Tag Archives: RBS

Consideration in 3 parts

There are several things playing and I think it is only fair that I jump a little this time around. In the first jump I will take us into the realm of technology. First the hardware where Keith Stuart gives us ‘is it worth a £100 upgrade?‘ This is a valid question, yet in all the issue is not merely the £100, it is more so “Microsoft has always marketed Xbox One X as an elite product for true enthusiasts and that’s exactly what it is“, which is something I cannot agree with. You see, Microsoft has refused to listen to the gamers, the actual gamers for the longest of times and with the Xbox One X, I expect (read: I hope) that they will get the pounding they have so deserved for the longest of times. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/03/xbox-one-x-review-4k-console-gaming-upgrade) gives you some of the goods, but not all of the goods. You see, the £450 with a 1TB drive is a joke, it always has been. The article names a few games and there a few sources re stating that Destiny 2 is 50GB WITHOUT the 4K assets. There is no clear way for me to find a reliable number there, but with the OS also taking a chunk of the hard-drive, which will be 300Mb at least, we are looking at a console where one game takes well over 5% of that drive. Forza 7 will take well over 10% of that system, now with all the reserved spaces and mind you not ALL these games are that big, you are looking at a dozen games at the most and that is in many cases not including the extra space that the 4K libraries need, so when I stated even before the Xbox One came out (the first one) that Microsoft was not giving consideration to their gamers, I was not kidding. With the Sony PS4 (both old and pro) we have the option to switch the drive at our own expense to a 2TB drive and these things are a mere $105, so one extra cost has kept me safe and hassle free for well over 3 years. Microsoft never allowed their gamers that option, which could be seen as another indicator that Microsoft is actually not giving true consideration to the ‘true enthusiasts‘ as they label them. There are additional flaws in the OS that give less consideration that the Xbox 360 did, so there is that to consider too. A console that might be seen as overpriced, overvalued and overdue a real upgrade. There are more issues, but they are for another day, for now we await the over-hyped release in 2 days.

The second part is one where I have to show fairness (which I have always done). The second part is Assassins Creed Origins. Now, it is on my list to get as I was not trusting Ubisoft after all the things they have done in the past, with the additional embargo of any publications of the game until the day before launch, their approach was shoddy and shady at best. In this case it worked against them. I have watched well over a dozen videos with Eurogamer and IGN showing the best sides, but also leaving us with questions. Yet I had a few questions of my own and i think they need to be put into the limelight. You see, I have slammed Guillemot and Ubisoft for the longest time for not doing their job (or better stated, the job they were capable of). For relying on average scripted events and what I still label as ‘bad programming’. This is not the case in ACO (Assassins Creed Origin). Now when we pull away from the 4K events (which are close to breathtaking), we see a game that has been through quite the change and as such should get some praise, praise on several levels.

First are the reviews, they are like mine all opinions, and even though I was relentless to AC ratings in the past, from all that is clearly shown these ratings are lower than expected. I see the game somewhere between 88%-92% rated (the non PC versions), yet most remain below it and Gamespot gives it a 70% rating which I personally believe to be equally unfair. Now, we can be hard on Guillemot on a few levels, but they did get this game decent. We can argue all we like, but the team that made Black Flag made this game in a good way and I believe that this game might not be regarded as a real AC game. Origin is the start of it all and that makes it fair game, but the clarity is that there are elements that we relate to Witcher 3, Far Fry Primal and Destiny. The reality is that elements in this game have been seen before going all the way back to Ultima7 Serpents Isle, so there is no real identity linking it to a certain game. Now, I do see the elements of Witcher 3 and that is not a bad thing, whilst we need to acknowledge that this game is not some Witcher 3 game, it is truly an Assassins Creed game (whether the player is an actual assassin or not). The wildlife is more dangerous and relentless and a lot less forgiving, which is a good thing (more realistic), and it seems that as far as I can observe, the locations are as any AC game has almost always been. Graphically sublime, even if you have no 4K solution at present. Even as I have been reluctant to see this last AC as a great game, it seems that should this be the last AC game, than Ubisoft goes out on a high note, and that should be heralded by nearly all gamers.

The final part is not a game. I am also getting less convinced that this is merely a leak. We could have accepted to the smallest degree that the Panama Papers were a leak, yet the amount of data that was leaked leaves us with the larger question on how stupid a financial adviser needs to be to endanger billions of dollars in revenue. I have gone back into time checking on a dozen corporations only to find that there was a healthy dose of paranoia in each and every one of them. Some were paranoid from the start, some were pushed by IT as they wanted the latest of the latest and pressing the ‘leak’ button seems to have worked each and every time. So whilst we have been in the sunshine with newspapers giving us Panama Papers on a daily basis, I found it particularly interesting to see the revelation of the Paradise Papers. So when I read “the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth”, I am not surprised. I have written about the failing of legislation on a global level for long before the Panama Papers and the Tesco affair. As we are told ‘obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung‘ we are not asking the right questions. Obtained how? Who gave them? You see, earlier this year we saw some mention of certain players, yet again and again the media have seemingly steered clear of certain parts of the evidence and it is time to mention it. In March we saw a few papers mention on how Barclays, RBS and Crédit Agricole had a sort of Tax Haven set-up where they had to pay a mere 2% in taxation. I think that this opened a door to some players. I think that the Paradise papers is not a leak, I personally believe it to be an attack on these three players as well as an attack on a few others too. The BBC is giving us part (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41876939), with the mention of the SIBUR shareholders, we see that there is an issue as the corporations are facing US sanctions, but the individuals Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko are not. They represent a wealth that is roughly 50% of what is Microsoft nowadays. It is making a few people more and more nervous. I personally believe that the Paradise Papers is not a leak it is an American corporate ploy, possibly even with the assistance of Rothschild wealth management (a speculation from my side) to push changes that are a lot more interesting to America. Can I prove this?

That is partially the issue. You see, without the clear data on the leak it might never be proven. it is merely too weird that this happened three times in a row (yes three times, I will let you look deeper into certain places to find the first instance). You see the most interesting part is casually shown at the end of the BBC article. With “a huge batch of leaked documents mostly from offshore law firm Appleby, along with corporate registries in 19 tax jurisdictions, which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders“, this is showing not to be a leak, this is a data gathering by a select few and the combination of large data sets. You see, multiple sources which is clearly seen through the use of ‘mostly‘, and added the ‘19 tax registries‘, shows this to be an event that is precise, it is an act of data gathering and filtering. As such, I see this as a precise strike, more likely than not from financial players who have seen certain bank (Credit Agricole being the most visible one) to grow beyond certain measures and that was not the acceptable mindset of the players who want a different shedding of wealth. This is one of the reasons that I have been keeping tabs on Credit Agricole and that is why they have been in my blog several times. Yet, in all this I did not see the Paradise Papers coming and the clarity we see now, is one where we need to consider who is playing us all, and the media most of all. The Guardian gives us more and more mentions of ‘Tax Avoidance’ and as I mentioned a few days ago. It is not illegal, it is perfectly legal. Most papers will hide behind ’emotional’ parts to cry outrage, but in the end they too are not outspoken on pushing to adapt legislation to change this and to push for clear corporate taxation needs, whilst we see that they are all on the second largest data drain set at 1.4TB. So after the Panama Papers, do you think that banks, especially banks of these kinds, banks that rely on such paths to ensure themselves of a good income. Do you think they would hesitate to invest a few millions into hardware that keeps it secure? No, we see more and more technology, more and more Cloud solutions failing to keep data safe. The BBC gave us in April 2016: “In other words, your data could get lost, wiped, corrupted or stolen“. It seems that not enough people are really listening, happy to embrace the marketing of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, whilst there is a real concern on safety (for now). Yet, is that how the data was acquired? It is all good and fine to blame a party whilst the data was somewhere else. You see, those IT people (at Appleby’s) would know better, yet when we see the Irish Times (at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/appleby-the-offshore-law-firm-with-a-record-of-compliance-failures-1.3280860), we see “Appleby has transformed itself into a global institution with more than 700 employees across nearly every major tax haven from the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to the Isle of Man in Europe, Mauritius in Africa and Hong Kong in Asia“, in that there is no doubt in my mind that IT would have had (or needed) a much higher visibility on their security profile. I wonder, if I got to investigate their non-repudiation systems and logs, what failings would I find. I can personally guarantee you that with every passing check-mark in place, we get to see more and more clearly that this was not a leak, I would regard this as a precision strike to shift billions from one place to the other, because just like we saw with he Panama Papers, when the super-rich get nervous, a lot of them can be manipulated a lot easier than ever before and in my mind there is no doubt, in this Rothschild is likely to be the one true victor and the one party who had the most to win.

I can only speculate on a few matters, but in the light of the global financial industry, Bermuda, Nassau, Riyadh and Nevada are the larger tax havens. The two papers are giving loads of limelight to three of them, so where will those people go to next?

The financial industry is correlating more and more to a video game, it is all about the hardware and scripted events. When we know that hardware is not the initial flaw one remains, making the case stronger and stronger that this was not a leak, it was a scripted event, whether made specifically for certain hardware remains to be seen . I wonder if the media will ever truly look deeper into how the data was acquired, I doubt it, because that does not make for a sexy story, making them in my personal view less of a player and more of a tool, the question that remains is: ‘the tool for who?

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Fine, Finer, Fined

My mother always told me (when I was young) that I was allowed to swear, as long as I did it grammatically correct. Little did I know that mommy made me paint myself into a corner! Ah well, the innocence of youth!

So when the board of directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland learned their usage of adjectives, comparatives and superlative was only correct in theory. First the bank was doing fine, then its position was much finer, only to get fined in the end. Did they realise that the year 10 student in the corner, the one who did not get it, was the one person making an accurate prediction? I’ll bet you tuppence that they never realised that Mr Dunsel was an actual fortune teller.

So, why am I going in this direction?

Well, consider the article ‘RBS share sale explainer: why has Osborne started selling taxpayer’s stake at a loss?‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/rbs-share-sale-explainer-why-has-osborne-started-selling-the-taxpayers-stake-at-a-loss-10437095.html), whilst we heard that the taxpayer lost another billion, due to, I reckon you know what comes after this uncomfortable break: “RBS shares are still trading 33 per cent lower than the Labour government paid for them, which means selling them has incurred a loss for the government of around £1 billion on the first sale of 600m shares“.

As the Guardian reported last week that ‘RBS expects further fines with no let-up from regulators‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/30/royal-bank-of-scotland-expects-further-fines-dividend-delay), we see that not only is the selling of shares costing the taxpayers a billion, the £1.3bn of charges to cover fines and compensation payouts seem to sting a little more than we bargained for. A few of the reasons why the buyback of shares will not happen until 2017, with a decent chance that more hardship will be burdened upon them payers of taxation. So when I see a quote from Sir Philip Hampton stating “The industry as a whole has got a poor track record in predicting these [provisions]. We’ve consistently under-called them”. Can anyone explain to me why the people at RBS are allowed to nag? Consider the quote “the long list of mistakes from the past continued to catch up with the bank” and compare it to the BBC article (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8392147.stm), which was from 2009 which gave us ‘RBS board could quit if government limits staff bonuses‘ with the quote “they say they have to remain competitive in the market in recruiting senior executives“, which is nice when it deals with the bonuses that go into the millions, but when we see that it is linked to years of inadequacy, mistakes, fines and prosecutions, we need to tailor a solution where some of these bankers need to be barred for life from entering the financial sector. So when we learned in February 2014 that ‘RBS pays out £588m in bonuses despite suffering £8.24bn loss‘, we need to ask a few really serious questions, now that the shares are sold at a massive loss and the total sale could result in total loss of  £15bn. I feel certain that I could do a better job, whilst not having any economic degree.

So as a large portion of the UK is in a state of hardship, the failing RBS constituency still makes over half a billion in bonuses. The aftertaste is far beyond bitter, so why get back to all these matters, which in some case is a repetition of events that had passed?

In the first, as I see it, these board members failed, the value of the company is down and as such, in sight of “We’ve consistently under-called them“, they are not due any bonuses until December 2016 and only if the value of the bank is back on par with the share value at which the government bought them. In addition, the news ‘Hedge funds make quick buck after getting wind of RBS stake sale’ from the Financial Times only adds to the bitterness of the taste of shares with pepper and salt. In my view another reason why the bonus of board members and RBS bankers should be set to £0. In addition, as Sir Philip has been around since 2009, whilst getting a not too uncomfortable £750,000. The need for not letting up on allowing the bankers any extras should be considered. So if they would like to retry their bluff of December 2009, where they stated “threatening to resign“, let them. Why does the RBS have any need for employees “consistently under-called them“, whilst at the same time fines for ‘rigging’ are banging the corporate coffers of the RBS, leading to damages that total into billions.

So when did you have a job where the company needs 45 billion from the taxpayer, they have not returned into a state of grace and they still get a 7 figure Christmas present? I never had a job like that. To change my luck, could Sir Philip kindly give me one? I need £8m over the next 3 years (for reasons of retirement). I am willing to do anything legal, including working my bud off to return the RBS to profit. From my point of view, I offer something more than the RBS board ever delivered (well, since 2009), so we can agree that my value is better than their value, ain’t it?

But this is not about me, this is also to a lesser extent not about the board members. This is about the engine behind it and the changes they are about to face. You see the sounds have been there, the rumours have almost forever been there and on the sidelines the links have been there, but what is this linking?

I am referring to the following events ‘Auditors go high-tech to win new business‘ (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/183cb13c-2557-11e5-bd83-71cb60e8f08c.html), where we see “Auditors have a newfound zest. Rapid developments in digital technology and new rules requiring large companies to invite bids for auditing work at least once a decade have forced accounting firms to refocus on winning new business” and ‘Accountants warn on audit market reforms‘ from last November where we see “Within the “big four” accountancy firms, market share has been shifting. EY has overtaken Deloitte as the third biggest auditor to FTSE 100 clients, behind PwC and KPMG in first and second place, respectively. This month Royal Bank of Scotland announced it had appointed EY as its auditor from 2016, ending a 14-year contract with Deloitte” (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f22383ca-6410-11e4-bac8-00144feabdc0.html). This is actually more than just the shaking of the trees and the stirring of the gravy bowl. You see this is a shifting picture where the big four are now pushing for data analytics, the Wall Street Journal have been slowly filling the spaces in that regard. The headline ‘Accountants Increasingly Use Data Analysis to Catch Fraud‘ states it, but what do they state? At http://www.wsj.com/articles/accountants-increasingly-use-data-analysis-to-catch-fraud-1417804886, we see “When a team of forensic accountants began sifting through refunds issued by a national call center, something didn’t add up: There were too many fours in the data. And it was up to the accountants to figure out why“. Yes on the night of St. Nicholas the presents are handed out to all and especially the bankers, because analytics are here, the secret sauce of the needy to quench those who want to solve and hide those in the shadows. You see Benford’s Law is here and everything will be OK now! Is that so? Let’s take a look at ‘The Irrelevance of Benford’s Law for Detecting Fraud in Elections‘ (at http://www.vote.caltech.edu/sites/default/files/benford_pdf_4b97cc5b5b.pdf), where we see: “Detecting and measuring fraud is much like any criminal investigation and requires a careful gathering of all available data and evidence in conjunction with a “theory of the crime” that takes into account substantive knowledge of the election being considered, including the socio-economic and geographic correlates of voting“. This is about voting, so how does this apply? Consider the quote on page 23 “The operant clause here, though, is “in otherwise homogeneous data” since this indicator is intended to detect the heterogeneity introduced by a specific form of fraud“, now we get to those two parts, when we see “In statistics, homogeneity and its opposite, heterogeneity, arise in describing the properties of a dataset, or several datasets. They relate to the validity of the often convenient assumption that the statistical properties of any one part of an overall dataset are the same as any other part” (quick Wiki reference). So as we contemplate “the statistical properties of any one part of an overall dataset are the same as any other part“, ehhh, when has that ever been the case in keeping financial books? It is a balancing act, which means half on one side, means half on the other side (does that not prove the point?) No, because they are two sides of the same coin, double elements so to speak, so what to include, what not, the formula becomes unbalanced even further. Consider that banking is all about specifics, I will stay away from that element for a while, because the element of specifics is the issue, consider the graphs below.

Benford

 

I can tell you now that I violated loads of rules. It comes from a list of 400 movies, their revenue. So, it spans several year, 400 numbers and those are the most visible reasons why Benford does not apply. The books of Tesco have similar issues. Dozens of accounts, interactions, loads of numbers spanning a time zone, but at times those numbers are also of a small count. Could this work with a ‘grocery’ store? Consider the amount of articles at 99c and £1.99. The amount of special offers going on, day to day (Tesco example), from that, if we use EVERY transaction, we will see skewing, giving us the problem, banks have similar issues, but now more often with seriously large numbers. If we ‘Benford’ the hell out of all the commissions, will they stand the ‘fraud’ test? If not, will the bank see that cash returned, or will we suddenly see a ‘rationalisation’ of non-valid application?

 

 

This is at the heart “in otherwise homogeneous data“, which gave the Call-centre a ‘ding-dong’, yet I feel that overall numbers could have shown the issue as well. Too many issues do not hold water here, yet the end of the article gives us what matters “Benford’s Law isn’t a magic bullet. It’s only one approach. It isn’t appropriate for all data sets. And when it is a good tool for the job, it simply identifies anomalies in data, which must be explained with further investigation“, ah the common sense. That did not take long did it?

So as there are serious options for investigating Fraud, the watchers of Tesco are still not in the limelight of the press, they have been given the ‘shade’ by the press at large. In one moment we see Tesco getting replaced by DeLoitte and recently we see Santander bank replacing DeLoitte for PwC and the SFO is nowhere to be seen. So are the Elves of Statistics and the Serious ‘eff’ Ogres in a state of non-war? Perhaps the SFO is too busy and whilst those auditors give new presentations on those yummy statistics, but as I personally see it, it is basically another presentation to lull groups of people to sleep. There is a mess in front of the people and those who should look and act, seem to be too busy and many can slightly fall asleep again.

Just 6 weeks ago, the UK got the message ‘RBS, once the world’s largest bank, is using analytics technology to go back to the era of personal customer service‘, with a promise to invest £100m in data analytics technology. I personally believe in analytics, it is a great tool, but in light of many factors, unless you get the people who have been consistently under-called them a job with a competitor bank, the institution will be paying a lot by those currently not doing their job right.

That final statement can be easily proven.

In the first, if data analytics was key, those involved should have known this for well over 3 years, some in charge have been there long enough, which means that no action was taken and they should not be in a position where they remain idle.

In the second, if data analytics is not key in solving some of the matters, why are they buying it? It could be for very valid other reasons, but that does not solve the ‘under-calling’ issue, it does not solve several other issues, even though it solves some, so at best, data analytics will diminish losses, which is good, but should we not get rid of the dead weight (read significant reasons for large losses).

All this comes to blows soon enough, because if the RBS does not get its results, new articles will appear all over the place regarding ‘miscommunication’, times of deployment and infrastructure issues, in the meantime ‘managed bad news’ prevails and more waves of issues will be swept under the covers of a dark carpet. As accounts are handed over between the 4 big auditors, the sum in the end gives us that overall none of them will make any serious losses. Slightly beyond the short term it evens out for the big four, which might be the largest miscarriage of justice of all.

 

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The outspoken lie

This is the issue we have seen many times in the last months. The lie perpetrated by people (including journalists) to keep them in some fake shape of ethical non-prosecution. The clearest one was shown by the Guardian Yesterday (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/may/22/secret-bank-of-england-taskforce-investigates-financial-fallout-brexit), it is not the first one, it will not be the last one and until some individuals get out of their lazy chair, it will never improve. The quote “News of undercover project emerges after Bank staff accidentally email details to the Guardian including PR notes on how to deny its existence“. This is not even close to an accident, you do not ‘accidently‘ add journalists to confidential e-mails. This is almost like me going to Lucy Pinder (famous UK Presenter) stating: “Can you please stand there, now bend backwards a little and please keep your legs spread and without knickers, so I can ‘accidently’ land my penis into your vagina” (sorry about the graphical intensity Miss Pinder)! Either event does not happen accidently, only intentional or orchestrated as I see it! We will likely hear on ‘accidental’ typos, on how names were the same, but the cold reality is, is the mere fact that some people are trying to be some misguided whistle-blower yet the other group are doing that intentionally, some to warn ‘friends’, some to influence the market. And this event is nowhere near the only one. I wrote about Brexit yesterday in my article ‘Is it all Greek to you?‘ there are several issues in play. There is the link to Natixis, regarding their over half a Trillion Euro issue. Is that information not really handy to have? So in my view what is currently ‘regarded’ as an accident is possibly a simple case of either whistleblowing or corruption! The next quote is another one we need to take issue with “The revelation is likely to embarrass the bank governor, Mark Carney, who has overhauled the central bank’s operations and promised greater transparency over its decision-making“. The issue is, is that there is no issue. The Bank of England has a clear responsibility to investigate economic impacts, this means that both Brexit and Grexit are to be investigated. You see, if Brexit becomes a necessarily evil, those making the decisions would need to have all the facts, not just ask for the facts at that point. So, 30 seconds after the Guardian revelation, Natixis and all its links, Airbus, HSBC and a few other players will now be preparing their own kind of noose, threatening the UK government on the consequences of going forward on Brexit, the equations as per today will be pushed in other directions, including by the US, who would get into deep insolvent waters the moment Brexit becomes a fact. So, the accidental mailer is in my view an intentional traitor to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. That person is an even bigger traitor as this is not about where the freedom of choice for a sovereign nation lies, but the fact that it is no longer able to get the true facts ready for the people to freely make a choice on, so when the referendum does come, the people are likely to get misinformed because powerful players do not like it when their profitability is on the line. It is of course every little bit useful for the large industries who believe in keeping the status quo of exploitations high, dry and mighty. So even though Mark Carney will likely be under fire of questions as per Monday, we must also see that in this case our Canadian Marky Mark is totally innocent (in this case). He did what a responsible governor of the Bank of England did. He made sure the correct facts were collected (tried to do so without kicking a fuss), a task that is now less likely to be successful. So as we look at what happened, according to the Guardian article, we see “The email, from Cunliffe’s private secretary to four senior executives, was written on May 21st and forwarded by mistake to a Guardian editor by the Bank’s head of press, Jeremy Harrison“, so as I see it a mail from Sir Jonathan Cunliffe went to 4 senior executives. Now we suddenly see that Jeremy Harrison had it. Was he one of the 4 recipients? It seems unlikely as the text would have stated something slightly different. It is the formulation that gives way to the notion that it is likely (read: possible) that one of those executives forwarded the mail to Jeremy Harrison and he did give it to the Guardian. So we have two issues. Who gave it to Jeremy and was the release to the press more intentional than not? That question remains an issue. Is this orchestration or blatant treason. Let’s not forget that treason means: ‘The betrayal of someone’s trust or confidence‘, in this case the trust AND confidence of the British parliament. So the people are confronted with a spokesperson who likely spoke out, against the wishes of the ruling governor. So this event will have consequences from Monday onward. The markets will react and after that we will see more events into escalations as the British people will get to see over the week how the Greek fallout will hit the markets and the European economies as a whole. The non-actions, or any act regarded too small by the people will shift political allegiances fast, yet that effect is less likely to be felt in the UK and more likely to impact France at present. And these Brexit revelations are not the first ones. That Greek tragedy called insolvency is riddled with ‘leaked’ documents all over the place. In February 2015 we had ‘Leaked documents reveal what Greece had to say at the Euro group negotiations‘, in this view, I agree with blogger Raúl Ilargi Meijer who wrote less than a week ago “Whenever secret or confidential information or documents are leaked to the press, the first question should always be who leaked it and why” (at http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/05/the-imf-leaks-greece/), but that is not what orchestration is about, is it? So are the events from the Bank of England orchestration too? If so fine (well not entirely, but that would not be my call), if not then please fire Jeremy Harrison and give me his job. I have no proper degree for the function, but at least I will not be leaking any documents. These events go a lot further then just Greece of course. The Herald Scotland gives us ‘Civil servant who issued RBS leak email links with Better Together leader‘ (at http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/revealed-civil-servant-who-issued-rbs-leak-email-links-with-better-together-leader.120666908) gives us “THE Treasury civil servant who issued an email leaking sensitive information about Royal Bank of Scotland’s plans to leave the country in the event of a yes vote had links to the head of Better Together campaign, it can be revealed“, so again the question regarded is, is this not corporate treason? Consider the quote “Now the civil servant who issued the communication can be identified as Robert Mackie, the son of Catherine MacLeod, who was a special adviser to Better Together leader Alistair Darling when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer“, was he preparing his own more comfortable future? Getting himself into the proper future setting with friends of Alistair Darling? These are questions to be asked, for sure. Of course, a valid question might be, why would the Royal Bank of Scotland, leave Scotland if it becomes independent? Is it about the lost power of image of its board members? I do not proclaim or imply to have the actual answers, but the truth is not likely to come out, which means we end up living an outspoken lie, does it not? My own little island Australia is not without its own negative merits here. The title ‘Leaked documents reveal problems within Air Warfare Destroyer program‘ should give cause for concern, because that is not a mere commercial/political issue, it is a military issue, where one might expect a little more bias into ‘disclosing’ classified information (me going out on a limb here). we see the information (at http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4232702.htm), where we get the quote “But documents obtained by Saturday AM reveal the alliance is now worried continued cost blowouts and delays are harming its shipbuilding reputation“, of course ‘cost blowout’ usually means that the leaders of those projects did not have a proper clue to begin with and the amount of 9 billion gives a lot more weight to my statement (the UK NHS IT program being a nice piece of 11 billion pounds in evidence), but that is not too unexpected. The quote “MARK THOMSON: With an alliance contract where you don’t have somebody clearly in charge, you can rapidly find yourself in a situation where things go wrong and people are looking at one another passing blame, not taking responsibility, and decisions aren’t made” is precisely to the point. Our own Marky Mark (not the one running the Bank of England) shows the major influence, a person that is clearly in charge. I would add that quality of communication tends to be a solid second one in these projects. You see, as these elements go back and forth the e-mail (read Memo) goes on and on. When someone is in charge we get that defining moment when they hear (or should hear). ‘Shut Up! This is what we have decided on!‘, yet military contractors (like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman) are very trained in encapsulating questions within answers, adding premises so that the water is murky, as this is all about their continues consultancy as those people are like lawyers, they bill by the hour per project (as I personally see it), so here again, we see the outspoken lie, now not by telling, but by omission through non-clarity. So as the article ended with “Last year problems with the AWD program prompted former defence minister David Johnston to warn he wouldn’t trust the government-owned Australian submarine corporation to build a canoe“, on one side it seems odd to bite the hand that feeds you, on the other hand the question becomes what evidence did he have access to? Was this a political move to shelter individuals or signal true issues? So now we get the news (less than 2 hours ago at http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/first-air-warfare-destroyer-launched-at-asc-osborne/story-fni6uo1m-1227366174513) ‘First Air Warfare Destroyer launched at ASC, Osborne‘, which should be a huge reason for parties as well as spoil a bottle of bubbly against the hull of that beauty. Yet, the article is not all good news. We see that in the quote “The occasion was overshadowed to a degree by Friday’s release of a Federal Government audit claiming the destroyers cost three times as much to build in South Australia as they would if they had been built overseas. It also found the total cost of the project had blown out to $9 billion“, so here are my questions in this:

  1. Could we ever rely on our defense by getting things build overseas?
  2. Who kept check on the expenses?
  3. If I go over the books and If I can cut more than 20% by invalidating time wasted on drawn out lines of ‘communications’ (I mean those long winded memos from these military contractors), will I get 10% of the 20% saved? (This should amount to 180 million) not bad for a few months’ work! You know, I had a dream where I ended up with 160 million and bought a nice house on Guernsey. I am willing to settle on 20 million less!

So here we see the outspoken lies! Political, commercial and even military, lines of miscommunication drained through ‘leaked’ documents. Is it all orchestration? Is orchestration not the same as treason when we consider the allegiance those people were supposed to have (in opposition where ‘leaked’ documents are a tactical move)? It would be for a court to decide, yet we will soon learn that these matters will not make it into any court, and as the cost blowout of 9 billion is shown, this leaky path will pay handsomely into the hands of businesses like Raytheon and Natixis, and what do you know, there are links between these two as well! So is this last statement my outspoken lie? Or can we agree at least to some degree that these companies all talk to one another? So in the end are governments getting played and who is actually in charge? That would be a very valid question as the bill got pumped by 9 billion, where 10% of that 9 billion could have solved the Australian legal aid issue (as well as a few other issues), so will any investigation into that issue result in a new outspoken lie (read: carefully phrased political conclusion without further accountability by anyone)? Time will tell!

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Is it illogical?

Today the news is all about Greece, not because they are getting it done, but because they are now less than 24 hours away from a 450 million euro invoice and whilst Prime Minister Tsipras stated that they have the cash to make the next payment (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-04/greece-has-cash-to-make-imf-payment-next-week-minister-says), of course, that statement is now an issue as we wonder why Tsipras took the fast plane to Moscow.

In other news (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/06/varoufakis-extends-washington-charm-offensive-after-talks-with-lagarde), where ‘rock star’ Varoufakis is smiling all over the place. the quote “The hope is he will gain the support of Treasury officials in persuading lenders to cut Greece some slack” seems highly misplaced as the Greek elected officials have been sitting on their hands in feigned acts of ‘activity’. Yet the article shows two interesting quotes. The first one is “it has been openly critical of a German-dominated Europe pushing the country too hard on austerity and fearful of the effects that might have on European unity. A Grexit would spin the markets out of control. It is the last thing Washington wants“. It seems that the US might have issues with the German approach of reducing debt. You see, that hits the bottom dollar, the US can only partially recover if THEIR banks get the slice of the multi trillion dollar debt Europe has, once the debt goes down, their income slows down by a large margin.

The second part here is the market response to Grexit. Yes, the US has a fair point trying to limit that event, but this implies the following:

  1. I had been correct for well over a year in my statements that a tumble of the Euro would massively hit the Dollar and the market.
  2. The fact that the Greek exit, with 500 billion in debt has SUCH an impact, whilst the Greek economy makes up for less than 2% of the European economy implies that the European nations at large are borrowed up to the max and this first stone falling, gives us a domino effect that will wound the market for a longer time, which means the US holier-than-thou DOW will also feel the massive impact one way or another.

If economies at large are THIS dependent on that Dow Jones Index, then what failures are we going to see in addition to Greece?

The second quote that is interesting is: “Varoufakis, was scheduled to meet Nathan Sheets, US Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, two days before Tsipras heads to Moscow for talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday“. This is interesting for the simple reason which is found in the question: Why?

You see, when we look at Nathan Sheets, the treasury page (at http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2640.aspx) gives us: “Sheets will lead Treasury’s Office of International Affairs, which protects and supports U.S. economic prosperity by strengthening the external environment for U.S. growth, preventing and mitigating global financial instability, and managing key global challenges“, so why was Varoufakis meeting Nathan Sheets? Is he not all up in arms to protect Greece from collapsing? Which might be the same goal both have, but that gives extra weight to second implication I mentioned, the Greek debt has far fetching consequences, so why would a flight to Russia have any positive result for Greece, it would suit Russia just fine to see the DOW tumble. So unless Greece is making a deal that includes the option of a Russian base on Greek grounds, we should consider the possibility of watching a linked smoke screen we see here.

That conclusion (the smoke screen) is given weight by the following quote we see in another Guardian article: “Mrs Lagarde … stressed that, in Greece’s case, the Fund is willing to show utmost flexibility in the way in which the government’s reforms and fiscal proposals will be evaluated“, as well as “It added that in separate meetings, US Treasury officials who also met Varoufakis expressed the willingness of the US government to play the role of an ‘honest broker’ in helping Greece to strike a deal with its lenders“.

The question becomes, flexibility in which direction? That question follows the ‘honest broker‘ offer from US treasury officials. If this was (very likely), the Nathan Sheets meeting, then we get a new issue, not just who gets the brokered deal and at which percentage, we now see a second instance where IMF and US needs meet hand in hand. Did we not see a similar evolution with Argentina? If that is so, then who is catering whom and how much will it cost the Greeks, when the actual full invoice is revealed after a massive black out through smoke screens, miscommunications and incomplete data. Yes, those are presumptions on my side, but when you recall the Argentinian debacle, where they were pushed towards vulture funds, after IMF help was denied through a request by the US, many press members did not properly follow up that part and no clear information was ever published, so are my assumptions that far out of bounds?

Now we get to the interesting part. You see, he Guardian has another piece by Phillip Inman titled ‘IMF needs to see the bigger picture – that debt can choke off growth‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/07/imf-needs-to-see-the-bigger-picture-that-debt-can-choke-off-growth). Here we see the following parts that are a decent chunk of sizzling debate that we can charcoal grill in an instant. “Yet the remedies outlined by the IMF to counter the threat of persistent low growth in Britain and other developed world economies, as documented in that report, show that debt influences growth and in extremis can choke it off” as well as “the IMF says the world’s major economies risk a long period of low growth unless governments do more to overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis and the longer-term problem of ageing populations“.

I do not deny the correctness of the statements, but the statements are all extremely short sighted, especially when you consider that the people making the statements are on high 6-7 figure incomes. Let us not forget that these governments decided to get themselves in debt and that for well over a decade, no proper budget has been pushed through. It was Germany and Germany alone, that tightened their own belt by a lot and as such they have been enjoying lessened interest payments, which is now saving them billions each year. The second part is that ‘overcome the after-effects of the financial crisis’ is all about proper budgeting, which has gone amiss all over Europe (not just in Greece), in addition ‘longer-term problem of ageing populations‘ is not completely a valid concern as this had been known for well over a decade, which means that plans should have been in place for a long time.

Now we get to the interesting part. As governments on a global scale were so eager to be the bitch of large corporations, the involved governments painted themselves in a corner. Yet, the IMF is not innocent here either, I had a go on their numbers in 2013, when they had published ‘World Economic Outlook April 2013‘ (at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/01/pdf/text.pdf), where they stated that advanced economies would be performing at 1.2% in 2013 and 2.2% in 2014. I pretty much labelled the group behind that piece of ….paper ‘bonkers’, now we see “Looking forward, the IMF said potential growth in advanced economies was expected to increase slightly from an average of about 1.3% a year in the last six years to 1.6% until 2020, but not reach the 2.25% average seen between 2001 and 2007“, So this means I was right, my simple use of an abacus got me numbers more precise than they did with their ‘economists’ that they bunched like grapes in an analytics department. I did expect numbers to be a lot better in 2016, but that was based on the limited information I had, irresponsible elected officials did skew my numbers more in a negative way, silly me for having hope that elected officials would keep a level head in all this. Serves me right!

Yet, behind all this is a little more. It is the quote “But growth is not the only way to diminish or pay back debts. Cancelling them is another. Banks do it with their worst performing customers. Unfortunately for Greece, the IMF refuses to use the same criteria as Lloyds or RBS would when confronted by a failed business” that gets to me. As an assumed speculation this path is not a bad option, and any Journalist has my blessing to entertain such a thought in the proper context. But this article does not do that, it is left in the air at the end of an opinion piece, without proper merit. This makes me wonder why Phillip Inman economics correspondent added this. Just to give visibility to his book? I seriously doubt that, the statement in the air is the issue in this, perhaps like me he is postulating that the ‘forgiving’ of debts is what certain banks are hoping for, because it puts them in the clear and leaves the debt with the underwriting governments, a step Germany is opposing rigorously (and rightly so).

What is in my view decently clear is the prediction I made earlier, that Greece is playing Possum in the 11th hour is coming to fruition, my issue becomes, why is the Greek population accepting this and why is there no proper investigations in lighting up all the sides on how previous Greek administrations accepted tons of debt without any decent exit plan. In my view, Antonis Samaras was sailing the only path that had the option of keeping the Greek population independent and proud, a plan that is certainly becoming less and less a reality under Tsipras, because no matter what happens next, whether it is feigned forgiven debt or any Russian deal, there will be consequences for the Greek population at large, an issue ignored by most players involved, especially their elected officials.

 

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As we seek options

There is a clear delight in looking a little longer at the Greek comedy that is about to become a tragedy, but I reckon that their loss is now a certainty to so many that the blogs and the news as it is released is no longer truly in the interest of many to watch.

Instead of that, it might be more interesting to take another look at what should be regarded as the shifting trend of danger as it hits on a global scale. It is an opinion piece by George Monbiot, which was published 3 days ago. The article called “‘Wealth creators’ are robbing our most productive people” (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/31/wealth-creators-klepto-rewards-bosses). George is touching on several issues I have written about and many have known for a long time. The following quotes are at the centre of the issue “A report by the Resolution Foundation reveals that two-thirds of frontline care workers receive less than the living wage. Ten percent, like Carole, are illegally paid less than the minimum wage. This abuse is not confined to the UK: in the US, 27% of care workers who make home visits are paid less than the legal minimum“. So here is number one. Mr President, your claims on healthcare for everyone, in this view, did you intentionally set it up to be affordable through the use of what might be regarded as slave labour? There are heaps of jokes involving slave labour and African Americans, but then, I am not sure how many of your involved advisers fit that bill. Yet, it is not about health care, it is only a factor in a larger scheme of things, so up to the next part. “As the pay gap widens – chief executives in the UK took 60 times as much as the average worker in the 1990s and 180 times as much today – the uselessness ratio is going through the roof I propose a name for this phenomenon: klepto-remuneration“, this is an interesting view. You see, ‘klepto’ implies what is ‘not theirs’, yet the system had been destabilised to maximise exploitation by those in charge. What George sees as ‘klepto-remuneration’, I see as unbalanced unaccountability. Because the board of directors has a clear responsibility, to ensure the future of the corporation that they are heading. It seems to me that these board members are doing whatever they can to fill their need for comfort. When people doubt that approach then take a look at the mediocre collection of bundled fiascos. Tesco, RBS, Northern Rock, Polly Peck and the list goes on for a decent time. The US is not innocent their either, it is a global problem.

The interesting part is that these events have been known for a long time and in some cases there was a change to the UK Corporate Governance Code and other laws, but overall the massive need for change to ensure (read: force) fairness to the corporations and the bleeding of revenue (read solvency) towards their own board of directors is nowhere near the changes that are required, which is shown on a near global scale. The issue will only increase over the next two years as we see mergers and therefor non-taxable solutions for certain moguls TEVA, Horizon Pharma and linked to this there is Deerfield. Yet, Deerfield has other options, so what will they do, will they drown their board into a group of massive commissions, or will they exploit their centre position and grow larger into the need to corner the pharma and generic patent market. Deerfield could grow its market from 4 to well over 11 billion if the right patents are acquired. So the question becomes, where is the cut-off point? When will we see the appropriate response of those boards, not for profit, but for opening markets and allow taxability to become a true value of restoring its government’s coffers, whether it be US or Commonwealth? Yet the proper laws to truly state the changes are not in place. The draconian shift would not just be unacceptable, it will result in a change that could choke a commerce, but the current unchecked options are equally non-working and equally devastating, all due to the lack of accountability, so how to change the setting?

I do not pretend to have the answer. I am not sure what the best course is to properly adjust the law, but as we saw in the article written by George, he had one final part I did not mention yet “There is no end to this theft except robust government intervention: a redistribution of wages through maximum ratios and enhanced taxation. But this won’t happen until we challenge the infrastructure of justification, built so carefully by politicians and the press. Our lives are damaged not by the undeserving poor but by the undeserving rich“, you see, here I slightly disagree, not with his statement, which is fair enough, but in this view ‘a redistribution of wages through maximum ratios and enhanced taxation‘, will never be a proper long term solution, it is a flim flam approach to a non-working premise. It is like the additional taxation of the rich, now consider that this money comes from less than 10,000 people, how can we see a redistribution on fairness, whilst only a small part of these rich are undeservingly so? If we cannot bolster their move, or tax their efforts, the only part remaining is to limit their actions. I had seen several moves in the past, which are still ignored by nations (and their taxation offices at large). I reckon that corporations are unwilling to receive taxation, in addition, several tax sheltering governments (Ireland & Netherlands) are unwilling to let go of the little advantage they have, but it is that unwilling part that is hurting all.

Laws to ‘maximise’ industrialisation have become anchors, minimising wellbeing, none of these elements are dealt with by ‘enhanced taxation’. It can be achieved by removing tax write offs. What if there is no longer a benefit for merging? What if Teva Pharma (TEVA) was not allowed to Acquire Auspex Pharma unless there is full taxability? So no tax write-off, no benefit for either. Why give tax breaks to companies making millions/billions? In addition, some of these mergers are done to allow for some patents to be prolonged. I believe in patents, I truly do, but I also believe in an end date of that exclusivity, so that the innovators of generic solutions can make a product that is affordable for all, solving more than one issue in one go.

Was that so hard to begin with? The solution providers only had to let go of a little greed!

 

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Enabling cybercrime!

Yes, we are all in the unintentional habit to enable cybercrime. Yet what complications do we face when the one enabling it is not you, me or Joe Worker, but Microsoft or Apple? Where do we stand when we are confronted by companies, so driven by what I consider the useless drive of greed through Marketing, whilst ignoring the technical support department? Do not claim that it does not happen, because I have been witness to such events (though not personally at Microsoft or Apple).

It did not just start with the affair of the 101 nude celebrities, yet it is at the core of the visibility that it drives. It is not with the push by so many to get forced towards Google Search and Facebook Messenger, but that is definitely the debatable event pushing the worry, fear and quite honestly the total distrust of greed and marketability that is overtaking what some seem to laughingly refer to as ‘technological improvements‘.

In this age, we see a growing drive for ease and ‘comfort’, yet a lot seems to be enabling cybercrime and exploitation.

We got the ‘Fear Google‘ event and the expose with a non-dressed Jennifer Lawrence has been cancelled (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/jennifer-lawrence-and-kate-upton-nude-photos-exhibition-cancelled-after-artist-finally-concedes-the-images-were-stolen-property-9723751.html).

Perhaps I am too much of a cynic, but the text “Though not, says the artist behind it, due to legal reasons. But instead because he’s had a moral change of heart“, how about the truth (as I consider it to be), ‘the pressure of Jennifer Lawrence has given my expose ALL the publications I needed‘. Seems to be more honest, also, the fact that her lawyer Lawrence Shire, especially if he is the Shire related to Grubman Shire, might have taken away whatever courage he thought he had to continue. I leave it up to the reader to form their own mind.

Yet this is not about that, but it could be.

Consider the following issue, which I witnessed myself today. The setting is simple. She uses her smartphone and for the most never ever uses Skype. Yet, she has a Skype account on her notebook. She needed Skype on her mobile, which was easy enough, yet after installing it, we have lost 4 hours and half a dozen attempts to reset her password.

Skype1

 

 

 

 

 

  1. We enter Skype.
  2. Password lost, which means another browser.
  3. We enter mail details.
  4. We use the received code to enter a new password
  5. We go to Skype, yet the linked identity does not work.
  6. We start again from step 2.

As you can see in the diagram, for some reason, the Skype name and the android Skype are not updated or linked. Even as a technologist it took me a while to see through this and Microsoft is not much help either. If we consider I had dozens of attempts without any repercussions, how long until someone starts trying to get into someone that actually matters?

The issue I showed two days ago (at http://thenextweb.com/apple/2014/09/01/this-could-be-the-apple-icloud-flaw-that-led-to-celebrity-photos-being-leaked/) gave some indications of what is going on. Now we see another level on Skype that calls certain matters into question, more important that the Skype android cannot get updated for some reason, so there is even more going on now, especially as the issues surrounding android Skype seem to have been around since 2012.

This is not the only issues that are out on the works; it seems that Microsoft OneDrive has similar issues of security. There we see that you cannot limit the one drive to be ONLY accessible by certain devices, with cyber-crime on the rise to this degree, we see another mass collecting point, where the people behind it seem to be dancing to the music of Marketing and the mere simplistic need of the matter, as a technologist would mention it is not there. It is likely the same kind of answer I heard in the past “We will get to that in the next edition” or “Let’s get this ‘solution to’ (read revenue from) the customer first“, solutions where the technologist is not at the centre of it all.

Only AFTER some got to admire the Jennifer Lawrence’s chest section do we now see the headline “Apple Says It Will Add New iCloud Security Measures After Celebrity Hack” (at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/04/apple-says-it-will-add-new-security-measures-after-celebrity-hack/), so is this Marketing waking up, or was IT slamming their fist on the table? Either way, those pushing people and business alike to cloudy places of automatic public revelations should now seriously wake up and smell the intrusion on their networks.

Several of these solutions are still not completely up and running, and the ‘patch’ like solutions in place now, are likely no more than a temporary option, whilst the cyber-criminal goes on exploiting other venues of weaknesses. Let’s not forget that the 101 celebrities list sounds nice, but there are globally at least 399 more women who are beautiful beyond believe, and those not into that kind of information are likely interested in the files of Sir Iain Robert Lobban (GCHQ), Andrew Parker (MI5), John Sawers (MI6). Guess what! They are likely to have very secure solutions in their possession, yet can the same be said for Ewen Stevenson (CFO-RBS) or Simon Henry (CFO Lloyds Banking group)? These people all use solutions for presentations, memo’s and other items. In some cases they need connections to keep up and running. How long until we see the power of Cyber criminals as they influence the market? It just takes one unconfirmed message to make a shift in any direction. If people are scared of what a Lone Wolf can do by blowing up things, think of the damage of disclosed financial events bring. We have seen the smallest of restraint in the press in the case of Jennifer Lawrence (but only by using a super computer and exposing the deeds of the members of the press to the Lyapunov stability algorithm), but is that enough?

There is a growing sense of fear and massive distrust. We have seen it start with Facebook Messenger on the mobile, we have seen some people whisk it all away, yet not unlike the laughable Sony Troll, as they mentioned the ridiculousness of the changed terms of service from Sony, we have seen too much blatant abuse from the greed driven data collectors and now, as trust is gone, more people are starting to wonder why their own local governments aren’t truly looking into it and they fear the same flaccid indecisiveness from them when the Financial sector left a large group of the population (not just in America) in utter destitution.

It goes beyond mere ethics; it is an absolute absence of dedication towards consumer protection for the prospering board of directors, which is at the essential fearing heart of many, both wealthy and utterly non wealthy alike.

This all is getting now more and more visibility as we see the growing amount of people in their ‘right to be forgotten‘, yet as we see at the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/10/google-europe-explain-right-forgotten-eric-schmidt-article-29) we see the following quote “Google is currently conducting a grand tour of Europe, with the ten members of its Advisory Council touring seven cities to gather evidence on the developments in the so-called “right to be forgotten” ruling“, in addition we see “The one thing that everyone agrees about this case is that the label it has been given – the “right to be forgotten” – is a very poor descriptor. More accurately, it is about the right to obscure or suppress personal information“, so is that it, or is there more? Well we can consider the part where the absence of any legal obligation on Google to reveal its processes, which renders Google judge, jury, and executioner. So in combination that it is not about forgetting (read deleting), but about obscuring (read less easy to find) will leave an open field for those with better data comprehension. A market where Google is trying to cash in, so instead of everyone finding it, only those paying for certain levels will more easily acquire information. That is not what ‘right to be forgotten‘ was about. Now again we see the press, yet in this case they are not really placed in any blame, however there is a (sizeable) missing level of clarity on what EXACTLY is requested from more than one side, the un-clarity leads to uncertainty with that leading to nothing getting done. So what is in play?

We know that Google’s fortunes are also linked to data, which means that any additional ‘forget me now’ request is impacting the business of Google, not the one, or the 5, but consider every postcode in the world and 5-10 requests from each of those to be forgotten, now it becomes a massive task, requiring thousands of people, working thousands of hours, paid from the at that point medium slim lined coffers of Google, whilst at the same time having to hold onto those records for later reasons, likely including journalistically and/or juridical. So as we look at all these escalations, then Skype, OneDrive and iCloud are not just three identities, they become three entities of threat of the collected data of all, the privacy of them and whether forgotten or not, they are aware of where they kept their information, passwords and snapshots.

The view of technology every person needs to start comprehending, because they all forgot that ease and comfort come at a price, they just did not consider the currency that was linked to that price. Some of this can be seen in the Lifehacker who in February 2013 (at http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/02/why-cloud-services-are-so-easy-to-hack/) write “In most cloud environments, there’s no concept of intrusion detection or prevention, and if they are there people don’t know how to use them“, in itself not that amazing a quote, even though it is a year old and in one year many people tend to not educate themselves that much because of the declining comfort levels. Yet at the end he states a more powerful issue: “This week, I’m in London for Data Centre World, paying particular attention to how to maximise efficiency and lower costs in the data centre“, which is at the heart of my issue. Often these factors involve automation and scripting, which when it comes to issues like speed and the prominence of reduced cost tends to leave security in the backdrop. So if you had any reason to fear any of these solutions, then consider one issue “If all your cloud data became public knowledge at 23:00 and in the 8 hours following you had ZERO control“. Would you be worried? If not then sleep on and sweet dreams, if the answer is ‘Yes’, then you need to take some serious time and get educated on the risks and the consequences. I cannot answer the question for you, but when was the last time you actually had such a conversation with your IT person, or with the sales engineer of the sales person who sold you the cloud solution?

Data is currency, when it is open knowledge for all; you end up only having goodwill and an empty hard drive, which is valued at the price of the empty hard drive.

 

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Two deadly sins

This is the second attempt to this story. I was still on the Sony horse when writing the first attempt. Yes, it will hurt us and it will have long standing consequences for many to come, but I realised that it was not really the story (even though the press remaining silent on it is).

Of the seven deadly sins (Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Envy, Wrath, Pride and Sloth) I only truly hate Greed! It is also represented in Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem ‘the Divine Comedy’, which actually introduces something I would like to call the 8th deadly sin, which is depicted in his 9th level of hell. It is Treason! These two sins are the most debilitating sins to consider. These sins are not against one, or against one’s self. These two sins are acts by one against many and we see the consequences every day. These are not just acts by people against people. They are also seen as acts by governments against people or even against their own nation. We must arms against these two, we must do so fast, because the liberties we lose as we allow this to go on will hurt billions and many care for one thing, they care for number one, they care for themselves!

Do not take the last sentence as an assault, I am not talking about selfishness perse, but we are in a life cycle where we are almost forced to survive. Greed and Treason pushed us there. The Dutch NOS showed us several parts in one newscast. It was the news of the 26th of November 2013. The first piece came from the news on the scale gas winning in the Netherlands. I had written about part of it in July 2013. The blog was called ‘The Setting of strategies‘ where we see that the Dutch are trying to get billions in gas using a technique called ‘fracking’. There were major concerns, but should you watch the issues, you will see that parties involved were trivialising it all to some extent. Now questions are called for a large investigation. The most interesting part is the quote they stated in the news [translated] “the NAM will not drill for any less gas as this is not a mandate handed by the stockholders“. In addition reported e-mails by the Dutch Gas drilling firm (NAM), which from their side, remarks and ‘interpretations’ seem to be taking a negative term. The mail showed that they knew that earthquakes in excess of 3.9 (on the Richter scale) were to be expected. This means that not only is this, the possible start of a class action in damages against the NAM, the NAM could be seen as a major contributor into damaging a unique Dutch landscape. Not just the land, but also the cultural heritage that the Dutch area of Groningen has. Many buildings, most of them predating WW2 are structurally damaged. It is an area that had been culturally unique for over two centuries, even by Dutch standards. Are you fracking kidding me? Stockholders are allowed to ruin the state of Groningen? So the government oversight knew this going back to 2012? So what were these investigations in 2013? Party favours? This is greed gone wild as I see it. The most important part is that the UK and the conservatives are facing similar issues at present. The conservatives are very willing to go this route. It was reported in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/03/uk-dash-gas). The question becomes whether George Osborne has been properly instructed involving the risks he would place Wales in? If he is briefed by stockholders, the UK should take another look at these proceedings. I understand that heating is hard and very expensive, but can people continue when they are faced with long term, perhaps even unrepairable damage to England itself? Can that be acceptable? I am not a geologist, so there are elements I have no knowledge of, yet it might be realistic that many Walesians did not sign up for Shale Gas experiments when it could cost them both Cardiff and Swansea, both containing the largest population in Wales. Is Britain ready to pay for 350,000 damaged homes? I agree, that is an exaggeration, yet the true damage will not be known for some time. Perhaps there will be ZERO damage. I am fine with that, but the Dutch evidence shows that greed trumped safety and health easily. Can the UK afford such a mistake?

The second link to greed, are the changes that Finance Minister Dijsselbloem is trying to push within the Netherlands. He is aiming for commissions not exceeding 20% of a banker’s income. I think that this is a good idea. I also believe that he is on the right track. Greed is debilitating to say the least. The Dutch Union of Bankers stated that this law is not needed; there are enough rules in place. The interview with Chris Buijink, who is the chairman of that union, is not in agreement. He is mentioning that with specialist jobs, temperate commissions are to be expected. You see! We all agree, so make it no more than 20%, which is temperate enough (in my humble opinion). I, personally think that a group of Dutch banks, after the SNS Reaal and other banking issues, including the RABO LIBOR fixing issue, need to expect much stronger measures. Greed must be stopped!

This is not what he called ‘a black page’ (as Chris Buijink stated), the banking issues from 2008 onwards show that there is a structural issue with the banking industry. The fact that the Yanks are too cowardly to act (see the non-passed tax evasion act and the Dodd-Frank act for my reasoning in this), does not mean we should sit still. That part gains even more weight as we read more and more about the ADDITIONAL issues the RBS is now facing (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/26/mark-carney-rbs-deeply-troubling-serious). So on one side Conservatives are trying to get the economy going and the banks on the other hand… (You get the idea).

There was a video linked to this, which states “Bank of England’s Mark Carney ‘offended’ by Labour MP’s questioning“. Is Mr Carney for real? As Labour MP John Mann asked questions in regards to the ‘distance’ between the governor of the bank and the political wings. I do not fail to see that it is about quick economic restoration, the issue that it is now likely that small business got sold down the drain into non-viability to get this done is indeed an issue for concern. Why is there no stronger oversight on this? I think that it is time for governments to intervene in stronger measures. What they are? Not sure, but it should be somewhere between nationalising a bank and barring the transgressors from the Financial industry for life!

This issue goes on in another direction too. If we accept what was written by the independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/royal-charter-on-press-regulation-may-be-redundant-says-culture-secretary-maria-miller-8919775.html), we see that in the end the Press might not ever be held accountable for the acts they did. Not only are they advocated in their need for greed (as in circulation and advertisements), we see that they are in a connected center of treason against both their readers and the audience at large, again as I personally see this.

How?

Well that is a fair question. As the big papers have steered clear from the Sony issues as they became visible just over a week ago, they seem to remain extremely taken with their advertisement needs and less with protecting the audience. “£3bn: the total price-tag for Christmas gadgets” is a nice tag to have and even though we see news on Microsoft and Sony all the time, those messages are small and do not hit the bottom dollar. The small technology hit “Cody Wilson created a gun that can be download and built with a 3D printer – is he too dangerous for Britain?” is a small article and iterates something I wrote many months ago. He is now linked to advocating bit-coin, which is another matter. I have not taken a stance on it. I think it promotes white washing and I personally do not think that virtual currency has a foundation, once it goes bust in whatever way it does; these people just lose whatever cash they had in it. I reckon that these ‘victims’ when they come will have no turn back and the first case against any government should be thrown out immediately. The story how Sony (and Microsoft too) will hurt an entire industry and how they are setting up the events that could stop local commerce is completely ignored. How quaint!

I see it as a form of treason, because this is no longer ‘the people have a right to know’, but ‘the people have a right to know when we see fit’. That same application can be made for the banks. If we take the RBS case, then the people involved could be seen as committing treason against their customers. Is that not EXACTLY the issue we saw in the US where we see banks setting up mortgages and then betting on them failing? Why is this not under control?

The Dutch examples are their own version of treason. A company that seems to be betraying the people living there by submitting them to intentional dangers is no small matter. This is not the end by a long shot. Treason can go further, from governments towards allies. I am not talking about Snowden, that loon is a simple traitor for personal gains (in my view). The damage he caused will take a long time to fix. No, I am talking about the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership. I mentioned it in previous blogs linked to the Sony/Microsoft issues, but that is small fry. The big price is the pharmaceutical industry. You see, America wants it passed soon, because of the powers this partnership gives. I will not bore you with the patent law details; the issue I see is that America is afraid of India. Apart from being really decent in Cricket (a game America does not comprehend), the Indian industry had made great strides in generic medication. With a population of vastly over 1 billion, they simply had to. The changes are mentioned by IP experts like Michael Geist as Draconian. The Guardian covered part of the TPP (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/13/trans-pacific-paternership-intellectual-property), the changes could impact this market into a damaging result which will go into the trillions. My issue is that Australia sides with America. Why?

America had been asleep at the wheel. Instead of opening a market, forcing affordability towards a population, we see segregation for industry against people. How bad is that? Canada kept its consumer driven approach, which is why Americans love Canadian medication. As America does not keep its house in order and they got passed by! Do not take my word regarding these parts; you should however take a look at what Doctors without Borders think. I reckon we can agree that they have always been about healing people. I consider them a noble breed. A group of physicians, who spend a fortune on an education, making less than the personal assistant for a middle manager in a small bank, which is not much to live on! At http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7161 they state “Five countries—Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore—have put forth a counter-proposal that tries to better balance public health needs with the commercial interests of pharmaceutical firms” As an Australian I state that Australia need to take the high-road with Canada and New Zealand, not follow the cesspool America is trying to force down our throats. In the end, I suspect that this is about more than just plain greed.

Consider that the Dow index is based on 30 major companies. Now consider that 10% comes from pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer. After the issues we had seen in the last 3 years, I started to doubt the correctness of the Dow (and I reported on that in past blogs). It goes up and up, but with JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, VISA, American Express putting pressures on those numbers, the three big boys (drugs) could rock the boat in a massive way, which scares Wall Street to no extent. India had made great strides in affordable medication; the TPP is now a danger to affordable medication for people on a global scale.

Greed and Treason, it is all connected and it hits us all critically hard sooner rather than later!

 

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