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Poly….what? Politics!

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

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

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

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Sanity Check

We all need a sanity check at time. There has been a need to regard what we are offered and why certain people seem to try to start to regard fear and misinformation to set people towards the need of greed of some. This is the feeling I get when I look at ‘Brexit: ‘Real risk’ UK could run out of some foods after EU exit, government warned‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-food-supplies-shortage-warning-policy-failure-supermarkets-imports-eu-a7844751.html), it starts with the subtitle that gives us “Theresa May accused of ‘serious policy failing on an unprecedented scale’ by academics“. So what matter have they been raiding? Consider the EU nations and how things changed in the late 90’s. Now consider the foods and lives we had in for example the 60’s. We had no shortage of food, we could buy foods and outside of the UK, it was equally easy to buy a bottle of Worcester Lee & Perrins sauce. Some articles were not available (like Tripe), mainly because of the import laws already in place (and we all so loved to eat that in the first place). It was easy to get the Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas plum pudding. The entire exercise to spread fear and misinformation is actually getting to me. I am so sick on the implied creation of intentional chaos. So when you read: “A report from food policy specialists has warned the forthcoming break from Europe will lead to “chaos” unless ministers establish a clear plan on how a new food system will operate“. This reads like it will be the point that some food policy specialists will soon be without a job. Consider the need for sales and exports. Do you think that countries like the Netherlands, Belgium or even France have no export policies in play? These policies have existed for decades. So after Brexit there will be French cheeses and wines, there will be Belgium chocolates and Shrimps and there will be fresh vegetables from the Netherlands. The EU has had close to no influence; it merely seemed to digress towards red tape for the hidden unmentioned need of profitability for large corporations. There will of course be questions in some situations, yet do you think that the exporting corporations will not be ready for that? So when you read ‘without provisions in place‘, we see levels of fear mongering from people who are pushed by other people who are shy of the limelight, because we really have no need for those players fattening the invoices wherever they can, the EU gravy train is coming to a partial end and some politicians are getting nervous. All that easy income falling away, all those unwanted costs added to the prices of what people require to import. Yet the dangers of the single market are often ignored. In a single market may struggle to survive against their more efficient peers, yet how do we see places like ‘Walmart’ as an efficient peer? In that light we see that those with the approach of what should be regarded as ‘exploitative’ and being way too large, having the option to pressure their costs and buying at near 0% margin for the manufacturer has no benefit to competition, it merely makes the owners of Walmart rich fast, whilst there is no place for any number two players. That is the opposite side in all this, a side that the EU has been intentionally silent on for way too long.

The article refers to a paper which can be found (at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/newsandevents/2017/publications/food-brexit), the added PDF in there gives us “Set new clear targets for UK food security (food supply, quality, health and consumption) which go beyond mere quantity of supply by addressing ecosystems and social systems resilience“, this sounds important, yet in all this my question towards Tim Lang, Erik Millstone & Terry Marsden becomes ‘When was the last time you ate an equine burger?‘, the UK was part of this so called EU food security, and as such the professors from the Universities of Cardiff, London and Sussex might have forgotten about that 2013 events, where Tesco had 27 beef burger products laced with horses and pigs.

Also consider the quote ““In the EU, UK consumers and public health have benefited from EU-wide safety standards, without which there will be a risk of the UK having less safe and nutritious products“, we could argue that with 100,000 angioplasty events per year, that issue is a non-issue at present already, ye as it is hard to get any clear EU statistics (read: could not get any reliable figures) there is no quality view to get at present. In all this, when I see certain events mentioned, it is almost like there is a hidden P&G (read: Proctor & Gamble) logo behind all this. That is a purely personal and speculative view! In addition, as I write in opposition of certain points, this is an academic paper, it gives us clear sources and we can disagree with the view of these three professors, there is the issue that their view remains a valid view.

This gets us to two parts that mention the issues that we are going towards, in my view it is a view that should have been adjusted for at least 5 years ago, Brexit might be an element, but it is not the cause and after Brexit these systems have never been adjusted, there is merely the identification that the government in general should have started to make adjustments a long time ago. The quotes “The current food policy community is fragmented and divided. There is an urgent need for a more collaborative policy platform to be created involving all the main players. If the government fails to do this, others will need to take the initiative“, as well as “Meanwhile the NHS is becoming increasingly bankrupted, not least because of the growth of an aging population suffering a dietary-health epidemic; the critical significance of the food system needs highlighting in these debates“, it is interesting that I recognised this several day ago as a hindering issue for the NHS.

 

There is one part that the paper definitely gets right (read: it actually gets a lot more right). It is seen on page 14 with “These aspirations and policy principles should be incorporated in the new food legislation, which Food Brexit will entail. An estimated 4,000+ pieces of regulation and law are EU based“, this is one side that truly matters. The question becomes: ‘Is it merely ‘new legislation‘ or comparing the EU legislation against that legislation that was in play?’ and as such decide on the path of adjusting the original legislation, or create new legislation. This is something that should have been discussed in the House of Lords at the very least. It seems that not only it has not happened; there is no indication at present that this will happen any day soon at present, which is odd to say the least, it is not like the entire Brexit issue dropped out of the sky last night.

Still, even as the paper is valid and valuable, it is my view that the Independent is too much about fear mongering. When we see “Even a “soft” departure from Europe, in which the UK will remain in the single market or customs union, could badly affect the food and farming industries, they add“, so even if the UK remains in a single market, there are still dangers? If that is so, what the bloody use is a single market?

Another issue (as I personally see it) is seen in “The report, which is based on more than 200 sources, continues: “Prices, which are already rising and likely to rise more, will become more volatile, especially harming poor consumers.”“, in the first, prices have always been rising and that is not likely to ever change. The cost of living has been under attack in the UK for the better part of a decade. If you are not a well off banker, or some hedge funds investor, it is extremely likely that your quality of life has been stagnant. It does not matter whether you are a cashier, a barrister or a doctor; your quality of life has been declining for the longest time. It is merely the amount of quality of life lost that differs between the three groups. In the second, volatility has been equally an issue for the longest time. If that was not the case, the mere need for equine burger was never an issue. The EU at large has been under ‘profit scrutiny‘, which just emphasises the need for better food security all over Europe, a factor the EU failed since decently before 2013. In all this another article requires the limelight. With “It cites recent research by the British Retail Consortium that the absence of a trade deal could push the price of imported food up by 22%“, the question becomes, what (and where) are these numbers based on? The article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/christmas-dinner-price-rises-by-14-per-cent-a7453591.html), is as speculative as the evidence that the photographed Turkey tasted nice. We just do not know. With “In October, the British Retail Consortium warned shoppers could face higher prices if the Government failed to strike the right Brexit deal with the EU” as well as “the UK could be forced to use World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which could cause the price of meat to rise by as much as 27 per cent“. In these two quotes the operative word is ‘COULD‘, none can give any evidence on the amount it raises (or if it rises at all); it is from my point of view with the emphasis of ‘merely fear mongering’. In the end, none of them acknowledge that the UK is a willing market with 68 million consumers. Show me one salesperson who would willingly walk away from such a large group of consumers and I will introduce you to a liar. All the fear mongering we see, and in the end we see a collection of large corporations like Mars and Coca-Cola that will accept the impact on their margins as they are trying to avoid a total loss of bonuses for a much longer period of time.

I will add the paper at the end in this article, because whether I agree or not to some extent, it is a good and proper academic piece and even as we might consider elements in different light, the paper does show clear indications that there are issues that require addressing and there are also issues that should have started to be addressed several years ago. There is a policy failure to some extend in some way and in a much larger way in other views of focus. The academic paper is not in question; the method of fear mongering that the Independent is playing with is a much larger issue that should be taken a look at.

So as the Independent is fear mongering food issues and the Guardian tells us ‘Britain ‘will be less safe’ without access to EU crime databases – peers‘, yet because before the Schengen mess there was no Interpol or information available, we need to realise that some things will require adjustment, that was never ever in question and in all this the events are not due for 20 months. Now, we can all agree that things need doing, yet has anyone considered that some of these current systems will be obsolete before the 20 months deadline (read: some already are to some degree)? The EU has no firm handle on data automation (as per collecting), or the impact that 5G will give to the data stream, none of the systems will be ready before the change and some will not even be ready then. It was only Yesterday when I found it essential to message Ben Wallace MP that his ‘Accelerator Open Call for Innovation‘ is missing an encryption topic in the data challenge. (at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-and-security-accelerator-enduring-challenge/accelerator-enduring-challenge), in this age of Ransomware and security flaws, the entire encryption challenge will be a huge one, as more cloud data is no longer safe in either data in transit or at rest, any security assessment system would require new levels of encryption. This is not merely my view, when we look at the works otien Lenstra, a cryptology professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, says the distributed computation project, conducted over 11 months, achieved the equivalent in difficulty of cracking a 700-bit RSA encryption key, so it doesn’t mean transactions are at risk and his 2007 article passed the deadline 5 years ago. Even now the larger military contractors like Thales are seeing Big-Data Encryption as one of today’s challenges, so how important would it be in let’s say 3-4 years?

So as we see food fears and so called ‘security‘ data issues, we see that some of the players haven’t even considered including the elements of encryption in some areas. The reason for that view is that encryption is not merely about adding some code, or encoding all data, it is a system of checks and balances, where recovery of corrupted data becomes increasingly important. For those not in the know (which is very valid) there was a virus decades ago called the DBase-virus, it came from the 90’s and decided to corrupt all the data in a DBase database. The clever part was that as long as the virus was there, the user did not know, the moment it was cleaned out, all the data was instantly corrupt, the virus was a cypher and decipher part. In these days of Ransomware, such systems require additional elements and they end up being part of the core, not merely an added element in the core, so when the paper gave me “data – cyber, information, big data, management and processing, sense making, visualisation, delivery, interoperability” as an element, whilst encryption was not part of it, whilst there were other topics like mobility and situational awareness (sensors and surveillance). It seemed to me that the crypto element was not just important, it will be vital and in that field a little innovation goes a very long way. Yet beyond all that, with larger computers and ever-growing large hi speed mobility, the need and application of encryption equally changes, so when we see the need for some European adjustment, we need to realise that not merely the policies are overdue plenty of revisions, in all this, Brexit or not, with the near daily events of data losses, we need to seriously contain certain dangers

So how of topic did I go?

From merely the food part quite a bit (seemingly), yet in all this, the policies and the data issues are connected. If we accept that some of these policies are all depending on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), we see that the objectives, indicators of progress, the achievements and action points are also data driven (at https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Departmental-overview-2015-16-Department-Environment-Food-and-Rural-Affairs.pdf), now data will be at the centre of pretty much every part of life, yet from the paper that the three food boffins bring us (namely Lang, Millstone & Marsden), it will not merely a more dire need in reactive, there is an increasing view that the view needs to be transposed towards a proactive situation. The elements in that paper on Spending reduction (page 10) and workforce capability (page 13) imply that these two will impact the entire CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) in several ways, so to not go towards the fear mongering as the Independent implied with its 27% price rise, a proactive system that could counter or at least limit these events to a certain degree. The need has always been there, but the EU has gravy train driven red tape factory (as I personally see it) and as such too little forward momentum is seen and the UK parliament has been forever waiting for the EU to start something so they could be seen as a limited forward momentum party as well. So now is the perfect time to get something actual in place, but to rely on data that could be ‘mismanaged‘ by those trying to thwart the machine requires a much better digital transformation plan as well as a much better digital security and footprint approach, one that has clear boundaries of non-repudiation. Many of these elements either not mentioned, or ignored.

And here is the great part, I am not fear mongering, I am merely saying that things require attention and doing and there are still 20 months, yet doing something immediate is equally dangerous as 5G will impact on a global scale, so having proper preparations and having a system that is not set in stone, but one with certain levels of flexibility and options of evolution is much more important, so that we avoid having a massive invoice that requires paying it twice (or even thrice).

If there is one element of the entire Food report that I had an issue with than it must be ‘12. Keeping a close eye on our EU neighbours: it takes (at least) two to tango‘, there is nothing wrong with what is written, yet what I voiced earlier, the need to sell to the UK is partially ignored and the second partner in that tango is the provider of goods. The 5 scenarios read perfectly fine, yet they are all so based on the premise of the UK being the needy one, we forget that there are 27 nations all vying to get a leg up on the option to sell to 68 million consumers, it seems that the part is not that emphasised. In the end there needs to be a level of balance, yet I feel certain that once Poland is playing hard to get with the UK, I feel certain that Spain will jump up at the chance to get this market. It will not always be a balanced battle, but the UK has options and the newspapers at large have been overly silent on this part, which is why I am upset with the entire fear mongering thing. There was never an issue with being alert, but the papers at large have been completely negative again and again, focussing on the negative ‘could’ and ignoring the positive possibilities. In all this, I still personally believe that the largest players are all about the Status Quo as they have it and in that the one part that Nigel Farage got right, if this gives an option for the local smaller players to get an actual slice of the exploited market we might actually get some level of economy growing and in that, at the end the United Kingdom becomes an economic growth winner.

I think it is a mere sanity check that we try to get a level of alignment on the jobs that need to get going on and as such get a grip of what becomes a possibility, in that the ‘A Food Brexit: time to get real‘ report gives us a handle on what needs to be realised, but at times, although the report gives a really good view, as stated, my issue remains to some degree too much about the page 15 mention of; “UK ministers have failed to explain from where they expect the UK to import its food“, whilst in equality, the optional question “Which quality provider of foods is ready and willing to export to the UK?

In a world where export is essential to any government, is it not interesting that we do not see the latter version in the media, in a situation that amounts to pretty much the exact same premise?

A Food Brexit: time to get real

Departmental Overview 2015-16

 

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How the Franks make France

It is possibly one of the first times that the entire world is keeping their eyes on France and on its elections. The situation as seen in France has not happened since Charles de Gaulle. France in a state of massive changes, changes that are essential if it wants to have any options of shedding the massive debt it has and restructure the options of owning a stronger economy. The question becomes, who will be the enabler in that regard. The BBC shows us (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39038685) how 5 charts will explain the elections. The first shows the growth of Front National, the party of Marine Le Pen. The quote “Opinion polls currently suggest Marine Le Pen would be defeated in the second round by Emmanuel Macron. Without the backing of a traditional political party, the former economy minister, who has never held an elected office, is standing as a centrist candidate” is in the central place here. She might be front runner now, but there is the real issue that Marine Le Pen is seen as too much of an extremist. Even as part of her strength is seen in the second chart where we see how unemployment rates have sky rocketed under President Hollande and that level of dissatisfaction has been an enabling factor for Marine Le Pen. The 4th chart is also a Le Pen indicator. As France has been hit multiple times, the people started to listen to the logic of Marine Le Pen and as such all drove straight towards the far right. That is the way of things. The 5th one is less of a positive influence, but it is an influence none the less. As the amount of asylums are given increase, the rejection of the social path of France will increase and that too works for Marine Le Pen. In all this, the consequence is equally a positive part for Macron. Emmanuel Macron is making strong headway and to many French, the preferred choice. Yet, Emmanuel Macron has never held office, which counts against him, as an economist he does have an edge, but that would only work if his policies had resulted in jobs, which was not the case. The reality, or better stated, the stronger reality is that for those under 25, 1 out of 4 does not have a job and that is where Marine Le Pen is getting a growing traction. No matter how the French here on how important social issues are, the reality of no work translates to hunger and uncertainty. In addition, Hollande has data in play that shows that the high point of his economy was a year ago and decline is already showing, this translates to even more people moving from the left towards the centre and the right side of the isle, all moving towards Macron and Le Pen. With the UK showing a growing economy whilst Brexit is starting is also pushing the people to listen to Marine Le Pen and that is the reality that will continue, yet will it translate to enough votes? There is the uncertainty and I predicted that it was a reality France was facing. A reality I have claimed for over 2 years now and so far I have been proven correct. However, this does not take Emmanuel Macron out of the race. There the reality is that anyone feeling too uncertain regarding the more right wing Marine Le Pen that voter might hesitate and decide on Macron instead, a choice that is logical yet untested and unproven. It is the unproven part that the French also realise, so Marine Le Pen stays in the race. The one factor that matters is Benoit Hamon. Now, he might not be the front runner and he will not amount to serious opposition of large numbers, but the one part that still matters is whether he can get enough votes to make the 50% impossible for Marine Le Pen, that is now the game that plays, the others are not able to do anything serious to that extent. It is now starting to be merely a race between Macron and Le Pen, Hamon would enable the situation that a second round would be essential, which now takes us to May and that opens the field again, in that regard, Marine Le Pen needs to be really clever on how she plays the game. In addition, she needs to be clever on how to oppose or diffuse any situation that the anti Le Pen press is pushing onto her.

The NY Times (at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/opinion/france-braces-for-the-now-possible-impossible.html) is now stating ‘France Braces for the Now-Possible Impossible‘, which only shows that they are either two years late to the party, or they just did not care before. Sylvie Kauffmann talks a good article, but she misses when she states “This is a French campaign like no other. All the political patterns established since 1958, when the present Constitution was adopted, have come apart. The National Front has been a fixture of national politics for 40 years, but never before has its presidential candidate been a consistent front-runner. Today, none of Ms. Le Pen’s opponents doubt that she will get to the second round; in fact, they are not even fighting her. They are fighting among themselves to win second place on April 23, to have a chance to beat her in the runoff“, she is not stating anything incorrect or wrong, it is the one additional fact that is important. This is also the first time in modern history that a current president is not seeking re-election, which she does mention on the side. The scandals we saw and the consecutive “François Fillon, a conservative former prime minister who is now the Republican candidate, has stopped campaigning” is another part of the sliding numbers to go in other directions, yet, will they go towards Marine Le Pen. A smaller influence is the Dutch elections. The Farage-Le Pen-Wilders triangle is pretty famous. Yet in all this the US is now an influence, because with every claim that President Trump is making, the people are confronted with a connection to each of these three and a reason why not to make the same mistake the US has made, with ludicrous claim after ludicrous claim, the Republican win is now hurting the right side vote in both France and the Netherlands, but will the shift be enough? Those matters are not known and are even less predictable.

What is at this point a certainty is that in the end Marine Le Pen will be one of two parties that can be voted for, yet there is enough doubt to see that there will be a round in May, the matter will just be how will the people see this than and how far off is that 50%, because if the call is too close to that, the smallest fluctuation could change the game. Now with the 17% of Fillon in the air and the 15% of Hamon under discussion, there is the smallest chance that a slice of that will go towards Marine Le Pen actually that is certain, yet how much will go her way? If the split is even, there is now the largest chance that 23% will divide between Macron and Le Pen, setting Le Pen at 39%. I feel that Hamon will lose, but I very much doubt if he falls below 10% and that would be the best case scenario for Hamon, there is a chance that Hamon will get a few of the Fillon numbers, but I feel certain that he will lose traction within his own ranks. With 1 in 4 people under 25 not having a job, the alleged fake job that he gave his wife is not sitting well with a large part of the voters who were already looking at Le Pen and are now utterly unlikely to select anyone left of centre which works very nicely for Le Pen, but there is still a steady group that has no love for the right, so those votes will go somewhere else, or better stated these people will vote anyone but Le Pen, which could benefit Hamon to the smaller degree and Macron to a larger degree. so as those impacts are seen, there is now a serious chance that Le Pen would grow from 39% to 42%-46% and that is where the issue starts, she is now way too close to 50% and even as it is unlikely that she gets to that point passing 50%, it is not impossible and that is where the game changes by a lot, because if she gets there, she would potentially be in the strongest position to make a lot more radical changes. Like Trump, her examples would drive the Frexit start and that will be the start of the nightmare for both the US and Japan, the Euro collapsing will drive a market fear of unbridled proportions, one that cannot be countered by the players involved, which will have a disastrous effect on the global economy. CNBC has been giving voice to several dangers, which includes rate hikes (which is off the table the moment Frexit starts), Beijing is another factor, but if properly set would actually create stability and less uncertainty. It is the utterly unbelievable part that the Financial Tribune is giving us. They proclaimed that the global economy is expected to grow 3.5% in 2018, which sounds nice, but unrealistic. You see, the changes that are essential to growth are in the wrong corners as I personally see them. If Frexit starts than the contractions in Europe will start an escalating drop, making a global economy growth of 1.5%-2% decently unlikely. Frexit is the first cornerstone, the Brexit escalation that comes, or will drive the change is another part. These two will now push Italy and Germany in very different directions making the Euro no longer a feasible currency, especially as Mario Draghi was kind enough to spend a 13 figure number onto an economy that would not hike or set in motion to the degree that was essential. So as we see the quote “Its forecasts remained broadly unchanged from its November report, however, both the US and the eurozone saw minor downgrades“, we see it without the mention that this happened even as the UK economy went upwards. Market volatility is actually the smallest influence for now, but that will change before the end of the year. So as we see the dangers of a recession slam in either Q2 or Q3, we will see it with the realisation that the forecast given by the Financial tribune was not that realistic, just prophesising on sunny weather with a few small clouds whilst we see storms on Eastern and Southern shores, and there is no way to pierce the fog from the remaining directions, a dark fog that seems unable to have any sunshine. All that and two additional dangers remain unexplored. That is given not in who gets into power, but the danger that no matter who goes into power, the new players will be inexperienced in many ways; that too will stagnate any positive move from the economy. The only bright spot is that in Germany there are differences growing, especially as Alternativ fur Deutschland has started rounds of infighting, the final straw of anti-Europe will not be in any position to move into that direction, the question then becomes what will Italy do? Even as Merkel is facing a much stronger SPD, that election will not come until 4-5 months after France, which means that Frexit, if called for would also impact the German grounds of choice. In addition we see more waves of ‘Grexit’ news on the need for cutting Greece lose. Which is not an option in EEC laws, and I am surprised that the PRESS has not caught on yet (especially as they played that fake card twice already). All these elements are in play and they will together result in a global economic growth of less than 2%, especially if the European economy contracts a little too much and that is decently certain to happen.

A rollercoaster economy that is about to be started by the modern version of the Franks that make up the French population. In this the trend is as I see it no longer about some united fake region, it is about growing nationalism and national pride, because that will also grow an economy. We all forgot about that (me, myself and I included). You see, there might be open borders, there might be free travel, but as we forgot in which place we were we also forgot on what made that place great. The beers of Belgium, the cheeses and wines from France. Some might claim that this is not true, but it is and we lost sight of it. Because we only value that what requires effort, a reality we have always faced, we just forgot about it and the larger companies had a better time by offering us something mediocre and unhealthily cheap, something that fitted too many of us. I personally believe that this is most clearly seen in the gaming industry, which is why I recognised the flaw in myself early on.

The good thing about all this is that as national pride grows in all the nations, we will see a drastic improvement of appeal and quality, I believe that the smaller places will now have the option to grow and that will drive the economies. So as Carrefour and Auchan end up talking to a new group of suppliers, France will witness a shift in economy, not one that maximises the bonus of larger provider of goods, but enables deliveries from smaller players and they do not have the board sizes that some of the current players have, so it actually will end up driving the economy. It sounds crazy and weird, but I believe this path to be the first drive of growth.

That would benefit the economic numbers of France enormously and it will also push other nations into reinvestigating the options for growth. The Financial Times show part of this (at https://www.ft.com/content/6de52a3a-aca4-11e6-9cb3-bb8207902122), yet this growth is mainly due to other factors. John Ellis, retail & consumer partner at PwC, gives us an interesting point here: “Over the next few months, the way in which retailers deal with cost headwinds, particularly the impact of foreign exchange on product prices, will be crucial for consumers’ future spending patterns.

He is correct in that way, however, I also believe that as people will seek more and more local solutions (read: deals) it will actually drive the local economies stronger in an upwards direction, and in that, I am predicting that the same will happen in France. The second part he is not giving us is that the individual currencies will allow national governments to float their currency ever so slightly to avoid massive negative impacts, something that was not an option under the Euro. So another tool will be handed to the French as they restore the imbalance that their economy has faced for well over a decade. I do not believe it will be the measure towards success, it merely avoids the chance of failure, which is also a driving force in any economy.

Now, feel free to completely disagree with me, which will always remain a valid view. Yet when we see the impact of positivity that segregation has and if Marine Le Pen cashes in on this, than we will see a second step in the European economy that will stop the Euro. As we end with that coin, did anyone tally how many European officials are no longer required? How much did they cost? A gravy train that was riding the slopes of Europe at the expense of taxpayers, whilst for the larger extent not having any positive national impact. We are talking of a group that exceeds 32500 people. So how much was that costing on a monthly basis? 751 MEP members were getting a monthly pre-tax salary of €8,484.05. That’s already 6.3 million a month, so how much for the other 31,750 employees? Let’s not forget that this is a monthly expense. So I reckon that the sweet reality is that there will be a positive impact on budgets. Now these costs are not going away immediately, but I think I am making a clear point that national costings will change.

France is about to start a wave of changes, or better stated, there is a real change that massive changes will commence, but in the end, we will have no certainties before the elections are over and until France makes a claim and voices the intent to exit the EEC, there is no certainty that there will be actual change, because the Euro could survive without the UK, but not if the economy contracts, in that case several options will go straight out the window for several European nations, especially those in the EEC. Mario Draghi has made sure of that. You see, when we accept Bloomberg view (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-08/draghi-s-caution-on-inflation-signals-ecb-stimulus-stays-for-now), where we see “The rate remains stuck below 1 percent, but what’s worse is that the trend has consistently pointed down in the euro’s 18-year history, suggesting structural weaknesses may be at play” a weakness I mentioned (in a different way) in several earlier blogs, is now getting more and more to the forefront. Bloomberg also gives us “the measure that excludes volatile components such as food and energy” gives us that in a dangerously low setting volatile products will still have an impact. The additional “After policy makers’ preferred gauge of future price developments approached levels of below but close to 2 percent at the end of last year — signalling the ECB’s goal was in sight — it’s now on the wane once more” gives more and more strength to my prediction of economic contractions, which now also gives a view that any prediction of a global economic growth of 3.5% in 2018 is getting less and less realistic. so as we see positive forecasts from several sources, we need to be careful on who we will believe, because like several nations stated in earlier years, the forecast of today will soon be shown to be overly optimistic one quarter later, which is after the ‘predictors’ got some of the players to unwisely spend what they should not have been spending. A game that has been played for too long, it is the national push that gives for change and more important, it gives for a push by people who can be held accountable and can at that point be incarcerated, which tends to make certain forecasters a lot more cautious and it will give us an actual realistic economy to work with. It might not be great and in the beginning it will also not be good, but it will be mending and growing, which is what the people want and need. In that we have to voice with certainty that we do not give a fuck on what large corporations want or desire to get them their bonuses, we have had way too much of that for too long.

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Retrenching under false pretence

Today we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/01/len-mccluskey-ford-unite-tariff-free-single-market-access-bridgend), how Ford is moving its needs and its projections towards other places. It fill the pattern and projected promise that have been set in motion a few years ago. The US is moving parts back to the US and some parts to Asia. Australia had been feeling this for some time. Ford left Australia in 2016 when in October the last Falcon XR6 came of the belt. Now we see the beginning of their exodus from the UK and in this the title ‘Unite blames Brexit as Ford prepares to cut 1,160 Welsh jobs‘ is as they call it, a total load of bullocks! You see, this is the other side of a one market and tariff free access. You see, as these costs fall away, making these 4 wheeled thingamajigs in America becomes profitable again. Now, let’s be fair, Ford is an American company. For American companies to move back to their home turf makes sense, it could even be seen as patriotic. But in all this, Ford remains a business. So they need profit to soar and that can be done by having their factories in America and Asia. Brexit was never a factor, Australia never had a Brexit.

Is there a chance that Brexit was any factor? I do not believe so, the UK is not yet in a completed Brexit and it would take a few years before all would be complete, so there is no Issue for Ford, in their camp it was already planned, the entire pressure on Brexit is just tactics, because the US is scared of what comes next, so for the US, in light of the upcoming French elections, the anti-Brexit pressures are essential. The game is changing in France. President Francois Hollande is not seeking a second term, according to the BBC the first French president to do this in modern times (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39130072), he is that unpopular and as such France is seeing several different issues and power plays in place. With one in four under-25’s is unemployed. So even as all parties agree that massive changes are needed, the Socialist failure gives rise to additional voices moving towards Front National. In all this, we see additional moves. We could even consider that this is a partial discriminatory ruling. The EU claims to be all about the freedom of speech and freedom of opinion, yet they will happily lift parliamentary immunity for the French prosecution to take legal action. We can argue the validity here in two ways. One: Marine Le Pen did break French law. Two: how many other French people have been prosecuted for ‘publishing violent images’? I would really like to see the numbers on that one. So as we will see big data mining on transgressors, I wonder how many have not been investigated, which shows that the EU is very willing to upset the sanctity of a fair election, especially as those deciding on this are likely to lose their jobs when Frexit becomes a reality.

So as we see through the (what I personally regard to be) blatant lies by Ford, or better stated by Len McCluskey, and in this as Ford is not forthcoming they get to be tainted by the very same lie. The quote “UK’s biggest trade union has urged Theresa May to guarantee car makers tariff-free access to the single market“, in this I would state ‘Mr McCluskey, are you usually just facilitating for big business?‘, you see, as I see it, Ford is using Len McCluskey not for the plant, not for the single market access ‘need’. No, they want to sweeten the deal! They need other concessions, like the ones they had in Australia. ABC Australia (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/tax-transparency-report/7036708) gave the people a Tax Transparency report. Where: FORD MOTOR COMPANY OF AUSTRALIA LTD, had a Total income ($) of 2,940,670,099 (so basically almost $3 Billion), a Taxable income ($) of a mere 7,057,051. This means that 99.9917% of the income did not need to be taxed. So as we see: Tax payable, Tax payable as percentage of total income, as well as Tax payable as percentage of taxable income. These numbers become zero (that means $0.00 and 0.00%). So is Len McCluskey going to open his eyes? Is he going to realise that he is made the bitch of big business that requires the UK government to give away taxable income in the form of free labour? Perhaps Len McCluskey remembers what slave labour is? All valid questions, more important, if this is the path Ford wants, why not let then fuck off to merry old America? Let’s be fair and honest. America is in dire need of actual jobs and an actual economy. They are bleeding currency value and as such, if American companies decide to retrench in the US to save their home country, than that should be regarded as a noble action. Yet, these companies are run by boards that have one need, dividend and bonuses. Let’s also be honest here, these people don’t make any massive coin, not compared to a few other fortune 500 companies. The top executives, have an income ranging from $5.2M to $17.7M, which in Wall Street terms might be laughingly little, yet the retrenching has the danger of those people losing 28%-42% of what they are getting now. You see, as the US has a collapsing infrastructure, the strain the US is getting by having these manufacturers move back to the US is going to cause a few infrastructural gaskets to blow. It will not happen overnight, but within 24 months they setbacks will hurt Ford, there is no doubt in my mind on that. The level of setback will be anyone’s guess, I do not have any wisdom that could state to any degree of certainty how much the impact is. Yet, when you consider that Ford is working on a 3.9% operating margin (2014 reported numbers) and they walked away from an Australian 99.9917% non-taxation, we should wonder on how they tend to do economically more terrific in the US. It seems to me that the US retrenching has either massive kickbacks, or will come at the consequence of short sightedness and long term hardship. The numbers do not makes sense to walk away from either, but the clarity is that fingering Brexit was not the reason. But then, Ford did not do that, they got

Len McCluskey to do just that. It is the part “McCluskey also demanded that Ford provide “legally binding guarantees” of future production at the plant”. It made me giggle. You see if they had not before, why would they do that now? It seems to me that McCluskey, not unlike Kim Carr in Australia, was either in on part of it for a time, or I need to consider them both to be massively incompetent. A legal binding guarantee after the fact. It is just too hilarious! Of course, when the issue collapses and Ford moves, then we get the real issue, because at that point the blame game starts. In Australia, Kim Carr got to play his game and got the reprieve, so when his labour team got replaced by the Australian Liberal Party (the Aussie Tories), he stood back and got to stand playing with his beard thinking ‘not my problem anymore!‘, yet Len McCluskey does not get to be this lucky, when Ford leaves it will be on his plate and the Unite members will have a massive amount of questions, I wonder how many actual answers Len McCluskey will have.

So all these revelations and facts brought to you because someone decided to blame Brexit and I have actually had enough of those blamers. The fact is that there would always be consequences to Brexit, so when I see another ‘bremainer’ demand a Brexit without consequences, I wonder just how stupid some people tend to get. Another side linked to this is seen in the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-will-not-contribute-to-eu-budget-if-no-brexit-deal-is-reached-says-lords-report-a7609526.html), here we see ‘Britain will not contribute £50bn to EU budget if no Brexit deal is reached, says Lords report‘, the subtitle is even more descriptive ‘The UK appears to have a strong legal position in respect of the EU budget post-Brexit and this provides important context to the Article 50 negotiations‘. The reason to go here is seen in “According to the Lords, EU budget payments – likely to be a contentious issue throughout the Article 50 negotiating period – would not be enforceable and the UK would be in a “strong” legal position to not pay a penny if talks ended with no deal“, so all the hard play we have seen has been absent of a proper analyses of the articles, something the House of Lords was not about to let go. The quote “Theresa May has warned her European allies that the UK is prepared to crash out of the EU if no reasonable Brexit deal is agreed on. In this case, the Lords add, Britain will not be liable to make any further financial contributions to the budget” also implies that there is a two stream issue within the conservatives. You see, when we see the quote of Theresa May against “David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said earlier this year that the Government would not rule out making future payments to the EU’s budget in order to secure favourable access to Europe’s markets“. The two streams are ‘let’s be flexible about it all‘ and ‘we have had enough of this‘. The point being that large corporations have been souring the cream pushing European politicians to take emotional stands whilst others are trying to muzzle Mario Draghi and his need to spend a trillion no one has. This now pushes back to the Automotives of the land (including the exiting Ford), I think we need to see that the approach that has been used for too long a time, making some industries holy and non-taxed is not the way to go. Now, there are plenty of people who want certain markets to push forward and to have trade deals in place tends to be a good thing. Yet the part that the media seems to ignore again and again is that these deals benefit large corporations to a massive degree, but others tend to fall between the cracks losing out on all those fringe benefits. It is an injustice that has been seen several times and Brexit would allow for a change that gives a level of fairness to it all (allow does not mean it will happen though). So whilst we can agree that there would possibly be an impact, there are still too many waters stirring, so any level of Brexit blame is very premature. That evidence is given additional support when we consider Reuters news from 2015 (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-ford-asia-idUSKBN0O625Y20150521), it was already forecasted 2 years ago that “When I take a look at Ford’s growth over the next five to 10 years, we believe roughly 60 percent of the growth will be in the Asia Pacific region,” said Dave Schoch, president of Ford’s Asia Pacific region“, which was the first sign that the Ford plants in Australia were at risk. In equal measure, the slowing economy in China saw Ford sales drop, a similar event has been happening in Europe, where the drop is three times higher and here we get the issue. It had a rise for a while and the European numbers looked really good, that is, until you realise that Russia was the only strong contributor to the Ford sales. Yet the Russian slump has been in play and it is now also hurting Ford, whilst the news of ‘rapid recovery unlikely‘ to be at the head of the forecasting table. So when we see Ford media give us (at https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/feu/en/news/2017/01/18/ford_s-european-sales-rise-5–in-2016–strong-ford-transit–rang.pdf), “Ford sales rise 5 percent in 2016 to nearly 1.4 million vehicles in its 20 traditional European markets*“, with the reference to Austria, Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland.

Giving us now the one part that the papers were missing. The fact that the sales are not sliding, but the revenue is set to better profitability, in that the element becomes that the UK is only one of 20 nations for Ford and when we add the Ford Authority quote to it from February 20thIn all, the closures terminated nearly 6,000 jobs, although some number of those were merely shifted to lower-cost countries like Spain and Turkey“, as well as “Ford Europe has continued to pare down its workforce, offering “voluntary separation” packages to some 10,000 employees since early last year to help save an estimated $200 million annually” a valid tactical move by Ford going back to well before 2015. So as we see this facts, the entire Ford issue has been playing for a while and a lot of it has been out in the open. So at this point I would ask Len McCluskey where he got the idea “workers had been “kept in the dark”“. I would like to know what actions he had undertaken since December 2015 when this was already underway, more important, the move in Australia should have really woken him up. Did it do that? Because certain facts, clearly given by several sources, some of them openly Ford themselves. It is there where we now see a reason to doubt the existence of both Kim Carr and Len McCluskey (but that is just my view on the matter). Len had the option of making a clear speech to the workers in wales starting by ‘the party is over, there will be massive changes in the future, but we do not know the exact setting, but the worst case scenario is that the plant will seize to exist‘. Did he make that speech? I reckon not, most people like that tend to avoid bad news, especially when events like Brexit can be blamed and that is exactly what he did in the end.

As a final point I need to refer to the quote “We have had, as I said, dialogue with Ford. We will continue to have a regular dialogue with Ford about the ways in which government can help to make sure that this success continues“, which was exactly was happening in Australia, with the happy ending not becoming a reality. There, certain players decided to blame the newly elected liberal government, whilst we clearly see that there is plenty of evidence that Ford had already decided, and the decision was ‘vacate!’

I wonder what McCluskey does next, perhaps blame the Welsh weather?

 

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Is it merely a need to know?

It is more than just an opinion piece, when we saw the week begin with a piece from George Clooney (yes, that one) and John Prendergast, both responsible for the start of the NGO ‘Not On Our Watch‘, the people might took notice (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/20/dirty-money-africa-atrocities-uk-banks), the title ‘British banks are go-betweens in global conflict. This can be stopped‘ was even more alluring, but then we see the quote “It is time to act against the kind of corruption that enables governments and armed groups especially in east and central Africa – the deadliest interlinked zone of conflict in the world – to prosecute wars and carry out mass atrocities“, everyone decided to take another nap. Actually, I cannot blame them. It sounds so intense and essential, but if there is one part the population at large does not care about, than it is another corruption article from a place the bulk of the people never cared about it in the first place. Now, this is the plain reality that the people seem to have. Can I blame them? Is it a valid point of view?

This becomes part of the centre that we lose when we see that implied levels of corruption are impeding our quality of life in Europe. I discussed part of it in ‘When a Newspaper gets it wrong‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/02/16/when-a-newspaper-gets-it-wrong/). The article linked here implies a lot, especially when you realise that we are faced with British Champagne stories in an age where any member of the EU mentioning it should not even be allowed to be a member of the EU parliament. Then we get “The National Crime Agency judges that billions of pounds of suspected proceeds of corruption are laundered through the UK each year“, which might be true, might not be true, but most important, when we realise that there is also the quote “the international community has failed to fully deploy the anti-money laundering measures“, I would like to see a comparison on a national level, you see, comparing the UK numbers (where possible) with the numbers of Europe’s largest Transit harbour on the planet (read: Rotterdam) and as such the container laundering schemes where it goes on for more iterations of laundering as the bitcoin is used. So how can we see how much is laundered per nation? Is the UK the big player here? How does the UK compare to the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Poland? Can we see those numbers please? You see, as we read “These kinds of financial-pressure measures can help save lives“, the bulk of the readers seem to ignore, or remain ignorant on how the pharmaceutical industry funnels billions, all perfectly legal and as such taxation is avoided. Yes, it makes perfect sense to focus on millions and not address the billions missed. Oh, and perhaps can we see the expected, or predicted time table from the quote “Our team is gathering the evidence needed“, now, let’s be honest, that such a given is next to impossible, but a few changes fought for at present might restore the essential need of legal overhauls, a side that does not seem to make the press that often and more important, the more Clooney stories we get, the less gets overhauled or clearly illuminated that an overhaul is essential. Now the quote we see at the end “a real difference can be made in ending wars in Africa and the mass atrocities that accompany them if we target those that are benefiting financially from the mayhem and suffering“, we can only agree with the principle need. I will not oppose that as such. Yet, it has only been a month since the article at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/26/nigerian-oil-pollution-shell-uk-corporations  and as such, when we hear ‘Nigerian oil pollution claims against Shell cannot be heard in UK, court rules‘ and the issues of pollution against the Royal Dutch Shell, we need to take a moment to consider whether the futility that team Clooney and Prendergast (Team CP) is bringing to the media. The given subtitle ‘Campaigners hoped case would pave way for lawsuits to be brought against corporations for actions abroad‘ is another part in that the issues cannot be properly examined. This we see in “Shell has denied liability and argued last November that the challenge involves “fundamentally Nigerian issues” that should be heard in a Nigerian court“, now it is important to know that I did not study the court notes. So, if we can accept that the court did do a proper hearing and accepted the relevant issues, than no matter what Team CP brings us, the simple truth is that the dangers of any Nigerian court would properly stop the issues correctly seemingly would become almost pointless (if we accept the corruption part that team CP claims. In addition, when we read the accusation ‘A man collecting polluted water at an illegal oil refinery site‘ gives us even more, especially when we concentrate on the word ‘illegal‘, so is Royal Dutch Shell connected to the illegal refinery site? What evidence is there? So now we get the case that team CP is concentrating on a few numbskulls with the limited possibility to stop millions, whilst the players they need to go for is walking away with billions. In that regard their actions are implied to be ‘doomed to fail’ and that is in the most likely positive version, a more negative version is that massive amounts of times are wasted and nothing gets to be achieved. It is in addition likely that the Royal Dutch Shell would assist team CP with other meaningless cases whilst the Royal Dutch Shell remains out of reach. So how is that for justice?

This we see confirmed in the quote “Joe Westby, campaigner on business and human rights at Amnesty International, said: “This ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up”“, which supports the view I am having and I got to the conclusion as fast as I was reading the article, only to see that other experts agree with me. The final quote “The company says the Bille and Ogale communities’ problems with oil spills are due to sabotage, theft from pipelines, and illegal refining“, which if proven shows the innocence of Shell to some degree, and it shows to the larger degree that team CP have very little chance of success to the degree they need it as change in Nigerian environmental legislation would be essential to force initial change. Apart from that view, there is still the illegal refining, that takes equipment, which beckons the question how much has the Nigerian government confiscated? How many people got prosecuted in all this? There is no clear answer of success and there likely will not ever be one as illegal refiners are in the same category as illegal poachers, as the need or ivory continues, the number of elephants will decrease in Africa until the animal is extinct, then what?

Unless the Nigerian government starts hunting down these transgressors with success and extreme prejudice, they end up not having any level of success. Greed is the ultimate equaliser, the need of the one outweigh the ability of many. A reality that has continued on a near global scale since the early 1900’s. Change is too slow and without harsh levels of success, the opinion piece on and from team CP is not going anywhere but into the circular storage and archiving solution (read: trashcan).

In this Shell has no consideration to assist, the government has no place to start and as the wrong parties are more and more likely blamed we get a situation that until the proper papers are filed, the people involved have no option left to move in any direction, which works great for the facilitators of these events. Someone is making a bundle and as these parties cannot be correctly and accurately identified, the actions against them remain empty, unresolved and hollow.

 

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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.

 

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For those doubting Brexit

There have been a few issues with the EU, some are petty and some only seem petty. You see, many are all in arms and all about the issue on how Canada is a good place, and it really really is. Yet, we have to understand that a trade agreement tends to be an agreement where one is better off than the other. That is a simple fact of life. A trade agreement, when completely balanced equally to all parties is a figment of the imagination of the visionary who wanted it, for the simple reason that it was in their interest. Now, that does not make the person evil or greedy, it is merely the reality of any trade agreement. Yet, when the trade agreement is done in secret, there will be additional issues. This is not such a case, but in the case of CETA (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/oct/24/belgium-eu-ultimatum-canada-trade-deal-ceta-wallonia), there is the image that French speaking Belgium (aka Wallonia) will miss out too much in this EU-Canada deal, so they are all about not letting it happen. The article gives us ‘Paul Magnette, the leader of the Wallonia region, says the deal is bad for Europe’s farmers and gives too much power to global corporate interests‘, which would give ample voice to the justification of Wallonia trying to scuttle this deal. It does not make Canada bad or evil, it only gives voice to the European side that Wallonian farmers lose out, from their point of view too much. This shows partially the justification of Brexit; yet in equal measure it shows how the Bremain group feels scared and scarred as well as their justification that together the UK would be stronger. On one side they have a point, on the other side, we see here that if Wallonia gives in, the EU basically sells their future short and away from them. The quote “One European diplomat said that the reassurances “responded to all of Mr Magnette’s concerns”” implies that Magnette is unreasonable as reassurances were given, yet we have all seen how politicians can roll on their backs when the wind turns, so is he wrong? In this case I very much doubt it, as does politico (at http://www.politico.eu/article/meet-monsieur-paul-magnette-the-man-killing-ceta-deal-trade-agreement/). Here we see two mentions. The first is “Wallonia did its homework” as well as “In particular, he protested that CETA would leave European governments vulnerable to court action from unscrupulous multinational companies“, these are issues raised in both the TTIP and the TPP. In the TPP it was New Zealand that showed backbone, whilst Australia folded like a tissue in front of a hair dryer on high, it was not a pretty picture. We have had several issues with the US in the past, yet not with Canada. It is my personal believe that large corporations are dictating the trade agreement language to governments at large, which is cause for concern in two ways.

In the first it means that the governments are not enough about governing and a little too much regarding the status quo of the Fortune 500 they have connections to and in the second it implies that they overall quality of government legislators is dwindling too much and as such national interests are not being met, which now implies that proper taxation laws are about a decade away and nations at large cannot afford to work that way.

In that light the quote in Politico seems pretty decent: ““This treaty affects the lives of 500 million Europeans and 35 million Canadians for years and years,” Magnette told La Première channel Wednesday. “We can take a few weeks, a few months to analyse the problems and overcome them.”” Is that such a bad idea? The fact that a decision is demanded in less than 12 hours gives additional cause for concern. Why the speed?

Canadian Global Research had this quote “The CETA agreement –presented to public opinion as an innocuous “bilateral” EU-Canada trade deal– constitutes a TTIP in disguise, which would eventually evolve towards the integration of NAFTA and the EU, i.e into what might be described as a giant “North Atlantic Trade and Investment Area”. Those who are involved in the negotiations are fully aware that CETA is a back-door mechanism which would would create the underlying conditions for the formation of a North Atlantic Trading Block, i.e. a US “Imperial Project” controlled by Washington“.

This now implies that this is a new approach to TTIP, a backdoor. The part where we see “US “Imperial Project” controlled by Washington“, gives voice to the part that I have given for close to two years. The United States of America is broke and bankrupt. This is the only path that the US has left to remain in the game for a little while longer, whilst giving 98% of American power to large corporations, which n my humble opinion was never a working or acceptable solution. The fact that pressures are applied to get this done quicker and quicker only gives rise to the fact that this American Democratic administration could end up being the worst in American history and this administration needs a clear ‘win’ to be less regarded as less of a failure. What a legacy President Obama brings, no matter how this goes, it will make progression for the next US administration near impossible, so we can see why the Clinton campaign was against the TTIP to begin with. In addition, the Canadian Tyee (at http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/10/22/CETA-Failure-Reflects-Public-Rejection-Trade-Deals/), gives us “Leaving aside the odd reference to how nice Canada is, this is remarkable language that lays bare the obvious frustration and disappointment for the government, which prioritized the CETA agreement above all trade deals“, in that my personal response becomes: ‘drop the option to large corporations to sue governments‘, first they get tax breaks, now they get to sue for missed alleged profits? When did we get ourselves so retarded that this: “Currently, the US Lone Pine energy company is using ISDS provisions in NAFTA to sue the provincial government of Quebec for $250 million because it suspended shale gas mining pending an environmental study in response to community concerns“? How on earth was the mining of Shale Gas ever allowed before clear environmental studies were made?

Environmental regulations are there for a reason. When the environment is damaged, these companies tend to get really far and away when the invoice is due, trying all kinds of loopholes not to be held accountable. The Australian Newspaper The Age gives us “The high cost of ISDS makes the threat of arbitration a potent tool for the tobacco companies“, meaning that in not so wealthy countries, Tobacco, Soda drinks and alcohol companies can hold a nation over a barrel when they can find an option to apply the ISDS. Australia Spend $50 million to defend its plain packaging requirement in cigarettes. A system that allows for Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), where we see the issue of alleged discriminatory practices is too dangerous. In addition, the proven dangers of tobacco, how many people died and were not compensated? How discriminatory is that?

Yet the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade gives us “Is ISDS a threat to Australia’s sovereignty? No. ISDS does not prevent the Government from changing its policies or regulating in the public interest. It does not freeze existing policy settings. It is not enough that an investor does not agree with a new policy or that a policy adversely affects its profits”, yet this is the opposite of what we see when we the Australian case of Philip Morris. The fact that only 5 days ago, News.com.au (at http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/govt-wont-reveal-tobacco-case-costs/news-story/7a81f7003241d0290685b5ce1d83f6db) gives us “Nick Xenophon wants to know what it cost taxpayers to defend the case, but the department insists it needs to be kept secret“, it gives light to the danger that the ISDS poses, it shows that Paul Magnette, the leader of the Wallonia region seems to be a lot more clued in and a lot more on the ball than those trying to get this dangerous trade pact passed and in addition, the fact that court costs are kept secret means that the taxpayer is not getting properly informed. The ISDS is more than just investors feeling safe, it is a secondary tool to get revenue up when the forecast gets downgraded by (amongst others) environmental needs and governmental freedom to set policy, although some deny that this is happening now (like the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), yet the fact that the cost is kept in secret gives indication that the sum is likely to be running towards the 9 digits, whilst it was about opposition on a health policy. Two cases like this could make most Eastern European EU nations bankrupt overnight, so there is cause for concern and in that Paul Magnette has a clear mindset in requiring more time.

In all this, the one part that is not making sense is that the ISDS could be seen that this is to protect non-visionary investors, investors that aren’t doing their homework, to give an additional option to get their money’s worth. Why on earth are we facilitating for corporate losers? If for example a UK company decides to cut corners and go for places where they learn that they are blocked, why would we give them any allowance for suing the UK government? If this example seems fair fetched, consider Philip Morris Asia Limited (Hong Kong) v. The Commonwealth of Australia. They might have lost, but the costs were really high. And this was whilst plain packaging was already in place. So getting rid of parts, or better the ISDS as a whole, would be a decent idea. Let’s not forget that if these companies were truly wronged, most common law nations have the option of proceeding through Torts.

Giving them additional options seems too far-fetched and in the end only counterproductive. No matter how many tears Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s trade minister brings to the table. In that part I wonder, why she had not considered removing the ISDS. Let’s face it, if investment is too dicey or dodgy, those companies should not go there to begin with, would that not be common sense? So why drive the ISDS? Perhaps I am oversimplifying the problem. I know that the ISDS makes sense, yet the Australian Philip Morris case shows the ISDS parts to be flawed and in light of how American and Chinese companies play the game, it is time to face the harsh reality that facilitation is becoming the lesser healthy alternative. In the end if there is profit, these companies will come.

So in the end, this was not about Brexit, but here we see in clarity, that this one market deal is not as great for the people at large as they think it is. For those only iterating that a one market deal is the only way, consider Wallonia, no matter how you slice it, people will lose out and if the court case is strong enough, you could lose a lot. A side that the Bremainers are not giving a clear view to, which is equally disturbing. There are elements on both sides, yet the disturbing one that Paul Magnette is bringing to light is one that too many have ignored. Brexit might end up giving the UK options and protections, that the EU trade agreements are currently trying to remove from the UK.

 

 

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