Tag Archives: The Telegraph

FI01, becoming offensive

I will leave the entire Novichok alone for now, there is rustling in the weeds and it is important to look at it, but only when more actual quality information is available. It is time to take a look at the FI protocols. It is time for FI01.

This might not be the article for many of my readers, I will not shun hash words and I will not shun those wading in hypocrisy. Yet to do that, we need to look at certain definitions too and that is the part we get to after we look at the Guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/sep/13/social-media-firms-could-face-huge-fines-over-terrorist-content). The article ‘Remove terror content quickly or be fined, EU tells social media firms‘. the setting given is “Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will be forced to take terrorist content off their sites within an hour or face multimillion-pound fines under EU proposals“, is probably the biggest part, but let’s look on; when we see some of the parts given by Julian King, the British security commissioner in Brussels. We are given a few truths that matter. “We have got a problem with content; it is not an entirely new problem, we are not starting from scratch, we have agreed to do some voluntary stuff, and we got some good progress – but not enough” is the first part and I will get back to that, yet the more important part is “Every attack over the last 18 months or two years or so has got an online dimension. Either inciting or in some cases instructing, providing instruction, or glorifying“. I get it, something needs to be done. In the first we need to see the list and the proper setting of evidence. I get it that this is not offered online for several reasons. Yet there needs to be a lot more scrutiny. As we see the utter screw up regarding Novichoks, the lack of evidence and linked statements without evidence. We also need to state clearly that the press (to a larger extent) is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Julian King needs to realise that if his peers are dragging their heels on one side, he cannot be part of anything acceptable stating the utter impossibility of: ‘take terrorist content off their sites within an hour‘.

From my point of view, this is about something else; this is about giving governments’ direct access to social media to filter ALL content (at their leisure). To get anything done within the hour is just not realistic and they know it. It is also very clear that when 5G is here, it will be too late and that is what they fear even more, and being stupid about it is just not a solution in any place.

It becomes an even more laughable setting with: “Parties could be fined up to 5% of their annual budgets for breaching data protection rules in order to deliberately influence the outcome of the European elections, including those for the European parliament in May 2019“. So instead of making it illegal and rejecting that party from elected consideration, they get a fine? Allowing for big business to sacrifice via some small institution to cop a few million whilst still getting what they want. So when we see Julian King state: “given the track record, there has to be a chance, and we have to up our game and be more resilient“. How about setting the stage that the use of social media for elections is just out of bounds? Limit it to TV, Newspapers and magazines?

We see the problem a lot clearer when we consider the ‘High-Level Commission Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLCEG-R)‘ report from May 18th 2018. Where exactly is the definition of ‘terrorist content’? You see, the EC is all about definitions all the time. Yet here we see an interaction and a level of interchangeability of ‘terrorist content‘ and ‘illegal content‘. It is found to some extent in the report referred to in footnote 19 where we see the report ‘COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 1.3.2018 on measures to effectively tackle illegal content online’. So is all ‘illegal content’ ‘terrorist content’? It seems to me that this sudden trivialisation is about something else entirely (at least to some degree).

When we look at the second report, we see: “At the collective level, important progress has been made through voluntary arrangements of various kinds, including the EU Internet Forum on terrorist content online, the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Sale of Counterfeit Goods. However, notwithstanding this commitment and progress, illegal content online remains a serious problem within the Union

This is reference to Article 292. Yet now we see Illegal Hate Speech Online, the Sale of Counterfeit Goods as well as terrorist content online. So is this about a Nina Ricci bottle or a Prada backpack, because the devil is not in the details, the devil wears Prada plain and simple. We see to some extent the ‘aggregation’ of stupidity (as I personally see it) in item 32, where we are treated to: “In light of the particularities related to tackling terrorist content online, the recommendations relating to tackling illegal content generally should be complemented by certain recommendations which specifically relate to tackling terrorist content online, building on and consolidating efforts undertaken in the framework of the EU Internet Forum“, so when illegal content is online, we now see the implicated setting that these people could be regarded as terrorist. With ‘be complemented by certain recommendations‘, which now becomes a rather weird setting. You see ‘political opinion’ cannot be seen as illegal speech, so not getting to barrier one, also avoids barrier two. In this setting, any political drive must be proven to give the reading of proven the need that the speech instils the drive to act illegally. Until a clear act is connected, there will be no success.

This now gets us to paragraph 33, where we see: “Considering the particularly grave risks associated with terrorist content and hosting service providers’ central role in the dissemination of such content, hosting service providers should take all reasonable measures so that they do not allow terrorist content and if possible prevent hosting it“. So at this point what exactly is ‘terrorist content‘? And the reference to that paragraph refers to ‘without prejudice to Article 14 of Directive 2000/31/EC’, are you effing kidding me? That is the privacy part on a section in ‘legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market‘.

So we get this mess presented?

In that regard when we see: ‘Commission proposes new rules to get terrorist content off the web‘ It is my personal agitated view in the matter that protocol FI01 is set to President Jean-Claude Juncker, he is the Eff…ing Idiot number 1.

When we again look at the headline: “Terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours after it appears online because of the speed at which it spreads. This is why the Commission is proposing a legally binding one-hour deadline for content to be removed following a removal order from national competent authorities“, a one hour deadline? Really? Most EC parts have not been able to clean their act in years, so now social media gets sliced and cut? Is Europe so broke that they want the millions from the three social media providers because they cannot clean their own stables?

Consider the Statistics, Facebook has 2 billion active users a month, and this is not static. We see from sources that Five new profiles are created every second, there is a registered amount of photo uploads approaching 300 million per day as well as the setting that every minute on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded and that is ignoring languages and expressions. The entire setting of removal in an hour is so unrealistic it is close to hilarious. When we are confronted with that, whilst ‘the Conservative’ (not the greatest source, I admit) gives us: “The structural defects of the European Commission are plentiful: an insurmountable democratic deficit; not a hint of accountability; and an opaque process of legislative formulation to name but a few“, that whilst labelled individual FI01 is also connected to: “The president of the European Commission is embroiled in a new criminal investigation into claims that “tampered” evidence misled an inquiry into phone-tapping. Jean-Claude Juncker faces accusations that his officials presented inaccurate information under oath in a case involving an alleged illegal wiretap more than ten years ago when he was prime minister of Luxembourg” (source: The Times, December 13th 2017), that is the person giving social media providers an ultimatum of an hour? You have got to be kidding me. The Telegraph gave us in addition: “The new evidence, which led to the postponing of a trial of three senior formers members of Luxembourg’s SREL intelligence service, according to The Times, showed that a key telephone transcript had apparently been doctored

That’s the person who is part of throwing ‘illegal content’ and ‘terrorist content’ on one pile?

Good to know!

So now we get to the fact sheet!

Here we see (at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-factsheet-terrorist-content_en_0.pdf) the setting of ‘How does the new procedure for removing terrorist content work?‘ We now see the following

  1. National authority detects and makes assessment
  2. If considered terrorist content, removal order issued to host
  3. Host must remove content within one hour

That seems almost harmless, does it not?

Yet we also see:

  • Right to challenge: Hosting service or content provider may appeal the removal order. If the appeal is successful, the content is restored; if the appeal is rejected or the deadline lapses, the removal order stands and the content must be permanently removed.
  • Obligation to report: If issued with a removal order, the host must report on proactive measures taken to address terrorist content online three months after receiving the removal order.

I am missing any level of accountability, too much ambiguity. So from my point of view, anyone abusing the ‘terrorist content’ for mere filtering and censoring on behalf of anyone else needs to be held criminally liable. I reckon that after 2-3 cases there will be suddenly a large need for postponed trials.

When we investigate the member states part in all this, we see no fine for the state when wrongful removal was done, we see a pressure on removing (or else), yet there is a shallow point when it comes the other way around. In addition, we see “coordinate with other Member States and Europol to ensure that evidence of online terrorist content is flagged, and that duplication and interference in national investigations is avoided“, yet there is no registration on who ordered the removal, also, there is no registration per removal id and in that stage set penalties for those having set the stage for recurring unjustified removals giving ample voice to the earlier: “not a hint of accountability“, if this is about terrorist content, is that part not equally important?

I am all for getting all terrorist content removed, yet the systems cannot get it all, that is too unrealistic and pushing a one hour timestamp whilst the other side has no accountability at all is just a discriminating joke in the making. It is also still interesting to see that they claim to fight terrorism and terrorist online activities, whilst Iran state sponsor of terrorism in still a welcome debate and trade partner in the EU. In addition, the entire matter of Iranian diplomat Asadollah Assadi and terrorist was given light a week before the EU approved plans for the European Investment Bank to do business with Iran. So you want to stop social media, whilst still doing business with these people? How unacceptable is that part in all this? If the EU cannot clean its stables, it has no business enforcing anything on social media that is how I personally see it. Yes, we can agree that terrorist content must be removed ASAP, yet what is that? One hour? 24 Hours? 72 hours? The fact that the EU does business as usual with a terrorist funding government implies that they are clueless on several grounds and the fact that we see an increasing amount of evidence growing on the matter of Iranian Missiles fired into Saudi Arabia is further evidence still that the EU is merely the pot calling the kettle black. It is in that setting that we should conclude that they have no business ‘fine giving’ any social media, especially in light of such a massive funding failure.

You see, what angers me so is the mere filtering of politicians and that needs to stop too! In this I present two elements. The first part comes from Bloomberg last year. We are given (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/facebook-says-99-of-is-al-qaeda-content-spotted-by-ai) where we are treated to: “Today, 99 percent of Islamic State and Al Qaeda-related content Facebook removes is detected by the company’s AI before any user flags it, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, and Brian Fishman, head of counter-terrorism policy, said Wednesday. They said in some cases the software was able to block the content from ever being posted in the first place“. Yet the other part that the Guardian gives us is: “We have got a problem with content; it is not an entirely new problem, we are not starting from scratch, we have agreed to do some voluntary stuff, and we got some good progress – but not enough“. Now we get to the good part, what EXACTLY is ‘not enough’? From my point of view Either Bloomberg lied to us, or Julian King is what some might consider as: ‘an unacceptable piece of trash’. If he wants 100%, he better give us clearly add a few elements of EC accountability and holding them criminally liable when they abuse their power. Also is any abuse of that ‘filtering content’ is found, he is to be dishonourably discharged and shamed in the entire EU, with a clear banning from ALL official positions in the EU and the Commonwealth.

Why the overreaction?

We have been fed two versions again and again and we see a lack of accountability on the EU side too often; for example the elitist banking group of 30 with Mario Draghi as a member. When the Financial Times gave us: “the close links between central bankers and the private sector have aroused public suspicion since the global financial crisis triggered a series of bank bailouts” we see suspected levels of nepotism that raises more issues than 50 successful Islamic State attacks. The article (at https://www.ft.com/content/dc64b6e2-8060-11e8-bc55-50daf11b720d) also gives us “The Ombudsman has also attacked the ECB’s argument that it was standard practice for top central bankers to join the club. The central bank chiefs of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, India, Brazil, Russia, Canada, and Australia are not members and Janet Yellen suspended her membership during her time at the helm of the US Federal Reserve”, showing that the European Commission has a truckload of issues, it is my personal view that it has no business acting in the way it does.

Yet, defence of the actions instigated by Julian King can be seen in Forbes. The article (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2018/05/15/the-problem-with-using-ai-to-fight-terrorism-on-social-media), an Article from last May gives us: “the general public would be forgiven for believing that Facebook’s algorithms are vastly more effective. The New York Times summarized the statement above as “Facebook’s A.I. found 99.5 percent of terrorist content on the site, leading to the removal of roughly 1.9 million pieces of content in the first quarter,” while the BBC offered “the firm said its tools spotted 99.5% of detected propaganda posted in support of Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other affiliated groups, leaving only 0.5% to the public.” In fact, this is not at all what the company has claimed. When asked about similar previous media characterizations of its counter-terrorism efforts, a company spokesperson clarified that such statements are incorrect, that the 99% figure refers exclusively to the percent of terrorist content deleted by the company that had been flagged by AI.

This could be easily tested and as such I decided to do so and with ‘ISIS images’ I got hundreds and hundreds of images, videos and other matters in my browser and I got even more with the search term ‘Jihad Islamic state’. The video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzCAPJDAnQA) shows actions of Islamic State, with sounds, vision and comments. It is News from Vice News, a video from 2014, still online today. At some point you need to as just how ludicrous and useless actions are. We get it that there are actions, we see that numbers become debatable. Yet in all this the mere reported numbers are already an issue, and if I added Vice News articles to me Facebook news feed, would that constitute ‘Terrorist Content’? This small part alone shows us that this is about something else and as such we better take a real hard look at the Actions of the EC, demanding that the censoring side should be held equally liable and prosecutable for their overreaction and inaction. Yet that is never ever going to happen, is it? This is making the EC actions (in my personal opinion) a lot more questionable in all this. It was the overreaction and the emphasis of ‘One Hour’ that set the tone of mistrust, I wonder what else we will see over the coming week.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Media, Politics

The politics of denial

I started this last Friday, so as I started writing this, I got to do the clumsy thing and actually kick out the power cable, losing all I had written. It led to my own denial and anger, and it fittingly fits this. Now, as I revisit the issue I have on one side the pleasure of having ‘new’ data, and the displeasure of going over this, but I will a little later in the article as it actually has bearing on all this.

So these three senators have decided to see if they can break up their entire Saudi Arabian support system, which will work out swimmingly for the UK, but about that later. The three senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, Chris Murphy have started the US on a path, where the setting is that those three have introduced a resolution that will force the chamber to vote for the first time on whether the US should continue to support Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, a conflict that has led to the deaths of at least 10,000 civilians. In itself that is not the question, you see this is not whether what they do is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. As we see it in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/28/yemen-saudi-arabia-war-us-support-senator-push-to-end) we get ““This is about the process,” said an aide to Lee. “What decisions do we make for a country that has been at war constantly for almost 20 years? When do we say that something is worthy of intervening in and when do we make that determination? It’s about the how“, which is fair enough. It is a political decision in all this and we can view it from one side, or from the other side. But there is actually a lot more going on.

Part is seen when we see “Yemen’s conflict began in 2014, when the Houthis, Shia rebels from the country’s north, seized the nation’s capital and ousted the Saudi-backed ruler, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who lives in exile in Riyadh. In response, a Saudi-led Arab coalition began a bombing campaign in 2015, to restore the exiled government to power”, in all this, we might see these matters as separate, but they are not, they are very connected.

The first part is seen in the NY Times (one of many sources), on April 14th 2011 we see ‘U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings‘ (at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html), here we see “a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states“, as well as “as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections” we see that America never learned from its mistakes in Egypt, Iran and other places. Now, I have nothing against democracy, I grew up in that environment and we should all accept that, but is it that clear? These nations had a sovereign right, they decided not to be democracies and as some filled the heads of some people with the ‘golden dream‘, and got trained into the creation of flocks and let them flock to those Arab spring groups the damage ended up getting close to complete. What started in Tunisia in 2010, moved to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain, where we saw the unsettling of regimes, major uprisings and social violence, riots, civil wars and/or insurgencies. Places like Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan were not impervious either to some extent. So in the age of the fucked up Obama administration we saw the start of more violence and the death of close to a million citizens, yet the Democratic Party goes into denial at that stage, because they were not involved. Now, legally speaking there is absolutely no evidence that this was done with the blessing of the Democratic Party, or parties in the White House in that time. Now, it might exist, but I have not seen it. In addition as the NY Times gives us we see references to “the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a non-profit human rights organization based in Washington“, as well as “The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department“. So here we see the crux, these three senators want to set the how and the process, but their own system caused this and now they want it to go away. The US burned them self on Syria by standing at the sideline whilst we see that they caused it indirectly. Now as they numbers in Yemen add up, we see that the US is ready to get into denial fast. The issue is even more ‘hilarious’ when we see in that same NY Times article “Ms. Qadhi, the Yemeni youth activist, attended American training sessions in Yemen. “It helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons,” she said. But now, she said, it is clear that results can be achieved with peaceful protests and other nonviolent means“, so how peaceful did things go in Yemen, and how peaceful did those 10,000 citizens die?

I am not implying that Ms. Qadhi was involved in any of that, but for aspiring autocrats the notion of destabilisation breeds opportunity, which is pretty much what we are seeing now; with splintering in Yemen the damage is actually increasing with Iran, Islamic State, Ansar Allah playing their part. As the BBC reported in February 2015 “But as the interim government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi stalled in early 2014, Ansar Allah launched an aggressive military campaign in the north, defeating key military units allied to Gen Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and the Islah political party” so how peaceful should we see this ‘aggressive military campaign‘?

And that is not even the beginning of the issue. The NY Times give us in conclusion “we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us, said Mr. Fathy, the Egyptian activist“, which now reads that the US government was selling short and betting on both sides of the event, like an arms dealer providing both sides with the latest creation in the effort to end the lives of those on the other side of the equation.

It gets even more disturbing when we see the Telegraph (UK) give us (at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/bahrain-wikileaks-cables/8334643/GUARDING-NDIS-FLANK.html) the part where there is a dis-proportionality in all this making the issue even more toxic and dangerous. That part is seen in “Al-Hamer promises to be a cooperative partner for emboffs and, we judge, will support NDI programming so long as it does not disproportionately benefit Al-Wifaq and other opposition political societies. He is somewhat favourably disposed towards the U.S. — all four of his children study in Boston or Austin, TX — and his wife, Afnan Al-Zayani, is a MEPI grantee. Al-Hamer’s chief focus will remain his job as the King’s media advisor; he will likely leave BIPD strategy and operations to other members of the new board of trustees and to Al-Khayat and his senior staff. Emboffs will engage with Al-Khayat and board members such as Al-Otaibi, and will remain alert for any signs of BIPD or GOB discomfort with NDI in an effort to avoid any repetition of the controversy NDI encountered in 2006“,

Finally the NY Times gave us: “Hosni Mubarak, then Egypt’s president, was “deeply sceptical of the U.S. role in democracy promotion,” said a diplomatic cable from the United States Embassy in Cairo dated Oct. 9, 2007“, which took roughly 3 years, 4 months and two days until that same democracy promotion scheme got rid of him and his presidency on 11th February 2011.

Now we see that the US is adding to its own misery. As it had lost any credibility it has, we see that three senators are setting the stage where the US could lose even more. We see that (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/06/the-global-economic-switch/), the issue of Saudi investments are now bubbling to the surface. Not just some need for a desalinisation plant. No this is a setting in excess of 500 billion and as the US government is trying to make a play for some parts of that, we see three senators trying to get on a high moral horse and change the setting of support to Saudi Arabia. So as they hold the high moral horse and stop any actions to take place, how would Saudi Arabia react with their “the half a trillion dollar NEOM“, the massive growth in dependency and requirements for technology will take a nice seat where these actions might result in Saudi Arabia talking to British Telecom and Verizon might end up sitting at the side of the road. What was a near equal race between the two for the graces of 5G opportunity is now a race where Verizon could in theory end dead last. Cory Booker the Democrat senator for New Jersey is just going to love all this or not?

The problem is that this should have been about the morality and not the cash, yet that is what politics in a bankrupt state has been reduced to. Now as we are seeing all that good news in regards to the US economy. Most ignore the other side as “Toys “R” Us may be planning to liquidate its bankrupt U.S. stores, according to a report by Bloomberg News. The retailer, reportedly, has not found a buyer or secured a debt restructuring deal with its lenders” (Source: CBS), in addition the LA Times gives us “The downfall of Toys R Us can be traced back to a $7.5 billion leveraged buyout in 2005, when Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust loaded the company with debt. For years, the retailer was able to refinance its debt and delay a reckoning. But the emergence of online competitors, such as Amazon.com Inc., weighed on results. The company’s huge interest payments also sucked up resources that could have gone toward technology and improving operations“, the interest payments, the issue that several larger players face, with Google, Amazon, and Microsoft being likely the only exceptions, we still see the growth of debt where these larger players are all fending off the inevitable. Gun maker Remington and guitar company Gibson, two iconic companies, neither made it out and are now in the bankruptcy setting, and they are not alone, so as they vanish thousands of workers will be in the need of finding new jobs and possibly even resettling in another state changing state pressures on the support systems that were in place, because those people made products that needed shipping, they had infrastructures and shops depended on these thousands, they are most likely to move and as that happens more pressure is exerted on others.

Is that all relevant?

Only indirectly! You see it is part of a pattern. The US has pushed the media to be in denial of the debts and the costs of these debts. So when we consider that Intergovernmental holdings stood at $6.3 trillion, giving a combined total gross national debt of $19.8 trillion or about 106% of the previous 12 months of GDP, with 45% that the public has is owned by foreign investors, the largest of which were Japan and China each having a little over a trillion of that debt. So even at 1% the debt is a large issue, even as it slowly decreases, two of the 32 nations should be getting $10 billion each and that is merely the interest and that is if it is only 1%, it is unlikely to be below 4%, so the US has to come up with well over 250 billion and that is beside all the normal expenses they have. It only takes one negative event to push them over the hill and more than one is coming, in addition the US desperately needs part of the economic $500 billion windfall, and that is likely to become the diplomatic debate that the State department will be confronted with. with the debt adding well over $240 billion in the last 11 months the forward momentum is not there at present (it was earlier than that though), we see that the US has issues and dilemma’s to deal with, only one of them is Yemen and several are with Saudi Arabia, a nation they need to be friends with for all the reasons they can muster.

So as we look at Al Jazeera (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/180310204215697.html) where we see “A military solution to the conflict in Yemen will be a disaster”, said al-Hamdi, a former member of the Yemeni parliament who was ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2009 until 2014“, we might give him the benefit of the doubt, yet is that true? You see “History is repeating itself. There is a history of Saudi intervention in Yemen, from the revolution in 1962 to the 1994 Yemeni civil war,” said al-Hamdi at the event, which was hosted by the Cordoba Foundation and titled Yemen: War, Politics and Human Tragedy event. “Yemen is being destroyed. A nation is dying,” said al-Hamdi“, yet we already know that it was the Yemeni president that was requesting assistance, there was an uprising and that started the current situation.

You see, what we do not see form any source is that when I look into Abdulrahman al-Hamdi, I find very little. I did find “Abu Salim mayor Abdulrahman al-Hamdi told Reuters that the unusually intense fighting that erupted last Thursday was triggered by members of competing armed factions capturing each other“, which is what Reuters gave us in March 2017 (might not be the same person), so the only other articles are from the last hours. Consider an ambassador that fell from all the news channels between his non-working status between 2014 and 2018, almost a death sentence. So is this ‘high morality‘ his way to get back into politics? Back in the news merely because it is convenient for some of the players, that is how I personally see it.

Back to the beginning of me

Now I get to go to the part I mentioned in the beginning. You see there was a small accident on Friday and I lost power and as a result my article was gone, I had not yet saved it. Now, I could have gone back to it all and rewrite it, but after 2,000 words (roughly) I felt a little drained and extremely agitated with myself. Kicking out the power cable is my own stupidity and it was on me and me alone. Perhaps you can relate? Consider that you leave home, you get to the train station and it is there that you recognise that your wallet is still at home. Now, this is not a biggie, we have all had that moment and it is that moment that you realise that you have to do that 15 minute walk twice more just to get back to the start. That is when your nerves hit you and I have resolved it to walk twice that much to the other station because the repetitive feeling falls away and weirdly enough the anger subsides quicker (no idea why though). I know, it is irrational but that is how my brain at works at times and we all have some kind of quirk like that. That quirk is shown in more clarity when we see the impact of the US Arab spring and the subsequent actions of the US. They are now trying to change it all because the death list that the US aided in starting the death counts in Syria, Yemen, and Libya to name three is also opening the wounds towards the Iran and the CIA-backed 1953 coup that ousted democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Some are asking if the US will ever learn its lesson in this regard. Others are wondering how deep ‘Christian bitching fish wife fairy-tale mongering‘ goes in regards to the intervening actions in Middle Eastern rule and politics.

The end is nowhere near the end and it reflects also directly towards Syria, as we see “The UN secretary general has described the situation in eastern Ghouta as “hell on earth” and the body’s high commissioner for human rights described the military offensive as a “monstrous annihilation”“, in that it ended exactly as I expected it to play out. so as we see “The report from the UK-based human rights group, which said both Douma and the smaller nearby town of Harasta were surrounded and cut off, was disputed by locals, but such an outcome seems inevitable in any event as the regime presses its advantage, backed by both Syrian and Russian airstrikes“, so as the Syrian situation draws to a close we see that both US administrations have failed the Syrian people and as that population has been culled we see that the docile remaining part will become the sheep that the Syrian president needed them to be. In all this the profile of Russia is now further up and the US diminishes in parts of the Middle East, so alienating Saudi Arabia is likely the worst choice that America could make. Fortunately the UK still has a large opportunity there, but in all, as Saudi Arabia wants more options, the doors will open further for Russia. That was seen last week at CNBC as they gave us: “The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut back on oil production has boosted oil prices and is now the foundation for a broader relationship“, even as Saudi Arabia is pushing for less power on oil, they still want the best price possible for what they have, a mere business approach to a commodity. In addition, less than a month ago we saw Bloomberg report that the liquefied natural gas (LNG) options, is  new field for Saudi Arabia to do in conjunction with Russia as we got “Russian gas producer Novatek PJSC and Saudi oil giant Aramco agreed to consider teaming up on Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2 project“, so we see growth on economic options for Russia as America has been closing its own doors, or to some extent, they are getting closed by Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy for whatever reasons they had.

It is now becoming a stronger imperative to find a path forward. Not merely in regards to Saudi- Us relationship, the issue of Yemen and Syria will plague us for decades to come, even if it is settled overnight (which is not ever happening), the cleaning tasks as well as finding a longer term solution for Humanitarian solutions can only become successful if the players enable Saudi Arabia to take the lead for ending the Yemeni crises. For Syria it is likely too late, as Russia is completing ‘its’ mission (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/24/losing-values-towards-insanity/), where we see in ‘Losing values towards insanity‘ the quote “With these two gentleman owning 50% (actually more than that) into LLC Megaline, with Megaline receiving a large chunk of the capital construction contracts for the Russian military we see that link. When the dust settles, Assad will need to rebuild, and they will be the front player and possibly only consideration on a nation needing to be reconstructed. So now how weird are their actions? Both Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin are now perfectly placed to rake in billions and in that regard we get back to the options for the dying in Syria; they don’t get to have any” a mere two weeks ago, now shown to be more accurate than anything else published. The media could have seen this coming with a ruler and an abacus, no high mathematical forecasting required.

So as we see the outrage on Yemen from all those seeking the limelight, I wonder if anyone will ask them the question, what exactly did you do for those Yemeni’s over the last 4 years? The list of activities might not add up to much, that is how I saw Abdulrahman al-Hamdi, because if you seek him on Google for the last year, he shows up once, just once for the Al Jazeera event 6 hours ago, that is also the next issue that both Syria and Yemen face, those who merely talk to get a seat on the table, because soon there will be money available and now they all want a seat at the table, it is the politics of denial, to only get there when the going is good.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Military, Politics

Drop the Mike, Ashley!

Welcome to the issues on a man that I do not know. This is not the most straight-forward of starts, yet the man who has been valued more than once and that verdict is several thousand stacks of £1,000,000. The man who owns Newcastle United, which means he gets the swanky seat in the stadium. Now, we can understand that this man founded Sports Direct. When you get enthusiastic about sports, you can bet that it will be part of your life. There is no denying it and as it became a good success, I would state ‘good for him’. Yet, the focus on him started in an entirely different way. It started with him getting in on the videogame action by getting a near 26% stake in the franchise ‘Game‘. That brand did not go well here in Australia, yet I always found it to be a decent store and the people working there knew their games and consoles. I have seen them in the UK as well and a similar feeling remained on that experience. Here it did not go well as they were up against EB Games (who grew aggressively at that time) and JB Hifi that was an established chain of quality stores, so they had a murder competition, they did not make it (for the most). Yet all this is now in play when I read “Mike Ashley swoops on video games retailer after profit warning forced by shortage of Nintendo Switch consoles“, this is a weird issue. We get ‘profit warning‘ in regards to a situation of shortage. Basically the story becomes, we are short on revenue/profit because we can’t get any more consoles, they are sold out, and everyone wants one! Which at present is pretty much the truth of the desire of people and their need for the Nintendo Switch, it is actually THAT amazing.

The result was “Game shares rose by more than 15% to 28p on the news, and later traded at 26.5p (up 9.3%), giving it a market value of £47m“, apart from the 28p not sounding like that impressive, it is the end result of +9.3% that is staggering. You see, I have issues with the entire part where ‘profit warnings‘ are labelled in the way they were. You see, the entire mess (as reported) gives no clue on the actual situation (well, the one as I personally see it), I do not care how people quantify one way or the other; it is the addressing of profit warnings.

I offer in evidence the following pieces

Part 1, Sony (at http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2017/01/03/uk-2016-sales-chart-2016-game-sales-down-13-infinite-warfare-the-2-best-selling-game-of-the-year/) gives us ‘UK Sales Chart: 2016 Game Sales Down 13%, Infinite Warfare the #2 Best-Selling Game of the Year‘. In this we see: “The major titles of 2016 also disappointed when compared to 2015’s, with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (the second biggest title of 2016) lagging 31.5% behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. In other comparisons, Watch Dogs 2 fell just short of the 500,000 copies Assassin’s Creed Syndicate sold in 2015, Steep performed worse than Rainbow Six Siege, Gears of War 4 couldn’t reach the heights of Halo 5, and Final Fantasy XV was outsold by Just Cause 3.” For those who do not talk games, let me boil it down to the first item is that overall less games were bought. In my personal view, the overall quality of games was not great. Even as Watchdogs 2 was a good step up from the previous game, yet many gamers felt too burned by the first game. I believe that the second game was good, it has online and offline options and people were not forced to go online here. Regarding the other title, I am not a fan of Call of Duty, I know many are. the fact that a game like that became ‘the’ game is not entirely on the fact on how good their Infinite Warfare was, it is more that the other games were way below the line. The fact that the last four larger releases this year alone could be bought for 50% down, including the special editions with figurines is also a changing trend. People are less willing to just shell out the cash for games, reviews are more competitive and even though there are really good reviewers, there are a lot more really bad reviewers and they tend to get plenty of exposure. Yet in the end, the games were for a larger extent not up to snuff. The reviewers ‘deserve’ extra attention as some are more and more about the larger players, whilst some of the true gems have been largely ignored by plenty of people. Nioh is perhaps one of the most visible ones. Like Infinite warfare it is a specific game. I actually like this game, but I loathe the challenge it contains at times (they are really hard games). Some saw that is was some Dark Souls games and plenty of people ran for the hills as this is a game for actual gamers, not for wannabe’s. In my view there are several similarities, yet the only thing that the game Nioh truly has in common with Dark Souls III was its graphical excellence.

So here we see two elements that would push any revenue down.

Part 2, Pushsquare. At http://www.pushsquare.com/news/2017/01/ps4_physical_game_sales_increase_as_uk_industry_suffers_blow, we see more confirmation: “Overall sales down 13.4 per cent“, the mere subtitle and the direct impact that matters, less sales overall, this is not entirely correct, but I will get to that in a moment. The next quote is, as I personally see it wrong, but still essential. With “Bethesda’s Dishonored 2, for example, couldn’t come close to matching the success of Fallout 4, while Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV somehow failed to outsell Just Cause 3.” My issue is that no matter how you slice it, Dishonored 2 is a little bit of a niche game, more intent for those who love stealth gaming (me being one), it is graphically superb, the game is a little steampunk in a very good way, but for the most, it is highly original and exquisite in quality. It is not fair to compare it to a game that has millions of followers and has been revered since its original release (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC) on 11/11/11, the date that some will carry with them for all time. An established success that was bought on the console be new players as well as nearly everyone who had the previous version. The game is good for months of gameplay, so a game that sells itself due to 5 years of raving reports. The second is equally unfair. I myself was never a FF fan, but I have always admired the originality and scope of the stories and the near perfection each game brought. Even I am surprised that Just Cause 3 outsold it, perhaps merely because of the over the top explosions and things you can do with the game? I cannot tell what the exact reason is, yet the second part implies that the gamers are diversifying in different directions, changing the gaming requirement. It is almost like there is a new generation taking over the baton of gaming and it has different tastes.

Yet he best is left for last, in part 3 we see Retail Week

The mention (at https://www.retail-week.com/sectors/entertainment/game-issues-profit-warning-as-uk-sales-falter/7022184.article), where we see “The specialist retailer, which posted a slump in its interim profits in March, said anticipated supply in the UK of the latest Nintendo console had failed to meet expectations, negatively impacting overall sales“, is a first issue. In this the mention ‘anticipated supply‘ beckons the question, so did you order enough or not? As the experts, you should have seen the impact it would make. The E3 and other events clearly showed that Nintendo was blowing both others out of the water. In addition we see “alongside ongoing poor sales of Xbox and PlayStation devices“, now we can argue about Xbox for several reasons, so let’s take this out of the equation, the PlayStation part gives the issue. Overall sales of the PS4 and PS4pro are still up by a decent amount, so it now becomes a shifting focus, but I will get to that soon.

For now I will end with the quote “The group continues to actively implement its UK action plan, encompassing improved supplier arrangements, enhancements to the customer experience, further operational progress including cost reduction programmes and disciplined cash management“, yet will not address it yet. Let’s take a look at three more elements.

The first is from the Business Insider which gives us “Sony sold 10 million PlayStation 4 consoles between early May 2016 and December 6, 2016. That puts sales in the neighbourhood of over 1 million sold every month, which keeps it locked in as the fastest-selling PlayStation console of all-time

The second is again from PlayStation Lifestyle with “Taking a deeper look at software last year in the UK, Games Industry points out that nearly 80% of all boxed games sold last year were either on PS4 or Xbox One (up from 66% in 2015)

The last is G24/7 where we see (at https://www.vg247.com/2016/11/14/ps4-console-sales-have-tripled-in-the-uk-following-the-launch-of-the-ps4-pro/) “Sony’s PS4 Pro launched at the end of last week and has had quite the impact on PS4 console sales. According to MCVUK, PS4 sales for the week ending Saturday, November 12, were up 204%. 65% of the total PS4 sales last week were for the PS4 Pro, while the final sales figure for all PS4 consoles was 44% higher than those for the Xbox One.

Now we put the whole together!

We know that sales were massive end of year 2016, especially with a new console and Christmas coming up, all that makes sense. We can also clearly see that overall, the consoles represent the bulk of all game sales. This partially makes sense because that is what we see as flagships in pretty much any gaming store, PC owners have a lot more options to buy in other places and at times a lot cheaper and there is Steam to consider, so that part remains an unknown and as such a much lesser impact to these stores (apart from the selling of steam credit). The fact that the PS4 is surpassing the previous consoles, is debatable (PS2 sold over three times the amount in its life time), yet the overall market trend is that games should be on par and were up by a fair bit last year. So when we go back to the initial start with “Video game retailers have been particularly badly affected by the broader shift away from the high street in recent years, with developers moving to increase their own profit margins selling games as direct downloads“, which we get from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/172c3ba1-e880-35e8-9273-957e325cd7f4?mhq5j=e3).

In this there is debate, yet he part no one touches on is how the expectations were set, what they were weighed on and on the given image that sales were down, which had been an upcoming known for close to 2 quarters of a year. The part that the Financial Times gives us is that direct downloads are playing more of a role nowadays. It actually impacts the industry in 2 ways. Apart from buying directly, the additional issue is that consoles have a premium service; most gamers take that because of online gaming and the fact that both systems offer at least 2 free games a month. Microsoft was initially really bad with that (lousy games or games everyone had), they are still not great, yet this month it includes Lego pirates of the Caribbean, which is actually a nice and decent game (and not a large download in console terms). Sony beats Microsoft here hands down with titles like Until Dawn and Life is Strange. In all this both offer decent free games, with a bonus for Sony people as their account will also enable them to get free games for their Vita handheld, all that for around £50 per year, the premium service sells itself to both consoles without any difficulty. All elements that shows the impact of a bad year of games, not consoles, the overall quality of games gives rise to people deciding to just download an average game instead. The interesting part that even as Ubisoft lagged in a few ways, the one game what was awesome in many ways, ‘For Honor’ actually did not do that well, which is a mixed signal that multiplayer games are wanted, yet without a strong one player side, it tends to not make the cut in a top 10, which would be unfairly devastating on the makers I think. All elements that the analysts in this case should have known and realised and as such, when we see ‘would not meet expectations‘, my question becomes: “the expectations of whom and on what foundations?” Now we get to the part I skipped.

With “The group continues to actively implement its UK action plan, encompassing improved supplier arrangements, enhancements to the customer experience, further operational progress including cost reduction programmes and disciplined cash management” I wonder what we are being served.

  • Did they call short because they did not keep an eye on running costs, what arrangements would be needed with suppliers? Were they not up to scrap?
  • Even more customer experience? Were the current settings and anticipations of the competitor not up to scrap?
  • Disciplined cash management? Is cash not managed correctly?

The feedback we got from Game, directly below the image of a sort of smiley ‘Game CEO Martyn Gibbs on the merits of in-store gaming arenas‘ is one that leaves us with the thoughts that Game is going down because they are not on the ball of the game, and the game is passing them by? So in all this Mike Ashley merely flying in to pick up a bargain? In this he better realise fast that Game has an issue and more than one potential issue in play, he also needs to realise that the Games market is a shifty one and in the years before the publishers see clear to push a bigger load to online sales in the next 5 years (depending on where you live), we better consider that top games is a market in motion and it is likely to see a shift that Microsoft and Adobe made some time ago on PC’s, it is not a change that gamers are currently happy with, but it is one that the next generations of consoles will likely face, the game shop is seen as the middle man and they are trying to cut it out to maximise it for their own need to please whatever stakeholders they report on. It is early days now, but in 5 years it won’t be.

In the aftermath we actually need to look where I normally do not go. It is the Telegraph, in this case the business section, where (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/30/game-warns-profits-will-substantially-expectations/) we see the generic parts like “following its third profit warning“, we know that Christmas was weak (to some extent), yet in equality when you consider the previous information, the issue is not entirely just ‘weak Christmas‘, it is merely a much stronger competition to some extent and the fact that the cost of living in metropolitan UK seems to be ignored by analysts and those who speculate on how it would (read: should) be. The issue that is stronger is “The shares nosedived to just 21p on the back of the profit warning, valuing the business at £35.6m only two years after it was floated at 200p a share by US hedge fund Elliott Advisors” as well as “Elliott cashed in £101m at the time of Game’s stock market listing by selling a stake and made a further £59m by dumping a further 10pc of its stake just three months afterwards, despite agreeing to a lock-up period of six months” which now also implies that Game got played and not in such a nice way. Yet the bulk of all the sources do not give any clarity of the part that Elliott Advisors was playing, even the Financial Times steered clear of that part. In this, I am now also questioning the setting as given to Game and its senior management. Even as CNBC is giving the notion that Paul Singer, CEO of Elliott Management is just the best invention since Frozen Yoghurt (if we are to believe places like Forbes, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal), I wonder what price we can see the UK pay for getting played to the extent it is getting by the US Hedge market, in that regard should we allow for any US company coming in under false pretences and flood the market so that they can drain the profit quickly and walk away? It seems to me that they tried that in the Netherlands with Akzo Nobel, which had the great benefit of Elliott Management failing (for now), but it shows the extent that as a shareholder Elliott Management will go to get their profit, it seems to me that Game was not nearly as lucky and the fact that the different levels of publications left that side seemingly in the dark corners of ‘them not printing that part‘ is also upsetting (to me even more upsetting is the part that the Telegraph actually did get that info out). The fact that Game has been seemingly under exploitative attack does not diminish the issues as given by some of the publishers by the quotes, Game got caught out, which under the current size and the possible level of possible losses is a dangerous place to be in.

In all this, I am aware of things, but not as much as a person like Mike Ashley would be, so is this his triumph with Game, should we see this as a mere quick victory to see if he can get more out of this than Paul Singer’s place did, or is it an actual rescue and grow attempt? I am not implying one or the other, but as you see the presented evidence, there are a few issues with Game and I believe as such they were set up as the weak runt in the market, whether this will happen twice in a row is something I have no way of telling and I am not implying anything wrong, immoral or illegal. The entire mess is not completely shown by some players and that is what seems to be the actual issue. I remain in an attempt to be protective of the places that feed my need for gaming and there is a positive in having a diverse and competitive market. It guarantees to some degree I get the best games at the sharpest price, which is what every gamer wants, there is no exceptions to that rule.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Media

Under cover questions

Yes, it has been a week. When the fire was first reported I steered clear. It was a fire. What was weird was the ferociousness of the fire, I had questions from the moment I saw the fire, but I waited. I had no Intel, I had no facts and it was a fire after all. Fires happen. Yet, those who saw the limelight seeking photos from the Telegraph might have noticed a thing or two. You see, the fire was like a fire that Hollywood could not do. The Towering inferno was not that intense. The fact that the fire had a casualty list that is massive is also an odd part in all this. So I decided to wait, I would not be the one shouting arson on something that was not that. The consequence is a little too unsettling. Yet now, a week later I found myself collecting what I could. It started with the noise on cladding.

The first thing I found was a similar issue in Victoria, Australia. On April 30th 2015 we see: “Testing conducted by the CSIRO in mid-April on behalf of MFB found that the Alucobest cladding material installed by building company failed to comply with high-rise combustibility requirements“, in addition there is “The external cladding material on this building did not prevent the spread of the fire as required by the Building Code of Australia,” said MFB chief officer Peter Rau“. It was a fire that happened in 2014. So these events had been happening for years. This now gets us to Rydon Ltd in East Sussex. They got the job, because they were £2.5 million cheaper. Like in the Towering Inferno, that place went down in the story because of cutting corners. So my initial thought was that this might be the case here too. The question is ‘Was that the case?‘ You see, it is all good and fine in books, but the reality is how were the materials tested, how did the makers of the original cladding present their materials? One of the parts is ‘Celotex RS5000 PIR thermal insulation‘, when we look at those specification we see: “Fire propagation ‘BS 476: Part 6′, Pass” and “Surface spread of flame ‘BS 476: Part 7′, Class 1“. It comes with the footnote “The fire performance and classification report issued only relates to the components detailed above. Any changes to the components listed will need to be considered by the building designer”

The entire issue becomes more of a mess when we consider that ITV business editor Joel Hills stated that he had been told that the installation of sprinklers had not even been discussed (at http://www.itv.com/news/2017-06-15/grenfell-tower-original-proposed-contractor-was-dropped-to-reduce-cost-of-refurbishment-project/), the ITV article focusses on the ‘cost saving‘ which is correct, yet the one part they do not raise is whether the materials were up to scrap. In addition they do mention two parts that are essential. One is “In 2013 the government wrote to every local authority to encourage them to retrofit sprinkler systems in older tower blocks. It did so at the request of a coroner who leads an inquest into a fire in Camberwell in which six people died“, the second one was “Before passing judgement on whether the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management therefore acted irresponsibly, bear in mind that, according to the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, only 100 older tower blocks in Britain have been retrofitted with sprinklers since 2013. Around 4,000 have not“, the councils were apparently put off by the costs, which in this was about £1150 per apartment. We read more about these tests as presented by Celotax (at http://www.ecosafene.com/EN/firetesting/building/228.html), so we get some clarity here. Yet the surface flame test (BS 476-7, linked in the referred page), gives us “Extinguish the pilot flame 1 min after the start of the test“, yet these numbers will not add up, because there were no sprinklers, no dousing the flame, so the entire operation will be working on different elements. This does not invalidate the test, yet if I look at the Ecosafene site I am now looking at ‘BS 476-15Fire Tests on Building Materials for Measuring the Rate of Heat Release‘ as well as ‘BS 476-5 Fire Test to Building Material for Ignitablity‘, you see, this caught fire somehow, after that Bob is your crispy dead uncle (in this case). Yet in all this, we did not mention Celotex. Their site gives us “As with the rest of the nation our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. On Wednesday, as soon as we were able to, we confirmed that our records showed a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. We wanted to provide an update to that statement and provide further information as we are able to. It is important to state that Celotex manufacture rigid board insulation only. We do not manufacture, supply or install cladding. Insulation is one component in a rain screen system, and is positioned in that system behind the cladding material“, It is what we now see in the Metro that kinda takes the biscuit. “Controversial cladding was added to Grenfell Tower in part to improve the view for nearby luxury flats“, which must have been a nice clambake to watch I reckon. It is the term ‘Controversial cladding‘ that now becomes the focus. You see, the Birmingham Mail and others are all about: “Grenfell Tower £8 million refurbishment ‘met all required standards’“, yet the fire does seem to tell a different story. The Guardian has another article linked to all this. The article ‘Complex chain of companies that worked on Grenfell Tower raises oversight concerns‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/15/long-builder-chain-for-grenfell-a-safety-and-accountability-issue) gives a few items a few answers and more questions. In opposition I need to give the quote “Ben Bradford, a fire safety expert who is managing director of the risk consultancy BB7, said the multiple links in the chain of contractors could cause safety problems. “There are probably multiple failings that have occurred in this particular case,” he said. “The work, in terms of fire stopping, often falls to a sub-contractor. They don’t always realise the critical nature of the components they’re installing in the overall system“, I have an issue here. It is not untrue what he is stating, yet the elements on the page give us a little clarity. You see Rydon used Harley Curtain. This setup is not unique. Rydon cannot afford the amount of people needed, hence a subcontractor is used. They would work according to the requirements of Rydon. That link is seen with the subsequent links to Celotex and Arconic. So Celotex is the insulator and we saw all those links, yet now the actual cladding remains. ‘Reynobond PE‘, in the end Rydon had to sign off on that, in clarity, at present Rydon is the responsible part (until valid defence is given). You see, when we go to Arconic, we see “Reynobond PE features a polyethylene core that adds strength and rigidity to the coil-coated aluminium panels. This maximizes its flexibility and formability, while maintaining a light weight for easy installation“, you see, when I went to High School (early 70’s) I was told that polyethylene was combustible, it is a common trait in the polymer group as they are all inflammable family members. You see, perhaps it is just me, but the brochure states: ‘building code recognition‘, is that the same as passing a test? The tests Canadian fire tests CAN S101, CAN S102 and CAN S134 are a nice mention, yet the idea that an AMERICAN company is relying on Canadian fire tests got me thinking. I have not found the answer; I am merely puzzled by it. The question is what did Rydon know on that part? They are supposed to be the expected experts, I am not!

The question still gives us a concern, you see the fact that the outside got to play the part of Roman candle is one side, at that point the sprinklers inside the building would have been pretty useless at that point. What is interesting is the mention on page 5 of the brochure: “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high” This is an interesting part because the ‘why‘ comes into play, why only 3 stories? That part becomes a point of discussion, as page three shows a 7 story high building in the images. On page 6 we see the safety rating form flames and smoke as a pass with Class A as per ASTM E84. That part revealed two elements. One is the mention ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, the operative word is ‘horizontal‘, the next one is shown (at https://www.astm.org/Standards/E84.htm), here we see “This test method exposes a nominal 24-ft (7.32-m) long by 20-in. (508-mm) wide specimen to a controlled air flow and flaming fire exposure adjusted to spread the flame along the entire length of the select grade red oak specimen in 51/2 min“, in addition they do not give ‘measurement of heat transmission‘, which seems a pretty important element in VERTICAL applied cladding, as flames tend to ignore gravity and move upwards adding to the temperature, for those extra crispy roasted victims. More important the ‘effect of aggravated flame spread behaviour of an assembly resulting from the proximity of combustible walls and ceilings‘ and as polyethylene is combustible, we now have an issue. From my point of view, if Rydon signed off on this there is an issue. Yet more important, the fact that there is documentation that goes back to 2014 in Australia and there are a number of buildings in London that have this issue, London Town there is a much larger issue in play. Now, we see that everyone is bashing Theresa May, and as she made me no Bundt cake I am fine with that. Yet this is a long term failure. It has an impact on several administrations on both sides of the political aisle. There is a clear call, one made by MP David Lammy in the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/grenfell-tower-fire-corporate-manslaughter-arrests-david-lammy-mp-labour-london-kensington-a7790911.html). I agree that ‘corporate manslaughter‘ is more than a fair call. As the Tottenham Labour MP states this, there is a call for the executives of Rydon to explain and show their elements in all this. They should be in defence mode and it could result in their arrest if clear evidence of negligence is found. The elements I found clearly support that and that is merely the 45 minutes getting through some of the brochures and going through the fire tests. You see, the earlier quote from the Birmingham Mail with ‘met all required standards’ does not hack it in my view. I found three issues in mere minutes, so we either have a systematic failure of government allowing this to continue (even more damning in light of the concerns from the occupants that had been going on for some time), the other side is that underlying communications might or might not exist. There is no way to tell until this is brought into the open. David Lammy might not ‘name’ anyone, but I did, and they should be named. Yet that also means that they can and should defend themselves as they might not be the guilty party, but no matter what, they are to a larger extent, the accountable party until properly investigated. And this is not because I am trying to have a go at Rydon, I want this to come out into the open. The failure that we saw burn is just one of several buildings where cladding has been applied to, and as the train wreck is pushed into the limelight carriage after carriage, only then will we see the complete extent of the failure and there is no ‘walk softly’ that option has been taken away by the dozens of fatalities. A little limelight is the least of the problems these people need to face.

Even as we saw the ‘cost saving‘ there is still going to be a backlash to KCTMO, you see, they made a call on the cheaper option, which might be fair, but why was the ‘other‘ solution cheaper? When those elements are brought to the surface there will be questions as they tend to come, fair or not. This all gets to get political soon thereafter as we saw the ‘reasoning’ of ‘improve the view for nearby luxury flats‘, you see, I am not buying a Versace suit so that I look more appealing to my neighbour. She (and he) can bloody well move to Knightsbridge and get a more expensive view there. Yet, that is just me.

rs5000_productdatasheet_aug16

Reynobond_Brochure

 

5 Comments

Filed under Law, Media, Politics, Science

The hard-line path

Over the last days we have seen an increased voice of extremist call by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. The question now becomes, how will the internal struggle change the game for Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran. The NY Times gives us (at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/world/middleeast/iran-election-hassan-rouhani.html) the issues that play. “He badly needs to demonstrate progress on overhauling the moribund economy”, which is just one of several quotes. Yet the danger is not in the achievements, the issue now is that someone else will get the seat to the presidency in less than 4 years. The optimism could go straight out of the window sooner than we think. The hard-line of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen everywhere and even as President Rouhani is on his last term, the ayatollah is not. The news we see now, the beats and shouting of ‘Saudi Arabia’s rulers faced “certain downfall” for aligning themselves with the US‘, as well as ‘Saudi Arabia is a ‘cow being milked’ by US, says Iran’s supreme leader‘ is now getting a louder view and voice, whilst they are positioning Saudi Arabia as the oppressor of Islamic faith, whilst he throws Bahrain and Yemen into the mix. As we see the news, the issue that President Trump remains in opposition of Iran, causes additional worries. Unless the US is willing to go into a direct war with Iran, the only thing their diplomatic corps is achieving is to set the population against the US, in this what was regarded as a moderate, President Rouhani is now on the edge of finding a moderate continuation through a successor, whilst the Ayatollah is finding new ways to instil conservative values, undoing what President Rouhani has achieved. In all this the ‘progressive’ approach of Europe, with their nuclear program for Iran, lifting all sanctions and other ‘path improvements’ are soon to be a new cause for concern. I made that point 2 years ago in my blog when I mentioned the need for caution as the world was still getting past the idea of a post-Ahmadinejad era. I was clear in my warning that no matter how moderate the new president is, the hardliners might get another Ahmadinejad into play, that would change the status by a lot.

In addition, Forbes gave us the following a mere 4 days ago.

  • Sent over 3,000 to the gallows and escalated domestic crackdown,
  • Increased its export of terrorism through Shiite proxies across the Middle East,
  • Boosted the Levant dictator Bashar Assad in his massacring and displacing millions of innocent Syrians,
  • Supported the IRGC in test launching a significant number of ballistic missiles in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and harassing US Navy vessels in international waters,
  • Increasing Tehran’s support for the Afghan Taliban, according to the The Washington Post,
  • Made having dual nationality a threat, as experienced by too many hostages

In addition, we get “For hard-liners and their affiliates — including the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, the judiciary and the Intelligence Ministry — Rouhani is more helpful in achieving their major objectives“, which is given by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy and president of the International American Council.

The question becomes, on how Iran sees facilitation and how they consider it is used by Iran in Europe, because the limitations that hindered serious facilitation by Iran in the past are all but gone. The overly optimistic people (called politicians with a personal agenda), have paved a very dangerous path. They will be in denial, yet the parts that are clearly showing is that President Rouhani has been more and more outspoken in certain regards, which as the president of Iran he should be allowed to do, yet it is an extremely outspoken anti-Saudi Arabia view. This is happening whilst the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has now finished a third underground missile production factory. And whilst I note upfront that I have no ballistic experience, which means that I am not an Aussie electrician (jab at: ‘Aussie electrician charged with helping IS develop missile capabilities’), yet what some sources have not mentioned is that the commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, is the very same person who boasted rocket aid to Hezbollah as well as the mention that the Iranian missiles can reach Israel. In addition, we have the threat: “Hajizadeh explained that if the Zionist regime attacks Iran, it will be destroyed. He said, “If those people make a move, it will hand us a justification to wipe them off the face of the earth“, this part actually needs additional footnotes. The link is at https://www.juancole.com/2012/07/hajizadeh-if-israel-attacks-iran-it-will-be-destroyed.html, and it is good to read as it addresses a few issues. In all this Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh gives a clear address to a reaction, with the reinforced ‘when Israel attacks’, so the General states to only act in retaliation, he states he would not act in a first strike. I can accept that, although my rusty Arabic is set at 0%, so if the original text was a recipe to make spicy lamb, I would not be able to tell the difference. Yet in all this, the subterfuge will be missed. Even as we accept that the General is a devoted Muslim with a love for his country and a devotion to live to highest standards, how many hard-line Iranians would it take to create the wrong intelligence and the missiles would get fired towards Tel Aviv anyway? Do not even consider that this cannot happen, with a closed system and with Iranians that have the mental drive that Ahmadinejad had, how many would it take to set the system to give the decision makers the wrong intel? America has had its share of miss-presentations. Perhaps some of you remember Colin Powell and his suitcase with evidence of weapons of mass destruction in 2003. How did that go over? The reality is that Iran has an environment where the hardliners get to be in power again and again. Whenever that is not the case, there is enough time to debunk and diminish the work that moderate minded Iranians achieve. As there is a military power core, a religious power core and a political power core, it requires only two hardliners too grab the power via elections. We already know that the Ayatollah is a devout hardliner, which means that they are one step away from another hard-line elected rule. This is the reality that was and Europe has opened up additional paths for that future to return in the future, intentional or not does not matter.

This all matters in a second phase too. Even as we see news by tabloids and not by actual newspapers, the news given is that Jeremy Corbyn, the man who wants to be in charge of Labour UK and is electable, that person attended a ceremony honouring terrorists, the wreath was laid at the grave of one of the PLO terrorists that killed the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes, all killed during the 1972 Olympics at Munich. The fact that it is in several tabloids is why i am mentioning it. The issue in addition is why the actual newspapers have no mention of it. The sun gives us ‘FRIENDS LIKE THESE Jeremy Corbyn called banned terror group Hamas ‘serious and hard-working’ after admitting attending wreath-laying ceremony for Palestinian killer‘, so as I am in some confusion on why anyone wants to be that stupid, the fact that multiple sources are making mention on it, the larger danger becomes on why anyone would allow Jeremy Corbyn to get elected, especially as he gives ‘value‘ to a terrorist organisation, so as we now wonder who is briefing him and who would be this stupid. I am trying to make very sure that I am not facilitating fake news. There is additional evidence as he the Telegraph gives additional links to Channel 4 news (2015 event). Whenever I try to go deeper, they seem to refer to the 2015 event. This now calls to question on how Corbyn got to be in charge of the Labour in the first place. It should make the party feel really happy. The fact that it now reaches the limelight again seems to be political gaming, yet the worry is real, do you want someone in charge who gives voice to a group that is regarded as a terrorist group in several nations. Even as MI5 is looking into the events before the Manchester bombing and what signals are missed, the UK is now contemplating setting the person who put a wreath at the grave of one of the Munich murderers at the helm of Britannia. it is like making Alex DeLarge minister of Justice (Clockwork Orange reference). It seems like really not the best way to go about making Britain stronger. Yet in all this, there is an underlying pressure. You see, these elements unite as there is a push to find a way to make the UK-Iran link a stronger one. As the UK peers urge to make these policies stronger and better, the report gives within the title ‘Time for New Realism‘, in this as additional ties to Palestine are called for, the UK is setting the unique part in distancing itself more from the US in an anti-Trumpism move, yet in addition, it will create a wall between the UK and Israel. The report has loads of wisdoms, and even propagates my own view in different words. As they state: “We have a new and uncertain American policy in the region…We can no longer assume America will set the tone for the West’s relationship with the Middle East“, which was voiced by me differently as I stated in the past: “The United States is no longer a superpower, with the national debt (now at $20 trillion) setting the stage of labelling the United States as a bankrupt nation“. Its inability to set a proper economic stage has left the United States with a lack of options. there is little cause to take notice on what the United States administration shouts as it cannot afford any actions, this is also what North Korea seems to realise as it commences missile test after test, with test missiles entering Japanese territorial waters (Sea of Japan). As Japan urges China to act, which we could consider to be an act by a nation as bankrupt as the United states are, we need to also realise that China is an actual superpower and Japan is not. As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed actions, we will need to see what actions the Japanese will actually take, the 3rd US nuclear aircraft carrier now entering North Korean waters, we also see that the US is opting for sanctions and diplomatic pressures. We can assume that this is the best way to go about it and the question is for how much longer, the second speculated reason is that the US has no other options available. With the Syrian escalations still in place, getting into any war on multiple fronts is something only Napoleon succeeded in. Oh wait, no he did not, it was the end of Napoleon, having a theatre of war on multiple shores is a really bad idea, so that is also a thought to consider, but that realisation comes with the premise that unless China acts, North Korea can do whatever it wants (for now). So as we see several nations play what we call the hard line, the UK is setting the stage but is wisely playing a cautious game until after the elections, in addition, the UK peers are giving out a report that requires a shift in actions and thinking. We can oppose this, but as this report comes from the 0.1% most intelligent persons of the UK, ignoring that report is a really bad idea (read: utterly stupid path to follow), so as we get to know that report better and better, my initial thought is on how to create a really strong bridge with Israel, because if pro-Palestinian dialogues begin, there will be the need of diplomatic handholding (not in a romantic way). It is not merely because this world is not as small as we sometimes think it is. So as we see that the Brexit path is opening new terrain and in addition new paths to grow economies, we are left with the notion that as some think that the hard-line is the best path, we must realise that it is not the only path and there is much work that could be achieved, it remains a question how far it gets us all, but that is usually the notion of another path, it could open new terrain for all and in addition, there is an upside as the EU is following the US path for however long they can the others can look and evolve new options never before offered. I am still hesitant to consider any connection to Iran, yet the letting that fear stopping me from seeing where that could get us all is equally stupid. the power of fear is for many just too overwhelming. The problem then becomes, especially in light of Manchester, is the move a wise one?

Time will tell! Sometimes it is just that simple!

 

1 Comment

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

No Health Statements

This is not the first time that we see a level of anger non-management in regards to the NHS and the medical staff. The proclaimed shortages and a government in denial over these elements. Whilst the DMG Media papers (among others) have had their fun day. The messages concerning the NHS are increasing all over the place and when we start reading about the  ‘The worst conditions in memory’, we know that we have come to that place also known as rock bottom.

This in contrast of messages like: ‘Hospital pays £1,800 for an agency nurse to work a single shift‘, April 5th 2014 (at Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597442/Hospital-pays-1-800-agency-nurse-work-single-shift-thats-163-hour.html), Paul Dacre and ‘his’ DMG media. It is not the only case, there was a similar story on July 30th of that same year. The Telegraph gives us a similar story on January 19th 2013. This in contrast with real newspapers, namely the Guardian who voices (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/01/nhs-spending-agency-nurses-cuts) ‘NHS spending on agency nurses soars past £5.5bn‘, with the second line giving us ‘Government accused of ‘truly incompetent planning’ after years of training cuts push cost of temporary staff way over budget‘, this is a situation that affects both sides of the isle as it wasn’t started by this conservative government, it started before 2010. Neither side of the political isle has given proper vision to the pressures building, and this current government is now watching from the sides as they need to find £25bn. That number is actually pretty easy to see.

Staff shortage, overhaul of equipment, shortage of infrastructure and an overhaul of the infrastructure to protect it from this ever happening again. In this we have two elements. The first is that the press is partial to blame in all this. Consider the speech by Paul Dacre “a kind of show trial in which the industry was judged guilty and had to prove its innocence” (source: betterratailing.com). I like the news in the Spectator even better with “unremitting pressure of fighting what I have no doubt was a concerted attempt by the Liberal Establishment, in cahoots with Whitehall and the Judiciary, to break the only institution in Britain that is genuinely free of Government control – the commercially viable free press“. Yet, Paul Dacre sold out his readers in an instant as he kept quiet on the changed user agreements PSN users were forced to agree to, just a mere 10 days before the release of the Sony PlayStation 4. In that, as I personally see it, he kept the people out of the loop. So as the commercially viable free press is betraying its readers. Possible because he had to orally please the ears of Sony? How can we have any faith on anything we read regarding the NHS, especially when it is coming from DMG Media? You see, the issues are very much linked. The people have been made aware again and again that people like this cannot be trusted. It is Stephen Fry who brings the best definition of the Daily Mail “the only good thing to be said about his Mail is that no one decent or educated believes in it“, which is pretty much spot on, and the news the Guardian gives us regarding: “Paul Dacre steps down from the post of Chairman of the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, which he had held since 2008” (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/01/paul-dacre-to-step-down-as-chair-of-journalists-code-of-practice-committee) is only the smallest of positive messages, even as he attacks it on the way out. Yet the Mail Online, which is owned by the mother company DMG media has had a long line of issues, among others with Tom Cruise as he was identified in a relationship between ‘Tom Cruise and the head of the church of scientology, David Miscavige‘, which might or might not be a big thing, what was the issue that the publishers were unable to defend themselves and even as we see ‘diplomatic’ responses like ‘Mail Online had failed to demonstrate that it had complied with its obligations under the first clause of the editors’ code on accuracy’, and as Editors’ Code of Practice Committee is part of IPSO, and they administered ‘penalties’ on a DMG Media sibling, the news that the Guardian gave “Regulator to reconsider whether the editors’ code, and its rules, can apply to a global digital publisher” (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/jul/19/ipso-review-after-mail-online-fails-to-defend-tom-cruise-story), so at this level of ‘contemplation’, something I personally tend to see as ‘inbreeding’, they are contemplating ‘a commercially viable free press‘. Are you freaking kidding me?

This sidestep is essential, because if it does not come from the Guardian, the Independent or the Times, we cannot be certain of anything nowadays, so as we lash out against the NHS, its governance and the consequences its patients face, we seem to be spurred into a false sense of righteousness as we kept on reading regarding those £225 an hour nursing jobs, which should be seen as misrepresentation of the highest order! The Telegraph isn’t helping any as they publish that the NHS now has access to Artificial Intelligence (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/01/05/nhs-trials-artificial-intelligence-app-place-111-helpline/).

The part that the Telegraph does show that is important is “Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “I find this quite frightening. People who are ill want a person they can speak to. Typing in your own symptoms and waiting for a result is just ridiculous – what happens if you make a mistake?”“, which is just the tip of the iceberg.

The issues seem to escalate and there are a few players in this dramatic comedy that have to explain their reasoning. I am clear in ‘explain’ because there are sides that I am unaware of, to boast not being unaware of anything is utterly irresponsible. Before I go into the separate points. I did make a case on several levels with ‘The UK NHS is fine‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/20/the-uk-nhs-is-fine/), and an even stronger case with ‘Is there a doctor on this budget?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/02/15/is-there-a-doctor-on-this-budget/).

Staff shortage.
It is the easiest one to solve, but cannot be solved overnight. Yet the shortages have been known for close to 4 years, so what has been done over the last 4 years to address these shortages?

Overhaul of equipment, Professor Angus Dalgleish has been outspoken in the past in several ways, mentioning the budget of the NHS not in the smallest way. We know that George Osborne had cut the budget by 1 billion, which in light of the shortages was a bad idea, the question is, was it avoidable, if not, how can the NHS move forward? With the current unemployment levels, how come it is still so hard to recruit nurses and doctors? I myself have had a lifelong interest in Radiology and Anaesthesiology. I am not alone in this, although in the 70’s when I was initially studying, getting into law or medicine was only possible if your parents were wealthy or if they were in law or medicine (meaning that they were wealthy). Now consider what the governments have done over the last 2 decades. I am giving that frame because we have known for at least 20 years that there was an aging generation coming up. Now the press at large seems to be blaming the immigrants, they might be as factor, yet they are not the main cause. A UK parliament going all the way back to Tony Blair should be seen as responsible for this. Those words are very specific. You see, when we look at the NHS expenditure history (at http://www.nhshistory.net/parlymoney.pdf), we see that in 2004/5 and 2006/7, Under Labour Tony Blair, the expenditure takes a massive hit, it is after that during Conservative David Cameron that expenditure goes straight into the basement, both sides fell short whilst both groups knew that the increased pressure from 2013 onwards would be strangling any budget as the NHS gets to deal with an aging population moving into retirement and an increased need for health care. None of it got properly dealt with by any parliament. In this, a rough estimate would be that the UK needs to hire no less than an additional 2,000 students a year for no less than 7 years to get anywhere near the numbers we will need in 8 years’ time, because the current shortage will increase. Perhaps parliament should take additional looks at places like the Royal College of Physicians (https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/), we can agree that quality needs to be high, Yet when your annual tuition fee is set at £23,190 with an additional college Fee of £7,350 there will not be much appreciation on an international level, unless it is for private practice and that is where the NHS luck runs out, in addition, for the ‘locals’, £9,250 annually is still a big ticket, especially in today’s financial uncertainty. Consider the fact that this goes on for 4 years (the NHS is mentioned in several places to cover years 5 and 6), still, the average student will end up owning over £37,000 before they are actually earning anything and by the time they start earning enough to pay some back, the houses and their prices come across the corner, so these people too will try to find a commercially viable place. Perhaps they will go into journalism? Which is an issue as Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail (read: DMG Media) and Jane Dacre (President of the Royal College of Physicians) are related to one another, so I can only speculate with the question whether the Daily Mail news and Mail Online and others are setting a stage that is leaving a foul taste in my mouth. Now we all know that there are plenty of other sources making statements in the open, yet I cannot wonder if there is a sorted wave of misrepresentation of information is going on. We all know that there is an issue and that the NHS is in serious trouble, yet it requires drastic changes and a vocation that attracts many yet nearly null can afford is still a vocation with no staff.

Shortage of infrastructure.
This is seen in two sections, the people and the technology. Both are in a failed state. Even as plenty of people are looking for jobs, it seems that the infrastructure is under pressure as well. A cut budget as George Osborne had put in place is in addition incrementally debilitating to the NHS infrastructure shortage. Now in this I am not placing blame on George Osborne. The UK got themselves into a £1.7 trillion debt, the NHS is only one side of a national infrastructure that needs a budget, whilst the previous administrations have been burning their budgets like there is no tomorrow, the point has been reached where government credit cards are all maxed out, so finally budgets get cut hard all over the place. The NHS was not the first and will not be the last to suffer near death symptoms for some time to come. Unless parliament takes drastic steps and starts to change the way things are done and perceived there won’t be anything left.

Overhaul of the infrastructure.
The NHS infrastructure requires a massive overhaul, the NHS has to some degree failed itself. This isn’t just about cut budgets, this is about the essential need for hospitals to be lean and mean (read: not average). Processes need to change, the objectives of hospitals need to change. Larger implementations are required that deals a blow to the posts that have too large a cost. One if the implementations would be that alcohol and/or drug related injuries are no longer treated unpaid and only treatment when upfront payments are placed. It will be the first harsh response to binge drinking. It was stated a year ago that binge drinking is costing UK taxpayers £4.9 billion a year, which boiled down to almost £13.5 million a day. Now the researcher set that it equates to £77 per person, so in my view, any alcohol and drug related treatment will be set at £60 per treatment up front. Those who cannot afford it (spent their money on booze and drugs) simply get to wait outside until that bad feeling is gone (or they can die and decrease the surplus population, source: Charles Dickens). It is my personal view that it will take no more than 1000 deaths for people to realise that binge drinking needs to get to an end. This is actually small fry compared to Australia where the annual tally of costing is set to $36 billion and when we accept that the currency is only slightly below 2:1, whilst the population is set to 1:3 (only 23 million in Australia) we can honestly state that Australia is in a much bigger mess than the UK and if the UK adopts certain policies, Australia is likely to follow quite quickly.

If these three parts can be addressed, there will still be a dangerous time for the NHS, but there is also the option that the NHS will move away from near death to extremely sick and hopefully the death of the NHS will be averted. The alternative is to put faith in the aging population to throw their numbers in another direction. You see, at present, the death rate is down. Over the last 10 years it went down on average by almost 14%, so if the elderly could be so nice to do an about face and start dying more increasingly (like an annual average of 2,500 elderly per year), we would see a diminished drain on the NHS, housing prices more affordable, you see the benefit, right? Now, if you feel that this is so inhumane, than this is the lesson you now get to face.

To have a social civil society, or a civil social society, you need to be certain that you can afford to maintain it. As the political parties gave the keys of non-taxability to large corporations, the first step in having no budget was reached, as these players had no taxation, they still would try to find every corner to cut costs. So the car industry moved, fashion production went to places like Malaysia and Indonesia and sales went online via places like Ireland. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that jobs would decrease and governments would no longer have a budget to play with, this is what we see in nearly EVERY nation on the planet, whilst the senior management places in corporations on a global scale left those few with more money than ever before and they do not need health statements, their incomes allow for their private physician with a nurse for the happy ending.

In all this, is this a story of hope? I am not certain, you see, unless draconian drastic changes come along, it might actually be too late for the NHS, merely because of the oldest triangle in existence. I am referring to the triangle of Places, Provisions and People. Any government and corporation can undercut one element for a longer time without consequence, for a short time you can undercut two elements with minimum consequences, yet there is no chance for survival when you undermine all three for anything longer than a really short amount of time. This is what has been done to the NHS for no less than 10 years, that whilst all the players knew that the pressure and needs of the NHS would increase and will continue to do so for no less than 10-20 years. What did you expect would happen to the NHS under those conditions?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics