Tag Archives: current-events

Milking a global event again

Sky News reported during the night a new ‘revelation’ involving the death of the late Princess Diana. If we consider the clinical part, then it makes every bit of sense that the police do not throw information away at a moment’s notice. Yet, here I think the time has now come to take a critical look at certain events.

What pushed these events to come forward now? It is time that certain individuals are held accountable for acts they undertake and the time has come to hold certain choices accountable for prosecution.

I would even go as far as to make this now a mandatory actionable situation for both MI-5 and MI-6, taking this beyond the scope of normal parties like the Metropolitan police (or their special units) and those involved in operation Paget.

The article at http://news.sky.com/story/1129902/dianas-death-police-passed-new-information states “It was passed to the police by the former parents-in-law of a former soldier, according to Sky sources.” Operation Paget had taken 3 years and costed 3 million pounds. Personally, I think that the 3 million pounds are not the issue, the fact that in those days, the press was so happy to get every nut job with a new conspiracy theory their 15 minutes in the spotlights to fuel more and more publications. I believe that family and friends of Miss Diana Spencer have suffered for far too long and as such I hope that the following happens.

If the information is strong enough, then the parties involved MUST be prosecuted for perverting the course of Justice.

The elements are:

  •      does an act (a positive act or series of acts is required; mere inaction is insufficient)
  •      which has a tendency to pervert and
  •      which is intended to pervert the course of public justice.

For the UK the precedence is Murray (1982) 75 Cr. App. R. 58

The allegation gives weight that a member of the British military was involved in the killing of a former member of the Royal family, which means that the accusation alone brings shame to members of the military forces and even a wider group of other parties.

Do these in-laws realise that if proven intentionally brought wrongly that their act holds a possible life sentence in prison?

considering the case Cotter [2002] 2 Cr. App. R. 762, where at [10] was stated “How could the jury infer, in particular, that what the defendants embarked upon was likely to lead to any sort of criminal proceedings or investigation which would have a tendency to pervert and bring about an injustice?

I believe that there should be in addition the investigation whether the press had ANY involvement in this. The simple truth is that this is no longer about ‘freedom of the press‘, this could now become an issue regarding ‘conspiring with another to pervert the course of justice‘, if any member of the press would be found involved then this becomes an entirely new deck of cards to deal with.

There are others who would have a case if the information is proven to be fabricated.

There are the family members of Sir David Rolland Spedding who passed away in 2001. Sir David was running MI6 at that time and in view of the importance of the deceased, MI6 would have had to have investigated this for the reason that if the event was not an accident, then it stood to reason that there could have been a danger to the Royal family.

The three year investigation through Operation Paget led by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington as well as a truckload of members of Scotland Yard, all working hard to find out what had happened. Even though I reckon that they wasted months and months disproving hundreds of fabricated stories that fuelled the press. The fact that this is happening again should be unacceptable to anyone connected to the United Kingdom in any way.

All these persons could have a case of defamation under the UK Defamation act 1996.

If the information is genuine then it must be investigated, if proven that the allegations were false, there must be a prosecution. I personally belief that the CPS has no option to ignore this, consider that under common law ‘perverting the course of Justice’ has the attached label of a maximum life in prison means that this is a crime as seriously regarded as murder. This circus has gone on long enough and in the end it is important that a clear message is given.
The message is “Enough is enough!

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Bankrolling a politician

The guardian made me aware of an interesting twist in Australian politics (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/12/singleton-funds-sporting-candidates-election). The information as presented yesterday evening is that the overly wealthy John Singleton will be ‘bankrolling’ (perhaps sponsoring should have been a better word) two sportsmen Nathan Bracken (Cricket) and Lawrie McKinna (Coach of the Central Coast Mariners). Let’s take a look at the two.

To be honest, supporting Lawrie McKinna makes sense from the fact (even though I have no personal knowledge of the man), that he currently is the Mayor of Gosford, which for my non-Australian readers is a Town to the north of Sydney between Sydney and Newcastle. So, he has experience in the political field being the mayor and as a coach the man knows how to deal with a bunch of ruffians, which pretty much makes him ready to become the next Australian PM. Nathan Bracken is another story. He does not seem to have any real experience; however, that in itself is not an issue. As this is an election year in Australia, we see all kinds of people coming out of the woodwork, with the odd politician not having the ability to identify any issues he stands for. The latter part was quite the giggle for the Australian Facebook community. So there is no way that Nathan Bracken would do any worse and we all have to start at some place and some time. John Singleton will be sponsoring these two new contenders for the Independent party.

How bad is this idea?

John stated that he is fed up with the central coast being ignored. He was quoted in the guardian article stating “someone has to keep the bastards honest” and when we consider politicians on a scale slightly larger than just Australia, there is a genuine support for that statement.

The issue does remain if there is not more in play. Singleton has massive interests in the Central coast, which are after all his own stomping grounds. Real Estate, resorts and a race horse operation. So we are talking an investment value that is running deep into the 8 figures. In a business mind having 2 politicians on your side is good business, which is why I as the devil’s advocate am wondering whether there is not more in play.

To be honest, he is not hiding his involvement (like that was ever an option), yet there will forever be a little shiver in my spine when politicians are knowingly funded by a ‘party of one’ and to whisk such that feeling can never be good. Singleton might have stated “It can do no harm and it can only do good”, but that is one part I feel, which is too often never the case.

Still, we have had several remarkable exceptions. Dick Smith for one, who has put his money where his mouth is, donated tons of money on all kind of good causes, whilst not cashing in on it in the past. Singleton too has been involved in charity events from the early 90’s. Australians are for the most, not that greed driven like we see all over Europe and America. These people made their fortunes long before 2004 and they survived the financial crash without a too much of a hitch. They have more than enough money and they likely realised that they can’t take it with them where they are going to go in the end (a lesson the greedy never learn).

Still, there is a dangerous precedence here. I am all for people getting into politics, especially if they are bright enough and when their past (sports, movies) give visibility to causes and goals the people really need. The issue I have is when one sponsor becomes deeply involved, even when the person involved does do this openly, it keeps me worried.

The article does however seem to speak true on some issues. The Central coast seems to be ignored too often, not unlike Sydney it has youth unemployment. Not unlike the NHS, they have their healthcare issues, which seems to affect all of Australia and the youth suicide numbers are rising all over the place, which includes the Central Coast. So the fact that Singleton wants this dealt with on his stomping grounds is fair enough, yet no matter how fair it is, I remain to some degree sceptical for the simple reason that in the majority it is too naive to believe that large political donors will not expect certain favours, a view that is held by a lot more people than just silly old me.

 

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The Setting of strategies

The danger of any person trying to look through the mud that we know as political strategies related to ‘what is real’ and ‘what is unlikely’. There is no ‘non-reality’!
We know that certain steps have been staged (as a good politician would). This staging is not unlike the game ‘GO’ where we place the pebbles in such a way that entices to other to place their pebbles, completing our strategies.

This I discussed in last week’s blog involving the fading pension plans. Yes, and as suspected, whilst Dutch politicians are in vacation mode, the Dutch pension funds are now filling the Dutch with dread of a possible 10%-20% loss of retirement. That is some fear in their world of quick rising prices. (www.nos.nl)

Today is not about that, even though there are possible links! Today it is about renewed issues on telephone taps and how the powerful Murdoch gets another painted target. Yet are his words so wrong? We had the phone tap probe, we have seen the Leveson report, and instead of actually acting on the Leveson report as much as possible. Parties involved seem to be having another go at Rupert ‘the Piñata’ Murdoch. A lot or the press is getting a little sour as words are hashed and rehashed into statements of whatever they could be called.

You see, is this an ACTUAL criminal investigation, you know the one with barristers, judges and both parties taking notice of the evidence act?

Or is this another inquiry that has gone on for two years, giving more visibility to Chairman Keith Vaz and a few other political head honcho’s? Do not think that I am on Mr Murdoch’s side. I will instantly stand by the views of Hugh Grant and Lord Justice Leveson in the attack on the events that surrounded phone hacking, and not just the Sun/News of the world.

There is however the valid thought that cooperation is required and should be given. However the following quote “The committee has heard from the Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner Cressida Dick that since May ‘voluntary co-operation (with News UK) has been significantly reduced’ and that police have had to obtain court orders regards ‘requests for new material’“.

Is that the issue? This has gone on for 2 years now. Is thus the statement by Mr Murdoch “totally incompetent” when it comes to describing the acts by the Metropolitan Police entirely wrong? If this has gone on now for 2 years, then yes, I think it is time to look at the questions being asked, and asking additional relevant questions to the investigating offices.

Not doing so could turn this entire phone hacking scandal into a fair label of ‘Witch hunt’ and as such, I would see this as the premise to attack the Leveson report. This is because the two are linked. I remain in favour of implementing the entire Leveson report. Not because I am so much in the know of things, but because I have utter faith in the wisdom of Lord Justice Leveson. Those who claim to know and judge the report as invalid, whilst not in possession of a Law doctorate are required to remain very silent on the matter, unless they show actual valid documentation! I admit that this is slightly strong wording, yet having listened to a few people blatantly attacking the Leveson report in favour of unmonitored freedom of the press, after which I asked in regards to the reports footnote 417 in regards to the accuracy of information, their….. ‘emotional repartee’ in my direction gave me what I needed to know. (They had no clue, or better stated, having never read the Leveson report).

By the way, that footnote is “Clause 1(i) of the PCC Code requires the press to take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures” (page 673, Leveson report).

If we could only apply this requirement to advertisements at times! (Big Smiles).

So we must prevent that these events to ‘evolve’ into a witch hunt. I am NOT stating that this is happening, but after 2 years that image is starting to linger and that is wrong too. My issue is with the statement that was in that same Sky news article (at http://news.sky.com/story/1117618/murdoch-phone-hacking-probe-excessive)

In his letter he set out how the company disclosed 500,000 documents after 185,000 man hours at a cost of more than £65m.” When the coffers are at minus 1 trillion and student costs are growing and growing, these costs are only excessive if the government is not able to make Mr Murdoch pay for these costs.

I personally have always been to mind that once we need to focus and stretch the actual letter of speech, we lose facts of what is the goal. Basically, in these words I am wondering whether the committee has lost the view of the Big picture. (My apologies if I am incorrect).

So where is the issue of strategy? Well, if we read the “The Leveson Report: implementation” (at http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06535), then at 6.5 (in the full PDF version) we see some additional delays in implementing the Royal charter. I quote: “Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, my briefing says that it is not appropriate for the Privy Council to consider more than one royal charter at a time on the same issue. The noble Lord may consider that the Press Standards Board of Finance has therefore been extremely clever in what it has done and may draw his conclusions from that – and that accounts for some of the delay.

So we have more delays. Granted that they are procedural, but I wonder how many papers have reported on that delay? I reckon not many! Out of sight, out of mind is a valid strategy that has been in long standing with politicians and corporate spokes people all over the world.

So is this a strategy by Mr Murdoch to keep the focus away, or is this an investigation that is getting stretched in a very expensive way to stop your privacy from getting chartered protection? Not non-privacy by government (aka GCHQ), but by those who are making money out of side stepping commercial reasoning for ignoring privacy for the simple reasons of greed?

The issues of strategies are actually wider set then most will think. Against the Dutch pension issues, there is the view of George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. This is viewed in the subtitle “A majority of directors at the Washington-based International Monetary Fund disagrees with its own advice on UK fiscal policy.” which is part of the article at http://news.sky.com/story/1117069/imf-board-disagrees-over-uk-fiscal-policy.

Even though this sounds good for the Exchequer, the issues of no tax rises in the upcoming years (or after 2015 as he states it) is not just short of wrong (at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jul/11/george-osborne-deficit-tax-rises) , I feel that this could only be kept if a play is made to the pension funds (like the Dutch are trying now), as well as the shale gas approach which is seen as ‘frackalicious’, yet, we should not forget the issues that the Dutch county ‘Groningen’ is going through as it has seen a rise in small earthquakes giving home owners massive costs to repair and additional losses in house values. These issues are to some extent denied/ignored as the investigation is going on, yet the damages that the people see in the news on a regular bases tells another story. At present corporations are now claiming for millions in damages from both the Dutch gas company (NAM) and the government. (at http://www.dvhn.nl/nieuws/groningen/article9972913.ece/Corporaties-claimen-miljoenen-bij-Nam) there is also the claim for compensation to be awarded for the loss of housing value, which adds up to over 10,000 houses for up to 25000 Euro. (Yet one house in the newscast has a value decrease of almost 150,000 Euro). Let us not forget that these were only test drilling, the actual drilling has not even commenced. If the exchequer is depending on these numbers then he might be in for a rough ride. In addition, even though Isla Britannia is decently larger then the Netherlands, there is enough evidence that these issues will have a serious impact on housings and the environment.

If this is all about strategy, then playing the cards close to the chest seems a debatable wisdom. Because when this all goes south, it is not about the Isle politicians are sitting on, but the issue whether there will be a nation left to serve.

Should you doubt that statement (which is fair enough), then consider on how ‘well‘ the US claims their economy is getting. The fact that Detroit is now bankrupt should be enough concern that the American way is not a solution.
We, the Commonwealth nations must stick together to stay afloat and survive, fight together to become the nations of true prosperity again.

None of these strategies are ready for that essential need!

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Is racism in America too alive?

When we look at the case State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman involving the murder on Trayvon Martin it seems clear to me that racism is still very much alive in America. Yet, the events involving this case give way that this could go even far beyond the issues of racism. Until today, I did not know that his father is/was a magistrate. Did you know that?

As a law student I know about Common Law and Criminal Law and as such, it is possible that a person can shoot in Self Defence. However, the fact that AGAINST specifically given information by the 911 dispatcher, that he was advised not to go after a person of POSSIBLE interest. There was absolutely NO evidence that Trayvon Martin did anything illegal or that he was breaking the Law in any way.

The fact that he continued on his track in a manner that I personally belief was a trajectory to be some lame kind of ‘hero of the neighbourhood‘ approach is beyond me that murdering a person keeps you out of jail. I would also like to add my personal view that the pictures of Trayvon shows us a kid who would not get the chance to grow up to be a man. The fact that George Zimmerman at 29 saw this kid as a threat gives additional food for thoughts on why this man should even be allowed a firearm whilst racing around as a neighbourhood watch (but that is my personal view).

Getting to the issue of firearms! I am not starting some boast on how evil they are. Guns do not kill people, people kill people (that has always been my belief) and the fact that firearms are a part of life in America is a factor we should accept at present. The fact that he ignored advice from the 911 dispatcher is also an issue. I can understand that in light of liabilities in the US, despatchers are cautious with words and directives. There is however an issue with a neighbourhood watch, going around armed on open public roads enforcing their ‘brand of Justice‘. Enforcing the laws and safety of public roads is for the police!

Whether there are issues on law and evidence was for the courts. I did not investigate all the evidence, mainly because there is way too much of it. 67 CD’s with a list of witnesses that seemed to have passed 100 seems a bit much to me, especially as no one ran outside at the time of the ‘execution’.

The (alleged) information that the father of George Zimmerman is/was a magistrate is also a fact we should not ignore. I am not stating in this that there was any perversion to the course of justice. His son likely got the best preparation any defence could ever desire! If a case could be settled for over 80% by selecting the right jury (as stated by some attorneys in the US), then correctly prepping the defendant for a trial could add another 5-10%. That means that the case was leaning heavily in favour of George Zimmerman from the start. The fact that the burden of evidence was enormously high as was presented with 13 shades, showing 12 shades resulting in not guilty should be some level of indication to the reader how hard it was from the word ‘go’ to get any conviction.

If there is a side to the blame game, then it is shown in the closing arguments. As the prosecution pictures Zimmerman as a man with a mission to take the law in his own hands, then that part seems to have shown to some degree. How Zimmerman went after Trayvon whilst being told not to do this by the 911 despatcher. It is at that same part from the defence that the closing argument falters. As was stated that Zimmerman was not guilty of anything but protecting his own life they fail, because if that was truly the case then Zimmerman would not have ignored advice from 911 and he would not have gone after Trayvon after the police was notified. He went into a place where the police should have been, not an armed neighbourhood watchmen.

The racial issues are mostly exploding now after the acquittal. The part that seems to have contained those issues to some extent is because George Zimmerman is Hispanic, not Caucasian. However, after the acquittal people have taken to the streets in massive ways. LA, Oakland, NY city and several other places. I personally do not believe it is purely a racial issue. The fact that a young unarmed African American got himself murdered by an armed neighbourhood watchmen, might be getting to people a lot more than a Hispanic/African American issue.

In defence to George Zimmerman was the statement by an African American named Tony Johnson. He stated that it is not a crime to follow anybody (Source CNN). Actually, according to the National Victims of crime, it could constitute stalking as it is quoted as “Virtually any unwanted contact between two people to directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can be considered stalking“. There are unknown factors, yet, an approach of distance and carefully identifying himself George Zimmerman might not have needed to shoot Trayvon Martin. Not being there at all after he notified the police would have resulted in an actual certainty that Trayvon Martin would still be alive.

 

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Senator Davis filibuster ignored

So, here I am, sitting down, working on an essay and even after one blog, I now get introduced to the weirdest news by other means. I have several news channels that I take notice of. There is Sky News, Sky News UK, CNN, Fox and BBC World News. However, the latest political news did not reach me through any of these channels. The latest news came through the Twitter account of Gamespot product manager Lark Anderson.

Democrat Senator Wendy Davis (Texas, Fort Worth) has started a filibuster. This filibuster is about stopping legislation that would give Texas the toughest restrictions on abortions in the US. Some of these restrictions include banning abortions after 20 weeks. Doctors would only be allowed to do abortions, if they have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. There are a few more regulations added to this.

This is in first instance not about the bill itself. The issue is that a filibuster is big news; the fact that Fox (being more ‘republic’ minded then most others) might not make it headline news is to some small extent understandable. Yet, the fact that CNN, Sky and BBC World keep on yapping the same reels and this news did not pass by once is a massive issue. Is this potato too hot to handle? Is this not news?

I am baffled at what makes the standard of what is news, especially as we get repetitive views on Snowden, Paris strikers, Haiti tourism and another bomb in Kabul. I admit that the critically ill Mandela is big news, yet with all the repetitions a 20-45 second reel on the filibuster and bursting out some of the minimum facts would have been too much of an effort?

So, now that I have shamed the press to some degree, it is time to present some of the facts:

Senator Davis has stated her opposition to Republican Senate bill 5 (Source: http://www.davis.senate.state.tx.us/pr13/p20130625a.htm). I admit that this statement is a little too vague and political here (like a politician would), yet the NY Times had this interesting fact to quote “The bill’s opponents said it would most likely cause all but 5 of the 42 abortion clinics in the state to close, because the renovations and equipment upgrades necessary to meet surgical-centre standards would be too costly.

(Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/26/us/politics/senate-democrats-in-texas-try-blocking-abortion-bill-with-filibuster.html)

So basically, the bill is not just about limiting abortion, it is a basic form of misconception into trying to ban it all together. I personally reckon that the admitting privilege was added to strangle any sympathetic doctor to step away from this real fast. (That’s just how I see it).

It reads like politics, but to be honest I see it as a dirty variety of politics. Let’s call a scalpel a scalpel, shall we?

To be honest I am on the fence when it comes to abortion issues. I am not against it, yet I feel that it seems to me (from what I read, not from any form of personal experience) that it is at times way too easy to get them.

The issue to me is that if it is legally allowed, then why waste resource on resource on these backstabbing methods, especially as the US has massive economic issues, perhaps some politicians should use their tactics on furthering the economy (or is that too tall an order?)

I am personally in awe of Senator Davis. Not just for the filibuster, but if you consider that when she was as just a teenager (19), she became mother and then still graduated with honours from Harvard Law School. An achievement most do not get when they get to spend 100% time on their studies. This proves that she is more than a tough cookie. She has received at least 2 dozen awards from all walks of life, making her a public servant with sizeable renown.

INTERRUPTION: Just now I see the message that the abortion bill has passed (Foxnews), yet more questions are now being asked, which makes me wonder whether the bill actually passed (I honestly do not know). There was only one other tweet on how the filibuster was halted.

So, this is not just about the bill (which is actually important), yet the fact how this ‘passed by’ newscasts so unnoticed makes me wonder what these news channels are all about. Thank heavens that gamers are about more than games. If not, more would not have been aware.

Information about Senator Wendy Davis at: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/members/dist10/dist10.htm

Those who support her can tweet so with the hash tag that I see reappearing all over the place ‘#StandWithWendy

The only statement left for me is: “News channels shame on you!

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The Hunchback of the NSA

We have been hearing information in this regard for some time now. I added my thoughts in my last blog, and as this is such a growing story, let me see if I can add some details to this by looking at a few issues from another side. (Source: www.NOS.nl , www.Guardian.co.uk , et al).

Edward Snowden, His view is that it is up to the people to decide what is to be done. Is it?

2003: Edward joins the Army to deploy to Iraq. He suffers injuries during (basic) training and cannot continue the training.

200?: Edward has been selected into the sanctum and becomes an IT specialist with the CIA, placed in Geneva. Well, that is a nice handle up from basic training isn’t it. Some people dream of opportunities like that all their life.

He gets a dose of disillusionment. (Not my words, just quoting here). The CIA methodology does not sit well with him. As a data analyst with a few decades of experience, including some not to mention data depositories, I can tell him now, that there is method to their madness. I know where he is at this point, because when it is all about data cleaning, integrity checks and verification, whatever you do feels like carrying a bucket of water towards the ocean, but hey, that is what it is. He then decides to quit. That is fair enough! Not all are meant for that lifestyle (including unappreciative bosses that we see by the container load in the commercial world), and as such we should recognise that some of these jobs have a decidedly larger chance of burning out.

2009: He joins the NSA. Really? After he left the CIA? That is an interesting step. Especially knowing that one worries you, the other would not?

Well Edward, this is what you signed up for! But fair enough, you wanted to give it a go. He then becomes NSA’s own Arnold Benedict. Oh joy! (I say in a slightly sarcastic voice) and he ends up feeding the information to the PRESS. I will add that this is slightly better than dumping all this on Wiki-leaks. I will also applaud him for going to the Guardian as I personally see these people as slightly more devoted to Ethics then anything Rupert Murdoch has at present in my humble opinion. Still, Arnold, oops, I meant Edward goes out into the limelight. Consider that his job was to make sure that the American people remained safe. Did he? Many people including terrorists knew this was likely to happen. Now they have confirmation and they might employ new methods, making it harder for the NSA to find them. So who did Edward Snowden actually service? From my point of view it was not the American people. Oh, and Hong Kong of all places? It seems to me that he preferred to be bankable to several potential donators. (But that is just my view).

The NSA has an uncomfortable job that must be done. The terrorist (or perhaps better stated the extremist) threat is real, and as such organisations like NSA, GCHQ and DSD need to look at information as it flows to keep its citizens safe. There is an ugly looking sterile approach to information. It has no emotion; it is simple collection of data. Yes, if anyone gets the wrong phone call we could be checked. Yet, the data is up to a point so complete that these organisations can easily see whether this is a fluke, or if there is more. Is that not the best solution? Most people have this illusion that we have some kind of privacy. The reality is that our information had been collected and data mined by large corporations well over a decade before governments started to collect data.

Do you think that I am kidding?

Take a day in your life. You fill up the tank at a gas station. You use your tank pass to get the 3% extra discount. You pay with either ‘their’ card, or your card. Nowadays it is rare that people pay cash. You go to work. Lunch means that you get lunch at some place. You get a snack and you get 1-2 extra items. Anything at these points that have a pass, or card is in 70% of the cases collected data. Now you go home, get dinner, use your customer loyalty card and you go home. Whenever you did not use cash (and in some cases even if you did) your details were recorded. EVERY day of your life! Whenever you use your mobile, your mobile carrier knows roughly where you are (with some smart-phones they know exactly where you are). All that data has been collected in one way or another.

Yes, even beyond what Orwell contemplated, you are a data collection point, you are marketable!

This is the ugly reality that has been happening since even before 2001. The big problem for you is that many of these companies need to survive, they need revenue, so to survive and you are for sale. Whatever you did is for sale. No matter the amount of cleaning you think they do. It takes but one linkable fact to your raw data details to know exactly who you are, where you are and where you are likely to go. People like the NSA only want to know whether you are a danger to the nation and the people around you. Are you? The others want to make money off you? Only you know how ‘dangerous’ you are, the others want you to spend cash where they like it. It is a never-ending story of greed. So who do you really need to worry about?

So when we see the news on how politicians are all about worries, all about what was done, then ask yourself, what questions have they been asking, investigating and contemplating when it came to the data handed by all to commercial facilities.

Getting back to Edward, whatever his views are. If he was TRULY for the people, and TRULY doing something to make the world better, then he would have done something about the real issues and all those e-mails from bankers and so on. That did not happen, did it? Didn’t Julian Assange ‘vanish’ to Ecuador before he could make good on that promise? So when people are driven by who hold the usage of their credit card, what do we call them then? As for bankable matters, seems that his move to Hong Kong could be all about bankability, but who is banking who?

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Privacy and (fake) fears

It has been all over the news. The US government has access to your email and your details. It was quite the show to read this all yesterday and the issues this morning was set in a nothing less than A-level theatre play. A play that would make Robert Ludlum envious I might add.

The issue is that the US Government (NSA in this case) is reading your e-mails. They have been doing that for some time. Basically, it was the Patriot act that opened the (back) doors for them to get access to all this information. As they were dealing with data on a lower level in those days, their task was simple. Find Terrorists! Find those who attack America and deal with them. So readers, here is your fake fear! This is one moment where I agree with President Obama 100%. You cannot have 100% security and 100% privacy. Anyone claiming different is lying to you.

The NSA is not interested in you soliciting erotic acts from a recipient on the other side of the e-mail track. They are not interested in the deals you make offering a quick buck! So those in fear (roughly 99.8932353%) you have nothing to fear but fear itself. The part you are not afraid of is the part that SHOULD scare you. You see all that data that you ‘surrender’ to Facebook, Google, MySpace, and Friendster and so on. All THAT data you gave can be crunched, marketed and sold to companies, corporations and all who would buy them. THAT is an interesting part. That is the fear people need to have when they looked at the dangers that Dutch Equens represent (as reported in the earlier blog: ‘You might soon be sold by the banks!‘).

It is not just that part, it is the possibility that data miners offer as they combine data files in one coherent file that could be a personal ‘danger’ to you.

The NSA issues are not that. They need these abilities to fight the existing and growing threat called ‘the lone wolf terrorist’. These people are guided by sources like ‘Inspire’ magazine, which is created by AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). It is however not that simple. The real lone wolves get their ‘guidance’ remotely from sources most do not know and all that under the eyes of the Intelligence Community. To have a grip on stopping these people, monitoring the internet is essential to keeping us the common people safe. If you think that reading mails was enough, then you are wrong. The further going plans by some to monitor the internet is going to be an essential part. Do not think that this is a fun exercise for those involved. It is pricey, it drains resources and it is never ending. As people move to the cloud the need to monitor upcoming dangers will only increase.

Most readers will have heard of the soldier killed in Woolwich UK. Home Secretary Theresa May was quoted when the mention came that this attack was not from a ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist. I am not opposing this thought. Yet, it cannot be denied that magazines like Inspire might be central to these events. As such it is no wonder that GCHQ wants to peek over the shoulders of the NSA to see if dangers are hitting their small island (I meant the UK, for those who wonder).

There were additional issues that are growing on several grounds, which give weight to the need of monitoring and in all of these cases people like you and me are not an issue.

For most of you feeling fear of this, your fear is unwarranted. Your fear should be how Microsoft and Sony are very interested on squeezing your details out of you as they are preparing and implementing their Next Gen consoles. That will affect you a lot sooner than the security services ever will. (Blog: ‘Government ministers, be warned!‘)

It looks almost sanctimonious that people are so shouting at these government actions and after that spread their visions with pictures and reveal all they can (and sometimes with way too much info) using Shutterfly/Instagram and Facebook. When their identities are stolen they will whine that it is ALL the fault of the government on how their identity was not safe.

Seems almost laughable doesn’t it.

When we sit on the fence we do see that there is a responsibility to hold parties to account for what they do. In case of the NSA this is Judge Roger Vinson. So, yes, someone does take a look at what is done. When did you last hear a loud scream on what Facebook is doing with your details? How about never? Only when Facebook had certain plans involving Instagram did the inner demon of personal greed scream out stating that the pictures were not to be open for business. Again we see a show of double standards. Judge Roger Vinson, born in the state where the delicious Forest Reserve Bourbon is from (Kentucky). He is the Federal Judge for the state famous for Pina Colada and cool Mojito’s (Florida). He approved the data request that the NSA made. So, yes there is oversight on this. It is however not needed for foreign requests. Is that bad? We give it freely to Facebook, so why are they stopped from sharing that with the government. Are you having that drink yet?

The NSA, GCHQ, DSD, CSE and a few others need these data streams. They would like to prevent people who are eager to get other people blown up. For you and me to stand on ‘principle’ on one side and then we give away our identity to be marketed and spammed to commercial content is just way too weird.

The world is now visibly changing. It is in my mind a little frightful as we are soon to become part of something different. As the finance markets were not contained, and soon no longer can be contained ever, we see a move away from nations and nationalities. We are about to be reduced to a metadata tag. With an added weighting that is soon to be set to ‘useful’ or ‘waste’. This was not instigated by governments and not even by the intelligence community. It was instigated by corporations behind Social media; and as we openly surrendered our details we are now placed in boxes where we can be approached. When we have moved through all the boxes and we are no longer an asset in any box we will be given the ‘waste’ tag. Then what?

These are my words, but funnily enough I was not the first one to mention this. In the Netherlands there was a New-Age entrepreneur called Luc Sala. Even from the late 80’s he evangelized the dangers of the groups “have” and “have not” and how we were allowing ourselves to be placed in these boxes. I wonder if he ever realised that not only was he correct, but that it could even fade national borders? Consider what you heard over the last months, what we will see in the next 13 months. Prime Minister David Cameron was strong about keeping the UK identity safe, to protect it. He was not willing to step out of the EU for this. That step is now being sought after by UKIP and their leader Nigel Farage.

How are these related? This is a valid question that is forming in your mind. And I have been fighting with these thoughts and especially evidence around this. Without evidence all this is nothing more than a bad level of Conspiracy Theory. You see, all these messages we read in the last few days and the next week are in my mind a smokescreen to some level. We are all so shouting about privacy. Yet, who was up in arms when MySpace started to sell their data in 2010. (Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/191716/myspace_selling_user_data.html).

Did you stop to think about your data on Facebook? Did you think ‘whatever’? So what other ‘evidence’ is there? In that case I point to several blogs I wrote, but more important you should look at more reputable sources like the Guardian and the Wall Street Times, where we faced stories in regards to the pay outs by all towards Greece, Cyprus and other nations to keep the economy ‘alive’. Whilst now we read how the IMF made errors. How a train line sucks up over 7 billion and is presently still not operational in the way it should be. This is a time and place where other nations are now giving aid as budgets are not met in various degrees by nearly all EU nations. So is it such a far stretch to see National borders fade as these issues are ‘resolved’ (read: ‘put on hold’) by group driven options. All this happens whilst we hear ‘voices’ that seem less and less aware of consequences or claim ignorance and error afterwards.

For this train of thought we need to see three parts

In the first part there is last year when this was quoted “The slight uptick is largely due to Europe, which is expected to return to very slow growth of 0.3 percent after the -0.2 percent contraction in 2012” (Source: http://www.conference-board.org/data/globaloutlook.cfm). Yet the guardian in two articles where the 2012 version stated in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/07/eurozone-growth-next-year-ec the following “with the 17-nation Eurozone eking out expansion of just 0.1% in 2013”. However 6 months later we read in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/06/ecb-eurozone-recession-deepen, where it states “European Central Bank says the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.6% in 2013 as it considers unconventional policies to kick-start growth”. Numbers change and get adjusted, but the game can only be one of profit by those who have the right numbers (read the better data source). This game is played and replayed, again and again. This has bearing on all the privacy issue in the form of the collected data these predictors require. If the power of voicing the future is based upon data then your privacy is a thorn in the eyes of commerce as they do react to data, but whose data and created how? So as companies are making less, as economic values go down, other paths to revenue must be found and this does have bearing on your privacy, as you are data. This means you are commercial currency, not government currency as such.

This is the other side of data. Many corporations decided to ‘store’ their backup data in some High-Tech solution off-site facility, not unlike the hosting solution Peer1. Peer1 is a Canadian corporation with hosting locations in for example San Antonio (when they acquired ServerBeach). That is corporate data and as such there is an issue in this place. There had been soft voices of concern in those early days on who gets to access these data servers. American linked companies implementing off-site storage options in America from all over their European locations. Was local management realising that they gave their customer base and (financial) details to US insight?

There is NO; I say again NO evidence that these data files were ever ‘violated’ for commercial gain. If we consider the dangers of greed and in the light of what we read earlier, can we be certain that this did not happen, or even whether this is not likely to happen in the near future?

It had been clear that parties like the NSA had access. There is however a side we do need to take proper heed of. If they have access, then who else has access? From corporate documents from these hosts, corporations would have likely read how impossible access was, and how they never give out access. If that part was shown to be ‘violated’, then what other dangers lurk that these companies did not expect? (In this concept violated does not mean a legal violation as the data storage company would have been adhering to their government rules, yet the fact that corporations might not know this is a question for many and as such legal questions should be asked).

So think again, as social media is in their right to sell the data they have in some shape and that it is the price you paid for all these ‘free’ abilities that these places give you. Most do not worry, but then worry about information the government has/looks in to.

For private individuals all this is simply a fake fear.

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UKIP or U.K.I.P? (Ur Kiddin’ I Presume?)

First let me start by stating my ‘allegiance’. I for the most am a conservative in mind. I used to be Labour/Liberal Democrat in past, but like all people, over time my thoughts and ideas changed like they change with most people. And as most, we want to support the team that looks out for us, and is closest to our ideals. We often keep it in that order of importance.

The issues are not with the parties, they, for the most did nothing wrong to make me change my mind. They had priorities as any good party would have, and as they change I felt less with one and more with the other party.

So why, from Australia is this part on UKIP coming? Well, I grew up in Europe and I spend most of my life there. Perhaps at times I still miss being in London, but that would apply to anyone who has been to London. Only the dead do not miss London and even that might be debatable. So as I saw the news this morning on how UKIP made some staggering victories from the conservatives I started to ponder it all. So this is where I am at present.

What do most know about UKIP? We saw some people lash out against them as they lash out against most opponents they are worried about. Then there was (too) little from UKIP and of course the votes and those who flocked towards them in droves.

When you look online, there are heaps of reviews. The Australian wrote ‘Send in the UKIP Clowns’, ‘the anti-immigration UK independence party’ and a few other less than flattering headers.

So taking a look at their site at http://www.UKIP.org had several papers that could be read, downloaded and or printed. It seems that they have information that is ready for all. One of the quotes that was on page 2 of their manifesto was “On January 1st 2014, The UK will open its door to unlimited numbers of people from Romania and Bulgaria”.

In the current economic and financial climate that makes entire Europe suffer, this message would scare plenty of people in the UK. There is even a quote from Ed Miliband MP, leader of the labour party in there. Yes, there is a simple message. So, why am I interested?

From my view many Commonwealth nations are connected. Even if Australia has a strong mining community (a force our own PM seems to be happy to break into suffering little parts), we are connected with the UK. If your mother was in danger, would you NOT come to her rescue? I think that we will always come to the aid of England, even when they lack Cricket skills ;-).

The message from UKIP remains simple, yet life is not that simple, but it ought to be. This is why Mr Cameron is now in a situation where he has to pick up the pieces. I will go one step further, even if the press was not willing (or able) to make it. If the current standing is not rectified fast, the conservatives might find themselves in less than a minority position, they will end in a position that will take multiple government terms to rectify.

So let us take a look at these issues that gave strength to the UKIP.

Open immigration from Romania and Bulgaria. Open immigration is always an issue for any nation that is in a much better place than the nations where immigrants come from. Yet, these two are not in any good state, so if those people have a chance of a much better life they will come. Yet, in support, the Netherlands has been dealing with massive scaled rental allowance fraud from Bulgarian gangs. The Dutch information program ‘Brandpunt’ (= flashpoint) even showed how organised bus trips from Bulgaria exist, just to start this method of fraud. One website even mentioned “Bulgaarse televise zendt cursussen ‘Hoe misbruik te maken van het Nederlandse systeem'” (=Bulgarian television transmits courses on ‘how to abuse the Dutch system’).

In the current climate this is what the UK might have to look forward to in one way or another. So, when we see UKIP announcing that they want to get out of the EU in the current climate, many people listen.

Is UKIP correct? This is where my shoes become a little tight for comfort. Life and politics are not that simple. No matter how much we would like it to be, the UK is currently in a 1 trillion deficit issue. It needs an increased economy and it needs export to keep it all real, yet the prospect of losing a 0.3% economical increase (achieved by the conservatives) is not likely to survive after the open border policy starts next January. There is another reality that does not bode well for Mr Cameron either. Many Nations in Europe have no real grip on their budgets at present. Germany seems to be the only one on par for now. Even the UK has a problem, but that is an UK issue. As they remain in the EU, they also inherit the issues of Italy, Greece, Spain and Cyprus. Each of these 4 are now loudly protesting in a state of anti-Austerity and as such, should their governments be overturned, then the chance of them cleaning up their own mess is not likely to happen any day soon. UKIP wants to be away from the EU when that happens. The reality is that the brunt of those blows would push the Netherlands, Belgium and France on their financial knees as well. Then what?

So even though Mr Cameron is right that life is complex, the appeal that Nigel Farage wants to do an Alexander the Great and cut the Gordian knot is not that far-fetched and is starting to appeal to a much wider audience. There is even additional support as the Netherlands did not get their budget in order and now gets a one year extension. In addition, their own labour party is entering a state of possible disarray as its members oppose a plan earlier approved in a coalition deal with the VVD (Dutch Liberal party). In this situation to get certain deals, the Dutch Labour party had to accept the standing that the Dutch Liberals want a harsher expulsion policy for illegal and criminal immigrants. To make this coalition work Labour had to go along with this to get some of their own agenda points to work. Now the party members want to move away from the Liberal stance on immigration (as the Labour mindset was never on par with that) and MP Samson was unwilling to do this. He had a standing agreement and he wants to keep his word. He also warned that pushing this would come at a cost for labour. Labour would have to hand over something else and even in the short run this would be likely an expensive change for the Labour agenda. So even though this is currently being talked about, it is clear that a crises point could come. In addition, there is no indication that the Dutch economy is changing for the better. There was mention of 0.6% of shrinking of the Dutch economy. In case you were wondering why this issue matters, it does! (Read on to learn why)
You see, if the Dutch economy gets any worse it will soon go towards a situation France and Italy are in (with a lot less deficit). Consider these nations nearly all with an overall average unemployment rate of 12.1%. These people will seek solutions and are very willing to cross borders for a better option. So, the fear that UKIP propagates is a real one.

In addition, the Gordian knot will have several benefits in these regards, but what is the downfall? There is the reality that the response from the Eurozone might lean towards a preference choice in business partners and removing the UK from the top of that list as/if they move out of the EU. It comes with the ‘we take care of our own and ours first’ taking the UK out of that equation. That is a reality to face too.

Does one outweigh the other? I feel certain that UKIP made no real investigation into that part at present. The question becomes what is done after they get the votes, and when they grow large(r), will they be able to provide not just ‘answers’ but also come up with solutions? The latter might be an issue as Nigel Farage stated on Sky News on May 3rd that a reshuffle was needed as they grew more than anticipated. That statement is fair enough when we see that thus far they gained 139 seats. It is a massive victory indeed.

Yet if there is another side then it can be found in their manifesto on page 4.

  • Protecting the greenbelt – opposing wind farms and HS2.

If the UK is to move forward then a proper energy policy is needed. They could consider more nuclear power, yet in the end, alternative fuel will be the future. Considering that the UK gets more wind daily then an average flying jet turbine, wind farms need to remain an option. In addition, if the UK will opt out of the EU, things will get more expensive in the short run, perhaps in the long run too. A strong energy policy would be paramount to keep the cost for the average citizen down and moving away from wind farms as an option seems less like a good idea.

Next on the list are 4 of the points mentioned.

  • Tax should be as low as possible.
  • Cracking down on crime and anti-social behaviour.
  • More police on the streets.
  • Cutting council executives and managers, not front-line services.

These issues are nice to hear, just like the quote we see in a fortune cookie. The tax statement is nice, but will it change? As ‘low as possible’ is just like ‘as soon as possible’, if the second one could mean ‘never’ then the first one could remain ‘too high’. There is actually more to this. Cracking down on crime is something the police have always done. Could more be done? Sure! There is however the issue that a budget needs to be kept and the UK has its own Austerity measures to consider as the 1 trillion deficits is not going away any day soon. This is where the third statement comes. Sure more police on the street sounds nice, but there is an infrastructure. Adding to the police force is nice, but with what money? The police forces have been bled dry and cut to ‘too little’ and not only in the UK. So if they tamper with the infrastructure to keep the promise of more police in the street the result is likely to be counter-productive down the line, then what will UKIP do?

So you see, they talk to the public, and tell them what to hear, but will it solve anything? This part is the debatable one. Yet, down the line, we must admit to govern one must be in office, and they did get into the office and now they must prove it.

I will not join the queue where they are labelled as fruit cakes and such. Mr Cameron is right that they will become a party to be reckoned with. The interesting part is how this will play out. The old duo Clegg-Miliband is now a lot less likely to survive, that part Mr Nigel Farage did achieve. What will Labour do next is the question. They are still the biggest for now. If they are to survive then they must align. It is unlikely they will find themselves with the Tories, yet it is either that, or their new option UKIP.

And here is where we see exactly the issue that Dutch Labour and Liberals are having (PVDA/VVD). What items are given and what are taken and what happens when the MP’s strike deals their constituents will not agree with? A British political sciences student in the late 90’s once told me “Coalition cabinets are the most entertaining, volatile and corrupt forms of governments”. I thought that his point of view made a lot of sense. The UK is about to join those ranks as they need to form coalitions at both sides of the isles. Will it be about the people or the MP’s and their futures? Time will tell but there is clarity in no uncertain terms. Those who did not give clear explanations of the why (as it was too complex) are now in a state where they must redraw lines and re-educate the masses as they figure out what to do next to get their seats back.

So the title ‘You’re Kidding I presume?’ Is very correct, yet who is stating that line, and whom are they stating it to is left in the open as both sides could claim that title and both side should be able to answer it.

 

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