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Terrorism is OK

How is that for a title? Is it nice, cool, rad or merely scary? One would think that people wake up at some point, especially when we see the condoning of terrorism because of the ‘signs’. It is in that light that we need to see the New Yorker and what it brought to the people (at https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-ceasefire-in-gaza-a-turning-point-for-hamas-and-netanyahu). Here we see the writing of Bernard Avishai, a man who teaches political economy at Dartmouth, Dartmouth being a private university in Hanover, New Hampshire. It does not matter where he is teaching, from my personal point of view; the man has been in a stage of historic denial. You see, over the ages Hamas has only ever agreed to a cease fire when the ammunition was lot and they would only keep it until the stocks were back up. In this stage we need to consider what the impact is. You see, the issue is not that missiles were fired on Israel; it is the fact that 400 were fired. The storage for this would have been pretty enormous. This also implies that for the most, the rocket fire is done with the ‘blessing’ from the Palestinians to a much larger extent than we ever considered before. The even more hilarious view is given by the Washington Post with: “Why did Israel carry out this military operation at a time when many were heralding novel progress in diplomatic steps toward alleviating tensions between Israel and Hamas?” My response would be: ‘Didn’t you guys lose a temporary reporter recently? How much of a stink did you kick up over that one? So when 400+ missiles get fired at civilian targets in Israel, we see clear cause and even the consideration that the response was disproportionate (too light), in this that for every 10 missiles one building van get flattened, Israel can still lower the maximum altitude towards zero for at last 35 buildings at present‘.

From my point of view is that we need to hunt the money. These were not some 400 garage band projects, they were ‘commercial’ products (and not cheap) and there should be a trace on where they are from. 400 missiles, even over 10 months is just too much of an amount. There will be a trace and that stuff needed storage, even if it is after the fact, we need to look at the options at what could be backtracked. There is also debate over ‘Israel risks igniting a war that no one can win‘. I agree that there is a partial truth in all this, yet the risk is already ignited as the premise of premeditation that it takes to launch a 400+ missile attack, yet the Washington Post is not really that interested in giving us that light, merely keeping the darkness alive in hindering the light to shine on the truth of attacks against Israel. We can argue that Boaz Atzili has a point or two and he does have them, yet the lack of illumination on the actions of Hamas is also leaving me with a question mark in all this. In addition, the news (very generic) giving us Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi downplaying the rockets is also an issue, let’s be clear that it is a valid political play, but the stage with 400+ missiles is a changed stage and the denial over that is a little too weird for me. You see as a national security expert he knows better, the storage, the preparation to get this done was decently impressive. The timeline before this will be equally important. No matter how many rat tunnels are drowned. There is a direct need to look into the trace these missiles back as this will happen again and again and the next time it could optionally hit the wrong place (what Hamas calls the bullseye) and at that point the fence comes of and we do get a full scale war. We could consider that the pressure is removed as Gaza becomes part of Israel, yet another option would be preferred by pretty much every party (including Israel). It is there where we see the agreeing light to the statements by Dr. Mordechai Kedar. He gave us (more than once): “What would the UK have done to anyone who launched 400 rockets at its civilians? How about just one rocket? What would France do to anyone who dared launch one single rocket at its territory? What would any US president do to Mexico if it dared launch one mortar shell at America?” The bulk of the world has had enough of the mind games that Hamas and Hezbollah plays (as well as Iran and to some degree Turkey too) and the people are getting angry, they want it resolved it in any way that takes Hamas and Hezbollah out of the equation permanently. If anything that feeling is mostly fuelled by the images from Yemen, a situation that Hezbollah was a much larger part of than the news is letting on and the people are realising that too, hence the increased anger and frustration from the civilians in nations all over the globe.

Then we get one accusation that is a much larger issue. When we see: “Qatari money is being transferred at Iran’s behest. Iran’s rulers, under severe economic sanctions at present, do not want peace and tranquillity between Israel and Gaza. On the contrary, they want the smoke rising from a war between Israel and Gaza to divert media attention from Iran and the “deal” which granted the Ayatollahs 150 billion dollars in cash with which to destroy the Middle East. Qatar, a long-time supporter of the terror espoused by organizations whose ideology originated in the Muslim Brotherhood, backs Hamas publicly. It has, for the most part, built the infrastructure, including the military one, for a Hamas state in Gaza.” It is an issue as the evidence is required. It will not only end any nuclear deal, there would be enough public outrage that any politicians who was connected into diminishing this part in the equation, that person will be an outcast, the people will demand that person to be removed from office for life and the media is actually aiding some of these connected politicians. Certain people in the EU will see another light if we can ever clearly show evidence of their ‘assistance’ in feigned opposition to Hezbollah and Hamas, as it comes with a large consequence. One that needs to be put in legislation, yet the calls for an adjustment that a political voice is set to zero if any terrorist assistance could be clearly proven. To get there it is more and more important to trace the missile attacks not merely before the attack, but collect the evidence after the attack so that a much better case could be made against those supporting Hamas and Hezbollah through military hardware. I make it sound easy, but it is not, the water is deeply dark and there will be no clarity, not for a long time. Yet identifying the players in all this is becoming increasingly important., and there is a call to expose those who seemingly hide behind a humanitarian political cloak, and let’s face it the people have a right to know, do they not?

Yet the issue remains clouded and it will do so for some time. So as we see innuendo, gossip and covered information take the central road in all this, we need to consider the impact that inactions have. Even as we see US actions with: “The U.S. Department of State announced on Tuesday rewards of up to $5 million each for information or identification leading to the capture of the following terrorist figures: Hamas leader Saleh al-Aruri, and Hezbollah leaders Khalil Yusif Mahmoud Harb and Haytham ‘Ali Tabataba’i” we need to wonder if it has any impact at all. A Dark web ‘source’ made mention that one of them (Hezbollah) is supposed to be at a place called ‘مسجد الإمام الهادي يحيى بن الحسين’ either within the next 72 hours, of was there in the last 36 hours (the text was ambiguous and the translation by Google did not make any sense at all). Parts of the other text translated to a mosque supposedly in Sadat, which is in Egypt and that made even less sense to me. So relying on Google translate does not seem the best idea in any of this (as well as the fact that I cannot decipher the native Arabian alphabet), yet the exercise was important. Knowing the elements you cannot fathom in the first place is a first step in finding the limitations of a thought process. Data is the foundation of creating the timelines we need down the track and the lack of effort that are seemingly in place is impressive.

Even when we accept: “Qatar played a bad role in supporting the Houthis, especially after having already fought them as a former member state of the Arab Coalition, is self-destructive behavior, “ Al Adini said while explaining that Qatari leadership fully understands that Iran’s agenda in Yemen threatens both Arab and Gulf security“, we are seemingly missing a larger element in all this. You see, Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthi forces, Qatar and Iran are all elements in all this. They are all elements in a progressing destabilisation and money is the central key here. The issue has been going on for a year when we were first treated to “Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have imposed a near-total embargo on Qatar since June 2017 over allegations of Doha supporting radical groups and seeking closer ties with Tehran“, I always have doubts, but the given links are becoming overwhelming. It is not merely ‘where there is smoke, there is fire‘, it has evolved into: ‘There is so much smoke in this room, I can no longer see the walls‘, ignoring this and ignoring the games that Iran is playing in all this is becoming a very dangerous stance to maintain.

I did do some (highly speculative and debatable) research in this and there is more and more alleged links towards bitcoin exchange on the dark web. This leaves me with the worry that there are even more Qatari links active as there would be an easy method for Saudi’s to use their banks as they do not reveal anything to anyone ever, so whoever is using this path is requiring an almost total level of isolation. I am not stating that Saudi Arabia is innocent, but the implied facts give more and more rise that other players are using the dark web to launder money and make payments as well as supportive accounts. This is a stage that cannot be proven as any link will never go towards any source that has any value, yet I searched as 400+ missiles represent value and deployment of such resources will cost a fair bit too. So I looked into whatever dark web search I could. Now, there is no way to get anything remotely reliable and my method was as plain as it was useless. I merely looked at the haystack hoping I would see anything metallic (optionally the needle we all seek). That is as good as it gets and even as I got more and more details on optional events, finding the wheat from the chaff is unlikely to happen. I reckon me winning the lottery has better odds. Yet the idea that this path has been taken makes more and more sense so even as we cannot find the relative data, finding the relative data becomes increasingly important because there is every chance that places like Iran would use it to fund events for Hezbollah optionally all over Europe and finding the money is a top priority. Just on the side of all this, the fact that I (as a mere exercise) would have been able to get a Glock 17 & silencer for $1149 (and an additional $49 for two extra clips with a box of 50 rounds delivered to a drop place in the UK, and you still think the entire Novichok issue in Salisbury was as clear cut as everyone thinks? If I was able to find this, then the GRU would have known about it, that entire situation never did make any sense.

There were links that offered something more exotic, but I was unable to get there (reason unknown), so in all this there is a reason to check the links and there was even more reason to pursue or is that peruse the information? I believe that the dark web is the Chinese wall that both Iran and Qatar are allegedly using (extremely speculated by me at this point) to keep insulated from any accusations and therefor that data will become increasingly important. There was more, a Dutch Freelance (detective or Journalist) found an extremist with: “an .onion link in their bio. I thought, Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a jihadist group using an onion link. So I opened it, and I was blown away. I sent the link around to a few different friends with similar interests, and they were also blown away. We wanted to think it was a scam, but there were just too many factors ruling against it being a scam“, I personally believe that the issue is larger and even as some can be stumbled upon, there is a growing trend to use .onion links like burner phones. To be merely there for a short time (a speculated 96 hours) and then abandoned. Yet in those 96 hours, traffic of goods and finances could have been completed. It would be the operations equivalent of an entire lone wolf operation with no chance to find it in time. That too gives rise to the need to start tracking with a long term need after the fact. Even as prevention should remain the initial need, the data could down the track be enough for conviction and that too is important. Yet, for the most I cannot prove any of this. There is a lot of implied and even more speculation linked in all this (as I stated earlier) yet the connections are too realistic and probable to ignore. If people like Ben Strick are correct and there is an actual setting of: ‘jihadi crowdsourcing‘ then the impact of escalations in Europe will only escalate with all the issues that follow, which is an additional reason to stat mapping all this. So unless we want to start living with the slogan: ‘Terrorism is OK‘ we need to start to think about creating solutions that can deal with inverted data funnels with an optional stage that an inverted funnel leads to 3-4 other inverted funnels. This is not an easy path and there is no real direct answer, because it is not merely which inverted funnel it goes into, it could be that the third tier is a funnel where the path is not where it leads to but where it went when the data bounced, that too is a destination and that path that skill will become increasingly important. To illustrate this is a lot harder, but I will try though market research. Consider an interview; it is a mere one on one event. Now we assume that the interviewee was the jihadi crowdsourcer’s data point. So we begin with a few simple narrow, closed-ended questions. From there on we move to broader, open-ended questions. This gives an optional pattern and we move from both specific and general questions. When we have asked enough questions (collected enough data), we enter a stage with Diamond questions, which is a combination of Funnel and Inverted Funnel questions.

Consider the image, we see inverted funnels (yes, go with it), so as we go from A, will B be the exclusion, or did it enter the funnel? If it entered, C is out of the question, so if F, yet E remains a player. This is near impossible and it is not in one transaction, it is over hundreds of connected transactions that certain players will be excluded, even more events are needed to find a group, yet there will be a pattern over time and that is what is needed. Yet if C is not an inverted funnel, but a funnel, or it as an inverted funnel and the traffic went through C, we now see that F remains an option and B, D and E were excluded. It will be a data collection over a much larger time frame that will prove this and time is what is needed. Most Jihadists will not care to live, yet the people behind it will always prefer to outlive events and it is the only way to get to them. You see, when we look at history, we all know Ghandi, many, especially Hindu will know that he was murdered by Nathuram Vinayak Godse. Yet the movie (by Sir Richard Attenborough) implies someone behind the screen and those are the people we need to find. It starts by proving that there was a person behind the screen. In case of Hezbollah that is actually decently simple as the amount of Yemeni missiles required is impossible Hezbollah to afford (or produce) in any way shape or form and it is easy to state that it was Iran, but we need the individuals to connect to it all and that takes time. ‘Follow the money’ is the most realistic path to take in this case. It is more realistic as Mossad has been unable to find actual missile traffic for the longest of times, and even if they did, it would be for one shipment. That too is still important as it links goods and money, so that path must not ever be abandoned, yet conviction without the money path proof is pretty much impossible and the time is now as we see more and more events leading to Europe and to a larger stage, so this path is becoming essential. If we translate the events to marketing (or market research) the same paths can be used. Whether we go via vendor, via drop point or via the path of the funds and buyer, we have the elements of awareness of what to get where, interest to get what is needed, choice of goods and purchase to go through and unless every stage was another person (not enough people) there is still a path. The unaware cannot purchase, the unaware cannot choose, the interested part is aware, a choice was made, it does not matter whether online or offline, it is not virtual, so there was traffic in some form. Even if the first two stages are negated a specific person has made the choice of goods to purchase, so now we have inverted or not a much smaller funnel to work with. In the end at the bottom we have the point of purchase (or point of sale) and there is a connection there. Something was bought/sold and funds are linked to that, so that part is optionally set in cement, the rest is not, yet the deployment path is still ‘riddled’ with actual people as well making the picture more complete. Now we need to find their optional connections to the dark web, if it is web and not dark it becomes increasingly easy, yet this is not a path where we bank on too much good news and there is in the end the question if convictions will be possible. Even if the path is an inverted funnel (showing what some call a Customer Experience Funnel view), we can see that the jihadists unite in certain views and if they were the advocates in this, it stands to reason that they try to engage to increase their footprint (and attempted funding). Finding that point will give optional identification of channels with an optional overlap to people linked to the buyer and/or shipper. It is a slow path, yet as time progresses an essential one. It achieves two parts, the first the optionally linked people, yet it also shows that those not linked to anything can optionally be excluded freeing up resources to refocus in this path, because this path drains resources and whatever resources there are available will be stretched. It is precisely the view we need to have as more data means more efficiency. One could argue that it could make it an optional track to find links to servers that have remained invisible for the longest of times, because if two people are found, there is the optional chance that they have gone to a .onion link that we have never noticed before and that would be a first true victory, yet in a short term span, if temporary is the name of the game, it becomes a near impossible task, should we therefore not do it? Are we ready to admit defeat by stating: ‘Terrorism is OK‘, or will we get the notion to get clever about it and limit the dangers we are exposed to. For this we can actually quote Tom Cruise (the Firm): ‘If you want the criminals, go after their lawyers‘, in the case of Hamas and Hezbollah, we need to go after their accountants and contributors, and optionally their military goods distributor as well.

If you truly want to decrease pressures in the Middle East, this will be the only path that really works. If you are delusional enough to consider peace talks, consider how many there have been since 1982 and how often it worked (as well as the cost involved). It is a discouraging picture that makes depression look like a healthy positive look on life.

Oh, and should you consider Europe to be completely innocent in all this, consider that Bloomberg gave us: ‘U.S. Warns Europe against Iran Payments after Austria Bows Out‘ (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-15/u-s-warns-europe-against-iran-payments-after-austria-bows-out). The quote: “Austrian officials rebuffed entreaties from France, Germany and the U.K. to host the so-called special purpose vehicle, a system that the European Union sought to handle payments to Iran in defiance of U.S. sanctions” has absolutely no bearing on terrorism or fuelling terrorism. Yet it does show a desperate need to keep a level of facilitation to keep some Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in play, a situation that has not been realistic for several months now. The issue optionally becomes a much larger vessel. Even as we see: “EU nations have identified Austria as the best candidate to host a special purpose vehicle that could handle payments to Iran, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. Austria itself is not so keen. Belgium, Luxembourg and France have also been identified as potential venues but Belgium and Luxembourg have declined while France is looking to Austria“, we see a nation not interested and an EU ready to take a desperate step, in all this, when we see the earlier quote ‘France, Germany and the UK‘. Why isn’t France, Germany or the UK doing this? It is that setting that shows a political game of facilitation on too large a field. From my limited knowledge, I feel that the EU is all about non-accountability yet the impact will be felt in Europe. Unless direct evidence can be produced by all EU signatory nations that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action could prove to be an actual solution. And in this I mean that politicians have to put their name under it and live with the consequences of being cast out of politics (for life) when it backfires, at that point we will end up seeing that no one would have been willing to put their name under any of this and you still think that Iran is merely sitting on the sidelines?

We need to figure this out before the Middle East destabilises close to completely and we are running out of time, if we have to choose, I personally see no other option but to openly side with Saudi Arabia in all of this, they might not be perfect, but with Iran as an alternative, we are basically ending up not having any options for any stable future at all. That part of the equation was given to us by the SMH merely a few hours ago (at https://www.smh.com.au/world/middle-east/us-eyes-ways-to-remove-erdogan-foe-to-appease-turkey-nbc-20181116-p50gew.html). when we see that the US allegedly accused through: “The Trump administration is exploring possible ways to remove US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a foe of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, NBC News reported on Thursday“, Turkey an open ally of Iran, as they are openly strengthening trade relations, giving even more pressure to the European union in all this, when the US ends up handing over the ‘enemies’ of President Erdogan to Turkey, so that they can be lost forever, at what point was Iran even a choice?

How much longer must we wait until we make hard and essential choices in setting a path that actually stops terrorist actions, because 400+ missiles can be considered as actual evidence that there is clearly a lack of actions on that front by way too many political players and governments as a whole.

 

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Condoning terrorism

When do we do that? When do we find ourselves in a place where some acts of terror will be allowed and when do we say it is not? You might think that we do not condone it at all. When you think that, you would be wrong. That part is shown in the last few weeks when we look at the news and the bringers of news. In this the first part of the chain is weirdly enough coming from Denmark. It is the one place where the worst acts of torture will be the slicing of the subject with a knife, gut him and cut him, then roast until there is nothing left. Yet the subject was a dead pig and the result if “Æbleflæsk” (or Apple Pork). Yes those Danes do get around with a knife. So when I got treated to ‘Three held in Denmark over interview praising terrorist attack in Iran‘ yesterday, I was a little surprised. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/07/denmark-arrests-interview-praising-terrorist-attack-iran-asmla) gives us “Denmark has arrested three individuals on suspicion of having praised a terrorist attack in Iran two months ago that killed at least 24 people, including children“, which would be fine, yet when we are also treated to “Despite the fact that they are suspected of having committed crimes, they [the detainees] continue to be protected by extensive security measures because of the threat posed to them“. So it is not merely the fact that they spoke out. It is the underlying “stemmed from an alleged Iranian plot to kill an ASMLA activist. The person was not named“, is that not nice? For those not completely in the loop, the ASMLA (Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz) is about the aggressive consideration for a separate Arab state in Khuzestan Province from Iran. Let’s call it a partial independence of sorts. Iran has labelled Al-Ahvaziya a terrorist movement, which with more intelligence sources and data I cannot really comment on. Yet, does that not beat the clock by hours? In all this, Iranian murder Inc. or not, the EU reiterates commitment to the Iranian nuclear deal. Yes, because facilitating to nations that facilitates for terrorism is what Europe in their desperate economic situation really needs. This is all a month after “France had declared that Tehran was behind attempts by a number of Iranians – including a diplomat – to bomb a meeting of the Paris-based opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – also known as Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK)“, I made some mention of this as well in an earlier blog, yet Europe will still want to continue the nuclear deal. Apparently enough is not enough. I get the Danish position. I get it that they cannot condone the situation. The mere ‘suspected of violating the Danish law … on condoning terrorism‘ should be addressed, even as one party is condoning certain acts, the other is acting certain acts and they are still in the clear, which gives the much larger stage where the EU is condoning terrorism. In addition, the Iranian proxy war where they are arming people to fire missiles into Saudi Arabia to hit Saudi civilian targets is for the most not looked at either. So as we see the absence of: “Saudi air defenses on Thursday intercepted a missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group into the kingdom’s southwestern Jizan region“, they are all eagerly reporting the other direction traffic with “Saudi-Led Coalition Bombs Air Base in Yemen Capital“. They do mention other elements, yet the part “Iran supplied the Houthi militias with missiles that targeted Saudi Arabia” is left out in many western news providers, giving the people an unbalanced view on what is actually happening in Yemen. In addition we see Miguel Miranda (RealClear Defense) giving us: “Since 2016 not a month has gone by without the Houthis in Yemen sending either large diameter rockets or ballistic missiles into the Kingdom, with successful intercepts by Saudi air defences up for debate.  Even with a defence budget considered the third largest in the world, Saudi Arabia’s collection of Patriot’s won’t be able to thwart multiple launches at its major cities and energy infrastructure. Worse, Riyadh’s orders for either the S-400 Triumf or the THAAD have yet to arrive.” It has been proven on several occasions that Yemen never had certain missiles and that production of some missiles would have been impossible, with the current status of its neighbours, the remaining party Iran as a Houthi supplier remains and the media seems to be clearly relying on not mentioning that part. The quality sources that both American and Israeli defence gives us, with added documentation from The Brookings Institution, all having high level data at their disposal, but for the European media it is of no matter, it is merely an inconvenient truth, is it not?

The question becomes twofold. In the first, why is Europe not a lot more outspoken on the Iranian actions in all this?

The second question is why certain parties remain pushing for a nuclear deal, whilst there are clear indications that Iran will break the agreements, optionally before the ink of the autograph has dried. There are indications that operations have been thwarted. Actions by Iranian players (too many question to precisely point a finger), yet the actions allegedly stopped included France and Denmark, as well as in Belgium, Austria, Germany and Sweden. So there is an increasing stage of events in place, but the nuclear deal is still being debated. Is it not time to actually do something about Iran? The Swedish part, which is seen with: “Officers from Sweden’s security police agency Säpo have arrested a suspected Iranian spy for planning an assassination on Danish soil”, would have remained invisible if I was not able to read Swedish. Now we do get that Säpo is not very outspoken on the best of days, yet the media remained largely silent, implying more and more that the media is actively downplaying Iranian events to a much larger degree, is that not a little weird?

So even as the local Sweden reports: “Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen also promised “further actions against Iran”“, we have yet to see a much larger action against Iran in answer to the attacks within the national borders of their European ally, I mean, is the EU actually active in protecting its member states or is that all dependant on some nuclear deal? Denmark might be regarded as limited by merely a good cuisine and Bang and Olufsen, yet I am willing to bet that Denmark as well as the other nations has a lot more to offer. So the absence of actual actions against Iran is making less and less sense. If we compare all the western visibility on the actions of Iran versus all the articles that involve Jamal Khashoggi in the last month alone, it seems that the European media is willing to let Iran get away with murder, how weird is that?

When we are condoning acts of terrorism, we need to start looking at why this is happening and the media is becoming part of something rather distasteful. Not the true journalistic parts that keep newspapers afloat as much as they can, but those having a seemingly other agenda and calling themselves a member of non ‘fake news’ groups, those numbers are increasing and it is strange on how the media is not looking at itself in all this.

Now, let’s be fair, they are not their brother’s keepers, so it is debatable where they should stand in all this. Yet, when we are looking beyond a few curves, we get to see more, in this case a technology part. A side where we are notified of: “In testing, some third-party Windows 10 apps like Adobe Photoshop and Notepad++ no longer work as intended when users go to setting to choose either program as the default for .txt files. Windows 10 will instead absurdly ignore a consumer’s app default settings for both programs and open the file in NotePad on its own“, as well as “Microsoft does not document this bug on any list of known issues and also hasn’t yet issued a public response to related reports. The issue is instead believed to be linked to Cumulative Update KB4462919, initially released on October 9. Oddly enough, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update doesn’t appear to be impacted at the moment. It might be wise to temporarily pause updates or roll back and uninstall the problematic cumulative update if you’re in fear of this issue, or if you are already seeing that your file association settings aren’t holding

You might ask yourself how this relates.

That is a really good question, you see, from my point of view I believe that the filtering is not merely ‘terrorism’, it is economic. The media seems to have an intensified need to not go against the grain of economic needs (Iranian nuclear deal, Microsoft and Apple, you merely have search a little deeper to see the lack of reports in several parts. There is ‘Protesters are detained outside an Apple store in Beijing as they accuse the firm’s Chinese factory of ‘hiring student workers illegally’‘, which is only shown to people via the Daily Mail and the news is 11 hours old, it seems that no one else thought it was newsworthy, The Microsoft story is one that impacts millions of users and they only link I saw was from Digital Trends (at https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/new-windows-10-bug-messing-up-file-associations/), it did have a reference to Reddit who reported 88 upvotes and 47 comments two days ago, yet I see it nowhere else.

This is where I personally see the problem, when the economic footprint is above a certain level, we see that there is a chance that certain players will condone terrorism and blanket consumer impacted issues with large blankets of silence. When we accept a world that has these slipped values, I would be very critical of anyone willing to voice some half-baked story on how wrong it is to be a salesperson in the weapons industry. I reckon that that person is at least willing to take action; we merely hide behind the inactions of others and flag whatever we consider wrong emotionally, it is perhaps the largest failing in all of us. If you wonder whether you should agree or disagree there; this would be a valid consideration mind you. Merely ask yourself, how many actions by Iran you were unaware of and why were you not aware? You could have a very valid reason to not know. Now consider how many Microsoft driven devices you have and were you aware of the delete bug and the latest issue that popped up two days ago? If the answer is no and you have a PC, ask yourself why you were not aware of it, you see it impacts your daily life pretty directly does it not?

Just as the media kept largely silent on the actions of Sony in October 2012, we have been left in the dark too often, and it has everything to do with shareholders, stakeholders and advertisers. This is where you see the impact, it is the economic footprint liked to all this and it impacts us one way or another.

Yet when we start condoning acts that are not merely illegal, how far have we fallen from grace?

 

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The price of identity

We all have needs, we all have identities. It is important to us, as it is for many others. No one debates or disagrees with it. Yet what to do when identity hinders us? When we see the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/former-nsa-deputy-is-mattiss-leading-choice-to-head-the-spy-service-if-it-splits-from-cyber-command/2018/10/05/1be8d7a8-c73d-11e8-b2b5-79270f9cce17_story.html) giving us ‘Former NSA deputy is Mattis’s leading choice to head the spy service if it splits from Cyber Command‘, we need to consider the impact of identity, corporate identity, governmental identity, military identity, projected and presented identity. They are not the same and can vary to a much larger degree. When someone is part of what used to be referred to ‘No Such Agency‘. We will get the impact of identity; we all know that and many faced it too. Look at any friend or co-worker you have ever known and ask him/her about the impact of a merger and they will tell you, there are changes. Some are subtly, some are not noticed, yet others are, usually in infrastructure and the way things were done. Now the change tends to be for the good in the long run but that is not a given.

So what gives?

It is my personal observation and a highly speculative one at that. Yet I believe that the Washington Post giving us: “The current head of both organizations, Gen. Paul Nakasone, has urged Mattis to keep the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command under one leader on the grounds that the nine-year-old military organization is not ready to stand on its own, these people said. In recent weeks, Mattis was close to a decision to separate the leadership arrangement, but Nakasone’s counsel has caused him to reconsider, according to two U.S. officials. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations“, is not entirely accurate. I believe that ‘military organization is not ready to stand on its own‘ is not the setting that matter. I believe that Stratfor who gives us ‘A New, More Aggressive U.S. Cybersecurity Policy Complements Traditional Methods‘ is very much at the heart of that. I believe that the general is not ready or perhaps unwilling to set the offensive and aggressive part in motion. Now, this is no bad reflection on the general, let that be a first. He is well decorated, he has seen the field in many ways and he has done a fair share of field events. He has earned his rank. I merely wonder that a man who has seemingly played a defence and protection game is the man for the offense. I think that this is a football moment, and as a non-football expert (and a 49ers fan) I would compare the General to DeMarcus Lawrence from the Dallas Cowboys against what the US seems to demand is a Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans), or even a Tom Brady (New England Patriots), roles that are not really moveable. Even as a Quarterback might become a really good Derick Henry that Quarterback will never become a DeMarcus Lawrence. The defence and offense game is that far apart. This is where Chris Inglis comes in. He is an analyst (at heart), he is used to counter offensive strategies and introduce strategies of his own (effective one’s mind you). I believe that this is the game that is in the open at present and these two will need to find a way to make it work. Not merely because it is good for the needed strategy, but because the segregation of the two elements might hurt U.S. Cyber Command in a few ways, not merely funding, but the elements that U.S. Cyber Command currently have access to will partially fall away and getting two infrastructures like the NSA is unyielding, unaffordable and in the end will introduce flaws and dangers on both sides of the isle making the setting (as I personally see it) a non-option right of the bat. Stratfor gives us a few other items.

One of them is “A best-case scenario for a U.S. cyberattack would be disabling computer systems and networks being used against U.S. interests to prevent an attack from happening or to disrupt an attack that is in progress“. The problem there is that some of the opponents are getting to be really good at what they do and a few of them are not state driven, not by any state changing the dynamics of the solution. Even as I discussed the hop+1 strategy almost three years ago, settings like that require an expert layer one knowledge and the players cannot both have these experts changing the needs of the infrastructure overnight.

The second consideration is: “Perhaps the main challenge to U.S. engagement in tit-for-tat cyberattacks is that the United States is by far the biggest target for such attacks“. That might be true but that goes beyond mere true enemies, it includes a truckload of students wanting to finger the man (or is that giving them the bird)? Do they really want to waste resources to those people whilst the US has actual enemies in the world?

The larger issue is seen with: “Discussing the strategy, national security adviser John Bolton hinted that the administration had already taken steps to bolster offensive efforts in recent weeks, warning that the United States is no longer just playing defense when it comes to cybersecurity. But despite the Trump administration’s more hawkish tone regarding cybersecurity, it will continue mainly to rely on traditional measures such as the legal process, regulations and cooperation with the private sector when it comes to cybersecurity” It is here when we get the consideration of the resources required. The defence, offense and legal sides of it all becomes a real mess if the two split up giving the chance that targets and issues walk away on technicalities. How does that help?

The strategy s even more profound when we consider “Clandestine, discreet attacks are certainly already key elements of U.S. cyber tactics. There have likely been more examples of U.S.-launched attacks that have not come to light, perhaps because they were never recognized as cyberattacks. While the less known about U.S. cyber capabilities, the more effective they will be when deployed, this by definition limits the deterrence value of U.S. cyber capabilities“, at this point is the setting of ‘discreet’ that comes into play. With the two separated they will get into each other’s fare waters and more important give accidental light to the discreet part of the operation, there will be no avoiding it, only the most delusional person would think that it does not get out when more than one player is involved, because that will always introduce a third item being the intermediary, the cold war taught many players that part of the equation. And that is even before we get to the statement: “recent cases like the September indictment of North Korean cyber operatives, which displayed heavy FBI reliance on private security firms such as Mandiant and Alphabet to collect technical evidence and carry out investigations“, now we see the folly as Mandiant and Alphabet are mentioned, the entire matter grows further as soon as Constellis becomes part of the equation. That is beside the point of realising (highly speculative on my side) that neither three Mandiant, Alphabet and Constellis have the required safe servers in place to prevent names, places and facts from going out into the open. I might not be able to get in, but there are dozens who will get in and that voids the security of the matter to a much larger degree. For arguments sake I will leave Booz Allan Hamilton out of that equation, they have been snowed on long enough.

And even as we see the instance of legal preference, the US must realise that any attack from state or non-state parties in China or Russia has close to 0% of being successful (outside of the exposure part), the entire matter in case of the OPCW in the Netherlands is one. An attack was thwarted, yet was it THE attack? The guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/04/visual-guide-how-dutch-intelligence-thwarted-a-russian-hacking-operation) reads nice, and we see all these facts and from my point of view, things do not add up. You see, I would have used the car that we see mentioned “In the boot of their car was uncovered an arsenal of specialist electronic Wi-Fi hacking equipment” as a fire and forget consumable, use it as an access point, segregating the hacker from the accessing unit. When you have (as they stated) “cash: €20,000 and $20,000” getting a second car far enough to access yet not be directly linked is seemingly easy enough. Then there is the setting of the photo at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. I am not debating the issue of the photo, it seems genuine enough. In this operation they did not fly to Germany and took the train, or take a car and cross at Oldenzaal, Emerich, or even via Belgium and enter via Antwerp, or Eindhoven. It almost read like they wanted to get noticed. They know that Amsterdam Airport is high tech and nothing escapes their camera eyes. To me (a paranoid me) it comes across as ‘Where did they not want us to look‘. A mere sleight of hand deception, and again the entire GRU mention. A phone outside of that building and they had the taxi receipt? No one merely driving them to the airport in Russia or even them taking a bus from any hotel in Moscow. No a taxi receipt of all things, is anyone buying that? So in this it is not the Dutch, it is the Russian side that makes no sense at all.

How did I get there?

This is the initial setting of offense and defence. The proper application of strategy in all this matters, because we seem to undervalue and underestimate the need of either in all this. Because we get to push a button anywhere and anytime we seem to underestimate on what is recorded, what is collected and what can we verify. That entire mistake is how any offensive strategy can optionally become folly from the moment the instigation of ‘press any key‘ to start gets us. Proper offensive is not about doing what needs to be done, it is about being able to prove who did what. Perhaps Sony remembers that part as they were given that it was North Korea did something, whilst their computers were not even close to PC gaming ready, the mere processor, which was about 25% (at best) of a 1994 Silicon Graphics Indigo system is not the system that gives you what you need to hack the night away. The tools are equally as important as the access and ability to negate identity. When you see that part, the entire hop+1 intrusion path makes a lot more sense.

This now gets us to the end of the Washington Post, where we were treated to: ““As the build of the cyber mission force wraps up, we’re quickly shifting gears from force generation to sustainable readiness,” Nakasone said in a statement in May. “We must ensure we have the platforms, capabilities and authorities ready and available” to carry out successful cyber-offensives. Some former senior intelligence and defense officials oppose separating the “dual-hat” leadership arrangement, including former NSA Director Keith Alexander, former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. This week, former CIA Director David Petraeus, a retired Army general, said during a Washington Post cyber summit that he’d keep the dual-hat arrangement “for the time being.”” It is not merely the ‘we have the platforms, capabilities and authorities ready and available‘, you see, when we get to capabilities we see the need of offensive players and even as Cyber command might be aces in their field, the offensive game differs to some degree and even as we see that they are way above the student levels, we get back to the Football equivalent you see the application of defence and offense. It is not DeMarcus Lawrence versus Derrick Henry, the question becomes can DeMarcus Lawrence be a Derrick Henry that is good enough, that is the battle within. The mere realisation that if you fail this when the offensive is broken into a train wreck that makes the limelight in every paper, that is the game that is the dilemma that Gen. Paul Nakasone faces as I personally see it.

And when we see Stratfor with the one little gem we did not consider, the mere proposed fact that North Korea has a mere 9,000 IP Addresses, do you really think that they could have done this all, or are we in a setting where someone had the ability to act on BGP hijacking and was able to mask it to the level it needed to be masked at, because that was the offensive play that needed to be considered and there was no way that the evidence had been uncovered to that degree with a backdoor could be removed with a simple reset of routers.

#FourtyNinersRule

 

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Cheese Pizza with Oregano

I love Pizza, I hardly ever get it, merely because the people here tend to rely on Domino’s and Pizza Hut and neither tends to be a true pizza (as I personally see it). As I walked through Sydney over the last week, it dawned on me just the massive lack of actual decent Pizza places in Sydney. It is almost like they are no longer in a sustainable environment. People got used to the cheap solutions two chains bring and they call it Pizza. All the people in the neighbourhood accepted it as the real deal and now, we forgot what true awesome Pizza is like. Now, I am a little off the wall here. I love my Cheese Pizza, with the 5 cheeses and loads of Oregano on top. So when I think Pizza, I always think of the Bravo Trattoria Pizza’s at Crow’s Nest, they are my favourite! Yet, is it about pizza, or the place, or what Pizza actually is? You see, it does matter when we consider the Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/personal-finance/italys-debt-barely-sustainable-ubs-chief-economist-20180601-h10uun), we see here what I said weeks ago and last week to some degree. When we see “Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 130 per cent is “borderline sustainable”, the UBS top economist says. There is a level of the primary budget surplus which keeps debt stable, and above which you can begin to pay down your obligations, Kapteyn explains. For Italy this figure is a surplus of 1.3 per cent of GDP, versus the actual surplus of 2 per cent. It’s a skinny buffer of around 0.8 percentage points which at current debt levels “doesn’t inspire confidence”, Kapteyn says“. That is merely the tip of the iceberg. The issue is not that it is Italy, it matters more that it is one of the big four. UK, France, Germany and Italy are the large economic suppliers of a 27 nation bloc where they basically represent well over 50% of the EU economy, the fact that they all are in deep debt does not help and the fact that the UK is getting out, or is that ‘was trying to get out‘? So when we see add the issues of the UK and now we see how the Italian issues are growing and France is not far behind. A 27 nation failure due to the inability to set proper budgets, deal with debt levels and add to that a failed economy jump start that is now close to 3 trillion Euro printed with no real prospects to pay for any of it. That revelation is why Italy seems to be vacating the union. The action by President Sergio Mattarella by rejecting the Eurosceptic finance minister and put in his place Giovanni Tria a pro-EU professor. This is perhaps the first setting where we see that voting is no longer an issue for any government, the holier than thou setting of protecting the Euro and the EU against all odds, whilst those in the EU commissions are massively overpaid is setting the foundation of a dangerous mindset. The issue that the AFR is bringing to light is “markets are not pricing in the risk of an Italian exit, they are repricing the risk of a Italian default“. I always rated the Iexit (aka iLeave) setting very low, the two populist parties in charge was not that realistic in 2016 and when Marine Le Pen was ‘surpassed’ by a former investment funds manager we were all wondering what would come next and I thought it would lower the chances of the populists in Italy. And the news is not getting any better. We see that with “The European economy hit a wall over the final months of last year, with growth dropping from a quarterly growth rate of 0.7 per cent to more like 0.4 per cent. Economists are unclear of the reasons for the slowdown, but broadly believed the European economy would quickly rebound“, the issue I personally see is ‘broadly believed the European economy would quickly rebound‘, not the slowdown. You see there is no evidence that there is an actual quick rebound. There is every chance that there will be a rebound, but it will not be quick. The fact that these so called experts are all thumbs when it comes to their forecasting and with 0.3% unaccounted for, we can see that they are in the dark or playing the bad news cycle. I personally believe it to be the second one. And the Italian issues are increasing. Not merely the debt settings, it is a changed political landscape. Even as Paolo Savona was replaced by Giovanni Tria, there is still “Mr Di Maio will be vice-premier and minister for labour and economic development, including trade policy. Matteo Salvini, head of the League, will also be vice-premier and interior minister in charge of immigration“. This we got from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/79cf905c-64a8-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56). This duo is going to be a lot more important than even I initially thought. They now have a handle on labour economic development and immigration will see larger changes. There is no way to predict whether that is good or bad. If we listen to people like George Soros we are instantly rejecting liberalism, because it is easy to be a liberalist when you are a multi billionaire, yet he had no issues to short sell US$10 billion worth of Pound sterling, earning a billion in the process during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis. He did nothing wrong, he played the system when he could and make a billion. Things like that never go away and he must regard the EU zone as a very profitable short sell opportunity, which makes whatever he is trying to do dangerous, so in that light all his settings for “Best for Britain pushes for second referendum on Theresa May’s deal with EU“, a cause he is backing is very dangerous. In this by pushing the UK away from Brexit, the pressure on Italy decreases. The dangers become that irresponsible spending in the big four can go on for several more years and there is no way to control the ECB and their puppet masters. Unelected people deciding on the descent of financial futures in 27 nations that is how I personally see it. You can agree or disagree, yet ask yourself when was the last time that any European got a decent explanation on who of how the 3 trillion euro spend was going to be dealt with? You see over a decade in an economic setting that is close to the late 90’s, whilst keeping strict austerity in play all over Europe. There is quite literally no way that this will happen, because politicians will adjust their policy towards any speculative proclaimer of ‘the European economy would quickly rebound‘ economists, whilst not prosecuting them when they get it wrong (merely because making any claim of expectation is not a crime, is it?). A setting that the people have no chance of winning, hell, they won’t ever be able to break even on this. This shows that Brexit will be a hard, but the better way to go. When billionaires start proclaiming how bad it is and how ‘we all’ can get a better deal that is when you become afraid for your life and that is what is at stake. And we see this in the Australian Financial Review with ““creeping into the market”, Kapteyn says – “a potentially dangerous one”. After the glory days of 2017 in which investors basked in a globally synchronised upswing, markets are now faced with the potential return of the two-speed world economy: the US vs the rest“, so when we get “America’s economy is growing around 3.5 per cent; some independent analysts estimate growth as fast as 4 per cent. Europe is “at best” growing by 2 per cent“, that shows the dangers, because as George Soros is getting the winnings, the other players do not, from my point of view it is a form of leeching, leeching Europe dry for the term of a generation or better. You see again it is a personal view, it is why Best for Britain is getting the support, it is about delaying Brexit at the very least for as long as possible, merely because it stops the game people like George Soros are likely to be playing and when that stops Europe can start bringing things about, hopefully for the better, especially as the ECB will be forced to print money for all kinds of dubious reasons, dubious because kick-starting the economy after you printed 3 trillion to try it twice is just ridiculous, that money has to be paid back at some point and everyone is in denial about the latter part.

Yet this is still about Italy, not the UK. You see, Italians want what is best for Italy and I am fine with that, I believe in a healthy sense of national pride. Yet with “Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio of 130 per cent is ‘borderline sustainable’” they are facing an ugly truth, Italy needs to face 5-15 years of Austerity, yet with the ECB trying to economically equalise Europe, at the cost of the big four, so it amounts to Italy trying on top of an economy for 60 million Italians, whilst they are weighted with invoices for close to 250 million Europeans who can’t be bothered to get their house in order. it amounts to giving an addicted gambler $500 whilst they are only allowed to use $10 for gambling, you tell me how long it takes for things to go really wrong, and that is pretty much a given on this situation. It was seen in the Netherlands 2012 and 2013, and now we see, when we look at the Dutch government statements with in September 2017 we see “The economy will grow by 3.3% in 2017 and a projected 2.5% in 2018“, we see the EU commission giving the Netherlands a ‘mere’ 3.2% last month for that same timespan. Now the 0.1% is actually pretty good, but it is still dangerous when it is a 0.1% in Italy, the issue is seen when we see that the Netherlands has a 65% debt level against Italy at 130% of GDP, and the Dutch are actually in a much better position, so the 0.1% is no actual pain level. Portugal, Spain, Greece, Belgium and Italy all have debt levels well over 100% of GDP, several other nations are somewhere between 60% and 80% of GDP, whilst France is at 99.8%. It is the debt levels that are excellent for banks and not so good for the people. You see, when the big four are required to pay €254 billion in interest each year and that is just the large 4, how do you think that this gets paid for? A decade of inability to set a proper budget and all this is before we consider the €3,000 billion that the ECB printed for what they call Quantative Easing. That is what Italy needs to get away from and at 135% they have the hardest job of all. So when you see that all that money goes all to the banks, short sold loans that they never had the money for to pay for can you see just how dangerous the George Soros setting is in all this? It all impacts Italy to some degree. These are not merely the facts; there is also presentation, representation and misrepresentation. The issue is in the Australian Review, it is the view of Arend Kapteyn. Yet where is he at when he gives us “We are only now at the beginning to find out how responsible or irresponsible [the new coalition government] are going to be on the fiscal side“, you see, the setting then becomes what is irresponsible? Being not pro Eurozone, being forced to default whilst the alternatives are just too unacceptable for the Italian people? So is he the pro greed setting, or the pro solution setting, because with such debt levels we can almost unanimously accept that these two choices are mutually exclusive. The most interesting political part is that Enzo Moavero Milanesi is now Minister of Foreign Affairs. I would have thought that the populists wanted that part for themselves, the fact that this post is now with an Italian independent is an interesting choice, if the populists can work with this setting and use it to maximise their economy by setting new option and opportunities, Italy gets an optional path where minimised immigration and maximised economy could have a setting where the Italian unemployment rates could fall to a number below 10% over the next 24 months (highly speculative on my side). If they pull that off, the entire euro sceptic setting could grow a lot faster than would have been possible with Paolo Savona in the mix.

No matter how you slice the Pizza, the factual and actual quality Italian dish is under massive amounts of pressure on several sides and any Italian thinking that their life will get better in the short run is just gobbling down a [Unnamed Franchise] Pizza, bland food that look like a UFO and tastes not as great. The fact is that like Germany did earlier this decade, Italy will know 5-10 years of hardship, yet when persevered Italy could have an actual growing economy for a much longer time, something to look forward to (if you are Italian). Can this government pull it off? That is hard to say because it has been shown that the actions of the ECB are close to non-stoppable and that will still impacts the bottom line. It is good for America and George Soros in the short term, yet after that they will not care and Europe will not be going anywhere ever soon. That danger is just ignored all over the place. Just 2 days ago the Financial Times also gave us “There are still two weeks to go before Riga, but naming an end date for QE right now would be like the ECB shooting itself in the Italian boot,” said Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING-DiBa. “The Italian situation has tilted the balance towards the doves [and] clearly calls for the ECB to keep its options open and even to make clear that they will extend QE at least until December” (at https://www.ft.com/content/dd6b5d70-6413-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56), which is already an extension of well over a year. so when we see “The ECB has pledged to reinvest an average of €15bn a month over the first four months of next year, using the proceeds of government bonds bought under QE that have now matured” in that same article, we need to consider ‘bonds that have now matured‘, so that danger is seen in the Spanish setting where we see from some sources: “Spain will have refinancing requirements that exceed €300 billion per annum before 2022. In 2018, 41.2 billion euro, in 2019, 82.4, in 2020 83.9 and in 2021 58.5 billion euro, with 60.4 billion maturing in 2022“, so this fiscal year Spain will be required to find €41 billion, or increase taxes or cut services, and it will be twice that amount next year around, so how exactly is Spain in a setting to get the economy back whilst the debts are rising beyond normal control? Italy faces “84 billion euro maturities in 2018, 161 billion in 2019, 164 billion in 2020 and 172.5 billion euro in 2021” do the Italian people know that they are in such deep and hot waters? I wonder, and when they get confronted with that part of the bad news cycle, what will the previous and opposition then proclaim? I wonder if we will see true honest coverage on that blame game. I will order a decent Pizza to watch that unfold, because there are merely the two larger players in the EU-debt zone bloc confronted with the hardships that will hit them hard. Pushing these debts forward is just not a workable solution, not when the debt exceeded 130% of GDP, if you doubt my words, just talk to the average Greek in Athens and ask him how his quality of life is nowadays.

So as you wanted that your slice of life included a slice of pizza, consider the 99% in Italy who soon face the reality that they are no longer able to afford that for a long time to come.

 

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Be not stupid

There is an article in the Guardian. Now, we all agree that anyone has their own views, that has been a given for the longest of times, and those reading my blog know that I have a different view at times, yet for the most, I remained neutral and non-attacking to those with a different view, that’s how I roll.

Today is different, the article “‘Easy trap to fall into’: why video-game loot boxes need regulation” by Mattha Busby (@MatthaBusby) got to me. It is time for people to realise that when you are over 18, you are responsible for your actions. So I have, pretty much, no patience with any American, Reddit user or not, who gives us “a Reddit user who claims to have spent $10,000“. If you are that stupid, you should not be allowed to play video games.

The Setting

To comprehend my anger, you need to realise the setting we see here. You see, loot boxes are not new. This goes all the way back to 1991 when Richard Garfield created Magic, the gathering. I was not really on board in the beginning, but I played the game. The issues connect when you realise how the product was sold. There was a starter kit (which we call the basic game) it will have enough cards to start playing the game as well as the essential cards you need to play it. To get ahead in the game you need to get boosters. Here is where it gets interesting. Dozens of games are working on the principle that Richard Garfield founded. A booster would have 9-13 cards (depending on the game), It would have 1 (read: One) rare card (or better), 3 uncommon cards and the rest would be common cards. I had several of these games I played and in the end (after 20 boosters) it was merely about collecting the rare cards if you wanted a complete set. Some would not care about it and they could play the game. So this is not a new thing, so if you truly spend $10,000 you should not complain. If you have the money it is not an issue, if you did not, you are too stupid for words. In games it is not new either. Mass Effect 3, the best multiplayer game ever (my personal view) had loot boxes as well, I am pretty sure that they were the first. Yes, you could buy them, with money, or with Microsoft credit points. The third option was that you could gather points whilst playing (at the cost of $0) and use these gained points to buy loot boxes, the solution most people used. Over time you would end up with sensational goods to truly slice and dice the opponents, all gained through play time, no extra cash required.

So when I see places like Venture beat (and the Guardian of course) state issues like: “some people, policymakers, and regulators — including the gaming authorities in Belgium and Netherlands — that those card packs have are gambling“. I see these statements as moronic and I regard them as statements of false presentation. You see, that is not what it is about! When you see the attached picture, you see that these cards are sold EVERYWHERE. The issue is that the CCG card games are sold in the shops, which means that revenue is TAXED. The online sales are not and now, policymakers are all up in arms because they lost out on a non-taxable ‘$1.25 billion during its last quarter even without releasing a major new game‘, that is the real issue and they are now all acting in falsehood. So, when I see “I am currently $15,800 in debt. My wife no longer trusts me. My kids, who ask me why I am playing Final Fantasy all the time, will never understand how I selfishly spent money I should have been using for their activities“, as well as “he became addicted to buying in-game perks, which he later described as ‘digital garbage’“. I merely see people without discipline, without proper control. So without any regard for diplomacy I will call them junkies, plain and simple. Junkies who have no idea just how stupid they are. And, since when do we adjust policy for junkies? Since when are the 99% who hold themselves all plenty accountable, have the proper discipline to not overspend and some (like me) never considered loot boxes in a game like Shadow of War, now being held to account, to lessened gaming impact by junkies? Can anyone answer me this?

Now, we need to take into consideration one or two things. Are the FIFA18 loot boxes set in a similar light? That is the one place where (seemingly) FIFA is in the wrong. You see I have been searching to get any info on what is in a FIFA loot box, but there is no information given. I believe that this lack is actually an issue, yet that could be resolved in 24 hours if Electronic Arts would dedicate 1 page (considering it brings them $1.25 billion a quarter) on what is to be found in a loot box (Rare, Uncommon, Common). The second part that I cannot answer (because I am not a soccer fan) is whether the game allows loot boxes to be earned through playing and finally. Can the game be played without loot boxes? It seems like such a small alteration to make and especially when we see the fuss that is being made now. Some additional facts can be seen in Rolling Stone Magazine of all places (at https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/loot-boxes-never-ending-games-and-always-paying-players-w511655). So now that we get a fuss from several nations, nations that have been all open and accepting on games like The Decipher CCG games Star Trek and Star Wars, Magic the Gathering, The Lord of the Rings, My Little Pony, Harry Potter, Pokémon, and that list goes on for some time. In that regard, they are all gambling and in my view, I feel certain that these so called politicians and lime light seekers will do absolutely NOTHING to get anything done because the cards are subject to VAT and the online stuff is lost taxable revenue. That is what I personally see as the foundation of a corrupt administration.

You see, the fact is that it is not gambling. You buy something that is in 3 categories, Rare, Uncommon and Common, you ALWAYS get this in a setting of 1 rare, 3 uncommon and 5 common, which card you get is not a given, it is random, but they will always get that setting. Let’s for example state that the loot box is $7, you get one $3 card, three $1 cards and five $0.20 cards, so how is that gambling? For Electronic Arts, until they update the website to give a precise definition might be in waters that are a little warmer, but that can be fixed by the end of the day. Perhaps they do have such a page, but Google did not find it.

In addition, Venture Beat gave us (at https://venturebeat.com/2018/05/08/ea-ceo-were-pushing-forward-with-loot-boxes-in-face-of-regulation/) “EA will have to convince policymakers around the world that it is doing enough and that its mechanics are not the same as the kinds of games you’d find in a casino“, which is easy as these policymakers did absolutely nothing to stop CCG’s like Pokémon and My Little Pony (truly games for minors), so we can stat that this was never about the loot box, it was about missed taxable revenue, a side that all the articles seemed to have left in the dark.

The Guardian has one additional gem. With: “A bill introduced in Minnesota last month would prohibit the sale of video games with loot boxes to under-18s and require a severe warning: “This game contains a gambling-like mechanism that may promote the development of a gaming disorder that increases the risk of harmful mental or physical health effects, and may expose the user to significant financial risk.”” Here I am in the middle. I think that Americans are not that bright at times, a point of view supported with the image of paper cups with the text ‘Caution Hot’ to avoid liability if some idiot burns their mouth; we know that sanity is out of the window. Yet the idea that there should be a loot box warning is perhaps not the worst idea. I think that EA could get ahead of the curve by clearly stating in a readable font size that ‘no loot boxes are needed to play the game‘, which is actually a more apt statement (and a true one) for Shadow of War, with FIFA18, I do not know. You see, this is a changed venue, when you can add a world player to your team the equation changes. Yet, does it make it more or less enjoyable? If I play NHL with my Capitals team and I get to add Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretsky my chances to get the Stanley cup go up, yet is that a real win or is that cheating? That is of course the other side, the side that the game maker Ubisoft enabled in their Assassins Creed series. you could unlock weapons and gear for a mere $4, they clearly stated that the player would be able to unlock the options during the game, yet some people are not really gamers, mere players with a short attention span and they want the hardware upfront. Enter the Civil war with an Uzi and a Remington, to merely coin a setting. Are they gamers, or are they cheaters? It is a fair question and there is no real answer. Some say that the game allowed them to do this, which is fair and some say, you need to earn the kills you make. We can go to it from any direction, yet when we are confronted with mere junkies going on with spending $15,800, adding to a $69 game, we are confronted with people so stupid, it makes me wonder how he got his wife pregnant in the first place. If the given debt $15,800 is true then there should be a paper trail. In that regard I am all for the fact that there should be a spending limit of perhaps $500 a month, a random number but the fact that there is a limit to spend is not the worst idea. In the end, you have to pay for the stuff, so have a barrier at that point could have imposed a limit on the spending. In addition, we can point at the quote “how I selfishly spent money I should have been using for their activities” and how that is the response of any junk to make, ‘Oh! I am so sorry‘, especially after the junk got his/her fix.

The Guardian gives in addition an actual interesting side: “Hawaiian congressman Chris Lee said “are specifically designed to exploit and manipulate the addictive nature of human psychology”“, it is a fair point to make. Are ‘game completionists’ OCD people? Can the loot box be a vessel of wrongdoing? It might, yet that still does not make it gambling or illegal, which gets us to the Minnesota setting of a warning on the box. It is an interesting option and I think that most game makers would not oppose that, because you basically are not keeping loot boxes a secret and that might be a fair call to make, as long as we are not going overboard with messages like: “This game is a digital product, it requires a working computer to install and operate“, because at that point we have gone overboard again. This as a nice contrast against: “In the Netherlands, meanwhile, lawmakers have said that at least four popular games contravene its gambling laws because items gleaned from loot box can be assigned value when they are traded in marketplaces“, which is another issue. you see when you realise that “you can’t sell any digital content that you aren’t authorized to sell” and as we also saw in Venture Beat ““While we forbid the transfer of items and in-game currency outside of the games, we also actively seek to eliminate that where it’s going on in an illegal environment,”“, we see a first part where we can leave it to the Dutch to cater to criminals on any average working day, making the lawmakers (from my personal point of view slightly short sighted).

So, in the end Mattha had a decent article, yet the foundation (the CCG games) which were the creators of the founding concept were left outside the basket of consideration, which is a large booboo, especially when we realise that they are still for sale in all these complaining countries and that in that very same regard these games are not considered gambling, which sets the stage that this was never about gambling, but several desperate EU nations, as well as the US mind you, that they are all realising that loot boxes are billions of close to non-taxable revenues. That is where the issue holds and even as I do not disagree with the honourable men from both Hawaii and Minnesota, the larger group of policy players are all about the money (and the linked limelight), an issue equally left in the dark. There is one issue against Electronic Arts, yet they can fix that before the virtual ink on the web page has dried, so that issue is non-existent as well soon enough.

It’s all in the game and this discussion will definitely be part of the E3 2018, it has reached too many governments not to do so. I reckon that on E3 Day Zero, EA and Ubisoft need to sit down in a quiet room with cold drinks and talk loot box tactics, in that regard they should invite Richard Garfield into their meeting as an executive consultant. He might give them a few pointers to up the profit whilst remaining totally fair to the gamers, a win-win for all I say! Well, not for the politicians and policy makers, but who cares about them? For those who do care about those people, I have a bridge for sale with a lovely view of Balmain Sydney, going cheap today only!

 

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The failing Mario Draghi Kart

Just yesterday, the Deutsche Welle (at http://www.dw.com/en/eurozone-economy-still-requires-stimulus-ecbs-mario-draghi/a-42751327), gave us that the ‘Eurozone economy still requires stimulus‘, so after these years the stupid and the rich still will not learn and the people are about to pay for it dearly. That is, not the UK, they might have gotten out just in time, if they don’t add delay upon delay. Even as we are sussed to sleep with: “The bank is gradually reducing its bond purchase program but it may continue past September”, the people are sussed to sleep, in a situation, where they sleep on a luxury liner and it is going down. Like having a nice cabin on the Titanic and you decided to sleep in on April 15th and you did. You never woke up, you could if there was oxygen, yet oxygen is 3786 meters away, 3786 meters straight up!

So when we are pointed at the ECB’s asset purchase program, which began three years ago, and which has seen the central bank spend €2.55 trillion ($3.14 trillion) to buy government bonds and other financial assets. The people are not given clarity on where that money went EXACTLY, in other news, that news we got months ago on Mario Draghi being a member of a very exclusive 5 mile high club. So when we got 6 weeks ago: “European Central Bank President Mario Draghi should give up his membership of the opaque Group of 30 consultative body because it risks hurting public confidence in the ECB’s independence, the European Ombudsman said on Wednesday“, how come the near entire bloody media has not followed up on this? After that one day it was silenced, the ECB will not respond, Mario Draghi apparently keeps on getting away with whatever he needs and there are no questions, not even on an international level which is unsettling in so many ways as it leaves us with the indication that the media may be as unreliable as the politicians they are reporting on.

A program that has sunk 3 trillion dollars and everyone is just stating that the economy is great, yet nobody is asking the number one question and that is ‘How will we pay it back?

The theory of printing money

Mario Draghi, president of the ECB has profiled his place and his ‘bank’ as awesome, marketing on a near supreme level, like a politicians stating on how honest he is. Excellent standards, great breeding and stellar academic excellence, and you know that expression about a story being too good to be true?

So they have their ‘Quantative Easing’, they use it to buy government bonds and other financial assets. The purchases have helped keep borrowing costs low, which in turn have boosted spending and investment in the Eurozone economy. But is this true? You see, there are now two levels of problems and dangers. When we consider that the bond is a debt security, under which the issuer owes the holders (so the government that issued the bonds now owes the ECB), a debt and (depending on the terms of the bond) is obliged to pay them interest and to repay the principal at a later date, termed the maturity date.

So over $3 trillion is bought from these governments and those governments are paying the ECB interest until they pay back the amount at the date of maturity (could be up to 30 years). So basically they are pushing massive debts forward, it is almost like the Greek debt mess, but now close to 173 times more intense in regards to the outstanding amount. The current makers in charge get a free pass and leave the mess to the next person whilst they enjoy the millions they earned as well as the multimillions they got by being a member of an exclusive group of 30, as they get the results before any other publication and they get to the cream all without ever running the risks other ‘investors’ face.

So whilst everyone sees the interest only part, we are kept in the dark on the fact that an additional $3 trillion would be outstanding and with the UK out of play, the other nations will get to pay for it all, so when we consider that last week nations like the Netherlands told the EU that they want a freeze on EU contributions, so now we read: “Rutte has said he does not want the Dutch contribution to the EU to increase, despite the European Commission’s call for higher spending on climate change and border controls, and the gap left by Britain after Brexit. Like the Netherlands, Britain is a net payer into the EU’s coffers and will leave a large hole when it pulls out. The Commission wants to fill the gap through a combination of spending cuts and higher contributions, something which the Dutch strongly oppose” (at https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2018/02/dutch-prime-minister-begins-campaign-to-freeze-eu-contributions/), what no one is looking at, or mentioning is that the outstanding $3 trillion is going to be an additional matter to deal with, even if that is placed in a very separate part of the books. Payment will be due!

So as they give the mention how Brexit will be one reason to increase payment, the absence of the QA plan and outstanding amount remains unmentioned, it is an impact, but that is exactly why the UK got out in the first place. In this the contribution for the Dutch will go up by $4500 per person, so where is that coming from? Now consider that the impact of the matured bonds will be massive for the positive contributing nations, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark and Austria would end up getting a blow to their budgets unlike any they have had. The question becomes how intense depends on certain elements. So when we consider the bad curve. So, when the bonds bought reduce in value by 30%, the ECB is not hit, it might lose the value, but that means that the government it was bought from ends up with a smaller invoice to pay, and the losses for the investor (the ECB) loses 30% of their investment, now the EU nations as a bloc will have to come up with that money. So depending on where it was invested in, that government get to laugh as the other EU members need to pay for the ‘losses’, which amounts to the positive paying nations. This is one of the foremost reasons why I was all for the UK getting out as soon as possible. So these nations could end up paying an additional $1 trillion divided amongst them. So how was this ever going to be fair? Of course that is if the value of these bonds depreciates, if that does not happen, than there is no additional issue, but the fact that the outstanding amount is still due for payment and in light of the bulk of these EU nations not being able to keep a decent budget and almost no ability to pay such amounts does not help us in any way in raising confidence in regards to the EU moving forward. Greece is to the smallest extent some indication, even as many sources are positive, I have an issue with “The 2017 primary balance target of 1.75 percent of GDP is expected to be reached with a significant margin. For 2018 the primary balance target of 3.5 percent is considered achievable“, so there are two parts. The first is the use of ‘expected to be reached‘, margin or not, these numbers are not yet set in stone, so there could be a bad news cycle. The second part is ‘target of 3.5 percent is considered achievable‘, which means an almost 100% increase towards the positive result, which has never been realistic. Even as the unemployment numbers are down from 27% a few years ago, to 21%, this still implies that one out of 5 is without a job, that means the stresses on the Greek infrastructure remains and it will remain for several years to come. So when it comes to the larger nations, Spain, Italy and France are still a downward drag here in regards to the overall EU and their drag is draining their infrastructure and options towards pushing the EU economically forward, some others like the Netherlands and Sweden are ahead of the curve, but we forget that they are merely 26 million, whilst the three dragging us down represent close to 185 million people, in that regard we forget the weight that the larger nations have. So in that both the UK and Germany are the positive sides, but the UK is leaving and adding Germany only gets that group of 3 at 50% of the ones slowing the EU down, so even as the slowdown is a good thing, it is still a negative result in the end. So it is in that light that there is a growing risk to the entire Quantative Easing plan that Mario Draghi gave the EU and even as they are all on how ‘the economy is so much better‘, I agree that compared to two years ago, the people are more positive and jobs are getting better, yet this has been at the expense of unrealistic levels of spending and there is no given on when that will be resolved, so those people have a $3 trillion bill hanging over their heads.

You see, part of the problems is infrastructure, EU infrastructure mind you. So as the Australian Financial Review (at http://www.afr.com/news/economy/monetary-policy/mario-draghi-keeps-focus-on-monetary-accommodation-20180226-h0wos8) gave us “Draghi did address a question on why ABLV Bank received emergency support from the Latvian central bank before the ECB declared it failing or likely to fail. He said that the Emergency Liquidity Assistance policy – under which national central banks rather than the ECB decide to provide support to troubled lenders – is a “remnant of a past time” and should be reformed

Say What?

So basically a bank got support from its national bank, whilst the ECB had it as ‘likely to fail‘, so is this how Quantative Easing is ‘miss-spent’? It is not completely clear or fair to state it in that way, yet when we see Reuters with “The ECB said at the weekend that privately held ABLV is likely unable to pay its debts or other liabilities as they fall due. “We believe our bank will be able to settle with all of our clients in full,” ABLV, Latvia’s third-biggest bank by assets, said in a statement. “Voluntary liquidation is an important condition for it – the process has to be done as professionally and as transparently as possible, given the history of Latvian insolvency and liquidation processes”“, yet in all that is there any mention whether that included the emergency support funds? The text does not include that part, so that is money down the drain. That whilst it is not the only scandal that Latvia faces. If we consider the Stratfor view (at https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/what-watch-two-banking-scandals-unfold-latvia), we see “On Feb. 17, the Latvian anti-corruption agency detained the head of the country’s central bank, Ilmars Rimsevics, after Grigory Guselnikov, the Anglo-Russian owner of Latvia’s Norvik bank, accused him of taking bribes. Rimsevics has denied any wrongdoing, and Latvia’s Defense Ministry said that the allegations were part of a “massive information operation” by an external actor. Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said that the corruption allegations would be investigated“, as well as “a report issued Feb. 13 by the U.S. Treasury Department detailing the results of its investigation that found ABLV had facilitated transactions linked to “large-scale illicit activity connected to Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine” as well as activities circumventing sanctions on North Korea. In the wake of that report, significant assets were withdrawn from ABLV“. Now we can see that for what it is, yet we also get “the ECB’s Single Resolution Board has rebuffed ABLV’s efforts to seek financial assistance, determining that shoring up the bank “was not in the public interest.”“, so in light of the mention by Mario Draghi with ‘under which national central banks rather than the ECB decide to provide support to troubled lenders‘, I see it as instead of money wasted from the left trouser pocket, it came from right cheek pocket. How does that solve anything? The fact that the trousers came from the old tailor, the fact that the damage was not contained and allowed certain parties to take their cash out of Latvia is still cause for concern for those wearing the trousers.

That reflects also when we add the Greek issue that is playing right now with “the resignation on Monday of economy minister Dimitris Papadimitriou and his wife, the alternate labour minister, Rania Antonopoulou. Antonopoulou gave her notice after it was revealed that she had accepted €23,000 in housing benefits at a time of immense hardship for Greeks” (source: the Guardian). The issues playing do not seem like much, but it is like mopping the floor in a room where the water main has burst, it is close to pointless. In all this, especially when we hear Alexis Tsipras come with ‘praising the couple, in a speech late on Tuesday, for the “sensibility” they had exhibited in stepping down‘. To me it reads like ‘I am happy you vacated the premises as the people now know what you did and they are angry, thank you for that!‘ Is there any way that the Greeks are not getting fuming mad on that issue?

That is the part that does matter, because that is linked to whatever bonds were purchased, where they were purchased and how much is in play. We see none of that; merely that the invoice at present is set at 30 billion Euros per month, down from 60 billion per month earlier and 80 billion per month before that. So there is no way to tell how unrealistic my 30% loss is, it could be as low as 1% or as much as 41.3%, there is at present no way to tell. It is a long term gamble instigated by those in power now and left to solve for whoever gets to hold that seat when those spending’s mature and payment is due. Yet the chance of breaking even (best case scenario) is almost statistically impossible and no one has answers how to deal with it the moment it happens.

Can the Draghi failing be proven as a failure?

That remains the main event in all this and the fact is that the proof is nowhere near complete because the transparency in the spending and the path to repayment is missing. The fact that the money is printed and that the payment of the printed money is due at some point is not dealt with, by none of the media. Is it because it is not due now, or are we kept in silence because it stops us from asking questions? Perhaps like the elite group of 30 bankers, only initial questions are allowed and no response will be coming. That are merely factors in all of this and it does NOT sets any premise to the failure or success of the acts by Mario Draghi. Part of it is shown by Bloomberg a mere 15 hours ago, as they gave us: “The rate of price growth slowed to 1.2 percent this month from 1.3 percent, dropping to its weakest since 2016. The core measure was unchanged at 1 percent. The figures follow a series of releases that have checked the economy’s thundering momentum at the start of 2018, which had emboldened policy makers who want a faster unwinding of the central bank’s crisis-era monetary stimulus“, so even as that is not evidence, it seems to me that people are stalling and delaying stopping the QA wave, until the QA wave shows a positive. It is like watching a person throw more and more money in the pokeys until that person breaks even. In gambling terms it is watching a fool bleed dry. Even when we accept that a pokey returns 90% over its lifetime, that means that at the very least there is a loss of 10%, even if that person is getting lucky, the small wins are still used up whilst the player is trying to break even and in the end that money too is gone. That is how we could see the QA program to go and if that is true, a loss of 41.3% might have been optimistic, but it remains speculation. The article (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-28/slowing-euro-area-inflation-helps-draghi-push-back-exit-debate) now gives the other parts I mentioned earlier too. With “consumer price growth almost halved in Italy and slowed in Germany” giving the line I had that with unemployment in Germany being an asset, but this slowing and 50% less gives rise to more without a job, or halted in economic growth for Italy, whilst Germany is halting to some degree their forward momentum, which translates in upcoming bad economic news cycles, or better stated less positive ones, so how will that impact the outstanding $3 trillion? The impact is only seen when that amount is due, but the impact will be there and those who pushed it onto us will no longer be around and they end up washing their hands off the dangers and leave us to pay the outstanding invoice, it makes for the most dangerous of market karts.

With ‘Buy now and pay when we make the most profit!‘ is an economic standard that has never been good commerce, or realistic for that matter; but that is exactly what Europeans signed up for, and the people in Europe end up not getting a say in the matter. That is the issue I opposed all that time and that is why I hope that the UK got out in time, because that part will drag the EU economy down to a degree it has not seen before. The only worry is what happens when that issue hits the European tax payers, because it will! No doubt about that!

 

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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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