Categories
applied science

The closer your mortality gets the more you are willing to compromise

In the past I’ve pointed to society’s reluctance to accept emerging medical technology that might tinker with the stuff that defines our basic biological makeup – our DNA.

Back in the 90’s then-president Clinton put a ban on stem cell research using cell lines derived from human and fetuses. The argument was that it might promote pregnancies for cell production not babies. That their might arise a business that could prey on the financially strapped women in society to give up fetuses much as blood donors sell their blood. Oh, and the whole fetuses are babies played a part as well because it doesn’t matter how arcane and out of date your beliefs might be – you still have a vote. And politicians are very conscious of that.
While the amendment did not specify placentas the controversial nature of the technology brought a lot of things into discussion and many non-technical people don’t recognize the difference, politicians and voters among them. The controversy still exists.

Now we’re fighting COVID-19. Many people are dying. Economies are crumbling. A vaccine is a year or more away by best estimate.

Then there’s this: “Israeli COVID-19 treatment shows 100% survival rate – preliminary data”

100% Survival (in 6 out of 6 test patients)

That’s Great! The USA which now has the worst infection crisis in the world must be really happy, right?

Maybe. We’ll see.

Will it become available in the USA if it actually works?
Will Americans take it if it becomes available?

Why in the world would he ask that question you’re wondering. Of course they will.

Well if they stand by their convictions a whole bunch of the conservative, anti-abortion, religions people will find themselves in a quandary because this treatment is derived from STEM cells taken from placentas.

Will they take it?
If their loved ones have taken sick and this is offered as an option will they reject it based on principles?
Will they take it and then go ahead and still vote for the same short-sighed politicians pandering to their base with lies and fear? (of course you might think I’m talking about the GOP . . . but politicians of all stripes will go there)

Will Trump allow it?
He professes to love Israel but also backs the right-to-life movement back home. He’ll probably say its okay because it was placentas and not fetuses – an argument I expect a lot will use on themselves.

The company, Pluristem, was allowed to try this out because there is a compassionate use out in the healthcare laws in Israel. If the patients are looking like they will die anyway then there is a use case. Here is a link to the PDF of their press release on this.

It’s not a vaccine – it won’t keep you from catching the disease. But if you get sick with it this can keep you from dying. I hope this works out and people can get an effective treatment for when they get the disease. To keep them from dying.

Categories
applied science

Aerosolizing Bugs

As you encounter people indoors please think of them as large, ambulatory, infection sprayers.
Because that’s what we all are.

When you Yell or Cough or Sneeze and the crap coming out of your mouth circulates in the air. Every drop holding millions of little bug bombs if you’re sick. Bacteria. Viruses.

The Japanese have done some studying of this and can show you just how many and how far and long these droplets go.

So unless your indoor setting has good ventilation with good air exchange to the outside you’re sitting in a hot box for bug transmission.

How long can you hold your breathe?

Categories
applied science

Trying UVC Disinfection

NOTE: There’s an Update below.

It’s Pandemic time and we’re all concerned about our health and safety. And the health and safety of those around us.

What if you have a retail store? How do you keep that clean?

My partner has a small retail store and until they tell her that her store has to close, or one of our household comes down with symptoms, it will stay open. If we have to do deliveries and not have an open door we will do that. Because it’s part of the Supply Chain – there is only one office supply outlet in our town and this is it. Local government, businesses and services get certain supplies from it. Even though their public serving face may be shut the internal operations don’t stop. Until they run out of things like printer paper, ink, toner, laminating pouches, staples, file folders . . . the mundane things that keep the system functioning. That’s where office supplies come in . . . essentially.

The problem: customers come in and as they look for what they need they will touch things . . . and unless someone follows them around and notes / cleans everything they touch those surfaces will be potential points of contact infection. Seeing as it’s a single owner/proprietor serving customers in person, by phone and email, dealing with vendors and running a store . . . she’s not going to do that. Or employ another person to do it pushing the constraints of physical distancing in a small store. Going around with disinfecting wipes after hours would use a lot of wipes and time . . . if there were wipes to be had (these are one of the things that disappear of the shelves regularly)

Even after this period of trying to flatten the curve is past in the long run COVID-19 is likely going to be in the wild forever. Like the Flu or the common cold.

So the value of disinfecting public spaces is just being brought more into focus.

I wondered about other means – and I went looking for UV as one of those. UV is the invisible (to us) part of the light spectrum beyond violet. It’s the stuff that gives you radiation damage every summer – you call that sun tan but it’s really mild radiation burn.

UV covers a wide spectrum of frequencies.

The ‘black light’ we all have seen that causes some material to fluoresce into light is the closest to visible violet and we call it UV-A.

UV-B is a bit further away from visible light and this is the stuff that gives you sun burn . . . and skin cancer.

UV-C is even further from visible and thankfully is blocked by the upper atmosphere acting as a protective filter. The concern about holes in the Ozone layer has to do with UV-C – we really don’t want that penetrating down to the surface because it can be very harmful to living things. If can break down the Oxygen molecules in the air causing them to reform as Ozone which is also a harmful-to-living-things substance.

I was researching to find out if UV-C technology could be useful in disinfecting spaces. It turns out that this is exactly where industry and medicine have been going.

This is a small vlog about my UVC lamp purchase and why I think it was a good score.

I offer this for information purposes only.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU USE THIS IF YOU ARE UNTRAINED OR UNSURE.
YOU COULD GET HURT

No one paid me to talk about the product I talk about in this video
https://www.swordfishuv.com/HowItWorks/HowItWorks/tabid/73/Default.aspx

The CNET video I borrowed from is here

A PowerPoint on “How to UV Ozone Cleaning”
https://chem.uiowa.edu/sites/chem.uiowa.edu/files/people/shaw/Scarlett-How%20to%20UV-OZONE%20Sep_15th.pdf

A Wiki on UV Germicidal Irradiation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet_germicidal_irradiation

Disinfection Robots

Wellwit
Hipac
Skytron


UPDATE MARCH 26

I put the lamp to work last night . . . just a first try with a very temporary setup.

The unit is taped to the top of a pair of empty printer paper boxes which sit on a small wheeled platform. The power cord is plugged into a long extension cord which is plugged into a power bar with an On/Off switch.

NO OZONE

I mentioned in my first video that it generates Ozone – apparently this particular brand of lamp is ‘ozone free. My bad though I suspect it’s not completely without some ozone generation. Here is a link to their FAQ page where they talk about that.

During my test when the lamp had been running in place for 5 minutes I noticed a mild smell – likely a minimal amount of ozone is generated in the space around the tube. It’s not in a moving air column so the ozone doesn’t dissipate that fast.

My first idea was to leave it in place for 5 minutes then moved it a small distance (a meter or two) and leave it there for 5 minutes. After some research I’ve come to think that this is excessive – too much time would lead to bleaching of the colors in the packaging of products exposed to the light for that long. Repeated daily use would show this up eventually. So I’ll have to consider how long is needed to perfor mthe disinfecting role adequately.

The second aisle, a narrow one, I changed tactics. For the first half I stood around the corner at the end cap and slowly dragged the unit along the aisle. Really slowly. The second half saw me as far as possible from the lamp unit while I pulled on the extension cord. Very primitive.

This time I was manually moving the unit but in an ideal situation the unit would move on its own. Or there would be some sort of external mechanical system to pull it along evenly.

This is giving me ideas . . . but I have to rein in my imagination and try and limit it to how do I pull or push this thing around in some semi-automatic fashion?

It’s April 1st and in the intervening time I’ve put a lot of thought into this . . . and I’m going to curtail exploring this publicly for a while because I’m now trying to figure out something that might be a business idea as well and I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet.

I’ll post things and updates as and when I can without letting certain things out too soon.

Categories
applied science Uncategorized

When the Killer Robot Has You Dead To Rights – Do the Watusi

I’m not saying that that is an actual viable tactic that would work but after reading this article you might consider it to be a viable last ditch attempt, a hail Mary pass as they say, to save your life from an AI with a weapon.

Readers of this blog might be forgiven for thinking I’ve drunk the AI Kool-Aid because I guess I have in a way but nothing is perfect and that goes for AI’s, even the AIs that train themselves.

What the article gets to essentially is that the new crop of AIs that are self-trained may not suffer from the same vulnerabilities to corrupted data in the training set because they don’t have a training set of data but they still can be attacked another way. Self-training AIs develop what we’re calling policies and those help it deal with what it might encounter out there in the real world. Think of a policy as a way to handle a generic type of situation that it might find itself in. Much as a fencer learns all the standard attacks and ripostes and AI, and we, learn by experience what to expect.

If an AI is confronted with completely unexpected behavior it gets confused and the current crop of AIs exhibit confused responses which can lead to unexpected behaviors and outcomes. If this happens on the road with a self-driving car AI or in the battlefield for instance with a self-propelled killer robot AI then the consequences could be catastrophic for the AI. And for any people around it.

So my tongue in cheek title hilarious is not 100% joke or jest – it just might work in the right conditions and under those conditions you may not have any other alternative.

Categories
applied science

Nanomaggots Chomp Down on Plaque and Dead Cells

In this ScienceDaily article you’ll learn about nanoparticles custom built to influence immune system cells to scavenge dead tissue such as you get in atherosclerosis plaques.

These MSU and Stanford researchers call their particle Trojan Horses because of the way they work:

the nanoparticle that homes in on atherosclerotic plaque due to its high selectivity to a particular immune cell type — monocytes and macrophages. Once inside the macrophages in those plaques, it delivers a drug agent that stimulates the cell to engulf and eat cellular debris. Basically, it removes the diseased/dead cells in the plaque core. By reinvigorating the macrophages, plaque size is reduced and stabilized.

I call them nanomaggots because they’re doing the job that maggots have traditionally had: consuming dead tissue.

The future uses look promising, if a little gruesome to describe:

scientists have invented a nanoparticle that eats away — from the inside out — portions of plaques that cause heart attacks

All silliness aside – advances like this will prolong and improve the lives of many people. And that’s a good thing.

Wait – how about this for an alterante name: Plaque-man – it scurries around the tunnels of your body chomping and chomping . . .

Categories
applied science

Wasps can do Facial Recognition

After you read this article come back and watch the video. And think about what you are seeing.

Can these wasps recognize each other?

I know when I was working on that video I was struck by the markings on the wasps and how they all looked the same with very slight differences. Almost like they were all wearing a uniform with just a teeny little bit of self-expression or individuality.

Categories
politics social commentary

Homelessness As A Product Of Prosperity

An Update:
I originally created this post back in June 2019 but for some reason it ended up in the drafts instead of being published. Since then my speaking out on this issue has resulted in so much aggravation on social media from those who disagree with that I’ve had to tender my resignation from broadcasting / streaming city council. Before it goes too far and people go after my partners business or engage in criminal mischief like they have with the Mayor of our town. (those links may stop working later in 2020 once the hosting runs out on my gftv.ca site and if I decide not to carry on with it)


I’ve been reading this HuffPost article Why America Can’t Solve Homelessness. Hobbes has brought some ideas to my awareness. One of them is the topic of the post.

As the economy has come out of the Great Recession, America’s unhoused population has exploded almost exclusively in its richest and fastest-growing cities. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of people living on the streets declinedby 11 percent nationwide — and surged by 26 percent in Seattle, 47 percent in New York City and 75 percent in Los Angeles. Even smaller cities, like Reno and Boise, have seen spikes in homelessness perfectly coincide with booming tech sectors and falling unemployment.  
In other words, homelessness is no longer a symbol of decline. It is a product of prosperity. And unlike Eric, the vast majority of people being pushed out onto the streets by America’s growing urban economies do not need dedicated social workers or intensive medication regimes. They simply need higher incomes and lower housing costs.

from the HuffPost article Why America Can’t Solve Homelessness

In my 13 years of covering local politics I’ve seen various topics become the major fire under council’s butts. Heavy handed dealing with volunteer organisations. The Deer Problem. Is Garbage Collection really a function of the City? The Universal Residential Water Meters. The Homeless.

Even though our town was hit by the worst flood in its history last year (2018) it’s really that last one, The Homeless, that is the major problem council is taking heat over at this time. This problem was inherited from the previous council in that it was already a hot topic before last fall’s election. And had been the major issue bugging the town and council in these first two years of its 4 year term.

The previous council’s way of dealing with the problem posed by the persistent homeless camps along the river and rising friction between the more scary homeless and the public was to evict the main support they had, soup kitchen / thrift store and bad weather shelter, from the city owned property they occupied. And then tear the building down leaving the non-profit society to fend for itself and find a new location. Simple solution to a complex problem. Except it didn’t solve anything – we still have the homeless. The druggies. The petty thievery.

And rising affluence isn’t just transforming the economic factors that cause homelessness. It is also changing the politics of the cities tasked with solving it. Across the country, as formerly poor neighborhoods have gentrified, politicians are facing increasingly strident calls to criminalize panhandling and bulldoze tent encampments. While city residents consistently tell pollsters that they support homeless services in principle, specific proposals to build shelters or expand services face vociferous local opposition.

Gee – let’s see: I was just reading about a nearby town, Penticton, bringing in stricter bylaws about hanging about and in the article they referred to a recent panhandling bylaw, Bulldozing tent encampments – we just take them down but bulldoze the soup kitchen and shelter. We have the last bit too – more on that coming up,

In our Canadian government system there are governmental entities called Crown Corporations. They are funded by taxpayers. They have mandates. Unlike other parts of the government, such as departments of the various government ministries, a Crown Corp. enjoys certain exemptions. They are on a mandated mission for the Crown and under our parliamentary system the Crown is the head of government. (we have a Queen even though she’s in another country on the other side of the ocean). So they can, and do, behave in a ‘my boss beats your boss’ way when it comes to other members of government.

In my province, British Columbia, there is a crown corporation called BC Housing. It’s mandate is housing for the people of BC. Shelters. Low-income housing. Supportive housing. Transition Houses. People who need it but cannot afford it.

Last year BC Housing responded to the needs of Grand Forks with two housing projects.

One was to provide a little over 50 low income housing spaces. A whole chunk of our town has been told that their properties are going to be bought out. And the land go back to being flood plane. A certain number of the people who lost almost everything last year are low or fixed income. The cost of buying a new house are beyond many. Two years ago they had a house. This year they’re living in trailers or rentals (if they can find them) or doshing down on a friend’s couch or squatting in a house that will eventually go away. The city would like to retain as many taxpayers and spenders as possible. But housing was a problem before and rentals very very scarce. They are there but all full up.

The other BC Housing project is Supportive Housing for the Homeless.

Both projects have gotten a lot of push back though the supportive housing has created the biggest waves. If you read the HuffPost article at the top you’ll remember that this push-back happens everywhere.

People have been offended by the way BC Housing went about the whole process. They employed a numbered company and used an out of town real estate agent to represent the buyer. So the seller had no knowledge of who they were selling to.

BC Housing says that this is because if they were open about their plans inevitably the prices for the properties they desire would get jacked up. That sounds like a valid reason. But I think there’s more to it than that . . . I think that they’d rather side step the onerous and interminable process of public consultation and angry recriminations that would ensue.

Some on City Council felt offended that BC Housing did not consult them. The public feels like they should have had a say as well.

Let’s see how that would go: BC Housing says they want to put in a Supportive Housing project that would house 40 homeless people. Almost immediately the rumours and predictions and scary scenarios would pervade social media. People would start to hammer local politicians with questions about the project. Where will it be? – not in our backyard. Who would be there? – druggies and criminals. Who would pay for all this? – and why all this money for losers? Won’t they bring in druggies from other towns if they can’t fill the beds with the ones from here?

As more and more people’s fears are stoked the more pressure city council will get. I’ve seen the way people treat council and it’s not pretty. They do not understand how it works. Or what council has power over and what it has no power over. If a government is doing something people don’t like then the closest government gets the treatment.

Unlike Provincial or Federal politicians city councillors live in the communities they govern. People can stop them on the street, in the checkout line or anywhere and start questioning. Or complaining. Or threatening – meaning no more votes for you. And most local politicians stand alone without the backup of a political party.

So local politicians are much more amenable to public opinion and petitions and town hall gripe sessions. Savvy civil servants know this. So if you were in the position of BC Housing with a mandate to get x number of housing projects / units done in a given time period then why would you engage with the local political process knowing it will likely bog down and get ugly?

I hear many of the arguments against it. One type in particular I find curious. It goes something like “we’re such a soft touch that they hear about it an come here. Other towns send their problem people here to our town.”

No matter how many times people who are in a position to know the real facts explain the fallacies in those statements the message does not get through. When they say most of the homeless are people who grew up here, that it’s a small cohort that are the real problem . . . either they are not believed or it doesn’t stick.

I’ve heard the local RCMP detachment head say twice that most of the homeless we have are from here and yet people keep ignoring that. Even politicians. When the Mayor mentioned that the bulk of those served by the soup kitchen were poor and elderly and not the thieving-drug-monkeys (not his term but one locals have coined) the gallery loudly scoffed. As if he was joking or telling a lie. When the BC Housing director for a big chunk of the interior of the province told the public that she hears the same fearful mistaken impressions in almost every city she serves it was clear that half the crowd did not believe her.

It’s a relatively easy thing to check on. And if you just watch the national news you’ll see homelessness is a serious problem very many places. But people insist on holding onto the mistaken idea that somehow we’re extra specially bad.

It is true that the homeless have become more of a visible problem in the past while.

I often encounter the idea that the druggies are leaving used needles in public spaces such as playgrounds and parks. Where the unwary can get jabbed.

Perversely many of the same people who pass that horror story on will also express shock and revulsion that the city has put sharps disposal containers in places downtown. It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money they say. It will somehow make the problem worse , , , maybe emboldening the needle users.

When I point out that there were sharps disposal containers posted in public spaces back in 2004 before this latest crush of homeless I get blank stares. Or “See!” as if it backs up their argument somehow.

Every needle places in a disposal container is one that isn’t laying in wait in the grass. (had to point that out to our previous Mayor) But logic doesn’t appear to apply.

This has been a long winded preamble to the topic of the post. Thanks for bearing with me so far. I’m getting to it.

I’ve been turning that idea over in my head. It’s caused me to reflect on some of the things I’ve seen in my life and heard about in history.

The first big Stock Market Crash of 1929 was caused by smart money speculators pumping the values of stocks up because they could. Because so many naive members of the public were putting their money into stocks. And then the smart money was dumping those stocks when they could reap the best profit. Doing this in such a way that the knock-on effect caused a run on the banks which couldn’t withstand that. Artificially valued stocks devalued over a few hours and millions lost everything.

Back in 2008 we had another event instigated by the financial services segment of the economy. Huge collections of crap mortgages were incorrectly valued as good mortgages and used as financial underpinnings for businesses and fortunes. When those mortgages began to fail, as was inevitable given the greedy way the whole thing was done, many people lost billions of dollars.

We’re now learning about how the pharmaceutical industry has been ruining the lives of millions with opiods because it’s profitable to do so. From the makers to the national distributors to the politicians it’s clear that laws will be broken if it means profits will be made. And if people are getting addicted and lives are being ruined in the process they are just roadkill on the path to more profits. CBS 60 minutes lays out how conniving by big pharma enabled a drug like Oxy to be relabelled into a category that helped to create the opiod crisis the USA is in now. You might not be able to view the video but the text is pretty explanatory.

Not long ago I watched a Fifth Estate piece, Kickbacks Caught On Camera, about how most pharmaceutical reps and pharmacies in the largest province in the country regularly break a law that says kickbacks are illegal. That drives the price of medicine up.

Recently I watched a 60 minutes piece on a price fixing scheme where the biggest Generic Drug makers conspired to drive the prices of some medicines up by hundreds of percent. The term I remember from that is that these companies had become “Too Big To Care” about the ultimate user.

I hear about how the USA doesn’t like that China has played a game where companies doing business there were obligated to share their expertise and tech with their Chinese counterparts. The companies complained to US embassy and government officials but didn’t want them to push the topic too much because they didn’t want to be shut out. This kind of technology theft by coercion is one of the problems the USA has with China. It could have been head off decades ago by forcing China to play fair but that wouldn’t work for Big Business so it was left alone.

Time and time again we learn about how Big Business is caught screwing the system. Engaging in criminal behaviour, damaging behaviour, hurtful behaviour – all in the name of profit.

Add to that the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us. The downward pressure on the middle class.

Real Estate prices are rising fast. Vancouver BC has become one of the most expensive cities to live in in the whole world. Families with both parents employed find it hard for afford property. Some families are living with other families as room mates just so they can have a house.

Vancouver and Toronto have been drivers of house pricing in Canada over the past few decades. Price rises in these cities eventually are followed by rises in smaller markets.

But now we learn that a significant driver of pricing in Vancouver has been money laundering. Not just in the real estate market but also in government regulated casinos. Apparently for a number of years people could show up with bags of cash – literal bags of cash – and the casino would take it in and later on pay money back. Clean money. And when regulatory agents reported and warned about this nothing happened. Action was stifled at a high, political, level. Because someone was making a profit somewhere.

So those who are really rich, and some who work for them, manipulate the system in ways that enrich them but impoverish everyone else. It’s a game that only the wealthy can play without suffering.

I can see how people have a problem with Capitalism. While it might rightfully be the Capitalists that are the problem the system is the way they want it to be. Because they can afford to make it that way.

So how do you fix that?

Well for homelessness you might look to Finland.

Categories
social commentary

Finally – Drug Execs Are Going To Prison

The Opiod crisis is an engineered, profitable, enterprise foisted on us by Drug Companies. That’s not a paranoid conspiracy theory anymore – it’s now a fact backed by investigations by journalists and government. Now the crisis is out of control with street Fentanyl flowing into the black market from China, but it began, and was majorly fueled, by US drug company executives with no moral compass, no scruples and a strong case of greed.

Finally the government is striking back and drug company executives are facing prison time. People have died in the thousands . . . too bad they couldn’t be facing homicide charges also.

Maker InSys had a Fentanyl-based spray it was marketing. The company has gone through the mill already and its founder is heading for a 5 year prison stay. Other execs are also donning the orange jumpsuit crowd.

seven Insys executives and employees were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, an offense introduced in the 1970s to pursue organized crime, as well as charges of wire fraud conspiracy and mail fraud conspiracy. As well as Mr Kapoor, Mr Babich and Mr Burlakoff, they include Richard Simon, national director of sales, and Michael Gurry, who oversaw the unit responsible for getting reimbursements from insurers. Both received sentences of 33 months. Two regional sales managers were also convicted.

Their greed was so extreme they even made a rap video for themselves about how good business was.

“I realize how gross and disgusting and offensive it is now, but I was just so impressed with the work and the money and the detail that they put into it, I was like, emotional,” he said.

Mr Burlakoff said at first he admired the video but now views appearing in it as one of his biggest mistakes.

“I showed it to my wife and my kids and they enjoyed it. They didn’t know anything about Subsys or titration and that patients were actually dying as a result of it.”

Mr. Burlakoff was Head of Sales for InSys

Read more about in this article at PBS Frontline.

I can hardly wait to see who heads to the dock next. There’s a lot to choose from.

Categories
applied science

Could We Finally Have A Handle On The Cause Of Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia
It’s a hidden scourge that affects millions.
Turns their minds into personal horror parks.
Destroys a lot of futures, pushing people to the margins of society.
And we don’t know in advance who will develop it.
Or why it happens.
Or how to cure it.

Maybe someone has figured out what is happening, if not exactly why.

As reported in this IFLScience article researchers have finally zeroed in on a key difference between the neurology of schizophrenics and non-schizophrenic people.

Researchers have suspected for decades that dysfunctional Synapses are the problem and a protein called Synaptic Vesicle Glycoprotein 2A (SV2A) might be the cause. But the only way they had to study this was brain tissue from dead people. Finally they have developed a way to study this in the brains of living patients:

Researchers administered a new type of tracer that binds to SV2A, before putting their brains under the gaze of a positron emission tomography (PET) brain scan, which produces detailed 3D images of inside the body. The scans picked up on the lower levels of SV2A in the brains of people with schizophrenia.

So why are there reduced levels of SV2A in some people but not others?
Is SV2A not being produced correctly? – Is there a problem with the coding of the genes that build SV2A?
Or is there something in the environment that affects the process of gene -> protein expression?

Whichever it is you can bet that researchers are trying to figure it out. Knowing the particulars of a problem goes a long way to finding a fix or cure. And maybe 2020 is the year that we can look back on as when we got to say goodbye to Schizophrenia on the list of major issues facing humanity. Like we might be doing with Cancer.

Categories
social commentary Uncategorized

Banksters Bag 60 Billion and EU Govs Going After Them

Apparently there’s been a huge heist going on for the last 15 years. We’re just starting to hear about it now after 60 billion dollars has been siphoned out of government treasuries by this little bit of banker trader magic they didn’t actually have a law preventing it because they figured it was so illegal or bad they didn’t really need a law.

Well as they know in China all too well if there is no law saying you can’t do it people will go ahead and do it.

This little trick essentially allowed investments to yield twice the tax write-off.

The scheme was built around “cum-ex trading” (from the Latin for “with-without”): a monetary maneuver to avoid double taxation of investment profits that plays out like high finance’s answer to a David Copperfield stage illusion. Through careful timing, and the coordination of a dozen different transactions, cum-ex trades produced two refunds for dividend tax paid on one basket of stocks.

https://nyti.ms/37mqfYT

It May Be the Biggest Tax Heist Ever. And Europe Wants Justice. https://nyti.ms/37mqfYT

From the article it would appear that once bankers and traders learned of cum ex it did not take them long to get on board and just start fleecing the EU for all the money they could get.

To me this is very reminiscent of the way the banking industry got into a mess with bad asset backed credit default swaps, you remember the little thing that dealt the world’s economy a body blow back in 2008. It turned out that almost a whole industry was engaging in the kind of wishful thinking that the balloon would never burst and the party would go on forever.

Well it looks like that’s what’s been going on for a while now with cum ex. Now the countries want their money back and they’re going after banksters and lawyers and anybody else involved. Germany itself had 56 investigations yielding 400 targets, individual banksters. Lawyers and Law firms involved are not immune from this. Could be very interesting.

American bankers didn’t try cum-ex at home because they feared domestic regulators. So they moved operations to London and treated the rest of Europe as an anything-goes frontier. Frank Tibo, a former chief tax officer at a bank where Mr. Shields and Mr. Mora worked, said American and British cum-ex traders regarded the Continent as a backwater of old economies ripe for swindling.
”There was this culture in London, and it really came from New York,” he said. “These guys were either from New York or trained in London at New York banks, and they looked at Europe as their playground. People at the highest levels were collaborating to rip off countries.

emphasis mine

So it’s a strategy developed in the USA but never used in the USA. I wonder if the US government will protect US financial workers who stashed their ill-gotten gains in the US banks. If Europe decides to go after that will Washington go along? Trump is oft quoted as seeing any money within his grasp as being his money, so if the banksters make nice with him maybe he’ll shield them. It wouldn’t be the first time he went to bat to shield some american from european justice. (I think he enjoys poking the EU in the eye any chance he gets)

And it won’t be easy going after them – you have to explain the illegality for jurists and that will prove to be quite difficult apparently.

Academics have struggled for years to explain the trade and say its impenetrability is part of what made it so successful — as though someone had found a way to weaponize string theory. At the Bonn trial, defendants spent days walking judges through cum-ex’s nuances, with one baffling slide after another.

Suffice it to say, the goal was to fool the financial system so that two investors could claim refunds for dividend taxes that were paid just once.

The trade was pure theater and required a huge cast: stock lenders, prime brokers, custodians, accounting firms, asset managers and inter-dealer brokers. It also required vast quantities of stock, most of which was sourced from American shareholders.

One of regulators, Dr. Hanno Berger, eventually was seduced, by the riches to be made, into joining the side he was tasked with regulating. His reported attitude leaves no question he saw the negative impacts of this way of fleecing the government – here is what he told underlings at one meeting:

“Whoever has a problem with the fact that because of our work there are fewer kindergartens being built,” Dr. Berger reportedly said, “here’s the door.”

Sounds like something Gordon Gekko, from the movies Wall Street and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, would say.

This should be an interesting couple of years. I predict the banksters won’t pay back as much as half of their ill gotten gains. Why? They have money and time on their side – the politicians could be gone with the next elections. Cynical I know but that’s the real world unfortunately.