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Anonymous, Chinese Hackers, RickRolling and ISIS

Anonymous, the murky global and leaderless hacking group has struck out on a campaign to disrupt ISIS’ sophisticated use of the Internet and social media. It claims to have disabled over 11,000 identified ISIS Twitter accounts with looped Rick Astley videos. For those of you not familiar with Rick Astley, he was a 1980’s British pop star of limited talent, whose videos are sometimes painful to watch. For unknown reasons, Astley’s videos have been used in a variety of online pranks and hacking incidents. So Anonymous did the convenient thing and used old Astley videos, a tactic now known as “RickRolling”, to disrupt and confound ISIS Twitter and other social media accounts. I like it. Striking back in this way is probably causing smiles in the French Intelligence Service, U.S. Defense Department, NSA, and GCHQ in the UK.

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Pfizer’s Corporate Tax “Inversion” To Ireland: Masqueraded Tax Evasion

Pfizer’s announcement this week of its intricate $160 Billion merger/acquisition with Irish pharmaceutical company Allergan, revealed that Pfizer will be moving the new corporate headquarters to Dublin. Essentially, Pfizer, the much larger company, is providing a bridging loan to Allergan to purchase Pfizer so that it may move to Ireland. This enables Pfizer to avoid paying U.S. taxes, even after receiving massive support for R&D from U.S. government programs.

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Are Venture Capitalists And Big Ideas Converging Again?

My biggest complaint with venture capital and the current entrepreneurial landscape is the lack of Big Ideas— the superficiality of the technology sector. “We were promised flying cars and we got 140 characters” –Peter Thiel. We also got corporate greed masquerading as “the sharing economy.”

Many other well-known observers of this industry share my complaint. Some argue that these Big Ideas are too big for private investment, and can only be funded by governments with the resources and vision to accomplish such large long term projects. I disagree. The semiconductor industry, on the bleeding edge of quantum mechanics, was funded almost exclusively by private venture investors. Another example may be nuclear fusion. Large-scale projects, like ITER, funded by the European Union at the Cadarache facility in southern France, and the National Ignition Facility in Livermore California, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy are being seriously challenged by Canadian and U.S. startups funded by private venture capital, and seeking to beat the large projects to the goal of renewable solar energy.

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IMF report cuts growth outlook for Canada to 1.0 per cent for this year

OTTAWA – The International Monetary Fund has cut its growth outlook for the Canadian economy to just 1.0 per cent for the year, due to the drop in oil prices and reduced investment in the energy sector. Source: IMF report cuts growth outlook for Canada to 1.0 per cent for this year OTTAWA – The […]

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KPMG Canadian Tax Scheme Suspiciously Similar to UBS Tax Evasion Fraud

Canada is routinely cited as a boring backwater in financial services that has none of the scandals plaguing the rest of the industry. But in an extraordinary investigative report on The National, CBC’s Ian Hanomansing revealed an ongoing Canada Revenue Agency investigation, and a looming criminal investigation into KPMG Canada’s Isle of Man tax “haven” scheme reserved for its wealthiest clients. The report names names, one particular Vancouver Island KPMG client family, and shady shell companies. Current Canadian government ministers are also implicated in apparent conflicts of interest. I was particularly struck by the similarity of the KPMG Canada scheme to similar tax evasion schemes in both the European Union and the United States which have been the subject of criminal investigations, admissions of guilt, and substantial fines. Of particular note is the UBS tax evasion scheme which has led Swiss and U.S. authorities to prosecute senior UBS executives. The key similarity between the Swiss tax evasion fraud, and the Canadian KPMG situation is the attempt to stand on professional-client privilege, essentially secrecy. It is the refusal of KPMG, backed by CPA, to reveal client information in the government inquiry. In the case of the Swiss, this defense collapsed ignominiously, and led to the wave of prosecutions on Swiss financial institutions. A larger question now looms. Which other Canadian firms and financial institutions may have similar tax evasion schemes?

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Roger Sugden

UBC Okanagan Dean Roger Sugden: Is He Worth $216,740? What Is Your Take?

After last year’s Faculty of Management public relations fiasco caused exclusively by the Dean himself, Roger Sugden appears to have resurrected from the proverbial dead. Following the incident, many were shocked and surprised to learn that an outside consultant concluded that the Dean was not a problem. The problem in the FOM was judged to be a small clique of dissatisfied faculty members. Has Dean Sugden’s performance actually recovered and improved? Is he leading the Faculty of Management with forthright leadership? Some say that the Dean has become the invisible man, more unavailable than ever. What is your take on Dean Sugden’s job performance and his salary?

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Uber’s Distortion of the Sharing Economy

I found this important editorial opinion piece in The Guardian, the UK journal. The point of this is, IMHO, a critically important moral issue. Many of these new corporate entities, Uber in particular, when viewed without their sheep’s clothing, are doing nothing more than joining the global corporate drive to eliminate the middle class, local […]

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Why Are We Losing Our Global Influence?

As we are now on the verge of U.S. Congressional ‘fast track” approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, and simultaneously a severe challenge to the integrity of the European Union as Greece and the EU cannot seem to agree on terms to avoid a catastrophe, perhaps it is worth stepping back to consider these complex issues from a higher perspective. None of us has concrete answers. One thing is clear: the U.S. position as a global leader is under serious challenge.

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This viral video shows Japan’s bullet trains being cleaned in 7 minutes flat

Originally posted on Quartz:
Japan’s bullet train or shinkansen has long embodied the miracle of the country’s progress and efficiency. But it’s not just the trains that are quick. A 7-minute video showing an army of cleaners clearing the cars in a record time has gone viral. The clip, created by the American journalist Charli James, shows…

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big ideas

BIG IDEAS: Physics At The Crossroads

This is another in my occasional series on Big Ideas. Last night I had my first opportunity to watch Particle Fever, the acclaimed 2014 documentary on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle. This followed my reading of a much more recent New York Times Op-Ed, describing a crisis in physics resulting from the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Essentially, the science of physics has no ability any time in the foreseeable future to experimentally go beyond the Higgs Boson. Physics is unlikely to be able to find The Holy Grail: a unifying Theory of Everything tying Einstein and the Higgs Boson into one simple elegant explanation.

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