Tag Archives: GRU

The man in the middle

There are a few issues going on, a few that should be looked at, yet because they are so in motion, looking at them now remains to be way too much speculation. What is interesting to look at is ‘How the GRU spy agency targets the west, from cyberspace to Salisbury‘. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/06/the-gru-the-russian-intelligence-agency-behind-the-headlines) and it makes me wonder more about Andrew Roth than anything else. The GRU, or as they are called Glavnoye razvedyvatel’noye upravleniye is known as the military version of what was the KGB and is now the FSB. The big cheese there is Igor Korobov. Now for something new, did you know that he is allergic to nuts? Well, it is true; he just cannot stand crazy people, and before he became Big Boss of Russia’s military spook central he was an officer of the Russian Air force. You might not realise it but it is an important fact, it gives shape to the man. The same as we see how higher officers of the Australian Navy and British Air force are shaped, so are the Russians in their setting and ego. Now, I cannot vouch for anything regarding Montenegro, I never looked into that (and not planning to at present). So when I see “A British security source told the Guardian on Monday that the nerve agent attack on the former double agent Sergei Skripal was also ordered by the intelligence agency“, I merely see the media being played. The issue for me is simple; most issues on the Skripal event given to us via the media were largely wind and speculation. The actual poison was NEVER found, there was no evidence on where it came from or how it got there. There was ample evidence that the Russians invented that stuff and there was also evidence that the formulas were out in the open. This does not mean that the Russians were innocent, but the clarity of the event and the utter lack of anything remotely pointing towards evidence is important. We hears several sources, all making those claims that it needed to be state driven were debunked from the word go, so whatever Vil Mirzayanov stated was up for scrutiny, especially as there were too many references to his book (plug your papers when you can is perfectly valid). I discussed this in March in the article ‘The Red Flags‘, where I stated: ‘the clear evidence could be largely dismissed in most courts with merely the use of the documents of the SAB, the OPCW and the testimony of Vil Mirzayanov who seemed to be interested in upping the sold copies of his 2008 publication‘, so not what I thought was right, but what the documents of the OPCW clearly put forward making the setting on the state driven assumption questionable. I also mentioned (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/27/the-red-flags/) the setting “the US and the UK have not given any clear evidence, whilst several sources have clearly shown that Novichoks were out there. If any of the sources, that I mentioned on Novichoks (like Leonard Rink), are shown to be true than there is a larger issue in play. The issue is that some governments are in denial over the evidence and facts and that is a bad thing“, again, I was not stating that Russia was innocent, merely that the overwhelming evidence that the availability went beyond state driven access was ignored by all parties. I also mentioned (which was speculation) that there are easier ways to create panic as well as getting rid of certain members of the Skripal family, most involve the application of leaded devices, which are readily available in the UK. The entire setting was flawed and dirty. That is the part that got to me first. Most people work from their background. An Air force man, no matter whether it comes dressed with a lion (UK), or a hammer and sickle (USSR) they want clean results, a clean setting, it tends to be in their nature. So the entire Commando (Spatsnez) paragraph is nice, however they merely jump at the needs of their commander (who is one of them fly boys). In addition, the hit went wrong and those people really cannot accept failure. Try walking up to the SAS and telling them to do an operation that needs to fail, they’ll tell you to fuck off (or merely do that bird gesture), the fact that was given, that it was all about an unstable volatile chemical mix, makes the setting even worse. Then Andrew goes out on a limb with “Open source researchers have claimed that a GRU officer supervised the transport of anti-aircraft weapons to eastern Ukraine when the Malaysian jetliner flight MH17 was shot down there, killing 298 people“, which is really an act of stupidity (as I personally see it, that is). There are a few clear pieces of consideration (I shy away from the word evidence at this point). News (dot com dot AU) gave us long before this ‘Never-before-seen footage reveals Russian-backed rebels arriving at the wreckage of MH17‘ (at https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/neverbeforeseen-footage-reveals-russianbacked-rebels-arriving-at-the-wreckage-of-mh17/news-story/c5f6bc5e9629a22d17fe2680bfbd61a5), now I will admit, not the most reliable source of intel under most given days, but the wider accepted part: “THEY arrive at the smoking wreckage, thinking they’ve shot down an enemy jet. But the truth quickly becomes clear“. Two small points here; the first is that people on that level (Spatznez, SAS, Navy Seals, Commando’s) do not miss and they do not allow themselves to be filmed. These people shoot 10,000 rounds in targets so that when they have that one clip with 30 bullets, whatever they aim for will not be missed. It is the difference between the amateur and the professional and those teams are not amateurs. In addition, I have had a few issues with the MH17 situation from the get go, although in this case I will accept that many media were setting on speculations and rumours and creating emotions, whilst the actual investigative papers, as well as the classified attachments are not available to me or the media (for all the right reasons).

Then we see one addition, an interesting one. The quote: “Peter Zwack, a retired US army brigadier general, wrote about a series of meetings before the Sochi Olympics with the head of the GRU, Igor Sergun, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in January 2016. “I found him soft-spoken, unassuming, complex, erudite and nuanced,” he said of their meetings, which largely focused on counter-terrorism efforts” is interesting (because it works in my favour), also in the given setting that they were commanders and equals in all this. The ‘unassuming, complex, erudite and nuanced‘ is what we expect from every top officer in any given army, and that setting that we expect as well as tend to see is not in line with the entire Skripal case. An article filled with anecdotes and one reference to the extradition of two Russians, the article raises a lot more questions and offers little to no answers.

Yet in all this, the views given here is the view that some officers have of their nightmare opponent, not an actual one. I doubt if there is anyone willing in the main armies (Russia, US, UK and Nato partners) to actually push for a setting of using a chemical attack on a target whilst knowingly endanger the population around that target. I have always seen that in the maximum field, the SAS, Commando’s, Navy Seals and Spatznez are precision tools. You do not use expensively trained people like that in an open setting or use them as a blunt instrument when there are alternatives around you. I admit that is merely my vision on it, yet consider that even in an army there is cost accountability. This applies to overt and covert operations and whilst there are less options in covert operations, setting the stage as we saw in Salisbury could have been done in a dozen different ways, all of them successful. It does not rule out the Russians as the optional culprit, yet the evidence as it was visible to all to check, gives enough rise to the question: ‘who else?‘, the fact that all parties walked away from that question makes the entire setting one of many question marks.

In the end, when we get back to “The British government is poised to submit an extradition request to Moscow for two Russians suspected of carrying out the Salisbury attack that left one person dead and three injured, including Skripal and his daughter“, whilst there was never any indication or any setting that the method of distribution was found (stated to be an unknown several times), whilst there was no CCTV or other options available to identify anyone in both attacks, we see: ‘two Russians suspected‘, questions should be asked. I am willing to state that the intelligence played this close to the chest and that there was indeed evidence never disclosed, we get that, yet the media setting going so far back basically stated the opposite. In addition, the attack was done on 4th March 2018, so now 5 months later there is evidence? How circumstantial is that evidence? I would love to be there when the lawyer presenting the extradition requests gives the goods on the evidence and where it came from. So not only is this a useless waste of time and energy, it seems to be one that is doomed to fail long before the papers were even served. This does not mean that they should not be served, I am merely going from the setting that not only will it be a setting that represents the existence of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt‘, I am certain that it likely fails ‘in the balance of probability where it is more likely than not‘, two settings that are planets apart. So failing both would be an interesting sight to behold.

All that information on the GRU, the Spatznez with all the lines to optional settings and possible attacks, yet in all this, where is the link to the two people requested to have a free life time vacation in the UK? Even as the Guardian stated in another article ‘Extradition request for Russian suspects has zero chance of success‘, which is very likely true. The entire Skripal mess seems to be a chain of failures and bungles on several levels. Now, in all fairness there was never much of a chance to get anything remotely useable in the first place, the setting was so far away from CCTV that the town of Salisbury offers plenty of actual privacy on several levels. Oh, and before I forget it. I mentioned it in ‘Does it taste like Chicken?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/05/does-it-taste-like-chicken/), is it not interesting that the KalVista Laboratories and Porton Biopharma, both advanced labs close to both Novichoks events, both labs that seem to have the required setting to make Novichoks. Yet the fact that neither got any of the limelight, not even by an inquisitive journo loaded with assumption and a ‘the people have a right to know‘ almanac (old and new testimony). They were all remained focused on Russia being the one and only culprit.

Again, the Russians are not saints (they suck at Cricket though); none of this reeks of a covert state action, it has the vapour of organised crime and in that setting if any of those people having access to either of these two places, there should have been a loud alarm on every street corner between those places and London.

It is merely my view, feel free to disagree. I feel like the entire setting was not one of parliament, or police, or justice. There is a man in the middle deciding on what is out there, there is a game strategist, an orchestrator in the field. I cannot state there is evidence, but there are several indicators in play, some are adhered to some are altered, that is how it all reads. I am not talking about the intelligence services, because that is merely a setting where we see embargoes and restrictions, it shows like an outside source telling others what to disregard. The Mirror for example used (whether valid or not) “ONLINE EMBARGO – The Times. Sergei and Yulia Skripal. No online before 12pm. Attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal”, the mere fact that larger pieces of evidence from the OPCW were initially completely ignored by most press outlets.

I know I am good, but I am not that good and several media covers have decent quality experts available, none of them had the OPCW on their brain in this? The docs I linked to, that defused several angles were all ignored? That is, what I personally believe to be a stage setting. And there is a lot more that I initially mentioned before anyone else. So in all this, the article from Andrew Roth leaves us with plenty of questions, the most important one is why such useless actions are taken in the first place and more importantly (as I personally see it), why the stares on one less likely candidate?

When the media is told where to look and telling us where to look, in light of all the visible evidence, is that not an even more worrying side in all this?

 

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Something for the Silver Screen?

There is an issue in Europe, well, there are plenty of issues in Europe, but until now, I steered clear of one of them. Something does not add up and it is now more of an issue than ever before.

This trip started in the Washington Post, after I saw several articles in the Guardian. You see, with one article it has become something else and that is very much an issue. So (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-to-respond-very-soon-to-british-decision-to-expel-its-diplomats/2018/03/15/89e27b4a-2839-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html), we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain in saying Russia likely responsible for chemical attack against former spy‘, the mere title. Now, I am not saying that this is not what happened, not even implying that it is some figment. Yet, why would we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain‘? This is a simple murder, perhaps an assassination, or liquidation. Whatever word you use for the event, it does not matter to the person who got iced, he definitely no longer cares. But we, we should care, for us this entire situation matters. So when we see in the very beginning “formally backed Britain’s claims that Russia likely was responsible for a chemical toxin attack against a former spy living in England“, I personally am not convinced. There would have been any number of actions that would have resulted in the demise of that person. To get a gun is usually not hard if you know the people. There was a person in the 90’s that one could meet near Ilford, would be able to get a whole range of guns, no silencers though. Still for £350-£500 (in those days) you could get something not too fancy and it would clean the clock of whoever needed to be done. Just make sure you do not do it in the wrong place and upset the local family guy, because that tends not to work. Still, consider the ease of a mere gun against the dangers, the risks and the trouble of getting VX into the country, than getting it to the location. You only need to see the movie ‘The Rock‘ to know that it requires several things, a lot of it dodgy and that stuff is not that stable to begin with. Now, as we see that there was a nerve agent in play, so I am not opposing that. I am merely stating that this kind of work is odd to begin with. That is beside the point of any SVR RF, FSB or GRU member freaking out having to take that shit with them. It is not merely overkill; it tends to leave you without options if you fail at first. And ask any Murphy that your shit goes wrong the first opportunity nature gets their hands on you. It is a fact of life. So in that regard it seems to me that Novichok is a weird choice to use. This is also me stating that I have no evidence that it was NOT used. So when I take a little lesson in Novichok, I learned the following:

  1. At https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CSP/RC-3/en/rc3wp01_e_.pdf, we see “Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”” which they state on page 3 in paragraph 8. Now this is 2013 and this is 5 years later. Yet, as some sources give us that it was developed in the 70’s up to the early 90’s, it seems interesting that there was nothing on the matter 20 years later.
  2. Yet that same OPCW gave us in April 2011, two years earlier the two following parts on page 7 at 11.1 and 11.2. With: “This has been attracting increasing attention in recent years, particularly among non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Although very little information has appeared in the public domain, there have been claims that a new class of nerve agents, known as “Novichoks”, has been developed. In December 2008, a former defence scientist published a book, which included information on structures reported to be those of the new agents. Some of these structures meet the criteria for Schedule 2 B4 (S2 B4); however, all others are non-scheduled chemicals. The author claimed that the toxicity of certain “Novichok” agents may exceed that of VX“, something that should have woken up the CIA instantly, something deadlier than VX and no defence? There is no way that they wouldn’t have been chasing that, even if it was merely to find a defence against it.

So now we have the play to some extent in view. The BBC gave first view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43377856) with “Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia“, yet it is the innuendo of News.com.au that takes the limelight. With “Investigators believe the nerve agent that poisoned former Russian agent Sergei Skripal was planted in his daughter’s suitcase before she left Moscow, The Telegraph newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the genteel southern English city of Salisbury on March 4“, so not only did they go the whole nine yards to get to both, the entire issue is that both could have been removed simple enough in Salisbury. The entire matter does not add up. Another source, The Jamestown Foundation gives us “Sergei Skripal (66), a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) colonel, was arrested in Moscow in 2004 for allegedly being an agent of the United Kingdom’s MI6 intelligence service. Skripal was convicted, in 2006, to serve 13 years in prison for treason. In 2010, he was pardoned, released and sent to the UK in a major spy exchange involving a big group of “sleeper” spies who had been arrested in the United States, promptly convicted and deported to Russia“, so if we accept these facts, than we see that he was shipped to the UK 8 years ago. So now we see such an overkill event? It does not add up!

This level of overkill implies (mind you I am saying ‘implies’) personal orchestration, this is a message, but for who the message is for (or ‘from’ for that matter) is not clear. There is enough evidence that the toxin was used, but there is a long road here. Even as we accept the Jamestown Foundation giving us “Other officials insist Novichok was never officially defined as a chemical weapon and was not destroyed, because it never officially existed (Interfax, March 14). Mirzayanov, who is apparently the main whistle-blower on Novichok, is being actively discredited by the pro-Kremlin press (Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 15). Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov categorically denied there ever was a secret nerve agent program named “Novichok in Russia or in the USSR,” while Russia has stopped all work on developing new chemical weapons and has completed the destruction of existing stockpiles. Ryabkov referred to Mirzayanov as a “defector,” who was not trustworthy (Militarynews, March 15)“. This now gets us to the crux of the matter. The whistle-blower Vil Mirzayanov is now living in the US. Now we get to the good stuff, which is given by The Guardian, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/russian-spy-poisoning-attack-novichok-chemist) gives us ‘chemist says non-state actor couldn’t carry out attack‘, that is a notion I can very well agree with. In addition, as I stated earlier “the chemical was too dangerous for anyone but a “high-level senior scientist” to handle and that even he – who worked for 30 years inside the secret military installation where novichok was developed and gained extensive personal experience in handling the agent – would not know how to weaponize it“. If this stuff has been weaponised it would be a novel usage and also a very novel situation. The fact that the luggage went from Moscow without setting off any alarms, the fact that it survived the trip (you know how luggage carriers tend to be), as well as the setting that it went off at the time it did gives rise to all kinds of technological options. Still we have the setting of who would have done it. Mirzayanov supports this with ““You need a very high-qualified professional scientist,” he continued. “Because it is dangerous stuff. Extremely dangerous. You can kill yourself. First of all you have to have a very good shield, a very particular container. And after that to weaponize it – weaponize it is impossible without high technical equipment. It’s impossible to imagine.”” and let’s not forget the target, a former GRU agent who had been in prison for 4 years and then exchanged. It seems to me that it is not impossible that Russia was behind it, but I feel that the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind, moreover this was a test-run (a mere speculation) and the person decided to go after the one person he had hatred for and in that regard going after the daughter made perfect sense, even more so as it would hurt the person he wanted to get to even more. So was this the case?

Now the last part is all speculative but it adds up, the effort shown for stuff that is still material for denial from the original whistle-blower giving us ‘would not know how to weaponize it‘, and that is from the person who actually handled the stuff. It is the very last part that also matters; with “Mirzayanov thinks the Salisbury attack was performed with a binary version of the agent brought through customs and automatically mixed at the time of the attack“, so two elements, mixing and distributing, such a device was not seen when the luggage got to the UK?

There are too many issues and even as I agree wholeheartedly on the message that Vil Mirzayanov brought to us, I am not convinced that this was some elaborate scheme from the Russian government. Sending any officer of the SVR RF, FSB, GRU or even the Voyska Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya to go shopping in London with the message “Oh, and before you fly back, would you kindly put a bullet in the back of the head of both Sergei and Yulia Skripal?“, a simple mandate avoiding well over half a dozen of cogs that could be clogged with mere sand at any given time.

That is why it does not add up. In hindsight there is one additional part. Is it true that ONLY Russia has that stuff? The entire matter when we see some papers where the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was to some extent in the dark 5 years ago. In light of Vil Mirzayanov moving to New Jersey in 1996, so 15 years later the OPCW is still in the dark? That path makes even less sense. In addition, the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) seemed to have been equally in the dark. From those parts alone, whilst one of the handlers was in the US for the last 22 years, the entire setting is a stretch. It does make sense that the US would have been part of the conversation, yet how do France and Germany fit in? Some presented unity on standing up against Russia?

There is little question on the timeline. So when we see the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43297638), they are found by a doctor and nurse at 16:15, both unconscious. So they had made it to the Malting’s shopping centre (or so the information implies). So when we learn “A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now in a serious condition in hospital, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said“, which we get form the article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43323847) we should be able to tell more. But we cannot, the News is too chaotic, BBC, SBS and other reliable sources give us the snippets, but not an actual slice of the cake. The timeline implies that they were poisoned on the spot, the fact that Nick Bailey, a police officer who became unwell after taking part in the early response to the attack gives additional rise to the use of a toxin, but that implies that it was done there, on the spot. Even if the toxin was moved through touch, the speed at which Nick Bailey got it implies (speculative from my side) that the toxin worked fast, unless the location was less than a 4 minute walk from their house, that option would be taken away as the toxin would be pushed through the body via the bloodstream. In addition any longer would make the Novichok useless, nerve agents are that because they are close to lightning fast, even as we expect that the police officer was lucky and too little got to him.

Yet it was only a few hours ago that the Guardian is giving us a timeline (aren’t they just the best). So the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/skripals-poisoning-what-we-know-so-far) gives us a decent timeline. I particularly liked “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as a letter“, so perhaps it might be: “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as the restaurant bill“, you see the hour at Zizzi as well as the fact that they were found 40 minutes later. A nerve agent will work fast, really fast so the 40 minutes would have been a stretch no matter what, yet the fact when they were found and when they were overcome is not a given, so they could have been smouldering there for over 20 minutes. It equally gives rise that the longer they were there the less impact it would have had on Constable Nick Bailey, his luck I might add. The Guardian is now showing the issues I had and that is good (for me), so as I finalise reading that article, I see a number of issues and even as I had seen most issues, the one part that they aren’t giving us (as It was not part of the timeline) was seen in the in depth of the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-russia-nerve-agent-attack-spy-poisoning-sergei-skripal-salisbury-accusations-evidence-explanation-a8258911.html). Here we see: “Some analysts have claimed that Novichoks could have been smuggled out of chemical weapons and storage sites after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when facilities were abandoned by unpaid staff and security was low“, “if the precursor ingredients were smuggled out in the 1990s, stored in proper conditions and mixed recently, they could still be deadly in a small-scale attack according to some experts” as well as “In 1995, a Russian banking magnate called Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary died from organ failure after being poisoned with a military grade toxin found on an office telephone. A closed trial found that his business partner had obtained the substance via intermediaries from an employee of a state chemical research institute known as GosNIIOKhT, which was involved in the development of Novichoks” give us a few things. In the first that the experts are kind of clueless, we might be blaming Russia on all this and it might be true, yet the latter part that involves Ivan Kivelidi takes away the ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. The fact that this stuff is out in the open to some degree is a much larger issue and when we see “Leonard Rink, told police he had been storing poisons in his garage and selling them to pay off debts“, we see part that takes the Russian government optionally out of the equation and gives us the part I came with earlier “the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind“, it fits the bill of the restaurant one might state, that is, if the timeline of the events and the timeline of the toxin can be proven, because both are the axial in the issue.

No matter how this plays out, this could become one hell of a movie and when we see it on the silver screen, will Matt Damon play the person with the grudge, or the scientist who initially played a role in developing it? However we should reserve the role of Skripal for John Larroquette, it will be nice to see him again on the big screen.

 

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Losing values towards insanity

Even as we see more and more anti NRA actions and other actions that are indeed positive geared towards making schools ‘safer’, there are now also people who are trying to cash in quick, school safety is an exploding business and some should be ashamed of that. Yet it is not about that, it is not about the schools. It is about the children. So tell me, how come that these 17 American children, are seen as more important as the 101,500 civilians killed in Syria. The total amount of civilians killed is close to 1/3rd of all casualties. In one week, we see 13 children and 10 women all killed. Not much noise there, is it? So when we see that the UN Security Council failed to agree after a second day of intensive talks on a proposed 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow for emergency humanitarian deliveries and medical evacuations. How much as a failure should we regard ourselves? How we pat our backs by stopping Hertz discount to NRA members, not the people at the NRA, merely the members of the NRA. The utter ridicule that people are setting themselves up to be for hating people who like guns, for going after targets for the mere pleasure of ones ego, that whilst the UN is failing hundreds of thousands of people. So as we see “The talks at the UN headquarters in New York followed an appeal by French and German leaders to Vladimir Putin, asking for Russia to stop blocking the measure’s passage, pointing to the dire situation of the trapped civilian population in the rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus” (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/23/macron-merkel-urge-putin-back-ceasefire-syria-eastern-ghouta), the infuriating part is that I gave rise to this on October 17th 2016, so 16 months later after I wrote: “I reckon all the players know that, yet, having long conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose only concern is to stall so that the population can be made extinct before the resolution passes, reads a lot more like the Friends edition of Pinocchio, than the original by Carlo Collodi” (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/10/17/a-new-disney/), so here I present the first piece of evidence that the United Nations is no longer a functional apparatus. Because the evidence as given by the UN themselves (at http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-i/index.html), in its first article stating the purposes of the United Nations. Here we see in the first paragraph: “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace“, I think that we can state for the record that the United Nations has failed the Syrian people in the most amazing way. that failure and the repeated stalling by one of its members (in both cases Russia) most people seem to merely turn a blind eye, look at the populist activities that will lead nowhere, merely harass and abuse people. Go after 5 million members who never fired their guns in any school or at any child. Think yourself clever and pat yourself on the backs because your non-actions will get another 50 children killed before the end of the month.

So as Al-Jazeera gave us ‘the meeting, however, has already been delayed multiple times as negotiations continue over the wording of the draft resolution‘ , we see that whilst people are trying to be clever about events more people will get killed. So yesterday (according to the AP) “Syrian government warplanes carried out a sixth day of airstrikes Friday in the rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus, killing 32 people, activists said, as the death toll from a week of bombardment soared over 400“, how many will it be today? The fact that according to several sources (Washington Post amongst them) we get: “the situation was complicated further by reports that Russian mercenaries had taken part in the attack and were among the dead“. You see, no one might cry about these mercenaries, but as they are basically not part of any army, they will kill first and consider asking questions later. More important, the mercenary firm Wagner, allegedly owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin is reaching out in other directions too. He is linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) in St. Petersburg. He has been indicted (at https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477/download) for his part towards violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere “with U.S. elections and political processes“, according to the Justice Department. Some state (not too reliable sources) that they are now growing in making botnets, not to spread issues, but to collect data. So, even as he is connected, he is growing data, knowledge and opportunity on almost a daily basis.

How does that connect to Syria?

Apart from the money he makes on the mercenaries and their actions, he is now in a position where he can set the foundation to get access to all the Syrian national data on almost all levels, whilst having a comfortable place to start collecting data on everything on all the nations bordering Syria too. This is not some cake walk or just fun. When we consider the WP on this, we see: “Wagner first gained attention for its operations in 2014 in Ukraine, where mercenaries with the group — mostly military veterans and ultranationalists — were reported to be fighting alongside Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. The group was believed to have been led by Dmitry Utkin, who until 2013 had served in Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU“, do you think that billionaires, especially Russian ones are in it for the ego? No, he wants to grow, grow fast and in every direction. At least two other sources give us “A former lieutenant colonel and brigade commander of the Spetsnaz GRU detachment. The 700th Independent Spetsnaz Detachment of the 2nd Independent Brigade of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (Части и подразделения специального назначения (спецназ) Главного управления Генерального штаба Вооружённых сил Российской Федерации). These are not kids playing on the side of the road, these people tend to have very serious plans and when they are not connected to an official army they tend to get selfishly lucrative really fast.

That does matter, because professionals like that are not in it to kill civilians, yet they will kill whatever gets in their way or in the way of them completing their mission, so in this it matters what their mission is in all this.

There is a second part in all this and be aware that this is all pure speculation from my side. When we consider the Washington Post quote “Russian mercenaries had taken part in the attack and were among the dead — making it the deadliest U.S.-Russia clash since the Cold War“, so what if that is exactly what they want? What is a new cold war is their intent? As people are shouting and arranging all kinds of partially useless actions regarding 17 kids, in a nation that is basically beyond bankrupt, how much will it take to flame a new cold war, one where the US and NATO are on the roes due to lack of brainpower and resources. The technical advantage that the US and NATO had during the previous one is no longer there. You might remember stories of Russian men in ridiculous rain coats, having almost no knowledge of electronics. That time has passed and the US no longer has the options it used to have, whilst in addition they tied their own hands in several ways. At this point a cold war could end up being devastating to the west. In addition, when we are treated to both “The USS Michael Monsoor, the second and latest Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer, suffered an equipment failure that prevented the ship from conducting sea trials” as well as “It’s been more than a year since the Navy decided to cancel procurement of an expensive new ammunition for its Zumwalt-class destroyers, but the service is still pondering how to best replace the munition, a Navy official said Wednesday. In 2016, the Navy decided to stop buying the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile, or LRLAP, after discovering that its price had spiked to $800,000 per round. LRLAP was the only ammo developed specifically for the ship’s Advanced Gun System“. So not only are these ships dodgy (for now), they can’t afford the ammunition, it seems to me that (even though we know that the US navy is a lot larger) that we should see the developing issues as a worry. You see this all links back to Syria. Do you think that Russia is going to play ball when there is no need? A paper tiger is only scary for the time you do not know that it is merely a paper one. After that all bets are off and it is entirely possible that this is the gamble that resident Putin is currently making. If proven correct we will see all kinds of developments, not merely in Syria, but the Kurds will get more tank slamming by Turkey and the dangers of Iran v Saudi Arabia would become a likelihood too.

So back to Syria, as the WP gave us on Yevgeniy Prigozhin: ‘He now has a reputation as a man willing to do Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dirty work‘. I think that this is the cost of doing business. I think that there had been a clear plan in place, even as I do not agree with Alexey Khlebnikov, a political risk consultant and a Middle East expert at the Russian International Affairs Council. He calls this a “double-edged sword”. The risk is almost negligible for Russia, even as we see the quote “details have trickled out in embarrassing ways“, getting captured is not an embarrassment it is merely an inconvenience. It seems that Yevgeniy Prigozhin is the creative side, when you take a High value target like Dmitry Utkin you get something else, on his level a person does not get to walk away, there is a tactic in play and whilst we stare at certain parts we all forget that a man like that over 25 years has created its own network of people and skills. It could be that Wagner will grow faster because of opportunities, but in which direction? That is a part we can see when we realise that smiley face Dmitry is also CEO of Concord Management and Consulting. With these two gentleman owning 50% (actually more than that) into LLC Megaline, with Megaline receiving a large chunk of the capital construction contracts for the Russian military we see that link. When the dust settles, Assad will need to rebuild, and they will be the front player and possibly only consideration on a nation needing to be reconstructed. So now how weird are their actions? Both Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin are now perfectly placed to rake in billions and in that regard we get back to the options for the dying in Syria; they don’t get to have any. Whilst everyone is settling around clever text on how to word the phrase ‘cease-fire‘ in that timespan Damascus could be adequately be made devoid of life bringing the optional closure of the Syrian war with President Bashar Hafez al-Assad remaining in power. If only the US and NATO had actually acted in 2012, the picture might have been a lot different. Yet for now, up to yesterday 150 children, were killed in Ghouta, yes the loud actions on behalf of 17 school dead children from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida makes a lot of sense in a global perspective, especially as we see the shouting and actions that are partially senseless and baseless, all emotional outrage whilst none of them are on the failings of the ATF (not due to their own accord) and its legislation.

Just like Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief as well as the letter Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel sent to Putin on Friday said the continuing attacks on civilian populations represented “clear violations of international humanitarian law”, all actions that look nice when covered by the media, yet in the light of the U.N. Security Council delayed a vote on a resolution demanding a 30-day humanitarian cease-fire across Syria until Saturday in hopes of closing a gap over the timing for a halt to fighting, that whilst we hear that “after six hours of negotiations, Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaiba, the current council president, told reporters Friday evening that members ‘are so close’ to agreement, and negotiations are continuing“, so there will be more killing and more bombing and more actions for at least 12 more hours. So how many children will die in the next 12 hours and how ridiculous does the man with the yellow card look with the text “NRA stop killing our kids”, an act they never did, an act they would never approve of or support, are you starting to comprehend the insanity of it all?

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In speculated anticipation

This is on a matter that is slippery like a promiscuous nymphomaniac lady contemplating monogamy. In a world where any person next to you could be a pimp, a whore or merely psychotic. Welcome to the cold war! Merely a few hours ago, the Guardian gave us ‘Obama orders sanctions on Russia after campaign hacking during US election’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/29/barack-obama-sanctions-russia-election-hack). Now, we have known the CIA and other parties to be blatantly incorrect when it came to Sony and North Korea. Yet, here in this case, there are a few elements in play where it is indeed more likely than not that if there was real interference that Russia would have been guilty, involved or at the very least privy to the events. In this China is a lot less likely, because as business deals go, they are a lot better of with the Ignorance of former State Secretary Hillary Clinton, than they will ever be with President elect Donald Trump, so as the calling of garden grooming spades, the one turning the soil is overly likely to be the Russian side.

There was an earlier article referred to in this one, where we see: “He dodged whether Putin personally directed the operations but pointedly noted “not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin”“, which is actually incorrect. You see, and President Barack Obama know this to be an absolute truth is that deniability is essential in some operations. Yet, in this even as President Vladimir Putin would have been kept in the dark (likely by his own request), it is less likely that Sergey Kuzhugetovich Shoygu is involved, yet if the GRU was involved than Igor Korobov would know for sure. You see, the FSB is the second option, yet for those who have seen some of the reports that Darknet has regarding investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov gives at some parts the inclination that the FSB funding on more advanced cyber actions was lacking making the GRU the opponent of choice. This comes with the assumption from my side that less advanced equipment would have given US cyber sides a lot more data to show earlier that Russia was intervening with the elections. The reports of a group called Fancy Bear gives way to the technology they get access to and the places they can access them at. There is another piece that I have not been able to confirm, it is speculative and even as it gives base to giggles of all matters, it remains a speculation. It is said that Fancy Bear operatives have been able to work from North Stockholm, if so, they might have accessed the IBM backbone there, which has a massive amount of data pushing power. Giving way that the US gave powers to enable hacking of the US election system, live is just too cynical at times.

Another quote is also linked to this, but not from the cyber point of view. “Obama repeatedly weighed in on what he saw as increased polarization in the United States. “Over a third of Republican voters approve of Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave. How did that happen?”“, in that my response would be ‘Well Mr President, if you had gotten of your ass and actually do things instead of politicising things. If you would have actually kept a budget and not push the US into 20 trillion of national debt people might be less on the fence for the other side, right?‘ There will be no reply because not only as this administration been close to useless, the actions of the last few days where the new electorate gets an agenda pushed down its throat where a clear cooperation with terrorist organisations is seen is plenty of food for thought, yet that rave needs to seize as it does not completely apply to the case at hand!

There are however other matters for concern “In a conference call with reporters, senior White House officials said its actions were a necessary response to “very disturbing Russian threats to US national security”“, which beckons three things:

1. Why was it a conference call and not on every video or a live presentation?
2. Wow long has this been actually known?
3. Where is the actual evidence?

Like Sony, like other parts, the press wants to see evidence and NONE has been presented. No station, as far as I have been able to tell has shown any schematic on how the election could have been tampered with evidence. There are hundreds of anti-Clinton and anti-Trump conspiracy theorist videos, yet none form any reputable news channel. Which also now gives voice to the thought whether the US intelligence branch in this administration has been the biggest joke ever (North Korean accusations et al).

Still in all this, the US is pushing for a cold war, which might not be the worst thing, yet as the US is to be regarded as bankrupt, the upgrades that will involve a data centre and 4-6 billion in equipment and resources is something there will be no room for any day soon.

So what is this about? Is this about the Democrats being really sore losers? I am not sure what to think, yet the entire approach via conference calls, no presentation of evidence, there are a few too many issues here. In addition, if there was evidence, do you not think that President Obama would present it, to show at least that he is capable of publicly smiting President Putin? Let’s face it, he does need to brownie points. Yet, in light of some evidence not shown, the actions at the 11th hour, are they a sign that the Democratic Party will be relying on act that some could regard as Malfeasance in office? Of course these people will not need to give a second thought as they will be removed from office in a few weeks, yet to leave open the next public officials to added pressures to clean up not just their last 8 years of action, but in addition acts of impeding elected officials could have long term consequences. Let’s not forget that the Republican Party starts with both a Republican Senate and Congress, as well as their guy in the White House, so if the Democratic Party wants anything to happen, being nice is pretty much their only option.

In addition, when we look at the US recount (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/28/election-recount-hacking-voting-machines), we see first off ‘US recounts find no evidence of hacking in Trump win but reveal vulnerabilities‘, in addition we see “In Wisconsin, the only state where the recount was finished, Trump’s victory increased by 131 votes, while in Michigan, where 22 of 83 counties had a full or partial recount, incomplete data suggests was a net change of 1,651 votes, “but no evidence of an attack”“, which is not amounting to evidence in total, we do see that two places were not intervened with, still the system is setting the pace that there are future concerns. The message ““We didn’t conclude that hacking didn’t happen,” he told the Guardian, but “based on the little evidence we have, it is less likely that hacking influenced the outcome of the election” does clearly state that hacking did not happen, it is given with some clarity that any hacking if it happened, that the outcome was not influenced by hacking. This now gives rising concerns to James Comey and what is happening on his watch. More important, the responses that the Guardian had (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/29/fbi-dhs-russian-hacking-report) where we see “The report was criticized by security experts, who said it lacked depth and came too late” as well as “Jonathan Zdziarski, a highly regarded security researcher, compared the joint action report to a child’s activity center“, which is not the first time we see it. More important is the quote “Tom Killalea, former vice-president of security at Amazon and a Capital One board member, wrote: “Russian attack on DNC similar to so many other attacks in past 15yrs. Big question: Why such poor incident response?”” is exactly the issue I had in the initial minute of the information being read by me and that is not the only part of it. The fact that the involved parties seem to be lacking more and more in advising actions as well as a clear cyber security pathway (the Clinton private mail server issues) that is correctly enforced and checked upon. The utter lack of proper ‘Common Cyber Sense‘ as seen for close to a decade at present all over official and governmental US is cause for a large amount of problems, yet the amount of evidence produced that there actually was Russian Cyber actions into changing the election results have not been brought and was brought was done in a very unconvincing way, in a way that top people had deniability of involvement in fingering the Russians. The PDF reads like something less serious in a few ways. You see, the techniques described are not wrong, but it leaves it open to who was the participating party. It could have been mere private hackers, the Russian Mafia is also a cyber-player. The fact that alleged actions from summer 2015 are only now coming into the light.  Is that not equally strange? By the way, the fact that Russian intelligence would try to ‘visit’ the files of the US Democratic Party is not that weird. Is there any indication that NSA, GCHQ and ANSSI would not have been accessing (or trying to) the United Russian party servers for intelligence is equally silly! Neither shows intent to influence an election. Let’s face it, Benghazi was a large enough mess to sway the vote in the first place and US insiders were all too happy to leak information, the Russian merely had to sit back, laugh and drink Vodka. In addition, the fact that malware was on the systems in not in question, it happens too often in too many places, yet clear evidence that APT28 or APT29 were the culprits implies router information, router data and clear information on when EXACTLY is happened (summer 2015 is a little too wide). More important, this also implies that proper malware defence was NEVER in place, so how shallow do these people want to get?

From page 8 we start seeing the true ability of the intelligence to envelope themselves into the realm of comedy. Items like ‘Update and patch production servers regularly‘ and ‘Use and configure available firewalls to block attacks‘ as well as ‘Perform regular audits of transaction logs for suspicious activity‘, these events should have been taking place for a long time, the fact that registered events from 2015 and now show that these mitigation elements are mentioned imply the fact that IT reorganisation has been essential is a larger issue and heavy on comedy if that has been absent for 2+ years. I think negligence becomes a topic of discussion at that point. The least stated on ‘Permissions, Privileges, and Access Controls‘ the better, especially if they haven’t been in place. So in retrospect, not having any ‘evidence’ published might have been better for the Democratic Party and especially for James B. Comey and Jeh Johnson. The main reason is that these events will have a longer term implications and certain parties will start asking questions, if they don’t, those people might end up have to answer a few questions as well.

In that regard the Guardian quote “The question hasn’t even been asked: ‘Did you take basic measures to protect the data that was on there?’“, a question that seems basic and was basically voiced by Sean Spicer on CNN. The fact that according to 17 intelligence agencies agree (as quoted by CNN), brings worry to those agreeing and the laughable bad quality PDF that was released. Consider that we are seeing the reaction of unanimous agreed intelligence without any clear presented evidence, actual evidence, so what are they agreeing on? As stated by Sean Spicer in the CNN interview, the burden of proof is on the intelligence community. Especially as there is an implied lack of due diligence of the Democratic National Committee to secure their IT systems. The fact that the implied lack of diligence should give view to the fact that there are plenty of American citizens that are anti democrats in the US alone to give worry on WHO have been jogging through the DNC servers.

A view that seems to have been overlooked by plenty of people as well.

In the act of anticipated speculation we should speculate that proper presentation of the evidence will be forthcoming. The presentation on a level that will give a positive response from security experts will be a lot to ask for, yet in all this, you should be asking yourself the one question that does matter, it is possible that the FBI got it wrong three times in a row? If so, in how much trouble is Cyber America?

 

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A Syrian Reality

Another day, another mention of Aleppo, Syria and events. Hilary Benn speaks of the shame we all should feel. Yet, here we have an issue. Not with his sentiment, but with the clarity of who or what is in charge. Now that the UN has another meeting, labelled as ’emergency’, it is time for people to realise that labels are no longer things to see You see, CNN states ‘descent into hell‘, I say ‘the reality of choice‘. As we now see that Assad, with Russian aid secures the news like ‘Syrian Government Forces Are Close to Full Liberation of Aleppo City’ and ‘Syrian army gaining control of Aleppo eastern quarters’ we need to realise that America is no longer the leader of the free world, that it is too bankrupt to be calling any shots other than commercial deals (read: trade agreements) to feed its own greed. The fact that Libya has now asked Russia to intervene on its behalf. As General Khalifa Haftar is meeting with Russian minister to seek help, we now all need to realise that we are chasing the consent from an empty bag names America. Only now, well over a year too late are pundits all over the media field considering a change. Those who some consider to be half baked evangelical procrastinators of social sciences are now considering that Frexit ‘might’ happen. The data was clearly there for well over 26 weeks. Just like they were trying to stay buddies with those running the gravy trains, Brexit was ignored for too long and Frexit is very nearly a given next. When you consider the quote two weeks ago in the Guardian “Kenny’s administration in Dublin to strongly back any French attempt to gain more concessions from Brussels to prevent a possible ‘Frexit’“, we can now start quoting South Park (Oh my god, they killed Kenny) whilst Ireland is considering the dangers it is manoeuvring itself in.

What about Syria?

Yes, that is the question, because for the most, no one gives a dams about Syria! This is a harsh reality. When you look at the cold reality for Syria, you will consider that the natural resources of Syria include iron ore, crude oil, phosphate rock, manganese ore, asphalt, marble, rock salt, and gypsum. Most can be gotten in many places, whilst oil value is in the basement and iron ore is in an even worse place. The large corporations do not care for any of these substances, so as such The American Congress is speaking a lot, not saying much and acting even less. The evidence is all around you. This outgoing Democratic failure has done next to nothing substantial. We see mention of weapon support. It is less than it should be and likely done to write off old equipment or get some parties a tax breaks (personal assumption), it never amounted to anything serious. The same could be stated for the United Kingdom, who with the US was involved with Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, because the growth of ISIL is scary for both of them. In my view, if there is any hero to be laureled in this mess than it would be the doctors who despite this level of ignoring are still trying to aspire the best the medical profession has to offer, in my view, most of these doctors are worth of any recognition that equals the Victorian Cross (American equivalent: Medal of Honor).

The grim reality of life set to value is that the morality of the things that President Assad was accused of. Perhaps some people remember how a little over 5 years ago, the unrest of the 2011 Arab Spring escalated to armed conflict after President Bashar al-Assad’s government violently repressed protests calling for his removal. Soon thereafter we had the issue that the government of a sovereign nation retaliated against those who were seeking to overthrow that government. This is the issue, you see, many of these nations had to deal with massive gaps in quality and quantity of life. There was a great deal of dissatisfaction that led to opposition and uprising against these governments and as such things escalated. There have been widely distributed claims that the US government’s support of the uprisings fuelled actions, funded largely by the National Endowment for Democracy (www.ned.org). This in an age where people in non-governmental places seem to think that whatever they do the US government had its back. Yet the outgoing Democratic Party had no money left, even worse, the total national debt is expected to hit 20 trillion just when President-elect Donald Trump gets into office. He gets a building to temporary live in and a debt that will take more than 3 generations to remove. Whatever happens, their choice will be American based, American focussed and there will be no space for any military action of any kind unless it is due to a direct attack on America. In all of this Syria is not mentioned, because for the players at large, it has no value, not the living, the dead or the national resources. For the next 8 years at least there is every indication that Russia will get a near cart blanch to grow its influence and after this December 2016 there is plenty of evidence that this will come with full Syrian backing, and likely Libyan backing too.

So this now ups the ante for Israel and in addition, it will require the allies and friends of Israel to up their game by a lot, because this game implies that the next cold war comes with one player short, an empty intelligence coffer and a much wider supported Russia. I reckon that Alexander Bortnikov will be having some very comfortable lunches with Sergey Lavrov. I can only assume that black bread and borscht will not be on the menu, Pancake! (Internal FSB translation joke).

These events are very much at the core because the US security council has the US and Russia in opposition, so that part is not expected to get into action, the only benefit here is that China could side with US, not because of any Syrian humanitarian need, but if the US gets committed here, the US economic prospects go down further, which would suit China just fine. In my view, if there is anything to be salvaged, than it needs to be Jordan, not Syria. If we actually have any regard for lives, than the support for Jordan, for its infrastructure and resources is essential as it has been trying to give support to 1.4 million refugees (Syrians and officially registered refugees).

Let this sink in readers, we are bickering all over the world on how many refugees we should take and Jordan has added 25% of its entire population from refugees and Syrians. That whilst Jordan has always had a shortage of water and a few other resources. In my view, the actions of King Abdullah II of Jordan seem to me to be more worthy of a Nobel Peace prize a lot more than the one given to President Barack Obama ever was. I am not ignoring the issues at the Jordanian border, the given fact by Al Jazeera et al that there tens of thousands of refugees stuck in no man’s land. Yet Jordan already has 1.4 million, 25% of its entire population, they have done more than most nations have considered. That part, will be opposed and countered by nearly every nation, but that is the grim reality. I feel certain that Jordan was not working with open arms, yet when we see the few thousand that are in Greece (OK, a little over 10% of those in Jordan), the fact that Syrians (as reported by Ekathimerini) have been quoted that compared to life as a refugee in Greece, they would have preferred to have stayed in Syria. Tell me, when a person prefers to take their chances and live in an active war zone, how bad are you as a nation? Now, we can agree that Greece was in a really bad place before the Syrian refugees arrived, so that did not help the Greeks any, also their lack of any infrastructure to deal with these amount of refugees must also be accepted.

In all these matters discussed, big business have remained silent, inert and lacking actual action that make a difference. In addition, as Donald Trump is stated to make a policy change that it will be ‘America First’, which under their economic climate is fair enough, when the dust settles and President Bashar Hafez al-Assad sits on his ‘throne’ as victor, how many nations will move forward trying to do ‘business’ with Syria? How many will enter the quote ‘moving forward’ in their speeches and statements? You see, the reality of any nation has forever been that those with empty coffers do not govern, the US is figuring that out the hard way, because its actions and messages on a global scale are ignored by too many players for it not to be the case. In the end, these trade deals have a one sided benefit for American companies. They would still get to sue other governments, whilst the President-elect is moving towards the tactic of: “Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores“, and here I will be honest, it is pretty much the only option that the US has and no one can fault America for that, just realise that those who would have enacted the TTIP/TPP would have learned the hard way that American corporations would have sued governments for the mere profit of it. That too would bring money to America, and their board of directors. In all this, in light of Brexit/Frexit and now these trade deals, we see a massive lack of national legal protection in these ‘deals’, this whilst these corporations have only consented to continue certain factories when the tax breaks are juicy enough. When that falls away, those claimed economic national benefits fall away too and even today, certain taxations that wold have been seen as fair as those places took away billions, now that the economic weather changes, nations at large need to consider where to move to next. It is that weather that made me evangelize stronger bonds with the Indian pharmaceutical industry. Most nations have a growing need for generic medication and places like Syria, Jordan and Greece even more. Yet the people who should have realised this seem to be pushing for any pharmaceutical deal with America, whilst the players all know that there will be no local benefit, none at all, so again we see now that the Trump thinks like a business man, which is what the social left is not getting (read: comprehending), whilst they ignored the tax reform essentials, they keep on giving money from empty coffers, that party is over and those not adjusting their view will be in the cold soon enough. This also means that certain values change. This is the grim reality for Syrians, their value is none and have been so for some time. Not on a humanitarian scale, but the nations at large have no funds there, so we see that we turn our backs on a situation we cannot change and we cannot influence, in my personal view, mainly because some lawmakers were asleep at the wheel in setting up trade deals and certain tax loop holes (read: these loopholes were purely incidental and coincidental, not in any way orchestrated). Now we have to choose between economic hardship and humanitarian ‘sound’ suicide, how is that a choice?

So here we are, seeing another iteration of ‘boo hoo hoo’ Syria, we all know it, we all agree and we cannot do anything, mainly because those who could, gave away the keys to the castle and the executive washroom. Those who are now in charge are setting the pace and none of them want a war where they get nothing out of. This is the mere reality of an economic driven political society of elected officials. No monarchy would ever abide by that. Should you see that the Libyan and Syrian deal have no influence, when you hear someone preach just that, and how America will get on top soon enough, also feel free to investigate the connections that are now happening between Egypt and Russia. A new air base on the Mediterranean close to the Libyan border, so as America moved out, Europe is getting surrounded by Russian bases, if we include the now permanent Russian Naval base in Syria. This is why Israel needs to change its game, because it is not outside of the realm of issues that Mossad now needs to refocus their attentions to foreign operations and data gathering. A field that the Russian have been decently good at. They do have one advantage, Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin might be highly intelligent; he lacks experience and is relatively new to the job. If he ends up relying on the heads of Political Intelligence and Illegal Intelligence, the game changes, because those two are not the newbies we would want them to be and the Middle East desk will be the new hot potato for Intelligence Officers with a scent for promotion for at least 5 years (read: Mossad will have to deal with Intelligence ego’s from all over Europe). My weird sense of humour would try to push those two into the marching path of General-Lieutenant Igor Valentinovich Korobov, a proud man and as per 2016 the new head of the GRU, pride is something that often be used against that very same person.

Why mention these matters, what is their impact on Syrian refugees?

No matter what happens in the coming 3 weeks, when the dust settles, most nations would want these refugees to return to Syria, many Syrians want to return to Syria, but that place is in rubble and those people have nothing left. Syria will be a construction heaven for Russian entrepreneurs for decades to come, also meaning that the economic times will change and the Middle East picture we had of it will have changed more than many understand or want to take for granted. The Arab spring will soon be seen as a temporary thing that was not the success people wanted and proclaimed it to be. Some in those fields will object and counter with all kinds of manipulated data, in addition the press will give a few more articles on how the Arab spring was the only way and it was a good way, yet when we see that Russian influence is rising all over the Mediterranean, and now with Morocco raising the tourist numbers for China and Russia, it could be interpreted that a first signal is given to Sergey Lavrov that a conversation of interest is soon to be an option. In my personal view, one of two corridors of travel for ISIS ends up being in Russian hands. If not correctly countered we will see a radically shifted view of northern Africa with America no longer being any form of player there. This also reflects on Syria, because these nations will allow Russia to set up an empty trade house where they are merely the middle man in commerce between Syrians and Northern African partners, so suddenly there will be large economic growth (moving from zero that will always be the case) and it will push a shift in other ways too. It is the Grim reality we face, because the actual culprit was greed and we have seen how both America and the European Economic Community was unwilling and unable to act against it, which is why we will only see a stronger push for Frexit and Brexit. A move that scares the US, because the Euro and the Dollar are too closely tied and this dissolving action will be seen as the nightmare scenario by the IMF and Wall Street, where the question now becomes: who is speaking for whom?

 

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United we classify others

Two articles hit me a few days ago. One of them was an article describing a survey by the Reputation Institute. The news article titled ‘Tel Aviv ranked among least reputable cities‘. The article was found at http://www.timesofisrael.com/tel-aviv-ranked-among-least-reputable-cities/. This was an issue for me, because I have been to Tel Aviv. Why would it not be reputable, or at least one of the more reputable cities. In all that I wonder, because the top 600 cities (by population) are larger than Tel Aviv with its 425,000 people. So coming in at 92 whilst 600 are larger is still a good achievement. What puzzles me in all this is the part ‘least reputable cities‘. What makes a city reputable? I did not see the research or the questionnaire, but when we see “the Reputation Institute, asked 19,000 residents of France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Japan, the US, Canada and Russia to rank the world’s top 101 cities based on their levels of trust, esteem, admiration and respect“.

Trust, “In a social context, trust has several connotations“, which is nice yet did the interviewees realise that? The paper (at http://misrc.umn.edu/workingpapers/fullpapers/1996/9604_040100.pdf) gives a nice view on how trust is not an easy thing to tackle. at Page 43 we read “one can develop a good relationship with another person by gradually increasing Trusting behaviour, while at the same time decreasing any minor control measures directed at the other person. Decreasing controls includes less ‘checking up’ on the other person. It also includes moving from a formal relationship to a more personal, informal relationship

Which is nice when we consider that Russia, land of GRU and FSB gives way to ‘decreasing any minor control measures directed at the other person’, so do the interviewees from Russia consider trust the way a person from Sweden, the Netherlands or even Uruguay does? I can go on for the other nations, but in all, many have a feeling towards Israel, their view is biased from day one. Plenty with an anti-Israeli view, some with an anti-Jewish view, the probability of a mean will not apply here.

Then we get ‘esteem’, are they looking upon Tel Aviv in a particular way? Are they confusing esteem with ‘self-esteem’? All questions that go through my mind. We could state that Bagdad in last position is validly there, but over what level of reasoning? Because it is in a warzone?

Yet, do my thoughts invalidate the results? The paper as shown does give a solid foundation, the methodology sounds sound. In that I state ‘sounding sound’ is not entirely on the ball. You see, the heart of the respondent, how does that come in? The study overview states “G8 general public (only people who were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ familiar)” Yet what makes you somewhat or very familiar? How many Non-Jewish people who have been to Tel Aviv answered this? How many know this place. I was there, and I felt safer there than in Budapest (and Budapest is a decent and safe city). Tel Aviv scored less than Johannesburg, Hanoi, even Cape Town, known for its high crime ended up with a score better than Tel Aviv.

So what gives value to this report? This is not the setting of my view, it is a question. The question exists in my mind because if we give reputation and value to a place we must know and agree to the standards given here. That is the question that should be on your mind too. Now, you might not care about Tel Aviv for many reasons. The bulk of us will never visit the city, visit the country or end up anywhere near it. So how do we give value to a place, even when we are somewhat familiar? Yet there is more than just the result as given in the Times of Israel. Slide 22 when you get the 2015 reputation report (at http://www.reputationinstitute.com/), shows a very interesting part. Familiarity versus Reputation. So how about the places with low familiarity? How come their reputation is so high? Is it the media, because there again we see that Tel Aviv gets in the news when there are rocket attacks and terrorist issues towards Israel, so how can we consider reliability in this report? Beware my words, I am not stating that the methodology is in question, I am wondering how the validity of vision from the interviewee is correct. In a similar way, we can understand that Baghdad is graded poorly, but why is Tehran graded so bad, it is because of our impression of Iran? In that same context we might understand why Sydney, Stockholm and Melbourne are graded so high, yet in all this, what makes Zurich more reputable than Amsterdam or Oslo, perhaps because FIFA is placed there? With the FIFA news Zurich got a lot of visibility, but is that visibility correctly graded in the mind of the beholder? The issue here is the colouring by the media, that influence cannot be countered, which is why I think that Tel Aviv got placed so badly (in this 101 list). Behind all this is a bigger issue. It is the one reason why I object to some of these studies.

In my personal view this list caters to presentations and to some who need to see a national interest, it also places my own view in debate (as it should), not because my view is too shallow, but as we go through the iterations of reasoning behind this as we see in slide 24. The Advanced Economy gives view to the question ‘why is an advanced economy part of reputation or familiarity?‘ This connect on more than one level, which got me to ‘The Economics of Developing Countries‘, what makes for an Advanced Economy? In that view Peru, Chile and Uruguay are not amongst them, so with close to 1/3 of the measurement absent, in that case, how come Montevideo scored so high in that list? If it is the state of peace, we see something a lot more linking, Tel Aviv, Karachi and Abu Dhabi together, a pattern seems to emerge. In that view we must wonder as Tel Aviv is not in war, but under near constant attack. Now when we add Rio to all this, we see another pattern emerge, those not relying on ‘stability of peace’ we see the need for positive reinforced publications, Rio is certainly getting that. In all this we do not question the reputation institute or their methodology, it is all about the people giving their vote. It is that view which gives voice to my worry. Slide 24 is descriptive in all this. ‘Appealing environment’ is one, which give the view to ‘non war torn places’, Effective government is the second one. Yet, why is ‘effective’ government part of all this? You see, in my view, the most effective government is a corrupt one, a humane based government (like Norway and Sweden) tends to be expensive and not that effective. Perhaps effective government and humane government are terms that are interchangeable? I am just asking. In all this we see the four earlier words at the core of this. ‘Trust’, ‘Admire’, ‘Esteem’ and ‘Feeling’, so how does this all link?

Slide 25 gives us ‘Social, Economic & Environmental Policies’ in regard to ‘Effective Government’, are they for real? Environmental policies can be made more effective, but they do not, I say again absolutely not make for an effective government. In addition when an Advanced Economy relies on ‘Financially Stable & Future Growth’ we can state that Wall Street took care of that not happening in the last decade and in addition not for many more years to come, so when we acknowledge that the elements of attributes are an issue, does that not add question marks to the stated foundation of this report? In all this the summary from page 28 onwards makes sense. I do not disagree, I do not oppose it, but in all this, it is a view brought to us on the premise of a flawed view, the influenced view of the interviewee, that part is missing, which gives the question mark within me. This gets me to slide 34, a good reputation might influx tourism, yet in all this, the tainting influence of media becomes a colouring issue, discriminatory and revoking as we ignore or forget that perception is tainting and the press factor seems to be uncorrected for. So how is that not an issue in all this, or at least a non-correcting influence? This all gets me to the final part “living or working in the city, or deciding to invest in the city” might be deciding factors for anyone when the reputation is an issue, but on what foundation? Still overall the report remains an interesting piece of work, the supportive behaviour slide gives fuel to that.

My views do come to fruition in slide 40 where we see the two quotes “Communication is required to capitalize on good reality and overcome poor perceptions” and “Change is required to alter ‘reality’ and minimize reputational risk“. In my mind, this states that opportunity and risk are influential factors that can be pressed on by the media, the media sets perception and alters reality in a hundred ways, so does this paper show true reputation, or does this show how the media is too large a factor to ignore and in all this a place like Tel Aviv got introduced to the less reputable score than they should have gotten? The question is how we see a true score on reputation and perhaps that list is not completely incorrect, but in my personal view, the idea that Bangkok is more reputable than Tel Aviv remains an issue, one of perception and I have actually been to both places.

 

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