DEFCON 5: Opioid Abuse Disorder

DSI White Paper – By Richard Wottrich, CEO & Senior Consultant June 30, 2017, Atlanta USA Summary Over 80% of illicit drug demand in the Americas comes from the United States. Today’s surge in illicit drug traffic at America’s southern border is driven by drug cartel violence in Central America. GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson legally grow opium poppies in Tasmania. The United States accounts for three-quarters of global legal opiate painkiller sales by weight and five-sixths by value – thus 4.3% of the global population accounts for 83.3% of painkillers sales. Global Traffic in Illicit Drugs Attempting to estimate the global GDP of illicit drugs is akin to getting an accurate vote count in an American presidential election – it brings to mind the uncertainty principal. The United Nations has estimated it as follows, “the global drug trade generated an estimated US $321.6 billion in 2003.” In 2016 perhaps one percent of global GDP is in illicit drugs – roughly $790 billion a year and growing – fast. Drugs in the Americas Drug cartels are integrated into Mexico’s economy and government. The major drug cartels operate throughout Mexico and employ over 500,000 people and indirectly support an additional 3.5 million people. Estimated profits for the combined cartels are $25-$35 billion a year. These profits fuel corruption and graft on an international scale. Over 80% of illicit drug demand in the Americas emanates from the United States. The history of drugs and violence in Central American dates to the 1980s, when civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua sent thousands of people north in search of safety. This illegal...

The Illusion of Russian Power

By Richard L. Wottrich, CEO & Senior Consultant, International Services, DSI Global View LLC, Atlanta USA  “I am as brave as any other man. Come at me in the form of a rugged Russian bear, an armor-plated rhinoceros, or a tiger from Iran. Take any shape other than the one you have now and I will never tremble in fear. Or come back to life again and challenge me to a duel in some deserted place. If I tremble then, you can call me a little girl. Get out of here, you horrible ghost, you hallucination. Get out!”   Macbeth  Putin and Russia have been dominating the news cycle recently, as Americans cope with their totally unexpected presidential election. Russian-backed hacking and leaking will no doubt be investigated and utilized as political ammunition until the next election. Meanwhile Russia, having developed cyber tactics that are cheap and effective, has moved on to the upcoming Italian and German elections. This is nothing new. Putin has continuously been up to mischief during President Obama’s past two terms and before. Russia has backed Assad in Syria and participated in a modern extermination of civilians unprecedented in recent Middle East history, prompting millions of Syrian refugees to flee into Turkey and the EU. Russia previously has annexed portions of Georgia, the Crimea, and is actively waging war in the Ukraine. The EU member states, worried about Russian energy supplies, are playing at sanctions and rationalizing the conflict into a personality cult about Putin. The tone and tenor for Putin’s more recent antics were set on March 6, 2009, in Geneva, when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton...

Revisiting Drones

  By Richard L. Wottrich, CEO & Senior Consultant, International Services, Atlanta USA (This article originally appeared April 8, 2015, and has been updated to reflect the drone industry today.)  Robert Oppenheimer When Robert Oppenheimer was touring Japan in 1960 he was asked to comment on the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII. He responded by quoting Bhagavad-Gita, Hindu scripture, saying, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” That was then. This is now. A new micro Black Swan has arrived on our tiny blue marble – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or drones). Nano Drones The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), in Adelphi, Maryland, is researching and designing robotic surveillance insects with 3 to 5 centimeter wings. The wings are made of lead zirconium titanate (PZT), a material that mimics flapping when voltage is applied. Powered by Nano ultrasonic motors, ARL has also designed a millipede-robot that imitates crawling. “We demonstrated that we can actually create lift,” said Dr. Ron Polcawich who heads the ARL team. “So we know this structure has the potential to fly.” The development of inexpensive Nano drones is inevitable, posing the question, “How can the military or security forces cope with swarms of tiny cloud-intelligent Nano drones skimming but inches off a body of water for example?” Imagine if you will a barge in Britain loaded with ubiquitous yellow rubbish containers moving slowly up the River Thames through London. One of these containers could be filled with 500,000 Nano insect drones. At an appointed time a terrorist utilizing a GPS controller and a cell phone could remotely activate aerosols that...

The EU is Dead, Long Live Germany (and Britain)

DSI Global View White Paper Richard L. Wottrich, CEO & Senior Consultant, International Services, Atlanta USA The European Union (EU) has been ruled out of Brussels since 1993 a bit like the lyrics to the Eagles famous song “Hotel California” – “You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!” After Prime Minister May triggered article 50 this week, initiating a two-year ‘check-out procedure’ from the ‘Hotel EU’, Brussels released an eight-page draft proposal of negotiating guidelines required for Britain to reach talks on EU free trade. The draft insists that during this transition Britain must follow EU rules, submit to judicial oversight, continue budget contributions ($64 billion hotel bill), and continue to observe the EU “four freedoms”, which include Britain accepting free immigration from the continent. These are some of the key constraints that led Britain to vote for Brexit in the first place. Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain The world is preoccupied with the heat and noise of Trumpism, but Europeans fail to note the genius of the American political system. President Trump is being blocked at every turn – federal courts have stopped his immigration orders; the FBI and House of Representatives are investigating Trump Administration ties to Russia; the Conservatives in the House have stopped his healthcare agenda; the Senate is thwarting his Supreme Court nomination; cities and states are suing the administration to stop the defunding of Sanctuary Cities; and the list goes on and on. In other words, U.S. Federalism works very well in containing an electoral aberration. Such is not the case with Brexit. Brexit...

‘Through the Looking Glass’ Negative Interest Rate Redux

Richard L. Wottrich, CEO & Senior Consultant, International Services, Atlanta USA As we step ‘Through the Looking Glass’ in Alice in Wonderland into the world of negative interest rates, I am reminded of a conversation between Alice and the King. `I see nobody on the road,’ said Alice. `I only wish I had such eyes,’ the King remarked in a fretful tone. `To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!’ This writer explored negative interest rates a few years ago when they were still a novelty. Suddenly they are ‘de rigueur.’ Historically Switzerland imposed a negative interest rate on non-resident deposits in 1972-1978. That ‘surcharge’ drove rates to -40% in 1978. Switzerland did this to discourage inflows of capital seeking higher yields in the face of rapidly declining interest rates in surrounding European countries. Dependent upon its exports, Switzerland felt the need to deflate the appeal (value) of its currency. This policy lasted until 1982, when the Swiss realized that inflation was too high a price to pay for a weak currency. This however remains a problem for Switzerland today. As of last April over 30 percent of EU-issued bonds traded at negative interest rates. The Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, Bank of England, and European Central Bank have managed interest rates since 2008 down to zero and beyond. As a result in certain cases depositors have to pay to deposit funds or buy bonds, accepting a negative interest rate. Negative interest rates have appeared on government bonds from Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany. Certain corporations...

Tinker Tailor Soldier NSA

  DSI White Paper, by Richard L. Wottrich, CEO & Senior Consultant, International Services  January 3, 2016, Chicago USA  “It is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for the purposes of spying, and thereby they achieve great results.” Sun TZU Humans are inherently suspicious, competitive and argue over precious resources – ergo spying. Put three unrelated people in a room and you will eventually have two spying on the third. Espionage and intelligence gathering have been around since humans started organizing into distinct tribes, communities, states, nations, and civilizations. The Hittites and Israelites spied on each other. The Greeks had their Trojan Horse. The Middle East had its Assassins, the Japanese had their Ninjas and America had their Navajos. In the 1500s it was the rise of the modern nation-state that led to intelligence gathering becoming an essential function of government. Governments are inherently suspicious, competitive and argue over precious resources. This was well established by the time of America’s own Revolutionary War, prompting our Founding Fathers to incorporate protections from spying on its own citizens in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Note that this amendment speaks to the people’s right to be “secure,” which is usually referred to as the “right to privacy.”...