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The wrong claim to make

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Opposed to Fry

The Guardian placed an interesting piece regarding Stephen Fry. This is a good thing, it is always nice to see the point of view of a truly intelligent person, even if I do not entirely agree. This is what happens in an intelligent world, one gives a good point of view and the second person opposes it, or agrees with it. In a true interactive dialogue, the problems of the world could be solved in such manner, which is why it tends to be really sad when politicians avoid that approach slightly too often. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/28/stephen-fry-facebook-and-other-platforms-should-be-classed-as-publishers) gives a few nice gems to start with: “Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites“, this is a good start, but here is also the foundation of my disagreement.

You see ‘Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies”‘ gives us a point, in my view Facebook is not an aggregating news agency. It is a social media outlet and as such, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, Reuters, CNN and a whole host of other providers push their articles to Facebook, often just a small eye catcher with a link to their web page. People can use ‘like‘ and ‘follow‘ and as such the news appears on their time line. This is mere facilitation. Do not get me wrong, Stephen Fry makes good points. In my opposition I would state that it makes more sense to go after the tabloids. Until they clean up their act with the innuendo and their not ‘fake’ but ‘intentional misrepresented‘ news, news that is miscommunicated in such ways to create emotional waves. They need to lose their 0% VAT option, that should be reserved for ACTUAL NEWSPAPERS. You see, these tabloids also use the social media as a projecting outlet. In all this Facebook merely facilitates. The second quote is “Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”“, I find it a lot harder to disagree with, although, when was the last time tabloids were actually truly fined to a realistic amount, an amount where the fine is set to the revenue of a week of published papers? You see when you have 2 billion users, you will get waves of fake news, or false information. There are no numbers, but consider that with 2 billion users, you are looking at 250 million to 1 billion added events per day, how can this be policed? Now, algorithms to police the use of certain words and that could help to some degree, yet the abusers of the social media system are getting clued in too. So they are getting good at avoiding triggering the software by avoiding words that flags them. In addition, when it is done via fake accounts, how can anything be stopped?

Fry makes a good case, yet I think he is not seeing the scope and amount of data involved. In addition, we see “At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly“, he is completely correct, yet the users of Facebook have the option to not watch it or to not accept it on their timeline. Doesn’t that make it a choice of freedom for the users of Facebook? I have in the past needed to block content from a ‘so called‘ friend, merely because of the amount of BS he was forwarding. It was fixed with a mere click of the button. This is not an opposition towards the point Stephen Fry is making, but an answer on how some people could deal with it. In this equation we have the number of people on Facebook, there is a variable that takes into account the amount of BS we get from tabloids, and you better believe that they are active, via ‘stories’ and via advertisement. The advanced options of granularity that Facebook advertisements offers is the reason why those tabloids want to be there and the tabloid group outside of the UK is massively larger than the disgusting size of the UK tabloids is and they are all offering their links on a global scale.

Can Facebook be held to account? Well, to a certain level they can, you see, the actual propagator of events needs a Facebook account. When information is limited to an audience, the impact is lessened. So as Facebook users can no longer send information to friends of friends, only to friends, we have lost an iteration, this could be the difference between 500 people getting the news (fake or real) or the impact that this news goes to 250,000 people, when the addition is that newsmakers can no longer forward it over timelines, but only to the one subscribed timeline, we will soon see a shift on the wave of messages. In addition, not only is the damage contained (to some degree), but as forwarding any post becomes an instance, there would be a much smaller list to police and the users forwarding the post would no longer be the facilitator, they would become the publisher. Facebook is kinda ‘off the hook’, but the user is not, they could to some degree be held to account for certain actions. It makes the events a lot more manageable. In addition, it could limit impact of events.

So here we see the optional solution to some degree. It must be clear that it is to some extent, because it merely drops the impact, it does not take it away. Stephen follows it all up by also making reference to the British Airways IT fiasco. We now see “Fry cautioned that the world’s reliance on digital systems would also inevitably prompt a cataclysmic cyber-attack and bring on a “digital winter for humankind”“, there is certainly a danger and an issue here. The question becomes which issue is in play? As we see Reuters giving us: ““Many of our IT systems are back up today,” BA Chairman and Chief Executive Alex Cruz said in a video posted on Twitter“, we need to realise that even as Terminal 5 was designed to deal with 35 million passengers, in 2015, the numbers give us ‘Terminal 5 handled 33.1 million passengers on 215,716 flights‘, this gets us the average of 91,000 passengers a day, for 590 flights. So there would be an issue for 3-4 days I reckon. That is just the one day impact. The issue that plays and the caution of Stephen Fry is that as we are unaware of why and how it happened, there is no guarantee that it will not happen again. One of the Guardian articles gives us: “The glitch is believed to have been caused by a power supply issue and there is no evidence of a cyber-attack, the airline said. It has denied a claim by the GMB union that BA’s decision to outsource hundreds of IT jobs to India last year was behind the problems“, which has two parts one is the power supply issue, which is a bit of an issue, the second one is outsourcing. The first one is weird, that is, until we know where that power issue was. If there is a server farm, the server farm would be an issue. At this point, the backup systems should have been working, which should if properly set up be in a secondary location. power issues there too? There are several points where the issue could impact, yet with proper setup and tested solutions, the impact should not have been to the degree it was. That is, unless this was done by the same team who ‘tried’ to give the NHS a new system about 5 years ago, if so then all bets are off. The outsourcing sounds nice when you are a union, but that would merely impact the customer service as I personally see it, so until I see specific evidence of that, I will call it a bogus claim by GMB.

The Stephen Fry issue was neither, he merely stated ‘digital winter for humankind‘, which is an actual danger we are facing more and more. You can judge that for yourself and test it. You merely have to switch off mobile data and Wi-Fi from your mobile for 24 hours. 99.992% will not be able to do that, we are that relying on getting fed digital information. We will offer a host of excuses; like ‘I need to be reachable‘ or ‘people need me non-stop‘. I see it as all bogus mentions of the fact that we are digitally too dependent. If you give these people the additional limitation of ONLY using the e-mail and office programs, the chaos is nearly complete. We are all 100% digitally dependent. That means that any damage to such an infrastructure will bring us distress. We then see “An extinction-level event … will obliterate our title deeds, eliminate our personal records, annul our bank accounts and life savings” which is only part of the quote, but this part has already been arranged for the people of the world, it is called Wall Street (remember 2004 and 2008).

The final part to address is the part we see combined in the article. “Fry also addressed the rise of big data, which has seen private companies competing for and using the personal data of millions for corporate gain, the gig economy of Uber and Deliveroo; the inability of governments worldwide to keep up with technological progress; and live-streaming services like Facebook Live allowing people to broadcast acts of violence and self-harm“, the three elements are:

  1. Rise of big data
  2. Keeping up with technological progress
  3. Live streaming towards violence and self-harm

There is no issue with the rise of big data, well, there is but the people are in denial. They are all about government and the optional alleged abuse of that data, whilst they give the green light to places like Facebook and other instances to do just that, and now they get to sell aggregated data. Yet, when we use a certain data property, where every person is 1, like a social security number or a insurance policy number, when every aggregated fact is founded on a population of 1, how aggregated are you then?

We know that governments are not technologically up to date. You see, the cost to get that done is just too high. In addition, governments and other large non-commercial organisations tend to not push or pursue policies too high, which is why the NHS had its Ransomware issues. We see Labour and socialistic parties on how it all needs to be about people programs, whilst they all know perfectly well that without proper infrastructure there would be nothing left to work with, they just don’t care! They need their image of creating jobs, whilst spending all the cash they have and pushing the government into the deepest debt to keep whatever lame promise they make and the next person gets to deal with the mess they leave behind. The lack of long term foresight is also the Achilles of IT, any IT structure needs a foresight of what is to be done next, by living in a fantasy ‘at the present’ setting, is why some politicians go into denial and in that case IT systems will falter over time and no one is set into the field of ‘let’s get this working properly’, the NHS is the clearest example, but not the only one, or the last one to buckle.

The live stream is the larger issue that has no real solution, that is until the numbers are dealt with. As larger facilitators get a handle of what is pushed online, resources open up to resolve certain issues. There will forever be a risk that certain live streams get through, yet the chances might be limited over time. In that, until the laws change, there remains a problem. Part of it is the law itself. The fact that a rape was streamed live, in it watchers saw Raymond Gates, who was accused in the attack and charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery and pandering sexual matter involving a minor. That person ended up with 9 years in jail, whilst he ‘enjoyed’ media limelight attention for many months. Marina Lonina, the person who filmed it all got ‘caught up in the likes’. The New York Times stated: “The defendants each face more than 40 years in prison if convicted“, yet in the end, yet the girl filming it got 9 months, the man doing the act got 9 years (source: CBC). So as we see, it seems that the act of live streaming is rewarded with an optional implied sentence reduction of 39 years and 3 months. So if the governments want to make change, I would suggest that they clean up their justice departments and get some proper convictions in place that will deter such live stream actions. In addition, if Marina Lonina would have been convicted with at least the 8 years in addition, so that she and the actual penetrator served the same amount, there might be a chance that live streaming of self harm will fall. There is no evidence that it will, but you get to solve the matter in small steps. Take away the ‘benefits’ of being merely the camera man or girl, the amount of events might drop too.

So here is my view and opposition of the parts Stephen Fry offered. He made good points and raising awareness of issues is always a good thing, especially if they are made by a person as renowned as Stephen Fry, but in all this dimensionality is still a factor. The response against issues (which I blogged earlier) on ‘tough new laws on extremist and explicit video‘, yet in all this, many transgressors will not get convicted and making it the problem of the facilitator, whilst the governments know that the law falls short is just blatantly stupid on the side of the governments. In the end, these people are not stupid, this track will continue for several years, whilst those politicians with: “the rules are not yet public and now enter what is known as “trialogue” – discussions between negotiators from the EC, the European parliament and the Council of the European Union“, gave rise to my ménage-a-trialogue label as this becomes a new EC gravy train which ends up coasting a boatload in lunches, meetings, hotels and flights whilst not resulting in any actual solution. Do you still think Brexit was a bad idea?

OK, my bad, this was not about Brexit, but the issue of laws and free speech have been on the agenda for the longest of times as ‘Strasbourg on March 24th, judges, journalists, lawyers and activists discussed the challenges facing the protection of free expression in Europe‘, there we saw that Helen Darbishire stressed on that event that “it is necessary that the judiciary in individual countries become more aware of European jurisprudence and standards“. If it is true that many countries are establishing regulations, transparency of public information is still far from being a reality. Yet when we consider that freedom of expression can be positive or negative and any hindrance of it goes via Strasbourg, the limitations faced cannot be pushed onto large corporations that facilitate. As the government leaves the field open to tabloids and even make them VAT exempt in the progress, a facilitator that comes with editors, writers and photographers, how can you push the blame onto a facilitation service that has been largely automated? And the worst of all, the governments pushing to place the blame in the other isle know this very well. As long as the debate goes on, they are ‘working on it‘ making the issue even worse.

So even as I oppose Stephen Fry to some extent, it was good and really interesting to read parts of his view (I was not at the event, so the Guardian might not have given me all he said), and as I read his view, I contemplated the views I had and tested them, that is what the views of an intelligent person does, they allow you to test these views against the views you have, which is awesome any given day of the week.

 

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Age of darkness coming

An interesting article came to light today. Actually, it might not be that interesting. It is merely the consequence of a series of bad decisions by several people. The interesting part is that it was not a local thing. This is possibly one of the few times where several decisions on a global scale escalated one another into the move away from what at times now is laughingly referred to as ‘journalism’. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/apr/15/journalism-faces-a-crisis-worldwide-we-might-be-entering-a-new-dark-age) gives us “Australia’s two largest legacy media organisations recently announced big cuts to their journalistic staff“, up to 120 editorial positions are being wiped from the list of employment options. Apparently there was also the mention “Both announcements were accompanied by corporate spin voicing a continuing commitment to quality journalism. Nobody in the know believes it“. It is followed by the mention that this is partly thanks to Donald Trump. The truth is nowhere near Trump, the entire Trump bashing is merely putting in the spotlight what had been known for some time. There is however a side that is very much true and it is escalating into a movement that will change even further over the next 20 months. The quote “technology has torn apart the two businesses – advertising and news – that used to be bound together by the physical artefact of the newspaper. Once, those who wanted to find a house, a job or a car had to buy a newspaper to read the classifieds. Now, it is cheaper and more efficient to advertise and search online“, it will change even further and the bulk of the audience is not up to speed yet, but within a year they will be.

For me the messed up situation was visible for a long time. No matter what excuse the people of News give, whatever Fairfax claims, it does not matter. Consider the following: ‘Will you pay $2.4 for filtered news?‘ This question is a lot harder than you realise, because the definition of ‘filter’ is not a given, but it is at the heart of the matter. Let’s take a few parts to give you a little perspective.

2010, 2011, we are given all kinds of news regarding Grexit, a weird dirty dance where some players are ‘threatening’ to expel Greece from the Euro. We see the news for weeks, yet no one seems to know what they are doing and the papers are absent in mentioning a legal work that was published in December 2009 by Phoebus Athanassiou that basically inform us that expulsion is not an option, you can only voluntarily leave the EEC and the Euro. The paper (at https://lawlordtobe.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ecblwp10.pdf) is a paper that comes from the European Central Bank, so why were the newspapers in the dark? Why were the readers not properly informed on this? All the value of a newspaper thrown into the circular filing system, value lost forever.

2011 Operation Weeting. This would be the beginning of a decline that escalated on a global scale. Most people took notice to some degree regarding the News of the World, the phone hacking scandal and the celebrities involved, yet when the world learned of the hacked phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of deceased British soldiers and victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings the world did not react in kindness, those involved had crossed a line that a very large group found too unacceptable. Many went from ‘Ah well, celebrities!‘ towards ‘WTF!‘ and ‘Could this happen here?‘ two very different trains of thought, the Leveson inquiry that followed was followed by many and a lot of them not in the UK, when the conclusions were revealed we saw a group of editors shouting murder, fascism and on how the freedom of the press was in danger whilst none of them showed any level of accountability, this was one of the clearest coffin nails. There is more and part is not their fault. In this the politicians also have a blame in the matter. As the actual press (the Guardian, the Times, the Independent) were trying to continue to be the responsible ones (to the larger degree), they were placed next to tabloids, magazines proclaiming to be newspapers whilst limiting themselves to ‘Kardashian puts ample bust on display’ (Daily Mail). A lot could have been prevented by making these tabloids VAT (read GST) enabled. Giving the tabloids no longer a 0% VAT options would have levelled the bar a little (read: truly, just a little) against the actual newspapers in the UK. It could have spurred a larger European change. It would not have ended better for the newspapers, yet some of them would have had more time to change their product and business approach.

2012 Sony, this is the one that really got me mad. Two weeks before the PS4 was launched, Sony pulled a fast one. I discussed this (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/08/12/no-press-no-facebook/), in my article ‘No Press, No Facebook!‘, in this case the Guardian was pretty much the only newspaper that gave it any decent attention. A change that would affect 30 million gamers and the news remained absent. So where is the value of my newspaper now? It was “7.1. You must not resell either Disc-based Software or Software Downloads, unless expressly authorised by us and, if the publisher is another company, additionally by the publisher“, it was followed by a weak statement by a board member of Sony, but the papers and other media were quick to ignore it and none had the critical statement: ‘A terms of service is a legal document, a statement by a board member of Sony can be countermanded with a mere memo‘, the press remained absent! It all sizzled down the track as the TPP never came into effect, but the damage was done and now it was damage that hits the press as well as they were too busy with circulation numbers and facilitating to your advertisers, because Sony PS4 advertisement money is what all newspapers desperately needed, so compromising 30 million gamers (that’s Europe, with 5 million in the UK) was likely not a big deal to them.

These are a few of a growing list of issues where the newspapers are in a bad place, but to some extent they got themselves there. Margaret Simons gives us “Today, just about anyone with an internet connection and a social media account has the capacity to publish news and views to the world. This is new in human history” near the end. She is correct here, but she also forgets to mention that reach and quality is still and issue. I have, with my blog, a mere reach of 5-6 thousand readers, which is next to nothing. I believe that I offer a quality view, but that is in the eyes of the beholder. However, I am only a blogger. When she mentions ‘the capacity to publish news‘ is not entirely correct. Some are falling in front of the news because of location, yet these people are for the most not journalists and that is the kicker. Pieces that are truly journalistic remains pieces of value, the people are just having too many question marks. In addition, the people have lost a massive amount of quality of life, and the price of a newspaper subscription whilst news online tends to be free and the cost of living is going up is also a factor we cannot deny. Yet in equal measure I have worked in firms where they all had 2-5 newspapers on a daily base, most (read: nearly all of them) have stopped doing that, cutting costs did that to some degree.

So as we see the announced age of darkness coming into the newspaper business, we cannot fault their hardship, even though they themselves are partially to blame, yet in equal measure, it seems to me that quality journalism is becoming a nuisance in several European nations. They can hide some of the bad news in sponsored morning shows, there they can spin to some degree, but in a newspaper, and it is all about the relevant information, a side too many players are currently too uncomfortable with. Its fair enough that some journalists are trying to get around that part, but as too much actual news is given to us freely at a moment’s notice, many agree that there is too much speculation in some news, like ‘North Korea may be capable of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas toward Japan‘ (source: CBC), yet in equal measure the newspapers have not been the utterly reliable source of news either and on both sides of the publications, there seems to be a growing issue with ethics to consider and that is even before we add tabloids like Daily Mail, Mail Online, and whatever Murdoch gets to publish. The newspapers became a multidimensional mess. I personally think it is because they waited too long to embrace the online community and that is before the new changes hits them over the next two years. By proclaiming themselves as non-accountable and considering themselves as too important, they marketed themselves straight into the insolvency mode. Yet, that is merely my view on all this.

 

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Hunting for a fee

It has been a mere week since we saw the message from some ‘experts’ on the daughter of David Beckham. What I would call a beyond acceptable choice on the media and its non-stop pursuit of what we consider to be values. It does so whilst doing whatever it can to get ratings, to grow circulation. A tsunami of what we call ‘the Glossy invasion‘.

Yesterday we saw (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/14/opinions/arbiter-royal-photos/index.html), with the title ‘Can UK royals win battle against paparazzi?‘ In my view there will be no battle, as we see the quote “While aides were quick to praise the British media for not printing illicit photos, they issued their strongest warning yet to those who choose to forgo decent editorial practices” as well as “Many would argue that all children, not just those who are royal, should be allowed to play free from the prying eye of a photographer intent on financial gain, sequestered in the boot of his car and equipped with a long lens“. It comes with the final mention “how do you mandate a global press“. Which in my view is very easy, you wage war, plain and simple!

For the larger extent the media has shown themselves to be little more than the mere equivalent of a prostitute with the moral compass that is significantly worse than that of a crack dealer.

But is this the extent of it? Are we overreacting? Let’s face it, pictures are taken every day, we photograph celebrities every day (when we can), but to what extent will we ignore a person’s right to privacy? Many like me, we will bump into the odd celebrity at times, hoping to get a picture or a selfie, many will oblige, take the time and effort.  Yet not all are in that mindset, especially when they feel unready to face the scrutiny of the lens. Some will try this at red carpet events when the stars are all ready to be photographed. So those moments are often easy moments to get the star we would like to snap for that Kodak moment. The Paparazzi is another matter entirely. They have always been in the news and when it comes to Royal families, these people tend to go completely overboard. I still personally feel that Lady Diana Spencer was murdered by the paparazzi. Now we see that her grandchildren are increasingly in danger by perhaps even those very same paparazzi.

So is this real danger or alleged danger?

This is a question that is more than just a mere legality, history has shown that extremists will take any chance to propel their own agenda at the expense of anyone else. Which means that for these extremists, the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be regarded as legitimate targets and as such the paparazzi could be intended or not aiding said extremists. In my personal view the quote “London’s Metropolitan Police soon after released a statement saying protection officers had to make split-second decisions, and photographers using covert tactics ran the risk of being mistaken for someone intent on doing harm” (source ABC at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-15/royals-increasingly-dangerous-tactics-photograph-prince-george/6699632) is something to ponder. In my view (again a personal one) shooting one of these paparazzi’s ‘accidently’ might not be the worst idea, it seems that when these individuals realise that whatever they do comes at a cost of life, their moral compass tends to reset towards what keeps them alive.

Yet this is only the introduction to an article that graced the Independent on Saturday (at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/prince-george-and-the-paparazzi-deferring-to-the-long-arm-of-buckingham-palace-10457349.html). Here we see the quote in the subtitle: ‘the former boss of Hacked Off, a critic of press intrusion, says this time the royals are expecting too much protection‘. Is that so?

Consider this quote: “along with the carefully posed images of George holding his baby sister, Princess Charlotte. The “bad” photos, to be clear, might look cute but they’re not, since they were taken by unauthorised photographers. These pictures are so bad, in fact, that the police have warned anyone taking them that they risk being shot. Has everyone taken leave of their senses?

I am not sure whether they have!

You see, I personally have the skill to take someone’s head of at three times the distance of what my large lens can do (the 200mm I could afford), so when a paparazzi holding a shoulder mount for their camera, could at 300-600 meters easily be mistaken for a rifle, the Leupold VX-3L 6.5-20x56mm is the size of a Canon lens, so I feel quite outspoken that the police has not taken leave of their senses!

Yet my view in all this is not even that side, it is not the ‘morality’ of the paparazzi, even though they rank up there with ice pushers on a schoolyard. This is not about them trying to get the shots of an adult, this is about children, royalty or not! That part does not matter. Just as another article that saw us in defense of David Beckham’s little princess, is setting us off in equal measure here.

This is not merely about a child with a dummy. This is about what was behind that. Let me re-iterate that. Several sources state “The comfort from sucking on a pacifier provide security and comfort can reduce the amount of stress a baby experiences“. I am not stating that I know why the Beckham’s were in that article, the entire dummy (read pacifier) could be about his little girl not feeling well, yet I feel certain that the paparazzi are leaving their own mark of stress with these children. We all have a direct need to keep children safe, those who cause a child to be in distress can find themselves suddenly surrounded by people wanting to do those transgressors harm and on our scale in general, a paparazzi does not really score that high and after what happened to the grandmother of Prince George and Princess Charlotte we see even less reasons to go soft on those paparazzi.

In my view, the courts seem to have gone overboard to protect the media in the past. When we look at Von Hannover v Germany [2004], we saw that even though an injunction was granted, we see that ‘allowances’ are made for public figures. We tend to get the following “a public figure does not necessarily enjoy the same respect for their private life as others, as matters of public concern might justify the publication of information about that person that might otherwise interfere with the right to privacy“, yet in this light, clear consideration must be given to children, especially those under 17 to be regarded out of bounds. If we can accept that Harper Seven Beckham is showing possible signs of stress, stress that could very well be brought through unbalanced and unwanted exposure to the media and strangers, the law will require additional tightening, especially in regards to the right of privacy and additional optional prosecution to those invading that privacy.

In the case of the very long lens that case is much harder to make as the perpetrator is nowhere near the victim, yet in that same case, in the case of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the possible interpreted danger to their lives by the people assigned to protect these royal members, to them the option arrives that any threat to the royal family must be met with deadly determination if need be.

As such, responding to the allegations in the independent, no one took leave of their senses. Some took leave of common sense for money and that tends to come with a consequence. Yet the article in the Independent is quite good, it asks valid questions. When we see “People are allowed to take pictures in a public place as long as their behaviour doesn’t amount to stalking, in which case it could have been dealt with under the Protection from Harassment Act“, this is a valid point. But in this case there are two additional elements. The paparazzi could easily be mistaken for a Predatory stalkers, an individual spying on a victim in order to prepare and plan an attack, which led me to the extremist link. A side that the writer of the article should have mentioned more prominently. In addition, this is not against adults, this is against children, a group that deserve additional layers of protection, no matter how public a figure their parent is, or both of them are. A situation that applies to both the Duke and duchess of Cambridge as well as the Beckham’s. The Independent does raise parts again when they state “The couple may fear a terrorist attack, but that’s a reason for reviewing overall security, including the wisdom of allowing George to play in a public park“, which again is a fair enough statement. Yet in equal measure is that until that fear is reasonable, having children to be a child everywhere is a given right to the child and as such we, not the child will have to make allowances, including an extended right to privacy and security. A side Niraj Tanna seemed to ignore for what is likely to be founded on income, not any greater good.

So does Joan Smith, former executive director of ‘Hacked Off’ have a case here? She brings it well enough, but in my view, elements are missing. No matter whose children they are, children are entitled to extensive layers of protection, especially against paparazzi and outside (read non family based pressures). Even if these hunters take their respectable distance, the pictures will haunt them forever, they will become the object of extreme obsession to some, which tends to go wrong at some point.

In light of consenting to photography, the ‘non-consenting child’ seems to be the factor that many seem to ignore. Media law is due a massive update on a global scale, we have catered to what people regard as ‘freedom of the press’ for far too long, a press that seems to take a wide berth around PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Tesco issues (the PwC side of it), or the SFO matters connected to all this. Now, we can understand that that issue is not something that is of interest for the Glossy magazines, but the media is for the most not some little magazine. They are conglomerates. Companies like Bauer Media and VNU can invoke pressures that can paralyse governments. They control dozens of magazines that can change public opinion in a heartbeat. They only way to deal with this is to adapt laws that give added protection to media exploitation of children, whether they come from public figures or not. In addition it is interesting to raise the case of Paparazzo Richard Fedyck from April this year. The quote “The Vancouver celebrity photographer faces charges of assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and criminal harassment. He made his first court appearance after arriving hours in advance in a bid to avoid cameras and media” gives us the clear view that the paparazzi tends to be camera shy. It is equally hilarious that we get “his defence lawyer Jonathan Waddington immediately asked for a ban on publication of the court proceedings”. Irony is such a lovely dish at times (at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/paparazzo-in-ryan-reynolds-hit-and-run-case-makes-court-appearance-1.3053082). So it seems that privacy is treasured by paparazzi when they are the focal point of issues.

It is high time that some legal media matters change as soon as possible, especially where it concerns children.

 

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Dangers of clarity

There is a level of danger when you see with too much clarity. This is a statement in the subjective, if we look at what we examine the statements we make ourselves, but it is seen in the objective we judge those same statements when stated by others. The initial crux is that both are of course subjective, as our views are set towards our judgement of whomever the other is who is making the statement.

Even in my case, no matter what evidence I add as a link, it is a link of a newspaper, online news presence or even online newscasts. As the reader regards that entity as a valid one, it remains objective or subjective and is rejected as we do not agree with it. That view does not change whether we use the Guardian, Sky News, the Jerusalem Post or the Haaretz.

One of the issues in play is the Arms deal that Russia seems to have completed with Egypt, whilst the funding is coming from Saudi Arabia. (at http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-Egypt-seeks-Russian-arms-that-could-undermine-treat-with-Israel-344465 as well as http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/In-sign-of-warming-ties-Russian-military-delegation-visits-Egypt-348150)

Having too much clarity is at times just as dangerous as being too honest. If you consider that there is no such thing as being too honest, then mention to your wife that her behind is way big in that dress. Good luck getting diner or getting ‘some’ in general. No matter how good the connection is between people, being too honest tends to sour the milk, so to speak. Trust me, I have applied it as a deterrent to remain single and it has worked like a charm these last two decades.

The issues that is connected to this all is whether one of US ‘greatest’ allies in all this is now footing the bill for Egypt on Russian arms. The quote “Egypt completed a $2 billion arms deal with Russia, financed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, an Egyptian newspaper reported last month” is at the heart of this.

So, what is linked to this? Why not a US arms deal? If we look at this, then this is just the economic boost America needs. My worry is that this is another signal that America is showing us how ‘great’ there economy is growing, but is that truly the case? Is this about something else? Perhaps this is payback for the frozen aid from the US, which was supposed to get lifted this year. The article has however two quotes that are also in play. The first one is “Egyptians see the US as an unreliable ally, stated the report, which led Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ‘to seek Moscow’s help in diversifying the country’s sources of military procurement’”, the second one is “Despite reassurances from Egyptian officials, the Russian weapons deal – if concluded – portends a gradual reduction in Washington’s ability to control the quality and quantity of weapons that Cairo receives, and to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region“.

This gives us two new issues that will give pressure in the Middle East. As the US state department is implied to have dropped the ball, the issue that US currency does not hold the value it held only 3 years ago gives us also two fears (which I will get back to in a moment). The second issue is that Egypt is feeling played and as such; Saudi Arabia is now stepping in to give leadership to the Middle East (or so is implied).

In the first part, the two fears are that as the Dollar is degraded in the mind of the oil producing nations, the fallout I expected to see later, might come a lot faster than even I imagined. The second fear is that if the influence of the US dwindles in the Middle East, the parties that remained ‘neutral’ in the Middle East are now likely to instigate terror attacks on the state of Israel and even on each other.

Now for the kicker in all this, there is information in the Israeli papers, but no one else seems to be onto this. Not the Guardian, not CNN, not Sky News, so is this arms deal real or not? According to the Canadians (at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/general-dynamics-canada-wins-10b-deal-with-saudi-arabia-1.2537934), we see that Saudi Arabia has set up shop for themselves for a little over 10 billion spanning the next 14 years, so this gives another view. What is real and what is actually happening? I get that some papers will ‘drop’ a story, but will they ALL drop it? This is at the center of all of this.

So in the subjective we read “Israel is in danger“, in the objective it becomes “is Israel in danger“. A movie comparison might be Beetlejuice versus Candyman. From the Israeli papers we see a Wes Craven story play out, yet the absence of these news stories in pretty much all the large newspapers implies that we are watching a less frightening version by Tim Burton.

The larger issue here is that these events also contribute to the integrity of Israel. Both Israeli politics as well as Mossad, both have a responsibility here. It cannot be about allegations and unsubstantiated information on arms deals. This only intensifies the pressures that are already close to a breaking point. As the Ukrainian issues are evolving, the last thing we need are wild wild west stories on arms deals that do not exist (or do they?).

That part becomes question when we see the BBC news (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26177792). The article was from Feb 13th, not the worst runner up gift discussion when we consider that pesky cherub Valentine (Feb 14th for the non-romantics under us). So the news was there, what is interesting that it gives credibility that this arms deal could be in a finalising stage, but then, why is no one looking at this? This is the deal I had not mentioned in my article ‘Setting the stage‘ on March 27th, which means that if this is true, then the ‘financial pressure‘ posturing is even less sincere from the US and Europe in regards to the Crimean events.

Still, the actual truth is for now an unknown, which gets us back to the title. Clarity in these events will force us to view possible outstanding dangers, the only question remains is ‘who faces clarity and who is in real danger?’; consider how the truth of one event can change this around on several players.

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Questions at this time

I have been fighting with myself in regards to certain issues that have been rising in this day and age. When we look at the definition of treason we see this statement “In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one’s sovereign or nation.

The question is not just in regards to a nation as is the case with Edward Snowden, but what about the acts against the people? If we accept the following statement as an acceptable fact “Republicanism is the ideology of governing a society or state as a republic, where the head of state is a representative of the people who hold popular sovereignty rather than the people being subjects of the head of state.

So, if that is true, then should we consider the acts or even the absence of acts that stops dangers to the people as an act of treason? I have written about some of these parts for some time now, as per 5 days ago the guardian is now a little more vocal about it (at http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/18/rich-countries-money-laundering-tax-evasion-oecd)

It seems that governments are FINALLY getting on the horse of action (as seen at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-usa-tax-fatca-idUSBRE9BI13J20131220). Yet it seems that larger tax holes are still in existence in Ireland (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/15/us-ireland-tax-idUSBRE99E0PD20131015)

So should tax evasion be seen as a form of treason? I am not talking about the people left right and centre trying to find every possible tax hole. I am talking about the large corporations and their boards of directors (at http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/7/15/social-media/looking-beyond-apples-tax-evasion-tactics). If we accept the quote “Taxed at 0.004 per cent“, then how un-national (or in this case un-American) should these people be regarded? And it goes far beyond that part. This is shown in http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-23/yahoo-dell-swell-netherlands-13-trillion-tax-haven.html as we see a glimpse of the size of evasion. It is nice to see that the Netherlands are getting of the tax evasion horse, but consider this article from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/oct/19/tax-avoidance-in-netherlands-becomes-focus-of-campaigners) shows that this horse had a very comfortable 3 years. Simon Goodley and Dan Milmo from The Guardian reported all this in October 2011, if we consider that then the words of President Obama sound even more hollow when we read “President Barack Obama presented a series of proposals in 2009 to curb offshore tax benefits“. Hollow? Yes, because only now at the end of his second reign is he making an effort, making it clear that keeping rich friends near you is all about re-election. So, when the hard times hit in the next term he can point the finger at the Republicans. The idea that we hold large corporation’s tax accountable does not seem such an option for either administration (Democrats and Republicans alike).

So, after all these years, as the US is getting in a financial state more and more desperate actions are finally taken, which in my view is well over half a decade too late. The issue remains, as people are hit harder and harder for taxation, not just in the US, big business seems to escape their share of taxation, giving them a massive advantage. In addition, in what I would call the ‘incestual’ relationship between a board of directors and their ‘ability’ to avoid taxation on a borderline of actual fraud (example HSBC to name but one). The game does change when we read that governments themselves start to offer assistance in this field (at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/jim-love-canadian-mint-chairman-helped-run-offshore-tax-avoidance-scheme-for-clients-1.2441347)

So, as we go towards Christmas and those high and mighty people do their ‘charity’ thing, then also consider that it is not impossible that they have been paying less taxation (like in +18% less), how very adult adults!

So if you want to cheer for anyone, cheer for that 60+ person, who after getting cut on life, living standards and retirement funds, this person is still doing over 20 hours a week in a community centre getting it all done for the people in their neighbourhood, because that is true charity and one more noble then I could actually muster at present.

If we get back to Republicanism, if it was all about ‘representing the people’ and consider that the fat cats are the chosen few (like 100,000 in a nation of 325,000,000), are these acts of non-accounting a form of treason too? Especially as tax evasion leaves a nation in a state of destitution? America seems to be clear evidence of that as its total debt will be roughly $60,680,485,000,000 on Christmas evening. Still think delaying acts against tax evasion was ever a good idea?

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