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Almost 4 Years After COVID-19′s Breakout We’re Seeing 1,000+ Additional Deaths Per Week in the UK

I want to present this morning’s data from ONS, comparing England and Wales (not Scotland) deaths in 2019:

Week 33 UK deaths

And the same week this year (as per today’s release):

Week 33 UK deaths in 2023

We went up from about 9,000 deaths per week to 10,000+.

Our government says that only about 50 people died that week “with COVID-19 on the death certificate in England,” so what causes those other 900+ deaths per week? Shouldn’t the government learn how it can save tens of thousands of lives?

Sirius Open Source: Very Little Staff and Clients Are Left Now

Video download link | md5sum deb923a8340805a0040d08074d87dd02
Sirius Cannot Retain Anything
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ aside, it seems like the company has no chance of surviving; its 25th anniversary is later this year, but it’s understaffed and running out of clients

THE company that once upon a time sponsored the Free Software Foundation and KDE resorted to defrauding its own staff in 2011 if not even earlier. Former staff is finding out and coming to grips with it.

The company has meanwhile lost several more clients (the ones it openly admits losing; usually it lies about that loss or keeps it secret for a long time… for the sake of ‘morale’). Many people, including managers, are mortified to discover what went on. Some leave and some are preparing to sue (albeit the company is in hiding, so it’s not easy).

Perhaps none of this should be particularly shocking. I know and I’ve seen attrition crises in the company over the years (dating back to 2011). But this one is different. This one the company cannot recover from and the fake ‘founder’ might even up in a jail cell. This is the first part of a series that we hope can become daily in the installments sense. There are things we cannot publicly state at this moment, but sooner or later it will be safe to blurt them out.

Cadent Gas Limited Brings Trouble (and Maybe COVID-19)

Video download link | md5sum 9014d1ac4981a4f86e5930dc24d3679d
Cadent Gas Limited Leaving a Mess Behind
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

THE local (ish) company that handles the gas pipes was here today. I didn’t agree to it, it was imposed on me, and the time wasn’t up for negotiation either. A dirty kitchen was left behind and it seems likely at least one of the people had COVID-19, judging by the cough. Some were smoking on the job, outdoors…

The video (conversation) above discussed a number of issues with one of the managers there (hopefully his name isn’t on the video). I was urged to make a complaint and ask for some clarification about what had happened, why it had to happen etc.

At the end I left aside the first call that I made, before their escalation and callback. It didn’t contain anything important that the second call did not cover as well (besides, it contained personal information like postcode and phone numbers), but it was useful for reference in case they tell inconsistent stories.

Excess deaths in the UK are very high this year. COVID-19 isn’t over either; it’s still spreading and swirling, so having several strangers inside my kitchen, where food and beverages are handled, is undesirable, especially without proper consent. We are paying a lot of money for gas, we sometimes smell gas leaks, and here they go replacing metal pipes with plastic. When challenged about it over the phone, the managers accepted that the greenwashing of plastic pipes was disingenuous.

It’s troubling to see the power that those power (gas/electricity) corporations have in the UK.

It should be noted that the above call (one of two and the more relevant/detailed one) is a culmination of a desire to phone up Cadent Gas Limited or E.ON Next (regarding the suspicious first letter and the suspected gas leak). If there really was an emergency/urgent matter (such as a confirmed gas leak in the area), they’re not talking about it. Both people whom I spoke with (at the above firm) deny there was a gas leak nearby. Remember that they have a vested interest here; they’d possibly deny any emergent issues with the pipes as it’s their responsibility to look after these pipes and leaks indicate a commercial failure of theirs. Lives would be at risk.

Public Officials Informed of the Situation at Sirius ‘Open Source’

Video download link | md5sum 4f51d9642195366129bf811e95b14db4
Fraud Escalation to MP
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ are of interest to the British public sector; we’ve begun contacting relevant people

THE police chief in London openly admits that British courts are cherry-picking cases and it seems clear, based on personal experience, that the police is cherry-picking cases as well, no matter how many victims exist or how profound the crime/s might be. In fact, even when all the unambiguous (“slam-dunk”) evidence is handed over, Action Fraud can decide to do nothing.

I now correspond with my public representative in Manchester. Sirius has had many government clients (which we would rather not name as we never name clients of Sirius). This is a serious reputational problem for various high-profile clients of Sirius, which are tied to the umbrella system, governing the nation, including police, immigration, the health services and so on. They probably would wish to know government contractors scamming their own workers, who worked on government computer systems.

To put it another way, is this how the British government treats workers, via contractors that are rogue? The embezzlement started only a few months after I had joined the company in early 2011. So it’s not something that happened very recently. It had many victims other than me.

The way in which my reports were handled (or not handled) is of interest for political reasons, not just for more ordinary reasons (cracking down on crime). We’ll hopefully be ready to report concrete progress some time before this month ends.

If we must take this ‘dirty diaper’ to all the facilitators, who helped abuse their workforce by proxy, then so be it. We still have 4-5 escalation levels/points at this stage, but we’re exhausting them one by one, based on the hierarchy of the system. Sooner or later, we believe, the Rule of Law will catch up with Sirius and its enablers. Justice needs to prevail, one way or another.

Eminem with rocket launcher: The law and Sirius

Police Needs to Intervene in the Sirius ‘Open Source’ Scandal

Summary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ is collapsing, but that does not mean that it can dodge accountability for crimes (e.g. money that it silently stole from its staff since at least 12 years ago)

A SCREENSHOT of the PDF from Standard Life was shared here (with sensible redaction) a few days ago. Things are belatedly progressing.

This post has taken a long time to prepare as we need to separate gossip/speculation from verified facts. Standard Life also claims to be pursuing the facts (since the 7th of March). As per their own update: “Dear Dr Schestowitz, I have attached our acknowledgement to your complaint. [...] If you’ve any questions, or problems accessing your acknowledgement, please email me at [redacted] and I’ll do all I can to help you.”

They’ve basically been looking into how on Earth the company (Sirius) was claiming to be paying into Standard Life accounts that don’t even exist!

The simplest explanation is, Sirius engaged in embezzlement. The management was contacted several times, being kindly offered the opportunity to explain what actually happened. Each and every time the response was schtum. For reasons we detailed here before, litigation seems imminent. Class action lawsuit is also likely, though the company is in hiding. Staff that actively oversaw and participated in the embezzlement is criminally liable, even if leaving the company later. They’ve been made aware of this (fraud, theft, forgery/embezzlement among the possible charges). Failing that, or in addition to that, pension providers can be sued. We’ll explain the legal grounds some other day.

What does this have to do with Techrights? Sirius is describing itself as Britain’s most respected and best established Open Source business.

If this is what the “most respected and best established” boils down to, then there’s serious trouble. Sirius is a major liability and a stain. This isn’t the company I joined more than 12 years ago. “You need to lie to keep your job” or “take one for the team” or “do something unethical/illegal to keep your salary” is the hallmark or symptom of criminal management, which needs to be prosecuted, not served (except served papers). I confronted the management many times before leaving (for over a year!) and nothing improved. They kept paying the salary, but behaviour only worsened over time, so I reached out to a friend.

Suffice to say, you need not be particularly charismatic to persuade workers whom you pay to also do bad things, acting out of fear (obedience for a payment). During a pandemic and financial crises (exacerbated by invasion of Ukraine) it gets even easier for bad people to compel workers to act unethically. This is a recipe for disaster.

Internally, as noted here back in December, I had circulated communications to try to ameliorate things amicably. But regarding my letters, however, they never wrote anything back. The attitude was to simply ignore the issues and to ignore the reporter. At one point I mused that I could joke with the boss, “so how has that secret money from Bill Gates worked out for you, eh?” Does one reckon that if the CEO goes to prison, Bill Gates will go visit him in prison? It’s closer than the facility Jeffrey Epstein was in when Gates visited him. As far as we know, the CEO is in Spokane area/WA somewhere (not too far from Seattle). He is hiding there, possibly not just from workers but also former wives.

Anyway, E-mails to the CEO are now bouncing. It’s a company that’s not functioning, lacks the staff to actually meet SLAs, and sooner or later will receive demands from clients that a refund is issued (not that the company has any money left).

There’s only one manager left in the company, apparently living with his girlfriend or someone else somewhere in the US (we cannot verify all the pertinent details). The company can implode any day now and we might hear just days later that he has been kicked out with a suitcase (he is working double-shifts at the moment, trying to slow down the collapse, which is inevitable anyhow).

The collapse of the company can devastate many people, who “have been in touch about trying to track down [...] pensions from the original Sirius pension scheme,” to quote one former colleague. “I am in the same situation and had previously given up trying to track it down.”

We still wonder how many people are impacted by this — probably a lot. It’s hard to find or track down every single person whom you worked with over a decade ago.

The Standard Life and NOW: Pensions plans/schemes are both registered with a company that has only one employee: the CEO. He moved everything else to two shells, one in the UK (Ltd.) and another in the US (Inc.). Both pension providers investigate this matter now.

Two months ago we requested written assurances from NOW: Pensions that the pensions cannot be scuttled as before. For the time being, Standard Life refuses to even tell what happened (the managers there made a guess/hunch) but it seems like no money ever reached their end. Now that the company is, in effect, ‘in hiding’ (a former CEO is rushing to delete anything that ever connected him to the company) It’ll be hard to sue, but accountability is still possible. The police may soon step in.

Sirius ‘Open Source’ Casualty of Mismanagement

Probably the final week of this series

Sirius Open Source watersideSummary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ has failed to sell what it was actually good at; instead it hired unqualified people and outsourced almost everything

THIS is the part of this series where we focus on examples of Sirius failing on technical merits and compliance/conformance. Eventually we decided to show redacted E-mails on ISO along with my copied messages to management regarding bollocking and how it all started, me asking for an apology etc. Being accredited or recognised isn’t the same as being capable and potent. As I mentioned in the very first post in this series, when I joined the company it was different beyond recognition. The company had its own hosting (in its own premises). In 2022 we were suffering habitual outages as we don’t control our systems anymore (Slack, AWS downtimes were common; in prior years clients that relied on Clownflare also suffered outages due to Clownflare rather than their own hosting). To make matters worse, there were security breaches and the company ignored them. I kept bringing that to management’s attention, only to be ignored or rebuffed. Remember this hoax of Citation/Atlas was covered in Techrights years ago. Sirius does not teach its staff real security and does not hire people who understand or value security.

The company had a bizarre trajectory of moving from self-hosted (e.g. Asterisk), then outsourced (but still Free software, ‘managed’ Asterisk), then outsourced proprietary spyware like Google Voice. If “Open Source has won” and if Free software is becoming more widely used, then why is Sirius going in the exact opposite direction of what it was advocating? This is a management decision. It’s not the fault of technical staff — the staff which all along opposed this.

Notice the practice of password outsourcing. Here’s a direct quote sent in a request to me personally: “Put the WordPress credentials (admin user, etc) in a lastpass note and share it with xxxxx (securely, within lastpass) and we’ll be setting up a very temporary and basic portal to share info across the team, to help keep everyone better updated given how Absolutely Mentally Busy it is right now. It’s entirely for internal use when on the VPN.”

It’s another example of mishandling access credentials inside third parties (Slack, LastPass etc.), oftentimes not just rejecting “Open Source” but actively ripping apart Open Source things that work, replacing them with technically inferior and likely illegal (in some cases, due to data protection) proprietary stuff.

The management did even worse than this; it failed to do very basic things, such as sending payslips and sometimes paying the pension provider. Instead they made colourful excuses, so I decided to take photographs of letters from the pension provider, recalling those blunders and deciding that it’s worth discussing belatedly (and maybe add E-mails also; there were loads of E-mails about payslips, not just pensions, spanning different years from 2018 until the present day; there were phonecalls too, but those aren’t recorded).

The management was also bad at communication and correspondence. See the example below (2019):

Subject: Re: I need these tickets dealt with by support
Date: Thu, 3 Oct 2019 11:15:56 +0100
From: Rianne Schestowitz xxxxxxx
To: xxxxxxx
CC: xxxxxxx

Hi xxxxxxx,

I responded to this email last weekend. Please check your inbox. If you
haven’t received it, I can send it again.

Many thanks,

Rianne


Rianne Schestowitz, NOC Extension 2834423
Sirius – stress free technology

http://www.siriusopensource.com

t: xxxxxxx

> Hi,
>
> I need these tickets dealt with by support.
>
> 1. Ticket#108642: Roy or xxxxxxx need to answer about security.
> 2. Ticket#108813: Replied with more questions. Can’t reproduce the
> error so far. Back with Support, awaiting feedback.
> 3. (Multiple) Tickets relating to masking – Code fix done, Release done
> and in live. Check with each client once data reimported. Support
> team can do this. xxxxxxx have already confirmed it works.
>
> 1. Ticket#108833: Already fixed, just needs a fresh xxxxxxx import.
> 2. Ticket#108769: The masking fix is done, we just need to schedule a
> reload.
>
>
>
> xxxxxxx xxxxxxx
> Sirius – stress free technology
> http://www.siriusopensource.com
> Tel: xxxxxxx

This was the year bullying against staff started, not too long after Gates Foundation money had landed under an NDA and something called Sirius Open Source Inc. was quietly formed in the state of Washington (where Microsoft and Gates are).

We spent nearly a month explaining what I had already written internally before resigning; we remembered to publish the entire PDF at the end (crossposted in my personal site too) as it is important to emphasise that I raised most of these concerns for years inside the company. Inaction and retaliation led to what became of it, spilling the beans out in public. I never did anything even remotely like this with any of my past employers.

Losing Your Best Friend

Harvey Tobkes and Roy

I AM grieving today. I lost my best friend. I had been worrying for more than 20 years that this day would come.

Many decisions that I made in my life were guided in part — if not largely — by Harvey. I always listened to him and asked him for advice, since I was a teenager in fact. Harvey was like a second father to me. Harvey was honest, attentive, and knowledgeable. I could see it and I could feel it. I felt like it was reciprocal. We had a special chemistry in spite of the vast age difference (more than 50 years). Maybe the age difference assured me that he knew a lot better than me what life would bring, how to prepare for it, and what paths to choose. We used to amicably joke about this unusual connection and we corresponded a lot. Anita and Harvey sent me more gifts than I can recall and I sent them some too. Anita’s extensive and marvellous artwork has been at my site for two decades. Harvey constantly bragged about her skills.

Harvey was a proud father of 3 children and a loving husband who appreciated human values (and contact) rather than accumulation of wealth. This is a quality that sadly so many people nowadays lack. Harvey was a principled person who did not judge people based on what they had but based on who they really were.

I first met him in the late 1990s, if I recall correctly first at the gym at a hotel (that’s where I worked out back then), only hours or days before he came to our home. As a teenager back then, I didn’t know much about him but I had met his son 2 years earlier (his son is the husband of my mom’s cousin). But there was good mental chemistry and because he had a lot of witty things to say we stayed in touch for the next 22+ years. He always had very useful advice to offer and he never lacked the time to advise me on matters of personal life, career, and so on. My “career” ended up as mostly activism. I devoted my life to exposing injustice and corruption. I still do that. Harvey was supportive, whereas my (biological) parents don’t fully understand me.

In 2004 I set up a blog for him and he was active until January 16th of this year. Only 1-2 days before his death he forwarded me an E-mail boasting about his granddaughter Rachelle. Years ago he asked me to advise him (and her) on some personal and technical matters or key decisions. I remember all this like it happened yesterday, but upon a closer look that was a long time ago. Last time I met them in person (2006) he gave me valuable guidance. While it’s difficult to remember the dialogue in detail, the overall picture stayed with me, as did the thousands of E-mails we exchanged. My home still has many gifts that he sent over the years; I use them regularly; he’s still there everywhere I turn. I can’t forget all he did for me. I tried to reciprocate as best I could. I hope I enriched his life as much as he enriched mine.

Harvey wasn’t a man of greed. He would occasionally dismiss the mindset of collecting money and that helped inspire me in my current route. He had a lovely sense of humour since the first time I met him and he didn’t judge people based on superficial things. I’ll always admire that trait of his. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that without his guidance I could end up living a less fulfilling and more unhappy life. I always valued Harvey’s vast experience in life (he was already in his 70s when we first met). Young people should learn from Harvey, not from television.

Harvey knew that a stroll in the beach can be not just healthy but also a truly rewarding experience — something that money cannot buy. I’m grateful that I had the experience joining him in his walk there and a regret I still have is that we never did that again (and cannot do it again, either). A long time ago I vouched to Harvey that I would keep his blog running as long as I’m able to; I know how much he liked writing there, knowing people from all over the world were reading it, even total strangers. His words can inspire many, even if some people under-appreciate what he has to say. He loved his wife a great deal and he repeatedly asked about my wife too. He even occasionally wrote to her directly. He kept asking about my family and he knew my siblings individually, all of them by name. He cared a lot less about matters like work and money; I appreciated that. I envy how sharp he was even in his 90s. It’s like he never aged since his 70s and in my mind I still had the picture of him as when we first met.

While I’m deeply sad, grieving, I can still imagine witty Harvey saying something to the effect of, “cheer up!” He always valued good banter or humour and he was rarely sad, at least publicly. You only live once. Be happy.

If I ever turn 90 I will still remember Harvey and miss him very much. Thank you for everything you have done. Nothing can replace that.

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