Tag Archives: Commonwealth

Alphabet Soup

I have been away for a little while. I delivered my final paper on Friday after a 34 hour stretch, mainly because I have the unequaled ability to doubt my own work any given moment. This is weird, because when it comes to data and data systems, I can see through the fog of implied BS in ways most cannot fathom. In that same way, I am now seeing a weird transition by Microsoft that has the ability to endanger its own customer base, which might be a new low in their list of achievements. After a day of attempted rest whilst I faced 44 degrees (summer in Sydney), the Guardian treats me (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/03/skills-shortage-harming-uks-ability-to-protect-itself-from-cyber-attacks). There is something either incomplete or not matching here. The article by ‘Rajeev Syal and agencies’ is actually quite good, it gives us “the role of the Cabinet Office, which is responsible for coordinating information protection across government, remains unclear“, which is in one way awesome because of the admitted issue, a little less so when you consider that his has been going on for over 6 years. You see, those people still got paid, and the admission of non-clarity for that amount of time should validate a few additional questions to those occupying postal code SW1A 2AS. So, when you are in front of that Downing Street fence, which separates the Prime Minister from the common riff raff, it will be the building on the right! One of the interesting quotes is: “The threat of cybercrime is ever-growing, yet evidence shows Britain ranks below Brazil, South Africa and China in keeping phones and laptops secure. In this context it should concern us all that the government is struggling to ensure its security profession has the skills it needs.

I would add to that is the fact that those nations tend to hold employees accountable for cyber losses, which might not be fair but it is apparently wildly effective. In the cyber industry a decent dose of paranoia tends to keep people cautious and on their toes, which does allow to explain the situation the Commonwealth at large finds itself in, not just the UK. One of the gems in the article was “The report said the Cabinet Office’s ability to make informed decisions about security is “undermined by inconsistent and chaotic processes for recording personal data breaches”“, that is just one factor. The fact that Microsoft has been uploading gigabytes of data (per person) from gaming consoles, without consent and whilst Microsoft is in denial blaming the ISP for this event, the question the press at large has not considered asking Microsoft. Why do you need 6 GB of data from a console playing a single player game? There is no way that this is about ‘enhancing‘ the experience.

newzoo-games-market-segments

This is about collecting data and in addition, there is no divulging on what exactly is being uploaded, the fact that it is done without consent is another matter and there is no record on the system. If one victim had not shown me the $60 additional fee he got for 2 weeks of unknown uploading, I would not have believed it. The fact is that this person had mobile broadband was a kink in the attempt to keep the uploads unnoticed is one that Microsoft had not considered and as such we need to consider that an Xbox User needs to realise he is facing an estimated $1400 a year in additional fees upload fees, how affordable is that console now?

So is this about money, about data or about privacy? The issue is that worldwide 15 million were sold by November 2015, whilst the US has roughly 8.5 million of them. So a sizeable chunk of the 6.5 million outstanding consoles are in the UK and whilst Microsoft is not revealing the sales numbers, likely as the humiliation against the PS4 sales is too great, we also need to wonder in light of the upcoming Scorpio (the Xbox One plus plus) edition, the light of so much uploads without consent is an issue, because in the first the people did not get a choice and the second is that there is no way to tell what was uploaded, how much privacy information. In that light, we need to look at not just what is done, but what actions need to be made against these large corporations and I am willing to bet the house that these ‘inconsistent and chaotic processes for recording personal data breaches‘ involve groups giving protection to Microsoft to some degree creating chaos. In addition, I wonder if GCHQ is aware on what Microsoft is pushing into its Azure cloud via Windows 10, what level of privacy breaches is Microsoft involved in?

That is part of all the issues because there is no issue with skill shortage, especially when cybercrimes cannot be properly monitored as everything is in a cloud environment, a US driven cloud environment I might add. Before those in Whitehall start to snicker on the premise of gaming, perhaps those are reminded that as we see in Newzoo (at https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/global-games-market-reaches-99-6-billion-2016-mobile-generating-37/), the gaming industry is a $100 billion plus field and the UK has shown its teeth in this field for the longest of times.

q2_2016_newzoo_global_games_market_revenue_growth_2015-2019

Yet the makers are now creating an unfair advantage (and without consent) on mineable data allowing US companies to take the highest road at the least cost. In all this they have the ability of selling spiked lemons, impeding the industry outside of the AAA American companies’ even further. That is all before we see the dangers of cloud intrusions and the damage organised crime can inflict. And any of those people claiming that this cannot happen, I would advise those people to take a look at the Sony track record of getting hacked. There are too many unknowns, but the fact that a lot of this is done without consent is perhaps the most damaging one and so far, it seems that skills shortage in the UK is not even the most debilitating one. When you consider this quote: “The government ignored its own advice by failing to carry out a business case for government security classifications system, which was meant to deliver £110- to £150m-a-year in benefits, MPs said“, a quote that is not in question perse, yet the fact that the games industry surpassed $100 billion, in this the UK could stand to corner up to $30 billion, I am decently certain that ‘£110- to £150m-a-year in benefits‘ won’t be getting close to covering it any day soon.

The losses and the growing loss of industries in several sectors are leaving the UK with a diminishing amount of options in an industry that will the first and almost the only one growing its production, manufacturing and development base. All items that would have the effect of spicing the coffers of her majesties treasury by a fair bit, that is of course not the bottom line, but it is the icing on the cake and those who had to live by ‘let them eat cake‘ have been doing so without any icing for nearly a decade. And that is all before Google has decided on the next step that could bring them an additional 6-13 billion (13 billion would be most advantageous forecasted model), a jump that will affect software and hardware evolutions in a few ways for the next decade as 5G gets a hold of these new devices and opens the field for even more devices and concept solution. A change few had seen coming and less of them thought the change was realistic, some hold that opinion even today, it’s a sad world, I know!

In that atmosphere the Cabinet office and MP’s are deliberating on Cyber needs and skills whilst their train is already 3 stops delayed and they have no idea what is awaiting two stops ahead, meaning they are already one train stop behind and that is just delay through inaction. So as we are looking at the last part given, where we see: “A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman said: “The government has been clear that the newly formed NCSC is the UK’s definitive authority on cyber security. In the four months since becoming operational, the NCSC has transformed how the UK deals with cyber security by offering incident management capabilities, fostering technical innovation to help prevent attacks and providing real-time cyber threat information to 3,000 organisations from over 20 different industries”“, yet in that, where is the turnaround? You see, as we see linked to all this: “New generation of ethical hackers aims to impress recruiters“, we see: “Defence experts have long warned of the growing menace of cyber-crime and now they have good reason to believe the threat is being given priority treatment“, yet we do not see: “Last year’s Cyber Security Challenge was fairly fanciful. It involved a bio-hazard attack and a threat against a minor royal. This year, the challenge is more grounded in reality. The contestants are asked to find evidence of large corporations gaining an increased advantage by uploading personal data without consent for advantageous data mining“, that no less a threat and it seems that government parties on a global scale are actively avoiding this. You see, we agree that organised crime and batches of exploiting hackers must be stopped, yet for the longest time, the party’s involved are ignoring the ‘legal‘ crimes and how it is shifting the balance of cyber power. slowly but certainly towards the 5 big players leaving the field barren for nearly all other innovative corporation hoping to grow into that field and as the field is limited to 5 players we will lose out on actual innovation and we are left with the iterative field we have had for slightly too long. By the way, this goes far beyond games, this field is now intersecting a very different field. Consider the paper ‘Big Data Framework for Analyzing Patents to Support Strategic R&D Planning‘, by Wonchul Seo, Namhyoung Kim and Sungchul Choi. In this paper they set in the abstract “In this paper, we propose a big data framework to process and analyse large-scale patent data. The proposed framework consists of four layers: an aggregator layer, a storage layer, an analysis layer, and an application layer. These layers are designed to collect patent data, store the collected data, analyse the data, and present the results. The primary objectives of the proposed framework are to provide a patent analysis service platform based on big data technologies, and to support strategic R&D planning for organizations“, now consider interfacing that with a database that has the goods on 270 million devices using Windows 10. Does it still sound so strange? The gaming industry might seem juvenile to the people in Whitehall, but even they cannot be stupid enough to ignore a $100 billion plus industry. So as Microsoft is uploading data and no one is asking questions, we have to wonder why the questions are not asked, more important, the fact that ‘without consent‘ is not addressed is even more worrying, especially with the cyber players in town and the fact that anyone actively ignoring a few billion in revenue tends to not have a career after that comes out.

So you tell me, is the water still too murky or are the players murky about the actions taken?

And when we see the marketing responses like ‘to give the players a better gaming experience‘ or ‘uploading is not with us, that responsibility lies with your ISP‘, you better be able to answer the question why the ISP is dumping all that data on the Azure cloud, because ISP’s tend to not do anything they aren’t paid for and they tend to not do anything without consent, as the retaliatory claims and penalties tend to be much too high. So when the alphabet soup gives us Avarice, Build-up & Covetousness. Is the alphabet soup about protecting against cyber-attacks or trying to minimise corporate losses?

They are both victims, but one does not include the other, I’ll leave it up to you to decide who remains a victim in the long run.

 

 

 

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For Only the Messenger

A few things were showed yesterday from several sources. We can see that there is a new peacock session going on, the parade is in Hangzhou. There the representatives of Wall Street and Dow Jones are making themselves heard regarding the world needs by talking about something else. So, as we see Japan (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/04/britain-japanese-brexit-letter-eu) making mention of certain expectations, we wonder who is asking them how their failed objectives by trying Stimulus package after stimulus package whilst not showing any return on that investment. A nation one third of the US having a debt that surpasses 10 trillion dollar. So when I read “a deal that leaves Britain not just in the EU customs union, and single market, but also retains a free flow of workers between the EU and the UK“, it is my personal belief that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not working with all thrusters. The idea of self-governing is that the British people decide on a course via their politicians. Not listen to some spokesperson who has (pardon my French) been kissing the arse of the USA (mostly large corporations) for the longest of times. When they were all up in arms about the TPP, see what slice of cake they could get. Now that the TPP is near certainly of the books, Japan has a problem, because these so called Japanese reforms were largely dependent on the TPP opening non-taxable options. Politico stated: “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be challenged to find some other way to make much-needed economic reforms to stimulate growth if Congress fails to approve the TPP pact and the initiative dies on the vine, a former U.S. trade official said Thursday” (at http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-trade/2016/08/tpp-failure-could-derail-abe-reforms-in-japan-216092), just a week ago, meaning that the G20 is likely to get a side meeting or two between senior US politicians and the Japanese Prime Minister.

So isn’t it interesting how these people are now finally ‘uniting’? The quote “The fear for Downing Street is that other non-EU countries – under internal pressure from their business communities – will now follow the Japanese example and publicly set out the parameters of an acceptable deal from the point of view of their UK-based companies“. This all relates to an equal worry that the UK is seeing within its own borders. It is partially shown in the article ‘Theresa May refuses to commit to Brexit pledges on immigration and NHS’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/04/theresa-may-refuses-to-guarantee-brexit-pledges-on-immigration-and-nhs) that is apart from the quotes like “Tokyo said Japanese firms could move to other parts of Europe unless many of the current privileges of membership were maintained“, which is a simple indication that Tokyo is licking the heel of Washington DC. I can give that speculation with a certain amount of certainty as they had absolutely no issues pulling out of Australia with Toyota and Mitsubishi. That is after they maximised the troth of subsidies and ate the lot. In my view, Japan does not get to have a word in this. So if they want to leave, let them. Consider that they are willing to gamble on 68 million potential consumers to switch to German brands, not a good move Japan! Yet, this was not the issue initially. You see the quote that Teresa May gives: “the best possible deal for the UK in terms of the relationship that we would have with the EU, following us leaving“, there are unknowns, that has always been the case, yet in light of Japan’s actions, the question becomes, what other actions is lame duck Obama playing with? You see, we are all getting played. part of it is shown in Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-finance-idUSKCN10D2OM) the quote “Deepening ties with European companies and “old friends” like the United States and Japan would help Britain preserve its global role in finance after leaving the EU, an industry body said on Wednesday” is only partially a given. You see, the industry bodies do not want their cushy bonuses to fall away. So as they are striking out with the government directly, they are now pushing for the battle stages to be placed with the ‘larger’ economies. The only issue is that Japan has run out of options and the US cannot get the TPP of the ground, meaning that the current lame quack quack is out of options to look good. You see, my reasoning is as follows. When we see the following quotes given to Reuters “they like to do business through London due to the depth of the talent pool and capital markets here“, second quote is “Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and Milan all hope to win a slice of London’s market share in financial services” and third there is “Britain must make more of how much companies across Europe rely on Britain’s financial services and allied professions like accounting and law to do business“, now we get the what we for now will call the Shinzo Abe list. “Maintenance of the access to workers who are nationals of the UK or the EU“, “Maintenance of the freedom of establishment and the provision of financial services, including the “single passport” system” and “the provision of services as well as the free movement of capital, including that between associated companies“. How is this any list that has validity? We are not here to empower Sony, Apple or Microsoft for that matter. You Honourable Shinzo Abe do not get to make the dictation of a list after your companies moved out of Australia because the profit margin was not up to scrap, even after we learned that every Toyota came with a $1800 bonus per car and including those who got shipped to China, so how does the Honourable Shinzo Abe thinks that he is seen anything else then the voice of corporations who have massively been filling their pockets with margins that are too obscene for words. In addition, when we combine the lists we see a play that is all about giving large corporations a free ‘go’, which is how we got into this mess in the first place. The more voices we see on a compromise of the acts without the title makes me wonder who is in charge in the United Kingdom. We know Wall Street controls the USA, but I still believe that the monarchy that is the United Kingdom needs to hold fast and continue on the path that makes them rulers again, not vassals to the corporations.

By the way, when will we ever allow a corporation to dictate what passport comes into play?

So as we (for now) see the Honourable Shinzo Abe as a mere messenger, we have to worry why he took these steps to begin with. This reeks more towards setting the US corporate needs than anything else. Now it could be that even within Japan tough questions would be asked, if political pressures had not been used to get rid of Ichiro Furutachi, Hiroko Kuniya and Shigetada Kishii. Of these I only know Shigetada Kishii to the smallest extent. People in the workplace asking the hard questions, not the useless questions you would get from Lisa Wilkinson (Australia) or Ben Shephard (UK), but the likes of Andrew Jennings (BBC News). So that is a loss!

In all this I see that in more and more nations it is the corporations that decide on news, because those breakfast news shows are all dependant on advertisers, whomever controls them, controls the press to a decent amount. So as we see the messengers on several fronts we see that all of them are now giving way to large corporations and their ‘needs’ whilst the players as a whole are not held accountable for any of this and together they seem to be keeping the non-taxability of corporations a certainty. If you doubt that then wonder why Ireland is now suddenly supporting the appeal from Apple. So not only do they all want a united Europe, but its court rulings are not all that valid. I wonder what will happen if it is ever overthrown. How angry will the people get?

Will the announcer claim protection with the phrase ‘I am only the messenger?‘ Time will tell, but it is clear that Brexit was always going to take a while and for those corporations? They knew the risk was there for well over a year, now they cry wolf? Actually, they are making the Honourable Shinzo Abe cry wolf (which might be worse).

It only shows that they never prepared for this. So why give considerations to people who cannot prepare for these events? Oh and the threat from Japan to take the car makers out of UK? Well, you could do that, but when the Commonwealth population as a whole decide to not to buy a Japanese car, you will make the Korean and Chinese Car industry very happy. Japan? Did the history books not tell me that they became Eastern China in 2018? Perhaps the Yen completely collapsed, as did their economy!

I’ll let you decide on how the industrials are now trying to play the UK!

A friend that threatens our freedom of choice is not a friend. Did they not learn that lesson the hard way on August 6th 1945? I know it’s only been 25,964 days ago, but still!

 

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The Validity of Targeted Killing

This is not some euphemism like the trials and tribulations of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. This is not a game, nor is it some romantic twist. It is the harsh reality of a government that didn’t get it to begin with and now as the body count ads up, it has painted itself into a corner and until it wakes up and gets active, its citizens will be placed into immediate harm. The undeniable consequence of a flaccid government set to inaction. The nice part is, is that governments at large are all on the same boat. The US, nominated as the most stupid one, followed by the European Community at large, the Commonwealth and a few more nations. It seems that in this specific case China is the only clever participant (in this specific case).

To give you the connections at hand, we need to realise what exactly is Targeted Killing. In this case it is the ‘Assassination by a state organisation outside of the judicial procedure or a battlefield’. Yet in this, the existing definition is not complete or correct. In this day and age, assassination is done in a multitude of ways, not always corporeal being lethal, but in some cases that might actually have been an act of mercy if it ended that way. So what is this about?

You might think that it started with ‘WhatsApp privacy backlash: Facebook angers users by harvesting their data‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/25/whatsapp-backlash-facebook-data-privacy-users), but you would be wrong. This is not the start, but it might be the end of the beginning. You see, the one part that people forgot is that data once captured will be an entity onto itself, it will take on a life of its own, your shadow self, but a part you no longer have control of. You see, you still control your shadow, you step away from the light and it moves your shadow, when all the light is gone, your shadow is dead, because it only lives through your indirect interaction with light. The link we have initially is: ‘WhatsApp to give users’ phone numbers to Facebook for targeted ads‘, which the Guardian published 2 days ago. You see, the subtitle “Messaging service will begin sharing private information with Facebook and is preparing to allow businesses to message users” gives us the consequence. Our data is no longer our own, we gave that right up and as such, data is now starting to get shared with people we did not consider it could be shared with. So even if we see that this reflects on ‘phone numbers’ this first step is more than that as we see ‘sharing private information‘, when you consider the quote “They will have 30 days to decide whether to opt out of their information being used for ad targeting on Facebook, but will not be able to opt out of their data being sharing with the social network“, you might get a first idea of how bad things could possibly become. The quote “Whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls“, this quote seems nice, but that is not the information some are looking for. Consider how often you called a health professional. Now consider that the insurance agencies start digging into all the calls they can get their hands on. They can data-mine it by linking that to all the health professionals that work through them. Let’s put that into a state of reference you will understand.

Any person is likely to be connected to health professionals and pharmacies. Like your GP (physician), a Chemist and perhaps a Medical Clinic. Now consider that if you have called any of these places in total 4 times or more this year, your insurance could go up by 10%, and an additional 2% for any additional call in that time period. This will be worth Millions to that insurance agency, because they will get the data that involves 10% or more of their customer base. Now, this last part is a little speculative. The reason is that clear information is not out there. Some state that WhatsApp has 8% coverage in the US, whilst another source states 34%. There is no clear number we can trust because those behind WhatsApp are also aware that high numbers will cause concern, so we get bombarded with specific information, not giving us an exact picture. Yet for the US, we see that the number of users is between 26 and 79 million, which is too large a fluctuation, yet in other places like South Africa, where the usage is 68% and 72% in Brazil. Now we have another matter, because insurance agents, in these areas can form a health hazard image with much greater precision, it maximises their profits and changes a health entity into a ‘milking solution’ of healthy people, the others can sit on expensive bills and die of their own good accord.

That is what the article does not bring forth and that is what is only just below the surface. It is all happening because of two sides. On the one side, political players left too many backdoors open, meaning that in reality these players will never be prosecuted in any way. On the other side, a clear information pass to all people alarming them of the dangers that data collection brings was not in the cards either. Here, the governments get a little bit of leeway as no one truly saw the impact that social media would have, Facebook changed it in many unimaginable ways.

With WhatsApp now surpassing the 1 billion user market we now have a player that has global coverage, making that data worth a lot to some players, the insurance world is only one of them. Consider the interaction of Mobiles and the internet and what other information is being collected. That is now becoming clear and as certain cases saw in the past, data might be deleted, but will never be wiped, so as such we now have a massive issue and this is only the beginning. You see, even as the people at WhatsApp are trying to put your fear to sleep. The quote “WhatsApp said: “We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers.”” should not diminish that fear. You see, “we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number” is not the art that matters. What does matter is what unique identifier will be shared and no matter what the foundation of that number is, once it is decomposed to its core and can be made uniquely identifiable, it will start the next push towards the epitaph of privacy.

So how does this relate to targeted killing?

You see the plain fact is, is that we no longer have a correct view on how politicians view ‘the long term’. You see, ‘for the good of all’ is now a hollow statement, especially when we consider the latest president of the US and more important, the impact that whomever comes next has. We can see that in the following links ‘Corporate tax reform is vital to boosting America’s growth‘ (Financial Times), where we see “In the intervening years, nearly every developed country has reformed its tax codes to make them more competitive than that of America. Meanwhile, the US has allowed its tax code to atrophy“, which is one way to tell the story. What is the crux is that for too long tax breaks were given to large corporations. Tax breaks that allowed them to operate for nearly free, making the revenue they obtained, to be ‘the profit they got’. In addition we see ‘Treasury Department Criticizes EU on Corporate Tax Probes‘ (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/treasury-department-criticizes-eu-on-corporate-tax-probes-1472059767), here we see “U.S. officials also see a potential risk to the federal budget. Under current law, U.S. companies owe U.S. taxes on the profits they earn around the world and get tax credits for payments to foreign governments. To the extent they pay more in Europe, they could pay less to the U.S. when they repatriate the money or when Congress imposes a mandatory tax on their stockpiled foreign profits“. Here we could go into ‘Yay, America, good for you mode‘, but the truth is that part of 325 American Consumers (many of them being non-consumer) is nothing compared to the billions of consumers companies like Apple are getting their profits from. The linked White paper (added at the end) states “Beginning in June 2014, the Commission announced that certain transfer pricing rulings given by Member States to particular taxpayers may have violated the EU’s restriction on State aid. These investigations, if continued, have considerable implications for the United States—for the U.S. government directly and for U.S. companies—in the form of potential lost tax revenue and increased barriers to cross-border investment. Critically, these investigations also undermine the multilateral progress made towards reducing tax avoidance“, a paper that comes from the US Treasury. Perhaps people there like Jacob J. Lew and Sarah Bloom Raskin should have realised the long term consequences that they thrust towards others and are now thrust back onto them. If the treasury would not have been so stupid to send a member of the USC (United States of Cowards), namely President Obama to make a presentation in The Hague in 2013, where we see a refusal to back international taxation laws to allow for tougher calls on digital companies. The official quote was “senior officials in Washington have made it known they will not stand for rule changes that narrowly target the activities of some of the nation’s fastest growing multinationals“. I dealt with this in my articles ‘Delusional‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/07/delusional/) and ‘Ignoranus Totalicus‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/24/ignoranus-totalicus/), which I wrote on April 7th and 24th of this year. So perhaps hoping for as they state it an “unforeseeable departure from the status quo” was not the best idea to have, especially as maintaining the Status Quo screwed up Greece for economic life and it got them Brexit! Two elements that will push taxation changes in the European Union even further.

So how stupid were they?

Well, from one side we could state ‘extremely so’, yet that would ignore the part that is ignored by many. The truth is that players like Apple, Google and Facebook now have powers that exceed many governments and they have the benefit of not being in debt. So it amounts to Facebook giving a presentation to these so called ‘Senior Officials’ in Washington with on the last slide they see ‘Monkey see, Monkey do!’, and the presentation, minus the final slide gets send around by so called senior officials. Our lives now firmly in the hands of non-elected officials.

That is the crux, because it can only stop with massive changes to the taxation system, with the dangers that it will break the back of national economies. It is that regard that made Brexit a necessary evil and when official discussions start in 2017 as Article 50 comes into play, the line of taxation will change even more. All because those who needed to advocate change were unwilling to clearly speak out and now hell comes for its pound of flesh.

Now we can complete the targeted killing part that was unclear. You see the definition should be: ‘The Assassination by a ruling organisation outside of the Judicial procedure or a battlefield‘, which now puts Facebook in play. You see, when Brad J. Bushman Ph.D. wrote ‘It’s Time to Kill the Death Penalty‘ (at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-psyched/201401/it-s-time-kill-the-death-penalty), he forgot a few parts. Now, this is a good article and seeing the sides he discusses in the frame it was written is well worth reading. Yet, when he states “The Death Penalty Models the behaviour it seeks to Prevent” is about the act of corporeally killing a person. Then we get ‘You Might Kill the Wrong Person‘ which is a valid argument any day of the week. Now consider those who would kill you in different ways. When Facebook bans you for life, it stops you from interacting and as such you become a social pariah, an outcast and you are withdrawn from social circles, yet their model is not about your limit to interaction. When they sell on your data you run the risk to get barred from certain rights. Rights to medical support as insurance agents find you a risk and make the monthly fee no longer affordable. It will potentially change your data as you are a risk to finances and limit or stop creditability for a house. Algorithms will stop you to move forward. You will be dead in the soul as the rightful interactions for your way of life are removed from you, mostly all from predictive modelling, an expected future, not a given fact. You become guilty until proven incorrectly processed. It is still targeted killing, but one of a different kind. And in all this Facebook would never be made accountable for any of this. That is the part that all seem to ignore. Those who do prosecute it will try to get a large fine out of it, yet the people wronged will still be regarded as ‘executed’.

Now in light of all this and all of you would have seen, consider the statement that the ACLU gave “The capital punishment system is discriminatory and arbitrary and inherently violates the Constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, and looks forward to the day when the United States joins the majority of nations in abolishing it“, being excluded from healthcare as insurers make certain paths unaffordable is certainly discriminatory, especially as the true vetting of the data that is used against the people cannot be verified and is forced upon a ‘victim’. In addition, the isolation that results from these actions can be regarded as torture.

So how was there not a stronger level of protection? That part is harder to argue as it was your personal freedom to join up to these services and once the data is given, when the service changes its foundational work, we have no say over the removal of already collected data. So when we consider the quote “The service will not be merged with Facebook’s other chat-based service Messenger or photo-sharing service Instagram. But all services under Facebook will gain access to WhatsApp users’ phone numbers and other account information, and it can be used to suggest contacts be added as friends“, so now we see the dangers that professional contacts become social contacts (read: ‘friends’). I have seen that this could end up being a great way to kill your own career and in this day and age, those without a job tend to lose a lot more than just a job. An efficient and bloodless way to expedite targeted killing whilst not leaving any blood on the floor or a corpse. They are true fears beyond the death sentence in this day and age, a fear which cannot be altered as taxation dollar to support these people are not coming in any day soon. It is a potential nightmare to many registered users. If only the right laws had been enacted to prevent this from happening. So even as there might not be any validity in targeted killing, we are now in a place where it can happen, and it is not considered as such, as there is no corpse to process and in the corporate spreadsheets validity is not an actionable point, it merely is not illegal, making it valid and legal for all pushing towards an economy of data sales.

Have a great evening and do not forget to update your status to ‘it’s complicated‘, because it truly is about to become that for plenty of registered social media users.

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The Utopian Disaster

It is February 2016, two persons walk into a shop and this place has all the nice goodies on sale, in this case a Blu-ray and a video game. One person picks up one of each and pays cash, the other one swipes his mobile for a game. His payment goes wrong, he frowns and checks his mobile, then tries again. Again a failure, now he transfers some cash to his mobile and pays, as he does that he learns that he had been swiped less than 120 seconds earlier. Neither noticed, neither saw any alarms, someone walked out with his mobile $75 and it went unnoticed.

In this day and age where this is still happening on a daily basis we get confronted with ‘A last hurrah for banknotes as UK switches to mobile and card payment‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/04/uk-switch-to-cashless-society-contactless-payment), the subtitle gives us the question that matters: “if Britain is ready to become a cashless society“, that is the question and it is a rather tough one to answer. You see, technically we can implement this, yet, how can we guarantee security? In the old days a pickpocket had to interact with the person they were trying to rob, which is not a given in this case. Nowadays the thief needs to get within 10 meters, which means that the criminal could be a whole floor away swiping electronic wallets left, right and centre.

So why are we embracing a system that is actually empowering crime and criminals?

The guardian gives us this initial example: “When Transport for London banned cash on the buses in mid-2014, it was greeted with a backlash from some quarters; “passenger fury” said one headline, “ban hits the vulnerable” was another. Yet, two years on, behaviour has adjusted. TfL says it has saved £24m in cash-handling costs, and queues have improved“, which might be fair enough, but how are fare’s paid for? You see, the bus still costs and here we see that the Oyster card replaces money. Now, this is not a bad idea. You fill up the card and use it as you board the bus and tram. In Australia it is called the Opal card and there is wisdom having one. I do not oppose certain systems that take money out of the immediate equation. Yet, all this is a long way from a cashless society. In that regard I have been a victim myself and I know others would suddenly lose dollars of their card. Now, these things happen, we misplace a banknote, yet when it happens to a travel card, we do not find that money again. Should we therefore not do it? No! If we are becoming increasingly reliant on public transportation, having a streamlined system, including an Oyster card (or whatever it is called) seems to be the path to take.

Yet in all this, with organised crime being better equipped than the fortune 500, relying on a safe digital age is not the way to go for now. You see the news 2 days ago gave us “A Geraldton magistrate has called credit cards that offer contactless payments “rife for being exploited”, after a 29-year-old man appeared in court on 11 fraud charges for using an unlawfully obtained credit card“, this was a man on drugs, which is also likely why he got found out this quickly. He racked up $715 in fraudulent transactions in a three-hour period. So the victim would not have known this until much later, perhaps even days later. By the time it gets out into the light, there would be little to do against it. And the news is about to get worse.

The ABC in January this year reported (at http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2016/01/27/4392905.htm) “First, the criminals manage to install malicious software on the point-of-sale device in a restaurant, bakery or hardware store. This is very common. The crooks will use this information to make counterfeit credit cards that can be used to buy gift or debit cards, which in turn can be used to buy expensive stuff that can be resold for cash. Second, the hackers can compromise the network of a company that processes transactions between the various banks involved – such as the bank that issued your card, and the merchant bank used by your retailer. They can steal an enormous amount of card accounts in a very short time. Third, they can attack the database or website of an online merchant. The fourth method is an oldie but a Goldie — “skimming”

Four methods, still in place today and in many cases there is little to no protection, that money is just gone. Now, there are two sides here. One, should card usage stop? I do not think that this is a pragmatic approach or one that is even viable at this stage, but the transformation towards a cashless society is equally not an option. Not until the defences become a lot better. Now just electronically, but essentially a better system that gives levels of non-repudiation. That is something no one seems to want, for the mere situation that time is money and the USA is broke, bankrupt!

Why do you think that this push is happening now, even though many parties know that the switch is not an option at present? In my view this is in part because the USA needs to refinance 6 trillion dollars this year and it is not even close to getting that done. The switch to cashless sooner rather than later allows for shifts of cash from the real world into the virtual world, a place where no one can keep track of it. Yet that is not enough! The US mainly needs the shift to happen, so that the invested value can become a reality, the switch can be bought with ‘cash’ the US does not have and pay for it through the charge of every transaction that goes through this system.

It is a dangerous solution and the fact that the parties involved are willing to take a risk that organised crime would come out on top here is even more disturbing. Let’s take a look at the evidence here, because without that, it is a speculative rant at best.

  1. Here is the clip of a skimming device being installed, which took less than 3 seconds (at http://thehackernews.com/2016/03/credit-card-skimming-hack.html).

This could impact small businesses overnight, with the criminals laughing themselves into wealth.

  1. Here we see an employee skimming cards to increase his fortune, so fast-food comes at a price (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAP7sVh4smc), we see a few more examples which also gives us additional worries, most small business owners would be clueless that fuel pumps could be rigged in mere seconds. A cashless society and the funds that are supposed to be yours will be going somewhere else real fast.

Now, important to note is that in this non-cashless age, this is already happening and there is no clear way to protect one’s self, which clearly implies that in a cashless society we would be in increasing danger of losing our hard earned cash. In addition, as we are aware of these weaknesses, why is the drive to cashless so strong? When the press asks whether they good guys are winning the war, the cautious response form Steve Scarince from the US Secret Service is “It’s even right now“, which is not only not so reassuring, it is hardly a win and that is just within the US, where there are at least a few handles on Credit card fraud, yet the employee event only got the transgressor 2 years’ probation, giving a clear message to crime that for now, cashless financial crimes are still rewarding. In addition, in a similar place, how many employees have not been found out?

And this is just the small stuff!

The fact that courts aren’t treating cybercrimes more serious and deal out harsher penalties is equally disturbing. In addition, the courts are still a problem too. In most nations that practice common law the rules of evidence is still taking a seat back towards the digital age. This gives us two problems in that frame alone.

Let’s take a look at these three points:

  • computer records and printouts may be tendered as documentary evidence or as business records to prove what they contain – this is an exception to the rule against hearsay, which would otherwise stop such material being relied on to prove the truth of its contents;
  • it is possible to prove that particular processes are carried out on information and communications technologies (ICT) equipment and in some jurisdictions there is a rebuttable presumption that a computer works correctly; and
  • Under expert evidence provisions, experts can give evidence about the operation of computers.

This now reflects back to the works of Smith, Grabosky and Urbas (2004) where we see on page 38  ‘that 75% of cases referred for prosecution to federal authorities were declined, primarily due to lack of evidence‘, this is why I mentioned the fact that the US has some credit card fraud, but the rules of evidence has not caught up which means that 75% walks away from this, which now gives additional concern when we consider the earlier employee in the fast food industry skimming client cards as well as shopkeepers ending up with a card reader containing a skimming device. At this point Crime pays a little too well. Yet it is my personal view that with the US is such deep financial troubles the banks will accept any option that continues their way of life, which is equally disturbing on a few levels.

We see this failure again on a second level of problems. This is seen when we deal with the issue of proportionality. When we consider the quote “In the case of cyber-crime this raises serious difficulties as the consequences of some types of offending can be devastating, such as the creation and release of a computer virus, and yet the conduct itself may involve no physical violence or even contact with other people“, the sentencing takes no consideration to the other hardships that a victim has to go through. New bank cards, new credit cards, filing documents regarding financial loss and the economic impact the fraud had. Apart from that there is the chance that misdoings will impact that person’s credit score with the possible continuation to even more economic hardship and even a realistic impact on their economic footprint. None of that is weighted properly in court. A person with a mere scratch could end up in a better position, a realistic situation that is immoral and a-moral.

This is maintained when we look at R v Boden [2002] QCA 164, here we see “a 49 year old hacker, Votek Boden was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of hacking into the Maroochy Shire’s computerised waste management system. Boden was accused of causing millions of litres of raw sewage to spill out into local rivers and parks killing marine life and causing offensive smells“, which gives us the following

– In the first, system transgression tends to be too easy

– In the second, the fact that this person is established to have committed ‘ecological mass murder’ and it seems to be ‘punished’ with a mere 2 year’s imprisonment.

The law has not caught up in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada. With these Commonwealth nations already falling short, whilst we can also clearly see that the US is not ready either, we see news that several places are now slowly gesturing towards a cashless society. The Guardian article gives us “A major milestone on the path to a cashless society was passed in 2015, the first year that consumers used cash for less than half of all payments, according to Payments UK, which represents the major banks, building societies and payment providers“, which is fair enough. The article does not clearly elaborate that it took the UK the better part of 25 years to get to this point. We then see “It predicts that cash usage will not be eclipsed by debit cards and contactless until 2021“, which is an earie ‘forecast’. It is earie because it is practically impossible to get the proper adjustments done to law within that term, if we all remember the Houses of Commons versus Lords Ping Pong Match, the adjustments required for Criminal Law Act 1967, the Serious Crime Act 2015, the Civil Evidence Act 1995, the Criminal Evidence Act 1898 as well as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 will take at least a few years more than that and these are just 5 points out of a list that is decently larger than this. This all becomes even more unsettling if the UK becomes a Bremain group, because in that case the UK will need to deal with the EU settled laws as well, which is unlikely to be a positive thing. It is almost certainly a Utopian disaster that is ready to happen.

There are additional sides, sides where cashless seems to have grown naturally, like in Sweden. Yet the misdirection we see when we see an entrance to their version of the underground with the text “Stockholm’s Metro does not accept cash payments“, you see that is in part true, you use their version of the Oyster/Opal card, a situation several nations are going towards, some are already there. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/04/sweden-cashless-society-cards-phone-apps-leading-europe), where we see “cash transactions made up barely 2% of the value of all payments made in Sweden last year – a figure some see dropping to 0.5% by 2020“, whilst the article ends with ““Even if, in the next few years, Swedes use almost no cash at all, going 100% cashless needs a political decision,” he said. “The idea of cash, even in Sweden, remains very strong.”“, which is a separate truth, moving away from currency will forever be an issue, and when we see that one nation being at that point for 98%, we see these people having an issue of becoming a cashless society, we better believe that the Commonwealth at large will not be ready for a long time to come.

Yet, the other side is also there. Although finding anything decently reputable is almost a non-option. I am surprised that we see increasing mentions of the cashless society.  The quote we see (at http://www.financemagnates.com/fm-home/moving-towards-cashless-society/) gives me a few issues “The transition towards a cashless society seems inexorable. The incredible rise of fintech payment companies like Square, WePay and TransferWise, along with the increased popularity of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, are making traditional banks and old payment systems obsolete, with cash becoming less important“, there is truth here, but there is also another issue, the risk of economic degradation and the legalisation of slavery.

That part I have to explain!

We have moved from a balanced book world towards a GDP ruled world, where the interest payment of debt is set against the GDP, so that the total amount of borrowing could be raised again and again. Yet in all this there were limits because total debt remains an issue, especially for the US as it will have to refinance 6 trillion this year alone, meaning that if it fails, the US becomes bankrupt! In defence we see mentioned: “Yes, America has a long-term debt issue, but no, it is not going bankrupt. Just ask the rest of the world that is scooping up US Treasury bonds by the hundreds of billions“, which could be fair enough. Yet in all this, why would these government buy ‘bad’ bonds, especially as those nations are just as deep in debt? In my view, the view that was proven with the Greek deficit situation is because those who make the decisions get a lot more out of this deal, they get to continue their comfortable way of life. If that falls away they will be in hardship, just like everyone else! So as we see additional debts getting set up to deal with previous debt, that path leaves a nation with nothing. Should you doubt me, then consider when has the US kept its budget and what steps are clearly in place to pay off the debt it has?

So when we consider those people buying US bonds, we need to realise that this act could cost the US an additional $30-$60 billion depending whether the US can offer those bonds at 0.5% or 1%, the question becomes who is willing to take that risk at 1%? To counter this every American resident would have to make a $92-$195 donation to the state and that is just the additional cost of a bond. Yes, not taxation, but donation, because all the tax money has already been spend and the US, unable to keep their budgets in check has already spent next year’s budget. This is why a cashless society works for the US government and it works for those in power within the US. With the link between existing cash and debt removed, it becomes a virtual world. A world ruled by econometrists, economists and banks. I wonder if the US population realise that they did not elect these people, those people who keep on deciding how trillions are wasted. At that point, a point that is uncomfortably close by, the US crosses the critical boundary where its population is categorised into who are either a Benefit or a Burden. We to those who are not a Benefit, because they will lose a lot more than we all bargained for. That fear will also reside within the EU and the UK is no different for now. It is that fear, additional to the responsibilities and the needs of the people that needs to address this. We end up being a group of people to work solely to remove the debt handed to us by irresponsible people who are not held to account (evidence: see previous Greek administrations), we become a legally defined workforce in what could be regarded as slavery.

Yes, cashless might be the path of the future, but in this age of irresponsible spending, the backlash would be massive and it tends to come out after the spenders are gone and they are not held to account, they will live their life on a mansion in luxury. An option that is not there for you and me, moreover that person will be doing it using our money and our savings. Did you sign up for that?

The cashless path is coming somewhere in the future and until proper preparations, checks and balances are in place the slogan becomes: ‘abandon all hope ye who enter that path!

 

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Murder or simply killing it

Europe remains on our minds from several directions. The fact that the start of Brexit is 13 weeks away, so basically we have now entered the final quarter of a union that basically never was. A union that did little good for too many people and a setting that well over tripled the cost of infrastructure. All elements that are shifted around, as they aren’t clearly in budgets on reports and more important, a place of spending that is not being properly monitored or controlled.

We might all think that the EEC was so good for us, but was it really? When you are not in a high position in a large corporation, how did you really benefit? The last 15 years have been a mere exercise in exploitation by big business and short cut seekers. In all this after Brexit, the situation will remain. When goods are needed, people will buy them, which is why I oppose certain articles from the Guardian. One of them (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/28/brexit-would-affect-lives-of-millions-official-uk-report-says) states: ‘Brexit would negatively affect lives of millions, official UK report says‘, yet is this altogether true? let’s take a look at some of the quotes “The 10 years cited in the report includes the time it would take for Britain to exit the EU, to set up a new trade and related agreements as well as negotiate fresh trade deals with the US and other countries“, I regard this to be untrue. You see, everyone wants to sell, if the UK wants to buy, than those nations will oblige. More important, HM Revenue and Customs (at https://www.uktradeinfo.com) shows that UK imports is a lot higher than exports, which means that the UK is spending between 10 and 20 billion a year more than it receives in exports. Do you believe for one second that those nations will not find an immediate solution here? The damage of the UK getting its goods from a secondary source is too scary for THEIR economies, so you can bet the house on a solution being found almost immediately after the changeover comes. The second quote which is important here is “It says the only legal way to withdraw from the EU is through article 50 of the treaty of the European Union. But it argues that there is no precedent for this and that Britain would be unlikely to achieve a successful negotiation in the two-year time period it sets out“, here I also disagree. The paper Withdrawal and expulsion from the EU and EMU (at https://lawlordtobe.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ecblwp10.pdf) sheds light on this. On page 11 we see “One is that a right of unilateral withdrawal existed even in the absence of any explicit reference to it in the treaties, since sovereign States were, in any case, free to exercise their sovereign right18 to withdraw from their international commitments19

The references there are:

18. ‘Sovereign power’ has been defined as ‘power not subject to limitation by higher or coordinate power held over some territory’ (MacCormick (1999), p. 127).

19. See Zeh, p. 209. This proposition is in line with the decision in Maastricht Urteil (BVerfGE 89, 155 of 12 October 1993) where the German Constitutional Court stated that the States are still ‘the Masters of the Treaties’ and can always decide to abandon the EU, revoking their acts of accession by a contrary unilateral denunciation; and more recently in its decision in Lisbon Urteil (BVerfG, 2 BvE 2/08 of 30 June 2009) the German Constitutional Court found that the EU, as designed by the Lisbon Treaty, is not a federal state and that constitutional safeguards of national identity clearly exist under EU law.

Which gives us actually two issues. The first is that from the descriptions we see, that the EEC could be seen as a tontine. Here we see the following concept “Each investor pays a sum into the tontine. Each investor then receives annual dividends on the capital invested. As each investor dies, his or her share is reallocated among the surviving investors. This process continues until only one investor survives. Each subscriber receives only dividends; the capital is never paid back“, how is that any different? In addition, the EEC does not give dividend, it costs more and more money, in addition, the nations involved aren’t adding capital, they are adding debt and the last surviving nation ends up with all the debt. From that version Brexit makes perfect sense and getting out first seems to be an imperative need (the second one is further down the article for a reason).

There is one element the Guardian did get right “It also warns that the rights of 2 million British expats to work and access pensions and healthcare in EU countries may no longer be guaranteed“, I am on the fence here. I personally believe that if expats want to live their pensions away in Spain or Greece, than this should remain a possibility. I agree that there might be initial issues, yet those people might be permanent residents as such it should not affect them other than the pensions being a problem and that should not be the case. In addition, if the government does do a 180 on this part, it will be directly responsible to get affordable housing for those 2 million people. There is no way that this would work and it should not be an issue. A pensioner gets their money, it is deposited in whatever account is specified and that is pretty much the end of it in my book. Do you think that Spain, in its current economy would walk away from hundreds of thousands of paying Britons? I think not!

These are some of the oppositional issues I have with the article of Anushka Asthana, Heather Stewart and Nicholas Watt. It is however not the only article, because there are a few sides to the EEC at present, a pressing issue of refugees is an element and it is partially driving Brexit too. The article of a debatable level here is ‘EU acting like ‘human trafficker’ of refugees, says Austrian minister‘, the core of this is “Sebastian Kurz said that “in Greece refugees are being waved through to the heart of Europe. That is simply unacceptable in the long run. The European Union cannot act like a human trafficker.” Restoring the Dublin and Schengen agreements, he said, had to be a priority at the meeting between the EU leaders and Turkey“, as I stated before, it is like listening to someone who lost touch with reality (to some extent). In the first, the EU are not trafficking in refugees. Greece is completely overwhelmed by those refugees arriving via Turkish smugglers. Greece has no infrastructure to deal with the issue and the bulk of all the refugees do not want to stay in Greece, they want to go to a German or English speaking nation, in a pinch a French speaking nation would suffice. That is a clear fact as we have seen it for a long time, in addition, the part “had to be a priority at the meeting between the EU leaders and Turkey” here he seems completely intent of not calling the kettle black, because Turkey is massively responsible for the mess at his borders, as well as the Greek borders. Allowing free passes to smugglers and looking the other way as thousands of refugees are making for Greece. It seems that this short-sightedness is also fuel for both Brexit and Frexit. Now, I will immediately accept that Austria and Germany are getting swamped too. There is an issue, no one denies that, but taking Greece out of the solution was a really bad idea, especially as Turkey is part of the mess, not part of any solution. As the borders in Germany are back up, as borders close, we see another quote. When we read “Yet there will be little sympathy for Berlin from Hungary, Italy or Greece, which are bearing the brunt of the mass arrivals of people from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and Afghanistan“, which is fair enough. Yet, as stated earlier: “This proposition is in line with the decision in Maastricht Urteil (BVerfGE 89, 155 of 12 October 1993) where the German Constitutional Court stated that the States are still ‘the Masters of the Treaties’ and can always decide to abandon the EU, revoking their acts of accession by a contrary unilateral denunciation“, the intersections of the two situations is found in the works of Juli Zeh.

This now reflects also on the second issue, the first I described earlier, the second issue I skipped until now. This all comes from an article titled ‘Union Membership: Accession, Suspension of membership rights and unilateral withdrawal. Some reflections‘ by Jean-Victor Louis, an honorary Professor from the Free University of Brussels. In his reflections on Page 11, we see: “The future will say if the prevision of unilateral withdrawal will be a “source of pressures and blackmailing against the general interest” or prove to be a useful way out of undesirable changes in the working and orientation of the European Union. Juli Zeh concludes her in-depth analyses of the right of withdrawal by quoting an Estonian member who expressed “hope that this clause will never be used” and indeed she is right. We would like to suggest that the Union should conceive and put in practice an accession policy for the future in order to avoid unilateral withdrawals“.

The interesting part is that at no time any consideration is given to the accountability of national needs and national acts. Consider the overspending of the budget by 12 trillion euro’s (total EEC debt including UK), or the fact that the bulk of the European nations remain incapable of keeping a budget. One could argue that not unlike a contract, the presence of unfair terms are not binding on consumers and the trader may not rely on them. Is the European Union any difference?

The last one is not really that sellable, but the premise is, in addition, should certain parties be investigated for neglecting ‘their’ national need? That question arises from the initial PDF mentioned. Here we see: “As one author has written, there are three main reasons why the treaties were silent on withdrawal: first, it was in order to avoid putting question marks to the Member States’ commitment to the achievement of their shared objectives; second, it was because providing for the possibility of withdrawal might have increased its likelihood; and third, because to provide for this possibility would entail the daunting task of spelling out the procedure and consequences of withdrawal“, this now implies that the creating parties set up an unbalanced situation and in addition the elected politicians at the time did not do their homework and created a dangerous situation to their national need. Am I the only one asking the right question here?

So will Brexit turn out to be murder, or will the British be killing it? Where will the economy go? These are questions that many sources are answering in their view, emphasising their need to be in-EEC, or out-EEC. I have my own view, but I do not have any useful answers. You see, there are issues on both sides, yet as I see it, the scales that are in favour of the UK seem to lean towards out-EEC at present. This view will be interfered with, especially by the USA, as it will topple a massive economic minefield which will blow up in all our faces, especially the value of the Dollar. Yet, the status for the UK would remain strongest if they leave first, especially if the Commonwealth unites with the UK in a strong economic bond. If we find a way to keep import low by utilising the Commonwealth bonds that Commonwealth nations have, the UK coffers would grow better, faster and higher. In the end, Brexit or not, a solution for the refugees must still be found, closing the borders to them completely is as unacceptable as it was for Austria to keep Greece out of the debate. How these parties will be resolved is a question that remains without answer as the involved parties have a hard time agreeing on the resolution, which is fair enough, there are no easy answers, as there is an equal concern that a solution is not forthcoming any day soon. For that Greece would have been needed to create locations, an option Austria decided to take it out of consideration, something that will haunt us for a little longer than we are all comfortable with.

 

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Within the Entitlement of Relevance

Very early this morning an article made it into the Guardian. The title ‘David Cameron boasts of ‘brilliant’ UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia‘, (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/25/david-cameron-brilliant-uk-arms-exports-saudi-arabia-bae), which is fair enough. The UK is one of those nations that actually has an arms export option. It is nowhere near the size of the US, but that is not the point here.

When we read: “on the day the European parliament voted for an arms embargo on the country over its bombardment of Yemen“, we should be asking: ‘and why do we care about that?‘, yet this is not the case. We see both “At almost the same time, the European parliament voted in favour of an EU-wide ban on arms being sold to Saudi Arabia in protest at its heavy aerial bombing of Yemen, which has been condemned by the UN” as well as “The vote does not force EU member states to comply but it increases pressure on national governments to re-examine their relationships with Riyadh“. Which is a joke of sizeable proportions (reasoning will follow). Finally we see: “The Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been extremely critical of Cameron’s relationship with Saudi Arabia because of its human rights record, prompting an angry response from Riyadh“, which could be seen as a humorous climax in labour less form.

We need to deal with the quotes so that it all makes sense to you, but there is one more element in that story. That we see from: “Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s arms controls director, said: “The ‘brilliant things’ that David Cameron says BAE sells include massive amounts of weaponry for the Saudi Arabia military, despite Saudi Arabia’s dreadful record in Yemen“. I needed to add this to all this, because there is the start.

You see, I am on the fence here. I will happily support Amnesty International, because for the most it is a force of good. When I see the title ‘UK’s arms controls director‘ I wonder if AI lost the plot a little. Let’s be clear here. It makes sense that AI has people on the payroll who understand weapons, understands mines, chemical ordnance. That makes perfect sense. AI is in need of knowledge on many levels and plenty of their work is in places where people tend to passionately not like each other (as in: with clubs, machetes and automatic weapons). Yet, when AI is wasting time on a valid business deal, we should ask a few additional questions. Now, we should quickly mention another side. At https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/amnesty-expert-barred-london-arms-fair, we see ‘Amnesty expert barred from London arms fair‘ as well as his quote “They’ve kept me out, but the question is: what has DSEi got to hide?” Let me answer that instead of the DSEi. You see, I could with my own expertise attend that event, and like him, I will equally hear “alas sir, you didn’t meet the criteria for registration“, even though there should be a few around in that field who know my skill levels in that regard. It is not skill or expertise, you see, it is about CLEARANCE LEVELS. These events are frequented by a massive who’s who of unregistered events, with a decent amount of government employees who need to talk shop, having non-cleared people on that fair tends to be a little unsettling for several reasons. In part because this world has its own rules, you obey those rules or you stop functioning in that world. There is every chance that I could accidently make the mistake whilst Oliver Sprague would intentionally do these things. Most of these people shy away from cameras (apart from those special social functions), they are there to talk shop!

You see, I have every respect for Amnesty International, they have done many good things in the past and will continue this in the future. For example stop torture makes perfect sense. There is also a questionable part from AI, it is nice to talk about the Human Rights Act, yet in the decades they have never succeeded in championing the need to add Spousal Abuse to article 3 of that HRA. Is spousal abuse not torture in its own rights? In that regard AI likes to be very visible, but in some way the big fights are never really fought (or better stated have not been fought for a long time). They have shown success stories every year, but landmark achievements have been absent for some time. Let’s get back to the initial story, but do not forget this part as it has bearing.

You see, the next part is slightly more entertaining. That tends to be the case whenever the honourable Jeremy Corbyn gets involved. Apart from the fashion comments we have seen in the last two days. The actual issue is his choice to get to the CND-rally, which is not a bad thing, but in light of timing, he decides to walk away from the national Labour campaign day, where he would be persuading voters to back Britain’s membership of the EU. This leaves to mind, is this a first inkling that even labour expects Brexit to become a reality? Whether that is true or not, this event has a direct bearing on the British population within this year, the CND rally has been going on for decades, so there would be another one next year. There is no other story beyond that. When you lead the labour party, it must be about the party, not about temporary ideology, because the CND is temporary at best and all ideological. I state that because there is no doubt that the UK would never instigate it, it would however respond if need be. Jeremy knows this (or he should not run the labour party). In all this I accept and understand that this is an option to rub elbows with people like SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood and Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Yes, those meetings make perfect sense, yet that means that none of them are really there for a CND rally. That is not an accusation, it is not wrong, but it leads to questions; questions that can slow down any election for a massive amount.

Two events all with issues of relevance, relevance from within those people from their point of view.

Now we take another gander, a gander towards the path of Saudi Arabia. Most people refuse to understand (read: accept) two elements. The first is that Saudi Arabia is a sovereign nation, a nation founded in 1932 by the House of Saud. The most important part here is that this is a Muslim nation, it is a nation of laws, in their case it was the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia in 1924 when King Abdul-Aziz made Shura a foundation of his government in order to fulfil the divine order by applying Shariah (Islamic Jurisprudence) and Shura as parts of it. So, we have a clear given, a monarchy that lives by Muslim rule of law, Shariah law. We might not comprehend, understand it or even accept it. But in the Nation of Saudi Arabia it has forever been law. I still do not understand how people go about trying to enforce their rules upon others. You see, when I hear these ‘moralists’ speak on how Sharia Law is so ‘barbaric’, they in equal measure forget that their own governments abandoned them as markets collapsed twice since 2004, no decent part of the involved parties went to prison and absolutely no laws were properly instigated and enforced against greed and in that regard, the least said about flawed corporate tax laws the better. In light of all this consider another fact that applies to the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, the previous assembly had 70% of its members with a PhD, 49% got their degree in the US and 20% from a University in Europe. So this is a group highly educated. Initially, going back to the beginning, the council was entrusted with drafting the basic laws for the administration of the country. Which is interesting as the US started in a similar way, a nation of laws under god (their Christian version). When we see the Shura council, we see in Article one “and following His Messenger Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) in consulting his Companions, and urging the (Muslim) Nation to engage in consultation. The Shura council shall be established to exercise the tasks entrusted to it, according to this Law and the Basic Law of Governance while adhering to Quran and the Path (Sunnah) of his Messenger (PBUH), maintaining brotherly ties and cooperating unto righteousness and piety“, so as others judge the actions of Saudi Arabia, ask yourself, in the last 5 years alone, how many instances from large corporations and government have we seen, where ‘maintaining brotherly ties and cooperating unto righteousness and piety‘ were never part of any consideration? You only have to look at your pension plan, healthcare or deficits to see that ‘brotherly‘ is nowhere to be found.

This too is relevant to the entirety of the situation when we return to the honourable Jeremy Corbyn. Several sources stated “Jeremy Corbyn has called on David Cameron to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia after a United Nations report found the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen had “conducted airstrikes targeting civilians”“, based on what evidence would be my first question (not stating the validity of the UN), apart from that, Corbyn has a direct responsibility, you see, the UK had coffers that need to be filled, the UK has product that can be sold. We have seen how UK Labour was willing to spend money they never had, leaving the UK in massive debt. The last thing he should do is call for a suspension. Let me explain that part.

  1. This arms deal is not with some organisation like Hezbollah, it is a legitimate sovereign government of an established nation. The UK has every right to sell products to this nation.
  2. Whenever the west gets directly involved in any Middle Eastern event, it becomes a massive mess, in all this after half a decade, the west has done next to nothing regarding Syria, Europe has to deal with massive waves of refugees and there is no end in sight. Amnesty International knows this. They also know that Sharia Law is another matter, it is not for them to judge; it is for them to accept that the sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia has every right to keep their own set of laws.
  3. Hezbollah and other players in Yemen are not part of an established government, they overthrew governments and the mess that followed has been ongoing ever since. In that light, there are too many question marks in too many places.

I believe that any Middle Eastern issue should be resolved by the Middle Eastern nations themselves. With escalation on the south border and firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia, they have every rights to protect themselves in any way they need to. That is also part of the equation. In that regard Islam 101 gives us two parts “Fight against those who fight against you in the way of Allah, but do not transgress, for Allah does not love transgressors” as well as “Kill them whenever you confront them and drive them out from where they drove you out. (For though killing is sinful) wrongful persecution is even worse than killing. Do not fight against them near the Holy Mosque unless they fight against you; but if they fight against you kill them, for that is the reward of such unbelievers“. The next part is also from the Quran, but I am not sure whether this is Sharia: “The Quran sanctions violence to counter violence. If one studies history of Arab tribes before Islam and fierce fighting they indulged in one would be convinced that the philosophy of passive resistance would not have worked in that environment“. This is the kicker, we see that passive resistance was not a solution, because of the mess that Arab spring left the Middle East. In that Saudi Arabia has a right to counter its attacks, which means that we do not get to say too much on how a sovereign state defends itself. In addition, with the amount of ‘additional’ groups in Yemen, can we be certain who is who there?

But do not fear, Smith is here!

You see, I am very willing to join BAE and become ‘the’ sales person there (I know a person who would join me, so a team of 2 could be achieved), I will take a decent sales income and of course the 3.75% bonus on surplus sales and 3.25% bonus on sales targets reached. I reckon that I can sell the Eurofighter Typhoon military planes, with consultancy, training and guidance. In addition, I will be happy to provide for ammunition and ordnance. As stated, we Commonwealth nations need to stick together and I am happy to aid in the support and consultancy of those jets.

This now gets us to the final part ‘an arms embargo on the country over its bombardment of Yemen‘. What data is there? What evidence is there? We know for a fact that Hezbollah is there, that the Iranians are all over this, which is interesting as they are supporting the party overthrowing the legitimate government. So is there more? Is this perhaps an organised annexing of Yemen for Iran? The elements that gives value to that are indeed in play, whether this is a factual interpretation is not clear, too much data is not available to me, as well as too much time has passed from the start of all this.

And the final part in all this is “The vote does not force EU member states to comply“, which makes the EU a lame duck organisation. All that time and all these events for something that holds no real value. Now let’s take the headcount for a second. Oliver Sprague, a civilian with no political power, a person who leads by instigating those who have power and only in events where it is beneficial to those people could something possibly happen (not in this case though). Jeremy Corbyn, a political headpiece, but not one that is currently in office, he is merely in opposition and as such he is about visibility and branding himself (politically plugging is also a term that applies in this case). These two non-deciders are opposing a nation that needs commerce that needs to export as many of their products as possible.

In the defence of the two non-deciders I must add, from our values, we might have issues and it is nice that the UN is also about values, yet in all this, apart from condemnation there has been very little against terrorist elements. Of all the condemnations we have seen since Syria has a little issue in 2011, how much actions have been taken and for how many millions of Syrians has it been too late? Too many speakers for inactions, too little actions on economy and actual actions on the HRA (like the little addendum to article three I mentioned earlier).

So within the title of relevance seems to apply to too many people, it includes me as well, for the mere reason that my blog has no effect on the actions of the UK Foreign Office. It is just my view on the matter, like it was the view of Oliver Sprague, Jeremy Corbyn and the EU parliament. We are all simply non-deciders. The deciders are the currently elected UK government headed by David Cameron as well as the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia, under King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. They both get to look at the ‘toothless’ response from the EU parliament, who might be entering their final sitting soon enough.

Our voices might sound nice, our words might read nice, but neither bring food to the table, which is the concern of the Conservative Party, one that they are actually addressing.

 

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The Next Nail

This is not the first nail, this is not the second nail; this is merely the next nail that is set upon the top of a coffin. We can argue that this was the last nail that was produced in Scunthorpe as Tata Steel sheds one in six jobs in the UK. This is only the beginning of an onset that many, including me had predicted this in some form. Yes, it is only in some form, because there were too many parameters that could fit the situation and as the levels change the combination resulted in different elements to shut down. Yet, this is not about steel, not about those steelworkers, or about Tata Steel. It is merely a facet in all this. Consider the two articles. The first ‘The Eurozone needs a strong French economy‘ from October 8th (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/08/the-eurozone-needs-a-strong-french-economy), the second ‘Italy budget: Renzi risks Brussels battle‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/15/italy-budget-renzi-risks-brussels-battle) and the third ‘ECB meeting to be closely watched for stimulus talk‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/18/ecb-meeting-to-be-closely-watched-for-stimulus-talk-qe) from October 18th. The articles are not related, but they show the continued path people should have been warned against. People should have been warned because those in charge are spending the little leeway they had to leave a mess for many others to clean up. Let’s take a look at my reasoning, because if that is at fault, than so are the conclusions.

You see, new rounds of stimulus are set to ward of deflation as it is hinted at in the third article. So basically, Europe will print more money this money is spend on all kinds of things, this in time when the treasury coffers of nearly EVERY European nation cannot afford it. Let’s take a little step back in time. Let’s take a look at Germany 1920’s, at this time inflation was growing at an alarming rate, but the government simply printed more and more banknotes to pay the bills. So, bills were printed to fight inflation perhaps? I actually remember holding one of those banknotes, for 15 seconds I felt rich, then I realised no one would touch that money, which is pretty much the feeling the people in those days had. The actions behind this were the Treaty of Versailles and the 1921 London Schedule of Payments. We can ‘paraphrase’ that into ‘debts’. So as we now see that governments have debts and that more and more money is printed, is the difference not merely cosmetic at best?

The next part is shown in the second article. The subtitle gives us the power part. ‘Italian prime minister unveils business-friendly tax cuts and rise in spending despite EU warning plans may breach austerity rules‘, another government that has decided to change the rules as it befits them. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is showing Italy and others a budget that they cannot afford. The line “Renzi said €5bn (£3.7bn) of tax cuts would include the abolition of a wealth tax on the main residence of all Italians, worth around €200 a year to most homeowners” gives us the first worry. Even though at 73% home ownership seems high, but is that the same in places like Venice, Milano, Rome and the larger cities? Or will that show that the 25% not owned by the tenant is still owned by someone, which would be giving massive benefits to the ‘Amici di Silvio Berlusconi‘ perhaps?

The next quote is “This year not only are the taxes not going up but they are coming down”, which sounds great to the people of Italy and they are welcome to it, yet the reality is not that great. In 2010 the debt was 2.4 trillion, or well over 110% of GDP. In 2013 it had risen to 130% of GDP, and even though the debt seemed to go down, these short sighted actions would show soon enough that Italian debt will increase, what happens then? Consider that the debt has grown to the effect that the due interest is almost 2,500€ per second. Yes, per second! So, in which universe is stopping reducing the debt a good idea? According to some sources, the wealthy of Italy has moved almost 200 billion away from the Italian shores. So that part will not get taxed any day soon. Another quote that matters is “Alessandro Zattoni, an economics professor at the LUISS business school in Rome, said the EU commission is concerned that the deterioration in world trade following the slowdown in China could hurt the Italian economy, hitting tax revenues and further widening the budget deficit“, I cannot deny that this is a factor, yet what other shores could Italy approach? It seems that the UK, the bulk of the EEC and a few others are considering China to be the economic oil of salvation. Yet, how realistic is that? My issue comes from the last part. “The Eurozone’s return to negative inflation is driven by cheaper energy costs, which fell 8.9% year-on-year following the tumble in oil prices“, well is ‘negative inflation’ not deflation? Seems a little ‘wankish’ to hide behind a double negative, doesn’t it? And how about the other part, ‘driven by cheaper energy cost’, in my view, cheaper energy means that  the people keep a little more in their pockets, it could be used for lowering their debt or even buying consumer items. Perhaps that money is needed to pay for the 1.4% increase for food. So many options, yet if governments are depending on the revenue from their energy systems, what other mistakes are they making? Profit from energy to corporations? Could be, but how much revenue would that be?

So as we see this news, when we hear that the ‘Risk of global financial crash has increased, warns IMF‘, which gives us the first paragraph “The risk of a global financial crash has increased because a slowdown in China and decline in world trade are undermining the stability of highly indebted emerging economies, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)“, which is what I proclaimed for a long time. I never proclaimed that China’s economy would slowdown. This is because I had no decent numbers to compare this against, yet the need for manufacturing was a known and in that Europe has been in decline for some time. In addition, CNN reported ‘More cracks are showing up in America’s economy‘, with the quote “The Fed worries about negative inflation, which is associated with weak economic conditions and a symptom that prices and perhaps wages could be falling“, which is the second entity that seems to be ‘debutanting’ towards governments by avoiding the ‘deflation’ word. Which gets us to the quote “The September jobs report on October 2 was nothing short of disappointing. The U.S. added only 142,000 jobs in September. It stood in sharp contrast to the previous 12 months when the U.S. economy added an average of 256,000 jobs per month. Wages haven’t grown either. Job gains in July and August were also revised down“. This is the start of the issues that will also hit Europe. We will not notice this immediately as the US has to deal with Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas. This gives us a slightly better ‘time’ according to the economists, yet as Italy makes their changing and as the people in Europe will get more stimulus, the overall balance becomes less and less. This gets us to the final quote by CNN “As the global economy worsens, it appears the U.S. economy might not have the strength to prop up its peers. Instead, it might be getting dragged down by them“, which seems to be a mere exercise in simplicity when we look at cause and effect of the situation.

So how does France fit into all of this? Well, with Germany down and Italy taking a dive only the UK and France remain to keep the mess afloat, the two nations that are now in the process of dealing with an exit from all of this forced through its population. There is no guarantee it will be solved, there is absolutely no guarantee that either will remain within the Euro even within the EEC is a stretch at this time. All because proper financial legislation and better budgeting was something none of these governments seemed to have taken on, now there are little to no options left.

The quote “Whenever someone proposes turning the Eurozone into a transfer union, as France’s economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, recently did, the presumption is that Germany will carry everyone else on its shoulders. But why should only Germany have that responsibility? France’s economy is roughly three-quarters the size of Germany’s” is adamant here. France has the export article the entire world needs, and loves (fermented grape juice). Beyond that the bigger items (Cheese) has its own survivability, yet is that enough? Well, that is the question, more important none of these articles make the top 5 of export for France.

  • Machines, engines, pumps: US$66.3 billion (11.7% of total exports)
  • Aircraft, spacecraft: $57.7 billion (10.2%)
  • Vehicles: $47.6 billion (8.4%)
  • Electronic equipment: $44 billion (7.8%)
  • Pharmaceuticals: $35.2 billion (6.2%)

So Even as we get the following part “Progressive economists love the French government for spending a staggering 57% of GDP, compared with government expenditure of 44% of GDP for Germany“, yet there is also a problem, as far as I was able to find (apart from the presentation at the end of this blog), France, like several nations are setting their budgets against GDP, yet when the GDP goes down, spending does not go down, the debt just increases. It is one of several factors that show the inability to properly hold any level of budgeting ability. So as we look at the top 5 mentioned earlier, they represent 44.2% at 250 billion, giving us 566 billion, when we consider that France had a GDP of $2.8 trillion, we end up seeing that Export makes up slightly more than 20% of GDP, which is too low. What does speak for France is the fact that their economy seems to be decently diversified. So the negative impact of one industry is not as intense as some other countries face. Still with 5.7 trillion in debt, the French have quite the uphill battle to face, I honestly cannot say whether within the EEC or not, within the Euro or not is the best solution, but as European rules get ignored more and more, as governments are setting ‘new’ targets, we see that within either the Euro or the EEC is not ever going to be a solution. As several countries are trying to get cosy with China and as we now see statements that ‘7% growth is not set in stone’, we must all realise that every nation in the world is matching bad news management with the need to be seen as in ‘deflating’, so negative inflating it is. Who are they kidding?

This all comes to blow with the final Guardian article (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/24/india-rather-than-china-target-of-britains-charm-offensive) titled ‘Perhaps India, rather than China, should be the target of Britain’s charm offensive‘, which is a fair statement by Ian Jack, yet I have been advocating for a stronger Commonwealth link for a long time. Will it be the better deal? That is a separate question, yet in all this, stronger Commonwealth ties also means and implies that overall a stronger Commonwealth would be the result. A thought that should benefit many people within the Commonwealth.

 

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