Tag Archives: Bangladesh

Smite the analysts

It is time to change the game. It is time to do a lot more than merely claiming to do something about fake news. I never claimed to bring the news, I have merely been in the process of nitpicking it as much as possible and the Guardian got my feathers plenty ruffled this morning, so it is time for me to be a little speculative of the matter.

We love our idiot products at time; it is something to laugh at or something to make a joke about; for the most harmless fun. Yet today something snapped. It might have been the abuse that Theresa May has been receiving, it might have been watching some poor sod holding a ‘We’re poorer without EU‘ sign, whilst like me that person is unlikely to have any economic degrees.

So when I see: ‘Theresa May’s Brexit deal could cost UK £100bn over a decade‘ by Richard Partington (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/26/theresa-mays-brexit-deal-could-cost-uk-100bn-over-a-decade).

I hereby make my first demand (do not worry, no one will listen anyway).

In regards to: ‘People’s Vote-commissioned study says loss is equivalent to annual output of Wales‘, I DEMAND a full disclosure of the names of the people involved as well as a clear documentation of all sources used. this includes the names of those in the ‘People’s vote’ those who commissioned the study, the price paid for the study, as well as the names of those who made that report (not just the three who wrote it), the data sources used as well as how the report was set to the data and its results. I expect to find a dozen flaws in the very least. In this case any arbitrary choice (which at times is perfectly valid), should be seen as a flaw, unless clearly stated as such.

It is time to hold these people up to the limelight exposing what the Guardian (and many other newspapers) are giving voice to as being ‘the facts’. I would like to go as far as prosecuting (to some extent) the makers of these loaded and dubious reports by banning those names from any governmental research for life! When that happens, we will get all kinds of excuses and well phrased words or denial. Yet, I feel that we have come to a point where these activities can no longer be tolerated. Not by any government and not by any organisation with political aspirations, or connections.

The reality here is that the UK will lose income, lost funds and lose options for the short term. This has always been known. We always knew that things would get a little worse. Yet NOONE is making any call on the waste of three trillion euro’s by the ECB on their Quantative Easing and the waste of now close to three trillion that the taxpayer has to pay back, whilst people like Mario Draghi walk away with a ton of money, a member of an elite banking group of 20 and no accountability to anyone. The media refused to hammer on the ECB on any of it and the lack of clarity and transparency that the ECB has. This happened in full view whilst they all had 50+ articles on the death of a journalist no one really cared about (aka Jamal Khashoggi).

My larger concern is seen in: “Garry Young, the director of macroeconomic modelling and forecasting at NIESR, said: “Leaving the EU will make it more costly for the UK to trade with a large market on our doorstep and inevitably will have economic costs.” The NIESR report found May’s deal would not be as damaging for the economy as Britain leaving the EU without an agreement, which would cost the economy about £140bn over the next 10 years.” From my personal point of view, these people are in it for themselves, most of them are. Even as I will immediately admit that this report looks actually valid and good, issues come forward to a degree that might not have been seen at the beginning of it all, yet the scrutiny after the report is also lacking making the issue larger. What some call ‘lucrative European contracts’, we see a lack of investigation on both sides of the isle in all this, because as a Brexiteer, I will never deny a Bremainer to voice their opinion, or their opposition to it all. It is the acceptance of democracy that demands it from within me. The UK has not really profited from the EU, merely large corporations have and that is actually the biggest issue with the entire EU at present. When we look at the 68 million consumers, many of them have not been able to afford any of it. The bulk of all of us are dependent on moments like Black Friday to get the hardware we normally cannot get. It is a known issue that the quality of life is still low all over the UK and in many other places. The only true beneficiaries of the entire EU setting are the large corporations. The local grocer sees no real benefit, whilst the large supermarkets have all these deductibles that for the larger extent benefit its board members, not the customers. People like Gary Young are eager to make mention of ”inevitably will have economic costs“, which is a truth; I and many realistic others do not deny it. Yet in equal measure we can move away from a multi trillion bond buying scheme that has done nothing for the people whilst making the banks fat and rich. Never before in the history of mankind did the banks and Wall Street have such a large hold on governments and its citizens and we sat down and let it happen. Brexit is for the UK the first step to undo that damage and it will take time, we all get that. So as we realise that the ECB failure, in part to unmanaged ‘freedoms’, lack of transparency and accountability has greatly impacted the UK, at that point will we realise that there is a weighted and loaded stage against all of us, in every EU nation. The second part in all this is what some call: ‘the EU gravy train’, I have made mention of it on a few occasions and the lack of actions in that regard is close to sickening. Even The Times gave us some time ago: “MEPs are clinging on to lavish, tax-free handouts for travel despite publicly pledging to repay them, according to an internal report by the European Parliament. They have kept an estimated €6million (£4 million) after promising before the 2004 elections not to claim the money. “They get exposed, promise to be modest and then keep riding the gravy train. It is appalling,” said Hans-Peter Martin, an Austrian MEP, who has led a campaign against abuse of expenses. The €60 million-a-year travel allowance system is so generous that many MEPs admit it amounts to legalised embezzlement of taxpayers’ money. MEPs are paid a first-class air fare for travel to the parliament, even if they use budget airlines. They make an average of £20,000 a year tax free“. We can agree that in that meantime something was done, yet how much was done? The taxpayers have to come up with 751 times £20,000, giving us a total of fifteen million pounds and that is only the travel item every year, one of a lot more items, so how much extra are these people getting? The simple fact that many of these issues have not been adjusted for over 12 years is a clear stage that the EU is the goose for exploiting extra income and benefits, something taxpayers never signed up for in the first place. Even now (8 weeks ago) we see: ‘Details of MEPs’ €4,416-a-month expenses to remain secret, court rules‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/25/mep-expenses-eu-court-ruling) with in addition: “MEPs are also refunded first-class travel expenses and get a €313 daily allowance for hotel and living costs when working in Brussels and Strasbourg“, which in the most optional stage grants them an additional £60K each, adding fuel amounting to £46,562,000 to the tax payers fire. I think I have made my point, did I not?

When Brexit is done and we start seeing the impact, I predict it will be less than 2 years before the complaining starts, not from the UK, but from the other nations that now have to pay for the part that the UK will no longer be paying for and that is the ballgame here. When that happens, and it will we will see a rejuvenation by both France and Italy wanting to get out as fast as possible leaving merely Germany as the large economy to carry the weight of the EU and they will not be able to do this and it will all collapse. That is not a speculation; it is a certainty as I see it. It will only need one of those three to join the leave team and it will already fail. In light of all that is happening it seems to me that Italy is now the frontrunner before France, yet that might be what the horse lover calls a nose length photo finish. It was almost two weeks ago when French Marine Le Pen gives us almost the same view in the Daily Herald with: “French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is blaming the policies of the European Union for Britain’s exit from the bloc. “If the EU wasn’t what it is now, the United Kingdom would still have been a member of a structure that respects the nations, the people, that doesn’t impose migration polices and deals that have very heavy consequences on our industries and agriculture,” Le Pen said Friday at a news conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.” It was for the most what pushed me into the Brexit field a few years ago; even as Mark Carney, Governor of the British Bank and his presentation in the House of Lords gave me reason to doubt that, the acts of stupidity by Mario Draghi and the ECB pushed me straight into the Brexit field, supporting Brexit. A situation that had been known for years, yet in light of 751 beneficiaries nothing was done to keep tabs on it and Brexit become a fact.

So as we accept the setting (via many sources) that Marine Le Pen is giving through “the EU wants to punish Britain by imposing “conditions that are unacceptable to a large majority of the people in the U.K. and to members of the British government.”“, we have seen several parts of that in the media. Is it not interesting how infantile the EU gets when you do not want to be a member? They threatened Greece to throw them out, whilst there was no legal option for the EU, and they demand the impossible from those wanting to leave. In that setting, who wants to remain a member? I would go with the speculation that the EU is for: ‘those who needs the power of exploitation‘.

It is getting worse

In this we look back at Greece. Some might remember the big boast that Greece made. I mentioned it in my blog: ‘They are still lying to us‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/06/23/they-are-still-lying-to-us/), so when we were treated on June 23rd to ‘Greece ‘turning a page’ as Eurozone agrees deal to end financial crisis‘. Here Alexis Tsipras was happy to be quoted with: “Greece is once again becoming a normal country, regaining its political and financial independence”, we saw none of the EU reservations in a claim that was off by decades. I also commented in favour of the Greek opposition shown by Kostis Hatzidakis with: “The opposing party reacted to the credit buffer with ‘Kostis Hatzidakis said it reflected the lack of faith international creditors had in Athens’ ability to successfully return to capital markets.‘ And in this Kostis is right, the international markets have zero faith in their return, they rely on a small thing called mathematics and the clarity there is that the scales are not in the favour of the Greeks.” Now we see a mere four days ago ‘How Greece Is Scrambling to Save Its Banks — Again‘, the EU has become this short sighted, this convoluted in misrepresenting the facts to the people. So as we see: “Greece is scrambling to figure out how to save its banks — again. Burdened by bad loans that make up almost half of total lending, crippled banks remain one of the biggest hurdles to Greece’s economic recovery. There are even worries that the country may face yet another financial crisis if it can’t dislodge its lenders from their downward spiral. With bank shares tumbling, the government and the Bank of Greece are working on plans to help banks speed up efforts to shed soured loans” and this comes one day after: ‘EU: Greece has Not Implemented 16 Bailout Program Prerequisites‘, which we get from the Greek Reporter. We see: “The European Commission is urging Greece to proceed with 16 prerequisites that have to be completed by the end of the year, as agreed with creditors. The first report after the end of the bailout program in August that was released on Wednesday says that Greece is delaying to implement 16 important measures and reforms. Among them are the staffing of the independent public revenue authority, the repayment of overdue debts, the legislative framework for resolving the problem of non-performing loans and the development of the new primary health care system“, the article by Philip Chrysopoulos also gives us “Despite the fact that Greece’s 2019 budget meets the target of a primary surplus of 3.5 percent of GDP” will see a speculative setback (speculated by me) by close to 2% at the very least, in what will likely be a wave of managed bad news. The EU is now that useless and pushing down all the other European players. If only the EU legal setting had allowed for removing Greece from the Euro setting and EU economy settings in 2014, a lot of the issues (like Brexit) would never have been an issue. It is in my personal view greed driven EU stupidity that allowed for this. A blind faith in Status Quo that pushed the need of large corporations and that might become the downfall of the EU as a whole.

Do you still think that the EU is better for the EU economy? First Greece and now Italy are becoming the weights drowning the EU. Merely one hour ago, the BBC reported that: “Italy’s government says it will stick to its high-spending budget plans, setting up a potential stand-off with the European Union over its deficit.“, are you actually believing in fairy tales when you think that this will not hit back on the rest of the EU? Even as the Independent reported 13 hours ago: “The pound fell 0.19 per cent to €1.1284 off the back of reports that Italy is headed for a breakthrough with its budget, which would bring to an end weeks of wrangling between the EU and the Italian government.” we now get the reality that there was no breakthrough, we merely see more of the same and the impact of Italy is not immediately reversing and upping the pound against the Euro is it? In light of the revelation, the pound should be up by no less than 0.27 percent against the Euro (the gain and the 0.19 percent loss), we will not see that will we (or we will see it as late as possible so that the 0.27 percent can be largely minimalized. When you realise that the UK is getting unfairly hammered to this extent, would you want to be part of that group? And when (not if) the UK shows the improvements making the UK economy better, what excuses will the EU, ECB, IMF and Wall Street give the people of Britain?

To be part of any exploitative regime as the EU is starting to show it in a few ways. The evidence of this statement was shown by the Clean Clothes Campaign last June when we see (at https://cleanclothes.org/news/2018/06/11/complaint-lodged-against-the-european-commission-for-failing-to-uphold-fundamental-human-rights-in-trade-policy) ‘Complaint lodged against the European Commission for failing to uphold fundamental human rights in trade policy‘. Here we see: “Bangladesh has committed serious and systematic violations of fundamental workers’ rights. Conditions are unsafe for millions of workers in Bangladesh. Additionally, the labour laws of Bangladesh create significant obstacles to the exercise of the right to freedom of association, to organise and to bargain collectively. Further, the government has not effectively enforced even these flawed laws, and workers complaints to authorities are routinely ignored. Without bargaining power or legal recourse, workers have been forced to live in extreme poverty.” and when we realise that the lack of activities, naming and shaming those who are part of it all, whilst the EU remains inactive to a much larger extent, my case of large corporations being in charge of those acting in the EU parliament is close to well made, tailor made one could state. The lack of visibility given in the EU and the oversight on what is imported into the EU from Bangladesh is frightening. The Dutch CBS reported 3 weeks ago: “The average import price per vest exceeds 3 euros in 2018. With an import price of around 2 euros, vests manufactured in Bangladesh are considerably cheaper. Prices of vests from China (approx. 2.50 euros) are also lower than average, while vests from India were average-priced (around 5 euros) and those from Turkey more expensive than average (around 5 euros).” good luck trying to convince me that this is not about money and that there is a proper investigation into the Bangladesh situation. The fact that even China cannot match these prices is partially evidence enough. The fact that manufacture owners in Bangladesh are part of the 250% plus stage that we see with: “This is the largest quantity ever recorded and approximately 2.5 times more than in 1998“, the lack of questions by those gravy train people is just a little too weird and more questions are not coming forward. That is the European Union that its members seem to like and letting the UK out is also not an option. The analysts are merely the first circle we should go after (the first of several mind you). Any report that is not clearly documented with the names of all the people involved in this should immediately be disregarded and kept on record for prosecution and smiting afterwards (when those reports are proven to be incorrect) at that point I wonder how many studies we will get that are so overwhelmingly negative. And it is not merely the analysts. The names of the people commissioning for the report and the clear definition of the question that was asked will also be set to scrutiny. I wonder how many politicians and corporate figures will suddenly run for cover and darkness like a group of cockroaches.

Feel free to disagree or even oppose my view. Yet also remember, I merely want to see the names and all data on those so called ‘commissioned studies’. Is that such a bad question? When we are given the results, should we not wonder HOW they got there? Is that not a duty we all should have?

When we look at The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, we see a clear stage of names, Arno Hantzsche, Amit Kara and Garry Young (which is a proper thing, mindyou). We also see on page 7 and 8: “The Governor of the Bank of England estimated that by May 2018, UK household income was 4 per cent lower than it would otherwise have been as a consequence of the referendum (Carney, 2018): “one third of the 4 per cent shortfall in real wages reflects stronger-than-projected inflation, which is almost entirely accounted for by the referendum-related fall in sterling. The remainder reflects weaker-than-expected nominal wages, the majority of which can be accounted for by weaker-than-anticipated productivity growth“, which should not be disregarded.

Am I opposing my own view?

No, when you see the charts in that page, we see the UK not being in a good place. Yet considering ‘UK economic growth relative to other G7‘ and ‘UK inflation relative to other G7‘, the UK situation would not look great whilst this is staged up to 2018, and now we get the good part. The G7 are Canada, France, U.S, U.K, Germany, Japan and Italy. Now consider the Italian part dragging down due to the stupidity of their budget decision (which might be seen as their right). In addition the Greek issue will drag down the EU as a whole and the USA is in a trade war that will also impact the USA, all parts seemingly not taken into account and suddenly the UK already looks a lot better in all this. Now, we cannot completely fault the report called ‘The economic effects of the government’s proposed Brexit deal‘, yet there is already a non-negative impact for the UK (it is a stretch calling it a positive effect). In addition we see properly placed “We have assumed” in the proper places and only thrice, which is also a good thing and for the most utterly unavoidable. We also see in one place: ‘Sterling effective exchange rate (January 2005=100)‘, which is possibly merely arbitrary, from my personal view the fact that 2008 and 2016 have impacted it all might also be a stage where the UK had more hardship than before and as such the three stages should have been included. My final issue is on page 15; I do not doubt the numbers or the statement perse. Yet when we consider “Ramasamy and Yeung (2010) find that openness to trade benefits in particular FDI inflows to services sectors, much more than to manufacturing. Ebell and Warren (2016) survey the empirical literature and calculate that reverting to trade under trade arrangements similar to those between the EU and Norway would reduce FDI into the UK by 8–11 per cent, and by 11–23 per cent under a Switzerland-type relationship” that openness of trade also implies the open acceptance of the unacceptable ethical stage that Bangladesh is showing to be, we need to ask the tougher questions on EU inactions to the degrees currently seen. You see, when we accept one part, we need to accept that all these sweatshop articles are out of bounds. They are merely emotional banter pressed on those trying to meet budgets, there is no humanity left, we should not allow for that. In this way my statement is harsh, yet that is what the EU has become, a harsh proposer of status quo at the expense of whatever is coming next. If you do not agree, feel free to ban all Bangladesh T-shirts, leaving others with 215 million T-shirts to sell; was that example too direct?

Even when we accept the part of ‘how the deal affects uncertainty and confidence‘, which is a topic that will remain as there will always be uncertainty, the entire report is seemingly staged towards the bad side, whilst any improves economic marker from the second year onwards are basically ignored. We can argue that year one will have no upsides, yet the stage of no upsides in year two is lose to unimaginable. Apart from the ‘EU donation‘, which has been significant, the downturn of Italy and Greece that will no longer impact the UK is clearly escalating and France is basically scared shitless of that part. France is so scared as it is in a much worse position than Germany currently is, who will also feel that impact to some extent.

No matter how this plays, it is a mess that will test the reality of a lot of people. My largest concern is not how good or how bad things get, it is the fake revelations by speculative analysts that are the impact of a lot of things and the moment when we see the managed bad news after the fact, we will also see the weakness that has become the EU, in light of an already weak USA, this merely strengthens the need for a segretative community (read: nationalistic approach to national issues). It is the one part where I see eye to eye with Marine le Pen: “the policies of the European Union as well as the lack of transparency and non-accountability” are the biggest drivers in this entire sordid affair.

I wonder how draconian the changes will become when others realise how correct my view of the matter was. I am less likely to facing the fact that I was wrong, there is too much documentation pleading for my view, especially as the Wall Street Journal reported “Greece’s Eurobank Ergasias SA said it will acquire real-estate company Grivalia Properties REIC, boosting its capital and paving the way for the creation of a “bad bank” to help deplete its pile of nonperforming loans” a mere 5 hours ago. So when exactly did the people ever benefit from a bad bank solution? We saw that in 2013 with the Dutch SNS and Reaal setting. So as Brussels treated us to: “The costs to the Dutch taxpayer were still substantial, resulting in a deterioration of the budget balance (excessive deficit procedure definition) for 2013 with 0.6% and an increase in EMU debt of 1.6%“, we see Greece doing the same 5 years later. As we look at the quote: “In fact, since the nationalization the Dutch press has regularly published pieces that show how the commercial real estate has been mismanaged for a substantial time period. Did this go unnoticed by the regulator? Why did it not intervene?” We now get to unite that part with the overwhelming inaction of the EU and the unacceptable actions of the ECB, so this will be a much larger thing that Greece is printing on the rest of the EU then the people are currently aware of and the impact will be felt much larger, the fact that the bulk of the EU states cannot keep a proper budget merely makes mathers worse (not a typo, it means ‘reaper of hay’), and now I am in a state of moments uncontrollable deriving laughter.

The lack of visibility to several parts (an issue I cannot blame the media for in this case) is just incomprehensible. In part this is due because there are so many elements interacting, yet the fact that the issues are not visible is still a matter of great concern, and also an additional reason to push for Brexit.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics, Science

Creating a dangerous joke

There is a lot going on. At first I wanted to take you into the world of fake news, it is a problem and it is a global one, but the elements in play, so many of them will confuse the hell out of anyone. It is not a simple story, it is an issue that will take many pages and there are plenty of people that cannot be bothered to read that much, I most certainly get that.

So why three issues?

They are only casually linked, but the events as they are taking places all at the same time makes me wonder if, and to what extent they will intersect.

north-korea-disk-jpg
The first one is regarding everyone’s favourite ‘democracy’, North Korea! They decided to fire a missile for 500 Km to make a show of force. So millions were spend to make a show of strength that their missile will make it for 4% of the journey. This whilst we need to realise that the bulk of the 44,000 that became homeless in the floods 5 months ago are still for the most homeless. This event is making South Korea very nervous as the missile can reach them, the USA will make a show out of it all, even as there is no evidence that the missile could ever successfully make the other 96% and hit something substantial after that. As stated, there is no evidence, that in light of the military command setting the pass with Dell desktop computers that most gamers would not even touch in sheer desperation just so that they could play a game.

 

 

 

The second issue is another part all together. There has been a flaming row between Piers Morgan and JK Rowling. In this, I need to try and get through to people who seem to have a massive hatred for the Trump presidency. The video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MrbXk5xOOM) gives us part of that. We usually do not get the full story as more than one media outlet, or opponent does not like him to complete his train of thought. He makes a few points that need to be considered. It goes far beyond mere freedom of speech, I will never be against it, yet in all this the papers need to be accountable for what they do. The situation is similar that the UK has with Brexit. So when we see the Rowling v Morgan event (at http://honey.nine.com.au/2017/02/13/07/54/jk-rowling-piers-morgan-twitter-spat), which has been going on for a few days now. The nine event shows a short part where Piers gets splattered as he was not allowed to finish his words. The quote “President Trump’s travel ban because the British TV presenter won’t call it a Muslim ban. Trump has tried to stop citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries, including Iran and Syria, from entering the US“, which is what he actually said. The part where Piers is correct is that his assessment is correct. You see the 7 nations are: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia. Some of the Muslim nations that are not on the list and not banned are: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Muslim nations are not on that list. In addition, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt. Yes, it is correct that the 7 nations are predominantly Muslim, yet until that list at least doubles, it is not a Muslim ban.

adolf-hitler-world-tour-t-shirt-web
It was ‘nice’ and original that Jim Jefferies reflected on how Adolf Hitler grew into his role whilst singing a lullaby to 6 million Jews, but the reality is not the same here. So in a comedian like atmosphere he can tell Piers to Eff You Kay off, but he is deceiving you. In that regard the quote from JK Rowling ““Yes”, she tweeted.” Watching Piers Morgan being told to f–k off on live TV is *exactly* as satisfying as I’d always imagined“, might be valid from a celebrity like her as she has seen the darker less acceptable side of journo’s on a global level, but in all , the facts were not correctly given. And the press seems to be heralding to a larger extent, for too long to give the microphone to any person willing to loudly speak out against the current US president. This situation is more important than you think, you see, President Trump is doing almost exactly what he promised to do, yet if we consider that 100% of his voters are 50% of the nation, is he doing the right thing for America? It is a serious question and the answer is less easy to give, because the losing side is trying to create flame after flame via emotional broadcasts. The left has grown its media domain to such an extent that part of the US is unlikely to ever get the full facts. The Piers Morgan video gives us that. They give the realm where we hear on how CNN is implied to have some sort of buddy system with the previous administration. That is actually more alarming than you might think, because in such a setting, have we heard any reliable news from CNN over the last 3 years? Did you consider that part of the equation?

erdoganmemeTurkey is the last part in this equation. As we see thousands of people getting fired, arrested and prosecuted in what most call a massive aversion of the course of justice, we see that the list has grown. The BBC recapped the last 7 months as an event “following the failed coup attempt, nearly 100,000 civil servants have been removed from their posts. That includes teachers, police officers, soldiers, academics and lawyers“, where it should be clear that several of these groups would not be caught alive talking to one another, we must wonder how this shift, how this automation towards a totalitarian political shift is not the disastrous move that Germany found itself in on 30th January 1933. With the death of Paul von Hindenburg on 2nd August 1934, the shift of Adolf’s rise to power was complete. In this the danger we see Turkey in due to the acts of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are a lot higher than we get from President Trump, more important, as we see a massive political ‘Erdogan’ shift, what does that spell for the rest of Turkey? Will we become witness to the rise of a dictatorship, not unlike the one from Saddam Hussein? The changes he started in the 70’s, which led to the executions (read: purges), which would kill well over 250,000 Iraqis? More important, how will Europe interact at that point, or would Europe even allow itself to any interaction with Turkey?

 

These three are interacting because the Turkish population all over Europe will react to what happens in Turkey, more important, as Turkey becomes more ‘driven’ and President Erdogan finds the European doors close on him, we will get a new intelligence issue. As the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT) will be given the similar tasks, but now if finds itself more and more collecting international security intelligence, which changes the game as the allegiance with the USA will shift. The one with the FSB does not change that much as the FSB never really shares intelligence unless they know there are two other sources able to offer the information. As the open EU borders shut down to their original state, we will suddenly see that those outside of certain discussions will now become absent of being informed. It is the natural consequence of ending an open border environment. So as we see the Cold War escalate, there is at least the smallest chance that they will try to leave the hints of gullibility with the MİT. There is no evidence, but the Russian Intelligence side of things (before they started to call themselves FSB) has plenty of examples and lets not forget that they are still sore regarding a certain fighter plane that was shot down for transgressing Turkish borders for no more than 14 seconds.

This now gets another turn of complications as the two parts that we see escalating in the Washington Post with “White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is under increasing political pressure and risks losing the confidence of some colleagues following reports that he misled senior administration officials about his discussion of sanctions with a Russian envoy shortly before President Trump took office“, as well as “Former acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates warned the White House that national security adviser General Michael Flynn may be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, the Washington Post reported on Monday“, so as we ponder this, just a mere 1800 seconds ago we get “Flynn has acknowledged he might have discussed sanctions with the Russians but could not remember with 100 percent certainty, which officials said had upset Pence, who felt he had been misled“. ‘Is this the geriatric division of the Intelligence community?‘ I might drop a nickel every now and then, but I am not the national security adviser and neither is I having to be a General! Two very visible places where an event where things like ‘sanctions‘ and ‘could not remember with 100 percent certainty‘ what factors were having an impact on the sanctions. That part should have been clearly documented as filed so that the alphabet group knows what’s coming (those in charge that is). You see, as we all face the news of escalations (especially Turkey and Russia), the Russian issues with America (and vice versa) implies that we are on the forefront of an optional new cold war.

This is not just me, several sources are raising the threat of the new cold war (or Cyber cold war) as some call it. In this we will face several fronts, because there is currently an issue with the top positions and I feel that I can claim with a decent certainty that Breitbart News will be massively out of its depth when it misplaces, misrepresents or misquotes any element in such an affair. In addition, the General Flynn issue gives rise to the issue that this optional war is one that America will not be ‘in like Flynn‘, which gives away some of its lack of preparedness at that point.

So as North Korea might soon be making a few more boasts whilst we get incriminations addressed towards America and South Korea by China, we will see more speeches, considerations and not so carefully worded denials. In the end, we are skating towards a diminishing field of options. Well, actually, the question becomes what will happen, as we now see the resignation letter of the National Security Advisor (which might have been the only move left), the USA is now forced to get another person confirmed for the role. In a time when getting proper advice is pretty stellar important, selecting the right advisor would have been pretty important. All this in the first 100 days is not the best way for the new president to make any headway. Attached to this is the press, who have been on a massive Trump bash. The left who has been enjoying a lefty point of politics and getting enabled at every corner is now facing a vindictive administration, which is counterproductive on both sides, because any escalation down the Cold War front means that proper informing the people on what is actually happening is going to be much more important. In that regard, perhaps it is starting to be more and more important to label the tabloids with a brand that it is not truly presenting the news, I would prefer that they also lose the 0% VAT option, the idea that intentional misinforming the people comes with a tax break! Does that not bother you?

You see, these elements as stated are linked, not directly on the events, but how we react to them, this can have an increasing negative consequence, especially as we use social media to gain favour and laughs. Yet the other side tends to be less recipient. Some will take the moral offended side of the matter. So as we heard Jim Jefferies Hitler reference, some reacted, some did not and most reactions were against Piers Morgan. Now, I am no fan of him. I think that he plays a dangerous game, trying to side with the emotional side of people, as do Journo’s like Lisa Wilkinson, yet in some lights she tends to be a lot more level headed here. In contrast, when we see the Morgan quote: “To all the ignorant, bigoted transgender community members continuing to abuse me re @janetmock – I’m bored of you now, go away. Thanks.

Piers need to equally realise that if he does not consider thinking things through before making his case knowing very well that there will be open outrage, he needs to realise sooner rather than later that he is not part of any solution, he remains part of the problem.

This story will get a sequel as certain events are currently still evolving.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Media, Military, Politics

The cost of free trade

There is a side in me that is a little beyond angry. When I see these politicians whine like little bitches on how good ‘Free Trade‘ is, on how it is so good for all. I wonder if they remember the days when slavery was an actual solution for commerce. How these people look and praise Chiwetel Ejiofor (aka Baron Mordo) for playing a slave in ‘12 years a slave’. When we see “Mexico, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore aim to continue with TPP with or without the United States, Mexico’s economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, said on Friday” (Source: SBS), we need to wonder on how the TPP is seen as anything but evil, a mere apparatus of convenience for large corporations to keep a stranglehold on those around them and to minimise the number of opportunities for smaller businesses.

The Evidence?

The Economic Policy Institute gives us: “This paper does not include an exhaustive review but cites as an example Capaldo, Izurieta, and Sundaram (2016), who noted that studies claiming that the TPP would have a positive impact on the U.S. and global economy are based on unrealistic assumptions, including no change in the U.S. trade balance with the TPP countries and full employment“, which is only the top of the iceberg. You see, in addition we have “Currency manipulation is the most important cause of the large and growing U.S. goods trade deficit with the group of countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Coupled with the fact that the United States is the largest and most reliable trading partner for many of the TPP countries, this is a recipe for U.S. pain at others’ gain“. This is not the USA, it would also hit Australia in other ways, not the people who secretly arranged all that they get top dollar in a few other ways. Yet, before we move on, let’s take one more part, because that will have connecting issues. The quote “Many members of the proposed TPP, including Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan, are known currency manipulators. Others, namely Vietnam, appear to be following the lead of currency manipulators by, for example, acquiring excess foreign exchange reserves to depress the value of their currency. Currency manipulation explains a substantial share of the large, persistent U.S. trade deficit with the 11 other TPP countries that has not only cost millions of U.S. jobs but also increased income inequality and put downward pressure on American wages“, and although this paper focuses on US consequences, it will in addition have a speculative negative impact on Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The Dutch Financial Times (at https://fd.nl/economie-politiek/1176922/tpp-opzegging-holt-voorbeeldfunctievs-uit) gives us: “Donald Trump heeft de wereld deze week een belangrijke boodschap gegeven. Door te stellen dat hij de Verenigde Staten op de eerste dag van zijn presidentschap terug zal trekken uit het Pacifische vrijhandelsverdrag TPP, geeft hij het signaal af dat hij de relaties met andere landen puur vanuit de blik van een zakenman zal zien. Hij wil bilateraal met landen gaan onderhandelen ‘over eerlijke handelsafspraken die ertoe leiden dat banen en industrieën terugkeren naar Amerika’. Internationale relaties moeten voordelig zijn; anders hoeft het niet“, which paraphrased gives us: “Donald Trump will be withdrawing from the TPP on day one of his presidency. He will be looking at relationships with other countries from a business point of view, international relations need to be advantageous, or need not be“. Is that a bad thing? You see for exploiters it is, which gives us the Malayan Times (at http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/tpp-aint-over-till-its-over-firdaos-rosli). Last week they had the headline ‘TPP ain’t over till it’s over‘, the article is a decent legal view of getting the TPP ratified, which only gives additional cause for concern in a few ways, yet that is not the issue for now. The one quote at the end that matters is “The government must proceed with its top-down reforms agenda and these are direly required to make Malaysia great again” This is fair enough on one side, Malayans are there to make Malaysia strong, there is no cause more just, yet in what ways are they doing this?

This is where the other side gets to show us the dangers. You see the headline ‘Malaysia workers speak of their despair: ‘Samsung only knows how to take’‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/nov/21/malaysia-workers-speak-of-their-despair-samsung-only-knows-how-to-take), shows that large corporations are at the heart of the problem. Tax shelters, exploitation and what cannot be seen as anything else than intentional slavery are at the heart of the matter. The Samsung Port Klang factory as mentioned shows how Samsung is growing its business by massively reducing costs whilst maximising customer exploitation at almost the same time.

When we see “In total, Bhandari says he paid £750 to secure his job in Malaysia – more than the average annual salary in his home district” as well as “There are an estimated 2.1 million documented migrant workers like Bhandari in Malaysia, many of them hired through third-party labour supply companies who recruit foreign workers from Nepal, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh to drive Malaysia’s industrial boom“. Implying that Samsung has no HR to speak of, it is arranged through third party affairs that are buttering their bread on both sides of the isle with a labour population in slavery. So when we rethink the Malayan Times with ‘TPP ain’t over till it’s over‘, we get that they (those making the profits) need the TPP, because slaves tend to be free (read: really cheap) and too many people seem to be filling their pockets in a few ways. So when you see “Now he’s in Malaysia, Bhandari’s recruitment debt – and the 60% interest loan he took to pay it – has a stranglehold on the teenager“, you know that this is how slavery is created and how it is maintained. Not through shackles that bind you, but debts that stop you from moving and breathing. I reckon that the old southern ‘solution’ was a lot more humane. At least you knew that there was slavery, now the boat load of governments remain in denial and the large corporations can claim to remain negligently unaware. Which of the two is the larger hypocrite remains to be seen. The fact that Australia signed this, whilst they had to be aware that this was happening to some degree is an issue on many fronts, not just the slavery part, but the fact that the TPP has the largest option of being a negative influence. You see, those who had walked away wanted to do so via the TPP, there is absolutely no guarantee that whilst in the TPP jobs are not lost to areas where labour laws are a lot more flexible.

Consider the quote “Many of the group now want to leave, if only they could. They say their passports were all confiscated on arrival in the country, an illegal but pervasive practice, and they have been told they will have to pay £740 if they want to go – the equivalent of four months’ basic salary“, which translates to a little over 4 weeks of Australian welfare. Which in light of “A Samsung statement said: “As a committed member of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), we comply fully with the EICC’s Code of Conduct and have found no evidence of violations in the hiring process of migrant workers hired directly by our manufacturing facility in Malaysia. Once there is any complaint, we take swift actions to investigate” as well as “When asked whether Samsung had repaid any worker debts at the factory, one man employed directly by Samsung instead of through a labour supply company says he hasn’t received any compensation. “Samsung doesn’t know how to give,” he says. “It only knows how to take.”” which to some degree shows that not only is Samsung not doing too much about it, it is also intent towards reaping the benefit of these trade deals for as long as they can. More important, even though Samsung is the visible one, the fact that from several sources we see “Malaysia’s trade volume is booming“, implies that there are other brands exploiting this way of cutting costs. So from that part, the evidence that Slave labour is again a ‘valid’ form of cost cutting towards commerce is given.

Should any government object that I reckon it is time that clear labour requirements are added to the TPP, I wonder how many would suddenly oppose such actions, because as I see it it is clear that Japan and USA, the two direct requirements for the TPP would not oppose it, unless Sony decides that their margins would dwindle, but that is just pure speculation from my side.

What to do?

Well, I do not think it is too far-fetched that those linked to these unacceptable labour practices are required to have a specific import license for their good, which is at a price, FTA or not! I wonder what will happen when Samsung gets a 23% surcharge on slave labour goods import. Will that suddenly make them see the light? I do not mind if they decide to make them in Malaysia, but I reckon we all agree that these workers are due decent pay and no slave labour conditions. At that point, when the margins are hit, how good was the TPP and how beneficial were factories in Asia? I do not proclaim to have the answer, I am merely asking the question. When slavery is dealt with, we will suddenly see that there is no benefit in some of these places and that other places like Argentina, Texas, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and Belgium are decent places where goods can be produced whilst the company still has a margin. And perhaps there is no need for a $229 Samsung Microwave when a $129 Sharp version would suffice. So, a $100 more expensive whilst ‘depending’ on slave labour (to at least some degree), seems odd doesn’t it?

Consider: “it promised only £268 a month, including overtime“, whilst “a payslip seen by the Guardian shows Bhandari worked 29 out of 30 days in September, including 65 hours of overtime“, so we get 65 hours a slave every month and an income of £9.20 a day, which amounts to 25% of what you get in Australian Centrelink and the cost of living in Sydney is actually high. So the next time you see those Samsung advertisements, consider that they can afford these billboards thanks to slave labour. Look at your Samsung phone and admire how you got that great deal, if you are lucky only one person literally worked himself/herself to death to make you one. Feel better now?

It is also important to realise that Samsung is not alone here, one firm does not make for “Malaysia’s trade volume is booming“, it takes a lot more than one firm and if only Samsung was involved, those people would apply for every other place on day two of their arrival. This makes the issue a lot larger and this also makes the unbalanced use of what we now laughingly call ‘Free Trade Agreements‘. So when we get another load of Bill Shorten and how the TPP isn’t costing jobs, we see a clear case that the man needed to be tarred, feathered and walked through George Street whilst a person behind him clanks the bell shouting ‘Shame!‘ It might be a little too much Game of Thrones, yet in that place they are only now abolishing slavery on the East side of that place (read: Essos), in addition, Malcom Turnbull is not free of any moral harm either. The fact that the TPP was supposed to implement stronger protections and the fact that Malaysia is still very much on the TPP ball, whilst as the Guardian shows, that what amounts to Slave labour is still going strong to me implies that those involved have either loop holes in place or that there are alternative options for those enjoying the fruits of their exploitation.

You see, the TPP Labour summary gives us: “In addition to commitments by Parties to eliminate forced labor in their own countries, the Labor chapter includes commitments to discourage importation of goods that are produced by forced labor or that contain inputs produced by forced labor, regardless of whether the source country is a TPP country“, this implies that those involved at Samsung have either a Chinese wall in place or a system of deniability. The fact that The Guardian received evidence (payslips) and had testimonials of multiple workers should suffice as evidence.

The fact that Huawei has the option to expose issues with Samsung, whilst not seeming to act, gives also pause for concern. China is not part of the TPP, it is trying to seal its own trade agreement. Even though we have no evidence on how China works in certain matters, the existence of China’s State Owned Enterprise’s (SOE) is another circle of issues and it will be so for both Australia and New Zealand, yet to what extent cannot be stated by me (read: ignorant of such levels of government rules). In that regard Huawei might have an unfair advantage (read: when compared to Samsung) and of course, Huawei could impact the booming Mobile business Australia has (read: Exchange rate of sarcasm towards giggles). As many see that China has been non-enthusiastic when it comes to dealing with corruption, the shown evidence gives us that several other nations aren’t that much better and corporate greed tends to trump government requirements. So there!

No matter how we slice it, the trade agreements only truly benefit large corporations and no one else, which is an issue on a few fronts and in that President Elect Donald Trump might be the clearest American patriot when he states “international relations need to be advantageous, or need not be“, for the simple truth is that for the most and agreement signed that was not advantageous was an agreement best not signed at all.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

Fail it until you nail it

Another day another moment I roll my eyes. You see the Guardian came with an interesting article, interesting and kind of useless (OK, useless is a bit of a stretch). Let’s explain that part. The title is interesting enough. When we see ‘World’s biggest tech companies get failing grade on data-privacy rights‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/03/data-protection-failure-google-facebook-ranking-digital-rights), many of us, me included get to be a little curious.

The first part is shown here: “Given a percentage grade on privacy, freedom of expression and their commitment to those value based on an exhaustive analysis of their user agreements, no single company scored an aggregate grade above 65%“, the quote by Rebecca MacKinnon might sound nice, but she should know better in more than one way.

In the first, some of these companies are so global that many rights tend to be an upper level aggregation of the nation with the least rights. If America wasn’t so Prudishly Hypocritical a lot less would be ‘censored’. In addition, a global internet sounds nice, but it is crossing borders with national legislation, the internet does not get to have rights above national legislation, even in nations that are as liberal as it gets, issues will rise and the largest tech companies are trying to surf those waves as Rebecca MacKinnon very well knows. I am even more worried when a company like Vodafone (aka Vodafail in Australia) scores better than Twitter.

As for the grades, the beginning of the methodology (at https://rankingdigitalrights.org/project-documents/2015-indicators/#TOTAL) rears its ugly head in an interesting way when we look at question C3.

Here we see:

C3. Internal implementation

Does the company have mechanisms in place to implement its commitment to freedom of expression and privacy?

Checklist elements (select all that apply):

The company provides employee training on freedom of expression and privacy issues.

The company maintains an employee whistle-blower program.

 

The items here are the fun part:

The company provides employee training on freedom of expression and privacy issues.

Let’s take a look at some of these ‘great’ techies. Orange, Vodafone and Axiata. All telecom companies. In order of mention: ???,92000,20000. So let’s say 125,000 staff members, so should employee training on freedom of expression be available to all? In Addition, Orange merged in several nations. These mergers include France Télécom and T-Mobile UK, whilst in addition Orange is being phased out by its parent company EE Ltd. (aka Everything Everywhere). And for the whistle-blower part. How often was this a ‘hidden’ option to commit gross and unacceptable industrial espionage? As a Journalist it might sound like a sexy article, but did she for one moment realise that tech corporations need to hold onto their IP on several levels? Her book might be regarded as ‘amazing’ (Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom), yet when I read:  “Though the technology used for coordinating and organizing may be politically neutral, the context in which it is deployed is rarely so. Governments everywhere—whether they do business in the home government of companies or in the host government of markets—are demanding that Internet and telecommunications companies take sides, or at least stand back and avert their eyes while the government does what it needs to do, leaving the user or customer none the wiser.”, I worry!

Americans seldom comprehend that the right to be an utter idiot is not a god given right. In some places you get to be held accountable. I will go one step further, most of these self-proclaimed freedom fighters have excelled, through their train of thought, in protecting criminals and organised crime, which is some feather to put in your resume!

In addition, as people are crying for a free internet they also hold others accountable for their own stupidity.

Let’s show this with an example. If we change all global policies so that as per January 1st any hacked account who did not have a proper password will not be refunded, so the issue “Most banks will refund you your lost money after you sign some forms saying that you had nothing to do with the theft” will now include that not having proper quality passwords in place will be regarded as ‘assisted theft’. So you get no refund! I reckon it will take less than 1 day for the entire internet to go crazy regarding the injustice of that ruling. This is the issue, Rebecca MacKinnon doesn’t want a free internet; she wants an unaccountable internet. In her ‘netizenship’ she wants a free internet to hold governments to account, but in her virtual nation she has done nothing to hold those netizens accountable for Cyber bullying, harassment and assault on one’s devices. In that world there is no ‘Netfray’ (a made up crime definition), which might be freely seen as per adjusted version of the Crimes Act 1900 section 93C(2) “Netfray, a person who uses or threatens unlawful cyber violence towards another and whose conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable user skills present at the scene to fear for his or her personal data and internet safety is guilty of netfray and liable to imprisonment for 10 years“.

That part we will not see!

This is what makes that report an issue. Tech companies need to protect themselves non-stop. So, even as we agree that the cyber joke (aka Ashley Madison) is one side, the other side is Sony, which has a massively higher level of protection. In the latter case it is still speculations from many sides (including one from me), but a real timeline, and an account of events that could be decently precise was never revealed. Now I would expect that both sides of the fence prefers to keep it a secret, but in my view that hack was never clearly solved.

In that environment Rebecca MacKinnon wants an open internet, who is she kidding?

Back to that report, because the mentioned items are connected to what comes next!

F11. Identity policy (Internet companies)

Does the company require users to verify their identity with government-issued identification, or with other forms of identification connected to their offline identity?

More important, the part that follows: “This indicator is only applicable to Internet companies. We expect companies to disclose whether they might ask users to verify their identities using government-issued ID or other forms of identification that could be connected to their offline identity. Evaluation: This indicator has two possible answers. A company will receive full credit if its answer is “No,” and a company will receive no credit if its answer is “Yes.”

So as hackers use dummy accounts, trolls use fake id’s and Identity thieves use your id to have ‘fun’ and profit from what is not theirs, finding ways to stop them loses you a credit. There are places where a person’s ID is not the issue, but in this day and age those places are quickly diminishing. If you doubt this (always an option) then perhaps you remember Caroline Criado-Perez, who did something truly British by petitioning for Jane Austen to be face of the Bank of England £10 note.

By the way, the amount of death threats she got, how many of those people got arrested, how many of those got convicted? Yes, an open internet would stop all that! (That’s my sarcasm for voicing ‘no it will not’).

Another issue with her quotes is seen here: “Part of the problem is that this is a new world with the internet, and we are so dependent on these companies that we really need them to get it right. And they have a lot of work to do.”, so how about hammering on proper legislation and better issues on prosecuting some of those offenders? When the internet gets cleaned up, a lot more leeway could be given to something like the internet. In this a nice example is given by herself as she answered a question on movie piracy (September 2012), “the fact they are kids and they’re doing stuff and they don’t even realize it is illegal, or it is not that big deal“, it is only part of the answer, but she makes a decent case, yet the issue here is that it is a BIG deal, these ‘kids’ are causing harm to the rightful revenue of the maker of that movie, so you want an open internet, but the transgressions there are far too often trivialised and for the most they end up not getting prosecuted, you want accountability on one side, but not on your side, that is too uneven a scale and for the most many nations have not caught up with the quality IP laws they need to protect their innovators.

Now, it is not all bad, reading the linked ‘2015 Indicators’ of the Ranking Digital Rights is actually a lot more interesting than the article. A few of the questions were an amazing topic for discussion by themselves and the people behind them had done an interesting job, yet overall how can you compare Malayan company Axiata against Vodafone, or Orange for that matter? Axiata which was only recently rebranded (2009), whilst Vodafone has had a global one-sided (and to some extent one-sided failure) in the industry. A brand that has its fingers in the national pies of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Places where you either adhere to the law or you get shut down. So how can they receive a fair weighted grade? If not than the article and the exercise are almost moot. Almost because there is one part of the article I wholeheartedly agree with: “MacKinnon said remained optimistic the industry would improve its privacy efforts over time. “This is the test you take at the beginning of the class where everybody fails, and then you get to work, and then everybody’s going to improve,” she said

It is not a mere ‘Amen to that’ ending, there are several serious issues that come to light, especially when you consider players like Apple and Microsoft. In case of Apple (with whom I still have some beef), is the fact that from 1995 onwards I have had a few of their devices, the Performa 630, the MacBook Pro and the G5, all between 2100 and 3000, all affordable and all on the ‘above average’ end of the range when they were released. The iPad 1 (I still have it) at a price that is still good, because that that same price you now get the latest version with 128GB; in an open non-accountable internet that is no longer an option, the billions poured into a design will find itself cheaply reengineered making new innovations no longer an option. Microsoft has a similar part, the Xbox One now at almost 50% of what the initial Xbox360 costs and close to equal in price with the very first Xbox. Even though this sounds good, these firms have had their shares of ‘errors’ to deal with, but overall those consumers (for the most) have never received a sour deal, this is only possible with quality protection in place, protection that MacKinnon is not considering to the extent she should, in her view of ‘netizens and the open internet’ she should get an equal fail grade, both sides need to work on whatever future comes our way, McKinnon know this too!

You do not get to graduate Harvard and run CNN in Beijing and Tokyo without a clear realisation that national borders are a lot more than a mere line on a map, which is what she almost implies, almost!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

This planet has been drained!

That was the voice in my head, as I was reading the article ‘Lab-grown leather is coming, but is the industry ready for it?‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jul/10/lab-grown-leather-modern-meadow-ceh-suzanne-lee). The voice in my head is from a forgotten gem called ‘Conquest: Frontier Wars‘ by UBI soft. It is an amazing game (but that is not what this is about), in the game, when you have mined all the resources and the planetary resources have gone to 0, you can hear the Caleron AI state ‘This planet has been drained’. So what does that have to do with growing leather?

Consider the, what I would personally regard as an incorrect quote: “the supply of leather is dwindling as fewer people eat meat, with the US cattle population dropping by 32% in the last few decades“. I feel fairly certain that the amount of people of a carnivorous nature has not dwindled down, the mere fact is that fewer and fewer people can afford a decent steak (or lamb chop for that matter). That does not dwindle stocks, there is more in play than just the mere numbers of cattle (but that is a discussion for another time).

You see, the quote that matters is “As the supply of cow hides declines, could a lab-grown alternative fill the supply gap?“, it is shown under a photo of two men going through mountains of leather. The article is an interesting read and my contemplations started in earnest when I read “The Company is experimenting with cultured animal cells and tissues to create an alternative biomaterial to traditional leather. This lab-grown leather could offer a more sustainable alternative and even a possible long-term bridge for the gap in supply and demand“. Now on the premise it seems interesting, a grown form of leather, which means that cattle need not be slaughtered for the mere need of their hides. A new substance that could imbue fashion, accessories and other leather items for whatever reason.

Yet, in there I also see a clear danger that the article does not dwell upon. Perhaps it is as I am not talking on the numbers of cattle, Stephanie Hepburn might focus on the emerging market and just look at that part, which is fair enough. Yet the dangers of this new market would potentially be staggering and as such, how relaxed should we get?

Now, I am not really considering “materials made from leather waste – as leather. That could make it a harder sell for alternative materials claiming to be leather” from UK Leather Federation director Kerry Senior. He makes a fair point as spokesperson of the leather federation. I would stand on his side as I have had my fill with junk shoes from Australia, claiming it to be a leather shoe, only to learn that they usually survive no more than 4 months. So, that part I get. That still does not invalidate the path that some are walking on, the dangers that they would possibly introduce are many times more truly dangerous. Bad shoes are not dangerous, they are a mere irritation.

No, the first danger is seen in this quote “Ben Wurgaft, a historian based at MIT who is writing a book about laboratory-grown meat, applauds Modern Meadow’s ambitions but says that, given the speed at which fashion changes, the company’s success depends on whether it can scale up quickly“. It is not the applauding that matters, it is ‘whether it can scale up quickly‘ which could end up being the killer. Now let’s be clear, there is no immediate danger. That part we get from “Lee admits that the company still has a long way to go in terms of research and development, producing the leather, and being able to provide product samples“, which means it is still in research and there is no given timeline when the danger comes to town.

The final paragraph gives us a clear indication that the dangers are of a future nature, which is stated through “Even if the technology has advanced since he last saw samples and even if it could be usable as an alternative to leather, Senior doesn’t think it will be made in sufficient quantity or at a cost to be a viable option for most brands. It is interesting work, and the technology that is being developed could very well be the future for many products, Senior says. He adds, though: “I suspect it will be a distant future.”

So we know that even though there is a danger, there is no immediate one. Yet, what danger is there? For that part of the equation we need to look at the academic paper (at http://pub.epsilon.slu.se/1170/1/Avhandling_nr_070.2006_Tryckfil.pdf). It is titled ‘Recycled Biowaste as a Source of Infection‘, which is a 2006 PhD paper by Leena Sahlström. If the title was not unsettling, then consider the abstract which gives us “Biowaste and sewage sludge can be used as a fertiliser and soil amendment in agriculture. However if not treated efficiently before use, such products can contain microbial pathogens that pose a health risk for humans and animals“.

Here we get the first light onto the dangers we are about to expose ourselves to. You see, growing leather is one thing, which remains a lesser noble cause. Yet, the danger can be perceived in ‘whether it can scale up quickly‘, the moment this milestone is reached and True Grown Leather becomes a part of our lives, we will see an exploding need for this product, especially as we are looking at a market that might be no sooner than a decade away. What will you think will happen when the option is there? The industry will be all about upscaling product for maximised revenue and quicker return on investment, which is also a fact, because the ROI will take centre stage for producers. This also means that tweaking the process of production will be a very first issue, which will give us additional worries.

Now we add the second part from the abstract “vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) were frequently isolated from sewage sludge. PFGE and PhenePlate analyses showed that both VRE and Salmonella spp. were capable of persisting for some months and up to two years, respectively, in the sewage sludge. Thus sewage sludge may act as a reservoir of Salmonella spp., VRE and other pathogens“, which now implies that Biowaste could become at the core a sustaining factor for Salmonella and other pathogens is the danger that remains pushed into the shadows.

Because we have seen decades of evidence where mass production will take precedence over health and safety. For that you need look no further than the nearest Bangladeshi sweatshop, and that is just for T-Shirts, what do you think will happen when bio waste enters those premises? I know we need to shed 80% of the planets population, but can we all agree that a more humane solution needs to be found?

Still, the dangers are coming and to some extent they are already here, the additional growth from new emerging ‘solutions’ to what I perceive to be an ego based need is seen in “Antimicrobial resistant bacteria are clonally spread but a further dimension to the growing problem is horizontal gene transfer, where resistance genes may be transferred between bacteria of the same species or to other bacterial species or genera (Klare et al., 2003)“, so are we move away from the Samsonite Aluminium or the canvas duffel bag, as we look so much more ‘travelled’ with a leather duffel bag and backpack, we are pushing for a solution that gives us more and more antimicrobial resistant bacteria, yes, and we really truly need additional antimicrobial resistant bacteria in our life (add sarcastic undertone for dramatic effect).

It is that danger we see growing, not growing in the future, already growing now, which means that other bioware mass produced products will just push the events of danger forward, faster and towards more deadly niche events.  So, if  you read a new article next week regarding safely cleaning biowaste, remember that the academic paper I refer to is already 9 years old and so far, the countering of these dangers have been substandard. How active do you think Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and China are in countering biowaste? That is the additional question, because Biowaste has the ability to survive for a very long time, whilst the infusion of more biowaste is going on, on a daily basis. So how does this translate to dangers?

You might consider that there is no danger where you are, if that is your mindset, then consider the following part from the paper of Leena Sahlström on page 19 “The use of avoparcin, an analogue to vancomycin, which was previously used as a growth promoter in animal husbandry and is the believed cause of the common occurrence of vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) in European livestock, was prohibited in Sweden in the early 1980s. Despite this, there is still a rather high frequency of VRE in Swedish sewage (Iversen et al., 2002). Because of the way WWTPs work, using bacterial adhesion to particles in their treatment process (Godfree & Farrell, 2005), it is expected that VRE are found in sewage sludge as well“, so even after a ban close to 20 years before the event, it turned out that a rather high amount of VRE was detected in Swedish sewage, simply because of the way Waste Water Treatment Plants work. The danger found another way and as such it becomes mobile and procreative. You see I am a man of reasonable goofiness’, so when I consider the option that there is creation like procreation, if successful, only me and possibly one other get to be the party that requires a working solution. However, in the case of biowaste, the creators will place a burden on hundreds and perhaps even thousands of potential victims and in a greying population, a vast growing population of Antimicrobial resistant bacteria whilst no medicinal or antibiotics will be available, we would be digging our future straight into graves and urns.

Now, the last parts are all subjective and all based on a market that is not there yet, but more importantly, we are in an age where the law has been subjugated to the need of industry and profit for such a long time, there is a need for a true overhaul of the law an regulations in dealing with biowaste. The one element ignored in all this is that biowaste should be shunned as directly and strongly as biological warfare. Because it will get out of control and the consequences might not be stopped, because that side did not get the proper funding.

So even as we consider the very first line in the abstract by Leena Sahlström “Biowaste and sewage sludge can be used as a fertiliser and soil amendment in agriculture“, what happens when the VRE has infected the crops it is growing faster? What can we at that point rely on? All fair questions and at present there is no true long term answer or solution, so adjusting the law becomes paramount, so that places remain to have a future.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Politics, Science