He Who Laughs Last Laughs Longest

When leader of the UK Liberal Democrat Party, and Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government with the Conservatives (2010-2015), Nick Clegg was something of a laughing stock and often portrayed as little better than a Tory stooge.

But today see how the “worm has turned”.

While his former boss David Cameron has been disgraced by his dodgy post-office lobbying, Clegg has now emerged as the high priest of Meta, AKA Facebook, and one of the most powerful men in the world.

In an effort to clean-up FB’s sullied rep, Embattled founder Mark Zukerberg has confirmed Clegg as his top consigliore — in charge of all Meta news output.

As they say, he who laughs last laughs longest.

Let’s hope that Clegg doesn’t end up personifying the very definition of online information excess: “legal, but harmful”.

Tower of Babel

Make sense of this if you can.

In 2019 and 2020 Novalpina, the €1 billion private equity firm behind Israeli spyware maker NSO Group, tried to buy SafeLane Global, a landmine clearance company that works for Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

But Novalpina was under attack from human rights groups for financing NSO, whose software has been used to spy on political opponents, activists and journalists.

Apple and WhatsApp sued NSO, and the US has added it to a trade blacklist.

Novalpina co-founders–Stephen Peel, an ex-Goldman Sachs former British Olympic rower, Bastian Lueken and Stefan Kowski—plunged into internecine warfare, with the result that their investors, among them British Gas and Yorkshire public sector pension funds, have now seized control of the company.

It’s like walking through a minefield.

Return of The Donald

Banned from Twitter, the social media site that powered his rackety presidency, Donald Trump has tried to wrest back the information initiative by launching his own app, the so-called Truth Social.

Difficult to get a handle on the success, or otherwise, of the new platform, as Trump haters, quite naturally, are determined to see it crash and burn.

But start-up teething problems aside, we can once again look forward to pot-stirring hate mots along the lines of “Putin is a good guy, whose invasion of Ukraine is perfectly understandable”.

Truth Social is just one of many brands being launched by Trump Media & Technology Group, the media start-up created last year to help the Donald re-take the White House in 2024.

Don’t be put off by its welcome message of: ““Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waitlist. We love you, and you’re not just another number to us.”

That noise you hear is rowdy applause from petty autarchs everywhere.

Credit Suisse Money laundering

Wonderful is the day when one learns something new.

Switzerland, we are told in a major media investigation, is a veritable nexus of global money laundering for oligarchs, corrupt politicians and drug smugglers – as revealed in a treasure trove of documents detailing the accounts of 30,000 Credit Suisse clients.

Secret Swiss banking dates back to the 18th century and became fixed with the country’s 1934 Banking Law, just in time to protect German Jewish assets from the Nazi party. So it’s not all bad.

Now perhaps–prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine–it’s also time for a little house cleaning in the City of London.

Cyber Pearl Harbour

Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report, published last October, claimed that Russia was responsible for over 50 per cent of state cyber attacks over the previous 12-months.

The top three targets were the US, Ukraine and the UK, said the report.

With the war in Ukraine intensifying, and Putin getting increasingly frustrated by his lack of ground war progress, we can expect a surge in cyber attacks, warn Western intelligence chiefs.

Russia has developed formidable hacking capabilities and many believe it’s just a matter of time before they launch a “Cyber Pearl Harbour”.

In 2017, for example, they launched a massive malware attack on Ukraine, causing an estimated US$10 billion of damage to the economy.

Widespread cancellations of British Airways flights over the weekend, although denied by BA, were perhaps caused by Russian cyber attack in retaliation for Britain’s tough package of economic sanctions against Moscow.

It can only get worse before it gets better.