Tax – Creeping barrage of laws

Tax –  Creeping barrage of laws

The philosopher Thomas Hobbs outlined his ‘Social Contract’ in his 1651 book ‘Leviathan’. Part of this Social Contract included the ‘pactus subjectionis’ – the agreement whereby people would agree to surrender some of their freedom and pledge to obey an agreed authority in return for guaranteed protection of life, property and (ironically) freedom. Man’s natural desire for security and safety in a life otherwise described as ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’ has meant an element of compromise over their personal liberty; and this Social Contract has been the fundamental justification for government (and arguably the provision of armed services and an internal police force) the world over since then. It is a fine balance however.  Nowadays with the seemingly-constant terrorist threats there is the ongoing debate over freedom versus security and where to strike the perfect balance.

However, away from the more extreme end of personal threats from terrorist attack, the increasing amount of laws emanating from our government in recent years has encroached into every aspect of our daily lives and personal freedoms. The surrendering of freedoms under the Social Contract was in return for the ability to live one’s life and ply one’s trade in security and peace. But it seems the price for this security has increased dramatically (since 1997 in particular) with the perimeters within which you could do as you please rapidly shrinking.

A spokesman from the Bar Counsel (the body representing barristers in England and Wales) once stated that ‘politicians often equate laws with action’, that doing something positive for the country meant by necessity passing new laws on some issue or another. Whilst the huge number of laws/directives/regulations coming from the EU certainly isn’t helping matters, Tony Blair’s administration in particular was notoriously fixated with passing new laws in Westminster, with over 3,000 new criminal offices being created between 1997 and 2008 and on average 2,500 laws/regulations being made each year. Their obsession with laws lasted right up to the election in 2010 by not only pledging to reduce the government’s fiscal deficit but to pass a law requiring it to be done (instead of just doing it!).

The UK’s tax laws probably illustrate this creeping barrage of laws as well as any other area. The UK now has the longest tax code in the world – surpassing even India. In 1997 we had 4,998 pages of tax legislation; by 2009 we had 11,520. Between 2001 and 2010 seven re-written tax acts had been passed following the consolidating Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 – including the Corporation Taxes Act 2009 with 1,330 sections and 4 schedules, immediately following by the Corporation Taxes Act 2010 containing 1,173 sections. Before 1998 only two annual Finance Acts had contained more than 400 pages – between then and 2010 eight Finance Acts have reached that milestone; and they’re growing. Finance Act 2012 has a record 670 pages – there was a slight dip last year with Finance Act 2013 having a mere 634.

To put all this into context, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace contains 587,287 words, the authorised version of The Bible has 774,747 and the seven Harry Potter volumes have a combined word count of 1,082,000. Combined our current income and corporation tax acts contain 1,450,000 words. To those in my profession the growth is almost tangible. In 1999 when I was at university, all our tax laws were fully contained within two 1.5 inch-thick volumes of primary and secondary legislation, regulations etc; 15 years on I require half a bookshelf to contain the seven volumes for 2013/14. I have already cleared further shelf space for 2014/15’s edition.

The Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 was a consolidation act repealing the 1970 Act of the same name. But for some reason, once the Blair administration decided to consolidate again, instead of repealing and replacing it with another all-encompassing Act, the 1988 Act remained but was gutted and re-written into seven new Acts – each as long as 1988 Act! They simply added layer upon layer – far from consolidating and evolving the laws they expanded them exponentially. To make it worse most of the latest legislation actually consists of amendments to other pieces of recently-passed legislation. Tax has well and truly been caught by the frenzy of law making. I needn’t be talking myself out of a job here – the world has changed since 1988 and our tax laws need to keep up with that (and they have done to a large extent), but this can still be achieved without the sheer volume of laws which we currently have.

Following the 2010 election, the coalition government established the Office of Tax Simplification. There was originally some hope that the administration had acknowledged the complexity of our tax system and would finally be looking to streamline it. But at the moment, all that has come from this august body is a set of proposals to abolish some of the lesser-known tax reliefs and further proposals to review some specific rules and reliefs. There is no sign of any large-scale streamlining or consolidation – not yet anyway.

At the moment the long-established way of life in our society is that you can do anything you like unless the law says otherwise. This assumes that the number of things we can do is greater than those we cannot. One wonders, with the current growth in the sheer number of laws and their deeper infiltration into all aspect of our daily lives, whether in the not-too-distant future it would be easier to simply legislate what we can do and assume that everything else is illegal.

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

Chris Thorpe

Head of Research

FCLR-DCER Inc.

Possessing the status of ‘Tax haven’ should be a compliment – not an insult

Possessing the status of ‘Tax haven’ should be a compliment – not an insult

In a previous article (“If it’s legal to keep tax bills to a minimum, why not do just that” WMN 11/11/13) I briefly examined Adam Smith’s ‘Canons of Taxation’ – those four fundamental building blocks of principle upon which a state’s taxation system should be based. In that article I focused on the need for clarity and certainty of the law, something from which the UK is in danger of departing.

Another canon was ‘Economy of Collection’ – taxes must not be expensive to collect and must not discourage business. There are obviously two parts to this – the cost of collection and the deterrence of business. HM Revenue & Customs collected £475billion in taxes and duties in 2011 on a budget of approximately £16billion – so on the face of it they seem to be good value for money from a Treasury perspective. However, whether this makes them an efficient collector of taxes is another matter. It is the second part of this canon upon which I intend to focus – taxes not discouraging business.

This was clearly a live issue when Adam Smith wrote his ‘Wealth of Nations’ in 1776, particularly with respect to duties. In  England at the time almost everything was taxed – bricks, windows, fireplaces, hats, playing cards (that one wasn’t repealed until 1960!), candles, brandy and tea being just a few. Indeed brandy was five times more expensive as it was in the continent. Naturally people sought to avoid these taxes through all sorts of means, but the one which concerned the government most was smuggling. In 1793 nearly half the tea consumed in England had been smuggled in.

So endemic was smuggling that it became a way of life for many ordinary people (and many of those in authority), particularly in Devon and Cornwall with its miles of isolated and un-policed coastline peppered with inlets and coves. Folk heroes of the time such as John Carter (nicknamed ‘The King of Prussia’) operating near Penzance sprang up and taverns such as the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor were frequently used for storing contraband on the journeys from the coast to the rest of England. Despite the enormous losses to the Treasury, Adam Smith described smugglers like John Carter as:

“a person who, though no doubt highly blameable for violating the laws of his country, is frequently incapable of violating those of natural justice and who would have been in every respect an excellent citizen had not the laws of his country made that a crime which nature never meant to be so”.

The implication was clear; it was the high levels of taxation driving otherwise law-abiding people  to resort to smuggling.

Smuggling is not something confined to history, it is an issue today. However the romanticised image created by Daphne Du Maurier has been swept aside and replaced by professional gangs of criminals operating ‘illegal imports’. It is believed up to £2billion is lost in revenue every year through the illegal importation of goods, with a third of all cigarettes consumed in the UK being ‘smuggled’ in without duty being paid. Fuel smuggling and illegal use of red/green diesel is an increasing problem for H M Revenue & Customs. Several illegal fuel treatment/storage plants have been discovered in Northern Ireland recently.

Sectarian and non-sectarian criminal gangs alike are involved in the bulk buying or smuggling of red and green diesel. The dye is removed (and often dumped into rivers) with the end-product distributed and sold through numerous “pop-up” temporary petrol stations. It is believed that this enterprise costs the Treasury £100million each year with some of these pop-up stations pocketing up to £20,000 per month. It is now believed that 6% of all fuel used in the UK is being done so illegally.

Since Adam Smith’s time when indirect taxation was the main grievance, direct taxation (i.e. income/capital gains and corporation tax) now makes up roughly 75% of the Treasury’s income (although VAT makes up nearly 20%). But the level of illegal cigarettes and fuel in circulation highlights that duties are causing the same problems now as they were in the 18th century. Whether it be direct or indirect taxation, it is human nature to avoid paying taxes where possible – the higher (or more prevalent) the tax, the greater the level of avoidance and thus the greater the loss to the Treasury.

Levels of Corporation Tax have been subject to press focus lately, with giant companies such as Apple and Vodafone reportedly paying little or no tax. Apple was recently reported to have paid only 2% tax on profits of $74billion. Pressure groups such as Tax Justice Network have condemned companies who relocate to ‘tax havens’ – including the Republic  of Ireland whose corporation tax rate of 12.5% has attracted the likes of Google, Pfizer, Intel (as well as subsidiaries of Apple). But why should a company be condemned for trying to lower its costs (i.e. its tax bill)?

Giant companies who have been subjected to condemnation for operating in lower tax jurisdictions employ thousands of local people – in Ireland 2million jobs are dependent upon foreign investment. Whilst those companies are active in such territories they are paying tax (maybe not huge amounts – but more than if they weren’t there!) and contributing to the local economies. In Delaware (the USA’s own ‘tax haven’) $860million is collected in taxes each year from the companies incorporated there – that makes up a quarter of the state’s entire budget. 60% of all US companies are Delaware-incorporated, including 58% of the Fortune 500 companies. Those companies are only there because of the low tax regime.

If taxes were raised in Delaware and Ireland (as the EU is demanding), then those companies would leave; the tax revenues from those companies would cease and lots of people (i.e. taxpayers) would be out of work. The same applies with personal taxation; if a country has a low rate of income tax, people will move there and/or pay more in tax long-term and the economy will flourish. If taxes are raised then taxpayers will move elsewhere or look to avoid (or even evade!) taxes. After the 50% additional tax rate was introduced in the UK in 2010, the number of individuals declaring income over £1million fell from 16,000 to 6,000 – £7billion of revenue was lost.

Tax havens attract enterprise, jobs and wealth. The objection many people have with them is the secrecy and lack of transparency – a reasonable objection, but not all tax havens need be tropical islands with ‘dodgy’ financial institutions. Any country can be a tax haven yet retain total transparency and legitimacy. To get out of the current economic doldrums we need enterprise, jobs and wealth, and that means we need low taxes. Britain needs to become a tax haven. It is a basic principle of economics – if you want to raise taxes, you lower them!

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

Chris Thorpe, Head of Research

DCER – FCLR International Inc.

New transpolar trade routes – natural resources.

 

“The grab for Greenland”; The world’s great powers have the Arctic’s natural resources and trade routes in their sights. On a hill above the old harbour, Hans Ludvic braves biting winds to keep watch over the town he founded three centuries ago. Bearing the commission of King Frederick IV of Denmark, the Lutheran pastor pitched up in Greenland in 1721.

He planned to bring the Reformation to Norse settlers in this vast, frozen territory. As Egede navigated the ice fjords, he discovered his European kin had long since left in search of more clement climes. Undeterred, he set about preaching the Protestant faith to the native Inuit, supplying

Greenlandic with a Latin alphabet to promote study of the scriptures. Egede’s mission established itself in Godthab (Good Hope) on the southwest coast of the island. Church was soon followed by trade and later by the state. Denmark – then a European power with imperial ambitions – acquired a colony.

Greenland is once again catching the imagination of outsiders. International business executives and diplomats are retracing Egede’s journey. The rapid melting of the northern polar ice has set off something of a scramble for the resources buried below. By US estimates, the Arctic may hold 13 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 per cent of its untapped gas as well as untold mineral resources.

The London-based think-tank Chatham House talks of an Arctic “cold rush”. Greenland, a frozen and mostly empty sprawl of a country reaching up from the Atlantic to the Arctic Ocean, sees a chance to reclaim its pre-colonial identity. “I guess we are in the business of nation-building,” says Vittus Qujaukitsoq, the minister of economy in a government with its sights on independence.

Egede’s statue stares across the ice-speckled harbour to a cluster of timber-framed buildings housing the National Museum. Greenland has wrested autonomy from Copenhagen, and visitors to the museum’s store of historic artefacts are left in little doubt about the colonial record. The hunting paraphernalia, furs, native art and wood-framed kayaks describing the harshness of polar life are accompanied by a commentary that excoriates the interlopers. Christianity and colonisation brought “crucial ruptures . . . in the lifestyle and thinking of the Inuit”. The “master race” corralled the indigenous people into new settlements to better supply Denmark with the spoils of sealing, whaling and fishing.

The Inuit were robbed of their spiritual compass as well as their physical freedom. The museum records this story in Greenlandic and in English – not in Danish, until recently the country’s official language.

Daniel Thorleifsen, the quietly spoken curator, brushes off my suggestion of bias in his museum’s celebration of the ancient crafts of the Inuit alongside its distinctly cooler assessment of the modernity imported from Denmark. “We are telling the history correctly. How the exploitation happened. This is not a matter of opinion,” he says. The narrative of repression represents “a simple statement of fact”. This was a sentiment I heard often in Greenland, sometimes from those of Danish as well as Inuit heritage.

These lingering anti-colonial resentments have fired nationalist ambitions. Now they are fusing with rising hopes that Greenland is in sight of an economic boom. Isolated by Denmark, Greenland caught a brief glimpse of the outside world when Americans arrived during the second world war to deny Hitler’s Germany an Atlantic foothold. During its nuclear stand-off with the Soviet Union, Washington stationed bombers at Thule in the far freezing north. But for the most part, Greenland has been a place the rest of the world passed by.

Air travellers might glance at the dazzling, ice-sculpted terrain while crossing the Atlantic. Bands of explorers and scientists ventured north to explore the high polar terrain or to drill deep into the ice core to trace the progress of climate change. Intrepid tourists marvelled at the icebergs spilling from its glaciers into the open sea. But Greenland’s frozen nothingness made international headlines only when its hunters and whalers rebelled against the save-a-seal environmentalism of the European Union.

Things are changing. Two of the big forces shaping the world’s geopolitical contours are global warming and the voracious appetite for raw materials of the world’s big emerging markets. Both converge on Greenland’s retreating ice-sheet. What happens next in the Arctic will touch the security and prosperity of the rest of the planet. “The world is paying attention to Greenland,” says Jens-Erik Kirkegaard, the government minister in charge of minerals and mining development, with more than a hint of satisfaction.

Climate change is remaking the Arctic, opening up new transpolar trade routes and offering tantalising sight of the energy and mineral resources beneath the unforgiving tundra. The impact is being felt in changing global weather patterns, migrating fish stocks and rising seas as far away as Asia and, crucially, in the calculations of the world’s great powers. Huge blocks of ice from Greenland’s glaciers spill into the Atlantic currents through the Kangia Fjord.

The discovery of iron ore, zinc, gold and much else has attracted prospectors from as far away as Australia. Deposits of rare earth materials could challenge China’s grip on the global trade in the valuable metallic elements vital to today’s technological gadgetry. Greenlanders dream that the seabed beyond its northern coast might one day yield hydrocarbons to rival the riches on the slopes of Alaska. “Climate change,” Qujaukitsoq says, “is a new opportunity for Greenland.”

Greenland isn’t green. Not much of it, anyway. During the short summer a scattering of sheep peer down from the coastal hills to the ice floes below, but some 80 per cent of the two million square kilometres of territory (an area almost four times that of France) is sheeted with ice. The people – about 56,000 hardy souls at the latest count – mostly huddle together in small towns and settlements on the southwestern coastline.

As the writer Sara Wheeler notes in her magnificent chronicle of the modern polar region, The Magnetic North, the country was given its name by Erik Thorvaldsson, more popularly known as Eric the Red. Arriving from Iceland during the 10th century, Erik had a 21st-century copywriter’s eye for marketing. “Gronland”, he thought, would conjure up images of fertile plains and draw in European settlers.

This part of the world has known big changes in climate before. Warming temperatures during the eighth and ninth centuries brought Inuit tribes from Alaska and northern Canada – the Thule – who displaced the now-disappeared Dorset peoples in the frozen north. The Norse settlers arrived in the more temperate south. By the 15th century, however, the mercury was falling again. The Norse disappeared, leaving behind the Inuit who, kept warm by the skins of their prey, could scratch a subsistence life by fishing or hunting whales, walruses, seals and musk oxen.

The latest change in the weather pattern is faster and more pronounced. Arctic temperatures have been rising twice as fast as elsewhere. The polar region has lost about three-quarters of its sea ice. This summer the White House published a US strategy for the region. The warming trend, it said, “is unlike anything previously recorded. The reduction in sea ice has been dramatic, abrupt, and unrelenting.” This had the potential “to transform global climate and ecosystems as well as global shipping, energy markets and other commercial interests”. The prospects were for the opening of hitherto unnavigable sea passages from Asia to Europe and from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The thaw could make accessible “vast quantities of mineral resources, including rare earths, emeralds, iron ore and nickel”.

 

So Greenland finds itself at the heart of one of the 21st century’s big geopolitical games: the race to stake out territory and interests in the world’s last ungoverned space. One outcome may be a free-for-all in which competing states fight it out above and below the ice for control of trade routes and resources. Another, enshrined in the ambitions of the eight-nation Arctic Council, would see the creation of a unique structure of international co-operation charged with defusing tensions and safeguarding the unique ecology.

For now, there are pointers in both directions. The council – comprising the five Arctic Ocean littoral states of the US, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark (representing Greenland), along with Sweden, Finland and Iceland – started out as a body preoccupied with the environment, marine safety and the rights of indigenous peoples. More recently it has developed a broader political remit. The so-called Arctic Five have agreed that disputes about maritime boundaries will be settled peacefully under the terms of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. The Scandinavian members of the council see a chance to create an unprecedented model of “preventative diplomacy”.

Whether such goodwill outlasts serious contact with conflicting claims to mineral resources and shipping rights is a tougher question. In 2007, Moscow dispatched a submarine to plant the Russian national flag below the North Pole, thereby underscoring its claim to vast tracts of the Arctic seabed. Norway, usually nothing if not avowedly multilateral, has strengthened its military forces in the Arctic region and hosts regular exercises for Nato troops in the high north.

Normally placid Canada is boisterously nationalistic about its polar territory where it is embroiled in disputes with Washington about shipping rights in the Beaufort Sea. The US, which after the second world war tried and failed to buy Greenland from Denmark (in 1917 it had completed a similar transaction with Copenhagen to secure ownership of what are now the US Virgin Islands), has only quite recently woken up to the broader strategic significance of the Arctic. US secretaries of state, who had previously deputed their juniors to handle the region, now make a point of turning up at the regular ministerial gatherings of the Arctic Council.

The power plays reach beyond governments with an obvious territorial stake in the region. China rebranded itself a “near-Arctic” state some time ago. After an intense diplomatic campaign – which Russia failed to scupper – Beijing has secured a seat as an observer on the Arctic. It has signed free-trade and economic agreements with financially beleaguered Iceland in what western governments see as an attempt to establish an Arctic staging post.

“China wants to buy it,” says one western diplomat bluntly of Beijing’s courtship of Reykjavik. With an eye on potential mineral resources, Beijing may send up to 3,000 workers to open an iron ore mine in Greenland. All this stirs anxiety in Washington. “If China is paying attention,” a US official says, “we cannot afford not to.”

The pace of change in the Arctic will be slower than imagined by some excited commentators. If chunks of Greenland’s glaciers now turn up as icebergs in the Caribbean, the polar region still has an awful lot of ice. China may have sent a cargo vessel to traverse the Arctic sea route above northern Russia – cutting weeks off the journey through the Suez Canal – but traffic is seasonal and negligible in comparison with traditional routes.

It will be decades before the polar seaways challenge the Suez and Panama canals. Digging out minerals and pumping oil will be fraught with environmental and technical hazards. The terrain is inhospitable, communications difficult and mining operations expensive. The Inuit inhabitants of Alaska, Canada and Greenland are also determined to have their say.

Geopolitics does not wait for the future. Governments, businesses and NGOs are rushing to stake out ground. China has been joined as an observer on the Arctic Council by India, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy – all states that consider they have an interest in access to new Arctic resources and trade routes. An international organisation that started out as a sleepy backwater for boffins and environmentalists has become an arena for strategic competition. Greenland’s politicians may soon enough discover that climate change poses as many risks as it holds promises for a nation that wants to reclaim a vanishing identity.

Danish Godthab, the capital, was renamed Greenlandic Nuuk in 1979 when Greenlanders demanded autonomy from Copenhagen. A home rule agreement in that year laid the foundations for a  comprehensive self-government accord in 2009. This repatriated Denmark’s remaining powers over domestic policy, leaving foreign affairs and security to Copenhagen. Greenland took full control of its economy, including the mineral and hydrocarbon resources, while remaining, like the Faroe Islands (another former colony lying between Denmark and Iceland) part of the “Danish realm”. Fights with European environmentalists about seal and whale hunting and fishing rights had already prompted Greenland to quit the European Union, though Denmark remains an EU member.

Nuuk is at once a capital city and a village. The jumble of pretty clapboard houses rising up from the rocks above the harbour gives way to a sprawl of flimsy, badly worn apartment blocks that might have been designed by an architect of the Soviet school. This is not an elegant town. The 16,000 or so residents are served by a couple of small shopping centres, while a swelling band of business and diplomatic visitors converge on a single hotel. The city’s bars are often full – long, dark winter nights, high unemployment and a culture of living-for-the-moment make for a disturbing tradition of heavy drinking. Sisimiut and Ilulissat, the next largest population centres, each have about 5,000 residents. Most Greenlanders live in towns of a thousand or two. In the far north, a typical settlement is home to a hundred or less.

There are no roads connecting this scattering of communities. The ice and the distances preclude even rudimentary highways. A single vessel of the state-owned shipping line plies its trade up and down the western coastline each week but people and products mostly get around by plane and helicopter. Everything rests on the weather-defying feats of Air Greenland. Given the freezing weather, feats they are. Christian Keldsen, the airline’s chief commercial officer, showed me around the hangars at Nuuk airport as a group of engineers stripped down one of half a dozen Dash turboprops.

The flying warhorses are built for tough conditions but the mechanics wielded their wrenches with surgical care. Everything is checked, double checked and then checked again, every nut and bolt scrupulously accounted for. The brutal conditions facing the pilots leave no room for mistakes.An hour to the north, Kangerlussuaq serves as Air Greenland’s communications hub and the country’s lifeline to the outside world. Built by the Americans, the runway is one of only two long enough for long-range jets.

For most of the year the airline runs a daily service to Copenhagen. A ramshackle cluster of shops and homes assembled in wood and corrugated steel stands in dismal relief to the dazzling mountains that rise from the runway. In winter, temperatures here drop below -40C. A rickety hotel beside the single terminal is a reminder that even the sturdiest of aircraft must sometimes bow to the forces of nature.

The precariousness of this life – the mainstays of the economy are fishing and a small, though burgeoning tourism industry, and more than half of the government budget comes in the form of a subsidy from Copenhagen – has not dampened the enthusiasm of local politicians for independence. Economy minister Qujaukitsoq says climate warming gives the country the chance to “create our own economy – firstly by rebuilding our fishing industry, secondly by creating a mining industry and thirdly with tourism”. Lest anyone think there is a shortage of riches, he reels them off: “gold, silver, platinum, palladium, zinc, iron, copper, rare earths, lead, to name just a few we know for certain Greenland has in large quantities”.

Kirkegaard, the mining minister, welcomes the world’s attention. The government has lifted a decades-old ban on the mining of uranium which had applied even when the material was collected as an unavoidable byproduct. The Australian-based Greenland Minerals and Energy describes the move as a “transformative event” which opens up huge potential for the mining of rare earths in southern Greenland. Kirkegaard says the timing for such developments is perfect – the demand for resources from the swelling middle classes of the emerging nations comes at the moment an investor spotlight has turned to the Arctic.

There are plenty of other places with untapped resources but “Greenland is strategically in a good place. The rule of law applies. It is a democratic country where you can trust the courts and laws. That’s important for mining companies.” It will take time to locate the oil and gas reserves but Shell, Maersk, Statoil and Cairn Energy are among companies with drilling licences. For now, says Kirkegaard, “You know it’s there, but not quite where.”

There is a Klondike quality about all this. Every summer a pilgrimage of prospectors arrives in search of gold, silver, diamond and ruby deposits. Some of them stay. In Nuuk, Joshua Hughes, a Welsh-born geologist, took me to lunch. He had been visiting Greenland for years, he explained, before deciding to settle in the capital. He is a man with the gleam of riches in his eye. As chief geologist for NunaMinerals, Hughes has been digging for gold; and he is sure he has discovered it. Nuna, he says, has found a valuable seam in southern Greenland, and is raising funds on the Toronto Stock Exchange to finance commercial exploitation.

Greenland’s future, though, may hang on one big deal. The British-based London Mining heads a consortium that wants to establish an iron ore mine at Isua, 100 miles north of Nuuk. Once in operation, this single project would have an output worth a staggering $2bn a year – equivalent to Greenland’s present national income. To build the facility and a nearby deep-sea port, London Mining plans to bring in Chinese capital and up to 3,000 Chinese workers. Surveys and negotiations have dragged on over years but 2013 saw a breakthrough in talks with the government. In what Kirkegaard terms a “historic moment”, London Mining secured a 30-year licence to exploit the ore.

More cautious voices say ministers are getting carried away by such heady optimism. The government’s nationalist rhetoric, diplomats say, collides with some harsh realities. Greenland lacks the infrastructure, the people and the resources to rush into independence. If Denmark was once a rapacious colonial power, Greenland now depends on Copenhagen’s financial benevolence. There are questions too about Aleqa Hammond, the feisty leader of the Simuit party, who won this year’s general election to become Greenland’s first woman prime minister.

Hammond, local business leaders observe, looked a more convincing figure on the campaign trail than in government. Some draw unflattering comparisons between Hammond and Kuupik Kleist, her predecessor and the leader of the Inuit Ataqatigiit party. Kleist earned a reputation as a “grown-up”, a politician brave enough to take unpopular decisions to sort out the public finances and modernise an outdated fishing industry.

For all its commitment to independence the government struggles to shake off an air of amateurism – a sense that inexperienced ministers have not quite grasped the complexities and risks of the geopolitical game now being played in the Arctic. Much of the work of administration still falls to officials born or trained in Denmark, while, perversely, Hammond’s vote-winning pledges have increased Greenland’s financial dependence on Copenhagen.

Kleist’s Inuit Ataqatigiit party spearheaded calls for independence during the 1970s and 1980s and he remains committed to the goal. But he warns that the country lacks the financial and human capital to cut itself adrift any time soon. The problems lie not only in numbers – though finding the people to govern a state from a population of only 56,000 will never be easy – but in low educational attainment and high unemployment. Nuuk boasts a small, bustling university but many children leave school with only minimal qualifications. There is no point, Kleist says, “in yelling in the streets for independence if you do not know how to get there”.

Climate change carries opportunities – everything has been moving north, including valuable fish stocks, but you have to build “your own nation to be strong enough to take care of itself”.  The cold rush throws up a profound paradox. The world’s rediscovery of the Arctic, like Egede’s landing in Greenland, promises economic and social upheaval. Climate change threatens to elbow aside what remains of the precious traditions honoured in Daniel Thorleifsen’s museum. The number of native hunters in Greenland’s high north has fallen to less than a thousand. They are growing old and, as the ice melts, their children are moving south.

Climate change offers a platform for independence but it will not turn back history. It will more likely force Greenlanders to decide who they are. Centuries of intermingling and intermarriage have blurred the boundary between Greenlandic and Inuit. Greenlanders of mixed or mostly Danish heritage say they too would like independence but they don’t look to the past for their future. There are those in Hammond’s government who say it is time to close the colonial chapter by retiring Egede from his towering vantage point. The irony is they are not at all sure what they would put in his place.

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

Alpha Romao C4, Zena Zennor.

I’m kinda thinking of getting a new about-town-car, something pretty cool chic that goes with my cool cat-woman heel clicking image.  Nothing too fancy, but keen lines with a touch of sophistication and plenty of girl-power.  I’ve looked at a Z4, MX5, and a boxter but nothing really crunched my biscuit. Spoke to one of my buddies in Milan and got the thumbs up for the Alpha C4.  Cute, sexy, sophisticated and lovable with a rumbly-growl.  Went to Wessex and had a coveted meander and test drive, it was love at first site.   Thought I would give all of you Alpha fans my take on the sexy-C4 and added some technical research too!

The long-held tradition among Italian manufacturers of creating lightweight sports cars with small-capacity, highly tuned engines has all but faded away, kicked into touch by the need for bigger bodies to accommodate our bigger bodies, plus the safety devices, electronic boxes, cosseting interiors, “infotainment” and noise-muffling padding that modern, “sporting” drivers apparently demand.

But back in 2011, Alfa Romeo promised to revisit a golden era of driving with the unveiling of a prototype two-seater that combined light weight with a punchy, sub-two-litre engine and a compact wheelbase clothed in bodywork so stunning that it seemed it would never happen. But after two years of waiting, the 4C has finally appeared. And for those who have been longing for a car that’s truly designed for driving – that’s to say, one that doesn’t do everything for you, lets you know that it’s alive and demands some serious input – it’s a four-wheeled dream come true.

With characteristic Italian flair (and not a little of the prerequisite Italian drama), the first-production versions of the 4C were presented amid the inky blackness of a Piedmontese night at the vast Balocco proving ground near to Turin, which was built during the 1960s by Alfa’s parent company, Fiat.

The evening commenced with the sound of a 4C being driven with bravado from a distant part of the Balocco track, headlamps twinkling in the dark. Having screamed the engine through four of the six available gears, the pilota approached the seated audience at high speed, before braking to an abrupt halt so that we could finally see what all the fuss was about. I don’t know whether or not the Italians have an equivalent of the English expression, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it”, but that certainly seemed to be what Alfa’s bigwigs were trying to say to us.

With a form penned by chief designer Alessandro Maccolini, the 4C could be described as pugnacious, its looks being all the more remarkable for having been achieved within the strict parameters of the car’s original concept: that it should measure no more than 4m long, weigh less than 900kg, have a mid‑mounted engine and, above all, be sensibly priced.

The end result is a car with a basic price of forty-five grand or so, but which is built with techniques usually reserved for those costing three or four times as much. The chassis, for example, is a carbon-fibre monocoque with bodywork made from strong but light SMC (sheet-moulding compound) and supported by aluminium framework. Together with the turbocharged, all-aluminium 1742cc engine, this makes for a total dry weight of just 895kg – yet there’s almost 240hp on tap, enough to give the 4C a top speed of 160mph and a 0-to-62mph time of 4.5 seconds.

The philosophy of a small car with a small motor and small weight harks right back to the Italy of the 1950s and 1960s, when punitive taxation on larger engines meant that designers had to wring all they could get from as few cubic centimetres as possible. It was a necessity that perhaps contributed to the creation of jewel-like road racers such as the 1090cc Lancia Appia Zagato GTE and the 982cc Abarth 1000 Monomille Coupé.

And, while the 4C’s engine could potentially be made far more powerful, the fact that it’s tuned to 240bhp means that it slips nicely below the 248bhp ceiling imposed by the deficit-burdened Italian government, beyond which owners are charged a superbollo tax of around €10 for every single extra unit of horsepower generated.

From that point of view, then, the 4C is rather a sensible, baby supercar. In all other areas, however, it’s high on emotion and even higher on excitement. Its looks alone are enough to make you fall in love with it, despite the fact that, on close inspection of individual areas, it brings to mind several other designs – the headlamps, for example, are somewhat Smart Roadster; the side-mounted air scoops a bit old-style Toyota MR2; the three-quarter view slightly Lotus Evora; and the back-end is reminiscent of Alfa’s own, even more gorgeous 33 Stradale of the late 1960s.

The sum of those parts, however, is irrefutably attractive – but it’s when you get behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel that you really fall for the 4C, because this is truly a driver’s car par excellence. The tiny, two-seater cockpit is relatively sparsely trimmed, with the raw carbon fibre of the monocoque widely visible; no satnav, just a basic sound system; and no nannying beep to remind you to belt up. There isn’t even a glove box, only a couple of elasticated storage pockets – and quite a bit of money-saving plastic – but you do get a digital dashboard display that alters its readout according to which of the character-changing driving modes (natural, all weather, dynamic and race) are selected.

Fire the engine, engage first gear with the console‑ mounted button (the 4C uses the almost ubiquitous dual-clutch transmission with paddle-operated manual override), prepare to pull away – and discover that, joy of joys, here is a new car that doesn’t even have power steering. And, thanks to the (optional) Race Pack exhaust pipe fitted to the model I drove, it’s one that is also naughtily noisy. The 4C’s high-tech bodywork feels reassuringly rigid once you are on the move, yet the car is surprisingly comfortable on less-than-perfect road surfaces. But once you start to drive the car as it’s meant to be driven, the suspension proves pretty much perfect in enabling it to corner with aplomb.

Make no mistake, then – despite its looks, the 4C is not a car for posing, but for driving. And, if you like driving, you’ll love the 4C. The only problem is, will you be able to get one? Alfa claims to have received 1,000 expressions of interest for the 500 available examples of the fifty two grand launch edition, within 10 days of announcement – and only 60 have been allocated to the UK across Alfa’s 53 UK dealerships.

Once fully up to speed, the 4C production line is said to be capable of churning out 3,500 cars per year (200 of these for the UK) with plans for a five‑year run, which may include a convertible variant. Whether that goal will be reached remains to be seen.

But in any event, drivers who love driving should do their utmost to secure the best car Alfa Romeo has come up with for decades – because if ever there was a future classic, the 4C is it. You C if I’m not right…

So Alpha Romao, I’ve written your essay as requested and I hope that you like my style!

Zena Zennor.

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

Shanghai Tower, Eco-skyscraper.

Shanghai Tower, Eco-skyscraper.

Double-glass façade will greatly reduce the structure’s carbon footprint, say its architects. China likes everything tall: tall buildings, tall people – there are even special summer camps aimed at growing taller children. These days the country also has an obsession with greenness (running parallel to its increasingly dire pollution problems). And soon these two cults – the cult of the tall and the cult of the green – will meet at Shanghai’s newest skyscraper, the 632-metre Shanghai Tower, billed by its makers as the world’s greenest tall building.

Skyscrapers are nothing new in China, where municipal gigantism has become such a fad that the country accounts for 13 of the 20 tallest buildings under construction in the world, according to figures from the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. At the time of writing, the Shanghai Tower, although still being built, is widely considered the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world after the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai. However, a company in the central Chinese city of Changsha has announced plans to build the world’s tallest skyscraper, at 838 metres, in just three months. And Chengdu, another hinterland Chinese city, recently completed the world’s largest building by area, a scheme that included its own artificial sun.

Those behind the Shanghai Tower, however, want it to be more than another freakish Chinese vanity project. At nearly twice the height of the Eiffel Tower, they want it to do for brand Shanghai what that earlier tower did for Paris and complete a distinctive skyline that will symbolise China’s most futuristic city. Greenness is central to that image, and the view from the top of the tower (which is due to be completed in 2015), leaves no doubt as to why that is: even on days when Shanghai’s smog registers as only “moderate” on the government’s air quality index, the view is murky and grey. It is an industrial revolution kind of view – and not one that is consistent with Shanghai’s ambition to become a world-class financial centre by the end of this decade.

The structure was designed to satisfy the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “gold” standard, the second highest of its sustainability rankings. “It’s the greenest super high-rise building on earth at this point in time,” says Dan Winey, Asia managing principal for Gensler, the architecture firm that has designed the tower. The building – to feature 121 storeys of office, retail and hotel space according to Gensler – is constructed a bit like a Thermos flask. It has a “transparent second skin” – a double-glass façade, one of several green technologies that, says Gensler, will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 34,000 tonnes per year.

Its elegant spiral shape, which tapers at the top, was also designed with sustainability in mind. The building completes a 120-degree twist, and this, according to Gensler, is the “optimal rotation for minimising wind loads”, which will be cut by 24 per cent. “The result is a lighter structure that saved $58m in costly materials,” says a spokesperson for Gensler. The total cost of the tower is reported to be about $2.4bn. The tower is split vertically into nine “neighbourhoods”, each with its own verdant, multistorey atrium or “sky lobby”, intended to evoke the landscaped courtyards ofShanghai’s historic homes (though it is unlikely they will be filled with hanging laundry and people playing Chinese chess, like the real ones).

Each of the nine “sky lobbies” will have a garden planted in primary soil mixed with extra nutrients and compost, and irrigated by a drip system. The gardens will showcase plants from various parts of China, according to landscape architects the SWA group. There will be cafés, shops and restaurants to encourage tenants and visitors to congregate there. But each atrium or “sky garden” will also act as a “buffer zone” into which indoor air will spill before being exhausted from the building, also helping to cool it. Overall, one-third of the site is meant to be green space.

Exterior lighting for the tower will be provided by wind-driven generators. Overall, says Gensler, the building will employ 43 sustainable technologies designed to reduce energy consumption by 21 per cent compared with a conventionally built equivalent. But the architects, urban planners and even Gensler all point out that greenness is relative. “Building nothing is always the most sustainable course of action,” says Jun Xia, of Gensler’s Shanghai office. “It’s like a human being – a 7ft basketball star consumes much more resources than a regular-sized person.”

The Shanghai government, which owns a majority stake in the project through the Shanghai Urban Construction Investment and Development Corporation says it is more efficient to build a giant skyscraper at the intersection of two underground rail lines than to build smaller skyscrapers in the suburbs. The city’s vice-mayor told a conference last year that, with 23m inhabitants – an increase of almost 50 per cent in the past decade – and 9m migrant workers, the city had no choice but to build upwards.

Nothing is ever that simple in urban planning. Li Guoqiang, director of the Research Institute of Steel Construction, part of China’s Ministry of Education, says Shanghai’s population density means tall buildings are necessary. “But the question is, do you need a super-tall building or an ordinary tall building?” he asks, noting that the costs increase with height. “In terms of economics, the best height is 100m,” he says, but quickly adds: “There is another value for tall buildings. If a building can be regarded as a landmark then it has another kind of value and that is hard to calculate”.

“For the first time in history, over half the human population lives in cities. Like it or not, tall buildings are here to stay,” says Jason Pomeroy, author of the forthcoming book The Skycourt and Skygarden: Greening the Urban Habitat. “With the Shanghai Tower, it’s a question of how you take this inherently energy-guzzling behemoth and make it sustainable . . . so the steps that have been taken to try to make it sustainable are the way to go”.

However green the design, what really matters is how the building is operated, argues Daniel Safarik of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats. “If a building has 100 per cent operable windows and occupants don’t use them most of the year, the benefit of that design feature will have been lost,” he says. So the verdict on the Shanghai Tower will inevitably be out until after it begins operating. Critics point to the Bank of America Tower in New York – the first building ever to achieve LEED “platinum” certification – and the subsequent claims that its environmental credentials were a case of “greenwash”.

The New Republic magazine alleges in a recent article that the building consumes twice the energy per sq ft of the Empire State Building. But Scot Horst, of LEED at the US Green Building Council, defended the BofA Tower saying that it “removes stress from the existing electric infrastructure far more effectively than comparable buildings”. Perhaps the most that the Shanghai Tower can hope for is to be greener than the competition – including the two super-towers that stand next to it; the Japanese-owned 492-metre Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC), known as the “bottle opener” building, and the 421-metre Jin Mao Tower.

“If we want to make a city sustainable, we wouldn’t do it with super-high-rise buildings,” says Ken Maher, head of Hassell, the Australian architects behind several “green city” projects in China. “This is about making Shanghai more obviously a global city, and given that, let’s make it as sustainable as possible,” he says. “It’s not about saving the dollars it’s building the future.

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

 

Hacker, Ghost & Cyber Hunters.

Hacker, Ghost & Cyber Hunters.

An elite battalion of largely twenty-something experts are on the front line of corporate cyber defence deep within PwC’s doughnut-shaped headquarters in the shadow of London’s Tower Bridge, a projection flickers on the whitewashed wall of a meeting room. Its uniform multicoloured dots form an image that would not look out of place on one of Damien Hirst’s production lines. But this is not art; it is science. Each lilac and rose-coloured spot represents one step of a mesmerising track on the hunt for hackers. For the members of PwC’s newest security team – a pack of cyber sleuths mostly still in their twenties – these bright lights are flares of corporate danger.

Dan Kelly, a 28-year-old former farm boy turned forensic investigator of computer code, sees clues that form what is known as threat intelligence. His team has pinpointed a one-man hack attack amid a string of dots, numbers and letters. “This is malware that’s been tied to several campaigns, which targeted people in the western and eastern hemispheres,” says Kelly, who left school at 16 having completed all his qualifications early. Malware is shorthand for the malicious software that is the stock-in-trade of hackers worldwide. “What we’ve actually managed to do is tie the malware and the campaigns back to an individual.”

Kelly, an expert in reverse engineering – taking code apart to deduce its origin and purpose – points out that the image projected on the team’s meeting room wall is also telegraphing something personal about his prime suspect. Much like a graffiti artist, the hacker tagged his work, embedding his moniker within the malware. As the malware spread, Kelly and the other crew members could see “that malware is now being used to target human-rights activists, governments and industry. So it looks very, very much like it was state-sponsored.”

The cyber response team at PwC, the professional services firm, is part of a broadening frontier in private security. A growing number of companies are seeking protection against cyber fraud, activism and industrial espionage, perpetrated by unseen enemies who can be thousands of miles away. PwC has responded in kind, launching a hiring spree over the past two years to create an in-house battalion of more than 80 youthful experts from across the UK and abroad. They are part of a world-class team: the firm’s cross-border cyber security unit has been ranked number one globally in 2013 by Gartner, the independent information-technology research company.

The men who form its ranks are now tasked with a Sisyphean challenge: raise the barricades against business-like crime gangs, teenage hacktivists and, increasingly, nations that deploy cyber troops as a way for state-owned enterprises to compete on a global stage with the private sector. Cyber protection has become one of PwC’s fastest-growing revenue streams, according to the firm, fed in no small part by the increasing number of such attacks and deepening sense of bewilderment and fear within private corporations over who is profiting from these secret cyber wars.

“There’s blurring of the threat and a blurring of who’s behind it,” says David Garfield, managing director of cyber security at BAE Systems Detica, which manages the cyber threat for the defence company and other clients. “There used to be a clear delineation between the bedroom hackers, hacktivists, industrial espionage and the state-sponsored stuff. Now there’s a blurring across all of these. Maybe one is recruited by the other.” Hackers want to steal the secrets and money and damage the reputations of the companies they target. Recent research shows their persistence pays: the UK Cabinet Office estimates that the cost of cyber crime to the country’s economy alone reaches £27bn annually, while a White House white paper on cyber policy this year estimated that data theft to US businesses costs close to $1tn.

Inside the sleek glass corridors of PwC, John Berriman was one of the first in the firm to gauge the private sector’s losses from cyber crime – and recognise the market potential in fighting it. Two years ago, Berriman – a PwC lifer who looks more like the archetypal management consultant than some of his newest digital-forensics recruits – began preaching to his fellow senior partners that investing in cyber specialists could improve the firm’s bottom line. He has since been charged with doubling the integrated cyber teams’ revenues over the next couple of years.

Berriman now oversees every facet of PwC’s cyber crusade, from hiring front-line analysts to solicitors who advise on data-protection laws to management consultants who are dispatched to try to explain the various threats to the country’s top executives.

Hiring the right talent has been among his biggest challenges – even for a man once responsible for PwC’s “milk round” in the 1980s, when the firm would scour the UK’s best universities and try to lure their brightest graduates. Cyber experts – some of whom try out for jobs in simulated sessions of “ethical hacking” or “penetration testing”, where they attempt to hack into replications of companies’ systems to find any vulnerabilities – are something of a breed apart for the conventional corporation, he says.

“Do we expect some of these younger tech-savvy people to adjust to our world of management consultants or do we recognise that we have to change?” Berriman ponders. “A bit of each, I’d say.” It’s not the sophistication that the hackers employ, it’s the fact that they’re persistent Stephen Page, who advises both the UK government and PwC on the digital issues facing boards, offers a slightly more nuanced job description of what is needed in a tech detective, no matter the age. “We need people who are not only technically agile but also people who are totally trustworthy. The kind of employees at PwC are the same kind of people you see at GCHQ or the NCA,” referring respectively to the UK intelligence services’ signals and communications arm, and to the UK’s new National Crime Agency, which targets cyber crime.

Sometimes, however, even government agencies’ trust can be misplaced, no matter the rigour of their background checks – as in the case of Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency contractor whose actions have sparked a worldwide debate over privacy and security. PwC tries to ensure that leaks of highly sensitive and classified information will never be perpetrated by any of its recruits by submitting them to extensive interviews and background checks. Those who work on the most top-secret client information can be subject to so-called developed vetting, which includes credit and criminal-record checks, scrutiny of references and qualifications, and often requires the subject to have been resident in the UK for more than a decade.

Insider risk is all too real for the analysts within the cyber security team. For all the new technology they are faced with, many cyber-enabled frauds or attacks they review rely on old-fashioned human vulnerabilities. “The most dangerous cases from an organisational perspective are the volunteers [insiders] who want to give information away,” explains Jay Choi, a polyglot 29-year-old who heads up the PwC cyber team’s “insider threat” analysis. “But how, from an organisational point of view, you deal with that requires a different mindset altogether.”

The poster boy of PwC’s cyber efforts is Kris McConkey, a 31-year-old who has been obsessed with computers since primary school. McConkey – whose just-so hair, designer stubble and sharp shirts dispel any notion of the hoodie-wearing geek – grew up on a family farm in a rural corner of Northern Ireland and bought his first computer at age 13. The first thing he did, somewhat disconcertingly to his parents, was pull it apart. Luckily, the young teenager also figured out how to fit all the pieces back together. Within the year, he was learning how to dissect computer viruses and malware. By the time he left school, McConkey had set up his own software company.

“I was always trying to work out how stuff worked, and take things to bits – whether it was machinery, or radios or anything – just to figure it out. I started doing that with computers, and with computer programs as well,” he explains in a soft brogue. “I’ve pretty much done that either as a hobby or as my job for 16 years now; just trying to work out what the bad guys are up to and how to defend against it. The most dangerous cases from an organisational perspective are the volunteers [insiders] who want to give information away.

McConkey eventually became the first forensic technology employee at PwC’s Belfast outpost. He is now the team’s elder statesman and heads up the London-headquartered cyber response team. His foot soldiers are not PwC’s typical graduate recruits. Some have gone to university. Others didn’t bother; they already had offers from the UK intelligence services. Some speak several languages. For most, only one language matters: computer code. All use social media effortlessly and for them, the internet is like oxygen; an unremarkable, unconscious part of life.

The newest member of the digital forensic team, Chris Doman, was persuaded to join PwC in February after McConkey spent days “spamming him” on Twitter and LinkedIn. “I managed to get hold of him for a coffee on a Saturday morning in Clapham, ” he says. “And I think you,” he adds, with a nod at the rangy 27-year-old, “went for an interview on the Monday or the Tuesday.” The reason for courting Doman, a graduate of computer science at Cambridge university, so assiduously was his stand-out performance at an annual competition run by the US Department of Defense called the Digital Forensics Challenge – a global talent contest for would-be cyber investigators where they must solve replications of systems breaches. Out of 2,000 contenders from across the globe, Doman was only bested by a four-strong team from Northrop Grumman, the US defence contractor.

Naturally, Doman – polite and quietly spoken – was also wooed by others, including an antivirus software maker, a couple of boutique information-technology security firms, and another of the Big Four professional services firms. PwC, whose starting salary for a senior associate such as Doman is more than £40,000, won him over because “threat intelligence – tracking down the bad guys – you don’t get to do that everywhere”, Doman explains. “People I met at other places, they did it as their nine-to-five job but I didn’t feel like they wanted to do it outside of work; they didn’t want to keep reading up on it.”

Above all else, it is this all-consuming passion for the work that McConkey seeks out. He wants would-be employees who “live and breathe systems”. The candidates he hunts “are the people who did it for a hobby and didn’t realise that there were career paths for them where they could just get paid for effectively doing what they enjoyed”. He adds: “Thankfully, we got hooked into the right stream.” Not everyone does, of course: while McConkey and his team have found PwC, teenagers with similar skills could be the latest conscripts of state-sponsored hackers or perhaps a criminal gang – or even just sit in their bedroom and do untold damage to a company’s reputation if they see fit.

Understanding which of these different sorts of actors is responsible for a particular attack is a big part of the job. To the sleuths at PwC, a seemingly random selection of letters and numbers in a code is as telling as a fingerprint left behind after a heist. Such sequences can open emails, unlock bank accounts and even – potentially – control weapons thousands of miles away. An Advanced Persistent Threat, or APT, is the sort of dogged and well-resourced threat – which often has all the hallmarks of being state-sponsored – that their clients fear. It was an APT adversary whose work was so prettily configured on PwC’s conference-room wall, and the team is aware that, increasingly, attacks are likely to have a political dimension.

“The traditional battle space is no longer between a country and another country,” explains Choi, a former civil servant originally from South Korea, who specialises in geopolitical risk factors as a means of making sense of the digital threats identified by his teammates. “You have nation-states getting involved with non-state actors. There’s a blurring between hacktivists, industrial espionage and the state-sponsored stuff The private sector is beginning to wake up to this threat. Clifford Chance, one of the world’s biggest law firms, has noticed that attempted attacks on its work from state-sponsored actors have spiked over the past year. There “have always been quite a high number [of attempted hacks], most of which were relatively unsophisticated”, says Paul Greenwood, the firm’s chief information officer. “What is new for us is the state-sponsored dimension, which we had never seen before.” As an example, he cites the sale of an energy business, which the firm helped advise on. There was an attempt to monitor all the organisations involved in the sale, he says. “The origin of the attempted – and unsuccessful – cyber espionage would appear to have been state-sponsored but the issue was a pure commercial one.”

This asymmetry of risk and threat was the subject of a heated US House committee hearing in March, following the publication of a controversial report by Mandiant, an American cybersecurity company. It identified an elite Shanghai-based signals unit of the People’s Liberation Army, 61398, as being responsible for a wave of cyber attacks against 141 different entities across the English-speaking world. The attacks appeared to be directed at foreign rivals within industries included on China’s 12th five-year plan, such as information technology, aerospace and energy: the sectors in which the world’s second-largest economy is putting its hopes and investment.

“The Chinese firms that compete in these industries are dominated by state-owned enterprises, which ties Communist party officials and their families to this crime against the United States,” declared Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican lawmaker who chaired the March committee. The Chinese government swiftly denied Mandiant’s findings and has claimed, instead, that it has been a victim of US-sponsored cyber attacks. China is not alone in facing accusations of state spying on foreign companies – and the finger-pointing has threatened some usually placid diplomatic relations. Amid the revelations over the tapping of European leaders’ phones, the spectre of industrial espionage was raised by the mountain of documents allegedly leaked by Snowden. Both the US and Canada were implicated in allegations of state-sponsored industrial espionage against Brazil and one of its biggest companies.

Brazil has demanded answers as to why its state-controlled oil giant, Petrobras, was seemingly being spied on by the NSA, which then shared information with its North American neighbour – despite public pledges that the Defense Department does not carry out economic espionage in any medium, including cyber, as it would be a breach of US policy. In recent weeks, the debate has spread to Europe, too. “The Americans spy on us on the commercial and industrial level as we spy on them too, because it is in the national interest to defend our businesses,” Bernard Squarcini, the former head of France’s internal intelligence service, told Le Figaro in October. “No one is fooled.”

How the information is used is contentious – commercial interests in some cases can be argued to be national interests and vice versa. State-controlled entities, be they sovereign wealth funds or national champions, are increasingly used by countries to enlarge their spheres of influence. “The line between national security and commercial security is blurring,” states Neil MacBride, who as US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia oversaw criminal charges against Snowden. Speaking at a London conference three weeks after leaving his government job, MacBride added that the Mandiant report “certainly has the ring of truth to it”.

All this means that techniques once only found in state-sponsored cyber warfare are beginning to be deployed against corporate targets. Industrial espionage is evolving, from attempting to capture commercial secrets and intellectual property to actually controlling physical assets via hacking. The hack that has had the largest real-world effect to date was the case of Stuxnet, the virus that destroyed 10 per cent of Iran’s nuclear capability in 2010. While no state has ever officially claimed responsibility, the US and Israel have not denied media leaks that they were responsible.

Some two years after Stuxnet was discovered, a virus called Shamoon – the Arabic version of Simon, whose tag within the code led cyber investigators to believe it was the name of the virus’s author – attacked the computers of Saudi Aramco, wiping the data on 30,000 hard drives of the state-owned company that is the world’s largest oil producer. Saudi officials later acknowledged that the attack apparently was intended to hurt production.

The same virus attacked Qatar’s Ras Gas, a massive producer of liquefied natural gas. While a group called the Cutting Sword of Justice claimed responsibility, arguing that it was revenge for “atrocities” in Syria and Bahrain, analysts have posited that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are seen as US proxies by Iran. The attack occurred in the same month that Aramco was hit and not long after Saudi Arabia said it would increase oil production to counter any supply problems caused by sanctions placed on Iran. “This is where the political and economic perspectives converge into one,” explains Choi, who tracks the changing nature of cyber threats for PwC’s clients. “The Aramco case is a classic example.”

More recently – and closer to home – Europol smashed a drug ring this summer that was hacking into the control systems of the Belgian port of Antwerp as a means of controlling containers to ship their narcotics, weapons and cash. The Antwerp case was also interesting because, according to Europol, the drugs cartel outsourced the technical part of the scam to hackers. Teenagers and young adults with the requisite skills to mount, or defend against, a cyber attack are in limited supply. But the market for them – legitimate or not – is expanding. The worst global downturn in a generation may also be swelling the ranks of the so-called black hat – or nefarious – hackers globally, as legitimate job markets for young people are decimated.

In the US and UK, the market for Kelly and their like has responded to a skills shortage. The US cyber firm Semper Secure found that those with just one year’s cyber experience and an associate’s degree (a two-year undergraduate course) could command an annual salary of $91,000 (£57,000). That is more than double the US national average graduate wage, which in 2012 was $44,455, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

If corporate players such as PwC have had to open their ranks to less conventional candidates, so the darker side has had to become more businesslike. Gangs often recruit from closed online forums – virtual bazaars where everything is on sale, from malware to details of previously compromised machines, and where would-be recruits can showcase their skills in shadowy versions of the test that PwC’s Doman faced in the defence challenge. And PwC has been able to pinpoint attacks to observe that they occur during predictable time-frames. The firm has noted that such attacks increase in frequency just before the year-end, when even hackers apparently try to impress their superiors in anticipation of an annual bonus.

Garfield, the analyst at BAE Detica, points to a graph that underscores similarities in industriousness between white-hat and black-hat hackers. Sorting through hacks thought to originate in China, Garfield found that the peak activity occurs between 9am-5pm local time, with a slight drop-off during the lunch break. Another spike occurs late into the Chinese night – which coincides with working hours on the US east coast. The team was organised to be working double shifts, he concluded.

Kelly at PwC says that sort of methodical hacker strategy – round-the-clock and relentless – frightens most corporations trying to sort through a rapidly changing landscape of risk. “It’s not necessarily the sophistication that they employ, it’s the fact that they’re persistent,” he says. “[You] go into the office nine-to-five and you’re paid to do that. One day you are going to compromise your target. It may not be down to the level of sophistication but because you’re doing it all day, every day.”

Luckily for his clients, Kelly is equally persistent. He has always pulled things apart to see how they worked. Only now, he says, he could actually be doing it to keep the world safe. As a member of one of the world’s most elite corporate teams of cyber defenders, his skills are pitted daily against those of his unseen adversaries, in the virtual-world equivalent of man-to-man combat. “The scariest thing about cyber space is that it’s completely asymmetric,” he muses. “It would only take one person to shut something down. And if that one person was able to shut a lot of things down, that could affect an entire country, or maybe even the world over. So that’s the kind of mentality I try to keep in mind when building defences.”

The Kill Chain

A methodology for corporate cyber espionage

Reconnaissance

Hackers research a target company. Board members, management, location and supply chains will all be analysed.

Weaponisation

The hackers embed malware within a document tailored to lure employees from that company to open it – a PDF of an industry conference, for example.

Delivery

Malware is introduced to attack the company’s systems, either using a bespoke scam such as spear-phishing (see terms below), or an infected USB stick or other portable device.

Exploitation

The virus tries to find vulnerabilities in the systems so it can start unleashing its code.

Installation

If successful, it installs itself in a computer and starts to gain entry to the systems.

Command and Control

The malware beacons out to the hackers’ command-and-control server, asking it to issue an instruction.

Exfiltration Actions on Objectives

Data is stolen, or destroyed. The hackers’ aim has been fulfilled.

Tools and terms of the trade

APT An “advanced persistent threat” to systems – that is, groups of hackers that are well resourced and form a sophisticated set-up. They take the long view in trying to penetrate a particular system’s defences. APT is sometimes shorthand for state-sponsored hacking.

Backdoors A (generally secret) way of getting in and out of a computer system without having to go through the normal security checks. This can be for a legitimate use – for IT personnel to sort out issues remotely, for instance – but often hackers will try to create a backdoor on initial recces around a system for future, surreptitious ease-of-access.

Cracker What programmers and cyber insiders call those the general media denote as “hackers” – people who break into others’ computer systems without permission. In such circles, “hacker” is not a pejorative term and refers to those who have some programming skill.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks When a website crashes or runs slowly after a wave of requests generated by thousands of computers controlled by a botnet. These “zombie” computers in the botnet army may not know they have been compromised. A popular technique of hacktivists such as LulzSec against organisations including Sony and the CIA.

MiTB Stands for “man in the browser” malware, which is favoured particularly for financial frauds by targeting online transactions. It works by introducing a Trojan Horse virus into the user’s computer, which can not only steal passwords and intercept key strokes and browsing activity, but also can redirect the user to bogus websites.

Spear-phishing A reworking of the ubiquitous phishing email scam. In this more bespoke version, an email is sent from a seemingly familiar contact, asking the recipient to click on an attachment that either introduces malware or diverts them to a bogus website. Prior recces on the target’s job – perhaps using social media – makes this a successful technique.

Watering hole An infected website that is frequented by many potential targets, so that each time a target visits the site they pick up a virus or malware that can then go on to steal data. Used successfully in August, for example, against the website of the Dalai Lama’s Central Tibetan Administration.

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

 

Denis Island, Seychelles, Indian Ocean.

Denis Island, Seychelles, Indian Ocean.

I am afraid I just can’t help my-self, I have always have the urge to travel to the most bizarre and far-out-island locations. It’s not a family trait either, with mum always in the kitchen cooking and experimenting with new dishes and dad in his cellar laboratory. Eyeballing into the microscope looking at various cell structures.  Me, always planning the next trip and avidly reading travel journals, travel books and back issues of the New Scientist.  “I was born to see and do”.

Denis Island is as close to RLS’s Treasure Island as you can get, with its powder white to pink beaches, lush vegetation, location and wildlife. I have the quaint feeling I’ll come across evidence of Robinson Crusoe at any stage of my visit. They used to call Denis “the island at the end of the world” but that was in the days when it took the inter-island schooner more than 24 hours to sail from Mahé, the Seychelles’ main island. Now, a 30-minute flight gets you to this lozenge of sand and thick forest surrounded by the ever-changing blue shades of the Indian Ocean.

After about 30 visits to the Seychelles I am still surprised by the utter peace of the outer islands. The rippling surf, the occasional chittering of a flying fox and the wind in the casuarina pines all seem to have been designed to put the human heart at peace.

Denis sounds much more romantic if you pronounce it the French way –

“Denee”. Like most of the Seychelles’ small, exclusive resorts, it has reinvented itself as a “private” island and refurbished and redesigned its 23 large cottages to offer the now-requisite charms of outdoor showers, muslin-curtained day beds, “his and hers” sinks, canopied double beds and sitting rooms filled with smart hardwood furniture. The island lodge delivers the desert island fantasy of talcum-soft beaches, freshwater pool and thatched bar and restaurant.

Denis Island Lodge delivers the desert-island fantasy: talcum-soft beaches where turtles and eagle rays can be seen in the shallows, giant tortoises, a circular freshwater swimming pool for when you tire of the sea, and a thatched African-style bar and restaurant. After dinner, honeymooners in white linen laze upon oversized sofas chatting in a variety of European languages. But when they come to talk about the quality of their meals they may not realise that Denis has a secret: its own farm. Mahé doesn’t produce enough crops or meat or poultry to feed the local population, let alone the 200,000 annual tourist visitors to the Seychelles. Consequently, the food served at the islands’ resorts, while usually good enough, tends to come with a high tally of air miles and has almost always been frozen.

But Denis is different: walk through the forest to the northeast corner of the island and you enter another world. Rare magpie robins dart among the Indian almond trees and a dozen varieties of palm create a green canopy over the forest floor, where lizards wriggle away from human visitors. Then, in a clearing, there are enclosures filled with chickens, ducks, guinea fowl and rabbits. And in a fenced area invisible until you are upon it, there are about 60 cattle; another enclosure is filled with farrowing sows and rambunctious boars.

On the breakfast buffet at Denis Island Lodge the advantages of the island’s farm are clear. There is natural yoghurt, cheddar cheese, mango, papaya and, of course, fresh coconut. There is bacon, slivers of smoked duck breast and prosciutto. And at lunch and dinner there may be suckling pig, roast guinea fowl and island smoked-chicken Caesar salad. The sea provides sailfish and wahoo, tuna and mahi-mahi. The game fish have always been one of Denis’ attractions, as the island lies close to the edge of the deepwater Seychelles Bank. To first-time visitors such high-quality produce might seem just what is expected, but they probably also have little idea how unusual such a gourmet selection is in this country.

Cathy and Micky Mason run the island. They live in an old house close to the farm and, over the past few years, they have gradually reinstated the native forest and collaborated with conservation groups to help save endemic species such as the magpie robin – once reduced to just 20 individuals on the island of Frégate. On Denis they also have breeding colonies of white-eyes, black paradise flycatchers and Seychelles warblers. The cattle may seem less exotic than the endemic birds but represent no less of an achievement. “We struggled to get the cows to put on weight for a time,” Micky explains on the veranda of his house. “And then I experimented with palm leaves. We put them in a shredder and mulched them up and added it to the cattle feed. We doubled our milk production overnight.”

The Seychelles’ government – once fiercely socialist and keen on monopolising the import of essential foodstuffs – wants to encourage islands such as Denis to be more self-sufficient. Producing all of its meat and dairy products and about 80 per cent of its vegetables means that the island is at the forefront of the experiment. On an early morning stroll I meet Cathy coming back from the farm. “I’ve been counting my chickens,” she grins. “I think I’ve now got enough eggs to start sending some back to Mahé.”

The fact that Denis can breed and slaughter its own cattle, pigs and poultry may not be something that features in the brochure. But in the dining room the chefs are turning those products into the best food I’ve tasted in the Seychelles in more than 25 years. And that is something to boast about.

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

Zena Zennor.

Dead man’s data – Technology.

Technology: Dead man’s data

Digital property falls into a grey legal area upon death –

How uplifting you may think, but these days, this factor affects us all.

Stephen Wu is thinking about what will happen to his stuff when he dies. He is not worried about the “easy” things such as his house or his financial accounts. Instead, his concern is who will get his virtual property – his music collection on iTunes, the money in his PayPal account and, especially, all the virtual goods he has accumulated in online games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life.

“What happens to the Sword of Truth following death?” he asks, referring to a video game weapon. “In Second Life, I have a FedEx truck and a Flintstone-mobile, a Rolex watch, Wrangler jeans and a Beatles T-shirt. These goods have a lot of sentimental value.”

This may sound frivolous. But Mr Wu, an estate planning lawyer in California, notes that while the law is clear on issues regarding tangible property, it has not kept up with the growth in the various forms of digital property people have amassed at great speed. When it comes to email and social networking accounts, word-processing documents, digital photos and frequent flyer miles, there are few laws that govern their allocation upon death. From California to the UK, digital estate planning is a budding new industry.

The elderly who die today still leave behind an attic full of relics for children and grandchildren to rifle through: boxes of love letters and photos documenting the family history. But increasingly, such memorabilia is password-protected and stored online. Many wedding albums exist only on Flickr. The history of courtship and falling in love among today’s young newly-weds is documented on Facebook and in text messages.

“Look how awful people are when they fight over the couch or dad’s graduation ring,” says Josh Slocum, president of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, an advocacy group. “I can only imagine what the fight will look like over dad’s computer files.”

In the US, such questions fall into the messy intersection of state property laws, federal privacy laws and corporate policies of the companies housing online accounts.

A handful of US states have passed laws addressing the treatment of digital remains. In Oklahoma and Idaho, digital data are treated like tangible property. The executor of a will can take control of social networking or email accounts the same as bank accounts and houses, and decide to continue operating them or shut them down. In Indiana, a law allows access to those accounts but not control. In Rhode Island and Connecticut, only access to email accounts is covered.

For now, families grieving the loss of a loved one are at the mercy of corporate policies set by technology companies. Such terms-of-use agreements are crafted with an eye towards protecting users’ privacy. Yahoo accounts are “non-transferable” and rights to all content within them “terminate upon your death”, leaving families locked out of email archives and wedding albums – even if the deceased wanted to share them.

“In privacy policies, companies say ‘we won’t share this with anyone’,” Mr Wu says. “Then someone dies and the family says ‘please share this with me’. The company doesn’t want to get in trouble so they play it safe and shut it down altogether.”

In these situations, companies fear running afoul of federal regulators who are charged with upholding national trade laws that protect against deceptive business practices. Companies that breach their own privacy policies can be found in violation of these laws. Facebook is a notable example, now subject to continuing audits as a result of a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

 

Mr Wu advises clients to appoint a “digital executor” entrusted with a list of logins and passwords, and to outline explicit instructions in their estate plans on who has access to what accounts. Without a digital executor, family members will have to ask a court to order internet companies to turn over passwords. But this is novel ground in most states.

Even then there remains a question of whether some of the companies where precious personal history is stored will still exist when the people who created the content die. If Facebook passes from the cultural zeitgeist, will there for ever be an archive for posterity’s sake?

“What internet company is going to be around for ever?” says Mr Slocum.

When Jen Kwong’s fiancé drowned in Hawaii, she turned to Facebook for support. The outpouring from friends was comforting. And the fact that she could tell important people details of what happened in a single, private Facebook message – rather than 50 times over the phone – was a relief.

She had her fiancé’s passwords and mobile phone, from which she sorted his email and managed his Facebook account, allowing friends to tag photos with his name. She scrolled through his messages to be reminded of his wordsmithing and puns, pulling some for the memorials she had to plan instead of their wedding.

She has been tempted to change things on his Facebook page, especially his profile picture, taken outside Highclere Castle, where the TV series Downton Abbey was filmed, on a trip they took to the UK last year. But she had decided against that.

“It’s best not to touch it, even though I have the power to,” she says.

Ms Kwong’s story ventures into complicated territory for Facebook over who gets to control the image, and data, of the deceased. Traditionally, people are memorialised in newspaper obituaries and other carefully composed stories or albums that generally cast people in a positive light.

But family and friends now face questions about how to “edit” lives that have been extensively documented on Facebook – especially for younger people who die and leave behind a large online footprint.

In one instance, a young woman died in a gang-related drug crime. Her mother took over her Facebook page and began deleting some of her friends so they could not post comments any more, creating a stir among the young woman’s peers.

“This is where we step into privacy issues of the afterlife,” said Jed Brubaker, a PhD student in informatics at the University of California at Irvine, where he studies memorialisation and grieving on social networks.

Death on Facebook hit mainstream attention in 2009 when Facebook’s “People You May Know” algorithm, designed to boost engagement on the site among people who had not logged in recently, began suggesting that people “friend” the deceased. Ms Kwong’s friends complain that they are still being prompted to invite her fiancé to events and parties. Such gaffes forced Facebook to begin developing policies and technologies around deceased users.

Facebook used to delete accounts of people when they died. That changed in 2007 when families and friends of students slain in the campus shooting at Virginia Techbegged them to leave pages up as memorials.

Grief experts endorse such practices, saying they echo the ways people deal with death offline. However, Mr Brubaker says death can be “decontextualised” on Facebook, as people have “unexpected encounters” when they find posts about someone who has died among routine updates and cat videos.

And as Facebook and other social networks make it easier to stay connected with more people, he says, such encounters will only increase over time, particularly for young people. “The number of people we experience dying will be greater than other generations,” he says. “We will experience more grief.”

Friends or co-workers can fill out an online form to request that an account be memorialised. Only immediate family members can request that accounts be deleted – a process that requires a death certificate and can take up to six months in some instances. Facebook will not turn over login names or passwords unless forced to do so by court order.

Many people assume they have an implicit agreement with Facebook that it will archive their data but that is not outlined in the terms of service. Nor does Facebook say explicitly that the company becomes the executor of data stored on the site after death, leaving the responsibility for people’s accounts in a grey area. The vast majority of tech companies mention nothing about data ownership after death in their terms of service, leaving many estate lawyers scratching their heads. “We make clear in our terms of service that users own their information,” Facebook said in an email, declining to clarify what happens to the information when a person dies and cannot own anything.

Google is considered the leader in “digital afterlife” policies. It is the only technology company to establish a tool, called Inactive Account Manager, that allows people to indicate whether they want their accounts deleted after six, nine or 12 months of inactivity, or if they want to appoint a digital executor. They can also specify if they want their email accounts deleted but keep photos and videos available to family.

Ten months after her fiancé’s accident, Ms Kwong does not want to deactivate his Facebook account. It is not the administrative burden she is avoiding but the finality of closing it down that is too emotional a step.

 

“As much as I feel like I have to let go,” she says, “do I have to let go of everything so soon?”

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

 

 

Who Dares (even part-time) Wins.

Who Dares (even part-time) Wins

Ever since the dramatic siege of the Iranian Embassy in May 1980, everyone has heard of the SAS. The fact that they had been around since the second world war had been the best kept secret in the British Army up until that point. However not all the SAS was broadcast to the world.

The Special Air Service consists of three regiments. 22 SAS is the regular army regiment, based in Hereford and originally formed as a bunch of cut-throat renegade-types in world war two. However they were resurrected and placed on the army list in 1952. This is the regiment that people tend to know about. This is the regiment that takes in the best from the professional army – the Parachute Regiment being the single-largest contributor. 22 SAS consists of 4 ‘sabre’ (fighting) squadrons: A, B, D and G (the latter being formed apparently to accommodate those recruits from the Guards’ regiments).

Each squadron is commanded by a Major and consists of c.60 men each. Each squadron is sub-divided into 4 troops: Air, Boat, Mobility and Mountain. Air Troop are the free-fall specialists; boat troop train with their sister service – the Royal Marines’ Special Boat Service (SBS) – operating the rigid raider boats; Mobility are the desert mobility experts – they know their way around the Land Rovers blind-folded; and mountain are (as the name implies) the mountaineer and arctic warfare experts. Each of these troops consist of 16 men and within that are four 4-man teams with medical, language, signals and demolition skills therein. All SAS soldiers are trained in each of these skills but within those teams lie the experts.

SAS soldiers are equipped with unique skills after their time in the regiment, providing their freefall, medical and survival skills to military and civilian personnel alike both in the UK and abroad. One of the most common uses of SAS training is with close protection (i.e. bodyguard) work. Instead of the bulging body-builders in black suits and shades, standing right over their charge and over-reacting to the slightest incident, those who hire ex-SAS bodyguards will get the very best who stay in the shadows and only step in when necessary – they are the epitome of discretion.

However, 22 SAS are only part of it. Of the three regiments in the SAS, two of them are territorial – 21 and 23 SAS (Reserve).

21 SAS (based in southern England) is made up of A, C and E squadrons and is actually the most senior regiment of the trio and known as the Artists’ Rifles after the TA unit founded in 1859 and disbanded in 1945 (winning 8 VCs in that time). The Artists’ Rifles was used to resurrect 21 SAS in 1947 and provide a suitable, conventional cover to a very unconventional force. It was members of 21 SAS sent out to Malaya who, in 1952, went on to form the regular 22 SAS.

23 SAS (based in the north) was formed in 1958 and contains 3 squadrons – B, D and G. This was formerly the Reserve Reconnaissance Unit which descended from the wartime MI9 – the escape & evasion organisation which had helped allied pilots downed over axis Europe get back to England.

Within the UK Special Forces Group (UKSFG – formed in 1987) are 21/22/23 SAS and the SBS (and SBS Reserve). But in support are 18 Signals Regiment, and Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (7 Squadron RAF and 657 Army Air Corps) – formed of specialist pilots trained flying at low-level and using night-vision equipment to fly in special forces operatives. Also therein lies the Special Forces Support Group (consisting of 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment and a company each from the Royal Marines and RAF Regiment) and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.

To gain entry into 22 SAS you have to be a serving soldier in the regular army. Officers are usually only seconded to the regiment for 3 years, but soldiers will (ideally) spend the rest of their service careers in the SAS – the NCOs are the backbone of special forces. Whilst the Paras are the largest single contributors to the SAS, any soldier from any regiment can throw their hat into the ring – unlike (traditionally) the Royal Marines’ SBS which only takes in Marines who are already commando-trained (I say traditionally because since the formation of the UKSFG the division lines between SAS and SBS are blurred – selection is all the same and people often serve with both units – the SBS and SAS were effectively one and the same during the second world war too). Members of SAS Reserve join directly as civilians.

The SBS Reserve however is only open to serving members of the UK reserve forces – TA, Royal Navy Reserve, RAF Reserve, but more often the Royal Marines Reserve. This ‘serving-forces only’ policy reflects the SBS’s more-specialist amphibious (“swimmer canoeist”) role.

The training and selection is largely the same for all special forces recruits, (due to all units being under one UKSFG umbrella). There is a gruelling selection process including resistance-to-interrogation exercises and the notorious “Fan Dance” – the back and forth trek up Pen-Y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons which has claimed the lives of several serving and prospective SAS soldiers over the years. The hero of the Battle of Mirbat (1972), Major Mike Kealey DSO died of hypothermia in 1979, and this summer three SAS reserve applicants died of hyperthermia. Once selected and “badged”, new SAS entrants are put on continuation training before put on operations. Whilst the reservists undergo the same training and selection criteria, the structure is slightly different to accommodate their civilian lives.

There has traditionally been a snobbery of sorts amongst the regular army – the ‘weekend warriors’, civilians-in-uniform, inferior to the regulars and viewed as a ‘Dad’s Army’ by regular soldiers and the civilian world alike. But this far from the reality. TA regiments, founded in 1908 fought with distinction in both world wars, bringing a variety of skills into the military. Of all the medics and engineers within the army today many are made up of territorials. But the elite also have reserve units – the Royal Marines Reserve, 4th Battalion Parachute Regiment, as well as special forces – the SBS Reserve, Special Forces Signals Reserve – and of course, 21 and 23 SAS.

And those reserves are highly-valued; the reservists are trained to the same standard as the regulars and have the same skills – just do it part-time. These reservists frequently serve alongside regulars at the front. The Royal Marines Reserve is an integral part of the Commando Brigade and the Special Forces reserve units are similarly part of UKSFG. Indeed promotion within 22 SAS cannot go beyond the rank of sergeant without a prior posting within 21/23 SAS.

The government has now acknowledged the importance of the TA – formally renaming them the ‘army reserve’, to reflect their contribution and support to the regular army as opposed to a separate force. The plan is also to reduce the size of the regular army (expensive!) and recruit an extra 10,000 reservists by 2018 (though they are unlikely to achieve this in the timeframe).

Like any UK reservists (and indeed our reserve police force – the Specials), a member of the SAS Reserve is as well trained, as professional and as capable as any member of their regular counterparts. They wear the same uniform, the same sandy/beige beret and same badge – and when it comes to the crunch, they fight side by side….the only difference is they do it all in their spare time, running it alongside a busy day job.

Chris Thorpe, Head of Research DCER Group International Inc.

Utrinque Paratus

Utrinque Paratus

The British Army has under gone a huge amount of change since the end of the Cold War – numbers of soldiers have reduced dramatically, from 180,000 in 1980 down to projected 80,000 in 2020. The trend is now to place greater emphasis on cheaper reserve forces instead of regulars. Centuries-old regiments with distinguished histories have disappeared or been amalgamated into larger non-descript regiments. However, one regiment has survived the post-cold war butchery of our army pretty much intact. Ironically this regiment is not centuries old, founded in 1941 this regiment gained a fiercesome reputation in a very short space of time, striking fear into the hearts of our enemies both at home and abroad. During the second world war the Germans called them Die Roten Teufel – the red devils. However, most people now know them simply as ‘the Paras’.

The Parachute Regiment was formed out of the Commandos (so cut out of the same cloth as today’s SAS) set up by Churchill – a fan of anything cloak and dagger and greatly impressed by the use of German airborne forces during the battle of France in 1940. 2 Commando was turned over to parachute duties in June 1940 and re-designated 11th Special Air Service Regiment – the first British parachute operation was carried out by this unit on 10 February 1941 (Operation Colossus). The unit was further re-designated in September of that year as 1st Parachute Battalion of 1st Parachute Brigade – 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions were subsequently raised from volunteers from the rest of the army. Further growth followed by the establishment of a second brigade, the Army Air Corps and the Glider Pilot Regiment. These formed the 1st Airborne Division with the 6th Division being established in 1943. Their unique role called for a distinctive uniform – the Denison smock, the badge of Bellerophon riding on Pegasus, the special helmet and, of course, the maroon beret and winged parachute cap badge.

The Paras saw action throughout the war, but their finest (but most disastrous) hour came at Arnhem in the Netherlands where, as part of Operation Market Garden in September 1944, the attempt was made to seize a number of bridges over the Rhine. The 1st and 4th Parachute Brigades were assigned to capture and hold the bridge at Arnhem – the “bridge too far” (portrayed in the 1977 film of the same name) – for the infantry (30 Corps) to cross. It was a disaster – of the 3,000 men going in only 420 returned to British lines. Despite this, the resilience of the Paras, holding out for 9 days against the elite SS Panzer Division which was unexpectedly encountered, has passed into legend. This resilience laid the basis for their current reputation, but the nature of airborne operations (fighting on their own against superior numbers with limited resources) meant that only a certain breed of man would form the Paras.

After the war all the parachute units (there were 17 battalions in 1945) were disbanded, save the 2nd Parachute Brigade (consisting of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions) which was renamed the 16th Parachute Brigade in 1948. The next milestone in the history of the regiment came on 5 November 1956 when the last (as of now!) battalion-sized parachute drop into action was carried out by 3rd Battalion onto El Gamil airfield, Port Said during the Suez Crisis. Since then the Paras have been at the forefront of British military involvement across the world – usually together along with the Commando Brigade as Britain’s military fist. But since Suez, the Parachute Regiment have not actually carried out any sizable operation parachute drops, leading some to question whether the Paras are still required as a separate regiment within a separate Airborne Brigade.

Whilst the Paras may not jump out of aircraft on a day-to-day basis anymore, I do not think anyone would question the principle of airborne forces and how useful they have been, and could still potentially be. Indeed since the Iron Curtain came down there has been a greater emphasis on special forces rather than conventional forces facing each other on the battlefield. There will always be a need for advanced spearhead forces to take and secure strategically important points. But aside from all that, there is something special about the Paras – they see themselves as a cut above the rest – the “maroon machine”, their training is still much tougher and more aggressive than anything faced by “craphats” (the name given to those soldiers not serving in the Parachute Regiment).

 

It draws recruits simply because they are the best amongst the infantry – they stand out with their unique beret, their extra entrance requirements and their reputation for ruthlessness and self-reliance. This gives Paras a feeling of superiority over other soldiers – maybe rightly so as the levels of fitness required are that much greater than other infantry regiments. (However, one group of soldiers which the Paras would never called craphats is the Gurkhas – a regiment whose reputation strikes as much terror into the hearts of our enemies as much the Paras). The Paras’ reputation for ruthlessness was greatly in evidence in Northern Ireland where they became sworn enemies of the IRA and a by-word, in the eyes of the Republican community, for brutality as well as ferocity. Whether any other regiment could have presided over the deaths of 13 civilians in Londonderry in January 1972 is up for debate; but if they were fired upon no doubt any soldier would have defended themselves as well. However, ‘Bloody Sunday’ certainly helped establish this reputation within the province.

The Paras were later given another opportunity to show how good they are, and what a mistake it is to invade British territory and face a highly-disciplined, well-trained professional army. In April 1982 when the largely-conscript Argentine armed forces invaded the Falkland Islands, 2nd and 3rd Battalions Parachute Regiment ditched their airborne role and, along with the Royal Marines made up 3 Commando Brigade – the vanguard of the British land forces. At Goose Green, 2 Para, led at the front by the battalion CO Colonel H Jones defeated a numerically-superior Argentine garrison. The Paras had no armour, no air support, practically no naval gunfire support and fighting in the dark – but still won the day.

Colonel H was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross leading an attack on a machine gun position. Sheer might and professionalism saw the Paras triumph. Later in the war 2 Para went onto triumph again at Wireless Ridge. But 3 Para, the “green-eyed boys” (after the battalion’s colour (flash), 1, 2 and 4(TA) Para’s being red, blue and black respectively) faced their own Goose Green, but instead fighting up hill onto Mount Longdon. Once again, the maroon machine prevailed with Sergeant Ian McKay being posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross charging down an enemy trench. Like the Gurkhas, the Para’s reputation had preceded them – the young Argentine conscripts had heard of the Paras, they knew were up against the best and hardest-trained soldiers in the world, they knew of their ferocious reputation and their toughness – and it must have terrified them.

The SAS is open to volunteers from soldiers in all British Army regiments; but the fact that a third of the entrants are from the Parachute Regiment is indicative of the calibre of the Paras – the level of their training being not far behind that of special forces. This has become almost official in that 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment now forms the Special Forces Support Group – as the name suggests this unit acts in support to UK Special Forces (i.e. SAS, SBS and Special Reconnaissance Regiment).

The Royal Marines are at the core of 3 Commando Brigade, with the Paras being the centre of 16 Air Assault Brigade. These two brigades, between them, form Britain’s conventional military elite – standing just over the shoulder of Special Forces. Whilst they haven’t utilised their airborne training in a combat role for many years, the Paras are here for us in that important role if they are needed. But parachuting is merely a way of getting from A to B, the Paras’ role as infantry is formidable in itself – after all they did not parachute into the Falklands (they were stood alongside the Marines in the landing craft) but still fulfilled their infantry role splendidly.

 

At florida-legal-recruitment.com our business is purely specialising in the recruitment of attorneys and partners who work for law firms throughout the United States of America.  attorney jobs in Florida, attorney jobs in Miami, litigation jobs in Florida, legal jobs in Florida, law jobs in Florida, legal jobs in California, litigation jobs in California, law jobs in California, attorney jobs in Tampa, attorney jobs in Fort Lauderdale, attorney jobs in Chicago, attorney jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Las Vegas, attorney jobs in Washington DC, attorney jobs in Nevada, law jobs in New York, attorney jobs in Illinois, law jobs in Seattle, law jobs in Hollywood, attorney jobs in Beverley Hills,  attorney jobs in Los Angeles,  law jobs in Paolo Alto,  attorney jobs in Silicon Valley, At  Florida Legal Recruitment Inc. you can hire an attorney either by using our retained or registered recruitment contracts. Telephone 954 378 9414.

css.php