rashbre central: July 2020

Monday 27 July 2020

similar themes

That recent Metro newspaper cover intrigued me. I'd written a couple of novels about the same kind of things - Russian interference and so-on.

My first was years ago, when I first penned The Triangle. It is only since the February 2020 re-issue that it had my painterly revised cover with The Houses of Parliament and Red Square's Saint Basil's somewhat like the Metro newspaper.

Then there's the Archangel Trilogy, the three books of which are all linked in various ways with Russia. Please feel free to click the book pile to grab a free copy of the Triangle eBook.

Friday 24 July 2020

Searching that HMG Russia report - over-bloat to obfuscate

I read that HMG Russia Response report and noticed the language it used was all 'going forward' language and 'we wills'. Considering it was a chance to deep-dive into the manipulation of democracy by a Foreign state, there seemed to be little to say about any of it.

I was going to half-heartedly type in 'click-farms' to my search through the document but decided instead to go for 'click'. Nil results.

I did a double-take but then thought I'd try 'Facebook'. Again nil results.

I worried that my Search option wasn't working so I typed in 'Russia'. Yes, my search still worked, I got 20 pages this time.

What about 'advertising'? Maybe best to shorten to 'advert'? Two results (and a spurious 'inadvertently').

I decided that the 100-word headlines to the paragraphs were too long and had been written in consultant-speak. So here's their some of their conclusions, pasted directly from their own words with my simplified headlines (i.e. my headings, their words).

"This focus has led us to question who is responsible for broader work against the Russian threat and whether those organisations are sufficiently empowered to tackle a hostile state threat such as Russia. In some instances, we have therefore recommended a shift in responsibilities. In other cases we have recommended a simplification: there are a number of unnecessarily complicated wiring diagrams that do not provide the clear lines of accountability that are needed."

"Accountability is an issue in particular – whilst the Foreign Secretary has responsibility for the NCSC, which is responsible for incident response, the Home Secretary leads on the response to major cyber incidents. Indeed, there are a number of other Ministers with some form of responsibility for Cyber – the Defence Secretary has overall responsibility for Offensive Cyber as a ‘warfighting tool’ and for the National Offensive Cyber Programme, while the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) leads on digital matters, with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster being responsible for the National Cyber Security Strategy and the National Cyber Security Programme."

"...Reacting to the here and now is inherently inefficient and – in our opinion – until recently the Government had badly underestimated the Russian threat and the response it required.”

"We have previously discussed the extent to which economic policy dictated the opening of the UK to Russian investment. This indicates a failure of the security policy departments to engage with this issue – to the extent that the UK now faces a threat from Russia within its own borders. What appears to have been a somewhat laissez-faire policy approach is less easy to forgive than that of the busy Agencies. We welcome the fact that this has now been recognised and appears to be changing."

"It is not clear to the Committee whether HMG and our allies have yet found an effective way to respond to the pace of Russian decision-making. This has severely undermined the West’s ability to respond effectively to Russian aggressions in the past – for example, the annexation of Crimea in 2014."

"The UK welcomed Russian money, and few questions – if any – were asked, regarding the provenance of this considerable wealth. It appears that the UK Government at the time held the belief (more perhaps in hope than expectation) that developing links with major Russian companies would promote good governance by encouraging ethical and transparent practices, and the adoption of a law-based commercial environment."

"Several members of the Russian elite who are closely linked to Putin are identified as being involved with charitable and/or political organisations in the UK, having donated to political parties, with a public profile which positions them to assist Russian influence operations. It is notable that a number of Members of the House of Lords have business interests linked to Russia, or work directly for major Russian companies linked to the Russian state – these relationships should be carefully scrutinised, given the potential for the Russian state to exploit them. It is important that the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords, and the Registry of Lords’ interests, including financial interests, provide the necessary transparency and are enforced. In this respect we note that the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament requires that MPs register individual payments of more than £100 which they receive for any employment outside the House – this does not apply to the House of Lords, and consideration should be given to introducing such a requirement.” (incidentally they are crystal-clear 43/47/31/53 word sentences)

"What is now clear is that it was, in fact, counter-productive, in that it offered ideal mechanisms by which illicit finance could be recycled through what has been referred to as the London ‘laundromat’. […] This level of integration – in ‘Londongrad’ in particular – means that any measures now being taken by the Government are not preventative, but rather constitute damage limitation."

"The Cabinet Office established the Defending Democracy programme to bring together our work to safeguard our democratic processes and to make sure that our democracy remains safe and inclusive, now and into the future. The Programme ... brings together capabilities and expertise from Government departments, the Security and Intelligence Agencies and civil society to ensure UK democracy remains open and vibrant as well as secure. The programme has four priorities:
* Protect and secure UK democratic processes, systems and institutions from interference, including from cyber, personnel and physical threats.
* Strengthen the integrity of UK elections.
* Encourage Respect for open, fair and safe democratic participation.
* Promote fact-based and open discourse, including online."

"We recognise the need to get legislation right. Nevertheless, it is very clear that the Official Secrets Act regime is not fit for purpose and the longer this goes unrectified, the longer the security and intelligence community’s hands are tied. It is essential that there is a clear commitment to bring forward new legislation to replace it (and a timetable within which it will be introduced) that can be used by MI5 to defend the UK against agents of a hostile foreign power such as Russia."

(No further paragraphs on this one)

There were few other items, mainly covering working together with other countries. I've left them out because now we have been cut loose from the EU and Interpol some of them may no longer apply.

I thought I'd use the space to list a few of Boris's alleged Russian Chums instead. Let's not forget whose party he went to the night after his election win.


List of alleged @BorisJohnson Russian oligarch friends- some made whilst creating Londongrad.

* Alexander Temerko (led 2016 Leader campaign)
* Evgeny Lebedev (Bunga Parties in Italy)
* Alexander Lebedev (ex-KGB, Secret mtg)
* Roman Abramovich (2016)
* Dasha Zhukova (private mtg 2012)
* Lubov Chernukin (£160,000 tennis match)
* Ambassador Yakovenko (2013 City Hall mtg)
* FSB Spy Sergei Nalobin (2010-15)
* Russia Spy Joseph Mifsud (2017 mtg)
* Robert Hanson/Masha Markova (2009 mtg)
* Andrei Borodin
* Pitroyr Birynkov
* Mayor Sobyanin
* Yuri Luzhkov (2008- came to UK)
* Yelena Baturina (City Hall)


Here's Boris after one of the parties with everything in the balance.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

now the science

I've always suspected Facebook is a law unto itself. Now we are hearing about all the latest allegations about Russian interference with elections/referendums and so on. It's good material for my novel writing but a suspicious way to conduct asymmetric sanctions.

In that context, I have also encountered the censorship from Facebook directly. Once, when I was putting up a post about Archangel, I used that go-to typeface 'Armalite Rifle' for a strapline. And guess what? It was rejected because I might have been trying to disguise something I was saying by using a camouflaged typeface! I solved the problem by making the image a bit more blurry and then the cunningly concealed bullet holes didn't show up.

Another time I was promoting 'The Triangle', which is the first novel I wrote and was recently relaunched with a few story changes, geographical updates and a character modification. On this one, I decided to use the strapline 'Dirty Money: here's how to clean it." For unfathomable reasons, it sloshed around in the Facebook system for ages.

It was just not allowed for release. Then I changed the strap to 'A novel about dirty money and how it gets cleaned.' or something similar and whoosh, it went straight through!

Thank goodness I'll have time to prepare for the launch of 'Now the Science', which isn't due out until mid-November.

Anyway, Why not join in the fun with this couple of FREE eBooks?

or maybe:

Sunday 19 July 2020

Lily Cole: Who cares wins

I just read that Lily Cole book about the world we live in. It raises the interesting question: How we can all have a tangible impact through action? 

I'm a great believer in positivism 'Fun going forward' and all that. As the blook's blurb says: 'Optimism is not naïve and it is not impossible. Many people perceive this to be a moment of despair. Global warming has reached terrifying heights of severity, human expansion has caused the extinction of countless species and neoliberalism has led to a destructive divide in wealth and a polarization of mainstream politics. '

...and breathe. 

Lily's simple words (simpler than the blurb writer imho) explain how we can do things differently and why we should. Lily Cole is well-educated and level-headed about the issues, which include positive thoughts on how we can all change the future. 

It is written conversationally too, like having an extended discussion with Lily - not a lecture, but a chat interspersed with frogs jumping out of hot water, a few sweary bits, and the premise that living is petrochemical. 

Cole has the advantage of access; she can sit in a cafe in San Francisco to meet the CEO of a biotech company, or assist in the creation of a new no-plastic glasses company. That's a kind of privilege, but it's one that Lily doesn't appear to squander, instead signing up for various thoughtful and righteous initiatives. 

 I enjoyed the read which left my thoughts buzzing. We are all ancestors of our future.

Saturday 18 July 2020


I've previously blogged about the IoT - Internet of Things, and realise it has more or less embedded itself into the house now, with even the morning coffee and the garden lights being IFTTT controlled.

The outside lights are an interesting example where I can set them to switch on at 'sunset' and off at a particular time. Even unplugging them and then later replugging them doesn't affect the performance.

I suppose some folk would worry that the house will get hijacked by a Chinese or Russian web-crawler, but I suppose they have more interesting things to do with their hacking into politicians accounts and various governmental systems.

The vacuum cleaner has been given the house name of George (for Alexa purposes) and automatically fires up at an alarming 2am to sweep quietly around the house. Of course, it suffers from the first-generation Dalek problem in that it can't deal with stairs -although it is pretty good at getting back to a charging base concealed underneath a sofa.

Latterly I've also been playing around with webhooks to link web-side applications together. The keys for such services are quite lengthy and I notice that not all webhook services are compatible with one another.

Some of this is symptomatic of everyone having an interest in whether particular interfaces can be monetised, like cats' eyes on a road or those wire coathangers that laundry is returned upon.

It becomes a kind of jigsaw puzzle, to find the most efficient and effective ways to join pieces together, using as few components as possible.

It is still too complicated for the layman, but presumably it will become packaged and the services will then become 'just make it so'. Just like I discovered when I issued asked Alexa "turn off the garden lights" and to my slight astonishment, they turned off, and George the vacuum cleaner will send phone notifications if it really gets stuck. Fortunately, they are fairly infrequent.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

masking reality

Sometimes the stories about a single politician come along thick and fast, like so many lorries jammed in a border park.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Govester gets slippy with LorryPark One.

Just before all the lockdown hoo-hah, I visited one of George Orwell's boozers, in Canonbury Lane. The Four Sisters, which was just along from where he lived for a while.

George famously wrote about Airstrip One, which was the name he gave to the UK after it had been adapted into Oceania.

The Govester has decided that Airstrip One sounds too energy-consuming, and wants to go for a greener-credentialled Lorry-Park One. Well, I say one, but I think he wants 40 of the things, with 12 larger ones to include the 120 acre Ashford site. I see what Gove meant about no new controls at the borders now; instead they are tucked away 20 or so miles inland.

The drivers can sit in government-provided comfort to read the simple new 200 page customs instructions

Is this what he means by 'taking back control'?

I know he fancies himself as a bit of a smooth talker and the lies drift effortlessly as he explains whatever wheeze Dommy and the masked Bozza have just dreamt up.

Ashford will be a masterpiece, explains the Lanc-ster, capable of holding 100,000 lorries. One could think of them as 100,000 lorries full of delayed goods, or 5.6 Million cubic metres of delayed goods. If you add together all the shelf space in the 479 Tesco superstores, it works out to around 1.3 Million square metres. Arguably a comparable size. (5M-7M cubic metres?)

Well, that's one of the lorry parks accounted for.

Nice going, slippy.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

ARCs of Ed Adams - The Archangel Trilogy have arrived!

Some Advanced Reader Copies of The Archangel Trilogy have arrived after much debate about the cover.

Its other name is Magazine Clip and it goes on sale in October, although it is already up on Amazon.

The first part is Archangel, which is also available as a FREE download.

Sunday 5 July 2020

Free eBooks by Ed Adams

Here we are, a couple of the Ed Adams novels available for free eBook download.
Click on either cover to start the free Ebook download process and join my Readers' List.

Simply put, there's two series:

The Triangle Trilogy comprises:

  • The Triangle: Money laundering within an international setting.
  • The Square: A viral nerve agent being shipped by terrorists and WMDs
  • The Circle: In the Arizona deserts, with the Navajo; about missiles stolen from storage.

They introduce characters Jake, Clare, Bigsy, Chuck Manners.

The Archangel Trilogy comprises:

  • Archangel: Biographical adventures of Russian agent who threads her way through other Triangle novels.
  • Raven: Big business gone bad and being a Freemason won't absolve you
  • Raven's Card: Tarot inspired when Russian oligarchs attempt control

More from 'The Triangle' characters, but also with Christina Nott as the Archangel agent.

There's a plenty of London scenes because I've worked and lived in London for years and it seems like a natural place to write about.

I've also travelled extensively for work and so European cities, the Middle East, the USA and Russia feature as well holiday roams (so far) around Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico (ie The Square).

Not forgetting the corridors of SI6 and GCHQ.

Oh, and the fabulous Iceland, because that's where I was on holiday before the Great Lockdown.  Whoever would have thought that Christina Nott was Icelandic?

Don't be shy, click either cover (or both!)

Thursday 2 July 2020

crushed by the wheels of industry

It's reduced to symbols now. Optics to build or destroy power bases. Buffoons splodging through the photo ops, distracting from the real stories. Boris has latched on to Trumpian copycat redirection and direct use of social media. The man who knows too much about Boris is pulling all the strings and merely hinting about Russian influence, philandering and oh so much more. Slush and sleaze. It makes olden days monochrome wooden technocrats seem positively dull.

Meanwhile Boris copies prior politicians by spending his way out of a corner. All those years of austerity and then a single splurge to spend more from the public purse than a whole year of British output. Don't waste a good crisis, eh? ERG members are lining up to line their pockets.

Work all day or work all night, it's all the same
(Work the same)
Will we ever change
It's vocation or vacation
Some are workers, some are not
It is (time for a party)
Syncopation for the nation now


Work, ha
Work, ha