Thomas Jefferson engraving after painting by Rembrandt Peale.

Truth will out? Really?

In a long article (at over 10,000 words) in the London Review of Books to be published next week (but available prematurely online here), veteran American journalist Seymour Hersch challenges the official story on the circumstances surrounding the death – or, as Hersch tells it, the ‘assassination’ – of Osama bin Laden in 2011. Central to Hersch’s…

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Understanding risk: separating fact from fiction

Recently prepared for a speech to the upcoming ICSA conference “It is difficult to make predictions,” the saying goes, “especially about the future.” Originating, apparently, with a Danish politician named Karl Steincke in the 1920s, the aphorism has been attributed variously to Mark Twain, Niels Bohr, Yogi Berra, Samuel Goldwyn, even Confucius. Which only goes…

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Thinking geo-strategically again

  My post-graduate degree was in international politics, specifically focused on both strategy and domestic formulation of foreign policy; it is those topics that, deep in my heart, form my principal intellectual interests. Nowhere is there better food for thought than STRATFOR. If you do not have a subscription, or at least regularly read George Friedman…

Madrid cafe strip

Double, double, toil and trouble . . .

Fire burn and cauldron bubble (and that’s not all that’s bubbling) A version of this article appears in Risk & Compliance magazine, January – March 2014 It is 500 years last year since the Florentine diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli first distributed The Prince (as it later became known).  While many (most of whom appear not to…

flickr Cairo pyramids

Internal audit, going concern, Jessops and the sweep of history

An earlier version of this article appears on the ACCA e-newsletter here. With multiple UK high-street retailers failing since Christmas 2012, it is reasonable to ask ‘where were the internal auditors?’ and ‘where was these firms’ management of risk’?  The rash of failures in a single sector raises inevitable questions about the focus of risk…

Soldier lines of defence

Excuse me, how many lines of defence? The new financial Maginot lines . . .

Depending on your point of view, the ‘three lines of defence’ metaphor has its origins in either sport or in military planning.  It brings to mind three distinct lines operating independently; each ready to step in to save the day if the line before it crumbles.  In NFL, there can be three lines of defence…