Who’s Promptly Promoted?

The Guardian is giving us the news that Moody is downgrading WPP (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/17/moodys-downgrades-wpp-martin-sorrell-departure-ratings-agency-negative). It is a weird situation! You see, some do not like Sir Martin Sorrell (I personally never knew him), some like the man and some think he was a visionary. I think I would fall in the third category. There is no way that under normal situations the departure of a CEO, even a founder would have had such a massive impact when he left and let’s be clear when a departure sparks not just the downgrade of WPP, but we also see “WPP has hired a New York-based recruitment firm as it begins the global search to replace founder and chief executive“, his impact has been a hell of a lot larger than anyone is willing to admit. There are however other parts. When I see “In Moody’s view, the high-profile departure of Sir Martin Sorrell raises concerns over the future strategy and shape of the group, increases client-retention risk and could hence hinder WPP’s ability to meet its 2018 guidance“, I feel a strong desire to disagree. When we consider that within WPP is Millward Brown, TNS and IMRB, we need to acknowledge that WPP already had problems. You see, I was a partial witness to the laziness and stupidity, I saw how executives looked at presentations, were unwilling to listen and it was their right to do so, but in the end part of their market got screwed over. You see SPSS was the big analytic and as a program it is still the Bentley for analysing data. Yet beyond the program the corporation faltered. It fell to meetings, and presented concepts, yet no delivery. I still have the presentations, 1994 parallel processing, never came to be. Yet the biggest bungle was seen in 1997, when SPSS acquired Danish software company In2itive Technologies Corp. They had actual perfect software. The interface was intuitive and flawless. I was so looking forward to teaching people this software and for a while did. It was amazing to see dozens of people literally making a running start in their own designs in an hour, by the end of the day they did all kinds of things that most market researchers could not conceive. It was a jackpot acquisition. Yet SPSS had its own Data entry solution called Data Entry and apart from a few flaws it had regarding memory and larger data entry sheets, it worked really well, it was a work horse, so internally we were so happy to hear that it had become a Windows program. The backlash was Titanic in proportions. It was hard to work, the initial versions weren’t even stable, there was processing power issues, saving issues and a whole range of issues that were not solved, not even within the first year. It was all about the holy ‘Data Entry‘ and whilst the issue of the perfect In2itive was set to the sides and whilst the internal corporate marketing decided that Data entry was a ‘Form Design Program‘, the audience was left without quality Data Entry. So as I (and others) pleaded for In2Form and its suite to be evolved and set towards the users, we were told it was merely a 16 bit program, and SPSS is 32 bit and larger only (mainframes excluded). So there I was watching the mess evolve for well over 3 years whilst the redesign of a 32-bit In2itive suite would have been done in 160 days (rough estimate), no, at SPSS they really knew what they were doing. So they decided to up the ante, there was going to be a server edition of Data entry, the SPSS Data Entry Enterprise Server. I saw how the confidence of users went down further and further. Yet, the corporation did not sit still in all this and we got to see the Dimensions 2000 part, now that blew us away, we saw software on a whole new level and it was amazing. The 2 programs mrPaper, mrInterview, both truly steps forward, options to format webpages using XML so that the web interview could flawlessly fit in any corporate website. We saw the good days come back and with mrPaper we saw paper interviews with options to link to Readsoft’s scan software, so that data entry was almost a thing of the past, scan the returned interviews and reading the data with a scanner. It was not flawless, but it was really good to see a stage where government sites all over Europe could do quality interviews on many levels. Yet the program had issue as any large program had and there were more issues and they stacked up. Only then was I introduced to Surveycraft. It was an utter shock. Even as it was old, DOS based and looking like the old Data Entry, Surveycraft was miles ahead of mrDimensions. It had working quota’s it had all kinds of options that were ahead of the Quancept software in the UK, it was a shock to be a decade ahead and finding the old software visionary. SPSS had acquired it, and after that the developers managed to get less than 60% of the functionality transferred. Even later when I worked actively with it, I was finding issues that the new software never had, or it worked really badly. So when i tried to emphasize the need for new software to be made as i was no longer part of SPSS, the need for better software was essential, especially in Market Research. They decided not to listen and to believe the SPSS executives that better versions were coming soon, they never came! The entire market research industry was lucky, because other players like Tableau and Q Research software were just like me; they never trusted the SPSS executives and they now corner the market. In this the market research agencies that had the option to push forward decided to wait and basically cut themselves in the fingers and lost on two fronts. With the 2008 crash the markets changed and they lost loads of customers who had to massively trim down, it was a mere effect of events. Yet Tableau and Q-Software were still in a small stage, yet their software was for a much larger audience, so not only did the market research Industry lose customers, the two software programs allowed for mid and larger ranged corporations do it all themselves and that is what happened. Market research companies still get the larger projects, but they lost the smaller stuff, a group of revenue representing near 60% (a personal speculation) and as Tableau and Q-Software grows, the mr market is in more and more peril that is where WPP owning Millward Brown, TNS and IMRB finds itself. It takes a visionary to not merely grow the market, but to spread the options of a market. That ship has now sailed and beyond less than a dozen former SPSS people I worked with, I have merely seen a lack of vision. Some of these market research agencies are now all about ‘telling a story‘, setting the presentation that can in most cases be done with SAP Dashboards and a karaoke system. In this the only part that is still tacky is that when we want to buy the SAP solution (approximately $500) we get to see “Please contact your local SAP account executive for more information on how to buy and implement SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards“, was adding a price that much of a reach?

So as we see the pressures of one branch, we need to see that the overlap is large, even as some are in different territories we know that they are intertwined. Yet this market is also as incestuous as it gets. Lightspeed Research acquires part of Forrester (the Forrester’s Ultimate Consumer Panel business), Forrester is growing in different directions and they are all connected to some degree. There is every chance that the higher echelons will have worked in any combination of SPSS, Forrester, Lightspeed, SPSSmr and ConfirmIT. Likely they already worked in 3 of the five players. Yet the visionary growth has remained absent to a larger degree and digital media is all about evolution and implementing new technologies and new solutions to drive consumer engagement, because the future here is consumer engagement, that alone will get you the data to work with and to set the needs of the industry.

That is the part SPSS as a company ignored and now that we see the shifts, especially in WPP, we see that both Tableau and Q-software have a massive opportunity to grow their market segment even further. The moment they or a third player comes with consumer engagement software, at that point IBM will also feel the pinch, even as it hides behind Watson, options like IBM Statistics (formerly SPSS) and IBM Miner (formerly Clementine, SPSS Data Miner), they get to realise that these two programs also brought new business as the consultants were able to see the needs of the larger customers. When that diminishes, IBM will feel the loss of a lack of visionaries in a very real way. A loss only accelerated by the impacts on WPP and all its subsidiaries. This last part is speculative, but supported with data. As we saw ‘Paul Heath resigns was Ogilvy worldwide chief growth officer and non-executive director of AUNZ‘, we need to realise that the larger insightful players will be seeing more changes. Ogilvy & Mather might be merely the first one, but these people all realise that changes will be different and market shares will change, not all in favour of WPP. We can see “Heath is resigning all his titles at WPP worldwide to return to Brazil to start a new streaming tech venture“, we can read this as a positive: ‘he is going to try something new‘. Or negatively ‘he knows who is on his level at WPP‘ and he has decided that he can grow a nice personal global market share by setting his view on the new player with a promising option for mucho growth. I believe that he is setting his view to become the larger player himself. This is good news as it optionally invigorates the market research market which WPP desperately needs, yet WPP is a lot more than merely market research. It is digital advertising, a field that SPSS (read: IBM) ignored until it was too late, yet when we see some of the services: Branding & identity, Consumer insights, Design, Digital Marketing, Market research, Media planning and buying, Public relations, Relationship marketing’ all valid groups yet there is a lack of options for consumer engagement and several of the other groups are options that many offer, some in niches, some only to midrange players, but effective due to expertise. That should have been a massive red flag and reasons for alarms at WPP, yet not too much was seen there. In all a situation that does not merely warrants the downgrade by Moody’s, the fact that it was averted whilst Sir Martin Sorrell was there as CEO is an actual much larger issue then most identified.

So the problem is not merely who can replace him, but who can alter the course of failed objectives will soon become a much larger issue for WPP, which optionally pushes down the market value by a mere 5%, which considering the 2017 revenue of £15.265 billion becomes an interesting amount.

 

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Media rigging

We have had issues, massive issues for the longest of times. Now we can focus on the blatant transgressors, we can focus on the exclusion examples of good journalism like the guardian, the Independent, the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Times and the Financial Times (the Australian and non-Australian editions), yet the founding flaw is actually larger.

You see, journalism has become an issue in itself. Whatever people and participators thought it was in the 70’s is no longer the case. Perhaps it never was. In my view, journalism is no longer merely about ‘exposing’, it is about partially revealing, whilst mediating the needs of the shareholder, the stake holders and the advertisers making it a very different issue. It is there where I did not just have my issue with Microsoft, in that same setting the hands of Sony are equally tainted. They are the two visible ones; but that list is distinguished and very long. So as we see overcompensation we see it on both sides of the equation, not giving it a level of equilibrium, but an exaggerated level of grossly unsettling.

In this we have two articles. The first is directly linked to what I have been writing about so let’s start with that. The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/16/thousands-of-android-apps-may-be-illegally-tracking-children-study-finds) gives us ‘Thousands of Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds’. Now, I am not convinced that this is all limited to Android, but that is a personal feeling that has not been met with in-depth investigation, so I could most certainly be wrong on that count. What is the issue is seen with “Seven researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that the majority of them may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without a parent’s permission, the study found“,as this had been going on for years and i reported on it years ago, I am not at all surprised, yet the way that this now reaches the limelight is an issue to some degree. I am unaware what Serge Egelman has been doing with their life, but “The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done” was not a consideration in 2010, or 2009, so why is it an issue now? Is it because Osama Bin Laden is dead now (intentionally utterly unrelated)? There has been a freedom of actions, a blatant setting of non-investigation for close to a decade and even as it is now more and more clear that the issue was never ‘not there’. In February 2016 we saw (unfortunately through the Telegraph) “The security flaw in Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear meant access to a child’s name, date of birth and gender could have been easily accessed. The researchers at Rapid7, a Boston-based security company that spotted the defect, said the toy could also be hijacked to give a malicious actor control over account data and in-built functions“, so this is not new. The fact that it was the Telegraph who brought it does not make it false. And yes, I did bite my tongue to prevent the addition of ‘in this case‘ to the previous line. In addition we see (at http://www.dickinson-wright.com/news-alerts/legal-and-privacy-issues-with-connected-toys) that law firm Dickinson Wright has been on the ball since 2015, so how come that the media is lagging to such an extent? Like me, they saw the rain come and in their case it is profitable to be aware of the issues. So with “Since 2015 the technology and legal implications regarding these types of toys has only grown as the market now includes smart toys, such as Talk-to-Me Mikey, SmartToy Monkey, and Kidizoon Smartwatch DX; connected toys, such as SelfieMic and Grush; and other connected smart toys such as Cognitoys’ DINO, and My Friend Cayla“, they again show to be ahead of the curve and most of the media lagging to a much larger degree. Did you think that this was going to go away by keeping quiet? I think that the answer is clearly shown in the Post article. The most powerful statement is seen with “The researchers note that Google has worked to enforce COPPA by requiring child app developers to certify that they comply with the law. “However, as our results show, there appears to not be any (or only limited) enforcement,” the researchers said. They added that it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research to detect the apps and the developers that may be violating child privacy laws“, in this we see two parts, and the first is that the call of data value tends to nullify ethics to a much larger degree. The second is that I do not disagree with ‘it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research‘, I merely think that the people have not given Google the rights to police systems. Can we hold Microsoft responsible for every NBA gave that collects the abilities of users on that game? Should Microsoft police Electronic Arts, or 2K for that matter? The ability does not imply ‘to have the right’. Although it is a hard stance to make, we cannot go from the fact that all software developers are guilty by default, it is counterproductive. Yet in that same light, those transgressors should face multi-million dollar fines to say the least.

The final quote is a good one, but also a loaded one. With “Critics of Google’s app platform say the company and other players in the digital-advertising business, such as Facebook, have profited greatly from advances in data-tracking technology, even as regulators have failed to keep up with the resulting privacy intrusions” there is a hidden truth that also applies to Facebook. You see, they merely facilitate to give the advertiser the best value of their advertisement (like AdWords), yet the agency of advertiser only benefits from using the system. Their ad does get exposed to the best possible audience, yet the results they get back in AdWords is totally devoid of any personal data. So the advertiser sees Gender, age group location and other data, but nothing that personally identifies a person. In addition, if the ad is shown to an anonymous browser, there will be no data at all for that case.

So yes, data-tracking gives the advantage, but the privacy intrusions were not instigated by either Google or Facebook and as far as I know AdWords does not allow for such intrusions, should I be wrong than I will correct this at the earliest opportunity. Yet in all this, whilst everyone is having a go at Facebook, the media is very much avoiding Cambridge Analytica (minus one whistle-blower), other than to include them in speculations like ‘Cambridge Analytica appears to have an open contract‘, ‘Was it Cambridge Analytica that carried the day for Kenyatta‘ and ‘could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica‘. It almost reads like ‘Daily Mail reporter Sarah Vine might possibly have a vagina‘, which brings us to the second part in all this.

Invisibly linked

For the first time (I think ever) did I feel for a reporter! It was not what she said or how she said it, it was ‘Daily Mail fires reporter who inadvertently published obscenity‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/apr/16/daily-mail-removes-obscene-language-attack-on-reality-tv-stars). Now it is important that we consider two parts. the first is the blatant abuse of ‘political correctness‘ which has been putting the people at large on their rear hooves for way too long, which might also be the reason why comedians like Jimmy Carr are rising in popularity in a way we have not seen since Aristophanes wrote The Frogs in 435BC. My issue starts with “Daily Mail Australia has fired a reporter who accidentally uploaded her own “musings” about reality television contestants being “vapid cunts” on to the news website on Sunday“, so the Daily Mail does not have a draft setting that needs to be approved by the editor, no, it gets uploaded directly and even as that might be commendable. The fact that we also see “Sources at the Daily Mail earlier said the young reporter was “mortified” by the mistake“, whilst the lovers of the TV-Series Newsroom saw a similar event happen in 2014, so the fact that reality catches up with comedy and TV-Series is not merely fun, the fact that this happened in the heralded ‘Newsroom‘ should be seen as a signal. As we see “The Daily Mail reporter was writing in a Google document because of problems with the content management system and she inadvertently cut and pasted a paragraph about Bachelor in Paradise contestant Florence Alexandra which she says was written for her own eyes only, Guardian Australia understands” it is not merely about the fact on who wrote it, the mere part that the content manager part was flawed, we also see “The reporter had filed no fewer than five stories on Sunday and four on Monday, which is a normal workload for a Daily Mail journalist. It is customary for Mail reporters to upload their own copy into the system unless the story is legally contentious“. So even as we accept that the pressure is on, the system was flawed and that there was a lot of truth in her writing, and all this about a Dutch model whose fame seems to be limited to being ‘not ugly‘. So as the Daily Mail was happy to get her bum-shot and label it ‘wardrobe malfunction’ (9th September 2017), whilst in addition there has been no other transgressions, she was quite literally thrown to the wolves and out of a job. So when we do see the term ‘vapid cunts‘ (with the clever application of ‘vapid’, did the editorial consider that the term might have meant ‘a bland covering of the green envious setting of finding love and overcoming rejection‘, which we get from ‘vapid=bland‘ and ‘vagina = a sheath formed round a stem by the base of a leaf‘.

You see, in the end, this is a paper covering a reality show, a fake event created to entice an audience from living a life and wasting an hour on seeing something fake whilst they could have sought it out for real. In all this the overworked journalist gets the axe. So even if I feel a little for the journalist in this case and whilst we see that the audience replied with ‘Refreshing honesty from the Daily Mail this morning‘, which should be a real signal for the editor in change, no he threw it all out to hopefully avoid whatever would come next.

You see, even if it is not now, there are enough issues around which means that Leveson 2 might be delayed, but will still most likely happen. So even as the Telegraph is already on the ‘would be a threat to a free press‘, whilst trying to drown the reader with ‘The first Leveson inquiry cost taxpayers £5.4 million, yet the legal bill for the newspaper industry to comply with the process was far more than that‘, some journalists were up to their old tricks even before the Leveson ink dried. So in this the moment that Leveson 2 does happen, their clean desks will not be because some journalists tried to keep it clean, it will be because they were told to leave. The fact that some see Leveson 2 in relation to ‘undermining high quality journalism‘ seems to forget that high quality journalism is a thing of the past. It perhaps ended long before John Simm decided to portray a journalist in the excellent ‘State of Play‘. In all this there will be a massive blowback for the media at large, the moment it does happen, I will have every intention to get part of it set as an investigation of news that would have been considered as ‘mishandled’. There is at large enough evidence that the Sony event of 2012, the Microsoft events of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, as well as IBM 2015 and 2017. There have been too many of events that were somehow ‘filtered’. In addition to that there are not merely the data breaches, the fact that there are strong indications that the media at times, merely reported through the act of copy and paste, whilst not looking deeper into the matter. Tesco, the North Korean Sony ‘Hack’ and a few other matters that should be dug into as there are enough indications that events had faltered and faltered might be seen as the most positive way to define an event that should be seen as utterly negative.

In my view, as some editors and shareholders will try to navigate the term journalist, I would be on the horse of removing that word altogether and have those papers be subject to the full 20% VAT. I wonder how they will suddenly offer to (again) monitor themselves. Like that was a raging success the first time around. It is as I see it the price of not being held to any standards, apart from the overreacting from two unintended words, which is in my view a massive overreaction on several levels. I wonder why that was and who made the call to the editor on that, because I don’t think it was merely an overreacting Dutch model. In that I am decently convinced that she has been called a hell of a lot worse, the side effect of trying to be a ‘social media selfie darling’. Yet that is merely my point of view and I have not always been correct.

 

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Direction X

It is the Columbian (at http://www.columbian.com/news/2018/apr/15/harrop-facebook-wont-alter-its-lucrative-practices-without-regulations/) that gives us a light to work with today. A light that some US congressman and US Senators have been pushing for, so it is fun to have a go at that point of view. Now, do not mistake my opposition to it as a way to invalidate the view. I do not agree with the point of view, but many have it. So I see it as a way to inform the readers on the things that they need to know. Froma Harrop starts with three events. We see:

  • Mark Zuckerberg in 2006: “We really messed this one up. …We did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them.”
  • Zuckerberg in 2010: “Sometimes we move too fast. … We will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.”
  • Zuckerberg early this year: “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. … There’s more we can do here to limit the information developers can access and put more safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”

Now, they are valid events, but the dimensionality is missing. With the exception of certain Google products, Facebook has been the biggest evolving platform on a near daily basis, the integration with mobile apps, mobile reporting, stories, clips, annotated pictures, travelling, and so much more. Over a period of 10 years Facebook went from a dynamic page (for each user or group) to a collected omnibus of information available to all their friends. That is a level of growth that even Microsoft has not been able to compete with and in all this, there will always be mistakes. Some small and trivial and some will be bang up monsters of flaws. Compare this to Microsoft who did not push forward with its Xbox360, no it offered for sale a more powerful machine whilst trimming the functionality down by close to 20% (personal projected loss) with the shift from Xbox360 to Xbox One and Xbox One to Xbox One X. A data collecting machine of greed (whilst everyone is ignoring the data that Microsoft is uploading), pushing users like a bully, to do what they wanted the user to do or be left out. So when exactly did Facebook do that to that degree? Sony with its PlayStation at least pushed forward to some degree.

Froma makes a nice case with: “The law will require them to obtain consent for use of personal information in simple language. (Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings.)“, this is nice in contrast to some consoles (like the Sony consoles) who suddenly made it illegal to use second hand games on their consoles in their terms of service, they quietly backed away when it blew up in the faces of Microsoft. In all this, yet with my sense of humour and realising where this article was, it was not without a giggle that I took a look at the Columbia Journal of European Law (at http://cjel.law.columbia.edu/preliminary-reference/2017/mind-the-gap-loopholes-in-the-eu-data-privacy-regime/) where we see “any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that, although the information is not processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, the set is structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible“, which now leads to “This language of “specific information [that] is readily accessible” indeed was interpreted by the English courts in a manner conflicting with the Directive. In Durant v. Financial Services Authority, the English and Wales Court of Appeal formulated a two part test to evaluate whether a filing system is caught by the Directive:” and that now leaves us with “(i) [T]he files forming part of [the filing system] are structured or referenced in such a way as clearly to indicate at the outset of the search whether specific information capable of amounting to personal data [] is held within the system and, if so, in which file or files it is held; (ii) [The filing system] has, as part of its own structure or referencing mechanism, a sufficiently sophisticated and detailed means of readily indicating whether and where in an individual file or files specific criteria or information about the applicant can be readily located.

So in that case Froma is left with a piece of paper to be stationed where the sun does not shine and it merely took the case Durant v. Financial Services Authority to show its ‘lack‘ of complexity, or did it? She is right that ‘Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings, it merely took law lord Sir Robin Ernest Auld (a former Lord Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales) a hell of a lot more than a night course, more like 25 years on the bench as a lawyer, an elected judge and his ascension to lord justice of the appellant court to get it all figured out.

So as we get that out of the way we also need to look at “The companies will have to notify users of a data break-in within 72 hours of its discovery. They’ll have to give up monopoly control of the personal information; people will have the right to obtain a copy of their data and share it with others“, it took Sony a hell of a lot longer to figure out that they were breached and notify people. So now consider the breaches of Equifax (143 million), eBay (145 million), Yahoo (3 billion) and Target stores (110 million). the implication of alerting that many people is not just weird, it is actually dangerous as people tend to overreact do something stupid and lock their accounts, these 4 events could set the stage for close to 4.5 billion locked accounts. The entire 72 hours, that whilst the discovery does not guarantee that the intrusion is stopped opens the entire system up for all kinds of hackers to have a go at that victim and truly make a much bigger mess of it all. Now the people should be informed, but the entire 72 hours was (as I personally see it) pulled out of a hat. In all this the latest Facebook issue was not done by hackers, it was done by corporations who intentionally abused the system, they set their profit knowingly at the expense of the users of that system and exactly who at Cambridge Analytica is currently under arrest and in prison? It seems to me that Facebook, clearly a victim here, has made mistakes, yet the transgressors are not held to vigorous account, yet the maker of the system is. Now, let’s be clear, Mark has clearly some explaining to do. Yet, when we see “Facebook failed in an attempt to get a handle on the Cambridge Analytica scandal Monday, after British authorities ordered its auditors to vacate the political consultancy’s offices” (source: Fortune), all this whilst the offices of Cambridge Analytica ended up being raided 5 days later, I have never seen authorities giving bank robbers that level of leeway, so why was this level of freedom given to Cambridge Analytica? When we consider that this data could be transplanted to writable objects (Blu-ray) in mere hours, it seems to me that giving them 5 days to wipe the evidence is a lot more questionable than merely thumping Facebook for the flaws.

The one part I truly disagree with is “Many of us have a need to connect and share. But expecting much privacy in a business model that relies on selling your information is highly unrealistic“, you see, here we see two levels of privacy, that what the person shares, free of will and that what is accessed. In one part the privacy from the outside is partially an easy thing, because Google with AdWords has shown that to be a clear option, their advertisers can create and address a population to the granularity available, yet the results of this marketing is done in a level of aggregation, individual records per person are not available. The fact that apps could capture it was a given, but the fact that all unique identifiers were optionally possible was kept in the shadows and that is where Cambridge Analytica worked. Now, this is a generalisation, but it fits the overall issues. Facebook could have done better, yet it was massively naive when it thought that the paying corporations would not try to get their fingers on EVERY part they could. In that I wonder what data the insurance companies in the end got a hold on.

So when I see “Tech investor Jason Calacanis has set up a contest — the Open Book Challenge — to create a Facebook replacement. Finalists will be given $100,000 and residence in a 12-week incubator“, when we see it in the light of “Facebook has delivered Zuckerberg a net worth of over $60 billion” must be the easiest pickings for Jason Calacanis that any entrepreneur has ever been a part of. It is like the pyramid games after 15 rounds whilst the top person stayed on top never having to pay more than 0.0001% of the total earning, not even Las Vegas in its wildest times offered such odds.

So I am very much against regulations, it is merely a way for governments to get a hold of that data. Now I am not against that if it truly serves national security, but the fact that actual criminals and terrorists use such systems to elude identification and strike form a distance merely makes it a waste of time and most analysts know this. Now, we also know that when we know where exactly to look, Facebook could reveal stuff, but to hold those billions of accounts to optionally find merely one person is an extremely bad application of time management.

In the end, the one additional part I liked was Zuckerberg stating “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook. I run it. And I’m responsible for what happens here”. I like it because of the realisation that in all the bungles of IBM in the last 30 years, especially the PS/2 range, at what point did any of them stand up and tell their consumers that they screwed up? Especially in line of the setting that the average Model 80 (80386) computer was 400% more expensive at merely 28% of the power of a Taiwan clone, in addition the on board time clock battery has given the user more headaches than a hammer and the graphical underperformance offered should be forgotten at the drop of any hat.

So in this Zuckerberg kept his head high and in all this the entire setting of data abuse is still not addressed by either the US or UK government, in all this there is absolutely no indication that the abusers will be facing punishment or prison, so in all this the law failed the people a lot more than Facebook ever did, especially in the light of issues like this have been going on for years, but we do not get to read that part, do we?

 

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Overthinking the issue

There is a group of people that have had enough; they are ready to end their lives. Every culture has it and the amount of people contemplating it is a lot larger then you might think. Some statistics give us that 7 people per 100,000 have committed suicide. This implies to some extent that over 200 have contemplated it. If those who do compared to those who considered it is 1:30, then we have a much larger issue than we think.

So when I saw ‘Nitschke’s ‘suicide machine’ draws crowds at Amsterdam funeral fair‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/apr/15/nitschke-suicide-machine-amsterdam-euthanasia-funeral-fair), I wondered what the entire visibility setting was about. The impact is a lot larger than most considered. The machine given here is all about a ‘3d print solution‘, yet the machine that has a full body solution looks like a car for people who cannot drive (preventing suicide in traffic in the process). In the article we see “A controversial suicide pod that enables its occupant to kill themselves at the press of a button went on display at an Amsterdam funeral show on Saturday“, so how controversial is it? Even as we see: “the design will be put online as an open-source document for people to download. “That means that anybody who wants to build the machine can download the plans and 3D-print their own device,” Nitschke said“. My issue is not with the idea, the design or the option. It is the mere contemplation of the facts that in the first, a 3d printer is anywhere between $1500 and $6500.

After that we get the source materials to print the elements of that wheel less car (also costing you an additional fortune, that we get form “Regular PLA and ABS filament for 3D printing costs around $25 per kilogram on average. Specialty filaments can cost as much as four times this amount. Not all 3D printing materials are equal“, which now gets us close to an additional $5000 – $15000. So how is that not exploitation? Did anyone consider a $99 alternative?

So you would need three elements. The first is Temazepam (Restoril), a sleeping drug. Now I must tell you that it has addictive properties, yet in this light you might not need more than one usage and as such addiction is not really an issue. In addition you need a trash bag, a high quality one, which sets you back $4 for 10 of them and in addition you will need elastic band, which is $5. This makes the Temazepam (at $107/30) the most expensive part. What you do is to prepare the elastic band to fit your neck, but not tight. In this path, you basically lay back; fit the trash bag over your head and the plastic bag to hold it together. So after you take a large dose of Temazepam, you lie down and after 30 seconds you tighten the bag loosely around your neck with the elastic band. It need not be tight; you fall asleep and never wake up. The bag makes sure that you lose conscience as your brain is deprived of oxygen. The final sleep! Now, I am not in favour of any if this, yet I understand that some people are forced into this situation. When we see that come diseases are just too harsh on the body I get it. I might not like it or agree to it, but it is a place I understand. In all this, I do have an issue with someone like Philip Nitschke and Alexander Bannink making a ‘3d extravaganza’ that looks nice, but it could be seen by some as a Ponzi based IT exploitation. You see if these people do not buy the printer and the resources, they need someone else to do it and that person would have a legal issue on their trail, that whilst 2 out of three elements I mentioned are available in EVERY supermarket, leaving you with the need to get a fix of Temazepam (Restoril). Yet thanks to David McKinley (R), US reperesentative in West Virginia, we have been made aware that you can get that stuff on Canadian online pharmacies whilst he was trying to blame Facebook for it all. Oh, actually, that is not needed either. If can be found at http://drugs-order.net/Buy-Restoril-Online (thank you Mr Google), and only at $87, so that is still $20 cheaper than initially stated.

?? So why am I going here. Why mention David McKinley?

Actually, I am not. It must be said that overall McKinley is very much a republican, which includes pro-life. So even as we read that as an anti-abortion, I come to the larger personal conclusion that he is also against suicide or for the legal mind the ‘self-assisted death‘. Even as we see my last part as speculation, there is contributing evidence when in 2016 we see ‘House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Fix Mental Health System‘, the quote gives us “Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E., (WV-1) voted to help Americans who struggle with a mental health illness by increasing access to medical professionals and making existing programs more effective“, as well as ““People who suffer from a mental health illness deserve access to the highest quality care available and this legislation is a step towards achieving that goal,” McKinley said” this gives us a path, because in many cases the issues of suicide, no matter how triggered are still to some degree an issue of Mental Health. His setting opposes suicide as I see it. I have not found a clear stance where he gave a clear view on his position towards suicide, yet there are clear sights that most republicans with a strong pro-life view tend to be strongly opposing suicide.

The issue is not merely what his view was or the fact that he wrongfully blamed Facebook for an issue that was not the deciding part in a larger frame of illegal opioid sale. It was the issue that the overall availability reaches far beyond Facebook and many places deliver it with additional ‘customer support‘, so there is that issue. It reflects back to the entire Saturday article on losing one’s life as we see “Nitschke said: “In many countries suicide is not against the law, only assisting a person to commit suicide is. This is a situation where one person chooses to press a button … rather than for instance standing in front of a train”“, which might be true, but the entire setting of printing ones coffin to assisted loss of life whilst the entire contraption looks like a comfortable version of a Suzuki Swift is a bit over the top, especially as my setting for the $99 solution that requires no 3d printer or all the other parts that are required to operate the 3d printer in the first place.

I liked the final quote at the very end the best. With “Rob Bruntink, 52, said: “Well, I think it’s quite silly. It’s stupid. I don’t get it. I’m not interested in a real ‘Sarco’. No.”” we hear all the issues in this that matter.

I am in part on the fence, you see, I saw my mother as she went through the final stages of lung cancer, in the end she was offered more morphine than the average dealer can illegally import in a 20’ft container, so there is that need, when people are confronted with that part, we can offer all kinds of solutions to end their suffering. We can tell them to have faith, take one sleeping pill and fall asleep in the sun, you merely need to find the one person willing to treat that person to the .338 round from a 400-800 metres distance at the mere cost of $3.61 and that person will not wake up (there will be an issue of evidence as well as the legislated criminal local laws to avoid) however on the plus there is the entire 3d printing of the suicide machine gets to be avoided as well and that might be the bigger gain here.

This is not me making fun of the suicide issue, not at all. It is the setting on how willing someone would be to be privy to assisted suicide. Perhaps the machine was not at all about any suicide. Perhaps it was merely to get the conversation on suicide started in a more serious setting.

I remain on the fence. I am not in the mind of people being ‘unique snowflakes‘. Nearly every person on the planet is expendable. When we consider that there were 7.6 billion people in April this year (uncorrected of Syrian and Yemeni deaths at present), I feel certain that most of us all (me included) might be regarded as expandable. So in all this, the entire setting of suicide and assisted suicide is vastly over the top. Now, I understand that the pro-life population (like Congressman David McKinley) will forever be against that and that is fine. No matter what their reasoning is, it is their right to oppose it, yet should they be allowed to prevent others? Should the law be allowed to oppose death and ensure intentional extended suffering? That is perhaps the larger issue in play and as the population grows and resources become increasingly scarce is that in any way a position that we can maintain?

This now gets us to the NY Times, where we saw in 2016 ‘34 Countries Need Food Aid, Report Says‘. So here we see “Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, the Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Nepal and North Korea” having food shortages. Now there is the one case that North Korea vastly did this to themselves, but the other players how did they get into that mess? It is important to recognise that even as there is a clear difference in issues, there is absolutely no guarantee that the absence of war and strife would fix any of it. This now links to an article called ‘Good News, You Will Soon Be Able to Disrupt Eating Actual Food By Buying Soylent At Walmart‘ (at https://gizmodo.com/good-news-you-will-soon-be-able-to-disrupt-eating-actu-1825195058). For those who passed their teenage years by a few decades might remember ‘Soylent Green‘ a gem of a movie with Charleston Heston. It is based on the 1966 book ‘Make Room! Make Room!‘ In the end we learn that Soylent Green is people, to feed the massively overpopulated planet we had to resort to use the dead as a food replacement.

This now all circles back, you see there has forever been a clear link between suicide and food. Some state: “Let’s start a conversation to reduce depression and consequently, suicide. Food and drink choices can lead to suicide, remember it’s the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. Eat better, feel better, live happier.” These were the words of April Chandler. When we accept that suicide was the 10th leading cause of death worldwide a mere 5 years ago, you might start to see the connection. Even as I was on the fence for the larger extent as some have a genuine issue, we need to remember that the bulk of those people do not and at that point it becomes a mental health issue that cannot be solved with a 3d printer. I think that we are getting closer to the verge of a massive breakthrough. A heralded writer and fellow university Student who treated Australia and the world to ‘The Wellness Doctrines for Law Students and Young Lawyers‘ in 2015 and this year to ‘The Wellness Doctrines for high school students‘ is on the ball, I think that the matter is well beyond those boundaries and the setting that good food (an option not always there) for students in the first place is playing a much larger role in all this. If we accept that having certain foods reduced anxiety, can we agree that a good meal is central in mental health as well? If that can be proven is the need of a decent meal not the focal point is setting the right pace for dealing with mental health? If we oppose the entire ‘sarco’ issue, the issue of a suicide machine in a funeral fair, is the need to properly set the dimension of those who have a genuine suicide claim (terminal patients with only pain as a prospect) against those who are considered to have been exhausted to the degree that they are no longer willing to live, if that is a 1% versus 99% sitting, how can we give any kind of value to the wheelless Suzuki Swift with a red nitrogen button, whilst we see that other news gives us “Soylent may have been a polarizing powdered drink when it first went on sale four years ago, but it’s clearly developed a following outside of the startup world as a drink that’s said to be a substitute for a meal. And it may have truly hit the mainstream market now that it’s available at Walmart” (source: the Verge), whilst the linked article gave us: “Rosa Foods announced on Wednesday that it is bringing the signature brand of packaged, flavored sludge—which takes its name from the disheartening 1973 dystopian film Soylent Green, where it’s eventually revealed the product’s key ingredient is uh, “long pig”—to 450 Walmart stores across the country. Soylent CEO Bryan Crowley added in a statement that the move is “a significant step in providing more ways for consumers to get access to our brand,” expanding beyond its current placement in 7-Eleven stores“, if there is clear evidence that gives April Chandler her view and I have personally seen the validity of the views of Jerome Doraisamy. United they give us the missed setting where governments and other places have failed us. The additional ‘evidence’ is seen in the Mercury News, there we see “Palo Alto and Morgan Hill have the highest suicide rates in Santa Clara County among youths 10 to 24 years old“, so what happens when the evidence gives a much larger support to food being the contributing factor in all this? There has been evidence on a global scale from various sources, some better than others, but when we see that the poorly chosen name ‘Soylent‘ is now an actual optional factor, should we consider other issues as well? I am not stating that Soylent is dangerous or toxic or anything bad, but that as a food, or even food replacement stops (read: prevents) people form eating what they actually need for a healthy life, the entire push changes what we should find acceptable. The question becomes how to prove this. We could combine the dream team Jerome Doraisamy, April Chandler and Jamie Oliver as a team to see if there is a clear case and how to raise the health bar through food for students that they can afford whilst not unintentionally endangering their lives is going to be a much larger issue than anyone ever predicted. Part of the ‘sarco’ issue in the Guardian is also seen in the linked article by Polly Toynbee in ‘The ban on assisted death ignores the reality of illnesses like dementia‘. So when I read “Attempts to change the law at Westminster have been thwarted despite overwhelming public support, 82% in the latest poll. But religious objectors have blocked it time and again, with both Houses curiously packed with a disproportionate number of believers in this mostly atheistic country“, I see the flicker of elected dementia, yet in support of their view when we consider that food could be a contributing factor to a decreased mental health, there is the danger that whichever equine burger we got at Tesco, the danger of bad food is actually a lot larger in lowering the health of people in a global setting and that ignored part can no longer be ignored.

So as I tried to lighten the air with a reference to Soylent Green the Medical Daily (not the greatest source of reliable information) gives us “Eating human meat becomes risky due to the presence of prions — versions of normal protein that had their shape altered, losing their function, and becoming infectious. These distorted proteins can influence other similar healthy proteins, and change them, causing a chain reaction, and creating disease. Specifically, prion disease creates holes in the brain, giving it a spongiform appearance, and ultimately causes death. Unlike viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasitic infections, which contain DNA or RNA, prions don’t, which means they can’t be eradicated with radiation or heat. They could be present in any nervous tissue, including our organs and muscles. However, they are most common in the brain and spinal nerve tissues“, this brought me back to the episode of ‘Our Town‘ from season 2 of the X-Files, where we hear “Scully, I think the good people of Dudley have been eating more than just chicken“, and that is an actual issue. There is an abundance of foods available in nearly every store where we get to eat a lot more elements than we bargained for and not all are healthy. That evidence remains absent as certain foods take a very long time to take a hold on us. This is seen (at https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20170505/diet-soda-health-risks) in “Numerous studies over the past several years have reported links between diet soda and weight gain, diabetes, heart problems, and other health issues. Most recently, headlines sounded alarms about a higher chance of dementia and stroke among diet soda drinkers” the fact that diet soda drinks are largely available in nearly every store on the planet makes it a much larger issue than most could conceive. Yet in many of these studies it is limited to physical side effects, yet I personally believe that it is impossible for these elements not to have a non-adverse effect to the mental health of a person, the problem is how to show it.

I think that this is the pro-life wet dream, yet no matter how we feel about it, we need to be very careful of the ramification and the acceptance of any reduction of protection to anyone’s life when there is a proven mental health element. The absence of this part and the visibility of both Philip Nitschke and Alexander Bannink, no matter how ideological their view is, especially when the implied evidence all show that there is a mental health issue in place and as such there is now an almost direct link between vulnerable people and the sale of 3d printing goods and resources. I personally believe that the Funeral Fair might have done this as the setting of additional visibility whilst all the players involved forgot or were unaware that what they actually end up doing was to place a minefield around them. A much less humane way to ends one’s life.

So even as I knowingly set the entire Soylent Green matter in different light, the product ‘Soylent’ is a much larger issue to look at. You see I do not think that the food is dangerous; it is what happens when you rely on it to a much larger extent is when we need to look at the impact. Chocolate is not dangerous either, but what happens when you rely on it 5 times a day to still your hunger? How healthy a solution should it be seen as?

Perhaps I am overthinking the entire matter, but the fact that others have been overly avoiding to think of the connected issues to this might be a much larger failure, so I am happy to try and compensate for their avoidance in all this.

 

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The wrong claim to make

I have been taking a much larger interest on the entire Facebook and Cambridge Analytica issue. Not because of what was done, but because of what US politicians are about to try. In that view it seems to me that the media is assisting the US government. Pretty much every media publishes ‘Zuckerberg on Tuesday faced a variety of questions from 44 senators‘, yet not one gives us that list of these 44 senators. Online publication Vox had a list of 103 which was equally useless. So why are the readers not getting properly (read: more completely) informed?

As I have a promise to keep (to myself at least), let’s take a look at the first one who really pissed me off. The person in question is U.S. Representative David McKinley, not even a senator. Yet with the quote “Your platform is still being used to circumvent the law and allow people to buy highly addictive drugs without a prescription. With all due respect, Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity and in so doing, you are hurting people. You’d agree with that statement?” he opened himself to all kinds of issue. So let us take a look. CNN gives us (at http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/11/technology/mark-zuckerberg-questioned-over-facebook-opioid-sales), with the additional quote “Google agreed to pay $500 million to the Department of Justice for showing prescription drug ads from Canadian online pharmacies to U.S. consumers. It stopped the practice in 2009 once it became aware of an investigation by a U.S. Attorney’s office. But sellers are still finding ways of posting about drug sales on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which critics have accused of being reactive, largely waiting for activists, or the press, to surface issues and help police their platforms“, so the issue is a lot larger and has been around for a long time. So the US representative is not opening legal avenues attacking the Canadian Online pharmacies, no it is attacking Facebook and Google. The issue here is hypocrite on several levels. You see we see part of that evidence (at http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/oxycontin-in-canada-1.4607959), even as the investigation into Purdue Pharma is underway, the issue is a lot larger. We get one part from ‘OxyContin was aggressively marketed as a revolutionary painkiller. But many patients became addicted, leading to a country-wide class action lawsuit against its maker‘, the other part is seen in the NPR event “Doctors In Maine Say Halt In OxyContin Marketing Comes ’20 Years Late’“, so we see the news that is given in February 2018. These facts alone give rise to the geriatric dementia dangers that are possibly within business man David McKinley, a man currently elected as a U.S. Representative. In addition to that part, the fact that the US government failed its citizens is open to discussion in the 2015 release of “the Food and Drug Administration. (FDA) approved, in August 2015, extended-release oxycodone for use by children between 11 and 16 years old with “pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment for which alternative treatment options are inadequate“, so there is a much larger failure in play. The fact that the FDA approves (for specific reasons mind you) the use of OxyContin and the fact that it is FDA approved makes it a much larger issue.

The fact that there is ample evidence that US politicians were sitting on their hands for close to 2 decades gives rise to the thought that U.S. Representative David McKinley should give up his seat in what I personally would see as too old to hold any public office position, perhaps at 71 he no longer sees the need to correctly set the dimension of information of any issue. His attack, the fact that this is a lot more complex, in part because the US government chose to not act for 2 decades is also decent evidence to add in this case. In addition, we see that the reformulation to make it harder to abuse opioids (which is an act that makes perfect sense), gave way to ‘Making opioids harder to abuse led to a spike in heroin overdoses‘ (at https://www.axios.com/opioids-heroin-overdose-deaths-1523481019-63cfb423-e1fc-4925-9a80-3406625389b5.html). Here we see “Adapted from Evans et. al., 2018,  “How the Reformation of OxyContin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic”, The National Bureau of Economic Research; Note: “Opioids” includes all opioid related deaths aside from those that are exclusively attributed to heroin“, so basically the junkies and their facilitators found another way to get high and they died in the process (serves them right). It seems that as I found all this evidence in less than 30 minutes and there is almost 20Mb of unread text for me to go through, shows just how lame (or is that blatantly idiotic) U.S. Representative David McKinley is showing himself to be. There is an accepted issue that in some cases non-US advertisements have no business being shown in the US, yet in that situation, my e-mail wad been flooded with the options for silicone tits, 14 inch sausages, Viagra and Cialis for well over a decade from US sources, so how much ‘policing’ did these US senators opt for from 1996 onwards to ‘protect’ non US citizens from these ‘illegal’ drugs? It seems to me that this is an almost perfect example of ‘sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander‘, yet we can feel decently certain that U.S. Representative David McKinley will not see it that way. In addition to that CNN gives us “More than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdose in 2016, the most lethal year yet of the drug overdose epidemic, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those deaths involved opioids, a family of painkillers including illicit heroin and fentanyl as well as legally prescribed medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. In 2016 alone, 42,249 US drug fatalities — 66% of the total — involved opioids, the report says“, this has been going on for a while; this was not merely some Facebook advertisement issue. The CDC shows data going back to 2000, long before Facebook became the behemoth entity it is now. So whilst everyone is kicking up every stink in the place, the issue remains that the FDA approved Purdue Pharma to start making it, so even as U.S. Representative David McKinley could have been visiting their office in Stamford, Connecticut, USA. It is now shown that kicking it on the soul of Mark Zuckerberg is much more personally rewarding for him. In that his quote “why Facebook hasn’t done more to remove posts from sellers offering illicit opioids“, in equal measure does not show the efforts that the FBI has done to crack down on the sellers either. You see, if he had done that we would have ended up (at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/opioid-fentanyl-darknet-drugs-fbi/), showing just how easy it is to the evidence we see here: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions said darknet vendors are “pouring fuel on the fire of the national drug epidemic” and this year doubled the number of federal agents working on those cases. It’s part of the Trump administration’s tough approach to the drug crisis that has focused on harsh punishments for dealers. Critics say the overall strategy resembles a return to failed drug-war tactics and that the record $4.6 billion included in the spending plan the president signed last month is not nearly enough to establish the kind of treatment system needed to reverse the crisis“, it does not absolve Facebook, but it shows that when you are in a house without a roof, blaming the faucet for all the water is just as stupid as it gets. So with this small article I introduce the honourable U.S. Representative David Bennett McKinley, who should, as I personally see it, be up for replacement at the next election.

And may he be replaced by someone who truly takes a proper look at the dimensionality of events and present them equally correct and fair. So we will leave that consideration up to the people who are part of the West Virginia’s 1st congressional district. I reckon that with a population of 615,991 (2010) there is at least one other person who is up for the job.

Now, let’s take a look at the data of the next elected numbskull, have a great Friday all!

 

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What surely comes next!

Today I took another look at what the Washington Post reported on Mark Zuckerberg, even as today will not be about that. It will however 100% for certain, soon be about 44 senators, I am collecting data on losers like Rep. David McKinley (W.Va.), who accused Zuckerberg and Facebook of “hurting people” by failing to thwart those who try to sell opioids on the site. So he will soon face my exposure on how Heroin-related overdoses in West Virginia have increased by 200% by Nov 2017 and even more at present since measures were implemented to limit prescription opioid use. In addition a recent source gives us ‘Drug companies shipped nearly 21 million opioid painkillers to a town with 2,900 people‘, which was 3 months ago, so as I see it, the republican loser from West Virginia can join the Texas ranks as one of the least useful persons in the USA. But do not worry, these senators have accumulated loads of visibility and I will save some space for all 44 of them. So as this is coming soon enough, let’s take a look what matters today.

You see, the issues in the Middle East are accelerating and the issues are becoming more and more extreme. Even as we saw “The announcement was made at the High Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held in Geneva today, bringing total EU funding to Yemen to €438.2 million since the beginning of the crisis in 2015. Speaking at the event in Geneva today, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis” a mere week ago (source: EU News), the issue is not how much is going there, but whether that pays for any humanitarian relief. You see, Yemeni Houthi’s fired ballistic missiles at Riyadh, which according to Al Jazeera travelled more than 800 Km into Saudi Arabia (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/yemen-houthi-rebels-fire-ballistic-missile-saudi-capital-180411153418562.html), and when we see “Sharaf Lokman, a spokesman for the Houthis, said the attack came after Saleh al-Samad – president of the Supreme Political Council that runs Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other rebel-held areas – declared the start of “a year of ballistic missiles“, can we blame Saudi Arabia for whatever comes next? Whatever comes next is likely to be today and as the papers are all about how civilians were hit in all this, it seems to me that there is an unbalance in what is reported on several sides, giving rise to different levels of scrutiny and bias, whilst those needing to get all the news are blatantly ignored. When we see “the kingdom’s defence forces saying they intercepted missiles that targeted Riyadh and another city, and drones targeting an airport and an Aramco oil facility in the country’s south“, many people forget that all this requires technology, knowledge and heaps of additional logistics. So how are the Houthi rebels getting this stuff? Someone is supplying them and even as we realise that these puppies are not cheap, we tend to forget that the cost is rising quickly, especially when we see “a year of ballistic missiles”. Even under the best of conditions Yemen could not afford any of it, so they shouldn’t be able to get the mere fuel for these missiles, where is the rest coming from? When we consider the players who could afford it, how come the EU is all about “Martin Griffiths initial priority should be to listen rather than act“, whilst someone is ordering missiles by the dozen a day (an assumption from my side), where are these funds coming from? I think that the part “Martin Griffiths has an opportunity to serve as a bridge between international and regional actors and to benefit from European diplomatic initiatives” sounds slightly too much like a joke when we see the adverse actions taken. In this the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) might be a mere think tank, yet even they need to work on the premise of reality and achievability, two parts that are not coming to their doorstep any day soon if they keep on ignoring certain cash flow issues in all this. You see, Saudi Arabia almost has no option left but to strike back as hard as they can. If they do not, they are merely opening themselves to additional attacks from Hezbollah Al-Hejaz. A group that Iran planned to revive last year and as matters go, there is every chance that they have gone beyond the planning stage. If there is any truth to the entire “a year of ballistic missiles” matter, it implies (to some extent) that certain parts are in play and Iran cannot get caught there in any way. Having a resurrected puppet like Hezbollah Al-Hejaz is the most likely solution for them. Even as they know that it will be a signal for Israel to hit Hezbollah in their region, the outcome is a certain level of destabilisation, which is as I personally see it the first need for Iran. If they have any plans towards hurting Saudi Arabia, destabilisation is a clear first tactical need. In this Saudi Arabia has its work cut out in equal measure. It needs a few solid iron strikes against the Yemeni Houthi’s for Iran to realise that they are truly biting off more than they can chew and that is the only way (without a full scale skirmish) for Iran to reconsider the situation that they are on. In equal measure, Turkey is seeing the initial impact of its actions in Syria as the Turkey’s embattled lira hit a new low of around 4.14 to the US dollar. Turkey suffers from 10% inflation driven by an enormous internal credit bubble, a current account deficit of nearly 6% of GDP, and a US$220 billion corporate debt load in foreign currency. All this the Erdogan response is ““There are games being played on our economy,” he said in a speech in Ankara. “I call to those attacking our economy: You will not succeed. Just like you failed before, you will fail again”“. As I see it the idea that the cost of a war would largely impede ones economy as billions go to the cost of fuel for tanks and the ammunition for troops and tanks and even more resources for feeding the troops, all Trillions of Turkish Lira’s not going to the Turkish civilian needs and infrastructure probable has not yet sunk in with the President of Turkey, so that is that lack of insight to add to the tumbling Turkish economy as well? The good part here is that as they face those elements they need to shy away from becoming the Iranian tool in the Middle East outside of Syria, so that would optionally give Saudi Arabia more breathing space, how these acts could be used to stop Iran remains unclear at present, but there is every chance that Israel and the US are pissed off enough to do something silly like open up a full scale theatre of war in Syria (after the chemical attacks) and as such, if Russia does not respond with actual war and tries the diplomatic path to calm things down, Iran will not be left with any option but to wage war alone against Saudi Arabia, whilst Israel and the US will side with Saudi Arabia, the second part is that Yemen will suddenly lose all Iranian support which will change everything there as well.

The only direct path at present (as I personally see it) is to find out how the missiles make it to Yemen and make sure that the next 3 shipments are scuttled in the Gulf of Aden or the Arabian Sea, making the entire endeavour way too expensive for those with additional agenda’s. Yet the reality is that there are unknowns at present. It is not the missiles themselves, but the support system behind it all. Someone is getting trained there and finding out by whom and how is actually more important, sinking a shipment is one thing, getting rid of the instructors through targeted killings makes the next 6 shipments useless and therefor a tactic to be favoured (if realistically possible). In all this the person(s) training the Houthi are likely to be shielded, but it seems to me that finding them might be easier in the long run. Any Houthi firing team that the Saudi military can dispose of would delay the “year of ballistic missiles” tactic by several months with each successful hit making the statement Saleh al-Samad an unrealistic boast that could drown moral the way it needs to be, because as long as this goes on in Yemen, the 850,000 half-starved children (as reported by Oxfam) will not get to have any chance of survival.

Yet that is the way of inaction, even as action might be worse in the short term, resolving the issue would also imply that humanitarian aid could be possible after that. In all this, no matter what we think might happen, we do know that death is surely coming for thousands, if not for hundreds of thousands of the civilian population, a population of 10 million of Yemeni who are currently out of food, water, electricity and medicine, and their chances for survival? When we consider the mere premise of “The World Bank predicts that Yemen’s oil and gas revenues will plummet during 2009 and 2010, and fall to zero by 2017 as supplies run out“, we might have to realise that the Yemeni’s need to consider not being alive, at the lives of Syrians were set to zero on the abacus of life due to a none economic value, the plight of the Yemeni people might be worse and that is not just in light of their value, that realisation also gives us that this nation has no funds to work with, so how would they be paying for their “year of ballistic missiles“? #JustAsking!

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The congressional sham

The papers are ‘covering’ live the entire Facebook hearing, we see several papers covering it and I think that this is a good thing. Yet, most papers are not without flaws. The fact that I have been writing about the entire mess of data privacy since 2013 makes it to the best of my knowledge a Capitol sham at best (pun intended) . you see, these so called senators are all up in arms and we see the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/10/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-hearing-congress-testimony) give quotes like “from data privacy to Russian disinformation“, you see, it is a lot less about data privacy than it is about the Russians. The anti-communist gene in Americans is too strong; the yanks get too emotional and become utterly useless in the process. So is it about the 44 senators grilling Mark Zuckerberg, is it about their limelight and about their re-election visibility, or is it about global data privacy? I can guarantee you now that it will not be about the last part and as such we will see a lot more warped issues shine on the congressional dance floor.

In that regard, when you read “They demanded new detail about how Facebook collects and uses data and elicited assurances that it will implement major improvements in protecting personal privacy“, it might be about that, but it will be a lot more on oversight and how the US government wants to be able to ‘check’ all that data. They wanted access to all that data since Facebook became one year old. So when we see ‘Sen. Kennedy: “I don’t want to have to vote to regulate Facebook, but by god, I will. That depends on you.”‘ you better believe that the ‘depends on you‘ can be read as ‘as long as you give us access to all your data‘, which contains the shoe that fumbles.

So when we see “Several asked for detailed answers about how private, third-party companies, such as the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, gained access to personal data on 87 million Facebook users, including 71 million Americans“, we see the valid question, yet that did not require a congressional hearing, so that is merely the icing that hides the true base element of the cake. It is the honourable Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee that gives the first goods: “Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook”, you see, freedom of data and misuse of information as set by insurances. The statements like ‘Insurance companies warn that under certain circumstances, posting about your holidays on social media could result in your claim being declined if you are burgled‘. These senators were not really that interested in all this whilst the entire insurance issues have been playing as early as 2010; they were likely too busy looking somewhere else. The entire privacy mess is a lot larger. We see this at the Regis University site when we take a look at: “A new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reveals nearly one in five Americans (19%) has been the victim of some form of cyber stalking, defined as any persistent and unwanted online contact with another individual. Through aggressive social media contact, repeated emails or other methods of online connectivity, cyber stalkers represent a serious and growing threat to men and women who otherwise wish to disengage from those who make them feel uncomfortable. Still, the NCSA report shows only 39% of those who believed they were being stalked online reported the incident to authorities“, so was there a senatorial hearing then? No, there was not. In addition, a situation where one in 5 Americans is subject to stalking, yet in all those years almost nothing was done. Why is that? Is that because the overwhelming numbers of these victims have tits and a vagina, or merely because they are less likely to be communist in nature?

Does this offend you?

Too bad, it is the direct consequence of inaction which makes todays issue almost a farce. I stated almost! So, is the issue that the data was downloaded, or that the data on millions of Americans is now in the hands of others and not in the hands of the US government? This loaded question is a lot more important than you might think.

The fact that this is a much larger farce is seen when the Democrat from Illinois decides to open his mouth. It is seen in “Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), asked Zuckerberg what hotel he stayed at Monday night and the names of anyone he messaged this week“, was it to break the ice? If all 44 senators do that, then we see evidence why the US government can’t get anything done. It is actually another Democrat that gives rise to issues. It is seen in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “We’ve seen the apology tours before… I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are different rules of the road.”, the man makes a good case, but I am not certain if he is correct. You see, unless the US government is ready to lash out massively in the abuse of data towards any corporation found using social media on exploiting the privacy of its members, and insurers are merely one part in all this. You see, the rules of the road have been negated for some time in different directions, unless you are willing to protect the users of social media by corporate exploitation, Richard Blumenthal should not really be talking about traffic rules, should he? This directly links to the fact that 90% of hedge funds were using social media in 2014. Were they properly looked at? I wonder where those 44 senators were when that all went down.

The one part that will actually become a larger case comes from Massachusetts. “Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) plans to introduce a new bill Tuesday called the CONSENT Act that would require social giants like Facebook and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data“, it will change the business model where data is no longer shared, or sold, but another model where all this is set up by Facebook and he advertiser can get the results of visibility in top line results. That is the path Facebook would likely push for, a more Google approach in their setting of AdWords and Google analytics. Facebook is ready to a much larger extent on this and it is a likely path to follow for Facebook after all this. Yet in all this the theatre of congress will go on a little longer, we will know soon enough. In the end 44 senators will push regarding “The Federal Trade Commission is investigating violations of a 2011 consent decree over privacy policy at Facebook that could lead to record fines against the company“, in the end it will be about money and as it is more likely that the data on Americans made it to Russia, the fine will be as astronomically high as they could possibly make it. They will state in some way that the debt of 21 trillion will have nothing to do with that, or so they will claim. In the end Mark Zuckerberg partially did this too himself, he will get fined and so he should, but the entire theatre and the likelihood that the fine is going to be way overboard, whilst in equal measure these senators will not chase the other transgressors is a much larger case and calls for even more concern. You see, there is a much larger congressional sham in play. It was exposed by Clay Johnson, formerly of the Sunlight Foundation, (more at http://www.congressfoundation.org/news/blog/912). The issue is not merely “On the Hill, congressional staff do not have the tools that they need to quickly distill meaning from the overwhelming volume of communications that they receive on any given day“, it is that Facebook has been able to add well over 400% pressure to that inability. That given is what also drives the entire matter of division in American voters. I myself did not think that ‘fake’ news on events did any serious damage to Democrat Hillary Clinton, from my point of view; she did that all to herself during her inaction of the Benghazi events.

In the end I believe that the bulk will go after Mark Zuckerberg for whatever reason they think they have, whilst all hiding behind the indignation of ‘transplanted data‘. The fact that doing this directly hit the value that the rest of his data has is largely ignored by nearly all players. In addition, the fact that the BBC gave us ‘More than 600 apps had access to my iPhone data‘ less than 12 hours ago is further evidence still. So when will these 44 senators summon Tim Cook? The fact that the BBC gives us “Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you many never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it” and the fact that this is a given truth and has been for a few years, because you the consumer signed over your rights, is one of those ignored traffic rules, so the statement that Richard Blumenthal gave is a lot larger than even he might have considered. It is still a good point of view to have, yet this shown him to be either less correct on the whole, or it could be used as evidence that too many senators have been sitting on their hands for many years and in that matter the least stated on the usefulness of the European Commission the better. So when we read “The really big data brokers – firms such as Acxiom, Experian, Quantium, Corelogic, eBureau, ID Analytics – can hold as many as 3,000 data points on every consumer, says the US Federal Trade Commission“, we see that Equifax is missing from that list is also a matter for concern, especially when we consider the events that Palantir uncovered, whilst at the same time we ignore what Palantir Gotham is capable of. I wonder how many US senators are skating around that subject. We see part of that evidence in Fortune, were (at http://fortune.com/2017/10/10/equifax-attack-avoiding-hacks/) we see “Lauren Penneys, who heads up business development at Palantir, advised companies to get their own data and IT assets in order—both to better understand what risks do exist and to improve readiness to respond when a breach does happen“, she is right and she (validly) does not mention what Palantir Gotham is truly capable of when we combine the raw data from more than one corporate source. With the upcoming near exponential growth of debt collection, and they all rely on data and skip tracing of social media data, we see a second issue, which these senators should have been aware of for well over two years. So how protective have they been of citizens against the invasion of privacy on such matters from the Wall Street Golden Child? Even in London, places like Burford Capital Ltd are more and more reliant on a range of social media data and as such it will not be about traffic rules as the superrich are hunted down. We might not care about that, mainly because they are superrich. Yet as this goes on, how long until the well dries up and they set their nets in a much wider setting?

We claim that we are humane and that we set the foundation for morally just actions, but are we? The BBC actually partially addresses this with: “Susan Bidel, senior analyst at Forrester Research in New York, who covers data brokers, says a common belief in the industry is that only “50% of this data is accurate” So why does any of this matter? Because this “ridiculous marketing data”, as Ms Dixon calls it, is now determining life chances” and that is where the shoe truly hurts, at some point in the near future we will be denied chances and useless special rebates, because the data did not match, we will be seen as a party person instead of a sport person, at which point out premiums would have been ‘accidently’ 7% too high and in that same person we will be targeted for social events and not sport events, we will miss out twice and soon thereafter 4 fold, with each iteration of wrong data the amount of misconceptions will optionally double with each iteration. All based on data we never signed up for or signed off on, so how screwed is all this and how can this congressional hearing be seen as nothing more than a sham. Yes, some questions needs to be answered and they should, yet that could have been done in a very different setting, so as we see the Texan republican as the joke he is in my personal view, we see “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Zuckerberg about 2016 reports that the company had removed conservative political news from its trending stories box, and followed up with questions about its moderators’ political views. When Zuckerberg said he didn’t ask employees for their political views, Cruz followed up with “Why was Palmer Luckey fired?”“, we wonder if he had anything substantial to work with at all. So when you wonder why Zuckerberg is being grilled, ask yourself, what was this about? Was it merely about abuse of data by a third party? If that is so, why is Tim Cook not sitting next to Zuckerberg? More important, as I have shown some of these issues for close to 5 years, why was action not taken sooner? Is that not the more pressing question to see answered?

 

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