Tag Archives: Washington

Innuendo on the aftermath

The BBC is giving us more, and more, and more. Now they give us “The coronavirus crisis might be causing widespread economic upheaval around the world, but the world’s biggest tech firms are thriving.” And why is that? Consider the simple truth, Apple, even though not completely innovative, does give us something lovely. A lot of people got access to their Super early because of the Coronavirus, we do not want to splash and splurge, but when you are in lockdown, you cannot escape yourself, you can stare down the walls, go insane, or do something else. Surf the web using a Apple iPhone, or a Google Pixar, read a book, play a game or watch a DVD that is ordered via Amazon, then there is the surfing and 2 billion visit Facebook, so yes ‘the world’s biggest tech firms are thriving’, shops would not have been a great offer, lockdowns do that, but the people can order things and some get the hardware to do this. When you have one day to live, the option to see in brilliance and astounding quality matters a great deal to that person. And in all this, the digital highway will be travelled a lot more than usual, people working from home, people being denied high resolution Netflix because the internet if congested, but the advertisements go through, and we all see them. Then we get “At a hearing in Washington on Wednesday, lawmakers grilled the companies about whether they were abusing their dominance to quash rivals, noting the sharp contrast between their fortunes and many other firms”, as I personally see it, they aren’t quashing rivals, they are using their expertise to gain faster and more. 

Beyond that there is “Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner asked Mark Zuckerberg why Twitter had removed a post by the US president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, discussing the efficacy of the drug hydroxychloroquine. Twitter is not owned by Facebook. “I think what you might be referring to happened on Twitter, so it’s hard for me to speak to that,” said Mr Zuckerberg.””it gives my earlier view on the stupidity of politicians, as Jim Sensenbrenner cannot tell who owns what and addresses the wrong person on the matter, we see the Cowboy show I expected to see, a waste of time, and poor entertainment at that. 

It becomes a larger issues when we see “Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal asked Jeff Bezos for a “yes or no” answer: Did Amazon ever use seller data to make its own business decisions? This was a reference to reports that Amazon has used data gathered from businesses selling products via its site to design and price its own rival first-party goods – something the firm has previously suggested had been limited to a group of rogue employees. Mr Bezos responded that he couldn’t give an answer in such simple terms” That is part of the problem, the lack of knowledge, when we look at “Did Amazon ever use seller data to make its own business decisions?” What exactly is ‘seller data?’, is it a cookie that the users has agreed on, was it sales data from the application that was used, as such, what application data is in play? Was it a customer review? Three questions that rip out the threads of the conversation. As such, as we saw Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal rip Attorney General William Barr to shreds, she should have known better from the start, and we go from cowboy act to dog and pony show. In all this there is also debate on ‘to make its own business decisions’, especially as APN partners have options to make choices and decisions, it was a poorly phrased question and a wrongly lit situation from the get go. And last but not least we see “Republican congressman Matt Gaetz claimed that Google collaborates with Chinese universities that take “millions upon millions of dollars from the Chinese military” and noted that tech investor Peter Thiel had previously accused the company of “treason””, so how stupid is Matt Gaetz and where does he have ANY evidence that Google was taking money from the ‘Chinese military’? It is these levels of stupidity that gets no results, mere innuendo, yet they ALL seems to agree that overhauling Tax laws and competition laws would be a larger need, especially that in light of 5G and optionally 5G plus (a new IP I am working out) the need to both would be essential in keeping the playing field level, but these politicians, but their own account they sealed their own lives. Even as we see: “But Cicilline goes on: “This is the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just about Covid. Facebook gets away with it because there is no competitor. It’s the only game in town.”” I still remember the setting in 1997, I saw so called bullet point executives having no clue on the digital highway, dismissing it of hand as some paths had no business purpose, the setting did not change before 5 years AFTER Facebook was created by people lacking innovative vision and trying to bleed off Facebook settings, and history is about to repeat itself in the 5G environment, the back-fall is that big and US Congress, seemingly ignorant of the digital dimension are making things worse by stopping the only 4 resources in the US who have a chance of c countering what comes next. So well done djotto’s! And it does not end there. Considering the lacking intelligence by these democrats, when the people realise just how far it lacked, we get to see that the upcoming election is not a given, not by a long shot. I keep on wondering what the hearing was about, when will we get to see these documents and so called evidence that they rely on? I wonder how many holes I get to shoot into that part of the equation. I talk about innuendo and here it is, proudly brought to you by the BBC. It was Republican Greg Steube who sets that in motion with the question “Do you believe the Chinese government is stealing technology from US companies?”, mind you that he tried to push for a yes-or-no answer in light of the simplistic minds that these members of Congress have. Yet consider that the most powerful tech bosses and owners of the IP stated “I don’t know of specific cases where we have been stolen from by the government” (Tim Cook), and that is the first part where we see the issue. Then there was “no first-hand knowledge of any information stolen from Google in this regard” (Sundar Pichai), “I haven’t seen that personally but I’ve heard many reports of it” (Jeff Bezos), in this we only have Mark Zuckerberg who gives us “I think it’s well documented that the Chinese government steals technology from US companies”, this issue here is in the first that it was narrow-minded to set a shallow question on a closed answer, all whilst Tim Cook gives us that he does not know the the Chinese government is stealing, but cheap knock off’s, especially when it is promoted by Kylie and Kendall Jenner (at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53596192) are getting promoted by people of no mind and a clever approach on what they can get away with, I think they are called criminals. Sundar supports the view, or basically leads in his own fairway that Google was not a victim of that approach. We get Jeff giving us that he has seen many reports, yet I wonder who wrote them, I hope he is not relying on FTI Consulting for more than one reason. Only Marky Mark remains, I cannot fault his view and perhaps he is right, but in light of the Bezos hacking view and the issue on Sony and North Korea, there are too many questions on who does what and so far too many issues have left us with too many questions on how short the comings of come of the US cyber divisions really are, and that is not all. The hand that could be feeding them is the hand they are biting whilst not adjusting for the laws to make a proper job, that is the setting that we are left with in the aftermath and the innuendo around us leaves us with questions on politicians seeking the limelight. And why was Microsoft not there?

It is a weird setting and it will get a lot weirder in 2021. 

 

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What mattered most

I refrained from giving a view for two days, I saw the attacks on Sunday and I was ready to give voice, but then something happened, a change in the wind was there and it was important to look at that side of the equation. It all started on Sunday (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49699429) with ‘Saudi Arabia oil facilities ablaze after drone strikes‘, yet that was not the real trigger for the west, there had been other attacks and the west ignored them, as I reported in several articles. It was: “Oil prices ended nearly 15% higher on Monday, with the Brent benchmark seeing its biggest jump in about 30 years” that woke people up, now there was finally a reason to report it, not the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been under attack for a month, it was the fact that fuel prices were going to rise.

And of couirse, the US ever willing to be late to a party gives us: ‘Attack on a major Saudi oil facility originated in Iran, U.S. intelligence indicates‘, which is weird as I had handed out evidence out weeks ago to show that Iran had been facilitating resources to attack Saudi Arabia, yet for me it is nice to know that I am more able in intelligence after 3 decades than the US has ever been. As such it is not interesting to read: “American intelligence indicates that the attack on a major Saudi oil facility originated in Iran, three people familiar with the intelligence told NBC News“, that part is not interesting, it is the part where we have known that Iran had been supplying drones to Houthi forces for the longest time, for many months, it would have been nice for US intelligence to hand out that information months ago, but I reckon until the prices of fuel soared there was no reason to show support for an ally, they claimed to be an ally of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, yet they never released the intelligence giving rise to lash out at Iran to any degree. That does not make for an ally that is the foundation for being an exploitation tool (at best).

And it gets to be worse, when you consider NBC News. The quote: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Saturday that Iran “launched” what he called “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”” seems nice, but it only seems so. I wonder if the US officials are really about the ‘world energy supply‘ or the consequences of oil price hikes and the increased value it has on Aramco? It is the impact of the headline ‘Saudi Arabia oil and gas production reduced by drone strikes‘ that is scary to Wall Street, as production reduces, prices go up, the need increases and it changes the economic models for Wall Street, so again it is not really about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or about being their ally, is it? It is about the profit margins everywhere else that is the actual debate behind closed doors.

So when the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-tells-saudi-arabia-oil-attacks-were-launched-from-iran-11568644126) gives us ‘U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran‘ we do not see anything new here. The issue is how the drones get moved from Iran to Yemen. We also see through the faded “Monday’s assessment, which the U.S. hasn’t shared publicly, came as President Trump said he hoped to avoid a war with Iran and Saudi Arabia asked United Nations experts to help determine who was responsible for the airstrikes“, just a moment to delay moments of decision making. The culprits are known. It is not the real fear, the real fear is “Higher fuel prices pose another threat to the world economy” and that is the real issue for the US and for Europe. The response: “Saudi officials said the U.S. didn’t provide enough proof to conclude that the attack was launched from Iran, indicating the U.S. information wasn’t definitive. U.S. officials said they planned to share more information with the Saudis in the coming days” makes perfect sense. As the attack was claimed by Yemeni Houthi, the proxy war stage stays intact, it is the intelligence on how the drones get into Yemen that counts and so far (until now) the US, UK and French have not been overly willing to keep closer eyes on it, they all need degrees of freedom to deal with Iran and their so called Nuclear treaty, that has been in the way for the longest of times.

There are two parts in this and both came from CNN. Part 1 gives us: “A Yemen armed forces spokesman was quoted by the agency as saying the Houthis successfully carried out a “large-scale” operation with 10 drones targeting Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais“, part 2 gives us “CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen said there have been more than 200 drone attacks launched by Houthi rebels from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, and none have been as effective as Saturday’s attack, lending credence to the belief that the attack did not originate from Yemen“, I personally agree with both. From my point of view the attack on Khurais has too many issues. It is close to twice the distance getting the attack from Yemen instead of from Iraq. It is dangerously close to Riyadh and when we look at the track record from Houthi attacks, we see a very different pattern. There are more reliable parts in all this when we consider Hezbollah or Iran to be the direct acting agent here. I have to mention Hezbollah as they have been involved in the past with attacks on Saudi Arabia. Abqaiq is right on the border of Bahrain and close to Qatar. The Houthi skillset does not give us any credibility on their actions, yet they claimed it, as a tool for Iran that could have been done to muddy the waters more, yet there is another matter in all this. I believe that there is a larger concern that is not open for viewing. We see this in the quote: ““It is quite an impressive, yet worrying, technological feat,” he said. “Long-range precision strikes are not easy to achieve and to cause the substantial fires in Abqaiq and Khurais highlights that this drone has a large explosive yield.”” The part not seen or spoken of is not that the attack happened, but it was completed with assistance nearby. The precision is not from the drones, it was most likely achieved as someone used a laser to paint the targets (one of a few optional examples) in the final minute. If the laser was small enough it would not be noticed, but for the drones it is like a searchlight guiding them to the explosive points. That part would make sense in more than one way, and it is the foundation that counts. The claims that were made by Yemen make sense and grow in validity when they have resources on the ground. That part is not merely on the stage of drones, there is a larger concern for Saudi Intelligence now. When they accept that the drones got their final guidance on the ground nearby, we see the impact that explosive drones would have and will have again. Iran has been staging this proxy war for the longest time and it is time for us to consider doing something about it in a more serious way (that is when Canada is done selling intelligence data to interested third parties that is).

There is additional support for my view and it comes from the BBC. They gave us: “One official said there were 19 points of impact on the targets and the attacks had come from a west-north-west direction – not Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, which lies to the south-west of the Saudi oil facilities” to be this precise requires drone technology only the largest players have (like the US and the UK), Iran does not have software that sophisticated and to succeed to this degree required the most likely culprit Iran to have assistance nearby. Painting the targets makes the most sense, but it is not the only option, merely the most likely one. It there were 19 base stations guiding a drone, it would require resources Yemen does not have, it has merely attacks in small clusters of less than 5, the images from the US government satellites involved showed the spread and size of the targets, when you consider resources required to be this precise and the pilot skills involved the shift towards support teams nearby becomes a clear issue. Still there are gaps in the intelligence I admit to that, however, when we look at the maps, the size of the attacks and aligned parameters, an attack from Iraq or Iran are the only options remaining. That in itself is not evidence, yet the premise of what was required is clear and even as we can prove that more basic drone attacks could not have been done by Houthi forces because they lack all levels of infrastructure to create and guide drones to the degree required, we see Iran to be guilty by elimination of other players. The precision requires well trained pilots which the Houthi are not; again we are left with Iran. Actually Iraq might have been party to this, but their drone abilities (read: with additional lacking skill sets to consider) are nowhere near the level required.

This now gets us to the New York Times part which gave us: “Administration officials, in a background briefing for reporters as well as in separate interviews on Sunday, also said a combination of drones and cruise missiles — “both and a lot of them,” as one senior United States official put it — might have been used. That would indicate a degree of scope, precision and sophistication beyond the ability of the Houthi rebels alone” it is the ‘a combination of drones and cruise missiles‘ that pushes Iraq out of the consideration circle leaving Iran all alone. We should consider the skills Iran shows here, and it will also be their undoing. When we consider that only Iran remains as an optional player to do this and when we see that Europe and the US will not actually act, but ‘force’ talks, that is the first instance when Saudi Arabia needs to consider that their allies are nothing more than paper tigers, pussycats that make a lot of noise, but when you know they are sculptures the enemies will come, Saudi Arabia needs to realise this fast and we need to consider that the EU, the US and the commonwealth needs to create an actual plan of attack on Iran. This evidence was handed to us almost 2 weeks ago when we were given ‘Iran puts pressure on Europe to save nuclear deal within 60-day deadline‘, Iran keeps on holding the Nuclear deal as a juicy carrot and will use it to stop a direct attack on them, a path that should now be considered to be totally unacceptable. I for one would like to ‘loan’ a Saudi Eurofighter Typhoon (EF2000) and see if all my hours on a Microprose flight simulator (knights of the sky) were well spent and let’s face it, I do have a quirky sense of humour. I would be able to test my knowledge in guiding that Typhoon to Tehran and level a military building or two, on the other hand seeing their oil fields burn might feel equally rewarding. And there is the optional reward to answer the eternal outstanding question: Can you hear the GBU-16 Paveway II bomb explode whilst you fly a plane?

You think that I am making light of the situation and to some degree I am, the basic need for everyone to realise that Iran has been steering towards war whilst employing the oldest Italian excuse (read: It was not me, I know nothing); This stage has been months in the making and now that the drums of combat are approaching, we will see more and more politicians peaking up offering to start talks. I believe it is too late for that, it is almost 6 months too late for that, but that might just be me.

Yet there is one other voice we need to consider. It is the voice of Fabian Hinz, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey (via the Washington Post). Here we get: “photos of the remnants of a missile in Saudi Arabia show a weapon both too sophisticated to be produced domestically by the Houthis and never seen in Iran“, I only partially agree here. ‘Photos of the remnants of a missile‘ is merely partial evidence that should not be ignored. A multi-tiered attack makes perfect sense, it is the scope of the attack and patterns used that makes Iran stand out; it also gives a larger consideration that their new drones are a lot more powerful. There is also his quote “Is Iran secretly designing, testing and producing missile systems for exclusive use by its proxies?” A quote that is not accurate and not wrong. I believe that earlier evidence showed the need for Iran to scrap all identifiers form their electronics, make clean system boards, in addition, it altered the export drones to trade accuracy in for yield (which maximises the Houthi outstanding debt to Iran), in addition to that they had to make a more idiot proof operating system (the Yemeni are nowhere near the academics they need to be to pilot drones). This is not because I want Iran to be guilty; this is because the elements are so overwhelmingly clear that Iran could not be innocent. There are too many parts in play that require the war machine that Iran has to develop what we see in action at present. And there is every indication that the 60 day nuclear deal deadline is used to stage more and more attacks whilst the indecision of Europe and the US remains in place. If there is one small blessing than it is the stage where the Israeli Defence Forces have even less consideration for Iran than Saudi Arabia has and there is every indication that what is created now in Iran will be shipped to Hezbollah soon enough; forcing Israel to act as well.

When this escalates beyond a point of no return the people in Washington, Wall Street, Brussels and Strasbourg need to consider that when they have no options left and they are no longer considered a voice on the issue: ‘What mattered most to them?

Because these considerations with the inaction we see is what drives the war no one can prevent. Saudi Arabia has a clear right, Israel has a duty to its citizens and Iran never cared for anyone but themselves. So when we see cries for talks when the bombs fall, remember that this did not start last Sunday, this has been going on for well over 6 months. The news merely decided not to report on much of it that was until the fuel prices went up, now they are all over it, but way too late.

 

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Pimping the United States

I initially expected the USA to do stupid things, but this has got to be the most stupid of them all. As the talks are now increasing regarding the acts of dismantling the Dodd-Frank Act, we see the greedy banks walking out into the open making claims he will break the moment the ears of the listeners are out of range. Marcus Stanley from the Americans for Financial Reform stated: “We had experience with Wall Street self-regulation prior to the financial crisis, and it did not work out well,” Stanley said. “When you let industry determine its own rules, it’s going to create more risks. The downside of those risks is going to be pushed to taxpayers and working families”, (at https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/02/01/20645/trump-wall-street-and-banking-caucus-ready-rip-apart-dodd-frank). The problem is that like the journalists in the Leveson trial, these two groups who proclaimed that they could self-regulate, have never been able to do so, greed gets in the way every single time.

If there is an upside, then it will be that the next financial event will have one enormous difference, the moment the US people see that their quality of life returns to a 2009 state, there will be 170-205 million people unanimously agreeing that the President of the United States is to be assassinated, moreover, when that angry mob runs to Washington, the army will not intervene as they will have been hit just as hard as well as their family members. So at that point the Secret Service will need to protect an idiot, whilst they have less than 1% of the ammunition required to stop that angry mob. Good luck to them I say!

qnbIn addition, the bankers who are behind the next collapse will end up being the most wanted man by the American people in history. They will flee to whatever nation they can afford, whilst channeling their wealth to places where the US treasury cannot get at it, so Riyadh might end up being the place of choice for American wealth. American bankers who did not oppose the Travel ban of 7 Muslim nations will be totally dependent on the goodness of another Muslim nation to keep their ill-gotten gains safe, the Irony is just staggering!

But is my prediction over the top? Let’s take a look!

 

 

The financial times (at https://www.ft.com/content/dd4a6698-efe7-11e6-930f-061b01e23655) gives us “Loan growth remains robust,” said Marianne Lake, his counterpart at JPMorgan Chase, while presenting record annual net income of $24.7bn last month. Beyond the headlines, there are signs that certain segments have been squeezed. In products such as credit cards and personal loans, for example, analysts say activity has been damped by fear of censure by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau“, so as certain people see and feel the fear of prosecution through ‘fear of censure by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ we see that this group of financial people have the inherent need for growth and the need for unadulterated bonuses. I will not be able to tell whether this is due to unreasonable revenue per deadline, or just the need to get to the revenue any way possible, unreasonable or not. That is what happened before and messing with Dodd-Frank makes that danger very realistic. In addition, with the US in 20 trillion debt, the next meltdown cannot be covered by the US and in addition, it is my firm believe that the IMF should not be allowed to intervene or hand any bail outs when this happens.

The second part of that is seen in: “In residential mortgages, too, banks and lobby groups complain about the new requirement to determine that the consumer has a “reasonable ability” to repay the loan, based on credit history, income, obligations, debt-to-income ratio, employment status and other information. That has caused a pile-up of paperwork“, The fact that banks are now ‘bitching‘ regarding ‘paperwork‘ to ‘reasonable assure the ability to repay the loan‘ gives rise to even more questions, especially as the need for these answers are needed on a global scale, the fact that we see complaints that seems to indicate that banks just want to hand out cash without clear setting of accountability. In that same article, when we read the part from Laurie Goodman “warranties they need to make to Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage buyer, and the high cost of servicing delinquent loans, among other factors. None of that was in Dodd-Frank“, so if that was not in Dodd-Frank, then why is it an issue?

This issue as you might expect it goes far beyond the Financial Times. There we read from Jonathan Westin the quote “Trump rolled out an executive order to cut Dodd-Frank, and to get rid of regulation that would protect against a financial crisis like the last time“, which gives the first clear indicator that I am stating could be the start for the first Presidential man hunt in American history. The fact that we see (at http://nypost.com/2017/02/12/battle-looms-as-trump-regime-looks-to-gut-dodd-frank/) “a 22,000-page document, could see the abolition of the ban on proprietary trading at Wall Street banks and on predatory lending” gives a clear indication that banks like Sleaze, Succumb & Snatch will be able to get back into business using Tele Marketing schemes to get people to sign up, they only have to be willing to grab those customers by the pony. Is that what America will amount to? I think that the world would be better of having Wall Street regulated by Mosseck Fonseca, who were only out to captivate the rich, because in both cases the IRS will lose out and they will lose out by a lot.

As far as I personally see it, there is a danger with some of this. One of them involve proprietary trading. The dangers is that with proprietary trading, desks were often considered internal hedge funds within the bank, performing in isolation away from client-flow traders. Yet, the danger comes when third party ‘assistants‘ runs between other ‘assistants‘. The first article gave us that with “It also would repeal Dodd-Frank’s Volcker Rule, which now prohibits banks with access to the Federal Deposit Insurance Fund from making certain risky investments“, where we see the part where Volcker also wanted to stop banks using privileged access to ‘cheap’ central bank financing offering PhD models to play the markets for personal gain. Now that model could change through the deployment of ‘disrupters‘ and ‘spark plugs‘ who will set their own circles getting people to stem the revolting tide or support waves of exploitation. Rings within rings, a chosen few to be the supporting role of the market players. It will unhinge the markets and the people at present would have no defence being in any market whilst they are around. It is like playing against the bank, who is the active gambler. Smaller players would have no chance at all, a market that would become less and less stable in a time where the US has absolutely no way of stemming the losses when they hit.

So like Adolf Hitler, Trump promised prosperity, but prosperity for whom? More important, at what expense? When the former German ruler did it, those people all got jobs, in the military industry. Trump has decided to open the financial industry sluices, yet that direction tends to only open the bowels for financial people which comprises less than 1% of the population there. In addition those profits do not make it to the US treasury, so what game is President Trump playing?

These changes have no ability to correct the economy and the 20 trillion debt is not taken care of, nor will it as things evolve the way they are now. In all this we face tough times and if the Trump administration succeeds in dropping the Dodd-Frank Act the dangers of the collapse of the Dollar is close to a certainty. The dollar going, just to set the need for greed to a previous stage unacceptable need, which will also topple the Euro to an untold low value. There is no way to stop it unless part of the Republican Party realises that undoing certain levels of protection will leave everyone in a dangerous place. This is not just me, there are several newspapers coming to the same conclusion, they just didn’t add the risk assessment of the assassination of President Trump yet (they’ll do that after the act). In that, is my prediction that off? There is a precedent. You see, the Scotsman in March 2009 reported ‘Abused in the streets, their homes under attack, will Edinburgh’s bankers ever be forgiven?‘, where we see “A group calling itself Bank Bosses Are Criminals claimed responsibility for the attack on Goodwin’s home and in a statement to the Edinburgh Evening News said: “This is just the beginning … We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless” Scotland has a population of 5.2 million. When things went south, well over 55,000 ended up being homeless. That is over 1% of the Scottish population, there was never no homeless people, but that number went through the roof when the 2008 crash landed on the front doors of nearly every bank. So is my prophecy out of bounds, or does it make sense that the next event in the US, could give rise to millions becoming homeless. Where will at that rage be aimed at? I can tell you that it will be a bad day to be a police officer in the New York financial district at that point, not to mention wherever that Trump tower is at. Look at it from the bright side, with every banker executed a new job openings and new housing becomes available. In the end, the aggregated statistics will balance themselves. That event when it happens will also start the selling off of American infrastructure and State assets. The Russian or Chinese could end up buying these services, just like it was done in Greece. In that case, I’m willing to buy the Pentagon Cray Mainframe for $29.95. I’ll pay $50 if they throw in a functional Bell UH-1Y Venom or a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

The things you can get when a financial system gets pimped, life has its upsides for all except the victims of such rash undertakings!

 

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Perception from the outside

It is hard to write about this. Not because of the topic, but because of the implications that derive from the thoughts I have. You see, I have thus far always had faith in the intelligence branch. When we look beyond the implied Hollywood drama of all matters, the intelligence branch is a dedicated underpaid group trying to keep its nation and its citizens safe. Yet, what lies beneath the veneer when we look deeper into certain matters. Are they for real or are we all played by the press to some extent?

This is at the foundation, as we cannot rely on any first-hand information, especially when the press is part of it, we are left with a question mark. One that might not need answering, but one that should not be ignored, this is at the core of me, for better or worse, I seek answers.

This all started yesterday when I got wind of a Guardian article at the earliest of dawn, as a final paper was due, I just left it to look at later (that later is now). The article is ‘Lee Rigby murder: internet firm could have picked up killer’s message – report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-murder-internet-firm-could-have-picked-up-killers-message-report-says).

Now, this should be a shock, especially to the family members of Lee Rigby, so why is this even a story? It starts with the first paragraph “Internet companies face intense demands to monitor messages on behalf of the state for signs of terrorist intent after an official report into the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby said one of his killers wrote on a website – later named as Facebook – of his desire to slaughter a soldier, without the security services knowing“, was this written by someone who had a clue? If we consider CNet (at http://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-processes-more-than-500-tb-of-data-daily/), we see that Facebook processes 500 Tb a day, now this is all manner of data, yet consider another indirect connection when we see ‘Tesco director facing questions about lobbying government over dirty chicken report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/25/-sp-tesco-director-facing-questions-lobbying-government-dirty-chicken-report), the first paragraphs says it all (as far as information goes) “Former FSA chief Tim Smith understood to have warned Department of Health that revealing food poisoning contamination rates could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when we add the text “Tim Smith is understood to have warned the Department of Health in June that FSA proposals for publishing results, which included naming and shaming individual supermarkets, could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when was all this released to the media? how much delay was there? Consider the implication of the statement in there that “it kills around 100 people and makes an estimated 280,000 sick each year“, now we get back to the implied message that might have saved Lee Rigby, if we take that a message in total is no more than 60Kb (it is a lot smaller, but could include graphics), we are looking at 8 billion messages each day (those we make, we forward or share, those we get offered as advertisement). Now, there is more, Facebook has applications with within that application message options. Not one or two, but a few dozen, which means additional messages, like simple online messengers, all that data, now also consider the implied message that the Guardian mentioned. “The report said the authorities were never told that one of the killers, Michael Adebowale, wrote of his murderous intent six months before he and his accomplice, Michael Adebolajo, brutally attacked Rigby in May 2013 in a street near his military barracks and attempted to behead him“, so finding the message, investigating it and acting on it. In well over 2.5 billion optional threats, the National lottery in the UK has better odds of winning a big price in it, so how did all this come about?

Here we get to the issue “The ISC chair, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, accused internet companies of providing a “safe haven” to terrorists but said a despite a string of failings by the security services, which had repeatedly monitored both men before the attack, there was nothing they could have done to prevent the murder of Rigby“, here I start having an issue, particularly with Sir Malcolm. Consider one sincere threat in a place where there are millions of threats, boasts and pranks, all claiming something pretentiously grandiose. It is my believe that Sir Malcolm is all about trying something different and he going about it the wrong way, he is trying to get to Damascus, via Washington and Los Angeles. Not the brightest route to take. Apart from the approach he is implying to take, he is also forgetting about a series of events that he needs to take, which will fail and in the process will enable commercial companies to actually hammer down on consumers in the wrong way. Does Sir Malcolm realise that, or did he intentionally forget about that part?

What did I mean by that? You see, the intelligence branch has access to enhanced statistical algorithms; they match it via other created profiles. Now, normally such a profile is only created when a person has too many flags in his/her name. For example members of an extreme faction, people with links to organised crime and those with additional political agendas. There is a bunch of reasons which will result on the eye of the intelligence community on you. For the most they are checked every now and then and if nothing happens, nothing happens, it is that simple, which an accumulative approach to sifting data tends to be. This is all good and proper; it is a way to protect national interests. For the most they end up verifying that you are not a threat, or not a concern to them, it comes with their territory.

The intelligence branch has resources, they are there, but they are finite. Sir Malcolm seems to be pushing for a change that is extremely dangerous, you see, at some point, Facebook, Google and others will all be shanghaied into becoming ‘volunteers’ in data oversight. They will get all kinds of tax breaks, so there will be interesting benefits for these data farms, but now we get to the real dangers. At one point, they want more and push for a change that will allow these farms access to those advanced algorithms, now we get a new problem, now we see a change where those farms will get to analyse US ALL! they will have the algorithms and the linked data no commercial enterprise should ever be allowed to have, now we will all be set into those who get access (viable as retail commodity) and those who do not matter, we will get marketed into oblivion, but now directly into the realms we use to love, it will be a push to sway us into a direction we never wanted to go, our freedom becomes a point of pressure. Consider, you might love ‘the Office’, once social media digs deep, how much will you enjoy getting 10-20 sales pitches a day on your personal interests? How long until you stop sharing interests?

Now consider the following:

The ISC said in its report: “Whilst we note that progress has started to be made on this issue, with the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Drip) and the appointment of the special envoy on intelligence and law-enforcement data-sharing, the problem is acute. The prime minister, with the National Security Council, should prioritise this issue”.

The part not mentioned or looked at is data retention. I wrote about it on October 2nd 2014 in ‘Advice from the press?‘ there I wrote “I am still convinced that if data retention becomes a larger issue, the intelligence community will be lacking in hardware, knowledge and staff to deal with these massive amounts of data, which leaves us open to other issues, yet this is just my view!“, now we see a push that social media will do more scanning.

The next two paragraphs illustrate certain dangers down the track: “Adebolajo, the more dominant of the two, had featured in five MI5 investigations and Adebowale in two, but none found evidence of an attack. The ISC said MI5 made errors and was plagued by delays, but even if corrected none of this would have helped the security service to spot the level of danger posed by the attackers before they struck“, so how could we have kept Lee Rigby alive? The information to the better extent is stating that this would not have been the case and I am not the only one thinking this.

When we consider “The Guardian understands senior figures in MI6 expressed anger at the criticisms in the report. One source familiar with the committee’s work said: “It is fair to say that the chaps across the river are not happy at all.”“, we see another part. This is not just within the UK, the UK needs to protect itself, especially with the ISIS acceleration we see all over North Africa and in the Middle-East; this all requires a new strategy. Data is at the centre of it, that part is correctly seen by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the ISC. Yet, my issue is the view the man seems to have in regards to integrity. Commercial enterprises have no integrity and to a larger extent, neither do internet providers. So we have an upcoming issue. The next part you the reader might observe is the part that was not clearly seen in the article and it has been part of the events that miss one item as we see these discussions.

What time is it?

Yes, the timeline! That is part of all this. No matter how lovely that ‘donut’ looks in London, the people there have been delaying with an increased amount of data. I personally would consider it to be in excess of 30% in growth per year, which means that the data collectors and analytical group grows over 100% in size in a little over 3 years, the accumulated requirement for the UK, and beyond that the Commonwealth requires growth beyond that. In my view, letting places like Facebook crunch that data and giving them access to some of these algorithms is clearly a bad idea. In addition, consider that these firms could harbour ‘sympathisers’ to chaos. Once these algorithms gets into other hands, how long until those supporting ISIS and like-minded extremists will get a handle on lowering their profile even further, making this entire approach pointless?

That danger is twofold, storage, which is the non-essential part. As storage seems to become cheaper and cheaper, that part will be decently manageable overall, the other part is the issue, processing power. We can want for all the processors we can, but the power processors of tomorrow are less and less equipped to deal with such a growing load of data. Now consider that this is just Facebook, how much additional data will we need to see mail providers, twitter, Instagram and loads of other multi Gigabyte collecting options. There is no denying that data needs to be looked at, yet direct data crunching is less and less an option. The question becomes how to tackle it, can or even the question should it be tackled like this at all?

That is the dangerous side, isn’t it? When we are confronted with such an abundance of data, why seek the pressured solution? Let’s not forget that the example taken here, namely Lee Rigby, would not have been saved. So why try to seek a solution in such a pressured environment? Consider the lottery example; if 1,000 out of the 5 billion are death threats, we get a number one in 5 million, now we need to tackle these 1000 messages, which ones are genuine? Consider that some are below the radar, which means that some could be WRONGLY disregarded. Add to that the danger of a prank jest where a group and all THEIR friends send one threat regarding a VIP, politician or regent. It would drown out intelligence resources in mere minutes.

So yes, no one denies that something must be done, yet giving social media these responsibilities is not the best idea, giving them access in some way to other algorithms is less a solution, we are in a shift of dimensions, an interaction of data dimensions and profiling intelligence. Consider the NSA data center in Utah, costing over 5 billion in total, in addition, the cost of electricity, manpower and other costs, taking it to an additional 50 million a year (for just one location). Now consider that this centre will need to grow processing power in excess of 50% within two years, how much additional costs will it require? Add to this the energy needs, well over 60 Megawatts, yet within 2 years, that could be closer to 80 megawatts. That means in excess of 10 wind turbines, just for one location, the equivalent of 15,000 households of energy. I think that certain parties are not thinking in the right location, if we disregard the lack of expertise and an offer (in abundance) of revenue based (read commission seeking) expertise, it seems to me that even though data should never be ignored, certain approaches will require a different hand.

Perhaps it is not a new solution they need, but to reinstate a very old one.

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