Tag Archives: Singapore

Lemon of the Century

Yes, you have seen it, we have all seen it in some form, but when was the last time you saw a genuine Lemon? Not to mention a Lemon of the century. You would think it is a near impossible task, but Lockheed Martin, an American company pulled it off. In thee cases it is so much sweeter if the accomplishment is American.

I made a case to sell (as a corporate individual) to sell the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia either the British BAE Typhoon, or the somewhat better match the Chinese Chengdu J-20. Now, this is not on principles, but the US making Saudi embargo after embargo, all whilst it is mere puppet play and there was no direct need to stop the sales, especially as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was under direct attack by Houthi forces directly sponsored from Iran and the people were eager to ignore that fact. So there I was taking a stab at a 3.75% sales commission, and in light of a $11,000,000,000 sales ticket could bank me $412,500,000 over a few years. Now, I know, am I greed driven? Nope! But I am not walking away from such a massive mealticket! 

All that happened and was mentioned before, but now there are more reasons as ABC news gives us. The article ‘F-35 program’s future uncertain owing to design flaws, parts shortages and cost blowouts’ (at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-08/f35-program-design-flaws-part-shortages-costs-opinions-divided/100431664) there we see “He said the combat jet currently had almost 900 design flaws, with seven considered critical.” This is given to us via Former US Marine Corps Captain Dan Grazier. So this is not out of thin air, this comes to us by decently informed people and at what point is anyone accepting a lemon with 900 design flaws? We get it, a plane with a current whole of life cost estimate of $2.3 trillion we need to consider that there is a massive flaw in the entire process. It becomes worse when you see and consider the Naval failure called Zumwalt class destroyers. That is two out of three, so now we merely need to add an army failure and the US forces will be 3 for 3. So how often do major projects on these scales fail? There is optionally the second stage where both China and Russia are not afraid for a war with the US, because the US is lacking in functional equipment. They have functioning 5th generation planes. I cannot tell if they are better, merely that they are. And I am am the mouse who loves that 412 million dollar cheese wheel, whether I retire or eat myself to death is all equally similar and there is a customer base who would want something that actually works so overall there is more than one seller and there is a definite buyer, so I am game.

Yet the article also gives us “It said that would grow to 40 per cent of jets grounded by 2030, if the repair backlog didn’t improve” this implies that the US airforce needs to grow by 250% to keep the effectiveness numbers of 2017, that is one hell of an investment. I am not denying what the pilots are saying, that it is a game changer that it will be effective, we get that, but it has 900 flaws, and there are a lot of questions in the background when we consider the seven critical problems. So when we consider the claim “Mr Grazier said the cost per flight hour in the United States was around $36,000” and the math man in me consider that at present there are (unverified numbers) “1,763 F-35As for the USAF, 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs for the USMC, and 273 F-35Cs for the USN” it would require the DoD $88,416,000 an hour to get it all in the air, in light of the Afghanistan clambake, which lasted 2 decades, count your losses today. Is someone doing the math here (apart from me)? This is a plane with 900 design flaws. So if China (or the United Kingdom) can beat these costs they have a real chance in getting a new customer in their arsenal and it is one that has money, so that part will be the smallest of concerns.

We could go all (overly) marketing and say:

Chinese
Hellbringing
Equalising
Negotiating

Goalseeking
Defence

Unit

But that might be slightly over the top, what matters is that the US has a real problem and, oh, that reminds me. Is that why they pulled out of Afghanistan? 40% of their flying capabilities wasn’t up to it? I know, it is grasping and it is speculation, but I am trying to get my hands on that 3.75% and that makes me a little giddy. With the Zumwalt it was the principle that it didn’t meet its need, it was too expensive and it was ugly as hell. I still hope to test my new stealth anti naval weapon on it, merely because it is just too ugly to see and congress never approved the shells needed to fire these guns, and a stealth ship with a Raytheon solution is just not a stealth ship. And as a $22,500,000,000 failure it is too expensive for such a failure be allowed. Consider that ABC ends the article with “To respect that dependency, we remain laser-focused on continuing to enhance the capability, affordability and availability of the F-35. With the help of partners and customers, I have no doubt we will succeed.” Which is all fair enough. Now consider that 12 nations have committed to ordering, now consider that if 3 leave that group (Singapore being the most interesting one) and China gets Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE on board as well, the stage changes on a global scale at that point. Now reconsider the military power play where we accept “There are developmental issues that come up because it is a very high technology advanced aircraft. Over time, these issues are resolved.” Yet 900 flaws imply that this will not be resolved until 2029, with spare parts and shortages of equipment lasting until an expected 2036. That implies that these players will not have a real effective airforce for well over a decade, so how many nations will get nervous on that premise and how many will consider a change (please do not change to Russian option, as they give me nothing). So in that light is there really nothing to worry about? And that is before we see the other 9 nations with billions invested all for… what for? 

So whilst I have nothing against Lockheed Martin (I really do not), being in the stage where they are now with 900 design flaws is just too weird. Yes we accept that it is a developing project, but design flaws imply that it is not developing, it was wrongly developed and as such the F-35 should still be in an earlier stage, that is until well over 600 flaws (and the 7 critical ones) were resolved ahead of where they are now. 

So here I am, just a man, a (really) poor man, hoping for his 3.75% before he retires and retirement is not that far away. And in all this, I remain optimistic, because I have things to smile at, especially if I get to test my creative sinking idea on the USS Zumwalt. Yes, it is a gasser (in more ways than one). So feel free to agree (or disagree) but when you see something that should be the lemon of the century, would you not shout that from the tallest building? Especially if it was your neighbour who bought the Ford Edsel. So Ford can now relax, Lockheed Martin surpassed their failure with an impressive larger one.

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Memories

We all have them, and we all fall back on them from time to time. Today is for some weird reason a great day to fall back on memories, shops closed, cinema’s closed, and here in Sydney it was raining for a little while. So as I fell back to memories (also known as events from the past), I remembered a situation where none other than Bruce Boxleitner got me in some problems with my boss. It wasn’t really his fault, but I would never openly do anything wrong, so blaming Bruce seems like a good idea. 

The setting was that I had to travel to Sydney from Amsterdam in 1998, it had a stopover and one night in Singapore, now I had never been to Singapore, so my boss told me to select a hotel for the night. I remembered that series Bring em back alive with Bruce Boxleitner and it involved the Raffles hotel, so colour me happy, that hotel actually exists. I thought all things on TV were imaginative, so I told my boss to get me into the Raffles for one night. He came back 2 hours later that that was never ever going to happen, from my puzzled look he knew I had no idea, apparently the Raffles charged $5000 per night and that was in 1998. I did not know that and he asked me how I got the name, Well: “I got the hotel advice from Bruce Boxleitner”, so my boss told me to tell him that he is bonkers (I still have to tell Bruce that one day), anyway, for some reason I thought back to that memory and I suddenly considered something else, the character he plays Frank Buck actually existed. I have a decent excuse being Euro-Australian, but when you consider what Frank Buck had achieved between 1884 and 1950, I am amazed that no one in the streaming industry had considered turning that live into a mini-series or a movie. Consider that he had caught over 100,000 live specimens back to the United States for Zoo’s and circuses. 

Amongst other achievements, he was a director of the San Diego Zoo. He displayed wild animals at the 1933–34 Century of Progress exhibition as well as the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

He toured with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, made several books and had a zoo in Texas named after him. We now might look skeptical on some of those actions, yet pre WW2, he basically brought Asian wildlife to America. Some of the parts that might have been unknown to many was that he had invented a method of force-feeding snakes, the means “by which captive pythons are mainly fed today”, the man (with co-authors) created eight books between 1930 and 1945, he also starred in documentaries as himself or as the narrator in eight movies, most might remember the part he had as himself in Africa Screams with Abbott and Costello (not the Australian politicians). There was a lot that I was not aware of and even as some skated around the court case that involved Frank Buck and Harry M. Wegeforth, there is a lot that seem counter to the character of Frank Buck, it seems that two titans butted heads on issues that should not exist to the level it did, but that is my personal take on the matter. 

Yet what is decently clear is that Frank Buck was larger than life, as far as I can tell he was a force of good and even as some might remember Bruce Boxleitner in this role, there is also place for a serious piece of work, and a person like that could inspire the next generation, not a bad idea for a movie, or a mini series. We have made them for people a lot less inspiring than Frank buck ever was.

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Dead on arrival?

Yes, we get the at times, not when the ambulance is racing to get to the ER with a guy wearing 10 knives in his chest, but a setting the is less obvious, almost like the movie dead on arrival, I saw the Dennis Quaid version (1988), I never saw the original from 1950. Yet in this version the victim (USA) does not yet know that it is carrying a deadly toxin, it was the benefit Dennis Quaid had in the movie. So as we see the USA in a stage of what they think matters, we see a larger stage, the stage Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) gives the people, with a still open invitation to India, it is the first time we get an economic bloc of this size where the USA is no longer a consideration, their 300 million consumers are in a stage where they can afford less and less. So as we get (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54949260) “President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) shortly after taking office. The deal was to involve 12 countries and was supported by Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama as a way to counter China’s surging power in the region”, we need to see the partial truth that was a problem, a global one. Some give us (in regard to the TPP “Most of the gains in income would have gone to workers making more than $87,000 a year. Free trade agreements contribute to income inequality in high-wage countries. They promote cheaper goods from low-wage countries”, in addition we get “The agreement regarding patents would have reduced the availability of cheap generics. That could have raised the cost of many drugs. Competitive business pressures would have reduced the incentives in Asia to protect the environment. Last but not least, the trade agreement could have superseded financial regulations”, and there was more, so now we see the RCEP, optionally with similar issues, yet with India optionally joining we see a severe blow to patents (not good for me), but generic medication gets better protection (really good for me), and as we now get “The RCEP is expected to eliminate a range of tariffs on imports within 20 years. It also includes provisions on intellectual property, telecommunications, financial services, e-commerce and professional services”, so if that pact grows any further, we see a larger stage, one where the US and the EU see their cushy incomes diminish by well over 25%, yet it might take a decade, but it also means that the stage cannot be continued, as such their economies will need a vast overhaul in the next 5 years or living there in 2030 might not be a nice ideal in several places. So whilst the players are all about their financial services, we see a field that will vastly adjust in the next 5 years. And as I personally see it, it means that the death clock on Wall Street is pushing towards midnight. This is the consequence of catering to the greed stricken, this is what happens when ego takes over and in this case the ego of the USA and the EU are limiting their options, but the EU can always cater to Iran. And as I see it, a third of the global population is holding on to its 29% of the global gross domestic product. A stage that is a little new for a lot of us. As I see it, in 2030 when the national budgets become reality, I wonder how many people will herald the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, remember these grannies holding up the banner, stopping the arms trade against those bad bad Saudi’s? So when their pension goes down another 20% (if it still exists then), who will they blame? Will they call for Jeremy Corbyn? Will he still be alive? The same for the USA, yet here it will be president elect Biden calling the shots (he is entitled to that), but. Can they foresee the impact that the RCEP will have on their economy? I very much doubt it, yet endangering the $8,500,000,000 deal out there tends to be a really bad call, so as the RCEP will deliver to a larger population, we see a slow push take the USA from the pool of those who matter. As I personally see it, hypocritical high morals are nice, that is until the invoices come in, and these always come in.

Today the largest trade agreement in history was signed and the USA was no longer part of the big things happening, it might be a first, but it is no longer a last, that is the impact of close to 15 years of stupidity, short sightedness and ego, all set in a near package, it is efficient, I merely wonder for who it was an efficient setting, not for the USA, not for the EU, that much is certain. 

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EU fart bit, Google Fit Bit

Yes, we leap left, we leap right and as we see options for choice, we also see options for neglect. In Reuters we see “Google’s parent company Alphabet agreed a $2.1bn (£1.6bn) takeover of the wearable tech firm last year. However, the deal has yet to be completed”, we see that at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53647570, and as we see the BBC article, we wonder about a lot more. Yes we acknowledge “While the European Commission has said its main concern is the “data advantage” Google will gain to serve increasingly personalised ads via its search page”, and in the matter of investigations we see:

  • The effects of the merger on Europe’s nascent digital healthcare sector
  • Whether Google would have the means and ability to make it more difficult for rival wearables to work with its Android operating system.

From there there are two paths, for me personally the first one is Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, to be honest, I do not trust her. I will admit right off the bat that this is personal, but her deal relying on what was requires her to get a win, any win. The setting is founded on “officials acknowledge that the EU’s competition enforcer faces hard choices after judges moved to quash her order for the US tech company to pay back €14.3bn in taxes to Ireland”, which was a juridical choice, but in all this she needs a win and I reckon she will do whatever er she can to get any of the FAANG group. For the most I would be on her side in the tax case, but on the other side the entire sweep of the Google Fitbit leaves me with questions.

The first point is on ‘effects of the merger’, so how is this in regards to the Apple Smart Watch, the Huawei smart watch (android), and a few other versions, how much investigation did Apple get? How much concern is there for Huawei? Then we see the second part ‘Whether Google would have the means and ability’, it is not a wrong position for Margrethe Vestager to take, but as he does it upfront, in light of the EU inactions regarding IBM and Microsoft, it seems weird that this happens upfront now (well to me it does). And as we see ‘difficult for rival wearables to work with its Android operating system’ I see Huawei and the solutions they have, Android solutions no less, so why is Google the problem? 

Then there are two other parts. The first one is “Analysts suggested part of the attraction for Google was the fact that Fitbit had formed partnerships with several insurers in addition to a government health programme in Singapore”, the second one is “Google has explicitly denied its motivation is to control more data”, in all this there is less investigation in regards to what data goes to Singapore, or better stated the article makes no mention towards it, and as I see it, there is no mention on it from the office of Margrethe Vestager either. The second part is how Google explicitly denies its part, yet that denial does not give us anything towards the speculated “its motivation is to have access to more data”, and when you decide on a smart watch, data will end up somewhere and the statements are precise (something that worries me), I have no issue with Google having access, but the larger issue is not Google, it is ‘partnerships with several insurers’, the idea of privacy is not seen remarked upon by Margrethe Vestager and her posse of goose feather and ink-jar wielders, the focus is Google and is seemingly absent from investigations into Fitbit pre-Google in an age where the GDPR is set to be gospel, so who are the insurers and where are they based? Issues we are unlikely to get answers on. Yet when we consider “John Hancock, the U.S. division of Canadian insurance giant Manulife, requires customers to use activity trackers for life insurance policies in their Vitality program if they want to get discounts on their premiums and other perks”, so what happens when that data can be accessed? Is the larger stage not merely ‘What we consent to’, but a stage where the insurer has a lessened risk, but we see that our insurance is not becoming cheaper, there is the second stage that those not taking that path get insurance surcharge. So what has the EU done about that? We can accept that this is not on the plate of Margrethe Vestager, but it is on someones plate and only now, when Google steps in do we see action? 

So whilst the old farts at the EU are taking a gander at what they can get, I wonder what happens to all the other parts they are not looking at. Should Google acquire my IP, with access to 440,000,000 retailers and well over 1,500,000,000 consumers, will they cry murder? Will they shout unfair? Perhaps thinking out of the box was an essential first requirement and Fitbit is merely a stage to a much larger pool that 5G gives, but as they listened to the US, they can’t tell, not until 2022, at that point it is too late for the EU, I reckon that they get to catch on in 2021 when they realise that they are losing ground to all the others, all whilst they could have been ahead of the game, lets say a Hail Mary to those too smitten by ego. 

 

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Just like in the movies

Steven Soderbergh made an interesting gamble in 2011, he took a collection of all cast stars and wrote about a fictive disease and the issues that the would would have dealing with it. Today less than 10 years later we see ‘death toll jumps to 170 amid evacuation delays for foreign nationals‘, as well as ‘returning Britons could be kept in quarantine for 14 days‘ and many more. This morning I saw a staggering amount of people with face masks. All fearing what could come next. Steven Soderbergh was an optimist. 

Frances Mao (BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51290312) writes “For over a week now, the Australians trapped in Wuhan – many of them children – have been calling on their government to help get them out. But the announcement of a two-week quarantine on Christmas Island have given many pause for thought.” It is a nasty thing, especially for Australians and their view (as well as the UN view) on Christmas Island, a place where you go when you stop believing in any form of Christmas. 

For the UK (the Guardian) we see “Planners earlier looked at holding returnees at a hotel or military base. But, after an emergency Cobra meeting on Wednesday afternoon chaired by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, it is understood that they will be flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and taken to an NHS facility to be monitored and treated if symptoms develop“, the issue is not who gets treated and who gets flagged, the issue is actually all the people who circumvent the flags and who avoid scruples as they claim that they are not sick. In this case it is a much larger issue, most people become spreaders even before they realise that they are sick and that is a decently rare occurrence in medical matters. The fact that we saw Yesterday ‘The death toll from the virus has risen to 170‘ is only part of the problem. The optional fact that we see less than an hour ago the simplified facts that ‘the number of infections jumped by nearly 30 percent‘ as well as ‘China Now Has More Cases Than It Had of SARS‘ (source: NY Times) implies that it will not merely hit healthy people, it will be the foundation of fear mongering, which the movie Contagion showed was counterproductive.

And my case of ‘the people who circumvent the flags‘ was not academic, Japan reported 30 minutes ago that they had 11 cases, so how long until that one person overlooked has infected their whole neighbourhood? The issue is not fear mongering or academic, there is every chance that this is happening and there will be a larger issue following that. CNN gave a link to the Coronavirus map in China and it shows that it is confirmed in 20 locations ALL OVER China. This implies that there are in addition to this at least 5 more locations unconfirmed and optionally a dozen cases on the run (read: travelling) with no indications where to and how many that they will infect. And even as most will herald the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering for this map, how many are afraid to be on this map? Because their fear will propel the disease to healthy regions. It is hard to continue because of the fear that I become the fearmonger. I also want to be clear that my response is not as a critique on the China’s National Health Commission or the CCDC. the fact that we were seeing 6,000 cases (infected) on Wednesday and that we see a global number that surpasses 7,800 cases one day later gives rise to the thoughts I am having. Now we need to be certain that we also accept that there will be a percentage which are false positives, those with a normal flu, giving rise to a larger boost to the numbers. Even as I accept that this percentage is not to be speculated upon and that we need to be savvy of all cases, there is still a growing chance that people avoided being flagged and flew just before the curtain thinking that they were clear and that they would deal with their flu over the weekend. That is the stage we need to fear and the escalation of thousands of cases. 

Even now as we are told that Tibet has its first case, how many did this person infect? We see countries and numbers, but the truth is that there are cases in Hong Kong, the United States, Taiwan, Australia, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Finland, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates. Each country where one person stated ‘Not me, I merely have a cold‘, that person will infect dozens more each day. That is how a pandemic starts. Let’s be clear, the term pandemic means an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region (including multiple continents). In support we should also see that  a widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. With the Coronavirus, there is still no vaccine, there is no cure and its growth is almost like wildfire because of panicking people getting away from this disease whilst they spread it, most importantly they were carriers even before they were sick, so fear was not the instigator. In all this there is one additional fact that the New York Times gave us “Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam and Japan had patients that had not been to China“, which gives rise to the fact that unflagged people were involved, or even scarier, as this started with animals, we need to consider that the issue is larger than we thought. It needs to be clear that this Coronavirus is NOT new, it was discovered half a century ago but in all these cases, it was animals that infected humans. In several cases we see the fingers pointed at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, yet Science Magazine published on the 26th (Jon Cohen) that ‘Wuhan seafood market may not be source of novel virus spreading globally‘, there we see “a description of the first clinical cases published in The Lancet on Friday challenges that hypothesis” this comes from a large group of Chinese researchers and here we see “In the earliest case, the patient became ill on 1 December 2019 and had no reported link to the seafood market, the authors report. “No epidemiological link was found between the first patient and later cases,” they state. Their data also show that, in total, 13 of the 41 cases had no link to the marketplace“, and here we see that Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University seems to agree with the assessment, 13 out of 41 is too large a group to ignore. In my personal view it is not impossible that there is a covariant, if we consider that spreading happened before the personal marie celeste’s realised that they were sick, would it be possible that a busdriver was the link that was missing?

And it is here that we see the part where I went for and Science Magazine (at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/wuhan-seafood-market-may-not-be-source-novel-virus-spreading-globally) gives us “the virus possibly spread silently between people in Wuhan—and perhaps elsewhere—before the cluster of cases from the city’s now-infamous Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was discovered in late December“. A silent interference on data. When we realise this we need to consider and agree that this is not fear mongering, it is almost hard chiseled facts that lead us here and as such watching the movie Contagion a little late is not the worst idea to have. 

And it is that same magazine that gives us another part “Earlier reports from Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization had said the first patient had onset of symptoms on 8 December 2019—and those reports simply said “most” cases had links to the seafood market, which was closed on 1 January” a situation that slowly took hold all over the world and this is the stage we now have and whilst officials are all about positive influence and flying home the ‘healthy’ people, they will optionally be the group spreading a much larger foundation of the disease. I say optionally, because there are clear foundations for testing, yet it is Bin Cao of Capital Medical University,a pulmonary specialist, wrote ““Now It seems clear that [the] seafood market is not the only origin of the virus,” he wrote. “But to be honest, we still do not know where the virus came from now.”” and there is the killer in all this ‘we still do not know‘ in a stage where we are given ‘a common source—as early as 1 October 2019‘ that is the foundation that eludes many of us and in hindsight when we consider the international infected, how many escaped a flagged view and how many did they infect? That is the question that officials need to have (and they might), yet we do not know and whilst we are all about ‘How can UK citizens leave Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak‘ yet the damage is optionally already done.

I do believe that there is no solution in fearing and burning at the stake anyone who has a cold (I have a cold at the present) yet the foundation of fear must be stopped in any way we can. For the simple reason that ‘My anxiety is increasing day by day‘ is not merely a Wuhanian expression, it is soon optionally to be a global one until we can give rise to clarity on where the disease is and until the vaccine is ready, the bulk of all people will be gripped by fear, just like in the movies.

 

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Danger on the Australian shores

There is a danger lurking, it took over Japan, the US and Europe, now we see Greg Jericho (aka gorgonomics) vocally giving us: ‘The government needs to get into more debt, our grim economy depends on it‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2019/may/28/the-government-needs-to-get-into-more-debt-our-grim-economy-depends-on-it) and my first reaction is: “You have got to be out of your bloody mind“. In the first politicians should never be trusted with the option of deeper debt, the US and Europe are clear evidence of that. The second is that giving that much power to the banks is just unacceptable. We see transgression after transgression and they walk away with mere fines. Reuters gave us less than two months ago: “The largest ever money laundering scandal in Europe is rippling through the region’s banks“, these people think that they can get away with murder, and whilst we hear politicians proclaim that they will use the full power of the law, we have yet to see any banker do any serious prison sentence since 2004.

Latvia’s ABLV, the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, Sweden’s Swedbank and it is all about €200,000,000,000 between 2007 and 2015. So far the chief executive of Swedbank was let go, and how much money did they make? These issues are connected. Deutsche bank and the Dutch ING, which was ‘forced’ to pay a $915 million last year for example, yet when their takings are part of billions upon billions, these players go home with a pretty penny. So far the Australian banks are decently clean large debts will optionally change that, anyone telling you different is lying through their teeth. When we realise that EU banks payed over $16 billion in fines between 2012 and 2018 because of lax money-laundering checks, we think that there is a solution, yet how does $16,000,000,000 compare to €200,000,000,000? Someone is going home rich and whilst the banks pay of the fine making it a mere cost, the cost of doing business goes up and so do the fees.

the Singapore Independent (at http://theindependent.sg/nigerian-based-in-singapore-jailed-for-role-in-citibank-money-laundering-scheme/) gave us last week “Paul Gabriel Amos was sentenced to three years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly receiving stolen property amounting to more than S$1 million and one count of money laundering” ad this is still about a 2008 case, it took over a decade to get this far, and when we see “Amos agreed to help in exchange for a cut of the criminal proceeds“, that is how it works and this is in places where banking is a lot more sophisticated than anything Australia has. You might hear accusations that these cases are not connected, but they are. They are connected to greed and ‘opportunity’. My issue is that the Australian government has no business taking out large loans of any kind until they fix the tax system, no matter how long that takes. It gets to be even worse is we take the Business Insider (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/maxine-waters-deutsche-bank-subpoena-trump-kushner-2019-5), the fact that we see: “The chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee told INSIDER on Tuesday that a New York Times article detailing how Deutsche Bank buried reports of potentially illegal financial activity linked to President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner “reinforces the need” for the panel “to obtain the documents we have subpoenaed from the bank.”“, when we consider that the banks facilitated for someone who is not President of the United States and we consider on how willing any bank is on the criminal path as the worst thing they face are fines at a mere percentage of the takings, when they call that the cost of doing business, how long until Australia is thoroughly tainted in a similar way?

the fact that ABC gave us 4 weeks ago (at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-01/google-facebook-make-billions-in-australian-sales-pay-little-tax/11060474) ‘Google, Facebook make billions in Australian sales but pay less than $40m in tax‘, do you not think that overhauling the tax system so that these players pay a fair share is a much better solution? Do you think that paying 0.000002% or less is acceptable? Besides that, the least said about the former car industry and their option for legalised slave labour the better.

Should we not prosecute every treasurer over the last 10 years, and after that see what we can do? I am not some anti-capitalist, I understand that capitalism is a driver and a powerful one, yet even at 1% (giving us at least $200,000,000) would solve a fair amount of issues, would it not? So whilst politicians are wasting our time with “Both companies are facing various probes by regulators in Australia and overseas over issues relating tax“, the entire tax mess should have been addressed well over a decade ago, as such can we get the incomes off al treasurers between 2009 and 2019 back please? This treasurer, if he does not adjust tax laws would be allowed to keep $1 for his attendance.

When we make this law the issues change and yes, we will get all kinds of threats, but they can equally fuck off and bleed someplace else dry. I am certain that a market share of 20 million will draw in other potential investors, because 20 million consumers will want all kinds of stuff.

And whilst people like Greg Jericho are talking about the sweet spot, they all overlook the issue that debt will have to be paid back, that whilst we see that Japan, the US and Europe have no exit strategy to end debt, at present that debt will be there for generations, making them the bitches of banks and fortune 500 companies, plain and simple. When the debt matures the quality of life in these places hit another snag, we did not and will not sign up for that.

I would love to see infrastructure fixed and improved upon, but whilst these idiots are unable to fix the tax system they have no business pushing the tax payers into deep debt.

And whilst there is no doubt that Greg is working from logic, he truly is; the issue is not: “Imagine being able to get a loan to upgrade machinery and equipment for your business at 1.5% – lower than inflation! – and you didn’t take advantage because you have a theory about how debt is bad“, he seemingly forgets that politicians are inherently stupid (they are optionally dumb and greedy in a nice compact package), these politicians ignore and push forward what they had to resolve, the amount of evidence on a global scale is overwhelming. And in the end, we the taxpayers get to pay that hardship, all that whilst tax laws were not dealt with a decade ago, how is that fair to anyone?

 

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Fight the Future

Mark Bergen gives us a Bloomberg article. The Sydney Morning Herald took it on (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/inside-huawei-s-secret-hq-china-is-shaping-the-future-20181213-p50m0o.html). Of course the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies is the introduction here. We then get the staging of: “inside Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters, a secretive group of engineers toil away heedless to such risks. They are working on what’s next – a raft of artificial intelligence, cloud-computing and chip technology crucial to China’s national priorities and Huawei’s future” with a much larger emphasis on “China’s government has pushed to create an industry that is less dependent on cutting-edge US semiconductors and software“, the matters are not wrong, yet they are debatable. When I see ‘China’s national priorities‘ and ‘Huawei’s future‘ we must ask ourselves, are they the same? They might be on the same course and trajectory, but they are not the same. In the end Huawei needs to show commercial power and growth, adhering to China’s national needs are not completely in line with that, merely largely so.

Then we something that is a lot more debatable, when we get: “That means the business would lap $US100 billion in 2025, the year China’s government has set to reach independence in technological production” and by my reckoning, China could optionally reach that in 2021-2022, these three years are important, more important than you realise. Neom in Saudi Arabia, optionally three projects in London, two in Paris, two in Amsterdam and optionally projects in Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok. Tokyo would be perfect, yet they are fiercely competitive and the Japanese feel nationalistic on Japanese and at times more important, driven towards non-Chinese goods. In the end, Huawei would need to give in too much per inch of market share, not worth it I reckon, yet the options that Huawei has available might also include growing the tourist fields where they can grow market share through data service options, especially if the can Google to become part of this (in some places). In the end, the stage is still valid to see Huawei become the biggest 5G player in the field.

Then we get the first part of the main event. With: “It started working on customised chips to handle complex algorithms on hardware before the cloud companies did. Research firm Alliance Bernstein estimates that HiSilicon is on pace for $US7.6 billion in sales this year, more than doubling its size since 2015. “Huawei was way ahead of the curve,” said Richard, the analyst.” we see something that I have tried to make clear to the audience for some time.

June 2018: ‘Telstra, NATO and the USA‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/06/20/telstra-nato-and-the-usa/) with: “A failing on more than one level and by the time we are all up to speed, the others (read: Huawei) passed us by because they remained on the ball towards the required goal.

September 2018: ‘One thousand solutions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/09/26/one-thousand-solutions/) with: “we got shown 6 months ago: “Huawei filed 2,398 patent applications with the European Patent Office in 2017 out of a total of 166,000 for the year“, basically 1.44% of ALL files European patents were from that one company.

Merely two of several articles that show us the momentum that Huawei has been creating by stepping away from the iterative mobile business model and leaping technologically ahead one model after the other. If you look at the history of the last few years, Huawei went from P7, Mate 10, Nova 3i and Mate 20 Pro. These 4 models in a lifecycle timeline have been instrumental for them and showing the others that there is fierce competition. The P7, a mere equal to the Samsung Galaxy 4 in its day, yet 43% cheaper for the consumer, and now they are at the Mate 20 Pro, which is 20% cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Note9 and regarded as better in a few ways. In 4 cycles Huawei moved from optionally a choice to best in the field and still cheaper than most. That is the effect of leaping forward and they are in a place where they can do the same in the 5G field.

We are confronted with the drive with the statement: “Huawei is throwing everything into its cloud package. It recently debuted a set of AI software tools and in October released a new specialised chip, called the Ascend. “No other chip set has this kind of capability of processing,” Qiu said.” This viewed advantage is still a loaded part because there is the fact that China is driven towards growing the AI field, where they, for now have a temporary disadvantage. We might see this as a hindrance, yet that field is only visible in the governmental high end usage that there is and consumers like you and me will not notice this, those who claim it and create some elaborate ‘presentation’ into making the water look muddy. When your life is about Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, you will never notice it. In the high end usage, where AI is an issue, they are given the cloud advantage that others cannot offer to the degree that is available to non-governmental players (well, that is what it looks like and that is technologically under consideration, yet it does look really nice).

When we look towards the future of Huawei we clearly see the advantages of the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, UAE and optionally Qatar if they play their cards right. Latin America is an option, especially if they start in Argentina, where they could optionally add Uruguay overnight, branching out towards Chile and Paraguay will be next leaving the growth towards Brazil. Yet in that same strategy add Venezuela and Colombia first would enable several paths. The business issue remains, yet being the first to have an additional appeal and if it pisses off the Americans Venezuela gets on board fast often enough. The issue is more than technological. The US still has to prove to the audience that there is a 5G place for them all and the infrastructure does not really allow for it at present, merely the metropolitan areas where the money is, driving inequality in the USA even further.

If visibility is the drive than Huawei is very much on the right track and they are speeding that digital super highway along nicely. Yet in opposition to all this is the final paragraph in the SMH. When we see: ““As long as they stick to the game plan, they still have a lot of room to grow,” he said. “Unless the US manages to get their allies to stop buying them.”” This is a truth and also a reassurance. You see the claim ‘Unless the US manages to get their allies to stop buying them‘, gets us to an American standard. It was given to us by the X-Files in the movie with the same name, or perhaps better stated Chris Carter gave it to us all. The end he gives us: “He is but one man. One man alone cannot fight the future“, it equally applies to governments too, they might try to fight the future, yet in the end, any nation is built from the foundation of people, stupid or not, bright or less so, the larger group can do arithmetic and when we are confronted with a Huawei at $450, or an Apple iPhone at $2350, how many of you are desperately rich enough to waste $1900 more on the same functionality? Even when we add games to the larger three (Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter), most phones will merely have an optional edge and at $1900? Would you pay for the small 10% difference that 1-3 games optionally offer? And let’s not forget that you will have to add that difference again in 2 years when you think that you need a new phone. The mere contemplation of optimised playing free games at $77 a month makes total sense doesn’t it? So there we see the growth plan of Huawei, offering the top of the mountain at the base price and those in denial making these unsubstantiated ‘security risk’ claims will at some point need to see the issue as Verizon is the most expensive provider in the US, So when I see $110 per month for 24 GB of shared data, whilst I am getting 200GB for $50, I really have to take an effort not to laugh out loud. That is the 5G world, the US faces and whilst there was an option for competitive players in the US, the Huawei block is making sure that some players will rake in the large cash mountain for much longer and there others are making fun of my predictions, and now that I am proven to be correct, they are suddenly incommunicado and extremely silent.

As such, when I predicted that the US is now entering a setting where they end up trailing a field that they once led, we will see a lot of growth of Chinese interests. In all this, do you really think that it will stop at a mere 5G walkie talkie? No, with 5G automation and deeper learning, we will see a larger field of dash boarding, information and facilitation to the people and Huawei will optionally rule that field soon enough, with a few non Americans nipping at their heels for dominance because that is the nature of the beast as well. Progress is a game for the hungry and some players (specifically the US) have forgotten what it was like to be hungry. Australian Telstra made similar mistakes and moved their Share price of $6.49 to $3.08 in the stage of 3 years, a 52% loss of value, and when (not if) Huawei pushed the borders all over the place, those people with a Verizon Protective State of Mind will end up seeing Verizon going in a similar setting, because that is also the consequence of adhering to what I would consider to be a form of nationalistic nepotism. The UK already had its ducks in a row for the longest of times (and that island has less ground to cover, which is a distinct advantage), so there BT has options for now and over time they might adhere to some of their policies as is required, the US is not in that good a position and Huawei merely needs to flash a medium purse of cash to show the people in the US that a place like Buenos Aires can offer the masses more and faster than those on better incomes in the US, because the pricing model allows for such a shift.

In this the problem is not a short term one, even as US giants are supposed to have the advantage, we also see that the workforce is not properly adhered to, the US (and the UK) have a massive, not a large, but a massive disadvantage when it comes to STEM students, a disadvantage that China does not have. The AI field is not something that is solved over the next 3 years, so as those with educations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is dwindling to some degree in commonwealth nations and America, China can move full steam as the next generation is pushed into high end ambition and careers. As such the entire AI shortfall against America can be overcome much easier by places like China and India at present. It is not merely the stage of more graduated students; it is about groups of graduated students agreeing on paths towards breakthrough solutions. No matter how savant one student is, a group is always more likely to see the threat and weakness of a certain path and that is where the best solution is found faster.

Will we ‘Fight the Future’?

The issue is not the American polarised view, it is the correctly filtered view that Alex Younger gave us initially, it is not incorrect to have a nationalistic protective view and Alex gave the correct stage on having a national product to use, which is different from the Canadian and Australian path proclaimed. We agree that it is in a national required state to have something this critical solved in a national way (when possible that is), in this the path to have a Huawei 5G stage and then reengineer what is required is not wrong, yet it is optionally with a certain risk and when that path is small enough, it is a solution. The UK is largely absolved as it had BT with the foundations of the paths required, just as Australia has Telstra, yet some countries (like Australia) become too complacent, BT was less complacent and they have knowledge, yet is it advanced enough? We agree that they can get up to speed faster, yet will it be fast enough? I actually do not know, I have no data proving the path in one direction or the other. What is clear is that a race with equal horses provides the best growth against one another, the competitiveness and technological breakthroughs that we have seen for the longest time. That path has largely been made redundant in the US and Australia (I cannot say for certain how that is in Canada).

Even as Huawei is gaining speed and being ahead of it all is still a race by one player, the drive to stay ahead is only visible on the global field, and it is an uncertain path, even if they have all the elements in their favour, what is clear is that this advantage will remain so for the next 5 years and unless certain nations make way for budgets growing the STEM pool by well over 200% their long term disadvantage remains in place.

The versusians

In this stage we need to look in the pro and con Huawei field. In the pro field, as Huawei set the stage for global user growth, which they are seemingly doing, they have the upper hand and they will grow to a user base that grows from servicing a third of the internet users to close to 50%, that path is set with some certainty and as such their advantage grows. In the opposition of that, players like need to step away from the political empty headed failure of enabling the one champion stage of Verizon and Telstra, diversity would give the competitive drive and now it is merely Telstra versus Vodafone/TPG, is means that there will be a technological compromise stage where none of the two surges ahead giving players like Huawei a much larger advantage to fuel growth,

How wrong am I likely to be?

So far I have been close to the mark months in advance compared to the big newspapers only giving partial facts long after I saw it coming, so I feel that I remain on the right track here. The question is not merely who has the 5G stage first, it will be who will facilitate 5G usage more complete and earlier than the others, because that is where the big number of switchers will be found and players like TPG and Vodafone have seen the impact of switchers more than once, so they know that they must be better and more complete than the other brand. Huawei knows it too, they saw that part and are still seeing the impact that goes all the way back to the P7, and that is where Apple also sees more losses, We were informed a mere 9 hours ago: “Piper Jaffray cuts its Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) price target from $250 to $222 saying that recent supplier guidance cuts suggest “global unit uptake has not met expectations.”” another hit of a loss to face, optionally a mere 11.2% yet in light of the recent losses, they faced, we see what I personally feel was the impact of the ridiculous stage of handing the audience a phone of $2369, optionally 30% more expensive than the choice after that one, even if the number two is not that much less in its ability. The stage where marketeers decide on what the people need, when they all need something affordable. It personally feels like the iMac Pro move, a $20K solution that less than 0.3% of the desktop users would ever need, and most cannot even afford. That is driving the value of Apple down and Huawei knows that this egocentric stage is one that Apple et al will lose, making Huawei the optional winner in many more places after the first 5G hurdles are faced by all.

Do you still think that Apple is doing great? A company that went from a trillion to 700 billion in less than 10 weeks, which is an opportunity for the IOS doubters to now consider Huawei and Samsung, even as Huawei will statistically never get them all, they will get a chunk and the first move is that these users moved away from IOS, and as Android users they are more easily captured towards user hungry players like Huawei by its marketing, that is the field that has changed in the first degree and as people feel comfortable with Huawei, they will not consider getting more Huawei parts (like routers for the internet at home) and that continues as people start moving into the 5G field. You see, we can agree that it is mere marketing (for now), yet Huawei already has its 5G Customer-premises Equipment (as per March 2018). this implies that with: “compatible with 4G and 5G networks, and has proven measured download speeds of up to 2Gbps – 20 times that of 100 Mbps fiber“, that they can buy their router now, remain on 4G and when their local telecom is finally ready, 5G will kick in when the subscription is correct. It is as far as I can tell the first time that government telecom procedures are vastly behind the availability to the consumer (an alleged speculation from my side).

Do you think that gamers and Netflix people will not select this option if made available? That is what is ahead of the coming options and that is the Future that some are fighting. It is like watching a government on a mule trying to do battle with a windmill, the stage seems that ridiculous and as we move along, we will soon see the stage being ‘represented’ by some to state on the dangers that cannot (or are ignored) to be proven.

The moment other devices are set towards the 5G stage, that is when more and more people will demand answers from industrial politicians making certain claims and that is when we see the roller-coaster of clowns and jesters get the full spotlight. This is already happening in Canada (at https://www.citynews1130.com/2018/12/13/huawei-and-5g-experts-clash-on-the-risk-to-canadas-national-security/), where City News (Ottawa) gives us: “I can’t see many circumstances, other than very extreme ones, in which the Chinese government would actually risk Huawei’s standing globally as a company in order to conduct some kind of surveillance campaign“, something I claimed weeks ago, so nice for the Canadian press to catch up here, in addition when we are given: ““This can be used for a lot of things, for manipulation of businesses to harvesting of intellectual property,” Tobok said. “On a national security level, they can know who is where at any given time. They can use that as leverage to jump into other operations of the government.” those people knowingly, willingly and intentionally ignore the fact that Apps can do that and some are doing it already. The iPhone in 2011 did this already. We were given: “Privacy fears raised as researchers reveal file on iPhone that stores location coordinates and timestamps of owner’s movements“, so when exactly was the iPhone banned as a national security hazard? Or does that not apply to any Commonwealth nation when it is America doing it? Or perhaps more recent (January 2018), when Wired gave us: “the San Francisco-based Strava announced a huge update to its global heat map of user activity that displays 1 billion activities—including running and cycling routes—undertaken by exercise enthusiasts wearing Fitbits or other wearable fitness trackers. Some Strava users appear to work for certain militaries or various intelligence agencies, given that knowledgeable security experts quickly connected the dots between user activity and the known bases or locations of US military or intelligence operations.” So when Lt. Walksalot was mapping out that secret black site whilst his Fitbit was mapping that base location every morning job, was the Fitbit banned? Already proven incursions on National security mind you, yet Huawei with no shown transgressions is the bad one. Yes, that all made perfect sense. I will give Wesley Wark, a security and intelligence specialist who teaches at the University of Ottawa a pass when he gives us: “Still, Canada can’t afford to be shut out of the Five Eyes or play a diminished role in the alliance, and if Britain decides to forbid Huawei from taking part in its 5G networks, Canada could not be the lone member to embrace the company“, OK that is about governmental policy, not unlike Alex Younger there is a claim to be made in that case, not for the risk that they are or might be, but the setting that no government should have a foreign risk in place. This is all fine and good, but so far the most transgressions were American ones and that part is kept between the sheets (like catering to IBM for decades), or leaving the matter largely trivialised.

It is pointless to fight the future, you can merely adhere to swaying the direction it optionally faces and the sad part is that this sway has forever been with those needing to remain in power, or to remain in the false serenity that status quo brings (or better stated never brings). True innovation is prevented from taking grasp and giving directional drive and much better speeds and that too is something to consider, merely because innovation drives IP, the true currency of the future and when we deny ourselves that currency we merely devaluate ourselves as a whole. In this we should agree that denying innovation has never ever resulted in a positive direction, history cannot give us one example when this worked out for the best of all.

 

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Two streams, one view

As I see the news pass by, events shown on separate media, I notice myself wondering if my life had any meaning at all. I was young and I went to the Middle East in 1982, I would return in 83 and 84 only to learn that there was change. Terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas were only small and Hamas rose as I would see in 1984, yet I thought that change would be inevitable. I saw Hezbollah as nothing more than pesky small minded terrorists, a tool to be used by Iran and Syria. Yet even as Lebanon was trying to move forward, there were signs in media and some places that the US needed Syria too much, in their case dealing with Saddam Hussein and as such many of us thinking we would fight for peace, we only fought for the borderlines that the US decided needed to be in place. It must have been the late 80’s, I was not longer in the Middle East and not all clued in towards the events of the day there. You see DARPA had not rolled out the internet at that point; ARPANET was not available for the audience at large. So today I see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now we see another push against Hezbollah. You see Saudi Arabia has had enough of those terrorists and is pushing back hard, it is also willing to push against Iran. I see two issues. One is that this issue will be bloody and even as we hope for the victory of Saudi Arabia there, there are more than just a few markers showing us that the three largest players (US, Russia and UK) are not completely in agreement whether the Middle East should have one clear dominant party. The issues in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait that have been going on for half a century should show that. If that had not been the case Hezbollah and Hamas would have been little more than an inconvenience and they would have been dealt with a long time ago. So even as I see certain steps being taken I need to wonder if Saudi Arabia is pushing for a resolution, what will the larger picture show as it shifts. As that unfolds where will the US and Russia stand? What actions, or inactions will they use to leave the Status Quo in the middle east in a place called ‘as is’? The evidence for the longest time has shown that they pronounce whatever allies they have, but in the end, they only care for their needs and options. Now, this is not wrong or immoral, it is merely the way any nation plays its game. It is not a new game, it goes back even before Nicola Machiavelli thought it was a god idea to write down certain options for politicians to be.

As per Friday morning, we see: ““Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing there to leave immediately,” a Foreign Ministry source quoted by the news agency said, adding that Saudis were advised not to travel to Lebanon from any country“, so even as we can merely speculate on what comes next, the onus is now pushed on Iran and what it is going to do with its terrorist ally Hezbollah. There is one opposing side which was shown by Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-insight/deep-in-yemen-war-saudi-fight-against-iran-falters-idUSKBN1D91UR). With: “The dysfunction is a reminder to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his campaign to counter arch-enemy Iran in the Middle East, including threats against Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, may be hard to implement” we acknowledge that Iran has resources and skills and they are driven, both sides clearly are. In my mind, is the additional theatre (read: change of scenery) a workable factor? It does put larger pressures on Iran to get the logistics and goods underway, which will be their weakness to some extent. It is equally an issue how Russia will react. They might not openly act in this placement, yet the clear support to Hezbollah and as the times of Israel states: “the truth is that since Russia began its open military activities in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are also learning Russian methods of war, becoming familiar with advanced Russian weaponry, coming to understand the latest Russian technologies, and in some cases, actually fighting alongside Russian special forces“, we might comprehend the skills and training of the Spetsnaz Malcheks, or the ‘Войска специального назначения’ as they call themselves. In one part Avi Issacharoff omitted or decided not to implement one view in his story. In the end when the Spads are not holding their hands, Hezbollah remains what they were trained enthusiastic terrorists, they are only an army in the smallest sense of the total concept, this also means that as logistics falters, as support dwindles the armed Saudi forces will be more than a match and should gain the upper hand. Now, this can only play out if there is a stalemate between Russia and USA, because if the USA backs down and Hezbollah gets open on the ground Russian support, it becomes an entirely different slice of cake and all bets are off at that point. Only the Russians could push Hezbollah in way that the Iranians could never do. You see, if Iran enters the theatre the game changes as they become a clear and present danger to the state of Israel, their vocal insinuations made that so, so as Iran is trying to get a foothold whilst Israel has a few ways to counter them, we will see a more underground event of escalations where Iran is unable to counter a war they never have faced. You see their words (Iran that is) might look good on the news and on PowerPoint presentations, yet in the true data parks there is no setting, because in the end, this generation of Iranians have never faced anyone like Israel before and their faith in their own internal governmental presentations will make them even less prepared. So at that point it is merely a scuffle between Hezbollah and Saudi armed forces and in that equation there is no option of even a remote stalemate for Hezbollah. Is that the goal? I believe that Russia saw Hezbollah as a tool for what they needed, the US has always been hostile and Europe requires high earnings, so the ECB is very much not in favour of any outspoken hostilities against anything that can downgrade their earnings, so they are seemingly steering away from these events as much as they can, yet I will admit that is just me speculating on European events in this case. Even as London is more and more outspoken anti-Hezbollah. Amsterdam and Stockholm are not taking that path. In my mind it is the liberal multicultural flag that they embrace, in that atmosphere a group like Hezbollah can easily hide under this ‘veil’ whilst hating multicultural events as much as possible.

This again has speculative sides, but it is based on solid data and events. You might think that it does not matter, but it does. As more and more nations in their liberal mindset hold off on an actual war on terror, being it for economic or philosophical reasons. Not being part of it is equally a problem down the track. So as we move back towards Lebanon and Hezbollah, we need to realise that not only will this become ugly to a larger degree, there is every chance that unless certain actions are taken the issues seen in Aleppo will be seen in Aleppo too, there is just no way to tell to what extent. In this we can look at Survival Analyses (or listen to the song ‘as time goes by’), where the point in time and the prolongation of all this is the setting on just how much Beirut will look like Aleppo in the end, time is the only factor required here and the people in Europe know this. So as we see the news prepare on how there should be talks and there should be armistices, they all better remember that it was their need for status quo that is pushing the consideration for a terrorist organisation.

Who in Europe would have ever thought that support of a terrorist organisation would be the cool thing to do on September 12th 2001? So consider that and now wonder why Europe is, for now, again sitting on their hands or even contemplating siding to the larger extent with Hexbollah? Yet there is also good news because with the actions by JP Morgan to push into large chunks of the Middle East and more notably the push towards the Kingdom Holding Company. You might think it is not related, but it is. It gives the view that JP Morgan is a facilitator for setting maximised profits and these profits are not to go towards France. There has been a thought that the US is not commitment, but as there is profit in war, the clear fallout of any war is opportunity. It seems to me that the US wants to get as much profit out of that as possible, so as the dominoes are pushed into place, we see a situation where the media proclaims JP Morgan to be a mere financial advisor. I believe that to be incorrect. Even as Reuters reported “JPMorgan is in early talks with Saudi Arabian companies about overseas listings“, that might be true, but JP Morgan has been pushing itself and its ‘friends’ into powerful places where lucrative revenues are not set in millions, but in billions. I cannot answer whether Credit Agricole did the right or wrong thing, they are pretty clever all by themselves. I think that the Saudi issues in play now are pushing for polarising fields of options and opportunity on a global scale. In this case my view will be proven over the next 2 years as we follow the money. They question is where the source will be set and who gets to fill their bucket list from that well. when the options are returned in billions there will be plenty of players, although in this instance I believe that the outside opportunities (non-Saudi based companies) are offered to the friends of JP Morgan and them only, which is again a speculation. Whether I am right or wrong will be initially shown in the next 20 weeks.

There are however facts available to see that there is a direction in place. Reuters show on part (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-jpmorgan-saudi/jpmorgan-sees-more-saudi-firms-looking-at-overseas-listings-after-aramco-idUSKBN1D7107), some might think that “He said listings in New York, London, Hong Kong or Singapore might help increase the liquidity of these companies and make them attractive for international investors, he said” is the part that gives the goods, yet it is the part not seen and more interestingly not implied that gives power to it all. The implied part is seen with “Commenting on the anti-corruption drive, Pinto said: “If it is done in the right way and for the right reasons it is good to do for the future of the kingdom.”” It is however only the first part. The news given with ‘Saudi Arabia detains 201 princes, businessmen in $100 billion corruption probe’ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-10/saudi-anti-corruption-probe-finds-$100-billion-embezzled/9136608). This was not a sudden part, this had been in play for some time. It was not merely the fact that at present 201 people are now in custody. Even as we see mention of Iran and the Lebanon pressures, we see that there is a larger play. His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud have been on a path to get the nation reformed and moved away from oil dependency. In this the pool of plenty does not last too long when 100 billion get lost one handshake at a time as more and more people are connected to unlimited resources and wealth. As the press seems to be focussing on the crown prince and the ‘wild ride’ he created, there is a larger issue that is not too much in focus. No matter what the sceptics state, There is a clarity that Saudi Arabia is seriously considering that the age of oil is dwindling, as this happens they need to be able to push into other directions and they do have the wealth to create vested interests in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, consultancy services and educational advantages. Forbes has had its share of articles on the matter, and whilst some look at ‘Saudi Arabia Looks To The Private Sector To Meet Growing Healthcare Demands’ it seems to me that 5G facilitation has much larger and more profitable sides as other providers are considering what to do, Saudi Arabia has the option to facilitate to the largest 4 cities and exceed in opportunity what Sweden has for its entire nation. When there is such a population (9.5 million) in 4 cities, there is an option to grow and grow fast. Now we know that there is a lively market already, but the idea that other services could be added grows the Saudi options to add markets and manufacturing opportunities through investment. I all this JP Morgan is potentially the spider in the centre of the web, growing in value and wealth from all sides at the same time. There is no way to state why Crédit Agricole walked away from those opportunities, but I feel certain that they did not walk away, the merely moved to a place around the corner. Even as the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0e629bab-494c-34d0-8fe0-f71c8b089118) show mixed results, yet I believe that this French bank is moving into different fields, acquiring other banks and setting new goals. I have no way to tell on the why of it but I feel that moving away was only one as the clever people in this bank have agreed on a strategy that allows to grow faster and on larger fields. How?

We will learn this over the next 20 weeks. Yet no matter what is done and how the banks react is not a given, the direct dangers on how things escalate in Lebanon and with Iran seems to be crucial in all of this and I reckon that we will see the shifts quite soon. These shifts will not be through armed conflict, but will rely on the pressures and stresses that exist at present. In this Europe seems to take a ‘diplomatic’ stance (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_destabilising_lebanon_will_only_strengthen_hezbollah_7235), yet with “Europeans should veer the other way, taking measures that aim to preserve Lebanon’s stability and governance structures, and to prevent wider conflagration. Iran is clearly a key source of regional instability, and Hezbollah has become increasingly assertive in Lebanon” it seems to advocate a path of inaction, 3 decades of inaction have shown that there is no solution on that path, a stream of casualties, of non-actions and broken promises. Saudi Arabia (and the USA) both had enough, and as Iran seems to be an annoying thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia, they have seemingly decided to take Hezbollah out of the equation. This will be interesting, because the moment Hamas and Iran realise that the gig is finally up, I wonder how must tearful pleads of ‘negotiations’ will be shown on nearly every soft hearted news channel on the planet. Perhaps a recollection of March 2016 is needed. With: “Hamas on Sunday sent a delegation to Egypt in an effort to beseech Egyptian security officials to stop destroying its tunnels out of Gaza. These terror tunnels, employed by the terrorist group for nearly a decade, are used to store weapons, smuggle supplies, and infiltrate enemy territory – Israel – as well as carry out surprise attacks in which people are killed and soldiers abducted.” (source: Breaking Israel News). It reads like “please let us be terrorists a little longer, we need the tunnels to do naughty things”. There is every chance that this falls on deaf ears, because as Israel is optionally no longer pressured in possible two front wars, they can fully focus on Hamas whilst Saudi Arabia will only have to deal with Iran after that. It will truly change the Balance of Power in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia as the only true power in that region, all because to a larger extent, Europe decided to remain in a self-imposed state of inaction. After three decades they still haven’t learned that inaction against terrorists will never ever lead to any solution.

Yes, there are a few elements of speculation from my side, but it is based on gathered facts and it I do not believe it is less likely on the balance of probabilities, it is merely one optional setting in a larger game that has been played for much too long.

 

 

 

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The cost of free trade

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

The Evidence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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