentless to AC ratings in the past, from all that is clearly shown these ratings are lower than expected. I see the game somewhere between 88%-92% rated (the non PC versions), yet most remain below it and Gamespot gives it a 70% rating which I personally believe to be equally unfair. Now, we can be hard on Guillemot on a few levels, but they did get this game decent. We can argue all we like, but the team that made Black Flag made this game in a good way and I believe that this game might not be regarded as a real AC game. Origin is the start of it all and that makes it fair game, but the clarity is that there are elements that we relate to Witcher 3, Far Fry Primal and Destiny. The reality is that elements in this game have been seen before going all the way back to Ultima7 Serpents Isle, so there is no real identity linking it to a certain game. Now, I do see the elements of Witcher 3 and that is not a bad thing, whilst we need to acknowledge that this game is not some Witcher 3 game, it is truly an Assassins Creed game (whether the player is an actual assassin or not). The wildlife is more dangerous and relentless and a lot less forgiving, which is a good thing (more realistic), and it seems that as far as I can observe, the locations are as any AC game has almost always been. Graphically sublime, even if you have no 4K solution at present. Even as I have been reluctant to see this last AC as a great game, it seems that should this be the last AC game, than Ubisoft goes out on a high note, and that should be heralded by nearly all gamers.

The final part is not a game. I am also getting less convinced that this is merely a leak. We could have accepted to the smallest degree that the Panama Papers were a leak, yet the amount of data that was leaked leaves us with the larger question on how stupid a financial adviser needs to be to endanger billions of dollars in revenue. I have gone back into time checking on a dozen corporations only to find that there was a healthy dose of paranoia in each and every one of them. Some were paranoid from the start, some were pushed by IT as they wanted the latest of the latest and pressing the ‘leak’ button seems to have worked each and every time. So whilst we have been in the sunshine with newspapers giving us Panama Papers on a daily basis, I found it particularly interesting to see the revelation of the Paradise Papers. So when I read “the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth”, I am not surprised. I have written about the failing of legislation on a global level for long before the Panama Papers and the Tesco affair. As we are told ‘obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung‘ we are not asking the right questions. Obtained how? Who gave them? You see, earlier this year we saw some mention of certain players, yet again and again the media have seemingly steered clear of certain parts of the evidence and it is time to mention it. In March we saw a few papers mention on how Barclays, RBS and Crédit Agricole had a sort of Tax Haven set-up where they had to pay a mere 2% in taxation. I think that this opened a door to some players. I think that the Paradise papers is not a leak, I personally believe it to be an attack on these three players as well as an attack on a few others too. The BBC is giving us part (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41876939), with the mention of the SIBUR shareholders, we see that there is an issue as the corporations are facing US sanctions, but the individuals Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko are not. They represent a wealth that is roughly 50% of what is Microsoft nowadays. It is making a few people more and more nervous. I personally believe that the Paradise Papers is not a leak it is an American corporate ploy, possibly even with the assistance of Rothschild wealth management (a speculation from my side) to push changes that are a lot more interesting to America. Can I prove this?

That is partially the issue. You see, without the clear data on the leak it might never be proven. it is merely too weird that this happened three times in a row (yes three times, I will let you look deeper into certain places to find the first instance). You see the most interesting part is casually shown at the end of the BBC article. With “a huge batch of leaked documents mostly from offshore law firm Appleby, along with corporate registries in 19 tax jurisdictions, which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders“, this is showing not to be a leak, this is a data gathering by a select few and the combination of large data sets. You see, multiple sources which is clearly seen through the use of ‘mostly‘, and added the ‘19 tax registries‘, shows this to be an event that is precise, it is an act of data gathering and filtering. As such, I see this as a precise strike, more likely than not from financial players who have seen certain bank (Credit Agricole being the most visible one) to grow beyond certain measures and that was not the acceptable mindset of the players who want a different shedding of wealth. This is one of the reasons that I have been keeping tabs on Credit Agricole and that is why they have been in my blog several times. Yet, in all this I did not see the Paradise Papers coming and the clarity we see now, is one where we need to consider who is playing us all, and the media most of all. The Guardian gives us more and more mentions of ‘Tax Avoidance’ and as I mentioned a few days ago. It is not illegal, it is perfectly legal. Most papers will hide behind ’emotional’ parts to cry outrage, but in the end they too are not outspoken on pushing to adapt legislation to change this and to push for clear corporate taxation needs, whilst we see that they are all on the second largest data drain set at 1.4TB. So after the Panama Papers, do you think that banks, especially banks of these kinds, banks that rely on such paths to ensure themselves of a good income. Do you think they would hesitate to invest a few millions into hardware that keeps it secure? No, we see more and more technology, more and more Cloud solutions failing to keep data safe. The BBC gave us in April 2016: “In other words, your data could get lost, wiped, corrupted or stolen“. It seems that not enough people are really listening, happy to embrace the marketing of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, whilst there is a real concern on safety (for now). Yet, is that how the data was acquired? It is all good and fine to blame a party whilst the data was somewhere else. You see, those IT people (at Appleby’s) would know better, yet when we see the Irish Times (at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/appleby-the-offshore-law-firm-with-a-record-of-compliance-failures-1.3280860), we see “Appleby has transformed itself into a global institution with more than 700 employees across nearly every major tax haven from the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to the Isle of Man in Europe, Mauritius in Africa and Hong Kong in Asia“, in that there is no doubt in my mind that IT would have had (or needed) a much higher visibility on their security profile. I wonder, if I got to investigate their non-repudiation systems and logs, what failings would I find. I can personally guarantee you that with every passing check-mark in place, we get to see more and more clearly that this was not a leak, I would regard this as a precision strike to shift billions from one place to the other, because just like we saw with he Panama Papers, when the super-rich get nervous, a lot of them can be manipulated a lot easier than ever before and in my mind there is no doubt, in this Rothschild is likely to be the one true victor and the one party who had the most to win.

I can only speculate on a few matters, but in the light of the global financial industry, Bermuda, Nassau, Riyadh and Nevada are the larger tax havens. The two papers are giving loads of limelight to three of them, so where will those people go to next?

The financial industry is correlating more and more to a video game, it is all about the hardware and scripted events. When we know that hardware is not the initial flaw one remains, making the case stronger and stronger that this was not a leak, it was a scripted event, whether made specifically for certain hardware remains to be seen . I wonder if the media will ever truly look deeper into how the data was acquired, I doubt it, because that does not make for a sexy story, making them in my personal view less of a player and more of a tool, the question that remains is: ‘the tool for who?

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Another opinion

Today is about something I read yesterday. It was an opinion piece in the Guardian. The title ‘How to stop Google and Facebook from becoming even more powerful‘ sounds all nice and sexy, but is that what we want? The subtitle ‘Banning these tech giants from buying any more companies would prevent them from entrenching their monopoly position – and help protect our freedom‘ is nothing that I am taking too seriously. The ‘freedom’ of people is too often being hindered by other means. The fact that IBM and Microsoft have had such places of power for decades shows me to be right to a larger extent. Freedom is a dangerous ploy to use to get things your way, but the players (not merely the writers of the opinion piece) have played this game before and they played it well. He has played the fear mongering card often and he knows how to play it. When it came to the new tax reform bill we hear “Kennedy believes reducing taxes on businesses could allow them the funding to hire more people and raise wages“, yet in equal measure it does not stop companies to pour it all into the bonus of the members of those boards of directors. So getting back to the Guardian, it is the part “a fundamental problem that Facebook and Google cannot solve on their own; these institutions are designed to gather vast amounts of information about every American, but they are not built to manage that information in the interest of those individuals or the public as a whole, such as by preventing Russian hackers from targeting propaganda at specific voters“, he mixes up a few elements and hopes that fear and anti-communism does the rest. When we see ‘not built to manage that information‘, we are forgetting the fact that they do not need to do this to the degree he proclaims, because if that is so, Facebook could have just given the data dump to the NSA, couldn’t they? The systems are more and more automated and the people decide what to like and what or who to follow. You see, Facebook has become more and more granular into finding populations on whom to advertise to, who to address and who to invite towards the groups that some seek. It was their version to counter Google AdWords, a freedom of speech that is protected in the USA in the first amendment and as such free speech goes overboard (like on steroids). The US did this to set up the failed dominos against Brexit, they went so far that the former President of the United States was stupid enough to speak out the political issues of another nation, whilst everyone knew that this was largely about corporate greed, the benefit of large corporations, their status quo now endangered in Europe. So how long until that same freedom is used by everyone else to push whatever agenda they had? That is the danger (or is that the consequence of free speech), because those liberals wanted to take accountability out of the equation, the people became entangled into a stream of feeble minded needs and rights in moving towards the waterfalls of too much data and information, call it death by spam drowning us in every device we have. It gets worse as we can often no longer tell between real information and sponsored words, they all use the same template and they all use Facebook to get their view across, merely because it is the largest player.

In this we get to the next part, because the story gets a nice twist, one that can be used against the corporations and against the US. You see with “how to ensure Google, Facebook and the other giant platform monopolists truly serve the political and commercial interests of the American people“, in this we see the countering by 96% of the population of this planet, because the US is only 4% in all this (this planets population that is) and as such any move could be used as evidence to remove all tax breaks from those corporations outside of America because discriminating for one nations will take them away from global consideration for all others. That was a stupid move in all this by those working for John Kennedy. As I see it there should never be a political interest, because you will always oppose 50% of that one consideration. The laws of no accountability took care of that part. There can be no political interest; there can merely be the option and opportunity to facilitate to any and all political needs and political information, in this digital age is there another way? Perhaps there is one but I am pretty sure that I cannot think of any that stops others in one way or another, which is the foundation of discrimination. So, by giving all the players in this a chance to show their case, and getting their interests across, we cater to some level of fairness. In this, there is no actual fairness and no real political catering, there will be merely political discrimination in one form or another and such forms of discrimination will merely hinder a much larger group of people to find the facts and to decide for themselves where they stand. This is the entrenched future of non-accountable free speech, and as for the commercial interest of the American people? In my view that is a group that is even more hollow than any other group. The commercial interest of the American people changes with almost every voice you hear. The bulk not in greed, but in support to feed and give their family a future, but they do not get to have a real voice. The voices that decide on it are merely greed driven and it is about their personal greed, not that of their nation. So by catering to ‘the commercial interests of the American people‘ they are merely catering to greed, unchecked, unregulated and outside of many legal settings that limits greed. That makes the entire opinion piece interesting because the piece in my mind seems to oppose what is good for the people. Now, we can argue that Google is slightly greedy by the prices they set with their Pixel 2, yet they are still decently cheaper than both Samsung and Apple, for what the people get they get it for hundreds of dollars cheaper than the new Apple X, so it seems that Google is catering to the American people by offering a top range device for a lot less than its competitor. How is that a bad business model? As it comes to data, the people of the world have been offered most of all of it at no charge, for 2 decades the people were able to search what we needed to find, in opposition, we see Bing (by Microsoft) to offer some limited version of this. A version made by someone who was better off being brain-dead at birth. By catering to the people by filtering through assumption we never get what we needed. So as I see it, the continuation of Google is a lot more essential than American politicians are comfortable with. For Facebook there is another part that the piece illuminates. The view of “For one thing, there is no doubt these corporations qualify for antitrust regulation. Facebook, for instance, has 77% of mobile social networking traffic in the United States, with just over half of all American adults using Facebook every day” is part of it. Now I get it that these people are merely looking at the American side. Yet Facebook has a lot more. When we accept: “Facebook has more than a billion active users: The platform has 1.71 billion monthly active users and 1.13 billion daily active users, on average. Facebook boasts 1.57 billion mobile monthly active users and 1.03 million mobile daily active users, on average” we see that the American population is below 15% of all Facebook users. America has become part of a global community and that is scaring the politicians in America a lot more than anything else. You see the people are starting to learn on how they were sold some cheap package and their quality of life has gone out the window.
Now everyone is out in arms and as Google and Facebook are largely truly independent the politicians and certain ‘captains of industry‘ can’t push for their personal needs. Now they are trying to take off the gloves and see if they can punch their way upwards. Their desperation shows even better with “Nearly all new online advertising spending goes to just Facebook and Google, and those two companies refer over half of all traffic to news websites“. You see until the early 2000’s the advertisement space was a joke, a few people has ludicrous prices and the papers lived of advertisements. People were often unable to promote their business because the prices were ridiculous, hundreds of dollars for a small image and a few words. Hoping someone would read it. Google decided that they could do better and they decided to make something affordable, suddenly everyone could afford to show their place and/or product for mere dollars, not for hundreds of dollars to a specific larger audience than ever before. In less than 8 years the print advertisement has become almost a wash, the advertisers are targeting THEIR audience and those others, who wanted to milk their systems for the maximum time are now out of a job, out of a business because they were all about the Status Quo. So now we see the writers of this opinion piece “Barry Lynn is the Executive Director of the Open Markets Institute. Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Institute” advocating opposition to a world they and their peers created. You see the corporate world is a lot larger than these two players. Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Verizon and Cardinal Health. None of them are mentioned. This gives a more and more critical view that these two players are trying to get global visibility because their tune is getting old and tired in the US, or is that New America as they call it? And none are mentioning General Electric in all this. There are true boogeymen in America who are wrestling in on the American Quality of Life; the weird this is that is the one element that Google and Facebook are not inhibiting. So if it is truly about growing America, would having a go at the other players be more important? Well we can argue against that with the quote “Seven years ago, Google paid $700m for a company called ITA that provides software for the travel industry. The Department of Justice approved the deal on the condition that Google keep access to the software open to other businesses for at least 5 years. This year, Google closed that access“, so as I read it, the industry had 5 years to make something equal or better to the ITA software. So where is that software now? We have seen for decades that software can be vultured on for a lot less, but that always comes with an end date. So as there is no alternative, no new software those people will just have to go to Google. This is a simple world. You either have the product we need, or we get it somewhere else. Yet in the end you still need to bring a product to the table. We saw this as WordPerfect was pushed out of the world and MS Word remained. It was done to Lotus by Excel and the least said about the predecessors of PowerPoint the Better (although some were impressively cool and better than what we have now). Even in Databases, Access was the most inferior product. Now who remembers dBase, SuperBase or FoxBase? So this is not the first time it happens, so why cry now? In my view it is not about the people writing it, it is about the businesses who are now being pushed out of the market because the Status Quo days are over and the people want to know what is actually happening and they are more likely to hear that from Google and Facebook that they will from Bing and friends. Now I agree that there are issues on several levels and improvements are needed, but we know that this is work in progress. In my view it started a long time ago. When we allowed the glossy news from certain publishers go forth with innuendo and advertisements go through, whilst not having to pay GST (read: VAT) on their product, they saw a nice little loophole to gain a lot more. This is how some people like Rupert Murdoch really made a bundle. Newspapers, magazines and other printed issues. Now it is going Digital at 0.1% of the cost, so the numbers of players in this field are growing almost exponentially and fake news is becoming a problem. Not just for the people bringing the news, but in equal measure any support player connected to it and it is the first and most visible play on ‘free speech’ going over the edge. All because no one in America wanted to entertain the actual need for accountability.

This is merely another opinion in all this and you will need to decide for yourself if my view is valid or not. And before you lash out against Google and Facebook (something I have done in the past and will do so again in the future), consider, did they cost you money, did they ask you to pay or did they give you options at $0? Now we know they get their money in other ways, but it has not cost us anything. So why cry? It seems to me that the Open Markets Institute has its own agenda, I am merely wondering if it was about open markets or about markets for friends who are losing their markets because they were unwilling to move forward. It is merely a view I am considering. It is up to you to decide what you think is actually going in. And when you pay $650 (+$299 for Apple care in addition) more for your new iPhone , $650 (or $949) more than its competitor, what that because it was really that much better, was it because of some proclaimed open market or was it because of something else?

It’s your opinion (read: your point of view) and you get to decide!

 

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