Tag Archives: Boeing

IP in the balance

This weekend, roughly 25 hours ago, the Washington Post released a story regarding the F-35, now there are a few stories about that crazy bird in circulation, yet this one was particularly fetching. The article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/16/power-struggle-over-f-fighter-jet-comes-head-lawmaker-threatens-hold-up-contract/) called ‘A power struggle over the F-35 fighter jet comes to a head as lawmaker threatens to hold up contract‘ starts with “the complicated IT system supporting the fleet’s maintenance infrastructure still falls far short of expectations” is an eye opener, but it is not the IT systems (no matter how defunct they are) that is the issue, it is the ownership of certain IP systems in the plane, the patents themselves that are now the issue. It is not “some lawmakers criticized the terms of Lockheed’s arrangement with the government, saying overly generous intellectual property agreements threaten to lock Lockheed into a wasteful long-term profit machine with limited accountability” even though it is certainly an issue that is the setting, no it is “Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) threatened to hold up a multibillion-dollar contract if fundamental questions aren’t resolved” that is the issue, yes having multi billion dollars in sales held up is one part way to go, for some of these buyers with a few billion in their pocket, looking at alternatives will be the coarse course they could be sailing, this gives additional problems for Lockheed Martin and the US government is setting the stage as it has the inner lane in this skating race, the problem for Lockheed Martin is that the opposition they face are Russians (who are coming with the Su-35 and the Su-57), apparently NATO sees the Sukhoi Su-57 as a bit of a felon, so anything can happen. China is coming with the J-31, according to some it is a copy of the F-35 (source: Business Insider) yet it comes without IP and Patent battles, so the copy will be out without a politician stopping production on elemental questions not being answered. In addition, its unit cost is $70 million, whilst the F-35 is between $77 million and $108 million, the cost price of the more expensive version implicitly states ‘including engine‘, so there is that to consider as well.

There is however a more serious note to the F-35 and the Washington Post gets there when we see: “Carolyn Nelson, a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman, said the government is working on a new technical data package that was not a part of the initial F-35 contract, as well as a separate “performance-based” contract for logistics support“, you see the issue we see here is not merely IP and patents, it is the situation where government is yielding the floor to local business. If we accept the mess that the US has made in regards to 5G and Huawei, whilst we accept the words of Alex Younger (MI-6) “Alex is giving us the national need and the premise that another government should not have ownership of infrastructure this important“, something I mentioned in ‘Tic Toc Ruination‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/12/06/tic-toc-ruination/) almost a year ago. That setting is crucial, as such when you have a national product called ‘Defence‘ why on earth would you let that reside with a global player like Lockheed Martin? I get the idea that the avionics are a bit of a call, yet the IT systems are a larger debate, basically America has large needs with Lockheed Martin, so what happens when the well dries when the US debt becomes a noose around the nations neck? Do you think Lockheed Martin is sitting still? I do not expect that Russia or China ever having a piece of Lockheed Martin, but the UAE, Saudi Arabia? If we take premise to the situation ‘the premise that another government should not have ownership of infrastructure this important‘ the point of view I am taking is a lot less theoretical, is it?

And when we consider: “Air Force estimates that most of a given aircraft’s long-term cost actually comes from keeping it flight worthy. Manufacturers are keenly aware of this, with companies such as Boeing launching whole business units focused on maintenance and repair” we should be wondering why the Air force is striking out, not out like in ‘too bad, let’s try again‘ but in the way that the batsman asks ‘where on earth is the playing field‘, I get it, some jobs are too specific, but is that not the Air force focal point? That in light of the procurement: “the Pentagon has been buying jets in greater quantities in order to get the average price down. They recently finalized a $34 billion agreement that defense officials described as “the largest procurement in the Department’s history.” The deal brought the F-35’s price per plane below $80 million ahead of schedule“, so when you consider that buying 2400 planes (at the very least) got the price down, what math was done on fixing and maintaining these birds? 2400 planes imply 100-250 squadrons, it implies no less than 200-500 repair and maintenance teams, it implies that these people need to be schooled and as they come up short, the move of Boeing starts making sense in a real way, so how much additional costs are involved there? Let’s not forget that the US is currently at minus $23,000 billion (-$23 trillion), we might see the victorious ‘Yohza’ on them reducing the price of a bird, but how much debt, interests and cost of maintenance was seemingly overlooked?

In all this, the Government Accountability Office was seemingly not heard clearly enough, we get this when we consider “the program is having trouble keeping the F-35’s mission-capable, an odd problem for a brand new fleet. The overall F-35 fleet was capable of performing all of its tasked missions only about a third of the time” and that is before we consider the maintenance staff, their training and the setting of spending money before the elements are all adjusted for. So as the article ends with ““if we are missing parts and can’t get our jets airborne, our ability to deliver combat effects on this aircraft is significantly diminished,” said Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, the Pentagon’s F-35 program executive“, I merely wonder what other options were overlooked, that’s fair is it not?

You see when we are considering the upgrades and the adjustment to technical flaws in the hardware, the IT systems become a very real part of it all, oh and any person telling you that the IT is OK and there are not issues, will be my reason to introduce you to a liar. For that you merely have to look at DELL and their setting of laptops, I have had two laptops, both delivered on the same day, and both needing separate upgrades before I got them delivered to their respected users, not different systems, no identical systems! So when we see “we are missing parts and can’t get our jets airborne” in light of software glitches, it becomes a very real thing, the F-35 might be the final straw of short sighted management, whilst asking for the moon. Even as in the past operators like Boeing and Saab decided not to play along in light of bias towards the F-35, we see an evolving matter where they will grasp the events that surround the F-35 as a way to show nations that they have what it takes, in addition, there are outstanding offers from France (Dassault Aviation), it was the initial offer to a much larger degree to train technicians in the fields of service, training and operations that might swing previous missed hits, and no matter how we slice it, Lockheed Martin might be looking at the US as a sole customer soon enough, what a change IP and IT systems can make, even in two-seater planes.

I believe that the over grasp in the 2004-2014 era is now coming back to bite the eager who signed certain agreements. In light of the fact that the F-35 fleet is mission capable only 30% of the time should worry Lt. Gen. Eric Fick a little.

And even as the F-35 might be the odd duck out, the words of Loren Thompson stating “The struggle over IP between the government and defense contractors is likely to go on indefinitely. If you own the information, you can largely shape the future of the system” might be valid in the commercial world, but Lockheed Martin is in the defence world, the rules are a little different there, feel free not to believe me, but in light of The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and their push to “prevent a future situation like the one now facing the F-35 program — and by extension, American service members and taxpayers“, here we see that the letter to congress by POGO executive director Danielle Brian might become a swing and a Jack, so whilst POGO seeks the optional “It would also allow the government to seek alternative suppliers should the original contractor fail to live up to expectations“, we see more than a victory, the entire Huawei issue might push for this solution, which would make several nations queasy on the F-35 solution they heralded.

The F-35 is showing me the one solution that mattered to the wrong people, it was greed overjoyed and that is about to gain the sunlight and limelight others wanted to keep out of consideration.

 

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Change is coming

Well, actually change is always coming, some in the form we know, some innovative new and sometimes change is of a very different variety. We already knew that the Americans weren’t too bright when it comes to trade wars, and the one that is getting fuelled here is definitely a wrong one. Yet it is not about that trade war and it is not in the billions of impact that the war will have on consumers. There is a second war brewing. One that Europe and America were not ready for, one they did not prepare for. It is a new armistice race, they were not prepared because it is not the high technology they usually deal with, it came from the lower regions. Yet let that not underestimate the stage. Two players in that stage are Fabrique Nationale Herstal, established in 1889. Less than a 60 years later They would produce the FN FAL, a rifle used in over 90 countries, in that same year the final push was made for the FN MAG, use in over 80 countries. These weapons are even today lethal and can go up against the most modern side arms. One factory created two behemoth successes, merely two of dozens of weapons that are regarded as a top quality arms. Yet, it is not about FN Herstal. It is neither about the long term number one Heckler and Koch was founded after WW2 and soon became a success story in several fields surpassing FN Herstal, yet these two are not facing a new competitor. Both FN and HK face a rather troublesome future. You see, they are stopped by all these political Human rights laws and whilst we get the need for Human Rights, the people in there seem to have a view so altruistic that it also kills commerce.

Number three is delighted, SAMI, or in its full name the Saudi Arabian Military Industries, is about to equal and surpass in less than half the time that the previous two required to get established. All the data on patents, technology and deals with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics, as well as partnerships with Thales and CMI Defence opens new doors, doors the other two were barred from. SAMI is now in a position to surpass both and become bigger then the two earlier mentioned combined. In 2017 SAMI got Andreas Schwer (former boss of Rheinmetall AG) and the man has not been sitting still. At the same steps we see Neom growing, we see the mandate of SAMI to create 40,000 jobs by 2030 and it seems that SAMI is ahead of that curve too. With all the issues playing in Asia, Africa and Latin America SAMI has created the stage where they can outbid and surpass all expectations from the buying companies. It goes beyond the assembly of 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters. With the partnership with Navantia less than a year ago, we see the additional growth sectors in Latin America pop up, yes, it is all new, it is all change, but not the change you would hope for. We might see shunning of arms in America, but it remains a large export business, one that is now getting pushed to the side by the Saudi Arabian Military Industry, and it is not stopping. As the links with Navantia matures, we see the option to cater to the needs of coast guards on several national levels and these are not the small players. Some might have noticed the small mention of ‘Offshore Patrol Vessels Market 2024: New Business Opportunities for Manufactures to Upsurge in Coming Years‘, yet Navantia and therefor SAMI are in the thick of that part of the equation, growing faster than anyone took notice of. We might look towards the Dutch Damen, Australian Austal and Turkish Dearsan, yet they all have the same flaw ‘each player can deliver few numbers of OPV‘, Neom city changes that premise as it has a massive chunk of red sea at their disposal, basically SAMI has the option of building space well over 5 times the combined spaces that Damen, Spanish Navantia and Dearsan combined have. It changes the equation a fair bit. It sets a different market premise; it took slow growth of 130 years for FN Herstal to get where they are now. It takes SAMI 12-15 years to get that same stage, more important it seems that tall the contracts and memorandums out there gives SAMI a much larger option to grow and more important a lot more industry to bring home through export, another promise made by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud delivered in advance of the date he wanted it to be. CEO’s and goal driven executives all set in a stage to exceed expectations. It might be fuelled by oil, but more important it is fuelled to success whilst the EU is making more and more issues on exporting all kinds of goods and the US – China trade wars are not helping. In addition the news quotes like “Europe must develop a much stronger common approach to the new 5G technology to make itself less vulnerable to security risks“, which sounds nice, but I already saw two elements they overlooked and my IP pushed a solution, a solution they are not ready for and seemingly Google is less and less ready for making Huawei the only remaining player and Saudi Arabia has a lovely deal in place. You see, that premise of 5G with ‘to make itself less vulnerable to security risks‘ requires 5G to be firmly in place and whilst we see delay after delay Saudi Arabia keeps pushing communication and other solutions forward implying that they are setting a much larger stage creating new technologies for other regions and in that the other players forgot one interesting side effect. Any stage of armistice and war requires communications to be upgraded and Saudi Arabia can deliver that too. It is there where we see a larger change and a larger group of options for Saudi Arabia. Walid Abukhaled, CEO of global defense and aerospace corporation Northrop Grumman has created a stage that is approaching a global one all from the comfort of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and whilst the rest is bickering over scraps of food form the European table we see an entire industry growing silently day by day to almost exponential proportions. An interesting part that can be verified on several levels and the news and the European media remain oblivious to that part.

The Arab News states that he ‘aims to export weapons‘, I believe that SAMI has progressed a lot further, as I see it they are almost ready to implement defense solutions on a global scale, and this includes defense systems to several nations that Europe refuses to talk to for whatever reason. This goes beyond what we see in the Arab News (at https://www.arabnews.com/node/1547956), it goes beyond ‘electronic warfare and cybersecurity‘; it goes beyond the mere operational stage, beyond the educational and implementation stage. Together with General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) they have created a new wave on a much larger scale than we have seen before.

Good business is where you find it and it seems that Walid Abukhaled is currently finding it everywhere.

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Are there versions of truth?

It is a question that has haunted plenty of people, you see there is just one truth, although, is that ‘there is your side, my side and the truth’; it comes from Robert Evans ‘The kid stays in the picture‘, a 2002 documentary. We have seen the quote is several works including the famous Sci-fi series Babylon 5. The fun part of this is that the three parts are all based on honesty, yet it is more than just a matter of perspective. I have always known that, although the interaction of perception and observations is something that needs to be in a book, not on a blog. So when I was confronted with the site ‘Seeking Alpha‘, which was described by the Wall Street journal in 2014 as “SeekingAlpha.com predicted stock returns, as well as earnings surprises, above and beyond what was evident from Wall Street analyst reports and financial news articles” is from the article more than just that. The article (at https://seekingalpha.com/article/4168001-investors-face-moral-dilemmas-investments-saudi-arabia) gives us ‘Investors Face Moral Dilemmas with Investments in Saudi Arabia‘, can be countered with ‘every investment has a moral dilemma’, so that is not much to go by. Yet the setting of a 500 billion market where we see the foundation with “A component of the Saudis’ Vision 2030 is to create an indigenous defense industry one that will promote volatility, not stability, in a region on perpetual warfooting“, gives me not the shivers, but the contemplation of what game is played. You see there is no doubt that Saudi Arabia wants to create an indigenous defence industry; every nation wants that, especially when it has been under threat for many years. I would have told Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman if he would respectfully consider buying Remington as it is bankrupt and going cheap. The excellence of its weaponry, weaponry that have made it to the most elite parts of the global national defence forces is not just a matter for defence, hunters and others revere the weapon for its standard of excellence and it is not a bad place to start. You see, that is merely one path, in all this the setting of ‘one that will promote volatility‘, is not only not a given, I wonder where Seeking Alpha got the data in the first place to make that assumption. When we accept that there is an optional truth, there should be a look at the antagonising party, namely Iran as well, in that regard we see (at https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/776842-investorideas-com/5152941-cryptocorner-iran-developing-cryptocurrency-japan-s-sbi-launch-exchange-australia-cracks-icos), “Iran is progressing with its own crypto currency project despite having banned crypto trading in local banks according to a report at Reuters. Information and Communications Technology Minister Javad Azari-Jahromi said the ban from Iran’s state bank would not apply to development of a domestic crypto currency“, as well as “Equally, if not more importantly, investments by Russia’s oil and gas companies in the development of oil fields in Iran may exceed $50 billion, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in early April” (at https://seekingalpha.com/article/4167229-effect-unilateral-u-s-sanctions-irans-crude-oil-production?page=3) and in finality we see “On Sunday, pro-Iranian Shiite rebels in Yemen launched a missile attack on Saudi Arabia targeting four cities. The Saudi air defense intercepted the missiles, however, one person died and two others were hurt by shrapnel. Saudi Colonel Turki al-Malki made it clear who Saudi Arabia thought was to blame: “This aggressive and random act by the Iran-backed Houthi group proves that the Iranian regime continues to support the armed Houthi group with qualitative capabilities…”“, which we get from the article (at https://seekingalpha.com/article/4159016-7-missiles-closer-iran-war-100-oil) called ‘7 Missiles Closer To Iran War And $100 Oil‘. So now we see two parts, we see Saudi Arabia accused of volatility and ion all this the aggressor Iran is not painted in any way in any of these mentioned articles merely defined as ‘Pro-Iranian rebels‘, the fact that those rebels cannot afford any missiles and for the most they lack the ballistic skills as well as deployment and knowledge of GOLIS firing solution systems, issues like deployment, missile calibration and beyond that there is setting the precision of the missile by making sure that the electronic settings are correctly tweaked and calibrated to interact with the information that the targeting hardware offers. All that requires skills, skills that the Yemeni do not have, but Seeking Alpha is all over that and, oh, actually they are not!

So in the $500 billion setting of growing the Saudi industry, one valid component is now the stuff of moral discussions and the setting of unproven volatility, can anyone explain why Seeking Alpha has released 7 articles in the last 24 hours on Iran, where one shows opposition between the Iranian judiciary and the President on ‘disrupt national unity‘ in the setting of ‘Rouhani opposing banning social media networks, as he attempts to open up the country to the outside world‘, there is not a moral dilemma here? Or perhaps it is not a setting for volatility whilst the growing of Iranian civil unrest is currently seen as a given. So how do we not see in more articles that for the speculative person investing into Iran is facing all kinds of risks from Iranian civil unrest?

Yet it is that setting that we can all easily check on how certain paths are played. We can see this in another way as well, when we see the French visit; we see “Macron had come to Washington in a bid to convince Trump to remain in the deal. He proposed “pillars” for adding to the existing deal, including extending it for the long term, limiting Iran’s ballistic missiles, and dealing with Iran’s involvement throughout the region“, whilst in the article regarding Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman we see “Regardless of his charm, offensive MBS will continue his extreme ruthlessness, admittedly a de rigueur requirement in a tough country and even tougher neighborhood especially because his radical changes have created many internal enemies“, we also saw “Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) wrapped up his well-orchestrated and unprecedented “meet & greet”, “press the flesh” two-week April tour of the US with the icons and titans of three primary industries in his effort to diversify the Saudi economy as part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan“, yet nowhere do we read an optional: “Success can only come from a vision, brought by a visionary. We are a nation with resources, with options and opportunities. We are more than the oil that is acquired from our soil, we can and will harness resources as well as investment opportunities to stimulate our economy and diversify our revenues. Our nation sitting central between Africa, Asia and Europe should have been more about growing that advantage and now we will, we have the foundation to grown in technology, in minerals and in services to be a global player, we must take that opportunity before it is lost to us forever. It’s not a fast path, and to do this properly we must grow over the next 12 years to be able to become that global powerhouse“. Well, there is one place where something like that can be read, it is the introduction (at http://vision2030.gov.sa/en/foreword), where we also see a lot more on the Islamic part on Saudi Arabia, which is perfectly valid. So when we go to http://vision2030.gov.sa/en/node/125 we see a massive amount of programs all set to push Vision 2030 forward and the interesting part in that is that there is not one mention of the words ‘defence’, ‘Army’, ‘Navy’ or ‘Air force’. Even as I am convinced that growing national defence is part of that, my wonder is that with all these options and opportunities, Seeking Alpha resorted to the Moral part of a defence structure that is nowhere near a central part of the Vision 2030 brief. We know that Saudi Arabia has the option to go full G5 from day one and the investment options there are massive opportunities not to pick up millions, but billions. Yet the issue becomes larger when we see that the writer Albert Goldson has plenty of experience and should be well aware of commodities (read: he is a bit of an expert according to sources), so when we set this against the view of Bengt Nordström, CEO of consultancy Northstream who gave us last year “growth in the industry has disguised not only the fact the telco industry is largely a commodity, but also that it has not been hugely innovative for a number of years“, that in light of the upcoming 5G, where ‘first in, soaring profits’ could surely be a given, none of that is shown, merely the fact that Saudi Arabia is allegedly about ‘volatility‘, so whose buttering the bread and who is that sandwich being made for?

Another part not shown was ‘Advancing pharmaceuticals and patient safety in Saudi Arabia: A 2030 vision initiative‘ (at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319016417301780). Here we see “A recent conference in Riyadh, sponsored by King Saud University, sought to discuss these issues and develop specific policy recommendations for the Saudi 2030 Vision plan. This and other efforts will require more and more creative educational programs for physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, and patients, and, most importantly evolving regulations on quality standards and oversight by Saudi health authorities“, let’s not forget that we are in the beginning of all this, there is 12 years, which will go quickly I’ll grant you that, yet in all this the opportunity to grow Patent Law, Law firms, and set proper markers in place would be an essential step before such a level of patent bearing change comes. The option for Pharmaceutical investment was not shown in the article, or the mention of the issues shown at https://ncusar.org/programs/17-transcripts/2017-06-20-burton.pdf (attached). So, I am not opposing that there is optionally a need to grow the national defence industry, but is that set in the right light? In the light he gives the investors (which is his right to do), we see “However, for the moral implications mentioned with respect to the development of an indigenous defense industry, check your moral compass. From my perspective, it’s a financially profitable but morally bankrupt undertaking“, yet what morally bankrupt idea is there on growing the pharmaceutical and mobile network industry? they are highly profitable if it is achieved and there is moral question, my moral compass is setting on the field asking Albert Goldson, a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and an Associate Member of the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) why he missed on those options. Also in the view of two dozen projects that are openly stated, why would he focus on a part that represents merely 10% and focus on those two dozen programs, where the investors would find the gems that the investors would want to find in a $500 billion layered cake called ‘Vision 2030‘. Oh, as for that military part, the attached Burton presentation ‘Opportunities in Saudi Arabia – Vision 2030 and Beyond‘ spends two slides on it and the most important part shown is “Vision 2030 calls for 50 percent of military equipment purchases from domestic suppliers instead of imports“, whilst also mentioning that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) “spent a total of over $63 billion on defense and security in 2016, including off-budget spending“, so when we see that, we see that for the smart investor there is an optional $30 billion a year available for those who might not have a moral issue working on a government set national defence program. That in light of Iran delivering missiles hardware and support to non-combatants, which are rebels at best, yet terrorists might be more apt when we consider “Nasrallah’s letter is proven evidence of Iran’s involvement in the Yemeni civil war, since it shows that Hezbollah, which is financed by Iran, is taking part in the fighting in Yemen” (source: Jerusalem Post). So where exactly does Seeking Alpha stand? Let’s be fair, they can be in any place they like as they are merely advisors towards their investors in all this, yet even with my high moral (or is that outspokenly oral) I would not turn away from a $32 billion market, especially if I had that level of cash. Oh, and whilst you consider on where morality needs to be, Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon have already signed up, so the delay you took made that cake a hell of a lot smaller, but even if there is still $2 billion up for grabs, would you walk away? Let’s not forget that next month’s rent is due!

So in all this, I never stated or implied that Albert Goldson lied to anyone. Yet when we consider there is your side, my side and the truth, what did we see? You see, I get back to perception versus observation. Through perception he is focussed on the defence part, but why? The shifted setting towards Saudi Arabia will impact something else, but what else is impacted? That is the question, is it the Iranian setting (when considering the other articles), is it something else entirely, or is Albert Goldson focussed on something beyond all this? It is a speculation from my side, yet the absence of the Pharmaceutical and Mobile Industry absence implies just that, yet in equal measure I will state that this would merely be my perception, based on all my observations. That is part of the setting. In the realm of ‘there is your side, my side and the truth’, it becomes more and more about observation versus perception. In a case like this, when there is $500 billion on the table, is the perception the amount on the table, or the observation of whom else is at that table that matters. Is that merely an observation or does the perception become: where is MY opportunity? Because in the end that is what the investor cares about, and moreover, where and what size their slice of the cake becomes.

In addition, my observation will be that the changes mean that there are new players and some of the old players have been so well fed for such a long time, in this ‘parting might be such sweet sorrow’ (Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 2), yet for the previous players it will be over their dead bodies, that tends to be the gist of it. The change needs to be observed because it shown also where the pressures of the players will be and that pressure can be seen as cost and risk. It is the wiser player that makes it through and gets the slice of the $500 billion layered cake; it is merely the question on the size of the slice and the perception of the profit it allegedly holds.

 

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European Exodus Community

There is a reality that people seem to miss. There is a reality that the people at large have been ignoring for far too long. Big business had been until early this year trivialising the entire Brexit issue. Some started the catchphrase ‘Bremain’, but that went out of fashion fast. At some point, in October 2015 something expected happened. An American opened his mount (in this case Trade representative Michael Froman), which gave the Britons “If you leave EU you face barriers to trading with America“, Is that really so? In my view, if the Democratic Party does not get its A-game in place, many will not want to be in trade with a nation that cannot pay its bill anyway. You see, if Brexit becomes a reality, the Euro will take a sizeable dive, which will also hurt the US Dollar. More important, as the US has not been able to keep any kind of control on their budgeting, the US issue would take additional tumbles. Consider that the US exports $57 billion to the UK, should one direction fall away, than so does the other direction, you see pharmaceuticals can come from India, Vehicles can come from Japan and Medical Technical equipment can come from places like the Netherlands (to some extent). We are looking at an easy 12 billion going somewhere else. So that part is not a given, yes, UK export might have a few hitches, yet when other players are found for at least 20 billion in goods, new arrangements will be an option (very fast), not so much for the US of A.

Yet, I get it. The USA is afraid, very afraid because of what the Euro changes will bring and their fear is escalating. This we get from Euractiv (at https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/majority-of-french-back-holding-frexit-referendum/), who is now proclaiming that “53% of French surveyed would like to hold a referendum on their country’s continued EU membership“, an issue I saw coming a long time ago. i was the first one keeping my eye on this, and even as Hollande and Sarkozy are trying to make other ‘arrangements’ they now realise that non-compliance with the French voters will mean that the bulk will demand Marine Le Pen be elected, another prediction I saw coming. More important, should Brexit be averted, than Frexit still remains a real risk. It implies that American will almost be forced to send their own Al Jolson European Tour 2016-2017, yet unlike Al Jolson, this tour will not be a sell-out success, it will be seen as a painful reminder of America not cleaning ‘house’ in the 2004-2009 era. An era that brought many nations to the edge of despair. Now we see the Obama administration trying the option of Al Jolson singing ‘can I have a little more please‘, an idea many Europeans will regard as offensive. The changes will give additional worry. From one perspective, if the dollar collapses, export from America should go through the roof, but the overly mismanaged economy gives a clear clarion call that the funds to cate to this need would end up being insufficient. The latter part is my own speculation, I have no hard numbers supporting that part. From all the export, one in eight is about machinery. This seems to be a solid one, especially from the excellence in the past, yet in all this we in equal measure ignore that the US is not the only place to get this stuff, so if a part will move to an Asian provider, American wealth numbers will take a sharp dive, all that because Michael Froman seemed to have forgotten that they are not the only player in town.

Yet I digress!

There is now the realistic concern that a European Exodus could hit the community, a real danger, which also means that certain borders will come into a different play. This will impact the USA as well as Europe. Yet instead of a clear summary, the press seems to be throwing too much in the air with emotional plays from both sides of that isle which I consider to be not so productive. We see not so helpful articles by Jane McConnell on ‘why Brexit would be apocalyptic for the games industry‘ with quotes like “British gaming receives a wealth of talent and funding as a result of being in the EU“, which is a joke to say the least. When we see PC Gamer giving us info regarding Ubisoft Montreal “but it was built primarily on the strength of Quebec’s generous subsidies and tax breaks, and with a newly-elected government facing serious debt problems, those breaks are being cut back. That has CEO Yannis Mallat taking another look at the studio’s long-term future“, so that billion Euro firm in France is ‘surviving’ due to tax breaks. (at http://www.pcgamer.com/ubisoft-ceo-ponders-reductions-to-quebec-tax-breaks/). Now, remember that this article is 2 years old. So basically in the time that Ubisoft created mere mediocrity in gaming. In all that time only the recently released ‘the Division‘ seems to be up to critical scrap. So how about not catering to tax breaks? The final argument “and thanks to the EU working time directive, we are guaranteed 20 days a year of paid annual leave, offering us all us all at least one day we can happily set aside for binge playing. That’s worth remembering“, how interesting that she relies on that part, not on the part of government accountability which is actually driving people away. In addition, remember Markus Persson, simple small software firm in Sweden? It made over 2 billion in the end (from Minecraft). So, let’s not cater to mediocrity! The same issue can be stated for Hello Games. It is about the reset the bar for gaming quality, both small firms, just the two visible in a group of dozens. These tax breaks are there for the small players, but they have been overwhelmingly used by large players to not dig into the ‘quality setting’ frontiers they should have been in.

I feel personally decently certain that Brexit is becoming a reality. If the press would focus on truth and fact, not on emotion to sway the people, there would be a certainty that Brexit will be. It will drive Frexit too. The EEC will become a near death-trap for the last one in, which means that Italy will not be in a happy place between 2017 and 2018. I expect it will drive the membership numbers of Lega Nord with Matteo Salvini, I cannot tell how strong, because I know too little of the other Italian players. Yet in all this, certain other players are rearing its ugly head. You see, when we go back to November 2015 we see a paper by Natixis (at http://cib.natixis.com/flushdoc.aspx?id=88106), there we see “In the worst case scenario, the United Kingdom leaves the EU and does not join the European Free Trade Association; there would then be custom tariffs between the United Kingdom and the EU, but given the size of the trade flows, the impact on the economies would be limited. The United Kingdom has a very small industry and its exports of services, which are very specialised, would probably not be too severely affected“, this is the view I also ‘synched’ to. Basically, the bad sides of the EU towards the UK are massively larger than the good sides. The Natixis paper by Patrick Artus might not be complete, but it gives the goods that matter, from that point of view.

You see, the short-sighted users of a spreadsheet forgot the drive that Brexit could have, the view I predicted already in 2014. In addition, the growth and danger that right parties all over Europe became, fuelling one another is a side I did not see coming either. In addition to that view, we saw in November that Wolf Richter, Wolf Street in Business insider had “A Brexit would be ‘a non-event’“. I wonder where that came from. Oh no, I need not wonder because they mention Natixis and quote the relevant parts.

So what changed?

Well, the part I foresaw and everyone ignored is that Frexit is slowly becoming a reality. Now we have ourselves a lot more than a mere horserace, because this is what Natixis can’t use. It is in massive parts a French conglomerate, not a global one. In that regard Frexit will impact on Natixis as a whole. In this I mean that Natixis will see its profit margins decrease by a fair bit (we are talking a game of billions here), whilst in equal part limit certain economic movements and options. That makes it a different event. And the less we say about the impact on the US the better. Ah, here I am wrong!

You see, Lieutenant general Frederick Benjamin Hodges gives us the following last Tuesday (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-usa-idUSKCN0WH0QJ), we get ‘Brexit would weaken NATO versus Russia‘, which is not entirely correct, is it Freddie? It is not a lie either! The mess seems complicated but it is not. We can agree that the General is under orders here. I reckon massively from his Commander in Chief who dropped the ball several times and is sending the General out into an economic field that is not ‘his’ theatre of war. Here is the part that is unwritten (not by me), whilst everyone was looking at Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street players, they all forgot about Natixis, who has a wealth portfolio that delivers an annual return that outranks more than just a few EU nations. When that limits and dwindles many players will panic, because the survival of some is now depending on continuity. Something that behind the screens of Brexit and Frexit comes to terms. With Brexit there was enough time to make adjustments, with Frexit that time will not be there, apart from the fact that it will force Germany to take a different course (one that is expected, but cannot be predicted). In all this that is only one element. The General is right that NATO will weaken, what is not given is that it will change the expenditure that some nations are making, which will directly hit Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which will now be a sizeable dent in the American economy too. Apart from a collapsing Euro, America will get hit by a double whammy, that part is not given (it is ignored by too many), not shown and not elaborated on. It is how expenditure changes. NATO existed since long before the Euro was a reality, but as those evolutions were taken, by lowering defence spending on a national level in Europe, we see that this ignored cluster will have serious consequences, very much so for the American military hardware industry.

Can I be wrong?

That is what matter, for me as much as for you the reader. We will be depending on two elements, Is Brexit a reality in the first and will it force Frexit in the second. The first is less up in the air, but not a given, in the second, when Brexit happens, Frexit will be a certainty. Even if Brexit does not happen now, the French are worried and they do not want to be the last in the row of decision makers as Italy currently is, the fact that 53% want this referendum is worrying to many players (except for Marine Le Pen). Both Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy cannot ignore the cries of the French, if they do, they will feel the discomfort that Marie Antoinette had on October 16th 1793 (well, one can fantasize, can one not?), because France is for the French (as they see it), not for the Americans. They will come down hard on their government, which is playing perfectly into the hands of Marine Le Pen. No matter what happens, with or without Brexit. Germany cannot sustain the environment without the other three players, which places the UK now in a tactical predicament. Relying on France to keep cool, this is what drives Brexit to additional momentum.

So all this will drive the European Exodus Community, to some extent people, because national business needs the motivated people to get businesses working and moving forward, but for the most it will be about small businesses in a national setting. Those who adapt fast will grow. Larger corporations will feel the disastrous drag of not changing gears, of not adapting to the new environment, mainly because those head offices (many in America and Asia) will not comprehend the old systems that drove them and the changes required to make them. Those depending on decision makers will find that delays will cost increasingly until (often enough) the decision has been made too late. Rowing against the current will be a new slogan that larger players will have to deal with, driving their talents to smaller places where speed is available. This exodus environment will hit in many places, in many layers on several fronts. A front where only the adjusted will make headway. I wonder whether 2018 will be the year of culling the corporate herd. It is too soon to tell, but it will for the most depend on the brethren Brexit and Frexit both leaving this rocky boat called EEC!

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What news is news?

There are several pieces, not just in the Guardian, the BBC, the Independent or the Times. They all tell us that they have news, but do they have any actual news? The Guardian shows us a tech article (in the Tech section) called: ‘the node pole: inside Facebook’s Swedish hub near the Arctic Circle‘, all innocent news, one could surmise that it is just a space filler. Or was it done to give extra view to the article ‘Facebook is making more and more money from you. Should you be paid for it?‘, or perhaps to give extra light to ‘Facebook case may force European firms to change data storage practices‘, which I gave my views on in my previous blog. You decide!

In the business section we see VW to get some centre stage, which makes perfect sense and that is just the Guardian. The independent also has a go at Facebook, but now has a go at its users, well, actually it is not the Independent, but the employee tribunal. Now the article shows all kind of signs of bullying, which is never OK and in that regard Rachael Roberts has a real case, but in light of the events, Mrs Bird does not seem to be a friend of Mrs Roberts, so why is the act of unfriending on Facebook the killer? Yet it is the quote “But employment lawyer Josh Bornstein told ABC news the unfriending incident was found to be workplace bullying in the context of several other issues“, which baffles me, if they are not friends, one or the other could unfriend the other party, that part seems clear cut to me, not bullying. So out of the 18 allegations of bullying in total, the unfriending in Facebook took the cake? It does not add up to me!

In addition we see two whole articles on Facebook being down and oh yes, the new iPhone is for sale! Let’s not forget the fact that the iPhone now allows for sextracking. So, parents buy your boy or girl on of these bad boys so you can find new ways on how you are about to become a grandparent! Really? You need to keep scores on your phone now? Didn’t Ashley Maddison teach you anything regarding sex that is on the internet, everyone will know soon thereafter?

Finally they also gave visibility to ‘Hospital apologises for removing RAF sergeant from A&E because uniform could ‘upset’ patients‘, which is a can of worms in its own right. In that light I expect the NHS to move all drug and binge drink casualties to their basement as not to invoke bad thoughts from the Presbyterian community. How insane was the idea to move a wounded RAF sergeant in the first place!

All these events, some are actually news, but no one seems to have any balls. No one is looking at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Which of course ties in nicely with the words of the Dalai Lama ‘Dalai Lama on Britain’s policy towards China: ‘Where is morality?’’, the answer might not be such a high moral one, it goes a little like “Who is willing to suck the smallest extremity for the good of one’s career?

To some extent we can accept that the SFO is silent, only to the smallest extent. You see Tesco is dealing with a write-off of £6.4bn, which of course is massive. We have seen all the news on how some former Tesco entities are getting grilled (as they should) but the press on many levels in many nations keep on rehashing the old news and no one is digging into PwC. No one is digging there. Does that not sound awfully weird? Yet here is the kicker, we see more and more messages like ‘Multinational tax avoiders targeted’, with quotes like “while the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia warned about throwing up new hurdles in what is already a high-cost economy. The chamber’s board includes representatives from ConocoPhillips, GE, Boeing, PwC and Exxon Mobile“, yes it seems it is never a good time to go after tax avoiders (not to mention the impact it has on the bonus benefits for those working in that part of the financial branch).

Before you whisk this away as mere banter (which you are of course allowed to do), take a look at this article that is a little over a week old. It is from the Wall Street Journal, which I do not look into too often. The article (at http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/09/15/the-morning-download-identity-theft-key-to-attack-on-cisco-routers/) called ‘The Morning Download: Identity Theft Key to Attack on Cisco Routers‘, starts with: “Good morning. The international attacks on Cisco Systems Inc. routers, disclosed earlier today by security firm FireEye Inc.’s Mandiant unit, began with the theft of legitimate network credentials. Securing and managing the identity of network users continues to be a massive challenge for CIOs and CISOs and ultimately, the CEO and the board. The attacks have been named ‘SYNful’ because of how the malicious software moves across routers using their syndication functions “Cisco said SYNful did not take advantage of any vulnerability in its own software. Instead it stole valid network administration credentials from organizations targeted in the attacks or by gaining physical access to their routers,” Reuters reports today. Mandiant said in a blog post that it had found 14 instances of router implants, which replace Cisco’s operating system

Now, to complement that statement, I will add the following. On June 5th (more than 3 months before the WSJ article), I wrote ‘In reference to the router‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/06/05/in-reference-to-the-router/) , here I stated: “Soon thereafter no more firewall, no more routers, just the bliss of cloud servers and data, so much data!“, which reflected on the article I wrote on February 8th (more than 7 months before the WSJ), there I wrote “I think that ‘hackers’ have created a new level (as I mentioned before). I think that Cisco IOS was invisibly patched“, (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/02/08/the-next-cyber-wave/). I was literally accused by some to be insane, there was no way that this would EVER happen. Now we see in the Wall Street Journal: “Mandiant said in a blog post that it had found 14 instances of router implants, which replace Cisco’s operating system“, interesting how I am now proven correct. Are the members of the Baboon family (usually found in the FBI) reconsidering their North-Korean option? Let’s face it, this took top level skills, we can (as I pointed out in the past) find those boffins in the US, UK, FR, the FSB and Chinese Intelligence, however in North Korea not that much!

The Reuters article shows a lot more (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/16/us-cybersecurity-routers-cisco-systems-idUSKCN0RF0N420150916), however, they are just rehashing something I stated for almost a year, the quote ““That feat is only able to be obtained by a handful of nation-state actors,” DeWalt said, while declining to name which countries he suspected might be behind the Cisco router attacks” adds to my view that I was correct all along (finally another ‘I told you so!’ opportunity). The only difference is, is that DeWalt includes Israel, I have no real quality data on the Israeli cyber capabilities, so I am willing to give him that one. Finally we should consider the quote “Infected hardware devices include Cisco routers 1841, 2811 and 3825“, which is fair enough, yet in my article I offer the option that the CF unit found in nearly EVERY router could also open doors, so the danger could in theory go far beyond those three routers.

I also stated that my thoughts were based on sound speculation. You might wonder what sound speculation is. Basically, it means that even as I might not have them skills to program, I do understand that my solution is viable, the fact that routers are getting programmed with a new OS is clear evidence of that. In addition, it also gives weight to two infestation systems I speculated on as well as the weakness that those believing in the cloud are not realising at present. I was willing to look beyond the veil, a side everyone ignored. Yet when a router can be reprogrammed to the extent it was, also clearly means that data in motion is no longer safe, which means that pretty much any cloud data can be gotten too, the user only has to access the file to make that happen.

I even had a thought on dealing with the Iranian glow in the dark power plants when the time is there, just by thinking out of the box. It does involve a Piranha valve (which actually already exists in name, but mine is so much cooler). None of this is newsworthy, speculative opinion one might state. Yet in my speculation, I have shown solutions to be real in several occasions and in addition to that I also clearly outlined long before the press decided to show the minimalistic amount of balls (read testicles), that a look into Pricewaterhouse Coopers was adamant. It seems that apart from a December 2014 message from the SFO (rehashed by nearly all papers) not much happened, apart from that news, the press at large stayed clear of mentioning PwC and Tesco in one sentence. Is that not utterly weird?

Of course the luggage of someone’s mum in Tenerife (shipping at £122) gets front seat exposure, yet, the issue on £6.4bn getting lost due to assistance (better stated too weak opposition) by Pricewaterhouse Coopers seems too trivial to keep pressure on. Way to go Consumer Champions, Money! I actually mean that! They did do a good job and they have done so in the past, yet I fear that a letter by Dave Lewis on how his firm lost £6.4bn as the keeper of his books was not prudent, or is that tenacious enough to ring that bell very loudly when things looked too odd. Will Consumer Champions find that money? Will they write “Pricewaterhouse Coopers must accept responsibility for the signing off on books as the “accountant”?” Consumer Champions might not get this done, which is fair enough. It should not be on their plate, but the parties this should be very visible on are also not doing anything as far as we can tell, they remain silent, they remain this silent after 9 months.

Yet in all this there is one part both the Guardian and the Independent are getting right. It is the news on the NHS, there are massive problems and knowing them all is essential in finding a solution. In this matter the press has played a good role. In my view exposing former and current politicians a little more on the political game they play, so that we all understand that a proper solution is needed and taking the politicians out of that equation might not be the worst idea, the end result stays the same, the NHS is now too close on the edge of collapse to be acceptable, yet where lies the solution? Although I understand the issue the Independent shows, I partially disagree. The headline ‘New NHS junior doctor contract would discriminate against women, senior medics warn‘ is not incorrect (at http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/new-nhs-junior-doctor-contract-would-discriminate-against-women-senior-medics-warn-10516885.html), yet in all fairness, the quote “Under the new contract, trainees who decide to work part-time would see their pay increase more slowly than their colleagues” is a can of worms! Why would my co-worker doing 32 hours get the same raise as myself working 60 hours? (Remember, I am not a doctor). A choice was made! Yet, there is a level of fairness here too. Which means that to tackle it should be done in another way. Even as there is a shortage, the burnout of physicians is a known issue and making a maximum of 40 hours a week a mandatory status could be close to the only solution. Perhaps we have been too indulged, perhaps some options should only be there during the week. Perhaps the change to healthcare is essential (like hiring 40% more staff), but we also accept that at current not one government remains to afford that change (well perhaps Easter Island where there are less than 10 doctors). In the end the system has been ignored for too long. Too many politicians are on the ‘let’s get the computers up and running‘ whilst they know that staff will remains a problem for a long time.

That is news! That is what matters, but too many papers and too many news broadcasts are about the emotions and not the actual news that matters. That might be an incorrect view and a very biased view. It might be that some news is more important than other news parts, I will instantly agree, yet in all that the complete silence from pretty much all the papers regarding Tesco and some involved book keeping parties remains a mystery to me, how is that part not news? We will see more events that will not get the proper light in newspapers, both in paper as well as online, I’ll let you decide how that measurement applies to an involved party to events that started a £6.4bn downgrade.

 

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Trade Pact Dangers

Yesterday I saw the first inkling that there is a problem with the EEC. When we recall the events in any place for a long time, where we see a stronger right take control, it always falls over because fortunately for us, those at the head of a far right table tend to be ‘loons’, which usually works out well for the people. In France we saw Jean-Marie Le Penn, who never got a large enough foothold, so people relaxed. Yesterday, if you watched the European debate, you would have seen a very strong and victorious Nigel Farage, he made perfect sense. In that same light, the local elections saw a massive French pull towards Front Nationale. Marine Le Penn is gaining control of 11 towns, which is a strong indication of the waves that will follow in a direction towards the Presidency and the Future of France. If the future feared by big wig exploiters comes to term, we will see a massive changing wave. It is one of the reasons why President Obama looks eager, some might say even desperate to get the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) finalised.

It is clear that Big Business is changing. It is more and more about where the partnership resides. Australia is currently finding this out the hard way. The TPP was always an issue to some extent, but now that not just the Car Industry, but the Petrochemical industry is leaving Australia for cheaper Asian shores, we see that Australia is deduced to nothing more than a consumer state. Mitsubishi, who had already left, is closely followed by Holden, Ford and Toyota, who are now executing their exit strategy. In the last few days we also saw the messages on how Philip Morris, BP and Boeing are moving away (at http://www.skynews.com.au/topstories/article.aspx?id=963890&vId=439434).

The quote “BP said the emergence of large low-cost oil refineries in Asia was the reason for its decision to close its Brisbane operations“, is only the first of many of those sentences. American companies are moving away, needing more leverage, especially as America is increasing its hunt for those hiding behind tax shelters (Ireland apparently has a lovely percentage option this time of the year). When it is all added up together, the prospective job losses will likely rise above an additional 50,000 within the next 3 years. This is a massive blow to the economy. This is all part of a larger wave. What is happening here is not due to what the Clown spokesperson of Labor has claimed it to be (he is sometimes addressed as Bill Shorten), this is also not due to the Liberal party as Bill Shorten (wow, I managed to avoid the word Clown there) claims it to be. “Tony Abbott’s only been in power for five months, and we’ve seen 5,000 manufacturing jobs announced as gone, that is a thousand jobs a month in manufacturing lost under the Abbott Government” (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-19/bill-shorten-cherrypicking-manufacturing-job-loss-figures/5260996). These plans have been underway for a lot longer than that. Some of these issues were at the heart of the TPP, which places much of this in the time that Labor was in office. In addition, as the AC rightly states “ABS data clearly shows the number of people employed in manufacturing has been declining for decades“, which puts the ball very clearly in both courts.

We are all looking at these matters the wrong way, especially the non-youthful ones. What we are forgetting is that ‘fair‘ has not been part of any business approach for a long time. The TPP was not about ‘opening‘ borders for trade; it was about allowing business to find the best route to profit. It was never about saving the 3%-5% on margins as borders opened (as some state it); it was about the options to save 30%-50% on labour costs. the TPP goes further than that, when we consider the patents and services options as they are trying to get that through, but this article is not about that part for now (I illuminated that part in past blog articles).

We can see these Australian examples as a foundation of what is going on in Europe. Nigel Farage called the EEC “A political Union with an expansionist foreign policy“. That part has been seen in the Ukraine and it is now backfiring as Crimea rejoined Russia. The second danger is the one that Nick Clegg stated in a way he did not expect to do “that we can have all the good things in Europe, whist not being in Europe. It is a dangerous con“, he was kind enough there to make a case for Nigel Farage, because that is what is happening, whilst the UK is in the EEC. The expansionist part, driven by some players is all about tapping sources for low cost labour, what happens when investors ‘suddenly’ open plants in Lithuania, as people costs are 70%-80% less? This is exactly what is happening in Australia, and in Europe, they do not need to wait for a trade pact, the EEC is one, opening those doors for anyone joining them.

I have always been for trade agreements, but those who were there leaving others a decent margin of fairness. As we saw HMV, Virgin and other stores shutting down as the internet took over, we now see other markets where manufacturing moves away, which leaves the UK with a consumer market, but one that is not funded through jobs, which means that the downward spiral will hit them hard and fast. In Australia we see messages of 60,000-90,000 jobs lost. Several are basically shouting for panic reactions, but a massive amount of jobs are falling away, which means that the spending group is also leaving the Australian borders. This is exactly the fear that Nigel Farage is informing the people on, whilst the other parties are all about preserving the EEC link no matter what. It is the ‘no matter what‘ that is the issue. I am all for trade, the EEC and to some extent the TPP. Yet, this is no longer a good idea as these two concepts are paving the way for a ‘cheapest option possible‘, which is the real danger. It is also high time that American Business is getting taught that lessons right quick. I have nothing against Boeing walking away, but consider the consequence that will come as we saw Russian Aeronautical ‘giant’ Sukhoi getting the deals from China. What would happen when Sukhoi gets the option to enter the EEC and the Commonwealth market? That should give a right scare to the American market. As America is unable to stem in the levels of greed and exploitation, why not cut them? Consider that the Sukhoi S-100 is more than sufficient to reach the European destinations, should we really bother with a flawed Boeing 787 Dreamliner?

It is time for people to throw out the strategy guide that they have made their decisions with for the better part of their life. The greed driven are playing us all based on that guide. It is time for us to write a new one. I remain hesitant whether leaving the EEC is a good idea. However, Nigel Farage was able to shift me and I dare say many others from definite ‘no’, to a hesitant ‘maybe’. I’ll admit, that knowing the TPP to some degree (the Wikileaks edition) and seeing the Australian fall-out did influence it all, but there is the foundation of the fear we all face. When Ford or a company like that starts moving from the UK to Poland or even Latvia or Lithuania, the UK will only have themselves to blame. It will not be the fault of the Conservatives, Labour or even UKIP. It was the cost of doing business and workers are so much cheaper in other places, with no retirement issues to consider (small reference to the Visteon workers deal).

I remain hopeful that the European and Commonwealth nations will unite, whether within the EEC or not. As we get our trades up in a fair, square and profitable way, we will flourish, which is a lesson that has been forgotten in the US of A where greed rules eternal. In an age where the average unemployment rate is well over 11% (EEC average), we have options, we have willing people and we can get a profitable balance for all.

This is why Le Penn and Farage are gaining loads of grounds and the changes in the EEC are now slowly becoming a mere matter of time, a change that many did not realistically anticipate 12 months ago.

 

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Opportunities to lower spending

The Dutch have a new observation drone. It is called the Scan Eagle (by Boeing). Unlike the Raven, this little pretty pretty can fly at 1000 meters for 17 hours and is able to observe and find those who they need to find. Even though some are now overly screaming privacy, it is not about those people. This Super Drone as Gerard Schouw from D66 (Dutch Democratic Party) called it. It needs legislation. Who will it observe? For which purposes will it be used? Where is the data stored? There are no answers at this point. To some extent this part surprised me. The Belgium police had been working with camera mounted helicopters for a while (DSAS). They have been doing this for almost 10 years. The Dutch were not? These questions have never been raised before? Nope, Mr Schouw seems to be correct (not that his statement was ever in doubt). Even though as was observed by others that section 3 of the Dutch Police act gives them leeway to use this solution, with these current levels of assumed invasion of privacy, legal questions would and should be asked. (Thanks to blog by Rejo Zenger at www.rejo.zenger.nl)

Yet, is this just about this observation drone, or just about privacy laws? We see a massive growth in the deployment of drones, some with weapon capacity. What are the real issues? The Dutch like many other nations have CCTV, they have helicopters that could observe and with the eye on admissible evidence in case of prosecutions, the idea that the issues of digital image capturing has not been a legal issue before is slightly puzzling to me at present.

No matter how we see these drones. They are not toys and these devices have a clear need. It does not initially matter whether we are dealing with an armed version, or a mere observation version of the drone. The idea that nations have an effective air force without the need to endanger troops is more than just appealing. In addition, in an age where we MUST lower costs, where a predator costs under 5 million and the average fighter jet is almost 1000% the cost of a predator, can we even consider NOT implementing such options? An option that will keep pilots safe, and in addition offer a solution where extensive costs of training fall largely away. How can this solution be a bad thing to consider? Questions will remain, no doubt and we will always need pilots and actual planes, even if it is to get goods and support systems into place. This little pretty pretty can easily be launched from a small launcher and does not need the infrastructure the Global Hawk needs, making it very versatile and could be a great additional asset to non-military support needs.

My first thought was to take these Scan Eagles, add Israeli FLIR technology and the result could be a first actual effective line of defence that South Africa needs to hunt down Ivory poachers. Especially considering the current dangers to the elephant population and their almost assured future of extinction.

The issue of privacy laws remain as Dutch politician Gerard Schouw observed. That need should actually be considered on a European scale. If these drones are making headway, then exploring the laws and rules of observer drones and the current privacy laws then we see the need to address it from both Civil and Common law views. If we can believe last month’s news, then these issues are very much in play in Germany too. Even though they are now dealing with the issue of US drone strikes as these drones seem to have been operated from Germany, issues on privacy laws as observation drones are operated in other countries will be food for legislation in more than just equal measure, especially as several European defence forces are now in talks/finalising stages for acquiring drone technologies.

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