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It’s a bulletpoint

We all have these days. We have moments where we are confronted with superiors (or bosses) who seem to be able to do anything based on a one page memo that is drenched in bullet-points. It was an almost Neanderthal moment in management when those (getting tertiary education) were all brought up with the belief system that a memo is one page (which I can partially agree with), yet that memo should merely consist bullet-points that bring the goods.

I always thought of that part as an absolute load of bollocks. I can agree that sometimes luck works in our favour and that is exactly what happens, they are however rare. You see, the bullet-point might be correct to some extent, but you can only see part of the view with bullet-points. An actual tactical or strategic business setting is properly set in a SWOT analyses. If it is a serious action, that is what you need, because the boss requires the opportunity, yet he must also know the threat and the weakness. Some decisions are merely based on the balance of merits; do the strengths and opportunity outweigh the weakness and threat? That is the game we face in most business ventures and as they move forward. The Netflix balance, the ‘Nine+Fairfax=NEC’ setting, the setting that we saw in Natixis, Ubisoft and Verizon. The last one is apparently not focussing on big Mergers, that is, until we get the allegedly implied news in upcoming October, when in the black out period of Verizon Hans Vestberg will make an interesting announcement. This is not merely about the ‘fast-growing global market‘, this will be about the upper hand and those with the data will have the upper hand, plain and simple.

So when we go back to 2018, where the state of the union treated us to ‘President Trump claiming the military defeat of ISIS‘, yes, also I have a bridge to sell you, nice view of the Tower of London, going cheap! In that same setting we see the New Yorker giving us: “Trump was holding a press conference, a few blocks away, with the Presidents of the three Baltic states. He was visibly angry when asked about Syria. “I want to get out,” he said, his voice rising. “I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation. We will have, as of three months ago, spent seven trillion dollars in the Middle East over the last seventeen years. We get nothing—nothing out of it, nothing.” He called it “a horrible thing.”“, here I have to say that he was not entirely incorrect. There is no return on investment. In a war against terrorists, unless you are willing to become, or unleash the monsters, any fight against monsters is a cost, and will remain a cost; there will be no return on investment.

Unless you are willing to properly strike back, this fight will go on and on. The events in the New Yorker were in April 2018, three months after the so proclaimed not really existing victory. The New Yorker brought the news one day after Haaretz gave us: ‘Trump’s White House Says Military Mission to Eradicate ISIS in Syria ‘Coming to Rapid End’‘, a rapid end and not in a good way. Haaretz also emphasises on “Trump said Tuesday that he expects to decide “very quickly” whether to remove U.S. troops from war-torn Syria, saying their primary mission was to defeat the Islamic State group and “we’ve almost completed that task.” Trump’s national security team is advising against a hasty withdrawal even as he makes his preference clear: “I want to get out.”“. that was the setting in April, now a mere 84 days later we are treated (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/25/dozens-dead-suicide-attack-syria-sweida-isis) to ‘Surprise Isis attacks leave more than 200 dead in south-west Syria‘, several credit cards will not charge interest the first 90 days, not ISIS, the interest was served quick, to the point and basically deadly precise. The by-line giving us ‘Suicide bombers strike targets in Sweida city and launch simultaneous raids on nearby villages‘. That is the setting less than 24 hours ago and the directness of the attacks imply that we will see more over the next 4 days. This is not a quick hit and run, this is a message to President Trump that his Trumpet is false and full of lies.

As we are confronted with “The militants are also believed to have kidnapped dozens of people and taken them back to their hideouts. Local sources said the attacks began almost simultaneously in the early hours of Wednesday, between 3.50am and 4.30am“, we see a setting of coordination, creativity and direct action. Not merely proving that the State of the Union setting was wrong, it is a setting that implies that a lot more resources are required. In addition, it also proves that we need to shift gears and reactivate the monsters that can take care of business. This is not the theater of Chicago windy city makers; this is the battleground of people like Academi and the Wagner group. Yes, there is a case where it might be better that the actual governmental military organisations do the work, but it seems that America did not have the stomach for it, the Europeans and NATO are locked in everlasting debates and Israel is eager to stop it all, but that means a direct was with Syria, which it prefers not to be in. So there are not too many options at present. Even as the media at large is setting the stage on a Putin-Trump option, we see in equal measure on how Assad won and Trump is fine with that. We get loads of writing, but none of it reflects a solution and with all the papers all printing the same photo, all claiming a death count that is somewhere between 200-220 we are told that the count is high, yet they do not give us that this happened 35 Km from Jordan, 90 Km from Damascus and 90 Km from Israel. I think that the message from ISIS is clear. There is an issue; ISIS is still a player in the region and yes, from all we can tell ISIS with this one act melvined President Trump pretty much on the spot.

Yet everyone’s question will be how to counter this and deal with ISIS. From my point of view we see a setting that cannot be resolved the way it has been, it requires a different scope of activities and a very different level of investigation and intelligence analyses. That evidence is seen in the way the surprise attack went through and pretty much every part of it was a success (form the ISIS point of view), giving is to wonder how incomplete the current level of intelligence data is to begin with. We were aware that there is too much intelligence ego in Syria (or Iraq for that matter). Even now, in the last few months as sources go out and admit (or proclaim) intelligence failures in Israel, the US, NATO et al. Even as the Syrian nuclear reactor is the most visible one, the quality of the workers gathering the data, often in am allegedly precarious double agent setting tend to be not the greatest sources of intelligence. A less reliable source is seen in open source intelligence where we can get a taste of some things happening, but for the most the reliability is too low to be of operational use, even after the facts deeper digging tends to show issues that after the fact seemingly it could only have contributed towards failure, not towards success.

Iran is the second setting where some go from the balance of probability in a algorithm setting that dictates the tactical push forward, yet the people involved tend to forget the oldest IT setting in any data analytical collective where the protocols of GIGO are in effect, a given law that dates back to 1982 when I was in the Middle East for my own adventure. I always see (or better stated I have seen too often) that the officer’s response of GIGO would be: ‘some of it can be used‘, yet the setting Garbage In Garbage Out is merely the setting that as Garbage was accepted, all data involved becomes tainted, or is tainted. Those who bring you ‘some of it can be used‘, tend to rely on the creation of truths by aggregating false flags. So the setting where: ‘he never relies on computers’, we get ‘must create notes on their intelligence’. The one setting where he does not use computers because the person was dyslexic was overlooked. Aggregated data can be useful against the singular observation in a timeline, it gives the unit against the volume, but if one false flag was false, the others lose value and the column setting is no longer reliable. GIGO is devastatingly simple and pretty much always a given truth (or is that a confirmed non-false?), yes, I am at times that funny.

this now takes us to a setting almost three weeks ago in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/07/09/russia-and-the-u-s-have-common-interests-in-syria-but-it-may-not-matter), where we see: “Last week, national security adviser John Bolton said that the meeting could offer a “larger negotiation on helping to get Iranian forces out of Syria” and that an agreement could be “a significant step forward” for U.S. interests in the Middle East“, it is a statement that I cannot agree with. You see, even as Iran in Syria is an issue for Russia, it is not the same where Iran is an American problem, pure and simple. Russia has a setting where it wants to waste as much of the resources that NATO and America have, plain and simple. There is plenty of data proving that. I have nothing against John Bolton, I do not know the man, but I know he has been out of ‘circulation’ for almost 12 years. He is however not that devious. He sails a straight course (a commendable setting), in this he was always against the Iranian deal, he has been advocating regime change for both Iran and North Korea. It does not matter whether he is neoconservative, pro-American, or a nationalist. The settings that are clearly out and visible is that he has placed his country before his personal interests again and again and that is always a good thing (a lesson Democrats should learn at some point), yet when we look at Politico (at https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/25/bolton-cabinet-meetings-mattis-pompeo-trump-740429), he is also doing something dangerous. It is seen in part with: ‘Cabinet chiefs feel shut out of Bolton’s ‘efficient’ policy process‘, followed by “Defense Secretary James Mattis has gone so far as to draft a letter requesting the national security adviser hold more gatherings of agency and department chiefs“, this is followed by ““He doesn’t want to ‘meeting’ an issue to death,” said one White House official. “He wants to make the bureaucratic process more efficient so that decisions can be made at the principals level.” But across the U.S. national security establishment, there’s a growing sense of a breakdown in the policy process since Bolton took over the National Security Council on April 9“. From where I am sitting, it creates a different friction. The different stations always had their own way of registering intelligence and it is in the misinterpretation of each of the used Thesaurus, that is where the data gap is starting to form, an international data point is not seen the same by the NSA, DIA and CIA. This gets me to my party favourite, what is another word for ‘Thesaurus‘? It is funny when you think of it, because as there is no synchronicity between Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA Gina Cheri Haspel and National Security Advisor John Bolton, they only think there is synchronised thinking (they nearly always do). So now we have the hats of the big cheeses in a similar direction, but not in the same direction, it gives us the issue that there are losses, losses in intelligence, losses in data and losses in translations, and lets not forget an overall loss of quality. That tends to be a much larger problem, and that problem will hit the desk of Director of the FBI Christopher Wray a little sooner than he bargained for. It also sets a very dangerous precedent. You see, it is mishaps like this that caused the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. I see it as a setting where people that need to act are getting more than one version because of the lacking intelligence cohesion, which was never great to begin with is now in a setting of decay. I get where John Bolton is at, but the red tape has one setting which is intelligence quality, that is now too in a stage where the Dodo went. You see, the politico quote ‘cutting unnecessary bureaucratic red tape, pushing the nitty-gritty discussions to lower levels‘ shows the foundation of a good thing, but pushing certain issues to a lower level also means that the accountability and responsibility is brought down, whilst at the same stage, the essential lack of security clearance at that level also stops optional security leaks and as such some information will not be available at lower levels. So if ISIS decides to become surprisingly creative again and we see in a future news setting that they decided to visit Al-Umawyeen St, Amman, Jordan, We will see an entirely new escalation, one that President Trump cannot walk away from, in equal measure, if the changes by John Bolton enabled that scenario, we will see another setting where a National Security Advisor will immediately go into retirement and focus on his family life (the present assigned young-ling is 69 after all, so that excuse will be readily accepted).

So the shorting of the memo’s relying on bullet points, whilst setting the strategic placement of people to be placed at the point of a bullet is not so far-fetched, is it? Even as we will soon see that this gets paraded as a once off event, a rare option where ISIS got lucky. Remember that this was not merely an explosion. It was that, in addition the abduction of people and activities in other places as well that it all went down at the SAME TIME. It was not merely coordination; it required funds, facilitation of events and goods that were available at the right time. Should you consider my folly (never a bad thing to do), consider the one setting that we did not get to see in the news. The distance from the Zaatari Refugee camp to Al-Umawyeen St, Amman, Jordan is a mere 60,224 metres; I have actually walked that distance, so when we consider the dangers in place and we accept that there are ISIS sympathisers in Zaatari (we do not know how many), the one issue that the US cannot allow for is any more miscommunication between intelligence operations. On the plus side, if it does happen, Hollywood can do another movie, John Krasinsky was awesome in the Benghazi story, and he could prepare his Jordanian language skills if he reprises his role at: The Markaz, Arts Center for the Greater Middle East 1626 N. Wilcox Ave, Suite 702 Los Angeles, CA 90028.

You see there is something in this setting for everyone, whilst me successfully avoiding bullet points until the very end, how crazy was that?

#BulletPointsAreAlwaysInaccurate

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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.

 

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Another opinion

Today is about something I read yesterday. It was an opinion piece in the Guardian. The title ‘How to stop Google and Facebook from becoming even more powerful‘ sounds all nice and sexy, but is that what we want? The subtitle ‘Banning these tech giants from buying any more companies would prevent them from entrenching their monopoly position – and help protect our freedom‘ is nothing that I am taking too seriously. The ‘freedom’ of people is too often being hindered by other means. The fact that IBM and Microsoft have had such places of power for decades shows me to be right to a larger extent. Freedom is a dangerous ploy to use to get things your way, but the players (not merely the writers of the opinion piece) have played this game before and they played it well. He has played the fear mongering card often and he knows how to play it. When it came to the new tax reform bill we hear “Kennedy believes reducing taxes on businesses could allow them the funding to hire more people and raise wages“, yet in equal measure it does not stop companies to pour it all into the bonus of the members of those boards of directors. So getting back to the Guardian, it is the part “a fundamental problem that Facebook and Google cannot solve on their own; these institutions are designed to gather vast amounts of information about every American, but they are not built to manage that information in the interest of those individuals or the public as a whole, such as by preventing Russian hackers from targeting propaganda at specific voters“, he mixes up a few elements and hopes that fear and anti-communism does the rest. When we see ‘not built to manage that information‘, we are forgetting the fact that they do not need to do this to the degree he proclaims, because if that is so, Facebook could have just given the data dump to the NSA, couldn’t they? The systems are more and more automated and the people decide what to like and what or who to follow. You see, Facebook has become more and more granular into finding populations on whom to advertise to, who to address and who to invite towards the groups that some seek. It was their version to counter Google AdWords, a freedom of speech that is protected in the USA in the first amendment and as such free speech goes overboard (like on steroids). The US did this to set up the failed dominos against Brexit, they went so far that the former President of the United States was stupid enough to speak out the political issues of another nation, whilst everyone knew that this was largely about corporate greed, the benefit of large corporations, their status quo now endangered in Europe. So how long until that same freedom is used by everyone else to push whatever agenda they had? That is the danger (or is that the consequence of free speech), because those liberals wanted to take accountability out of the equation, the people became entangled into a stream of feeble minded needs and rights in moving towards the waterfalls of too much data and information, call it death by spam drowning us in every device we have. It gets worse as we can often no longer tell between real information and sponsored words, they all use the same template and they all use Facebook to get their view across, merely because it is the largest player.

In this we get to the next part, because the story gets a nice twist, one that can be used against the corporations and against the US. You see with “how to ensure Google, Facebook and the other giant platform monopolists truly serve the political and commercial interests of the American people“, in this we see the countering by 96% of the population of this planet, because the US is only 4% in all this (this planets population that is) and as such any move could be used as evidence to remove all tax breaks from those corporations outside of America because discriminating for one nations will take them away from global consideration for all others. That was a stupid move in all this by those working for John Kennedy. As I see it there should never be a political interest, because you will always oppose 50% of that one consideration. The laws of no accountability took care of that part. There can be no political interest; there can merely be the option and opportunity to facilitate to any and all political needs and political information, in this digital age is there another way? Perhaps there is one but I am pretty sure that I cannot think of any that stops others in one way or another, which is the foundation of discrimination. So, by giving all the players in this a chance to show their case, and getting their interests across, we cater to some level of fairness. In this, there is no actual fairness and no real political catering, there will be merely political discrimination in one form or another and such forms of discrimination will merely hinder a much larger group of people to find the facts and to decide for themselves where they stand. This is the entrenched future of non-accountable free speech, and as for the commercial interest of the American people? In my view that is a group that is even more hollow than any other group. The commercial interest of the American people changes with almost every voice you hear. The bulk not in greed, but in support to feed and give their family a future, but they do not get to have a real voice. The voices that decide on it are merely greed driven and it is about their personal greed, not that of their nation. So by catering to ‘the commercial interests of the American people‘ they are merely catering to greed, unchecked, unregulated and outside of many legal settings that limits greed. That makes the entire opinion piece interesting because the piece in my mind seems to oppose what is good for the people. Now, we can argue that Google is slightly greedy by the prices they set with their Pixel 2, yet they are still decently cheaper than both Samsung and Apple, for what the people get they get it for hundreds of dollars cheaper than the new Apple X, so it seems that Google is catering to the American people by offering a top range device for a lot less than its competitor. How is that a bad business model? As it comes to data, the people of the world have been offered most of all of it at no charge, for 2 decades the people were able to search what we needed to find, in opposition, we see Bing (by Microsoft) to offer some limited version of this. A version made by someone who was better off being brain-dead at birth. By catering to the people by filtering through assumption we never get what we needed. So as I see it, the continuation of Google is a lot more essential than American politicians are comfortable with. For Facebook there is another part that the piece illuminates. The view of “For one thing, there is no doubt these corporations qualify for antitrust regulation. Facebook, for instance, has 77% of mobile social networking traffic in the United States, with just over half of all American adults using Facebook every day” is part of it. Now I get it that these people are merely looking at the American side. Yet Facebook has a lot more. When we accept: “Facebook has more than a billion active users: The platform has 1.71 billion monthly active users and 1.13 billion daily active users, on average. Facebook boasts 1.57 billion mobile monthly active users and 1.03 million mobile daily active users, on average” we see that the American population is below 15% of all Facebook users. America has become part of a global community and that is scaring the politicians in America a lot more than anything else. You see the people are starting to learn on how they were sold some cheap package and their quality of life has gone out the window.
Now everyone is out in arms and as Google and Facebook are largely truly independent the politicians and certain ‘captains of industry‘ can’t push for their personal needs. Now they are trying to take off the gloves and see if they can punch their way upwards. Their desperation shows even better with “Nearly all new online advertising spending goes to just Facebook and Google, and those two companies refer over half of all traffic to news websites“. You see until the early 2000’s the advertisement space was a joke, a few people has ludicrous prices and the papers lived of advertisements. People were often unable to promote their business because the prices were ridiculous, hundreds of dollars for a small image and a few words. Hoping someone would read it. Google decided that they could do better and they decided to make something affordable, suddenly everyone could afford to show their place and/or product for mere dollars, not for hundreds of dollars to a specific larger audience than ever before. In less than 8 years the print advertisement has become almost a wash, the advertisers are targeting THEIR audience and those others, who wanted to milk their systems for the maximum time are now out of a job, out of a business because they were all about the Status Quo. So now we see the writers of this opinion piece “Barry Lynn is the Executive Director of the Open Markets Institute. Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Institute” advocating opposition to a world they and their peers created. You see the corporate world is a lot larger than these two players. Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Verizon and Cardinal Health. None of them are mentioned. This gives a more and more critical view that these two players are trying to get global visibility because their tune is getting old and tired in the US, or is that New America as they call it? And none are mentioning General Electric in all this. There are true boogeymen in America who are wrestling in on the American Quality of Life; the weird this is that is the one element that Google and Facebook are not inhibiting. So if it is truly about growing America, would having a go at the other players be more important? Well we can argue against that with the quote “Seven years ago, Google paid $700m for a company called ITA that provides software for the travel industry. The Department of Justice approved the deal on the condition that Google keep access to the software open to other businesses for at least 5 years. This year, Google closed that access“, so as I read it, the industry had 5 years to make something equal or better to the ITA software. So where is that software now? We have seen for decades that software can be vultured on for a lot less, but that always comes with an end date. So as there is no alternative, no new software those people will just have to go to Google. This is a simple world. You either have the product we need, or we get it somewhere else. Yet in the end you still need to bring a product to the table. We saw this as WordPerfect was pushed out of the world and MS Word remained. It was done to Lotus by Excel and the least said about the predecessors of PowerPoint the Better (although some were impressively cool and better than what we have now). Even in Databases, Access was the most inferior product. Now who remembers dBase, SuperBase or FoxBase? So this is not the first time it happens, so why cry now? In my view it is not about the people writing it, it is about the businesses who are now being pushed out of the market because the Status Quo days are over and the people want to know what is actually happening and they are more likely to hear that from Google and Facebook that they will from Bing and friends. Now I agree that there are issues on several levels and improvements are needed, but we know that this is work in progress. In my view it started a long time ago. When we allowed the glossy news from certain publishers go forth with innuendo and advertisements go through, whilst not having to pay GST (read: VAT) on their product, they saw a nice little loophole to gain a lot more. This is how some people like Rupert Murdoch really made a bundle. Newspapers, magazines and other printed issues. Now it is going Digital at 0.1% of the cost, so the numbers of players in this field are growing almost exponentially and fake news is becoming a problem. Not just for the people bringing the news, but in equal measure any support player connected to it and it is the first and most visible play on ‘free speech’ going over the edge. All because no one in America wanted to entertain the actual need for accountability.

This is merely another opinion in all this and you will need to decide for yourself if my view is valid or not. And before you lash out against Google and Facebook (something I have done in the past and will do so again in the future), consider, did they cost you money, did they ask you to pay or did they give you options at $0? Now we know they get their money in other ways, but it has not cost us anything. So why cry? It seems to me that the Open Markets Institute has its own agenda, I am merely wondering if it was about open markets or about markets for friends who are losing their markets because they were unwilling to move forward. It is merely a view I am considering. It is up to you to decide what you think is actually going in. And when you pay $650 (+$299 for Apple care in addition) more for your new iPhone , $650 (or $949) more than its competitor, what that because it was really that much better, was it because of some proclaimed open market or was it because of something else?

It’s your opinion (read: your point of view) and you get to decide!

 

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Prognosticated WaterhouseCoopers

I forgot what fun it is to go up against PwC, I missed slapping them around and the article ‘Netflix and Amazon ‘will overtake UK cinema box office spending by 2020’‘ was a mighty fine reason. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jun/14/netflix-amazon-uk-cinema-box-office-film-dvd-blu-ray-pwc) gives us a few things. The title is fine, I have no issue with that and there is every reason to believe that this is true. I always prefer and love to watch the big screen, but I know that I am a majority here. It is the subtitle that got me. With “Film industry will remain ‘pretty healthy’ but DVD and Blu-ray sales will go into ‘terminal collapse’, says PwC” they gave me a reason to have a go at them. As I search deeper and deeper, we are confronted with a wave of titles that have been released on Blu-Ray and DVD, yet there is no Netflix date, they do not seem to have any titles released to disc from 2017. So that is the first group. I reckon the Marvel fans would race to the shop to pick up Logan as soon as Wolverinely possible. The second thing I found is that a decent list of TV series is absent. This is a lot harder to predict, yet Grimm, Lucifer, Sleepy Hollow, Battlestar Galactica and a list of others do not even show on Netflix. This makes the need of Blu-ray consistently there. There is no doubt that those with really good bandwidth will prefer Netflix, so there will be an impact, yet the size of that impact is not a given for now. You see, as Net neutrality becomes more and more endangered, we will see shifts. We saw President Trump put Jessica Rosenworcel in the FCC seat and she apparently champions net neutrality, yet there is a rustling in some bushes, especially the adult entertainment bush. What people ignore, or like me do not care about is that certain ‘settings’ is seen in International Business Times (at http://www.ibtimes.com/july-12-net-neutrality-day-action-will-slow-down-your-pornhub-videos-2552375). It is a place like ‘Pornhub’ that brings the news. The quote “Pai’s proposal would remove the FCC’s authority to enforce net neutrality and other consumer protections while simultaneously allowing companies including Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to create “slow lanes” that force consumers to pay more for certain sites or as a competitive move among corporate telecom rivals“, is one thing, the second quote from a related article gives us “The Washington Examiner reported Trump deliberately withdrew her nomination when he took office. That move temporarily gave Republicans a majority in the FCC. Since then, the FCC has voted to revoke net neutrality regulations. If Trump’s renewed nomination leads to her confirmation, as is expected, then this idealist could return to take on the telecom industry head on.“, these quotes give only an indication of what will happen next, it is seen a little better when we consider the Law Times (at http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201706126217/focus-on/focus-u-s-and-canada-diverge-on-net-neutrality), which is 3 days old. Here we see: “With the possibility of broadband rate regulation looming on the horizon, companies investing in next-generation networks hesitated to build or expand networks, unsure of whether the government would let them compete in the free market,” he wrote, advocating for a return to a “light-touch” approach to Internet regulation“. This is now the indication, as the FCC rolled back a few things, they leave it with the providers and a ‘free market’ to offer ISP packages, which of course comes at different prices. So, as net neutrality comes back, it comes with the option that is linked to a Service Level Agreement and they tend to come with $$$ labels attached. In addition we see “The CRTC’s decision and policy position on “differential pricing” arose out of Videotron’s 2015 launch of Unlimited Music, a premium service that allowed customers to stream as much music as they liked on services such as Spotify without having the data use count against their monthly allowance“, so as we get premium ISP options, how do you think that this will impact the Netflix use? Are you sure that this billion user service will not come with nails attached? You see, the issue is no longer mere net neutrality in speed; it is now ‘the elimination of data caps for home and mobile Internet use for Canadians?‘ This implies not just Canada; it is merely a stepping stone for America as they use Canada as a show case, what will happen when the gamers are added? This is a simple math part. Assassins Creed Unity sold over 2 million copies (exact number unknown), now in December 2014, the owners had to download a patch that was 34GB in size. So consider 2 million downloads of that patch, how congested will the internet get? As the number was global, there is no way to tell how the patch impacted on areas, yet as caps are removed, we will see more and more shabby developers getting new patches out ‘as soon as possible’ making us download patches more and more. So as there are globally well over 105 million Consoles (next Generation only), the millions of Gaming PC’s, now consider the amount of patches and the impact on the internetworking’s, as well as the Internet of Things, because bandwidth hits all options. Now consider 3 massive games released per month, game download and patches and now consider how Netflix is impacted, because it will. I am putting those two groups together because they get their ‘net mobility’ from the very same fuel tank. Now add Spotify and a few other players in this domain. There was never any question that there was a need for net neutrality, yet in all this it goes via an ISP and that player is greedy, so if the cap cannot be pushed in place, or when it is removed, why do you think will happen next? There will be an impact on speed.

This is set in an easy equation (not an accurate one, but it shows certain factors). Fuel = data_amount * speed * users, so if data_amount is infinite, how will that impact speed? The same we see when the user base become massively larger, speed is again impacted. yet there is another consideration, to keep speed high, the number of user and data_amount needs to remain in a state of balance and set at a nominal place, when we realise that this is not an option from day one, speed will always be impacted and that is where the ISP’s are now, creating in a conjoint setting the Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and the option to price it all. The FCC can claim it is out of their hands and as the FCC is about avoiding ‘anything that negatively affects competition and innovation in the sector‘, the FCC rules are altered and whatever comes back might seem nice, but will come with the ability to let the ISP call the shots. As such Netflix, unless it sets ironclad contracts with ISP’s, these users will see a shift of options and usage, at a price that is.

How does this make sense?

You see, even as the numbers are global based, the US has a lot more congestion than the UK at present, yet the current growth as seen, which is before the upcoming 5G data need, the ISP’s have been milking their system and these providers have not been addressing the ‘fuel tank’ they had. Now, this issue is in the UK and Western Europe is nowhere near the mess that the US is in, but as the UK rural growth is now growing at an accelerated rate, the congestion is still becoming a factor, Cisco tells us: “Services like YouTube, iPlayer, Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime Video continue to be a huge draw, which has in turn helped to fuel demand for superfast broadband connections”, in addition, we get “Cisco forecasts that the average Internet user is expected to generate 140GB (Gigabytes) of Internet traffic per month in 2021”, which is average and I expect that to be a conservative low estimate. Now consider that a Netflix movie can take up to 7.5GB, now consider 3 million people in London alone will watch a Saturday movie, and now consider that in the UK another 15 million will do the same, do the numbers start adding up? Even if these 18 million do not start it on the same time, there will be a sizeable overlap, there is enough indication that congestion will be an issue, which either ups the price of the internet, or there will be an increased agitation for Netflix. This is why there is enough questions on ‘terminal decline’, there is in addition consideration that when 5G hits, the curve will steepen by a lot. It is too soon to predict a near exponential growth for data need, but it is not unrealistic, especially when we consider the push from 3G to 4G and data usage curve when most moved to 4G.

Now I go back to these gamers, even as the Statistics state the gamers group to be a steady penetration of around 42%, their data need has grown more than exponential. The Next generation consoles, as well as the growth of being online whilst gaming has grown. So this is not just about downloads and patches, merely the online presence which fuels uploads, Even as some statistics state that they are on average 5 hours per week online, there is enough data to question that. Polygon gave us the title ‘PS4 owners spend about 50,000 years a week gaming’, again a global number, but that already gets us an average of 7 hours a week, which is 40% higher and these are 2016-2017 numbers. As it all comes from the same ‘fuel tank’, I hope that we can clearly see that it impacts the ability to service Netflix. I believe that congestion will be its worst enemy and as we see a shift in costing, the prediction is unlikely to become reality (yet, I am willing to accept that I could be wrong)

So back to the Guardian article! The quote “PwC predicts a “terminal decline” for DVD and Blu-ray sales from £1.22bn in 2016 to just £533m by 2021. The report predicts that internet video will overtake DVD sales this year, but some analysts claim this has already happened“, I believe that the market will adjust in a different way. I believe that the initial shift will be in price. The price of $40 for a new movie cannot be maintained with monthly services and as the margin is large, we much consider that shift. It has been stated a few times that “high-definition mastering costs for Blu-ray will run close to US$40,000 per title with a pressing cost of US$2.00 per Blu-ray disc”, so at 100,000 discs sold, the making comes to about $2.50, so selling at $20 would still leave a large margin, There is a given that mastering goes down in price, yet at this pace, the impact becomes negligible. So when we consider that owning a movie we like at $20 is still a good idea, even if we have Netflix, my view is that there is an impact, yet not to the degree PwC claims.

Could PwC be right?

Yes, that is indeed the case, especially if the economy does not pick up. If the economy stays in the bad shape it currently is in now, Netflix might be the only option for some people, yet the options will still depends on whatever internet options that household has. In that, we see the impact on both sales down as the economy faltered whilst buying movies is equally a non-option.

There is one element that has been ignored by me and it is time to address that now. The mention ‘some analyst’s claim this has already happened‘ is one that needs a look at. It comes from the January article ‘Film and TV ​streaming and downloads overtake DVD sales for first time‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jan/05/film-and-tv-streaming-and-downloads-overtake-dvd-sales-for-first-time-netflix-amazon-uk). one element is ‘Netflix has rapidly grown to 6 million UK subscribers since launching in 2012‘, which is fine and the issue that physical retail is in decline cannot be countered either. The fact that the UK cost of living has been through the roof; so as we see the price of a Blu-ray being equal to 2 months of Netflix, people adjusted their budget. Yet in all this, the internet bandwidth remained an issue. As long as it could be pushed through Wi-Fi and more importantly the Free Wi-Fi places, people were fine, yet just like some of the more advanced filters, when those places start actively blocking Netflix, the user game changes too. You see, Spotify demands cellular data and does not stream via Wi-Fi. So remember the earlier formula? Spotify has 50 million users. Now consider that the other elements were speed and data amount. As these services grow congestion will be a logical consequence, meaning that the ISP’s have reasons to push through the SLA solution, solving all their issues and none of yours.

Netflix is here to stay, nobody opposes that, there will be an impact on DVD/Blu-ray sales and nobody opposes that either. It is the part of ‘terminal collapse‘ that I oppose and I am certain that at some point it will happen, yet not in the time period PwC says it will be. I could be wrong of course, but I don’t think so.

If they were wrong, then nothing is lost, for that PwC analyst there could be a golden future in show business for them as a the new member in Orange is the new Black Season 7 named ‘Wall Street Bitches‘ (speculated conjecture).

In the end?

In the end, the Guardian article does have one larger benefit; it is bringing congestion issues to the surface, as such the article had a good side, In the UK most people know it as ‘Internet Rush Hour’, yet what happens when the infrastructure will no longer provide for that side? The BBC gave us in 2011 “UK broadband speeds drop by an average of 35% from their off-peak highs when most people are online in the evening, according to a report”, yet the growth that we have seen then was at the beginning of 4G, even as the ISP’s upgraded their equipment, the user base In the last year alone, went up by 1.5% for the entire population. In addition, over the last 5 years, the amount of inactive internet users decreased by 13.3%, which is a lot, also consider that the UK Netflix user base is expected to double between 2015 and 2020; these numbers show a dangerous part. The largest one is that the numbers seem to have been incorrectly speculated. I get there as the growth of subscriptions grew by 1.8 million during 2015-2016, which was almost a third of the 100% expected growth. You might think that the Guardian article is therefore a lot more accurate, I still disagree, merely for the fact that congestion is a larger risk, which now gets us back to the Net Neutrality issue. Because as this grows, ISP’s will have additional ammunition to start thinking and pushing for Service Level Agreements on consumer markets, it is what the FCC sees as ‘anything that negatively affects competition and innovation in the sector‘, yet what the ISP sees as commercial opportunity. Here I truly hope to be wrong, yet some sources (read: ISPreview) are already revealing prices to rise close to 10%, in addition, the prices will rise even more next year due to the 2017 Digital Economy Act. This is where we get back to the ‘Pornhub’ part. You see, I give not a toss about them, but they illustrated a part that other sites are now getting into. When we look at Endgadget, we get: “There’s one slight issue with age gates in that we’re still no clearer on how they are to be implemented. Proving age using credit card details, the electoral roll and pay-monthly mobile phone contracts have all been suggested, but the government has admitted that forcing you to expose your identity might be a step too far. And so, it’ll likely be some time before this new law can be enforced as the government and newly appointed regulator decide on the best and least intrusive way for porn sites to verify age.” You see, it is not about the fact that it is about adult content, it is about the option to classify, so consider that via politicians (never a good start) to settle on what defines the boundary and needs more than mere access. It is the first time that there would be commercial option to slice services, not cutting them, but restraining the maximum bandwidth. When we see the quote ‘the new data-sharing regime effectively being lawful already’, we might think ‘government’ but that is the least of our concern, it is “Any business that handles large volumes of personal data is required to employ a data-protection officer under the new rules, and any breach must be disclosed within 72 hours”, you might think that this covers it, but what about back-ups, what about social media with multiple ownership over a larger amount of nations? It is the commercial value that is being played with and the EU does not have a great track record when it comes to commercial versus private interest. So as these elements come into play, there are now already three upcoming levels that would cater to ‘Service Level Agreement’, which is defined to charges a person has. It gives one more level that Net Neutrality is already a thing of the past. This is seen in “Reed Hastings seemed to walk away from fighting for net neutrality but his company has done a big 180”, so in the two days that I worked on this, Netflix did a massive corporate ‘about face’, the direct implication of ISP’s and the limit of bandwidth is showing now, almost a year before it actually hits us. News Network (at http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/after-ceo-downplayed-the-importance-of-net-neutrality-netflix-changes-tact-and-rejoins-the-fight/news-story/654c63348e3dbd4f7d697fe322eeb350) also gives us “major Telco company AT & T is in bed with media conglomerate Time Warner. Because of this high level of “vertical integration” there’s a lot more scepticism in the US that companies will be compelled to engage in anti competitive and “non mutual” practices”, which I already knew. Yet the clarity as given in my earlier setting in ‘anything that negatively affects competition and innovation in the sector‘, is now showing its fruition and that is before the dozens of new 5G services come to our mobiles and TV settings. As this collides, and it will! People will happily return to a worry free Blu-ray ad DVD, if the makers adjust pricing and remove the 5 iteration contribution application, the discs will be here to stay for at least a decade or (hopefully) two more.

 

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The name of the sponsor

The article that was in the Guardian on Friday, gives us a few issues. You see, I have been looking at several issues in the tech world and I overlooked this one (there is only so much reading that can be done in a 24 hour range and it is a big planet). You see the article ‘Yahoo faces questions after hack of half a billion accounts’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/23/yahoo-questinos-hack-researchers) gives us the goods from the very beginning. The quote “Yahoo’s admission that the personal data of half a billion users has been stolen by “state-sponsored” hackers leaves pressing questions unanswered, according to security researchers“, is one I would go with ‘and the evidence?‘, which gives us all kinds of related connections. The quote “Jeremiah Grossman, head of security strategy at infosec firm SentinelOne, said: “While we know the information was stolen in late 2014, we don’t have any indication as to when Yahoo first learned about this breach. This is an important detail in the story.”” is only one of a few issues at the heart of the matter. You see, when we look at the issues that are the plague of these start-up firms (Yahoo and Sony), we should think that they are start-up firms or they are massively negligent. In both cases their routers allowed for the transfer of massive amounts of data. As they are the same size in start-up (sorry, sarcasm prevails), we need to wonder how a few hundred million packages fall between the cracks of vision of whatever security element their IT has. We could wait until someone states that there is no security on that level and the race is truly on then!

This whilst additional support as seen stated by Chris Hodson, EMEA chief information security officer at enterprise security firm Zscaler, when we read: ““With no technical details included in Yahoo’s report about how the data was exfiltrated, just that it was, it’s impossible to assess credibility of the ‘state sponsored’ claim“, a statement I agree, but in addition, I also wonder why we aren’t seeing any reference or initial response from the FBI that this was from North Korea. It fits the time frame doesn’t it? First a dry run on Yahoo and the actual heist was Sony. Or perhaps some players are figuring out that North Korea was never an element and that someone clever enough found a flaw and hit both Yahoo and Sony. The quote “both from the date of the hack, almost two years ago, and from the first appearance of the dumped data on the dark web almost two months ago where it was being sold by a user named “Peace of Mind””, the speculation comes to mind: ‘perhaps this person is the second owner and this person is reselling acquired data’, which would make sense in several capitalisic ways. The article also enlightens what I believe to be a callous approach to security: “The breach also highlights a strong problem with “security questions”, the common practice of letting users reset passwords by answering questions about their first house or mother’s maiden name. Yahoo did not encrypt all the security questions it stored, and so some are readable in plaintext. While it may be irritating to have to change a stolen password, it is somewhat worse to have to change a stolen mother’s maiden name.” The insensitive disregard is clear when the security question is not encrypted and mum’s maiden name is given in plain text, adding to the personal data the thieves borrowed (long-term). Now, we know that there are in these situations several questions, and not all are really about privacy sensitive based data (like a favourite pet), but consider the 2013 movie ‘Now You See Me‘ Consider the dialogue in the New Orleans Show scene:

Jack Wilder: How could we, Art? We don’t have your password.
Henley Reeves: We’d need access to information we could never get our hands on.
Daniel Atlas: Yes, security questions, for instance, like, I don’t know, your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet.
Merritt McKinney: Where would we get that information, Art? You certainly would never tell us.

A movie gives us the danger to our goods a year before this data is stolen and nobody presses the alarm bell? The only part that would be even funnier if this was a Sony movie, but no, it was Summit Entertainment who brought this gemstone! Now, we know that life is not a movie, yet the fact that this part is stored as plain text, perhaps not the best solution! In addition as IT developers tend to be lazy, how many other firms, especially those who are a lot smaller, how are they storing this data? Also in plain text?

You see, I have seen parts of this issue too often. Too many firms have no real grasp of non-repudiation and go through the motions so that they seem (read: present themselves) to be about security, yet not really security driven. Because if the client doesn’t want it (many are too lazy), they have opted for it and they are in the clear. Yet when we see that the security questions are in plain text, questions should be asked, very serious questions I might add!

There is one more side to all this, the Guardian raises it with: “what happens to the company’s multi-billion dollar merger with Verizon now? Kevin Cunningham, president and founder at identity company SailPoint, argues that the breach should already be priced in“, we then see the issues of thoroughness raised from Verizon, but in all this, the data theft does not makes sense. You see, if my speculation is true and “Peace of Mind” is the first sales iteration, was this ID the only customer? If so, how come that the sale took this long, the timeout between the event in 2014 and the optional sale a few months ago is weird, as accounts change so quickly, the power and value is in quick sales. To put it in perspective, selling the data to 10 people for a total of 5% of the value is safer then awaiting for one person getting 70% of the value 90 days later. This is a movers and shakers world, the 90 day person is a perhaps and these people are about the ‘cash now’. The market stall people! So in this an 800 day customer implies that there might have been ulterior reasons. Which one(s) I can only speculate on, and I prefer not to do that at present. Now, in that side, it is of course possible that this was ‘state-sponsored’ and it was sold on to keep the wolves at bay, but that too is speculation with absolutely no data to back the speculation up.

Verizon might have taken a calculated level of risk in acquiring Yahoo, yet if the data transgression was never divulged, would this be a case of fraud? The US has the “benefit of bargain” rule, so there could be a decent case of represented and actual value. In addition if we allow for Special damages from a legally recognizable injury to be held to be the cause of that injury, with the damage amounts to specificity. If the data theft would have been known, the value of the firm would have been a lot lower.

Unless this was clearly disclosed to Verizon (I actually do not know), Verizon might have a case, which would be disastrous for Yahoo.

If we consider the news from July at NBC (at http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/25/verizon-to-acquire-yahoo.html), the setting is not just “Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL lag far behind and have lost market share“, there is no guarantee that those hit by the hack will remain in their Yahoo setting. Google has made it far too easy for people to switch over. The effort made in the past to transfer towards Google could inspire those people to switch to Google, import their mails and start with little or no loss at all. Which means that it is not impossible that Verizon after the merger remains a one digit digital marketing group, something I feel certain Verizon never counted on.

So where is this going?

There are two sides to this, not only is this about cyber security, or the lack thereof. The fact that Verizon has no unlimited data and those with Yahoo accounts who had them will now see their prices go up by a lot (when is this not about money?). Verizon has a 100GB shared option at $450 a month, which is beyond ridiculous. In Australia, iiNet (an excellent provider) offers 250GB for $60 a month and in the UK British Telecom offers a similar plan for no more than £21 a month (which is about $35), considering that BT is not the cheapest on the block, I have to wonder how Verizon will continue, when people have to switch, because their music apps (radio and so on) drain their data account at 6-8GB per day (a harsh lesson a friend of mine learned). Meaning that Verizon is actually a disservice to open internet and free speech. As I see it, free speech is only free if the listener isn’t charged for listening, or better stated, when certain solutions are locked to be not via Wi-Fi, meaning charged via bandwidth. So the accounts were one side, the amount of data breeches that we are seeing now (on both the Verizon and Yahoo side) imply that not only are they too expensive, they aren’t as secure as they are supposed to be and in addition, cyber laws are blatantly failing its victims. Having your data in plain text at $450 a month seems a little too unacceptable, merely because the odds to keep your fortune in Las Vegas tend to be better than this.

So now consider the sponsor, the people behind the screens on both the corporate and hacking side. So let’s take a look

Corporate

Here the need for security is essential, yet there is clear indication that those aware of spreadsheets (read: Board of Directors) are in equal measure naive and blatantly unaware that data security is essential and not the $99 version in this case. The cost of secure data is ignored and in many cases blatantly disregarded. The Yahoo case is inferior to the Verizon data transgressions that have been reported in this year alone. It is so nice to read on how the health industry is hit by organised crime, yet the amount of theft from their own systems is a lot less reported on. I find most amusing the text that the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report shows: “Yes. Our vulnerability management solutions identify and fix architectural flaws in POS and other patientfacing systems“, “Yes. Our identity and access management solutions prevent the use of weak passwords, the main cause of data breaches in the healthcare industry” and “Yes. Our intrusion detection and threat-management solutions help detect and mitigate breaches more quickly, limiting the damage caused” (at http://www.verizonenterprise.com/resources/factsheet/fs_organized-crime-drives-data-theft-in-the-healthcare-industry_en_xg2.pdf), I reckon that a massive overhaul of their own systems has a slightly higher priority at present. In addition there is no information on how secure the Verizon Data Cloud is. It doesn’t matter who provides it (as I see it), and I reckon we see that iteration hit the news the moment we learn that the UK Ministry of Defence Cloud gets tweaked to another server that is not under their control. It is important to realise that I am NOT scaremongering, the issue is that too many players have kept the people and corporations in the dark regarding monitoring options, intrusion detection and countermeasures, with the cloud, any successful intrusion has the real danger that the data hack is more complete and a lot larger in data loss. Moreover, Microsoft and Microsoft employees have one priority, Microsoft! Consider that any Microsoft employee might not be as forthcoming with Cyber transgressions, no matter what agreed upon. After the agreement, any internal memo could sidestep a reportable transgression. It is a reality of corporate life. In this, until the proper military staff members get trained, the Ministry of Defence (read: as well as GCHQ to some extent) will be catching up through near inhumane levels of required training, which gets the Ministry burnout issues soon enough.

Hackers

No matter how small, these attacks (yes plural) required serious hardware and access to tools that are not readily available. So whomever involved, they are either organised crime, or people connected to people with serious cash. This all gets us a different picture. I am not stating that some hackers work for reasons other than ideological. The rent in mum’s basement and hardware needs to be paid for, if not that, than the electricity bill that will be in excess of $130 a month. It might be trivial to mention, yet these little things add up. Hardware, electricity, storage, it gives the rising need of a sponsor for these hackers. There is no way to tell whether this is ideological (to show it can be done), technological (selling the flaws back to the makers of the solution), or criminal (to sell the acquired data to a competitor or exploiter). We can assume or speculate, but in reality, without additional evidence it is merely a waste of words.

So even if we know the name of the sponsor, this hopefully shows that the need to divulging information on data transgression has been way too light. In the past there was a ‘clarity’ that it was onto the firm to give out, but as they seemingly see it as a hazard to their wealth, too many victims are kept in the dark and as such, the financial danger to those victims is rising in an unbalanced way. If you would doubt my words, consider the article at http://www.geek.com/games/sony-psn-hack-is-only-the-4th-largest-data-breach-of-all-time-1390855/, which was set in June 2009. Geek is not the news cycle you might desire, but the summary is fine and confirmable. The hack to the Heartland Payment Systems January 20th, 2009 might be one of the more serious ones, the 130 million records was more complete and could have a more devastating effect on the US population then most others. From my point of view, a massive shift to proactive data security should have been law no later than 2010, I think that we can safely say that this never happened to the extent required, which is another nice failure of the political parties at large and as such, this could get a lot uglier soon enough. The article also shows a massive Sony failing as there have been 6 large breaches in 2011 alone, so the Sony hack of 2012 shows to be a continuing story of a digital firm who cannot get their act together. That was never in question, in combination with the latest revelations, there is the added pressures that this cannot be allowed to continue and these firms need to start being held criminally negligible for transgressions on their systems. Just like in torts regarding trespass, it should be actionable perse. In addition, the hackers should be held in that same way, with the bounty changed to no less than double digit jail with no option for parole. The mere realisation that there is a high price for these transgressions might be the only way to stop this and in this age should not be a distinguishing factor, so any teenager hoping for an adventure with a nice pay package could end up not getting laid until they turn 30. The last part is unlikely to be a reality ever, but the fact that this is where we should have been going needs to be stated, for the mere reason that a shown failure of nearly a decade is no longer an option to ignore, not when the stakes are getting to be this high.

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The Cat and the Bacon

I have written about the economy on several occasions, I always proclaimed that it was pure insight as I saw it and that I do not have a degree in economy, I am an analyst. Yet today these borders of non-knowledge might get stretched a little further than previously shown. Today is all about the Euro!

I personally never believed it to be a good idea. We saw how all these politicians were proclaiming on how ‘good’ it was for the economy. Was it? You see, it might not matter for the bakery on the corner, the grocer next door or the butcher across the street. It matters to the giants of industry and how it benefits there bottom line, the extra coin for the members of the board, not for the people in the stores, that image tended to be a virtual one, it virtually did not matter at all!

I saw how the change of coin, from the Dutch guilder, things suddenly seemed to be 50% cheaper (2 guilders equalled one euro), but the math is easily made there. What those people experienced that buying a chicken on the market was 6 guilders, it became 3 euro’s, but then what? In a little less than 4 years that chicken from the same dealer ended up being 6 Euro’s. An annual 25% hike in prices. The chicken example is a little extreme and many articles did not raise that quickly. Some will mention the issues of milk in the Netherlands, but that is an issue much more complex and the Euro itself is only a small fragment there.

So, could I be wrong?

That is centre in this debate. I could be wrong, but it is very likely that we are all looking into the wrong direction. It would be nice to blame places like Greece, and they are definitely having an effect, yet the issue is not the EEC, it is more and more pointing towards America. You see, we are all in a bad shape, no one is denying that, yet in American, things have not gotten any better for a long time. Let’s face it, some people are now shooting at the police for fun, or for reasons of aggravation and despair. The people in America are suffering in many ways, but the all holier than DOW keeps on rising in addition, their currency is massively on the up, which under the issues showing, seems a little too good to be true, it an assumption, but is it fair and correct?

That remains to be seen, when we look at the Guardian, we see (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/08/euro-dollar-1999-levels-deflation-oil), the following: “Recent data for the Eurozone has proved weak, with inflation falling and unemployment rising. Italy remains in recession while France has seen consumer and business confidence wane. Only Spain and Germany among the major economies have appeared to gain in strength, though Berlin has failed to kick-start GDP growth and Spain still suffers from an unemployment rate of 25%“, these are facts, they are not in denial, but where are the results of the UK (which were not great)? You see, these facts are true, but there is more to consider (besides Greece dragging the EU down). What about Sweden and the Netherlands? Not the greatest economies compared to the big 4, but still sizeable ones, we can admit that they are all struggling, yet the fact that we see a ‘propagated’ booming economy in America needs to be addressed too.

Who statistically has a job?

When we consider an article in Forbes last August, where we see “My friend and the waitress are victims of a massive but hidden problem called underemployment. Watching falling unemployment numbers being reported at 6.2%, down from nearly 10% four years earlier, is simply misleading“, attached to a headline ‘Tackling The Real Unemployment Rate: 12.6%‘ (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/louisefron/2014/08/20/tackling-the-real-unemployment-rate-12-6/), we get to see the picture that the people are living, Wall Street is ignoring and  the current administration of the US is misrepresenting. So is the Euro doing this bad, or is it dragged down by a misrepresenting nation carrying a 17 trillion dollar debt? By the way, did we not see something similar with Tesco and a few hundred millions misrepresented? How did THAT turn out?

When we see this quote in Forbes we see the real danger “741,000 discouraged workers – workers not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them – are included within the list of marginally attached people. Another 7.5 million were not considered unemployed because they were employed part-time for economic reasons. Those people are also called involuntary part-time workers – working part-time because their hours were cut back or because they were unable to secure a full-time job“. The danger is twofold, how many of the 741,000 are over 50? It seems that companies, especially those with younger, inexperienced executives are afraid to hire people with skills and know how. In regards to the 7.5 million part time workers, does that include those Wal-Mart people, who need to rely on food stamps and all kinds of other support systems? I am not debating their need, more that the owners each walked away with well over a billion in 2013, whilst its staff was on governmental food stamps. How does that ‘boom’ your economy? It almost reads like ‘gangbang’ for your buck whilst the governmental administration bends over, a lack of fairness on more than one front, one could state!

Booking a balance!

You see, the unbalance goes a lot further, the US as a nation can float its currency, this is not a bad thing, normally every nations does it to some extent, to weather a really bad time, so that business and consumer is not hit with weird spikes, it is an issue that has happened for a long time and it will continue to happen, yet the Euro does not have this privilege, these economies are set to what is done in Bruxelles (Brussels), and as such, it is likely impacted by spikes to some extent. However, as their currency is spiking downwards against the Dollar, which seems to be decently overvalued, we get a new danger that the drag will continue, whilst no one seems to be looking and the bubbled version of the US Dollar. So is my non-economic view correct, right or wrong? Yes, there are three options, because, what is correct may still not be right.

Consider, that the Euro nations are not doing so well, which is true after all, that fact does not make the dollar better does it? It is correct that the dollar looks better because the Yen and the Euro looks less good, but the economy in America is not booming, if it were, we would see a lot more people gainfully employed without the need for government support, you see, here we get to the matter on what is correct and what is right. If the US is having a virtual boom, we are judging the US on merits of misrepresentation, which by the way might not be illegal, but should an economy not be held to its cost as well? The US debt is still increasing; the people (a large amount) are not paid to a level of being self-sufficient. We see an economy that had made the thirteen amendment in 1865, there we see “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction“, in 1867 the US got the Peonage Act of 1867, where Congress abolished “the holding of any person to service or labor under the system known as peonage”, as well as specifically banning “the voluntary or involuntary service or labor of any persons as peons, in liquidation of any debt or obligation, or otherwise”, now this all sounds pretty clear, and having a job is not this, but when a population is forced to work for scraps, whilst still requiring food stamps, it seems that we now have an issue. no one is a slave, but under the conditions where the very rich grow their fortune at well over 30%, whilst those on average grow less than 2%, we should clearly see that the balance of fair play is no longer anywhere in sight. I am not against making profit, it is a capitalistic form that has merit, yet when we see six members of a family, each making a 9 figure number, whilst the 1% of America it employs makes less than the line of poverty, we need to ask serious questions. In addition, as we see a group where they deal in articles that are from questionable sources (at http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/10/supermarket-prawns-thailand-produced-slave-labour), where the quote “A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco“, we are confronted with a governmental issue, where it allows for profit at expense of its own industries in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. We can acknowledge that the oil spills have been detrimental to the health of the industry, but when the big players get their goods overseas, how can any economy recover, especially as these overseas players (as implied by the Guardian), can rely on profits through slave labour. This goes further than just the shrimps, other food items or clothing. It shows a disconnection from the people, you see economies are more than just behemoths, we could see them as parasitic in nature, which sounds wrong, but is actually very correct. The retailer lives off the people, but can only do so if the people can spent. It is a symbiotic relationship; it requires the host to remain alive. Large businesses have forgotten about that, they focus on where the profit is, not on the required equilibrium, so as places like India grew form a third world market into a super economy.

Cycles of equilibrium

The people outsourcing, seem to forget that its own population is every bit as important, so as that group falter, so will businesses slowly but surely. As we see that cycle progress, is it not strange that the US Economy remains booming? A nation with many people unemployed; even more people in a state of poverty; 15% in poverty, this gets us a little more than one in seven in poverty, meaning that big business is now relying on revenue based on the remaining 5 out of 7. It looks nice in a statistical model, but as the overall quality of life goes down, that group of 5 will dwindle down too, when that happens, the economy will falter in new unprecedented ways, leaving the only option that a few people walk away with all the money they can carry to their own island and the rest is left without anything. This can be read as misrepresentation as well, but is it far-fetched? that part is not a given until we see an actual economy that truly improves, which means that the poverty line descents, people will start having a liveable income, that will give rise to shops needed and more jobs created and all that opts for the US national debt to go down by a lot, something that this administration has not achieved, more important, it might take 2-3 administrations for that debt to be addressed in any way, shape or form, which only fuels the wealth of banks and financial players. If it is addressed too quickly, the poverty line could soar far further then 21%, giving an instant crises in the US that goes beyond the imaginations of many and will be one nightmare Wall street did not foresee to this extent. Yet how would that affect the Euro? Well in two ways, as the US people will become more and more desperate for jobs, suddenly the economy looks even better on our grass, but it is an ‘economy’ for the wealthy living, the rest will see a further drop in living conditions (an assumption on my side)

So as big business ties the cat to the bacon (meaning: opportunity knocks), we must wonder how these elements call for a booming economy as an economy is reliant on people spending money, buying items and none remain to do just that.

You see, there seems to be a fluctuation on what an economy is (seriously!).

The first one we see is: “the state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money“, which is what we all believe it to be, yet the second meaning “careful management of available resources“, which we can take as “offering good value for money” and “a financial saving” last there is “the cheapest class of air or rail travel“. Weird or not, they all apply. I got them straight from the Google dictionary.

Now when we mash them we get: “the National state in terms of the production, the cheapest way possible, whilst advocating good value for money, whilst ensuring the highest efficiency in regards to managing our available resources, whilst optimising consumption of goods and services, ensuring the best supply of money through contribution“. Does that not sound very familiar? You see, it seems like a booming economy, if you are getting the money. The consumer is left with the option, whilst not guaranteeing a pool where such sufficient income can be maintained, almost a death pool of discontinued certainty.

So, how did we move away from the Euro? Well, I actually did not, you see, these elements have been a factor with American companies all over Europe, now consider how much taxation they did not have to make due to tax havens and specific invoicing? You see, a government is depending on its coffers to be filled so that there is a growth and continuation of an economy, whilst these corporations are now stating that this inherent side of the symbiotic relationship was not theirs to care for. Now we see and a loss of balance as well as a first glance on how dislodging an economy can have long lasting effects. As the Euro has less ‘floatation’ options and as some unbalanced it even further, we now see no options on the Euro side, whilst the Dollar has legal options to float its currency, unbalancing the amount further, the upped representation does the rest!

Blame Game

Now, it is important to see that I am NOT blaming the dollar for the Euro, yet it must be said that those behind the Dollar (businesses) have presented themselves overly good, so there is a secondary effect, whilst we see more and more often a changing scale of what is to be reported on. Let us be clear, several EEC nations have done this in the past, but the balance is now changing further and further, giving no one a clear view of what is real, we see presentations that are all a little out of whack, so as Europe starts its plan of credit easing, we will see the numbers jump, yet in what direction cannot be predicted (not by me at least), because, if investors walk away ‘en mass’, no credit easing will do any trick, if you doubt that then look at India, is it not weird that NTT DoCoMo / TaTa, the big winner of 2013/2014 suddenly wanted to dump its one billion share? Is it not strange that in this ‘booming’ economy, all are looking on the inside? Is a booming economy not about growth? So as we ‘see’ a growing economy, is that not (usually) a sign of growth? So why are the mobile providers T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all steering clear of the Indian market that is seemingly up for grabs?

So is the US economy booming, or is it going boom-boom?

 

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