Marketing masterstroke milks MOU

Seeing Machines managed to raise its share price today with a masterstroke of marketing; a fluffy RNS that while looking lovely on the surface had very little in terms of actual content.

Said creation mentioned a memorandum of understanding (MOU) but provided few details as to the ‘global semiconductor company’ it was with, and no indication as to the the likely timeframe for any eventual deal nor any mention of the likely monetary value (even a range would have done) of an eventual contract.

Call me a cynic (I’m actually a realist) but when after umpteen yearly fundraises, never-ending RFQs, imminent aviation contracts that have yet to materialise, missing train contracts and umpteen launches (e.g. BDMS) and partnerships (Mix Telematics and Progress Rail) that vanish into the ether, I feel I’ve paid the high admission fee charged by the Realist Investing Club.

To be fair, I’ve witnessed a lot of shenanigans from a wide variety of stocks over the years. Possibly it has left me bitter and twisted. Moreover, most of the instances quoted above pre-date the present senior management of Seeing Machines.

I love See’s tech (as much as I understand it – that is a joke for you tech geeks out there) but am sadly cursed by an inability to sacrifice my journalist sensibilities in the pursuit of profit. Nuts, eh?

Why MOU now?

What perplexes me is this: why mention a MOU now, yet provide no details as to the party it is with, nor indicate the likely size of the eventual contract and a date by which it is likely to be signed?

Perhaps it is super smart marketing, big tease before delivering the details. If the contract is signed soon, great: get a double share price rise from one contract. I will be happy to have my lingering fears dispelled as I watch the share price rise and count my profits. 

Yet, if this proves to be part of a well-planned, pump and fundraise operation I (and many PIs) will be sorely tempted to do an El Jefe and scream: “Bring me the head of Paul McGlone” — while berating its nomad Cenkos for allowing such an RNS to be released.

In short, I’d have preferred an RNS that announced an actual contract/license deal with a monetary value attached (even a vague value range). This would have enabled the share price to sail past 5p, particularly if it put to bed any need for a further fundraise. For the record, I’d certainly not be keen to see an eventual contract announced in a month or two alongside a fundraise, in classic AIM style.

I’m saying this publicly as I hope Seeing Machines responds by soon putting my fears to rest. I want greater transparency. I want further details of this MOU. Better still, quickly provide an RNS that gives something more solid: details of a contract worth millions.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines

End the threat of nuclear war

While Governments around the world have devoted huge resource to fighting Coronavirus most are ignoring a far greater threat to humanity; nuclear war.

My article on how to end the threat of nuclear war by encouraging Nuclear Disarmament, has just been published in Reader’s Digest (UK edition). Please give it a read. In includes comments from Noam Chomsky, Kate Hudson General Secretary of CND, Beatrice Fihn executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Alan Robock a renowned US climatologist and Tom Collina at the US-based Ploughshares Fund.

In addition, here is a short interview with Noam Chomsky on the threat of nuclear war.

Coronavirus mania is overdone

Can I be the only person who thinks the state-encouraged Coronavirus panic is overdone to an absurd degree?

Before you label me a ‘nut job’, deep clean your computer and order a few more face masks, please hear me out.

I admit Coronavirus exists. I admit it is fairly virulent and does kill people just as flu does. However, it is not nearly as deadly as the ebola virusAccording to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the average ebola virus disease case mortality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

With Corona virus the mortality rate is only around 1%. It does not appear to kill people who aren’t already suffering from underlying health conditions. Generally, people who are older than 60, or have a weakened immune system or chronic illnesses like lung disease, heart disease or diabetes, have the highest risk of becoming severely ill if they contract the coronavirus or the flu.

Flu kills more

One crucial fact should not be forgotten; the numbers who are dying from it appear to be far less than die from seasonal flu each year.

According to the WHO across the globe up to 650,000 people die from respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year. So far, approximately 178,000  have died from Coronavirus worldwide. (While every death is regrettable we need to keep a sense of proportion).

Public Health England estimates that on average 17,000 people have died from the flu in England annually between 2014/15 and 2018/19. However, the yearly deaths vary widely, from a high of 28,330 in 2014/15 to a low of 1,692 in 2018/19.

Those who are still terrified should ask themselves: do I personally know anyone who has died from the coronavirus? 

So why the utter panic in the West? Why the shutting down of everyday life in the UK?

Boris using coronavirus

I personally think that there are multiple reasons in the UK:

Firstly, this Government doesn’t want to be seen not to be taking the threat seriously. It certainly doesn’t want to be blamed for austerity-related lack of NHS resources (nurses, hospital beds, respirators) to cope with the extra strain put on an underfunded health service.

Secondly, the economy both here, (as in the US and EU) was in trouble before coronavirus. The Government would most likely have had to create billions of pounds to support the economy in the months ahead and stave off a deflationary spiral. The coronavirus has hastened that process. Moreover, it offers a perfect opportunity to kill 2 birds with a big bazooka of money. If the result is economic growth and inflation that shrinks our already debt burden, that is a perfect outcome.

Boris Johnson has cleverly decided to turn what could have been a PR disaster (public at risk from underfunded NHS, pollution and inadequate social care for the elderly) into an opportunity. He is using this pandemic scare and the fears of the population to try to unite a divided country, bail out failing businesses and a weak economy and secure the mantle of Churchill, something he has long craved.

Now I’m not saying that Coronavirus isn’t real. What I am saying that the health emergency we face is a direct result of underfunding of the National Health Service. Also, the economy and stock market was likely to crash very soon anyway, Coronavirus just acted as a catalyst to hasten the process.

Of course, most of the mainstream media is happy to go along with this charade. Just as they failed to acknowledge how weak the UK economy was before Coronavirus occurred, they want the British public to act herd-like and follow the current orthodoxy.

Soon, we’ll read in our press and the  BBC and ITV how Boris saved the country from Coronavirus with his extreme measures and rescued the economy. Readers, you need to dig a little deeper and understand how you are being manipulated.

Be in no doubt, there will be a reckoning. When the UK public wakes up and realises it has been had, it won’t be happy. Then again, aided by the servile and unquestioning British media Boris Johnson may very well get away with it. At least until some historian comes to examine the facts many years from now.

Resistance isn’t futile: it is crucial

As I watched this historic victory for the Conservative party unfold, I felt a mixture of emotions: disbelief, incredulity and anger, soon overcome by a wave of despondency. Sitting here in a cold dimly lit room in the early hours it was easy to become hopeless, imagining oneself alone and in minority.

Yet, despite romping home with a thumping Parliamentary majority the Tories don’t have a majority of the electorate. They were backed by a minority of electors across the UK (43.6%). They won in England and Wales because of our first-past the-post election system. A majority of the country still oppose their policies. That point should be remembered.

The platform the Labour Party stood on was a progressive one that made sense and seems to have been well received. However, its changed Brexit stance was unpopular in its northern heartlands. 

What have we learnt?

My initial takeaways from this are the following:

  • This ‘Brexit’ election was a freak and those in Labour heartlands who voted Tory this time around will regret their actions when they realise they’ve been conned by Boris Johnson, one of smartest, most deceitful politicians in British electoral history. (Disraeli, eat your heart out).
  • The Labour right wing will try and reverse the progressive moves made under Corbyn. This must be resisted. Labour didn’t lose because its social, economic and climate change policies were unpopular. It lost because a large chunk of voters in its traditional heartlands in England & Wales didn’t like its Brexit stance.
  • Scotland has spoken out as clearly as England & Wales: it wants the SNP and to have an independence referendum. That has to be respected. All progressive people should support this wish as Boris Johnson will try and avoid doing so. Indeed supporting the right of Scotland to have a democratic independence referendum is a touchstone for every progressive. Scottish resistance in the event of the Tories refusing to allow an Independence Referendum should be fully supported.
  • We must change the electoral system to some form of Proportional Representation, as the current system isn’t fair. I’d be saying that even if Labour had won a majority.
  • Re. climate change, I doubt Boris Johnson will do what needs to be done. Time is short, so mass civil peaceful disobedience has to be one means to push for change in the future. Again, progressives should fully support these actions.
  • We need to develop our own media to communicate progressive ideas to the masses. BBCNews and the mainstream media is effectively controlled by the establishment. It was able to effectively influence this election.

Remain is now dead for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That has to be accepted. But resistance to the policies that penalise the poor, increase division and racism in our society should be resolutely opposed.

This morning Labour is down as are the Greens and Lib Dems, but never out. Millions are relying on Jeremy Corbyn and his successor to continue to resist the forces of oppression and neo-liberal economic policies as they fight against climate change.

Resistance isn’t futile, it’s crucial if we are to get progressive change. That’s what enabled people to win the vote from the grasping hands of the establishment.

This is a battle lost but the fight for a fairer, more environmentally-friendly world must continue if we are to win the war.

Jeremy Corbyn

I am sure Jeremy Corbyn knows that much better than me.

Personally, I’d like to say thank you to him for staying the course and putting up with an unprecedented vilification campaign. He’s the reason I rejoined the Labour Party after disillusionment over the the Iraq War. He is a wise man.

Remember, resistance isn’t futile: it is crucial. We must keep fighting for what we know to be right. 

Good luck.

Revenge of the Killer Zombie Government

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Killer ZombieOur ‘Their’ UK Government is clearly incompetent, too ideologically obsessed with cutting regulations and implementing muddle-headed, ’balance the books’ austerity to care for us peeps.

That much we know after Grenfell Tower fire burnt down the last remaining veil hiding the Tories’ duplicity and selfishness. The exact number of dead in that fire is probably well into triple figures – but don’t expect a realistic death toll until the heat of the summer is long past. Tempers might combust and the establishment don’t want their stage-managed democracy torched by the angry masses.

But I digress: up and down the country most people can increasingly smell the stink of this Tory Government’s rotting corpse. With every passing week the stench gets stronger. Even the DUP’s futile attempt to give it the kiss of life won’t revive it.

What is especially shocking is that this Zombie Government cares more for the dead than the living. Theresa’s May’s wet dream would be the death of Corbyn. I imagine she’d happily splurge on a state funeral if it meant her failing grip on the cliff edge of power became a little tighter. She might not be alone in twisting and turning in orgasmic delight at such a fantasy – but Boris doesn’t kiss and tell in public.

How do I justify that statement? Well, first I’d cite the ‘fact’ that I believe it to be true. Okay, that’s too weak – though I think you may believe it also.

Secondly, they’re doing little to prevent pollution from diesel vehicles that is sending many to an early grave and damaging the lungs of children.

Lastly, what else can explain the fact that, while •thousands are injured and many killed in road accidents every year caused by driver fatigue and inattention, ‘our’ Government is doing little to encourage the adoption of technology that could drastically reduce those numbers.

Yes, that’s right. The technology to warn drivers when they’re falling asleep at the wheel or distracted (for example, by using a mobile) exists.

Yet the Government does nothing to encourage its adoption: it doesn’t test it or mandate it on UK roads.

Noblesse ought to oblige the Government to do the decent thing but this mob in power don’t give a fig for the living.

• According to figures from the Department of Transport, in 2015, driver distraction was cited as a factor in 2,920 crashes, which resulted in 61 fatalities and 384 serious injuries. Similarly, driver fatigue was a contributory factor in 1,784 car accidents in 2015, resulting in 58 fatalities and 331 serious injuries.