Tag Archives: London

Slapping the New York Times

This is a weird day, I for one had never expected to have a go at places like the Washington Post, or the New York Times; they are supposed to be journalistic bastions. Now, for the most I avoid slapping the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi was one of theirs, I get it, tensions and emotions run high. The New York Times does not get that excuse.

So when I saw ‘Saudi Arabia Is Running Out of Friends‘ I got a little hot under the collar. First off, this is an opinion piece and that makes it not really a New York Times part, or does it? They decided to publish it. The article (at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/27/opinion/saudi-arms-sales-britain.html) raises a lot of questions, not on Saudi Arabia, but on the people and their comprehension of the issues that are involved. And it goes further than that. The start gives us: “a United Nations expert released a report calling for an investigation into the role of Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The next day in Washington, the Senate voted to block arms sales worth billions of dollars, the latest in a string of congressional efforts to halt American support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen“.

  1. The full UN report (added later down).
  2. The Saudi-wed war in Yemen.

The first will be dealt with further down; the ‘Saudi-led war in Yemen‘ is a disruptive boast that has zero validity. First of all, the Yemen issue comes from the ‘Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen‘, which came from the call for help by the internationally recognized President of Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi for military support, which was as far as I can tell, his right to do so, it was a response to attacks by the Houthi movement. In the entire article the following words are not found: ‘Houthi‘, ‘Hezbollah‘, and ‘Iran‘ they are all participating players on the side attacking ousted President of Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. And for the more comprehensive part, what is regarded as Saudi led, which is not a lie also involves the United Arab Emirates, Behrain, Kuwait, Qatar (only initially), Egypt, Jordan, Marocco (until recently), Senegal, and Sudan. They all seemingly agree that the Houthi forces are the evil bringers here, and that is before we all realise that there is a mountain of evidence linking Iran to all that, and the press has done its massive share to not inform the public on those parts.

So as we get to: “As the chorus of condemnation grows louder, defending the arms supplies that have always been a core feature of the West’s ties to Riyadh has become a near impossible task“, well sell them to me, I will happily and proudly offer these goods to the Saudi government, any cowardly and weasel likened politician (mostly Americans) want to be in denial, I will step in. My commission and bonus comes from their share, some things come at a cost, as it should.

Then we get to the ugly part: “They want the sources of the present crisis to be resolved, not left to fester, which means a swift conclusion to the Yemen war and a satisfactory accounting for the murder of Mr. Khashoggi“, in this we will get to that journalist later, the entire ‘swift conclusion to the Yemen war‘ required the world to do something about the Houthi support system. This includes terrorist organisation Hezbollah and its hosting nation Lebanon, as well as Iran. The US as well as the European Union failed at least 5 times, mostly because Europe has this delusional thought that the nuclear pact could be saved somehow, in addition Iran has been facilitated to by Turkey who had a larger role to play and we will get to that soon enough. It failed by blocking arms and intelligence when it mattered most, it failed by not giving proper light to the activities of Hezbollah training, as well as optionally (still unproven) firing missiles directly into Saudi Arabia, in all this it might be unproven, yet the hardware used in conjunction with the skill that Houthi forces could not have, gives us a clear light that the operators of these missiles were optionally Iranian, or Hezbollah (Lebanese), the press steered clear of that part to the largest degree.

Then we get the empty threat: “If the world finally gets serious about tackling the climate emergency, a large proportion of existing oil reserves will have to remain in the ground, leaving the Saudis sitting on stranded assets“, so how about the reality that hits the US when 100% of Saudi Oil only goes towards Europe, India and Asia? When that flow to America stops, fuel prices (based on Chicago) will go from $3.62 per gallon, to $5.99-$7.51 per gallon within weeks. Good luck trying to have an economy in America at that point. In New York (where that paper comes from) the taxi costs will soon go up by 50% or more, what happened the last time that New York was completely dependent on public transport? And for those driving their own cars? That will be for the wealthy only, so let’s keep a real sense of reality, shall we?

Now we get to the hard part. There is an issue with: And in London — on the same day — a court ruled that Britain had acted unlawfully in approving arms exports to Saudi Arabia“, there is the optional stage where the arms deal is merely delayed. We see that in the BBC part: “Judges said licences should be reviewed but would not be immediately suspended“, which was a week ago. It comes from “Under UK export policy, military equipment licences should not be granted if there is a “clear risk” that weapons might be used in a “serious violation of international humanitarian law”“, this is an issue, but not the one you think it is. Yes, there is a chance that these weapons are used in Yemen, yet as I stated earlier, the entire Yemen war is misrepresented by ignoring three warring parties, the Houthi, Hezbollah and Iran. In addition Houthi forces have resorted to terrorist tactics by placing weapons and troops directly behind civilians, basically using them as a shield. In addition, Houthi forces have done whatever they could to stop humanitarian aid and claiming whatever they could for their own military forces, they are the catalyst to the Yemeni humanitarian nightmare and the media remains largely silent on it. We get additional evidence from Gulf News only 11 hours ago with: “Yemeni government forces had repulsed fierce attacks by Iran-allied Al Houthi militants that had targeted residential areas inside the coastal city of Hodeidah and outskirts, military forces said on Thursday“, this is still happening right now, but the media remains silent, why is that?

So as we finish part one of the hatchet job that the New York Times allowed to be published in their papers, it becomes time to raise part 2, the full UN report [UN Khashoggi Report June 2019].

There are several issues with the report but let’s start with the ruling premise that they place in item 37 “This human rights inquiry into the killing of Mr. Khashoggi raised many challenges. By the time the inquiry was initiated, much had already been reported about the killing and the likely responsibilities of various individuals. The risks of confirmation bias (the tendency to bolster a hypothesis by seeking evidence consistent with it while disregarding inconsistent evidence) were particularly high.

There are two parts, the first is ‘the killing of Mr. Khashoggi‘, now I personally believe he is dead, through methods unknown, and there is credibility in that statement, but there is no evidence whatsoever. If we are nations of laws, than we must adhere to these laws. We must also accept that the law is not always our friend, and here we see Turkey facilitating towards Iran to the largest degree. They had set a stage in motion by relying on here-say, using things like ‘might’ and adding evidence that is none of anything. When we see the rumour mill giving us millions upon millions of articles all based on hearsay and unverified anonymous sources, we see an engine that was designed to halt whatever positive actions Saudi Arabia were trying to do on an international stage. Turkey succeeded in being the puppet read: bitch) of Iran to a degree never seen before and let’s not forget, Turkey holds the current record of having the most incarcerated journalists in the world at present.

And the most damning part starts at the very beginning, but not in the direction you would like it to see. Here we see: “Mr. Khashoggi’s killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible. His attempted kidnapping would also constitute a violation under international human rights law. From the perspective of international human rights law, State responsibility is not a question of, for example, which of the State officials ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s death; whether one or more ordered a kidnapping that was botched and then became an accidental killing; or whether the officers acted on their own initiative or ultra vires“, as I stated: ‘We can assume that Jamal Khashoggi is dead‘, yet where is his body? There is no evidence in any direction and it happened in a nation that is facilitating to a nation that is actively hostile and in a proxy war with Saudi Arabia, a fact no one seemed to acknowledge, that Turkey has currently imprisoned 68 journalists and is regarded to have killed dozens more.

Now we get to point 11 (page 5): “She also found that Turkey’s fear over an escalation of the situation and retribution meant that the consular residences or consular cars were also not searched without permission even though they are not protected by the VCCR“, Was it really ‘fear’ or ‘orchestration’? Turkey has scathed all laws for numerous reasons, broken promises and not adhered to issues, and now they are ‘suddenly’ afraid? I acknowledge that this is speculation from my side, yet aren’t all parties speculating here?

when we seek the word evidence in the report we see ‘no independently verified evidence‘ and all kinds of fusions with other words, yet not with ‘evidence found‘, is that not weird that the UN spend all this time on a report and there was no ‘clear evidence found‘?

You can check for yourself, the report has been added. The special rapporteur (or is that reporter) gives us: “The Special Rapporteur reviewed four potentially credible hypotheses related to the unlawful death of Mr. Khashoggi“, it merely turns paper A/HRC/41/CRP.1 into an essay, a very expensive essay I might add (OK, I am exaggerating here).

And now we get to the paper and the recommendations that start at page 95. Here we see: “Initiate a follow-up criminal investigation into the killing of Mr. Khashoggi to build-up strong files on each of the alleged perpetrators and identify mechanisms for formal accountability, such as an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal” Yes? How?

There is no evidence and most evidence was tainted by Turkish authorities by mismanagement and by allowing so called government officials make statement that had no bearing and touched no evidentiary surface. It became a 70 million article joke with references to burned remains and all kinds of photographs that show nothing at all.

In this I find item 480 even more hilarious. For the most (it seems) there is a lack of knowing what accountability means, you merely have to look at several issues in the UN with a special reference to the UN and UN security council sides in Egypt (1981) Assassination of Anwar Sadat, there has been several moments where it was uttered that certain paths were not fully investigated, does it matter? So when I see: “Accountability demands that the Saudi Arabia government accept State responsibility for the execution” whilst that evidence is not in existence. There is a case for rogue activities, if that constitutes evidence, than the UN should take a hard look at Viktoria Marinova, optionally investigating the mere accepted fact by the media that the ‘they did not believe the killing of Marinova was connected to her work, suggesting it was a “spontaneous” attack‘, or there are the unanswered questions regarding Abdul Samad Rohani. What is most striking is that the Taliban was never shy of admitting their acts, so why was his death closed when the Taliban was very apt in denying this one? It is important when we consider this unidentified government spokesman in light of the fact that this happened in a place where there is a flourishing opium trade, so as some gave clearly: “Rohani was killed for his reporting on drug trafficking and its possible ties to government officials“, yes because that has always been a reason to keep a journalist alive, has it? So Agnes Callamard, where are those essays?

It is in that light that I want to illuminate another item that was in the document: ‘Turkey failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths‘ (Page 4, Item 5). So why was that? There are always truckloads of excuses to find, yet who was responsible to keep international standards? Why were these standards not met? That term was used in several ways, yet the mention and clarification of Turkish ‘international standards‘ and more important which person, or perhaps more correctly stated which Turkish office was responsible for that is also missing in this Agnes Callamard document, is that not equally part of the investigation in all this? Why is that part missing in this document?

In the end the entire matter of Khashoggi smells and the Washington Post in this one instance can hide behind rumours and speculations all they want, the New York Times does not! In the end there are too much questions, but the participating player (Turkey) has its hands in too many Iranian issues and there is clear evidence (actual evidence) that the entire Khashoggi investigation got tainted and no longer an option to investigate. Yet that too is seemingly missing from the essay of Agnes Callamard (I remain cautious as I might have missed a piece in that 99 page essay.

I will leave it to you good folks to draw your own conclusion and the issues I reported, feel free to Google Search it, feel free to text search it in the document. the opinion piece did not mention the other parts making it unfair, unbalanced and as I personally see it completely unworthy of the New York Times, as such I do place blame, but from my point of view the buck stops at Dean Baquet, it is on his watch that this happened, we accept that everyone is allowed their opinion, but in a paper like the New York Times, it should not be this unbalanced ever, not for a global paper like the New York Times

UN Khashoggi Report June 2019

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Dyslexia for dummies

I have at times (more often than not) an evil demon in my brain, it uses its pitchfork to stab into my brain and dares me to prank, often calling me a pussy if I resist. Sometimes I give in; just the idea of friendly pranking is overwhelming. I also tend to do this as a form of justice, but more about that later. The image you see is not mine, it was Facebooked to me and good ammunition is hard to come by, so when I was in a bookshop getting the idea that someone looked bored, I asked for the book and showed the image. She was busy for at least 5 minutes before she figured out that she was being pranked.

There was no evil from me, it was not to give a person an intentional hard time (the one exception which will be mentioned soon), and there was no aftermath, it was a little harmless fun, whilst letting the victim know that they did nothing wrong and of course, the mandatory ‘I’m sorry‘ was added on my side, it was all in good fun. The exception to that rule was when I witness some manager dress down an employee too loudly in public on how their knowledge lacked. At that point my demon did not need to alert me, I looked around and whilst I appealed to his ego, I pleaded for his help to find something and of course as the so called boss he was ready to comply. It was about two minutes later when he gave the task to a worker there. He had been unable to locate the Vegan Beef Burgers in any of the freezers, I cautiously informed the worker what I had done and tears of laughter dropped to the floor, he was able to refrain from loud laughter, it was priceless.

So there I was asking for Dyslexia for dummies and as the salesperson knew me, I wasn’t going to get far. Yet that was not why I was there. There was a sale going on and I got my fingers on a really nice book for $5, sometimes one gets to be lucky. So there I was holding onto a pre-owned copy of The Leper of Saint Giles. I saw Cadfael on TV, but never read it and that is why I got at it. It was then that it dawned on me that I had lost the pleasure of reading to some extent. There was Tolkien, Deborah Harkness, Stephen Fry but those are the older books, during my law degree, I was ‘forced’ to sit down and read so much that the pleasure of relaxing and read a book had faded to some degree. Whether it was merely that or the mountains of digital information that were offered to me on an hourly basis, I cannot tell. The age of me being a bookworm had faded to some degree. There is the notion that I currently find writing more fun than reading and the 1200 articles I have written so far seem to indicate that. I think that creating articles, working on Intellectual Property concepts, as well as an idea for a TV series, and three video games; it seems that the creation bug is in me and it is taking its toll in other ways.

So why write about it?

The Guardian gave me something this morning that lighted the spark of reading and feeling that spark is a little overwhelming. It was yesterday’s story (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/02/jack-the-ripper-victims-had-to-be-whores-anyone-saying-different-deserves-a-trolling) that links to the February article called ‘The Five by Hallie Rubenhold review – the untold lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims‘, I was always intrigued by that era (as well as the individual known as JtR from L) and any detective reader will feel the pinch when Jack the Ripper is called for. I believe that the first movie regarding it was Murder by Decree with Christopher Plummer (Sherlock Holmes), it is the Michael Caine version (Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline) with Lewis Collins (Sergeant George Godley) and Jane Seymour I liked the best. It has a whole range of top notch actors and the premise of the setting of the movie is also quite unique, as such it was an excellent mini-series to watch on DVD and this all leads me to the book.

The book gives rise to a lot of issues that the movies never got to, the fact that there is that historian Hallie Rubenhold took an actual look at the women, the five victims, she sets a stage that the police had worked on assumption on a few levels and it also gives rise as the two movies had inclined to some degree.

In murder by decree, there is a stage that one of the women gave birth to a son from Prince Albert. The mini-series gives rise that there were questions, but I never looked at it from certain sides in depth, because I never had any reliable materials to read, as such and through exposure on a multitude of ways, the five were merely prostitutes. Now we see Hallie Rubenhold digging into historical records and we are confronted with: “In three of the cases, there is no evidence to suggest that they were professional prostitutes, and convincing reasons to believe that they were not“, this is huge because it implies that not only was the entire matter a joke towards investigation, there is every chance that the police had been looking in the wrong direction and the fattening of the stories through newspapers did not help much. The fact that I am also exposed to “Ripperologists have devoted lengthy blog posts and podcasts to attacking her research and her credentials” is just unacceptable. whether it is a true work of history, or even a dramatized writing based on published fact is open to debate, but I am not willing to do that until there is credible evidence (actual evidence) that this is a mere work of fiction. I particularly like the quote: “Rubenhold’s book quotes the judge in the 2008 “Suffolk Strangler” case, who instructed the jury considering evidence against the serial killer of sex workers to put aside their “distaste” at the victims’ “lifestyles”, an extraordinary echo of the same sentiment, 120 years after the Ripper murders“, it seems that there is a correlation of ‘sex workers’ and ‘they deserve whatever they get’ and the fact that it survived the tests of time for centuries. An aspect I had never anticipated. I find one other part disturbing, the view that the writer Stephanie Merritt has when we see Ripperologists and the enigma of Jack the Ripper his enigma lends a macabre glamour, and to shift the story away from sex to the more mundane Victorian social issues of poverty, homelessness and addiction, as Rubenhold has done, is to interfere unforgivably in a narrative they feel belongs to them. I would argue that nothing of any of it belongs to them, history belongs to all, and we can do with it (to some degree) what we like. Historians tend to redress those times into a framework that we today can relate to, fictional writers add pizzazz to it and as such we now know that there were 15 commandments, not 10 (Mel Brooks), some try to adhere to futuristic endeavours like Jane Webb (1827) who would give us the original story of the Mummy and how Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo modernised it well over a century and a half later. History has a great edge, what has happened has been open to interpretation for the longest time, you merely need to read the factual Treaty of Clermont (1095) and how it led to centuries of pillaging of the Middle East.

History can be read in many ways, so what is to state that Hallie Rubenhold is reading the right or wrong historical facts? First to consider is that (as the story goes) that Rubenhold has been trying to get a fix on their lives and even as most will focus on the Ripper and partially ignore the fact that there is serious doubt on the five victims in more than one way, we see one part with: “There is no evidence, Rubenhold argues, that Nichols or Chapman or Eddowes ever worked as prostitutes; the police conviction that the killer targeted women of “bad character” perverted the inquiry. The Ripper’s victims, she suggests, were targeted not because they were soliciting sex but because they were drunk and homeless and – most importantly – asleep. The killer preyed on women whom nobody cared about and who wouldn’t be missed” the stage is a setting that is true even today, the homeless will be targeted more often than anyone having a decent roof over their heads and consider that street lights were rare in 1888, the fact that people in the dark are an open invitation is a given.

The partial fact that we see with: “Nichols, daughter of a blacksmith, spent her first years in Dawes Court, where Dickens had imagined Fagin living with his pickpockets in Oliver Twist.” is a part that almost no one would know. The Charles Dickens fans optionally, yet how many of them are that as well as Ripperologists? Some of the records that are available, or used a quote giving rise to the fact that Police surgeon Dr Frederick Gordon Brown and Police physician Thomas Bond have been in disagreement regarding Catherine Eddowes and there is another part that struck me when I was reading some of the accounts. The fact that I read: “instead of turning right to take the shortest route to her home in Flower and Dean Street, she turned left towards Aldgate“. My issue is not with the route, but more about the reasoning that the police might have had. What was the difference in illumination? A woman would shy from dark alleys and short cuts, especially in those days. A 10 minute longer walk where there are lights would be a common sense reason and this is merely speculation because the streetlights in those days were rare and in poor area’s unlikely to be there or working. In addition, as we look at the autopsy, we see that Thomas Bonds version is supported by both Local surgeon Dr George William Sequeira and City medical officer William Sedgwick Saunders, and what else has been ignored? What more do we not know and that is where the book comes in, because is all versions I have seen the women were downplayed and trivialised as prostitutes. The version of them being down on their luck and more important pushed into a life of self-medicating alcoholics have always been portrayed as the element linked to prostitutes.

Hallie Rubenhold gives us in ‘The Five’ a different stage, when did anyone realise that this was a much larger case riddles with issues linked to preconception and ego? When we see: ‘they came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales‘, one was Scandinavian? London was filled with immigrants, which was no secret, but I never knew that not all these five were English; it opens another stage in all this. I am not claiming that the version of Hallie Rubenhold is the perfect or most correct one, but unlike other works, the victims are the full focal point and that needs to be placed first and that is where we are, a book that suddenly made me curious and gave me the spark and is driving me to read (that book), I have not had that feeling for quite some time and as such this work might be a lot more interesting than anyone is willing to admit to.

When was the last time that a book or a topic made you want to read something from a writer you never read before?

This gives an optionally needed call towards a ‘new’ version of Dyslexia for dummies, not because the person cannot read, but because writers relying on history are attacked without proper scientific or evidentiary support, giving a dangerous setting where the reader was in danger of not seeing this book at all. So perhaps we need a book (Dyslexia for dummies) starting with the premise that the world is flat and the centre of this solar system, and whilst the Hallie Rubenhold trolls focus on these amazing facts, the rest of us can relax and take a good look at the plight that 5 women went through, up to the moment they were confronted with a man who would later be known as Jack the Ripper.

 

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Surprise, surprise!

There was an interesting surprise this morning. It was not any newspaper; it was no DVD or Blu-ray. It was a YouTube video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu3mP0c51hE), the announcement of the Downton Abbey movie coming in September. Weirdly enough, I had not felt this happy since the initial teaser of Avengers: Endgame, a movie that is now less than $100 million away from breaking the Avatar record. It is weird how a TV series with 6 seasons have had such a profound impact on viewers and I am not the only one who is amazed and happy with the coming of the movie. Hugh Bonneville, who plays the lord (aka Mr Henry Brown in both Paddington adventures), Maggie Smith, Dowager Countess of Grantham (also famous in a very well-known hotel in India), and of course the list is not complete without Jim Carter as the undoubtable Mr. Carson and some might remember him as a Transformer too.

The list is too long to go into detail and it is important to remember that. Even as the record of I, Claudius is not broken. Downton Abbey got closer to breaking that achievement than any other series ever did. When ITV started this, they had no idea how large a behemoth this would become. The foundation was given by Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford. And we all know that as a member of the House of Lords he would be able to spin a fine yard under the most mundane conditions. Yet Downton Abbey is anything but mundane and that is the first requirement into making a legendary piece. I have mentioned it before, I, Claudius had all the elements in place, for the most so does Downton Abbey. The story is excellent, the cast is amazing and many fans feel linked to many of the actors and actresses to a larger degree. The writing got the start, but it was the player that embodies the script and there is not one who gave less than 110% that part clearly shows in the end result. So there will be forum upon forum that will ask and speculate on what they will get. I reckon that a fair amount will go into the speculations of Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow) on what he will be like in the movie, antagonistic, devious or a third still to be revealed part, and let’s face it, the man ‘grew up’ on Coronation Street (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNV_Hh5ZWaE if you forgot the tune, which should be unlikely).

There is no way not to get enthusiastic on the series and now we will be getting the movie. I believe it to be an important work as it is truly the first work that would be close to thumping ‘I, Claudius’ of the throne of being the best drama in the history of TV. I personally believe that it did not achieve that, but only by a nose length. Perhaps it is because the Roman era allowed for more murder and intrigue, perhaps it is the view of lavish parties, but for the first time, it is not about the actors, each set of players was pretty much on par with the other set of players, which was an amazing achievement. As for the script, I believe that the quality of drama Robert Graves and Julian Fellowes are on par as well; the element remaining is the director, the visionary in all this. It is impossible to do this, comparing Herbert Wise to Michael Engler, Brian Percival, Catherine Morshead is unfair, it is work separated by decades of vision and technology. The fact that they all try to meet the Herbert Wise standard speaks for Mr Wise as he set the bar half a century ago and the fact that this bar is still there is slightly too amazing for words.

Yet the fact that no one ever stopped getting there speaks for those pursuing excellence in any way possible and that is what Downton Abbey also embodies, a view towards excellence and that too drives us to the movies and the mini silver screen (aka TV). I think that the end of the Victorian age and the age of George V as the UK was led from WW1 towards WW2 is often ignored, but more important than most would think, the sinking of the Titanic in the pilot, the start of WW1 and the impact of the end WW1 and the setting of the veterans as we saw its impact in Downton Abbey is an eye opener, a side that the previous generation onwards ignored is now directly reflected towards us and it impacts us and how we look at this all. A similar impact was seen with The Crown in season one when some saw the episode ‘Act of God‘, I was not born in the UK as such that episode hit me hard, I never expected such a view on chimneys, the smog it created and what kind of a health hazard it actually was in 1952, as such the way we view health hazards and the way politicians neglect it nowadays is a too little astounding.

Downton Abbey had another part shown during the episode where one hospital takes over another one, it is that part where we see the impact to the population in those years, it hits us directly as it is a real setting, not some drama, or better stated drama that doubles as reality just a little too closely. In the end you cannot have anything but the greatest respect on a part of history and how it is portrayed to us, as such the movie, even as it is about a royal visit is likely to have hidden gems that have to be seen to be enjoyed, and that is likely what the makers are hoping for. A TV series that had 11 golden globe nominees and 3 golden globes won, in 2011, Downton Abbey made the Guinness book of world records with the highest ratings for any TV show, the first time a British show got that distinction. A stage that covers 13 years of history, so as the movie is set to 1928; I wonder what we will be treated to. There is no speculation from me, I am slightly scared to be right in this case and I hope that the readers want to see the movie all the way without any spoilers, other than the ones the trailer gives us. I think that this is the biggest part of my appeal to it. On how historic events affect the characters of Downton Abbey, which historic events we will be made aware off. There were the floods of the river Thames, the Oxford English Dictionary first edition was completed, the London and North Eastern Railway’s Flying Scotsman steam-hauled express train begins to run non-stop over the 393 miles (632 km) of the East Coast Main Line from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh (on my birthday no less), the voting age for women is lowered from 30 to 21, Amsterdam hosts the Olympics and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1925 comes into effect. All events of that year and some will be mentioned; optionally we will be introduced to the discussions on it. Downton Abbey will give so many reasons to watch it and as far as I can tell (judging from the TV series) absolutely no reason not to go see it on the large silver screen (aka not the TV).

We still have 15 weeks to go before the movie makes it to the big screen, and as I see it, September 2019 can’t come soon enough.

 

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Questions on coming events

I have spoken out in favour of Saudi Arabia and the issues that were thrown at them. Yet, I too look at issues from all optional sides (or at least try to do so). So when I saw Al Jazeera give us (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/saudi-arabia-execute-scholars-ramadan-report-190521165816192.html) ‘Saudi Arabia to execute three scholars after Ramadan: report‘ I started to wonder what was going on. You see, I am a Christian (Catholic), as such I am currently trying to comprehend the Muslim state of mind to a much greater degree as I refuse to give in to Islamophobia.

And as I see: “Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari to be sentenced to death by Riyadh” I wonder why this is, as such my first issue was to look at who these people are.

Sheikh Salman al-Awdah

NBC News (at https://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/saudi-cleric-salman-al-awda-called-reform-now-he-s-n840916) gives us ‘Saudi cleric Salman al-Awda called for reform. Now he’s in solitary confinement‘, and I will get back to that. It is YouTube blogger NasirAlHanbali who gives us: “Look ant take into consideration that it is permissible for the Muslim ruler to incarcerate specific people or individuals if he sees that they are corrupting the lands and the Muslims“, yet that is not what NBS News gives us. they give us: “He has since called for greater democracy and social reform, and publicly denounced extremist violence. He has also been quoted as saying that gay people should not be punished — a remarkable statement for a Muslim cleric in a country where homosexuality is still punishable by death.” in this instance we see that Muslim law is not accepting homosexuality and as such it could be seen as ‘corrupting the Muslims‘, I am not stating that this is so, I am merely extrapolating the voices that publish and trying to understand the situation. So as I read (my Arabic knowledge is absolute nil) “it is permissible for the ruler to halt them or punish them with any type of punishment that has come in the book and the Sunnah. so then this ruling has come in the book of Allah and the Sunnah of his prophet“, in first 41 seconds NasirAlHanbali gave insight and some clarity on how things seemingly are (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOo9T1a0UqY), for all its good and decent reporting, the NBC gave a view on events that never explained the actions that lead to the implied death penalty as Al Jazeera gave the readers.

We can fight Islamophobia in two ways, through grandiose actions on how great Islam is, yet if we do not comprehend the actions as many grew up not being Muslim, we fall short because the media is not explaining matters, merely fitting what we call ‘Christian humanitarian values‘ in a setting that is not Christian. Sun Tzu taught the proper reader ‘Understand your enemy‘, this applies to many settings when we use Sun Tzu (and optionally The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli into ‘Comprehend the other party‘ (read: the other person). We always seem to tell others to adjust, but when was the last time that YOU adjusted your views and standards to understand the actions of other people? The video of NasirAlHanbali gives a lot more, most of it towards the interpretation of ‘Speech of falsehood‘, it is a trip into secularism, which goes too deep for me at this point, but for some it is an interesting view into learning more of a Muslim way of thinking. I particularly liked that he speaker was not merely droning Islam verses. The man gives view on what happened, what is stated as events and explains to the audience on why this should be regarded as wrong. We might not agree as non-Muslims, but it is their right to have their point of view and he brings the view in decent clarity (as I personally see it). The speaker also speaks out to the partnership with Sufi Islamic preacher Habib Ali al-Jifri, a man who seemingly polarises some views. I have even seen a Facebook comment stating: “I genuinely feel embarrassed for Habib Ali Jifri and his followers“, I did not understand the reason and that is part of the issue. There is a lot we do not understand and still we judge others by our ‘rules and values’ on how wrong ‘their view’ is.

Awad al-Qarni

The second name is one of controversy in a few ways. As we learn that he published several books, one is stated to be very similar to a 1948 publication of “Dale Carnegie,’How to Stop Worrying and Start Living‘, 1948“, as well as “Don’t despair” published in 2011 and is found to be a 90% copy of “Salwa Al-Ódaidan,’Thus overcame despair‘,2007“, he was found guilty of plagiarism and the book was withdrawn, in addition he had to pay for compensation to the original writer (at https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2019/5/10/%D8%B3%D9%84%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B6%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%B6-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%86%D9%8A). In light of plagiarism, it is odd to see him lecturing at Western Mindanao State University on March 1st 2016 when he got injured. And as Gulf News gave us only this month: “he says that after reading interpretations of the Qur’an by classical scholars, after travelling to “40 countries” and having “read thousands of books“, as well as meeting intellectuals, religious scholars and poets, he now embraces the reformist Islam of crown-prince Mohammad bin Salman“, this now interacts with the previous part. We can do the 40 countries trip easily enough, yet the thousands of books take a lifetime, we see a scholar approaching western ’embossing’ of values, or perhaps better states, we optionally see the application of ‘Speech of falsehood‘ in another way. When we realise that his hard-line views were televised a mere 9 years ago (at https://www.memri.org/tv/saudi-cleric-awadh-al-qarni-fighting-jews-religious-islamic-duty) on Al-Resala TV. Also in light of what had transpired, to see Al Jazeera refer to Awad al-Qarni as a ‘academic and author‘ whilst we see at least one convicted case of plagiarism is also cause for debate on what sets him as an academic and more debatable an author here.

Ali al-Omari

There is very little I have at present; from all sources he is a popular Sunni cleric. Even as we see: “a famous Saudi public figure and cleric whose TV shows have called for more rights for women and campaigned against violent extremism. His TV and social media appearances, particularly on Snapchat, have gained him a large following among young Muslims across the Arab world“, it calls towards the initial YouTube part, it calls towards what some call the ‘speech of falsehood’, this is pure speculation on my side (I happily admit to that), Ali al-Omari is also a member of an organisation that the Saudi government labels ‘a terrorist organisation’, I cannot tell whether that is true or not, but in light of all the American actions against who they call ‘terrorists’ I would like to see more evidence before I cast my vote one way or another.

Even as the Saudi Public Prosecutor brought more than 30 charges against him, there is no way to tell how these stack up (I have no access to these papers), still 30 charges is a lot and even as the US convicted Huawei without evidence, I think we need to see the charges and evidence before we give a non-Muslim view to a sovereign state. The Middle East eye (at https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arabia-seeks-death-penalty-cleric-ali-al-omari) gave me most information, yet it is not my only source.

In the end there is a lot we do not get, but in the NBC article we see one part that does strike a chord for our way of thinking. It comes from Michael Stephens, research fellow for the Middle East at London’s RUSI think tank. As we see: “It is an assertion of power”, as well as “It is only reform if it is reform in MBS’s image“, is that not a truth and when we realise that MBS, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, is indeed the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and future ruler of Saudi Arabia when his uncle Salman of Saudi Arabia, the current King of Saudi Arabia passes away.

We see the truth. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, it is ruled by the Royal Al Saud family and the future of Saudi Arabia is theirs to guide, is any opposition not treason? Saudi Arabia is not a republic with 10,000 voices; it is a monarchy with a family in charge, not unlike the Monarchy of Great Britain, the Monarchy of the Netherlands or the Monarchy of Sweden. The big difference between one and the others is that Saudi Arabia has set their rule not to their family needs (partially debatable), but to the Quran and Islam, they even state that on their flag: ‘There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of God‘, it is there plain and simple, it was never ever hidden, we tend to forget these parts of the equation a little too often.

I wonder why!

 

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That’s the way the money flows

The Independent had an interesting article 2 hours ago. The article (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/china-drones-spy-us-dhs-security-data-alert-a8922706.html). The title leaves little to the imagination with: ‘Chinese drones may be stealing sensitive information, DHS warns‘, after the Trump google play, after his refusal to submit to subpoena’s, after the anti Huawei activities that so far has never yielded any active evidence (the 8 year old case was settled within months are done with). Now we see: “Chinese-made drones in America may be sending sensitive data to their manufacturers back home where it can be accessed by the government, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned“, which might be a nightmare if it was not so hilarious. You see the next quote: “CNN, which obtained the internal alert, reported that the DHS fears drones will offer Chinese intelligence unfettered access to American data“, it comes across like we have a case where a CNN reporter has been hit by a silly stick and never recovered. Consider the drones we see, there is no space to have a dedicated hack system on board. Yes some can be done with a mobile, and there is plenty of space in that device, now consider the ‘sensitive’ data that needs to be found, the data needs to be connected to (and with all these faulty Cisco routers that is relatively easy at present), then a selection needs to be downloaded and that is merely for one place, one device. All this stops when any person uses common cyber sense. It is the revelation that we see next, that is the one that matters. With: “Though the alert didn’t name specific companies, the vast majority of drones used in the US and Canada are made by the Shenzen based Company, DJI, CNN reported” we see the part that matters. As drone services are up on an almost exponential growth as we see the push that got there. The news from November 2016 gave us: “Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited (Domino’s) and drone delivery partner Flirtey delivered the first order, a Peri-Peri Chicken Pizza, and a Chicken and Cranberry Pizza“. Consider the option to avoid traffic in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Pittsburgh, all places with massive congestion. Drones are the optionally the newest quick way to deliver food, Amazon needs, Walmart needs, all in growing need due to the events where retailers and shippers combine forces to avoid a few items, and with congestion set to zero, people will flock to that consideration. Now the operational part, it seems that DJI is ahead of the curve, another Chinese company decided to truly innovate and now that the push is there and America is bankrupt (as I personally see it) anything possible to avoid money going to China, America is taking a pot shot at that. So when we are also treated to: “A spokesman for DJI denied that any information was being transmitted to it from its drones, adding that the security of its technology has been independently verified by the US government.” I start wondering if DHS was able to do its job properly. Now let’s be clear, there is no doubt that ANY drone can be used for espionage, especially if it is quiet enough. Yet is that the issue for DJI, or is that an issue with the spy that utilises drone technology? Yet that is actually not the only side, on the other side we see mentioned: “Those concerns apply with equal force to certain Chinese-made (unmanned aircraft systems)-connected devices capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them, as China imposes unusually stringent obligations on its citizens to support national intelligence activities,” Now, this part does make sense. It is the same as the Apple Fitbit, that due to its global nature started to hand out the jogging patterns of Special forces in the Middle East, so within 3 days several members of the two dozen operatives had a check on their calorie burning and health, whilst the mapping data showed the world where the CIA black site was (oh apologies, I meant to say a military specialist endeavouring location of an undetermined nature). The question becomes how was the ‘the security of its technology has been independently verified by the US government‘ achieved? Was that verification process competent, or perhaps slightly less so?

I am not stating my verdict in either direction; yet the entire Huawei mess, as well as the DJI setting implies that the growth industries are shunned from America, mainly because it is not an American industry. Yet in all this, the forget that places like the EU and India are large enough to go forward with both players and truly grow further, whilst the downturn and the economic lag that the US is creating will merely grow the loss of momentum and the recession it will fuel in other ways. I would consider that the setback that Google is trying to create will have larger repercussions down the road. As larger Data vendors will now optionally choose the Chinese side, they will grow market share. You see no matter how it is sliced, all this is data based and data can only grow if there is usage. So when people remain with Huawei as their phone keeps on working, we see that there is a larger concern soon enough. At some point people will stop trusting Samsung, Google and Apple phones, which works out nicely for several players (Microsoft actually more than most), what do you think happens when the larger share of 14.7% of a global market changes to player three and not use Google apps to some degree? Google momentum relies on non-stop data and usage, when a third of the 60% that these three cover stops, do you think that this has no impact for Google?

The same applies to drones. You see intelligence makes the drone and as it grows its market share and the collected data of drone usage is set, the innovation of DJI grows faster. It is the difference between generation now and generation 2022, DJI will grow and can grow in several directions, yet the entire the setting of ‘data theft’ we see that there is a lack of ‘what’ data. What data is collected, the flight path? Well, I think we all need to know in 2023 what flight path was taken for the delivery of 342,450 pizza’s delivered per hour, is it not? It is not that Google Map has that data, and within a building in New York, is there truly a clear sign in the drone itself who exactly the merchandise was for, or was that on the box (instead of the drone). Now, there is no denying that some of that data would optionally be accessible to the Chinese government? Yet what data, what level of data? Do you think that they have time for the hundreds of drones and the data whilst they can monitor 20,000 times that data with a spy satellite (and an additional truckload of data that the drone never had in the first place?

It is when I see ‘unfettered access to American data‘ where the questions become pressing. It is like watching Colin Powell coming into a non-disclosed location with his silver briefcase and in the end the lack of WMD’s, are we going in that direction again? when I see ‘unfettered access to American data‘, it is at that moment I see the optional comparison (an extreme lose comparison mind you) with the innocent preachers daughter who did the naughty thing to 30% of the boys coming to Sunday sermon, having attempted things I cannot even rent on adult video. It is the CNN article (at https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/20/politics/dhs-chinese-drone-warning/index.html) that gives additional rise to concerns. When you see: “Users are warned to “be cautious when purchasing” drones from China, and to take precautionary steps like turning off the device’s internet connection and removing secure digital cards. The alert also warns users to “understand how to properly operate and limit your device’s access to networks” to avoid “theft of information.”” It seems to me that there are dozens of ways to get this data, a drone seems like an expensive long way round-trip to get to that data, whilst more can be accessed in several other ways and it is the speculation through ‘device’s internet connection‘, so when we see one of these devices (at https://www.dji.com/au/phantom-4-pro-v2/info#specs), we are treated to: “The new Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 features an OcuSync HD transmission system, which supports automatic dual-frequency band switching and connects to DJI Goggles wirelessly“, where did the internet come in? Yes there is an app, to get a live view from the drone, so what ‘unfettered access to American data‘ could there be that Google Maps at present does not have in more detail?

It is the next part that is the actual ace. When we see: “DJI, which reported $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017, is best known for its popular Phantom drone. Introduced in 2013, the drone is the top-selling commercial drone on the market“, information the Independent did not give us, that is the actual stage as I personally see it. It was $2.7 billion in 2017, there is no doubt that when drone delivery truly takes off, at that point revenue that sits between $15 and $27 billion is not unrealistic, the dire need to avoid congestion on a global scale will drive it and that is before you realise the non-US benefits in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Moscow. At that point you will see stronger growth and I haven’t even looked at the opportunities in a place like Mumbai, Tokyo, Delhi, Bangkok, Rio, Buenos Aires and Sydney yet. Everything leaves me with the impression that this is not about security, it is about money. That fact can be proven when you realise that everyone remains silent on the 29 new vulnerabilities that Cisco reported merely a month ago. How many Cisco router stories have come from that non-technologically refined White House, where they are currently optionally limited by “Cisco routers, including ones that can be found in malls, large companies or government institutions, are flawed in a way that allows hackers to steal all of the data flowing through them“, the cybersecurity company Red Baron handed out that issue to the media last week, so who picked up on that danger to ‘unfettered access to American data‘? And when you consider ‘it allows potential malicious actors to bypass the router’s security feature, Trust Anchor. This feature has been standard in Cisco’s routers since 2013‘, when we realise that Cisco is a household name on a global scale (especially when connected to the internet), the entire Cisco matter seems to be at least 15,000 times worse than any DJI drone ever could be, and the fact that DHS remains silent on that gives (again, as I personally see it) is added proof that this is merely about the money and the fact that US companies are losing markets on a global scale.

I could set the stage by singing ‘All ‘Bout the money‘ by Meja and ‘That’s the way the money goes‘ by M, but then, I realise that people would most likely pay me serious money not to sing (my voice is actually that bad).

That’s the way the money flows, specifically at present in a direction that the US is for the foreseeable future most displeased about.

 

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Two sides of currency

There was more news yesterday. The article that gave me the previous view has been updated with a new one (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/16/shamima-begum-isis-extremism-expert-criticises-sajid-javid). At the foundation of it is the view of Hanif Qadir, CEO of the Active Change Foundation. I disagree with him on a few levels. Now before I begin, we need to look at his ‘resume’, this is important in this case. As such we see: “Hanif once joined Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan, but was deterred by the crimes he saw being committed against civilians and turned his back on them. Upon his return to the UK, he vowed to safeguard young men and women from similar experiences, losing their lives and harming their communities. Having a unique understanding and hard-won experience of the modus operandi of Al Qaeda / ISIS inspired groups and individuals, he is now recognized as arguably the best violent extremist and de-radicalization expert in Europe“, the important part is that he knows the game, he knows what is at stake, yet I still disagree.

When we see: “Hanif Qadir said Sajid Javid’s reaction to the teenager’s predicament fed the narrative of Isis. On Friday Javid said he “would not hesitate” to prevent the return of UK Isis recruits, an approach at odds with Begum’s family in Bethnal Green, east London, who want the 19-year-old to return home “as a matter of urgency”“, I am with Javid on this. In addition there is: “Javid is fuelling the [Isis] narrative and giving wind to the sails of other extremists. If we continue with this trajectory we’ll be sowing the narrative for them to reap and use against us“, it is a fair enough view to have, but that is the setting when all was ‘well’ with ISIS, ISIL, Al Qaeda and such. This is no longer the case. They are not defeated, that much is certain, yet the world is very aware on how desperate they have become. The next part we see is: “If the government doesn’t change their approach to this, we potentially have a second wave of Isis coming, the connecting up and reloading of Isis, fence-sitters who are more sympathetic to another kind of narrative” and finally we get: “Baroness Sal Brinton, president of the Lib Dems, who described Begum’s radicalisation as a form of grooming. “We know that in that particular school three girls went [to join Islamic State], but probably more were approached. Surely our child protection laws have to kick in. As she returns we should look at what happens, as she was 15, and what happened out there“. I think that the cure is much simpler. It is called targeted killing, it is a simple path; if Shamima Begum wants back she has to earn this. As the Baroness points out (a little clumsy) we understand that there was grooming, we know that there was a stage, the fact that 15 year old girls got to fly to Turkey, had access to her passport, got to travel via smugglers, into Syria implies that they have optional intelligence value. It is the price for life, plain and simple. The message needs to be clear and without any level of reservation. Those who embrace terrorism will be hunted down and put to death. The European governments have a clear responsibility to its citizens. And here we see a clear field where we do not negotiate with terrorists. There cannot be a stage of some level of ‘biased’ mercy. People like Shamima Begum will optionally open options for ISIS and become the second wave. It is almost damned if they do and damned if they don’t, in this case the setting of not allowing them back, or merely long term imprisoned might be the safest route in all this.

And again we see the failing of the EU. when we see: “In Brussels the focus has been on trying to raise standards in the swift sharing of information among EU member states, and its dissemination to border databases should there be an uncontrolled wave of returnees“, we think that we are seeing something novel, yet the dangers had been shown since 2012. One year after the Syrian war there was a massive drive of refugees. In December 2012 the number of refugee’s trying to find alternative living had surpassed 500,000. At that point there was the already growing concern that if only 0.1% was ISIS minded, there would be a massive security concern in Europe, the fact that we now see ‘the focus has been on trying to raise standards in the swift sharing of information‘ is evidence that the EU has been sitting on their hands for too long a time, whilst those sitting on their hands remained to be well paid, and you still think Brexit is a bad idea? The intelligence failing in Europe had taken monumental proportions in 2014 as the Greek-Turkish events took a larger stage. Merely 4 years and as it seemingly shows, not actual quality improvement. That is the danger that the UK faces as an Island and ISIS is too large a problem to ignore, whether they get defeated or not, the timeline shows that splinter groups will form and they will take a slow silent step hoping that governments will fall asleep again, people like Shamima Begum will assist in making that happen. So when I see: “Although Begum is likely to be traumatised, Qadir said that if she received the right mentoring, counselling and passed through the necessary security protocols, she could be successfully rehabilitated“, I see a failing in the making. At this point I completely disagree with Hanif Qadir. Only the ego driven and their need for justification will give us the story that they can rehabilitate her. There are too many pressure points for Shamima Begum. At some point some radicalised person will find a way to blame the Europeans and Americans for the loss of her two children and the cloud of terror will be on route to disaster. In addition, she will need to be monitored 24:7 for years to come, if her family failed her once, it will do so again. She will play nice the first 18 months, yet at some point, she will be ‘woken up’ and that is when the problem starts. It is amazing how people cannot learn that lesson. They seem to focus on 9/11, focus on Syria and forget about the sarin attacks (in Syria), they focus on events that the media exploded on mental health cases like Sydney Martin Place, and forget the Charlie Hebdo shooting of January 2015 to a much larger degree. Two people, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi were able to kill 12 and injure 11. What is the damage when 6-8 start having fun with a Belgium FN MAG? Consider that I could with decent ammo, set the stage for a (800 m – 1,200 m) slaughter spree in London, and consider what would not be in range on that distance? It is a direct option for hundreds of deaths in the shortest time. Now consider the impact on tourism and economy if 6-8 did that. I used this example as it is relatively easy to get a hold of one in India, Egypt, and China. Consider that ISIS still has a logistic system in place and until it is utterly destroyed weapons like that can make it into Europe a lot easier than you think. Now consider that one attack will impact a little yet 3-4 events will massively upset all lives. If you doubt that, consider how long France needed to keep its soldiers in the street, merely to make the people feel safer. Consider that impact in London, Amsterdam, Manchester and Birmingham. It will end up doing a lot more than merely spook Europeans.

If a tiger gets out of the zoo, you would like to catch it, when 3 run amok you either consider the death of the visitors, or shoot to kill as soon as you can. We would all like to hide behind the tranquiliser gun, but when there is more than one, the danger of mass carnage becomes a little too large for comfort. You can do this exercise yourself. When you are in a zoo (any zoo that has a tiger), consider three tigers to get out, how much time will you get to get yourself and optionally your children safe, actually safe? How many will not make it? Try doing it on a summer day when the zoo is filled with children on school excursions. How many do you expect to die?

That is the actual situation, yet the area is not a zoo, it is a city filled with people and the members of ISIS are in their stage of ‘doing the will of Allah‘ in the end being nothing more than rabid animals. They will kill indiscriminately. We sometimes look back to videos like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LItKd2VE-NE, yet these are seemingly the most humane ones. Sources filter the video’s away as soon as they can (which we understand completely) and as such we have no reference just how inhumane the actions of these terrorists are, and as the spoof video’s come (like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Momc2e1wHG8) we end up merely persuading ourselves that it is all a joke, yet it is not. The problem is when it happens, the moment you get the real deal the first thing you will do is blame someone else, it was their fault. It is not, you will be just as much to blame as anyone else. So when we consider: “Ferdinand Grapperhaus, recently braved the critics by revealing that the government was cooperating with local authorities in Syria for the return of women accused of Isis membership and their children, and if this woman is shown to be involved with ISIS in any capacity, at that point will you blame Ferdinand Grapperhaus for allowing this to happen, or will you blame yourself for getting him elected? The problem is that until something happens there is no issue, it is the hidden trap. In my personal opinion, anyone who sided with ISIS remains a danger, to others and optionally to themselves as well. Normally we have systems in place, when someone is a mental health problem we have procedures, we have support systems in place. When they actively engage with ISIS, ISIL and Al Qaeda in the attack on others, either directly on the front lines or in support functions behind the lines, we have nothing and weirdly enough, it is the ISIS support people that become the larger problem down the line, they can really rack up the damage in whatever nation they end up living in.

That is the currency we all forget, that is the danger we allow others to be confronted with and that is why I am in opposition of Hanif Qadir and Baroness Sal Brinton.

Have a great Sunday

 

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When we fail others

It happens, we fail others. At times it cannot be helped, it seems naturally that people forget about safety issues and condemn a whole building with bad cladding. It is just one of those things. Especially in Melbourne when after the 2014 fire in the Lacrosse Building, an apartment block in Melbourne’s Docklands 170 buildings were found to be non-compliant. Almost 5 years later, 19 months after the Grenfell tower event in London where 72 people lost their lives, we are now confronted that with 2000 buildings audited 360 are a high risk, 280 are moderate risk and 140 are low risk. You can drizzle it down, yet the cold fact is that 40% of the buildings are a risk, so over 5 years not one fuck was given for the safety of people (was that diplomatic enough?)

It is even worse when we see: “Last year those regulations were tightened in Victoria to ban the use of aluminium composite panels that contain more than 30% polyethylene“. Yet this is not the whole picture, it is actually a lot worse. The BBC gave us (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43558186) in April 2018: “In the standard European tests for “reaction to fire”, products are rated A to F – with A being the top rating. Reynobond PE had a certificate based on a rating of B

The part that is missing is the part I gave view to in June 2017. The brochure itself gives us: “What is interesting is the mention on page 5 of the brochure: “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high” This is an interesting part because the ‘why‘ comes into play, why only 3 stories? That part becomes a point of discussion, as page three shows a 7 story high building in the images. On page 6 we see the safety rating form flames and smoke as a pass with Class A as per ASTM E84. That part revealed two elements. One is the mention ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, the operative word is ‘horizontal‘”. I wrote this in the article ‘Under Cover Questions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/). How did the BBC miss this? Then there is the fact that the flame test was done on a horizontal piece. Two direct questions that are clearly constructed from the mere brochure of the product. So how did officials in the UK and Australia miss these parts? That is before questions come up regarding the limit given of: ‘perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high‘, so how high was Grenfell, a mere 40 feet? How high was the Melbourne building? For me the line: “Laws introduced last year include a new funding three-way model that would allow owners’ corporations to take out a commercial loan to replace cladding and then pay it back through their council rates in an effort to encourage owners to act more quickly, but so far that model has not been used” is merely met with laughter. From my point of view, any participant who was part of the installation and acceptance of this cladding should be banned from construction for life. Unless you all agree that reckless endangerment of life is merely a trivial matter, I reckon that the family members of the 72 Grenfell victims feel a lot less trivial about the mess.

I also think that the quote “Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne says removing flammable cladding from the most high-risk buildings in Melbourne is a ‘complex problem’” I believe that Richard Wynne is off his rocker, the careless endangering of lives is not complex at all. And if this falls on the municipality to fix, it should come with the automated stage where anyone involved in allowing for this cladding should be banned for life in the construction or retrofitting of anything that receives any government funding, never to be allowed to be involved in anything that has more than two floors. It was not that complex was it? There is the additional part where he quoted 14 hours ago where he stated that 60 buildings were higher risk, whilst reliable sources (read: the guardian) has that number at 360, which is a 600% difference, a little too high a difference. In addition there is the stage of: “The average cost of replacing combustible cladding is between $40,000 and $65,000 per apartment unit, leaving “total rectification” of a block in the millions of dollars“. In that regard, why did the police not raid the offices of the involved parties confiscating all papers and contracts so that they could be scrutinised?

The facilitation towards the incompetent as I personally see it is just a little too overwhelming at present. It gets worse when you realise that this is not just Victoria, In NSW we see: “An audit found more than 1000 buildings across NSW have the dangerous cladding“, which now gives me the thought, did anyone ever look at the Reynobond PE brochure? Two essential and elemental questions were raised (the 40 foot limit) as well as the horizontal flame test. Both should have immediately disregarded Reynobond as an option, so how come that the hard questions that need to be placed at the side of Richard Wynne, as well as his NSW counterpart are missing? I would like to add the question on how this is suddenly very complex, but that might just be me.

It does not end there

You see, the issue is larger than what we see. ITV showed that yesterday (at https://www.itv.com/news/london/2019-02-11/fire-chief-stands-by-controversial-testimony-to-the-grenfell-inquiry/), it is at that point that we get treated to: “London’s fire chief says she stands by her controversial testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry, insisting she would not change a thing about the way crews responded.” you see, the part that people ignore, hiding behind emotions (some for all the right reasons) is: “I think it’s absolutely right that the inquiry will look at the whole process around not just our response but more importantly how the building came to be in that state because the building should never, ever have had that cladding on and had the lack of provisions for those people inside.” Too many players want to get around the one part that is at the heart of the matter ‘the lack of provisions for those people inside‘. The sprinkler issue, an issue that might make some sense when a building is 4 floors high, yet for a 20+ floors building there is no sense at all, and fire doors that were not there. The BBC gave a list in June 2018 (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44351567).

  1. Most of the fire doors at the entrance to the 120 flats had been replaced in 2011 but neither they or the original doors still left in place complied with fire test evidence.
  2. The fire service had to pump its own water into Grenfell Tower – the building’s “dry fire main” system was “non-compliant” with guidance at the time of construction and was “non-compliant with current standards”.
  3. The smoke control system did not operate correctly, reducing the ability to improve both escape and firefighting conditions.

These are three elements that had a huge impact. The first two would have made delay and containment of the fire impossible and the ‘stay put’ order became a death sentence, no fire chief would have been ready for that. The overall failing in all this building alone warrants a large stage of arresting several players for corporate manslaughter and those were the obvious failings (beside the cladding), the last goes on a little longer making obvious question clear, ‘Why aren’t people in prison at present?‘ It is in that regard that the one person that should not be prosecuted is Fire Chief Dany Cotton. I do believe that this inquiry is essential as is her voice in this, yet this inquiry should be happening whilst several connected parties should be in prison awaiting the outcome, not watching it from a comfortable chair in the living room.

And it goes from bad to worse

Inside Housing reported three weeks ago: ‘Council to spend £500,000 keeping KCTMO running‘, so not only are we and the family of victims confronted with cost cutting measures and now we see that they require half a million to keep afloat? With: “Board papers from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) revealed that a total of £750,000 would be spent on Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KTCMO) in 2019/20, with £250,000 being found through the company’s reserves” the pressing question should be why management was not taken away and given to someone else? Even as we accept the quote “KCTMO must remain in existence as a legal entity throughout the Grenfell Inquiry so it can be held to account“, I am all for that, yet they can be parked awaiting prosecution, handing them half a million seems a bit much on every side of this equation.

As we contemplate the impact of the Grenfell disaster, we see that not only is there a larger issue in play, we need to realise that the current viewed inaction in both the UK and Australia should be seen as a larger problem. That is seen most clearly in two quotes. The first is: “The Neo200 apartment building on Spencer Street, which caught fire last week, was classified to be a moderate risk“, the second one is: “Neo 200 achieved certification and approval from the building certifier and relevant authorities at the time. We welcome the opportunity to support any investigation into the incident by authorities.

It gives direct rise to the concern that certification is as large an issue as well as allowing fire hazardous cladding to be applied to a building. So when we see that ‘Some 360 private buildings had been deemed high-risk‘, we need to conclude that the building regulations have now failed well over 360 times and in that regard, knowing that there were clear issues going back to the Lakanal House fire of 2009, when we realise that sources gave us “breaches of fire safety standards in UK are common and lessons from Lakanal House have not been learned“, we see that issues with building regulations, and breaches in fire safety have been allowed to go unchecked for almost a decade, in that light, stronger questions need to be asked of the political players as well as the policy makers. Even as the earlier failures by Southwark council are well documented, how is it even possible that these failings are still happening close to a decade later?

I fear that we are failing others by our inability to loudly ask the questions that require answers, and we are seemingly finding the response from Richard Wynne that it is a ‘complex problem which will take some time to fix properly‘, we are too accepting of an issue that should have reduced to the largest degree close to half a decade ago, the information of failing has been clearly shown since 2009, the fact that this is ‘still’ complex a decade later should anger a lot of people, especially those in apartments with flammable cladding. Feel free to disagree, yet when you do, don’t come crying when you end up watching your children burn alive. At that point you only have yourself to blame.

It’s harsh, but the inaction on flammable cladding is just that, harsh!

 

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