Sunday, September 17, 2017

Irma in my neighborhood

It is not an everyday experience to dodge a hurricane. As Naples was right in the path of Irma, we moved East to stay with our daughter. Damage in Naples is impressive mostly in areas that are low lying, older homes built before the stringent building codes after hurricane Andrew in 1992, and in communities with manufactured housing.

There are still parts of Naples without power, communications, and with no access because of flooding. There has been a curfew from 9-6, there are restrictions on water, stores are slowly reopening, so are gas stations. Schools will not reopen until September 25.

In my community all construction is post-Andrew with high standards for building codes, and it shows: buildings don't have catastrophic damage, but sometimes important ones. However, the storm has devastated landscaping, sometimes breaking and felling trees that normally would withstand your "common" hurricane.

A photo collection from around where I live: the fallen trees.






















Thursday, March 30, 2017

Jean-Claude Juncker: USEXIT


Texas, as seen from the Florida coast. Photo ET





















Jean-Claude Juncker: USEXIT

It must have been in the afternoon, after lunch, so around 3 – 4 PM. It was a good lunch I presume. The President of the European Commission, shortly after the “digestif” finally drew the day’s conclusion: we’ll split the US. Yep! Ohio, and Austin, Texas. If President Trump does not stop saluting the Brexit.

There Mr. President you can see the writing on the wall, by our greatest graffiti artist. Beautiful wall.

After “The Mouse That Roared
Juncker should not be ignored.

Generally US media tried to be nice with the pre-April Fools Story:

Real Clear Politics told the story as is, and that is funny by itself.

The British Express treated him as the boss. Expressit.


Bloomberg however was kind and gentle and improved the story by prepping up the Texas angle. Texas has indeed a right to secede. Texas could also make it on its own: it has its own distilleries.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

White Collar Crimes


My Orchids. Phalaenopsis "Spotted Soul" Photo ET







































This is an excerpt of a remarkable article by Alice BrightSky, senior director of Fordham Law's compliance programs
WhyPeople Commit White Collar Crimes (And How to Stop Them).
… Perpetrators of many white collar crimes were not career criminals who set out to defraud their employers, clients, and shareholders, but rather businessmen and women … who committed criminal acts in response to overwhelming personal pressures.

One felon states … “Most white collar crimes are the cover-ups that come after a bad decision."
Duke University cognitive science professor Dan Ariely digs deeper into the nature of bad decision-making. Among his conclusions were the discoveries that a culture of dishonesty often leads to individual dishonesty, and that the ability to rationalize dishonesty helps promote dishonest acts.
As another expert in behavioral economics and psychology, Daniel Kahneman, … states that …. “the illusions of validity and skill are supported by a powerful professional culture.  We know that people can maintain an unshakeable faith in almost any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers.”

Here is the link again to the article:




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Truth Technologies at age 20


My Orchids: Brassia. Photo ET



Truth Technologies at age 20

A selfie, sort of

This last November 15th www.truthtechnologies.com reached age 20. Incorporated on November 15th, 1996 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Great ideas, great people, great plans. Helping corporations and financial institutions around the world fighting financial crime.

























Saturday, November 12, 2016

A US presidential election unlike any other


Phalaneopsis Bernie Trump






























A US presidential election unlike any other


Born in Luxembourg, living in the US for 27 years, after 6 Presidential elections, familiar with Power on both sides of the Atlantic, following US and international news daily, this is my attempt to explain why the US elections took Europeans (and Americans) off-guard. It is their own fault, to just allow establishment and Press to stuff them with industrialized comments disguised as “news”and propaganda, and explain away the obvious.



I am at a conference in Curaçao, where people have not yet recovered from Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. "Yet," says Miguel from a large local bank, "we are generally well informed by CNN about what is happening on the continent. Nobody expected that to happen."

In Luxembourg reactions are similar. Surveys had given a 3% support to Donald Trump, 71% to Hillary Clinton. This is also the indirect result of the information, rigged as we will see, by the same CNN. Yet by coolly analyzing the movements of the last ten days of the election campaign, I came to the conclusion that Trump could win up to 40 states, and with that the Presidency! But to arrive at this conclusion, it was necessary to include statistically some emotional but quantifiable imponderables that exist in the opinion movements of large crowds.

What has really happened is an incredible mystification of the public by a series of strategic mistakes made by both parties, a deception by the media that no longer hide their preferences and interfere in the debate to favor their candidate, the failure to recognize the phenomenon of the universal rejection of the political correctness (1) in the United States as well as in Europe, and the failure to master, or even the rigging of the statistical tool by the opinion pollsters, who end up promoting their own preferred predictions. The public went into a rebellion. Rare are still those today who perceive and measure the great fundamental upheaval in the political life of the United States. It happens before our eyes.

Elections are no longer coronations

American democracy is no longer what it used to be, at least not as it was conceived over 240 years ago. American politics has become a cynical science in which the best strategists and tacticians take pleasure in circumventing the precepts of the constitution, of customs, and are often simply ignoring the law. A polarized electorate is ready to either condemn or justify transgressions, even crimes. The result is an arrogant political class that is above the law, and generates an occult power by particular interests and dominant lobbies. And personal ambitions take political parties hostage in a mafia atmosphere. No, this is not a place for choirboys.

So, just over a year ago, even if you only followed the news by chance, you will surely have learnt that the 2016 elections were going to be a duel between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. One being the wife of a former President, the other the son and brother of two former Presidents. Hillary against Jeb, as if the Republic were destined to be governed by alternating dynasties, either Bush or Clinton. Such was the will of the occult forces which ruled the parties.

One person, one vote, one candidate!

Was this the new American democracy in the image of North Korea? The Democratic and Republican parties had indeed chosen a strategy of the inevitable result. For Democrats, Hillary Clinton should not have a viable counter-candidate in the primaries at all, so to quickly get to the scenario of one person, one vote, one candidate. For Republicans, Jeb Bush would have competitors, but they would be crushed with millions of dollars in marketing and advertising attacks. The Presidential election would then be a duel Hillary-Jeb, each spending at least a billion dollars to choke-off the other. But one of them would be President.

After Jeb's elimination early in the selection of the primaries, we were already headed for the crowning of "Hillary", a princess heiress in her own right, who as the first woman would inherit the White House by the grace of feminism. It is curious that the America of the "We the People" has become undemocratic to the point that only two dynasties should present Presidential candidates.

When "We the People" revolt

The beautiful strategies concocted by the Electoral Princes of both parties had a catch, in both cases: Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans. The two were not supposed to last long in the primaries, as political correctness would have dictated. To the contrary, we were witnessing an orgy of political incorrectness. The voter, extenuated to be restricted to a handkerchief of liberties, has given free rein to his rancor accumulated for years. And the voter punished the enforcers of the single uniform way of thought of political correctness.

To find some explanations, let’s return to the Primary process. It is the democratic process to select a Presidential candidate from a pool of applicants in the two main parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. The primary elections began in Iowa on February 1, 2016 with a "caucus", a kind of direct democracy, followed by elections in New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and finally in July, State by State. It is complicated.

We must first of all know that these primary elections are not organized by the government but by the parties, which are in fact private associations that borrow the state's infrastructure for these elections. These primary elections are either reserved for registered members of the party, or open to everyone depending on the state. The local party sets the rules. The consultation is either in the form of secret ballots or a caucus, a kind of gathering during which a winner is distilled by joining the faction of one or the other candidate, a public vote by show of hands.

This process of primaries is a first element of divergence with European practices. It is the voter who selects candidates for the Presidency, and in principle not the nomenclature of the party as in Europe, where those impose their candidates. In the trajectory toward the nomination, a candidate must skillfully navigate political sensitivities, and sometimes with agility lean more to the right or to the left. This is because both parties each cover a broad ideological spectrum, and the left wing of the Republican Party may have representatives farther left than the right-wing members of the Democratic Party. The history of the parties is astonishing also for their contradictory destinies. Thus the Republican Party of Lincoln, the anti-slavery party, usually does not have a big percentage of the vote of the black electorate. This is the area reserved for the Democrats, although historically linked to the Ku Klux Klan with the last prominent former member being Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia until 2010. So left and right are really recognizable only in their extreme wings. The rest is a pragmatic "mainstream", often "Independent," where it is not unusual to see characters change from one party to another. Some examples are Ronald Reagan, Michael Bloomberg and yes, Donald Trump. But these election campaigns were brutal in their form, and superficial in their programs.

Dal Bo den Bo boka

Americans would say: “Excuse my French.” Though this is really Papiamento from Curaçao and means: “I’ll punch your mouth.” At recess of course, to stay at elementary school level. By hearing the diatribes of Donald Trump, Lying Ted, Little Marco and Crooked Hillary, one borrows easily their language of the past 16 months! Uncle Joe (Vice President Biden) even challenged Donald: he would wait for the Donald behind the gym. And the Donald said, "I just blow, and Joe bites the dust."

After these clarifications on the major strategies of the future, Trump played “little doctor”, where an open mic met national prudery. It became a schoolyard affair fitting 3rd grade elementary. And Hillary got angry too. She treated the obtuse who wouldn’t vote for her as "deplorable", all the way shouting like a concierge in the staircase. That was expensive: you do not insult voters, only competitors. Donald said she was an inveterate liar. She said that he did not respect women. He said no, that that was her husband Bill. It was a bit tiring, and the voter did not really like either, with an unpopularity rating up to about 75% each.

150% of Americans did not like their candidates

I’m joking of course, in the face of the pollsters who miserably failed their little calculations and predictions. I just added the two unpopularity ratings, 75% + 75% equals 150%. This is obviously an intentionally false and impossible figure, a derisive demonstration of how polls lacked scientific rigor. Mathematically, however, one can conclude that 50% to 75% of Americans did not like either of the two candidates. This means that the voter didn’t decide on which of the two candidates was the best, but which of the two was the least bad. The public decided that it preferred the Donald's volcanic temperament and the political movement he created to the Clinton shenanigans, under constant “investigation” of a now politicized FBI.

CNN, Clinton News Network?

CNN is the epitome of the bad news for the Press which in fact loses its status of fourth power since these elections. The Press was of course not neutral in these elections. On many occasions, it has abandoned its duty of neutrality through selective reporting and intentionally biased stories about both candidates. We know the leanings to the left of the big TV channels, to the right of Fox News and the many radios with their syndicated programs across the country. This really violates the public’s right to know, to know the Truth that is.

CNN stood out being caught with the hand in the cookie jar. CNN was providing Hillary Clinton with advance questions for interviews and debates, according to WikiLeaks, deserving since the nickname of Clinton News Network. As consumers of news, have we become what we consume? Miguel from Curaçao has only CNN as main source of information. European journalists are also watching CNN to concoct their message. No wonder that for lack of choice and personal investigation and analysis, they espouse the bias of those they listen to, including errors and omissions. In these circumstances, the risk of making mistakes is not controllable. It is at low tide that you see who doesn’t wear a bathing suit.

As WikiLeaks brought to light the proximity of certain Press organizations and the political caste, the agitation of his own party against Sanders, the disavowal of Trump by the tenors of his party, it is clear that the heads of both parties have been cut off their bodies.

Wall Street is now Democrat, Main Street and Elm Street are Republican

This is the great upheaval that I mentioned above. It's the world upside down. In the past, electoral clienteles wanted what the leaders of both parties wanted: Hillary or Jeb. It is neither the one nor the other anymore. Bernie Sanders, as one of the two insurgents alongside Trump, would have been more likely to succeed than Hillary, who in fact was not an ideal candidate, with too many attacking angles and weak flanks.

The result of this politico-societal imbroglio is that the middle class is no longer aligned with the interests and aspirations of the elites of the Democratic Party. These elites have lost their party. The Republican elites do not find themselves in the aspirations of the new supporters of the party, including unions! This party lost its elites. The Press has lost public confidence, and public opinion magicians have lost their credibility. Where is America going? It goes in the direction of the fourth power, but that no longer is the Press. The fourth power is now the Bureaucracy, the Great Servants of the State in the Agencies.

In the meantime there will be bad losers who will break their neighborhood for a few more days, CNN will show the protests 24/7, President Hollande will swallow his heartburns, the European Union will seek its compass, and some will finally read the American Constitution
.

(1) The perverse effects of politically correct. (French).15 January 2016. http://tinyurl.com/hp59d5h

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Luxembourg’s Nation Brandy in the Daily Mail


My Orchids: "Vertigo". Photo ET

Luxembourg’s Nation Brandy in the Daily Mail


Oops, I meant Nation Branding. Here is the Daily Mail:

"I'm not drunk, it's just the way I walk! EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker dismisses rumours he's an alcoholic and blames injury for appearing drunk"




Monday, September 12, 2016

Luxembourg as honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians?


My Orchids. Phalaneopsis. Peace in Our Time.
Photo ET























Luxembourg as honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians?

The Jerusalem Post reports: "Prime Minister Bettel has invited me to Luxembourg, and he said the Palestinians might also come there," Netanyahu said. "Therefore, it's either Moscow or Luxembourg," he asserted in reference to a Russian-offered meeting between himself and Abbas that has yet to come to fruition. 

"We'll see, either one - or any other place," he added, reiterating that Israel is "always ready for direct negotiations without preconditions."

We probably have to chill out. Moscow might offer more. Unless a small unbiased partner (is Asselborn?) could try to bring both ends together.

We tried in the past. Actually in the early 70ies, King Hussein of Jordan came to Luxembourg in an attempt to try something. And on another occasion the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban came too. Arafat’s PLO was still in active terror mode. So as a young Platoon leader in the Luxembourg Armed Forces I was assigned among many others to the security task force.

As such a mission was not the standard, soldiers had to be trained with some legal considerations when engaging a suspected terrorist. Which at the time was: “Shout Stop! If the suspect doesn’t obey shout again: Stop, or I open fire! If the suspect doesn’t stop his aggression, fire one shot in the air. If he still doesn’t stop, open fire at him!”


There was some silence. Then one of the men asked the perfect legal question: “Does it matter in which sequence we follow all those four steps?”