Category Archives: Politics

United they grow

I spoke out in the last week in regards to the Florida shooting. I think I got my point across and I have no issue with people taking the opposite side in all this. By looking at all sides, I feel that I get a better feel for any situation when looking at multiple angles, so I was happy to take a look at what the Washington Post was bringing. It has been bringing several pieces and there is a trend, a trend that has not been there before and some will be sad, but I would be happy, even as it is in an opposite direction of the one I have.

You see, the students are taking a turn for the better and they are actually getting smart about doing things, the weird part is that this has never happened before in the way we see it now and that is always refreshing. It is not the emotional ‘NRA, please stop killing our children‘, which was too ludicrous for words. No, the Florida students are starting to become an actual political player in all this. So, some NRA supporting politicians (which is their choice and right) are definitely in need to up their game in the political arena and they will have to do it in a very visible way.

The first view is seen in ‘Florida high school students demand change to gun laws at boisterous rally‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/they-needed-to-see-it-fla-lawmakers-emotional-tour-of-shooting-site-sparks-bipartisan-talks-on-gun-limits/2018/02/21/a930a37c-16c9-11e8-8b08-027a6ccb38eb_story.html). In Tallahassee thousands of students have rallied, now this is nothing new, students rally at many moments, they tend to keep the milestone rather low. Not this time though. This is actually a lot closer to the anti-Vietnam rallies that we saw in the 60’s. This is getting serious, which is always a good thing. The one thing is that the blame part towards the NRA is still wrong in my view. Don’t get me wrong, the NRA is huge so it makes sense that they are a target, but that is probably the only part that they need to change.

The quote “The proposals under consideration stop short of student demands for a ban on the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15-style gun that was used in the most recent shooting. Instead, lawmakers have focused on new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles, new powers for police to confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous by the courts, and new measures to protect schools from mass shooters” gives two parts. The first is that the focus is on semiautomatic assault weapons. It makes sense because they were used and it is a start. Now personally as a shooter I never saw the appeal to work with such a gun. I was in my shooting days always about precision, that weapon does not offer this (to a limited degree only), for that same reason I see no reason to own an Uzi, apart from when I was serving. So going after a target board, or a duck or a fox with an AR-15 or Uzi never ever made sense to me. The issue is not the weapons; it is that the NRA and its members are afraid, not because it is those weapons, but that it is merely the first step. The fact that no harmony can be found with the two very opposing forces is the danger that nothing will ever be done. One of the video commenters brings up a good point. Apart from bringing up the Australian legislation changes after the 1999 shooting, the issue that an example was made that a 20 year old person bought an AR-15 with an expired ID. That is the part that is really worrying and it should worry the NRA too and in that part they should actually unite with the shops, as well as the students to find a resolution there. You see the first part we see is “Instead, lawmakers have focused on new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles“, yet the second part that was ignored by many is: “a 20 year old bought an AR-15 with an expired ID“, so this part needs even more issues. The NRA could help in lowering pressures. The fact that a shop did not take proper actions for the sale of an automatic weapon should be examined. When we see that the shopkeeper would lose their license for life by selling to a person with an expired ID, by knowingly selling to a person with a false ID and by not lodging the right papers, the shops would higher the threshold of selling weapons in the first place, which is not the worst idea. If I go into a shop buying a Remington Model 700, or SVD Dragunov 7.62 Sniper Rifle, I would expect it come with a certain amount of actions. Let’s be clear, these are $1500-$3500 rifles, they will optionally end lives (in my case a Bambi or two), I would expect having to show my valid non expired fire arms license, proper valid identification (driver license or passport) and an ID that confirms my looks (photo) and my current address. If I need that, to get $300 credit on a TV or Chrome book, why not a rifle? I’ll tell you something more; the actual shooters either recreational or competitive would have no issue with any of that. They have children too (many of them at least), they want their kids to be safe.

Yet the video at a later stage shows issues with the way it is presented. They made the claim that only 1% of all shootings was done by people with Mental health problems and I do not believe to be accurate, in addition, when ‘shootings‘ are mentioned, there is a lot of data missing, which remains the issue and remains the cornerstone of the opposing NRA, and in all honesty, as a data analyst, it gets to me too. The proper population (people doing that deed) is too often not known. For example, how many of all the shootings were done by convicted felons back on the street, or shootings because of crimes in progress? Because convicted felons are the perpetrator of a shooting with an illegal firearm. When you are a convicted felon you cannot have a firearm, ever! This is for what I am almost 99% certain changes that statistic as shown in the Washington Post video completely, so we get misrepresentation.

This is what makes the gun control laws fall over. They do give an excellent example on the 10 year ban that had been in place and this is a positive part, because that shows the drop of events and the resurgence of fatalities after the ban was lifted and that is an important part. So could that have been an option to work with? If properly addressed yes, but doing so would require other steps to be taken and if that is done with the assistance of the NRA it would become a much better solution, one that sticks, one that sticks long term.

The second article ‘Students take charge of gun-safety movement with some help from existing groups‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/students-take-charge-of-gun-safety-movement-with-some-help-from-existing-groups/2018/02/20/eeeb8c58-166d-11e8-92c9-376b4fe57ff7_story.html) gives us “More than 250 students braved cold rain the next morning and marched 1½ miles, giving speeches using a megaphone borrowed from Women’s March organizers“, as well as “new momentum across the country to enact firearms restrictions. And the grass-roots campaigns that have sprung up in high school hallways among angry and tearful teenagers are now attracting attention from national groups demoralized after a string of shootings prompted no political response“. It is the second part that is actually more important. When we see ‘attracting attention from national groups demoralized after a string of shootings prompted no political response‘, you see, these grass-roots campaigns were always relying on emotions, always stating emotional truths, yet they were bringing factual falsehoods as I saw it. This is not getting anyone anywhere. These students are not raving, they are asking questions and they are asking very good questions and the politicians in their way cannot trivialise good quality questions, they now have to deal with the issue, they can no longer trivialise the issue and put aside as the grass-roots people allowed them to do. There is a re-invigoration and that is a good thing. As a former shooter, I have no issue with that, or with the need to be serious about owning a gun or rifle. This is seen in “Anti-gun groups are going out of their way to claim distance from the student activists while praising their efforts“, they are seeing that these students are making headway in the way the anti-gun groups have never been able to get. With: “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is starting to talk to students about rallies planned for March and expects to set aside money to help students who can’t afford to travel to the events“, you see, we now have the setting of a rally, that could rival the Anti-Vietnam rallies we saw on TV in the 60’s. Hundreds of busses driving thousands of people to Washington DC, and it’s only February now; so there is every chance that this summer in Washington will be one of the most enterprising and exhilarating summer that Washington has seen for decades. Even as a pro-gun person, I hope that they pull it off. I truly do believe that the business is way overdue for a massive overhaul and in that respect there are many gun shops that are responsible, but there is wildfire too. You see, guns are still a business and the NRA is about being responsible on one side and on being there for the arms business on the other side. When we look at the NRA site, we see in the history of it: “Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church“, the second that matters is: “Due to the overwhelming growth of NRA’s shooting programs, a new range was needed. Gen. Ammon B. Crichfield, adjutant general of Ohio, had begun construction of a new shooting facility on the shores of Lake Erie, 45 miles east of Toledo, Ohio. Camp Perry became the home of the annual National Matches, which have been the benchmark for excellence in marksmanship ever since. With nearly 6,000 people competing annually in pistol, smallbore and high-power events, the National Matches are one of the biggest sporting events held in the country today“, this shown the NRA in its origin, the forward momentum of quality use of firearms, not any illegal act in any way.

There is one part that requires illumination, yet the bulk of ALL will remain silent on it. The best part we can find is the ATF that reported two parts, the first is that more than 5 million firearms were imported into the USA, 20% from Austria (most likely due to Glock). The total import represents 30% of all weapon sales, giving us that 70% are American firearms. We cannot get a clear revenue picture because most media did not seem to take the effort to find out, but the ATF gave us that $62 million in taxation was collected, making this optionally a billion dollar plus market and that is merely the legal sales part. This was in 2016, and we know that 2017 will have much higher revenues. Now an additional side is that one source (at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/2017-is-second-biggest-year-for-gun-sales-ever-might-top-2016/article/2627883) gave that a survey gave the information that 67% of the buyers got one for home protection. It makes sense, if they all did it for the sport; the US would have had a lot more Olympic gold medals in the shooting category. So when we consider this part, we see that the NRA (even seen on their website www.nra.org) has a ‘AFFILIATED CLUBS, RANGES AND BUSINESSES‘ category, in a billion dollar business industry, in a time when economic issues are the highest priority in America, that side would not want any hindrance on revenue, making legislation the one part that gives options and safety to the people.

In this Deutsche Welle (at http://www.dw.com/en/8-facts-about-gun-control-in-the-us/a-40816418) gave us a header that should be important to look at. With “how one loophole undermines gun control” we see the following: “According to the ATF, anyone can sell a gun without an FFL from their home, online, at a flea market or at a gun show as long as he or she is not conducting the sale as part of regular business activity“, this is an issue when we realise that guns are at times like cars. They get used and many have a short term ‘dedicated‘ feel for their rifle (unlike many hunters), so when we consider: “GLOCK is set to release new features on some existing models later this year“, and we realise that security guards and many individuals tend to ‘want’ the latest model, just like their car and mobile phone, we get a screwed statistic and in that a loophole the size of the Grand Canyon. What I find puzzling is that the ATF could have done something about this issue years ago, yet both Democrat and Republican houses do not seem to have been active and more important media active in stopping this gap. It is important because from that point, any ‘decent 1st gen buyer’ ends up selling their gun to optional or convicted criminals. Those groups tend to be very willing to buy a used gun at 90 cents to the dollar (and avoid checks) which makes the seller very happy that he/she got a good deal on a second hand weapon, yet it makes for an indecently less secure America. And this has not been on any of the American articles I saw, merely a German one. So is this because the Germans are a lot cleverer than Americans, or is the media actually part of the problem here? I let you decide, but when we consider Fox News Insider talking to gun rights activist Emily Miller who states: “She argued it’s a purely political move because the administration knows that raising the minimum age for purchasing one specific weapon — which kills about 40 people per year in the U.S. — will not do anything to change the crime statistics in America“, which is absolutely true, yet neither Fox News, or Emily Miller is raising the ATF part that Deutsche Welle is raising (at http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/02/21/white-house-criticized-jaw-dropping-statement-raising-minimum-age-buy-ar-15s), so was this merely a pro-gun talk from both sides? So as we agree with Emily Miller with: “like Texas church shooter Devin Patrick Kelley — should have been red-flagged during background checks“, yet both him and Nikolas Cruz could have still acquired a gun through home sales, all ‘perfectly’ legal and no background checks, so why is it that we do not see a larger exposition to the ATF loophole? Even as a pro-gun person, I am appalled that a loophole this large exists and it seems that the media in America remains unaware (optionally is intentionally being kept in the dark) of such a weakness. This one time that I agree with Rush Limbaugh as he states “Bashing the NRA Isn’t Going to Do It” (I am still in shock I agreed on anything with him), I feel uncertain that concealed weapons will do it as proposed by a few people. Now I agree that having guns for protection in schools is almost the one remaining point. Yet, who should be there?
Should there be more security? Actual trained armed professional protecting students? I am not in favour of arming teachers as they have never been properly trained, and even if we laugh at Betty White holding a .357 magnum and we know that she is the one lady we would not want to piss off, even when she is unarmed. I personally do not see that such pressure should be with a teacher as that person will want to talk down the optional shooter. So in the end, their hesitation will give the shooter another weapon and optionally more victims. In addition, the stress levels handed to teachers would be disastrous to schools and education.

In all this the ATF loophole is still not shown anywhere, so I will let you decide on how this is to be addressed. We can equally argue that the true professionals (like the NRA) have not raised the issue either, that might be the most damning part in the NRA house and one that requires almost immediate debate in the American households. It also gives rise that those selling their weapon second hand should be given an option. Perhaps it is a new market, a growing market where the businesses in selling arms will have a 2nd hands collection, perhaps for those who want to dip their toe in the water of becoming an owner of a firearm. It would stop unchecked arms falling into the hands of whoever sells them to whoever has the cash to buy that second-hand fire arm. Is that not a firm first step in lowering the chance of the wrong person ending up with a firearm? It would be merely a first step, but it is one that could actually make a difference.

 

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Removing the right of choice

Fox News had an opinion piece 2 days ago that only now met my eyes. Now, for the most, apart from some Guardian opinion pieces, I tend to stay away from them. Yet, this one caught my eye because not only was the situation upsetting. The issue that Americans use their right to free speech to deny others the right to choose (to some degree) is another matter and it became clear that I should give my view in all this.

The title ‘Is the West finally pushing Saudi Arabia to squelch its version of radical Islam?‘ First off, why on earth do we see the need ‘forcefully silence or suppress‘ the choice of Islam? Now, I am merely a Christian in this, but I do not see any reason here. In the second, the setting of ‘radical Islam‘ is equally an issue. What makes it radical? That is not me being clever, it is an actual question. When does any religion become ‘radical’?

Now, I am merely quoting Wiki here (just the easiest part), and important that as a Christian and not armed with a knowledge of Arabic, I might wrongfully quote her, so be aware of that. With: “In the 18th century, a pact between Islamic preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and a regional emir, Muhammad bin Saud, brought a fiercely puritanical strain of Sunni Islam first to the Najd region and then to the Arabian Peninsula. Referred to by supporters as “Salafism” and by others as “Wahhabism”, this interpretation of Islam became the state religion and interpretation of Islam espoused by Muhammad bin Saud and his successors (the Al Saud family), who eventually created the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932“, you see, my issue, perhaps partially better stated as my grievance with Nina Shea is not that she is a lawyer or a Christian, but that she is both. That one nation that has been hypocrite towards empowering outspoken Christians and Christian puritans at nearly every twist and turn of every American administration since WW1 is now speaking out against another puritan based religion? How screwed up is that?

And the fact that we also see in the Fox News pages that she currently is a leader of a campaign for Christians threatened with genocide by ISIS, is even worse. As American Presidents have refused to name the Armenian Genocide as such because of concerns over alienating Turkey, with former president Barack Obama being the latest weakling in that long line of individuals in denial. And when we get to alienating Turkey? Turkey alienated them self for a long time, going all the way back to 2001 and they only alienated themselves stronger with nearly everyone after that. So genocide is only recognised when it is in the interest of US political policies? How hypocrite is that? So even as this happened less than a year ago, we see: “But although ISIS’ genocidal intent has long been clear, the extent of the group’s atrocities has remained murky. Local authorities and human rights organizations have made some attempts to compile lists of victims. According to those lists, between 2,500 and 5,000 Yazidis had been killed by ISIS while over 6,000 had been kidnapped. But the UN has not yet been able to independently verify these figures” (source: www.foreignaffairs.com), so how should we see these differences?

Personally I have no issue with people and their religion, you see they can be a puritan as they want to be, and until they start pushing that onto us (read: me) they are fine. I have absolutely no regard for any Christian pushing their values onto others, in that I am quite happy to see the separation of state and church to be forever. There is in equal measure another issue, you see, puritan is often seen as ‘against pleasure‘, which is not always the case and that makes that discussion a lot harder, for what sets the definition of Puritan?

So when we see the quote from Nina Shea that gives us: “Now Europe is finding its voice with a new willingness to pressure the Saudi Arabian government to end its spread of extreme Islamic ideology, known in the West as Wahhabism“, so she has set ‘puritan‘ as ‘extreme version of‘. The question is on one side is what constitutes a puritan version as such and even if so, the Vatican forced Christianity into the world, whilst under its flag committed genocide by removing no less that 11 civilisations. The church and greed have gone hand in hand for centuries whilst the nobility, or should that be in modern tongue ‘Big Business’ have not been held accountable since before World War 1. The bible approved of slavery and in Matthew 19:14 and Mark 10:13 stated ‘Let the children come to me‘, Catholic priests saw that as an optional clear signal to fuck every young boy in town (whenever possible). So as the Holy See was considering thousands of priests actively taking the cherry from young boys for over 50 years, how many went to prison? In that light the media is equally to blame, until the movie Spotlight got the limelight in the Academy Awards, millions of Americans remained in denial. Even as the Boston Globe exposed it in 2002, it would take 13 years, until after the movie was released that the larger part of the media changed their tunes, the church still has that much power. So as we oppose one form of puritan religion, we see the outrages acts of our own religions and in that regard I have an issue with certain settings.

In addition we see: “As I told Congress in testimony last July, 16 years after the 9/11 attacks – led and carried out primarily by Saudis” we see yet another issue. In the first, this attack was done by Al-Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden, who was indeed born Saudi, yet he was banished from Saudi Arabia in 1992, 9 years before the event. More important, their family came from the Yememi Kindah, so another ‘faith’ altogether, in that regard, when we consider that Kindites converted to Judaism following the conversion of the Ḥimyarite kings, which happened roughly 1500 years ago, so why is she not blaming Israel in all this? It seems to me that Nina Shea has no religious agenda; she has a political one and is willing to play Saudi Arabia towards her needs. In the part that we accept that Al-Qaeda was made up from Islamic Extremists and Salafists, there is the legitimate question on how many of the members of Al-Qaeda are (still) Saudi, but is that even possible to grasp? There are so many splinter organisations, active all over the Middle East, In Yemen is gets even more of an issue where they are fighting the Houthi’s. The New York Post gave us two weeks ago: “An immigrant from Saudi Arabia suspected of applying to join an al-Qaeda training camp has been arrested on a visa fraud charge in Oklahoma, according to a report. The FBI recently discovered Naif Abdulaziz Alfallaj after his fingerprints matched those taken from a document found in Afghanistan“, it makes matters worse and less clear. It is not a clear picture for those getting all the information, for people like Nina Shea who are willing to ‘filter’ data before their presentation make matters worse, we do not only get a distorted picture, we get more non-truths (at times non-verifiable truths, or speculations) and as such the picture shift a little more. We can argue that to some Saudi citizens desire a life of ‘action’ in perhaps the wrong direction is preferred over whatever they had before. We have all had those moments. I myself have argued within myself to find 1-2 paedophilic priests and hang them in the nearest tree without trial, so should I join some anti-religion and blow up churches? Of course not, that would be just insane, but some might do just that.

So when we consider ‘members of the Ku Klux Klan planted and detonated dynamite at the 16th Street Baptist Church‘ we also need to see that J. Edgar Hoover had secret recordings that proving the involvement of guilty parties (according to some sources), he also ensured that a court could not use them as evidence to prosecute the attackers, making it more difficult to convict. For 14 years after the bombing, none of the men were prosecuted for their crime. The first one to be arrested (and convicted) was Robert Edward Chambliss in 1977. So we, Americans and non-American Christians alike have closets full of skeletons, perhaps when it comes to certain matters we should not be the judging or reforming parties in the matters of other nations.

Now, there are a few sides that do bare consideration.

Even if we agree with: “In 2010, a top U.S. Treasury counterterrorism official warned that without Saudi education reform “we will forever be faced with the challenge of disrupting the next group of terrorist facilitators and supporters.”“, Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state, it has its rights and it has forever been a Muslim state. You see, until the oil prices went down and the profits declined, America remained unwilling to hear any level of criticism on Saudi Arabia, making a lot of the matters in play hypocrite at best.

The next ‘wrongful representation‘ is “The West seems to be finally waking up. The new assertiveness shows official recognition of the link between Islamist ideology and terror, and our governments must keep it up“, you see, I see this as “as the profits are declining and as Saudi Arabia is now set to be a growing force beyond the petrochemical industry” we see issues because the ‘link between Islamist ideology and terror’ has been known for a long time and seen as such. Hamas, Hezbollah are the clearest ones. There is the Muslim Brotherhood, and plenty of others, whilst the PLO was delisted as a terrorist organisation is now again rearing its tail by no longer recognising the state of Israel, so that could escalate again. In addition we see that only the UK saw the Orange Volunteers as a terrorist organisation, I wonder why the US did not see it that way. So whatever makes that list is also very dependent on how they cross the United States of America (speculation on my side), so as the sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia is becoming a growing centre of commerce and an economic power we start seeing more anti-Saudi events. Yet the US will happily sell all the weapons and planes they can for now. Nina also refers to a report that was classified and forced into the open in 2016 regarding the Saudi textbooks (at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/17/international-home/document-state-dept-study-on-saudi-textbooks.html), it is 148 pages, so read it there (the PDF was too large to place here).

My issue in this is not the paper; it is the chance of comprehending it all, it is linked to hundreds of books, to hundreds or issues all linked to the Koran and to the rights that Saudi Arabia has as a sovereign nation. We might not agree and as Christians we might to a certain degree oppose outside of Saudi Arabia, but its sovereign rights are as they wanted it, linked to the Muslim faith. We need to recognise that we are not all alike, that others have their rights and they need not be based on democracy. However we must also recognise that ‘democracy’ in America and largely in Europe is set towards what the rich and powerful want it to be. If you disbelief that then try to change laws in America that makes Wall Street criminally accountable. Good luck getting that done within the next 50 years!

You see, in support of my view, I would like to call attention to page 3, where we see “The national identity of Saudi Arabia is deceptively simple. It is an absolute monarchy“, so what makes a monarchy absolute? The Netherlands is a monarchy, so is Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain and a few others. So as these are predominantly Christian monarchies, are they not absolute or dangerous? Perhaps they are merely seeing eye-to-eye with the US and not that much of an economic threat? The EU and the ECB simmered down the European nations as threats is another view and it is for people with better economic degrees than mine to make a call on that. Again a speculation from my side, but it seems to me that the US would prefer every nation to be a republic, so that the larger corporations can sweep in and reduce that national population into a spreadsheet and reduce the abilities of those being a hindrance, a non-consumer or a liability.

We can take any view on these matters, but in the end we see a person with a rightful opinion get the centre stage all the way to the US Congress, whilst we consider her quote: “Germany finally pressed Saudi Arabia to close the King Fahd Academy in Bonn in spring 2017, according to a 2016 Deutsche Welle report. It first came under investigation 14 years earlier for alleged ties to al Qaeda“. The question that is here is ‘It first came under investigation 14 years earlier for alleged ties to al Qaeda‘, so was that ever proven? That is the part that Nina Shea does not want you to know; in addition there is the part that was in the Deutsche Welle. ‘Now, the King Fahd Academy is about to close its doors of its own accord‘, which she did not mention. In addition (at http://www.dw.com/en/controversial-saudi-school-in-bonn-to-close/a-19511109), we see the clear mention of ‘Moving beyond oil‘, it seems that Europe and the US stayed very silent whilst the oil profits were flowing their way making a lot Nina states even more hypocrite. So as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pushing stronger towards his “Vision 2030“, we see that slowly his reforms are catching hold, there is momentum and there is additional evidence that it is a worry for the United States, particularly the people who were having benefits on the matters before Vision 2030. When we consider the rumour from last month when we were introduced to “The new policy means Apple is administering collection and remittance of tax to authorities at a rate of 20 percent in Armenia and Belarus; 5 percent in Saudi Arabia; 18 percent in Turkey; and 5 percent in United Arab Emirates” we see the clear benefit for Apple to grow in Saudi Arabia, yet in that it could cost the US 20 cents to every dollar pushed to Saudi Arabia and as Apple tends to think in tens of billions, the US is about to lose out of a pretty penny they desperately need. In addition with Amazon and Google gaining tech hubs there, the loss of revenue and data is about to cost the US a lot more and in this greed driven economy that is what has been setting plenty of people over the rails and into the sea of chaos, frustration and outcry. So as Saudi Arabia ends up getting 5 data centres, how many will not be upgraded in the US or Europe in the near future? How much is that going to cost them?

These are all matters linked to the opinion of Nina Shea, because if that was not the case we would not have seen “These events are being driven by Western governments that are now pushing hard for the government of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to pull back from Wahhabist support – a push that appears to be working“, you see, the fact that (some) schools closed on their own accord was not mentioned, neither is any part of Vision 2030 which has been on the front page of the Saudi plans of actions for almost 2 years now and in addition, when we see “For decades European and U.S. leaders bit their tongues while the Saudi governments spent billions of dollars indoctrinating Sunni Muslim communities“, whilst not stating that the oil money flowing into these places was too good to ignore is equally an issue because it shows us to be hypocrite and it shows Saudi Arabia to be business oriented. OK, I will give you that the last part is not entirely correct, but why did Europe and the US bite their tongues? If they were so morally high we would have seen a lot more, an issue that never happened.

So who will Nina Shea blame for that? I reckon we will leave it non-mentioned (for now).

Finally we need to look at her statement “Tiny Belgium, population 11.27 million, has sent more Islamic fighters to Syria per capita than any other European country“, so when we see the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-balks-at-taking-back-isis-fighters-1518557328) where we see the quote “An estimated two to three dozen Belgian foreign fighters are in detention in Syria and Iraq, another Belgian official said“, so as we consider an unrelated statistic like “Hospital medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. That’s 700 people per day, notes Steve Swensen“, the fact that we see the mention of 36 Belgium fighters in Syria in a pool of 5000, seems to be too irrelevant to use as a focal point in her presentation, whilst in the US 700 people a day die in Hospitals through mere errors. She has the wrong focus as illumination in her presentations. You see, it would not have mattered if she had mentioned the number of Belgium fighters and the total pool of ‘extremists’ but she did not want that, she wanted the hypocrite limelight, so I will happily keep a focus on her and how she tries to misinform the people around her next.

In all this Fox News should get an equal share in the blame by not setting the stage properly. By leaving too much unstated we should consider that the reliability of Fox News and what they present is equally taking a turn downwards.

In the end

In the end this was less about speaking for Saudi Arabia (they can do that themselves perfectly well), then speaking against Nina Shea. I find this a hatched job that should not have been placed on Fox News the way it was. Whatever points she could have made was drowned out by the misrepresentation that I see them to be and in several fields in many ways. This requires me to add her mention of ‘Islamist terror has replaced chocolate as Belgium’s best known export‘, you see the best export the Belgium ever had was beer, the finest in the world. And even as we agree that their chocolates are the best, we need to see that terrorism is not their export, or their best known export. Perhaps their flaw was to have the most cordial of borders in Europe, together with Sweden, yet as Sweden is up in the north and Belgium is caught between the Netherlands, Germany and France, there is no doubt that whatever they get came initially from one of the three other nations and guess what, Nina made no mention of that either. Perhaps because she was in doubt whether it was a good idea to piss the other three nations off? Again, merely speculation from my side, but in the end, we have seen in evidence from reputable sources that the economy has been a central reason in creating extremism, a part that has hit Belgium and several other nations. That too remains unmentioned.

 

 

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SW2, not WW2

Is there a Syrian War 2 brewing? That was the initial thought I had when I got exposed to the ridiculous claims from Turkey this morning. There are two parts. the first comes from the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/19/turkey-warns-assad-not-intervene-kurdish-enclave-afrin), the quote is “Turkey warned the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad that it risked a military confrontation with Ankara if it intervened in an ongoing war in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, in a further escalation of tensions that hint at the possible widening of an already complex conflict“, now, just to make sure you get this. Turkey invaded Syria for the alleged reason of coming to aid towards Assad, or perhaps merely to ‘fight ISIS‘ in a presentation attempt to silently start the second genocide, the genocide of the Kurdish people. So Turkey goes invades Syria and now states: “Turkey warned the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad that it risked a military confrontation with Ankara if it intervened“, so how is optionally opposing an invader ‘intervening‘?

The second part comes from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43107013), where we see basically the same with ‘Afrin offensive: Turkey warns Syria against helping Kurds‘. So when we read “Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Turkey’s operations were going ahead as planned and it would be a “disaster” if Syrian troops were to intervene“, should we deduce that a failed introduction to genocide is a ‘disaster‘?

Even as we see the similarities, we see that the issue is larger than merely a scuffle between the Turks and the Kurds, the way we see the quotes and the way that they are reported give rise to the fact that there are other issues below the waterline. It is not merely semantics, it is the interaction that Turkey has been having with several nations gives that rise and the optional viewing of that should make plenty of people worried at the very least and decently nervous in the nominal setting of international relationships.

The BBC article ends with “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russia’s Vladimir Putin that Damascus would face “consequences” if it struck a deal with the Kurds, CNN Turk reported on Monday“. So, Erdogan, President of Turkey, a person with not much diplomatic skills or powers outside of Turkey for that matter, is telling Putin….? Oh, sorry, I nearly lost my breakfast laughing myself into several layers of bellyaches. It is almost as impactful and powerful as me calling Alexander Bortnikov, telling him to give me access to all his data, or he is going to hear ‘stuff he will not like‘ (most likely me calling him a pussy). Yes, people like the President of the Russian Federation, or the director of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации (ФСБ)) getting told by the likes of President Erdogan (or me for that matter) is something they should take extremely serious (sorry, second laughing attack, I will be back shortly). So, after I had my second laughing attack that lasted close to 611 seconds, I got back into my seat and decided to take another gander at a few parts. You see, the nice part of such short sighted actions is that it alienates the players Turkey actually desperately needs. Which in turn is making Iran more and more nervous, which is good news for several countries in the Middle East. The interesting part in all this that he BBC reported “During the course of the Syrian war, pro-government forces have largely avoided direct conflict with the YPG, but they have had sporadic clashes“, which now gives the optional food for thought that Syria might actually set some resources that way with the optional thought that they will not be targeting the YPG, because if we agree that direct conflict was never a real necessity, the Turkish forces changing that by sticking their short stick in a hornets nest, that part would be the greater threat to Syria, which now gets them into hot water is a few places and on several ways. In addition, it will also change the conversation that is going to happen in Kazakhstan in two weeks, giving more questions if there is still going to be a summit in Istanbul on Syria. The changing pressures are by no means a way to get things talked about and smoothed over. Even as Reuters gives us: “The three countries are working together to try to push the troubled Syrian peace process forward“, we need to also consider the mandate that Tehran gave to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as the outbursts from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pushing its own agenda whilst at the same time causing chaos towards the plans that Iran seemed to be having in all this, his self-serving hatred of Kurdistan is making the creation of coalitions next to impossible. With the Netherlands adding fuel to the fire of Turkish non-diplomacy, as they have now voted to recognise the Armenian genocide of 1915, pressures are growing there too, at a time when Turkey needed every European nation to be on his side regarding the non-realistic approach to becoming an EU nation, we see that the gap is increasing beyond the chance of that ever becoming a reality. The Turkish parties kicking every hornets nest in the Middle East is not very useful. On the other hand, Turkey could decide after Kicking both the US and Russia, to see if this level of craziness is useful in Beijing, which it is unlikely to be unless they open up all kinds of open trade paths which might actually be a lot less interesting to Turkey, especially at a time when Turkey is trying to get increased Cherry exports to China in time for the next harvest, the need to grow their export which according to some is in excess of 80,000 tons, they are now in a stage where they can no longer afford to get on anyone else’s wrong side, which must be a novel experience for the Turkish Diplomatic Corps.

All this whilst the issues in Greece and Cyprus are at present still unresolved, with the Ekathimerini making a connection between the report published on March 28, 1897 in Empros newspaper where we get: “referred to a foreign diplomat who described Greeks’ behaviour in relation to Turkey as that of a dog that barks, but does not bite. We all know what followed, but we still tend to forget how bad it is in international affairs when you bark, but no one really feels any threat“, and the escalations on gas resources at present, that whilst there is a certain logic to make the statement, especially when we consider Europe, NATO and the UN is seen in relation to: “where tensions broke out between Greece and Turkey, these organizations never really offered anything more than carefully worded statements“, that is the situation when we rely on the paper tiger to get things done. So when we read: “Athens must be very careful in weighing its next moves. It’s a balance of terror. If it shows compliancy, one can’t be certain where the other side will stop“, whilst we all know perfectly well that Ankara will not stop until forcefully halted. As the article ends with the absence of emotion in the Turkish-Greek debates, the issue is that the theatre is getting prepared to get very emotional from more than one side. Turkey almost has no options left after kicking all the wrong shins. In my view, when Syria escalates and escalates in one wrong direction we will get a flood of orchestrated news (whilst journalists have been sentenced to life in prison) and from there onwards it becomes a long winded marketing campaign, because Turkey seems to be realising that the US, the UN and Europe are all about statements and statements alone. Which is a dangerous game as it could press towards a second Syrian war where the Syrian Kurdish area could get annexed into Turkey and its population would optionally somehow mysteriously vanish.

So, how should we see the optional threat of a second Syrian war? that is hard to see, with too many high level meetings, with the latest addition being one with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to meet in April in Turkey, there is no telling what it will actually be about. Even as we have seen from enough sources that it will be about Syria, there is in my personal view absolutely no way that it will just be about Syria, especially as the meetings are going to be behind closed doors. That view is made stronger when we consider the news merely a few days ago when Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), told CNBC “We’re at the breaking point in positive territory of this relationship … We really embarked on an amazing positive journey“, that in light of Iranian issues and the fact that President Putin’s face is on the homepage of the RFID gives enough indication that nothing happens there without the explicit approval from more than one key member of the Kremlin and there lies the complication, The meeting around Syria is set in a stage where all three have separate agenda’s. Turkey has the Kurdistan region, Russia has a truckload of billions it can win with Saudi Arabia and Iran is extremely opposing anything pro-Saudi Arabia, as well as having a few additional issues regarding Yemen, who would really like Russia to become a mediator here, so the Syrian talks will come with close to half a dozen unscheduled stress points. So, when we see these issues in the lights that can be confirmed, will Syria see more or less stability?

Less stability is not a given, but the premise of it happening is actually more realistic than I would have foreseen less than a year ago.

 

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They had been warned

Only hours ago, the NY Times gives us a part that wants to makes me want to go ‘I told you so!‘, but I will not. With ‘The U.N.’s Uncomfortable Truths About Iran‘, Nikki Haley gives us the goods from a report published a week ago (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/opinion/nikki-haley-united-nations-iran.html). The quote: “A panel of experts found that Iran is violating a United Nations weapons embargo — specifically, that missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran“, part of these issues I raised in ‘Disney’s Yemeni Cricket‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/04/disneys-yemeni-cricket/) two weeks ago. The part I had not looked at is seen in Nikki’s article. She captures it perfectly in: “The mullahs in Iran don’t want to hear this news, because it proves Iran is violating its international agreement. Die-hard defenders of the Iran nuclear deal don’t want to hear it because it proves, once again, that the Iranian regime can’t be trusted. And some members of the United Nations don’t want to hear it because it is further proof that Iran is defying Security Council resolutions, and the pressure will be on the U.N. to do something about it“. Yet, the UN is not acting, is it? The Guardian on Jan 11th gives rise to the ‘need’ that the US is not tearing up the Iranian nuclear deal. With “the three EU signatories to the deal insisted that Iran was respecting the agreement signed in 2015” they are making a reference to the UK, France and Germany. The fact that we see: “Federica Mogherini, said the deal, denounced by Trump as the worst ever made, had in reality “made the world safer and prevented a potential nuclear arms race in the region”“, which might hold some truth in regards to the fact that it was the worst deal, but that is pretty much it. In addition she gives us “any doubts the EU harboured over Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, or its overall policy of interference across the Middle East, were separate from the nuclear deal – also known as the JCPOA“. Now the part in the Guardian happened a week after the actual attack. I think that the entire event is a sham. I think that the three nations had been clearly briefed on the entire Houthi matter, as well as the fact that the three parts that Nikki Haley gives us is on par, the EU is merely in denial, because after all the wasteful blunders and failures they had signed up for, another failure is a lot more than any of the three could handle. The intelligence services did what they needed to do, but here it is again short-sighted side in all this, whilst they remain nationally protective, for now that is.

So is that true?

Well that is the issue. Apart from e not having the original texts, there are a few issues that Nikki is completely correct in, yet in the end she is not (not completely at least). When we look at United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, we see “The resolution updates and adds to the list of technical items related to nuclear and missile proliferation that are banned for transfer to and from Iran“, which makes the view of Nikki Haley correct, then there is “Iran is subject to a new regime for inspection of suspicious cargo to detect and stop Iran’s smuggling. States should inspect any vessel on their territory suspected of carrying prohibited cargo, including banned conventional arms or sensitive nuclear or missile items. States are also expected to cooperate in such inspections on the high seas“, so is this enough, can we state that the arming of Houthi’s in Yemen is a ‘smuggling operation’, or ‘a classified shipment’ in support of Houthi’s? You see, the classification is everything in this limelight.

The resolution holds a lot more, yet most of that is directed at shipments to Iran and/or nuclear materials. Yet now we get to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which makes the view of Nikki Haley wrong. Here we see: “Resolution 2231 calls for Iran to refrain from activity related to nuclear-capable missiles (“Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology“, however, the Deutsche Welle give us: “according to diplomats the language is not legally binding and cannot be enforced with punitive measures“, so basically, Nikki is in spirit very correct, yet in black letter law, there is no clarity and more important, no punitive option. In all this, we see that top EU diplomat, Federica Mogherini was correct.

In the spirit of it all, Iran seems to become a bigger player and a much larger danger to any level of Middle Eastern stability. Nikki ends the article with “Today, armed with this evidence, we have the chance to rein in Iran’s behavior and demand that it live up to its international agreements that discourage conflict. But if action is not taken, then someday soon, when innocent Saudi civilians are killed by Iranian weapons, the chance for peace will be lost.

I am not sure of that, you see, just like Turkey, Iran will do whatever it pleases and the US knows that, as did the three players (UK, France and Germany), who are desperately trying to hold on the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) like it is the golden fleece.

However, only 4 hours ago Reuters treats us to: “Britain, the United States and France want the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran for failing to stop its ballistic missiles from falling into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group and commit to take action over the sanctions violations, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters“, with “The U.N. Security Council has banned the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.” It can also blacklist individuals and entities for threatening the peace and stability of Yemen or hindering aid access” we see the other part the Nikki mentioned and here she is proven right. Even as Iran claims that it is fabricated, there is enough evidence, that the parts are indeed from Iranian missiles, which invalidates their side in all this. The most striking part is the part that both Nikki Haley and Reuters are giving us and that part seems to be ignored by too many. The mention of: “Some members of the United Nations don’t want to hear it because it is further proof that Iran is defying Security Council resolutions, and the pressure will be on the U.N. to do something about it” is a much larger issue. Is it because they are unwilling to act, or has the coin toppled in the many outstanding issues in play and the UN is now unable to do anything?

That part is more important, because that means that the UN has no longer options to set issues against rogue nations like Iran, it could be a renewed signal for North Korea to do whatever it pleases as well and that could give more worries regarding stability in Far East Asia as well.

The question becomes can the situation be diffused? Should Iran comply and seize all missile shipments, it will change the Houthi field. They will not win (they never could) but a larger consideration to remove Houthi forces and start larger humanitarian aid would become increasingly more realistic. The bad side is that the Houthi’s would go underground so the humanitarian aid groups would have to deal with sabotage and armed strikes on a daily basis if no green zone can be established. That part is also no longer a real issue as we got only a few days ago that civilian life in Aden is safe, stable and calm, with all signs of life returning to normal, almost three years after diplomats and UN staff fled Aden. Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammad Al Jabir also mentioned that recent demands made by a single social strait, which later led to clashes, have been calmed and resolved. We get this from the Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper (at https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1170916/saudi-ambassador-yemen-says-arab-coalition-proved-efficiency-resolving-aden), the issue now becomes, will Iran back off, or continue in its actions to remove stability from the Middle East, that alone gives support to Nikki Haley and her view regarding Iran, If she is proving correct and Iran remains on the path they are now, we should consider that soon enough, the JCPOA will not be worth the paper it was printed on, because if Iran can play games to this extent, there will be absolutely no guarantee that Iran will not break word and move on their path to enrich Uranium, I have no doubt in that regard, the issue has been diminished to a mere when they will start, there is no longer an ‘if’ in the matter.

In my view, these matters are only increasing stresses and pressures between Israel and Iran, they were never cordial, but now they are at an all-time high on the volatility aggressive response scale and that is mainly due to the Syrian issues in play. This now gives more and more rise to the dangers of escalations and the moment this happens all bets are off. The Guardian gives us: “Emboldened by a belief that Assad is winning, Iran is turning its eyes, and guns, on Israel – or so Israeli leaders believe. Their “red lines” – forbidding a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah – are being ignored”, Another source gave us much earlier (November 2016) that “the Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces announced to commanders of the Iranian fleet that Iran may establish naval bases in the future far from its shores”, which was Major general Mohammad Bagheri at that point, in that address both Syria and Yemen were raised as options. Now, if this is happens in Syria the IDF would reacts and Iran will plunge the Middle East in another war, if it is in Yemen, there is every indication that this will set off the legitimate Yemeni government as well as Saudi Arabia optionally starting a war with those players, giving again full support to the views Nikki Haley gave earlier, more important, at that point any UN representative avoiding that discussion better give up their seat quick and proper as the fallout of that discussion will impact the confidence levels of the UN on an almost global scale and it again would open the door for North Korea to do whatever it pleases. A scenario that roughly 98.4% of the UN nations who are currently part of the UN will not be too happy about either.

As I personally see it, too many issues have become interconnected, it has become a mess that several nations want to steer clear off, they want to ignore it and/or they remain in denial. It would make for an excellent front page though, when the moment comes and we get to read ‘UN in denial of Iranian actions’, how will you react?

 

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That pathetic sign

The guardian gives us the news with ‘Grieving Florida community pleads for end to gun carnage after mass shooting‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/15/florida-shooting-suspect-charged-questions-nikolas-cruz), actually the news is not new. They have been on top of it since it happened just like any decent news agency would. It was the image this morning, the image of a man holding a sign ‘NRA please stop killing our kids‘ that set me off. A sign so pathetic that I had to speak out! You see, the National Rifle Association does not kill children, people kill children! It is a simple and basic concept. If anything, I would optionally be a member of the NRA if I was in America. You see, I love rifles. The army trained me (and trained me well), I have been a member of the shooters association for a decade and if it had been a possibility, I would have been a hunter too.

Why was I not?

You see, I grew up in the Netherlands. I got some of the highest scores when I was an active shooter and the club I was a member of, were equally driven to excellence. On several events we could have forgone showing up and still end up with the annual cup. Now, I was by no means the best shooter, but our scores put all others merely in the shadow of our scores. We were all finely coached and aware of the fire arms law (which is a lot more constricting than the US, UK or Australian laws will ever be). A rifle is a tool, merely a tool and that is how it is to be used, whether we use a fire arm for target shooting, hunting or other needs, and as for the hunting part. I never really hunted like others; you see the Netherlands is not really a hunting country. It is the size of New Jersey with over 17 million people, so even if I went to the most remote part of the Netherlands and shoot a bullet in a random direction, there is still a chance that I would accidently hit a person. So those who are into hunting will go to France, Sweden or Germany. In this, I myself have a code, if you hunt, only hunt what you will eat! If that is not your goal then you become no more than a basic wannabe killer, and who needs those to be around? So if there would be hunting for me, I would do it in Sweden, because I do love my Bambi burgers, venison is the good life for me! So this is about me, which in light of all this is important.

So back to that pathetic sign!

I understand that parents and direct friends will be angry, they are driven by emotion. I get that, the man with the sign is merely seen by me as a man pointing a finger in the wrong direction, optionally intentionally doing so.

When you see some of the articles, you can see that this is a person with anger issues, with other issues and if he did not have a rifle, he would have acted out with pipe bombs or something similar. The ABC gives us: “Chad Williams, 18, a senior student at the school, said Mr Cruz would set off the fire alarm, day after day, and got expelled in the grade 8. More recently, Mr Williams saw Mr Cruz carrying several publications about guns when they ran into each other at the high school“. My issue here is that I had at times the Guns and Ammo a few times when I was a lot younger, does that make me a danger issue? OK, I don’t remember ever setting of the fire alarm, yet that shows us a person with perhaps some kind of an attention disorder, we can equally opt that he was some kind of pranker with a lack of imagination, or merely a person trying to skip classes regularly. None of this breathes school massacre initiator. So as we see the part from Senator Bill Nelson as briefed by the FBI: “He said the shooter wore a gas mask as he stalked into the school carrying a rifle, ammunition cartridges and smoke grenades, then pulled a fire alarm, prompting students and staff to pour from their classrooms into hallways“, now from the previous part to the part now (that is not being questioned by me), is still a part in the middle and that is the part that counts. Nobody and I state again nobody suddenly starts doing that, something set him off and it was not an in the moment thing. He was prepared, had smoke grenades, additional cartridges, additional ammunition and a gas mask. So he had made preparations, so there are two parts missing, and we can accept that they might be missing for now. So let’s keep on checking the sources.

CNN gives us a little more, especially the part from attorney Jim Lewis. He gives us: “The family took Cruz in last year after his adoptive mother died. Cruz was depressed, Lewis said. The family’s son knew Cruz, so they opened their home, got him into a GED class and helped him get a job at a Dollar Tree“, this is a reference to the family too him in after he lost his adaptive mother died. So he was receiving signals that people around him cared. It also leaves me with additional question on how he got the weapons and where from. It was not merely the depression, we also get: “Cruz had shown him guns, and other students say they worried he was violent“, where were these shown to them? It seems to me that this is a clear red flag, now the kids who it was shown too is not to blame, but that signal should have been passed on to others. The article (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/14/us/nikolas-cruz-florida-shooting-suspect) ends with: ““They care about this kid. They took him into the home,” the attorney said, “but, as the mother told me, if they had any inkling … that this kid was capable of something like this, they never would’ve brought him into their home.”“, a response that makes sense and as we realise that he was not the only kid in that family, there is even more cause for concern, because there are several clear indications that he was hiding it all from everyone, which gives (from my non-medical insights) cause for concern as he seemed to have deeper levels of paranoia.

Insider news (at http://www.thisisinsider.com/florida-shooter-nikolas-cruz-bought-ar-15-legally-2018-2), gives us a little more. When we read “Cruz bought the semi-automatic rifle about a year ago, and law enforcement agents said it was done legally“, yet the timeline is now an issue. The events happened around the time his adoptive mother died, even as we accept that every person is innocent until proven guilty, the data should have raised additional flags, the question is whether the police have these kinds of data or authority to get them. If we accept the red flags as were admitted to be the case earlier. CNN had given us “Cruz had a gun. The family knew that, but they had established rules. He had to keep it in a lockbox in his room. Cruz had the key to the lockbox“, which is fair enough. However, in the beginning it gives: “Before he allegedly committed one of the worst mass shootings in US history at a Parkland, Florida, high school on Wednesday, police officials say Cruz wrote social media posts so threatening he was twice reported to the FBI” the two show the picture, no matter how innocent, the second quote should have had someone look into the data, showing he had a rifle and it was purchased around the time his mother died. This data should have been readily available. The death of his mum as public record, the purchase of the rifle as they should be recorded together with the background check and the red flag could have given the FBI the signal to give that data to local police forces to investigate. It is actually that simple!

The fact that these end up being non actions is for others to look into, yet the one thing that was stupid is to merely blame the NRA. It would be like me slamming a basketball into someone’s face until they die and blaming the NBA for showing games on TV, as I see it pointless, ludicrous and utterly stupid.

Yet we are still left with the notion on the trigger. Even as he (allegedly) went on social media to become a “professional school shooter“, the act of seeking attention in violence and chaos was set off somehow, a rage, mistreated, some suggest jilted love, whilst the last one would make me sad, and some might get angry. I am not sure what set him off, but from that moment there would be the FBI notion that he started his preparations and the outburst in the school might be him seeking attention, the fact that he allowed himself to be captured alive could be indicative of that (but I is no shrink, so I is not knowing for certain).

It is actually Fox News (at http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/15/nikolas-cruz-school-shooter-comment-reported-to-fbi-months-ago-vlogger-says.html), that gives us some parts that were reflected in the previous articles, yet they fly with the parts focused on it. The title ‘Nikolas Cruz ‘school shooter’ comment reported to FBI months ago, vlogger says‘, gives weight to the view I had regarding the available data, yet they also give us: “After conducting database reviews, however, the FBI said it could not identify the user who made the comment a part that is new. If that is truly the case than it means that Nikolas Cruz had done above basic things to remain ‘less traceable‘, with “Ben Bennight said he reported a comment made by user Nikolas Cruz that stated “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”” and the fact that it was on YouTube and given to the FBI, the fact that this profile was made with his actual name does not make it easier, but it gives rise that a few more facts should have been available to the FBI as well as to Google, so there is a system flaw here. So, Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman did the right thing, reported it and the FBI was there the next day. In this my question becomes, why give that quote to a bail bondsman? It seems to be a cry for attention, but was it asked or shouted in the right direction?

The Fox News article shows that the FBI reacted and acted as far as they could, the question becomes why parts were missed. I am not claiming it was intentionally so, I am questioning how Nikolas Cruz, who seems to have been seeking attention, was not higher on the list to be found. If I had skip traced the Google account, how far would I have gotten? Was there a Google+ account? What else had he watched; and who else was connected to him? Could the FBI have asked Google the data on what interactions the ‘Nikolas Cruz‘ account could have made? So, when we get to ‘the right to privacy‘, we need to look back at the man holding the ridiculous sign blaming the NRA. He wanted his right to privacy and he got it, along with all the other Americans and that also got 17 people killed. Is it not interesting that this part is not shown anywhere on the media? It seems so much fun to point and blame, to go after the NRA, in this case making a case for ‘white supremacist referencing‘, but there too there was cooperation. Even as I am not approving of white supremacists, as they all tend to be racists in the first degree, yet I want to know more and a local news station gives us more on the Republic of Florida group (at https://www.local10.com/news/parkland-school-shooting/what-is-the-republic-of-florida-militia), they a start with the 10 codes that they need to obey. The part that got to me was seen in the second code. With ‘The group’s site states that members can consider people of other races allies, but they must not “sexually mix with them or pretend that we have no differences.”‘, I see something I had not expected, they seem to not be focussing on hate, but on finding themselves better than others, which is a foundation of white supremacy, but most non-Americans have only seen what some call white-power in league of hatred towards others. It ends with “ROF has members in north and south Florida and “borrows paramilitary concepts from the anti-government extremist militia movement.”“, so there is no interview, no captions or talks to other members. It seems to me that the foundation of the ROF is to grow as a political party. This would require more members, yet their setup is not openly hatred based, so over time we will see the name ROF pop up more often. The article also links to Florida Governor Rick Scott stating that ‘everything is on the table’, you see he cannot alienate the NRA, but something has to happen, and there is too much emotion on it all. In my view he needs to look at the data captures, the data available and the missing data in all this, more important as signs were given that the FBI knew long in advancement, there will be questions on how this was not stopped in time. Even as the Republican is getting ready to go up against Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, we need to be cautious of any politician at this stage, with upcoming midterms we need to be aware that events will be misrepresented to a much larger degree and any issue will be deflected under the guise of ‘miscommunication‘, yet that is just my personal view in all this.

And in all this there is still the given that there was nothing wrong with the people of Florida in all this, the fact that two teachers, Football coach Aaron Feis and Geography teacher Scott Beigel as they decided to act as human shields trying to protect the students. I find that important as there is more and more evidence that the school, the adoptive parents all show a level of care that is more outspoken than we usually see. So in my eyes the people surrounding Nikolas Cruz never failed Nikolas Cruz, Nikolas Cruz failed them all, no matter how his mindset was or how he got there. there is an abundance of shown care that gives voice to the fact that to some extent the system alone is left with a degree of blame, not the NRA, not the ROF, not the school or their teachers, in the end Nikolas Cruz could have been able to prevent it all by telling someone ‘I have a problem!‘, he alone as an ‘adult’ decided not to do that.

 

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A changing language

Europe is in several stages of unease; there is the spending of Mario Draghi, Brexit remains on the mind of many. Yet, the one change that is now more and more in the foreground of many is the problem that Turkey seems to be. There are those set on the stage to end Turkey as a NATO member and subsequent becoming part of the EU, there are things going forward and backward, but the language involved in all this is changing, so are the settings for the meetings yet to come. In all this the latest Turkish act to double down on the Russian S-400 purchases in 2020. There is, as I stated unease and as I see it the entire EU-Turkey mess is now a dance around unclear settings. Yet the settings are founded on what some would call, clear and blatant lies.

So to recap, on March 26th in the Bulgarian port city of Varna with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, there will be a summit. The given setting is “to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues“, this we got from the spokesperson for Donald Franciszek Tusk. The meeting held at the leaders’ level will be hosted as a working dinner, a statement signed by Tusk and Juncker said. Yet soon thereafter it begins. With: “Ankara has been stressing that the EU fails to understand the challenges that the county faces, and calls on all sides to take Turkey’s concerns into consideration, particularly against the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which carried out the failed July 15 coup attempt“, yet how is that true when it has been clear for the longest time “Turkey witnessed the bloodiest coup attempt in its political history on July 15th, 2016, when a section of the Turkish military launched a coordinated operation in several major cities to topple the government and unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan“, this is the quote from Aljazeera, but they were not the only one giving this.

The Turkish government blames the failed coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and businessman who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. So as we accept that the Gülen movement is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey under the assigned names Gülenist Terror Organisation (Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü, FETÖ) or Parallel State Organisation (Paralel Devlet Yapılanması, PDY), we see the link offered, yet another path in this is “MIT officials admitted that they received the very first intelligence report about a possible attack on July 15, only hours before their own headquarters was under heavy artillery fire“, as well as “As of today, more than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended and 50,000 arrested in an unprecedented crackdown. The government has deemed the crackdown necessary to ‘root out all coup supporters from the state apparatus’“. When we consider those parts, we need to realise that the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT) was completely out of any loop, which makes Turkish Intelligence not just a flawed setting, it would implicate that it has limited counter terrorism options and no resources to speak of (in intelligence terms).

In opposition to this, there would be enough data to offer that it was an internal issue from within the Turkish military and whatever opposes Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey got a fat target painted on them. This fills and completes the view we need to have of Turkey much better. In support of this we need to consider that one exiled cleric could not have orchestrated the military support that would have been required and that was seen in action. The width of the Turkish military acting seems to be that of an internal star chamber than a clerical imprint on the military, the latter would have given more visibility to other ranking officers within the Turkish armed forces. As this becomes more and more visible and accepted, we are treated to the view on the unacceptable acts against the Kurds yet again, which followed the Turkish official view of the coup that they ‘survived’.

So in this light the setting for March will be one that is a puzzle. You see as Turkey keeps on playing this game, their credibility will only go down further. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/essay_eu_turkey_relations_the_beginning_of_the_end_7226) gives us: “Both Turkey and the EU need the continuation of this partnership. It is a matter of definition whether this partnership will be in the form of full membership or in a different form. What is important is not to break the process and not to cause alienation. The need for sustainable EU-Turkey relations obliges both sides to take steps to honour their commitment to integration“, we can accept that, but at this point, is continuation feasible? We see the shifting language that shows that Germany is less and less taken with Turkey, now siding more and more with France on the anti-Turkey alliance. It gets worse for Turkey as we now hear: “A Turkish court on Wednesday denied entry to the German ambassador to Ankara to the hearing of Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)“, which we get from http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-court-denies-german-ambassador-entry-to-kurdish-politicians-trial/a-42579957, even as France is trying to work with Turkey regarding a ‘diplomatic road map‘ on Syria, the sounds of accusation of Turkey violating international law was not far behind it, so there is pressures on nearly every level. Only 12 hours ago, Deutsche Welle gave us “Even NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wouldn’t hazard a guess ahead of this week’s defense ministers’ meeting. He said Turkey needs to clarify the status of the contract” (at http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-russian-missile-deal-puts-nato-on-edge/a-42572965), as I said earlier, the language is changing. As we see ‘Turkey needs to clarify the status of the contract‘ that it is about cancelling the contract? Yet in that respect, what would Turkey demand in return? How much is that going to cost and where does that invoice end up? You see, when you consider Reuters with ‘U.S. tells NATO allies spending plans still falling short‘ (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-nato/u-s-tells-nato-allies-spending-plans-still-falling-short-idUSKCN1FY013), where we see “Spain has said it will not meet the 2024 target. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Norway and Denmark are also lagging. Hungary expects to meet the goal only by 2026“, as well as “France will increase its defense spending by more than a third between 2017 and 2025, but Germany, is not expected to reach the 2 percent target by 2024“, this gives us that the three large economic anchors of the European Union cannot get there. It is these elements that make me wonder on the changing language involving Turkey. From a setting that would have given a clear rejection of Turkey becoming an EU member, we see the setting of new talks, new events and more ‘collaboration’ projects. I think that France is already learning the hard way that this path leads to nowhere, but the others need Turkey to be a spender here, and Erdogan is using that tactic to his own advantage, because once they are in, you cannot throw them out anymore (the EU that is), not even willingly as the UK is learning the hard way. Even as we accept that to some extent Turkey helps to reduce an influx of Syrian and other migrants and refugees into the EU bloc, the question is to what extent and for which purpose, because once these refugees make it into Turkey, Turkey is either stuck with them or they must ‘divert’ them to another place.

In this, in an earlier blog I mentioned the Visa Free EU travel for Turkey and that they had not met the demands. So as we see “Last week, Turkey manifested determination to restart a new chapter in its ailing relationship with the European bloc by submitting a paper detailing Turkey’s roadmap for the fulfilment of the remaining seven benchmarks of 72 criteria” we need to get worried on the non-committed acts from the EU on the matter which had not been met. It seems like Brussels is trying to find any way to either delay it all or give Turkey a pass, which would be disastrous for several players. This is seen in several articles, in this case the Irish Times gives us: “Instead of formally ending EU membership talks, Dr Merkel said she would look at imposing “real restrictions on economic contact” including through the European Investment Bank, EU aid, World Bank and by blocking talks on expanding Turkey’s customs union agreement with the EU, a move that could hit billions of euro in potential Turkish exports“, whilst the EU themselves was ‘dismissive of call for end to Turkey accession talks‘, stating that this is for the heads of government, European Commission says, so the EU revels in inaction and restrictions in other ways. This is a dangerous and explosive combination.

So even as one issue was the contention in the counter terrorism benchmark which has been the definition of terrorism in the counter-terrorism law that Turkey was called repeatedly to amend in order to comply with European democratic and judicial standards. Now, according to reports, a legal provision will be added soon to the current anti-terror law stating that “any critical expression that does not exceed the boundaries of journalism does not constitute a crime“, how is that enough? As we see the Kurdish issues as shown earlier as well as a new complete failure by the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT) should leave anyone a clear indication that not only is the counter-terrorism failing, there is an increased worry that Turkey does not really comprehends the term ‘counter-terrorism’, in support of that fact, or evidence to that, you should talk to the journalists Deniz Yücel, Huseyin Akyol, Ragip Duran, Ayse Duzkan, and Huseyin Bektas. Oh no, you can’t they are in jail! Turkey could have had a genuine excuse, but they lost that option when they denied the German ambassador to Turkey access to the court proceedings. That alone should be regarded as evidence to dismiss the ascension of Turkey to the EU.

And whilst the entire language on Turkey seems to be in a fluid state, the Brexit noise goes on, whilst some are relying on fear-mongering with noise like: “You could have a permanent Operation Stack for 20 miles” regarding shipping between the UK and the EU, ‘could‘ being the operative word. So how large was that ‘stack’ in the 70’s and 80’s? In addition we see the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0a8799c6-1190-11e8-940e-08320fc2a277) give us: “Brussels is urging EU leaders to consider radical options such as raiding corporate tax receipts and money raised from selling carbon emission permits to fill a €15bn a year budget hole left by Brexit“, in addition it gives us: “the need to find more money for priorities such as border control and joint defence, mean negotiations are likely to be even more poisonous than previous EU tussles over money“, whilst we see “Some member states don’t want to pay more but they want to do more. Other member states want to receive more“, these elements show the desperate state the EU is in now, that whilst Mario Draghi has printed almost 2 trillion Euro in money for ‘Quantative Easing‘. This relates directly to Turkey, because it shows the desperate EU trying to open a many doors as possible, this is how I see the impact of not dismissing Turkey as an EU member at present. So when we see “impose tougher conditions on access to EU funds as a way to force the likes of Poland and Hungary to comply with EU policies on the rule of law and on asylum” as is a given view on the two needing more money, wanting a stronger voice but cannot contribute. Add to that the earlier pressure from the US for NATO member to do more gives a shifted view of the needed activities within the EU, Turkey is seen as the one floating elements that will allow a few players to keep their heads above water, but it is as I personally see it a desperate act from certain short term viewers, that whilst they also know that it will descent EU elements into chaos. As I (again merely a personal view) see it, it would cripple Strasbourg in getting issues resolved and as Turkey fails to comply with humanitarian sides, it could in equal measure become the puppet for Russia for dislodge other item in consideration, an option honoured by perhaps negating some invoices for S-400 systems, spare parts, training and consultancy? It is merely speculative thinking, but would I be wrong? It would work out very well for Turkey, for the other bloc members a lot less so.

A danger that could have been resolved almost 2 years ago, I will let you ponder on the reasons why the EU never negated this danger.

 

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A flawed generation?

I was browsing the Guardian, more important the movie section. Then a thought came forth. It made me grab back to a Ted presentation, one of the most moving ones from 2006. Sir Ken Robinson treated us to comedy whilst underlining one of the most important issues, or so it should have been, watch it at https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity, it will be the best 17 minutes of your week, so how did I get here?

So, I was browsing articles, some I have already read like (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/feb/05/the-cloverfield-paradox-review) ‘Netflix sequel is a monstrous mess‘. The few quotes that sprung out were: “disparate elements carelessly smashed together“, “most of them largely nonsensical“, and “the underseen ‘Life’ managed to combine thrills and ingenuity“. Yet this is not the only article. The second one is one that I had not looked at before (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/05/black-panther-fought-off-a-toxic-ghostbusters-online-campaign-rotten-tomatoes), you see, I have mixed feelings on this movie. The trailer was awesome and I would love to see it, yet unlike the other ‘super heroes’, this is one comic I never read. Not intentionally mind you, you see whilst growing up in The Netherlands, the 70’s gave me some comics, but not all, so some franchises never made it across the Atlantic river. I did see the Black Panther as there was a guest appearance in like ‘Fantastic Four’, but that was pretty much it (besides Captain America Civil War). The other heroes are not a mystery and I had seen at least a few comics from each of them. So my mixed feelings are about not being able to relate it to the comics, so some of the background will be unknown to me. That’s all on that. The article became a larger issue when I saw “this attack was aimed at the most high-profile movie ever to feature a predominantly black cast felt racist” as well as “In an era when culture wars are predominantly fought on social media, this sort of down-voting can seem like an effective guerrilla tactic. Clicking on an angry red face or selecting zero stars is even easier than adding your name to an online petition“. It does not make sense to me to have hatred of a product you are utterly unfamiliar with; it counters art and creativity in almost every way as I personally see it. It goes on with the third article (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/13/venom-trailer-tom-hardy-sony-spider-man), where you can read: “In recent years we’ve seen examples of movies that have triumphed at the box office almost entirely on the basis of snazzy advance publicity“, as well as: “fans were more interested in finding out what the new big screen version of Venom looks like than charting the next stage in Hardy’s career-long mission to channel the most eccentric human beings on the planet. And, on that count, they were left profoundly disappointed“. It was at that point that I remembered the Ted Talk with Sir Ken Robinson, the presentation that is still funny and legend after almost 12 years. What is more important that it is actually more to the point as an issue nowadays? When he states “Art, we get educated out of it!” he made a stronger point than even he might have envisioned. I think that this time was recently in the past and many of us have gone to a negative point past that. This could be considered on both side of the isle. The ‘haters‘ who seem to use whatever option they have to be toxic against whatever they want to be against using automated channels to ‘voice‘ it, or to merely spout their discriminatory bias. Yet on the other side, we see flaws too, with “Sony, of course, is facing a very different problem, in that its previous big screen incarnation of Venom was not beloved at all” we actually don’t get to see it, it is merely a reflection of a ‘failed’ movie, yet when you consider that they made $890,871,626 whilst the production costs were set at $258 million, I wonder what they are bitching about, because they took home a nice clean half a billion plus. So what gives? I think that Netflix, HBO and others are making the same mistake I accused Ubisoft of in the last few years. By relying on some business model with forecasting, a model set ‘to not get a failure‘ we are treated to the near impossibility of seeing an actual mind-blowing movie. If you are unwilling to move that could be a failure, you will in addition also miss out on making an exceptional win. It is like the line between genius and insanity, it is a very thin line and walking it is the only way to get something truly exceptional.

This is also seen in another way, most will not agree, or even be aware, but Ridley Scott is the person ending up making one of the most awesome and most amazing Crusader movies ever made. Kingdom of Heaven is seen as an utter failure to some, but the movie costing $130M still brought in a little over $211M worldwide. That’s still $80M in the pocket, I would instantly sign up for that. So as we see that ‘forecasting models‘ are becoming more and more the daily bacon of our lives, we are not moving towards better profits, we are moving away from exceptional achievements. There was a second reason to mention Kingdom of Heaven, you see, just like the Abyss, the trailers were actually bad, I consider them no reason to watch the movie, but the end result was in both cases spectacular. The dangers of marketing jives and kneejerk reactions to incomplete data, is that the studios seem to be overreacting. If it is not a positive Hype, it will not be a success. We see that danger to Venom, which would be somewhat of a risky choice no matter how you slice it, but in equal measure, the danger could to a much smaller extent also apply to Aquaman. It is a lot smaller, because Jason Momoa rocked it in Justice League, so he has created momentum. Another example will be seen when places like Netflix will grow the comic book Universe and add other characters, like for example Moon Knight, or more apt, as the New Mutants arrives in 2019, will the makers be willing to make Illyana Rasputin (aka Magik) dark enough? That is the question that the viewers/fans face. Even as the moviemakers are now direct enough (John Wick) and sexual tensioned enough (Spartacus, Game of Thrones) to take a leap to the edgy side, but when we see the absence of the edgy sides, was that truly the vision of the maker, or is that the forecasting model on how the prediction on what I regard to be unrealistic data to be setting the stage?

I cannot prove either part in this, but I am hopeful that outdated concepts are moving away further and further (John Wick is a nice example), but is it enough? You see, the more primal anything is, the more it links to our emotions and creativity (I personally believe that they tend to go hand in hand).

When it comes to the superheroes we tend to look at the legend Stan Lee and why not, he showed that creativity drives popularity and profit. The man has been around since 1922 and he was part of the creation of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor, representing well over $8 billion in movie revenue. So the larger bulk is all on him. Yet, I also want to see how this creativity is seen by the new makers like David Wohl, Marc Silvestri and Garth Ennis who created the Darkness. Can the dark view of Jackie Estacado, be created in the really dark way? As a videogame it was well received and ended up being an interesting setting, yet how would that work for the big screen? The problem is that the setting is now no more about the art (mainly), it is about the profit. Stan Lee had the benefit that the art stage was powerful enough and proven to be strong enough that most ‘forecasting models’ would remain obsolete, yet that path would be much less considered for anything new and unproven. We have seen How Azrael and Knightfall Batman were well received as comic books, but Azrael and the order of St Dumas, as a movie, or Netflix series, would it even survive if the character and acts were not dark enough? Will the ‘fan’ still embrace it when the forecasting models push the makers into making it into some Disney angora woolen soft product version, would it then instantly flop? I personally hope so!

The Main event

So as we saw some of the franchises evolve for the big screen, there seems to be a tactical and business side, but less of an artsy side to this. It is almost like we can no longer do that proving the point that Sir Ken Robinson made in 2006. As we look at how much coin we can get from a comic book transfer, we see a similar danger that it is merely the reutilisation of something already made, which in this light shows how rare the movie Life is (apart from the fact that Ryan Reynolds can make most movies watchable). Even as it seems to have been down written in reviews, I found it very enjoyable, in addition to that, the work of the other main cast members Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Hiroyuki Sanada was excellent. The issue is not just what is original, but what could make it. To see that distinction, you only need step out of your comfort zone and take a look at the Japanese movie ‘the Audition‘ (there is only the Japanese edition with subtitles), so you can’t be dyslexic for this one, or you need to be fluent in Japanese. That is the nice part of primal sides in any movie. It is the dark and unsettling side. It is easy to get to the primal sides of lust, because sex sells, it tends to do so with the greatest of ease. It is the other side where we are bound through discomfort, where we see exceptional works rise, but these instances are extremely rare which is a shame. In comic book world the fans are hopeful that they will see a good version of the Sandman, but that is still the stuff of ‘questionable future events’. So how can we rely on creativity to bring us an exceptional original movie, that whilst there is growing evidence that creativity is moving out, out of nearly all our lives, how can we move forward? I actually do not know. I have tried my hand at creativity in many ways, but I was never a movie maker, a storyteller (like all others ‘working’ on my first novel, which is currently approaching 60,000 words).

Getting back to where we had it

So how can creativity be reintroduced to the people? Well starting to create something, or better start to create anything is always a first step. We tend to replicate, then emulate and after that create. It is these actions that drive movies, TV series and video games forward. For something to be better than a mix of two (like a Pokémon RPG), we need to see it where we create within ourselves. This is how I found an optional new way to sink an Iranian frigate, how I came up with the concept of the Elder Scrolls: Restoration (ES6) and how I got the idea on two different kinds of RPG, as well as a new solution to resolve the NHS issues in more than one nation. Yet, even as the ideas were seemingly easy to grow and adapt; how to get them into reality? I am not a programmer and equally limited in my drawing skills, hence I rely on storytelling.

We see part of this (at https://www.polygon.com/2018/1/31/16952652/david-brevik-it-lurks-below-announcement), where the maker of Diablo is now building something new. Even as it looks familiar and it has elements of Minecraft (or Blockheads), we see the growth of a new approach, just like I saw with Subnautica which is an awesome result to an entirely new approach on survival RPG. Even as David Brevik revamped the 1985 game Gauntlet, and added more famous characters to create ‘Marvel Heroes’, the span between the arcade machine and Marvel Heroes gave it not just a more fresh approach, it gave it a new dimension as you could grow different super powers/skills making the game very replayable. So, even as I came up with this ‘new’ RPG, I did remember my many hours in the 7 cities of gold game on the Amiga and that shaped some of my ideas. Even as some of these games have been forgotten, the Amiga was a leap forward in those days. It had hundreds of games that were innovative (for a system with a mere 64Kb), so the fact that some of these ideas have not been restarted and evolved is simply beyond me. Now, is that new and creative? That is a point of view, by altering and evolving a game, it becomes a different game, by adding to it, the game does not merely becomes bigger, it becomes more. Now even as some games are remastered and as such remain the great games they were (System Shock for example), yet some games were nice on the original system (example Escape from Hell, Masters of Orion, Battle Chess, Covert Action), nowadays, these games would be too small, too limited and too restrictive, no bang for the buck. This is what has forever fuelled my passion for RPG (and sandbox games), the idea and the actions to do what I want, where I want, and at times when I want. Yet, I also believe that there should be inhibitors, just getting every mission, every option makes even an RPG game grinding. With limitations, we make choices, opening some doors, shutting others. It is that part that makes a game replayable and more important, it gives a much longer lifespan to any game you get.

Yet as I see it, the game makers are getting more and more restrictive, it is either making us do a thousand things on the side (AC: Origin), which is still a good game that I enjoyed, or we get into the grinding mode (Monster Hunter), a part in gaming I really do not like. Even as the graphics are amazing, it is the grinding that gets to me (I played the game on the 3DS). In that regard, the makers aren’t really making it easy for us, with Horizon Zero Dawn being a novel exception. In 2018 a new look on Spiderman is keeping us interested, but the actual ‘new’ additions seems to be limited to Sea of thieves, God of War and Vampyr, these seem to be the only games that are actually new and God of War only makes that cut because it is in an entirely new setting with only the playable character remaining the same, whilst the game play has actually change (a lot) from the previous 3, making it basically a new game. So including Monster Hunter there are 5 new games, the others are pretty much franchises (I left PC games out of the consideration).

In the end

Even as it is most visible with games, there is also an issue with movies nowadays. I love to see something really new, I equally enjoy the DC and Marvel movies, but if we take these and the sequels out of the equation, I am saddened to see it boils down to Red Sparrow, Annihilation, and Ready Player One. The rest seems to be either sequel, remakes or an altered version for something we have seen before. That does not make them bad movies, it is merely not really new, which is the issue here, they come through creativity. Isn’t it sad that the innovative list of truly new works is not growing to the degree it is? Now, we can look beyond borders, yet the reality is in my personal view that we have become less and less creative and we are losing out in several ways. Even if we are not game makers, TV producers or movie makers, as an audience we are equally missing out and we need to find a way to repair that flaw. One of the psychology views is: “Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, its complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated“. Even as the shrink focusses on complexity, I do not adhere there, I believe that the creative mind becomes ever better in analysing complexity and simplifying it, and reducing complex matters it into something ‘manageable’. It is an ability every person can have, but I believe that as our creativity levels went down, we lost some of that. The ‘business results driven‘ educational world has done this to us. We see the results more and more around us. We are blindly relying on automation and process instead of common sense. I am not stating that we should not adhere to these elements. I merely believe that once an automation or process failed that it will take a lot longer for people to react and that is not a good thing. Westpac saw such a failure only last week. With: “The meteoric rise of automated credit card applications has been called into question after Westpac was forced to refund a total of $11.3 million to credit card customers. The refunds, which worked out as several thousand dollars per customer, were necessary because the bank’s online assessment process had failed to gather enough information about the customers’ financial situation“, when we consider “Corporate watchdog ASIC said the crux of the problem was that Westpac had relied on automated application processes” and “Westpac admitted that customers’ employment status and income may not have been “directly reconfirmed in the credit card credit limit increase application process”” could be seen as optional evidence that a more creative mind would have seen the flawed complexity and beyond that optionally saved their boss 11 million. That is merely my point of view, but I stand firm on our loss of creativity, it is all around me every day. It gives rise that we have become a flawed generation; we lost more than we bargained for. I reckon that the academics will state that this element was a separate question and they were not instructed to focus on that as they designed the education system of the 70’s and 80’s, we can go on that this flawed system is still in place today giving us the danger of a descending line of our creativity and actual new experiences in the arts, a frightening concept to say the least.

 

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