Tag Archives: Riyadh

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.

 

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Filed under Media, Military, Politics, Religion

Within the Entitlement of Relevance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But do not fear, Smith is here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Filed under Finance, Law, Military, Politics

Nubentes capitalismi

Here we see more of the Greek way, as per yesterday we see that the Greek banks need more money, billions more. So this is where I looked for the Latin word of deficit and it is ‘Repudii’ (Latin humour). The Greeks might say “Αποθήκευση έλλειμμα σε ένα θησαυροφυλάκιο της τράπεζας“, but the sad story is not the deficit or the shortage, the sad story is that many Governments, not just the Greeks relied on credit cards whilst they made sure that those spending the money would not have to pay for it, they got a large bonus for spending money they never had and the people have been suffering for far too long. This situation is not just seen in Greece, for the most nearly all EEC nations have spent way too much, a terminal amount of money I might add. If the budgets are a setting for a nation’s health than 30% of them should be pronounced dead and an additional 50% is on the edge of dying. That is the grim situation. In all this we see more and more news on how things are getting better. Better for who? The people around me have not had any rise in living for close to a decade. In addition the cost of living has exceeded the income rise for about that same time, so in all this, when have people been better off since 2004?

In all this Greece might have been hit visibly harder but life in the UK or in France or Italy is no picnic either. In all this the banks seem to go about their usual ways. In addition, as we saw the news regarding bank liquidity and other reserves. The things that are referred to as Basel III and now also Basel 4, why did they not shift the timeline? Why has ‘mandatory’ implementation been delayed until 2019? Why was Greece, as it faced the things it faced and as it needed funds all over the place, not pushed into a mandatory implementation of Basel III? Part of the deal should have been stress testing and demanding defences for banks directly. It seems that it had not been done!

This takes me to an article by Morris Goldstein from May 2012 (at http://www.voxeu.org/article/eu-s-implementation-basel-iii-deeply-flawed-compromise). In here three points come to order.

The first: “Whether member countries should be permitted to enact minimum capital ratios considerably tougher (higher) than those specified under Basel III without approval of the EU“, which is an interesting need, because this would have applied to Greece from the very beginning, and I am talking the issues as they emerged in 2013.

The second: “Whether the restrictions on what can be counted as high-quality capital under Basel III should be scrupulously adhered to in EU legislation“, the fact that EU legislation is not up to par here is even more of an issue, you set rules and standards and then not legislate it? How will banks EVER fall in line when it is not legislated? We have evidence going back to 2004 where bankers lost trillions and still got millions in bonuses. You mean that after a decade, the national legislation arms within the EEC are still no more than mere ‘pussies’ looking for that banking fellow named Dick?

The third: “Whether the Basel III deadlines for introducing an unweighted leverage requirement for bank capital and two new quantitative liquidity standards (the liquidity coverage ratio and the net stable funding ratio) should be mirrored in EU legislation“, which sounds all good and fine, but Basel 3 was already in the works in 2002, why has it taken such a massive amount of time to get close to nothing done? Why were the Greek banks not set to a higher setting because of them requiring so many billions in funds?

It seems that no one has any clear answers here.

Now we get to the good stuff. In the article Morris states the following: “The 15 May accord also permits EU banks to count as equity capital several financial instruments with dubious loss-absorbency, including the so-called “silent participations” of German banks and the minority stakes of French banks in insurance companies. Such a step weakens the Basel III guidelines on the quality of bank capital. In one of the few concessions to the Osborne View, the agreement adheres to the Basel III time schedules for the leverage ratio and the two liquidity standards“, which was to be discussed somewhere after May 2012.

So now we take another leap towards a Danish bank paper, a mere publication (at https://www.danskebank.com/da-dk/ir/Documents/2012/Q1/SpeechQ12012-Confcall.pdf), So in all this, we see the following text: “And you could not just use the what has been known as the Danish compromise, where you have 370% risk weighting for the capital, to kind of end up somewhere in between the two extremes?” to which the response by Henrik Ramlau-Hansen – Danske Bank – CFO was “That could also be a solution, yeah“. Let’s sit on this for a second, a form of weighting where we get to set the weight to ‘370% risk weighting’, so how is this a good idea? I have used weighting in the past, so it is not a big deal on one hand. However, when we look back towards 2004 and 2008, where setting abnormal risks, why give such a level of leeway to a branch that cannot be trusted?

The last part in this comes from shaky grounds, I will tell you this right now and I never hid the fact that I am not an economist. Consider the PDF from the Crédit Agricole Group from November 2013 (at http://mediacommun.ca-cib.com/sitegenic/medias/DOC/94509/2013-11-07-cp-casa-resultats-3eme-trimestre-en.pdf). So they report “Net income Group share in Q3-13: €1,433 million“, now take into account their solvency part:

The targets for fully loaded Basel 3 Common Equity Tier 1 ratios (CET1) are shown below:
1st JAN 2014 31st DEC 2014 31st DEC 2015
Crédit Agricole S.A. 7.8% to 8.0% 8.8% to 9.0% >9.5%
Crédit Agricole Gp 11.0% 12.0% 13.0%
Disclaimer: The above ratios are based on a number of assumptions

 

Now consider the text “These figures take into account the weighting of the capital and reserves of Crédit Agricole Assurances according to the Danish compromise (at 370%) or 34 billion euros in risk weighted assets as well as the extension of the specific guarantees (Switch) between the Regional Banks and Crédit Agricole S.A. for 34 billion euros in risk weighted assets“, so a company with a little over a billion in revenue, ending up with around 830 million in net income group share. So that place is running a weighted risk of 34 billion, which implies that the risk of 34 billion is covered by an income that covers 2.44%, how is that even close to realistic? Why has a massive change in dealing with the weighted risk not been done? Why are people still under threat of exploitation by banks as they live of the fringe of a Danish Compromise?

I am just asking!

This now reflects back to the Greek banks, have they been playing that same game, where did all those billions go to? As an underwriting for more riskier and more profitable incomes? It seems to me that there are issues with the banks all over Europe and their own local governments are clueless as to what the banks are doing. If you consider me wrong than ask any politician right now an answer in regards to Basel III, Basel 4 and their own banks. They are very unlikely to give you a clear answer. This approach is not just for the UK, several other countries should be asking questions and holding the answers to account. So as these politicians have no answers, how come they are elected and how come they are unable to budget anything. Are they budgeting in the same way the Danish compromise is applied to banks? A government spending anywhere between 37%-370% in a weighted budget for the expected gains of taxation tomorrow?

That sounds as hollow as Mr Wimpy going into a food court stating: “I will happily pay tomorrow for a hamburger today!” I wonder how many places he will be able to get food from. Interesting that we do not hold our politicians to this account, which is exactly why the massive cuts from the Conservatives (UK) are so essential, they are in the fight of their lives not to become the mere puppets of the banks. You see, I think it is not that unrealistic that even within my lifetime our income slips will have a taxation part and a deficit settlement part. The day that happens, remember my words! Austerity was the only option, and only when we neuter both the banks and politicians. I think that the change of making an administration accountable for their spending will be essential for us to have any future. For a decade politicians have been writing checks no one could pay and that choice should no longer be an option from 2015 onwards.

Which gets us back to Greece. The two final quotes are: “In August, Eurozone finance ministers released €26bn of the €86bn in bailout funds that went to recapitalising Greece’s stricken banking sector and make a debt payment to the ECB” and “Depositors pulled billions out of the country fearing that Greece would be forced to leave the euro. Limits on withdrawals and transfers imposed in June to prevent Greek banks from collapsing remain in place, although they have been loosened” (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/31/greece-banks-14bn-survive-economic-downturn), so as that risk was known, how come limits on transfers were loosened? So we see the need for another €14bn for the reason that people took their cash outside of Greece, something that was a certainty. Why allow for the loosening of rules on transfers? In that the first paragraph is also an issue. The text: ‘Greece’s four main banks need to find another €14bn (£10bn) of reserves to ensure they could withstand an economic downturn‘, should basically read: ‘Greece’s four main banks need to find another €14bn (£10bn) of reserves to ensure they will withstand the next upcoming economic downturn‘. Because in case of Greece the next downturn is a given and it is not that far away.

This again links to another part. The Greek Reporter gives us: ‘Head of Greek Capital Market Regulator Resigns’ (at http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/10/31/head-of-greek-capital-market-regulator-resigns/), so basically, after the completion of the bank recapitalization he shoves himself out of the back door. Can anyone explain that to me? Because if he did a good job he should not get fired, if he did poorly, or even if he has messed up he should end up in holiday retreat Korydallos. Of course, as far as I can tell, he never committed any crime, so Hotel Korydallos is not for him, but it does re-iterate on how the banks should have been cut to size in freedom before those billions were pushed into Greece and in light of loosened restrictions a few more questions and demands should be set. Now, ‘shoving himself’ out of the back door is of course completely incorrect as the man resigned, but why did he resign? Is he not committed to saving Greece, or has he figured out something I saw almost 2 years ago when I spoke about the idiocracy of enabling the Greek system to the extent the ECB had done?

So why as I finalise this blog, the valid question becomes ‘Why is the Blogger Lawlordtobe having a go at Konstantinos Botopoulos?

This is one that requires an answer and an explanation. You see, on May 20th 2015 (at http://www.waterstechnology.com/buy-side-technology/news/2409402/esma-board-member-capital-market-union-shouldnt-reinvent-the-wheel) we see the title “ESMA Board Member: Capital Market Union Shouldn’t ‘Reinvent the Wheel’“, which is fair enough, but the text: “The idea behind the CMU is not to reinvent the wheel by creating new rules but to achieve free flow of capital by using the existing tools and finding intelligent ways to tie everything together“, leaves me with the clear impression that the application of ‘to achieve free flow of capital’ could be seen as the loosening of restrictions which allowed for many billions (read: dozens) to be transferred out of Greece and as such the ECB (or the IMF) ends up pushing a few dozen billion more into Greece. In that same part ‘finding intelligent ways to tie everything together’, could be seen as diversifying the wealth of the Greek rich and famous towards the shores of Bermuda or Riyadh, places with not a taxman in sight. Is my interpretation correct? I am willing to consider that I am wrong and I am making no accusation, it is mere speculation on my side.

Yet in all this the timeline should be the cause of many questions, questions the press at large does not seem to be making. The rest of the article is on centralising reports and it seems to me that the article is missing a few steps. Even as the implied dangers of Brexit are voiced, Frexit is ignored. Now we must allow that people were not taking Frexit seriously, but the tide is still turning and the one danger in that part (Marine Le Pen) is gaining approval ratings on the right side of the Isle. Reuters stated: “Le Pen, who is set to win control of France’s northernmost area in December elections, saw her rating rise 5 percentage points to 52 percent among right-wing voters who were asked who they wanted to become more influential in political life“, which now puts her right behind former prime minister Alain Juppe, whilst both are leaving Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy far behind them in the dust. The battle is far from over, but again the reality of a Frexit is moving one more step forwards towards reality and in all that Greece was the starting spark to that upcoming dangerous escalation, only because hard choices were not made in late 2013, because the bankers and the greed driven required the Status Quo to remain as is, which is why we are seeing escalations that could impact the savings of millions to come soon enough.

Now, I will admit that there is no given that Marine Le Pen would win, yet as we have seen a massive amount of speculation and innuendo left right and centre, the mere danger of Frexit is ignored for the larger extent. Why? Is Frexit not an additional danger that is also propelling Brexit? And the Greek issue is what drove both to begin with, so there are direct links and in all that these intertwining events have been largely ignored for too long.

You should not take my word for any of this, it is my view on the matters, it is however important that you read up and that you ask the right people the right questions, the absent part in that is slightly too scary, especially when the Greek bank towers come tumbling down.

 

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When movies fall short

There is nothing as intensely satisfying as when we are confronted with a reality that is a lot more entertaining than a movie would be. Those are moments you live for, that is unless you are a part of Sony and it is your system getting hacked. Life tends to suck just a little at that point.

This is not the latest story to look at, but in light of the elements that have been visibly resolved, it is the best one around. Some will state that the Hostage story in Martin’s Place, Sydney is the big issue, but that is an event that is getting milked for every second possible by the media, I checked! The price of chocolate remains unaffected, so let’s move on to Sony!

The first part is seen in the article ‘Sony hack would have challenged government defences – FBI’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/12/sony-hack-government-defences-fbi), those who think it is new news seem to have forgotten the issues people had in May 2011 (at http://uk.playstation.com/psn/news/articles/detail/item369506/PSN-Qriocity-Service-Update/). “As the result of a criminal cyber-attack on the company’s data centre located in San Diego, California, USA, SNEI shut down the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services on 20 April 2011, in order for the company to undergo an investigation and make enhancements to the overall security of the network infrastructure” 77 million accounts were compromised and the perpetrators got away with a truckload of data.

So when we see the quote “The cyber-attack that crippled Sony Pictures, led to theft of confidential data and leak of movies on the internet would have challenged almost any cyber security measures, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has said“, we should consider the expression once bitten twice shy and not, when bitten use antiseptic, go into denial and let it be done to your network again.

The fact that this revolves around another branch of Sony is just ludicrous, it’s like listening to a prostitute stating that the sick man used the other entrance this time, so we need not worry! If you think that this is an over the top graphical expression, consider that twice in a row that the personal details of millions in the form of data ‘leaked’ to somewhere.

The second quote will not make you feel any safer ““In speaking with Sony and separately, the Mandiant security provider, the malware that was used would have slipped or probably got past 90% of internet defences that are out there today in private industry and [would have] challenged even state government,” Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division told a US Senate hearing“, as we know that governments tend to be sloppy with their technology as they do not have the budgets the bulk of commercial enterprises get, we can look at the quote and regard the statement to be a less serious expression of ‘do we care’, which is nothing compared to the ignored need to keep personal data safe.

You see, commercial enterprises have gotten sloppy. getting newly graduates to look into a system where you need seasoned veterans and you need a knowledge base and a good setup, all factors that seem to be in ‘denial’ with a truckload of companies the size of Sony, as they are all cutting corners so that they can project revenue and contributions in line with the ‘market expectations’.

The quote that becomes interesting is “A link between Gop and North Korea has been muted over Pyongyang’s reaction to the Sony Pictures film The Interview, which depicts an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un“, so is this group calling itself Guardians of Peace (Gop), the ‘simpleton’ group they are trivialised to be, or is there more. You see, we see a growing abundance of data collections that seem to go nowhere, but is this truly the case? You see, data is money, it is a currency that can be re-used several times, the question becomes, finding someone willing to buy it. If we regard the 2 billion Microsoft paid for Minecraft to be more than just the IP of the sandbox game, then what is it? Which part of that 2 billion is seen as value for the 120 million registered users on PC? Do you now see the currency we are confronted with?

In my book the Sony exercise is a display of the expression ‘a fool and his money are soon parted‘. In light of the 2011 issue, the fact that security was increased to the extent that it could be done again makes for entertainment on a new level, in addition, like a bad infomercial it does not stop here, no! For $9.95 you get so much more then you see now. That we see in the article that was published two days before that (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/10/fbi-doubts-north-korea-link-sony-pictures-hack). The part that should make you howl like a hyena is seen here “The security firm hired by Sony to investigate the attack, FireEye, described the attack as an “unparalleled and well-planned crime, carried out by an organised group, for which neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared” in a leaked report“, So did you notice ‘unparalleled and well-planned crime‘ and ‘leaked report‘, oh sarcasm, thy name be Miss Snigger Cackle!

The leaked report, which was from the 7th of December (at http://recode.net/2014/12/07/sony-describes-hack-attack-as-unprecedented/) gives us “demanding that organizations which have obtained the leaked information avoid publishing any more material from the hackers, and destroy existing copies. Boies called it “stolen information.”“, you see, the issue here is that if we consider the quote “This attack is unprecedented in nature. The malware was undetectable by industry standard antivirus software and was damaging and unique enough to cause the FBI to release a flash alert to warn other organizations of this critical threat“, so even after the malware, info was still going past the firewall, or was this just ‘leaked’ by an internal source? It takes a little twist when we look at the quote in the December 10th article “The malware had been signed and authorised by Sony Pictures, allowing it to bypass certain security checks“, in my mind this reads as follows: ‘Some idiot gave a pass to malware to roam free on the system‘, so is it that, or was this an internal operation all along? If the second part is true, then who was the beneficiary of all that private data? Who is it means for? You see, many forget that our information is not always for stealing from our credit cards, sometimes it is used to profile us, as a customer, as marketing or as leverage. Why the word leverage? Consider healthcare, consider usage, what happens when an insurance company gets to profile 20 million couch potatoes, what if your healthcare premium suddenly goes up by 15%, do you have any idea how much money that is? So as insurance companies keep the leveraged margins of charge, whilst overcharging risks in addition, we see a growing margin of profit for these insurance companies, whilst getting them to pay for what you are insured for has not gotten any easier has it?

So is this simply a cinematography from Sony Pictures film, called The Interview, which depicts an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un, or was that the smoke screen? The FBI seems to have ruled out North Korea, as far as I have been able to tell, the only fans of North Korea are the North Koreans and Dennis Rodman (who has no fame in any IT endeavour), so is there enough doubt regarding the reality of what happened and why it happened? Yes, as I see it there is, the question becomes, when there is this much smoke, where are we not looking? That part is to some extent seen in another Guardian Article (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/12/hackers-attack-film-studios-sony-pictures-leak-cybersecurity-warning). We see this quote “Sean Sullivan, senior adviser and researcher at the security company F-Secure, said that he believes the purpose of the Sony hack was extortion. “If it was just hacktivists, they’d have released everything all at once,” he said. “But these releases, it’s like they’re shooting hostages. One thing one day, another the next. This is a really different tactic from what we usually see.”“, this is certainly plausible, but is that it? Why ransom of data and sell it back with the FBI and others on your tail, when you can sell it in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Riyadh and a host of other locations. A simple transaction for an external encrypted drive, a deal you can offer to ALL parties for amount X, the more you offer, the higher X is.

Whilst our data is sold on and on, we run additional risks of getting invoiced for our lives choices and extorted by other financial firms because our privacy is no longer a given in the age of data and it is directly linked to corporations that cannot clean up their act. In the mean time we see leaked report on impossible hack successes, whilst it took only one executive to ‘accidently’ sign and authorise a mere trinket of malware.

So yes, the movies are falling short; reality can be scary and entertaining all at the same time. The question becomes, will there be a change to our invoice of life because of corporate considerations, or lack there off?

 

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