Assassination By Ricin, September 9th, 1978 Ricin has been in the news recently thanks to the poisonous letters sent to the White House an...

Death By Umbrella, Waterloo Bridge

Assassination By Ricin, September 9th, 1978

Ricin has been in the news recently thanks to the poisonous letters sent to the White House and senate officials. Luckily enough, the assailant is in custody and no on was seriously hurt. However, Ricin is incredibly toxic. An amount as small as a pin head can kill an adult human. To make matters more complex, Ricin is a natural substance from the castor seed. As you can guess, the more I Googled, the more interested I became. Yesterday, I happened to learn about a special ops assassination in the 70's that took place in London, and I sent the idea to Evernote to draft for a post.

Below is a selection of information on the notorious Umbrella Case. The victim was Bulgarian writer and dissident Georgia Markov, and the Bulgarian Secret Police (in conjunction with the KGB) had attempted to kill him twice, before they finally got to him with a pneumatic umbrella.

Inside the umbrella was a bullet with holes in it that contained a sugar coated pellet of Ricin. It was shot into Markov's leg as he waited for the bus near Waterloo Bridge, in Central London.

From Wiki:

Georgi Ivanov Markov was a Bulgarian dissident writer. Markov originally worked as a novelist and playwright in his native country, then governed by a communist regime under Chairman Todor Zhivkov, until his defection from Bulgaria in 1969. After relocating to the West, he worked as a broadcaster and journalist for the BBC World Service, the US-funded Radio Free Europe, and Germany's Deutsche Welle. Markov used such forums to conduct a campaign of sarcastic criticism against the incumbent Bulgarian regime. As a result of this, it has been speculated that the Bulgarian government may have decided to silence him, and may have asked the KGB for help. He died as a result of an incident on a London street when a micro-engineered pellet containing ricin was fired into his leg via an umbrella wielded by someone associated with the Bulgarian secret police.

Here is how the event went down.

From Wiki:

September, 1978 - Markov walked across Waterloo Bridge spanning the River Thames, and waited at a bus stop to take a bus to his job at the BBC. He felt a slight sharp pain, as a bug bite or sting, on the back of his right thigh. He looked behind him and saw a man picking up an umbrella off the ground. The man hurriedly crossed to the other side of the street and got in a taxi which then drove away.

The assassin "Picadilly"

As it turned out Georgi fell ill and died three days later. It was soon discovered that he had been poisoned by a ricin-filled pellet.

At the time there was no antidote for Ricin poisoning, and even today counteractions are only successful if the medicine is taken before poisoning.

"Picadilly" - the killer, still lives and travels freely through the EU...His cover was as an art dealer in Copenhagen, and he received two Bulgarian state medals “for services to security and public order”. His whereabouts are now unknown.

Useful Links: 
Pneumatic Umbrella -

Bulgarian Secret Police -

Useful Sources:

The Economist -
The Markov Case -

NSA Archive

2012 German Copy Cat Case -
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Reposted from Starting a business is never as simple as you think. Businesses are increasingly diverse and...

Problems Startups Need - New Post

Reposted from

Starting a business is never as simple as you think. Businesses are increasingly diverse and countless metrics and variables need to come into effect for channels to work for the long term. Entrepreneurs and startups have to be smart and they need to be open to endless solutions. In fact, if you don’t think ahead, you can be buried in the success your business creates or possibly wrapped up in an endless supply of unforeseen work that can lead to dwindling profits.

All businesses face challenges in the beginning, but here are some “problems” facing startup entrepreneurs that might not be so bad after all:

1. Too Much Ambition
You need this. Are you starting a business so you can sleep in late or to create something real? Think long term and very smart, all the time.

2. The Industry Is Too Large
With luck your industry is a behemoth. Not that it has to be, it just helps when you’re trying to capture revenue from a $250 billion global block. Competition is a good thing and should not detour potentials from setting up shop.

3. Too Much Information
What type of business it is? Are you revamping mobile payments or are you bidding on city garbage contracts? You can find information on both. On the latter, there will be competitors and neighboring businesses that you should be able to contact and discuss. You have to like learning. There’s no such thing as a lazy entrepreneur.

4. Your Industry Needs Growth
Read forecasts and pay attention to industries. We are in a global world now, and global events change prices on commodities. Money is a necessity. If you don’t want overhead, don’t own transport buses. Maybe your industry is way behind, just make sure the business idea itself it not super easy to replicate (i.e., Groupon).

5. Too Few Professional Reqs
Remote workers? Why not. Make your office a large meeting and collaboration area. Overhead needs to be at a very low cost ratio. Maybe it’s an eCommerce site. These are businesses of the future. To a degree, you may need accountants and staff accounts, but be creative and outsource what you can, when you can, so long as you don’t lose quality.

6. Too Much Money
Holding out for revenue for five years only happens to a select few, and thankfully so. Take the startup scene of Chicago, for example. Many entrepreneurs are revenue-centric and place an early emphases on this. If you do the same, you’ll be glad you did.

7. Too Many Skills
If revenue doesn’t come early, you’ll still need funding. Ideas are cheap and often a red flag for the very beginning stages. If you have the skills, make it happen. You should be able to figure it out. Some of the most successful companies bootstrapped their finances and made it big. Maybe you need to ramp up one company while holding down another job.

8. Too Much Planning
You are obsessed and hyper-driven, checking your schedule at midnight to ensure efficiency and that you’re on top of it. There’s a healthy balance to it all, but everyone knows that hard work at the onset leads to better peace of mind. While you can’t control everything, you can control what you know and how you act during the most important times. Common sense will always be your friend. Would you start a French M&A company in Kansas? Perhaps you would if there were a high density of French conglomerate owners. Market research is key, but more so when your thoughts are analytical, logical, and wide encompassing. If you are the one in charge, you have to be the one leading the way, and you have work to see what others miss

I'm not sure if everyone will remember New Coke - but most long term Atlantans will. If you read this article you'll see that New C...

New Coke Was A Lie?

I'm not sure if everyone will remember New Coke - but most long term Atlantans will.
If you read this article you'll see that New Coke was a total sham. It looks as if the execs were going through some type of crisis, and New Coke was a red herring - a shell product - conjured up to stimulate market share while the Coke flavor was being reintroduced as Coke Classic.

Different camps say different things, I have heard it was both bogus and legitimate. Nevertheless the article below is very interesting.

JCPenney's New Ad Chief, A Coke Veteran, Admitted New Coke Was Based On 'A Lie' (JCP)

Just to start: "repo" is short for a "repurchasing" agreement in banking. By the time Lehman Brothers imploded, $...

Lehman's Accounting Trick Repo 105

Just to start: "repo" is short for a "repurchasing" agreement in banking.

By the time Lehman Brothers imploded, $25bn in capital was supporting $700bn of assets and liabilities, a leverage ratio that was regarded as extremely high. FT

I've been curious about Repo 105 (and it's Euro counterpart Repo 108) for a while, so I thought I'd post something. Repo 105 was created in 2001. This aggressive tactic was created after a new accounting standard had come into affect - FAS 140 and banking heads were ready to use it to their advantage.

None of Lehman's American accounting firms would sign off on the aggressive tactic so Lehman took to London and used the "magic circle" law firm Linklaters, who signed off on Repo 105.

Here's how the Lehman's system worked:

Linklaters wrote the whole thing in English Law, where they could book the transaction as a sale verses a loan, like most repurchases. In fact, these expensive loans were already valued at 105% of their value, so Lehman was paying an expensive premium with interest for the gimmick. The firm explicitly said: “This opinion is limited to English law as applied by the English courts and is given on the basis that it will be governed by and construed in accordance with English law.” These transactions had to go through Lehman's euro arm: Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (LBIE). That didn't seem to matter at all when it came to moving almost 50bil off Lehman's balance sheet with this accounting slight of hand.

Aside from the statement above "the law firm decreed in its briefs, at least as outlined in the 2006 iteration obtained by Mr. Valukas, that intent matters. If two parties intend to exchange assets for cash, and then later the party receiving the assets decides to hand back “equivalent assets (such as securities of the same series and nominal value) rather than the very assets that were originally delivered,” that amounts to a sale." (Link)

From the examiners statement: “Repo 105 and Repo 108 contracts typically are executed by Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (‘LBIE’) because true sale opinions can be obtained under English law. We generally cannot obtain a true sale opinion under U.S. law. (Link)

So, to rehash, Repo 105 was a gimmick created in response to FAS 140 and then moved to international law to avoid US accounting regulation, but still used to balance US books...

In fact, it was a shell game. To call it a gimmick evokes innocence and childish behavior.  This was public deception & plain old fraud. Read the snippet between Steve Kroft & Anton Valukas, the court appointed bankruptcy examiner.

"Anton Valukas: It certainly, in our opinion, was against civil law if you will. There were colorable claims that this was a fraud, yes…

Anton Valukas: They’d fudged the numbers. They would move what turned out to be approximately $50 billion of assets from the United States to the United Kingdom just before they printed their financial statements. And a week or so after the financial statements had been distributed to the public, the $50 billion would reappear here in the United States, back on the books in the United States.

Steve Kroft: And then the next financial statement, they would move it overseas again, and file the report, and then move it back?

Anton Valukas: Right.

Steve Kroft: It sounds like a shell game.

Anton Valukas: It was a shell game. It was a gimmick."

Thank you Dealbook, FTAlphaville & Columbia Journalism Review