Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Iranian decisions

At 00:10 Tel Aviv Time, roughly 07:10 here, the time of waiting was over, Iran has fired its missiles on Israel making the outstanding option of an impending war a lot more realistic. In this the Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/09/iran-fires-20-rockets-syria-golan-heights-israel) “Iranian forces stationed in Syria fired approximately 20 projectiles at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights just after midnight on Thursday, Israel’s defence forces (IDF) said“, in addition we see “Several but not all rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defences, an IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, told reporters“, whatever happens, will happen soon, because if sch a barrage cannot completely be stopped, we can deduce that it will not take long for Iran to take a more targeted notion, yes, my version is speculative, yet the warmongering words from the last weeks gives rise to take it all a lot more serious than it has been taken in the past. So when we see ““The IDF views this Iranian attack very severely,” Conricus said. “This event is not over”“, we better believe that more is to come. There is an additional setting, this attack could only have been done with the approval of President Bashar al-Assad, so he is feeling secure enough with Iran and Russia backing him, so the picture changes on a few fronts, this is no longer merely settling whatever Iran thought it was settling, this could have much larger repercussions. Turkey is already voicing support for Iran and siding with Russia (they are playing their hand cautiously, yet Turkey is all in with their anti-Israel views. It gets to be worse, because as the US pulled out of the nuclear Iran accord, we now see ‘EU rushes to arrange crisis meeting with Iran over nuclear deal‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/09/eu-moves-to-protect-european-firms-from-us-sanctions-on-iran), so even as we know that there are several things wrong, even as Iran meddled in other business and now is responsible for direct missile attacks on Israel, we see that Europe is still trying to make some level of a deal with Iran. It goes even further when we see “Work on the package being coordinated by the European Union is at an early stage, but the EU is being urged to warn the US it will impose countersanctions if the US attempts unjustifiably to cripple EU firms trading with Iran“, yet the foundation is that there has been more and more overwhelming evidence that Iran has not been dealing in good faith. When we consider the earlier settings that I mentioned 3 days ago in ‘Stopping Slumber, Halting Hesitation‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/05/07/stopping-slumber-halting-hesitation/), we can just quickly decide that they were prepping for all this, which would be incorrect, yet the fact that 20 missiles got there so quickly to be fired on the Golan heights also indicates that there was Iranian willingness to go that distance in several political branches and on pretty much all military levels, which is equally unsettling. The issue is that the EU remains a lot quieter when it comes to the involvement of Turkey. It is a personal view of mine, yet I believe that there will be diminished needs soon enough and there is a Turkey EU membership play coming. The beginning of ‘compliance delay messages‘ is merely an indicator, I believe that the fear mongering will get worse and too many parties are playing that game, that whilst the denial of Turkey into the EU should have been clearly made well over a year ago.  So when we are treated to “The European Union is scrambling to arrange a crisis meeting with Iran after Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement, as the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Europe had a “very limited opportunity” to save the deal“, we also need to keep in mind that terms like ‘could’ connected to ‘shut down UK’ on EU laws, this level of fear mongering is just beyond acceptable and we might all be better off in a direct war and whomever survives will suddenly demand near draconian treatment of the media, even as Leveson 2 is (for now) off the rails, the next crises will not go that smooth for whomever is demanding greater accountability of the media. That is not the only part, the entire Turkish economy and the S&P decision to regard Turkey. As it junkified its currency rating from ‘BB/B’ to ‘BB-/B’, we see a larger impact and when we consider that the Turkish lira (TRY) has fallen 7.4% this year and in that setting, including the corporate debt problems that Turkey is facing, the entire blow hard whilst they are not producing any music is more than merely wind in the air, as Turkish economic growth has been fueled by cheap international credit, we still see the need to pay for all that and now as we see (actually it was last month) with “Yildiz Holding—owner of the brands Godiva chocolate and McVitie’s biscuits requires a complete restructure of $6.5bn of its total $8.5bn of debt by the end of this week“, a cookie factory having an eight billion dollar debt? What else is in such disrepair? That shows just how desperate Turkey is at present to get into bed with almost anyone, that is what we are allowing in our midst and there is no level of fear that seems to be reflecting off the sides of EU Brussels and Strasbourg, which is also unsettling, now as they are optional diplomats in a really bad case of reconsideration by merely the EU to get the nuclear deal going, now we see the rise of mentions and soft press tapping on Turkish doors.

That alone should scare us beyond measure!

There is no case against it all and whilst Turkey is at a stage what some call ‘Hostage Diplomacy‘ whilst they are now upgrading their arsenal with the Russian S-400, the game switches and none of this will end up having a happy ending. For now we can leave Russia out of this as its focus is merely the US, or intermittent board hugging to make the US look bad via the EU, yet overall the setting here is not too negative (for now), the issue merely becomes hoe friendly it needs to remain with Iran in the mix, because there is the game on a different level. From my point of view there is a certain level of polarisation, even as Europe should stand next to Israel, it seems intent on standing ‘diplomatically‘ alone so that they need not stand opposing Turkey, that is merely one view, yet in light of its financial hardships and Turkish needs to be seen positive towards becoming an EU nation is not a good combination. So when we see the EU with “As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it has been doing so far and has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 10 consecutive reports, the EU will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal“, which all might be very true, yet Iran has shown different colours in Syria and against Israel, so that stance is not merely wrong it promotes polarisation. On the one hand, the EU is not doing anything wrong from that one treaty point of view, yet in light of what we have seen in Syria, there are a lot more issues in play, not all are on Iran, some are allegedly issues for Iran to answer, but I wish to not use that in the examples, merely because they are allegedly part of anything, meaning they are part of nothing until confirmed and when we consider the utter uselessness on the last chemical attack reports, certain Syrian issues cannot be labelled to anyone but Syria itself. So as things in Syria escalates and as Iran is escalating them, or at least actively part of the escalation, the EU will need to take a stance sooner rather than later, they prefer later, yet when they are forced onto a corner and they select Turkey and Iran over Israel, the game will quickly change and not only is Europe feeling that drain, the impact that will happen in the middle East, is one that Europe will suffer for a much longer time than they bargained for and there is no quick solution for the wrong decision. That will be evident pretty soon at this stage.

So as we see one side evolve, we see in similar news from the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/missiles-fired-at-saudi-arabia-signal-support-for-iran-by-its-proxies-1525886469) the mention “Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a barrage of missiles into Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, an early indication that Iran’s allies in the Middle East are likely to flex their muscles in a show of support for their patron—risking a wider conflict“, I think that these events which were apart by merely a few hours had some levels of coordination. So when we see “Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have fired a salvo of domestically-designed and -developed ballistic missiles at “economic targets” in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh in retaliation to the Al Saud’s devastating military aggression against their impoverished country“, we need to keep a clear mind. The missiles are said to be Yemeni (Borkan H-2 missiles), yet the information on the H2 is that it is said to be a short range ballistic missile with normally a range of about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) or less. Even as we see it is almost capable of making the 1,036 km to Riyadh, the setting that we see with ‘economic targets‘, whilst at the maximum distance, the chance of actually hitting what is aimed for at the maximum range is a lot less likely or possible, not without and ace rocket and ballistic expert at the missile site; the Houthi’s are a little short on both, so we have, in my personal opinion, either Houthi’s that want to hit any part (mainly civilian parts) of Riyadh and they merely claim to be aiming for a bank, or the optional more likely setting is that Iran has been directly involved in training the Houthi’s or firing the missiles themselves. Now, we can opt for option one, yet the training curve would be a little devastating on all minds involved (even if you use targeting computers and software, yet they have had the time to train the Houthi’s for months, so it is possible, yet I personally see it as less likely (again merely speculation from my side), so when we consider that Iran is waging war on two fronts, so far (as far as I can recall) only Napoleon and Adolf Hitler were that stupid and how did it end for them? There is an optional thought that Iran will be hiding behind European coat tails in the end, but that is still speculation without evidence (at present), perhaps that is why Turkey is in a desperate state to become part of the EU?

I am merely asking, because the Iranian decisions we are seeing over the last 24 hours give rise not to the US, but to other players hoping to wage ‘extreme’ solutions to make things go forward for them, whilst the opposing player has no intention of playing nice, the US can’t start another war and Iran might be hoping that the EU is too unwilling to see its economic setting dissolved through armed conflict. It would be a decent tactic to play, but for now it merely remains a setting of speculation. Yet, in all this, there is more than just saber rattling. When we look at Reuters we see “Turkey will continue its trade with Iran as much as possible and will not be answerable to anyone else, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said on Tuesday, as U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States was withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal“, so we see Turkey with an utter lack of accepting accountability for the economic paths that they are trying to get on (aka the EU gravy train). How can anyone expect Turkey to have any level of civility in the setting of economic partnerships? Because in the EU setting, we have seen more than one play where such acts would not have been allowed, yet Turkey is setting the pace to do just that. It is an important setting as it gives Iran a green light they should not have had, it is merely the outspoken voice to set the colour of options, and that colour is the one of explosive red. That is shown by others as the setting that is not to be allowed. Even as we understand that there is a setting that Italy, Germany and France do not want these sanctions to happen, we see that their voice gives “Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French energy firm Total, has already called for the EU to pass a blocking statute“, which makes perfect sense, and it is likely to happen, yet when we see the Turkish response with “Turkey will continue its trade with Iran as much as possible and will not be answerable to anyone else“, it merely shows that they are nowhere near ready to be allowed into the EU as a member state, because when they do something like this after they are admitted, the game changes by a lot and from that moment onward Turkey becomes merely the liability of the EU, not a member of the EU and there is a large distinct difference, even as we see them in the current setting for now, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will not continue on the undermining path that they are on, we have seen too many instances of Turkey acting that way that way in the last few years.

When we return to Iran we seem to be in deep water, not healthy waters by the way, the Riyadh/Golan actions are debatable at the very least and the fact that they are being mixed gives light to the dangers that are upcoming. Can they be avoided is the larger question, I am unsure of an answer, the fact that Yemen and Syria happened at almost the same time is a larger issue to contemplate and I have no factual useful response. Waiting for now is pretty much all we can do. I don’t think that we have to wait for too long as Israel has already announced retaliatory strikes a mere 15 minutes ago (source: Haaretz). So this cookie will not merely escalate, it is certainly the setting where other cookies get crumbled as well, the mere question is: “What are our options as per tomorrow, or the day after?

I do not know, when it comes to Yemen, we all (mainly the EU, NATO and USA) sat on our hands for far too long and they have made it part of the package deal. So the first act (at present) might just depend on how much Saudi Arabia feels threatened.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Politics

Waking up 5 years late

I have had something like this, I swear it’s true. It was after I came back from the Middle East, I was more of a ‘party person’ in those days and I would party all weekend non-stop. It would start on Friday evening and I would get home Sunday afternoon. So one weekend, I had gone through the nightclub, day club, bars and Shoarma pit stops after which I went home. I went to bed and I get woken up by the telephone. It is my boss, asking me whether I would be coming to work that day. I noticed it was 09:30, I had overslept. I apologised and rushed to the office. I told him I was sorry that I had overslept and I did not expect too much nose as it was the first time that I had overslept. So the follow up question became “and where were you yesterday?” My puzzled look from my eyes told him something was wrong. It was Tuesday! I had actually slept from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning. It would be the weirdest week in a lifetime. I had lost an entire day and I had no idea how I lost a day. I still think back to that moment every now and then, the sensation of the perception of a week being different, I never got over it, now 31 years ago, and it still gets to me every now and then.

A similar sensation is optionally hitting Christine Lagarde I reckon, although if she is still hitting the party scene, my initial response will be “You go girl!

You see with “Market power wielded by US tech giants concerns IMF chief” (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/19/market-power-wielded-by-us-tech-giants-concerns-imf-chief-christine-lagarde) we see the issues on a very different level. So even as we all accept “Christine Lagarde, has expressed concern about the market power wielded by the US technology giants and called for more competition to protect economies and individuals”, we see not the message, but the exclusion. So as we consider “Pressure has been building in the US for antitrust laws to be used to break up some of the biggest companies, with Google, Facebook and Amazon all targeted by critics“, I see a very different landscape. You see as we see Microsoft, IBM and Apple missing in that group, it is my personal consideration that this is about something else. You see Microsoft, IBM and Apple have one thing in common. They are Patent Powerhouses and no one messes with those. This is about power consolidation and the fact that Christine Lagarde is speaking out in such a way is an absolute hypocrite setting for the IMF to have.

You see, to get that you need to be aware of two elements. The first is the American economy. Now in my personal (highly opposed) vision, the US has been bankrupt; it has been for some time and just like the entire Moody debacle in 2008. People might have seen in in ‘the Big Short‘, a movie that showed part of it and whilst the Guardian reported ““Moody’s failed to adhere to its own credit-rating standards and fell short on its pledge of transparency in the run-up to the ‘great recession’,” principal deputy associate attorney general Bill Baer said in the statement“, it is merely one version of betrayal to the people of the US by giving protection to special people in excess of billions and they merely had to pay a $864m penalty. I am certain that those billionaires have split that penalty amongst them. So, as I stated, the US should be seen as bankrupt. It is not the only part in this. The Sydney Morning Herald (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/how-trump-s-hair-raising-level-of-debt-could-bring-us-all-crashing-down-20180420-p4zank.html) gives us “Twin reports by the International Monetary Fund sketch a chain reaction of dangerous consequences for world finance. The policy – if you can call it that – puts the US on an untenable debt trajectory. It smacks of Latin American caudillo populism, a Peronist contagion that threatens to destroy the moral foundations of the Great Republic. The IMF’s Fiscal Monitor estimates that the US budget deficit will spike to 5.3 per cent of GDP this year and 5.9 per cent in 2019. This is happening at a stage of the economic cycle when swelling tax revenues should be reducing net borrowing to zero“. I am actually decently certain that this will happen. Now we need to look back to my earlier statement.

You see, if the US borrowing power is nullified, the US is left without any options, unless (you saw that coming didn’t you). The underwriting power of debt becomes patent power. Patents have been set to IP support. I attended a few of those events (being a Master of Intellectual Property Law) and even as my heart is in Trademarks, I do have a fine appreciation of Patents. In this the econometrics of the world are seeing the national values and the value of any GDP supported by the economic value of patents.

In this, in 2016 we got “Innovation and creative endeavors are indispensable elements that drive economic growth and sustain the competitive edge of the U.S. economy. The last century recorded unprecedented improvements in the health, economic well-being, and overall quality of life for the entire U.S. population. As the world leader in innovation, U.S. companies have relied on intellectual property (IP) as one of the leading tools with which such advances were promoted and realized. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the principal means for establishing ownership rights to the creations, inventions, and brands that can be used to generate tangible economic benefits to their owner“, as such the cookie has crumbled into where the value is set (see attached), one of the key findings is “IP-intensive industries continue to be a major, integral and growing part of the U.S. economy“, as such we see the tech giants that I mentioned as missing and not being mentioned by Christine Lagarde. It is merely one setting and there are optionally a lot more, but in light of certain elements I believe that patents are a driving force and those three have a bundle, Apple has so many that it can use those patents too buy several European nations. IBM with their (what I personally believe to be) an overvalued Watson, we have seen the entire mess moving forward, presenting itself and pushing ‘boundaries’ as we are set into a stage of ‘look what’s coming’! It is all about research, MIT and Think 2018. It is almost like Think 2018 is about the point of concept, the moment of awareness and the professional use of AI. In that IBM, in its own blog accidently gave away the goods as I see it with: “As we get closer to Think, we’re looking forward to unveiling more sessions, speakers and demos“, I think they are close, they are getting to certain levels, but they are not there yet. In my personal view they need to keep the momentum going, even if they need to throw in three more high exposed events, free plane tickets and all kinds of swag to flim flam the audience. I think that they are prepping for the events that will not be complete in an alpha stage until 2020. Yet that momentum is growing, and it needs to remain growing. Two quotes give us that essential ‘need’.

  1. The US Army signed a 33-month, $135 million contract with IBM for cloud services including Watson IoT, predictive analytics and AI for better visibility into equipment readiness.
  2. In 2017, IBM inventors received more than 1,900 patents for new cloud technologies to help solve critical business challenges.

The second is the money shot. An early estimate is outside of the realm of most, you see the IP Watchdog gave us: “IBM Inventors received a record 9043 US patents in 2017, patenting in such areas as AI, Cloud, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing technology“, the low estimate is a value of $11.8 trillion dollars. That is what IBM is sitting on. That is the power of just ONE tech giant, and how come that Christine Lagarde missed out on mentioning IBM? I’ll let you decide, or perhaps it was Larry Elliott from the Guardian who missed out? I doubt it, because Larry Elliott is many things, stupid ain’t one. I might not agree with him, or at times with his point of view, but he is the clever one and his views are valid ones.

So in all this we see that there is a push, but is it the one the IMF is giving or is there another play? The fact that banks have a much larger influence in what happens is not mentioned, yet that is not the play and I accept that, it is not what is at stake. There is a push on many levels and even as we agree that some tech giants have a larger piece of the cake (Facebook, Google and Amazon), a lot could have been prevented by proper corporate taxation, but that gets to most of the EU and the American Donald Duck, or was that Trump are all about not walking that road? The fact that Christine has failed (one amongst many) to introduce proper tax accountability on tech giants is a much larger issue and it is not all on her plate in all honesty, so there are a few issues with all this and the supporting views on all this is not given with “Lagarde expressed concern at the growing threat of a trade war between the US and China, saying that protectionism posed a threat to the upswing in the global economy and to an international system that had served countries well“, it is seen in several fields, one field, was given by The Hill, in an opinion piece. The information is accurate it is merely important to see that it has the views of the writer (just like any blog).

So with “Last December, the United States and 76 other WTO members agreed at the Buenos Aires WTO Ministerial to start exploring WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce. Those WTO members are now beginning their work by identifying the objectives of such an agreement. The U.S. paper is an important contribution because it comprehensively addresses the digital trade barriers faced by many companies“, which now underlines “A recent United States paper submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a notable step toward establishing rules to remove digital trade barriers. The paper is significant for identifying the objectives of an international agreement on digital trade“. This now directly gives rise to “the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law also requested that the new NAFTA require increased protections in trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents“, which we get from ‘Ambassador Lighthizer Urged to Include Intellectual Property Protections in New NAFTA‘ (at https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ambassador-lighthizer-urged-to-include-52674/) less than 10 hours ago. So when we link that to the quote “The proposals included: that Canada and Mexico establish criminal penalties for trade secrets violations similar to those in the U.S. Economic Espionage Act, an agreement that Mexico eliminate its requirement that trademarks be visible, a prohibition on the lowering of minimum standards of patent protection“. So when we now look back towards the statement of Christine Lagarde and her exclusion of IBM, Microsoft and Apple, how is she not directly being a protectionist of some tech giants?

I think that the IMF is also feeling the waters what happens when the US economy takes a dip, because at the current debt levels that impact is a hell of a lot more intense and the games like Moody’s have been played and cannot be played again. Getting caught on that level means that the US would have to be removed from several world economic executive decisions, not a place anyone in Wall Street is willing to accept, so that that point Pandora’s Box gets opened and no one will be able to close it at that point. So after waking up 5 years late we see that the plays have been again and again about keeping the status quo and as such the digital rights is the one card left to play, which gives the three tech giants an amount of power they have never had before, so as everyone’s favourite slapping donkey (Facebook) is mentioned next to a few others, it is the issue of those not mentioned that will be having the cake and quality venison that we all desire. In this we are in a dangerous place, even more the small developers who come up with the interesting IP’s they envisioned. As their value becomes overstated from day one, they will be pushed to sell their IP way too early, more important, that point comes before their value comes to fruition and as such those tech giants (Apple, IBM, and Microsoft) will get an even more overbearing value. Let’s be clear they are not alone, the larger players like Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, LG Electronics, Sony and Fujitsu are also on that list. The list of top players has around 300 members, including 6 universities (all American). So that part of the entire economy is massively in American hands and we see no clear second place, not for a long time. Even as the singled out tech giants are on that list, it is the value that they have that sets them a little more apart. Perhaps when you consider having a go at three of them, whilst one is already under heavy emotional scrutiny is perhaps a small price to pay.

How nice for them to wake up, I merely lost one day once, they have been playing the sleeping game for years and we will get that invoice at the expense of the futures we were not allowed to have, if you wonder how weird that statement is, then take a look at the current retirees, the devaluation they face, the amount they are still about to lose and wonder what you will be left with when you consider that the social jar will be empty long before you retire. The one part we hoped to have at the very least is the one we will never have because governments decided that budgeting was just too hard a task, so they preferred to squander it all away. The gap of those who have and those who have not will become a lot wider over the next 5 years, so those who retire before 2028 will see hardships they never bargained for. So how exactly are you served with addressing “‘too much concentration in hands of the few’ does not help economy“, they aren’t and you weren’t. It is merely the setting for what comes next, because in all this it was never about that. It is the first fear of America that counts. With ‘US ponders how it can stem China’s technology march‘ (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/us-ponders-how-it-can-stem-chinas-technology-march-20180418-h0yyaw), we start seeing that shift, so as we see “The New York Times reported on April 7 that “at the heart” of the trade dispute is a contest over which country plays “a leading role in high-tech industries”. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 12 that the US was preparing rules to block Chinese technology investment in the US, while continuing to negotiate over trade penalties“, we see the shifted theatre of trade war. It will be about the national economic value with the weight of patents smack in the middle. In that regard, the more you depreciate other parts, the more important the value of patents becomes. It is not a simple or easy picture, but we will see loads of econometrics giving their view on all that within the next 2-3 weeks.

Have a great weekend and please do not bother to wake up, it seems that Christine Lagarde didn’t bother waking up for years.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

That one place

There is a place where everyone is the same, where it does not matter what your convictions are, what your gender is or how you swing your love life. That is the one thing I always believed, I remain faithful to the notion that games and gaming is the one place where it does not matter what you are, who you are and how you are, as long as you are fine that is. I grew up with games, I reviewed and tested games for well over a decade and played them for additional decades beyond that. I was already a gamer when the term did not even exist.

I always believed that games had, in those days two distinct powers. One was to entertain the person playing; the other was to lower the threshold of using computers, I ended up being correct on both counts. I started my gaming life in 1982, almost 36 years ago. I started with a Commodore VIC-20, after that a Commodore 64 and after that I was off to the races. So, the VIC-20, CBM-64, Atari 2600, CD-32, Atari ST, Amiga 500, PC, MAC, Nintendo-64, Sega Megadrive, Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, 2, 3, and 4, Xbox, Xbox360 and Xbox One. I had them all and played them all. I saw games evolve from blocks; I played Pong and many arcade games. I always hoped that the women would not keep on considering it ‘an act too nerdy’ and behold, in the beginning of the second millennia I saw more and more women taking up gaming to some extent. I always thought that gaming was a true equaliser and to some extent it became one, so I was a little upset to see ‘eSports analyst receives death threats after thanking men on women’s day‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/mar/09/soembie-soe-gschwind-penski-overwatch-league), there she is on the article smiling and announcing the Blizzard event, looking like an overwatch player. Soe Gschwind-Penski was not the pesky Peski adversarial player that was up against people, she was hosting the event as the excellent eSports commentator she is regarded to be. So, the lady born in the land of Cheese and Chocolate gave the tweet: “It’s #InternationalWomensDay I’d like to give a special shoutout to all the men in our lives who have supported us, gave us a voice when we had none, fought for our cause and treated us the way we all ought to treat each other…like a fellow human being – no race, no gender.” as @Soembie she gave us all a nice tweet, all positive in every direction giving a voice to an international day. So for the utter life of me, I cannot comprehend the fact that people hand out responses that lead to: ““Ive gotten death threats and hundreds of hate messages the past 20 minutes because I thanked men for treating me as their equal, on a day which is all about womens struggle for equality,” Gschwind-Penski posted. “Hate, because I am grateful for the men in our lives who fight alongside us for our rights.”“, from my point of view that could not have been done by anyone who is an actual real gamer. I see it as actions from people pretending to be ‘gamers’; pretending to know anything at all. Like those people claiming that they finished ‘Dead Space in Impossible mode in two hours‘, or something as ridiculous like that. They tend to use cheats and god mode codes or alterations so that they can run through a game not getting hurt by anything, they are not and never will be players. I never had any regard or respect for them. So am I a great gamer? Nope! I am a good gamer and I like to enjoy games, so I will never run through an RPG. What is the purpose of running through Skyrim, or Fallout 4 and missing on the magnificent views the game offers? I even admire the fact that Fallout 4 can be played as a pacifist. I never did that, but the fact that it is there is just awesome, it makes for a gamer to be an actual gamer (cause for a golden Achievement; Hint, hint). I am not one for multiple shooting games. I used to like it, but Unreal Tournament spoiled that for me. All people hopping like kangaroos through the game, it was just too weird for me. Still, there is plenty of awesomeness in going down the throat of Diablo 3 with three other players. A game I loved since the very first Diablo and my team of 7 hardcore mode level 70 characters are decent evidence of that.

So in that setting the entire abuse of Soe Gschwind-Penski makes no sense at all. Even when we see: “The two-year-old OWL did make headlines last month when South Korean teenager Kim Se-yeon signed with the Shanghai Dragons to become the league’s first female player. But high-profile eSports competitions remain a male-dominated space: Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team.

You see, for the most finding female gamers, serious gamers are still a rare thing. So even as there might be a case in regards to the fact that ‘Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team‘, we must equally realise that for the longest time, even today that a high estimate from my speculative view is that the women in gaming are set to a mere 10% at best (I apologise if I am wrong). So we are happy that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski, Aoife Wilson (@AoifeLockhart) from Eurogamer, Stephanie Claire Bendixsen (aka Hex), and Anita Sarkeesian. The list is way too short and we can point fingers at the reasons, but in the end I am not certain if there is an actual real culprit. If there is one than I might blame the makers of these review sites and channels as the culprit for not hiring more women, or is that actually the non-capability of finding more women?

You see, I started gaming in the age when nearly all women remained in enthusiastic denial of games for well over a decade. I know that because in those days woman in gaming was extremely rare. Roberta Williams was one of the very few. Jane Jensen would not appear until a decade later and the writing she did on EcoQuest and Police Quest 3 put her on the map (both excellent games). Yet the last two were two of a very small group of game designers, not game critics or reviewers (or hosts). Yet, I still believe that women are as welcome in the gaming industry and the gaming world as much as anyone else. Anyone who does not agree with that view is of course allowed to disagree, but he is not an actual gamer plain and simple!

You see, it truly does not matter what you are or who you are in gaming. It is merely the setting that you can hold your own in that virtual team, once you do you are in it for life! There are several women that I have met who can hold their own in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer on platinum level. That is all it requires and even as the settings change per game, they are all about being able to hold your own and strengthen the multiplayer (MP) team. So in all this I have absolutely no clue why anyone would give death threats to any female gamer and I feel certain that this was not dome by any real gamer, at best a wannabe, and optionally merely a game hater and we have no real use for each of these two groups.

It is my view that it needs to be dealt with. It is in that regard that I remember an article (and found it) which was from 2014. The Guardian gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/nov/28/alanah-pearce-tells-on-her-internet-trolls-to-their-mothers) , so when we read the tweet “Sometimes young boys on Facebook send me rape threats, so I’ve started telling their mothers“, most actual gamers would be laughing out loud and when we read the results “more than 11,000 users had retweeted her comment, and more than 20,000 had favourited it, eight hours after Pearce made her original post” game reviewer Alanah Pearce struck gold! Actually, in my view it does not really matter how young or old the person is, when it comes to the threats that Soe Gschwind-Penski was exposed to, it should be standard practise to tell on them to their mommy’s. For them to be exposed as the utter disappointment they show themselves to be to others might not be a bad thing. The wannabe’s will stop pretending to be gamers and hide in a corner, the rest will get a quick moral adjustment they desperately needed.

In my view gaming is for all and everyone. It does not matter what your gender, religion orientation or conviction is. The world of gaming is about the gaming world you enter, whether that is in the depths of a cathedral in Diablo, the house in Overwatch, the landing site on Mass Effect 3, or the power chamber in Unreal Tournament. You only have to hold your own. If you cannot do that, choose a lower level and get there, or get better. It is the one part that every player can do and that is why gaming will remain a world of inclusion, it is the only place where your inclusion only relies on you doing your part which is awesome in nearly everyone’s view. And the nicest part is that if you are not ready today, you can practice, get better and return, gender was never an issue.

Yet, there is still a long way to go, not because of gamers or gender, the fact that the President of the United States is still a few cans short of a six pack and that evidence is shown in light of “Donald Trump will host executives from the video game industry at the White House on Thursday, resurrecting a debate over the link between violent video games and gun-related deaths in the aftermath of the Parkland high school shooting“, so how long until women (and some men) will turn away from Overwatch out of fear for being seen as an aspiring psychopath?

Do you think I am kidding?

The foundation of all this is values and inherent choices. The choice an abuser makes is seen in two settings. Psychology Today gives us the 5 types of abuse:

– Emotional (killing pet, playing mind games)
– Verbal (calling names)
– Technological (GPS system /Face book sabotage)
– Sexual (forcing sex while sleep or based on the bible)
– Physical (killing, punching, choking)

The issue is seen in the first two, emotional, and then verbal after that we get the physical one. Yet in gaming this is all in a virtual setting and the gamer knows this. So they know that the person they fight with is a virtual person, and in games like Half-Life counter-strike we know that the opposing person is a virtual one too. The issue is that every psychopath might be a gamer to some extent, but that person will not be able to tell the virtual world and the real world apart. They merely want to hurt people, to actually abuse them, a gamer never does. It was that same article that gave me something that I did not know. Did you know that an actual abuser ‘Holds very rigid gender roles‘? So basically these threatening people might be actual abusers and reporting them becomes a duty for every gamer, not merely every women threatened. This person, usually a male regards himself as ‘King of the Castle’, it is her duty to cater (and service) him. As I am not like that, I had no idea, but that becomes a worry and Trump is not making it easier. If anything he is currently catering to abusers and psychopaths. This could be a comforting notion if the entire issue was not that worrying, but it actually is.

Then we get the worrying part, worrying because it is a dangerous step. As we see ‘Treatment for this population‘, we get to see “Group Therapy is important because it allows the batterer to be confronted by his peers on his behavior. I’ve facilitated groups with 16 men in the room at times it would become very confrontational but it was important for the men to be held accountable for their behavior by other men and group facilitators so this might translate into “making them a group of inclusion, allow and accept them in our midst and calling them openly out on every transgression they make“. I for one am happy to shun abusers and never letting them in our midst, but I recognise that I would make matters worse, in my defence, I feel more compelled to protect my fellow gamer, whether he is a man or a woman, because quality gamers are rare and I feel that their protection is more important than curing a non-gamer in the gaming world. This is merely my personal view.

In the end I would call to my fellow gamers to call out those who attack gamers like Soe Gschwind-Penski because our population of true gamers is not that large when we compare 2-3 million on a total of 8 billion. I would love for that number to double the next few years, so as we grow we will hopefully see more women join our ranks.

In opposition

There is however a part I need to mention. I never agreed with it, but it is a view we must not ignore. In 2013 (at https://www.newstatesman.com/if-you-love-games-you-are-not-a-gamer), in the New Statesman there was a piece. In its origin the New Statesman is a British political and cultural magazine published in London. Founded as a weekly review of politics and literature on 12 April 1913, so a magazine from before WW1, gave us “The idea of the ‘gaming community’ needs to die“, it is one view. You see, as gamers we segregate ourselves, I am happy to do just that because I am proud to be a gamer, I always have been. One quote applies to the origin of the gamers (in the 80’s). With: “gamers are depicted as the contemporary nerd group, a mildly downtrodden crowd, shunned by the jocks and achievers. Gamers are the losers who spend their days in darkened bedrooms furiously tapping on controllers or keyboards in a solitary pursuit that sits close to masturbation in the mind“, in the old days that was certainly true as the image presented of gamers as others saw them. Yet is that true now? Now the gaming industry is a $100+ billion a year. Now we see that people group and identify with the worlds of Skyrim, post-apocalyptic USA and as other groups are formed around successful games like GTA5, Far Cry, League of Legends and Overwatch that image is not only no longer true, it is in opposition of all those developers called by the need of $$$ (and their developing powers). So when we see “Within the next century ‘gamers’ will be a term that encompasses every gay and transgender person, every girl and woman, every politician in the cabinet, everyone with a title in the House of Lords, every teacher, nurse, banker, social worker, dustman and paedophile“, which is an unsettling truth. It is unsettling because even as we all want our fellow gamers to be merely gamers regardless of gender, we cannot (and perhaps should not) see what they are in real life. So it is not impossible that the serial killer hides in GTA5 multiplayer, killing whatever he/she can until the call for real blood is needed. So my view is in opposition of President Trump, he is stating that every rectangle is a square, whilst I identify that every square is a rectangle, as well as proving him wrong at the same time. It is not the same but there is a foundation and a foundation where a person can hide in anonymity. I belief it is a good thing, but it could be abused by those who have in ‘the core of the matter’ no business being there. In that part the Statesman does not make the case but the call for the cancellation of any community is not overtly evil. It is a non-invalid view, especially when we see “the urge to form groups with like-minded people is a universal one. But when that collective power is turned against those on the margins of the group“, so even as we are gamers, and we unite and think alike, but when that makes us a target, is the call valid to endanger some of us? I believe that when we unite we are more than ready for those attacking us, even if we merely start protecting our fellow gamers by calling the mommy and daddy of their attackers, no matter what age they have.

In the end I hope that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski realise that every real gamer is happy that she is around and that we have no qualms about her presence, even if she, in addition, defeats us in the most humiliating way. It merely ups the ante for us to get better, and that is in the core of multiplayer gaming, a drive to improve, a fellow gamer that makes any of us a better gamer, how great is such a life?

Live it to find out!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Law, Media, Politics

Insights or Assumptions?

Yesterday’s article in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/01/22/the-rise-of-saudi-arabias-crown-prince-reveals-a-harsh-truth) is an interesting one. In this article Professor Bernard Haykel gives a view on the issues we are optionally likely to see in Saudi Arabia. I am not sure I can agree. You see, he might be the professor of the ‘Near Eastern Studies and the director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia’ at a prestigious place like Princeton, but my pupils tend to shape like question marks when someone’s title requires 13 words to be merely one part. We see in the article “depict him as power-hungry and corrupt, and cite these two impulses for his behavior and policies. When King Salman designated MBS as his heir in June 2017, MBS effectively became the most powerful man in the kingdom. And despite ill-advised purchases (including a yacht and a French chateau, which have cemented the impression of the crown prince’s greed)“, so how does that work? You see Prince Mohammed bin Salman is wealthy, his family is very wealthy, and as such is a yacht a splurge? It would depend on the price. Second there is the mention on a French Chateau. Well, I have taken a look and I fell in love with a house in France too, in Cognac (my favourite drink). The house (at http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-58209296.html), has 7 bedrooms, is amazing in looks and in a nice village. The amount comes down to a little over a million dollars (money I obviously do not have), but consider that the same amount will only get you a decent 2 bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Sydney, within some suburbs and in the city, those prices will go up from 250%-1500%, depending on how outlandish your view needs to be, in a measly 2-3 bedroom apartment. So how does that make the Crown Prince greedy? Now his choice is a chateau 50 times that price and a family that owns billions can splurge a little. His place is west of Paris. And let’s face it, as some economies are going, having your money in something substantial is not the worst idea. His second splurge, linking him to greed and power hunger is a yacht. So how does that leap rhyme? I have no idea and I find the professors view slightly too speculative. Yet, the man is not done. He then gives us: “MBS is trying to deal with a harsh truth about Saudi Arabia: The kingdom is economically and politically unsustainable, and is headed toward a disaster“. There is a truth in that. As Saudi Arabia is dependent on oil, there will be a lull in their lives, as the need for oil exists, with prices going down, there is no real prospect of fixing it, but wait that is exactly what the crown prince is doing. He is setting forth his 2030 view, a growing move away from oil dependency, which is actually a really good thing to do. It does not make him greedy, merely a visionary that technological evolution is essential to the continuing future of Saudi Arabia. We then get two quotes that matter. The first I already gave light on with “a sclerotic state with limited administrative capacity and an economy that is largely reliant on declining oil revenues“, yet sclerotic? That means “losing the ability to adapt“, which is exactly what the crown prince is trying to achieve, adapt the nation to other options and new ways. The second is a lot harsher, but requires additional focus. With: “a venal elite comprised of thousands of royals and hangers-on who operate with impunity and are a huge drain on the economy. It is saddled with a bloated public sector which employs 70 percent of working Saudis, and its military is incapable of defending the homeland despite billions spent on armaments“, so we can argue on the wisdom of ‘employs 70 percent of working Saudis‘, I am not stating that it is true, but when we see Walmart in the US, who employs 1% of Americans pumping billions of profit into that one Walton family, we should wonder how wrong the Saudi actions are. So we might not see corporate greed like in the US, but is one method better than the other? I am not sure that this is the case. The other part I need to comment on is: “its military is incapable of defending the homeland“, what evidence is there (it is not in the article at all)? Let’s not forget that Iran has been a warmongering nation for DECADES! How many wars did Saudi Arabia get into? There was the Saudi -Yemeni war of 1934, The Gulf War, where Saudi Arabia was a member of the allied forces, the Saudi intervention in Yemen and the current upcoming conflict with Iran. So, regarding the inability to defend the homeland? Is that perhaps merely gesture towards the incoming missiles from Yemen? Well, we can bomb the bejezus out of Yemen, but it would imply thousands of civilian casualties as these people are hiding in the civilian masses. Something they learned from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah I would reckon, but that this is merely an assumption from my side. I found the restraint that Saudi Arabia has shown so far quite refreshing.

I am not stating that Saudi Arabia is holier than thou. Like any nation, it makes mistakes; it has views and a set infrastructure. It is moving at a pace that they want, not the pace Wall Street wants, which is equally refreshing.

The article gives us truths, but from a polarised setting as I see it. Yes, there is acknowledgement on the achievements too, in both the directions of the USA and Russia, and we can agree that just like 86% of all other nations (including the USA) that the economy is a weak point. So how is America dealing with a 20 trillion in debt? From my point of view, the USA has not done anything in that direction for over a decade. Instead of lowering the corporate tax to the degree it did, it could have left it 5% higher and let that part be reserved of paying of the debt and interest, oh right, the 5% will not even take care of the interest at present, so as such the USA is in a much worse place at present, which is not what the article is about, but we should take that into consideration, and the end of the article? With “Ultimately, MBS wants to base his family’s legitimacy on the economic transformation of the country and its prosperity. He is not a political liberal. Rather, he is an authoritarian, and one who sees his consolidation of power as a necessary condition for the changes he wants to make in Saudi Arabia“, is that true? The facts are likely true and when you employ 70% of a nation, economic transformations are the legitimacy of that nation. There is the one side Americans never understood. In the end, Saudi Arabia is a monarchy; their duty is the welfare of that nation. So it does not make him authoritarian (even as he might be seen as much), he is the upcoming new monarch of Saudi Arabia, a simple truth. Within any monarchy there is one voice, the King/Queen of that nation. So it is in theory consolidation of power, in actuality it is a monarch who wants all voices and looks to be towards an area of focus, what that is, the future will tell, but in the end, until the Iran-Saudi Arabia issue is solved, there will be plenty of space for chaos.

In this his path is clear and that is the part the professor did illuminate too. With: “MBS is trying to appeal to young Saudis, who form the majority of the population. His message is one of authoritarian nationalism, mixed with populism that seeks to displace a traditional Islamic hyper-conservatism — which the crown prince believes has choked the country and sapped its people of all dynamism and creativity“, it is his need to create a population that is nationalistic, that sees Saudi Arabia as a place of pride, which is not a bad thing. In a setting where the end of hyper-conservatism, as it can no longer reflect any nation in a global economy, is an essential path. He is merely conservative in not handing out all those large benefits and multi-billion dollar revenue in the hands of opportunists who are eager to take those billions over the border, out of Saudi Arabia at the drop of a hat, any hat. That will drag down the Arabian economy with absolute certainty. A dynamic and creative nation, especially fuelled by youth and enthusiasm could spell several wells of innovation and profit that could benefit Saudi Arabia. I think that the path from hyper-conservatism towards where it needs to be in 2023 is so far well played. He is not there yet, but the path is starting and that is in the end a good thing. The only thing that the US needs to fear now is that the creative and innovation path that Saudi Arabia is on, could spell long term problems for a nation that has been fixated on a iterative technology path where the US is no longer the front runner, they were surpassed by Asia some time ago, the US merely has Apple and Google. Oh no, they do not, because those are proclaimed global corporations. So where does that leave the US?

So as we see Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/imf-sees-global-growth-picking-up-as-u-s-tax-cuts-gain-traction) gives us ‘IMF Says Global Growth Picking Up as U.S. Tax Cuts Take Hold‘, which is a number I find overly optimistic, Global growth is set to 3.9%, yet the bad news cycle has not started yet, so I reckon that if the global economy ends at 2.45% it would not be a bad achievement. In that light I find the mention “The IMF also predicted that the tax plan will reduce U.S. growth after 2022, offsetting earlier gains, as some of the individual cuts expire and the U.S. tries to curb its budget deficit“. I believe that the US economy takes a hard hit no later than 2020 and the idea of ‘curb its budget deficit‘ is equally amusing, they have not been able to do that for 15 years and as there is at present every chance that President Trump is a one term president only, the Democrats are now likely to win by large margin and the entire budget curbing would be immediately off the table, because spending is the one thing the democrats have proven to be utter experts in, they merely leave the invoices for others to deal with, which is equally unhealthy for any economy.

And in that article we see exactly the fears that are mounting towards Saudi Arabia too. With “the IMF flagged protectionism, geopolitical tensions and extreme weather as risks to the global economy” we see a new frontal attack starting on protectionism. Mentions like “A reduction of Germany’s surplus would help reduce global imbalances” and it is not one source, hundreds of articles over the last 16 hours alone, all hammering the protectionism word in a bad light. It is now becoming all about trade protectionism, even under the terms of Brexit, we saw on how people were stating that it was a disadvantage, the single market falls away and as such the UK cannot benefit. Now that Brexit is still pushing forward, the IMF is changing their tune and it is now on protectionism and trade protectionism. Another way to state that tariffs and import fees are now a problem, it is the final straw in giving large corporation the push for benefit they need and many are in the States (IBM, Microsoft, 3M and so on), they would benefit and even as I mention Brexit, it also affects Saudi Arabia. As we saw last July: “Being a WTO member, Saudi Arabia is expected to bind its tariffs on over three-fourths of U.S. exports of industrial goods at an average rate of 3.2 percent, while tariffs on over 90 percent of agricultural products will be set at 15 percent or lower“, so the IMF is not merely voicing the fear of the US, it is equally scared that the stimulus backlash is about to his impeding presented global growth, the protectionism and trade protectionism are set to plead for open doors, I wonder if that also means that patent protectionism would have to end. I doubt that because pharmacy is what keeps the US afloat in more than one way, and is not a subject that is allowed to be tinkered in.

So were these insights or speculations?

I believe both the professor and myself were doing both, I admit to that upfront, whilst the professor set it in a text that is acceptable yet should have been raising a few more questions that the Washington Post is bargaining for. We can argue that this is a good thing, but it is my personal belief that even as it was a good and insightful article, in the end all the mention of power hungry and corrupt, in the end he showed no real evidence that this was a move of a power hungry person, especially as the person in question (Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is set to be the future king of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince is at the tip of the pyramid, so he needs not be power hungry. That can only be shown if he starts expansion wars with his neighbours. In addition no evidence is shown of corruption, I do not state that this is not the case, but if you accuse a person of being corrupt it would be nice to add actual evidence of that, which is merely my point of view.

In the end, through insight and speculation, I hope that you got some insights of that and feel free to google ‘IMF protectionism‘ and see how many articles were added in the last week alone. It is clear that Davos is about removing limitations, not actually growing a true economy. Which implies from my point of view is that Davos is about big business and what they need, not what the people desperately require. Consider that when you read about the ‘World Economic Forum Annual Meeting’ and when you see who is present. My mind wonders on how many informal meetings there will be and how Theresa May is likely to get hammered on Brexit issues as Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel and perhaps even Donald Trump unite against Brexit. It is an assumption from my side, but at the end of the week, will I be proven wrong?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Military, Politics, Science

False Bloated Information?

As we look at all kinds of news, trying to figure out what is going on, the Guardian gives us “An investigation by the FBI has concluded that Russian hackers were responsible for sending out fake messages from the Qatari government, sparking the Gulf’s biggest diplomatic crisis in decades“. It comes from ‘Russian hackers to blame for sparking Qatar crisis, FBI inquiry finds‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/07/russian-hackers-qatar-crisis-fbi-inquiry-saudi-arabia-uae). It seems like the Russians are behind nearly everything. The issue I have here is that clear intelligence is not found, there is a lack of information giving correct information. You see, if that was the case, if there was a situation with ‘sending out fake messages from the Qatari government‘, there would be a battery of messages, showing those messages and with the clear statement on how they were spread. You see, hacking was not needed. When we see: “The UAE wants Qatar to sever its ties with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, and Iran. It also wants news outlets seen to be critical of the Gulf monarchies, such as the Qatari-funded al-Jazeera, to be closed down. Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders live in Doha, and Qatar has shown a willingness to retain diplomatic contacts with Iran, partly due to joint economic interests, including a large underwater gas field“, so as we see that the Muslim Brotherhood is in Qatar, that would be enough to make Egypt angry, the rest is just gravy. Is the term ‘An investigation by the FBI has concluded that Russian hackers were responsible’ is that a new way for the FBI to state that they are in the dark? #JustAsking

Now, is there a chance that hackers have been busy all over the place? That is probably true; it could even be true that some of these hackers have a Russian nationality. Yet the implied newscasts are all about ‘Russian hackers‘ with links to the Russian government, I am not denying that this could be a fact, but is it more likely that a Russian hacker is working for the FSB or for organised crime? Consider the ‘opportunity‘ certain shortages bring. Is it not interesting on how the lack of evidence, no matter who failed to produce it, seems to be accepted because it comes with an FBI stamp. How fake is our news? With CNN we see: “Because it was started based on fabricated news, being wedged and being inserted in our national news agency which was hacked and proved by the FBI.” So why not a clear communications on what actually was happening why is that not picked up by news everywhere? No, we get massive re-quotes from Reuters and other outlets and nobody bothered showing any evidence. Perhaps you remember this from the past, the need to show levels of guilt from those perpetrating the events. I believe that ‘confirmed by FBI‘ just does not hack it anymore. A weird situation, is it not? The issue that has been an issue for the longest time is “who have long objected to Qatar’s foreign policy“, there is a large following of that issue. I cannot confirm that the hack story is fake, but I think that the papers need to give a lot more evidence besides the two paragraphs before they go towards other issues like how many Saudi’s were in 9/11, or switch to the optional food shortages in Qatar. The news is as flaky as it can get on any story. The issue seems to be devoid of information, especially as the aftermath of the elections would have had plenty of options to dig into that small issue called ‘evidence‘.

So what do we make of all this, why did the FBI even bother planting the ‘a fake news‘ issue stamp on Qatar? In light of everything that is currently in play, perhaps the French news that just now brings us “fresh signs the world’s largest economy is not in peak condition“, an issue for a country that has a debt well over 20 trillion. So when President Trump claims that the US economy is tremendous, is that fake news or is that merely a typo from the autocomplete (read: terrible).

There are several questions we need to raise, the actions from the FBI (going all the way back to the Sony hack) is giving us a collection of issues that makes us wonder what is actually going on and who the real perpetrators are. When you Google for ‘Qatar Hackers‘ you get a massive group of people shouting for or against the fact that it is fake news, but none of them are showing any evidence. I am asking questions because we see no concrete evidence not from any side. There is in equal measure no report on news sites and news channels showing us the fake news, when it was published and what the actual Qatar position is. In 5 minute I came up with 3 possible solutions on how the world stage could have been defused, that whilst I know that there are plenty of people working in that industry those are more intelligent than I am. So what failures are happening and what are they trying to not tell the audience?

The entire issue takes another turn when we consider the news (at http://www.news.com.au/world/donald-trump-blasts-exfbi-director-james-comey-on-twitter-as-uk-media-report-he-has-cancelled-state-visit/news-story/70199076e7f849888efac550b4e06d49), where we see ‘Donald Trump blasts ex-FBI director James Comey on Twitter as UK media report he has cancelled state visit‘, in here we see: “Fellow Republicans are pressing President Donald Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with the former FBI director. And if he does, they want the President to hand them over to Congress or else possibly face a subpoena.” Now we see another side to it all, we see a situation where the US is having an internal issue growing and it is about to hit the world. My reasoning is not just the clarity that James Comey showed. The degrees he has, the fact that he is the former US deputy attorney general and that he has been on several board of directors, including Lockheed Martin and HSBC. This is not someone who plays some fast and loose game. He is no typo twitter user and the world pretty much realises this. The article does not go into the fact on the title, the ‘cancelled state visit’ is actually merely delayed, yet consider the importance that an ally like the UK is, what prevents the so called leader of the free world to bolster his defences in the White House? This is where the FBI seems to flaw and not intentionally. The events of the last 6 weeks give rise to an actual investigation of the White House and that is not something the FBI was ever equipped to do, in addition, there will be issues with the Secret Service as well. With the Huffington Post reporting that “Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner all repeatedly sought financing for various investments in recent years from leading figures in Qatar“, we now have a new issue. The FBI is now on the pace and in the moment of having to investigate its own president in links to terrorism. The quote “President Trump on Friday characterized Qatar as “historically” a “funder of terrorism at a high level,” an accusation that came just an hour after his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appealed for “no further escalation” in the Gulf Cooperation Council squabble“, so if Qatar is a strong partner in combating terrorist financing, how are we supposed to see the implied links as seen by the FBI? You see, even if we accept the words of Ambassador Dana Smith there is now a clear level of miscommunication between the ambassador, the state department, the White House, the Department of Justice and the Intelligence branches (CIA, NSA). So now we get the FBI having to sort out what is what and that is after someone in the White House thought it was a good idea to sack the previous director of the FBI, all this over a term of a mere 4 weeks. The question becomes ‘what is going on?‘ is not just the smallest issue in play. We could speculate that there are internal forces within Qatar who approach different parties, in this the President of the United States has been used as a cheap tool and his ability to typo twitter adds to the laughter of the US Democratic Party, whilst the FBI should be in tears and not in a good way. I wonder if any of these investigative agents ever signed up for this mess, an internal mess that is far above their own pay grade, and it is only Tuesday.

Fat Bloated Information gives rise to the events that are playing, part is due to FBI decisions on a level that I do not comprehend as I have been able to punch holes in several issues in mere minutes and there are a few people much more knowledgeable in cyber issues than I am and they concur on my findings through their own published findings long after I stated my views. Part of it is now finding the limelight as they have to go into rounds of analytical refurbishing of disseminated information (yes I can talk BS too with the use of a dictionary). So as we are getting more and more questionable news, the FBI now has to go over the news given by the White House and seeing what needs to be qualifies as actual news and quantify the damage made over the last 8 weeks. I wonder if the FBI will be able to comment on how much they never signed up for that part.

The final part is seen in a news article by Fox News, the article titled ‘Qatar taps former US attorney general to help ease regional crisis‘ (at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/06/12/qatar-taps-former-us-attorney-general-to-help-ease-regional-crisis.html) gives us the final side in all this. The quote “Qatar has paid $2.5 million to the law firm of a former attorney general under U.S. President George W. Bush to audit its efforts at stopping terrorism funding, a matter at the heart of the Gulf diplomatic crisis that erupted last week“, the issue is not that it is happening, the issue is how it is set in motion. You see, if this was about getting results, I would have gone to the UK firm 25 Bedford Row, who has expertise in this. Not only as its QC Paul Hynes is a true expert and one of the voices behind “International Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing – a UK perspective“, Sweet & Maxwell, 2009 Paul Hynes QC, Richard Furlong & Nathaniel Rudolf.

The list of cases as given by 25 Bedford Row (at http://www.25bedfordrow.com/site/expertise/criminal-barristers/terrorism/) shows us levels of expertise that the firm of John Ashcroft has not shown at present, even more outspoken, I am not sure if they have this level of expertise at all:

  • R -v- Ciarán Maxwell – The “Marine who turned to terror”
  • R -v- Anjem Choudary and Another – A case concerning encouraging support for IS
  • R -v- Mohammed Alamgir and Others – A Luton Al-Muhajiroun cell infiltrated in an undercover operation
  • R -v- Feroz Khan and Others – Prison disorder said to be a Lee Rigby copycat incident
  • R -v- Humzah Ali and Another – An IS Syrian traveller and terrorist material dissemination case
  • R -v- Yousaf Syed and Others – The “Poppy Day Plot”
  • R -v- Roshonara Choudhry – The attempted murder of Steven Timms MP
  • R -v- Muktar Ibrahim and Others – The 21/7 London Bombings
  • R -v- Abdul Saleem – The Danish Cartoon Protest Case
  • R -v- Kanyare & Others – The “Fake Sheikh” red mercury case
  • R -v- Samina Malik – The “Lyrical Terrorist”
  • R -v- Zakariya Ashiq – The “Walter Mitty Muslim”
  • R -v- Kamel Bourgass and Others – The ricin conspiracy
  • R -v- Ahmad Ali and Others – The liquid bomb transatlantic flight plot
  • R -v- Dhiren Barot and Others – The “Dirty Bomb” conspiracy
  • R -v- Omar Khyam and Others – The “Fertilizer Bomb” operation
  • R -v- Abdul Raheem and Others – A West Midlands network connected to Parvais Khan
  • R -v- Sulayman Zain-Ul-Abidin – The first UK Islamic terrorist prosecution
  • R -v- Abu Hamza – Incitement to murder and possession of terrorist material
  • R -v- Babar Ahmed – A terrorism based US extradition

And that is just a selection of cases to choose from. So when we consider the need of Qatar, and how they addressed it by going to John Ashcroft, a former Attorney General, a decently renowned one mind you; yet in all this, they are merely appeasing some American view, or are they trying to achieve something else? There is no way that the FBI will not have to take a deeper look at this, especially as there are already levels of miscommunication between the White House and the State department that require investigation. So, in all this, did Qatar truly act in the best interests of Qatar?

I will let you decide the issues in play, just consider that it took less than an hour to find more holes in all this and additional choices which from my personal point of view would have been much better from the start. So am I giving you ‘Fat Bloated Information’, or are the players using imaged projections of representation to make the waters a lot murkier than they were a mere two months ago. I am not the expert to give you the rulings on what is false and what is fake news, I am merely showing you levels of information that should be regarded as dubious and questionable, which is something the FBI is bound to look into. So if you think it is going to be a dull week, think again.

I am however not too sure if it will a nice week for some.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Law, Media, Military, Politics

Creating a dangerous joke

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

So why three issues?

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Media, Military, Politics

On this Friday 13th

There have been a few events going on, with all the hustle and bustle from America we are moving towards a possible point that this nation will be officially renamed, when that happens other domino stones will be pushed into a different direction. Yet there is still time, so we can ignore it for now. What was interesting for me, was a Facebook mail that has all the elements of becoming a flame, a wave of emotions, intentionally set in that way. Yet the part that was actually interesting were the facts that it had. Those facts were indeed interesting to look into, yet not by themselves. At this very moment I am digging to confirm certain numbers and see if they hold up.

 

Income 2013 Income 2014 Change

Aetna, Mark Bertolini

$30.7M $15M -50%
Centene, Michael Neidorf $14.5M $28.1M 93%
Cigna, David Cordani $13.5M $27.2M 101%
Humana, Bruce Broussard $8.8M $13.1M 48%
United Health, Stephen Hemsley $12.1M $66.1M 546%
Wellpoint Joseph Swedish $17M $8.1M -47%

These are health insurances and their CEO’s. This group of 6 have in their hands the health options of the bulk of Americans. Now, before we act in outrage, which we might still do, we see that two of them lost half their income, which in the worst situation, that person (Joseph Swedish) makes in 2 days the same I make in a year. In opposition, there is Stephen Hemsley, who makes in a day, the same I would make in 6 years. Now, we can make this about the imbalance, yet that is not what this is about.

Let’s not forget that these are manages health carers. In September 2016 we saw CNN report “A recent report by Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits forecasts that the average family health care plan will cost $18,142, up 3.4% from 2015. That’s faster than wage growth in America“, and “Premiums on the Obamacare exchanges are expected to rise by double-digits this year“. Now, we need to tread carefully here, health care systems require more work and they need to look to what happens in the future, not just what happens now, So when we see Aetna report in 2016 a total revenue of 60 billion, yet an operating earnings of 2.7 billion, we see that there is a margin, yet not an overly exaggerated one. This is part of a system for 23.5 million members. In this on page 7 we see that the revenue is comprised of commercial and governmental premiums totalling 51.5 billion. Yet it goes further, when we see the growth that Aetna has had, the merger deal with Humana, which is interesting as it is set as a 37 billion merger, yet when we see the quarter of quarter growth of 3 years at least, does it make sense to see this as a mere 37 billion dollar merger when the operating revenue has been in excess of 58 billion for well over 3 years? In addition, Aetna reported an operating gain against costs of over 30%, so when we see the CNBC quote on November 10th 2016: “The Affordable Care Act was built on a flawed model that required getting as many people as possible into the insurance system, Bertolini said. And he said he thinks the Republican Party will make good on its promise to repeal it“, we wonder with their operating profits, a managed health care system no less, what are we not seeing? As stated, compared to the revenue, the profits are not outlandish, yet the entire Obamacare issue seems to give another view, one that clashes with the view that we see at Aetna. Now consider another quote, one we see on December 13th 2016, in bizjournals.com. Here we see: “As one of its arguments against the acquisition, the U.S. Justice Department says the deal would drive up prices on health insurance exchanges in 17 counties where Aetna (NYSE: AET) and Louisville-based Humana (NYSE: HUM) now compete“, you see where there is competition, prices are pushed down, so how come I suddenly see an increase in health insurance exchanges? The final part is one that strikes a sting on the violin of chaos too. Consider the quote: “Bertolini also testified that Molina Healthcare Inc., which has agreed to buy Medicare assets from Aetna and Humana for $117 million if the merger is approved“, now let’s be honest that $117 million is nothing to sneer at, yet what are these Medicare assets exactly? Where is the write-off? You see, two companies with a total revenue exceeding $100 billion annually over the last 3 years, in that light $117 million is close to no blip on the radar (0.11%). So why was it mentioned, why put Molina Healthcare Inc. in the picture? Well, like the other two players, they have had quarter on quarter growth for 3 years too, more important, even as their revenue is not as impressive of the two others, we see that annual on quarter, 2015 brought close to 50% growth, whilst 2016 is expected to surpass the 30% mark, those are operating revenue growths nearly unheard of in this day and age. And this is not the adult media sales, this is healthcare, so as we expect that there will always be growth, we need to see where the interests are of these players. Let’s not forget that the picture is changing. Humana Inc. is a for-profit American health insurance company, they clearly state this, so what will become of Aetna when that merger goes through? How will the picture change and how will that impact the members? They are both Managed health care, yet Aetna is not outspoken ‘for profit’, the numbers do bear this out to some degree. Yet in all this is not about the members or patients. This is about the shareholders and both have plenty, the question becomes what direction will Aetna take? Will we see a board of directors that find themselves in agreement with the senate under Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero, when in 19 AD they proclaimed: ‘Puer Pauper‘ (fuck the poor), which by the way coincided with the expulsion of the Jews from Rome, life is full of irony at times. The reason to make mention of this is because Israel has a health care system not unlike the Netherlands. A compulsory plan where all Israeli citizens are entitled to basic health care as a fundamental right. There a person can sign up with one of four official health insurance organizations which are run as not-for-profit organizations, this is where we see the massive difference. ‘run-for-profit‘ comes at a price and that price is the additional dividends that the members must pay the shareholders. It is not that simple, but you get the idea. In all this the fact that this approach made Israel 4th in terms of efficiency and Israel was ranked 6th healthiest country in the world by Bloomberg rankings. These are numbers any government could be proud of. Neither the US nor the UK make that top 10, according to the article in Bloomberg, the UK doesn’t even make the Top20. So as we realise a few numbers and this all leads to a lot of questions, we can agree that there is nothing against ‘for-profit’, yet who remains in the US with the option to afford this? Perhaps that is why the link to Molina Healthcare Inc., just a small token proclaiming to remain ‘for the people‘, whilst relying on tax deductions and write offs to remain ‘for the shareholders‘. However, let’s face it, these two (Mark Bertolini and Bruce Broussard) are almost the lowest ones on the Health Care CEO list of incomes, still making per day about what I make per year. Yet even as their incomes drew the attention, it is the coverage, the operating profits and the for-profit sides in some of these Managed Health Care groups, whilst we see places like fortune.com inform its upcoming ‘victims’ that the costs will go up: “costs are expected to grow 6.5% through next year. While costs have finally reached a point of equilibrium after years of double-digit growth” as well as “36% of employers are even considering a defined contribution strategy where they would provide a set sum of money to each employee to pay for health care, and if a health care plan exceeds that sum, the employee is on the hook for the remainder of the cost“, so whatever increased quality of life the Americans did not get, there is information that well over 10% of the employers have adopted this strategy. Such plans, especially with the for-profit health care managers will see a shift in costs, from employer to employee. Fortune.com gives as reason: “There’s two primary factors that affect health care costs: how much is being consumed and the price for services and drugs. As it turns out, prices aren’t what’s primarily adding to the rising trend. It comes down to more people consuming more care“. I personally believe that the truth is somewhere in the middle lane. Both the needs of an aging population and the pharmaceutical patents driving up prices as pharmaceutical patents are chomping down on maximised profit per pill. In this Forbes reported two days ago that the pharmaceuticals are not happy. Here we see the quote “Much of Medicare is now run by private sector insurers like Humana or Aetna, who already bid on drugs to get lower prices (this is known as Medicare Advantage)“, Yet President elect Donald Trump stated: “I worry today that the pharmaceutical industry has a very false sense of relief or security because of a Trump administration and a Republican Congress. I think we should recognize that the drug pricing issue is a populist issue. Americans are rightfully angry. The fault is not, surely, on the pharmaceutical industry’s shoulders, but we bear that because we make the drugs. We innovate the drugs, and as a result of that, whether we like it or not, or we want to try to explain it or not, we have to deal with it.” As stated more than once in the past, I do believe in capitalism, yet at what point does capitalism become plain greed? When we look at the top 20 pharmaceuticals, they are hiding behind a 2% growth, yet these 20 companies which include Novartis, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson were making 547 billion in 2014, whilst we see that 13 of them are turning a profit with one of them 127%, these are only the 2014 numbers, the profits have been steadily increasing, at the expense of those requiring medication, at the expense of a health care system that can afford less and less. In all this we see that places like Pfizer kept a gross profit of well above 38 billion and they weren’t even the best scoring one. Yet, the connection go on a lot further. You see, with Pfizer we see James C. Smith who is also on the public board of Thomson Reuters, Suzanne Nora Johnson is also on the board of American International Group, Inc. (insurances). James M. Kilts serves on the board of MetLife Inc. as well as Nielsen Holdings N.V. The list goes on. A group of board members already on a massive income, adding the incomes from other boards where they serve with incomes most people dare not dream of. What is more interesting is how we see an almost illuminati sized cloud of interaction with media, insurances and other interactions. All essential and profitable for Pfizer. When we look at Novartis that list of directors takes an even more interesting turn. Ann Fudge who also serves on the board of the US Council on Foreign Relations, with additional functions at Unilever as well as the Northrop Grumman Corporation. Pierre Landolt, Ph.D. who is also the chairman of the Swiss private bank Landolt & Cie SA, a Financial Institution in Brazil and a few other enterprises. Andreas von Planta, Ph.D, linked to HSBC, Moller Finance, and the regulation board of the Swiss stock exchange and finally Srikant Datar, Ph.D., who goes beyond mere Novartis, with additional board placement with ICF International Inc., Stryker Corp. and T-Mobile US. The pharmaceutical boards read like a weave of corporate interaction with links all over the Fortune 500. A conspiracy theorists wet dream.

For us it is not about who they are connected to, but how such links could be used to maximise profits. The idea that the Pharmaceutical industry has its representation, and on the other side we see an optional Novartis with its board member Ann Fudge who also serves on the board of the US Council on Foreign Relations, how is that for hedging your bets on both sides of the profit sandwich?

On this Friday 13th we see news in the Guardian mention of the NHS winter crisis, we have been seeing from all directions the Obamacare and how Obamacare Premiums are expected to Increase by ‘Double Digits‘ in 2017, one can only hope that the first digit is a ‘1’. With pharmaceuticals and insurances both on the maximisation of profit, the people in several places are pushed in a corner with no place to go see about any options.

Only the superstitious will think that the health care news will be better tomorrow, it is Friday 13th after all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Politics, Science