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Lap Time

Yes, we heard the term; we see it in athletics, in Formula 1 (and all the other formula races, except baby formula). How did we go after one lap, will lap two be on par, better or are we sliding. The 5G global race is on and even as the US and others are in denial, some facts are open for viewing, so as I got to the page (at https://www.eureporter.co/frontpage/2019/06/26/huawei-dominates-global-race-to-5g-despite-pressure-from-washington/) I was not surprised. The headline ‘Huawei dominates global race to 5G despite pressure from Washington‘ is not really a surprise. Yet one element is a nice verification. when we see: “Currently, two-thirds of global existing 5G networks are powered by Huawei technologies” and that is after a year of BS and fear mongering by the US, if they had not done that the picture would be different, it would be considerably worse for all non-Huawei contenders. So even as Ericsson is building a plant in the US so that they can become the courtesan of choice, reality is a very different stage.

The issue (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/11/10/the-heart-processes/) in ‘The Heart Processes‘ where we see: “This now links it back to Huawei (5G barred), the iterative actions of technology whilst we are being surpassed on every technological side. The full article (at https://www.crn.com.au/news/telstra-fault-takes-down-eftpos-and-atms-515080) gives a few more question, yet I will get to them in another article when I give you all a few more technological jabs against certain Telco players as they presented their ego and not their actual capability“, there are references that go back to 2017 where we saw that the non-Huawei players were already behind. There is Forbes Last April with ‘Huawei’s 5G Dominance In The Post-American World‘, or ‘Huawei’s new Wi-Fi routers solve a serious first world problem‘ in January 2018, Huawei have been showing to be the stronger innovator for well over three years and has been leading the 5G market, now that they even under discriminatory environments are achieving a 66% market in current 5G shows just how warped the situation is, so as I stated it before and do so again, ‘America will soon no longer matter’ and that is the true nightmare that the US is facing, when the silver bullet to survive a $22 trillion debt is meely a dud in your own armoury, you end up with a massive problem.

So as we see the Lap Time, with 5G going commercial in the Middle East, and now optionally Germany as well, we will see the blind followers of Europe, who follow the misguided voice of America, we will see them melt like snowflakes in the summer sun (or the current European heatwave), the economy is their Achilles heel and they will all fold.

And the battle will alter its course even further; the advantage that the Middle East is now showing over America is getting teeth and talons. A month ago we saw that Softbank selected Nokia over Huawei, and that is fine, weren’t it for the fact that we also got ‘Nokia Winning 5G Contracts Despite Delivery Delays, CEO Says‘ two weeks ago. Bloomberg gave us that one, so when Nokia gets pushed to cater to American needs, will they lose their Softbank deal and a cornerstone to the Middle East? It is not a given, but it is a valid question. So even as there is truth in the quote: “A few weeks of delays “is not really much” in the context of a 15-20 year cycle, Suri said. In the first quarter, the Finnish company struggled to book revenue from the contracts it had signed“, we accept that these things happen, yet weeks tends to become one month, then a second month and in a race where being there fast matters, Nokia cannot afford to remain delayed, they had to be ahead of the curve and they are not, they are merely on par at best, this now implies that 42 global contracts will be under scrutiny and not delivering on time will constitute pressures that Nokia will be unable to fully deal with and Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Suri knows this.

Even as we see that Nokia is still on the financial fence regarding booking profits (they will do so, no doubt) Huawei was able to secure a lucrative deal with Russian telecoms company MTS. It might be all under the guise of ‘the enemy of my enemy‘, but in the end ‘gold is gold’ and it is in the end about the acquired currency. So as they get Russia and as the EU buckles towards Huawei, we see a market that is a lot stronger for Huawei and every win in the Middle East will tip the European seesaw in favour of Huawei.

For the most after we check the lap time, there is a clear benefit for Huawei, yet Ericsson and Nokia remain strong competitors, Ericsson made the optional flaw of moving part of their base towards America, it sounds good, but their infrastructure will be undermined in several places more and more, so either Ericsson will push American employment to a much higher degree (Customer Service centres, Customer royalty programs and product infrastructure), or they face a massive blow-back more likely than not before EOFY 2020, a setback that will cost them a whole lot more than they bargained for. There is no given on Nokia at present, they had a strong firm presence in Europe and they can do so again, whilst these rules apply to Huawei as well, when you consider the places they were, they have built strong teams all over the place and with the winning strategies in the Middle East they have grown their ambassador places all over the Middle East, something Nokia and Ericsson did not do to such degrees.

So it is not only the 2/3rd advantage that Huawei has, it shows that their infrastructure is still a lot stronger and in the second hour (59:59 after a mobile phone is sold) the systems of Nokia and Ericsson will be tested and I personally believe that they are not ready, more importantly, the people will not be ready for waves of questions that will hit these centres and that will hammer the successes that Nokia and Ericsson have at present.

As lap time goes, it is a strong race from all three, yet a race is only as strong as the team, the car and the track. Yet in a normal race the track is set, in this race we have seen that America has been considering detour after detour and as such some teams will not be ready for what happens after that and in that race Huawei gets the much stronger advantage as America is not considering them, so that pressure falls only on Ericsson and Nokia. And that is where the issues start to count. When players like Softbank get pushed to the back, they will reconsider and anyone changing its order has the danger of taking more than one other player with them, that is the stronger danger that the other two face as they try to gulp down whatever US contract they can get.

There is supporting evidence for that. In Australia NBN showed the need (source: SMH) “NBN Co spokeswoman said the network was committed to “continuously improving the service provided as internet demand and data needs evolve” including a recent $800 million investment into customer service on the fixed wireless network“, the problem is that to a much larger degree Australian NBN is (diplomatically speaking) a $51 billion failure, the only way to save face is to overhaul it to a much larger degree and in light of ‘9.6 million homes and businesses were now connected to the network with 62 per cent of those customers choosing speed plans of 50Mbps or more‘, all whilst this could grow by another 30% if Microsoft and Google had their way, giving us levels of unparalleled congestion soon enough after that.

The moment that ANY vendor needs to acknowledge 5G and congestion in the first year will be the point that turns the customer base into a churn tidal wave and that will happen if the infrastructure is not in place. The US and some others are massively in denial there, it might be argues that this risk is also present in the Middle East and I would expect this to be the case, yet Huawei has had time to prepare and the others are merely jumping on the revenue wagon as the US pushed for a ‘no Huawei zone’ preferably one that is global.

That is the impeding risk, not that Huawei is out of the race, but that the others get stretched too thin. I have seen this happen again and again over the last 20 years and then we get some delusional VP giving their staff an elastic band reference on stretching resources a little more. They ultimately never learned that time is not a factor that can stretch like an elastic band, it is a rigorously set standard that does not budge and against that merely better and larger man power will solve it and Nokia just got rid of a boatload of them, all to cater to 5G, so when they need staff and training them, they will be under the gun 24:7, I do not believe that they are ready at that point and the increased presence in America implies that Ericsson is nowhere near ready, they need well over 500 additional support staff for what comes and they have nowhere near those numbers.

That is all available to the eager eyes and they have not altered that path yet. In their defence, it will not be needed before August 2019, yet there is already enough indication that their growth plan is not set in that direction. As I developed my own IP, I noticed that the Cybersecurity needs for 5G are still in the basement whilst it had to be through the roof almost 3 months ago, so the first cyber security issue will be a devastating one for each of these players. That is merely on a consumer level, on a commercial level the setting is even worse, it is a Nightmare on 5G street waiting to happen and in this there will be no miracle dream weaver, merely some Freddy Kruger that will show now regard for the lives of those victims, as the rewards were just too appealing. An almost perfect cyber storm in the shaping, a stage no likely seen before January 2020, yet even then there will already be victims and loads of insurances that are more likely than not eager to find a loophole not to pay any of them.

As I see it, it is a lap time that is good for all three, yet the setting of lap time is no longer a valid one. When the track definition becomes a flexible one, detours change the stats of everything, changed requirement in mid race will also hamper issues and none are ready, Huawei merely had more time to get ready giving them an additional advantage in this race.

 

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Falling off the wagon

It all started with a success story, it then ‘evolved’ into the age of complacency as it was lying in a lazy floating chair in a swimming pool. America was lazy, complacent and greed driven.

Huawei overtook Ericsson in 2012 as the largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer in the world, then casually overtook Apple in 2018 as the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world, still behind Samsung Electronics, and rose to the 72nd rank on the Fortune Global 500 list. In December 2018, Huawei reported that its annual revenue had risen to US$108.5 billion in 2018 (a 21% increase over 2017).It is at this point that America was a mere 3rd position, Huawei is presently servicing 47 of the 50 largest telecom operators on the planet, for the first time in history America no longer really matters as a technology provider. Sources like the Economist, the Guardian, Fortune and TechRadar all give the same news. It is at this point that the USPTO has to give the goods (read: the bad message) that Asia has surpassed America with registered patents by a lot, and the US has to deal with more and more bad news as they get strangled by a debt that surpasses $22,000,000,000,000. 22 trillion and no end in sight to turn it around, now that 5G is off to the races more bad news is given as the American and Nokia 5G solutions are decently inferior to the ones that China (Huawei has). The American overreaction is astounding and it comes with additional levels of humour. When we see an article by cyber security expert Zak Doffman in Forbes ‘Huawei ‘Slams FedEx Vendetta’ After Courier Refuses To Deliver P30 Phone To U.S.‘ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/06/23/huawei-slams-fedex-vendetta-after-courier-refuses-to-deliver-p30-phone-to-u-s) where we see: “Parcel returned by FedEx due to U.S. Government with Huawei and China Government—return to sender, the humour is here as we also saw a month ago: ‘Drug traffickers’ favourite way to move fentanyl is FedEx and USPS‘, so Fedex can stop a Chinese mobile phones, yet is incapable of stopping drug traffickers. It has become that bad and for the life of me, the idea that that stupidity has grown to this degree at the moment has made me realise that pretty much my only option left is to offer my IP at 10% value to China as America clearly can no longer be trusted to stop the stupidity in its own ranks.

And it gets to be worse. Now we see: ‘The U.S. blacklists five Chinese supercomputer firms, including AMD joint venture THATIC‘ (at https://www.pcworld.com/article/3404464/the-us-blacklists-five-chinese-supercomputer-firms-including-amd-joint-venture-thatic.html). So as we are now introduced to ‘U.S. firms will be forbidden to do business with the companies‘ we are shown more than stupidity. I have been an avid fan of the segregation, isolation, and assassination triangle in tactics, but this is pretty much the first time in history that a nation is doing it to itself, implying that American bankruptcy is so close to the collapse that they need whatever they can to delay the collapse of their economy. I can never trust any government in that position to be honest about any trade it holds. Handing my IP over to China is perhaps the only option to get any decent amount of funds out of them, and I have to pay the rent at some point.

Do I care about these Chinese companies? Not really! Apart from my trusty Huawei mobile, I do not know any of them and there is no real reason to know or care about them, but the actions of America to the degree that they are doing it, like they are the biggest whoring bully on the block also implies that they can do it to anyone else and as I see it, there are plenty of UK (BT), Swedish (Ericsson), Finnish (Nokia) and other firms they can do this to when things do not go their way. They will come up with some kind of National security scheme like Finland is next to Russia or something like that. It is nice to advocate open and fair trade when you are the only one dealing (IBM, Microsoft) but that is no longer the case and Microsoft has become too self-indulgent as they screw up market after market just to push their Azure solution. America can no longer be trusted, that is the short and sweet of it, they know it and Americans know it too, but they are too desperate and there is no stopping a desperate bully who is about to no longer matter.

And the world is not ready for a bully like that. Japan is too deep into its own problems, Europe is desperate to avoid whatever recession comes next and the others have no independent voice. In all this India is as isolated as it gets and that takes 12.5% of the global population out of the equation. As the risk of a 2020 recession in Europe is nearing an almost certainty there is panic, there is panic on Wall Street because the 2020 recession will hit the US squarely in the chest during the elections, ending whatever small edge the Republicans have and it changes everything for them. The 2020 recession will be worse than ever because the ECB squandered their reserves on incentives and stimulus as there are no reserves left. The ECB, IMF and Wall Street all knew that this could come and the 5G hype was all about avoiding it so that the new economy could restart what was lost, but their lag against Chinese Technology vendors (read: mainly Huawei) is so large that it will help the Chinese economy, but the others will only get a fraction of the IP they do not own and that fallback (or non optional fallover) is a lot larger than some are willing to admit to.

Now the short sighted American bias against Huawei and China is hitting new heights as they try to isolate China, yet in the end they are isolating themselves as Europe is seeking another option, they are seeing the value of Chinese IP and they want alternatives, especially if it could delay or even turnover their own impending recession, in that scenario America will lose more and more because their own technology is flawed, untested and lacks innovation. It will hit Europe, whilst benefitting the Middle East as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have signed up with China, America lost more than just weapon deals there.

What Cisco achieved with UTS in Sydney a decade ago is now happening in Qatar, Qatar University College of Engineering now has a similar deal with Huawei, implying that Qatar might be the first place where Huawei trained 5G engineers and innovators are born pushing 5G innovation. For Qatar this is more than good news, there is a first stage where Al Jazeera could become technologically more advanced than CNN, another blow to American pride and Al Jazeera is eager to really get there. They have miles to go, yet with 5G fully deployed they can do it in less than half the time we expect. All elements that push America back further and further. When I stated that this was a stupid move by America in 2018, I actually had no idea that they would lose to this degree, but at present they are and their decisions are making things worse not better.

As we see the first Huawei Authorised Information and Network Academy (HAINA) programme launched in Qatar, we also recognise that this will enable Saudi Arabia and the UAE more and more, so there might be a diplomatic stance ending the unfriendly border issues between the three and they will profit stronger and stronger.

There is absolute truth in the statement: “Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education Dr Ibrahim Al Nuaimi, said developing the technology capabilities of Qatar’s youth will have a significant impact on the smart evolution of society and country, contributing to the growth of Qatari economy.  “Initiatives such as this one between Qatar University and Huawei demonstrate the power that cooperative action can have in shaping the future of a nation,” he remarked“, it still requires the foundation and the nurturing of how to grow innovation, yet I have seen again and again that the hungry will find alternatives to make food and Qatar is clearly famished at present.

And there is one more nightmare to face. You see if China gets any IP hands on anything that could replace x86 technologies, the US is truly done for. At present they will laugh, scream and make all the claims that an ego driven nation could make, but then there is the history. We have 1975 when Federico Faggin and 11 employees created the Z80, there was a small team led by Chuck Peddle who came up with the 6502, it hit Intel and Motorola hard, a chip at less than 15% of the cost of an Intel or a Motorola processor. It would fuel an industry that would sell well over 15 million computers in an age where computers were not popular. We recognise that America was the driver in all this, it drove RISC to be the factor for the creation of Summit, still the fastest Supercomputer in the world, yet now that China surpasses America in patents, they have the core to create a new age of computer technology. We see that from 2017 onwards the Huawei Mobile Phone is the personal server to have; the fact that it is a mobile is beside the point. My IP was a security pass on personal mobile servers and that is the foundation of the next decade. It is not the personal computer or desktop, there is still the laptop and Chromebooks (and likeminded devices) have the option to be the next power drivers, but Huawei has the hand with 4 aces, they have the foundation of mobile personal servers and it scares America. My idea for what would have been (optionally) the Google Tome was founded on that idea as I created a solution to stop the NHS collapsing. Now that most elements are with Huawei and Chinese operators, America actually matters less. Even as Microsoft is still screaming Azure (whenever they can), we see that there are other options that could do similar and could surpass Microsoft within 4 years, that realisation is scaring America to death. They have no options when that happens. Complacency got them there and the next generation of these so called ‘captains of industry‘ are holding a hand with a two and a seven and they are playing Texas hold’em. A proverbial Snake eyes for the craps dealer in the house, which is the setting and the stage they can no longer escape. It is where they are at and their overreaction merely shows their levels of desperation.

In 2021 we will see that not only will they have lost 5G to a crippling degree, the other players will fare even worse. If China gets a decent deal with Japan, America will have segregated itself, they isolated themselves as Europe and the Commonwealth will seek whatever keeps them afloat and at that point with the debt closer to $25 trillion, they will end up cutting their own wrists with all the uber wealthy Americans seeking sunny shores in their mega yachts. Suddenly places like the Riviera, Dubai, the Virgin Islands and Italy will be swamped with Americans who will be quiet as mice as they wait for America to reinvent itself in the span of 2-3 decades, and America needs to get lucky to do it that fast. As the world is set to the currency of IP and patents, it might take a whole lot longer than that.

When I decided to get my Master in IP in 2010 I knew that there was a change in the winds, it was the clearest in IT, but I saw how it would impact to a much larger degree, I saw the shift to mobile patents in 2012, and now I see the other shifts too. I feel certain of my view, I cannot tell how politicians will react because that too impacts the changing tides, but overall they seem to align to the need of greed too often as such, my predictions are more likely than not coming true. It’s a sad world, if only American firm had not been so lazy relying on iterative technology for a decade, things would be very different indeed.

To complete the change China really only needs three more innovative steps in 5G communication to make it certainty and turn these steps into nail to service the coffin that is America, with the Middle East in play, there is every chance that they will pull it off, the rest of us (the non-Americans) will need to decide on how that future serves us best, because that too is a choice we face, and we have to make it ourselves.

And if you were in doubt until now, the Wall Street Journal reported only hours ago: “U.S. President Donald Trump is looking to require next-generation 5G cellular equipment used in the United States to be designed and manufactured outside China, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.” So consider this quote really clearly: the entire China matter has been going on for weeks, yet yesterday we see that equipment is to be ‘designed and manufactured outside China’, a discriminatory tactic that shows that there was no clear tactic in play, and clearly the Americans are not up to scrap at present. What else was not anticipated on?

Someone fell of the wagon and others were unable to see the dangers clearly, The US still does not recognise that it has a real problem; the first stage of solving the problem is at present not met. Do you really need more convincing?

 

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Education off the grid

We have been watching all the impacts (250 from the west bank) and a few impacts (by the Israeli air force, but when we look outside the things the media wants you to notice and the side that they want to give to you for emotional impact. We see that there is a side that we are not made aware off, or being made aware of a little as possible. In light of all we see this is a much larger issue than you think. If you are to go beyond the sides you need to go, if you want to grow in any way, you need to reach out and start looking at things that are not usually seen.

It is a form of ‘off the grid’ education. Now, this can be done with almost every subject. There are millions of eager students when it is about biology (reproduction and fornication), and there are plenty of people when it comes to science experiments that are cool, and actually give additional respect to the creator of the golf ball. In this first example let’s look at SmarterEveryDay (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT0wx27J9xs), I will not tell you too much, because what you see is pretty amazing and in this episode he gets assistance from Mark Rober, an engineer, who is as daft as a door nail (in a good way), which is probably why he ended up being the perfect fit for NASA. And as the video shows that manpower did not do the trick, they decided to let Mark make them a rocket powered golf club (for real), it is like watching roadrunner come to life and whilst there was no obvious Wile. E. Coyote swinging the club, the results are there to be seen. We see the engineer (Overconfidentii vulgaris) take a swing at records and watch the movie to see how they go at that in test 3, it will stay with you for a long time. Long before the end of the movie, I ended up having massive respect for the golf ball and the person who invented it. The YouTube video is playful and still extremely informative and educational in an area where I had a little knowledge.

Yet is it not about Mark Rober or SmarterEveryDay (even though you should check them out). It is about learning and in this specific case learning more about culture. I have been learning more about Islam and Saudi Arabia, mostly because the large 5G opportunities will be there over the next few years and I never shy away from a challenge. Yet, as a Christian in a Muslim nation you have little options and more important, there is every risk of a person unintentional insulting the wrong person, it is a danger not unlike someone from western Europe going into Japan and thinking he can present his PowerPoint at a CEO thinking that his sense of humour get him the deal. Even in Europe, I once witnessed a large deal going sour because the person slipped up and accidentally said ‘pour toi‘ instead of ‘pour vouz‘, it translates exactly the same, but mixing up the formal and informal is a dangerous step to do in any condition.

So I started to become a lot more Islam aware. This gets us to the entire issue at hand that Gulf News gave me (at https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-has-most-beautiful-ramadan-experience-1.63611502). Most people know about Ramadan, we hear it around us in Muslim areas that observe it. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. I also learned that Ramadan is a lot more strict in Saudi Arabia and if caught in public eating and or drinking during the day there are indeed harsh punishments, including flogging, imprisonment and, for foreigners, deportation. So there is your step to get a chance at great fortune and you get put on the next plane to London because you had a drink in public when the sun was up.

A lot of that was unknown to me; I have had almost no exposure to that knowledge. I was amazed how little exposure to Muslim culture I seemingly had as a Christian. From my point of view, accepting that there are Muslims around me is one thing, to remain ignorant of any of the cultural issues is just stupid. Australia is not a Muslim nation, the United Kingdom is not a Muslim nation and neither is the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Sweden and so on, does that mean we need to remain ignorant of other cultures?

So as I took in ‘Saudi Arabia has most beautiful Ramadan experience‘, I became curious as I knew that Muslims have a month of fasting, but that fasting was a ‘beautiful experience’ was a new label to see. The reality is that I am almost a real seal (I have a coat of blubber to protect me from the arctic cold). The quote “Gulf News spoke with expatriates who have experienced Ramadan in the kingdom and are now missing the infectious festive spirit in their home country” was interesting as I never saw fasting as a moment to rejoice, or as something beautiful. So as I was introduced to “The Ramadan vibe is almost non-existent in London. It’s so difficult to maintain the spiritual mindset that one usually tries to adapt during the holy month because of the busy hustle of London life. The fasting hours are long and coupled with the regular school routine, it’s also draining. There’s a rush to finish work, to finish eating, to reach night prayers and then get up again at the crack of dawn to resume work,” that did not make sense to me. You see there are close to 700,000 Muslims in London, it boils down to roughly 13.1% of the London population, as such there should be a decent Ramadan population, if we believe is freedom of religion, should that not matter? If we see that places in Burwood Australia (decent sized Muslim group) banks on the Ramadan event in their shop, it makes no sense that London is so largely absent of it. And let’s face it, should we feel threatened by such an event?

In the Netherlands the newspapers are full of extra protection of Mosques, yet almost nothing on the religious impact and reason for Ramadan, merely “extra attention and vigil is kept at the Mosques after the events in Christchurch“. Even as we see that acts are claimed by Pegida, we see little action to aid in lowering fear and tension to the Muslims visiting mosques. So as the reach of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident) is now clearly in the Netherlands as well, we see an absence of cultural education to the people at large via media and newspapers. As we see the party created by Lutz Bachmann giving us: “Pegida believes that Germany is being increasingly Islamicized and defines itself in opposition to Islamic extremism.” we see too large a lack of countering anti-Muslim events. I believe that educating the people is a first. As a Catholic, I need not be anti-Muslim; we do not need to be anti-Muslim culture driven people. I find it hypocrite in the extreme of those claiming to be Christians, being nothing more than hooligans and criminals, people that often not having seen the inside of a church more than 4 times a year feeling threatened by a Muslim holding a Quran. In my personal view that speaks more about their lack of faith than the implied intention of a Muslim. I believe that fear is negated by information and education, when the ignorant are seeing that culture and cultural knowledge is a positive thing, they will learn more and see that there is no fear but the fear that grows within the part of you that does not know.

In the end it is up to you what you do, I am not telling you do read it all and follow it all, I am merely asking you to consider not to turn away when the information and knowledge is offered to you. We all accept that people like Mark Rober and the people behind SmarterEveryDay make knowledge (read: science) more fun to watch, it is at times harder to find that motivation when it is cultural or sometimes even religiously based, yet that does not make for an event that is less informative. Consider that Saudi Arabia is in a stage where $1.2 trillion is spend on construction and infrastructure, would it hurt to know more so that you have an option to make some serious cash? And it is not just Saudi Arabia (they are the biggest though), together with the UAE and Qatar they represent opportunities that are well over 600% of what the US and the UK combined are doing over the next decade. Cultural ignorance is but one, yet optionally the largest hindrance to connect to these opportunities. I am not stating that acquiring knowledge needs to be profit based; I have however seen over the decades that this motivates a lot more people, so should I avoid such an obvious selling technique? To be honest, I should not take that step, yet as anti-Muslim sentiments are flaring up on a global scale, upping the ante in all this is a valid point with the hopeful result to lower tensions (I might be up for the Nobel peace prize if I achieve the impossible here).

To get the smallest view, we (non-Muslims) will appreciate the evening meal that is enjoyed by the people during Ramadan (after sunset). The movie (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ev1OLMgrbo) gives a mere glimpse not only on the preparation of the meal; the end shows how thousands are enjoying a meal seemingly in silence together. In this case it is the Iftar in the UAE. I had hoped to add one from Riyadh, however I could not find an English version (or one with English subtitles). And consider the other side of all it, if our creativity is awakened by learning new things, what could we consider when we start looking into a direction that most people have never looked?

Education off the grid can be amazing, when you feel the internal motivation to learn more you tend to learn more easily, optionally not better, but there is a lot to be said for the enthusiasm factor when acquiring knowledge, you merely need to connect to the best information source you can.

 

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The trivial and the not so

First the trivial, although $1.66 billion is no trivial matter, it is now one week that Avengers Endgame is in play (for a few countries 8 days) and it has made a staggering $1,664,151,786 so far, and it is now in 5th position on the list of biggest box office successes in the world right behind Avengers: Infinity War, It will not surpass that before the end of the weekend I reckon, yet by Sunday evening it will surpass both its older brother as well as Star Wars, the Force Awakens, less than two weeks and it will be nipping at the heels of the 20 year standing record of Titanic, the movie is going that fast and there is no stopping it, people want to see it more than once (I would really like to see the 3D version) which was not available to me on opening night. At this point 50% of the top 10 most successful box office titles are all Marvel titles. It made me think back to a conversation I had with some director on how he thought that Fantasy movies had no place to go in the 80’s at the Rotterdam ‘Lantaren Venster’ film festival. That conversation is currently making me giggle, the man was sincere in his belief and that is fine, and just like the Deer hunter is not for everyone, neither is Monster Inc.; we all have different takes on what we call entertainment and what we want to see on the big screen, yet I never forgot his view and me being the eternal diplomat remarking at that point to him on how amazing the movie Krull was (I had a mean streak in those days), and with actors like Liam Neeson (Kegan) how could it not be? He was not stricken with a sense of humour, let me assure you of that.

I never had any doubt that Endgame was going to get where it was now, yet the speed at which it did blew me away, it still does. The fact that during the week, in what is usually regarded as the lull of movie incomes, Avengers: Endgame added half a billion like it was a casual shower moment for Scrooge McDuck inside the United States Mint.

As for the not so trivial we need to take a look at Tesla. The Guardian gave us yesterday (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/02/tesla-elon-musk-raise-money-stocks-bonds) ‘Tesla seeks to raise $2.3bn after concerns it is running out of money‘, even as the newspaper is giving us: “Company announced last week it had lost $702m in the first three months of the year and sold 31% fewer vehicles in the first quarter“, that does not mean that we should go all negative on Tesla. Yet the part that does give rise to concern is: “Founder Elon Musk has previously dismissed the idea of raising more money but in the last earnings call said: “Tesla today is a far more efficiently operating organization than it was a year ago. We’ve made dramatic improvements across the board. And so I think there’s merit to the idea of raising capital at this point.”” When I see ‘a far more efficiently operating organization than it was a year ago‘ I wonder what that is based upon. Consider the cost of being somewhere, why is Tesla in two locations in Sydney, have Sydney sales given rise to a second store? They did the same thing for Melbourne, Amsterdam the Netherlands and we could go on, but when you realise that these are premium locations no matter where you are in the city, having an American approach to locations in Europe, your logistical cost will go through the roof and that is what is happening. The same for Sweden, yet there the cost setting might differ considerably and having part in Täby might make sense, although there are alternatives near Solna as well, perhaps it was a good deal. Now there is a second part, are these Tesla ‘owned’ places or are they independent dealers? No matter what, there are larger costs to consider like displays, parts to show and other items, and many of these places are in expensive areas, now we can agree that there might need to be one, but two?

It goes further that; it is not merely about the stores, it is about awareness to a much larger degree. You see charging the car is still an issue and yes there are solutions. Some look at the home charging solution. Yet consider the amount of energy required, your electricity bill will skyrocket. Now, there are alternatives, first there are solar panels and there we see: “This is why pairing a charging station with a solar panel system is a great solution for EV owners and solar panel owners alike“, I am less optimistic. Depending on several factors you could need up to 70 panels (low end 1kWh a day panel), and when we start looking at the options, when we go for a generic 7kWh solution, we get an annual average of anywhere between the numbers of 20 – 29 kWh daily created. Now this is merely one third of your battery, the question becomes, so you need a 100% every day? When we go commercial sized (30 kWh) we see that the production get to be between 86-133 kWh a day, so basically that takes you off the grid and give you a daily 100% charge, yet the price is also there. At prices that go up to roughly $30,000 – $40,000, now this is not to scare you. Consider that the car ‘fuel’ is free from thereon after, also your house electricity bill is reduced to almost zero, even better you can sell your excess energy to the energy provider, so there is that, but is that what you were after?

Why does this all matter?

It matters as I went to see a Tesla a few weeks ago, merely because I was curious and the Black Men’s Corp Jacket looked appealing for the upcoming winter ($120, which I did not get), and the Models looked pretty cool too (so did the Roadster), yet when I looked into charging, there was a little vagueness (unintentional mind you) they showed the charging unit, and it got me to think things through. I got from more than one source relative the same results “the average petrol car in Australia uses 11.1 litres of fuel to travel 100km (Australian Bureau of Statistics). That’s a cost of $16.65 to travel 100km at $1.50 per litre2. Even a very efficient diesel vehicle (5 litres per 100km) will cost $7.50“, most sites were all about how much cheaper the electricity was, not how much it would cost, so I got one result giving me “the average price for electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh) in Australia is about $0.25 and it takes around 18 kWh to travel 100km in an average EV. So, it will cost approximately $4.50 in electricity charges to travel 100km“, now we have something to work with. If you take the average annual driver distance (20K and divide that by 100) we now see that you are facing an optional saving of $900, not something you can ignore, but we all forget the infrastructure and now my panel viewing becomes important. If we see the brownouts that are going on all over, the switch to Tesla means that the price of electricity goes through the roof at some point, a shortage will do that for you, when everyone needs more electricity, prices go up, and that initial 30 kWh solution now becomes a more interesting money maker, but overall it is not the only path or method to rely on. You see, when the price changes we suddenly see that the $900 savings become a mere $420 savings, yet on the other side your electricity bill rises steadily and with the panels you avoid that 100%, optionally adding income to your household. I do believe that for now the 30 kWh is overkill and as we might not need a full battery every day, we could start with the 10 kWh solution, or even better if they have the plus package (double paneling). The initial $10,000 will earn itself back over 3-4 years and more important it will aid in lowering the electricity bill as the panels can do more than just reload the car battery. More important the larger issue will be the 40 panels, so apartment owners are almost directly out of the race for now, more important, when you have a solution that sets the stage for a doubling down the road with minimum extra you would be looking at reducing the bulk of your electricity bill which is not the worst idea in summer (AC’s swallow electricity like sponges) and that is where we need to look at with Tesla, as we can use Tesla battery power in other ways, the solution becomes an actual larger solution.

They are all about the car and rightfully so, but when did you look around for a battery charge point? That matters, because when there are no options and it must be done at home, you need to have the proper electricity contract, even if that is not the case now, it will be in the future. In Australia, we see Energy Australia giving us: ‘first 10.9589 kWh of peak usage per day‘, then we see ‘Next 10.9589 kWh of peak usage per day‘ and ‘Balance of Peak usage > 21.9178 kWh‘, the prices are all the same for now, but when that changes, which it always does over time? When we see that those in the highest range are charged an additional 5-15 cents per kWh? That will change the cost of living picture real fast and real direct. Now the electrical car is another matter and there is no way that these fears are not with every consumer looking at an electrical car the day after they receive their energy bill, fuel is still more expensive for now; yet when we see it against the Tesla that starts at $112,000 and the highest performance model at $137,000, the math does not work for the largest extent of people. I got here the long way round because it is not the buying of a Maserati that breaks the bank account (for those who can afford it), it is the annual insurance and fuel cost that grab you by the tender spot and makes you regret the choice. Now that we see that and we see that a new 2019 Infiniti Q70 is a mere $48,712 and that is not even close to the cheapest solution, so there is a saving of no less than $63K, if you put that in your super and use the interest to pay for the insurance and fuel you’ll end up paying the cost and growing your fortune, and that by merely banking the additional cost for a Tesla. So no matter how ‘environmentally aware’ you are, the entire saving part becomes a myth and when we see that and we consider that Musk is running out of cash in a myth based created car need that shows that there is a market, yet not with the hardworking population that makes up for a little over 65% of all workers, Elon Musk has a car that is supposed to be for those who prefer high end cars, all whilst we see that the new 2019 Jaguar XF Starts at $50,960, we see that there is a market for people, but is it with Tesla? Consider the question ‘when was the last time you could afford to handover $60K for keeping environmental principles?‘ I met two last year, one was driving a Lamborghini, the other has a black Mercedes-AMG, I reckon they will not join the Tesla community any day soon.

So as I took you on the scenic route towards the drive that Elon Musk requires us all to take and the fact that he seeks $2.3bn, implying he might pressingly need $1.5B by quarter end is a matter for concern, not because of the innovation he created, that is clear and down the track he will be the first; where would Henry Ford be if he never created the Model T? Elon Musk might be the next Henry Ford down the line, yet when we see certain steps taken, we need to see that ‘a far more efficiently operating organization‘ sounds as nice as seeing an organisation grow by 100%, yet when the reality is that they grew from 4 members to 8, we need to seriously consider where we are at and that is where I see Tesla at present. It looks great, yet it is for the bulk of all of us too unaffordable and the bulk of those who can afford it can get the luxury Nissan (Infiniti) or a new Jaguar at half the price and that is where Elon Musk is stationed, in a small niche and in all this.

I do not see the market going his way and that remains to be the sad part, because if he pulls it off and creates a large enough market it will be a historic day for him and for America, they need a win like this in the United States of America where they are in a technology drought. They currently lack of true innovation in too many fields and they show a lack of true new technologies, not amendments or mere iterative steps from the old models that exist. Elon Musk has that one true new technology and I hope that the US can stage it to an actual large enough market, I truly do.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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