Tag Archives: The Independent

Those dodgy numbers

We knew it was going to happen, we knew that there would be some term of hardship, everyone knew this. So when the media is lashing all out whilst they know that they are misinforming the people intentionally. We have to wonder why we are not making short work of the media as a whole. So as the Independent gave us (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/eurozone-gdp-growth-rate-uk-second-quarter-2017-eurostat-ons-eu-brexit-a7870811.html), ‘Eurostat’s ‘flash’ estimate for growth in the single currency bloc was 0.6 per cent, double the 0.3 per cent estimate for the UK from the Office for National Statistics last week‘ we have to start asking questions. You see, the numbers are correct, they are all about the correct numbers, yet the clarity that is also behind it, mainly what Forbes and a few others tell us with: “We have the results of the composite PMI for the Eurozone and this is showing that the economic growth in the region is slowing. This really is not quite what is desired, especially as we’ve still got the ECB going all out on quantitative easing” we need to wonder what the game of the Independent is. In addition there is from that same Forbes piece: “in this day and age, people tend not to order the parts to make something until they’ve committed themselves to actually making it. So, what people are ordering to make things from is a really good guide to what is going to be made in the immediate future. We then standardise the measures so that we’ve an index, anything above 50 indicates expansion, below contraction. The one really great joy of PMIs is that they are a very good guide to what is about to happen” and that part of the equation is a slowing economy. Even as we see “A falling Eurozone PMI isn’t a disaster but it’s not exactly what we want either” we see what matters, in the age of 60 billion a month QE, we see in equal measure that the economy is slowing down, so in all this, did the independent give us that, or are they in a ‘lashing mode’ on how the EU is at twice the presented strength? And the term ‘presented strength’ is actually a lot more important than you think.

You see, this is important when we consider Mehreen Khan’s article in the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/edd41c68-76a4-11e7-a3e8-60495fe6ca71). Here we see: “Separate figures from a business survey showed the Eurozone’s manufacturing sector is in the grip of a jobs boom. Factories in France are hiring at their best pace since 2000 and in Spain at a rate not seen since before the start of monetary union in 1998, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index“, interesting that both are referring to the PMI is it not? Another article in the Financial Times is giving us ‘Spain unemployment rate has fallen to a 9 year low’, which is great for Spain, yet again, it is merely part of the issue. The fact that it is over 17% is still an issue. Even as there is a drop, it is August, the tourist season is starting to peak this month and that is good for Spain, I am happy for them, I actually am. Yet, the issue is that the drop of 26,000 claims is merely a temporary one, because as tourist season winds down in 8 weeks, these people will get back on the unemployment books, so it is merely a very short term benefit. In addition, it might be better than another time, yet when we consider that the increase started in 2007 doubling the amount in 26 months is another given missing. In addition, there is still the issue not merely of the unemployed, but the internal drain it causes to the coffers (source: Statista). So in my view any benefit Spain gets at present is merely setting the clock forward a mere quarter. Unless an actual economic improvement comes to Spain, we see mere posturing through ‘presented strength‘, not by actual growth or gaining actual strength. It takes three quarters to get a true visible growth to show and the newspapers are keeping silent on that, they hide behind ‘but that is tomorrow and this is now‘, which for the most is correct, yet as they know from various sources that there is already a visible slowdown, the presentation they give is a fake, it is presented fake optimism, some might refer to it as ‘fake news‘.

The fact that the BBC gave a similar view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40774654) does not make any of them a liar, they spoke the truth with “The rate dropped to 9.1% last month, from a downwardly revised 9.2% in May” the fact that France, Spain, Italy and Greece are dealing with global tourism that brings them money, so they need staff is perfectly valid, yet here too is the missed information that is not shown. These nations depend on Tourism. In France and Italy we might see the year round tourism for Paris and Rome, but those two parts are extremes. What is not an extreme is that all three rely to a part on tourism, a valid dependency. Now we consider two sources, the first (at https://www.imtj.com/news/european-tourism-figures-show-growth-2017/), gives us “Several destinations report a rebound in arrivals from Russia -Iceland (+157%) Cyprus (+122%) and Turkey (+88%)-. Overall, outbound travel from this market is projected to improve in 2017“. Now, we need to remember that this was a June article, part of it was expected growth, which is fair enough. The second source Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/186657/travel-and-tourism-scores-of-countries-from-europe-in-2011/), gives us a chart with Spain, France and Germany showing a rise beyond 5% and training Italy with 4.99%, a decent growth all perfectly valid, so when you realise that, and when you see that the impact was a dropped from 9.2% to 9.1% in unemployment rate, is that still a good thing? The rise of these three nations alone (others nations all have tourism, yet not that high), consider the tourism needs; how come that the drop for the short term was not stronger to let’s say 8.7%? That would have been a clear indication of progress, 9.1% even in the short term is not progress and that part remains undiscussed by the media, is that not strange? They have been slamming Brexit through speculations in dozens of articles, and the reality of this so called double economic growth versus the UK is not set into a complete proper context. Even as several sources show the European slowdown. The EU has 8 more weeks until summer is over, what happens then? Will we see the message of a non-anticipated slowdown, or will we see that the slowdown was larger than anticipated? When you see that part, could you decide to trust the media you rely on?

However the independent also gives us “However, the UK economy has grown faster than the Eurozone’s since the 2008 financial crisis, reflecting the single currency’s multiple crises between 2010 and 2013“, which is true yet in this, they also fail to mention that there will be some level of slowdown and the Eurozone will make some level of temporary improvement, the question is for how long this happens. I am slightly less optimistic, yet also hesitant to be too negative. When the dust settles in the Middle East, we know that the Netherlands have two massive opportunities and a few other options through the large projects in Oman and the UAE, those large projects are the kind of solutions that put the Netherlands in the engineering top of the planet. The options could propel that small nation with most of it below sea level in scale and equality to Germany which is roughly 900% the size of the Netherlands. As Germany is one of the large 4, the Dutch achievement would be close to a legendary one. And if there is a large boost to the EU economy it will not be less likely to come from Germany than it will more likely to come from the Netherlands in both 2017 and 2018. This was always a reality that the EU and Germany faced, things will turn around, yet for the short term the EU numbers would probably boost. What is important is that it would not have impacted the UK in any way other than the presented numbers of difference. In this the UK is not on par with the EU on the short side, yet as European tourism falls in autumn, the numbers will no longer look against the UK to that degree and we will suddenly see different mentions, in this some of them are already a near given, so when we see “The single currency zone has now seen 17 successive quarters of growth. The unemployment rate in the Eurozone currently stands at 9.1 per cent, down from 12 per cent in 2013, but still double the UK’s current rate of 4.5 per cent“. OK, I will accept that, yet what I miss is the part that needs to be given with the quote ‘17 successive quarters of growth‘, so how much were these quarters of growth and how did they compare to the UK? It seems that this part is equally missing. In addition there is another part missing, this related to the final quote in the article. With “Other data last week showed that, within the Eurozone, France’s GDP expanded by 0.5 per cent in the second quarter and Spain’s by 0.8 per cent” you might wonder, yet when we look at Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/263008/gdp-growth-in-eu-countries-compared-to-same-quarter-previous-year/) we do not see the same part. We see the Q1 numbers where France and the UK are on the same foot, Italy trails by 0.1% and Spain is ahead by a fair bit, which is the part that impacts and matters, yet the high note comes from Ireland, Estonia, Malta and Romania, which seems like a powerful impact, yet they are together a mere fraction of the EU output, which is why France, Spain and Germany are so important, they are the lion share together with the UK. Only when we look at the last 8 quarters can we see numbers that make actual sense to some and whilst the future is not a given, the knowledge that there is a slowdown coming, there we see that the hyped EU numbers are slightly over the top in my view. So as we accept that the 2 of the large 4 would have much better numbers in tourism season, the fact that the unemployment numbers were projected down by 0.1% is still a much larger issue than most people realise. What is phenomenal is the fact that the impact on tourism is better for Greece. They reported yesterday that the number of international arrivals in the first half was up by well over 10%, which is awesome, as the Greeks should be getting loads of good news after all the garbage they went through. The two sources, the first (at http://www.tornosnews.gr/en/tornos/trends/26630-greek-minister-spectacular-tourism-figures-in-2017.html) gives us: “there is a huge increase in overnight stays and hotel occupancy, ranging from 80% to 95% in most tourist destinations, as well as record arrivals in some of them. The Minister also referred to important economic benefits from the tourism industry, particularly from non-Schengen countries“, which means that the local Greeks will get a relief from the pressure they have had for the longest of times. The small issue that temperatures are up to 41 Celsius might not be the best thing to be confronted with, yet over all they heatwave will give the sun the hours of baking that the tourists love so much, it would also increase the need for windy trips (on boats with sails) and those enjoying places like the caves of Lasithi (in this, I have personal experience that visiting Knossos is a really bad idea, but several museums in Iraklion tend to be nice and cool. another source is giving us (at http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/08/05/a-record-3-2-million-tourist-arrivals-expected-in-august/). This gives us “Russia and the Netherlands have marked the greatest rise in seats by 25.8% / 46,000 and 18.3% / 26,000 seats, respectively. Top Greek destinations include islands of Crete, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Kerkyra, Mykonos, Santorini and Halkidiki. Tourism professionals are forecasting the same performance in September, citing a total of 2.73 million seats booked for the month after“, implying that it will be a much better year than hoped for, and good for them I say!

Yet in the back of our minds will be not just for the European zone, more precisely, what will Greece do next? In this day and age tourism is great for them, yet they still have the other three quarters to deal with and in this they might have options and opportunities, it merely becomes the view on how to address it and which model to change so that it becomes a benefit.

They are all issues people want to address, yet in this we need to realise that the dodgy numbers are not a help. They are merely the approach towards undesired thoughts and in the end presented strength is no strength, it becomes strength when it is acted upon and results in a positive outcome, this is why quantative easing is never an actual solution. It is merely an option for those who are paid and reflected on the presented result with quarter on quarter growth. The fact that there is a new multi trillion debt is not what their bonus is balanced on. That is the part that people forget. I state to you here that I can go into the USA tomorrow and get a firm with $2 billion if revenue within a week. I have access to all the materials. I merely want 1% of that revenue as a bonus. Now consider that I am selling Official US currency $20 bills for $9.99. I get the bonus because I made my revenue, yet the fact that there is a $1 billion loss is not my issue, it will be for the registered owners of the business and if I set up an LLC with my finding founders, go bankrupt after the exercise one week later, I am still entitled to my $20 million severance package. This is the reality of quantative easing. People like Mario Draghi will not call it like that (and in equal measure find my example way to simplified, which is partially true), but it is the reality that they face in Europe. So as we see the reported news on how the UK is merely 50% of the Eurozone, we need to realise that there is a blowback from the actions that they are taking and in the long run only the bankers and the top of the ECB will be smiling enjoying life in the luxury estates that they own. I feel that we will see a strong impact of what happened before on the 26th October in Oslo Thursday. On that day we will see

  • Norway Central Bank announces interest rate decision – 0800 GMT.
  • Stockholm – Swedish Central Bank announces interest rate decision. Monetary Policy Report will be published – 0730 GMT.
  • Frankfurt – ECB Governing Council meeting, followed by interest rate announcement
  • Frankfurt – ECB President Mario Draghi holds a press conference, after the interest rate meeting Monday, October 30th

The press conference comes three days later, so after the 3 day speculation there will be the press meeting with even more speculation all that as the Christmas temporary need for short term staff is announced in several global places. I will let you work out what speculation will be offered. I am not having too much faith in the upcoming actions. Merely an anticipation of a media assisted manipulated bad news through overly optimism. It is merely my speculation on the matter.



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How weird are these two?

I got confronted with the weirdest article in the Independent today, the article was 4 days old, but then, I do not frequent that paper so often, hence, I initially missed it. The article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/playstation-plus-price-date-details-sony-online-play-latest-expensive-cost-rise-hike-a7864351.html) gives us: “It’s about to get a lot more expensive to play PlayStation online“, which is an exaggeration to say the least. Now, for the longest time, the PlayStation plus has remained the same (as far as I remember), yet now we see a rate rise. The amount it rises with is £10 per year of £1 per month. It equates to 16% monthly, or 25% annually, yet the percentage increase is wrong, because it is £6.99 per month (new price), which comes to £83.88 per year, yet the full annual is a mere £49.99, which is only 59% of the monthly price on 12 months, so overall it remains a really good deal. So, as he whines on that event and how you can cancel the subscription. He also forgot to mention the fact that those with PlayStation Plus get 7 free games a month to play with, 3 PS4 games, 2 PS3 games and 2 Vita games, and the one subscription covers ALL three devices. Is it not interesting how that part got overlooked? The additional fact worth mentioning is that the list from June 2010 onwards has offered in total 493 games, 25 games had 90%+ ratings, which included games like Mass Effect (2+3), Bioshock Infinite, Batman Arkham City, Journey, Far Cry 3, God of War and a few others, So as we see the list offered, the £1 a month, or £10 a year does not add up to too much, when it amounts to 84 free games a year, which gets us an ‘enormous’ £0.11 increase per game (which makes it £0.59 per game in total) and in addition the access to multiplayer gaming, which we set at £0 for this exercise. So when Andrew Griffin writes that it is all about to get ‘a lot more expensive‘, I wonder if he has any clue on the gaming industry at all. Now, we know that there is hardship all over and that people can afford less and less, yet the option to get games at £0.59 per game remains a really good deal. In addition, you get them for the three devices without needing separate subscriptions. So I feel that Sony has always offered a really good deal for the gamers. Now, we might not always get the greatest games, yet 100+ titles had a higher than 80% rating and 25 games in addition had 90% or higher rating, so the people are getting really good games and they get a lot more than Microsoft offers and much better titles. The one part that the article does offer the reader is that if you try to renew the subscription now, you can get it for the ‘old’ price which is a pretty sweet deal, so you can delay the price increase for a year. In light of all this, not only is the description ‘a lot more expensive‘ a joke to say the least, the fact that the increase will not start until August 31st is also a clean option to quickly get the renewal now whilst the games are a mere £0.47 per game.

So when I see the title part ‘As Sony makes it more expensive to play online‘ I do wonder where he got his insights. Factual he might be right, yet in the day and age where the price of a PlayStation Plus videogame is set at less than a 1 pint bottle of Tesco Organic British Whole Milk, the entire setting of ‘a lot more expensive‘ should keep you on the floor laughing for some time to come.

From my point of view my response to the Independent is ‘Bad form, Independent, bad form!’

Second place issue

The second issue shown is one that was given to us in both the World Finance site as well as the Wall Street Journal. The issue given is “America’s young men are increasingly giving up on work in order to slay virtual aliens and fight videogame wars, new research suggests”, which is more than merely a laughable joke. The original source US National Bureau of Economic Research, the part that calls out might be “Academics from Princeton University, the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester say there’s ample evidence that since 2000, men who would otherwise be working are instead being drawn into immersive virtual worlds….”, yet what is this based on? You see, the data past 2008, a date many will remember, saw the Youth unemployment rate rise from 10% to 19%, after the beginning of 2011 those numbers have been declining steadily down to 9%, so the unemployment rate for the youth is now close on par with 1968, when it was the lowest in US History and only slightly better than 2003 which was the lowest at that point for close to 30 years. So when we consider those facts, it seems that the makers are giving us what some would regard a hatchet job. My title for that might be slightly too crass; yet when we see “Since 2004, time-use data show that younger men distinctly shifted their leisure to video gaming and other recreational computer activities. We propose a framework to answer whether improved leisure technology played a role in reducing younger men’s labor supply”, so how idiotic is such a notion when we consider the 2004 and 2008 meltdowns that thrashed the economy in several ways, in that same timeline, US unemployment (all) was set to 10% in 2008, with a steady decline that follows roughly the same downward trend to a little over 4% at present, now we might agree, that whilst unemployed those youthful individuals would divert towards videogames it is a path that is still better than heading towards the streets trying to be gainfully and criminally active.

In this the quote used by world finance “While eight percent of younger men were not in work in 2000, this number rose to 15 percent in 2016”, is more than inaccurate, according to worldfinance.com it is an outright lie. Governing.com gives us some extra information that is actually useful. Their quote (at http://www.governing.com/gov-data/economy-finance/youth-employment-unemployment-rate-data-by-state.html) is “The employment-to-population ratio for younger workers had only recovered about halfway for its recession-era decline as of early 2017. Youth employment rates have returned to pre-recession averages in just four states”, which seems to fit the other sources. This is what could be regarded as something that pisses me off. With ‘Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men’ by Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils, Kerwin Kofi Charles and Erik Hurst, I have a hard time just giving it too much consideration. The paper has additional flaws, the consideration that we see on page 4 with “We further exclude full-time students who are less than age 25” which is a chunk of undergrads and post grads that work at least part time to be able to afford food and other small issues like books. So the numbers are already skewed, in addition some sources give us that 80% of the full time students work part time, which marketwatch.com gives us, which was part of a Citigroup study. The UK has numbers on 1 out of 7 students work and study full time, this might not be reflective of US students, yet it should be to some extent reflective of students in some of the US metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco where the cost of living remains a rising burden. It is in section 6 on page 31 when my laughter explodes. The issue given “we can use time allocation data to infer the rate of technological progress for gaming and computer leisure since the early 2000s”, this a given? With two recessions and the non-working youth being a historic high in 2010, surpassing the recession of the early 80’s is more than just an issue, with numbers showing a steady decrease since then, the job market starting to open, whilst outliers have a stronger impact. In 2017 retail shed 60,000 jobs in the US, whilst Wal-Mart and Amazon seem to be in a strategic battle of realigning jobs towards online presence, all elements that impact the job market. So as jobs get realigned through strategy, where do the jobs end up? What will those people do when they are not working? The information Forbes gives us on this is even scarier when it reflects the need for consumer appeal via transferred initiatives. In all this, the paper does give some interesting premises, yet relies on certain parts, which are I light of the two recessions a little too much of a stretch, yet the fact on how the formulas were used is actually quite interesting. Another flaw is seen on page 32, now this is the flaw as I personally see it regarding the data as showed, yet without the actual questionnaire on view, there is a flaw in both the results and the way that I see it might be, so we need to be aware of that.

With “We stratify by three groups: younger men who spent zero time on computer leisure the prior day, those who spent 2 hours or less, and those who spent more than 2 hours”, the flaw is the ‘when’, I would spend well over 2 hours playing after a full day work, so when we consider the working population with or without full time study, we see that the graph is flawed. Even the other way round, part time students with a full time job, they could fall into the 2 hour plus gaming bracket. It is that flaw that calls even more doubt into question regarding this paper. A final ‘consideration’ needs to be given when I take a look at the ‘Leisure Engel Curve’. Here I also must admit that I will give doubt to my own thought as I might not have comprehended that part completely (apart from the formula), you see, they do state “With the leisure Engel curves, we can link shifts in time spent across activities to an implied change in the marginal utility of total leisure”, yet does this part correct for any hype (read: diversion through peer and social group pressure)? I doubt that very much, as evidence I call for the Pokémon Go wave that started in July 2016, which is clearly computer leisure (read: mobile gaming leisure), yet the paper has not taken mobile gaming in any of it and sets gaming as a static given, yet this wave suddenly pushed 60 million people to a hyped community in the same group as other gamers, whilst mobile gamers can be set into any part of an idle time setting (like travel time), this disjoints the entire exercise as I see it and gives a larger (read accelerated) gaming community in a shifted setting according to the settings as given, yet not corrected for any version of the definition of what constitutes a gamer.

Even as we can admire the formulated exercise, we need to concern that the raw data is not reliable as such and that there are additional issues that the data model and the questionnaires and requested data cannot correct for. In addition when we see the models, there seems to be no consideration for idle time and/or transit time and the consideration of handheld devices or smartphones which calls for even more questions on the gaming environment.

No matter how clever some will think the paper looks like, from the stage as I see it, there are too many unknowns or unanswered question marks and in reflection the conclusion and some of the media statements are not in line of the reality of the recessions the people lived through.

That is merely my setting where $0.02=C(1+r)^t


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French Grape juice and a shipyard

There are issues stirring in the land of grapes and cheese. In France things are becoming slightly restless. Now, I have had my doubts about Emmanuel Macron for several reasons, but not on this. The Express (at http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/834196/France-Emmanuel-Macron-en-march-crisis-polls-fall-French-president) gives us “Several members of French ruling party En Marche! have accused President Emmanuel Macron and party directors of going against the root values of the movement by trying to change the internal guidelines regulating the candidates’ selection process“, which gives my initial response ‘And?‘, you see, being in a new party, being in front and shouting the loudest does not automatically grant the rights to wield a multibillion wallet for defence or healthcare. In the end, the selected party needs to place the right people in the right places, those with knowledge and the ability to push a nation forward. This would have been the one nightmare for Nigel Farage if he had won the elections the last time around. No matter how we feel about UKIP, it is not really seeded with senior cabinet quality fuel. The same can be stated for En Marche! That view is well phrased in “French politics expert Ariane Bogane from Northumbria University told France 24 that the party had justified its decision to change key elements of the movement, such as internal election, by saying that it was in order to avoid “personal ambition,” “rivalry” and “in-fighting”“. So what is going on, is it merely the infighting, or the disillusion of those who did work hard and expected to become part of the French government? Those bragging on the post they are considered for and having to go home realising that the carefully phrased ‘we are considering‘, becomes, ‘we were forced to find the person with the ability much more suiting the expertise required‘? Politics is all about finding the pushing forward party, within the party it will almost never be about to compromise.

Yet the title gives another image. With ‘‘Oligarchy is coming!’ Macron faces nightmare political CLASHES as he PLUMMETS in polls‘ we are confronted with two part. As the express hid in the dictionary trying to tell us that a small group of people is in control in France is not new. Those who keep their eyes open are aware of that, for example, Natixis is surpassing a trillion euro value before the end of 2018, and its 15 members of the board have a large say for well over 20% of France, which is one hell of an impact. I am not referring that they have something to say, like for example Mark Carney as Governor of the British bank, no these 15 can lay down the law in unspoken ways. Actually, one of them had a (large) setback as the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 with “Henri Proglio’s contract as chief executive of Electricité de France SA, sidelining a powerful businessman who has been close to the country’s center-right political camp“, yet there are several indications that this was merely a resignation on political grounds as some equally powerful players got to feel the heat of more than the mere risk of the Hinkley Point C nuclear project (yet, we will remain silent on those accusers, won’t we Credit Agricole SA?); in all this, the players have a point as the costs at one point was expected to surpass over 10% and on £18 billion it starts to add up fast. This is merely part one, in part two we need to look at the plummeting and so on. Yet overall, why becomes the question. I think it is more than that the current president is a mere former banker. In this the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/emmanuel-macron-popularity-rating-plummets-french-president-worst-in-20-years-july-ifop-budget-cuts-a7856986.html) gives us “Results come after the 39-year-old former banker unveiled key budget cuts in public spending and military finances – a move which has been heavily criticised“, which might be a valid reason for some to nag, yet what they forgot is that the previous administrations left France with a minus €2.1 trillion on the French governmental credit card and their economy is nowhere near the English one. In addition, France has a mere 64 million people, do that equation as debt per person bites in equality. The money is gone! The UK has been in this mode for well over half a decade and the French better wizen up fast, because the people now complaining had not as much as a hard time because harsh changes were required as early as 2010, nothing in that regard was seriously done. Another quote is “Mr Macron ended up overruling his own prime minister by vowing to go ahead with tax cuts in 2018, and plans to cut housing benefits were received unfavourably“, which everyone sneers at (the decision that is), yet perhaps you remember the French actor Gérard Depardieu who moved to Russia of all places because of outlandish taxation. When we consider some of the French numbers, we see the quote “less than 50% of inhabitants in France pay any income tax at all; only around 14% pay at the rate of 30%, and less than 1% pay at the rate of 45%” (source French Property). Under those conditions, we might expect that plenty have to complain about housing benefits, it might well be those not paying income tax at all. So when we see housing benefits, whilst the French are down well over 2 trillion, we have to consider how valid the polls are, perhaps better stated how fair they are one Emmanuel Macron. We all knew that the promises made by Emmanuel Macron would be hard to keep, yet not impossible. As a banker he knows that if the tax hike works and the hike become thousands of jobs, he has a start, the one thing about the French is that they are proud, yet those who are part of this Oligarchy tend to invest nationally as that is where their power and influence are.

For this we make a small sidestep to the dictionary. You see there are difference (which is also odd)

In the Cambridge dictionary we see “A type of government by powerful people in a small group is called oligarchy“, Merriam-Webster gives us “A small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes in a type of government” and Oxford states “Oligarchy is a type of government controlled by a small group of people” so as we see the En Marche group cry in a Merriam-Webster style, whilst the reality is that the reality is merely the Oxford/Cambridge application of the issue. None of them invoke a social governing and even as the En Marche people are now moving towards Fascism accusations (none have been formally made at present), we need to realise that none of it matter if the French economy does not make a decent step forward. The social structures have drained the French nation too much. France has seen strike after strike; the French labour unions are a debilitating power, a fact even acknowledged by many French citizens. Now, I have never been against labour unions, yet they have to realise that their time as they perceive themselves to be is over, if the French have to default even once, their existence stops, the money flow stops and that will change the game forever in France. There are other parts and there is an issue whether a blame game applies. We have heard for some time on labour reforms, and even as we see the validity due to massive French debts, in this Bloomberg offers (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-24/macron-s-uphill-battle-against-france-s-labor-law-quicktake-q-a) questions and answers that I now can avoid. We know that there are issues, yet it comes from a civil law system, with the French labour code set in over 3000 pages, as such reform now becomes essential. We see reports like “French unions say making it easier to fire people won’t create jobs, and that unemployment results from the tight budget policies forced by EU-imposed austerity“, this is not an invalid response (read: consideration), yet in equal measure we see that there is little space for short term jobs and as such, backpackers all over Europe get to take some of the economic cream from the top of the revenue, something that might be valid work for the French, yet some of them are not going near any short term jobs in hear of long term consequences. The Bloomberg quote “His three immediate predecessors all viewed France’s labour laws as too restrictive. In 2003 and 2005, Jacques Chirac managed to loosen the 35-hour cap on the working week, making it easier and cheaper for companies to add extra hours. In 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy cut taxes on overtime work and made it simpler for individual workers to negotiate their own departures. And Francois Hollande’s reforms of 2013 and 2016 made it easier to justify layoffs due to a downturn in business” is the clearest one, you see three administrations have seen the folly of the labour restrictions. Whether the unions are in fear of the power they wield, and the fear of how they become obsolete, that is how I see it, four administrations realise that companies with 49 have growth limits, pushing themselves into foreign ground through partnerships when it becomes an option, slicing the French economy at least twice in a negative way.

The second issue is less on the things he does and more about how it is done. The New Statesman is referring to ‘the Macron Con‘, the Evening standard is all about ‘shedding the banker image‘ and some have even less nice things to say, yet some is of his own volition, with ‘My thoughts are ‘too complex’ for journalists, says Emmanuel Macron‘ the Telegraph paraphrases “An Elysée official told Le Monde newspaper that the 39-year-old centrist leader’s “complex thought process lends itself badly to the game of question-and-answer with journalists” that is held every year on the July 14 national holiday“, it is not a good way to make friends in that area of people who still at times laughingly refer to themselves as ‘journalists‘. It now becomes the question how they will see and report on the STX France nationalisation. In this there is validity to at least some degree. There is no guarantee that the Italians will keep it as is, there is no guarantee that there will not be a ‘transfer’ of grounds towards very different applicable destinations. When we consider USA Today as a source with: “STX France is the only shipyard in France big enough to build big warships. It’s also a significant employer in France“, if so, can anyone explain to me how handing it to the Italians was a clever move to begin with? If the EU will builds its force on EU ground, than France would fare a lot better keeping the one place where they could be build French property, that is merely good business. In addition, as it is still doing jobs, which are unlikely to be completed before the end of 2018, how is changing hands of the shipyard a good idea?

There is no doubt that the STX war is not over and I am not even going to speculate how this will turn out at present, you see being pre-emptive is one thing, the danger is that some shareholders will offer what they have in different ways to get the most out of their shares and greed can make a shareholder creative in getting the coin they expected. Yet, Trikkles (at http://trikkles.com/2017/07/28/french-government-to-nationalize-stx-france-economy.html), gives us “President Macron jettisoned his pro-business agenda and threatened to nationalise France’s leading shipyard to prevent its takeover by Fincantieri“, is that true? Keeping STX French might be very pro-business indeed. If it becomes Fincantieri property, there would be consequences. The Higher echelons could end up being replaced by Italians, so that is a chunk of funds not remaining in France, in addition, with procurement scandals first in Taipei in 2000 and now in India 2016, there are other considerations to make, so there are issues beyond the ship that is to be build. The interesting part is that in the entire emission control solution, I would have thought that they would focus on bringing jobs to the US, not ending up with a French place and getting loads of Americans and Italians to Normandy, let’s face it, it is no longer 1944.

In all this Emmanuel Macron seems to be getting a rough time. As the newspapers focussed on the largest drop, it seems that they are all in denial that both the UK and France are merely two players who have an astronomical deficit to deal with. In all this the Financial Times gives us another view (at https://www.ft.com/content/c826f982-7383-11e7-93ff-99f383b09ff9), as they state “Macron’s pro-EU stand is tested by Italy on the waterfront“, some will call it ‘betrayal’, yet who voice that and for what reasons? Here we also see the quote from Pier Carlo Padoan as he accused Mr Macron of abandoning his professed “pro-Europeanism and liberal values” by his decision to take STX France. So is it non-liberal or an essential step not to endanger the Normandy economy in the longer run? As we realise that STX is one of the few places in Europe where building an aircraft carrier is possible, as well as the fact that the largest cruise ship in history is getting build here, why leave it to the Italians? In this, the quote “Fincantieri had pledged to keep jobs and orders in France for five years” reads like a hollow joke, it merely not mentions that after 2022 syphoning the French economy towards Italy would be a given and with the French economy being a mere 1%, that syphoning could potentially kill the French options. So when I see the additional hollow quote “and Italian ministers rightly point out that Mr Macron’s demand to renegotiate suggests a lack of trust“, would that be a lack of trust, or a lack of Italian consideration when the clock strikes August 1st 2022?

In this there is one part that the complaining French seem to fail to grasp, if STX is only the first of a few reallocations to foreign owners, how deep in unemployment could France get? I have in the past never professed to be any kind of consideration to bankers like Emmanuel Macron, yet in equality I have been for the most always been on the side of giving all a fair chance, it seems that the French are not giving that to Emmanuel Macron, which as French citizens is their right (freedom of speech and so on). I merely hope that these people are looking further forward than the issues due next week, because in the long run France will need to adjust to a larger degree, the question becomes how and that is the issue that the previous 3 administrations have fought over for the longest time of their administration.


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When the trust is gone

In an age where we see an abundance of political issues, an overgrowing need to sort things out, the news that was given visibility by the Guardian is the one that scared and scarred me the most. With ‘Lack of trust in health department could derail blood contamination inquiry‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/19/lack-of-trust-in-health-department-could-derail-blood-contamination-inquiry), we need to hold in the first stage a very different sitting in the House of Lords. You see, the issues (as I am about to explain them), did not start overnight. In this I am implying that a sitting with in the dock Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Lansley, Andy Burham and Alan Johnson is required. This is an issue that has grown from both sides of the Isle and as such there needs to be a grilling where certain people are likely to get burned for sure. How bad? That needs to be ascertained and it needs to be done as per immediate. When you see “The contamination took place in the 1970s and 80s, and the government started paying those affected more than 25 years ago” the UK is about to get a fallout of a very different nature. We agree that this is the term that was with Richard Crossman, Sir Keith Joseph, Barbara Castle, David Ennals, Patrick Jenkin, Norman Fowler, and John Moore. Yet in that instance we need to realise that this was in an age that was pre computers, pre certain data considerations and a whole league of other measures that are common place at this very instance. I remember how I aided departments with an automated document system, relying on 5.25″ floppy’s, with the capability that was less than Wordstar or PC-Write had ever offered. And none of those systems had any reliable data storage options.

The System/36 was flexible and powerful for its time:

  • It allowed 80 monitors (see below for IBM’s description of a monitor) and printers to be connected. All users could access the system’s hard drive or any printer.
  • It provided password security and resource security, allowing control over who was allowed to access any program or file.
  • Devices could be as far as a mile from the system unit.
  • Users could dial into a System/36 from anywhere in the world and get a 9600 baud connection (which was very fast in the 1980s) and very responsive for connections which used only screen text and no graphics.
  • It allowed the creation of databases of very large size. It supported up to about 8 million records, and the largest 5360 with four hard drives in its extended cabinet could hold 1.453 gigabytes.
  • The S/36 was regarded as “bulletproof” for its ability to run many months between reboots (IPLs).

Now, why am I going to this specific system, as the precise issues were not yet known? You see in those days, any serious level of data competency was pretty much limited to IBM, at that time Hewlett Packard was not yet to the level it became 4 years later and the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) who revolutionised systems with VAX/VMS and it became the foundation, or better stated true relational database foundations were added through Oracle Rdb (1984), which would actually revolutionise levels of data collection.

Now, we get two separate quotes (not from the article) “Dr Jeremy Bradshaw Smith at Ottery St Mary health centre, which, in 1975, became the first paperless computerised general practice“, as well as “It is not developed or intended for use in any inherently dangerous applications, including applications that may create a risk of personal injury. If you use this software or hardware in dangerous applications, then you shall be responsible to take all appropriate fail-safe, backup, redundancy, and other measures to ensure its safe use“, the second one comes from the Oracle Rdb SQL Reference manual. The second part seems a bit of a stretch; consider the original setting of this. When we see Oracle’s setting of data integrity, consider the elements given (over time) that are now commonplace.

System and object privileges control access to application tables and system commands, so that only authorized users can change data.

  • Referential integrity is the ability to maintain valid relationships between values in the database, according to rules that have been defined.
  • A database must be protected against viruses designed to corrupt the data.

I left one element out for the mere logical reasons.

now, in those days, the hierarchy of supervisors and system owners was nowhere near what it is now (and often nowhere to be seen), referential integrity was a mere concept and data viruses were mostly academic, that is until we get a small presentation by Ralf Burger in 1986. It was in the days of the Chaos Computer Club and my trusty CBM-64.

These elements are to show you that data integrity existed in academic purposes, yet the designers who were in their data infancy often enough had no real concept of rollback data events, some would only be designed too long later, and in all this, the application of databases to the extent that was needed. It would not be until 1982 when dBase II came to the PC market from the founding fathers of what would later be known as Ashton-Tate, George Tate and Hal Lashlee would create a wave that would get us dBase III and with the creation of Clipper by the Nantucket Corporation, which would give a massive rise to database creations as well as the growth of data products that had never been seen before, as well as being the player that in the end propelled data quality towards the state it is nowadays. In this product databases did not just grow with the network abilities within this product nearly any final year IT person could have its portfolio of clients all with custom based products all data based. Within 2-3 years (which gets us to 1989), a whole league of data quality, data cleaning and data integrity base issues would surface for millions of places, all requiring solutions. It is my personal conviction that this was the point where data became adult, where data cleaning, data rollback as well as data integrity checks became actual issues that were seriously dealt with. So, here in 1989 we are finally confronted with the adult data issues that for the longest of times were only correctly understood by more than a few niche people who were often enough disregarded (I know that for certain because I was one of them).

So the essential events that could have prevented only to some degree the events we see in the Guardian with “survivors initially welcomed the announcement, while expressing frustration that the decades-long wait for answers had been too long. The contamination took place in the 1970s and 80s“, certain elements would not come into existence until a decade later.

So when we see “Liz Carroll, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, wrote to May on Wednesday saying the department must not be involved in setting the remit and powers of an inquiry investigating its ministers and officials. She also highlighted the fact that key campaigners and individuals affected by the scandal had not been invited to the meeting“, I am not debating or opposing her in what could be a valid approach, I am merely stating that to comprehend the issues, the House of Lords needs to take the pulse of events and the taken steps forward from the Ministers who have been involved in the last 10 years.

When we see “We and our members universally reject meeting with the Department of Health as they are an implicated party. We do not believe that the DH should be allowed to direct or have any involvement into an investigation into themselves, other than giving evidence. The handling of this inquiry must be immediately transferred elsewhere“, we see a valid argument given, yet when we would receive testimonies from people, like the ministers in those days, how many would be aware and comprehend the data issues that were not even decently comprehended in those days? Because these data issues are clearly part of all of these events, they will become clear towards the end of the article.

Now, be aware, I am not giving some kind of a free pass, or give rise that those who got the bad blood should be trivialised or ignored or even set to a side track, I am merely calling for a good and clear path that allows for complete comprehension and for the subsequent need of actual prevention. You see, what happens today might be better, yet can we prevent this from ever happening again? In this I have to make a side step to a non-journalistic source, we see (at https://www.factor8scandal.uk/about-factor/), “It is often misreported that these treatments were “Blood Transfusions”. Not True. Factor was a processed pharmaceutical product (pictured)“, so when I see the Guardian making the same bloody mistake, as shown in the article, we see and should ask certain parties how they could remain in that same stance of utter criminal negligence (as I personally see it), but giving rise to intentional misrepresentation. When we see the quote (source: the Express) “Now, in the face of overwhelming evidence presented by Andy Burnham last month, Theresa May has still not ordered an inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the Department of Health in dealing with this human tragedy” with the added realisation that we have to face that the actual culprit was not merely data, yet the existence of the cause through Factor VIII is not even mentioned, the Guardian steered clear via the quote “A recent parliamentary report found around 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products from commercial organisations in the US” and in addition the quote “The UK Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, has said: “We are aware that during the 1970s and 80s blood products were sourced from US prisoners” and the UK Haemophilia Society has called for a Public Inquiry. The UK Government maintains that the Government of the day had acted in good faith and without the blood products many patients would have died. In a letter to Lord Jenkin of Roding the Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) informed Lord Jenkin that most files on contaminated NHS blood products which infected people with HIV and hepatitis C had unfortunately been destroyed ‘in error’. Fortunately, copies that were taken by legal entities in the UK at the time of previous litigation may mean the documentation can be retrieved and consequently assessed“, the sources the Express and the New York Times, we see for example the quote “Cutter Biological, introduced its safer medicine in late February 1984 as evidence mounted that the earlier version was infecting hemophiliacs with H.I.V. Yet for over a year, the company continued to sell the old medicine overseas, prompting a United States regulator to accuse Cutter of breaking its promise to stop selling the product” with the additional “Cutter officials were trying to avoid being stuck with large stores of a product that was proving increasingly unmarketable in the United States and Europe“, so how often did we see the mention of ‘Cutter Biological‘ (or Bayer pharmaceuticals for that matter)?

In the entire Arkansas Prison part we see that there are connections to cases of criminal negligence in Canada 2006 (where Canadian Red Cross fell on their sword), Japan 2007 as well as the visibility of the entire issue at Slamdance 2005, so as we see the rise of inquiries, how many have truly investigated the links between these people and how the connection to Bayer pharmaceuticals kept them out of harm’s way for the longest of times? How many people at Cutter Biological have not merely been investigated, but also indicted for murder? When we get ‘trying to avoid being stuck with large stores of a non-sellable product‘ we get the proven issue of intent. Because there are no recall and destroy actions, were there?

Even as we see a batch of sources giving us parts in this year, the entire visibility from 2005-2017 shows that the media has given no, or at best dubious visibility in all this, even yesterday’s article at the Guardian shows the continuation of bad visibility with the blood packs. So when we look (at http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/aug/04/bad-blood-cautionary-tale/), and see the August 2011 part with “This “miracle” product was considered so beneficial that it was approved by the FDA despite known risks of viral contamination, including the near-certainty of infection with hepatitis“, we wonder how the wonder drug got to be or remain on the market. Now, there is a fair defence that some issues would be unknown or even untested to some degree, yet the ‘the near-certainty of infection with hepatitis‘ should give rise to all kinds of questions and it is not the first time that the FDA is seen to approve bad medication, which gives rise to the question why they are allowed to be the cartel of approval as big bucks is the gateway through their door. When we consider the additional quote of “By the time the medication was pulled from the market in 1985, 10,000 hemophiliacs had been infected with HIV, and 15,000 with hepatitis C; causing the worst medical disaster in U.S. history“, how come that it took 6 years for this to get decent amounts of traction within the UK government.

What happened to all that data?

You see, this is not merely about the events, I believe that if any old systems (a very unlikely reality) could be retrieved, how long would it take for digital forensics to find in the erased (not overwritten) records to show that certain matters could have been found in these very early records? Especially when we consider the infancy of data integrity and data cleaning, what other evidence could have surfaced? In all this, no matter how we dig in places like the BBC and other places, we see a massive lack of visibility on Bayer Pharmaceuticals. So when we look (at http://pharma.bayer.com/en/innovation-partnering/research-focus/hemophilia/), we might accept that the product has been corrected, yet their own site gives us “the missing clotting factor is replaced by a ‘recombinant factor’, which is manufactured using genetically modified mammalian cells. When administered intravenously, the recombinant factor helps to stop acute bleeding at an early stage or may prevent it altogether by regular prophylaxis. The recombinant factor VIII developed by Bayer for treating hemophilia A was one of the first products of its kind. It was launched in 1993“, so was this solution based on the evolution of getting thousands of people killed? the sideline “Since the mid-1970s Bayer has engaged in research in haematology focusing its efforts on developing new treatment options for the therapy of haemophilia A (factor VIII deficiency)“, so in all this, whether valid or not (depending on the link between Bayer Pharmaceuticals UK and Cutter Biological. the mere visibility on these two missing in all the mentions, is a matter of additional questions, especially as Bayer became the owner of it all between 1974 and 1978, which puts them clearly in the required crosshairs of certain activities like depleting bad medication stockpiles. Again, not too much being shown in the several news articles I was reading. When we see the Independent, we see ‘Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to meet victims’ families before form of inquiry is decided‘, in this case it seems a little far-fetched that the presentation by Andy Burham (as given in the Express) would not have been enough to give an immediate green light to all this. Even as the independent is hiding behind blood bags as well, they do give the caption of Factor VIII with it, yet we see no mention of Bayer or Cutter, yet there is a mention of ‘prisoners‘ and the fact that their blood was paid for, yet no mention of the events in Canada and Japan, two instances that gives rise to an immediate and essential need for an inquiry.

In all this, we need to realise that no matter how deep the inquiry goes, the amount of evidence that could have been wiped or set asunder from the eyes of the people by the administrative gods of Information Technology as it was between 1975 and 1989, there is a dangerous situation. One that came unwillingly through the evolution of data systems, one that seems to be the intent of the reporting media as we see the utter absence of Bayer Pharmaceuticals in all of this, whilst there is a growing pool of evidence through documentaries, ad other sources that seem to lose visibility as the media is growing a view of presentations that are skating on the subject, yet until the inquiry becomes an official part we see a lot less than the people are entitled to, so is that another instance of the ethical chapters of the Leveson inquiry? And when this inquiry becomes an actuality, what questions will we see absent or sidelined?

All this gets me back to the Guardian article as we see “The threat to the inquiry comes only a week after May ordered a full investigation into how contaminated blood transfusions infected thousands of people with hepatitis C and HIV“, so how about the events from 2005 onwards? Were they mere pharmaceutical chopped liver? In the linked ‘Theresa May orders contaminated blood scandal inquiry‘ article there was no mention of Factor VIII, Bayer (pharmaceuticals) or Cutter (biological). It seems that we need to give rise that ethical issues have been trampled on, so a mention of “a criminal cover-up on an industrial scale” is not a mere indication; it is an almost given certainty. In all that, as the inquiry will get traction, I wonder how both the current and past governments will be adamant to avoid skating into certain realms of the events (like naming the commercial players), and when we realise this, will there be any justice to the victims, especially when the data systems of those days have been out of time for some time and the legislation on legacy data is pretty much non-existent. When the end balance is given, in (as I personally see it) a requirement of considering to replace whatever Bayer Pharmaceuticals is supplying the UK NHS, I will wonder who will be required to fall on the virtual sword of non-accountability. The mere reason being that when we see (at http://www.annualreport2016.bayer.com/) that Bayer is approaching a revenue of 47 billion (€ 46,769M) in 2016, should there not be a consequence of the players ‘depleting unsellable stock‘ at the expense of thousands of lives? This is another matter that is interestingly absent from the entire UK press cycles. And this is not me just speculating, the sources give clear absence whilst the FDA reports show other levels of failing, it seems that some players forget that lots of data is now globally available which seems to fuel the mention of ‘criminal negligence‘.

So you have a nice day and when you see the next news cycle with bad blood, showing blood bags and making no mention of Factor VIII, or the pharmaceutical players clearly connected to all this, you just wonder who is doing the job for these journalists, because the data as it needed to be shown, was easily found in the most open of UK and US governmental places.


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Betrayed by government?

That is how you should feel in the UK. This is not some issue with the conservatives, I myself am a conservative. The issue is on both sides of the isle. That issue was shown to be very much the case yesterday in an article by Robert Booth titles ‘Tower cladding tests after Grenfell fire lack transparency, say experts‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/26/tower-block-cladding-tests-after-grenfell-fire-lack-transparency-say-experts). Yet, Robert is skating around a few issues, and he should be confronted about this. You see, I covered a few of them three days before that and it took less than an hour to get those facts, they are out in the open. I published them (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/), with the actual brochure. You see, the Arconic brochure, which I had in the article as well. Stated: ‘it is perfect for projects less than 40 feet high‘. So please give us the name of the project manager who allowed for this cladding to be chosen, please give us his/her name. So when I read “The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, announced on Monday that samples of aluminium panels from all 75 buildings that had been sent for fire retardancy testing had so far “failed”“, I am not that surprised as the Arconic brochure states on page three ‘a polyethylene or fire-retardant compound’, so which is it, because polyethylene is a combustible element, so there must have been two options here. And there is, you see whoever made the choice chose the Reynobond (PE), which is the combustible edition, that is what earlier news gave us. So in that case, who signed off on that idea?

The actual Arconic leaflet gives you this information BEFORE purchasing. So when Robert gives us “The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) asked councils to cut samples of at least 25cm x 25cm from the cladding of towers and send them to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) at Watford for testing but has not said if the tests show whether they meet a British standard test” I wonder who are they kidding here. My question would be ‘Did the DCLG know that they were enabling their buildings to become Roman Candles with the option to kill anyone inside that building?‘ it is not really the same question, yet with Grenfell, we have the ‘evidence‘ to the better extent. The next part is even more hilarious, although not on the side of Robert Booth. The quote “Experts have warned that far more comprehensive tests on the entire cladding system are needed to establish if buildings are as at-risk as Grenfell was, including the insulation and design details such as fire stops. The shadow housing secretary, John Healey, told the House of Commons that “cladding is not the whole story”.” You see, here John Healey is as I personally see it the joke and it will be on him. There is indeed more than Cladding, yet the Celotex RS5000 seems to hold water as there are comprehensive fire tests, as one would expect and the brochure does not beat around the bush. They are giving the reader the test names, what and how it was tested. Unless specific combinations crop up (which is possible), the French firm who resides in Saint-Gobain did a decent job. Although in the last days there is an update that they are withdrawing their materials for any project on buildings that are taller than 18 metres. That is a fair step to take, yet with the possible impact this offers, certain parties could under common law now find themselves in a torts case for loss of economic value and losses, which could be a very large amount. This is what a lack of transparency gets you and Robert Booth does point that out. And yes, after my article, Celotex gives us “Celotex is shocked by the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating human tragedy. We have been supplying building products for over forty years and as a business our focus has always been to supply safe insulation products to make better buildings.” I find that acceptable. Their brochure is to the point, gives us a lot of good and the architects should have had the info they needed as well as a handle what else to ask for or what else to test for. At present, unless there are inconsistencies or misquotes, the work of Celotex is all above board and all good (me speaking as a non civil-engineer). The second person now under scrutiny should be Barry Turner as we read: “Barry Turner, director of technical policy at Local Authority Building Control, which represents council building control officers also asked: “I would like to know just what tests these panels are failing.”“. You see, in opposition I would ask, what tests were performed, how was testing done and who signed off on that? Again Arconic gives us in their own brochure: “the ASTM E84 test” and it passed with a Class A. Yet, that test involves a horizontal test sample’, so how horizontal was the Grenfell tower when people were living in there? Perhaps a vertical test would have been needed. I am merely going for broke with the questions. Of course the press will soon focus on the ‘savings of £1.5 million‘ yet I wonder if there is a real story there. It could be, but I am not convinced. You see, the directive to choose away from the initial builder as to the why, and the shown facts beyond the mere cost saving that will impact it all. In addition, the fact that the cladding was done to appease the luxury flats around that building is another matter for discussion. You see, when a building was safe enough, adding a fire hazard means that those requestors can also be interviewed very visibly now. They wanted a better view, so how was that view on June 14th? Yet we see little of that in the article. At this point, Robert gives us a gem, one that is interesting. The quote “The London Borough of Hounslow, where the Clements Court tower failed the DCLG test, panels are being “swiftly” removed, but the council stressed: “The insulation material behind this outer cladding is a ‘Rockwool’ material which is a non-combustible product, unlike the case of the Grenfell Tower, where the insulation was a combustible type“. You see, when we look at the RS5000, we see “Due to its excellent thermal insulating efficiency at service temperatures ranging from -297°F to +300°F, polyiso foam has become the standard for low temperature insulation applications“, this is the information we get on ‘Polyisocyanurate Foam‘ which is what is used in RS5000. So who are the members of that council, can we get names please? With the encountered allegations that go nowhere, we do not seem to get any names, so shall we get all the members of the Borough of Hounslow in the dock and ask them some questions? The fact that the insulator seems to fail is that vertically burning polyethylene (Raynobond PE) tends to go beyond 300F really fast, and we can agree that under normal weather conditions, the temperature of 150 degrees would never be met, would it? The final quote to look at is “One architect responsible for some of the projects where cladding has been ruled to have failed, asked: “What are they testing to what standard? This could be a massively costly and disruptive error to thousands of residents.”“, what standard? Well the one that does not burn people to a crisp would be nice. And if it is a costly, does that not make the test still valid? Also the given term “’costly and disruptive error’ to thousands of residents” by that architect? Perhaps his comment was taken out of context to some degree, but it still leaves me with questions. The disruptive error we see now is that those people who died do not complain, the ones burned and still living will complain as will their family members. The fact that I as a non architect, with limited firefighting expertise (a remnant of my merchant navy and marine rescue days) was able to question the validity of choosing Raynobond PE the moment I had gone through their 7 page marketing brochure. There remains an option that there are questions regarding the Celotex RS5000, yet with the massive failure that the cladding was, the insulator has no real way of proving itself. All this was obtained from merely watching 30 seconds of news film and one product brochure. In that we see that over half a dozen councils need to reassess their values and choices as we now see that changes made in haste are done in Liverpool, London, Plymouth, Salford city and Camden. I reckon that a few more are to follow before the week is out. In all this I love the BBC radio 4 quote the best: “Cladding is being removed from three tower blocks in Plymouth, which were found to have the lowest possible fire safety rating“, how does one consider going for the LOWEST possible fire rating? It almost sounds like a Victorian advertisement: “Pay rent until the day you die, we offer both in our places of settlement!

Grenfell is showing clearly that the focus of the government failed, not just this one, both Labour and Conservatives are equally guilty here. Having seen the paper trail as a foundation of non-clarity for far too long, I wonder how this was not brought to light a lot earlier. The complaints from the people in Grenfell can be used as evidence in this case. This time it got a lot of people killed and as he Tottenham MP, David Lammy stated the term “corporate manslaughter“, it leaves me with two things that you all should consider carefully. The scope implies that it is not just corporate and there is every chance that MP’s and council members could share the dock here in court. The second one is that when the evidence shows that it was about cutting costs at any expense, we see that with the BBC4 radio part. Is it still manslaughter, or does it become murder? Is leaving people in death-traps, with such intend manslaughter, or should we call it the way it is “casualties for the sake of profit margins“. There is no common law part in law or in UK cases to make this an actuality, but perhaps it should. Perhaps it is time to make that change, if only to stop greed to some degree, because 149 victims in one building would sanctify such a change in law. The government that does not give that honest consideration in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords during at least two sittings each is betraying the trust you bestowed upon them. This is now becoming a job for the Law Lords and as the blogger Lawlordtobe I call upon them to make the UK a safer place to be.


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Age of darkness coming

An interesting article came to light today. Actually, it might not be that interesting. It is merely the consequence of a series of bad decisions by several people. The interesting part is that it was not a local thing. This is possibly one of the few times where several decisions on a global scale escalated one another into the move away from what at times now is laughingly referred to as ‘journalism’. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/apr/15/journalism-faces-a-crisis-worldwide-we-might-be-entering-a-new-dark-age) gives us “Australia’s two largest legacy media organisations recently announced big cuts to their journalistic staff“, up to 120 editorial positions are being wiped from the list of employment options. Apparently there was also the mention “Both announcements were accompanied by corporate spin voicing a continuing commitment to quality journalism. Nobody in the know believes it“. It is followed by the mention that this is partly thanks to Donald Trump. The truth is nowhere near Trump, the entire Trump bashing is merely putting in the spotlight what had been known for some time. There is however a side that is very much true and it is escalating into a movement that will change even further over the next 20 months. The quote “technology has torn apart the two businesses – advertising and news – that used to be bound together by the physical artefact of the newspaper. Once, those who wanted to find a house, a job or a car had to buy a newspaper to read the classifieds. Now, it is cheaper and more efficient to advertise and search online“, it will change even further and the bulk of the audience is not up to speed yet, but within a year they will be.

For me the messed up situation was visible for a long time. No matter what excuse the people of News give, whatever Fairfax claims, it does not matter. Consider the following: ‘Will you pay $2.4 for filtered news?‘ This question is a lot harder than you realise, because the definition of ‘filter’ is not a given, but it is at the heart of the matter. Let’s take a few parts to give you a little perspective.

2010, 2011, we are given all kinds of news regarding Grexit, a weird dirty dance where some players are ‘threatening’ to expel Greece from the Euro. We see the news for weeks, yet no one seems to know what they are doing and the papers are absent in mentioning a legal work that was published in December 2009 by Phoebus Athanassiou that basically inform us that expulsion is not an option, you can only voluntarily leave the EEC and the Euro. The paper (at https://lawlordtobe.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ecblwp10.pdf) is a paper that comes from the European Central Bank, so why were the newspapers in the dark? Why were the readers not properly informed on this? All the value of a newspaper thrown into the circular filing system, value lost forever.

2011 Operation Weeting. This would be the beginning of a decline that escalated on a global scale. Most people took notice to some degree regarding the News of the World, the phone hacking scandal and the celebrities involved, yet when the world learned of the hacked phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of deceased British soldiers and victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings the world did not react in kindness, those involved had crossed a line that a very large group found too unacceptable. Many went from ‘Ah well, celebrities!‘ towards ‘WTF!‘ and ‘Could this happen here?‘ two very different trains of thought, the Leveson inquiry that followed was followed by many and a lot of them not in the UK, when the conclusions were revealed we saw a group of editors shouting murder, fascism and on how the freedom of the press was in danger whilst none of them showed any level of accountability, this was one of the clearest coffin nails. There is more and part is not their fault. In this the politicians also have a blame in the matter. As the actual press (the Guardian, the Times, the Independent) were trying to continue to be the responsible ones (to the larger degree), they were placed next to tabloids, magazines proclaiming to be newspapers whilst limiting themselves to ‘Kardashian puts ample bust on display’ (Daily Mail). A lot could have been prevented by making these tabloids VAT (read GST) enabled. Giving the tabloids no longer a 0% VAT options would have levelled the bar a little (read: truly, just a little) against the actual newspapers in the UK. It could have spurred a larger European change. It would not have ended better for the newspapers, yet some of them would have had more time to change their product and business approach.

2012 Sony, this is the one that really got me mad. Two weeks before the PS4 was launched, Sony pulled a fast one. I discussed this (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/08/12/no-press-no-facebook/), in my article ‘No Press, No Facebook!‘, in this case the Guardian was pretty much the only newspaper that gave it any decent attention. A change that would affect 30 million gamers and the news remained absent. So where is the value of my newspaper now? It was “7.1. You must not resell either Disc-based Software or Software Downloads, unless expressly authorised by us and, if the publisher is another company, additionally by the publisher“, it was followed by a weak statement by a board member of Sony, but the papers and other media were quick to ignore it and none had the critical statement: ‘A terms of service is a legal document, a statement by a board member of Sony can be countermanded with a mere memo‘, the press remained absent! It all sizzled down the track as the TPP never came into effect, but the damage was done and now it was damage that hits the press as well as they were too busy with circulation numbers and facilitating to your advertisers, because Sony PS4 advertisement money is what all newspapers desperately needed, so compromising 30 million gamers (that’s Europe, with 5 million in the UK) was likely not a big deal to them.

These are a few of a growing list of issues where the newspapers are in a bad place, but to some extent they got themselves there. Margaret Simons gives us “Today, just about anyone with an internet connection and a social media account has the capacity to publish news and views to the world. This is new in human history” near the end. She is correct here, but she also forgets to mention that reach and quality is still and issue. I have, with my blog, a mere reach of 5-6 thousand readers, which is next to nothing. I believe that I offer a quality view, but that is in the eyes of the beholder. However, I am only a blogger. When she mentions ‘the capacity to publish news‘ is not entirely correct. Some are falling in front of the news because of location, yet these people are for the most not journalists and that is the kicker. Pieces that are truly journalistic remains pieces of value, the people are just having too many question marks. In addition, the people have lost a massive amount of quality of life, and the price of a newspaper subscription whilst news online tends to be free and the cost of living is going up is also a factor we cannot deny. Yet in equal measure I have worked in firms where they all had 2-5 newspapers on a daily base, most (read: nearly all of them) have stopped doing that, cutting costs did that to some degree.

So as we see the announced age of darkness coming into the newspaper business, we cannot fault their hardship, even though they themselves are partially to blame, yet in equal measure, it seems to me that quality journalism is becoming a nuisance in several European nations. They can hide some of the bad news in sponsored morning shows, there they can spin to some degree, but in a newspaper, and it is all about the relevant information, a side too many players are currently too uncomfortable with. Its fair enough that some journalists are trying to get around that part, but as too much actual news is given to us freely at a moment’s notice, many agree that there is too much speculation in some news, like ‘North Korea may be capable of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas toward Japan‘ (source: CBC), yet in equal measure the newspapers have not been the utterly reliable source of news either and on both sides of the publications, there seems to be a growing issue with ethics to consider and that is even before we add tabloids like Daily Mail, Mail Online, and whatever Murdoch gets to publish. The newspapers became a multidimensional mess. I personally think it is because they waited too long to embrace the online community and that is before the new changes hits them over the next two years. By proclaiming themselves as non-accountable and considering themselves as too important, they marketed themselves straight into the insolvency mode. Yet, that is merely my view on all this.


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Hospitality starts with hospital

There is no way around it, United Airlines has found a new way to get mentioned on every social media at the same time. The article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/united-airlines-passenger-beaten-flight-chicago-airport-apologise-newunitedairlinesmottos-trump-a7678296.html) gives us a first view on how the people are perceiving United Airlines. The headline ‘United Airlines hasn’t even bothered apologising to the passenger beaten on its flight‘ gives us the goods. The article goes into a few elements, although I am not entirely in agreement with: “this blood-soaked guy who simply wanted to go home and get to work the next day could have been any one of us“, I will at least admit that it is not entirely incorrect.

My issue is not initially with the act as such, it is with the utter stupidity of removing someone who had boarded without a proper reason. Consider that people check into flights, they get their luggage through, get past all the check and end up with a boarding pass. At that precise moment, that seat is taken! So basically up to an hour before the flight, this issue could and should have been clear, and this level of stupidity has consequences. Market watch reported ‘United’s stock falls 1.1%, wipes out $255 million off the airline’s market cap‘, which seems a little much so that one additional staff member could get on that flight. The quote “If you’ve flown anywhere in the last 10 years, you’ve definitely been on an overbooked plane. You might have even been offered a few hundred quid to skip your flight in order to make room for travelling airline staff” gives a fair view of what happens at time. In my case it was a first class passenger who had to get on the flight I was one and we were offered 600 euro’s and a free upgrade to get the next flight. I was not in the market, but someone took this offer. That is the easy option for the airline. In this case there was no option and someone got dragged off. As I would see it, a logistical screw up that gave a market dive of $255 million and that is not all. There is a solid chance that this doctor can sue the airline and the security detail that dragged him off costing the airline several million more. You see this is not a case of wrongful acting by the passenger. The passenger had checked in, went through all the screenings that happen and passed all the requirements. The passenger was given a boarding pass and was allowed to board the plane, it is at this point that the airline is screwed (as I personally see it). At this point it becomes an institutional failure of an airline to properly conduct its business. The excuse of a press conference where we see CEO Oscar Munoz calling the incident a ‘system failure’ and says staff could have solved it with ‘common sense’ is not a clear answer. The additional statement “proper tools, policies, procedures that allow them to use common sense” sounds like a joke to me. Common sense should be on the forefront of all this. The mere logistical part that the boarding procedure was not tattooed on the supervisors’ brainstem is not a medical requirement, but it might have saved them a quarter of a billion write down. I will give him that he took the blame towards himself, but in the end this failure went past the head of the hospitality crew, the pilot and captain of the flight and the security detail. Three levels that did not ask the questions that should have been asked before this disaster took shape. The fact that this was because of a needed seat for a staff member makes the disaster complete and a lot bigger too.

Now, there was also a mention that ‘aviation experts have said the company acted legally‘, is that so? You see, the contract of carriage of United Airlines: “If a flight is oversold, no one may be denied boarding against his/her will until UA or other carrier personnel first ask for volunteers who will give up their reservations willingly in exchange for compensation as determined by UA. If there are not enough volunteers, other Passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily in accordance with UA’s boarding priority“, here is the kicker: ‘may be denied boarding involuntarily‘, this was not the case, the man had already boarded and had boarded validly with a valid boarding pass. This is the part that will get United Airlines in hot water!

The other part that I do not get is the issue for one steward(ess), what was the beef here? There are close to 50 flights a day going from Chicago to St. Louis, so unless it was about a directly connecting flight, or better stated, even then, there would have been logistical solutions available. All this (I admit speculated) seems to reflect the opposite of what Oscar Munoz claims, mainly that the bulk of staff and support groups in Chicago airport were pretty much all devoid of common sense. So, from that point of view, no policy or protocol would have saved United Airlines the disaster it was heading to at full speed.

The part I disagree with in the article is that this is not about a Trump America, this is not about “This sort of stuff is becoming so commonplace that it’s difficult to feign surprise or disgust anymore. It’s become completely entangled in America’s psyche, and no one seems to care“, this was a collective act of utter stupidity, not a common sensing brain cell around to stop this from escalating. I would argue that this is linked to “A profit-driven airline company wanted to make room for employees, and so private security staff were more or less given the green light to beat somebody up to make it happen“, yet in this I am not sure if the second part on the private security side would be correct, yet as they dragged the valid passenger off the plane, questions will need to be asked with their superiors and the clarity of what had transpired will need to be scrutinised, because they too will feel the blows of what happened, I feel certain that the United Airlines legal team will be looking under every pebble to see where the costs, losses and blame could be placed.

The interesting side is that this is not the first time, the same week saw an issue with the president of an investment firm flying back from Hawaii, as well as an issue with two teenage female passengers wearing leggings, yet in that case there are a few issues that give optional valid defence of United Airlines as these were ‘pass travellers‘, where the passengers have to comply with company policy as they are in fact free staff flights.

There is no denying that the United Airlines will suffer a while longer as the social media is pushing and pulling the quotes in all directions to let viral reign continue, which is equally not fair on United Airlines, yet that is the world we live in nowadays. The fact that we now see surging stories of UA overbooked flights, with people getting send-off going all the way back to 2015. Then it was Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller who lost his seat. These stories seem a waste of time and I would agree immediately, yet the effect is that for the next few months, people will initially book with whomever has a flight not named United Airlines, which stops the overbooking danger, yet in equal measure it will drive forecasting down by a fair bit, so this disaster could cost United Airlines a lot more than the quarter of a billion cap loss. How much is not clear and I reckon no speculation will be on the mark, no matter how good you know this industry. Whenever social media goes viral on several paths, all bets are off, United Airlines is experiencing this effect in person.

To finish this off, we also see another side of social media. It is Fox News who reports (at http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/04/12/twitter-accused-deleting-tweets-slamming-united-airlines.html) the issue that allegedly, Twitter has been deleting tweets on United. The quote: “One user, @Jay_Beecher, says that a number of his United-related tweets were deleted, including one poking fun at the airline over the now-notorious incident. “Within seconds of tweeting I noticed that my tweet had disappeared,” he told Fox News. “After rewriting the same tweet numerous more times, I began to suspect that Twitter was censoring/automatically deleting any slightly critical tweets which contained an @United tag.”” gives us that at times Twitter seems to be doing whatever seems to please those with a vested interest. This is now also becoming an issue on cases where Twitter did not intervene, giving additional strength that Twitter has certain options, yet refuses to use them. This is not even close to the end for Unites Airlines as we see: “The airline kicked off the #UnitedJourney campaign last week in an attempt to get passengers to share their travel photos. Instead, the hashtag is being used to slam the airline and share memes related to Sunday’s now-notorious incident.

There is currently no end to this viral motion as we still see the News act on events nearly a week old, with the latest news merely three hours ago, as such it seems clear that Mr Munoz has his work cut out for him. The rehashed news regarding “United customer Geoff Fearns, who told Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus on Tuesday that United threatened to put him in handcuffs last week if he didn’t surrender his first-class seat to a “higher priority” passenger” gives rise on more issues, the most prominent being the one where United Airlines needs to seriously redefine what a high priority passenger is, especially when such a person makes ‘demands‘ on his last minute booking, whilst seemingly not being able to time manage his travel needs. It is my personal view that any company that facilitates to the arrogant and possibly loud mouthed will see their value decrease in ways that was not even close to the value of the ticket sold. It is a lesson they might learn from, but as this situation is created in America, I highly doubt it.


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