Tag Archives: India

The German domino

The Guardian is giving us another view of what seems to be blunt misdirection, in this case misdirection from the German industrials. The title ‘German industry warns UK not to expect help in Brexit talks‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/08/german-industry-warns-uk-over-brexit) might seem true, might sound true and by their own admittance be hopeful and true, yet in all this, we know that the statement is one that they cannot hold on to. You see, with every step that the UK gets into a slightly better stand, with every step where the UK economy gets a little better slowly yet certainly, it is in that phase that we need to recognise that the Germans are all merely facilitators to their own boards of directors (in multi plural ways). So, when we consider an EU population of 508 million and 13.5% of that population is British, do you actually think that they are willing to throw overboard a 13.5% consumer base? Who are you kidding? So as we see the words from certain players who apparently are trying to remain anonymous the quote “Two of Germany’s biggest industry groups have told the Observer that their main concern during the Brexit process is protecting the single market for the remaining 27 members, even if this harms trade with Britain“, which is a lot of bogus. The other 27 members can openly be single market as much as they like! The issue is that certain players are not part of THAT discussion. You see, do you think that Bayer, the large pharmaceutical wants a situation where they lose a large chunk of 68 million people who are aging? Do you think that they want to offer that multi million unit customer base to Indian generic pharmaceuticals or to American pharmaceuticals? The US loves that prospect, let me tell you that. In addition, once the US and India get a chunk of that base, they will have the foundation to grow stronger into the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia. So suddenly 13.5% becomes 31% and that 31% is actually spending a fair amount compared the the lower 15 on that same EU list. Places like Solingen for metal ware and a few other German players are in that same neck of the woods. In addition there is the car industry; I reckon that Volkswagen is truly looking forward to losing that part to Saab, Volvo or its French equivalent. The UK will happily take decent trade deals with many of them.

So when we consider all this, the amount of bluff we see in the article could be costing the German economy a 2% drop, would that not push THEM into recession? So as I read about Dieter Kempf, president of the BDI, the federation of German industries, I actually wonder how he got his math done. When we see: “The UK will remain a very important partner for us, but we need a fair deal for both sides respecting this principle. The cohesion of the remaining 27 EU member states has highest priority.” This might be true, yet when you consider that the lower 15 are not much of any consumer and that your growth does not exist there, how soon until you weasel your way back into the shadows relying on the quote “I was merely voicing the issues our members were“, which is very likely to be true. Yet when we ask names, how many will you be allowed to phrase? How many members will step forward as the train wreck you yourself created is showing the levels of damage it incurred? At that point they will all hide in the shadows, and we will find their statements to be part of the loom of those weaving their personal private needs, not the ones of any of the industries you claim to represent.

In this the quote “While we will be leaving the single market and the EU customs union, we want to achieve a comprehensive free trade agreement that allows for the most frictionless possible trade. The government has been clear that we want to ensure a smooth implementation of our new partnership with the European Union that is in the interests of businesses in the UK and across the EU.” that part makes perfect sense, yet that comes from the UK side and there is the ball a little smoother. There is a difference between wanting an actual trade deal and others trying to force you into some trade deal that benefits certain people the most. Wanting trade versus bullies and opportunists is never a trade deal. In all this Markus Beyrer, director general of the Business Europe group gives us an interesting side, or better stated, he phrases it almost identical. He states “We want a good deal for business, which means an orderly Brexit and an orderly transition to the future relationship, while fully protecting the integrity of the single market“, this actually sounds good, yet in all this the issue is more and more becoming about the validity of the ‘single market‘. You see if this single market is so awesome the fact that the UK is staying in it is not a problem, in that this same ‘single market‘ would shrug their shoulders, making some ‘their loss‘ statement and move on. Yet did this happen, no it did not! We have seen all levels of bulling, statements of near blackmail and a level of almost feudalistic statements in the air of ‘remain or else’. You see, it is almost like the old communism, ‘be a member of the party or else‘, did you not notice that? So what is it that they do not want the UK and others to learn and find out? Did you not once consider that part? It started when the initial UK economy was going up a little, now it is about 27 members trying to oppose the UK at every turn. It is almost like watching a physician making the patient sick so that he can sell medication.

When was the single market ever about that?

John Longworth, the former director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce who campaigned for Brexit, is on my side. When we look at his quote “The European project is so important to the Germans politically and economically, that the German political establishment are prepared to sacrifice even their own car industry for that outcome“, I wonder if that is true. You see, when the car industry (read: Volkswagen) gets the first dips in their results and when those boards will miss out on several millions of Euros in bonuses, they will call other people and someone will get axed really soon thereafter. You only need to take the revenue from a pimp once for that person to take a less optimistic view of life and the health of his opponents the moment it happens. We have plenty of long term evidence in that regard. In all, the only thing the German industry would do is alienate the British who don’t like to be told by any German, any day of the week, so there is that to consider.

In all this the EU made one colossal error. Even as we have all been ignoring it, the opportunity offered which was quoted in the Economic Times: “India is one of the fastest-growing large economies and is expected to surpass Germany and Japan to become the third-largest economy by 2025. India has become the land of possibilities, and when you consider that the country offers a growing market of 1.25 billion consumers you can see why“, so as this market grows import, it will be on the edge of a razor to grow its export, preferably larger that their import, so as the EU markets are playing hard sale, India is ready to come in and offer all kinds of deals with the UK. With a growing Indian population, the UK (Australia in second place), are the two markets where India has options and opportunity to grow. Once the Germans learn the hard way that they gave away a chunk of their market, how long until the other EU nations come running for some kind of a trade deal?

You see, in all this the UK always had options and as the Europeans are posturing themselves into the UK alienating from them, we will see growing amounts of evidence that these posturing parties were only hurting their own cause.

The most interesting quote comes from Albrecht Ritschl, an economic history professor at the London School of Economics. He states “One thing German industry is clearly worried about is the potential disruption on the way to a free trade agreement because it cannot be negotiated within the two-year timeframe“, which is interesting because why not start to negotiate today with the UK with the start date of that trade deal to be the day after Brexit is complete. Anyone stating that this is not an option is lying to you. The entire industrial industry from 1918 onwards has been set on the smoking cadavers of those who ruined what was before. We see this in the Marshall plan. Even as we see that the plan was in operation for four years beginning on April 8, 1948. There is clear evidence that the preparations started as early as April 5th 1946, these were not the first players, but their reference to the meeting on the ‘preceding Monday’ gives light that actions had been planned for much longer. The Marshall plan, a plan that involved the two players Mr Cohen and Mr C.P. Kindleberger, the appointed member of the US Treasury.

In all this Germany could have been starting their own industrial conversations with the leading UK industrials. It is really weird that they have not actively done so from day one. If this was to gain the UK banking votes that they went about it the wrong way, if it was to continue the old track that is was more than merely stupid, it only shows that the ‘one market’ path is flawed for many players and it seems that too many players want to keep that side of the story between the sheets, yet for what reason I cannot say. I can speculate that this was merely about greed, but that would be too simple and the greed that holds in contempt other players tends to see the light of day quicker than we realise, so I honestly cannot say what we are prevented to see. What I can say is that the entire German boast of them sitting on their hands was not too bright and in the long term they are very likely to hurt themselves a lot more than others.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics

Confirmation on Arrival

Last week, I gave you some of the views I had in ‘Google is fine, not fined‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/28/google-is-fine-not-fined/). I stated “This is not on how good one or the other is, this is how valid the EU regulator findings were and so far, I have several questions in that regard. Now, I will be the last one keeping governments from getting large corporations to pay taxation, yet that part is set in the tax laws, not in EU-antitrust. As mentioned the searchers before, I wonder whether the EU regulators are facilitating for players who seem more and more clueless in a field of technology that is passing them by on the left and the right side of the highway called, the ‘Internet Of Things’“, 5 days later we see that my views were correct, again and again I have shown that looking behind the scenes is adamant to see the levels of misinformation and betrayal. Now in ‘To tackle Google’s power, regulators have to go after its ownership of data‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/01/google-european-commission-fine-search-engines) we now see: “The Google workshop at the Viva Technology show last month in Paris, which brought together players who shape the internet’s transformation“, this is what it always has been about. Who owns the data? Evgeny Morozov gives us a good story on what should be and what should not be, he pictures a possible upcoming form of feudalism, all drenched in data. It is no longer just about merely data and applicability; it is more and more about governments becoming obsolete. The EU is the first evidence in this. The EU is regarded as something that is on top of governments, yet that is not the case. It seems to be replacing them through orchestration. Mario Draghi is spending massive amounts of funds none of them have, yet in all this, yesterday we see “The European Central Bank has been dealt a heavy blow after inflation in June tumbled further below target, despite extreme measures from policymakers to stoke the economic measure” as well as “Unless price rises are stronger, ECB chief Mario Draghi has signaled that he is unlikely to scale back the mammoth levels of support for the economy“, so it is he and the ECB who are now setting the precedence of spending, printing money without any value behind supporting it. So is it ‘wealth distribution‘ or ‘wealth abolishment‘?

If we agree that this economy has failed, if we believe that this way of life is no more, when we accept that ¼th of this planets population is dead in roughly 25 years, what would come next? I would not presume to know that answer, yet can we imagine that if the dollar stops, we would need something else, in that case is data not a currency?

Now, I am perfectly happy to be utterly wrong here, I am also weirdly unsettled with the notion that our money is dwindling in value day after day. Now let’s get back to the ‘view’ of Morozov. When we see “Alphabet has so much data on each of us that any new incoming email adds very little additional context. There are, after all, diminishing returns to adding extra pieces of information to the billions it already possesses. Second, it’s evident that Alphabet, due to competition from Microsoft and Amazon, sees its paying corporate clients as critical to its future. And it’s prepared to use whatever advantages it has in the realm of data to differentiate itself from the pack – for example, by deploying its formidable AI to continue scanning the messages for viruses and malware“, we see more than just an adjustment in strategy.

Yet, I do not completely agree, you see data is only truly valued when it is up to date, so as data rolls over for new data new patterns will emerge. That would be an essential need for anything towards an AI, in this Data in motion and evolving data is essential to the core of any AI. and that timeline is soon becoming more adamant than some realise.

When we consider a quote from a 2006 article relating to a 2004 occurrence “Google published a new version of its PageRank patent, Method for node ranking in a linked database. The PageRank patent is filed under its namesake, Lawrence Page, and assigned to The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University; US Patent 7,058,628“, we should consider that the value it has will diminish (read: be reduced) in 2024 (for Google that is). There is of course another sight that this was ‘version 2‘, so others would be able to get closer with their own version. In 6 years as the Patent ends it will be open to all to use. No matter what some have, you only need to switch to Bing for a few days to see how straggling and incomplete it is. When you realise that Microsoft has no way at present to offer anything close to it, you get the first inside of how high the current Google value is and how much it scares governments and large corporations alike.

Now we get to the ‘ground works’ of it. From this we can see that Google seems to have been the only one working on an actual long term strategy, an event that others have stopped doing for a long time. All we see from Microsoft and IBM has been short term, masquerading as long term goals with 70% of those goals falling into disrepair and become obsolete through iteration (mainly to please the stakeholders they report to), is it such a surprise that I or anyone else would want to be part of an actual visionary company like Google? If Google truly pulls of the AI bit (it has enough data) we would see a parsing of intelligence (read: Business Intelligence) on a scale never witnessed before. It would be like watching a Google Marine holding a 9mm, whilst the opposite is the IBM Neanderthal (read: an exaggeration, the IBM would be the Cro-Magnon, not Neanderthal) holding a pointy stick named Watson. The extreme difference would be that large. In all this governments are no longer mentioned. They have diminished into local governments organising streams of data and facilitating consumers, mere civil servants in service of the people in their district. Above that, those levels of workers would become obsolete; the AI would set structures and set resources for billions. We went from governments, to organisations, we left fair opportunity behind and moved to ‘those who have and those who have not‘, and they are soon to be replaced for the ‘enablers and obstructers‘ and those who are the latter would fall into the shadows and face away.

Am I Crazy?

Well, that is always a fair argument, yet in all this, we have Greece as an initial example. Greece is possibly the only European nation with a civilisation that would soon become extinct twice. So as we see reports of lagging tourism revenue, on top of high regarded rises in GDP, rises we know that are not happening as the revenues are down by a larger margin (source: GTP), Greek revenue is down by 6.8 percent, which is massive! This gives stronger notions that the ‘beckoning of Greek bonds‘ is nothing more than a façade of a nation in its final moments of life. The fact that the ECB is not giving it any consideration for its trillion spending could also be regarded as evidence that the ECB has written off Greece. So tell me, when was the last time that nations were written off? Some of the press is now considering the works of former ‘rock star’ Yanis Varoufakis. Yet in all this, when did they actually change the landscape by investigating and prosecuting those who got Greece in the state it is in now? In the end, only the journalist releasing a list of millionaires pulling their money out of Greece, only he went to prison. So, as such, Greece is a first step of evidence that governments are no longer the powers they once claimed they were, and as less and less government officials are being held to account when it comes to larger financial transgressions is also a factor as to why the people of those nations no longer give them any regard.

The second view is in the UK, here we see ‘U.K. to End Half Century of Fishing Rights in Brexit Slap to EU‘, in this Bloomberg gives us “Prime Minister Theresa May will pull Britain out of the 1964 London convention that allows European fishing vessels to access waters as close as six to twelve nautical miles from the U.K. coastline“, in here we also see “This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union — one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the U.K.“, which is only partially true. You see, Michael Gove has only a partial point and it is seen with: “Britain’s fishing industry is worth 775 million pounds and in 2015 it employed 10,162 full-time fishermen, down from about 17,000 in 1990. In almost three decades, fleet numbers dropped a third to 6,200 vessels and the catch has shrunk 30 percent“, the part that is not given is that from 1930 onwards engineering made massive strides in the field of ship engines, not large strides but massive ones. A ship, and its crew can catch fish, yet it is the engines that allow for the nets to be bigger and for the winches to be stronger to hoist those filled nets. In the ‘old’ days 2000 horsepower was a really powerful vessel, which amounted to 1.5 megawatts. Nowadays, these boats start at well over 300% of what was, so not only are the ships larger, can hold more fish and pull more weight, these ships are also getting more efficient in finding fish. I personally witnessed one of the first colour screen fish radars in 1979. In this field technology has moved far beyond this, almost 4 decades beyond this. If there is one part clearly shown, than it is the simple fact that technology changed industries, which has been a given for the better part of three generations. Not merely because we got better at what we do or how we do it, but as fishing results show that catches has been down by 30%, there is the optional element that there is less to catch because we got too efficient. It is a dwindling resource and fishing is merely the first industry to see the actual effects that lack of restraint is leading to.

So when we see a collapsed industry, can we blame governments? Who can we blame and is blame an actual option? In this, is there any validity in the fact that this part of government has surpassed its date of usefulness? Perhaps yes and there is equal consideration that this is not the case, yet the amount of consumers remains growing and as available resources go down we see the need for other solutions.

This is merely a first part. As we now move into the US and their 4th of July part, I will now look at other sides as well, sides we stopped considering. You see, there is opposition and it is growing. CNBC gives us one side to this with ‘Google Deep Mind patient data deal with UK health service illegal, watchdog says‘ (at http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/03/google-deepmind-nhs-deal-health-data-illegal-ico-says.html), three points were raised. “A data sharing deal between Google’s Deep Mind and the U.K.’s National Health Service “failed to comply with data protection law“, the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said“, “The deal between the two parties was aimed at developing a new app called Streams that helped monitor patients with acute kidney disease” as well as “the ICO said that patients were not notified correctly about how their data was being used“. Now, we can agree that an optional situation could exist. So does Elisabeth Denham have a point? For now let’s agree that she does, I would reckon that there has been a communicative transgression (this is how she plays it), yet is she being over formal or is she trying to slice the cake in a different way? The strongest statement is seen with “For example, a patient presenting at accident and emergency within the last five years to receive treatment or a person who engages with radiology services and who has had little or no prior engagement with the Trust would not reasonably expect their data to be accessible to a third party for the testing of a new mobile application, however positive the aims of that application may be.” OK, I can go along with that, we need certain settings for any level of privacy to be contained, yet…..there is no yet! The issue is not Google, the issue is that the data protection laws are there for a reason and now, it will hinder progress as well. As health services and especially UK NHS will need to rely on other means to stay afloat as costs are weighing it more and more to the bottom of an ocean of shortage of funding, the NHS will need to seek other solutions that will set an upward movement whilst the costs are slowly being worked on, it will take a long time and plenty of cash to sort it out, Google is merely one player who might solve the partial issue. Yet, the news could go in other directions too. Google is the largest, yet not the only player in town, as people seem to focus on marketing and presentations, we see IBM and to the smaller extent Microsoft and we all forget that Huawei is moving up in this field and it is gaining momentum. The cloud data centre in Peru is only a first step. It is only the arrogance of Americans that seem to think that this field is an American field. With Peru, India and China, Huawei is now active on a global scale. It has hired the best of the best that China has to offer and that is pretty formidable, There is no way that Huawei could catch up with Google in the short term, yet there services are now in a stage that they can equal IBM. As we see a race for what is now at times called the IoT landscape, we see the larger players fight for the acceptance of ‘their IoT standard’, and even as we see IBM mentioned, we see clearly that Google has a large advantage in achievements here and is heading the number of patents in this field, as Huawei is pretty much accepting the Google IoT standard, we see that they can focus on growth surpassing IBM, Qualcomm and Intel. In this Huawei will remain behind Apple in size and revenue, but as it is not in that field in a true competitive way Huawei might not consider Apple a goal, yet as they grow in India, Huawei could surpass the Tata group within 2 years.

So how does this matter?

As we see the steps (the not incorrect steps) of Elisabeth Denham, the acts as we saw in the Guardian on how regulators are trying to muzzle and limit the growth and activities of Google, how much influence do they have with Huawei? Even as we see that Huawei is privately owned, there have been a few articles on Ren Zhengfei and his connection to the Chinese military. It has spooked the US in the past, and consider how spooked they will get when Huawei grows their service levels in places like Greece, Spain and Italy? What will the EU state? Something like “your money smells, we will not accept it“. No! The EU is in such deep debt that they will invite Huawei like the prodigal son being welcomed home. So whilst everyone is bitching on how Google needs to be neutered, those people allow serious opponents and threats to Google’s data future to catch up. Huawei is doing so, one carrier at a time and they are doing it in a global way.

So as we see all kind of confirmations from media outlets all over the world, we seem to forget that they are not the only player in town as their growth in EU nations like Spain with a new android base Set Top Box (STB), Huawei just now becomes the competitor for Telefonica, Vodafone and Orange, implying that it now has a growing beach head into Europe with decent technology for a really affordable price. In a place where they all complain on how there is no economy, Huawei is more than a contender and it is growing business where others had mere presence and sustainable levels of revenue. It is merely a contained view on how the EU regulators seem to be fumbling the ball for long term growth, whilst handing opportunity to China (read: Huawei), who will be eagerly exporting to Europe the products they can.

In all this, CoA can be seen as a mere confirmation, a Course of Action by regulators, the Court of Appeal for Google, the Cost of Application for Huawei, the Coming of Age for Business Intelligence and the Center of Attention that Google is calling on themselves, whether intentional or not does not matter. We are left with the question whether at this point, the limelight is the best for them, we will leave that to Mr. Alphabet to decide.

1 Comment

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

As the UK changes

There is no doubt about it, the UK is about to get a drastic change of image. Some of these parts is on them, other parts are set for them by others. We might all debate that it is usually the one or the other is sorely mistaken. It is when the industry and those trying to ‘guard’ their path to become members of ‘the billionaires club’, it is at that point we need to worry on who can influence our paths to a decent life and those who is trying to direct their ‘image’ from behind the screens. It is at that point ‘we the people’ must worry. You might think that me, being an Australian blogger, that I have no skin in the game. That is where you are wrong!

My grandfather was not just British, he served during WW1. In addition, there was a moment where my grandfather excelled, it was not WW1, it was a little later that he became one of the volunteers who acted and helped to unload the boats as there was a dockworker strike. I am not up to date on all the details as he passed away whilst I was still too young to comprehend the concept of ‘strike’. The reason why I remember it was because my grandmother showed me the letter of gratitude which came from King George V (I personally reckon it was done by his staff and he signed it). Still, my grandmother was proud to have the letter. This is not just some memory, the event mattered. Not all things done for King (or Queen) and Country is done in a war. We have points of view, and in the past the people had a strong moral compass. Those who did strike might have had an equally strong moral compass. I do not oppose that or their view. My point of view is different as I am from a much later era. So when we see: ‘Tories attack Labour over inheritance tax and spending plans‘  (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/03/corbyns-economic-policy-would-cost-voters-45bn-ministers-claim), where the backdrop is Jeremy Corbyn with the bomb stating ‘More debt, higher taxes’, we need to be concerned for our future. It makes me particularly sick that Jeremy Corbyn is making promises that have no bearing on reality. As a conservative, I would love to employ another 10,000 police officers. Actually, I prefer 4,000 Police Constables’s and 6,000 nurses, but that is just me. With over a trillion in debt the UK government cannot afford it and I get that. The previous Labour government has wasted so much money, they should not be allowed to drive the UK deeper in debt by making promises and spending cash that will take an entire generation of workers to settle. 4 years of spending and 25 years of paying it back is not a plan, it is idiocy! In that we need to realise that the game has been over for far too long. The UK needs affordable housing plans, which will also cost heaps, yet this is money they will get back as the economy is starting to employ people again and get the quality of life for all (especially the lower incomes up), in that Jeremy Corbyn has absolutely no clue what to do and it is with that level of cluelessness that he wants to be elected, so he is making empty promises (as I see it) to throw money at any sizeable group for the mere number of votes. A party that cannot even be one party and is infighting nearly non-stop, that is not a party that should be regarded as a valid choice, at that point UKIP will be a much better choice than Labour has been for close to 5 years. I reckon that even if the LibDems could find their groove and direction, they would be a better choice than the Labour party is at present, which is saying a lot.

The UK budget is an issue and those who can count know this, they have known this for 6 years that the party was over. The Commonwealth needs to pull together and find solutions that will bolster each other. In this Australia and Canada are the most likely allies, yet we should not discount New Zealand or India here either.

The second part actually intersects politically with the first. I have a few issues with the article called ‘The six Brexit traps that will defeat Theresa May‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/03/the-six-brexit-traps-that-will-defeat-theresa-may), yet there are parts that we need to truly consider in more than one way. The first is shown with ““It’s yours against mine.” That’s how Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, put it to me during our first encounter in early 2015 – referring to our respective democratic mandates.“, as well as “Brussels became the seat of a bureaucracy administering a heavy industry cartel, vested with unprecedented law-making capacities. Even though the EU has evolved a great deal since, and acquired many of the trappings of a confederacy, it remains in the nature of the beast to treat the will of electorates as a nuisance that must be, somehow, negated“. I have some issue with the second one, but that will be addressed shortly. The fact is that the writer, Greece’s favourite rock star: Yanis Varoufakis (read: former Greek Finance Minister) has been playing a game whilst in office (a politically valid one), yet the consequence is that their play pushed Brexit forth. In addition, we know that there is a long lasting issue in Brussels and the fact that the EU-zone is a mere facilitator for big business is slightly too conspiracy theoretical. Yet the fallout, which I blogged about for a few years pushes that view forward too. I believe that the truth is that the EU opened up a power broker game where large corporations had much more influence than even before. The EU players have to have one front whilst corporate divisions could play both ends of the political field against the middle, with the economic area’s being always too scared of their local needs. And those in charge had (read: have) no real need for Greece, only for the banks that could give them larger than life careers after their political day. This has been a global view and shown to be correct for the longest of times. So when we read: “From my first Eurogroup, its president, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, began an intensive campaign to bypass me altogether. He would phone Alexis Tsipras, my prime minister, directly – even visiting him in his hotel room in Brussels. By hinting at a softer stance if Tsipras agreed to spare him from having to deal with me, Dijsselbloem succeeded in weakening my position in the Eurogroup – to the detriment, primarily, of Tsipras“, this read completely correct from my point of view, yet I must also state that as Yanis played his public game (or is that pubic?), as the testosterone was flying off the newspapers, whether under orders of his PM or not (an unknown factor), Yanis played his game too hard and Greece was in no place to play the game that hard, especially as the Greek spending and misrepresenting transgressors never ended up in court and prosecuted, Greece did not have any options to lean on, not morally and not literally. Yet, there is a side that we see has a ring too it, we have seen it over the last two years as the ECB and Mario Draghi have been playing their political game for slightly too long, certain better financial media are now asking questions on Draghi and his non maintainable status, that whilst Draghi has been making additional Brexit threats. All this in the agony of fear because the turmoil in France is intensifying. In sight of the slip of numbers in the pro-Macron group, the financial world is now holding its breath and the next 96 hours will be the killer with adrenaline levels so high that can be cut with a knife. Wall Street will be glued to the election result screens, quite literally praying for a miracle.

Last there is the everlasting issue with the NHS (the one where the UK Labour party wasted 11.2 billion IT funds on). The article ‘Hospital waiting lists ‘will rise above 5 million’ as targets slide‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/03/nhs-annual-health-budget-increases-conservatives-ifs), is one that intersects even more. the cost of keeping it correctly alive should be on the minds of anyone voting in the UK. It is the most important long term part in everyone’s life in the UK. The issue is that it might not be immediate and therefor too many people are ignoring it because there has been too many NHS news mentions, but it will define the life of everyone in Britain, as such we need to realise that the hollow promises of Jeremy Corbyn are a direct threat to the existence of the NHS. Many might blame the Tories here, but the reality is that 2 terms of Labour did spend all the money there was and they also did the spending of 3 additional administrations as I see it, which is why they are so dangerous. The quote: “Without further help from the next government after the election, this is what the real impact will be on patients of successive underfunding of the NHS,” said Ian Eardley, vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons” is not incorrect, yet those in charge of the NHS and those connected to high valued luncheons and board meetings should have taken a much better posture when billions were spent on a system that never worked. There is a consequence to that and as funds and infrastructure both took a dive the future will be grim, not unsolvable but grim none the less. Denis Campbell has written a good piece and should be read, this is not merely about a few quotes, there are serious issues, yet in all this there are parts missing, parts that are connected yet unmentioned. In light of what needs to be a light, the one article will never cover it (not due to the writer). Merely because the issue has become too great. Now, as we see what is in play, we need to revisit the start of this blog. My grandfather did what he thought was essential and right. Ships had to be offloaded, the goods were meant for the people and as such if not unloaded, the people would suffer. In that light the NHS is in a place where it is doing what it can, but the truth is that the NHS must change and adapt. People a lot more clever than me will need to make a reform, reforms that Greece halted and it is dragging them down, the UK will have to change the NHS is drastic ways. When we read that 5 million people are on a waiting list, we have to question the time they remain on that waiting list. The elitist approach that the nursing groups have taken as to whom can become a nurse and which tertiary education is good enough to be a nurse in the UK is one that requires scrutiny. There are too many political games being played and even as they voice ‘quality of staff‘, there has come a point where people are dying because there is no staff. We need to instigate a change that opts for a situation where 100,000 patients can get some level of care as per immediate. The Corbyn solution of throwing money at it will not do. We can argue that in equal measure privatisation is equally a bad idea, because we merely replace ‘level of care standards‘ by ‘level of profit‘ and that will never ever lower cost for the people at large. The parts we tend to ignore is not privatisation, it is interactivity of services that will lower cost, that part needs to be ascertained and not by groups trying to create a new gravy train.

We need actual solutions and it requires a different train of thought, one that needed yesterday. So as the press is facilitating on how Labour will spend more on the NHS and nurses, whilst the publishers of these papers know that there is no way that this can be funded, you need to question on what makes for an actual solution. The only solution (as I personally seen it) is to create a wave of credible positions and train the people in some places on the job. Perhaps these colleges need to accept a new degree where people can be trained on sight step by step, lowering the pressure for those who can do it all by slowly replacing those who can do it too and not just in nursing, because if the waiting list got to the millions, we need to see where surgeons could have an alternative group of people, not unqualified, but those who barely missed the grade. We need to reconfigure the pyramid shaped triangle into a parallelogram, so that some functions that cannot be filled can be done by others. Now, lets all accept that a surgeon is an extreme example, yet can the same be stated for a radiologist? an Anaesthesiologist? or even a surgical assistant? Three functions that might opt for additional people from other branches. Even as we know that they all claim ‘dedicated’ and ‘perfectly schooled’ personnel. It is time that those academic ‘advisors’ from Royal Colleges take a sharp look at wartime conditions and to the parts that some could play in aiding in a solution. Now because there is a strike and the dockworkers are busy standing up for their rights (which is a valid activity), but because in this high pressure world there are ships docked and there is no one left to unload the boats. That is where the NHS is and that is where they need to find a solution. Perhaps this will be found in the military, it is possible that those in the medical services of the Army, Navy or Air force will find that they are doing part time work at an NHS location. In that same stage, so will other defence branches find themselves. Fighting for their country, not in the trenches of the Somme, but in the tranches behind a desk of London Hospital. It might just keep that deficit down from £134.9m (that is this year alone) to something that could actually be managed.

We need another play, and it is perhaps the UK who might remember how they changed Cricket tactics in 1932-1933, so they did not get completely humiliated by Don Bradman. We still need a better solution and the Bodyline tactic was never an acceptable tactic, that whilst the ‘win at all cost‘ is not a decent play, but the NHS is now in a stage where it is ‘survive or die‘ and nobody wants the NHS to die, so in this the NHS and especially the advisory boards will need to look at tactics that will make them really unhappy, but at this stage they have left themselves no other options and the political players can only facilitate unrealistic options that are no options. They will start a path that will change the UK for generations, yet in that let that be in a way that will allow for the existence of some level of National Health Care. In this that they will need to write a new playbook, one that can offer options, not limitations.

 

Leave a comment

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

Dangerous levels of extinction

Bloomberg reported Yesterday that Nicola ‘Sturgeon Sticks with Timing for Scottish Independence Referendum‘ (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-01/sturgeon-sticks-with-timing-for-scottish-independence-referendum), which is a little odd after the previous one not so long ago. As I stated in earlier blogs, I am not against Scottish independence, I think that at the earliest point, Scotland should seek independence. Yet at this point it is not a good idea. The situation has not changed for Scotland, at present their budget is already 11% short and that is with the inclusion of decreasing oil revenues. This means that within 10 years there will be additional problems for Scotland. And this is only the start of their troubles. You see RTE reported only 12 hours ago ‘Spain would not ‘initially’ block Scotland from joining the EU after Brexit‘, the catchword is ‘initially‘, we see the quote “any part of the United Kingdom that becomes a state and wants to join the EU will have to apply. And follow the steps that are stipulated“, this is the part that matters. Basically until Scotland is truly independent there is every chance that Spain would object, and that is just one of the 27 nations. After that when Scotland is independent, the initiation into the EU would start, which could take up another 5 years, perhaps even more. That is the part Scotland faces, so Scotland is facing the consequence of independence, growing a ‘national‘ debt and after that we see the issue that Scotland would be debt driven and getting into the EU, a triple banking issue (debt, interest and inflation levels), all levels that Scotland would need to overcome.

For example, try googling Scotland and economy and see what you get. What economic achievements did Scotland have gained in the last two years? The Financial Times gives us a part I actually do not agree with (at https://www.ft.com/content/7c6f8ca8-0807-11e7-97d1-5e720a26771b) ‘The economic case for an independent Scotland rests on the EU‘, to that the Scottish response should be: ‘the dog’s bollocks they are!‘ In this Scotland needs to grow an economy, so far, as long as Nicola Sturgeon has been in power, not too much has been gained in that department. I am certain that there are options, I even mentioned one in April 2015, (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/04/05/the-labour-manifesto/) where I write “I am still reasonably certain that Indian generic medication could grow all over Europe if they have a foothold in Scotland, which allows easy access to places all over Europe“, so which Scottish politician had actually made any headway into looking beyond the EU, its ECB with big debt credit cards? Because when the credit card stops, Scotland will be in levels of hardship they have not seen before for the longest of times. At that point, who will the Prime Minister be when that happens and where will that person lay the blame?

In the end that is a Scotland that has no chance to build any future at all. How is that a good idea?

So as we see that Scotland is focusing on the USA with the added quote from Bloomberg “She also noted her political differences with President Donald Trump, who owns golf resorts in Scotland. During the election campaign, the Scottish government stripped Trump of his role as business ambassador for the country“, which sounds nice, but how did she fare with Corporate America? Scotland might be open for business, but where is the interest in Scotland? How about the Far East? How could Scotland become a hub for places like Indonesia, India, Pakistan and China? With Beef as an export, why not benefit by creating a European Halal Trade centre in Scotland? With ferries leading to Norway and a growing Muslim population, there are options, it only requires the right politician to open certain doors. I am not saying this is a solution, I am merely showing that options are there, the right people only need to look into the right direction. Because, as I see it, relying on the USA and ECB grants will not work, not whilst Europe is in the state it currently is. With Italy set to grow no more than 0.9%, its position is weaker than France and its youth unemployment still stands at 38%, implying that Italy’s infrastructure will remain under harsh levels of duress for several more years. The quote “Italy’s chronically low growth, low inflation and gigantic public debt burden (133% of GDP) make a potentially deadly trio” gives us even more to worry about (source: the economist), with the UK having triggered Article 50, France elections still having the consequence of a Frexit signal and Italy under the duress it is in, the European Union will only have Germany to be the large positive impact player on its economy and that one is not faring too well either. So this is the moment Nicola Sturgeon want to enter the EU whilst going independent? It is not just a bad plan, with a non-closing budget she will be drowning Scotland into debt and this debt will grow and grow leaving Scotland with no options for any future at all.

Yet we could go with the definition of Sturgeon that she is honouring. I cannot state whether this is the same for both Prime Ministers and fish, yet the International Union for Conservation of Nature gave us: “According to the IUCN, over 85% of sturgeon species are classified as at ‘risk of extinction’“, which is a large group that Nicola Sturgeon seems to be happy to join, the sad part is that she would like the whole of Scotland to join her in this, which is really not a good idea, or fair on the population of Scotland.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics

The cost of free trade

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

The Evidence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

A New Disney

There was an Italian, who has been famous for over 125 years, he is not the first or the only famous Italian. There was this guy who came up with Pizza, There was this other Italian who thought fast Ford cars were a joke and he created Ferrari, then there was this other Italian, who made tractors, disagreed with the previous Italian and created Lamborghini. It is actually none of those. It is Carlo Lorenzini who was born 190 years ago. You might not know the name, perhaps his alternative name? Carlo Collodi! If you are still in the dark, than remember the story of a wooden boy who wanted to become a real live boy. Steven Spielberg used the notion in AI, but the original remains the best, namely Pinocchio!

Yes, the story of a wooden boy going into the world, yet as a wooden boy he was not alone, there was a little Cricket accompanying him and he would be a lot more important than your average Cricket, Jiminy was his name. Today the story is even more relevant, you see, the name Yemini Cricket might be ringing bells, but the truth of the wooden boy is there. The question becomes, who is the wooden boy?

So when I read ‘US, Britain and UN demand Yemen ceasefire within days‘ (at http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/10/16/us-britain-and-un-demand-yemen-ceasefire-within-days),

Yet when I read “The United Nations envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said: “We are here to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, which will be declared in the next few hours.” Cheikh Ahmed said he had been in contact with the rebel Huthi militia’s lead negotiator and with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government“, my recollection does not go towards the classical story, it goes to a reference a little closer to the present (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFZrKOCdHFs), the laughter applies to both the sketch and reality. Aleppo is a great example, how 5 years and 400,000-450,000 fatalities later, no solution is there, but they are still flying to places like Switzerland to talk. I wonder when we add up all the costs, how much did the taxpayer pay for this play?

A number of civilian casualties that have now surpassed the total US Military casualties, of those who died during WW2. Doesn’t that look like a clear message that massive change was required a few years ago? I reckon all the players know that, yet, having long conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose only concern is to stall so that the population can be made extinct before the resolution passes, reads a lot more like the Friends edition of Pinocchio, than the original by Carlo Collodi, where we see the conscience that is Jiminy Cricket.

So as we see the beginning of the same slow train in Yemen, I have to wonder if creating a new version of Pinocchio with Yemini Cricket is the way to go. It educates politicians as well as bring some hard needed cash towards Hollywood (or Bollywood).

So why is this different?

To one degree it is not, towards the other degree it is very much so. The problem is that both Syria and Yemen could be on the same page, no degrees of separation. In this case there are two at least. You see, Yemen has limited ties to Russia, making it less complicated, what is the issue is that the Houthi’s are actively shooting missiles at the US Navy complicating matters a lot more. It only takes one direct hit, and Yemen would technically be in a state of war with the US. Now, normally, a bankrupt nation is not that much a bother, but Yemen is not an economic or military superpower, so going against America sounds like a PR approach to get them ‘involved’. What is an issue is that Yemen, the neighbour of Saudi Arabia could get lucky at some point, what happens after the hit will be an issue, because Americans tend to get cranky when you successfully blow up something American. Interesting is that there are now multiple sources claiming that Iran is now moving towards the Red sea. An interesting story as the Red sea is on the other side of the Persian Gulf and Iranian war ships have no actual business there (which could also apply to the Americans). The question becomes how is Saudi placed into all this? Here there are issues too. There is no stating if there is even any link but the changes and the Attention that members of the Saudi government are drawing attention to themselves become a factor (speculation from my side).

One part is from the Australian Financial Review (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/middle-east/saudi-prince-mohammed-bin-salmans-shatters-decades-of-tradition-20161017-gs3yt5), where we see the title ‘Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s shatters decades of tradition‘, is not giving us the ‘goods’. The first quote is “He has slashed the state budget, frozen government contracts and reduced the pay of civil employees, all part of drastic austerity measures as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices“, which would be quite acceptable in one view, at least it appears that one government in this world is dealing with its budget issues, although not in the most ‘desirable’ way, when a nation is so dependent on oil, there might not be too many options. The second quote is “While vacationing in the south of France, Prince Mohammed spotted a 134-metre yacht. He dispatched an aide to buy the ship, the Serene, then owned by Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler. The deal was done within hours, at a price of approximately €500 million (roughly $720 million today)“, which implies the opposite. The question is not the cut-backs or spending spree, the issue is neither quote, it is the quote I will give now “Many young Saudis admire him as an energetic representative of their generation who has addressed some of the country’s problems with uncommon bluntness. The kingdom’s media have built his image as a hardworking, businesslike leader less concerned than his predecessors with the trappings of royalty” as well as “Others see him as a power-hungry upstart who is risking instability by changing too much, too fast“. So is the prince a go-getter or power-hungry? I cannot tell as this is all based on third degree of information, what matters is how the view and the actions will reflect the counteractions of the US and Iran in regard to Yemen. The moment the conflict results in a direct attack on Saudi grounds, what then? Iranian warships in the Red Sea would only complicate that, making a harsh response from the Saudi Military even more destabilising.

In my view there are two sides within Saudi Arabia, yet how they should be seen is another matter. I do not claim to have a proper view. I have questions. You see Mecca is an Islamic Holy city (the most important one) and it is part of Saudi Arabia, so as Saudi Arabia is the caretaker of this holy site, the involvement if Iran is more than just a small issue. Whatever they decide to escalate could have large repercussions all over the Middle East. The Sovereign State of Saudi Arabia has every right to defend it in every way possible, so Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman is also Minister of Defence and the youngest one in the world, which as a stat sounds nice, yet it also means that in light of other decisions, he is ready to do that what the US has been unable to do, declare war on its enemy by actually acting against them! Not that the US needed to declare war, but in light of Syria, doing anything actively would have been nice, an absence of resolution that His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud is less likely to show.

What is a problem is the fact that the complications are more and more likely as days go by and that is the one spark that this powder keg does not need. Iran cannot be denied access to international waters, which will not lessen the impact. One of the elements in all this is seen in the second quote regarding the ‘power hungry’ side of it. You see, the AFR article is also mentioning “Mohammed bin Nayef, the interior minister and longtime counter-terrorism czar“, which is now an element in all this. You see, whatever happens next is all surrounding the need for intelligence. So whatever issues there are between His Royal Highness Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud gives wake to the Disney sequel, a tale of two princes. A new approach to the classic Dickens story where the plight of two members of the Royal family of Al Saud are protecting the Sovereign state of Saudi Arabia as well as the safety and security of all Muslims that are in and nearby Mecca. Even as the papers are expecting a ceasefire, the issue is that stalling is equally a tactic here. There is no way of telling why Iran is involving its warships in that region, other than trying to complicate matters and demanding a seat at the table of decision, which would only change the time table in the worst of ways. What the Deutsche Welle did give was the quote “the Saudi-led coalition has blamed an airstrike that killed over 140 people at a funeral ceremony in Yemen on “erroneous information” received from a “party” affiliated with the country’s embattled government“, it matters, because it gives light to the essential issue that the two princes need to rely on quality intelligence, sources that can be scrutinised. And in this matter, mentioning the yacht was to iterate that spending that money on a satellite over the area might not have been the worst personal idea I am having. And let’s face it, any prince that can claim that he has his own satellite wins the discussion with any other prince relying on yacht and status. So many have a yacht, but how many of these rich individuals (very wealthy people in general) would own their own satellite? Especially if it becomes a source of intelligence.

Of course there is a lot more to owning one’s own satellite, but I hope we can all agree that intelligence will be key in whatever escalates over the next week. My issue is that too many players have their own agenda, yet would those agenda’s be truly 100% be focussed on whatever is best for Yemen and/or Saudi Arabia? You see, oil prices are down now, but why and for how long? What happens when prices go through the roof again? What happens then? Suddenly all these political issues are all linked to the price of Oil and the profit it brings?

I do not claim to have these answers, but the fact that too many sources are not asking the questions that require asking is troubling, yet the AFR article gives us a lot more, even more than I bargained for, which is comforting to say the least. What becomes a matter of discussion is the one quote that shows the elements “People who have met Mohammed bin Salman said he insisted that Saudi Arabia must be more assertive in shaping events in the Middle East and confronting Iran’s influence in the region – whether in Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon“, giving the links that require addressing and the prince is not afraid to do just that, however it take two to dance rings around Iran and taking away its influence in the Middle East. As I see it, Riyadh will have to make changes to some degree. Counter-Intelligence will be key in dealing with Iran and the impression I get when I see a quote like “has deep ties to Washington and the support of many of the older royals” shows the speculative possibility of the older ‘let us see how this plays out‘ against the younger ‘let us get this party started through action‘. It is not about the balance, but about what works best. In that regard both princes might have to make changes a lot faster than they are comfortable with, because if the news is correct, the Iranian ships and submarines will soon be active in the Red Sea, but active to what extent is something that remains speculative, whatever they do, the fact that it includes Iranian submarine presence (as reported but not confirmed), will also raise tensions with Israel.

As I see it, the biggest issue is Iran and what they are trying to get out of it. Putting themselves in the middle of a conflict where they are now trying to imply that it is all about them (especially as they are in the Red Sea), yet is their presence less valid than that of the US? It seems to me that we are creating a new Vietnam, just not with the Russians involved (like Syria). So there are two solutions to consider. One is that the US is replaced by for example the Commonwealth, or France, which takes away the Iranian-US issues. That is, if Saudi Arabia would be willing to consider that move. No matter what, the navy that does that, could find themselves in an armed conflict with Iran, so it better be a competent and modern Navy which leaves not that many options. The Netherlands, the UK, France, South Korea and India. Giving the option to either South Korea or India would benefit, as Iran cannot spin some NATO link story. In addition Iran cannot afford to piss of too many additional nations as either could make short work of the ego of Iran as these navies decide to sink Iranian war vessels like rubber dinghies, because they pushed one button too many.

No matter what happens, Saudi Arabia must do what it can to keep safe and the Yemeni issue is one that tests many sides of those who see and witness it, because there is a dilemma in conscience. A revolution that got out of hand, a set government overthrown with its own agenda. When we see the Houthi’s slogan “God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam“, can we really show any kind of support or sympathy?

The most important part to realise is that we need to set aside our version of what is acceptable, we have seen the US and Europe at large impose their version of ‘civility’, whilst bending over, grabbing their ankles and let the financial industry quite literally get away with murder in many ways. We impose rules and expectations, whilst having no clue how to manage a budget or how to stem greed to the point of strangulation. In all this, we have given up the high ground in several fronts, so we are no lecturer with any level of confidence. It is my opinion, that the Middle East can only be decently governed by someone in the Middle East. I personally believe that Saudi Arabia should be at the centre of it, there is no doubt that it would beneficial that a coalition that would include Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, but I am not knowledgeable enough to see whether it is just them, or that other players should be seriously considered. What does matter is that both General Intelligence Directorate (GID, aka Mukhabarat) and Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate would be important in ascertaining Iran’s hostile actions and if need be counter them. From my academic point of view is the challenge that the SIGNT of the three would pose to get one coherent reporting and analytical solution on Iranian intelligence. One that would definitely benefit all three nations. Yet perhaps that will evolve into a third Disney project, which could be the next big thing. It’s all just a thought, but think it over for yourself and ask yourself the question you did not hear voiced, this is important, because this stage could get ugly in a hurry and possibly before Christmas this year.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Military, Politics, Religion

What did I say?

Last night I got a news push from the Washington Post. It took me more than a second to let the news sink in. You see, I have been advocating Common Cyber Sense for a while and apart from the odd General being ignorant beyond belief, I expected for the most that certain players in the SIGINT game would have their ducks in a row. Yet, the opposite seems to be true when we see ‘NSA contractor charged with stealing top secret data‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/government-contractor-arrested-for-stealing-top-secret-data/2016/10/05/99eeb62a-8b19-11e6-875e-2c1bfe943b66_story.html), the evidence becomes blatantly obvious that matters in the SIGINT industry are nowhere near as acceptable as we think they are. The quote “Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, who did technology work for Booz Allen Hamilton, was charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, authorities said. According to two U.S. officials familiar with the case, he is suspected of “hoarding” classified materials going back as far as a decade in his house and car, and the recent leak of the hacking tools tipped investigators to what he was doing“, so between the lines we read that it took a mistake after a decade for the investigators to find out? No wonder the NSA is now afraid of the PLA Cyber Division!

In this light, not only do I get to tell you ‘I told you so‘, I need to show you a quote from July 1st 2013, where I wrote “So if we consider the digital version, and consider that most intelligence organisations use Security Enhanced Unix servers, then just accessing these documents without others knowing this is pretty much a ‘no no’. EVEN if he had access, there would be a log, and as such there is also a mention if that document was copied in any way. It is not impossible to get a hold of this, but with each document, his chance of getting caught grows quicker and quicker“, so I questioned elements of the Edward Snowden case, because my knowledge of Security Enhanced Unix servers, which is actually an NSA ‘invention’, now it seems to become more and more obvious that the NSA has no flipping clue what is going on their servers. They seem to be unaware of what gets moved and more important, if the NSA has any cloud coverage, there is with this new case enough doubt to voice the concern that the NSA has no quality control on its systems or who gets to see data, and with the involvement of a second Booz Allen Hamilton employee, the issue becomes, have they opened up the NSA systems for their opponents (the PLA Cyber division being the most likely candidate) to currently be in possession of a copy of all their data?

If you think I am exaggerating, then realise that two people syphoned off terabytes of data for the term of a decade, and even after Snowden became visible, Harold Thomas Martin III was able to continue this for an additional 3 years, giving ample worry that the NSA needs to be thoroughly sanitised. More important, the unique position the NSA had should now be considered a clear and present danger to the security of the United States. I think it is sad and not irony that the NSA became its own worst enemy.

This is seen not in just the fact that Harold Thomas Martin III moved top secret data home, whilst he was at work a mere FSB or PLA intern could just jimmy the front door and copy all the USB devices. So basically he was potentially giving away data on Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) systems, which would be nice for the PLA Cyber Unit(s), as they did not have the capacity to create this themselves. So whilst they were accused for allegedly trying to get a hold of data on the laptop of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez (2008), they possibly laughed as they were just climbing into a window and taking all day to copy all the sweet classified data in the land (presumption, not a given fact). So he in equal measure pissed off the US, India and Russia. What a lovely day that must have been. In that regard, the Affidavit of Special Agent Jeremy Bucalo almost reads like a ‘love story’. With statements like “knowingly converted to his own use, or the use of another, property of the United States valued in excess of $1,000“. Can we all agree that although essential and correct, the affidavit reads like a joke? I mean that with no disrespect to the FBI, or the Special agent. I meant that in regard to the required personal viewed text: “Harold Thomas Martin III, has knowingly and intentionally endangered the safety and security of the United States, by placing top secret information and its multi-billion dollar value in unmonitored locations“, I do feel that there is a truth in the quote “The FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit is working on a psychological assessment, officials said. “This definitely is different” from other leak cases, one U.S. official said. “That’s why it’s taking us awhile to figure it out.”“. It is my personal view that I agree with this, I agree because I think I speculatively figured out the puzzle. He was a reservist, Reserve Navy and a Lieutenant at 51. So the Navy might not see him as ‘full’ or ‘equal’, this might have been his way, to read these documents at night, knowing that they will never have this level of clearance for such an amount of Top Secret information. With every additional document he would feel more in par with Naval Captains and Admirals, he would feel above all the others and if there was ever a conversation with people who did know, he had the option to leave the slightest hint that he was on that level, perhaps stating that he was also an NSA contractor. He star would suddenly be high with Commanders and higher. It is a personal speculation into the mind of Harold Thomas Martin III.

When we look at 18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 – TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES. We see at paragraph 2381 “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States“, now if we see the following elements ‘giving them aid and comfort within the United States‘ and the other elements are clearly stated as ‘or’ a case of treason could be made. In my view a person like that was guilty of treason the moment Top Secret materials were removed or copied from there assigned location and without proper clearance moved to an unsecure location. As an IT person Harold Thomas Martin III should have known better, there is no case of presumption of innocence. The fact that I made a case that he might have a mental issues does not mitigate it in any way, to do this in excess of a decade and even more insidious to do this for years after Edward Snowden got found out is also matter of concern.

The NSA has a sizeable problem, not just because of these two individuals, but because their servers should have has a massive upgrade years ago, in addition, the fact that contractors got away with all this is in equal measure even more insulting to a failing NSA. I can only hope that GCHQ has its ducks properly in a row, because they have had 3 years to overhaul their system (so tempted to put an exclamation mark here). You see, we have all known that for pretty much all of us, our value is now data. No longer people, or technologies, but data and to see 2 cases at the NSA, what was once so secret that even the KGB remained clueless is now, what we should regard as a debatable place. This should really hurt in the hearts of those who have faithfully served its corridors in the past and even today. In addition, the issues raised around 2005 by the CIA and other agencies regarding the reliability of contractors is now a wide open field, because those opposing it and those blocking data integration are proven correctly.

This now gets us to a linked matter. You see, it is not just the fact that the government is trailing in this field, because that has been an eternal issue. The issue is that these systems, due to the likes of Harold Thomas Martin III and Edward Snowden could be in danger of intrusions by organised crime.

For those thinking that I am nuts (on the road to becoming a Mars bar), to them I need to raise the issue of USB security, an issue raised by Wired Magazine in 2014. The fact that the USB is not just used to get data out, if malware was added to the stick, if it was custom enough, many malware systems might not pick up on it and that means that whomever got into the house, they could have added software, so that on the next run to copy a project, the system might have been opened up to other events. There is no way to prove that this happened, yet the fact remains that this is possible and the additional fact that this was happening for over 10 years is equally disturbing, because it means that the NSA monitoring systems are inadequate to spot unauthorised activities. These elements have at present all been proven, so there.

I think it is time for TRUSIX to convene again and consider another path, a path where USB sticks get a very different formatting and that its embedded encryption require the user, the location and the hardware id to be encrypted within the stick, in addition the stocks need to work with a native encryption mode that does not allow off site usage. Perhaps this is already happening, yet it was possible for Judas tainted Highwayman Harold to walk away with the goods, so something is not working at present. I am amazed that a system like that was not in place for the longest of times. I certainly hope that Director Robert Hannigan at GCHQ has been convening with his technology directors. In addition that there are some from Oxford and some from Cambridge, so that their natural aversion to the other, will bring a more competitive product with higher quality, which would serve all of GCHQ. #JustSaying

The one part where this will have an impact is the election, because this has been happening during an entire Democratic administration, so that will look massively sloppy in the eyes of pretty much every one, too bad Benghazi emails were not left that much under the radar, because that could have helped the Clinton election campaign immensely. Still, there are technology and resource issues. The fact that Booz Allen Hamilton gets mentioned again is unfortunate, yet this should only be a partial focus as they have 22,000 employees, so statistically speaking the number of transgressions is in that regard insignificant. What is significant is how these two got vetted and passed all their clearances. In addition to this there is the issue of operation centres. You see, if there has been data breaches, have there been system breaches? The question derives directly from the fact that data was taken off site and there were no flags or alerts for a decade. So at this point the valid question becomes whether NSOC and NTOC have similar flaws, which now places US Homeland Security in speculated direct data dangers. My consideration in this regard came from earlier mentions in this article. If any US opponent has a clue in this regard, what would be the repercussions, in addition, the question (due to my admitted ignorance) would be, did Edward Snowden have any knowledge of Harold Thomas Martin III, if so, was this revealed in any conversation Snowden would have had with a member of the FSB (there is absolutely no doubt that they had a ‘conversation’ with Edward Snowden whilst he was in sunny Moscow. If so, what data dangers is Homeland Security facing? If data was copied, it is not impossible that data was moved. If that has happened, any data event with any specific flag?

Now the next example is purely fictional!

What if conditionally an <!important> (or whatever flag the NSA uses in their data sets) was added or removed? If it was used to give weight to certain data observations, like a cleaning pass, the pass would either be useless, or misdirecting. All possible just because Harold Thomas Martin III had to ‘satisfy’ his ego. This is not whether it happened or not, this is about whether it was possible, which would give added voice to the NSA issues in play and the reliability of data. This is a clear issue when we consider that false journalistic stories give way to doubt anything the journalist has written, any issue with a prosecutor and all those cases need reviewing, so do you think it is any different for IT people who have blatantly disregarded data security issues? This is not some Market Researcher who faked response data, this is collected data which would have been intervened with, endangering the people these systems should protect. As stated, this is speculative, but there is a reality in all this, so the NSA will need to sanitise data and sources from the last 10 years. There is no telling what they will dig up. For me it is interesting to see this regarding Snowden, because I had my issues with him and how he just got data away from there. Now there is a chance that the NSA gets to rename their servers to NSA_Siff_01 to NSA_Siff_nn, wouldn’t that be the rudest wake up call for them? I reckon they forgot the old rules, the one being that technology moves at the speed of your fastest employee + 1 and the human ego remain the most dangerous opponent when it involves security procedures.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Law, Media, Military, Politics