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Identity denied

There are moments when we resort to other ways of expressing ourselves; it is in our nature to find alternatives to the story, so that we can tell the story. Nearly every person does it. Sometimes we ask ‘would you take that extra pastry?‘ instead of telling someone that you really feel like having another pastry. So when it comes to social media, we see not ourselves, but the person we want to be. We want to own the Hall of Faces (Game of Thrones) where we can mask ourselves with the identity of a dead person, like Ethan Hawke in Mission Impossible, walk in, sound like the person we are not, because we do not like ourselves in that particular moment. So when we look at Facebook, are we thinking the Hall of faces? In light of all that was revealed, are we in a stage where we prefer to be someone else?

You see, the shit is on the walls as some would say. Mark the Zuckyman did the right thing, he stood up (after a few days of silence) and held himself responsible and we are all over this that he is the culprit, but is he truly guilty? We see all kinds of articles on Facebook, like ‘You’ve decided to delete Facebook but what will you replace it with?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/31/youve-decided-to-delete-facebook-but-what-will-you-replace-it-with), even after a week this is still highly valid, because for millions of the multibillion users of Facebook, it has yet to sink in. Go to WhatsApp? Instagram? Both are owned by Facebook, so where does that leave you? So when we try to trivialise it with #DeleteFacebook, we need to realise that this is new territory. We now talk about the Social Media Landscape and it is not small. It is huge and most importantly, this is the first true generation of the Social media generation. We were not ready, and i have been trying to explain that to people for nearly 3 years. Now we see overreactions whilst sitting down contemplating it all was never an option. The law was missing it as it is more interested in facilitating for commerce, exploitation and profit (Sony and Microsoft are nice examples there), Human rights are failing, because the issue of Digital rights is only seen in the relation of commerce, not in the relation of privacy, in this the entire Google and the people’s rights to be forgotten is merely a reason to giggle, a Google giggle if you preferred.

The article has one funny part, with “For those determined to exit the Facebook ecosystem, the best approach is more likely to be a patchwork of sites and apps that mirror individual features. Messaging is the easiest: apps such as Telegram and Signal offer messaging and group chats, as well as voice calls, with encryption to keep your communications private. Telegram even has a thriving collection of chatbots, similar to Facebook Messenger“, you see, it is done on a smartphone (mostly), so you could consider dialing a person and have a conversation, your mum if she is still alive is not the worst idea to have. You see, the plain point is where you end up. So when we see “Part of Vero’s appeal to Facebook deleters is its determination to be ad-free. It is planning instead to start charging a small annual subscription at some point“, you see these people designed it for wealth (as one would) so where are they getting the money? The small annual subscription does make sense, but in light of that you better remember where all your data is and even as we see ‘emphasis on privacy‘ we need to realise that there are clear situations where the word Privacy is open to suggestion. What people forget is that ‘The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes‘, so are their settings of what is private the same as yours? Also, when they sell their company for a mere 2 billion, make no mistake, the word privacy is not open for debate, it will be whatever the new owner decides it to be. This is merely one side of data, as data is currency. That is what I have been trying to explain to nearly everyone (for 5 years now) and they all shrugged and stated, ‘it’ll be right‘, so is it right? Is it all right now? If you are considering becoming a member of the growing party of #DeleteFacebook it clearly was not.

So when we are treated to ‘News of Facebook’s secret tool to delete executive messages caps days of chaos‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/06/facebook-using-secret-tool-to-delete-messages-from-executives) we see another part of Facebook, we see new uproar. The question is whether this is justified. You see, when we see “the company has a two-tiered privacy standard (one for executives, one for everyone else) and over its use of facial recognition software“, in most cases this makes perfect sense. Corporate executives tend to be under scrutiny a lot, as it sometimes is valid; they still have a job to be done. I was amazed on how many people Mark Zuckerberg was connected to in the beginning of Facebook. It was awesome and cool, but I reckoned that it was not always constructive to productivity. I have been in places where the executives had their own server for a number of reasons, mostly for HR reasons and whether it is valid or not, it is a corporate decision, in that light I am not amazed, only when I was doing work for Google was I on a system where I could see everything and everyone all including what I thought was the board of directors. Here is where it gets interesting, because Google has a (what we refer to) a true open system for all who work there. It is invigorating to get access to so much information and my first night was me dreaming of combining things, what if we did ….. and ….. would we then be able to …..? It was exhilarating to feel that rush of creativity, in areas where I had no skill levels to boot. With a ‘closed’ system like Facebook, we need to consider that by setting the state of all is open that it is a legal trap when you give billions of people access to systems and situations. The mere legal differences between the UK, US and AUS, all common law nations would be the legal nightmare of decades. Shielding the executives from that is a first priority, because without them at the wheel it all falls to chaos.

That reality is seen with “Facebook says the change was made following the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, when a mass data breach at the movie studio resulted in embarrassing email histories being leaked for a number of executives, ultimately costing co-chair Amy Pascal her job“, some might remember the mail that George Clooney send in regards to the Monuments Man, it made pretty much all the papers. I love his work, I enjoy the artistic values he has, shares and embodies, but without certain levels of privacy and shielding his artistic side might take a large dump towards uncertainty, not a side I am hoping for, because even as he is merely 360 days older than me, he should be able to create another 30 years of movie excellence and I would like to see those movies, especially as we see that he is doing to Matt Damon in Suburbicon, what the Coen brothers were doing to him in Burn after reading and Hail, Caesar!, so plenty of fun times ahead for all us movie fans.

Even as we are all looking where we want to go next, the foundation of issues remain. There is an utter lack of Social media legislation; there is a mess of issues on where privacy is and what is to be regarded as privacy. The users gave it all away when they signed up for options, apps and ‘solutions’ again and again. Until that is settled, any move we make moves the issue and moves the problems, it will not solve anything, no matter what some of the app developers decide to state. In the third part “‘The third era of Zuck’: how the CEO went from hero to humiliation” (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/06/mark-zuckerberg-public-image-cambridge-analytica-facebook), I think he got kicked in the head real hard, but not humiliated, although he might think he was. So as we recall Dean Martin with Ain’t That a Kick in the Head? we need to realise that is what happens. That is what happens when Social media becomes a multi-billion user behemoth. Mark Zuckerberg made mistakes plain and simple. What do you do? You get up from the floor, fix it and restore the need for growth. And now still we see that mistakes are made. This is seen with “On Friday morning, the company apologized and pledged to stop deleting executives’ messages until they could make the same functionality available to everyone“, the largest mistake and it opens social media to all kinds of organised crime. Merely send the threat, tell the people to do …. or else and after an hour, after it is seen to have been read, the message is deleted, it becomes a miscommunication and no prosecution is possible.

That is the biggest mistake of all, to set a multi-billion user group open to the needs of organised crime even further then it likely is. How stupid is that? You see, as I interpret this, both Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg are in the musical chair setting, trying to do things on the fly and that will hurt them a lot more than anything else. We get it that mistakes were made, fix them, but not on the fly and not just quick jumps overnight. Someone has pushed them into defence play and they actually suck at that. It is time for them to put their foot down and go into offensive and attack mode (pun intended). When we consider what was before, we get it that Zuckerberg made mistakes and he will make more. We merely need to look at Microsoft and their actions over the last 3 decades to see that they screwed to pooch even more royally than Zuckerberg will be able to do, but the media is silent there as it relies on Microsoft advertiser funds. IBM and Apple have made their blunders in the past as well, yet they all had one large advantage, the impact was never towards billions of users, it potentially could have hit them all, but it mostly just a much smaller group of people, that was their small blessing. Apple directly hurt me and when I lost out on $5500, I merely got a ‘C’est la vie‘ from their technical centre, so screw that part!

There will be a large change sooner rather than later, the issue with Cambridge Analytica was too large to not make that happen. I merely hope that Zuckerberg has his ducks on a row when he makes the jump, in addition to that was Steve Bannon arrested? Especially when we consider Article 178, violating the Free decision of Voters. You see, it is not that simple, social media has never been used in that way, to such an extent, the law is unclear and proving that what Cambridge Analytica did would constitute a clear violation of the free decision of voters, that is what makes this a mess, legislation on a global scale has failed when it came to privacy and options regarding the people in social media. Steve Bannon can keep on smiling because of all the visibility he will get for years to come and after years when no conviction comes, he can go on the ‘I told you so!‘ horse and ride of wealthy into the sunset. That situation needs to be rectified and it needs to go way beyond Facebook, the law itself has faltered to a much larger degree.

The fact that politicians are all about terror cells and spilling inflammatory messages whilst having no resolution on any of this is merely showing what a bunch of apes they have proven themselves to be. So when we saw in January ‘Facebook, Google tell Congress they’re fighting extremist content‘, where were these congressmen? Where the fuck was Clint Watts, the Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and National Security analyst as CNN now reports that optionally 78 million records have been pushed onto the Russian servers? (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/08/politics/cambridge-analytica-data-millions/index.html), now implying that Cambridge Analytica has undermined US safety and security in one operation to a much larger extent than any terrorist has been able to achieve since September 13th 2001. That is 17 years of figments, against one political setting on the freedom to choose. I wonder how Clint Watts can even validate his reasoning to attend the US Congress at all. And this goes way beyond the US; in this the European Commission could be regarded as an even larger failure in all this. But it is unlikely we ever get treated to that side of the entire show.

The media needs both players a lot more and bashing Facebook makes for good entertainment they reckon. Time will tell whether they were right, or that the people at large just never cared, we merely end up having no social media identity, it will have been denied for reasons that were never real in the first place.

 

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Evidence by candlelight

This was coming. It took me less than an hour to fathom this outcome when i wrote the initial articles on Novichok and the Skripal family. On March 17th, within ‘Something for the Silver Screen‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/17/something-for-the-silver-screen/), the situation was clear to me and it was given by the media with ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain‘, as I see it this was about something else. The additional ‘evidence’ as we saw it in the Guardian, the Washington Post and the BBC gave us a lot and when read and put together, the evidence was not stacking up. That is now seen in ‘Porton Down experts unable to verify precise source of novichok‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/03/porton-down-experts-unable-to-verify-precise-source-of-novichok). Now, let’s be clear. It does not make Russia innocent, yet whether it was a Russian or the Russian government can’t be verified and when we consider that truth we need to realise that PM Theresa May overreached her abilities and her office by a long stretch. The fact that Porton Down cannot identify whether the Novichok was made in Russia is merely one side, it does not absolve Russia, yet in similar thought, the fact that the origin cannot be determined also implies, or better stated, clearly indicates that the premise ‘beyond all reasonable doubt‘ goes straight out of the window. Now, do not get me wrong, I am just as eager for the next cold war as the next guy, but let’s do it for the right reasons!

You see the quote “Aitkenhead said the government had reached its conclusion that Russia was responsible for the Salisbury attack by combining the laboratory’s scientific findings with information from other sources” is window dressing at best. You see, the nightmare scenario is about to get to the surface and the second quote gets us there. That would be the quote “He said: “It’s a military-grade nerve agent, which requires extremely sophisticated methods in order to create – something that’s probably only within the capabilities of a state actor.”” You see, they shot themselves in the foot there. With: ‘state actor’ we see ‘evidence’ of optional locality, yet they cannot establish that. So now we get back to the original setting that I had on that day and that was that someone had personal skin in the game. It is overkill on a very different level, whilst we know that there were other ways to do this, the choice of weapon made it emotional and governments tend to not be emotional. Now we can go all conspiracy theory on the statement ‘There’s no way that anything like that would ever have come from us or leave the four walls of our facilities‘, yet the reality is that Porter Down is not the most advanced place in Europe. In Germany Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals LLC have the research locations that equal, if not surpass Porter Down. Even as we agree that this was not made in Russia, Russia is still not absolved and that is where the nightmare starts. You see a Novichok is a NBC weapon and whilst we are pushed towards the ‘state actor’ Russia, we forgot that once out, it Jinn will not get back in the bottle. The Ivan Kivelidi and Leonard Rink part took that out into the open and that happened in 1995. So for the larger part of 23 years this has been out in the open and now that someone trying to score a name for him (or her) the issue is out in the open and I am fairly certain that the UK and France (with their lovely chemical experimental places in Lyon) are now becoming an issue. These places have been unmonitored to the larger extent and someone got to be creative. In a world where the cost of living is rising someone has a commodity that the bulk of organised crime is willing to pay for and they are willing to pay through the nose. That is not withstanding the lone wolves and the terrorist cells that are getting funding from some ‘state actor’.

that is now the ball game and it is reinforced with “He said the location of manufacture could be established through “a number of different input sources which the government has access to”, adding: “Scientific evidence is only one of those sources“, so as Gary Aitkenhead is now hiding behind ‘different input sources ‘, we can see that his PD location failed to establish that and if we comprehend Novichoks than we should see that this is not a surprise, even as the sources could be basic composites, those sources are not always possible to be determined. Even as Dmitry Peskov is crying fowl play (pun intended), Russia is not out of the woods. You see even as Russia was the designer, it falls on their heads that Novichoks possibly got out into the open. The setting of responsibility seems to be clearly there, even as the papers I talked about three weeks ago shows that the executive council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fumbled the ball, their own meeting minutes shows that to be the fact. In a similar light we see the quote from Boris Johnson as an issue (not merely his haircut). As we are introduced to: “When I look at the evidence, the people from Porton Down, the laboratory, they were absolutely categorical. I asked the guy myself, I said: ‘Are you sure?’ And he said: ‘There’s no doubt.’ So we have very little alternative but to take the action that we have taken” and there is the issue, because the entire setting of evidence would have taken weeks not hours, which was a clear indication for me that the entire matter had been bungled by adding ‘projection weight’ into the fold in a place where there was no lighting, no electricity and no illumination of almost any kind. In this day and age evidence by candlelight is no evidence at all.

So it is my personal belief that gives us the last quote in this and the opposition it also creates. With “Alexander Grushko, called the attack a “provocation arranged by Britain” to justify high military spending because “they need a major enemy”“, Grushko might not be wrong, but he failed to add to this that there is every chance that Russia let slip the chemical dog of war and leave it in the hands of Russian organised crime and that is the nightmare that the European State actors were not ready for. The papers of the State Advisory Board (SAB) and the OPCW gave us that part when we see the gap of well over a decade. I am also decently certain that when we ‘grill’ Vil Mirzayanov in a toaster we will learn a few additional uncomfortable truths, the kind that the media is skating around as fast as they can, and in this one instance I actually do not blame them. In the end it still makes for one awesome Matt Damon movie and in light of the shown governmental shortcomings (and adding that to the script) it might just be a billion dollar hit, which is good for whoever decides to produce it.

So even as the media focused on that one place named Shikhany where that bad demon came from, we all forget that places like Dow, Bayer, Unilever, Laboratoire de Chimie ENS de Lyon and at least three more places where the setup could possibly facilitate for its creation and that is merely in Europe, that list gets to be significantly larger when we widen the net. Someone has played a very dangerous game and it is my personal belief that the global intelligence branch was so focused on optional terror cells that they forget that organised crime has a ‘mere’ need to satisfy their need for greed in any way they can and they forgot to look into that direction. I wonder how long it will take for me to be proven right yet again. Don’t get me wrong, I would love (read: prefer) to be wrong. Yet so far that has not happened. The idea of the Russian Mafia, or any large enough organised crime group to have their fingers on the C of NBC is scary, more so than a lone wolf terrorist. Because a lone wolf is likely to get emotional and would therefor fuck up, the calculating nature of organised crime is a much harder puppy to crack.

Yet that is merely my view on the matter.

 

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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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That’s entertainment

Today is a weird day, it is globally weird. You see, today billions will focus on who is getting an Academy Award, some are hoping to see the idol of their life, like Chris Hemsworth or Scarlett Johansson. Some hope that Stan Lee will be asked to hand out an Oscar and others (many ladies) are hoping to see the extravagant post fashion styles that the ladies will cloth themselves in. Among them millions of movie fans that get to see if it is the movie that they liked will win the Oscar. Now with Saudi Arabia opening cinemas in Saudi Arabia, will the MBC Group be there this year or will they start broadcasting the event next year? Another optional group of 34 million viewers in a group that currently is set to billions.

So whilst we wonder which one will become the best movie, my vote is on the Shape of Water, yet I believe the statue is likely to go to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. No matter who will win, we see that in Syria ‘forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, have captured six villages and towns bordering the besieged rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta, as hopes that a long-planned humanitarian convoy might enter the area were dashed again‘, so as we learn that the death toll of 103 since Saturday highlighted the paralysis of an international community that had demanded the ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid, we need to realise that the UN and the UNSC has become nothing more than a paper tiger that has the ability to roar towards the media, but without claws and teeth, it can no longer be the legislation that bites, or the shield that scratches. Just like the Wonder Woman 1:1 figurine (at https://www.cbr.com/life-size-wonder-woman-statue/), that is for sale for $1990, pretty, nice, but basically something you can walk around and unless you have real space in your apartment space that remains wasted but for the true Wonder Woman fan. It is a shame that the once mighty organisation has lost its impact on the world, well that is how the 475,000 fatalities in Syria feel about it. Oh, no, they do not. They are dead, they no longer feel anything.

So whilst we look back on the Oscars, wondering who best actor and actress will be, I have to admit that I am clueless. I had not seen Margot Robbie, or Saoirse Ronan, but both Francess McDormand and Meryl Streep did shine in their parts, my money will this time be on the 3 billboards main character, but it is anyone’s guess, I can’t even be sure if the experts in acting can figure out who will win that one. So as we are in that part, we need to realise that Danny Danon is quoted by the Jerusalem Post (at http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/UN-Ambassador-Danny-Danon-decries-UN-inaction-on-Iran-at-AIPAC-544188) to do something about Iran. Now, this is not the first time that Israel has issues with Iran. So when we see “While speaking at the AIPAC Committee Policy Conference in Washington on Sunday, Danon said it was crucial that the international community recognizes the threat Iran poses to regional stability. “It is vital that the UN focus on the real problems of the world, like Iran,” the ambassador said. “We all know just how dangerous this threat is, but the UN is wasting time and energy on votes and reports against Israel.”” we see nothing new, yet in the opposition, we see (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/03/iran-calls-on-us-europe-to-scrap-nuclear-arms-missiles.html), that Iran has a warped sense of needs. With “Iran will not negotiate over its ballistic missiles until the United States and Europe dismantle their nuclear weapons, a top Iranian military official said on Saturday“, so not China, or Russia, or India. Merely that the US and Europe dismantle is. From my point of view, the ‘top Iranian military official‘ was born stupid and the man stopped evolving after birth. Naive and stupid in one efficiently compact package, could we get it any better? So when we see “Iran says its nuclear program is defensive because of its deterrent nature“, should we consider its delivery to Yemen as a defensive posture? And what happens when the Iranians ‘accidently‘ (due to their lack of intelligence) send the wrong missile to Yemen? Will we get to see the UN representative go ‘oops!‘? I am merely asking because of the short-sighted situation here and in all this the stage of the theatres in politics and the theatres of war seem to overlap, none of them worthy of an Oscar in this particular setting, but we thank the nominees for playing their part. So whilst we saw the Paper Tiger called ‘United Nations’ in other settings, we see that the acts by the “UN Human Rights Council’s “blacklist” of Israeli and international companies operating in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights” is setting the premise in a different light. So whilst we see “a US delegation visiting the West Bank had to be rescued by Palestinian Authority policemen on Thursday after being attacked“, we see that Palestine is still demanding to be recognised by the UN, whilst still sending rockets into Israel. Some things will never change I reckon, but it is a sad state of affairs across the decades.

When it comes to the supporting acts in the Oscars, my hopes are for Sam Rockwell and Octavia Spencer, that whilst the others would be equally deserving, especially Richard Jenkins, yet in the end, we can only cast out votes once and that is how I would have voted. In that same light as the United Nations Security Council cast its vote a week ago on a Russian sponsored resolution regarding Yemen, we see that the Toronto Star reported that 55 people dies in the clash in Yemen, so whilst we see (at https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/03/01/us-senators-want-vote-to-end-support-for-saudi-arabia-in-yemen-war/), that we see ‘US senators want vote to end support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen war‘, that whilst the rightful ruler asked for the help of Saudi Arabia, in all this, where was America? Oh and where is America in regards to the Syrian war? Perhaps some will remember the attack on 21st of August 2013, so when the UN inspection got there and they confirmed “clear and convincing evidence” of the use of Sarin delivered by surface-to-surface rockets; in addition a 2014 report by the UN Human Rights Council found that “significant quantities of sarin were used in a well-planned indiscriminate attack targeting civilian-inhabited areas, causing mass casualties. The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to safely manipulate large amount of chemical agents“. Yet the American satellites were useless, even as they got the IMAX view with stereo sound of the speculated 1600 bodies, who all screamed a horrible death as they died, the American saw nothing, or so they say. Perhaps it is like Turkey and the Armenian genocide. They were just too worried to kick the wrong political pile, or as the NY Times stated it “A bill to that effect nearly passed in the fall of 2007, gaining a majority of co-sponsors and passing a committee vote. But the Bush administration, noting that Turkey is a critical ally — more than 70 per cent of the military air supplies for Iraq go through the Incirlik airbase there — pressed for the bill to be withdrawn, and it was” (at http://www.nytimes.com/ref/timestopics/topics_armeniangenocide.html) and Bush was not alone The Obama administration did the same with “Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power, key foreign policy advisers to Obama, say his administration was too worried about offending Turkey” (at https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/19/armenian-genocide-ben-rhodes-samantha-power-obama-349973), pussies, the whole bloody lot of them on both sides of the isle. So as we get “As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama promised that he would formally recognize an Armenian genocide as historical fact. But as president, he passed up multiple chances to do so, including in 2015, when Armenians marked the 100th anniversary of the atrocities“, we need to recognise that recognition is no way to commerce and cash is king, especially in a bankrupt America, or so say the rulers from Wall Street. So in light of the inactions, will Hollywood make it up by making ‘Last Men in Aleppo‘ documentary of the year? I cannot tell because I did not see any of the documentaries, I do believe that Inside Job in 2010 was the last documentary I saw and that one actually gives more rise to the rumours that Wall Street is the actual ruler of America. The fact that Kim Kardashian, yes Kim Kardashian of all people who ended up bitch slapping the Wall Street Journal for denying the Armenian genocide must be the highlight for the WSJ to set in stone, sometimes the people you ignore because they are outside of ones scope of entertainment are the ones surprising you beyond belief. So as we are getting close to the start of the Oscars, as we wonder if there is going to be the crossing of dictionaries between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon, we wonder if Jimmy is going to get a few jabs in against Mrs Damon’s favourite Martian.

As we wonder whether the UN has any values left by targeting Israel whilst ignoring Iran, whilst their actions regarding Syria are unanswered and unnoticed by Syria and Russia, we also see the accusations via Haaretz (at https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/allegation-kushner-punished-qatar-resurfaces-in-mueller-probe-1.5869124), that ‘Kushner Punished Qatar for Not Investing in Real-estate Deal Resurfaces in Mueller Probe‘, where we see “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked witnesses about Kushner’s attempts to secure financing for his family’s real estate ventures, focusing specifically on his talks with people from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, NBC News said“, so even as it is about Qatar, the smallest part with ‘talks with people from Qatar and Turkey‘, so even here we see actions that involve Turkey somehow. The question becomes what did Turkey get out of it, because going back to 2001, we have seen that Turkey only acts when it (largely) benefits Turkey, a stance that cannot be faulted, but we can wonder if the other side has any business trying to do business with Turkey in the first place. so when we look at the Global Magnitsky Act (at https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/13/us-global-magnitsky-act), where we see: “In an important step for global accountability, Congress built on the original Russia-focused Magnitsky law in 2016 and enacted the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the executive branch to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption. The act received widespread bipartisan support. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a version of the bill, and five Republican senators and five Democratic senators signed on as co-sponsors. President Barack Obama signed the law on December 23, 2016“, yet as far as I have been able to find, there are no Turkish Parties in any of this, is that not odd. When we see the acts in Syria, or even closer to Turkey, the 6 journalists that have been ‘praised’ with life imprisonment, how humane has Turkey shown itself to be?

Yet in the end, we can see all this as a mere form of entertainment, there are the Oscars, we have the Raspberries where (unsurprisingly) this year the Emoji movie took a near clean sweep of all possible wins, we could get the Golden Bazooka, or the golden Rack (that device that adds 6 inches to your length in 5 minutes), is there any doubt who would win those trophies? I wonder if people would stay at home for that. Eating popcorn, watching the atrocities and voting who was the worst of the worst. It entertainment, that is how our lives are minimised and scrutinised to, because actually improving the overall state of the world might no longer be an option, in that we can see that the financial sector on a global scale removed all available funds for that endeavour.

That’s life, that’s entertainment and it is the way we now choose to live!

Through acts of inaction, shame on us!

 

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Rampling was the domino

It is a side I had not thought of for quite a while. I have my own views, movies I like, movies I go to see. When I do, there is no regard towards race or religion. I just want to see a good movie, for the mere reason that going to the cinema is expensive, so when I go there, it better be a good one. So when I initially read the article ‘Charlotte Rampling finds herself outnumbered in Oscars diversity row‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/22/charlotte-rampling-finds-herself-outnumbered-in-oscars-diversity-row), I was not entirely sure what to think. For me, I am still slightly upset on the Golden globes, because no matter how much I enjoyed the Martian, it is NOT a comedy. A light-hearted drama at best. So in my eyes, the foreign press desperately wanted to get the Martian elected even though EVERYONE knew that the titanic achievement ‘the Revenant’ could not be equalled. So, they were willing to screw over Paul Feig or Judd Apatow, depending on your view of comedy. In that same light Matt Damon should not have won, not because his achievement was bad, it was quite excellent and I will look forward to own this achievement on Blu-Ray in 17 days, 13 hours and 14 minutes (roughly, but who’s counting). Yet, I will see this as excellent drama, not as a comedy. All the movies I saw, had a Caucasian caste. I thought nothing of it, no bad thoughts; no directed thoughts. There was an African American in Star Wars and he played his part really well, just nothing I would nominate a Golden globe or Oscar to. The day is young and I will look forward to him rocking my world as an actor in a future movie hr does. I have seen my share of excellent acting in Sidney Poitier (Heat of the night), Morgan Freeman (loads of movies there), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop/Harlem Nights), and Don Cheadle (Traitor). Here I pause for a moment, you see, this is a serious piece of work based on an idea by funny guy Steve Martin. The result is a spy thriller of unrivalled proportions and until the very end, you have no idea what will happen. As Spy stories goes, this is a killer! We tend to look at Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption, or one of my favourites ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith, but in all this, we are limited by the exposure we tend to see through marketing (trailers). Because of that element I almost missed out on a gem called ‘Seven Pounds’, which is an amazing piece of work. Yes, it is sentimental, and there are truths in the view Todd McCarthy from Variety has, but it seems that his world is about one view, it is his view. I try to see multiple views, not always mine, one I can agree with or a comfortable one, but the fact remains that we all have our own skeletons, sometimes they are dark and leave no sunlight or a shadow. In this his last ‘view’ was “an endlessly sentimental fable about sacrifice and redemption that aims only at the heart at the expense of the head” (at http://variety.com/2008/film/awards/seven-pounds-2-1200472723/), but in all this Variety forgets that movies are made to appeal an audience and in a directly addressable audience of well over 3 billion, there is a need for everyone. It is for that reason I have a similar appreciation for Lars von Trier’s ‘Dancer in the Dark‘ (and ended up being depressed for well over a week).

The question becomes, how correct is Charlotte Rampling. She is not wrong and I feel that the issue goes a lot further than is currently illustrated. That part is also shown in the Guardian article when you see the video on that page with Mark Ruffalo. But neither show the element I am aiming for. You see, it was not until the Golden Globes that I saw that Will Smith was nominated for a role in a movie I had absolutely ZERO awareness of. Wiki and the trailer of Concussion shows a drama that hits at the heart of America. It shows two sides, one, do not ever mess with their ‘sport’ and the second issue is that America remains in denial as long as it is convenient for their bottom dollar. In that Concussion seems to surpass several dramas. You see, this issue goes a lot further than what we see from either Charlotte Rampling or Mark Ruffalo state, although Mark reflects on the direction. You see it goes further than we see in the article. the quote “An analysis by the Los Angeles Times in 2014 found that the 6,000-plus members are 93% white and 76% male, with an average age of 63“, a system that is set around a nation where the median age is 39, state wise spread from Utah (29) to Maine (44). You see, the people looking at the entertainment industry are no longer representative of their age, which gives a new problem. It is their marketing and publication side. The fact that a gem like Concussion, a 2015 movie that only gets visibility after the nominations of the golden Globes is a bigger problem than many realise. Now we see in the Hollywood Reporter, the following quote by Charlotte Rampling “I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration“, which is true and part of the problem, because that is unlikely to be the case. Equally true is the quote we see from Michael Caine “You Can’t Vote for an Actor Because He’s Black“, which is equally true. The actors I mentioned earlier did the work, the hardship and ended up with the nominations, yet in opposition I offer that my view is in equal measure that there is an indication that votes are lost, or not duly received because of colour. In that light I offer ‘the Color Purple‘ which in 1986 rocked da house! The Academy awards had given it 11 nominations, ZERO wins. Whoopi Goldberg did get her Golden Globe, but they lost out on 4 other nominations. One out of 15, which is statistically a joke. Yet is it mere fate? You see Out of Africa was good, but not great (a personal view). I feel this because I enjoyed both movies, but I have since (1986) watched the Color Purple at least 8 times on DVD and Out of Africa? Nil times! In other lights, it had fierce competition from Prizzi’s Honor (Anjelica Huston) and Ran (Emi Wada), yet are the other 9 times deserved non-winners? I feel I cannot state this for certain, but with the exception of Best Original Screenplay I have a few too many question marks.

In all this we see that the Color Purple is more than a failing marketing and visibility campaign. Which is at the heart of non-recognition. In 2016 there is another side that we see in the Oscars. Concussion gets zero nominations. Here is it harder to oppose it, because the Revenant, Spotlight and Bridge of Spies are massive pieces of Work, which does allow for the situation to exist, yet in that same light, as we see the group that represents the Academy Awards, how many were clearly aware of Concussion and how many of them would see Concussion as the gem it is? In that same light, did the failure of marketing and publications now propagate the situation that Concussion is not making the BAFTA list? We have to accept that this is about American Football and as such, when we see that the BAFTA’s stated purpose is to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public“, we have to consider that American Football is an American interest and as such, Will Smith could miss out for the interest group, not because of his quality or the fact that he is an African American. But the issue remains, has marketing and publications cut themselves in their American fingers?

An issue that will remains for a longer time, because as the power players are growing away from the average younger audience, the selection could become a lot more disjointed, which might actually be a little too strong an expression.

The truth remains that we all have valid questions at times, yet in that same light we must accept (to some degree) that the bulk have an opinion, an impression and a preference. It is at times influenced by marketing as the people are given the royal tour by the promoters of the movies. We see at PRSA.ORG “Oscar campaigns are not cheap — campaign budgets can run $24 million per film. Mailing DVD screeners to the Academy’s 6,000-plus members, advertising in trade publications, attending festivals, hosting screening events and conducting media tours are only the beginning“, the Public Relations Society of America is decently outspoken here. Money rolls, which means that the name alone will not do it. Will Smith is a bankable name, but in the end, it is more than just the name, the DVD screeners and opportunity here. It is a business model, which now implies that art is not at the heart of the matter, product marketing is. The question that remains here is that if a movie needs that kind of marketing, how memorable was it?  Perhaps that is the wrong question too. Not everyone has time to see all the movies and the fact that some movies are not released on disc long after the Oscars is equally an issue, so is that approach wrong?

I cannot vote against it unless it is more than the actual book, the movie or the soundtrack. Optimising any product is far enough, but in that light, was Concussion properly optimised for exposure to the public and the audience at large? If not, who was behind that part? It is a Sony production, yet should this be about the awards? I wonder if the really good actors really take a role for that reason. In this I like to quote Tim Mincin In his UWA acceptance speech. There he states “Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect“, which seems to be (in my mind) how the great actors could think. Will Smith has had 85 nominations and 45 awards. None of them golden globes or Oscars. In the Golden globe section he lost out to Russell Crowe and Forest Whitaker who both delivered amazing performances that year, yet as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air he lost out to both John Goodman and Jerry Seinfeld, both series I was never a fan of, but they have their own following. In the Academy Awards he lost out to Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. A much harder choice, because both The Pursuit of Happyness and The Last King of Scotland are amazing works of art. I found the call between Ali and Training Day much harder because of my admiration of Muhammad Ali. So I know that I have bias here, I feel valid bias as the arts are about moments and ideals, Will Smith has been on that fine line many times. It is CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/18/sport/nfl-head-injuries-will-smith-movie-concussion/) that gives us “I probably won’t be getting my free Super Bowl tickets this year“, which is part of all this (apart from the fact that I never received ANY free tickets for any of the Ashes games), we see again that America will be in denial or in opposition as the NFL is the bottom dollar at least one day a week. I cannot oppose this. Yet reflecting on this, I feel a little uncertain when it comes to an outspoken #OscarsSoWhite. My issue in this case is that the opposition this year is massive, Spotlight, the Revenant, Bridge of Spies and the Martian are outstanding pieces of excellence. We can complain that these roles were too absent of African American roles, but that is based on different elements, in my view, not a #OscarsSoWhite view, or is it?

In all this we must see that we are not part of the actual world the actors and actresses live in. They would have a more realistic view, which makes the entire #OscarsSoWhite such an uneasy issue. You see, I feel that #OscarsSoWhite is almost a personal attack, I see the movies I like, and because of the reasons I see them. So, even as a written off product like ‘Seven Pounds’ is one I enjoyed, I enjoyed Gravity as well, and I enjoyed the Martian in near equal measure (the special effects in Gravity were just so awesome). In all this race was never a consideration. That is my personal view, I cannot answer for others, you must decide on your reasoning and your preference, which is as it should be with anything that comes from the arts.

This now gets me to the final part. As I saw it, from the first moment I saw the movie (not when it was released as I was 5 at that time), is that Virgil Tibbs made ‘In the Heat of the night’ the movie it was, the legend it became. Sir Sidney Poitier made the movie what it was (Rod Steiger was great too). So here we have our issue we want to feel that #OscarsSoWhite is valid, we do however want to base it on the now, not on 50 years ago. So can we question the issues, or is there a second layer that we are to some extent conveniently ignoring. One of marketing and PR, the other on the denial that the NFL (Americans with their idolisation of their sport in general) seems to bring. Two elements that seem to equally make the movie Concussion fall short. Those elements are not illustrated in equal measure here, which does not give any less value to Will Smith, it only impacted the topic Will Smith illustrated (as I personally see it).

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