Monday Morning: Tarantela [UPDATE]

I could listen to this piece on a loop. It’s Santiago de Murcia’s “Tarantela,” performed by noted lutist Rolf Lislevand. The instrument he is playing is as important as the music and his artistry; it’s an extremely rare Stradivarius guitar called the Sabionari. While tarantellas more commonly feature additional instruments and percussion like tambourines, this instrument is stunning by itself.

You can learn more about the Sabionari at Open Culture, a site I highly recommend for all manner of educational and exploratory content.

And now to dance the tarantella we call Monday.


  • What’s the German word for ‘omertà’? Because Volkswagen has it (Forbes) — Besides the use of obfuscation by translation, VW’s culture obstructs the investigation into Dieselgate by way of a “code of silence.” And money. Hush money helps.
  • Growing percentage of VW investors want an independent investigation (WSJ) — An association 25,000 investors now demands an investigation; the problem continues to be Lower Saxony, the Qatar sovereign-wealth fund and the Porsche family, which combined own 92% of voting stock.
  • VW production workers get a 5% pay raise (IBT) — Is this “hush money,” too, for the employees who can’t afford to be retired like VW’s executives? The rationale for the increase seems sketchy since inflation is negligible and VW group subsidiary workers at Audi and Porsche won’t receive a similar raise.
  • Insanity? VW Group a buy opportunity next month (The Street) — Caveat: I am not a stockbroker. This information is not provided for investment purposes. Your mileage may vary. But I think this is absolute insanity, suggesting VW group stock may offer a buy opportunity next month when VW publishes a strategy for the next decade. If this strategy includes the same utterly opaque organization committing fraud to sell vehicles, is it smart to buy even at today’s depressed prices? The parallel made with Apple stock is bizarre, literally comparing oranges to Apples. Just, no.

Bad News (Media)


  • Organized criminals steal $13M in minutes from Japanese ATMs (The Guardian) — And then they fled the country. What?! The mass thefts were facilitated by bank account information acquired from an unnamed South African bank. Both Japan and SA use chip-and-pin cards — so much for additional security. Good thing this organized criminal entity seeks money versus terror. Interesting that the South African bank has yet to be named.(*)
  • Slovenian student receives 15-month suspended sentence for disclosing state-created security problems (Softpedia) — The student at Slovenia’s Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security in Maribor, Slovenia had been investigating Slovenia’s TETRA encrypted communications protocol over the last four years as part of a school project. He used responsible disclosure practices, but authorities did not respond; he then revealed the encrypted comms’ failure publicly to force action. And law enforcement went after him for exposing their lazy culpability hacking them.
  • Related? Slovenian bank intended target for Vietnamese bank’s SWIFT attempted hack funds (Reuters) — Huh. Imagine that. Same country with highly flawed state-owned encrypted communications protocol was the target for monies hackers attempted to steal via SWIFT from Vietnamese TPBank. Surely just a coincidence, right?

Just for the heck of it, consider a lunch read/watch on a recent theory: World War 0. Sounds plausible to me, but this theory seems pretty fluid.

Catch you here tomorrow morning!

* UPDATE — 1:20 P.M. EDT —
Standard Bank reported it had lost 300 million rand, or USD $19.1 million to the attack on Japanese ATMs. First reports in South African media and Reuters were roughly 11 hours ago or 9:00 a.m. Johannesburg local time. It’s odd the name of the affected bank did not get wider coverage in western media, but then South Africa has a problem with disclosing bank breaches. There were five breaches alleged last year, but little public information about them; they do not appear on Hackmageddon’s list of breaches. This offers a false sense of security to South African banking customers and to banks’ investors alike.

Japan Times report attribute the thefts to a Malaysian crime gang. Neither Japan Times nor Manichi mention Standard Bank’s name as the affected South African bank. Both report the thefts actually took place more than a week ago on May 15th — another odd feature about reporting on this rash of well-organized thefts.

15 replies
  1. Ian says:

    As an addendum to Raynes’s Monday morning [May 23,2016] summary can I take the liberty of updating a question and (short-term) answer she asked back on May 5,2016 with the latest (and best) answer coming from the USA as recently as Friday May 20,2016?
    A long time ago in a post far, far away RAYNE(May 5,2016) had highlighted a Bloomberg News report covering Shareholders proposals at the Shareholders Annual Meeting to reduce the extraordinarily high remuneration offered to the CEO’s for two(2) British corporations ..—–& she asked “ “ Is this the beginning of a trend?”
    I had posted at that time that the trends seem to be confined to the City of London and was only in existence because of post-2002 and also post-2012 changes in [British] Corporate Law (the Companies Acts) requiring a NON-binding vote annually—-and a BINDING vote (upon the Board of Directors) by the Shareholders EVERY THREE YEARS. The Financial Times had analyzed the issue (*) and concluded there was a revolt occurring against excessive CEO remuneration in 7%-15% of all major British corporations.
    EARL OF HUNTINGDON (May 9,2016 at 7.53pm) had very wisely reminded us all that
    only shareholders have the authority to override the wishes of a CEO with a compliant Board of Directors
    By the week-end of May 21,2016 the “small fire” started in London had become in this country…………what?
    Well I will let you decide for the highest paid CEO & also Chairman of the Board of Directors of a Wall St Bank (Goldman Sachs Chairman & CEO Lloyd Blankfein) had to face HIS shareholders on Friday May 20,2016 at the Shareholders AGM.
    -Bloomberg had reported the USA equivalent to the [British] Companies Act requirements of 2002 & 2012 thus:
    Shareholder “say on pay” was mandated in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, which calls for such votes at least every three years. Ninety percent of companies in the S&P 500 Index hold them annually and support for pay packages in the index averaged 92 percent in each company’s most recent vote, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”
    and Reuters said:
    During the first quarter of 2016 , Goldman reported its worst results in four years as revenue tumbled 40 percent. Return on average common equity (ROE), a measure of how well the bank uses shareholder money to generate profit, was 6.4 percent in the quarter, down from 14.7 percent a year earlier.
    Bloomberg & Reuters both reported at the opening bell of the NYSE this morning(Friday May 20,2016) that about 66% the shareholders of GOLDMAN SACHS had APPROVED the pay structure and amount of Mr Blankfein.
    However by late Friday afternoon (EST) the sheer size of the revolt (33% against 2% against the remuneration last year) had sunk in, so Bloomberg updated its story and the Guardian led with the Shareholders revolt at Deutsche Bank (Thursday May 19,2016) and also Goldman Sachs (Friday May 20,2016)(**)
    (*) May 13, 2016 7:15 am—UK companies switch to listening mode as heat rises on top pay—-David Oakley, Michael Pooler and Scheherazade Daneshkhu
    (**) May 20, 2016 5:10 pm—–Goldman investors revolt over executive pay——Alistair Gray in Jersey City

  2. Wapiti says:

    “The parallel made with Apple stock is bizarre, literally comparing oranges to Apples.”

    Or comparing lemons to Apples.

  3. prostratedragon says:

    What a gorgeous instrument and performance. I’d heard rumors that Stradivari made some guitars but this is the first I’ve seen or heard. And yes, OpenCulture is definitely worth a visit from time to time, for thy sanity’s sake.


  4. bloopie2 says:

    Speaking of “parallels” (“The parallel made with Apple stock is bizarre, literally comparing oranges to Apples.”) Here’s today’s foreign policy quiz:
    1. The South China Sea is right in China’s back yard. Do you think China should allow the US Navy to hang out there or even control it, even though it’s half way around the world from the US? Or it China’s to control?

    2. The Gulf of Mexico is right in America’s back yard. Do you think the US should allow the Chinese Navy to hang out there or even control it, even though it’s half way around the world from China? Or is it America’s to control?

  5. bloopie2 says:

    I hate to say it, but minority shareholders (8%) should have little or no voice in how a company (VW) is run. They are in it only for a possible increase in stock price, and have always taken the risk that the 92% will run off with the football.

  6. Rayne says:

    Wapiti (12:20) — Oh, good on you. Lemons is perfect. What was I thinking? LOL

    prostratedragon (12:25) — I knew Stradivari made a few additional non-violin instruments, but I’d always assumed violas or violoncellos, not guitars. This one and its performer are amazing, breathtaking.

    bloopie2 (1:19) — It’s not as simple as it looks on the face of it.

    1. South China Sea is convenient to North Korea; do we rely on China to halt NK’s nuclear weapons, or do we assume China’s lack of intervention is really an indication that NK is China’s little attack dog? And it’s not just us who would be affected by an NK nuke, especially one that fails spectacularly.

    2. Gulf of Mexio — hey, are you at all aware of the scale of fishing theft, or that a new multi-country agreement has been signed to address this? Includes theft in these countries’ federal waters, too. How do you think any country’s navy should handle this, especially if the thieve’s home country navy shows up?

    bloopie2 (1:22) — Major shareholders do not have the right to obstruct investigations into illegal activities, nor do they have a right to shield criminals. They do not have the right to perpetuate another fraud on minority shareholders in doing either.

  7. arbusto says:

    Gotta love the ATM reporting from JTimes. It couldn’t have been a Yakuza operation but Malaysian. Hope the Yakuza got a tithe at least. If the ATM’s were stocked with 1000 yen notes, I figure it’d be (incorrectly I’m sure) around 2,000,000+ notes. That’d be a couple steamer trunks worth. I wonder what the people in line thought of someone withdrawing reams of money, or did the thief’s transfer to money to a bitcoin account to save time and effort. Who gets the movie rights?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Hard to believe anything like this was planned and executed without yakuza involvement. If it did, crime gang bosses and their political counterparts are about to have a few unpleasant words with each other.

  8. bloopie2 says:

    South China Sea. I don’t see China trying to project its military power halfway around the world, but you’re saying we should do that to stop NK? Anyhow, how does having ships in the area stop them? Just asking, I’m not really too detailed on foreign matters. My underlying point is that some have assumed that the entire world is America’s back yard to play in, and have cost me dearly as a result.
    Gulf of Mexico — No I’m not aware of the scale of fishing theft. Does the world use aircraft carriers to stop that? Are the Chinese ‘stealing’ Gulf of Mexico fish? “How do you think any country’s navy should handle this, especially if the thieves’ home country navy shows up?” I think the Chinese Navy should boot the American Navy out; limited naval engagements would be a good technical learning experience for all. (!)
    “Major shareholders … do not have the right to perpetuate another fraud on minority shareholders in doing either.” I know they don’t have the right. I’m saying that minority shareholders usually get nowhere, even if they are in the right; sort of like life as a whole.
    Lots of impossible decisions to make already, and it’s only Monday!

  9. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 (4:13) — We were told by Chinese military officers in a white paper in 1999 that PRC was going to use asymmetric warfare, which means they don’t have to deploy traditional military resources. Think carefully about the ways in which China can wreak havoc on the world’s economy, or even mildly harass it, if they chose to do so (or have already).

    As for NK’s missile program: since we let that stupid jackass Richard Perle dictate the failed Bush policy on NK’s nuclear proliferation program, nearly everything the US has done has failed to halt their efforts. So far we’re relying on their ineptitude to be greater than ours. The fail-safe on a nuke missile launched by NK is what, exactly? If China is using asymmetric warfare against us by failing to keep NK’s nuke program in check, what’s our fallback? Right now we have a limited number of missile interceptors, believe both surface-to-air and submarine.

    GoM — give me a fricking break. Gulf of Mexico doesn’t belong to Mexico any more than South China Sea belongs to China. We have at least one helipad base out there in our waters and our offshore drilling; not like MX is going to muster much naval protection of its own either, if a fishing pirate shows up (and they don’t just fish). Chinese vessels are in this hemisphere, fishing inside a Latin American country’s federal waters without permission; we know the Chinese market demand for fish off the U.S. coast. It’s not exactly rocket science to figure out the next step is Chinese vessels off the Pacific Coast where totoaba are located. And if China promises support to Venezuela during its crisis, then which waters will be next?

    That’s how asymmetric warfare works, by the way. We’re kept busy chasing this crap.

    As for the South China Sea dispute: Look at this map about the territorial claim by China. Note the other non-China countries’ waters affected by the claim. Now look at this map showing the location of China’s construction in the South China Sea. Note in particular the Philippines’ location, where new bases were renegotiated in 2012; Subic Bay was closed ~1992, Clark AFB closed when Mount Pinatubo erupted.

    Don’t tell me you’re “really not too detailed on foreign matters “and then pick away at them. Go do some reading.

    And gawddamn Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, and George Bush for setting this crap up with their absolutism and lack of systems thinking.

    In re: VW and minority shareholders: So after being fucked over and defrauded, minority shareholders should just chillax and BOHICA? ~smh~

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Ironic about the GoM fishing thefts, given that the US worked so hard to prevent int’l agreement about law of the sea, exclusive territorial zones, etc. Sauce for the goose.

  10. Rayne says:

    arbusto (4:13) — LOL Yeah, I think the way the attribution was delayed until very last sentence was amusing. But I don’t know if this was Yakuza. This could have been something else altogether. It’s so convenient that South Africa is chary with breach reporting, so bad it’s almost intentional. Maybe Yakuza delivered “last mile” services for somebody else in exchange for a cut?

    And where have we seen that “assign blame to another inconveniently annoying target country” before, post-hacking? Hmm…

  11. martin says:

    crap..I forgot to quote you. Oh well ..let’s try it again
    “And gawddamn Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, and George Bush for setting this crap up with their absolutism and lack of systems thinking.”unquote..

    SheezusHchrist Rayne…, I’ve seen some heavy duty comebacks..but fuk…

  12. Ian says:

    · Related? Slovenian bank intended target for Vietnamese bank’s SWIFT attempted hack funds (Reuters) — Huh. Imagine that. Same country with highly flawed state-owned encrypted communications protocol was the target for monies hackers attempted to steal via SWIFT from Vietnamese TPBank. Surely just a coincidence, right?

    I SAY:
    Be aware-the FINANCIAL TIMES is advising(*) this evening that TUESDAY 24 MAY 2016 in Brussels the Chief Executive of the SWIFT International Banking Messaging System Gottfried Leibbrandt, will give a speech outlining the SWIFT system response to the three (3) publicly known cases of cyber-theft while manipulating the software either of the “consumer/end-user [bank]” reporting into the SWIFT system or misuse of the SWIFT codes inside the end-user banks to allow unauthorized staff or contractors to gain the knowledge of “authorized insiders”.
    In the speech he is expected to declare:
    i)The cyber-thefts are regarded as an existential threat to SWIFT [similar to Pearl Harbor in this country’s history] Mr Leibbrandt will promise to :
    ii) “drastically improve information sharing among the global financial community”
    ii) “harden security requirements for consumer-managed [i.e. end user/bank owned] software to better protect their local environments” [**]
    iii) “introduce certification requirements for third party providers”
    iii) helping banking members’ ability to spot cyber fraud by supporting their [?sic ] use of “payment pattern controls” to identify suspicious behaviour [***]
    iv) and developing “security audit frameworks” to ensure members have sufficiently tightened up their systems.[****]

    (*)— May 24, 2016 12:01 am [London Time/1901hrs EST 23 May 2016]-
    Swift outlines fightback against cyber theft–Martin Arnold, Banking Editor
    (**) The original Reuters report about the Bangledesh Bank spoke of bank owned software being Windows XP- some time after Microsoft had abandoned even security patches on XP—forcing everyone worldwide to go Windows 7 or higher
    (***) similar in nature to what many credit card issuers already do in this country—if your credit card number is used in Arizona this morning at a coffee shop how did you manage to pay a car repair bill in Houston at lunch time
    (?) SWIFT would not be authorized to keep this info themselves
    (****) probably by adopting a mild version of the Bank of England’s CBEST cyber-security audit program WITHOUT the mandatory PENETRATION TESTING (i.e. use of White Hacks to hack into your own system) that the Gold Standard of Banking requires

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