Tag Archives: The Independent

Trusting Anti-trust cases?

Today will be about Jennifer Rankin and her article ‘Google fined £3.8bn by EU over Android antitrust violations’. First off, it is a good article, she did absolutely nothing wrong (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/18/google-faces-record-multibillion-fine-from-eu-over-android). We get the goods (not all mind you) but a clear picture and that is what I like, a clear picture to work with.

Right off the bat we start with “Google has been hit with a landmark €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine by the European Union over “serious illegal behaviour” to secure the dominance of its search engine on mobile phones“. Interesting setting as there are Android based phones and IOS (Apple brand X phones). The android systems ALL have full access to Google. As for the search engine, there are two elements. The first the engine for searching itself, which is in android, giving us an open source setting and (at https://searchcode.com/), you can take a look yourself, now you will still need the skills to program, but that is a discussion for another day. The second part is to find stuff, which requires the PageRank. Now we have an issue, because (as the Americans say): ‘that shit is patented!‘ plain and simple. Whilst Microsoft and IBM were belittling Google in 1999 (heard it myself in the UK) Google was working and growing in what is now defined as ‘the development of the Android mobile operating system, the Google Chrome web browser, and Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system based on the Chrome browser‘, it took 5 years for them to get serious traction and whilst they grew, the other two were marketing their BS on every level whilst trusting in VP and players who actually did not know any of their shit, people relying on PowerPoint presentations, bullet points and hype expressions. Now we get the first part that matters: “The European commission imposed the record penalty after finding that the US tech firm required smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google’s search and browser apps on devices using its Android operating system, which is used on 80% of all phones“. This is the first part. You see, there is a merely a partial truth and it is largely incomplete. Any mobile smartphone needs an OS. So we have Apple with IOS, there is or was) Blackberry, Microsoft and Google with Android. The rest was either not willing or eager to play on any serious level. They all had this: ‘it is much better going for larger systems‘. Even the larger players ignored the power of Mobile and Smartphones for too long. That evidence is seen with NBC where we see “In a farewell post on LinkedIn, Microsoft’s former head of Windows, Terry Myerson, explained why Microsoft failed in the smartphone business“, (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/29/why-microsoft-failed-in-phones.html). The quote: “It comes down to two problems: Underestimating Android’s business model, and building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job“. So in two mere dimensions we see the acknowledgment of large corporations set in a place of short sighted expectations whilst using a narrow minded business model. That is apart from the issues that Windows Mobile had, I wanted to add that list of issues, but I calculated that this section would be no less than 6000 words, with the additional issues on Windows 10 mobile adding a serious amount of words to the 6000 words required. Blackberry did not survive the times either. It had a good platform, but ultimately too expensive for most businesses. It is still going on, but not in the same way it was. Blackberry was not flawed, it focused on specific groups and those groups, those who choose Blackberry will love it forever, it merely could not hold up the settings there were, I reckon that the 2008 crash wiped well over 35% of their customer base instantly, a setting that many corporations tend to see as a fatal blow, Blackberry was no exception. So 50% of the ‘larger’ players are already gone, none of it had anything to do with Google, or with the patented parts. So I would love to scrutinise the Danish Margrethe Vestager (without resorting to Denmark and Hamlet). It starts with: “Google has used its Android mobile phone operating system “to cement its dominance as a search engine”, preventing rivals from innovating and competing “and this is illegal under EU antitrust rules”” No! They did not! We see the clear admission from Terry Myerson giving us ‘building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job‘, knowing that already sets one of the two outside of the consideration. I have given the audience evidence again and again on how stupidity rules at Microsoft. The Surface and Xbox platforms are two distinctive places where this is visible. Both have a narrow minded setting, both are short sighted and even the business approach to grow the customer base failed to do its job. Reuters gave us that last year with ‘Microsoft Surface devices fail on reliability: Consumer Reports‘, an overpriced system that cannot even get close to 80% of what Apple could do with its very first iPad in 2011. In addition Reuters gives us: “The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday“, how can any device with a 25% failure issue be in the market in the first place, and it is very connected, as this is the mobile industry, the mobile industry is more than merely a mobile phone, all connected devices that rely on mobile technology (Wi-Fi or cellular) are part of that failure. The Reuters article (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-surface-idUSKBN1AQ1EP) we also get “According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said. Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc. had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said“, so how many corporations should be considered when they are the outlier in a negative way? #JustAsking

It is time to look at article 101 (antitrust) (at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12008E101&from=EN). Here we see:

  1. The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market, and in particular those which:
    (a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions; (not charging for a service is a right anyone has)
    (b) limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment; (impeding your own technical development, intentional or not is merely your own visionary stupidity)
    (c) share markets or sources of supply;
    (d) apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage; (nope, the non-patented part of android is open to anyone)
    (e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

The first issue is that the Page rank which is part of this is patented, so there is already a setting of exclusion. The fact that the others are 10 year late to the party is equally evidence that there is a wrongful conviction here. The setting that they are all scared with the coming of 5G, whilst Apple and Google are the ONLY ONES who will be decently ready, both ending up with a massive market share. We see at this point the third failure of Microsoft. You see, it was not merely the two that Terry Myerson stated at CNBC, the ‘Underestimating Android’s business model‘, as well as the ‘an older technical platform that wasn’t ready for the job‘, it is to some extent the ‘25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices‘ failing, they are all connected to overlapping user groups making the damage even larger. The Xbox debacle that showed a bullying setting of ‘always online’ as well as storage shortage issues (a killer in the mobile devices), their bullying setting of pushing people online is equally part of the failure. It was the fourth part that truly took Microsoft out of the race. Google (as I personally see it) looked at roughly 1.7 million university students and looked at where the future was pointing. They saw where the future was heading and they build on that long term view. Just look at the Gmail storage, the YouTube facilitation, and to openness of their business suite apps, just a few examples. Over 3 years I have only two parts where I missed Microsoft Office a little, over 3 years that is nothing. That in a setting where Microsoft went into the ‘greed’ setting it becomes a lot more funny, especially when we see students having to get by a few dollars a day, yet Microsoft has a $199 version for these students, yes it will be cloud, secure (so they say) and update cost free, a subscription service. Google merely states $0, on the cloud. You tell me what students want! The issues are linked, because Microsoft had been actively growing the anti-Microsoft feelings for almost a decade. I understand that Microsoft has a business model and ‘free software’ is an issue for them, they have a right to be like hat. Google understood that the poor students who hardly can keep a budget now, are going to be the executives of tomorrow, those people then are executives now and they all embrace Google (well, most of them anyway). There was no force, there was no (how did that Danish lady put it?) ‘Restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market‘, many went to iPhone and IOS and Google is fine with that. No, the issue is that the other players are confronted with the stupidity of the previous post holders and that is an issue now, it links together.

By not realising the future 15 years ago, the present is close to unobtainable for them. I watched how I saw again and again how some of them went by ‘We are now working on the new technology surpassing the others‘ again and again (and not delivering). You merely need to find the history of ‘SPSS Data entry for Windows‘ and realise that this was an excellent way to lose 6000 businesses, and close to 35,000 users (relabeling it ‘form design software’ was never a solution). Microsoft went in that same direction and now they are close to side lined from the next technology by their own stupidity. No resources, no ‘know-how’ and no vision, yet Google is the big bad wolf here!

This is the underlying story that links it all and some companies are merely indicative, but they overall went the same direction. So where we see ‘preventing rivals from innovating and competing‘, I see that this was not the case, they merely went a greed driven path (OK, I admit, I should say ‘revenue driven path’), whilst actual new technology is all about innovation and never about iteration. Microsoft, after IBM the larger player feeling left out has shown us on several fields that innovation is merely marketing, not actively pursuing issues and with a ‘25% failure issue’ setting in the Surface department, I believe that their flaws are clearly shown. It becomes more of a farce when we see “Vestager added: “The vast majority of users simply take what comes with their device and don’t download competing apps.”“, users want what works; we are not interesting in a $199 fee for apps that they we get for free, ask any student. There are apparently 207 million higher education students globally, ask them! In addition, that mere setting where we see the onus of the user, to not look for more is punishing a company because the users are lazy? Since when can we convict Google for not installing in the second degree, because the user was lazy?

In many situations there are no competing apps, not of any quality that is and when you look in the Google play, we see that the users are allowed to set the tone. I will be the first to agree, that there are issues and that there might have been a case to some extent. Microsoft faced that years ago when it was still in the delusional setting that they had the better browser. Now we see a different picture. Now we are faced with IBM that put everything on Watson (not sure if that was a good idea), but it can facilitate to the larger degree in every direction, including the third parties banking on 5G, IBM is eager to oblige. Microsoft has nowhere to go, they burned down their options and as they screwed up again and again, it has nothing left but to sulk like a little child. Just consider the upcoming Microsoft Surface Go, for people with budgets. Now consider the News we are given: “With a starting price of $469, the Apple iPad (with Wi-Fi connectivity only) is the winner on affordability”, “The consumer/education version is priced at $599 and will run Windows 10 Home in S mode – which only allows apps that are available in the Windows store”, all this, for a system not out yet, and the Australian Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/technology/mobiles-and-tablets/will-the-surface-go-boldly-where-other-tablets-cannot-20180713-h12n71) gives us: “Why has Microsoft just released a tablet at a time when almost everyone is buying smartphones and almost no one is buying tablets? Sales of tablets such as Apple’s iPad have been in steep decline since 2015, a decline that shows no signs of reversing in the next four or five years, analysts say”, so in that setting another optional failure is introduced. That whilst I saw it coming, just as the short sighted failures that are part what now with giggles is called the ‘most powerful console on the market’ (The Xbox One X), that is the company that is connected to all this.

That part can be found in a few places. In this case I give you the New York Post where (at https://nypost.com/2015/04/15/microsoft-the-big-winner-in-google-antitrust-lawsuit/) we see “While Google CEO Larry Page took his lumps with the suit, Microsoft, very quietly, came out the big winner, sources said. “Microsoft complained a lot,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation. “Microsoft definitely counselled the [EC], suggesting it made sense to send Google a statement of objections so Google would be forced to produce documents” showing its search-result recipe, another source said”, this was a joke 3 years in the making. I hope that I can turn that joke on these losers as they have diminished consumer trust in their narrow minded way (not to mention short sighted ways).

Even when we turn this in another direction through the Register two month ago (at https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/21/antitrust_google_us_government/), where we see ‘On 20th anniversary of Microsoft antitrust, US Treasury Sec calls for Google monopoly probe‘, I am not arguing how right or wrong it is. I am merely pointing out that Google went in a direction that was long term, whilst all the others went into the short term path that was demanded from their board of directors, who for the most could not read a spreadsheet properly because the bullet points were missing (their optional opposition to the NRA perhaps?). That was the setting and those with vision are dumbfounded and they got hurt through the inadequacy of stupid people.

So the Danish party was already active then. What is an issue is Jeremy Stoppelman, he had vision with Yelp, even as he did not understand certain markets (miscalculated is a better word), he had faith in his product, which I applaud. it worked for a while, yet I see that bad choices (unfortunate choices is a better setting) impacted it all, so even as Yelp failed to meet expectations, if it survives and gets 5G traction, it will be ahead of others a decent amount, it turned down Google who wanted them when the going was good and he would have had a strong place if he had taken that part, but it was his decision and I applaud him for it. Yelp and Turnstyle Analytics would have an optional strong 5G setting if it had kept international operations and grow the data the way they had, it will not be easy now for them, but I digress. With: “Mnuchin’s comments on Google came after a special 60 Minutes episode that focused in part on the company and its effective search monopoly. That segment was notable for the inclusion of two people: EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman“, yet all parties have their ‘its effective search monopoly‘, what they are not telling us is that they had a vision that everyone would come with a future need and they got Stanford University to create the algorithm that got patented. All the other players remained dumb to the future. And then we get the one gem I expected: “Also, the EU announced it was launching a probe of Google’s Android operating system to see if its agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals. While Microsoft likely does not care much about search preference, “the investigation throws sand in the gears of Google’s innovation,” the former FTC official said“, so there it is ‘agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals‘, phone makers had options, Apple had its own system and there are NO non-Apple IOS phones. Interesting that this does not make that cut is it? An open system was offered and the alternative Microsoft (rejected because it was not up to the job), Blackberry (is only after the collapse that it became an option to others), we see that Google has an open option, yet they are the boogeymen. So we get two elements, a partially failed entrepreneur (only in part) and a limelight seeking politician. The power of the google Appeal is found in a simple statement: “Her staff ran through over a billion Google searches and found that Google was knowingly manipulating its search algorithms to promote its own products and push competitors far down the ranking“, that evidence must be shown in court and get scrutinised! You see, the timeline for a billion searches can only partially be automated and those results can be used by Google as evidence against Margrethe Vestager as well. The evidence of ‘manipulating its search algorithms‘ will be equally a discussion point putting EVERY intern and assistant of Margrethe Vestager in the witness box, no exception. A setting that I personally see as the EC has close to no chance of winning. Even as I saw the algorithm in my University classes for an assignment, I am decently certain that I did not see the whole 100% of all elements of the algorithm, one element out of place and that is as I (again: personally) see it the crushing of the EC case, the appeal will be won by Google.

The fact that Microsoft was part of this in several ways from 2015 onwards and likely before that is more than enough for me to consider the premise that trusting antitrust is not always a good thing. I do agree that antitrust should exist, yet it should be clear that this is not a handle for the narrow minded, the short sighted, the greedy and the stupid to use because they could not get their shit together. They should reread Chapter 11 of their favourite pornographic work, whether that text comes in 50 shades of mixing several combinations of white and black. A colourless equation in a setting where colour was the only part that the global users demanded, listening to them would have been a first requirement. It is the setting, which gets me to the final image.

An interesting to set the stage, because if Microsoft was a marketing firm, they would be reduced to merely being a spammer, look at the first screen of your Xbox One (X optional) for that part, also all the parts people have to go through in Windows 10 (https://www.windowscentral.com/how-remove-advertising-windows-10), so in the end, the advisors have their own games to play (quite literally at some point). The Independent was kind enough to give us this with: “In the meantime, we probably ought to do our bit to help her by making a little more use of Google’s rivals, such as Microsoft’s Bing, which is a perfectly serviceable search engine“, it is seen at (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/google-eu-fine-margrethe-vestager-android-search-microsoft-bing-silicon-valley-mobile-phones-a8453486.html)

Just ‘Bing’ “UK Law firms”, to get a UK law firm and immediately I see 10 law firms (page top view), 50% Australian ones (3 of those advertised), so if Bing cannot give me what I am looking for, why should I even consider them? With the term “Dutch Lawyers” I get 25% fulfilling the search. I can go on for a while, but I think the case of the doubt regarding ‘a perfectly serviceable search engine’ and the case on how it isn’t one has been made. I did not need to go far. Oh, and if you do have a sense of humour, try “Microsoft guilty” (with brackets), to see Bing give you “We didn’t find any results for “Microsoft guilty””, whilst Chrome giving us an immediate 8 results, with the quotes on these links. So when it comes to censoring (or is that just their flawed algorithm), we can soon see that there is an optional setting where Margrethe Vestager could be seen as a tool for Microsoft (as they might have been ‘searching’ for optional solutions), it might not be a fair setting, yet the entirety of the Antitrust case is seen by me in that way. Microsoft and a few others need time to catch up, being stupid merely gets you at the back of the line (which is where all future opportunities are lost), they need time and they are using the EC to try to catch up. My sense of giggling will be found the moment the appeal is won by Google; we are likely to see a tsunami of ‘carefully phrased denials from European political players trying to avoid the limelight’.

Oh, and whilst we are at it, when we see ‘placing them at a competitive disadvantage‘, that in light of Huawei surpassing Apple (source: the Verge). With: “Huawei has surpassed Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone brand. Sales have overtaken Apple for the first time”, Margrethe Vestager will call it ‘proving her point’, yet the truth is that Huawei went for the affordable option, a side Apple has not considered in decades, whilst in addition, the decline of Samsung and the growth of Huawei reinforces that it was about affordability for the longest of times, those losing market shares are their own worst enemy, because the wrong people are setting the price, I added enough evidence of that for the longest of times. This all in a setting where we see that even as Huawei realises that Europe is the key, the others are isolating themselves even more. Soon enough it will no longer be about Google and Android, it will become on non-American mobile players gaining the upper hand  over all the others, I wonder what anti-trust case will be filed at that point.

#PriceDiscriminationAnyone?

 

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In my house I decide

Do you have that situation where you are and you want a new sofa, so you decide to buy a new sofa? So far, so good. You go to the shop and you buy the sofa you want. Now this is the setting where the flavour changes. So now you are there and you almost have it, yet you need it in Cobalt blue and it has to be 35 cm wider. So you tell the furniture maker that you expect that model to be there as per next week.

This is where we are when we see ‘Trump Pressures Saudi Arabia to Increase Oil Production‘. With the quote “President Trump tweeted on Saturday that he had once again leaned on Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, to increase production by as much as 2 million barrels a day” the NY Times implies at (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/30/us/trump-oil-saudi-arabia.html) that the US is in charge of Saudi productions. So in light of the setting that Bloomberg gives through “President Donald Trump said he persuaded Saudi Arabia to effectively boost oil production to its maximum capacity to cool down prices“. In that directive, I think that we all deserve equality and that fair prices need to be set. So in that setting, it is my view to demand from the president that he call Bill Gates and demand that the pressure on the life of gamers need to be equalised and through that, he must demand that Microsoft on line stores prices should not be more than 20% of the physical copy of a Microsoft product, or a Microsoft Live, or a Microsoft game console product.

You get it Donald? It’s their house, their product, their choice. Your predecessors fucked up ‘your’ house by not properly taking care, now that the consequences are here, you have to pay, that is the deal in real life. 1300 children are killed each year through guns because the previous holders of the oval office refused to take proper care (an ATF reflection).

The people are in a state when we see that California has the 50th lowest quality of life for all states in the US, a consequence of not being able to set the proper stage against exploitation, yet that is not possible as we see through CNN (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/13/opinions/sams-club-walmart-corporate-greed-tasini-opinion/index.html). We merely have to see: “as if by doling out money, Walmart should earn a medal. But, let’s look closely at the reality. If you worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at $11 per hour, with not a shred of time off, you would earn $22,880. The federal poverty rate for a family of four is $24,600 — and the formula for the official poverty rate understates the difficulty of surviving at that income level“, now consider getting by anywhere in California on $22K, that whilst the bills pile up and when we consider the dozens of Sam’s club stores closing in California, the people will need to see where they can ends meet soon thereafter. It means more mileage and that is where cheap oil is essential, without cheap oil the American cogs stop. So as the US has already pissed off the larger player (Iran), it is desperate to get Saudi to give 2 million barrels a day more so that the price can be kept low. Yet, why should they? Were we given fair dealings in the 90’s? When oil makers could make a killing in upsizing price on petrol, were we protected? No, we were not, yet now, all have to give in for the needs of America. So what’s in it for Saudi Arabia, two F-35 squadrons on the house perhaps? So now we get to US News (at https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2018-06-30/trump-claims-saudi-arabia-will-boost-oil-production), where we see: “”During the call, the two leaders stressed the need to make efforts to maintain the stability of oil markets and the growth of the global economy,” the statement said. It added that there also was an understanding that oil-producing countries would need “to compensate for any potential shortage of supplies.” It did not elaborate. In a statement issued Saturday night, the White House did not specify that Saudi Arabia would increase production but that “King Salman affirmed that the Kingdom maintains a two million barrel per day spare capacity, which it will prudently use if and when necessary to ensure market balance and stability, and in coordination with its producer partners, to respond to any eventuality.”“, yet in that how must we see ‘necessary to ensure market balance and stability‘, and in line towards the needs of others? How is that seen? You see the US is not the only place with an issue, even as the signals are clearest in the US, seeing southern Europe in a state where ends can barely be met, the need is actually seen in different ways. That is partially set when we go to Oilprice dot com. There we see Gail Tverberg give us: “Newspapers in the United States seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. I have written Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If our only problem was high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to be a solution. Unfortunately, the problem we are encountering now is extremely low prices. If prices continue at this low level, or go even lower, we are in deep trouble with respect to future oil extraction“. When we look back we see that the oil prices have been above what it is now from 2004 onwards, with a small dip in 2009. So the issue of prices should not have been an issue, because all prices go up, even if the production prices go down (like downloading online games), the full price (sometimes even more is demanded, also when the shoe is on the other foot, does the US have any right to complain? In this Europe is in a similar track. This is clearest seen in the Independent (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-petrol-pump-prices-latest-rise-crude-oil-diesel-cost-aa-a8382801.html), where we are treated to: “UK petrol prices near four-year high despite crude oil costs falling. Latest figures from AA show pump prices have not followed the slight decline in crude costs over recent weeks“, in addition we were given “Less than a month ago, the petrol retailers were falling over themselves to warn of pump prices at record levels. Now that the price of oil has fallen away and fuel costs have followed, in true form, they have kept quiet and carried on charging cash-strapped motorists the maximum for their fuel“, that was last month, and now there are indication that such a move might not be far behind in the US and for them the only remaining option is to artificially push prices down.

So who is in charge in the house of Saud? One would assume the King, yet the way the US is presenting the news, he is not and that is a really bad move to make. If there is a chance that barrels get back to $100 each, the setting from California becomes a nightmare, with summer and no air conditioning, the people are faced with air conditioning in their cars, so that they, oh no! They cannot afford the gas, because when a full working week still leaves you $2,000 below the poverty threshold, we will see that life in California will not be one for the better, but one for the lesser. So when we get back to the quality of life with Texas in 46th, Nevada 43rd, Alabama 35th, and Georgia 32nd, those living there and smothering to death because of the fuel prices might consider North Dakota in 1st, just be aware that they also get fuel prices, they get them in winter. Yet the list (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/us-news-best-states-quality-of-life-ranked-2018-2), in the end, the quality of life i not merely the heating and electricity, the fact that I push it does not make it correct, it is merely a factor in that larger setting of a nation where equilibrium has faltered for too much and the unbalance is not merely there, it is also all over Europe. The entire ‘everyone on the equal size‘ was never going to work, but those worse off were willing to sign on for the EU fairy tale. Now that the dream ended and the owners of resources have a clear option to push forward their own agenda’s, the other players start being cranky because they continued the unrealistic dream.

It does not stop there, in their house (the USA) the issues are now equally exploding as Axios reported that “21,000 companies in the United States have filed for tariff exclusions claiming Trump’s trade war has caused layoffs and makes them at risk of folding completely“, yes that was always a danger and it is now hitting the US full on, so whilst there was the given notice of benefit, the drawback is growing almost exponentially. That whilst CBC (the Canadian edition) reported “On Friday, the federal government unveiled an updated list of U.S. products that are about to be slapped with tariffs while promising to spend up to $2 billion to protect jobs in the steel and aluminium sectors on this side of the border in the wake of a burgeoning trade war with the U.S.“, so not only is the US down $2 billion (and a lot more than that), the inflicted damage of businesses folding (as Axios stated it), is the double whammy of the worst kind on the US economy. So not only are they facing ‘retaliatory’ issues from Mexico, China and Canada. The setting is now that in addition to the backlash on one side, the other side is buckling too. This is given to us by Jeremy Grantham (co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham, Mayo, & van Otterloo, a Boston-based asset management firm) gave us “Once you start thinking in certainties, you have real trouble. When the facts move against me, I moved down from 50 per cent probable to 35, which is my official forecast. If we keep on fighting trade wars with Canada and the EU, and so on, it will go to 30, and then eventually 25 and fade away“, so these are merely probabilities of making even or better. So how many will invest their fortune when the chance of merely breaking even is on a half way chance or worse? It seems to me that the option of short selling US commodities never looked better. Don’t take his word for it, I surely wouldn’t do that. What can a 79 year old Brit tell you? The fact that he is on the list of the 50 most influential voices in the market would not count, would it?

We can agree that the house of Trump is in all kinds of settings and dangers, but it is his house (to merely coin a phase). In that same place the house of Saud is the sandbox of King Salman of Saudi Arabia (with oil and all). The mention that: ‘he had once again leaned on Saudi Arabia‘, is not only a wrong setting, it is a disrespectful one and the NY Times should have known better. You see, the NY Times implied a quote, yet the actual quote was: “Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference…Prices to high! He has agreed!“, which is a very different setting. Now, we will never accuse President Trump that he has any correlation to a diplomatic mind, but the given issues ‘turmoil & disfunction in Iran‘ , as well as ‘am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels‘, the message is not the same and there the NY Times failed the readers in a disastrous way.

There we see that a dialogue is optionally created where lowering oil prices might get the US through the next summer and winter. In these two houses (US & Saudi Arabia), we see changes, we see technological progress in Saudi Arabia, yet in the US that is happening less and less because the house of US is as Americans say ‘not a house of us‘, it is the house of Wall Street and we are merely allowed to rent it for now. It is a dangerous setting and the changes that the Tariff war will push, as well as the exploitative nature of corporate America. You merely have to look at the track that it took for minimum wages to go up by $1 an hour and when you consider that the minimum wage was $7.50 in 2007, So when you consider the consumer price index and that it was 209.876 in 2007, and that it is now 261.696 implies a 24% shift, the income gives rise a 46% increase, one would state that this is good. Yet the one does not refer to the other and that is where the people are really hurt by people hiding behind consumer indexes. You see, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food and medical care. It is calculated by taking price changes for each item in the predetermined basket of goods and averaging them. And that is where the issues start. Not merely the ‘average’, the fact of where they are offered and where the people are. Transportation has taken a much larger shift as has the price of medication, so the entire setting is out of balance. So when we see: “The cost of living in California is higher than the national average. State of California salaries average $62,964.00, indicating a pay rate that is higher than the U.S. average annual salary by $9,343.00. The consumer price index (CPI) of 270 in California is 10.20% higher than the U.S. city average CPI of 245. The sales tax is 7.25%“, all shifts that line up and now look back at the Wal-Mart person having to get by on $22K. Now, California is the most visible one, but by no feat the only one, or the largest one and similar issues are growing in Europe. That is the shift that matters. We need to make sure our houses are in order and we have rights to decide on how our house is set in order, the ones elected to be in charge decide, not the media or the players setting a stage of profiteering. The gap of rich and poor does not merely exist, the gap between the two is growing faster and faster on a daily basis. Did anyone ever signed up for that?

I have no issuer that the well-educated and the visionaries make more, because that is the game, yet the issues are growing where those who have neither are rigging the game in their favour and against everyone else. The mere indication that governments let them is also a larger issue and even as we see that it is the largest in Wall Street, that same issue is seen all over the world, even in Australia where parliament is all up in arms on issues that are not gifted with any evidence on stopping Huawei, whilst we see a larger push from places like CBRE and the Noble Investment Group on housing that no one seems to be able to afford. The leaflets look to good to be true, but when we see, it is all in Chinese, is that not peculiar in Sydney? Whilst we see in the Sydney Morning Herald (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/investors-snap-up-90m-in-city-fringe-offices-20180610-p4zknj.html), ‘Investors snap up $90m in City fringe offices‘ with the quote “Investors have snapped up more than $95 million in sales of city fringe office assets to get a foothold in the booming sector“, with in addition “CBRE and JLL recently co-sold the 7 City View Road property in Pennant Hills, Sydney to EG Funds Management for $32 million. It is leased to the National Broadband Network, which is moving to Dexus Property’s 100 Mount Street when its completed, and Government Property NSW“, that whilst social housing is at an all-time low. Is it not interesting how governments give millions away with a marketing ploy down the road that it feeds the coffers? Yet when you give away 90 million, how much do you snap up? That in contrast from Android Headlines, who gives us: “In a prepared statement, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asserted the laws passed on Thursday aren’t meant to target any particular country but previously went on record to express concerns about China’s geopolitical ambitions in the region, having previously admitted the new legislation is bound to raise tensions between Canberra and Beijing. Previous reports suggested Australian lawmakers resolved to enact harsher punishments for foreign political interference attempts after the local intelligence community provided them with evidence suggesting China attempted to influence a broad range of its institutions, going to the very top of the administration“. So when we see ‘harsher punishments for foreign political interference‘ did the PM consider that they already opened the door to make housing unaffordable? So when you can no longer afford to live anywhere, does it matter what happens afterwards? It seems to me that the PM is playing a game of the parliamentary calling the landlord dubious, whilst giving a wide open field to those changing the settings towards Australian quality of life. It seems almost childish to look at the Huawei Mobile because it was not made in America.

So when we look at ‘In my house I decide’ was that merely the building, or does that include the commodities and the Feng Shui setting of what brand of mobile is allowed and who delivers the crude that pumps the ovens for the creation of electricity to recharge our mobiles?

How deep did the security services look into the fact of those (read: Chinese investors) who are the upcoming landlords of Sydney

 

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How to design a death trap

The Grenfell inquiry is still going on and the last testimony from Dr Barbara Lane is not just an eye opener, it shows two elemental parts. The first is that the ‘stay put’ scenario could never have worked, the second one is that the cladding itself had the additional issue of getting set against combustible materials. That does not make the person who decided on the cladding innocent, it merely proves that the people behind it all failed in spectacular ways. The first part given is “Styrofoam core panels were installed between the new windows and around kitchen vents; ethylene propylene diene terpolymer was used around the new window frames; and polyurethane expanding foam was used to fill joints in the insulation and in gaps between new windows and walls – all combustible materials. She also found combustible polymeric foam above some windows, even though there was no evidence of it being specified, and polyisocyanurate foam that was not in the design” This states that not only was there more combustible materials, there was additional combustible materials that were not even part of the design. So someone acted, someone approved those additional costs. Then we get the first killer. With “horizontal cavity barriers designed to stop fire spreading through the facade had wrongly been installed vertically. They feature an intumescent strip that is meant to expand and close the gap during a fire, but some of these barriers were installed facing into the existing concrete, rendering them useless. She said some of the required cavity barriers had simply not been installed around windows“, we see not merely a construction error, a direct flaw on parts that would stop fires, or at least largely decrease the speed was done wrong and now we see that the building had ‘vent columns‘ to allow the fire to reach maximum speed. At this point, we have issues with procurement, with the installation and construction inspection. Optionally, the architectural setting was wrong, which gives us a failing on nearly every level from the council to the person telling the man with the drill what to do and where to do it. I think that this is a first for me, to see failing to this degree. The stay put was basically a death sentence in 30 minutes. It is the additional “more than 100 fire doors inside Grenfell did not meet fire regulations” that gives the light that the corridors would have been as deadly as the apartment to stay put in, in close to 30 minutes. She gives a few more points, but at this stage, what she gives out is that the killing blow would have been close to a given when those remained inside beyond the first 15 minutes. The article ends with “The same compartmentalisation strategy was essential for firefighting internally, which relied on a working firefighting lift, protected lobbies, ways of getting water up the buildings, a protected space between the firefighting stair and the flats. All of these failed to one degree or another“, now we see that Grenfell was a death-trap for tenants and firefighters alike, the fact that no firefighter died that day is a small miracle to say the least.

So in all this, when we consider the Telegraph article a day earlier (a clear reason for a second Leveson), we see a different side. The article job is a hatchet job by Hayley Dixon, a person who should not be allowed in journalism (a personal belief on mine due to this one article). So when we get back to the title ‘Grenfell survivors question why it took 15 minutes for firefighters to tackle initial blaze‘, and as Hayley Dixon published this at 21:30 local time the previous day. Was this the result of writers block? Was this a mere emotional writing of 104 words to meet a deadline requirement? If so, how irresponsible is the editor? When we put the Telegraph article next to the Independent, the Guardian and the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane, we are confronted with the emotional push of some kind? You see, the setting we see now, the videos that are online and the pictures clearly show that there was nothing normal about the fire and that Grenfell was a constructed death-trap in the shape of a Roman candle. Additional views (from the Independent) gave us “One survivor reported that building’s dry risers – vertical pipes used by firefighters to distribute water to multiple levels of a building – were not working“, so in all this, how was the Telegraph article not merely a waste of space and existence?

This entire fish gets another flavour when we consider an earlier BBC article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40330789). In this we see “Four ministers – all from the Department for Communities and Local Government – received letters but did not strengthen the regulations. Ronnie King, a former chief fire officer who sits on the group, says the government has ignored repeated warnings about tower block safety. “We have spent four years saying ‘Listen, we have got the evidence, we’ve provided you with the evidence, there is clear public opinion towards this, you ought to move on this’,” said Mr King.”” we would expect that at least some move would be made and even as the cladding and other issues now showing would not have stopped anything, better regulations might have at least delayed enough for people to reconsider getting out. So who gets to be on the front page? Yes it is Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams – who was then a minister in the department – replied: “I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward“. This can be countered by the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40422922, where we see “London Fire Brigade warned all 33 councils about the potential risks of external cladding on tower blocks in May this year, the BBC has learned. It followed tests on panels from a high rise that suffered a fire last August. The insulation panels were made up of polystyrene and plywood, and tests concluded they were the likely cause of the fire spreading up the outside“, so there was clear evidence from May 2017 (after his ‘reign’), yet the issues had been clear put forward in 2014 when he was there. He remains in our sights when we realise that this had been going on since 2009, as it was highlighted at the coroner’s inquest into a fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell in 2009, which led to the deaths of six people, including three children. So at that point, the words of Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams become a statement of falsehood the moment he spoke them in 2014. When we hear ‘I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward‘, whilst there is a clear coroner’s inquest regarding 6 people, including 3 children, when did ‘disrupt the work of this department‘ become an accepted answer?

I am not sure if we could blame the London Fire Brigade from walking away in the future and let 100% of London burn down, you know, they would not want to ‘disrupt any department‘ by caring, now would they?

The fact is just slightly too dark when we consider that there was ample evidence up to 9 years before the Grenfell blaze. If there is one positive, we might see a change where councils need the office of Dany Cotton, or the office of her previous post where she was the Director of Safety and Assurance at the London Fire Brigade, to sign off on any refurbishment before allowing it to happen. It would optionally stop every council from seeking a ‘short cut’ to adhere to the wishes of rich investors. I am mentioning this, because it will have to be said again and again that the refurbishment and cladding was added “a low-cost way of improving the front of the building – was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround North Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it” (source: The Independent). So as luxury flat owners nearby thought Grenfell was too yucky, it ended up being upgraded from apartment building to Roman candle.

I believe that the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane is one of the most damaging to the council, the constructors and decision makers in the refurbishment of Grenfell we have ever seen, the question will turn soon enough into: ‘how many death-traps are there in London?’ It is merely my personal view that there is a level of complacency to set the economic values of London in a way that might be way too dangerous for the people living there. If we see these issues in North Kensington and Chelsea, what would we find if there was an actual serious look at a council like Islington? The fact that Islington is overcrowded, it is growing in the sparkling area for socialites and professionals, so the visibility is high. Even as the London Metropolitan Police is working hard to lower the rising crime number, the impact of a Grenfell like event in Islington will do more than merely burn a building and the people in there. now, let’s also realise that Islington is nowhere near the worst, Also, the high rise situation seems a lot better, yet the overcrowded part seems to give ‘rise’ to other considerations and whilst we all focus on high rises, there are other ways for fires to propagate. Another reason to raise Islington is that so far its housing strategy (2014-2019) looks nice (as all brochures are), we also see that house prices are close to 50% higher than the London average, so the damage is a lot bigger if things do go pear shaped. I also raised it as I know it decently well, yet the brochure on page 29, who gives us all the acts and strategies and legislation gives no voice to the fire dangers. The Housing Act 2004 does give two mentions, ‘Consultation with fire and rescue authorities in certain cases‘ as well as ‘miscellaneous repeals etc. in relation to fire hazards‘, yet there is more. You see even as the brochure might look less sexy by mentioning an issue like: “Depending on the type of property and how it is occupied some or all of the following will apply:

  • the Building Regulations 2010 Part B
  • Housing Health & Safety Rating System
  • The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The issue we see with Grenfell is the lack of fire prevention focus, the Housing Strategy for Islington 2014-2019 shows that there is a mere reference to the Housing Act 2004, yet housing strategy is a lot larger towards tenancy and Asset management, and in a place as overcrowded as Islington it could become a problem. Now we understand that Grenfell is only a year old, yet there is additional evidence on several levels that this is an issue that had been going on since 2009, so even as we ‘brand’ Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams by his extremely poorly chosen words. He is not alone in not having a much larger fire safety focus. The question becomes if the councils were much stronger on fire prevention, would Grenfell have been prevented? My personal believe is that this would be an absolute certain. The failings that Dr Barbara Lane gave testimony on reflects the failing on nearly every level, so as more levels need to mandatory look at certain hazards, issues would have been brought to light (a personal belief), in this London (not just Kensington and Chelsea) have a much larger workload to content with and these changes would require a reflection on a multitude of levels in the coming year. Even as we accept that voices from Islington stated “Fire safety in Islington. We are the landlord/freeholder for over 35,000 households, and we take our responsibility for your safety very seriously“, we accept that this is a response to Grenfell, yet the housing strategy also shown that there was not enough focus in the past. One additional page in that brochure on certain (read: specific) hazards could have given light that the Islington council had that focus, we now merely see (read: expect) that this is not entirely the case.

London and a lot more metropolitan areas like London mind you will have to adjust their current course on actions and considerations when it comes to fire hazard, because we do not want the London population to wake up looking at the speculative sights shown below from a distance.

Rotterdam 1940

 

OR

Hawaii 2012

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Price of freedom

What is exactly the price of freedom? We hear it all the time. Certain things must be done so that we can remain free. You can hear it in the US, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Australia even in New Zealand it can be heard (not just from the sheep). No, it is that currency, freedom that is the question. You see, what exactly is that price and what does every nation have to pay, so that they can be free. When was the last time you considered that part?

When was the last time you got a clear instruction on how to launch a missile so that it lands EXACTLY in what the Houthi’s call “Two ballistic missiles were fired on Saturday evening from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, allegedly targeting Khamis Mushait, a city in the south-west of the country, the coalition forces announced“, whilst in the Saudi Gazette we see: “the other failed to target any populated areas of the city after landing in a desert area“. Now consider the claims we have seen in the past weeks on how they were targeting specific places in Riyadh, which is several times the distance that we saw approached now and the Houthi’s cannot get that right 50% of the time. So when we see “Missile launched at Saudi capital, Houthis claim responsibility“, what are they actually targeting, are they targeting anything? I believe that there are two kind of teams working in Yemen, an Iranian and a Houthi; the better shots were clearly Iranian and with the quote ““This hostile act carried out by the Iranian Houthi militia proves that the Iranian regime is still providing the terrorist Houthi armed militia with qualitative capabilities…with the main objective of threatening the Saudi Arabian, regional and international security,” Al-Malki stressed in the statement.”, the statement is not wrong, but it is not correct either a I personally see it. I think that the Iranians are actively training Houthi troops, so when we realise that they are intentionally firing into dense populated civilian areas. Why is there not a much stronger response from Europe? It was only yesterday that the independent reported (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-nuclear-deal-latest-eu-donald-trump-sanctions-miguel-arias-canete-a8359126.html), that ‘it remains committed to accord despite Trump’s withdrawal‘, so that is the price of freedom, a nuclear deal with a nation committed to act in terrorist ways via puppets. The question becomes, what is this so called freedom worth to you, because when you are called on the accountability of what your politicians are doing, are you ready to pay that bill?

In this regard, the Conversation (at http://theconversation.com/trumps-high-stakes-gamble-on-the-iran-nuclear-deal-could-work-96449), offered an interesting thought. With “Though Israel provided a great deal of proof that Iran had lied about its nuclear program in the past, no evidence was offered that Iran was continuing the past record of deceit. The vast majority of experts agree that there is a greater likelihood of an arms race in the Middle East without the agreement than with it“. The statement is more important than you think. You see in the first we get ‘Iran had lied in the past‘, we also get ‘with a nuclear deal there is a smaller chance of nuclear arms acceleration‘ and ‘there is currently no evidence that Iran is currently acting in falsehood‘. They are important because if they lied then, what is stopping them from lying now? There is evidence of Iran acting in falsehood when we look at Yemen, now we have a ballgame, because any evidence of any level of nuclear advancement is a signal for Saudi Arabia to do the same thing, they clearly stated that. The conversation is in the belief that a nuclear deal is better, yet they call this not on the setting it is in, they are now about: ‘There is a chance the re-imposition of sanctions could work. However, it is a high-risk gamble‘, it is set as ‘a possible defence of withdrawal’, it was not about the withdrawal, it is about the nuclear setting where Iran will do what it pleases as it has done so in the past, allowing Uranium into Iran, whilst all players agree that monitoring precise Uranium numbers is not an actual reality, and with both Saudi Arabia and Israel on the firing line, it is not a high stakes gamble that they are willing to make. And leaving the decision of such a gamble with people who are not on the firing line is folly, because they pretty much have nothing to lose, in the worst case, their ego’s get to take on for the team. Explain to me how that was ever going to be a good idea? It gets even worse when we consider that President Rouhani is only in charge as long as the clergy and military agree on his actions, how exactly is that called being in charge? We get this from the NY Times on May 9th, where we see “Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday hinted that his country might step up its nuclear program, signalling a possible escalation in an already volatile relationship with Washington after President Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal”. So that is an outcome that the clergy decided on (apart from their advanced degrees on nuclear physics)? The stated issue by Ayatollah Khamenei is a dangerous one, in light of other materials, there is an increased issue that this deal was not a good idea from the very start.

I still believe that removing the Iranian navy is a first move, not only does it hurt their morale, it sets the Iranian clergy directly in opposition against the military, merely because the clergy thought their side to be invulnerable, there is nothing as uncommunicating as a clergy that knows that they are a direct target. They become the axial in a blame game, a good place for Iran to be in internally (for us). The biggest Issue I saw was not on some Iranians, merely on that a future president could end up being another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and as such the escalations begin again, yet now that person has nuclear options not a thought you would ever be willing to give any extreme Iranian president.

The issue is not merely the nuclear deal, it is Europe as a whole. When we see “Miguel Arias Canete, the European commissioner for energy and climate, said the 28-nation bloc, once the biggest importer of Iranian oil, also hoped to boost trade with Tehran“, they are ‘hoping‘ to boost trade. This is merely an economic necessity, the European economy is reported to be good, but now consider, it is 1941 and you are willing to deal with Nazi Germany, just to look economically better. Make sure you see the 1941 reference; this is no reflection on today’s Germany. Boosting trade with Iran comes at a price. Now consider that this has been going on for a year and now Iran states: “I would love to do this another three years, yet my good friend Turkey should be allowed in the EU“, now what will happen? A nation that should by the EU’s own standard never be admitted is now optionally a new EU nation. In that part when we consider the quote: “Mr Salehi said Iran had several options, including resuming its 20 per cent uranium enrichment if the European countries failed to keep the pact alive. He said the EU had only a few weeks to deliver on their promises“, this alone is an issue, because it is feasible that Russia has been delivering the hardware needed to an undisclosed location, now setting a different stage. In all this the EU is so willing to set the price of freedom in the basement, whilst knowingly endangering both Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The nightmare scenario

The nightmare scenario is not that Iran becomes nuclear; no it is the same issue when we look back to the era of Nazi Germany. I still personally believe that the State If Israel got created in an effort to get the blood rage that would have haunted Europe for decades off the streets, that danger was very real in 1945-1948. The Dutch NSB members, the Germans in general, we also get the quote “This was a time of often enthusiastic collaboration with the Third Reich, as French police and paramilitary organisations were among the many who rounded up ‘enemies of the state’ and sent them to Germany for extermination.” (I think that this was merely part of occupied France), or what we get from historian Jan Grabowski “‘Orgy of Murder’: The Poles Who ‘Hunted’ Jews and Turned Them Over to the Nazis“, at this point we have 4 countries where a people in utter rage could have persecuted Europeans for decades, that ugly reality alone and not even considering Belgium, Denmark, Italy and a few other places, on how long restorations would have additionally lasted. I am close to 100% certain that it would still be going on by the time I was born, so that image is part of all this.

The reason is that once this goes wrong, when we are optionally going to be a witness to a lynching unlike we have seen for 350 years. When this goes pear shaped and it is close to a certainty that it will go wrong, those who politicised this to happen, might in person feel what it was to be like Cornelis and Johan de Witt, who both got lynched and mutilated by the angry mob on August 20th 1672. These politicians will hide behind complications and mere uncertainties, but so did those who opposed the house of Orange, it did not end well for them.

When that happens, Europe will fall into anarchy, it will happen not because it is destined to do so, but because too many politicians have been trying to sell a bill of goods and there will be escalating levels of mistrust and anger. In this it will not matter whether Saudi Arabia or Israel will get hit, the hit will be enough to make every European politician a valid target for hunting and lynching. Their entire approach to keep every deal going whilst there is too much overwhelming evidence of the unacceptable acts by both Turkey and Iran will be the fuelling cause for it all.

After that I have no way to make any predictions, some politicians will take a long vacation in a nation without extradition the moment things go massively wrong, or try refugee status in America, but those who do not get out in time, will not have any options, they will, due to their own stupidity get hunted down.

Why?

That question is actually a lot more important than you might think. There has been an interaction of politics and media, that has never been a secret, yet in the past there was a level of balance, now, in the age where it is all about commerce and circulation, we see a different setting, the media at large are for the lack of a better term no more than a concubine, who splits her attention between the advertiser, the shareholder and the stakeholder. None of those three are the reader by the way; they merely get introduced to what we now call ‘stories of eventuality‘, which is different from actual news. Most papers merely use what Reuters offer and work with that foundation in any way that they can. This is not a national issue; it is a global one, so when something is not actually nationally set (apart from big events), we do not get the news we get some paraphrased context. Now consider that we have had that for 3-4 days and suddenly there is a nuclear explosion in Riyadh, Jeddah, Tel Aviv or Eilat. When that happens, do you think that the people will remain calm? No, they will be scared out of their minds and all the pretty stories that the news gave, and all the politicians who hid behind ‘we do not expect this to happen’ or ‘it could be so good for us all if it works out’ will not stop a group of people who will add up to many millions, their fear will catch on and they will hunt down anyone related to the Iran Nuclear deal and the messages that they handed out. Like Johan de Witt, they will be trying to get away, but an enraged crowd of that many people cannot be avoided, the only issue is, can those who signed it see that danger in time?

Is there real danger?

That is the part no one, especially me can predict. There is too much not known and even more at times misrepresented, so it is not likely but that merely is set to the foundation of facts, and we are often not given facts, merely speculations (even I am to some degree speculating), I am trying to stay as real as possible, but in light of what I just gave, based on the founding facts that we all have been able to see around us for a few years now. When the fears of nuclear events become reality, which person will not go into fear driven panic? All that, because the politicians of today are set in a battle arena where it is all about the economy and anything that can contribute to that economy must be embraced no matter how the political setting is. That is the setting and even as there is no real stability in that setting, as we see pressure on more than one currency, we will also see the need for intense economic growth and some will give representation that Turkey give options in this, that is the first moment where failure will translate to pressure, when that happens all bets are off and in light of those sliding values, should Iran (yes, I stated ‘should’) do one stupid move in any nuclear setting we will see a different kind of fallout, we will see the kind where the bulk of 740 million Europeans will all pretty much lose it on the spot, that is the moment where we will see on how ‘speech making’ will be a hangable offense to those people, no courts, no judges, millions of hysterically enraged (enraged through fear) who will seek people to hold accountable (the blame game), that is the wrong day to be a politicians, let me tell you that much.

Now, I do not think the danger is that big, although it is directly linked to the acts of Iran, so it is not zero. The real danger is grown with the moral setting of both Iran and Turkey, the fact that some want to keep the discussion going, whilst it should have been discontinued a long time ago will also count. We are heading into murky shallow waters and the end game cannot be predicted, merely because of the amount of players and they all have their own needs. Yet the one part that I do not fathom is that some are willing to add the ‘price of freedom‘ as a currency to calm both political and economic waters with people who have no regard for either element in that setting, a dangerous precedent I think, but that might merely be me.

 

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Behind Fake News and Business Intelligence

It all started with the Independent last night (at https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-terrorism-isis-alqaeda-content-removed-mark-zuckerberg-a8319001.html). You see, we have had our fill of Facebook news, some of it seems to hold ground, a lot linked to ‘rumoured’ and some founded through advertisement as Eddie McGuire is now fighting with ‘Eddie McGuire is vowing to sue Facebook over a fake news article that claimed the broadcaster was promoting a cure for erectile dysfunction‘. Even as we see the issues around the Australian TV Presenter, we are nowhere near ready.

There is in addition the visibility through the MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis, who is determined to give Facebook a bloody nose.

Yet at the core we are in a separate standing. The first is given with Facebook generates 4 new petabytes of data per day; this translates to 4,000 Terabytes, or 4,000,000 Gigabytes. That is every day! So when I see “Facebook has said it removed or flagged 1.9 million pieces of content linked to al-Qaeda or Isis in the first part of 2018“, I wonder what they did NOT find. There is no way to tell, but they are nowhere close to the 100% mark. In addition, people like Eddie McGuire and Martin Lewis are not making it any easier. Now, I am partially on their side, if their name is wrongfully used there should be repercussions, yet this is advertisement and they should go after those advertisers, not Facebook themselves. They might do this from the sense of Torts to go after the money, but then they merely want a payday, not a resolution. When we take a look at Facebook Marketing, we see something interesting in the Business Insider, when we consider “Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognises the long term value to the firm of keeping customers, as opposed to direct or ‘Intrusion’ marketing, which focuses upon acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics based upon prospective client lists“. This implies that this system relies on idiots propagating the message of the fake McGuire and Lewis. That is what makes the issue a larger issue. You see people have a god given right to be moronic idiots, with no accountability to the truth or reality. So these two gentlemen are almost on some fools errant. The moment we look into the advertisement policies, the online sales structure, Facebook is likely to have absolved all liability and they become a mere facilitator. And in all this America just doesn’t care, if they did the ‘big dick‘ and ‘huge tits‘ pharmacy solutions would have stopped decades ago, but they didn’t did they?

So in all that light we see ‘Why paying for Facebook won’t fix your privacy’ (at http://www.businessintelligenceinfo.com/business-intelligence/big-data/why-paying-for-facebook-wont-fix-your-privacy), the issue is not the data. We see that when we consider “While Facebook might offer an option to pay instead of having targeted ads shown, it’s also likely that people purchasing such an option will have their personal information collected anyway. Zuckerberg hinted there might be a version of Facebook that is not free, but he never hinted that he might stop collecting your data. And Facebook is only one example of a ubiquitous business model“, this is the one place where Google and Facebook are truly the same. Their operations rely on having that data and collecting more data, the value of data is only a guarantee as long as the data is up to date.

In all this there are some clear issues. You see, the user should be allowed to get the data on ANY advertiser. So, as such if there if fake news, or wrongful advertisers, these advertisers are now in the picture as their records could be pulled by anyone. It would also enable people like McGuire and Lewis to go after the advertisers. As those fake advertisers can no longer hide, they will need to find other shores to dig for cheap revenue. Yet there is no solution for those people, and Facebook themselves have opened that door by their own doing. Facebook Business gave us “Facebook is one of the most efficient ways to advertise online. See how we connect businesses with all the right people on any device with Facebook marketing“. If they ‘connect businesses’ they have the goods on that business and as such we have a right to know. I would not put it past McGuire to introduce those people abusing his good name by introducing those advertisers to the business end of a ‘2 by 4’.

If Business Intelligence is ‘the strategies and technologies used by enterprises for the data analysis of business information’, Facebook would have no option but to make that effort and change. You see, if business information is not correct of reliably false, it stops having value degrading the facilitator, so it is actually in their interest as Facebook to make that jump. In addition, when we consider ‘BI is most effective when it combines data derived from the market in which a company operates with data from company sources internal to the business‘, which we get from ‘Coker, Frank (2014). Pulse: Understanding the Vital Signs of Your Business. Ambient Light Publishing’, to some extent, we see that Facebook is either willing to lose its markers on effectiveness or adjust its current visions. In addition, when we realise that its terrorist propaganda settings are below nominal, we see that the system needs more than an overhaul, it needs a separate dashboard of flags as to ascertain the volatility of the advertisement space used and that is merely when it is set to advertisement. When we consider the ISIS 2016 recruitment video (removed in late 2017) that was on Heavy.com, we now see a new iteration. What happens when it is not some extreme violence advertisement? What if it is merely fake news and false advertisement? The only way to get through that is to start mapping the users propagating this, there is no other alternative. Let the user face the accountability of their use of ‘free speech‘, the moment it clearly intersects with defamation and liable acts, that is the first moment that the waves of prosecution will warrant the user to start acting responsibly.

I am willing to take it one step further; the user needs to become Business Intelligence aware, all of them, no matter how artsy their stand is. If our ‘survival’ require us to be aware of the value we represent, we suddenly grow an interest in what we propagate is when we start cleaning a system, so these 500+ members (friends) we have, whilst we need to remember that 150 of them were because we needed ‘stuff’ from Farmville, at that point we will start cleaning our accounts and the interactions we have. When we have clean accounts a lot of fake news will start limiting itself to a small circle of ‘facilitators’ and as such the issue becomes a much smaller issue. As the circle decreases, those people abusing advertisements and propagate messages will learn that the effort to grow will take much more effort and as such it will become a lot less rewarding to do so, in addition, as the circle is smaller, it will be the actual circle of those embracing either fake news and extremism, the fake news people will isolate themselves more and more and the extremism people will be more readily identifiable.

So as Facebook is holding onto ‘Twice as much as in the previous quarter‘ I am willing to speculate that they aren’t even close to 25%, that means that their extremism message is still getting through and until Facebook changes their ways, the issue is unlikely to ever be resolved. Now, that does not mean that Facebook is willing to facilitate for them, it merely means that the changes in the propagation through messages, false posts and/or advertisements needs a massive overhaul.

So as we accept the Independent with “It noted that “bad actors have long tried to use” the internet for nefarious ends, noting that white supremacists and al-Qaeda have for decades sought to disseminate their ideologies online“, as well as ““While the challenge of terrorism online isn’t new, it has grown increasingly urgent as digital platforms become central to our lives”, the post said“. We need to see that there is a lot more to be done. That evidence is seen (at https://thenextweb.com/hardfork/2018/04/09/cryptocurrency-ads-facebook), where we see: “The worst part is that the trick is ridiculously simple: all it takes to circumvent the crypto currency ad ban on the popular social media platform is to avoid using any of the forbidden terms. This is why some marketers have begun strategically abbreviating the word “cryptocurrency” to “c-currency” – and other similar variations“, this in itself is could be partially aided by making the advertisers details open and public. When we consider the news ‘the people have a right to know’, then the people have an equal right to be aware of who is trying to ‘sell’ them that information, when those people can no longer hide, they will optionally start receiving the documents for reparations. Yet this all depends on Facebook being willing to change their model in the first place, it will up the quality of their Business Intelligence data as well as the result. It is likely that they will lose thousands of customers with $100 to spend, yet in light of the damage that they are causing now, that loss should be no more than a mere drop of water on a hot plate, the benefits should outweigh anything else in the long run. In addition, how can you have any faith in any product or solution whilst the seller is trying to hide their identity? How does that make sense?

The nice part is that hitting Fake News, not merely some ‘white supremacist’ trying to push their ideology, when we start seeing trolls and “When Storm Harvey displaced thousands in Texas, US, in August, a Canadian imam had to point out he had never been to the state after he was accused of closing his mosque’s doors to Christian victims in a fake story been shared more than 126,000 times“, we need to consider that they either found 125,000+ gullible idiots, or that the issue is a lot larger than we can imagine. That issue is seen in the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-42724320), where we see “The young people in Veles may or may not have had much interest in American politics, but because of the money to be made via Facebook advertising, they wanted their fiction to travel widely on social media. The US presidential election – and specifically Donald Trump – was (and of course still is) a very hot topic on social media“, which means that greed propagated a direct impact on Fake News as well as skew the Business Intelligence results. So why pay anything at all? It seems that if people have an interest in informing the audience they will and there is every likelihood that not paying anything could have prevented up to at least 75% of ‘locals launched at least 140 US politics websites’, there will always be a select group of jokers, but a mere cost effective cut might have prevented 75% of the damage others faced by not paying those jokers. When we accept that I am not the most intelligent person on the planet (I actually am, but for the moment, let’s just assume I am not), how come that no one in Facebook handed this option? It is all about the money and in that stride we see mistake after mistake, the toll of greed. that is the true fight Mark Zuckerberg faces and let’s be honest, if he (and his wife) bank a mere billion, they will have enough to live an extremely comfortable life. All these issues seem to exist merely because of greed facilitation. I will let you decide how hot the waters are that Zuckerberg needs to navigate, but as the lawsuits are piling up, making the details of every advertiser known might be a first step to change it all for the better for everyone involved, well except the advertisers that is. As the Business Intelligence value goes up he might attract a whole range of other businesses, a group of people that are proud to propagate their brand, their product and their value.

It is a radical idea, but then, I was always a rebel rouser, if only to make people face the value they could have, not the value that other people say they might have.

 

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Pinata whacking Couper

There is a little mean streak in me, you see, it started with Tesco, and it actually started a little earlier. But the gist is that when it concerns PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) I tend to take a swing at them whenever possible, I just roll that way. So there I was looking at ‘PwC charges more than £20m for first eight weeks of Carillion collapse‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/21/pwc-charges-20m-eight-weeks-carillion-collapse-final-bill) when I realised that when I wack those boys I usually have good reason and supporting documentations to test my latest sledgehammer on a member of their board of Directors. In this article, when I saw “MPs have accused the accountancy firm tasked with salvaging money from Carillion on behalf of its creditors and pensioners of charging “superhuman” fees, after it racked up a bill for £20.4m in eight weeks” it took a mere 3.2 seconds from spitting in my hands and getting ready to swing that hammer at Kevin Ellis (yes all the way from Sydney, my arms are that long). I held off and went ‘wait a minute!

You see, I always had as I saw it good cause, but who are these MP’s thinking that they have good cause? The first is Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP in charge of the business select committee. So she mentioned that ‘superhuman’ part. What does she know? The Wiki claim states that she is an economist. So how much does one charge for 112 consultants? You see at £199 an hour we get £891K for these people working a mere 40 hours a week. As it is the UK, they are more likely to work 60 hours which gets us at flat rate £1.3 million a week which leaves PwC with an overhead of a mere £100K whilst I have not taking into account any additional expenses and they tend to get high. I reckon that these people are likely to make a lot more than 60 hours a week, that is the result of “£2bn to its 30,000 suppliers” and as the article states “a week to employ 112 staff to keep the company running and to honour government contracts” we do not see the inclusion of any additional staff that was not hired and that is still assigned via PwC. So that took a mere 6 seconds to realise that I was not getting to whack Kevin Ellis. Leave it to a Labour MP to spoil a perfectly lovely Friday morning feeling. Now, let’s also realise that my calculations could be way off, there are so little actual facts in the article (I am not blaming the article here) that there are hidden traps all over the place. I think that Rachel should have gotten up from the right side of the vibrator that morning, as we need to realise what an amazing mess Carillion is. The oversight had fallen short on so many sides, with the mention of pensions and a shortfall that is close to a £1,000,000,000 should be a much larger issue and the fact that this had fallen short implies a level of what I regard to be criminal negligence that is unheard of. We merely need to look at ‘Carillion’s pension crisis defies magic legal cure‘ (at https://www.ft.com/content/5041d10e-1a1c-11e8-aaca-4574d7dabfb6). So when we see “Yet in the seven years before its collapse, Carillion made contributions to the fund of just £280m while paying out dividends worth more than £500m“, my first idea is to look at the auditors and the accountancy firm. So how much overview did Rachel Reeves give regarding KPMG? We get part of this when we see ‘Why didn’t anyone working with Carillion say it was going to fail?‘ (at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/carillion-kpmg-auditors-audit-hbos-financial-crisis-self-regulation-deloitte-a8185356.html). Here we see: “In March 2017, the giant audit firm KPMG signed off on the annual accounts of the construction giant-cum-outsourced services provider Carillion, saying they gave a “true and fair view” of the state of the company’s affairs. For this work, KPMG received a fee of £1.4m. This followed £1.4m of fees recouped the year before. In fact, KPMG had been Carillion’s auditor every year since it was founded in 1999. You don’t need to be an accountant to work out that that adds up to a very lucrative client relationship” that whilst we get the news that a mere four months later “its contracts to provide services were worth a remarkable £845m less than they had previously been valued on its books” that is an amount that exceeds whatever Richard Branson has in his wallet on his best days, so how was this overlooked? So as Rachel Reeves was kind enough that the value of KPMG is not good enough to audit the contents of her fridge, she should also be aware that this entire audit is not merely the outstanding invoices, there is a decent concern that the audit of KPMG has been unable to correctly assess issues for 17 years. So there is a real need to set up the correct framework to be able to take a long term look to the matters as well as the ability to set the right data dimensionality so that the data does not need to migrate over and over as more is found. I would think that an MP who part of the ‘the business select committee’, as well as a graduated economist would know that. You see as an experienced IT worker and a data analyst, I saw that coming a mile away.

So here I am partially standing up for PwC (so how fucked up will my day become?), news at 23:00. So when we get back to the Financial Times article and we see “As a House of Commons report has noted, Carillion’s growing borrowings were not used to invest in the company. In fact, while the group’s debt rose 297 per cent between 2009 and 2017, the value of its long-term assets grew just 14 per cent“, can we agree that there is a side that is terribly wrong here? These matters should have been clear in the KPMG reports, which now clearly overthrows the statement “they gave a “true and fair view” of the state of the company’s affairs“, I think that we can all agree that this part has been debunked in 30 seconds flat. In addition the Independent gives us “Moreover, KPMG was not the only auditor of Carillion’s numbers. Its 2016 report relates that it had a special “internal” auditor too, in Deloitte, with which it worked even more closely than with KPMG. So why didn’t Deloitte pick up on the dodgy contract numbers?” For me that is an interesting side as I have never seen anything dodgy in Deloitte. The fact that they might be part of the mess (unlikely though) is also cause for concern. More important, as I personally see it, it will be up to PwC to get that part out in the open. What was the exact assignment of the internal auditor, what data was presented, what data was accessed and used and who was part of the entire reporting stage of this internal audit? It would show more players in all this and could optionally give a better path in seeing the navigations that the decision makers in Carillion were involved in.

That is a part that we need to realise and consider.

There is another concern that the Independent brought to light. With: “Previous probes by the FRC have produced nothing but clean bills of health for auditors. “In nearly every major financial scandal we’ve had since the financial crisis, the FRC decides none of its charges have done anything wrong,” notes Jim Armitage, city editor of the Evening Standard. Worse, these rulings come with no reports or published evidence, making a mockery of the FRC’s claims to “promote transparency”” we might think that it is merely the FRC, yet what Wall Street taught us is that the entire 2008 joke gave rise to an 8 trillion write off, whilst no actual laws were broken, or at least none that could be proven, so in that regard, if that happens again now, we can clearly look at the House of Lords, point fingers and tell them to improve laws immediately and hold any MP and minister accountable for naming and public shaming. It might work, but I doubt it. You see, until there are large and unforgiving prison sentences, whilst also remove all the rights of ownership to those involved in Carillion, nothing will change. I have seen people setting the ownership of their large estates to their wives and then deny that they had any outstanding financial responsibilities in more than one country. Until these matters are settled this game will continue because greed will always win in the end.

So when we get back to the initial article we get “Kelly, who said his personal rate was £865 an hour, said PwC’s costs would gradually fall as more parts of Carillion were sold and staff from the accounting firm stopped working on the project. He said the firm initially had 257 people working on Carillion, with a bill for about £3m for their services in the first week after its collapse“, we see where part of the costs went to, so as my calculations was based on smaller settings we see how easily these costs were attained and the end of it is not in sight. Rachel Reeves should have seen this clearly as she had access to data I still have not seen. I think it is much more interesting to look at “Finance director Richard Adam, who retired in December 2016 after nine years at Carillion received almost £1.1m in salary and bonuses in 2016“, which we get from the BBC. So if we get to see the wrongdoings of Richard Adams, this is a reasonable speculation as the entire mess goes back a lot further than 2016, will we see these same MPs demand the auctioning of the goods of Richard Adams to make up for the losses of Carillion? You see the article stated MPs, not singular. Rachel Reeves might have been the visible one, but I want to see all those names, because when we consider the BBC news (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-42703549) as it gives us:

  • The £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Sandwell: opening delayed to 2019 due to construction problems.
  • The £335m Royal Liverpool Hospital: completion date repeatedly pushed back amid reports of cracks in the building.
  • The £745m Aberdeen bypass: delayed because of slow progress in completing initial earthworks.

We need to ask questions on several MPs all over the field, all over the UK apparently. These three alone show a £1.3 billion issue are so out in the open that these three alone will constitute evidence of a much deeper required accountancy dig. Three issues shown last January and these three alone gives rise for me to think that PwC will be able to charge a lot more and in addition, the entire settling and selling could take a lot longer than some expect it to take. So these elements are the setting for additional costs, so those MPs might claim that there is a case of ‘milking the Carillion cow dry‘, but they better be ready for me to take a look at more than these three projects, because I will ask openly on their failings to get a handle on matters, because I am 99% certain that these three projects alone will lead to a dozen others all over the UK and if there are no clear memo’s from those MPs in regards to Carillion, they will be named openly to give rise to their shortcomings (perhaps also what was between their legs), because if you do not have the balls to go against the larger players, you should not be in office at all. Yet, that might be merely my warped expectation of elected officials.

Carillion is a clear mess that had been going on for a much longer time than some expect. You see, that part is seen in ‘cracks in the building‘, ‘construction problems‘ and ‘slow progress in completing initial earthworks‘ it implies optional failings going all the way back to the foundation of the works that were possibly never correctly done in the first place.

So I might still end up treating the bosses of PwC UK as piñatas, but at present there are plenty of other targets and so far (remember I say ‘so far’), in this particular case PwC seems to be in the clear (darn!).

 

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Something for the Silver Screen?

There is an issue in Europe, well, there are plenty of issues in Europe, but until now, I steered clear of one of them. Something does not add up and it is now more of an issue than ever before.

This trip started in the Washington Post, after I saw several articles in the Guardian. You see, with one article it has become something else and that is very much an issue. So (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-to-respond-very-soon-to-british-decision-to-expel-its-diplomats/2018/03/15/89e27b4a-2839-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html), we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain in saying Russia likely responsible for chemical attack against former spy‘, the mere title. Now, I am not saying that this is not what happened, not even implying that it is some figment. Yet, why would we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain‘? This is a simple murder, perhaps an assassination, or liquidation. Whatever word you use for the event, it does not matter to the person who got iced, he definitely no longer cares. But we, we should care, for us this entire situation matters. So when we see in the very beginning “formally backed Britain’s claims that Russia likely was responsible for a chemical toxin attack against a former spy living in England“, I personally am not convinced. There would have been any number of actions that would have resulted in the demise of that person. To get a gun is usually not hard if you know the people. There was a person in the 90’s that one could meet near Ilford, would be able to get a whole range of guns, no silencers though. Still for £350-£500 (in those days) you could get something not too fancy and it would clean the clock of whoever needed to be done. Just make sure you do not do it in the wrong place and upset the local family guy, because that tends not to work. Still, consider the ease of a mere gun against the dangers, the risks and the trouble of getting VX into the country, than getting it to the location. You only need to see the movie ‘The Rock‘ to know that it requires several things, a lot of it dodgy and that stuff is not that stable to begin with. Now, as we see that there was a nerve agent in play, so I am not opposing that. I am merely stating that this kind of work is odd to begin with. That is beside the point of any SVR RF, FSB or GRU member freaking out having to take that shit with them. It is not merely overkill; it tends to leave you without options if you fail at first. And ask any Murphy that your shit goes wrong the first opportunity nature gets their hands on you. It is a fact of life. So in that regard it seems to me that Novichok is a weird choice to use. This is also me stating that I have no evidence that it was NOT used. So when I take a little lesson in Novichok, I learned the following:

  1. At https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CSP/RC-3/en/rc3wp01_e_.pdf, we see “Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”” which they state on page 3 in paragraph 8. Now this is 2013 and this is 5 years later. Yet, as some sources give us that it was developed in the 70’s up to the early 90’s, it seems interesting that there was nothing on the matter 20 years later.
  2. Yet that same OPCW gave us in April 2011, two years earlier the two following parts on page 7 at 11.1 and 11.2. With: “This has been attracting increasing attention in recent years, particularly among non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Although very little information has appeared in the public domain, there have been claims that a new class of nerve agents, known as “Novichoks”, has been developed. In December 2008, a former defence scientist published a book, which included information on structures reported to be those of the new agents. Some of these structures meet the criteria for Schedule 2 B4 (S2 B4); however, all others are non-scheduled chemicals. The author claimed that the toxicity of certain “Novichok” agents may exceed that of VX“, something that should have woken up the CIA instantly, something deadlier than VX and no defence? There is no way that they wouldn’t have been chasing that, even if it was merely to find a defence against it.

So now we have the play to some extent in view. The BBC gave first view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43377856) with “Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia“, yet it is the innuendo of News.com.au that takes the limelight. With “Investigators believe the nerve agent that poisoned former Russian agent Sergei Skripal was planted in his daughter’s suitcase before she left Moscow, The Telegraph newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the genteel southern English city of Salisbury on March 4“, so not only did they go the whole nine yards to get to both, the entire issue is that both could have been removed simple enough in Salisbury. The entire matter does not add up. Another source, The Jamestown Foundation gives us “Sergei Skripal (66), a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) colonel, was arrested in Moscow in 2004 for allegedly being an agent of the United Kingdom’s MI6 intelligence service. Skripal was convicted, in 2006, to serve 13 years in prison for treason. In 2010, he was pardoned, released and sent to the UK in a major spy exchange involving a big group of “sleeper” spies who had been arrested in the United States, promptly convicted and deported to Russia“, so if we accept these facts, than we see that he was shipped to the UK 8 years ago. So now we see such an overkill event? It does not add up!

This level of overkill implies (mind you I am saying ‘implies’) personal orchestration, this is a message, but for who the message is for (or ‘from’ for that matter) is not clear. There is enough evidence that the toxin was used, but there is a long road here. Even as we accept the Jamestown Foundation giving us “Other officials insist Novichok was never officially defined as a chemical weapon and was not destroyed, because it never officially existed (Interfax, March 14). Mirzayanov, who is apparently the main whistle-blower on Novichok, is being actively discredited by the pro-Kremlin press (Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 15). Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov categorically denied there ever was a secret nerve agent program named “Novichok in Russia or in the USSR,” while Russia has stopped all work on developing new chemical weapons and has completed the destruction of existing stockpiles. Ryabkov referred to Mirzayanov as a “defector,” who was not trustworthy (Militarynews, March 15)“. This now gets us to the crux of the matter. The whistle-blower Vil Mirzayanov is now living in the US. Now we get to the good stuff, which is given by The Guardian, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/russian-spy-poisoning-attack-novichok-chemist) gives us ‘chemist says non-state actor couldn’t carry out attack‘, that is a notion I can very well agree with. In addition, as I stated earlier “the chemical was too dangerous for anyone but a “high-level senior scientist” to handle and that even he – who worked for 30 years inside the secret military installation where novichok was developed and gained extensive personal experience in handling the agent – would not know how to weaponize it“. If this stuff has been weaponised it would be a novel usage and also a very novel situation. The fact that the luggage went from Moscow without setting off any alarms, the fact that it survived the trip (you know how luggage carriers tend to be), as well as the setting that it went off at the time it did gives rise to all kinds of technological options. Still we have the setting of who would have done it. Mirzayanov supports this with ““You need a very high-qualified professional scientist,” he continued. “Because it is dangerous stuff. Extremely dangerous. You can kill yourself. First of all you have to have a very good shield, a very particular container. And after that to weaponize it – weaponize it is impossible without high technical equipment. It’s impossible to imagine.”” and let’s not forget the target, a former GRU agent who had been in prison for 4 years and then exchanged. It seems to me that it is not impossible that Russia was behind it, but I feel that the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind, moreover this was a test-run (a mere speculation) and the person decided to go after the one person he had hatred for and in that regard going after the daughter made perfect sense, even more so as it would hurt the person he wanted to get to even more. So was this the case?

Now the last part is all speculative but it adds up, the effort shown for stuff that is still material for denial from the original whistle-blower giving us ‘would not know how to weaponize it‘, and that is from the person who actually handled the stuff. It is the very last part that also matters; with “Mirzayanov thinks the Salisbury attack was performed with a binary version of the agent brought through customs and automatically mixed at the time of the attack“, so two elements, mixing and distributing, such a device was not seen when the luggage got to the UK?

There are too many issues and even as I agree wholeheartedly on the message that Vil Mirzayanov brought to us, I am not convinced that this was some elaborate scheme from the Russian government. Sending any officer of the SVR RF, FSB, GRU or even the Voyska Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya to go shopping in London with the message “Oh, and before you fly back, would you kindly put a bullet in the back of the head of both Sergei and Yulia Skripal?“, a simple mandate avoiding well over half a dozen of cogs that could be clogged with mere sand at any given time.

That is why it does not add up. In hindsight there is one additional part. Is it true that ONLY Russia has that stuff? The entire matter when we see some papers where the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was to some extent in the dark 5 years ago. In light of Vil Mirzayanov moving to New Jersey in 1996, so 15 years later the OPCW is still in the dark? That path makes even less sense. In addition, the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) seemed to have been equally in the dark. From those parts alone, whilst one of the handlers was in the US for the last 22 years, the entire setting is a stretch. It does make sense that the US would have been part of the conversation, yet how do France and Germany fit in? Some presented unity on standing up against Russia?

There is little question on the timeline. So when we see the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43297638), they are found by a doctor and nurse at 16:15, both unconscious. So they had made it to the Malting’s shopping centre (or so the information implies). So when we learn “A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now in a serious condition in hospital, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said“, which we get form the article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43323847) we should be able to tell more. But we cannot, the News is too chaotic, BBC, SBS and other reliable sources give us the snippets, but not an actual slice of the cake. The timeline implies that they were poisoned on the spot, the fact that Nick Bailey, a police officer who became unwell after taking part in the early response to the attack gives additional rise to the use of a toxin, but that implies that it was done there, on the spot. Even if the toxin was moved through touch, the speed at which Nick Bailey got it implies (speculative from my side) that the toxin worked fast, unless the location was less than a 4 minute walk from their house, that option would be taken away as the toxin would be pushed through the body via the bloodstream. In addition any longer would make the Novichok useless, nerve agents are that because they are close to lightning fast, even as we expect that the police officer was lucky and too little got to him.

Yet it was only a few hours ago that the Guardian is giving us a timeline (aren’t they just the best). So the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/skripals-poisoning-what-we-know-so-far) gives us a decent timeline. I particularly liked “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as a letter“, so perhaps it might be: “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as the restaurant bill“, you see the hour at Zizzi as well as the fact that they were found 40 minutes later. A nerve agent will work fast, really fast so the 40 minutes would have been a stretch no matter what, yet the fact when they were found and when they were overcome is not a given, so they could have been smouldering there for over 20 minutes. It equally gives rise that the longer they were there the less impact it would have had on Constable Nick Bailey, his luck I might add. The Guardian is now showing the issues I had and that is good (for me), so as I finalise reading that article, I see a number of issues and even as I had seen most issues, the one part that they aren’t giving us (as It was not part of the timeline) was seen in the in depth of the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-russia-nerve-agent-attack-spy-poisoning-sergei-skripal-salisbury-accusations-evidence-explanation-a8258911.html). Here we see: “Some analysts have claimed that Novichoks could have been smuggled out of chemical weapons and storage sites after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when facilities were abandoned by unpaid staff and security was low“, “if the precursor ingredients were smuggled out in the 1990s, stored in proper conditions and mixed recently, they could still be deadly in a small-scale attack according to some experts” as well as “In 1995, a Russian banking magnate called Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary died from organ failure after being poisoned with a military grade toxin found on an office telephone. A closed trial found that his business partner had obtained the substance via intermediaries from an employee of a state chemical research institute known as GosNIIOKhT, which was involved in the development of Novichoks” give us a few things. In the first that the experts are kind of clueless, we might be blaming Russia on all this and it might be true, yet the latter part that involves Ivan Kivelidi takes away the ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. The fact that this stuff is out in the open to some degree is a much larger issue and when we see “Leonard Rink, told police he had been storing poisons in his garage and selling them to pay off debts“, we see part that takes the Russian government optionally out of the equation and gives us the part I came with earlier “the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind“, it fits the bill of the restaurant one might state, that is, if the timeline of the events and the timeline of the toxin can be proven, because both are the axial in the issue.

No matter how this plays out, this could become one hell of a movie and when we see it on the silver screen, will Matt Damon play the person with the grudge, or the scientist who initially played a role in developing it? However we should reserve the role of Skripal for John Larroquette, it will be nice to see him again on the big screen.

 

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