Travel by Ransomware

On Tuesday an interesting article was given by the guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/07/travelex-being-held-ransom-hackers-said-demanding-3m#maincontent), the title ‘Travelex ‘being held to ransom’ by hackers said to be demanding $3m‘ almost said it all and then I noticed something. First we get “Criminals are thought to be demanding about $3m (£2.3m) – to give the firm access to its computer systems after they attacked using the Sodinokibi ransomware on 31 December“, the price is not set without quarter, this we get from “They are reportedly threatening to release 5GB of customers’ personal data – including social security numbers, dates of birth and payment card information – into the public domain unless the company pays up” as well as “banks who use Travelex’s foreign exchange services to stop taking online orders for currency, affecting Sainsbury’s Bank, Tesco Bank, Virgin Money and First Direct.” You see Travelex, based in London, has a presence in more than 70 countries with more than 1,200 branches and 1,000 ATMs worldwide. It processes more than 5,000 currency transactions every hour yet, even as we see that it is on the London Stock Exchange, however the group is based in the United Arab Emirates. As for the actions we see “On Thursday 2 January, the Met’s cyber crime team were contacted with regards to a reported ransomware attack involving a foreign currency exchange. Inquiries into the circumstances are ongoing” here is the snag, what are the chances that US actions are impeded as it impacts 70 countries? Is there a reason why the FBI is not equally involved? You see, Sodinokibi is a spin off from Gandcrab and as we see (at https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/fbi-releases-master-decryption-keys-for-gandcrab-ransomware/) the FBI got those keys. Now the keys will not be compatible, but if they get one solution, they might get another solution. The fact that corporations are hit and we see “the developers behind the wildly successful GandCrab Ransomware announced that they were closing shop after allegedly amassing $2 billion in ransom payments and personally earning $150 million“, we would want to think that the FBI is on top of this and get some pay-back (I had to use that pun).

We also learn from Acronis “Sodinokibi ransomware exploits an Oracle WebLogic vulnerability (CVE-2019-2725) to gain access to the victim’s machine“, and when we go to the Oracle page we see that there had been a solution from last May onwards. there is also the part “Product releases that are not under Premier Support or Extended Support are not tested for the presence of vulnerabilities addressed by this Security Alert. However, it is likely that earlier versions of affected releases are also affected by these vulnerabilities. As a result, Oracle recommends that customers upgrade to supported versions” the question becomes did Travelex forget to do a few things? the article does not pan out on that.

Yet in all this IT News (at https://www.itnews.com.au/news/ransomware-shuts-down-travelex-systems-536191) gives us ‘Unpatched systems could be attack vector, say researchers‘, and they also give us “No evidence has surfaced so far that structured personal customer data has been encrypted, or exfiltrated. This is in contrast with a report in Computer Weekly that alleged the criminals deploying the Revil/Sodinokibi ransomware had attacked servers storing sensitive, confidential information that included customer names and their bank account and transaction details” and it does not stop there. They also give us “Troy Mursch, chief research officer at security vendor Bad Packets said it notified the forex multinational in September of a serious vulnerability in its Pulse Virtual Private Networking servers. The vulnerability went unpatched until November” which sets a much larger question mark on the entire issue as the news give us that the attack came almost a month after that. They curtiously also give us “Prior to that, security researcher Kevin Beaumont noted that Travelex was operating cloud instances of Windows Server on Amazon Web Services that had Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) enabled and exposed to the internet, but with Network Level Access (NLA) control disabled. An RDP flaw, known as BlueKeep, allows for full remote compromise of Windows without user interaction” and these issues are not asked about? At least the Guardian article does not stop on them. 

The most hilarious response is seen at the very end of the IT News article with “Despite the attack closing down online systems, Travelex said it does not currently anticipate any material financial impact for its parent Finablr” Travelex might have numerous issues to consider, but the customer does not make the high point of that, or as I would mildly put it, who cares about Finablr? Well I reckon that the London Stock Exchange cares as the value of Finablr made a crashing 17% loss, that is almost one in five pounds that is lost too those bright young lads (ladies also). They advertise (on their website) ‘Finablr is a global platform for Payments and Foreign Exchange solutions underpinned by modern and proprietary technology‘ instead of ‘Finablr is a global platform for Payments and Foreign Exchange solutions underpinned by modern and proprietary hackable technology‘. It is a small difference, but a distinct one, especially as Oracle had placed a solution for months and the second message by Kevion Beaumont does not help any I reckon. In support a source gave the BBC that they feel let down, complaining that their travel money is “in limbo”, which is interesting, as the Guardian article gives us “Travelex first revealed the New Year’s Eve attack on 2 January, when it sought to assure that no customer data had yet been compromised” and as the article came 5 days after, the absence of victim mentioning is an interesting one, it seems that Travelex is not handling this situation well on a few levels, optionally also in arrear of making mantion towards the customers, all in opposition to the text on Travelex.com, which gives (among more data) “Tony D’Souza, Chief Executive of Travelex, said “Our focus is on communicating directly with our partners and customers to protect them and their information from any further compromise. We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our partner and customer’s data as well as provide an excellent service to our customers and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. Travelex continues to offer services to its customers on a manual basis and is continuing to provide alternative customer solutions in the interim. We are working tirelessly to bring our systems back online.”” 

As such we get Travelex giving us one part and the BBC giving quite the opposite, and at this point my question becomes, exactly how much money is ‘in limbo‘?

That and a few more parts all rise to the surface when I look into this matter, the entire time gap on the side of Travelex being the most prevalent one. The one part that Acronis made me wonder about was the exemption list, the fact that It will try not to infect computers from countries based on the locale setting of the computer, which gives us “Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuanian, Tajikistan, Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tatarstan“, the reason is unknown to me, perhaps they fear those countries and their ‘justice system’?

By the way, the entire Finablr website mention was essential, they are so for the ‘future’ yet security is seemingly not among it. That part is seen when we consider “In April 2019, the Cybereason Nocturnus team analyzed a new type of evasive ransomware dubbed Sodinokibi“, as such it took the Oracle team months to get a solution made (which makes perfect sense) yet the lack of implementation by Travelex is less normal. From all information it seems to me that Travelex should have made larger steps to be secure no later than Halloween, so the issue is a little larger than we consider, and the fact that Sodinokibi is a much larger field that goes back a few billion dollars. This is a contemplated speculation when we look at CSO Online where we get “While Sodinokibi is not necessarily a direct continuation of GandCrab, researchers have found code and other similarities between the two, indicating a likely connection” implying that for at least one person $150 million was not enough. 

As such, the entire Travelex issue will be around much longer than the ransomware will be, there will need to be a larger amount of questions to its mother organisation Finablr as well. From my speculative side it seems that some players are lacking certain IT skills, or/and a larger shortage of it, that is the initial feeling I got when I saw the information that Troy Mursch and Kevin Beaumont handed over to the press, and so far the information as seen supports a larger failing in Travelex and optionally Finablr as well. There is support for my way of thinking, no matter who is on the board of directors, none of them are IT experts and that is fine, yet by not having a visionary IT expert leading the charge we see a larger failing coming their way. It is not merely having an IT department and a security department, someone needs to spearhead and protect IT issues in the Board of Directors and there is no evidence that this is happening, actually the Travelex issue gives rise that it is not happening at all. More important, the issue with the website is that it is highly sales oriented, and when I had a look there (I reckon the Sodinokibi members as well), I wondered how secure are Unimoni, Xpress Money, Remit2India, Ditto and Swych? When one of these points get attacked, will the board of directors act appropriately? It is optionally a little ironic that they are hit whilst they advertised a paper on their site on November 20th (a month before the attack) ‘Why data protection is your new strategic priority‘, my initial thought? ‘Sarcasm, when it backfires it becomes irony!‘ Yes it seems like a cheap ride from my side, but we forget that Common Cyber Sense is a real thing and corporations need a much larger vested interest in being safe than ever before, GandCrab showed that part months before this event took place and I reckon that Financial corporations need to take a much larger vested interest in that matter, or so I am led to believe, I could (of course) be wrong.

What do you think?

 

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Needs of the public

This started last Friday for me, I had taken notice before and I even wrote about it earlier, yet the shift of the view also implied and made it a shift of priorities. In this age and the age of needing to matter, we see a shift in priorities of all the players. Keri Paul the writer has a clear view and that view matters and is on point, yet the dangers are not his view, it is the other side of the coin. Weirdly enough it is a card game that is similar to this, it is Androids: Netrunner that gives us the view that we can explore and dig into the depths we need to. It is Hacker (user) versus Corporations and Government.

When we consider “Servers are created, net security is hooked into place and agendas are advanced, with the runner having to take a blind guess at what these cards might be. Does that server contain the game-winning agenda, or is it a “cerebral overwriter”, which will leave them damaged if they touch it?” (source: the Guardian) And that is the setting in real life too, we cannot rely on an actual whistleblower at the Google Board of directors (I also oppose such actions) we need to consider what the priorities of Google are. In my view its priorities are set around data and China has endangered their market to the largest degree, it does not matter why it happened, because the value of data has always been without question, the entire Trump-China matter merely advanced the time-line, this was however always going to happen and it is Apple (Microsoft too) and Google that are rich enough to counter it to some degree. I myself would have thrown myself onto the growth sector in the Middle East as it is will be the new powerhouse for China (and particularly Huawei), a fact too many are ignoring. This gets us to the first quote in the Guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/03/google-executive-human-rights-activism) “Ross LaJeunesse, the former head of international relations at Google and now a Democratic candidate for US Senate in Maine, said he was forced to leave the company after reporting discriminatory practices, and that his work to combat censorship was at odds with Google’s desires to expand into a growing market in China“, it is not the wildcard ‘reporting discriminatory practices‘ that matters here, it is ‘desires to expand into a growing market in China‘, Huawei is merely the most visible path, and their new Operating System Harmony is merely the start of a much larger concern for the US. China has 1.3 billion people, let’s say that only 700 million users, that is still well over twice the amount of US people, as Harmony gets traction in China for certain, it will be able to grow in other regions too, the Middle East is a first where the threshold is the lowest with close to 160 million optional users, Egypt really makes a hit there, and as China applies its customer service to the Middle East we will see that within 5 years parts of Europe will consider switching, this is the 90’s in reverse. As the 90’s saw marketing of Microsoft push people to another level (Windows 95 did help), we see the roles reverse, now we see the exploitative tactics of Microsoft and Apple backfire as those tactics come under fire, there will be too much documentation showing these actions. 

Now that data comes into view, we see another economy, this economy that is set around data and IP, more important WHAT ELSE can be done and this is where quote two comes into play ““In reality, I don’t think we can trust Google,” he told the Guardian. “It has been shown time and time again, whether in how it handles personal data to when it’s asked to address violent content online, that we cannot take Google at its word any more.”“, in China it leaves data concern to the Chinese governments, as long as they can come in. Democrats and Human rights are all about the rights of the people and their personal data, yet governments do not care about those rights, they never did (if you think they did, you are nuts). Yes that hurts, but it is the truth. If America embraced Human Rights so profoundly, insurance and other players would not have the data they do and Cambridge Analytica would merely be a nightmare of the paranoid brain, but it is not, is it? within the law the setting of data is too large a sif and both China and the Middle East have their own settings for what data is and what rights are and like in the 80’s companies tried to accommodate whatever they need to to turn a dollar, that path is more profound now than it ever was. We see this path in “LaJeunesse spearheaded a 2010 decision to stop censoring Google search results in China and worked to establish a company-wide human rights program – efforts that were challenged when Google returned to the Chinese market with a censored search product code-named Dragonfly in 2017” it is a reality that many face and now that there is a larger concern for wat is affordable, players like Apple will see their profits shortened. 

It is the last quote ““When I started at Google, there was a sense that we really believed in the power of technology to make the world a better place,” LaJeunesse said. “It’s not like that any more”” that hits home, you see, the world changed, the needs for margins increased and the need to get more sold at the Google margins than ever before, that is the game we all see played when stockholders and shareholders are involved. I remember a conversation with a commercial manager in the 90’s who stated that this is not true, I was proven correct within 14 months after that, and that is the other path, even as margins are low the profits need to come from someplace and data is the next hurdle, a large economic hurdle, you can own it all, but that path is not economically viable, yet accommodating government needs is and they will pay through the nose to get a good handle on it and stream that data to their analytics. The Chinese know this and the people in the Middle East are figuring it out, in that setting Google has two options, be a player in that field or leave it to others. What do you think they will choose? Did you really think that Page and Brin departing was such a big deal? I reckon that it sped things up, they needed other people to voice needs and I personally think that they got that done by changing their board of Directors (merely my personal view). 

The entire setting changes a little when we look at places like CES2020, when you think of it it is a lot about data and that makes sense, but the handling of data is now a larger issue than ever before, even as we consider the impact, we overlook it. The quote “interpreter mode allows an Assistant-powered smart display to translate a conversation between two people, each speaking a different language. Google says more businesses have committed to using it this year, including American Airlines, HSBC banks and a handful of hotels around Vegas, San Francisco, LA, Japan and Qatar“, we see the technology on the spoken word and that has a much larger impact than you thought it would. Even though we get “Google Assistant isn’t supposed to record anything you say unless you start the sentence with “Hey Google”“, we also get “that doesn’t always work. Sometimes things on TV will cause Assistant to perk up its ears; other times you might be mid-conversation and only realize you somehow caught Assistant’s attention when it responds “Sorry, I can’t help with that.” With that in mind, you’ll now be able to say “Hey Google, that wasn’t for you” to have it wipe its history of the last thing you said“, yet how many considered the leap from when it started until you stated the correction and it “wipes its history of the last thing you said“, here we see it, what is ‘the last thing you said‘, there is your margin and it will affect its use nation by nation, they all have to file for corrections and of course, some nations like the margins they have and optionally want to widen it. An automated secret police, right in your very own home.

This is not some paranoid consideration, it is reality and it is coming this year, all whilst Harmony is on the heels of Google being in the same setting of life and data. It is the setting where it changes, the IP and who owns it makes the larger strides in two areas where it matters and at present Huawei has more IP, they merely have an advantage and that is the area where it matters, because whoever has the IP has the battle turned to their favour. Did you think there was no hindsight from me when I offered my IP to China? The entire setting of the US changing its mind like bad second hand car dealers is the controlling stage, a stage where the people in the American Administration cannot make up their minds leaving the inventor in the air whilst the corporation make headway. There is a larger issue especially when we look at the US, UK and China in jointly owning IP, it is becoming a lot more murky in recent years and that stage is almost literally fraught with dangers for the maker of the IP, in that stage trusting your company to be fair to you is now open to discussion. 

This is not nearly the end, especially when we consider the IP side, this part was given to all by Sophos when we are treated to “Google has temporarily disconnected Xiaomi’s IP cameras from its Home Hub service after a user reported that he was seeing images from other people’s devices” a mere 10 hours ago. Did you think that this was only happening 10 hours ago? This has clearly been going on for a longer time and we are merely informed on it now, as we see that part and consider that other phones have optional weaknesses on this side and we add the consideration of user rights from one to another and the ‘excuse’ “The Chinese manufacturer admitted the mistake and explained that it was down to a caching issue on its server“, did you think it was that easy? Why was it even cached on a server? What other data is cached? A lot more questions become open to interpretation when one mistake merely opens the can of worms that was there and the issues are only increasing, global marketing is making sure of that path. Oh and this is not just Google, there are a number of questions that rise when you consider the weird choices that Microsoft made with their Azure cloud, that part becomes visible when you switch on any Xbox made after 2014, yet it is buried by them by stating that this is the responsibility of your telecom provider, even when you are trying to explain to them that it is about the upload, not download. it is a global problem and that is a bad thing, but that is quite literally the game we are signing up for.

Google is only one of many and they are not evil, they are trying to stay afloat in a world of providers and data capture solutions. When (not if) data becomes a viable currency those who are in charge of the data will decide what comes next and that is a game that is now being played between governments and corporations, and where are we? If we are the Android: Netrunner players we are the hackers and we need to set the hardware up for what leaves our hands and we get to say less and less in that regard. The problem becomes, there are 4 billion people (read users) and a lot of them do not have the skills to install any backdrop and the information on the internet is not to be trusted in many cases (they always want you to install THEIR solution) which negates the entire issue as data is siphoned. And as you realise that someone owns your data, the question becomes: ‘Who will you trust?‘ all whilst they merely want the same thing, my personal idea is not to trust anyone and for the most I do not care where the information ends up being, it merely ends up somewhere and it is for that reason that I NEVER link any social media. It is merely a good idea to hand over as little as possible.

In the end this is coming, Harmony will be available to smartphones this year, so the battle will soon intensify and we will start to get weird fear mongering stories from the US on how Harmony will crash your mobile and other things, yet in the end JHarmony will merely start at the Huawei users and as they get no issues (other than US blocks) we will see a technology polarisation in mobiles, it is the stage that Google is desperate to avoid at all cost. And as Harmony gets rolled out beyond China Google will get more and more willing to be flexible, no matter what the US government states, that is the part the US administrations are intentionally blind to, the US has 325 million people, in a world with 8,700 million people, the US does not add up to much on population numbers, corporations see that.

All whilst Google needs to content against numbers like “the company’s inability to work with companies like Google, Huawei’s business has been thriving. The company’s fiscal third-quarter revenue increased by 24.4% year-over-year, and smartphone sales jumped 26% year-over-year in the first three quarters of 2019” (source: Business Insider), all whilst Apple phone sales went down and by a scary amount, and at present it seems that the 5G market is decided out of US hands, making Google even less happy, as mobile markets are their eggs and bacon, they need to do whatever they can to be part of that and for Google this is decently easy, for players like Microsoft less so. The issue is harder for the US, we see all the news and information on heralding 5G in New York giving the user 36Mbps (in one 5G movie), yet when we look at the 5G specs we see: “5G speeds will range from ~50 Mbit/s to over 2 gigabit at the start“, so we see 5G marketing and 5G pricing at below 5G speeds and the people are not catching on, you might see this as a separate issue, but the net runs on speed (quote literally) and the US hiding behind marketing is not catching on, that is the stage where Google wants to get ahead of the curve and therefore it needs to be in a Huawei environment, it needs to be in China for several reasons, the US and its administration is all about misdirecting the people whilst corporations know better and the ardware people want to get ahead of that curve so that they do not fall behind, Google has too much to lose. We might see it as the need of the public, but that need is fuelled by corporations and Huawei is at the top of that chain (at present) so other players like Google need to set a larger stage where they are players and no longer mere service facilitators. 

In all this China and the Middle East are surpassing the US and that is a stage we have never seen before. Wired Magazine gave us “AT&T launches its new next-generation wireless network, but breadth of 5G coverage in the US still lags South Korea and China“, which is the issue, at present the US is in third position in a market they used to rule, and they are in danger of reverting to fifth place by the end of 2020, for the first time in history the US will be trailing others, Google wants to get out of that cursed position as fast as it can. The US (via Wired) gives us “so far, the fastest 5G download speeds in the US top out at around 1.8 Gbps, according to tests conducted by data analysis firm OpenSignal. Those are the fastest speeds in the world, but they’re rare“, I myself did not see any video or evidence showing anything over 200Mbps, making the statement more debatable (like testing setup versus actual connection), yet that is my personal view whilst I am not in the US. The Verizon options are in 24 cities (the US apparently has a lot more places), so that is lacking, it also gives for New York that ‘5G Ultra Wideband near these city landmarks‘ in Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem and Downtown Brooklyn, so there is a lot missing and you need to check this for all the regions you plan to be in in 2020, even as you ‘scale back’ to 4G LTE, did you pay for that? Well apparently you did at Verizon, and they are one of a small amount of providers and none of them are national, that is the back push that you see in the US. I am not stating that China is better, they are not, but they have the advantage of Huawei and so will other regions in the world soon enough. 

This setting is important, because Google needs itself to be heading that wave, not following it and in that regard it needs to be in China (and the Middle East), as such the second statement I gave (from the Guardian) is the most important one and Google is all over it, plenty are not (read: most cannot afford the cost) and in this stage where Data is currency, we see that this war may leave the US crippled because of the limitations it pushes onto itself, even whilst the claims were never supported by any evidence and that is not merely my view, it is also the view by a large amount of cyber specialists that are a lot more knowledgeable in that field.

All these issues are linked to the movement of Google and from there the needs of the public are addressed, from an American perspective it will be Google or nothing, yet the non US part is looking at another setting where it is Google versus Harmony and at present I cannot tell whether Harmony will be a bad choice. That is the scary part for Google, as the public tries Harmony and nothing sets them back in the use of their mobiles, we will see a larger and a quicker curve towards other solutions (or away from Google). 

That is the fight that will be in the up and coming this year, as Harmony gets released we will get governments making huffs and puffs away from Harmony, yet let there be no mistake, it will not be towards your data privacy, it will be the currency that pushes them and data is the current they need. We will be ‘lied to’ whilst they will stop at giving out evidence as much as possible. That is what we get to look forward to in 2020, the needs of the public, our needs are what governments and corporations make it to be, not what we decide and that is for a lot of people the largest issue at present, even as it is about data, is it not interesting how they all circumvent that part of the equation?

 

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Inheritance for the weak

Things happened and things needed to be done, this has been a long standing issue and America took that stance. Yes, we agree that we do not want a war, but Iran made it almost unattainable and something had to be done. So when I see (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/06/nato-chief-holds-back-from-endorsing-us-killing-of-suleimani) the words “Jens Stoltenberg condemns Iran but stresses drone attack decision was not made by Nato” we see a truth, yet the words given are that of a weakling. It gets support from “His intervention came as the EU commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, also warned Iran that “it is imperative that it return to the nuclear deal”, remarks that could presage a European decision to abandon the deal if Iran does not recommit itself to its terms“, another weakling on the European front. They are all about ego and not about realism, for months Iran has ignored the deal, it has traversed transgression point after transgression point and the EU is about ‘Let’s talk a little more’, it is like we are watching the police agree with drug dealers who have brought in 8 containers filled with drugs that they should come in so that an arrangement can be made for container number 9. They are drug dealers, deal with it!

America did the one thing that had to be done and now we see media article after media article on why we should not do it, that same media that has decided not to report on Iranian actions in Yemen, we now see more on ‘Iranian backed Houthis’ and that is as much as we can get from the media. So as we get ‘US allies distance themselves from Trump decision to assassinate Suleimani‘, we see more. I get it, Israel is too close to Iran and they cannot get dragged into it, they are dealing with Hezbollah and that is good. We also see ‘Saudi minister urges restraint in Washington‘, which is slightly less good, but the reasoning is clear, they are close to Iran and in close striking distance, they need to take a cautious stance here, yet Iran had to be dealt with and the killing of Qassam Soleimani is the point of no return, it has been done and now we need to make sure that Tehran realises that the gig is up, we will act and we will come for them, so having weaklings like Stoltenberg and van der Leyen in the EU, who have no issue making strong language when it suits them and their ego’s is a bit of a waste.

So as I read “Mike Pompeo, has already expressed disappointment in the lukewarm reaction of Washington’s European allies” I can only agree with Mike Pompeo. I see the issue that Saudi deputy defence minister, Khalid bin Salman faces and he needs to do what is best for Saudi Arabia, yet most experts are in agreement that the attack on Aramco could only have come through the acts of Iran and via the acts of Iran. The Guardian article also mentioned “There is mounting concern that the more cautious stance by the US-led coalition would make it much less effective and allow Isis to regenerate“, this is the larger issue and Iran has been playing a seesaw card for the longest of times, they have played that card well and that is the pivoting point, now with Soleimani away they will make mistakes, and that is what we needed for the longest of times, there is also the concern that the media is now in another bind. The Washington Post gave us 4 days ago “Soleimani took control of the Quds Force, the external wing of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in the late 1990s and went on to expand its regional presence. He was widely known for his high-profile links to paramilitary groups from Syria to Yemen that are now in the spotlight“, yet the larger newspapers have been shunning reports on Iran action in Yemen for well over a year, so I think that there is a larger play to consider. The spotlights are now illuminating the Iranian acts in Yemen and that is good, there is a larger setting where the media was so on the ‘Nuclear Pact’ deal that they ignored a larger setting, even as Iran ignored certain limits several times over. 

Yet the act of killing also opens up a larger can of worms on the allied side, Luke Hartig (former senior director for counter-terrorism on the national security council) wrote about it he gives us “Trump’s counter-terrorism legacy in Iraq and Syria may be a series of dead bodies but nothing that addresses the core of the problem and no partners willing to help us root it out“, ever since the US has its spats in Iraq we have seen a shifting of CIA staff all over the place, too many were looking for one old man in a cave and they found him (in the end) in Abbottabad, Pakistan but not until a serious amount of time had passed, in the mean time a lot of CIA operatives are useless (known to too many players) and the options for counter intelligence was further impeded by the acts of Julian Assange and ‎Bradley Edward Manning the latter one thought that 3 years of active service was enough to put well over 700,000 classified pieces on Wikileaks. These actions had a lasting effect and will have an effect for close to a decade. Quality Intelligence from the Middle East is only coming from allies (or so it seems). The US has limited action available to them and even whilst we sneer at espionage, we need to realise that it is the importance of it that sets the stage, Sun Tsu was very clear about it in chapter 13 (the Art of War) ‘the importance of developing good information sources‘ is essential and that part is currently missing for the US in the Middle East.

Luke Hartig (at https://www.justsecurity.org/67927/trumps-fatal-mistake-killing-suleimani-vs-countering-isis/) voices it as ‘Trump’s Fatal Mistake: Killing Suleimani vs. Countering ISIS‘, he is not wrong, yet the issue is depending on point of view. I feel that QS was too effective in the Middle East, his meetings tend to voice that part and the fact that two high value targets were taken out with QS was icing on the cake. For the most we ignore the effectiveness of Qassam, yet the truth is that his effectiveness made the Iranian proxy war in Yemen work, I believe that removing him is an essential win for the US, not immediately, but as the Iranian army faces the challenges that they need to find someone as good as QS, they will see that they are merely failing at whatever they try. The Washington Post gives us 5 hours ago “I have more than 4 million followers on various social media networks, and I have received thousands of messages, voice mails and videos from Iranians in cities such as Shiraz, Isfahan, Tehran and even Ahvaz, who are happy about Soleimani’s death. Some complain of the pressure to attend services for him” the Iranian presentation goes on, yet without QS in the mix, it will go a lot less smooth and issues will be overlooked giving s a much larger view on what is happening, optionally the others will get a lot more out of Iran for their trouble and that too aids the effort against Iran. Soleimani was that effective in life. Hartig gives more and it is there that we see his point of view, with “Effective counterterrorism policy is about much more than conducting drone strikes and deploying commandos; it’s about setting the diplomatic and geopolitical conditions for counterterrorism to succeed” he is correct, with the killing of Qassam Soleimani diplomatic and geopolitical options are out of the window, yet in the long run I believe it was the better position to play, the Iranian chess player lost its queen and as such, its chess play will be limited until an equal can be found, or the opposition loses its queen as well. I also agree with Hartig view “President Trump and the true believers in his inner circle have no sense of the strategy it will take to defeat ISIS (or Iran-linked terrorist groups, for that matter). Counterterrorism requires careful, methodical work, undertaken with our closest allies, that builds up local partners, patiently targets key vulnerabilities in the terrorist network over time, and ultimately addresses the long-term drivers of violent extremism“, there is no real tactic to deal with ISIS, it was less clear in the Obama administration, yet they too should have added weights to dealing with ISIS, but the costs were spiralling out of control, and as we consider his words on Africa through “The gains made against al-Shabaab are a result of diplomatic efforts and military assistance designed to stiffen the spine of African Union partners shouldering most of the fight in Somalia. Terrorists in the Sahel have been contained because of rigorous collaboration and modest assistance to the French combined with patient work to bolster regional partners“, we see the larger play, yet in all this QS had the phone number of all those leaders at hand, any of them with a beef against America got a nice weapons deal, now we see another play, without QS these deals will stop and optional larger wins could be made, yet it is not a given. What is a given is the fact that Iran has been out of control for a much longer time and it is high time that some of the egotistical and self wealth concerned players that that under consideration. so when we see ‘Blowback: Iran abandons nuclear limits after US killing‘, we see the wrong message, Iran had already abandoned those limits for a long time, they are merely outspoken about it now and if those in EU charge cannot see them, they should not be in these positions of power. The game and the message changed, but also the lies we see from Iran, it was never ‘Iran drives another stake into the heart of the nuclear deal‘ (source: CNN), it was that there was never going to be a nuclear deal, they ended it when they started the proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, they needed a large bat to threaten with and they are continuing building that bat, they are however no longer willing to hide their actions to some degree and that works for us (as well).

So even as the Washington Post is all about ‘Iran announces it is suspending its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal‘ (18 hours ago), let there be no mistake, they had done this in the beginning of 2019 they were merely pussyfooting in diplomatic steps, and now that the failure is out, others will blame this on the US, yet the direct information that I gave months ago was a direct sign that Iran had no intentions to ge back to the table unless they could get 200% out of a deal for them, and that was just not realistic. Qassam Soleimani was very adept in this and now we’ll see a different game, first out of anger, then denial, soon we will get them in a stage of bargaining and some fainted national depression, then the push buttons towards reconstruction and acceptance, yet they will move the table with those two buttons again and again, yet now it will be less expertly managed, which again works for everyone else. 

Iran played the game for too long and for the longest time, no one was willing to hold them to account for their actions. We never wanted to control Iran, we merely needed them to play the game like all the other nations, East and West, North and South, they merely thought they were better than everyone else and now that there is a realistic sense towards war they will have to push through and face several nations in combat, or they will actually sit at a table and negotiate some kind of solution. It is what most wanted all along, it merely never went that way, too much ego and that was always the problem on both sides of the isle.

 

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The public and facts ignored

Yup, this is all about the public, and a little bit about the media. The centre of attention of all this is Qasam Soleimani, as the weekend hit us, the US decided to hit Iraq and specifically Soleimani, They got lucky and got another two hit value targets in the process, yet let it be clear that Soleimani was the direct target. Over the weekend I have seen loads of rubbish in particular a tweet from Rose McGowan apologising to Iran on behalf of the American people and that got me furious (not just me). The media has been so successful in hiding the actions of Iran, especially during the Yemeni events that it is time that the public gets a little history lesson on just what Qasem Soleimani got done. In the last 20 years he has made more unwritten deals (especially with Hezbollah) than any other Iranian general in history. Over the last few years Iran has been in two proxy wars, one with Israel via Hezbollah and one with Saudi Arabia (in Yemen) with Hezbollah and Houthi forces.

There are two important issues in the Saudi efforts [against the model of Iran’s Islamic Republic]: First, they spend a lot of money; second, they sow the seeds of problems throughout the Islamic world using the Salafiyya. They do all this because they are afraid that the model of the Islamic Republic will have an influence on them – and this is actually happening… The most important principle of the Rule of the Jurisprudent, where a wise and God-fearing man rules, should be the red line for us all [that we must never relinquish]” (source: MEMRI, 2014)

The once reclusive head of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force has emerged from a lifetime in the shadows directing covert operations abroad, to achieve almost celebrity status in Iran. The man who, until a couple of years ago most Iranians would not have recognised on the street, is now the subject of documentaries, news reports and even pop songs” (source: BBC, 2015).

In neighbouring Syria he is widely credited with delivering the strategy that has helped President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide against rebel forces and recapture key cities and towns. Iran has always denied deploying boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, but every now and then holds public funerals for security forces and “military advisers” who were killed in these two countries” (source: BBC, 2015)

The main purpose of his visit was to discuss new delivery routes for shipments of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, sources said. Several sources also said Soleimani wanted to talk about how Russia and Iran could help the Syrian government take back full control of the city of Aleppo” (source: Reuters, 2016)

Photos have emerged claiming that Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite foreign operations unit, the Qods Force, is in Aleppo, Syria. Soleimani leads Iranian strategy in Syria in coordination with both Russia and Bashar al-Assad’s government. He commands the IRGC-led Shiite expeditionary force there, which includes the Afghan Fatemiyoun, Pakistani Zeynabiyoun, Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Iraqi Harakat al Nujaba” (source: Classified, 2016)

Soleimani pointed to how this was already happening as the Revolutionary Guards “had been working around the clock to arm the Popular Mobilization militias” after its establishment. On the sidelines of his participation in the memorial service of one of the guards killed in Syria on Monday, Soleimani said that the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group has already provided support to the PMU militias, according to a statement published on Tasnim news agency” (source: Al-Arabiya, 2017)

Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the hugely popular commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, appeared to attack the spirit, if not the substance, of the government’s foreign policy by highlighting the role of the Qods Force – and the wider IRGC – in advancing Iranian strategic and foreign policy goals. Speaking on the 40th day of the “martyrdom” of Brigadier General Shaaban Nassiri – who was killed in late May during the operation to retake Mosul – Soleimani glorified the role of commanders like Nassiri who make the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of national prestige through the projection of complex forms of hard power. This is, of course, a swipe at the Rouhani administration which is perceived to favour softer forms of diplomacy to advance the Iranian position” (source: Middle East Eye, 2017)

Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds (Qods)Force, has called for the “eradication” of Israel in retaliation for the killing of a Hezbollah commander ten years ago. Speaking in Tehran at a ceremony commemorating the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution February 14, Soleimani said “The eradication of Israel would be the best revenge for the killing of Imad Mughniyeh.”” (source: Radio Farda, 2018) 

Soleimani’s message was in essence a warning to the US to stop threatening Iran with war or risk exposing itself to an Iranian response. “We are near you, where you can’t even imagine … Come. We are ready. If you begin the war, we will end the war,” Tasnim news agency quoted Soleimani as saying” (source: SCMP, 2018)

The day after anti-government protests erupted in Iraq, Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani flew into Baghdad late at night and took a helicopter to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where he surprised a group of top security officials by chairing a meeting in place of the prime minister. The arrival of Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of its regional security apparatus, signaled Tehran’s concern over the protests, which had erupted across the capital and in Iraq’s Shi’ite heartland, and included calls for Iran to stop meddling in the country” (source: Haaretz, 2019)

“Saudi Arabia is building its regional influence with money only. This is a false influence and a failure…We will take revenge for our martyrs…(and) it might be anywhere around the world,” Qasem Soleimani said, according to Tasnim. The Islamic Republic has accused arch regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of backing militants who carry out attacks on security forces in Iran. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have denied any connection with the attacks” (source: Radio Farda, 2019)

This is just a small grasp of a much larger problem, Qasam Soleimani has had a finger in the regional porridge for a much larger extent of time, and the absence of his acts in the Yemeni events is a much larger failing of the media, even as scores of experts clearly state that the drones that Houthi forces in Yemen could in no way be Yemeni, the media remained silent. There is no way that any of this happened without the approval and blessing of Qasam Soleimani. Even as the media had no issues stating numerous articles on Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia and hiding behind ‘alleged’, ‘seemingly’ and ‘from unnamed sources’, they stopped short on any reporting regarding Iran, the entire nuclear accords had too many eyes stopping the media doing their job. As such the people are largely unaware of just how involved Iran was in Yemen. As targeted killing goes, Qasam Soleimani was an essential target for the US and largely this man was a thorn in the side of optional Middle East stability, even now we see: ‘Hezbollah vows retaliation against US for Soleimani killing‘, yes the death of Qasam will be a problem for Hezbollah, under the table agreements tend to be absent of actual agreements and Hezbollah will need to ingratiate itself again to Iran. Consider the support that Qassam gave for a terrorist organisation to give out: “Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to target US forces in the region in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian and Iraqi commanders in a US drone strike earlier this week“. 

Most importantly, QS has been the centre of attacks on Israel for the longest of times, Hezbollah had (according to some) a stockpile of 130,000 missiles. I find that number largely exaggerated, yet even at 10% we see 13,000 missiles at $100K each, so where did Hezbollah get that money? My personal take is that there is a large financial debt on KLebanon in the forms of send missiles, Iran has nothing to lose in that way, they have someone else attack Israel and if that is concluded they will had over the invoice which must have gone into the billions at present, the orchestrator has been and was as always Qasam Soleimani.

Hezbollah will do whatever it can to let that invoice stand and continue, without it they run out and they will have to admit defeat to Israel (something they would never do). There is no denial that the impact of Qassam Soleimani has been seen and felt all over the Middle East, his links to Hezbollah, his actions in Syria and Yemen as well as his death leading to a rift in Qatar pushing some towards Iran is a larger issue that has not been dealt with. Only an hour ago did we learn “Qatar’s contradictory policy moves – at once hosting the aircraft that attacked the Iranian commander and then apologizing for it – demonstrate the Qatari leadership’s “extremely dangerous” drift towards Iran, according to expert Varsha Koduvayur, a senior research analyst at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “On the one hand, Qatar hosts US forces at al-Udeid air base. But on the other hand, they prop up and fund scores of terror groups throughout the Middle East diametrically opposed to US interests, and work hand in hand with countries that seek to damage the US’s interests in the region,” said Koduvayur in an interview“, a push that plenty did not see coming, implying that QS had larger links to Qatar, the place where in 2 years all football will be, happy now?

As Al-Arabiya gives us ““We consider ourselves on Iran’s side. We did not, at all, expect such a thing to happen, or that such a decision would ever be taken. Such actions are unprecedented, and we are very sad and concerned about this,” al-Thani, who also met with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif, was quoted as saying“, we see a larger play and it seems that there are links that we did not expect to be, QS had a much larger role to play in Iran’s foreign policy than most analyst expected, there are seemingly larger connection where the military decided on policy and not President Rouhani, or at least that is how it appears. So anyone who wants to apologise for the targeted killing whilst ignoring the thousands of deaths that Iran has orchestrated for are out of their minds. The man who gave us (in May 2019) “Iran’s most prominent military leader has recently met Iraqi militias in Baghdad and told them to “prepare for proxy war”, the Guardian has learned. Two senior intelligence sources said that Qassem Suleimani, leader of Iran’s powerful Quds force, summoned the militias under Tehran’s influence three weeks ago, amid a heightened state of tension in the region. The move to mobilise Iran’s regional allies is understood to have triggered fears in the US that Washington’s interests in the Middle East are facing a pressing threat” has been stopped, there is no doubt that Iran will not stop and the devil you know beats the devil you don’t, yet the devil we knew was extremely adapt on the world stage, whomever replaces him will be nowhere as good as Qassam Soleimani ever was, of that I am decently certain.

 

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Car Ghost

Yes, the news is full of him, the news is all about the great escape now, but what set it all in motion? You see, the numbers do not add up, not to the degree that we see at present.

Some might see it as a setting where it all comes from a strategic partnership among those automotive manufacturers through a complex cross-shareholding agreement where the alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi has set a 10% market share ownership for the last 10 years and to comprehend this, consider the amount of car brands you know on a global scale, whilst we see that three brands have a 10% market share. As such in 2003 Fortune identified him as one of the 10 most powerful people in business outside the U.S. that is not a small matter, to get on such a short list a person needs to have pull on several levels. So when I see that he was arrested at Tokyo International Airport on 19 November 2018, on allegations of under-reporting his earnings and misuse of company assets. I was not surprised, I did not blink and more important, I shrugged it all off with the flair of ‘whatever’. The fact that Renault an French officials at some point cut ties and made him surrender his CEO and Chairman position of Renault was the first moment I took notice, this is a rather large setting, as the man was part Lebanese I wondered if Hezbollah ties were involved, knowing the DGSE does not tend to show the hand it holds and would not surrender such knowledge until it was common knowledge. 

Ghosn was re-arrested in Tokyo on 4 April 2019 over new charges of misappropriations of Nissan funds. This time around, I had a few more runs on his name and more importantly a run on a finance hub on the dark web, my searches went dark (almost literally) and whatever exists, there was no way to get a handle on it (for me at least). Now, I already had access to the NY Times who gave us “Nissan said it was cooperating with Japanese prosecutors and that its investigation into Mr. Ghosn began after a whistle-blower said he had been misrepresenting his salary and using company assets for personal purposes“, all whilst France.24 gave us “Renault uncovered 11 million euros in questionable expenses by him, leading to a French investigation and raids“, so this is not his income, or his bonus, these are two places where multi million expenses were found and whilst some might digress on the fact that it came from a whistleblower, it seems that two places have in he first an incapable CFO, in the second the fact that this was not raising alerts on where that money was and more important there is an optional Hezbollah link with close to €16 million missing. All this whilst we see no explanation to ‘donations to nonprofit organizations‘, isn’t that how Hezbollah gets loads of its revenue? So whatever Carlos Ghosn states as to ‘political enemies’ might have a ring of truth, they would be anyone opposing the terrorist actions of Hezbollah. So when I see ‘Renault says an internal audit with partner Nissan found 11 million euros in questionable expenses at their Dutch-based holding‘, I merely wonder how this could have been going on for so long, this is not something that happened overnight, there is a trail and some players never woke up (apparently). So whilst I have absolutely no feelings on some CEO, I am actively hostile to anyone supporting and financing the actions of Hezbollah. 

Here is where I need to make sure that you realise that the Hezbollah link is assumed and implied, yet there was a lack of intelligence that is until Ghosn escaped to Lebanon, eve now as the Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/dec/31/carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-aided-by-lebanese-officials), we see “Carlos Ghosn’s flight from criminal charges in Japan to Lebanon was aided by Lebanese state officials who were instructed by political leaders to smooth his arrival“, it is one way of stating that Hezbollah OK’d it all. And whilst another Guardian article gives us “A private plane was waiting to whisk the former corporate titan to Istanbul, Turkey. From there he appears to have boarded a Bombardier Challenger private jet for a flight to Lebanon, where he arrived before dawn on Monday“, All whilst no one asks the questions how a person apparently handing over his passports as part of his bail condition got out of the country, and I have less faith in “News of the escape came as surprise to the Japanese authorities – who have charged Ghosn with falsifying records about his personal pay in order to enrich himself“, when state players (Lebanon) goes out on a limb to this degree, and as he was able to get not on one, but two jets one in Japan (who has decent security) and then in Turkey (an Iranian puppet, and they love their Hezbollah HVA’s) we see a shifted picture and it is not merely an executive with too much money, you see, he is still a registered Brazilian as well, and there we see: “Article 77(I) determines that extradition must not be permitted when it involves Brazilians, unless the acquisition of nationality takes place after the fact that motivates the extradition request“, as such the extradition to Lebanon was about more than just moving house. Yet the Washington Post adds fuel to the fire, there we get “In an interview with the Associated Press published Thursday, Lebanon’s justice minister, Albert Serhan, said that Ghosn had entered the country legally on a French passport. “Lebanese authorities have no security or judiciary charges against him, he entered the border like any other Lebanese using a legal passport,” Serhan said.” (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/01/02/accused-serious-crimes-he-smuggled-himself-out-japan-carlos-ghosn-may-escape-extradition-lebanon-too/), in addition, France would not extradite to Japan, implying the mess is a lot larger and there the DGSE and Hezbollah situation makes sense, if there was something, fleeing to France would be hazardous, not only does he have a DGSE marker, there is every chance the CIA would want him as well, and they have ways to get to braziliams, getting to Lebanese HVA’s is a lot less likely, a person like Ghosn would be protected to the highest political level possible. We also see “If Mr. Ghosn comes in France, we will not extradite Mr. Ghosn, because France never extradites its nationals. So we will apply to Mr. Ghosn, like everyone, the same rules of the game,” French junior economy minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told TV station BFM on Thursday“, and this is from Junior economy minister, not from a senior justice member, they would ‘no comment‘ the issue for two distinctive reasons. 

Even now as the case escalates in Turkey, the BBC reports “According to Turkish media, seven arrests have been made in connection with the case – four pilots, a cargo company manager and two airport workers” (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50972149), the given information is open as arrests do merely imply, but give no specific intelligence, merely an implied issue, when these people get convicted it is a larger issue, yet Hezbollah will see this as the cost of living, an HVA like Carlos Ghosn bringing in millions, with what he knows of the car industry trumps those lives and the fact that that the Guardian gives us “A policeman leaves the Beirut residence of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on 31 December” whilst the image is a person with three stars, that is not a policeman, that is someone in authority. In the meantime, we forget that he has surrendered his passports as part of the deal so when we see that his lawyer gives us that “he still had all three of his client’s passports in his possession” implies a larger set of contributing people in a larger time frame, this was orchestrated and this was planned. Even as his lawyer gives us: “I wanted to prove he was innocent,” said Hironaka, who last saw Ghosn on Christmas Day. “But when I saw his statement in the press, I thought he doesn’t trust Japan’s courts“, my take on it is that someone found something and Ghosn knew the gig was up and Japan will cooperate with the USA on the drop of a hat (especially when it is terrorist linked), as such Ghosn needed to get away and from all we see he did not go to Brazil, there is a larger play (but that is my take on the matter). Then we get two parts that optionally bear links to one another, there is “A Lebanese foreign ministry official told Reuters that Ghosn entered the country legally on a French passport and using his Lebanese ID with normal security procedures. The French foreign ministry press office said it had no immediate comment“, as well as “a person resembling Ghosn was recorded by Lebanese officials as entering the country at Beirut airport under a different name“, this now implies a fake passport, whilst that is partially a problem for Ghosn, we also see ‘using his Lebanese ID‘, not his passport (according to the quote) so now we see a planned move from Japan from a person who claims “I have escaped injustice and political persecution“, all whilst he has broken fiscal and financial laws (according to the whistle blower) and all whilst his actions are one that a person does seeking to escape justice, all whilst this is in a state of so described “discrimination is rampant and basic human rights are denied“, all whilst we have seen that in Japan the standard of life for a convicted criminal is better than most european countries give their unemployed and homeless people, as for the evidence on that see the Abashiri Prison Museum, where the prison meals can actually be bought (two meal optons each less than $9) and they outdo most average restaurtants, interesting is it not?

There are still a lot of unknowns and some dark web sources are not that reliable, but one thing is certain, to arrange two jets, a fake passport and the trip takes doing, there will be a trail, I merely wonder what the press (is allowed) get to print and state on the larger screens, and that is where we get to Le Parisien where we see “he had not hesitated to impose a new head for the group’s intelligence unit, in the person of Rémi Pagnie, formerly of the DGSE (Directorate General for Security) indoor)” (Le Parisien, Nov 2019). An act from 2005, yet I believe that such an act requires scrutiny, not in regards to the DGSE, but in regards to the stage in France, there is a much larger setting (maybe why Ghosn did not go to France), it is seen in Le Journal Du Dimanche (a French source that I do not know, as my French is really really bad), the source (at https://www.lejdd.fr/Economie/Les-nouveaux-secrets-dans-la-pseudo-affaire-d-espionnage-chez-Renault-293909-3109724) give several question marks that go back to 2011 and also include: “Even if he denies it today, Carlos Ghosn would then have given instructions “complete silence” on this aspect while ordering “to continue the investigations”. A special financing network, via a company in Dubai, was then set up” calls for a much larger level of scrutiny, this was going on since 2011 and I wonder why no action had taken place and why Carlos Ghosn was allowed to roam free to this degree, I do not know the French source, but I found several sources raising questions regarding the inactivity and lack of investigation regarding Carlos Ghosn from at least two sources and as Dubai is validated the inactions of the CIA are also in question, especially as there is an optional implied money link towards Hezbollah, and in that regard, if Carlos Ghosn was acquitted from that, the lack of reporting on that is equally an issue as this would show a larger support to the statements of Carlos Ghosn, not merely on Japanese grounds , but almost global. That is not supported, but it leads to questions if the French source could be vetted for “It was still Carlos Ghosn who gave the green light in mid-December to dismiss the three suspected French executives. Another revelation, the offices where the layoffs took place were “soundproofed”“, soundproofing requires plausible deniability on a few levels, the issues if true gives rise to an optional persecution of Carlos Ghosn, the opposite opens Renault for almost titanic settlement with the three allegedly guilty executives, this mess keeps on growing and growing and the inactions are almost unbelievable, especially when you consider that his positions at Renault would not be given up until early 2019, almost 8 years later, and we see a lack of questions on several fronts and close to no reporting other then the absolute minimum. It took me two hours (delays as Google Translate needed to help me with French) to find this and I still see the seven hour old report from the BBC stating “Mr Ghosn, who was also boss of French car-maker Renault, has been under investigation in France but no charges have been laid“, all whilst there is a larger play in all this and it is not money. And there is one more part that flagged me. When we consider “He had been under house arrest in Tokyo awaiting trial but managed to evade police surveillance” whilst the BBC gives us “According to Turkish media, Mr Ghosn’s private jet landed at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport at 05:30 (02:30 GMT) on Monday, having flown from Japan’s Kansai airport in Osaka“, and when we consider that Osaka and Tokyo are a little over 500Km apart, he went unnoticed for such a long time? The more I see, the more questions I have and I am only in my second hour looking at the presented evidence. 

As I personally see it this Car Ghost is trying to evade a lot more than is so called look on injustice. When we see stories like “At a halfway house in Hiroshima – for criminals who are being released from jail back into the community – 69-year-old Toshio Takata tells me he broke the law because he was poor. He wanted somewhere to live free of charge, even if it was behind bars” we see more than a setting of persecution, we see an implied solution for poor people and they accept and prefer jail? That is uncanny, even in the west on a few lines, so in all there is a larger setting and even as a happy go unlucky Carlos Ghosn is setting out to be, his lifestyle might be a lot higher than what the other end gets, still his response and the actions connected to it should raise more questions, and they are speculated on by many, yet I see a lack of questions that go all the way back to 2011, interesting, is it not?

 

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Twenty twenty is visual

Yes, we are in the new year, yet this year (according to Forbes at https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2020/12/29/us-and-china-technology-conflict-heres-why-2020-is-so-critical/amp/) will be a lot more critical than anyone thinks. Yes it is about Huawei, however not in the same lame way that the US administration brings it. Here we see: “Huawei has 42% of the huge Chinese market and more than 25% of the Russian market to get it started. Then on December 28, China’s state media announced that its “Beidou” alternative to America’s GPS satellite navigation system will be completed“, now this is a different kettle of fish. It is not about government intel (in a way it is), it is about who gets the data and the lies that seemingly originated at the oval office are now no longer about ‘the chinese government connections’ it is more about how the US government is not getting the free data that they have had for so long, moreover as we take notice of “But Beidou—“Big Dipper” in Chinese—will not stop at China. It will focus on converting markets in South East Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, price- and investment-sensitive markets” we see a much larger concern for the yanks, they are at risk of gaining access to a little over 50% of all given data by the end of 2020, that is something to notice, and in my view they had it coming. They make one accusation after another and never show any data to support it. Even now (yesterday) as we see the number of links of TikTok and data, I was able to find well over a dozen US sites where the advertisement of the TikTok app continues, one is called seemingly hypocritical national security (I actually do not know the Tik Tok situation), the other is money and money trumps Trump.

I am baffled why the US would think that this free reaping would continue, I am actually amazed that Russia did not have its own version of software ready. We even see “Russian President Putin described the U.S. campaign against Chinese technology as “the first technological war of the coming digital era.” His point was that this is the start of something much greater and more significant“, he is right in more than one way. Do you think that I would offer my IP to the US when I know that I am getting lied to? I wonder how large the failing list is actually hitting Google and Facebook, the fact that people are intentionally getting misinformed should show up in their numbers as well. For those who have no real affiliation to Social media, China is becoming more and more interesting, the moment that it has a real Facebook equivalent, we will see a much larger jump. For Google the mess is not that big, YouTube is an engine that people cannot live without (pretty much the medical condition is ‘acute VideoitisfromYoutube failure‘) so as we cannot get treated on that, we will continue in the YouTube realm. I personally believe that if the news was a year ago that China was launching its own services the news would have been accepted differently, the entire ‘China is all about spying through Huawei‘ got us on the wrong foot, just like Iraq, just like two other events afterwards the US have been handling billions of free voices and the free voices are through with a lying party like America.

So whilst we take notice of “For China, it will increase its independence and influence. For the U.S., its grip on key standards will loosen and for some of its key players there are risks they could loose material market share“, that is the ballgame, the ‘loose material market share‘, until the beginning of the internet, the US has never had an equal in this fight and in the economic place they are now they are scared. Consider the interest on $23,000,000,000,000 all whilst they are facing a technology user setback of 10%-25% in the first year, and as Asia, Russia and Europe start folding away from the US solutions the interest is impacted and can no longer be paid, for example try the Apple solution for $1749 (down from $2365) and as things ‘suddenly’ become affordable for the people, think of how the population reacts to the coin grab of 2010-2019 when they were trying to make ends meet. This technology wave will follow an anger wave that the US is unable to stop, and beyond that, Huawei has a much larger base soon enough. In Saudi Arabia Huawei was able to set the stage of a strategic memorandum of understanding, healthcare is only the first step and as it shows the progress it will entice Egypt and India, at that point Huawei will achieve two paths that the US only hinted at and sneered (their version of enticement) for well over 10 years whilst never delivering. The people who decide things saw no eager listing to pursue, now that the numbers are getting called in 2020 and 2021 the game changes and there have been too many lies (oops, I meant ‘intentional misrepresentation’) coming from the US players.

And as the EU gives us: ‘European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen voiced skepticism Friday over involving Chinese tech giant Huawei in the rollout of Europe’s 5G networks amid concerns its equipment could be used for spying by Beijing‘, we see that optionally the career of Ursula von der Leyen will be cut short too. She might be the President of the European Commission for a month now, but I am certain that her history lessons included the time when we hung those who hid behind ‘befehl ist befehl‘ and even now, as we traverse that time, the US will not have any dimes to sit on, those spreading the US message without evidence could be demanded to be called on, even now as Germany (and India) are moving against the warnings of the US, warning that have never seen any real evidence since the beginning, will now have a coin marker, people like Ursula von der Leyen will see that as other European nations demand evidence, their place in the hierarchie will seem unholdable, held together by US promises that they will fall back on and fold on when the moment is nigh. That is the ball game for the US and the Europeans will not have alternatives, especially as Nokia is showing several cracks in their veneer, as their 5G outlook changes and as the backlash of bribery scandals, the US will find themself in a stage that is not holdable, and they are not alone, Ericsson is right there next to Nokia when it comes to scandals and the US was not ready for that. The impact will be larger than they expect and that part will bite too. When the EC members will look towards alternatives and there is only Huawei, they will shift gears and give the boot to whomever supported the US and stopped them to get their bonus, people are easy to anticipate in that regard.

If only there was direct evidence of the US claims. There was a reason why I used the Colin Powell and silver briefcase example in the past, there was no way around it, the game that was being played was short for whomever was counting the cards and too many were out in the open, the US had two plays left and they chose the wrong one. That becomes more and more clear when we look at the actions of Sony last October, that setting changed the anger levels of Third Point to some degree, and as I cannot tell who was right, the fact that Daniel Loeb lost out against the Sony view ”no concrete proposals to improve the business“, who is eagerly spending a billion to get on the market is a larger issue than you can imagine, the Japanese government has a larger stake in all this then even I can surmise. Japan will have to take on a few players and they are behind (really behind), yet they are all in it to win it and their ego’s will collide, the US will have to find new areas to push against and as we see that this is being fought, we also see the American dream is under pressure of failing and that is one concrete version why the american corporate views are not what they are surmised to be, it will be a stronger difference as the year progresses, but I reckon that half way, when that American super villain Taxman has to give documentation as to the values it holds dear (numbers on a spreadsheet) we will see additional cracks, there is only so much that people will live for and the US has no reserves, it lost those a little over three years ago as the debt kept rising. In this as we saw one month ago that “Dan Loeb sharply boosted its net long position in equities,’‘ we will see managed bad news over the next 6 months that will reduce that position (as I personally see and anticipate), that will be the first (of many) cracks in all this and China is not merely a crack in their armor, it is a flaming hole the size of the Grand Canyon. And still my IP is outlasting theirs as they have no idea what they should have been looking at, it is becoming more than a spreadsheet user versus a visionary, the US status is becoming a spreadsheet user to someone who does not comprehend a cross tabulation, and that is not a situation that the US can hold up. 

In this all these solutions give China an advantage, because as we see more and more dubious statements from people who caress the limelight, we also see that the chinks in their armour are lighting up and that is where Russia and China only have to ask: ‘what is that?‘ (pointing at the chinks) and those people will not have the setting to answer. 

It is a stage we have not seen before and will not see again any day soon, but in 2020 it will matter, it will drive the global population away from any American solution. They will only have themselves to blame soon enough, they vied for it but will do anything to make anyone else pay and the people are taking notice, they are no longer willing to take the idiocy and the current American administration made it happen, at least that part has no push towards previous administrations. When that happens, the loss of revenue will increase faster and faster and all others are ready to step in wherever they can, I am happy I have no stake in any of the American hedges, their national product is about to lose value and a lot, I merely wonder how long it will take, as we saw in several situations in 2008, the $1.1B bill to Moody’s was paid without hesitation, I wonder what and who will delay the news this time around and those who got out late, will they have any recourse? I reckon not, at some point we will see certain academics make a statement that the technology sector was too complex and too covariant to clearly see any pattern emerge, at that point whatever rating existed will be thrown out and as we see that, the people will run to any technology that has proven themselves and at present that is Huawei (and Huawei only), that is the part the US is unwilling to see, even as we see the Verge (only three weeks ago) give us both “T-Mobile has been saying it’s got a smarter, sounder 5G strategy than both Verizon and AT&T” and “They also won’t support 5G on other networks, so if you switch carriers, you’re hosed” implying that there is no real 5G standard in the US and they are all merely marketing 5G whilst not having any real 5G (my personal view) and the Verge supports that view I have (at https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/16/20997594/tmobile-5g-600mhz-low-band-speed-tests-oneplus-samsung) when we see “you’ll never get the speed thrill of downloading an entire movie from Netflix or Prime Video in seconds“, all whilst the 5G advertisement is about that part alone, we see the hose job in the making and in 2020 that will not be tolerated by the people, in the US there is no alternative, yet Europe, Africa and Asia have other options which enables Huawei and that is the short play that the US is not ready for and the EU people are about to get a dose of reality soon enough, when the MoU that Huawei has signed show actual progress, Europe will run towards whatever shelter they can whilst ignoring the pleas from the USA, it will be that simple, people like Ursula von der Leyen will run towards what pays them and what keeps them safe, warm and dry, they will soon see that ‘befehl ist befehl‘ fell short the second time around too and at that point they will enable whomever has the technology and America is about three years late.  

It is the biting reality that 2020 brings, whilst the vision of twenty twenty is negated at every turn whenever possible and it is the ‘whenever possible’ part that will fall short soon enough (sooner rather than later).

 

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The age of Christmas

I have been on the verge of many things, this, my last blog for a week (I expect) is also a path towards my goals, my delusional goal is to spend time on a really large yacht with half a dozen maiden vixens of 23-27 all roaring to try the lawlordtobe engine (whatever these girls mean with that), the reality of life is that I will be doing a truckload of chores that I left until this very last moment, so not much excitement there. 

For the blog, the end of the year tends to be a shallow ground for news, yet there was the Khashoggi convictions in Saudi Arabia, an event that the Guardian labelled ‘‘Mockery of justice’ after Saudis convict eight over Khashoggi killing‘, we all seem upset by “crown prince’s inner circle of involvement in murder of dissident journalist“. Yet the reality is that there was never any evidence, in some cases I have a few question marks with the evidence that Turkey gave, the UN Essay by Agnes Callamard read (for me) like a joke and in the end, we just do not know what happened, so it seems that the Saudi Courts, just like most other courts can only convict a person on evidence and that person needs to be sentenced when a person is found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt and that was never ever going to be the case. Consider hat the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/23/saudi-arabia-accused-of-mockery-of-justice-over-jamal-khashoggi-trial) gives us “The findings contradict the conclusion of the CIA and other western intelligence agencies that Prince Mohammed directly ordered Khashoggi’s assassination“, yet the UN Essay states the CIA, yet no evidence is added, merely their point of view and ‘high reliability‘, which in light of their weapons of mass destruction claim is not that reliable. As for the claim ‘and other western intelligence agencies‘ is also a bit weird as I saw no mention of MI-5, MI-6, DGSE, or GCHQ, so what was it? Merely FBI and CIA? That is basically one source as such I rejected the UN Essay for what it was, a joke (to the largest degree)!

Yet, that is as good a the news is going to get, other actual (and factual) great news is that Robert Downey Junior is back in the news, and now not as an Avenger, talking to animals or another role, no this is a series that you can watch on Youtube premium, it is called the Age of A.I.. Now, the weird feeling is there, RDJ playing RDJ and being serious about it is part of the appeal, the other part is that this is not a sales rap, it is explanation and the series via RDJ does that swimmingly (read: pretty brilliantly). 

I need to be careful, because I do not want any spoilers here, apart from the fact that the series is well beyond informative, it shows the A.I. world as it is (well kinda), we see examples most have never seen before, these examples are often not sexy enough for glamour shows, but they are great as the underlying example in this system. If there is one small part that is criticism than it is the use of AI when (as far as I personally saw was no more than deeper learning) yet for the learning part that does not matter, the person watching it gets a much better grasp on AI and this series shines as such. The fact that really outshines the entire series is not RDJ, he is there but often enough we see celebrities that are a lot more than the media exposes (Will.I.Am for example), people in the movie making and we learn that some movie celebrities behind the screen are seemingly merely doing it to fund their real dream and we get to see a truckload of that, especially the truckload of examples the media thought to keep from us. That education is worth a lot more than you are grasping when you see it and you can see it (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwsrzCVZAb8), and the series bring out an interesting fear “This is new, we need to know what is real and what is not“, this is an interesting issue, it is almost never discussed, but it is within us all. And as RDJ narrates we take a trip all over the world visiting the places that are involved in the evolution of NAI (Near Artificial Intelligence) and we get the proper approach towards machine learning, I was pretty blown away after episode one and there are several more to go through, The age of A.I. is a homerun, a bullseye in a world of gratification small enhancements and publications. In the movie world RDJ has had its large shares of successes, the fact that he is part of a documentary like this will make him only a larger success and as such he will push this series to greater heights (the fact that you can watch episode one for free on Youtube does not hurt either), Matt Damon eat your heart out. 

As I personally see it, the Age of A.I. is the first series on A.I. that is actually informative to a much larger degree (than many of the other series). It is such a pleasant surprise to be confronted with a series like The Age of A.I. at the end of the year. I personally feel like a whole new person, for me this series was that much actual fun to watch. 

I hope to see and inform you all again in about a week, have a great holiday series.

 

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