Category Archives: Finance

Media rigging

We have had issues, massive issues for the longest of times. Now we can focus on the blatant transgressors, we can focus on the exclusion examples of good journalism like the guardian, the Independent, the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Times and the Financial Times (the Australian and non-Australian editions), yet the founding flaw is actually larger.

You see, journalism has become an issue in itself. Whatever people and participators thought it was in the 70’s is no longer the case. Perhaps it never was. In my view, journalism is no longer merely about ‘exposing’, it is about partially revealing, whilst mediating the needs of the shareholder, the stake holders and the advertisers making it a very different issue. It is there where I did not just have my issue with Microsoft, in that same setting the hands of Sony are equally tainted. They are the two visible ones; but that list is distinguished and very long. So as we see overcompensation we see it on both sides of the equation, not giving it a level of equilibrium, but an exaggerated level of grossly unsettling.

In this we have two articles. The first is directly linked to what I have been writing about so let’s start with that. The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/16/thousands-of-android-apps-may-be-illegally-tracking-children-study-finds) gives us ‘Thousands of Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds’. Now, I am not convinced that this is all limited to Android, but that is a personal feeling that has not been met with in-depth investigation, so I could most certainly be wrong on that count. What is the issue is seen with “Seven researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that the majority of them may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without a parent’s permission, the study found“,as this had been going on for years and i reported on it years ago, I am not at all surprised, yet the way that this now reaches the limelight is an issue to some degree. I am unaware what Serge Egelman has been doing with their life, but “The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done” was not a consideration in 2010, or 2009, so why is it an issue now? Is it because Osama Bin Laden is dead now (intentionally utterly unrelated)? There has been a freedom of actions, a blatant setting of non-investigation for close to a decade and even as it is now more and more clear that the issue was never ‘not there’. In February 2016 we saw (unfortunately through the Telegraph) “The security flaw in Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear meant access to a child’s name, date of birth and gender could have been easily accessed. The researchers at Rapid7, a Boston-based security company that spotted the defect, said the toy could also be hijacked to give a malicious actor control over account data and in-built functions“, so this is not new. The fact that it was the Telegraph who brought it does not make it false. And yes, I did bite my tongue to prevent the addition of ‘in this case‘ to the previous line. In addition we see (at http://www.dickinson-wright.com/news-alerts/legal-and-privacy-issues-with-connected-toys) that law firm Dickinson Wright has been on the ball since 2015, so how come that the media is lagging to such an extent? Like me, they saw the rain come and in their case it is profitable to be aware of the issues. So with “Since 2015 the technology and legal implications regarding these types of toys has only grown as the market now includes smart toys, such as Talk-to-Me Mikey, SmartToy Monkey, and Kidizoon Smartwatch DX; connected toys, such as SelfieMic and Grush; and other connected smart toys such as Cognitoys’ DINO, and My Friend Cayla“, they again show to be ahead of the curve and most of the media lagging to a much larger degree. Did you think that this was going to go away by keeping quiet? I think that the answer is clearly shown in the Post article. The most powerful statement is seen with “The researchers note that Google has worked to enforce COPPA by requiring child app developers to certify that they comply with the law. “However, as our results show, there appears to not be any (or only limited) enforcement,” the researchers said. They added that it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research to detect the apps and the developers that may be violating child privacy laws“, in this we see two parts, and the first is that the call of data value tends to nullify ethics to a much larger degree. The second is that I do not disagree with ‘it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research‘, I merely think that the people have not given Google the rights to police systems. Can we hold Microsoft responsible for every NBA gave that collects the abilities of users on that game? Should Microsoft police Electronic Arts, or 2K for that matter? The ability does not imply ‘to have the right’. Although it is a hard stance to make, we cannot go from the fact that all software developers are guilty by default, it is counterproductive. Yet in that same light, those transgressors should face multi-million dollar fines to say the least.

The final quote is a good one, but also a loaded one. With “Critics of Google’s app platform say the company and other players in the digital-advertising business, such as Facebook, have profited greatly from advances in data-tracking technology, even as regulators have failed to keep up with the resulting privacy intrusions” there is a hidden truth that also applies to Facebook. You see, they merely facilitate to give the advertiser the best value of their advertisement (like AdWords), yet the agency of advertiser only benefits from using the system. Their ad does get exposed to the best possible audience, yet the results they get back in AdWords is totally devoid of any personal data. So the advertiser sees Gender, age group location and other data, but nothing that personally identifies a person. In addition, if the ad is shown to an anonymous browser, there will be no data at all for that case.

So yes, data-tracking gives the advantage, but the privacy intrusions were not instigated by either Google or Facebook and as far as I know AdWords does not allow for such intrusions, should I be wrong than I will correct this at the earliest opportunity. Yet in all this, whilst everyone is having a go at Facebook, the media is very much avoiding Cambridge Analytica (minus one whistle-blower), other than to include them in speculations like ‘Cambridge Analytica appears to have an open contract‘, ‘Was it Cambridge Analytica that carried the day for Kenyatta‘ and ‘could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica‘. It almost reads like ‘Daily Mail reporter Sarah Vine might possibly have a vagina‘, which brings us to the second part in all this.

Invisibly linked

For the first time (I think ever) did I feel for a reporter! It was not what she said or how she said it, it was ‘Daily Mail fires reporter who inadvertently published obscenity‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/apr/16/daily-mail-removes-obscene-language-attack-on-reality-tv-stars). Now it is important that we consider two parts. the first is the blatant abuse of ‘political correctness‘ which has been putting the people at large on their rear hooves for way too long, which might also be the reason why comedians like Jimmy Carr are rising in popularity in a way we have not seen since Aristophanes wrote The Frogs in 435BC. My issue starts with “Daily Mail Australia has fired a reporter who accidentally uploaded her own “musings” about reality television contestants being “vapid cunts” on to the news website on Sunday“, so the Daily Mail does not have a draft setting that needs to be approved by the editor, no, it gets uploaded directly and even as that might be commendable. The fact that we also see “Sources at the Daily Mail earlier said the young reporter was “mortified” by the mistake“, whilst the lovers of the TV-Series Newsroom saw a similar event happen in 2014, so the fact that reality catches up with comedy and TV-Series is not merely fun, the fact that this happened in the heralded ‘Newsroom‘ should be seen as a signal. As we see “The Daily Mail reporter was writing in a Google document because of problems with the content management system and she inadvertently cut and pasted a paragraph about Bachelor in Paradise contestant Florence Alexandra which she says was written for her own eyes only, Guardian Australia understands” it is not merely about the fact on who wrote it, the mere part that the content manager part was flawed, we also see “The reporter had filed no fewer than five stories on Sunday and four on Monday, which is a normal workload for a Daily Mail journalist. It is customary for Mail reporters to upload their own copy into the system unless the story is legally contentious“. So even as we accept that the pressure is on, the system was flawed and that there was a lot of truth in her writing, and all this about a Dutch model whose fame seems to be limited to being ‘not ugly‘. So as the Daily Mail was happy to get her bum-shot and label it ‘wardrobe malfunction’ (9th September 2017), whilst in addition there has been no other transgressions, she was quite literally thrown to the wolves and out of a job. So when we do see the term ‘vapid cunts‘ (with the clever application of ‘vapid’, did the editorial consider that the term might have meant ‘a bland covering of the green envious setting of finding love and overcoming rejection‘, which we get from ‘vapid=bland‘ and ‘vagina = a sheath formed round a stem by the base of a leaf‘.

You see, in the end, this is a paper covering a reality show, a fake event created to entice an audience from living a life and wasting an hour on seeing something fake whilst they could have sought it out for real. In all this the overworked journalist gets the axe. So even if I feel a little for the journalist in this case and whilst we see that the audience replied with ‘Refreshing honesty from the Daily Mail this morning‘, which should be a real signal for the editor in change, no he threw it all out to hopefully avoid whatever would come next.

You see, even if it is not now, there are enough issues around which means that Leveson 2 might be delayed, but will still most likely happen. So even as the Telegraph is already on the ‘would be a threat to a free press‘, whilst trying to drown the reader with ‘The first Leveson inquiry cost taxpayers £5.4 million, yet the legal bill for the newspaper industry to comply with the process was far more than that‘, some journalists were up to their old tricks even before the Leveson ink dried. So in this the moment that Leveson 2 does happen, their clean desks will not be because some journalists tried to keep it clean, it will be because they were told to leave. The fact that some see Leveson 2 in relation to ‘undermining high quality journalism‘ seems to forget that high quality journalism is a thing of the past. It perhaps ended long before John Simm decided to portray a journalist in the excellent ‘State of Play‘. In all this there will be a massive blowback for the media at large, the moment it does happen, I will have every intention to get part of it set as an investigation of news that would have been considered as ‘mishandled’. There is at large enough evidence that the Sony event of 2012, the Microsoft events of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, as well as IBM 2015 and 2017. There have been too many of events that were somehow ‘filtered’. In addition to that there are not merely the data breaches, the fact that there are strong indications that the media at times, merely reported through the act of copy and paste, whilst not looking deeper into the matter. Tesco, the North Korean Sony ‘Hack’ and a few other matters that should be dug into as there are enough indications that events had faltered and faltered might be seen as the most positive way to define an event that should be seen as utterly negative.

In my view, as some editors and shareholders will try to navigate the term journalist, I would be on the horse of removing that word altogether and have those papers be subject to the full 20% VAT. I wonder how they will suddenly offer to (again) monitor themselves. Like that was a raging success the first time around. It is as I see it the price of not being held to any standards, apart from the overreacting from two unintended words, which is in my view a massive overreaction on several levels. I wonder why that was and who made the call to the editor on that, because I don’t think it was merely an overreacting Dutch model. In that I am decently convinced that she has been called a hell of a lot worse, the side effect of trying to be a ‘social media selfie darling’. Yet that is merely my point of view and I have not always been correct.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

What surely comes next!

Today I took another look at what the Washington Post reported on Mark Zuckerberg, even as today will not be about that. It will however 100% for certain, soon be about 44 senators, I am collecting data on losers like Rep. David McKinley (W.Va.), who accused Zuckerberg and Facebook of “hurting people” by failing to thwart those who try to sell opioids on the site. So he will soon face my exposure on how Heroin-related overdoses in West Virginia have increased by 200% by Nov 2017 and even more at present since measures were implemented to limit prescription opioid use. In addition a recent source gives us ‘Drug companies shipped nearly 21 million opioid painkillers to a town with 2,900 people‘, which was 3 months ago, so as I see it, the republican loser from West Virginia can join the Texas ranks as one of the least useful persons in the USA. But do not worry, these senators have accumulated loads of visibility and I will save some space for all 44 of them. So as this is coming soon enough, let’s take a look what matters today.

You see, the issues in the Middle East are accelerating and the issues are becoming more and more extreme. Even as we saw “The announcement was made at the High Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held in Geneva today, bringing total EU funding to Yemen to €438.2 million since the beginning of the crisis in 2015. Speaking at the event in Geneva today, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis” a mere week ago (source: EU News), the issue is not how much is going there, but whether that pays for any humanitarian relief. You see, Yemeni Houthi’s fired ballistic missiles at Riyadh, which according to Al Jazeera travelled more than 800 Km into Saudi Arabia (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/yemen-houthi-rebels-fire-ballistic-missile-saudi-capital-180411153418562.html), and when we see “Sharaf Lokman, a spokesman for the Houthis, said the attack came after Saleh al-Samad – president of the Supreme Political Council that runs Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other rebel-held areas – declared the start of “a year of ballistic missiles“, can we blame Saudi Arabia for whatever comes next? Whatever comes next is likely to be today and as the papers are all about how civilians were hit in all this, it seems to me that there is an unbalance in what is reported on several sides, giving rise to different levels of scrutiny and bias, whilst those needing to get all the news are blatantly ignored. When we see “the kingdom’s defence forces saying they intercepted missiles that targeted Riyadh and another city, and drones targeting an airport and an Aramco oil facility in the country’s south“, many people forget that all this requires technology, knowledge and heaps of additional logistics. So how are the Houthi rebels getting this stuff? Someone is supplying them and even as we realise that these puppies are not cheap, we tend to forget that the cost is rising quickly, especially when we see “a year of ballistic missiles”. Even under the best of conditions Yemen could not afford any of it, so they shouldn’t be able to get the mere fuel for these missiles, where is the rest coming from? When we consider the players who could afford it, how come the EU is all about “Martin Griffiths initial priority should be to listen rather than act“, whilst someone is ordering missiles by the dozen a day (an assumption from my side), where are these funds coming from? I think that the part “Martin Griffiths has an opportunity to serve as a bridge between international and regional actors and to benefit from European diplomatic initiatives” sounds slightly too much like a joke when we see the adverse actions taken. In this the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) might be a mere think tank, yet even they need to work on the premise of reality and achievability, two parts that are not coming to their doorstep any day soon if they keep on ignoring certain cash flow issues in all this. You see, Saudi Arabia almost has no option left but to strike back as hard as they can. If they do not, they are merely opening themselves to additional attacks from Hezbollah Al-Hejaz. A group that Iran planned to revive last year and as matters go, there is every chance that they have gone beyond the planning stage. If there is any truth to the entire “a year of ballistic missiles” matter, it implies (to some extent) that certain parts are in play and Iran cannot get caught there in any way. Having a resurrected puppet like Hezbollah Al-Hejaz is the most likely solution for them. Even as they know that it will be a signal for Israel to hit Hezbollah in their region, the outcome is a certain level of destabilisation, which is as I personally see it the first need for Iran. If they have any plans towards hurting Saudi Arabia, destabilisation is a clear first tactical need. In this Saudi Arabia has its work cut out in equal measure. It needs a few solid iron strikes against the Yemeni Houthi’s for Iran to realise that they are truly biting off more than they can chew and that is the only way (without a full scale skirmish) for Iran to reconsider the situation that they are on. In equal measure, Turkey is seeing the initial impact of its actions in Syria as the Turkey’s embattled lira hit a new low of around 4.14 to the US dollar. Turkey suffers from 10% inflation driven by an enormous internal credit bubble, a current account deficit of nearly 6% of GDP, and a US$220 billion corporate debt load in foreign currency. All this the Erdogan response is ““There are games being played on our economy,” he said in a speech in Ankara. “I call to those attacking our economy: You will not succeed. Just like you failed before, you will fail again”“. As I see it the idea that the cost of a war would largely impede ones economy as billions go to the cost of fuel for tanks and the ammunition for troops and tanks and even more resources for feeding the troops, all Trillions of Turkish Lira’s not going to the Turkish civilian needs and infrastructure probable has not yet sunk in with the President of Turkey, so that is that lack of insight to add to the tumbling Turkish economy as well? The good part here is that as they face those elements they need to shy away from becoming the Iranian tool in the Middle East outside of Syria, so that would optionally give Saudi Arabia more breathing space, how these acts could be used to stop Iran remains unclear at present, but there is every chance that Israel and the US are pissed off enough to do something silly like open up a full scale theatre of war in Syria (after the chemical attacks) and as such, if Russia does not respond with actual war and tries the diplomatic path to calm things down, Iran will not be left with any option but to wage war alone against Saudi Arabia, whilst Israel and the US will side with Saudi Arabia, the second part is that Yemen will suddenly lose all Iranian support which will change everything there as well.

The only direct path at present (as I personally see it) is to find out how the missiles make it to Yemen and make sure that the next 3 shipments are scuttled in the Gulf of Aden or the Arabian Sea, making the entire endeavour way too expensive for those with additional agenda’s. Yet the reality is that there are unknowns at present. It is not the missiles themselves, but the support system behind it all. Someone is getting trained there and finding out by whom and how is actually more important, sinking a shipment is one thing, getting rid of the instructors through targeted killings makes the next 6 shipments useless and therefor a tactic to be favoured (if realistically possible). In all this the person(s) training the Houthi are likely to be shielded, but it seems to me that finding them might be easier in the long run. Any Houthi firing team that the Saudi military can dispose of would delay the “year of ballistic missiles” tactic by several months with each successful hit making the statement Saleh al-Samad an unrealistic boast that could drown moral the way it needs to be, because as long as this goes on in Yemen, the 850,000 half-starved children (as reported by Oxfam) will not get to have any chance of survival.

Yet that is the way of inaction, even as action might be worse in the short term, resolving the issue would also imply that humanitarian aid could be possible after that. In all this, no matter what we think might happen, we do know that death is surely coming for thousands, if not for hundreds of thousands of the civilian population, a population of 10 million of Yemeni who are currently out of food, water, electricity and medicine, and their chances for survival? When we consider the mere premise of “The World Bank predicts that Yemen’s oil and gas revenues will plummet during 2009 and 2010, and fall to zero by 2017 as supplies run out“, we might have to realise that the Yemeni’s need to consider not being alive, at the lives of Syrians were set to zero on the abacus of life due to a none economic value, the plight of the Yemeni people might be worse and that is not just in light of their value, that realisation also gives us that this nation has no funds to work with, so how would they be paying for their “year of ballistic missiles“? #JustAsking!

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Science

Slicing the Tiramisu

Perhaps you remember the old days, the days where France was ruled by Marie-Antoinette, as well as King Louis XVI. In days of hunger she stated “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, or for those who did not serve in Etrangere: “Let them eat cake”. Yes those were the good days. It was 1789 (it was April if I remember correctly). It was around the day when those bloody colonials (now known as Americans) inaugurated George Washington as the first President of the United States of America. You see, nowadays we fend of hunger by wallowing in greed, to set our stepping stones towards gaining a piece of the action, any action and what I predicted (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/24/losing-values-towards-insanity/) in ‘Losing values towards insanity‘, is now turning into a reality. You see, when I stated on February 24th “Both Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin are now perfectly placed to rake in billions” is now as we see in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iran-russia-and-turkey-meet-over-syrias-future-as-trump-mulls-troop-withdrawal/2018/04/04/c607e27c-3770-11e8-af3c-2123715f78df_story.html) becoming a reality. With the quote “The three presidents — including Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Russia’s Vladimir Putin — gathered in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where they pledged to cooperate on reconstruction and aid” we see the present escalate for the facilitation towards President Assad, whilst they now are willing to state “The leaders called for more support from the international community and emphasized their opposition to “separatist agendas” in Syria“, you see now that they are at the table getting rich the rest of the Syrian oversight will be costly thing and now they are willing to let the US and the EU pick up the bill for those costs. It is the price of doing business with the wrong party, or basically staying out of it all.

In addition, with “It was the second time that Erdogan, Putin and Rouhani have met in recent months to discuss the conflict, underscoring those tensions and the extent to which U.S. power has waned in the region“, which is not news, it is a clear sign of making all the wrong choices and the US is about to make a few more. In regards of Syria, I do stand with President Trump. You see, the title ‘As Trump talks of leaving Syria, his top commander in the Middle East emphasizes the need to stay‘ (also the Washington Post) is deceptive, dangerous and not too bright. I do sympathise with General Joseph L. Votel, head of U.S. Central Command. His statement “A lot of very good military progress has been made over the last couple of years, but the hard part, I think, is in front of us,” is correct. Yet now that the Russians have delivered, the US is at the political mercy of the steps taken by President Rouhani, President Erdogan and President Putin. Each of these players with their own needs to play their games with the U.S. in any way they can and as much as possible. Turkey wants the EU membership, whilst knowingly endangering the EU values forever, Iran wants whatever Iran can lay their fingers on and Putin wants to screw with the Americans for all he can. So any US presence is like walking through a minefield day in day out for months, even years. In addition, there is no evidence that the rebels will ever stop, they will come back and by letting the Russians and Iranians and Turks take those reprisal blows is not the worst idea to have. The wise play is to move out of Syria altogether, the US can only lose here, it is almost the certainty of facing a ‘lose-lose’ situation whilst every blow delivered to the US will mean that the Russians and their Megaline LLC (or known as the delicious cake makers Prigozhin and Utkin).

It will rake in the massive wealth that they will most likely share with President Putin and a few of their friends on the inside. There is every chance that this is the year is the year where Yevgeniy Prigozhin becomes the second most important man in Russia for a very long time and with every contract that they score and deliver to the Syrian government means an additional ascension of his stardom. With the US gone they will actually have to deal with the matters themselves and as the EU stays out, their goose will be partially cooked with every act of retaliation the defeated rebels successfully make. The UK with the entire bungled Salisbury events are only the icing on the cake that Putin is lashing out with for all to see in the media. The fact that he is calling for the joint investigations on several levels whilst there is enough indications that his involvement might never be proven is one part that also works against the UK and the EU. There was never any doubt that Russia created and developed the Novichoks and as the world is seeing what a mess the OPCW and the SAB made of it all merely intensifies the need for other players to get their fingers on this technology and learn skills they never wanted earlier. That part was invigorated by the outspoken misses of the Porter Down and the bunny jumps by Gary Aitkenhead stating “we have provided the scientific information to the government, who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they have come to” only made matters worse. So the Russians are now slicing their Tiramisu which they will share (to some extent) with Iran and turkey, but the message is clear, the US lost massively here and staying behind is not a wise choice (as I personally see it). You see, I do respect the view of General Votel. Even as President Trump thinks short term (his ‘reign’) and General Votel has the right long term strategy view, It is the Trump action that is the wisest one. Syria is about to become cold war territory and the US military is not ready and even nowhere near trained to get into that field. The fallout of such strategic blunders would haunt anyone serving there for a very long time to come. In addition I think it is what the Syrians deserve, they wanted this, so let it be maintained in a ‘cleaned’ state by Russian troops. The US gearing up optionally against Iran by standing next to Saudi Arabia and gaining a better profile in that way is a much better option. It allows for a better humanitarian standing as they set their sights on Yemeni relief is a better option, it will set them against Iran, which is good, because at that point Iran will either back down against Saudi Arabia, or face the wrath of the Saudi, US and Israeli forces which would be quite the show, and I would love to test (for a fee of course) that solution I designed to sink the Iranian fleet (but that is merely my sense of humorous ego).

The second reason is that ISIS might have been dealt serious blows, but they are not out of the fight. The Sinai is merely one focal point, the fact that they are also in Yemen makes for a strategic need for the US to see if they can operate from Saudi Arabia. It would allow for other means to deal with ISIS and for the US to gain a much better foothold in the Middle East. With Saudi Arabia moving well over 500 billion towards a futuristic NOAM, the US have a lot more to gain, doing so before Russia gets options in NOAM is again the wise strategy to follow.

In the second view, it sickens me that ‘after the war‘ we are suddenly ‘allowed‘ to give what the Syrian four now regard as ‘aid’. That was a step they should have allowed 6 years ago. Let them solve it themselves now and live with the consequences of that aftermath and the costs that come with them.

They can have the cake, the crumbs and the table it stands on, that whilst we know that there are several players eager to set fire to that table whilst the 4 rulers are trying to eat the cake. Setting the US and the EU up as a decoy whilst they eat all the cake is a little too distasteful to my liking.

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Politics

The Red Flags

Today is a day where we are overloaded with actions on parties, yet there is little evidence shown, actual evidence that gives light to the danger. So first we see Russia, the old red with hammer and sickle. First we see ‘Expulsions of Russians are pushback against Putin’s hybrid warfare‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/26/expulsions-of-russians-are-pushback-against-putins-hybrid-warfare), as well as ‘More than 130 people could have been exposed to novichok, PM says‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/26/130-people-feared-exposed-to-novichok-in-spy-attack-says-pm). These two matters are shown to us giving two lights. The first is “The expulsions of Russian diplomats on Monday reflect how widely Vladimir Putin has attempted to wage his brand of hybrid warfare and how many leaders and their intelligence agencies he has angered in the process. Even before the Salisbury poisoning, many governments had lost patience with Vladimir Putin’s grey war for domestic reasons of their own. Their response is not just an act of solidarity with the UK but a collective pushback“, I am not denying any of this. There are indicators that Putin has been waging ‘war’ for some time. There is also the larger indication that he is moving on several fronts and he is gaining field in economic options in the Middle East, whilst America has lost footing. The US needs to appease Saudi Arabia to the maximum degree to avoid the dangers of losing even more footing in the Middle East.

It is with “In Lithuania, the government found Russian spyware on its computers. As far back as 2007, Estonia suffered a three-week wave of cyber-attacks” we do get a first issue, as well as with “US and EU expel scores of Russian diplomats over Skripal attack“. You see when governments start to react with “in a show of solidarity” you should all be aware that there is a lot more going on. This is not some form of ‘conspiracy theory’, this is merely facts that you can check. How much solidarity was shown when we all got screwed over by the meltdowns of 2004 and 2008? The economic impact was shown in several countries. Of course not as massive outside of the US, but we all felt the pinch, millions of us. So how much solidarity was shown AGAINST Wall Street? Please show me the evidence, because for the most, these people might have lost their jobs, but left so wealthy that these men could go into brothels for the rest of their lives, shopping for virgins. So when it comes to solidarity, i have merely seen that as a government sham over the last 10 years. In addition, even if we acknowledge that the Novichok is of Russian making, there is evidence that it was not uniquely in Russian hands. In addition, there are clear questions regarding Vil Mirzayanov as well as some of his statements as I showed in the earlier presented blog ‘Something for the Silver Screen?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/17/something-for-the-silver-screen/) where I gave the readers “Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks””. Now we need to consider that both the OPCW and the SAB are incompetent beyond belief, or that we are now getting a collection of Fish Stories. They presented the statements in 2013. Now TASS (I know, not the greatest source of non-biased journalism) gives us “As far back as 1998, we looked though a regular edition of the spectral database released by the US National Bureau of Standards, which has spectral data on about 300,000 compounds and is regularly updated, to find an agent that caught our attention as it was an organophosphorate chemical. We understood that it must have a lethal effect. Now it has turned out that, judging by the name of that agent, it was Novichok A234. It has surfaced,” Igor Rybalchenko, chief of the ministry’s chemical laboratory, said in an interview with the Voskresny Vecher news roundup on the Rossiya-1 television channel“. You see, this is something that could have been checked. Is TASS lying? If not than we get the additional of what some might regard as ‘fuck ups‘ by both MI5 and GCHQ. In that regard, the less stated involving MI6 at present the better. Now, that part could be easily verified, yet the US and the UK have not given any clear evidence, whilst several sources have clearly shown that Novichoks were out there. If any of the sources, that I mentioned on Novichoks (like Leonard Rink), are shown to be true than there is a larger issue in play. The issue is that some governments are in denial over the evidence and facts and that is a bad thing. Let’s be clear, that does not absolve the USSR (I love the old names) on many of their actions, it merely shows that painting everything with a single brush shows other levels of incompetence on several fields. Even if that was the Intelligence branch intervening for whatever reason, they went about it really bad and the wrong people end up getting scorched. It is the Guardian that gets credits here for asking the hard questions. With ‘UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/15/uks-claims-questioned-doubts-emerge-about-source-of-salisburys-novichok) it asks the harder questions and in there we see the conflicts that Craig Murray brings. With ““There is no evidence it was Russia. I am not ruling out that it could be Russia, though I don’t see the motive. I want to see where the evidence lies,” Murray said. “Anyone who expresses scepticism is seen as an enemy of the state.”“. I am pretty much on his side on this matter. I found issues that gave rise to the blanket accusation within 30 minutes, perhaps better stated it took an hour because the OPCW documents read as smooth as sandpaper, more boring materials and meetings will seldom be read. Besides the questions from the Guardian, not one of the newspapers dug into the overkill matter. The entire exercise too overly complicated. I could have mugged, executed the two making it look like a robbery in mere minutes (excluding preparation time), it would be done in no time and no chemical risks at all, to no one. So as we saw PM Theresa May give us “More than 130 people could have been exposed to the deadly nerve agent novichok during the Russian spy attack in Salisbury, Theresa May said on Monday“, yet no one raises that it could be a mere individual or even the Russian Mafia. Two likely considerations in all this, and not one has raised that part. No matter how we see the opposing players in Special Forces or Intelligence. To set the stage of 130 bystanders getting in the crossfires is a realistic thing in places like Syria and Yemen, where there is open warfare, in places like Chantilly, Cheltenham, St Petersburg, or Lille is not where one goes playing like that. You see killing a target, a valid target is one thing, doing it whilst setting the stage for getting +100 plus knowingly in the crossfires requires an entirely different type of psychopath and governments tend to not hire those types in the first place.

That alone merely emphasizes the part that my view has been correct all the time. In addition to that, we still have seen no clear stated evidence on how it was done. The Scotsman (at https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/sergei-skripal-exposed-to-nerve-agent-through-car-vents-reports-1-4707852) stated “may have been exposed to a deadly nerve agent through his car’s ventilation system“, which they got from the US. You see, when we get ‘may have been‘ and ‘possibly‘, we need to realise that we are either kept in the dark, or they actually just do not know at present, which makes a case for blaming the Russian government a weird choice at best. And with every delay in this it merely shows that the entire mess is a lot larger, yet the media ignores that. I call that an actual problem.

I mentioned Lithuania earlier. Now, the following speculation does not absolve Russia, but when you realise that people like the Russian Mafia might oblige the Russian government at times, they are still in it for money, for simple profit and coin. So when we see: “In March 2016, Vladislav Reznik, a Deputy of the State Duma, has been put on the international wanted list and officially charged with membership in Tambovsko-Malyshevskie organized criminal group and money laundering in Spain. Reznik’s villa has been searched. According to the indictment, Reznik was among those controlling the gang operations and a member of Gennady Petrov’s business circle” as well as “€16 million have been received from the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Lithuania, Switzerland, Great Britain, and Russia. On the other hand, monetary funds amounting to some $8.5 million have been transferred from his accounts to Russia, Panama, Cayman Islands, and U.S.“, we see that Lithuania has larger players in the fold. If it is a vessel for transferring funds, having their cyber infrastructure under attack seems to be an effective way to keep the eyes peeled in different direction (extremely speculative), yet in support there is also “In July, Russian hackers were blamed for a similar assault on Lithuanian government Web sites. In Security Fix’s account of that attack, I posted a copy of a congratulatory letter sent to nationalist Russian hackers by Nikolai Kuryanovich, a former member of the Russian Duma. The missive is dated March 2006, and addresses the hacker group Slavic Union after the group had just completed a series of successful attacks against Israeli Web sites“, which is a first link from a ‘gov.ge‘ site. Cyberwar – Georgia

In addition there is “The wave of attacks came after a row erupted over the removal of the Bronze Soldier Soviet war memorial in Tallinn, the Estonian capital. The websites of government departments, political parties, banks and newspapers were all targeted. Analysts have immediately accused the Russian Business Network (RBN), a network of criminal hackers with close links to the Russian mafia and government, of the Georgian attacks“, now remember that Tallinn is in Estonia, not Lithuania. Yet the methods that the Russian Mafia uses are quite often duplicated (an Amway solution) and that part is not so far stretched. It is another cog that is showing us on the acts of the Russian Mafia. The Russian government is not absolved in all this, yet Theresa May did not tell us: ‘we have strong indications that a member or Russian organised crime with links to the Russian governments are behind this‘. No! She went straight for the Russian government and offered no clear evidence, that whilst the clear evidence could be largely dismissed in most courts with merely the use of the documents of the SAB, the OPCW and the testimony of Vil Mirzayanov who seemed to be interested in upping the sold copies of his 2008 publication.

There are sides to my story as well, parts I am not happy about, parts that should be scrutinised, yet in all this, the current facts and statements seem to take down the UK case at present. More importantly it shows us that the US is also playing the fear game, it is now more afraid than ever that it loses more and more turf in the Middle East, whilst Russia is moving forward. That scares them more than anything, even more than any Novichooks (yup intentional typo) in play, especially when we consider the danger that these weapons are and additional could be down the line, is that not odd either?

Ready Player Two

And that is not the whole story. You see in all this the other red flag has a star and a crescent moon. Yes it’s everyone’s favourite humanitarian setting (or was that lack off?), it is Turkey. So when we are again treated to the marketing of ‘Turkey needs Europe, Europe needs Turkey‘, the people in Europe need to run to the Brexit, or any EU-Exit they can find. I stated it in a previous blog with ‘This relates directly to Turkey, because it shows the desperate EU trying to open a many doors as possible‘. I did that in ‘A changing language‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/15/a-changing-language/) well over a month ago. Now we see “Turkey is not doing very well economically, it needs outlets” said Lamberts, “and it is very clear that bad relations with Europe are harmful to Turkey, so somewhere on the economic level Erdogan needs Europe and Europe in fairness needs Turkey“, which Euro news gave us yesterday. So we see how Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian Green MEP is willing to throw values overboard, the economy does not allow for any humanitarian values. So when I see any journalists hiding behind ‘constant attacks on transgressions of human rights‘, whilst attacking governments making any kind of economy based deals. Can they just kindly go fuck themselves? When we see the Turkish joke evolving on the EU field, no journalist gets to use the ‘Human Rights‘ card for a long time to come. If you want to do that, go visit Turkey and protest in front of those prisons that have journalists locked up for life. Until you can make that change there, do not come crying on other shores. If you need actual Human rights issues, then perhaps turn to Canada where we got “A French waiter who was fired for his “aggressive, rude and disrespectful” manner has claimed compensation, insisting that his behaviour is not unusual, but that he is simply French“, that is the story of Guillame Rey from Vancouver Canada. that is where the Human Rights have gotten us and that is a real win for the ‘15 children that were killed in an airstrike as they hid in the basement of a school in the town of Arbin‘, yes a real humanitarian win in this. So even as the financial Times reported less than 2 hours ago “The EU said it failed to win a pledge from Turkey to free journalists it has jailed and improve other rights for its citizens but that it will maintain talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their first meeting in almost year“, we see no place stating that turkey will not become a member of the EU. It is another side where the gross negligence of evidence is taking the toll of our humanity. So as the President of the European Council Donald Tusk gives us “Only progress on these issues will allow us to improve EU-Turkey relations, including the accession process” (at https://www.ft.com/content/dbefa9e6-313d-11e8-b5bf-23cb17fd1498), so I am proven correct yet again, they merely need to push the EU deeper in debt, which according to Bloomberg is coming for certain through “Draghi’s call for patience and persistence in delivering stimulus, suggesting bond-buying will be extended beyond September” or set the stage where the so called Humanitarian principles are ignored, which has been the case for close to a year. It has only strengthened my view that the UK is a lot better off outside the EU, because this entire EU mess will collapse onto itself and woe to those who are left behind paying for it all. It could set back the economic markers for close to two generations in Europe, which should scare anyone in the EU.

The last red flag is North Korea (it has blue too)

I mentioned it some time ago. The entire Sony mess and blaming North Korea was never really resolved. So when I got the news from ABC stating “Secret intelligence documents and photos unilaterally collected by the U.S. military were among the stolen cache of South Korea’s classified documents by North Korean hackers, but the totality of what was stolen remains unknown“, we should be starting to get careful. you see it implies one side, but to my view it gives an entirely different issue. It implies that North Korea is a capable cyber operator. Now, we know that one can do plenty of damage with a laptop (like in the movies). Yet when you see these pics you wonder what on earth is going on, because we now get the speculated but believable view that ‘the US gave documents to an ally that does not have its basic cyber protections in place‘, that is a very different kind of cheddar, isn’t it? Now, I have seen a few pics where the computers look a little more advanced, but nothing that an actual gamer would still be using two years ago. And that is the foundation of their hacking? Let’s be clear, there are situation where you can hack with a 10 year old laptop, but you need skills, you need access to documentation and the ability to get past the firewalls and past sniffers and network monitors. They do exist, yet that requires an equal incompetency on the South Korean side, a part that we are also ignoring, the use of Common Cyber Sense.

You see, when you get “Malware contamination of the intranet server of the cyber command that occurred in September last year was confirmed by the South Korea’s Defense Ministry in May but this is the first glimpse of the scope of the damage“, there is another layer in place, one that does make sense. Some of the European, Russian and optional US hackers are selling their stuff to North Korea. That is a very possible scenario, but in that case both the FBI (if the US was involved), as well as the CIA failed in their tasks. Perhaps better stated, the CIA seems to be unable to thwart North Korea from purchasing cyber hacking software from making it to North Korea, which is equally a failure on several levels. It is unfair to blame merely the CIA. It is fair enough to add the earlier avoided MI6 to the mix as they should have been watching that danger, because if these hackers can get to South Korea, they could in theory hit the UK in equal measure, the evidence is there. Even as we agree that North Korea does not have the skills (my personal belief) to create something like Wannacry. I already went there to some degree in ‘In light of the evidence‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/05/28/in-light-of-the-evidence/), the evidence given was compelling that was given by ICIT. In addition we had ‘when IBM cannot give view of any mail that propagated the worm’, which also takes North Korea out of the loop, yet they could have acquired the software. So even as the largest cyber player like IBM remains in the dark, there is still evidence that it was North Korea? That view was only enforced when a Dutch media team went to North Korea a few years back. In some places their cameras were locked up because no photographs were allowed. Yet most had them anyway, because the North Korean officers had no idea what a smartphone was and that it was able to take pictures. The Dutch NOS showed it on Television, so that is the place that hacked into South Korea, the birthplace of Samsung? It is not impossible and was never denied by me, but it was so extremely unlikely that unless clearly proven with evidence considering it was utterly impossible to the common sense mind. Yet as the source is not in North Korea, hunting that source down is more important, because the next time it will not be some version like Wannacry 2.0, it could be Stuxnet 7.1 and as the UK has 15 reactors and the US has 99 reactors in 30 states, it seems to me that waking up both MI6 and the CIA to actually get to the bottom of these North Korean ‘praised’ cyber skills and find out where those skills actually were (read: came from), because not doing so is a much larger issue. I hope that the South Korean bungle of their network security constitutes as at least some level of evidence.

Three red flags, none of them are innocent, I never implied that, but as we are changing the play, the marketing vibe and the need of what is real we need to carefully weigh what the media gives us and what those giving the media are actually after. I have seen enough evidence thrown about and have been able to ask questions to the extent that gives rise to many question marks and whilst some media are playing the emotional waves, some are seeking clarity and that clarity gives us additional options and views that we did not consider before. People all over the world are told to jump to the left, whilst there is no evidence that anything form the right was going to hit us in the first place, which makes us wonder why they did not want us on the right side to begin with.

These red flags are important, because even if we had any faith on the Russians trying to attack us, we need to consider that Cambridge Analytica is an English firm and even as Fortune now reports “A non-partisan watchdog group has filed complaints with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission alleging that the data firm Cambridge Analytica violated U.S. election law by having foreign nationals involved in the decisions of political committees“, we see that it was a British firm who scored that job.

So it is possible that the people in Moscow will be treated to a comedy in 22 hours, it will go something like “TASS Is Authorized to Declare that the accusations against the Russian government and its people were propagated by an English Firm“, in this I used part of the 1984 Soviet spy miniseries directed by Vladimir Fokin, because even with my weird sense of humour it seemed important to give it an Orwellian sling. Perhaps you should check out his new book. It apparently deals with life in the US after a presidential election.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Military, Politics, Science

Yemen, weapons or water lemons?

We see two streams of news; the first is Unicef asking for 250 million to feed the starving children. It is a good cause, a right cause and as they look towards President Trump and his arms sale we see the reference “The comments by Geert Cappelaere, Middle East and North Africa director at the UN children’s fund UNICEF, on Sunday, appeared to mock US President Donald Trump, who last week described billions of dollars in Saudi arms purchases as “peanuts”“. He is right to make the comment as would anyone trying to feed starving children. So as we see “According to the United Nations, the ongoing war has killed more than 10,000 people and wounded more than 40,000. The UN describes Yemen as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”“, we can conclude that the UN has completely forgotten the mess in Syria and Kurdistan, but leave it to politicians to have a short term memory linked to remember only what they directly and immediately care for. The fact that Yemen is in a bad state is not denied, the fact that this happened as Iran is stopping any resolution to move forward is also a fact.

In addition, we see ‘Saudi air defense forces shoot down Houthi missile over Riyadh‘ (at http://www.arabnews.com/node/1273566/saudi-arabia), which is one of several sources. So as we see “Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile over Riyadh late on Sunday, in an apparent Iran-backed Houthi militia attack“, I can definitely predict that things are about to get a hell of a lot worse for Yemen. The additional fact is that this missile as three other ones were manufactured in Iran, so not only is Iran directly involved, the fact that things are escalating remains. You see, it only has to go wrong once. The moment one missile makes it to Riyadh, the moment even one part damages one of the grand mosques, the King Khalid grand mosque or the King Abdullah grand mosque. Do you think that after that any diplomacy will remain? After that they Saudi’s en mass will bomb Yemen into extinction, you better take that part for granted (personal speculation)! After that there will be no diplomacy and all the diplomats will have to reconsider on why there had been no stronger actions against the involvement of Iran.

So even as we were ‘treated’ to ‘Iran urges US, Europe to discontinue support for aggressors in Yemen‘ (at http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/25/556503/Foreign-Ministry-Iran-Yemen-statement), we see very little about Iran’s involvement in all this. Moreover, the mere issue that the UN was ‘mulling things over’ in February, whilst no results are in play shows the inactions of too many politicians. So when we get “The Iranian Foreign Ministry described as “very deplorable” the ongoing humanitarian situation in Yemen and said the aggressors have failed to achieve any of their objectives and have only ravaged the impoverished country and committed inhumane crimes there“, my response will be ‘So why don’t you stop shipping missiles to Yemen?‘, that conclusion did not require that much rocket science to begin with. In addition the quote “It emphasized that the Saudi-led coalition’s use of famine and hunger as a tool to exert pressure on the Yemeni people is an inhuman move, which runs counter to international humanitarian law”, can be countered with: ‘teaching the Houthi to target Saudi civilian populations like Riyadh might not have been the best idea either‘, but Iran will not make mention of that part, will they?

Now we get from Al Arabia ‘Iran’s use of Hezbollah Unit 3800 to create a new Hezbollah in Yemen‘ (at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2018/03/25/Iran-s-use-of-Hezbollah-Unit-3800-to-create-a-new-Hezbollah-in-Yemen.html). The source here is Tony Duheaume, who has been around for a few decades, although his LinkedIn does not give us any Journalistic degrees, he has been a middle east analyst for close to 4 decades (self-proclaimed), so I’ll let you decide on the weight of his writing. You see, I cannot tell whether he is right or wrong. the two paragraphs I cared about is “The missiles used in these attacks, were believed to have been smuggled into Yemen in parts, and on arrival, operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah had reassembled them, in readiness to launch at Saudi targets. More proof came to light November 7, 2017, when US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, specifically referenced a missile fired by the Houthis in July of the same year to have contained Iranian markings, which were also found on missiles fired in the November attacks. Then once again, on December 19, the Yemeni rebel group targeted the Al-Yamamah Palace in the Saudi capital, and just like the others, the missile was unsuccessful in reaching its target, after being intercepted and shot down by air defences operated by the Royal Saudi Air Defence Forces“, I made similar conclusions late December last year (or was it early this year?). In my view it indicated that Iran has ‘boots on the ground’ in Yemen, also because the Yemeni do not really have the skill levels to target Riyadh (my personal assumption). This is however a far stretch from ‘create a new Hezbollah in Yemen‘, as well as the involvement of ‘use of Hezbollah Unit 3800‘, I would need to see much better evidence confirming that and the article does not bring it out in my conviction. Nobody denies Iran’s involvement and the mere fact that Hezbollah would allow them to be used as a tool is not a stretch, but this accusation is much deeper and the Intel I see does not support it. In support is that when you search ‘Hezbollah 3800‘ Google has merely one hit (the article) and open source intelligence doesn’t give us a whole lot more to go on. This is why I mention the matter, not because it is false or true, but the fact that a lot more exposure is missing gives rise that even if Hezbollah is involved, it is nowhere near the level we saw in that one article, but that might be merely my view on the matter.

What is a given is that as missiles are now shot down close to Riyadh means that this situation will escalate, I am not sure if I feel that it should be opposed. The Houthi decided to target civilian populations, whilst there is supporting evidence that the Houthi hid among populations to continue their spread of terror, their total absence of setting safe zones for civilians, and set the pace for humanitarian support to be given to the Yemeni civilians, especially the children is further evidence still.

The additional need to end it all in Yemen sooner rather than later was seen last Friday when we were introduced to ‘Houthi leader vows to fight with Hezbollah in future war with Israel‘ (at http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/houthis-leader-say-they-will-ally-hezbollah-against-israel-future-war-1044362159). I set that part aside initially as there was an opportunity to slap PwC around (one that failed as they had done nothing wrong on that one instance). Yet the given Houthi language is clear. With “Abdul Malik al-Houthi told the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on Friday that “our announcement that we are prepared to send fighters in any Israeli war against Lebanon or Palestine, is based on our principles”“, we see their need to escalate on a much larger scale. Now with ‘based on our principles‘, we see enough issues as they have hindered humanitarian aid to children and babies (and their mothers). What is now a given is that their principles were never about resolving anything, it was about their ‘glorious war’ and their hatred of the state of Israel. So even as we see: “Israelis had participated alongside UAE officers in planning some military activities in Yemen“, yet they offer no evidence whatsoever, meaning that they are more like Iran on growing the theatre of war. It is my personal belief that they see the stabilising effect of Saudi Arabia as a threat and that is one of the pinnacles to drive this war further forward because it shows that Iran is not a party that could be trusted, not a party that would genuinely offer true peace and stability. The second lie (or perhaps better stated ‘non-truth’) is “Houthi said that his movement is developing its missiles capacity to enable it to reach long-distance targets “in the deep territories of the enemy. [Our missiles] reached Riyadh and the area of Abu Dhabi… and Volcano-2 missiles reached Yamama Palace in Riyadh, and this was confirmed by the Americans“, so the moment someone can explain to me how any level of research can be done in an active warzone (apart from the lack of development engineers) where there is plenty of evidence that no one there holds the knowledge to even ‘develop’ mere fireworks, it is at that point that we realise that Iran is deeper involved than anyone is reporting and more importantly, the dangers of letting Iran continue this could destabilise the Middle East to a much larger degree, which would end up being a loss for every nation in the Middle East.

the fact that this was concluded with: “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam” should be regarded as evidence that the Houthi’s were always about progressing war and destabilisation, but feel free not to take my word on that, there are plenty of sources confirming my view and the longer these so called diplomats remain in ‘conversation ‘ on all this, the worse it will get for Yemen and the Middle East in general.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Politics, Science

Pinata whacking Couper

There is a little mean streak in me, you see, it started with Tesco, and it actually started a little earlier. But the gist is that when it concerns PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) I tend to take a swing at them whenever possible, I just roll that way. So there I was looking at ‘PwC charges more than £20m for first eight weeks of Carillion collapse‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/21/pwc-charges-20m-eight-weeks-carillion-collapse-final-bill) when I realised that when I wack those boys I usually have good reason and supporting documentations to test my latest sledgehammer on a member of their board of Directors. In this article, when I saw “MPs have accused the accountancy firm tasked with salvaging money from Carillion on behalf of its creditors and pensioners of charging “superhuman” fees, after it racked up a bill for £20.4m in eight weeks” it took a mere 3.2 seconds from spitting in my hands and getting ready to swing that hammer at Kevin Ellis (yes all the way from Sydney, my arms are that long). I held off and went ‘wait a minute!

You see, I always had as I saw it good cause, but who are these MP’s thinking that they have good cause? The first is Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP in charge of the business select committee. So she mentioned that ‘superhuman’ part. What does she know? The Wiki claim states that she is an economist. So how much does one charge for 112 consultants? You see at £199 an hour we get £891K for these people working a mere 40 hours a week. As it is the UK, they are more likely to work 60 hours which gets us at flat rate £1.3 million a week which leaves PwC with an overhead of a mere £100K whilst I have not taking into account any additional expenses and they tend to get high. I reckon that these people are likely to make a lot more than 60 hours a week, that is the result of “£2bn to its 30,000 suppliers” and as the article states “a week to employ 112 staff to keep the company running and to honour government contracts” we do not see the inclusion of any additional staff that was not hired and that is still assigned via PwC. So that took a mere 6 seconds to realise that I was not getting to whack Kevin Ellis. Leave it to a Labour MP to spoil a perfectly lovely Friday morning feeling. Now, let’s also realise that my calculations could be way off, there are so little actual facts in the article (I am not blaming the article here) that there are hidden traps all over the place. I think that Rachel should have gotten up from the right side of the vibrator that morning, as we need to realise what an amazing mess Carillion is. The oversight had fallen short on so many sides, with the mention of pensions and a shortfall that is close to a £1,000,000,000 should be a much larger issue and the fact that this had fallen short implies a level of what I regard to be criminal negligence that is unheard of. We merely need to look at ‘Carillion’s pension crisis defies magic legal cure‘ (at https://www.ft.com/content/5041d10e-1a1c-11e8-aaca-4574d7dabfb6). So when we see “Yet in the seven years before its collapse, Carillion made contributions to the fund of just £280m while paying out dividends worth more than £500m“, my first idea is to look at the auditors and the accountancy firm. So how much overview did Rachel Reeves give regarding KPMG? We get part of this when we see ‘Why didn’t anyone working with Carillion say it was going to fail?‘ (at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/carillion-kpmg-auditors-audit-hbos-financial-crisis-self-regulation-deloitte-a8185356.html). Here we see: “In March 2017, the giant audit firm KPMG signed off on the annual accounts of the construction giant-cum-outsourced services provider Carillion, saying they gave a “true and fair view” of the state of the company’s affairs. For this work, KPMG received a fee of £1.4m. This followed £1.4m of fees recouped the year before. In fact, KPMG had been Carillion’s auditor every year since it was founded in 1999. You don’t need to be an accountant to work out that that adds up to a very lucrative client relationship” that whilst we get the news that a mere four months later “its contracts to provide services were worth a remarkable £845m less than they had previously been valued on its books” that is an amount that exceeds whatever Richard Branson has in his wallet on his best days, so how was this overlooked? So as Rachel Reeves was kind enough that the value of KPMG is not good enough to audit the contents of her fridge, she should also be aware that this entire audit is not merely the outstanding invoices, there is a decent concern that the audit of KPMG has been unable to correctly assess issues for 17 years. So there is a real need to set up the correct framework to be able to take a long term look to the matters as well as the ability to set the right data dimensionality so that the data does not need to migrate over and over as more is found. I would think that an MP who part of the ‘the business select committee’, as well as a graduated economist would know that. You see as an experienced IT worker and a data analyst, I saw that coming a mile away.

So here I am partially standing up for PwC (so how fucked up will my day become?), news at 23:00. So when we get back to the Financial Times article and we see “As a House of Commons report has noted, Carillion’s growing borrowings were not used to invest in the company. In fact, while the group’s debt rose 297 per cent between 2009 and 2017, the value of its long-term assets grew just 14 per cent“, can we agree that there is a side that is terribly wrong here? These matters should have been clear in the KPMG reports, which now clearly overthrows the statement “they gave a “true and fair view” of the state of the company’s affairs“, I think that we can all agree that this part has been debunked in 30 seconds flat. In addition the Independent gives us “Moreover, KPMG was not the only auditor of Carillion’s numbers. Its 2016 report relates that it had a special “internal” auditor too, in Deloitte, with which it worked even more closely than with KPMG. So why didn’t Deloitte pick up on the dodgy contract numbers?” For me that is an interesting side as I have never seen anything dodgy in Deloitte. The fact that they might be part of the mess (unlikely though) is also cause for concern. More important, as I personally see it, it will be up to PwC to get that part out in the open. What was the exact assignment of the internal auditor, what data was presented, what data was accessed and used and who was part of the entire reporting stage of this internal audit? It would show more players in all this and could optionally give a better path in seeing the navigations that the decision makers in Carillion were involved in.

That is a part that we need to realise and consider.

There is another concern that the Independent brought to light. With: “Previous probes by the FRC have produced nothing but clean bills of health for auditors. “In nearly every major financial scandal we’ve had since the financial crisis, the FRC decides none of its charges have done anything wrong,” notes Jim Armitage, city editor of the Evening Standard. Worse, these rulings come with no reports or published evidence, making a mockery of the FRC’s claims to “promote transparency”” we might think that it is merely the FRC, yet what Wall Street taught us is that the entire 2008 joke gave rise to an 8 trillion write off, whilst no actual laws were broken, or at least none that could be proven, so in that regard, if that happens again now, we can clearly look at the House of Lords, point fingers and tell them to improve laws immediately and hold any MP and minister accountable for naming and public shaming. It might work, but I doubt it. You see, until there are large and unforgiving prison sentences, whilst also remove all the rights of ownership to those involved in Carillion, nothing will change. I have seen people setting the ownership of their large estates to their wives and then deny that they had any outstanding financial responsibilities in more than one country. Until these matters are settled this game will continue because greed will always win in the end.

So when we get back to the initial article we get “Kelly, who said his personal rate was £865 an hour, said PwC’s costs would gradually fall as more parts of Carillion were sold and staff from the accounting firm stopped working on the project. He said the firm initially had 257 people working on Carillion, with a bill for about £3m for their services in the first week after its collapse“, we see where part of the costs went to, so as my calculations was based on smaller settings we see how easily these costs were attained and the end of it is not in sight. Rachel Reeves should have seen this clearly as she had access to data I still have not seen. I think it is much more interesting to look at “Finance director Richard Adam, who retired in December 2016 after nine years at Carillion received almost £1.1m in salary and bonuses in 2016“, which we get from the BBC. So if we get to see the wrongdoings of Richard Adams, this is a reasonable speculation as the entire mess goes back a lot further than 2016, will we see these same MPs demand the auctioning of the goods of Richard Adams to make up for the losses of Carillion? You see the article stated MPs, not singular. Rachel Reeves might have been the visible one, but I want to see all those names, because when we consider the BBC news (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-42703549) as it gives us:

  • The £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Sandwell: opening delayed to 2019 due to construction problems.
  • The £335m Royal Liverpool Hospital: completion date repeatedly pushed back amid reports of cracks in the building.
  • The £745m Aberdeen bypass: delayed because of slow progress in completing initial earthworks.

We need to ask questions on several MPs all over the field, all over the UK apparently. These three alone show a £1.3 billion issue are so out in the open that these three alone will constitute evidence of a much deeper required accountancy dig. Three issues shown last January and these three alone gives rise for me to think that PwC will be able to charge a lot more and in addition, the entire settling and selling could take a lot longer than some expect it to take. So these elements are the setting for additional costs, so those MPs might claim that there is a case of ‘milking the Carillion cow dry‘, but they better be ready for me to take a look at more than these three projects, because I will ask openly on their failings to get a handle on matters, because I am 99% certain that these three projects alone will lead to a dozen others all over the UK and if there are no clear memo’s from those MPs in regards to Carillion, they will be named openly to give rise to their shortcomings (perhaps also what was between their legs), because if you do not have the balls to go against the larger players, you should not be in office at all. Yet, that might be merely my warped expectation of elected officials.

Carillion is a clear mess that had been going on for a much longer time than some expect. You see, that part is seen in ‘cracks in the building‘, ‘construction problems‘ and ‘slow progress in completing initial earthworks‘ it implies optional failings going all the way back to the foundation of the works that were possibly never correctly done in the first place.

So I might still end up treating the bosses of PwC UK as piñatas, but at present there are plenty of other targets and so far (remember I say ‘so far’), in this particular case PwC seems to be in the clear (darn!).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics

The additional word Analytica

When we hear ‘Cambridge’, we consider a place of reverence. Cambridge, a place where science is academically pushed to new borders! It has been around for 733 years. In that time we saw Lord Byron working on Satires and poems. In 1812 Charles Babbage started the design of a calculating machine, he never finished it, but his work would later herald the modern computer. In 1903 Bertrand Russell publishes ‘Principles of Mathematics’ and ends up with being part of the ‘Principia Mathematica’ it takes people a decades to comprehend the genius and he ends up with a Nobel price. Other members will get similar laurels for working on the electron, X-ray diffraction, someone proves that vitamins are real and the atom gets split. there was Professor Stephen Hawking, who did have a sense of comedy (according to many sources), not very mobile, yet ends up giving us academic work on Black holes, the big bang theory (not the comedy) and gives us the a founding realisation on the origin of the universe and only recently do they were able to identify gene causing diabetes and high blood pressure. So we should see it as a place of academic goodness. Yet when you take ‘Cambridge’ and you add ‘Analytica’ you get a synonym for ‘Despicable Sewage‘.

So as we are treated just over an hour ago to ‘Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg finally addresses Cambridge Analytica scandal‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/21/mark-zuckerberg-response-facebook-cambridge-analytica) we can clearly see that things are escalating as Mr Zuckerberg himself is taken off the moth balls to remedy the situation. So when I see his response ‘we made mistakes‘, my initial response is ‘You think?

When we are treated to “The Facebook CEO broke his five-day silence on the scandal that has enveloped his company this week in a Facebook post acknowledging that the policies that allowed the misuse of data were “a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”” my initial worry is that he does not comprehend the scale of the issue. It is not merely the misuse of data, basically personal data of 50 million people, a lot of data on these people is now out in the open. When you have the data of 14% of your population you have the means to forecast, the options to set the marketing push on a national level. That amount of data would allow places like Walmart to set the need to satisfy 90% of the population need and cut out the loss making products overnight. You see, when you take the concept of a good article, a average article and a bad article, we often get all the good articles and a chunk of average articles. This is the risk the business has, they all have it and we can predict this to some extent. Now we get more data and now with that data we see a group of people that are classified for a certain category as ‘Not caring’, they have no interest at all. Knowing this allows for the setting of a ‘true view’ on the articles so we get a sharper view, we take the population, we take out the non-carers of that product, and suddenly we end up with a list of the products that are all classified as good.

Now how does that work?

You see, sometimes we are driven by internal motives, motives we do not tell Walmart, but we might tell others on social media. Now consider for example that a Catholic will never buy a certain brand. A naturist will never buy certain chemicals and a tech-lover will never buy certain brands. There are dozens of these indicators and Walmart, if they had that data can now see a pattern, even if they only have the 14% view, the pattern once seen can lead to a national view. As a wild example I give you: ‘A Catholic techie will always buy a Manfrotto camera stand‘. So now we have a specific product that would do really well in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. So not only can it decide to dump the inferior camera stands in those places, it could essentially also raise the Manfrotto price by $2, so less overhead and better profits. This is merely an example, but the pattern is clear and as places like Walmart have such data they can now directly target their audience and streamline what they carry per location. So not only do they get a better business setting, by marketing directly to certain groups they get a much better result on the same marketing cost. So their marketing costs remained the same whilst getting up to a speculated 30% of better results.

This is a given setting in analytics (and Market Research). It has existed for decades and Mark Zuckerberg is a clever boy, so he knew this. The setting as shown in the Guardian is debatable at this point. You see, debatable because Mark Zuckerberg knows the value of data, there is no way that he does not know that. So the last thing he wanted to do was hand out data, lose control of the treasury. He lost control as the data is out there now, and as the source has been shared for what I believe to be at least three times over, that data is now no longer containable. That can now be seen as a direct loss for Facebook.

In equal measure we need to look at “We know that this was a major violation of peoples’ trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it”, a quote that came from Sheryl Sandberg. You see, I think that the matter is more serious and more dangerous. We see that when we realise that ‘we didn’t do enough to deal with it‘, there is a data quality loss, a data containment loss and a lack of technological oversight. This is not a new given and even as Cambridge Analytica took it to a much larger setting, they were not alone. I myself almost tried a game once, yet when I saw it wanted my ‘religious preference‘ I decided to have an issue with a game firm that is concerned with my religion. I don’t have any, but that had absolutely no bearing on the game. That made me suspicious and I decided not to install the game. There has been a flaw for the longest of times. That flaw goes all the way back to Zynga’s Farmville. When they started to demanded ‘gifts from friends‘ to progress to some extent in the game, it was not a novel thing (well it was), it was a marketing setting that either you pay for the next item (with buyable currency), or you get your friends to play the game and give it to you, so we saw groups of people all linking, whilst their only link was the social setting of one game and Zynga ended up with the data (to some extent). That requirement is not what I see as ‘social growth’, it is in its foundation a dangerous place because it allows paedophiles access to younger players, it allows white supremacists to hide in a social flock whilst the others in the flock had no idea that the herd is not just made up from sheep, it also contains wolves and other undesirables. The problem is that as long as nothing happened no-one would care and that has been a dangerous game to play. Facebook loved the concept because it grew communities beyond their wildest dreams, but it also gave us groups where we still needed to be careful what data got out, yet the people at large are not careful with their social data. That has been seen since 2011 as Prostitutes were found by several media publications to use Facebook as a customer recruitment system. Now, I don’t care what these ladies do, yet as we have seen that recruiters and HR are using Facebook more and more to ‘judge’ potential employees (and one should never talk to a ‘lady of the night’ in social circles), we see that Facebook has become a monster of abuse and that monster is valued for data, so as more and more data is added, more and more people end up getting wrongfully tainted in a colour that was never them.

So when we see “The CEO also pledged to investigate and audit apps that accessed large amounts of data from Facebook users prior to changes in its platform in 2014, and said that it will inform users if their personally identifiable information was misused by app developers“, we need to realise that the foundation of Facebook apps is a much larger problem, it is not merely about the data they can access, it is the issue we see when the app data itself is open to mining. You see it is not merely “Facebook will investigate all apps that have access to large data and ban developers that misuse identifiable information“, how about apps that merely collect a small amount of data. Now consider that they link the use of apps (like for example Farmville, the Pioneer trail and Cafe World). Now let’s be clear, I am not accusing Zynga of doing anything wrong or illegal. But those three apps allow for ‘free’ currency, when you hit a target in the other game, people start to get very motivated to play 3+ games from the same makers, as it allows for that currency that is not usually free. Consider that each app has 5 demographics and perhaps 3-5 additional stats and these three apps all have 3-5 different stats. So as hundreds of thousands are playing all three apps, the developer suddenly ends up with a much larger pool of data than ever before. Now I use Zynga as it also has real-money gambling games. Now consider that they now have more and more markers on people who gamble. It is the wet dream of any Las Vegas entrepreneur to get that much data on their users, a way to classify those who are more likely to spend more on gambling. This was a setting that has been known for a long time and there is no way to tell how far people ended up being pushed into gambling. I have seen and learned that greed is eternal, so in that regard there is all likelihood that Mark Zuckerberg had to be aware to a much larger extent and that the mistakes made were a lot more than ‘excusable’ and it is one that cannot be solved through apologies and better oversight. Because when we cut those developers off from the data, what are the chances that 70% moves elsewhere? Data was the treasure trove and too many have been dipping their toes in the water. The damage is much larger and even as Cambridge Analytica made it visible to the masses, the issue has been there for a lot longer, the question becomes who properly looked at it. Also consider that games like Farmville had well over 60 million users every month, so how much data made it out of Facebook?

I reckon that no one will actually know that part, but the issue is also how this simple given remained off the radar of so many for so long. I wrote about the sharing of data as early 2013, sharing at the same time my thoughts on how all the NSA data issues were merely hypocrite. Well, now that the fence is gone, good luck containing the sheep, because I expect to see a lot more ‘revelations’ over the coming months.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Science