Tag Archives: Sweden

The next wave

We have seen the waves; we have seen the mention and the messages. According to President Trump ISIS has been defeated, the easiest counter is: ‘Really? How?‘ In these theatres of war the setting of defeat is not easily established. In my personal view the stage for defeat when they are all dead. ISIS does not adhere to government policy, it does not accept established articles of war and these people go on until they draw breath no more. It gets to be worse than this. According to one (not the most reliable source) we get: ‘ISIS terrorists flee with $200 million in cash‘, the issue is not merely the money; it is what it enabled to be done. We know that the ISIS fighters scrammed like a load of roaches into every direction they could. Now consider that even after 36 years, I could cripple infrastructures in the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden with less than 10% of these funds, so how much damage could lone wolves do in these nations when that money get cryptoed (a crypto currency tip toe event) and softly spread over these lone wolves? How much damage does Europe have to look forward to? How much funding for attacks on Israel comes next? With optional weapons via Ukraine, explosives via Germany and Sweden, as well as drugs and chemicals? The war with ISIS is far from over, yet now that the US is pulling back, now that gaps are appearing all over the place, how long until that money is spread all over the map inciting attacks in too many places to properly police?

And that is before you realise that most nations are lacking in getting any level of result in fighting these lone wolves. Some are too badly trained and often intentionally to make sure that the intelligence arrogance remains, yet the dozen of operatives that have been working in the dark will be able to strike and with or without that boatload of cash, we need to consider other sources. We start with the Independent who gave us ‘Jim Matthews was prosecuted for fighting with a group backed by the British military‘, a person prosecuted for fighting ISIS in Syria. Now we can argue that what was done had to be done by the law and by the standard of non-combatants acting in a theatre of war (no matter what side they were on), to some degree it makes sense. Yet in that light the quote “Terror “preparation” offences have been used to prosecute foreign fighters as well as terror plotters in the UK” could be considered in another light. Whilst the law focusses on those they recognise and flag as optional targets for prosecution, there are hundreds of people that never made the limelight and as such will go undetected. For this we use the Toronto Sun, where we saw: “When Canadians heard Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi describe how he killed and executed people on a New York Times podcast, they were outraged. Why was this man from the Toronto area not behind bars?” With the addition “Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi was already known to police and they hadn’t charged him. Not because he had recanted what he told the Times podcast Caliphate but because like almost all of the other returning ISIS fighters, police were not able to collect the kind of evidence needed to convict in a court of law“, now we know that Canadians are only hard in the ice rink and beyond that socially a little soft, but to see this and consider that under the laws there is a lager mess all over Europe, how much anger is Europe in? These people are not beyond identity fraud and even as the Dutch have their A-game in place, the same cannot be said for scores of places like Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, Hungary and even Sweden has a few flaws in place. All nations where entry into Europe becomes an open playground, that is the ISIS setting we have to fear, a fear that is not going away and will become more and more real soon enough. Even as we see the mention of the events in France a year ago regarding Redouane Lakdim, I believe that the Independent was right (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/isis-europe-terror-attacks-france-shooting-uk-france-terrorist-groups-islamist-danger-a8270941.html) with “the attack in the Carcassonne region by a single gunman, said to be a Moroccan petty criminal from the area, proves very little about the strength of Isis as a continuing threat“, for the most they are right, yet the push to prosecute 800 European ISIS fighters in Europe is a debatable wisdom, the danger that another 100 arrive in Europe unnoticed and they start their ‘consideration’ using $200 million is not without risk, moreover when some of the 800 avoid prosecution, or even are prosecuted to remain under house arrest, or low level security incarceration, only to disappear a few weeks later is a larger risk than most consider. We might think that it is going towards ‘Suicide attack in Afghan capital kills at least 31 people during Persian New Year‘, an event like that in Europe would be very visible, yet that is not the danger that Europe faces. The larger dangers are the explosives that cripple energy in places like Leverkusen, Dusseldorf, Lopik, the Vattenfall energy locations, attacks that cripple European infrastructure for more than a few days. Not the 31 bodies but an infrastructure that impacts quality of life and national economies is the danger the Europeans are not ready for. Their infrastructure is not ready, their manpower is insufficient and ISIS only needs to get it right once, after that any subsequent success will impact Europeans more and more. That was forever the danger Europe faced. Even as I wrote about it on February 17th (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/02/17/two-sides-of-currency/) in my article ‘Two sides of currency‘, where I wrote: “there would be a massive security concern in Europe, the fact that we now see ‘the focus has been on trying to raise standards in the swift sharing of information‘ is evidence that the EU has been sitting on their hands for too long a time“, a failure on immigration data, the issue of well over 500,000 refugees and no verifiable data whether they are real refugees or ISIS refugees relocating to better shores. The fat that this failure is there and has been thee for over 6 years is a much larger concern and most nations are too underfunded and too shallow to do something about it, their data systems inferior, their collected data unshared and all of it with a lack of verification. That is what several EU states face and now as we are confronted that 200 million has gone walkabout with ISIS fighter, do you still think that there is little to worry about?

The fact that only last October we were faced with: “Greece is taking urgent action to tackle Islamist extremists who have infiltrated a large refugee camp on Lesbos and are alleged to be coercing migrants into joining Islamic State“, proves me right. The only matter is if one got found out, how many were not? There is actually no way to tell, but any politician claiming that there is no issue is too much of a security hazard to be taken seriously. There are a whole host of reasons on why nothing has happened yet, but the largest danger is not whether they will strike, but will we be able to stop it when they do? The danger of 6 years of inaction on almost every side is also a danger that complacency might have set in long ago, there is however no way too tell if it was already too late, with the dispersal of ISIS a new age starts and it is one where lone wolves optionally get to make a name for themselves causing all kinds of new clusters of self-proclaimed jihadists and we have no way to determine the dangers, yet what is a real danger is 200 million out in the open. The amount of goods and people that it buys, especially in this day and age is a little too much unsettling.

We can only wait and see the impact, for those not in that battle, we can only remain observant and wait when it happens. Europe is a little too large and 800 people can remain unnoticed for too long a time, especially in this day and age.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Media, Military, Politics

Our BBC alarm clock

It is Thursday, I just finished a baguette with salami and I was just going over the news (as one does) and I was hit by something stated in the BBC. I was not sure on how to react, but it made me take another look at certain matters. The event was initially about Saudi Arabia and their need for a nuclear reactor, they want to diversify their energy options. The one nation where sunlight would imply the need for large Elon Musk batteries to light Riyadh at night, whilst they get charged by free sunlight during the day, that one element is seen. Yet, they want a nuclear reactor requiring a huge water source to cool the entire matter. OK, that is their choice, and I am fine with it (no one cares what I agree with, I don’t care myself either). Yet the setting changes when I am confronted with two parts. The article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47296641) gives a few elements that become debatable in more than one way. So as I am listening to golden oldies like Atom Bomb Baby by The Five Stars (my sense of humour remains in place), as well as Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo) by Danny Kaye, songs that matter in this case. The first quote is: “Whistleblowers told the panel it could destabilise the Middle East by boosting nuclear weapons proliferation“, so why whistle blowers? Political impact does not require whistle blowers, there is no guarantee that it would result in destabilisation (it is likely though), and WHY EXACTLY did the BBC ‘hide’ behind the Whistle-blower statement?

The second part in all this is: “Lawmakers have been critical of the plan as it would violate US laws guarding against the transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to support a weapons programme“. So how does that relate to the Iran nuclear accords? America might have left it, but they were in the centre of all this. So, exactly why is there optionally a law against it and seemingly Iran was catered to, to begin with, and is still catered to at present by Europe. At this point everyone needs to sit down and really consider what their political representatives are up to all over the globe, because things are not really adding up at present.

Finally we get: “They also believe giving Saudi Arabia access to nuclear technology would spark a dangerous arms race in the volatile region. But concerns around rival Iran developing nuclear technology are also at play, according to US media“, if that is the case why allow talks with Iran to get it in the first place? And how exactly is ‘according to US media’ a valid response? And exactly who are the players in that US media mess? Does that not worry you?

Then we get the house report, based on whistle-blowers (who exactly?) where we see: “within the US, strong private commercial interests have been pressing aggressively for the transfer of highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

There is a larger play in this; the issue becomes who exactly are those ‘private commercial interests’? It seems that the media (including the BBC) is all about creating awareness whilst those writers are all about ‘not stepping on any toes’ and in light of the linked term ‘nuclear weapons proliferation‘, yet the BBC does not disappoint. We also get:

The commercial entities mentioned in the report are:

  • IP3 International, a private company led by ex-military officers and security officials that organised a group of US companies to build “dozens of nuclear power plants” in Saudi Arabia
  • ACU Strategic Partners, a nuclear power consultancy led by British-American Alex Copson
  • Colony NorthStar, Mr Barrack’s real estate investment firm
  • Flynn Intel Group, a consultancy and lobby set up by Michael Flynn.

Now we are off to the races! You see, even as IP3 International is visible on their website (at www.ip3international.com) with: ‘A global enterprise to develop sustainable energy and security infrastructure‘, we need to realise that this is a presentation play (everyone is allowed to do that). Sustainable is often used as it more than not can be replaced with renewable energy (which is still not the same), the larger issue is that there is a sizeable debate as it is also an increasing controversy over whether nuclear energy can be considered sustainable energy.

The textbook gives us: “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs“, which is reflected in: Kutscher, C.F.; Milford, J.B.; Kreith, F. (2018). Principles of Sustainable Energy Systems, Third Edition, I believe that IP3 International is revenue driven and one tends to go to the players that can pay their bill, I would see it as an innovative thought to go to Saudi Arabia, if only (according to law) it was not illegal. Yet there is the second stump in all this, you cannot start that conversation with Iran and not optionally refuse to have it with Saudi Arabia. And now the music is still on par with the events in play, because the song at present is ‘Grandma Plays the Numbers’ by Wynonie Harris. It is not a bet and the players are not hedging their bets, the issue becomes Politico (at https://www.politico.eu/article/mohammad-javad-zarif-iran-to-eu-give-us-more-to-preserve-nuclear-deal/), which gives us “On the nuclear deal, from which Trump’s withdrew last year, Zarif said a so-called special purpose vehicle set up by the EU to allow European countries to keep trading with Iran despite U.S. sanctions fell short of what Europeans had promised. In a clear message to European powers, he said domestic support for the deal was fragile — with 51 percent of Iranians in favor, according to an opinion poll“, it is not about the deal, it is to some extent as to where 49% of Iran wants to be as the margin is too close to call an actual win. What is important is where the hardliners stand and what path they want to walk on, it makes all the difference in this.

The other party that draws attention in this is Michael Flynn and his Flynn Intel Group. Even as it is seen as a consultancy group, the issue is optionally seen with “In January 2017, National Security Council staff began to raise concerns that these plans were inappropriate and possibly illegal, and that Flynn had a potentially criminal conflict of interest“, the imperative part is ‘possibly illegal‘, it does not state ‘should be regarded as illegal‘, the difference makes for all the difference here and the fact that this is not clearly stated implies that this is a political push, optionally against Saudi Arabia, and optionally to keep nuclear energy out of the middle east completely. When we realise that the issue changes, it does not merely require Europe to stop any Iran nuclear deal, it gives different levels of rise to the political pressures in play. The fact that we see (source: Ars Technica): “Flynn had decided to adopt IP3’s plan to develop “dozens of nuclear power plants” in Saudi Arabia during the transition while he was still serving as an advisor to IP3. Harvey also said that Barrack would be made a special representative, with credentials equivalent to an ambassador, to guide the plan“, yet the entire matter of ‘there is bi-partisan concern regarding Saudi Arabia’s access to nuclear technology‘, we seem to get a little less informed that this is not about the material itself, it is about upgrading the fuel required to upgrade it to weapons grade, that is the actual turkey in the oven.

And it is at this point that Bing Crosby starts sing Pistol Packin’ Mama. You see, we seem to forget that there are a few ways to upgrade Uranium towards a less acceptable use. It’s like stone washing your jeans (a small reference to alternative ways to upgrade Uranium), when you start looking into the matter, you can find several ways to upgrade the fuel to a boom point. That is where the issue is hiding at and when we go back to the case where people re happy to in like Flynn with Saudi Arabia, we get confronted with a memo that is seemingly linking former NSA Director Keith Alexander, when we look at the sources, there is a lot alleged, implied and not a whole lot valued as evidence (which does not make it true or false). The part that matter is that this is a lot larger and there is not a whole lot of information on the legality of it all (in one way or another).

The mess goes on and even NPR gets involved. We are all treated to: “Let’s take a closer look now at what a transfer of highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia would mean for U.S. national security“, yet how valid is that today? The first nuclear reactor was built in 1942, it is an energy solution that has been in place for almost 77 years. There are now 31 nations that employ nuclear energy, nations that include Armenia, Argentine, Romania, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovakia, the UAE and Switzerland. So how sensitive is that technology? If the technology is up to date (which might be sensitive) does that not also include that the reactors are safer? Should safety not be the largest concern in all this?

Well that is not entirely the story and it is Ars Technical that gives us: ““We remain concerned that the Saudi Government has refused, for many years, to consider any agreement that includes so-called ‘Gold Standard’ requirements against pursuing technologies to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium-laden spent nuclear fuel,” the senators wrote in their letter to Trump.” that was the part that the BBC did not give us, so even as part of that still needs to be vetted, yet if true, there would be a partial issue, yet in all this we still see that Europe is willing to give it to Iran and as such, should Saudi Arabia not be entitled to that choice too?

When we see the elements in play is it actual about stopping Saudi Arabia getting a nuclear reactor, or is it about stopping a handful of former admirals and generals laying their fingers on $200 billion? In the end whatever happens, the players forget that Russia is eager to serve Saudi Arabia with the 20 nuclear reactors that Saudi Arabia in committed to switch on in under 36 months. It seems to me that the United States or those reporting via the US media are all about removing the US as the larger economic power. That is how I personally would read it, the entire mess has too many angles and too many ‘possibly illegal‘ and ‘concern regarding access to nuclear technology‘, whilst the list of nations with nuclear reactors is already way out of control, and we read this, whilst we know that Russia and China are eager to put their fingers on that much revenue, when you want to buy a car that does at least 250Km, are you going to wait in front of the Ferrari door, or do you accept that Lamborghini and Aston Martin are not second choice cars, they are equally great choices in really fast cars. When we realise that part of the equation, we might consider that the Americans: General (ret.) John M. Keane, U.S. Army, General (ret.) Keith Alexander, U.S. Army, Rear Admiral (ret.) Michael Hewitt, U.S. Navy, Admiral (ret.) Kirkland H. Donald, U.S. Navy, Lieutenant General (ret.) Patrick J. O’Reilly, U.S. Army are not merely Americans, they might be the few true Americans left in that place. We catered to Wall Street for so long, we forget that innovation and had work and proper commercial deals made America great, short selling stock a lot less so, and even as we ‘acknowledge’ that these fine gentleman are still being mentored (or is that insightful advised) by Robert McFarlane, we need to realise that the entire media mess is set in motion for very different reasons. I am not pretending to know the reason, yet those so called whistle-blowers have their own alternative need, I wonder if we ever get the truth on that part of this much larger equation.

 

Leave a comment

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

Life without pension

Yes, that is one of the elements that are now in play, life without pension, work until death. Did you consider this danger when you woke up this morning? It does not matter whether you are 55+ and awaiting your first months on a pension, or perhaps you are a decade younger and you are setting the stage for your house, your family and your future to be decently secure. Perhaps you are young and you do not care yet on how you celebrate your golden years. Yet what happens when you are becoming aware that this will never be the life you can embrace?

For me it is not really a concern, I have always been a workaholic.

Yet the picture I am painting is slowly becoming a reality. I made mention somewhere in 2018 that there would be noise on renewing, or not cancelling the entire stimulus program. I was initially pleasantly surprised that this was exactly what happened. It did not take long, a mere 8 weeks later we see: ‘Dutch central banker calls on ECB to pause plan to ditch stimulus‘ (at https://www.ft.com/content/d42d5c12-2def-11e9-8744-e7016697f225). Here we see: “The European Central Bank should pause plans to ditch its crisis-era stimulus, the governor of the Dutch central bank has said, in a sign that concerns over disappointing economic growth have spread to the eurozone’s most hawkish circles“, In addition we see: “the central bank needed to gauge how badly the economy was faring before pressing ahead with plans to normalise monetary policy“. This is merely one part where we see that the economy is a jester and we are all playing the same card whilst the protected few get the entire deck, an economy that requires $3 trillion and counting to run through invested support is not running, plain and simple and that debt is with us, the tax payers. The idea to runt that bill up higher should outrage us all, no matter what excuses we get to hear. So when we see “he has moved into line with Mr Draghi and the majority on the ECB governing council. It shows the steep deterioration in eurozone sentiment“, I merely see that not only was Brexit the better idea, we need to get out as quick as we can, with exit deal or not.

What do you think will happen when this blows up in their faces? It will; I personally believe that there is close to zero doubt on this. The Wall Street Journal gave us two days ago: “the ECB could raise interest rates this year. If it doesn’t, the bank might turn to new stimulus measures. It has few tools left“, I will go one step further, it has no moves left other than to tap unused resources for short term gains and that is when someone will give the audience assurances with some small ‘extremely unlikely‘ or some ‘failure is too small a factor to see it as any threat‘ mention and soon thereafter that one thing happens and the pensions will be gone. The Dutch Telegraaf reported on that less than 10 hours ago where the reader gets: “De EU-landen willen volgende maand de knoop doorhakken. De PEPP moet het makkelijker maken geld opzij te zetten voor de oude dag door een einde te maken aan de lappendeken van regels in de Unie“, which translates to: “The EU countries want to make a decision next month. The PEPP should make it easier to set aside money for the old age by putting an end to the patchwork of rules in the Union“. Critical viewers see the danger as the mandatory part comes into question. So not only do we see places like Carillion (UK) with their “pension fund deficit of £800 million” a mere week ago. So what happens when this ends up being the impact on a European scale? What happens when the Dutch and Swedish systems (which are among the safest and most secure pensions) collapse? That is not fictive, that is not academic, that is a realistic danger of the PEPP, when those schemes start banking on the wrong bonds and investments there will be no pension left. Good luck getting by with that March Hare menu. The fact that this is getting pushed by more and more marketing, complete with ‘How a US firm pushed for EU €2.1 trn pension fund‘. It makes me extremely cautious. In the age where we see new stimulus replace another, whist there is no economic good to be found, we see more and more debt, the moment the ECB gets there fingers on that PEPP option the fences move and the entire herd of economic protection levels gets squashed, like grapes in a wine barrel, to be diminished to the status of vinegar. So there goes your pension that was initially a decent chardonnay at $15 per 700ml, and is now no more than $2 per gallon, so how does that go over with your planned pension outlook?

The rapid growth of all these international advisors all claiming that the Pan European Personal Pension products (Pepp) are a good idea is making me even less trusting. Having seen the eager needs of hedge funds managers over the decades and their renowned need for greed is making me worried that this will blow up and whilst they walk away with multimillion bonuses, we all end up without a pension. It does not get any better soon. That part is seen through the paper by Paul Cox, Lecturer at the Birmingham Business School (at https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/social-policy/CHASM/briefing-papers/2018/BP1-2018-Pan-European-Personal-Pension-Paul-Cox.pdf), and the first thing that should worry you is: “Currently there is no specific EU legal framework on the design, provision and distribution of PPs“, so not only is this an international product limited by national law, there is every indication that once outside of the borders a lot of national legislation loses its impact and power, giving rise to all kinds of dangers. Even as we are given: “The PEPP takes the form of a Regulation. A Regulation is directly applicable in each Member State and does not need to be passed in Parliament as a Directive does.” This comes with the added danger that these regulations can be altered at any time, giving the rise to ambiguity as well as adaption to fit the need of the ECB, that same entity that callously handed over $3 trillion in stimulus with nothing to show for it. How does that fit your retirement scheme?

Even as we see: “Transfers into a PEPP from any national Member State PP is allowed but a transfer from a PEPP to a national Member State PP is not allowed” and are given the reasoning of “The aim is to prevent possible tax relief arbitrage where the PEPP tax relief is not as generous as national Member State tax relief.“, the indirect danger will be that the PEPP could face additional taxation (on top of the normal national one).

Yet the bigger danger is in the unspoken part of: “An obligation to provide a financial guarantee might lead to investment in low risk and low returning assets, such as government bonds and money markets, which would go against the CMU’s aim of fostering investment in equity and increasing private sector economic growth. A financial guarantee may also create a significant barrier to entry as only some providers would be able to offer such guarantees“, so not only the loss of optional guarantee, yet the bigger part is the danger of much higher risk investments, apart from the partially visible danger of investing in ECB bonds fuelling more non profitable stimulus, the danger of big risk as people experienced in 2004 and 2008, at that point your pension is gone.

That is a direct danger at present and there is almost zero chance that these dangers will not hit you at some point. The problem is that the closer you are to retirement, the larger the impact will be. Some of my friends were hit with their low risk investments in 2008, resulting in an added 10 year shift to their retirement, so retiring at 75, do you think you will be that lucky?

From my personal point of view, it is not the large players that are the danger, there will always be another Carillion, the danger are the dozen small players where we see people diving into a pool they do not comprehend and set aside the essential protections required, all with the view to strike rich fast. In that view, consider the “the fallout of a $235 billion dirty-money scandal that has engulfed the local branch of Copenhagen-based Danske Bank A/S“, then take “the ABLV, Latvia’s third-largest bank, accused of laundering Russian money and starved it of American dollars, forcing it to close“, add “the closure of Malta’s Pilatus Bank and a 775 million euro fine imposed on Dutch lender ING” and the clear message, given via Reuters by committee chairman Petr Jezek: “The Financial Intelligence Units of many EU member states are ‘clearly not up to the task’“, that is the PEPP picture you could face, all getting in and out quick and ransack EU pensions overnight (and all falling over at the same time). There is too much danger and as we might have some faith in the uber wealthy Larry Fink and his need to grow his $6 trillion empire, the danger of small bank barracuda’s pretending to be great white’s or their version of an all devouring Megaladon (thanks Jason Statham) is too great, there is a lack of protection in place and with pensions that is just too great a risk to face. To translate that in other terms. It is not the one player losing $1oo billion that is the danger, it is the setting that 100 players all lose $1 billion at the same time, the systems are often not ready to deal with such a situation.

I fear that the fraud and pocket filling impact by greed driven persons the next time around will be a lot higher, a lot more devastating. I always figured that I will be working should I pass the 77 mark and still be alive, that is the one benefit of a workaholic, is that the view you are having for your retirement at 40+?

BP1-2018-Pan-European-Personal-Pension-Paul-Cox

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Politics

The other view

The Guardian had an interesting view yesterday (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/03/people-in-christian-majority-countries-values-clash-islam-poll). The article starts off with a high when we see: “Large numbers of people in Christian-majority countries in the west see a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of their nation, according to a survey“. I honestly do not get that. I have started (a few months ago) to get acquainted with the Quran. I have been looking at 5G opportunities (mostly) in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation, a Muslim monarchy. As such I believe that it is important to be aware of the rules and events in such a nation. Even if I am still a Christian, I feel it is important to be aware of things so that we do not cause unintentional grief or friction in any place, which means that I will have to adjust to Muslim life. Anyone who is not willing to do that is better off staying at home. The same rules apply to many other nations (Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, etc. etc.)

If we ‘expect’ an acceptance of ‘our’ values and culture in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and so on, should the reverse not apply as well?

In the article I particularly liked the quote: “When asked the same question about Christianity, 25% of people in Saudi Arabia and 22% of Algerians said there was a clash with the values of their country, but the proportions fell to 13% in the United Arab Emirates and 7% in Egypt“, it seems that acceptance increases in places with more international exposure, which was a nice thing to learn.

When we see he links to YouGov dot UK and we see: “YouGov was recently commissioned to conduct a multi-country study on attitudes to religion in the West and Middle East/North Africa region“, we see that Dr Joel Rogers de Waal has the goods for an interesting piece of publication in his hands. The article (at https://yougov.co.uk/topics/international/articles-reports/2019/02/03/westernmena-attitudes-religion-portray-lack-faith– ) is even more interesting when we see the issue of ‘fundamental clash’ where Christianity is a lot less ‘accepting’ than Muslims are, which is something that actually surprised me.

It also opened the issue of consideration we look at “Campaigners for religious freedom are highlighting the significance of the historic papal visit to the birthplace of Islam, and hope Francis’s message of peaceful coexistence will be heard in other countries in the region, where many Christians are denied rights or face persecution and death.” Here we see the link to an article from December 26th stating: “The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered an independent, global review into the persecution of Christians of all nationalities amid claims that not enough is being done to defend the rights of nearly 200 million Christians at risk of persecution today“. Consider the following: “Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work, but does not allow them to practice their faith openly. Because of that Christians generally only worship within private homes” This is not a hidden event, this is not some made up rule, this is Islamic law, a person either abides or finds their fortune somewhere else, so Saudi Arabia (as well as the UAE, Qatar and Oman) could be a haven for wealth opportunities for the atheists and of course Muslims, this is not some hidden idea that you can flunk with, this is clear established Islamic law, so when Jeremy Hunt is making some case of persecuted Christians on boxing day, I have no idea where he is coming from. Islamic law is also really present in Pakistan and many other places, so why are non-born national Christian there is the first place, to convert people? There is clear Islamic law against it, it is strict and it can result in capital punishment.

These were not blatant forms of misdirection, this is known and clearly stated laws in these nations, so at times, I have no idea where some people come from.

Can there be adjustment?

I would go with yes, if there is a simple infraction that can be clearly be seen as an error by the person and it can be proven to be unintentional, the courts might be lenient (I cannot speak for Islamic courts). Yet, the diligence of a person should be clearly shown. As such the entire Anti-Mariah Carey part is also a little bit of a mystery. We can accept that people feel that there is a “poor human rights record in Saudi Arabia“, yet from what point of view? Saudi Arabia is an Islamic law nation, it is a monarchy where Islamic law is rule and everyone (even the royal family) adheres to Islamic law. Let’s not forget that Saudi Arabia had established high end culture and architecture in an age where the people mixed faeces and clay to make the walls of their houses in the larger area of Western Europe, so most houses did have a shitty smell to it, and those people thought it was OK. So as In Arabia and Babylonia there were sewers close to 15 centuries ago, whilst only 9 centuries ago, the western civilisation used shit in the building of the walls of their houses and for the most sewers were a non-issue, there were none. How is that for generics in civilised life?

And as we see: “human rights campaigners have urged the pope to use his landmark visit to address the war in Yemen. The UAE is part of the Saudi-led military coalition that has been accused of human rights violations in the country” we need to realise that these same people seem to lack the commitment to do the same against Hezbollah and Iran who are in the thick of it, is that not an interesting one sided part in all that? And it is not limited to the visit of El Papa Vaticano either. Even the UN has been accused of ignoring Iran’s role in all this, so there is a larger issue at play which is also fuelling the mistrust in the Arabian Peninsula nations. In addition to this I would tell people to start following Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on LinkedIn, Royalty and the current Vice President of the UAE, we can accept that he has people managing that account like any other big CEO or entrepreneur (like Bill Gates and Richard Branson), you will see that this man, this Vice President is actually really inspiring that alone should open the eyes of many to adjust the cultural glasses we wear now and learn more about Islam and Islamic law, for the simple reason that if a devout Muslim like Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum can be inspiring, what other revelations are we denying ourselves?

I learned early in life that closing your eyes to other views is ALWAYS debilitating. I have been around the planet twice now, I was never rich, yet I have seen so much and I never regretted my choices (well, actually perhaps 3), which is a decent achievement to have.

So when I see the entire alleged issue regarding Saudi Arabia PR offices in London mentioned in a few places, I am at a loss why they do not get 50-200 open resume considerations a day (perhaps they do, I am merely phrasing the question out there).

So when we were told last October “British firms earning millions of pounds from efforts to improve the image of the kingdom and its regional allies in recent years, a Guardian investigation has found” I am wondering why their competitors are not fighting harder to offer to do a better job.

I digress

True, I was digressing, as I was moving towards the profits there, which is not incorrect, but it was not what the article was about. We can argue that the best opportunities are for those accepting the values of others and that is what is in play for now. You see, it is not about becoming Muslim, it never was about that; yet having a decent comprehension of Muslims and Islamic Law is merely a consideration to have, an essential consideration when you accept opportunities there, it is the only way to move forward. I reckon that I will never truly get accepted to the barrel of cream as I do not speak Arabic, yet those now about to no longer be a teenager, consider getting that skill. As economic growth in the Arabian nations is close to 500% of what America could present, as the same is pushed for China, having these skills in language and culture is an essential step in anyone’s future, even if you decide to not go there. When a place like Salini Impregilo is merely one of several companies growing multi-billion dollar contracts in that region, one after the other, when you are not a University engineer, do you think that they will offer contract work to any talented person, or to the talented person with at least a minimum knowledge of Arabian language and culture? When the option for a good future is understanding, as well as acceptance of others is the stepping stone to a bright future, why not consider that step?

So when you are confronted with: “In Germany, 53% of respondents were unfavourable towards Islam, compared with 10% to 22% who were unfavourable to other religions. In the US and Britain, smaller proportions (37% and 32%) were unfavourable towards Islam, with a similar range viewing other religions negatively“, are we accepting that 53% has ‘conservative’ values, or are we realising that 53% is throwing away a culturally driven well served lifestyle?  In the end money is always important (that pesky thing called rent comes around), yet what is your spiritual life missing out on by not knowing more about a cultural way of life that could be inspiring in several ways. When we merely a day ago:

نرحب بزيارة البابا فرانسيس لدولة الامارات  .. زيارة تاريخية هدفها تعميق قيم التسامح والتفاهم والحوار الديني … تجمعنا الإخوة الانسانية .. وتجمعنا الوصايا السماوية المشتركة .. وتجمعنا نوايانا من أجل مستقبل أفضل البشرية .. أهلا وسهلا بك في عام التسامح على أرض الإمارات

Which is translates by Google as: “We welcome the visit of Pope Francis to the UAE. A historic visit aimed at deepening the values of tolerance, understanding and religious dialogue… We are gathered by human brotherhood. We bring together the common Heavenly commandments. Our intentions are gathered for the future of the better mankind. Welcome to the year of tolerance on the land of the Emirates

So at that point, do you think there is any place left for the like of: ‘the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders‘ (to coin but one example)? There will always be opposition to any view, both Christian and Muslim, yet opposition is not ‘anti’, the moment we learn that lesson too late is the day we realise that we wasted the life we had before that realisation. It is actually that simple most of the time. As such it is my personal view that the article by Harriet Sherwood in Abu Dhabi is a lot more important than most of us realise, to learn that simple part is an initial first step for many, be not afraid to take a step outside of your comfort zone, you might learn more than you bargained for, from others and also about yourself.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Media, Politics, Religion

A train without rails

We have seen the actions in America, the actions by Americans and the Guardian treated us last Thursday to: ‘China accuses US of suppressing its high-tech companies‘. When we consider the actions against Huawei, that would certainly make sense, yet is it true? If we consider: “China has accused the US of trying to suppress its tech companies, as US prosecutors reportedly investigate allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from US businesses. Adding to pressure on the Chinese telecoms firm, US lawmakers have proposed a ban on selling US chips or components to the company.” We could optionally accept the given, yet where is the evidence? Huawei has been more advanced on several sides in both 4G and 5G for well over 3 years. In opposition we need to entertain: “The Chinese state-run Global Times called the latest pressure on Huawei a form of “technological McCarthyism” aimed at politicising and blocking Chinese businesses.” I personally feel that the Chinese Global Times has a case, yet why is this?

We can from the initial fact that America became fat, lazy, iterative and non-innovative and they are broke, any combination of two or more of the previous markers apply. In support of all this there is 5G Evolution (AT&T), in addition the entire US government shutdown mess will impact 5G rollout and there are some indication that most 5G will be delayed, or not be finalised until one quarter later at present. This indicates that if the US shutdown is not resolved within 55 days, there are a few indicators that give us the reality that 5G in America will not be up to scrap until 2020, that is one huge defeat for the America’s with or without the Corona wall in Southern Texas.

As we see the impact of technology, we see that there is an economic barrier stronger and higher than any immigrant wall and it is around everyone who wants 5G. So in all this Huawei already has a huge advantage, they have several additional options to play in Europe and they can give a direct light to Europe as well as the Middle East steaming on full throttle on 5G, whilst the US would not be ready to even implement basic 5G in several places. Even outside the infrastructure of the UK, Huawei could still be the largest player in the UK; time will tell how that goes.

This does not mean that the allegation “According to the Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is in the advanced stages of a criminal inquiry that could result in an indictment of Huawei. The newspaper said the DoJ was looking into allegations of theft of trade secrets from Huawei’s US business partners, including a T-Mobile robotic device used to test smartphones. Huawei and the DoJ declined to comment directly on the report” should not be treated seriously, but there is still the stage where ‘allegations of theft of trade secrets from Huawei’s US business partners, including a T-Mobile robotic device used to test smartphones‘ needs to be tested on evidence, and until that part has been sufficiently satisfied, the entire allegations mess, is merely a mess. In opposition, the Guardian also gave us: “Huawei and T-Mobile settled their disputes in 2017 following a US jury verdict finding neither damage, unjust enrichment nor willful and malicious conduct by Huawei in T-Mobile’s trade secret claim“, if that is true then why is it part of the allegation in the first place? It is optionally that short sighted act that leaves us with more and more diminished consideration on acts by America, that do show clear signs of a McCarthy enterprise of unqualified allegations. We need to consider that America is playing a dangerous game. It is important that ‘consider’ is the operative word, mainly because of the connected: ‘only months ago, Canada and China were eagerly discussing the prospects of a free trade deal‘. You see from my point of view, this looks more and more like America is poisoning the well, there could be another side, but the allegations are not properly documented (and have not been so for the longest of times) and as such, in light of all the lost credibility that America has, the entire mess is less and less a Chinese issue and more an American issue. Of course, that could change overnight when we see a proper documentation of evidence and proper allegations, based on verifiable data, which until the trial is not really realistic and we get that, we do. Yet the entire McCarthian mess is too overly visible to give a well balanced view, it does not bode well for America until that is changed. That part is important, because the current administration never made any secrets of the approach towards ‘get more manufacturing on US soil‘. That is the Republican agenda and that is their rights, yet when you do that to a technological field where he US now has fallen behind to a much larger degree (the AT&T part is evidence of that), there will be repercussions of such a change. the fact that when we realise that there was an issue last month that there are still no FCC rules to remote 5G router rules, that implies that the administration has a much larger backdrop than we considered they had. It is in that light that we should also hold the views of Senator Chris Van Hollen to scrutiny. When we are treated to: “Huawei and ZTE are two sides of the same coin. Both companies have repeatedly violated US laws, represent a significant risk to American national security interests and need to be held accountable“. you see, when we consider the statement where ‘a significant risk to American national security interests‘ is nothing more than the fact that these two players are Chinese and not American, that part is satisfied to American National Security considerations, but overall that is not holding water to the reality of technology, the debate changes. In addition, we see no actual list that addresses ‘Both companies have repeatedly violated US laws‘. You see, if laws were actually violated than we should see arrests, are we seeing any actual arrests apart from the fact that one person is under house arrest optionally merely due to the fact that there is a link with Iran? So, in that light, how many Americans linked to the EU Nuclear deal are currently under arrest (and being investigated)? Perhaps people on Capitol Hill could explain all the actions going on against Ellie Geranmayeh? Likely there are no actions at all, so in all that how high does Huawei rate in all that and is the attempted arrest not a clear statement of discrimination against China? Let a White House West Wing senior associate please explain to me when and how such actions ever worked out positively for any administration? I cannot think of any example.

It is about to get a lot worse, especially in California. You might not think that the issue regarding The Pacific Gas and Electric Company is not linked here but it is. You see, when you consider that Forbes gave us: “PG&E will likely file for bankruptcy in the next two weeks. The utility announced on Monday that they are indeed exploring filing for bankruptcy protection (after much speculation), and their stock quickly tumbled by over 50%. While in the best of cases bankruptcy should be providing protection for as many parties possible, in this case it unfortunately may have the worst impact on the most vulnerable — fire survivors, workers, and in general the 16 million people PG&E serves“. We need to see the connection that could have been there. Any government linked progress on 5G could have been a way to keep PG&E afloat. Not because they need to, but as the infrastructures support one another, the utility could have connected in more than one way, giving an additional service gaining a 15%-25% overhead coverage on the exact same dime, not merely lowering risk, there could have been a protection for the workers and in addition create an additional workforce giving a dent in unemployment numbers lowering them even further. This was done in the Netherlands in the 90’s and in that same decade it started in most Scandinavian nations. Even as there were still three entities (power, cable and internet) the overall substructure was fed via the same infrastructure giving a host of additional options without the cost and pushing forward connections. that path is now pretty much a non-option, so in all this Huawei could have fuelled progress in California, even as we accept the American need for different stages of national security, having something there and then upgrading it all to American required standards would have been easier and better than trying to place something that was not there in the first place, setting the US back for up to 2 years and in addition being unable to safe the US treasury 3-7 billion dollars, an amount that adds up faster than we think.

The PG&E mess is a lot larger when we consider the legal folly that victims face, in addition, the workers would be hit just as hard, the non-hardship part will only be felt by the executives who can do a Woody Allen (take the money and run). In a stage where the shareholders and even the environmentalists will be to be slapped around, the 5G implementation plans using Huawei could have negated part of these hardships, whilst the three are connected in upgrading the current stations and adding more stations, so anything upgraded would also include placing 5G capabilities, in all this Sprint and Verizon would come up short and not merely technological, so there are a few reasons to keep on good footing with Huawei, all this is no longer a real possibility. By the way, when you consider that part and when it falls over, I reckon that places like the pacific LA region, via Malibu all the way to Oxnard could have benefitted from all this, optionally stirring towards a carbon neutral point through renewable energy implementation. What would be more efficient than having the windmill fuel the energy as well as the 5G and cable needs of that entire region? It required a large overhaul that could be done and keep the value of housing high there, that idea is also pretty gone. So when that hits and California needs to downgrade the value of housing in that region by 20%, how will the State itself fare?

All because the anti-Huawei acts that were clearly off the rails even before the actions started. It get to be worse the moment the media must acknowledge that California is no longer considered state of the art, even when we agree that America, New Zealand and Australia are all part of the Five Eyes intelligence network, the fact that we now see the optional chance that America ends in 3rd of even 4th place after Australia and New Zealand would at that point become the most hilarious news cycle in the history of digital media and that is not an unrealistic consideration, all this whilst a few options remains for Huawei to show the world this year that they were the most secure and the most advanced option. That is the reality we need to fess up to when we are made aware merely last night that Commons science and technology committee chairman Norman Lamb gave City A.M. (at http://www.cityam.com/271916/government-under-pressure-ban-huawei-5g-upgrade-) he quote “These are vitally important security issues. We need to establish whether there is a threat“, after all this time, at present as quoted there still is no established threat, so in that light we see the active McCarthian debacle on 5G technology, and all this will be biting the state of California over the next few months in several ways. Even now as Germany is paddling backwards on the openness of 5G and trying to remove Huawei, we see the folly of actions. The quote from Norman Lamb is first actual evidence of this folly. When it comes to National security any nation needs to do what is best, and I am fine with that. Alex Younger (head of UK boy scout division 6) was correct in his response and it makes sense that a Chinese device should not be part of a national infrastructure, that same applies to any other nation, yet the others accused Huawei of being a national threat when it clearly wasn’t one (or at least proven to be one). Alex Younger told us that we should never depend on Chinese technology and that is fine, that same would apply to America. Alex did not accuse Huawei and that is the difference. Even in that light, having something in place and then upgrading it to national standards is preferable to jerking around in the dark hoping you hit someone in a moment of ecstasy through alleged empty words, which seems to be happening now.

This hollow status is dragging he US down, it will hit the other too to a lesser effect because the they have less infrastructure to deal with and the UK has the additional benefit that they have a well-developed system (aka British Telecom), the Dutch have KPN, Australia has Telstra and so on, the Americans have an intertwined mess of Verizon, Sprint and a few other players giving them a lot more hardship, the fact that cities are taking the FCC to court at present is merely making the mess larger, and increasing delays all over the place, that is the reality that the US faces and the entire mess is not some train that came off the rails, it is a merely the train, they all forgot about the rails required, that is the sad part in all this and that is why the US is in for multiple levels of hardship having to watch several nations passing them by on the technological fields in ways they never imagined, because those implementers left their imagination next to their porn stack in the cupboards where their wives do not look ever (or so they think).

All elements I saw a year ago, all elements I took into consideration. Whatever element I forgot or overlooked are merely small dents in an adjusted path that I got right to the largest degree. And as we consider the last news part in all this, we need to recognise that whilst the FCC is dunking around, Saudi Arabia finalised an agreement with the UN 4 days ago. The news gave us: “An agreement has been signed between the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to strengthen cooperation and partnership between the two organizations“, and this now leads to “to adopt new technologies, such as 5G phone networks, have made the Kingdom one of the most developed regulators of the ICT sector in the world, according to the ITU’s rankings” gives rise to why I have been keeping my eyes on Saudi Arabia. They are almost literally sprinting ahead in the 5G environment and as we are given “Gov. Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Ruwais and Doreen Bogdan-Martin, director of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), sign deal to boost technology cooperation. (SPA)“, we see that Saudi Arabia (as well as a few other Middle Eastern nations) has been taking 5G extremely serious. From my personal point of view, the US has been sitting still (or on their hands) for close to 2 years too long and it will cost them dearly.

Having a train and forgetting about placing the rails tends to do that, and it is a rather silly nation when infrastructure and transportation are important to you, that evidence is shown in several places and the American folly makes no sense unless they are even more bankrupt that they are willing to admit to. Having to collect the taxes of this month to pay for the energy bill of next month is the last straw an administration has and it seems that America is getting ever closer to that stage now, but that is pure speculation from my side in all this.

 

Leave a comment

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

Hezbollah Plus

As we look at the things we think are wrong (like UK housing), the things we know are wrong (Hezbollah in Yemen) and the things we claim are wrong, we are confronted with the things that are not making any headlines in the international news. We see a larger absence of Houthi transgressions and events that do get covering in the Middle East and in some local news procrastinators, but on the larger scale, there is an absence, I would almost as far as going with an orchestrated absence.

From my point of view, I see the ugly head of facilitation rearing the news on several levels. Now, to be fair, there is a larger issue, there is a lot of innuendo and no evidence, yet that did not stop the press pushing non-stop circulation over the innuendo regarding the cadaver of Jamal Khashoggi, did it?

As for Iran getting less and less visibility as it funds Hezbollah, that might be the impact of America attacking Iran at every turn and that would stop the media from paying attention as well, yet there is a larger danger in play and we need to take a minute to realise the danger in play. In my case it is slightly easier as I am fluent in half a dozen languages, so I can compare the different sources in its native shape, and seeing that there is a growing issue and the media remains unaware, whether that is intentional or not cannot be proven.

That image gets a new level, a colourful 3d version when we take a tour via these publications. For this exercise we start at the Jewish News Syndicate (hardly the most unbiased source I grant you), yet when we start here (at https://www.jns.org/the-terror-threat-of-iran-and-hezbollah-in-europe/), we might see “Iran uses a wide network of the IRGC’s: al-Qods Force, the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and proxies like Hezbollah. Iran has an organized terrorist network established in Europe and the people who were arrested in connection with the terror plots lived and worked in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Norway and Denmark“, in addition we see “Despite the many terrorist attacks carried out by Hezbollah around the world and on European soil, so far most of the European Union countries have not put Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations“, these are mere printed facts, they are not that interesting to most media, it does not have the sexy flair of some Kardashian article, but not remaining aware is actually dangerous. You see, that list had two missing elements. The elements are Sweden and the Netherlands. The second one is immensely important as it has several options that lead directly to the UK, and from the Netherlands most of the western European nations are just hours away.

There have been issues in a few ways over time and in Sweden that seems to be limited to the Akalla region (outer suburb of Stockholm) where we see a dangerous mix of refugees and immigrants. This is no longer contained to Akalla, they are now growing in Kista, Sundbyberg and Solna, covering a larger part of Northwest Stockholm, a stage where optional and aspiring Shia extremists can move around reasonably safe and secure and there is every indication that there are numerous Hezbollah sympathisers there too. I remain with the word ‘sympathisers’, as there is no clear evidence that these are either lone wolves or actual active extremists. What is optionally an issue is that Stockholm has an amazing internet infrastructure; the people there tend to have better internet then the people in a Microsoft building. To illustrate that, in 2001, I had a home consumer internet connection in Kista with 100Mb lines, whilst most businesses in Europe could hardly get 10Mb, this gives these people a much larger advantage to spread the digital image of their groups and that is exactly what we have seen in the last 5-10 years. This does not prove that it is happening from Sweden, even as some sources give us: “In fact, not only is Hezbollah already engaged in plots in Europe, it dispatches dual Lebanese-European citizens (from Sweden, France, etc.) to carry them out. And yet, recent actions against Hezbollah by the United States, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Organization for the Islamic Conference have not led to increased Hezbollah plots against the countries involved. As for UN peacekeepers, the U.S. State Department has documented at least two instances where Hezbollah has already targeted European peacekeepers in Lebanon. Those lines have been crossed, the question now is what—if anything—will be done about it?” (at https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/debating-the-hezbollah-problem) we see compelling, yet not completely convincing evidence in play. It gets to be a little more interesting when we slice and dice darkweb data and add the bitcoin events that can be traced (to some degree), there is a larger stage in play, but we are up against a clever opponent (claiming that they are not is exceedingly stupid) and it seems that there is growing support from Germany, especially in conjunction with anti-Semitic events.

It goes further than the information that sources like Matthew Levitt, Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute. It becomes a really useable filter on events when we dig into the Dutch parts that involve Nasr el Damanhoury. You see, we might all react in outrage and there is plenty of indication, yet there is no evidence, not one part that has valued and valid use. The Dutch Newspaper ‘Algemeen Dagblad’ gave us (at https://www.ad.nl/rotterdam/bewijs-dan-eens-dat-wij-oproepen-tot-de-jihad~ab1cf89d/) gives us: “The Former School bought for €1.7 milllion, was bought on behalf of a German foundation with funds coming from Qatar“. There are all the flags, all the indication, yet not one bit of real intelligence, evidence or reason to act. And in this both the Dutch AIVD and German BND are able, well-educated and driven towards success and so far they have gone tits up in all this (for now). The Dutch situation is even more frustrating as everything points towards a very temperate environment, what some would call an optional tactic that is pure long term, and as such finding evidence of wrongdoing seems to be a foregone conclusion towards failure, of course this also optionally indicates that Nasr el Damanhoury could be completely innocent, at the most, the indication is limited to the fact that he might only be guilty of association with people of interest in all this. Yet the September 2018 event in the Netherlands, where we get “The suspects came from Arnhem, Rotterdam, and villages close to those two cities“, we get an optional link to certain events in the Rotterdam area of ‘Katendrecht’ where there are numerous of refugees and Middle Eastern immigrants, allowing optional or aspiring members of Hezbollah vanish into the background. There are a lot of indications, yet there is no actual or factual evidence to a prosecutable degree. Yet there have been a large amount of indicators that should not be ignored and with ‘Bolstered by Iran, Hezbollah ‘capable of destruction on a whole new scale’‘ (at https://www.france24.com/en/20181219-iran-israel-hezbollah-tunnels-missiles-lebanon-syria-nasrallah) we see: “A key element behind this is the fact that “Hezbollah is now way better equipped, so it has the capabilities to create destruction on a completely different scale from what we saw in 2006,” added Yossi Mekelberg, a Middle East specialist at Chatham House think-tank and Regent’s University London, in an interview with FRANCE 24“, we are merely introduced to the concept of optional danger, which is nowhere near the stage of ‘panic now, we ran out of coffee‘. Yet when we consider “The Lebanese armed group has also played a major role in keeping Tehran’s ally, President Bashar al-Assad, in power over the course of the Syrian conflict, participating in decisive victories over rebel groups, such as the 2013 Al-Qusayr offensive and the two 2016 Aleppo offensives” and we add “this increase in capability has taken place because of Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian conflict, where the Iran-backed group has its largest deployment outside of Lebanon (between 7,000 to 10,000 fighters) and is fighting alongside pro-Assad forces. According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Hezbollah has increased its weapons reserves, better trained its members and improved its tactical and operational skills during the conflict” (source: Al Arabiya) we are now left with the state as Syria changes and as such there is an increase pool of Hezbollah members moving towards refugee centres, staying off the grid and preparing for activities in Europe. With the anti-Semitic support they get from Germans (read: Neo Nazi’s) there is an increased pressure on intelligence gathering and data comprehension required to make sense of all the information available. I am not talking about what the media gives us; it is a different stage of darkweb and crypto currency events. Over the last year we have seen “The Cyber-Desk of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) located a website named “isiscoins.com” on which these coins are sold. The site is presented as an official site of the Islamic State’s Ministry of Finance containing the coins minted by the Islamic State, in accordance with the specifications described in the film, “Return of the Gold Dinar”. Sets of seven coins are offered for sale on the site: two gold coins, three silver coins and two copper coins, at a cost of $950 per set, to be paid for using Bitcoin virtual currency“. This is not some sympathiser phase; this is recruiting and amassing funds for something much larger. The setup is set to remain invisible for a much longer time, and the methods of identification are close to useless at present. So when we see: “In summary, sporadic evidence of terrorists’ use of digital currency has been in existence since 2012 and there is no doubt that in recent months this trend has been growing and taking shape and now holds a prominent presence online. From the cases reviewed above, it is clear that the use of virtual currency is prevalent among activists at various levels, including the organization itself (the Islamic State), support groups and propaganda (Haq Web site, Akhbar al-Mulsilimin website, Jahezona group) and individuals (Bahrun Naim and Zoobia Shahnazi)” we cannot hide behind the statement ‘one is not the other‘ and in equal measure we can no longer rely on trivialisation of ‘six of one and half a dozen of the other‘, the truth of the second statement is that we have 12 angry men, deciding to become jury and executioners for whatever their cause is in Europe and that stage is growing not merely towards the UK, they are starting to be active all over Europe, there is enough indication that this is happening, yet finding the evidence who are the real extremists and who are merely advocating for Islam is not an easy task, as the Extremists are becoming more adapt in wearing sheep’s clothing, the task of finding the evidence merely becomes harder and harder.

That part was proven in January 2018 when the ICT (International Institute for Counter-Terrorism) could no longer test the Hezbollah CoinGate link. The result of the tests was that “the link no longer directs to CoinGate. Instead, the link redirects to an internal page on the site that was created on December 7, 2017 and every click on the site provides a different Bitcoin address“, it is speculative, yet there are enough indicators that Russian Organised Crime (or optionally Russian entrepreneurial criminal wannabe’s), as well as German Neo-Nazi’s are getting their 30 coins of silver facilitating for Hezbollah and their presented acts against the State of Israel and Jews wherever possible. I merely think that they are ways to push forward the Hezbollah agenda in every conceivable direction and until we get a better way to track these money trails most progress is hopelessly overestimated. You see, this is not new, this is not starting now. There are Bitcoin receipts going back to August 2016 and it is a clean method to disperse $100 million dollar via Iranian support all over Europe, and there are clear indications that a chunk is going in these directions.

As a final part (a badly translated text) gives us: “The campaign to collect donations in Bitquin: Below the title of the article is written (marked with orange): “Click to contribute to the site In Bitquin – no donation from the Zakat funds “(Akhbar al-Muslimin, November 27, 2017)“, their digital presence is growing, even in the streets and for now there is no clear plan of attack, for the mere reason that there is no visibility on how to attack Hezbollah in Europe. You see, ISIS, IS, Hezbollah and Hamas are all using similar tactics, they are teaching each other capabilities on the Darkweb, that if not for a lot more is what we learn from Canadian Journalist Martin Himmel. He gives us: “if authorities clamp down on Bitcoin, terror groups and criminal gangs move on to other crypto currencies, like Zcash and Monero. “It’s a constant catch up game,”” and the local authorities are unable to catch up, the resources are not there, so as players like Hezbollah are increasing their footprint all over Europe, we see that the danger is not merely that they are active and extreme, they are now outmatching the Europeans in cash and resources to a much larger degree making the dangers in Europe more and more evident. My views are not merely supported by Aisha Ahmad, a scholar from the University of Toronto. With “a strange mix of ideologues and hyper-materialists coming together for mutual interest” we see the reality where those needing cash for whatever they want are facilitating for the needs of these extremists. The Neo Nazi’s might be the clearest example, and they are not the only one, not even close.

So as Europe will at some point this year face at least one event involving Hezbollah Plus, we will see the impact and we will also be confronted with a system that is not ready, not educated and largely unable to counter such events. The technology is not up to speed and the technological knowledge of the opposition to Hezbollah is barely keeping up, not to mention laughingly understaffed.

This is soon no longer the stage of ‘bringing a knife to a gunfight’, it is staging the Neanderthal against a Gatling gun at 400 passes and it is not Hezbollah at that point who is the Neanderthal in all this. The difference is getting towards being that extreme.

So, when was the last time that Extremists had a technological advantage over governments? If there is even one example, how did that end?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A screen made with real silver

Forbes gave us the news on Monday. Many expected it; many saw it coming and no one is really surprised. It’s ‘Netflix’s Worst Nightmare Is Coming True‘. Stephen McBride gives us: “If you’ve been reading RiskHedge, you know I’ve been warning to keep money out of stock market darling Netflix (NFLX)“, he was of course correct, yet I would not go there for different reasons, reasons he actually mentions in part. As we are treated to: “It comes down to the lifecycle of disruptive businesses. Netflix pioneered “streaming” video where you watch shows through the Internet rather than on cable TV. For years, it was the only streaming service in town. Early investors rode this first-mover advantage to 10,000% gains from 2008 to July of this year.” Many, for the most the investors rejoiced. I saw the loaded cannon in another direction. As Forbes gives us, we are treated to: “Netflix had planned to spend $8 billion on shows and series this year… now it’ll spend roughly $12 billion. It now invests more in content than any other American TV network” that is where the danger is. You see, the cold hearted calculation is: 137 million users worldwide. This gets us on average $24 billion a year, it looks good, but it is not great. You see, this only works if this goes on in the long run, whilst it requires growth, it also requires people to stay with Netflix for a long time. Now, both are an option, but they have muddied the waters in another way. First there are the loans and the interest is due, as well as the principle of the matter (aka, the loan). It is optionally not a big thing if things were great moving forward, yet they are not. I had an idea earlier this year and I thought that handing it to Netflix is a great way to gain momentum. You see, I have written 1100 articles within the last 6 years alone and as such I do have a few ideas running around in my head.

Yet Netflix has a no-unsolicited submissions policy, so until you have an agent and such, there is no option. They only accept submissions through a licensed literary agent or from a producer, attorney, manager or entertainment executive with the players that Netflix has a pre-existing relationship. This makes total sense, yet it also gives rise to a much more expensive track, and $12 billion shows part of that. From my point of view new ideas and optionally the most profitable ones are found in what some would call ‘the geek corner’, these people can often not relate, cannot present but they tell great stories, they are most often really cheap and original. It is a much harder sell, yet the entire expense track could be down by at least 10%, saving Netflix $1.2 billion on the spot. Then there is the international concept. Some TV series became great in their own way. Sweden had Pipi Longstocking and that become a much loved character on a very global stage. Another Swedish treasure was a 70’s series called the White Stone, based on the book by Gunnel Linde, Sweden had its own share of successes down the track and we realise that some might seem less interesting nowadays. The Netherlands had the legendary series ‘Kunt U mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen meneer?‘ It was a song story by children based on the Grimm story of the ratcatcher of Hameln. The series apart from some a few episodes is lost forever, which is a shame as this was a cultural highlight for the Dutch. The French had Thierry la Fronde, La demoiselle d’Avignon and several more, all unseen by a global audience. It is an option, but is that the case?

No it is not.

Netflix has shown that their money is well spent; series like Sabrina, The Haunting of Hill House and Altered Carbon are amazing achievements. We can clearly see that billions were well spend, yet in this donuts for dollars world, the overall stage (non-advertising space mind you), the annual setting for their audience is set to a requirement of close to 365 to 700 hours of TV entertainment a year to keep them, which that adds up to Sabrina, Star Trek Discovery, Haunting of Hill house, the Good Witch, Marvel’s The Punisher, Lost In Space, The OA, Seven Seconds, The Rain, Requiem, 3%, The Innocents, Sense 8, Grace and Frankie, Godless, The Mechanism, Dark, The Crown, Marvel’s Daredevil, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Stranger Things, Lady Dynamite, Glow, Sabrina, Altered Carbon, Mindhunter and at least 20 movies. They need to pull this off each year, and that pressure with Disney+ also increases, as the chance of switching to someone else is more and more likely.

We get that there are series that will always take the cake (Game of Thrones), and in this we see that there is some space to manoeuvre, but it is not a lot. You see, if someone loses the interest for 3 days, they will wonder what Netflix is for and optionally cancel, especially in this economy. That is the clear math I saw at the very beginning. It is not the price; $15 (the medium option) is more often than not a really acceptable price to most people. Netflix got that right, they merely need to find another additional venue for materials, because the well of creation will soon dry up, not merely because there are other players on the field, it is that Free to air TV, and other medium are vying for that same pool of viewers. Netflix as the first one has an advantage, but for how long?

Stephen McBride, a professional fund manager and the chief analyst at RiskHedge makes his financial case and that adds up to the findings I have. I am not sure on what the share price needs to be, yet his financial case and my mere view of the low average viewer gives light to a Netflix in trouble, how much is a clear unknown. Netflix has shown that with Sabrina and The Haunting of Hill House a new level of creepiness can be reached. Sabrina is a new take on what was fluffy, whilst The Haunting of Hill House had most of my friends scared beyond belief, so that series hit the mark. I saw the interesting catch on Lost in Space that after the original series and a movie can capture hearts all over the place, so Netflix is bringing the good stuff, no doubt about it. However, the entire setting is still low on hours. Even if year one for the audience is great, they will want more, or at least no less in the stage of year two and that is where I see trouble for Netflix. This business model will not work pumping billion after billion in a stage that grows ever more, and the path gets worse as more and more is borrowed.

That is the business case that is lost from the very start. This is all before we all realise that the need for Internet and 4K grows, so their infrastructure will shift within the next two years as well and their cloud will need a serious amount of cash to deal with that. I speculatively reckon that by 2021 (if Netflix makes it that long) will equal the NSA data server site at Camp Williams (Utah), so please take a moment to reflect on this. Netflix will in three years require the systems to facilitate to an audience and its hardware will be bigger than the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), with the ability to serve optionally a little over half a billion people. That is the path that Netflix is on and people wonder why I am overly negative. Well, overly negative is a stretch. It is the old fashioned sales pitch. A man sells his soul to the devil, the devil agrees and the deal is that he needs to grow his customer base by 20%. Those who know of the value of a chess set might know that one too. That man required as payment one grain the first tile, and double one the next one and so on, until all 64 tiles were paid for. 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128 (totaling 255 grains) and that is merely the first row, after that it goes fast and by the last row it the tile payment equalled the total grain production of Russia. In customer base you require a customer base that surpasses the total population, or in this specific case the hardware of a former super power. Also consider that over time Netflix needs to open a similar base in Europe and Asia to maximise the streaming within the time zones. How much will that cost? Oh and before you think that this is it, how much power will it take to keep that running? It is set to be $50 million a year in energy cost and 1 million gallons of water a day (per base). That is if there are no power surges and other calamities giving hardship to all this. Now we see more and more providers handing out one year of free Netflix, they will have a deal with Netflix, yet year one is not the problem, year two is the bigger issue, content makes that a challenge and as is stated in Forbes: “Netflix has three bad choices: continue borrowing billions and bury itself deeper in debt… dramatically raise its subscription prices… or cut back on making new content“, if we see the three, we wonder what impact monthly increases does, I reckon that they could go for the option of one price (HD, 4K) at the same price of $16. Basically get rid of Normal and merely have basic and premium (for $5 more), it will give a boost and most people might not worry about the $5, knowing that they could always upgrade their hardware and get better viewing. Borrowing billions is a non-starter as I see it, it merely lowers the lifespan, yet the final option ‘cut back on making new content‘, is not set in stone. What if we go by ‘making different new content‘, are they exploring that? This is where the golden oldies might bring life to the amount of materials they get at a much lesser expense. Disney is all about the family and the younger viewers. Disney rules that land, yet in the 70’s we saw that Scandinavia had its share of series appreciated by kids all over Europe and that might lower the edge that Disney has (to a small extent).

In addition, making different new content might also increase the amount of content that can be made with $12 billion. I hope Netflix pulls through, when we are confronted with The Haunting of Hill House we see that they have amazing diamonds to offer any crown viewer and I am curious what else they can come up with, especially after Sabrina.

When we consider this, how many have taken a look for the best TV series from the 70’s? I did and I reckon that this is not where we find the answers, there will be too many people remembering those, yet the international field where a local TV series makes it into the global population will be for the most real new stuff to many, there will be a risk, you see, for every remake like Three man and a baby there is the risk of having at least two mediocre versions like ‘the Birdcage’, and with an audience of 135 million moving towards 200 million diversity will be key. I am not sure how it is to be solved and the makers will have their challenge cut out for them, but the takings for them will be huge if they pull it off. In the end, the search for originality goes on and as we go for books, movies and optional video games (Alicia Vikander or Michael Fassbender anyone?) we see options. Yet how does it go when we go dark, really dark and we take a night at the museum into a very different direction? What if we push the nightwatchman into the Night watch and he has to survive the events of The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch in 1640, where he has to survive the night, not get shot for optional accusation of theft of the 100 florins that each of the 16 members had brought as payment to Rembrandt van Rijn and get back out without leaving a mark. We might think it is fun to walk in on Hortense Mancini by Jacob Fredinand Voet, yet what happens when you end up in The Wayfarer by Hieronymus Bosch (1503) and you have to get back then?

We can add twists on nearly any TV series, but will it work? It is not for us to solve, it is for Netflix to find a solution and that is where the problem starts, I might phrase it wrong, the problem did not start there. We were informed last year that Netflix cancelled 21 series, it does not really matter why, number of viewers tends to be the most likely reason, it merely adds the pressure for new content to be created, remember that they need between 365 and 700 hours per viewer for them to remain decently content. And in that picture, creating new content is a lot harder than merely creating a new season, the ante is up for the creators and so is the pressure for Netflix.

At least that is how I see it, and in this, the cinema has a silver screen, Netflix will need gold to score and they have to do it 20 times over each year making the effort unfathomable and each year that they do pull it off will add to the legend that started as Netflix.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, movies, Science