Tag Archives: news.com.au

Gangsters of tomorrow?

I was alerted to an article regarding ‘Facebook labelled ‘digital gangsters’ by report on fake news‘ on LinkedIn. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/18/facebook-fake-news-investigation-report-regulation-privacy-law-dcms) is an interesting read, but there are issues (they always are). First of all Facebook is not innocent, Facebook has bungled a few items and they have done so several times, we have all seen that. Yet the report (at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/1791/1791.pdf) has a few issues too and it starts in the summary. It starts with “We have always experienced propaganda and politically-aligned bias, which purports to be news, but this activity has taken on new forms and has been hugely magnified by information technology and the ubiquity of social media. In this environment, people are able to accept and give credence to information that reinforces their views, no matter how distorted or inaccurate, while dismissing content with which they do not agree as ‘fake news’. This has a polarising effect and reduces the common ground on which reasoned debate, based on objective facts, can take place“, the issues here are:

  1. Magnified by information technology and the ubiquity of social media.
  2. People are able to accept and give credence to information that reinforces their views.
  3. Dismissing content with which they do not agree as ‘fake news’.
  4. Reduces the common ground on which reasoned debate, based on objective facts, can take place.

First of all, these are not lies, they are correct as elements. Yet we need to take another look at these issues. In the first the common side of social media is the part that makes all people talk to one another, even as we agree that when it comes to the display of news people do not really tend to talk, they often merely voice an opinion or a thought. Having an actual conversation in mobile distance based events is as rare of finding a £10 in the jeans you just took out of the washing machine. The second is obvious, it always has been so even before the age of social media, and the difference is that they now voice it to thousands of people at the same time, exposing millions of people to millions of voiced views. When it comes to item three, try to find an accepted labour idea in a conservative house of commons and vice versa, debunking each other’s views is a state of active mind and the non-elected get to have a lot more attention than the elected one (a weird logical truth), it has been the clear path of exposure since even before WW2, the fact that the loudest voice gets the room is not new, it is merely the fact that we get to hear twenty thousand loud mouthing opinions. It is number 4 that is the one issue that gives additional rise to the first three. When I search ‘News’ in Facebook I get the BBC, Nine News, ABC News, News.com.au, and several more. Yet the issue is not that they are there, it is what they state is very much the issue and the report is seemingly interestingly ignoring that part.

For News.com.au I get ‘Kate Ritchie smokin’ undies shoot‘ linking to: ‘Nova radio host Kate Ritchie stars in sexy underwear campaign‘, ‘Woolworths to axe $1-a-litre fresh milk but Coles refusing to follow’, and ‘Sailor from World War II kissing photo dies at age 95’, so as ‘news value’ goes, the value of news is very much a discussion a well, these organisation use social media to the max as to increase exposure to self, which is what it is supposed to do, the committee seems to have forgotten that part. The BBC is all about news, even as ’50 Cent: Claims police told to ‘shoot’ rapper investigated’ stands out a bit (it is still news). 9 News gets the attention with: “Human remains have been found during the search for a woman who went missing more than 300km away, with two people in custody over her suspicious disappearance“, it is all about the clicks as the article (on their site) gives us from the beginning “Human remains have been found in Victoria’s east“, the news themselves are exploiting social media to improve circulation (clicks are everything), yet that part is missing in all this. When it comes to ‘fake news’ the media is equally to blame, yet that part was clearly missed by the committee.

And as we see the news “There’s nothing new about personalised number plates, but soon drivers will be able to go a step further and add emojis!“, all this 2 hours ago whilst,

  • Hamas enlists female participation in border riots
  • London social housing block residents warn of ‘death trap’ conditions
  • Terror expert warns Sweden against repatriating Syria jihadists

They are merely three out of a whole range of news items that do not make it to social media. The issue of ‘the common ground on which reasoned debate‘ requires a much wider base and the media is not using social media for that, it makes the media equally to blame, a part that has not been put under the spotlight either. The media uses social media as it is supposed to be used and it seems that the committee is a little too much in the dark there.

On page 10 we get: “In our Interim Report, we disregarded the term ‘fake news’ as it had “taken on a variety of meanings, including a description of any statement that is not liked or agreed with by the reader” and instead recommended the terms ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’. With those terms come “clear guidelines for companies, organisations and the Government to follow” linked with “a shared consistency of meaning across the platforms, which can be used as the basis of regulation and enforcement”.” You see ‘fake news’ is at the heart of the matter and when we see ‘disregarded’, as well as ‘a variety of meanings’ we get the first part that this is about slamming Facebook (always entertaining mind you), yet the media is at the heart of the matter and they too need to be held to account in all this. It is enhanced by statement 16 on the next page: “proliferation of online harms is made more dangerous by focussing specific messages on individuals as a result of ‘micro-targeted messaging’“, it sounds nice until you realise that the media themselves are doing this too, so the overall view gets to be skewed by the media from the start. So consider ‘Start-up founder says employees should only work six-hour days’, whilst in the text we see (amongst more) “Next, we should cut down or get rid of tasks that “don’t add value” such as slashing wasteful meetings in half and switching off distracting notifications. For process-oriented jobs, Mr Glaveski said it was a good idea to automate where possible, and where it wasn’t, the option of outsourcing should be explored“, which largely impedes the existence of places like IBM, Microsoft, and a few other large players. Yet the idea is concept based and the optional loss of 25% income is not expressed as to the stage of who can afford to continue on that premise.

In all this, the media has its own need for micro-targeted messaging, where that ends is not a given and that part does not matter,  it does matter that the message micro and macro is enhanced by the media themselves, yet where is their part mentioned in all that?

When the reports finally makes it to Data use and Data targeting we get: “We have instigated criminal proceedings and referred issues to other regulators and law enforcement agencies as appropriate. And, where we have found no evidence of illegality, we have shared those findings openly. Our investigation uncovered significant issues, negligence and contraventions of the law“, which we wold expect, yet in light of the larger issue where we see: “the use of data analytics for political purposes, which started in May 2017. It states that it “had little idea of what was to come. Eighteen months later, multiple jurisdictions are struggling to retain fundamental democratic principles in the fact of opaque digital technologies”“, I taught it 20 years ago, although not in a political setting, yet the use of data analysis was used in political fields as early as the mid 80’s, so the confusion is a little weird, especially when the footnote linked to the report (at https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/2260271/investigation-into-the-use-of-data-analytics-in-political-campaigns-final-20181105.pdf) gives us on page 8: “Particular concerns include the purchasing of marketing lists and lifestyle information from data brokers without sufficient due diligence, a lack of fair processing and the use of third party data analytics companies, with insufficient checks around consent“, the issue not given is that marketing lists have been available for 20 years, laws had the option of being adjusted for well over 15 years, yet the players only realised too late (some never did) how affordable Facebook and other social media players made this route towards creating awareness, as well as using media to adjust a person’s view became a cheap solution for political players that had little or no budget. The paths were there for well over a decade and nothing was done, now Facebook is lashed at whilst the lists of Dunnhumby and like-minded owners (Dutch Airmiles) and several others are ignored to a larger degree, a path that has been open to adjustment for decades. The law could have been adjusted, but no one bothered, now we see the impact and the lashing out at Facebook, whilst the players were clueless to the largest extent, the 2015 evidence seen as we see: ‘dunnhumby: how Tesco destroyed £1.3bn of value in 9 months‘, the initial moment already showed the failing of insight (as I saw the entire Tesco disaster unfold when it happened in 2015), and with:

In haste to ready Dunnhumby for sale, Tesco made two critical errors that left the company unsellable:

First, Tesco terminated its 50/50 joint venture with Kroger, instead restructuring in such a way that Kroger bought out Tesco and formed a new wholly-owned data company called 84.51°. In this new arrangement, Dunnhumby USA retained its other clients and was now free to pursue new business with Kroger competitors, but no lost its access to Kroger’s customer data.

Second, Tesco capped the length of time that Dunnhumby would have exclusive rights to use the data from the 16 million Tesco Clubcard users. As outlined above, Dunnhumby relies on this data not only to derive profits from its partnership with Tesco but also from reselling this data to the manufacturers.

(source: https://digit.hbs.org/submission/dunnhumby-how-tesco-destroyed-1-3bn-of-value-in-9-months/) we see just how clueless the larger players have been and there are additional questions that this committee should be able to answer, yet they cannot and as you can read they decided not to address any of it.

Its members:

  • Damian Collins MP (Conservative, Folkestone and Hythe) (Chair)
  • Clive Efford MP (Labour, Eltham)
  • Julie Elliott MP (Labour, Sunderland Central)
  • Paul Farrelly MP (Labour, Newcastle-under-Lyme)
  • Simon Hart MP (Conservative, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire)
  • Julian Knight MP (Conservative, Solihull)
  • Ian C. Lucas MP (Labour, Wrexham)
  • Brendan O’Hara MP (Scottish National Party, Argyll and Bute)
  • Rebecca Pow MP (Conservative, Taunton Deane)
  • Jo Stevens MP (Labour, Cardiff Central)
  • Giles Watling MP (Conservative, Clacton)

They should also be held to a much higher account, as I personally see this situation. Not that they have done anything wrong officially. Yet the consideration that we see on page 87 where we are treated to: “As we wrote in our Interim Report, digital literacy should be a fourth pillar of education, alongside reading, writing and maths. In its response, the Government did not comment on our recommendation of a social media company levy, to be used, in part, to finance a comprehensive educational framework“, the fact that digital literacy is missing on a global scale is a much larger concern, one that political players on both sides of the isle in the House of Commons seem to have been ignoring to the largest extent. It should be part of primary school education nowadays, yet it is not.

We see supporting evidence in the ‘Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health‘ publication. When we read: “In 2017, however, the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, reported that children were “not being equipped with adequate skills to negotiate their lives online” and that they needed help from adults to “develop resilience and the ability to interact critically with the world”“, we see one part, it comes from oral evidence Q566, which gives us the question by Stephen Metcalfe ‘There is a lot of emphasis on preparing children and young people for a digital life—on making them digitally literate. What do you think digital literacy actually means? What are the boundaries? What should we be teaching them, and at what age should we start?‘, the response is “A report I put out earlier this year, “Life in Likes,” which dealt with eight to 12-year-olds, focused heavily on emotional literacy. Schools seem to have done a decent job in looking at safety online. Children will now tell you that you should not put out a photograph of you wearing your uniform. People go to great lengths to trace you. Safety within school has really progressed, but the emotional resilience to be able to deal with it is not there yet. The key age for me is about year six and year seven. Beyond that, it is to do with the mechanics: how it works and algorithms. You do get targeted with stuff. It is not just everyone getting this. There are things coming your way because the machine is set up to work out what interests you. There are things around terms and conditions and knowing what you are signing up to. We did a big piece of work last year with lawyers that reduced and simplified terms and conditions from 17 pages to one. Of course, when people read it and it says, “We own all your stuff and we’ll do what we like with it,” it gets a different response. That is probably not the thing that will make us all turn off, but it might make us think twice about what we are doing.” Longfield gives us a good, yet in this case incorrect (read; incomplete) answer.

From my point of view through the abilities within Facebook we forget that ‘There are things coming your way because the machine is set up to work out what interests you‘, yet the numbers do not add up, you see the bigger issue behind it is that people can buy likes and some do, so the person clicks on something that has 50,000 likes, yet if they knew that 45,000 likes were bought they might not have clicked on it. It becomes the consideration of likes versus engagement. That elementary lack is important. Engagement is everything and in the consideration of item 4 earlier where we saw ‘reasoned debate, based on objective facts‘, we might seem to think that clicks are an objective fact, yet they are not. The amount of people engaged in the conversation is a subjective fact, yet an actual fact, bought clicks are not and that is an important failure in all this. So when we are confronted with upcoming 2% digital services tax, which is merely a cost of doing business, whilst the lack of digital literacy that is spawned from a lack of education is a difference that most are not made aware of.

When we finally get to the Conclusions and recommendations we might focus on: “Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites. We repeat the recommendation from our Interim Report that a new category of tech company is formulated, which tightens tech companies’ liabilities, and which is not necessarily either a ‘platform’ or a ‘publisher’. This approach would see the tech companies assume legal liability for content identified as harmful after it has been posted by users. We ask the Government to consider this new category of tech company in its forthcoming White Paper” we do see a truth, yet again an incomplete one. The media is equally to blame and not holding them to account, letting them focus on populist views and pressures (apart from the authentic news bringers like the BBC, Washington Post and the Guardian), we are pushed into a skewed view from the very beginning, that part was equally important and avoided throughout the report. For example the Daily Mail gives us ‘amazing footage‘ of ‘Heartwarming moment Syria’s White Helmets rescue two puppies from being crushed to death by rubble after a building was torn apart by heavy shelling‘, yet the news given several hours ago ‘Saudi Arabia has provided more than $13 billion in support to Yemen since 2014‘ never made it did it? The Daily mail was all about on how to not open a beer keg (by making a hole in the side using a spigot and a piece of wood) and ignoring ‘UK-based man charged with inciting attack in Germany‘ (source: Washington Post). So when it comes to the entire matter of social media and their ability of being merely a ‘platform’ (which they are) the accountability of the media as a whole is a much larger failure and the fact that the committee decided to leave that on the side invalidates the report to a much larger degree (not completely though) as I personally see it.

Facebook might not be innocent, yet the media as a whole is just as guilty. They have made the consideration of what is ‘fake news’ a much larger issue. The few that do a good job are filtered into silence by the hundreds of media outlets that do what social media is supposed to do, create awareness of self through promotion of ‘self’ on a granular population, as granular as possible.

The fact that the word ‘engagement‘ is only seen three times in the report, ‘click‘ is only seen twice, ‘filter‘ (like: filtering, filtered) is seen once and so is ‘selected‘, yet the last word is not see in regards to what the user of a social media account chose to observe.

All elements at the very foundation of: ‘Disinformation and ‘fake news’‘, in that light, just how valid is that report and what else are the people not made aware of? So in light of the members of that committee and the amount of money they made (and the costs that they gave the taxpayers) through lunches, travel expenses and all other forms of remunerations: Can we get that back please?

 

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Living with choices made

We do that at times, we also endure the bitter fruits that we gained from choices. I made some myself, in two cases I trusted the wrong person and it costed me dearly, an invoice payable over decades. I get that, it was my choice, I was an adult and therefor I accept to live with the choice made. It is partially the reason I go out and expose bullshit artists’ because of the dangers that they represent, as well as their friends who knowingly stand by them. So when I saw ‘UK will not put officials at risk to rescue Isis Britons, says minister‘, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/14/uk-isis-britons-officials-risk-syria-schoolgirl-shamima-begum) gives us “I’m not putting at risk British people’s lives to go looking for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state,” I personally believe that this makes perfect sense. Some might have a bleeding heart when they see: “it was revealed Shamima Begum, one of three pupils from Bethnal Green, east London, who left to join Isis four years ago, told the Times she wanted to return to the UK“, yet there is no way to tell how radicalised she has become. In addition, even as we accept that “Wallace said that as a British citizen, Begum had a right to return home, but anyone who joined Isis should expect to be investigated, interviewed and “at the very least prosecuted” on their return“, we also need to accept that would need to be under scrutiny for some time to come, she is optionally a direct threat to the Britons around her and as such her return also means putting pressure on the budgets of GCHQ and MI5, so there is that to consider. Now, I am not stating that is a reason to keep her out, yet when people state that they are so adult, so well informed and go to places like ISIS Syria, getting married to a Muslim she did not know, have three children with two of them dead is the lifestyle she chose. In addition there is another matter that I had not considered. Even if she is not radicalised, Sir Peter Fahy (former chief constable of Greater Manchester police) gives us: “The biggest challenge if she did come back will be how the police will keep her safe and how she wouldn’t be some sort of lightning rod for both Islamic and far-right extremists“, as an optional catalyst she becomes a new threat on other levels too, as stated, that was something I had not considered and it is important to see that as a matter that could lead its own life. In all the papers and media events we focussed on radicalisation and we forgot that the threat of being a catalyst is actually a larger issue to consider.

And the news is now pouring in from all sides regarding Amira Abase, Shamima Begum and Kadiza Sultana. As all focus on Begum, we know that Kadiza Sultana is dead, the other two were alive in August 2018, and the present status of Amira Abase will be looked at in the near future. My reasons for having the position that I am showing to have is that all need to be held accountable for their actions, not merely governments and large corporations, individuals as well. So when we see “Aqsa Mahmood, a former Scottish university student, has been put under international sanctions for her role as an online recruiter, with other female jihadists including Khadijah Dare and Sally-Anne Jones have called for terror attacks on social media and called on other women to follow them to Syria” (source: the Independent), we need to realise that a governments job is to keep its citizens safe, with the danger of radicalisation and being a catalyst becoming too large a danger, there is everything to be said to leave these people to their fate, so they either become a danger or they die. It seems a simple equation. Yet, we know it is not. The move by more and more Muslim girls (and women) from the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands to step onto the ISIS platform is a given stage for dangers, more than we see at first light. You might think of Robert Ben Lobban Wallace being a softy, think again, he is Sandhurst trained, and a Scots Guard commander with 24 years of intelligence experience. He knows what he is in for and he is more aware of most on the dangers that former ISIS women present. That needs to be taken into consideration before we give rise to: ‘Let Shamima Begum come back, say Bethnal Green residents‘ (the Guardian), ‘British schoolgirl who fled London to join IS pleads to come home to have her baby‘ (News.com.au) and ‘UK schoolgirl Shamima Begum who fled to join Islamic State ‘wants to return home to England’‘ (ABC). you see, the moment she is back and some misguided catalyst event explodes (optionally very literally), we will get all the accusations and all the pointing fingers of a failed police force, yet from my point of view, the people of Bethnal Green will not be allowed to complain. It will be the direct consequence of ‘let her come back‘ and the family members of those victims can ask those people for reparations and grief counselling. So as we see the impact of Shamima Begum (19) mother of three with optionally only one child left alive is seeing the impact of what she thought would be a fairy tale in ISIS. The people who stayed awake have been aware of the danger that ISIS is more than half a decade before she left, she merely listened to the wrong people and it got her family and optionally soon enough her killed. That is the impact of terrorism.

ABC News also gives us: “Independent of this, Home Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to weigh in on whether Ms Begum should have the right to return to the UK, along with intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 and counterterrorism police, who are anticipated to conduct further investigations into potential dangers Ms Begum could pose to the UK“, the issue is not merely that, the words of Sir Peter Fahy are important too, it is not merely what she does, it is what triggers others to do because of her that counts too and that is where the problem begins. This is not merely come algorithm, it is the dimensional impact that others will trigger at her presence, merely via news, or by seeing her. The part that is not about whether she was ISIS, but the part where others see her as a member of ISIS until she is dead, that is the larger issue and there is no way to set that stage in a dependable way. It is like fishing for sharks in the North Sea. You can go to places where they are most likely to be found, yet throwing out bait and a fishing line does not give rise to catching a shark, you could end up with another fish entirely.

It is in that light that I oppose the view of Amina Mohamed, 52, a housewife, who gave us in the guardian: “She was a baby, she didn’t know what was going on there. People played a game with her and brainwashed her. She was a child“, she made a very clear choice, she decided not to listen to her parents, and it is actually that simple. I do not have much on the parents of Shamima Begum, yet the Evening Standard gave us: ‘after deceiving their parents‘, so in all that, it seems to me that a choice was made and as such, they will have to live with the consequences that they created at the age of 15.

The BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47240100) if the sides in all this as even as there are sides that give rise to the responsibility of the British government, the question that we cannot answer is how radicalised has she become? The fact that we see: “She and two friends – Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana – flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after lying to their parents about their plans for the day. Their aim was to join another friend, Sharmeena Begum“, there is a part that is seemingly ignored by a few people. Not only did was she able to get to Turkey (so they had passports and they tend to take a while, and apart from the fact that an unsupervised minor got one), the fact that the BBC gives us: “The trio were picked up by smugglers working for the IS group and taken across the border into the group’s territory in northern Syria” that there was a logistical support system in place that set the stage for minors to get to Syria from Turkey, the costs that is involved (three times £175 plus additional expenses), the fact that Gatwick raised no questions on unaccompanied minors, the smugglers they willingly followed (so waiting at the airport), there is a larger support system in place for this. There was a recruitment drive and there is a financial stage in all this. There are clear reasons that no one on the ISIS side wants her to be able to talk to MI5, so the issue is not that clear and it is a lot more hazardous for those around any of the optional two still alive that make it back to the UK, so from where I stand, I see that Sir Peter Fahy is correct in several ways.

Investigating these elements should be high on the priority list and they might be, yet the coverage I have seen so far does not ask any of those questions, do they?

I do realise that the entire matter is more complex that this, yet the fact that dissemination of information is lacking levels of scrutiny is a larger issue that needs to be addressed. To see this, we need to consider to parts, first a local one. In Australia Jenny McAllister has voted very strongly against more scrutiny of intelligence services & police on several occasions. Now, that is her right and partially it is her duty to vote one way or the other. Then there is the Financial Times two weeks ago who gave us: ‘Foreign Office criticised over scrutiny of UK spy agencies‘ (at https://www.ft.com/content/4a1cc4e6-2619-11e9-b329-c7e6ceb5ffdf) and we see: “The two agencies use section seven of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act, often referred to as the “James Bond clause”, to authorise activities overseas that might otherwise lead to criminal and civil liability under UK law“, yet in the same trend we see a lack of questions when it can be established that 15 year old girls are recruited in the UK, there is a logistical support system to get them to Syria and the media seems to remain oblivious to a much larger degree (it is the people need not know approach) to something much more pressing in all that. I must have forgotten the lessons on common law regarding the recruitment of children for criminal purpose, how did that go again?

So when I see: “Such missions could include MI6 agents breaking into properties in foreign countries to obtain documents or GCHQ infiltrating computers and networks in ways that might otherwise fall foul of UK laws“, which is a larger implication when a 19 year old is having her third child and it raises no questions, especially as the marriage might be seen as illegal?

At that point my question towards Dan Dolan, deputy director at Reprieve, who is so about doing the right ‘thing’, will be about: What should we do? How far are we allowed to go to prevent recruitment and radicalisation of minors straight out of primary school? How far are we allowed to go to keep British children safe? I think that plenty of intelligence operators lost the plot in the Huawei events (which the Financial Times endorses with a photograph), yet when it comes to threats like ISIS the intelligence industry hasn’t even seen the outer limits lights at present, I am not entirely sure if they are able to tell the colour of those lights when asked. the larger issue is that the intelligence operators are not merely walking a tightrope, they are walking one that is covered in razor blades and at any time there is not merely the risk that it cuts into the feet, it is also a risk that it cuts the rope they are walking on, giving rise to additional hazards, Shamima Begum is merely one of several risks at present and it is important to realise that a Queensberry Rules approach is not merely making us human and humane, it is getting us killed with 99% certainty, the opposition does not warrant, endorse of accepts any kind of rules. I do hope that the recruitment of 15 year old girls will suffice as evidence at present.

 

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Those we needlessly fear

All others pay cash! Yes, that was direct, was it not? We have seen millions of articles fly by, all given the very same announcement: ‘Fear Saudi Arabia‘, as well as ‘MBS is a monster‘. Yet, what evidence was given? What actual evidence did we get?

Turkey played its innuendo game, we can also accept that the US is playing a protective game for Saudi Arabia and that too should be highlighted, yet NO ONE has taken an academic look at those so called tapes as have given the audience the rundown, what was there, what was proven. Is there even enough evidence that Jamal Khashoggi is on the tapes? Journalists are in their own corrupt little world of satisfying the shareholders, the stake holders and the advertisers and they all want Saudi Arabia to look like they are all guilty, all to the very top. In addition we see the G20 Argentina game that France played with their ‘confrontation’, conveniently enough staged to be caught on CNN. He was not that amateur like when he had to have a few words with someone high up at Crédit Agricole, was he? Where have they got that leaked conversation?

I see it as a simple operational premise to counter the fear that they have. It gets worse, at present the vultures are circling and we get to see more fallout. News dot com dot au are giving us (at https://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/saudi-friend-of-jamal-khashoggi-sues-israeli-surveillance-firm/news-story/b0bf9d501332df9ad31bede7de904b6c) ‘Saudi friend of Jamal Khashoggi sues Israeli surveillance firm‘ gives us ‘A Saudi dissident‘, as well as ‘Omar Abdulaziz, said he was friends with Khashoggi‘. Now people make all kinds of claims, I can make the claim that I am the lover of Scarlett Johansson; she just does not know it yet. Anyone in the media can contact frukan Johansson and verify that fact (or prove it to be wrong), we can’t in the case of Khashoggi, can we? Was there corroborating evidence that they were actual friends? If so, why was that not added? The news site makes no real effort to substantiate that friendship and that is not what this is about. You see, it is the claim ‘a lawsuit against an Israeli surveillance company, claiming its sophisticated spyware targeted him and helped lead to the killing of his friend‘. We have two problems here. In the first, is there any evidence to back that up? In the second, Jamal Khashoggi was an unknown person to 93% of the planet, yet he was a journalist for the Washington Post, and as such he was a lot more visible than most others. Also, the entire filing matter in Istanbul gave rise that plenty of people knew where he was, so the spyware seems redundant. If there was quality spyware in place he could have been killed anywhere and leave the optional involvement of Saudi Arabia almost completely out of it. Does that not make sense?

The last paragraph is the killer here: “citing news reports and other sources claiming that NSO Group sold Saudi Arabia the technology in 2017 for $US55 million ($A75 million)“. The first thing here is to look at those news reports; I wonder how much innuendo is in there. Then we get the stage that technology worth $55 million was bought when JK was very much alone, giving rise to the reason of purchase, last by not least is the investigation on the NSO group and their software and that is what I believe was the foundation, it does not matter where and how the NSO group software was used. I believe that Omar Abdulaziz got wind of a 2016 article not unlike those on Vice (at https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/3da5qj/government-hackers-iphone-hacking-jailbreak-nso-group), and saw ‘Government Hackers Caught Using Unprecedented iPhone Spy Tool‘. so when we see (or saw) “Ahmed Mansoor, a 46-year-old human rights activist from the United Arab Emirates, received a strange text message from a number he did not recognize on his iPhone“, the brain of Omar Abdulaziz  optionally went ‘ka-chink‘ and his pupils turned to dollar signs, It was optionally his opportunity of a lifetime.

So who is right?

I am telling you right now that all I am writing from my opposition is pure speculation, yet is it less of more believable? Is the NSO group real? Yes they are and they have something that every nation on the planet with a decent technology level requires. Any government have people they want to keep tabs on, and that is what this solution optionally provides for. It is not a killing tool, and at $55 million it is not some tool you use for simply ending someone’s life, there are more convenient and more elegant ways to facilitate to punch out someone time clock of life. When you stage a $55 million solution when $50K in an account does it, that solution does not make sense.

Still, we cannot ignore the NSO group software and it might have been used to keep tabs on JK, that is optionally a reality we face, yet we all face that optional for a number of reasons and there we have the crux, knowing where a person is does not mean that their life has to be ended, the fact that we have tools, does not imply that we have to use other tools. The audience factor is trying to give us that idea, an emotional driven premise of events to set the stage of intentional international execution. There has been, and unlikely will be any evidence showing that. Not by some eager frog (an unnamed France governmental executive) stating to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ‘I am really worried!‘ worried about what? Conversations eagerly and ‘unintentionally’ leaked right in full view of the CNN camera, are people truly stupid enough to go for that bait?

Then we get claims in papers like the Sydney Morning Herald trying to up their game, yet at present I am not certain if the Saudi government would lose if a defamation case was brought to court and that is me merely contemplating two of the JK articles that I have read in the last two days.

In addition, the article has the claim ‘and helped lead to the killing of his friend‘, which is actually very clever as in this way stated we have a problem, or do we? Is there any evidence that the solution was or was not used? If there is a way to check the usage of that software then Omar Abdulaziz opened an interesting door. You see at that point, under the US freedom of information act, close to two dozen claims can be made regarding the NSA (the San Antonio location) on how they have been keeping tabs on people. In the January case of Sherretta Shaunte Washington, her attorney might optionally (with properly applied intelligence) be able to overturn any given sentence against her. There has been the rumour that the NSA assisted in keeping tabs on a dozen burner phones. You see, it is not the sim card; it is the mobile imei number on EVERY phone that is the issue. The NSO group seemingly figured out the algorithm to take this to the races and that advantage is worth well over $55 million. That is exactly why the Mexicans wanted the solution too. Most Mexicans are still believing that without the sim it is nothing, yet one call gave away the imei number and that number is a lot more useful than most consider.

And in the end it is Forbes who gives us the missing diamond going all the way back to August 2016. Here we are treated to: “looking at the domains registered by NSO, they determined Pegasus could have been used across Turkey, Israel, Thailand, Qatar, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Mozambique, Morocco, Yemen, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Bahrain, though there was no clear evidence“, in all this the one logical step, the one thought that no one has been willing to voice for a number of reasons. Turkey is on that list. So what if this was Turkey all along from beginning to end? Turkey, who had the solution to keep tabs on thousands of journalists, reporters and bloggers, and jailing hundreds of journalists, do you actually think that they are beyond killing a journalist? I mentioned a few yesterday, so you there is evidence all over the field and so far no actual and factual evidence has been given on any involvement of the Saudi Royal family, yet everyone is playing that card as often as possible.

I am not in denial, I am not stating that they are innocent, I am merely looking and hoping to see real evidence, and so far the absence of that investigation has been astounding. There is enough evidence on the involvement of Saudi’s in all this, yet the proper vetting of Turkish evidence by the media has seemingly been lacking. The press (and the media as a whole) merely pushed that same button again and again and it makes me wonder on the premise in which other ways we are (seemingly) being deceived. That is the clear consequence of orchestration, it makes us all doubt all the other evidence, and in light of the USA playing their silver briefcase WMD game in regards to Iraq, that has made us distrust a lot of other evidence, evidence that might have been valid, but we are in a stage where we no longer trust the messengers in all that and as the media and newspapers lose more and more credibility, we have started to treat most news as fake news.

That is the price of orchestration and the players remain in denial that it is happening. That is the part we see form a source called Foreign Policy dot com. The article (at https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/03/how-an-internet-impostor-exposed-the-underbelly-of-the-czech-media/), gives us: ‘How an Internet Impostor Exposed the Underbelly of the Czech Media. When politicians own the press, trolls have the last laugh‘, the article by Tim Gosling gives us: “Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis—and expose just how easily disinformation can slip into the mainstream press, especially when politicians control it.” It is a mere introduction to: “In September, the Czech broadsheet Lidove Noviny published an op-ed by Horakova expressing support for Babis’s refusal to offer asylum to 50 Syrian orphans, as was proposed by an opposition member of parliament. Playing up to his populist pledge not to allow “a single refugee” into the Czech Republic, the prime minister said the country had its own orphans to care for“. It merely gives us parts to ponder, the amount of pondering increases with: “In tapes released by unknown sources onto the internet last year, for instance, he was heard discussing stories damaging to his political rivals with a reporter from Mlada fronta Dnes, which alongside Lidove Noviny is controlled by Agrofert—the agrochemicals conglomerate that is the centerpiece of Babis’s business empire.

I have written again and again against the media facilitation for the shareholders, the stakeholders and the advertisers, here we see the impact when the media and the shareholder are one and the same. That article from a freelance reporter who seemingly contributed to Foreign Policy, The Telegraph, Politico Europe, Deutsche Welle, World Politics et al. He shows that there is a much larger issue and that the difference between those bringing the news and fake news bringers is almost indistinguishable. We might give passage to the LA Times, the Washington Post, New York Times, the Times, the Guardian and several others, yet after that the mess becomes no longer trusted, mostly because the source is too unknown to us. The media did this to themselves through facilitation and until that changes fake news will have too many options to gain traction with the people influencing a populist political nation on a near global scale.

It is one of the reasons why I refuse to merely accept the view of people blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for it all. There are too many intelligence gaps, too many parts of merely insinuated conjecture whilst the intelligence was not properly vetted and it happened for the most in Turkey (the consulate is Saudi ground). We might never ever get the answer of what truly happened, and to a very large extent it is because of the games that the media played from the very beginning. A game staged in innuendo, unnamed sources and people talking on the promise of anonymity. It is not the fact that these elements exist, it is because to a much larger extent too many of them were used at the same time, pressing the same directional button, most of it not scrutinised to the degree that was essential, and when contra dictionary evidence was found, those issues were ignored by the largest extent by all the media, that too is the foundation of fake news, we merely chose to ignore it, it is our emotional side and that is the bigger issue. People are no longer adhering to innocent until guilty, the media has become a ‘guilty until proven innocent machine‘ and that drives the populist agenda more than anything else, so I oppose them all by stating: ‘The Saudi government is one we needlessly fear, until we have conclusive evidence of their action that is the only way we should be‘. We have become puppets in a world where tyrants (Robert Mugabe), alleged mass murderers (Slobodan Milošević), criminals (shooters who were granted indemnity from prosecution) and paedophiles (Catholic clergy) get more consideration than any Muslim ever had, how sad has our world become?

 

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When they are merely numbers

What if lives are not set in souls, but in numbers, simple numbers? That is the setting we see ourselves in today. A special shout out to Karl Stefanovic who rightfully backed the police and launched a scathing attack on their “timid” critics. Although I would rephrase from ‘timid critics‘ and merely categorise them as ‘fear mongering scaredy cats with a lack of knowledge‘, yet that would be merely my personal choice in the freedom of classification.

Karl is correct in a few ways, yet to see that. We need to look at the other side. My training comes from NATO and I mastered several weapons, to give you a specific setting here, which with the Remington Model 700 is really simple. The drift on 300 meters is optionally no more than 1.1936″ in a nominal setting, so if I aim for the head the brain is gone, if I aim for the chest the damage is worse as that person will not be instantly dead, but they will feel the pinch of a .308 slug and at that point, most Kevlar is useless. You see at 300 Yds the bullet impacts with 1950 lbs on roughly a square inch, in an oversimplified example a 1000 Kg hammer hits a square inch of your chest at a speed of 671 metres per second, good luck getting past that feeling! The Kevlar might slow it down but the impact will be enough to turn ribs to shrapnel and cleave its way through your chest, if the bullet gets through, it will still be mostly slim and nail shaped, leaving the recipient with plenty of optionally fatal damage. A Kevlar vest (if the person has one) might stop a pistol 9mm, even a .357, but with a .308 or .338 rifle, nope, that person becomes a write off. This is how a soldier thinks, it is them/him or me/us, we do not want to die for our country we merely make the other one die for their country/cause.

The police is a different slice of cake. They are trying to protect people from harm of self and/or protect them from harm by others. The police are there as protection for civilians, innocent or not. They have a duty to arrest and Karl is right in backing the police. The News from News.com.au is giving us “They do it sometimes with the public hating them. But they’re the first you call when you need them and they were the first to respond. I salute them this morning“, he is correct! The news also gives us: “The call comes in response to a deadly attack in Melbourne’s Bourke Street on Friday by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali — a Muslim refugee from Somalia. Ali crashed his car full of gas cylinders before stabbing three people, killing prominent Italian restaurateur Sisto Malaspina“, and at this point, the question from me is ‘At what stage was the police to assume that this was a terrorist?‘ You see ‘his car full of gas cylinders‘ was after the fact, yet when did the police know exactly what was going on? The police had a direct need to incapacitate to a degree, not to kill. It is that plain and simple! Their job is to evangelise and support the law, not enforce it through violence, even as that will be essential at that point. So the call ‘Shoot him, shoot him’ might come from outsiders, yet to shoot is not an easy task for them. Let’s not forget that the public has been willing to lynch a policeman using his firearm in the past, so the police is utterly willing to leave shooting as a final resort (and so for the most they should), or until there is a clear and present danger to others and even then it will be shoot to incapacitate, which with a Glock is a little harder then you think.

When we see Nine News (at https://www.9news.com.au/2018/11/11/19/18/bourke-street-terror-attack-family-say-hassan-khalif-shire-ali-was-mentally-ill), we see: “The family of the man responsible for Friday’s attack on Bourke Street insist he was not a terrorist but a mentally ill man “crying for help”“. This is optionally true and it also gives rise to the police and the caution used. They might have noticed symptoms that clearly called for caution and refrain from lethal force. Let’s not forget that the entire Martin Place event was a clear case of mental illness, so there is a precedent in all this. It merely makes the entire event sadder on more than one level. It will undoubtedly give false feelings of guilt to the police officer who discharged the lethal shot, it will give feelings of guilt to all the police and carers on the sidelines, and they should not feel guilt in any way. This man, no matter how we slice it has taken three lives, it comes with consequences.

We might even overreact when we see: “Islamic State claimed the attack but today Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said there was no confirmed link to the terror group.” Yet the truth is that until people like ASIO give clear evidence that this was the case, we are merely getting an emotional push from a terrorist organisation seeking the limelight in any way they can, it will merely complicate matters in the short term and leave us with a bitter feeling in the long run. Yet we also see that Nine News is optionally wrong. As we see: “The terrorist has been named as 30-year-old Somali-born Hassan Khalif Shire Ali“, this is optionally wrong if any clear evidence of mental health is shown to be true. There is a call in the News.com.au article (at https://www.news.com.au/news/national/security-expert-says-were-feeding-the-beasts-of-terror-with-shoottokill-policy/news-story/59f2162b3427c2e2f5d0a3e6fe1babd1) with ‘Australia is “feeding the beasts” of terror and failing to prevent future attacks‘, in this Dr Allan Orr could be correct. there is no issue labeling the right person a lone wolf, or a terrorist, yet how was it done, what was planned and what was set in an emotional stage. It is order versus chaos. In addition is the man merely a terrorist because he is Muslim? Is he not merely a murderer at this point? These what I would call intentional misclassifications are also a larger problem, the media loves it to use the terrorist tag in all the wrong places and even as it is too soon to clearly determine this, we see that a police officer was used deadly force against an alleged murderer, alleged because intent needs to be shown in court, were these three people intended victims, or where they there and the man would be clearly guilty of manslaughter. In any case the police officer would be absolved of any guilt, especially if he/she had tried to resolve the issue in a non-lethal way.

There will be a political debate that is already raging on, yet the stage is larger than merely “I’ve been very open about the cancellation of visas, the numbers have ramped up, because there are some people who should not go on to become Australian citizens,” the setting of this might not be incorrect, yet when we know that ‘Permanent residency may be revoked at the discretion of the responsible Minister, for example in cases of criminal misconduct‘, if that is correct, then why would there be a political debate? It would be merely enforcing what is stated in policy, is it not?

It gets to be even more complicated when we see: “Ali was known to federal police and had his passport cancelled in 2015 amid fears the Somali-born man would travel to Syria“, the question becomes who was he going to support? Assad, Assad opposition, perhaps the direction does not matter, yet the direction does incline towards extremism, as such it cannot be ignored. It is an issue as we see that there are more sides to all this. The fact that no action was taken (apart from removing the passport) might have sufficed to some degree, his active interest to go to Syria was never explained (needed or not), if there would have been an assessment, even a mere interview and conversation on the consequence of doing that as a non-citizen might have optionally resolved the issue to some degree (highly speculative on my side). Even a limited monitoring on media and activities might have dampened the danger (or not). If these are all acts of a mental health issue, then the entire terrorist issue falls in the water and other activities might not have helped, but the knowledge of where this person was might have optionally aided the police in a few ways, and is that not important too? To give the members of the police every inch that they can use to resolve without being force to employ deadly force? It might not have been an option here, but the lack of indicators (as presently known) seems a little too staggering at present giving us the handle that not only was Karl Stefanovic correct, the officers subjected to this ordeal might be due a commendation or two (or three).

The last part is also the biggest issue. when we see both “Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he backs religious freedoms but has also called on Islamic leaders to call out the attack“, and “Those remarks that have in turn been labelled divisive by Muslim groups who say their community is not to blame for the actions of an individual and fear it could stoke Islamophobia“. It is the partial failure of Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his call, outside if the mental health scope was plain wrong. He can make that assessment after we know enough that mental health was not the stage here, and that part is still largely in question. You see, to require any religious group to lash out at mental health issues is the larger wrong and that is not seen here. Should I be wrong and the mental health part fails, then we have another issue, yet at present there has been no clear evidence to set that and whilst we accept: “Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said there was no confirmed link to the terror group“, yet this is very specific, was there any other data making any extremist link likely? I get the impression that this is not the case, giving us a much larger overreaction, just like the Martin Place incident of 2014.

From my point of view, we have become Muslim polarised to a much too large extent. Consider that every religion has its mental health cases. Consider (the Times, Oct 2017) ‘Mental patient murdered neighbour hours after hospital discharged him‘, also we have ‘How 18 psychiatric patients freed by one NHS Trust ALL went on to kill‘ (Daily Mail, Jan 2018), 19 people said to have killed someone, but not terrorists as they were allegedly not Muslim. Two filters of classification in a group of people that would have been a dangerous stage in any foundation, so we need to be extra careful who gets the ‘terrorist label’ as the impact is a lot larger and the negation that actual terrorists are could also endanger a lot more lives in the future.

The victims and perpetrators might merely be numbers, yet when the numbers are wrongly stacked, the people who are forced to act might wrongly do so making matters worse for everyone around and that needs to be clearly stated, as well as the fact that Karl Stefanovic made the right call in this case and that should be recognised on a national level as well.

 

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We are merely Tools

This is not a nice piece; this is not even a kind piece. It is a piece on reality, a reality that most people embrace. Yes, you, my readers and even more those who do not read this blog, they are all part on the setting of tools. In this case a tool named Jamal Khashoggi, a person who ended up being more useful after life then whilst he was still alive.

If we were to ask anyone on October 1st and before: ‘Do you know Jamal Khashoggi?‘ The response in 99.6% would have been a clear No! Even among the Washington Post readers, many will not have known him. Yet now, the numbers are reversed 0.4% will not know him, a number that is actually a lot lower lower than the world percentage of dyslexic people on the internet. So as a tool he has been useful.

Even now, when looking at the last few days of news we see:

  • Findings point to Jamal Khashoggi’s ‘body parts being melted’ in acid – News.com.au
  • Jamal Khashoggi killing: Turkish President claims ‘highest level of Saudi government’ behind murder – Nine.com.au
  • Who ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi? – Al Jazeera
  • One month after Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, these key questions remain unanswered – Washington Post
  • Khashoggi’s fiancée vows ‘there’ll be no cover up’ as claims emerge his body was ‘dissolved’ – SBS News
  • Khashoggi murder: Turkish leader blames Saudi state directly – BBC

And an overwhelming amount of articles are laced with ‘inside sources‘ and people like Yasin Aktay stating: “he believes it was dissolved in acid after being cut up“, yet these articles and the statements are absent of evidence, absent of clear documented and collected evidence giving rise to the quote made, merely people hiding behind ‘inside sources’ and ‘innuendo’, Nine News and others add a picture of the smiling Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whilst there is no evidence of any kind that he was involved. So again we see “A Turkish official said he believes after Khashoggi was killed while in the consulate to pick up marriage documents, his body was dissolved in acid or other chemicals“, whilst three weeks ago, the Turkish government claimed to have audio tapes with evidence that he was cut up into pieces. So which version is true and why is the Turkish government not giving out all the evidence to show that they have it? Because the Turkish government does not really care, does it?

We see: “Turkey’s close ties to Saudi Arabia“, yet no one gives light to the fact that Turkey is for the most merely a puppet for Iran (my personal view in all this), that part is left out of the equation, the fact that Iran is in a proxy war with Saudi Arabia could pop up and that diminishes the use of this tool called Jamal Khashoggi.

Even as Nine News does give us at the very end: “Netanyahu said at a news conference that Iran is a bigger threat than Saudi Arabia and those who want to punish the Middle East kingdom need to bear that in mind. “A way must be found to achieve both goals, because I think that the larger problem is Iran,” said the Israeli leader, who attended a meeting of the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania and the president of Serbia at a Black Sea resort.”“. I believe that the statement at the end is pro forma only. All the networks want to use the emotional barrage of Jamal Khashoggi as much as they can. Most of the articles are absent of critical questions that for now, for the most have never been answered. The failing here is actually larger when you consider that for the most the failing is even increasing. Yes, that is actually possible at present, even a month after the event.

It is now Monday morning and the news that we see next was already out but I decided to let it simmer.

The headline giving us: Gates Foundation ends $5 Million Pledge Partnership with Saudi Crown Prince’s Charity over Khashoggi Killing. So in all this, Bill Gates walks away from business, now that is his right and his purse would not even feel the impact of those 5 million, but in all is this a wise thing? I mean when we look at it, the man (Gates) optionally deserves the death penalty for what he made his users go through. The Daily Mail claim “Microsoft claims Windows 10 deletion bug is FIXED but won’t release it” should have long lasting repercussions should it not? One life versus the long-time torture of millions, how does that relate? Or perhaps the report from last week: ‘Another Windows 10 bug lets UWP apps have access to all your files‘. So as it comes down to standards Bill Gates really does not have the best track record does he?

No one denies that something went bad and there are government officials involved, but who, or whom? We have yet to be presented with any evidence. The known factor that Turkey is appeasing Iran is left out of the media for 99%, the issue that the Saudi Consul general left for Saudi Arabia and no one is asking questions there is also a factor. I am not proclaiming that this man is guilty of anything. Yet there were two versions; one of them the media informing us that he ‘fled’, the other one is the Turkish President, giving us in regards to Mohammed Al-Otaibi: “a phone call he had with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz a few days after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul. “The Consul is not efficient and I have told King Salman of this” and he is suddenly relieved from his position. The issue is that he media is not giving us anything, they are making it worse. The less than a dozen true journalistic sources are overwhelmingly repeating things like they are all copy/pasting Reuters and other vanilla sources.

The final straw in all this is actually his fiancée, who I will give a pass in all this. Yet the Independent gives us the headline ‘Khashoggi murder: Trump administration ‘devoid of moral foundation’, killed journalist’s fiance says‘ and the quote: “‘Some in Washington are hoping this matter will be forgotten with simple delaying tactics,’ Hatice Cengiz writes“. Both are optional truths, they are emotional ones and she might be the only person allowed to do that (apart from some co-workers at the Washington Post perhaps). There needs to be no moral foundation in America, the man is a Saudi Citizen. The second part in all this is that the optional crime was never done on American soil, or within American territory. This gives us that America is not even a factor here apart from the fact that Jamal Khashoggi worked for an American company. So do millions of others and I do not see that government speak out for them, or there neglected rights, do we? Why do we care about this journalist?

Several sources give us that 14,000 people died in armed conflict in Yemen, in addition over 50,000 died of disease and famine, where is your outrage against Iran and Hezbollah there? I agree that Saudi Arabia is part of it, yet that coalition was there on request of the duly elected government, the Houthi rebels have received ‘assistance’ from a terrorist organisation and a terrorist supporting nation and the lack of outrage here is disgusting!

And even as we see America taking charge, the news we saw hours ago (Source: GulfNews) when they gave us the quote: “Iran enters a challenging new phase in its economic activity and international relations, with the imposition of a series of tough sanctions on the regime for its failure to fully satisfy Washington and its allies over the intentions of its nuclear programme. But the sanctions too are being imposed on the Tehran regime that continues to flout international norms by arming, aiding and abetting the militias and armed groups from the Bab Al Mandab to the Mediterranean who further its sectarian and seditious agenda“. I cannot vouch for Gulf News merely because I do not know them that well, yet the absence is other news cycles to a much larger case makes it a worry. In addition, we saw the inclusion of Bab Al Mandab. The point becomes is this merely Yemen, or is there more to the story that involves an (extremely unconfirmed) setting of Moulhoule, Djibouti. And if that is so, one of the most prominent targets there is Oilibya, are they at risk? It is also a stage for moving both towards Eritrea and Somalia. Eritrea is less likely between the two, but a terrorist with options is never a good thing. We also see UAE tycoon Al-Habtoor stating that Hezbollah needs to be a prominent target. He voiced it as: ‘Hezbollah needs to be eliminated‘, which might be actually a little too diplomatic, but the story is clear there are two players in all this, who have been waving the Khashoggi flag, yet no one is really asking questions, questions that matter, are they?

There is more to this, there is a side that I have mentioned several times before, and here we see it clearly in ‘print’. The quote: “Frankly, I am worried! ‘America First’ is a slogan that inspires patriotism. Every nation has to put the interests of its people first. That is normal. However, actions taken by this administration under that slogan are alienating America’s friends. No country is an island by itself. We share one planet. We are all responsible for finding solutions to common threats. We need to be partners in the decision-making.” I am not against nationalism; it is a statement of pride (for the most). In France there is Marine Le Pen and there is no doubt, she cares about France and France alone, it is not a bad thing. The Trump administration is doing the same in the US, the problem is that in the EU, those commissionaires are mostly in it for themselves, and their cause. That is how I personally see it. Not some nationalistic pride, but the cohesion of continuing something that profits them and not the European civilians as a larger whole, that is one of the stages and it is an important one. You see the press in Europe has been going soft on Turkey, on Iran and on Hezbollah and that is impacting all other avenues. Yet they have slammed Saudi Arabia at every turn and a lot of it through innuendo and ‘unnamed sources’.

And in part Al-Habtoor is right, the problem is that Iran gets to continue to play their game through proxy and the payoff for Hezbollah is nice as it gets missiles to fire into Israel giving a rise of escalations is several places. Taking Hezbollah out of the equation makes sense on several levels. The world is a better place without Hezbollah and in addition as Iran cannot continue to act in proxy they must either enter a full-fledged war or back down and hope that Turkey will do their bidding. It is my personal believe that Turkey is not willing to get the limelight there either, not in that way.

The press is massively void of those elements that have been proven on several levels by a few sources, so tell me how weird is that?

Even now, in the last hour we see the Australian, the Business Times (41 minutes ago) and Haaretz (32 minutes ago), so in this Jamal Khashoggi is still a media bankable currency. Yet those sources have remained quiet on the Hezbollah activities in the last 24 hours, so you tell me on how Jamal Khashoggi has not been devaluated to a mere media tool, all having their own goal, yet I personally believe that the critical truth is not on their mind at this point, that story was old the day after he passed away.

And there are still people confused on why we stopped trusting the bulk of online news and the media as a larger whole. I believe that to a much larger degree we can no longer see the difference between fake news and the overwhelming amount media (and their) presentations that also print a newspaper.

 

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Tuesday Evening Quarterback

Well, good afternoon to today’s match, playing on infield, with a home advantage is Australia’s very own Honourable BS, leader of the Labor party. In the outfield is his ego.

Let the game begin! So, when you read the article ‘Labor promises to keep medication cheaper at cost of $3.6bn over 10 years’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/may/22/election-2016-labor-promises-medication-cheaper-cost-over-10-years), we see an emotionally charged article that is about…. Yes, what is it about?

The by-line reads: “Bill Shorten pledges to axe 2014 budget cut to pharmaceutical benefits scheme, which has been booked as saving $1.3bn but is blocked by the Senate“, so we seem to get all huffy and puffy regarding pharmaceutical schemes and we seem to be all about stopping big Business, but the Senate will not hear about it. Yet, is that actually true?

You see, the quote “Patients will pay less for taxpayer-subsidised medication if federal Labor wins the election, but the move will cost $3.6bn over a decade” gives us some of the goods, it boils down to the next government spending another 3.6 billion. You see the Government is in debt, in debt for almost 750 billion and that move will add to that debt. We got into that debt as Labor decided to all these nice and seemingly mighty things and then left a massive invoice with the liberals. Perhaps we should take a look at the spin doctoring Bill Shorten did in February 2014 (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-10/shorten-says-car-manufacturing-shutdown-was-not-inevitable/5250834). Or consider in equal measure the fact that we see Julia Gillard smiling in a car in the Adelaide plant, whilst the people read on how GM Holden received well over 2 billion in subsidies. The response by GM Holden executive Matt Hobbs is “the subsidies underwrite tens of billions of dollars in local investment“, this sounds interesting as the timeline is off. The Hobbs statement came in April 2013 (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-02/holden-reveals-billions-in-subsidies/4604558), now consider the January 2015 news (at http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/holden-shutdown-general-motors-international-boss-stefan-jacoby-says-australia-is-better-without-car-manufacturing/news-story/af4de2d0090baa6c2a0ce24aa0e28729), 20 months later. So how was 2 billion pushed back into Australia? It gets even worse when we consider Toyota. You see, the Honourable BS is forgetting the timeline. Billions in subsidies under labor and miraculously 3 weeks after the elections the parties pull out. I remember watching Bill Shorten, boasting and stating whilst there was a really silent Kim Carr in the background. If we were to investigate the total amount of subsidies here and how much came back, will that equation be a positive one for the Australian people? Me thinks not!

This now equates to the current game being played. You see, even though the guilt of all issues should be shared (between Liberals and Labor, as both parties were around with them subsidies), the issue is that whilst Labor was in ‘attendance’ of government, they did nothing, absolutely nothing to secure cheaper medication. The first step was to stop the TPP, that paper (a document to some, a farce to others) is giving too much power to pharmaceuticals and is a first stopper for the evolution and continuation of generic medication. That part is not in view. At least that small island South East of here (New Zealand) had several people pushing back asking the hard questions. In that regard team Gillard-Rudd did too little and they did not think beyond their governing time here in parliament. If Bill Shorten really wanted cheaper medication the TPP would not be here and we would be trying to hold serious talks with India and UK to unite in a healthcare solution with the aim to provide for affordable medication.

That has not been the case and Bill Shorten knows this, making the article even more of a farce than it already was. This all aligns when we see the article (at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/may/19/labor-to-end-freeze-on-medicare-rebates-with-122bn-funding-pledge) and we consider the quote “It is Labor’s biggest announcement of the election so far, and will cost $2.4bn over the next four years, and $12.2bn over the decade“, you see, I am siding with the medical side as much as possible. I believe that doctors, especially junior doctors have a raw deal, but making promises with funds you do not have is why we got into the mess we are in in the first place. It is essential for voters to realise that Labor does not have these funds and when it blows back we will be in even deeper waters. So as we realise that the Shorten-sighted approach to governing is giving away 6 billion (over 10 years) on these two elements alone, the clear dangers are that labor is soon to make the Australian people the bitch of the banks, as they want the interest owed. This is why Labor is too dangerous to be allowed to govern.

You see, when we look at the budgets and balances, Labor has no solution at all, they will blow the total debt, possibly even surpassing a trillion dollars. Now to get back to the other side in all this and that is seen when we look at the Medical Journal of Australia (at https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2015/202/6/costs-australian-taxpayers-pharmaceutical-monopolies-and-proposals-extend-them), an article from 2015. ‘Costs to Australian taxpayers of pharmaceutical monopolies and proposals to extend them in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement‘,

The following summary points matter:

– Intellectual property (IP) protections proposed by the United States for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) have sparked widespread alarm about the potential negative impact on access to affordable medicines.
– Three of the greatest concerns for Australia in the recent draft include provisions that would further entrench secondary patenting and evergreening.
– Pharmaceutical monopoly protections already cost Australian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year (2013).
– Provisions still being considered for the TPPA would further entrench and extend costly monopolies, with serious implications for the budget bottom line and the sustainability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

So not only were these elements known for some time, previous labor did almost nothing to stop this from becoming a reality (the liberals are in this, as I see it, equally guilty).

So Bill Shorten is even worse than a Monday morning quarterback. After the match is done, after the results are in, he is trying to talk you into a new match, leaving you with more debt and an even smaller piece of life to work with, all whilst being pushed into servitude to those holding the Australian debt markers.

The part that I do not get is that Bill should know better, when we get another politician hiding behind forecasters stating that next year will be better, then those politicians need to be held criminally liable if that upturn does not happen. It is time for politicians to be held accountable to the massive overspending as I see it. I reckon it is the only option left to prevent us to leave the next three generations with debts that we were unable to pay off, especially when they hide behind healthcare claims that were never realistic to begin with.

That’s just my view on the situation!

Before you decide to vote labor, ask your MP how Labor expects to pay for the total of 12 billion in changes over the next 10 years, which makes it 1.2 billion a year. Consider that total taxation collected in 2015 was $445B, you think that this would be enough, but now also consider that the total debt is 168% of the collected taxation, other services will still need to be paid, so if the debt goes down by $20B (which would be an amazing achievement), it will still take a little over 20 years to pay for our debt. Now consider, should labor be squandering this level of tax money, knowing that it will only make our lives harder down the track?

I am merely asking, because in my humble opinion, when a clear answer is not given, when the answer becomes, ‘It is really complex, even for me, but we have a solution ready!‘; at that time, do not walk away from that politician, you should run away! By the way, as a Liberal, running away from the coalition when they cannot answer these questions is equally essential. We need to focus on making Australia great. Also realise that neither side have successfully made any strong improvements regarding taxation loopholes. So, it might be very valid to read that ‘Politicians ‘double-dipping’ on property claims aren’t breaking rules – Cormann‘, yet in that regard, when tax loopholes are not set and at the same time, these politicians are spending money on ‘solutions’ that will not work and in even greater measure will land Australia in deeper debt down the line, those politicians are the ones you need to take distance from and fast, so as I personally see this, Bill Shorten should have known better!

 

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The real issue here!

Last night, just as I was about to break my own record in snoring, a message appeared on my screen. As I tend to be more curious then is good for me, I took a look. It was the article at http://advanced-television.com/2014/06/16/australian-media-chief-lambasts-google-over-movie-piracy/.

So this morning, as the dream of being with a ginger haired girl with a passion for playing Diablo 3 fades away, I decided to have a go at this article (we must keep a priority for interesting dreams first).

The title itself is interesting ‘Australian media chief lambasts Google over movie piracy‘, being honest here, using the word ‘criticising‘ instead of ‘lambasts‘ would have made the article every bit as ‘strong’ but would have implied less posturing, because that is what seems to be happening here.

The quote “Our Attorney-General George Brandis is attempting to reform our copyright law. Meanwhile Google, one of the multi-national companies attempting to avoid paying tax here, is lobbying in Canberra to stop this, by putting forward the following six fundamentally misconceived arguments” is also interesting, for reasons I will return to later.

The six points are given and the points made are to some regards highly hilarious. In point one we see: ‘piracy legislation would have little effect‘ and ‘they would no more illegally download than go into a department store and steal a book or a DVD‘. Is it really? Then why is Game of thrones the most pirated series in internet history? People can buy the series on DVD and Blu-Ray. Google’s point seems to be made by the comment ‘It may be the most pirated show, but it can break sales records too!‘ which was in a Yahoo article. Forbes gives us another part of this equation (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/04/15/game-of-thrones-sets-piracy-world-record-but-does-hbo-care/). The episode in question was downloaded 1.5 million times (a number that will be important soon). What we can say for certain is that according to figures almost 200,000 copies of series three were sold in week one, breaking records for well over a decade in place. So, almost 20% end up buying the discs (implying 80% will not).

I think that the Google argument has been seriously debunked at this point.

The second point is about legislation being for big business. Not only is this incorrect as the response showed, more important, legislation would oppose big business as will be shown soon enough and it would also hurt Google. This is closely followed with statement three where we see a reference to impeding ‘new’ business models. Actually it is impeding a very old model, but I will get to that. The response using the quote from Steve Jobs ’from the earliest days at Apple, I realised that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software we’d be out of business‘ is indeed true, yet, the one part no one answers (only implies) is in regards to the application of the Intellectual Property.

The fourth issue is a strong one and as I see it both are dancing around the issue here. It is not as Google suggested ‘an availability and pricing problem’, but the reference towards the music industry is also not correct as I see it. For a long time it had been about ‘availability and pricing‘ as Google correctly stated, but more important it had been for a long time around overheads. The gaming industry in Australia is proof of that. In Australia we pay on average 60%-100% more than in the US and in return we also get a lot less for it. How often do we see games that truly offer exclusive options that are NOT available in the US? That list is a very long one for most of the NON-US nations and it used to be the same for music in non-US nations. So it was often not about pricing, but about a lack of global fairness in pricing.

Issue 5 is made by both sides; it is so moreover for the reasons we will see soon enough. It is not because of the hypocritical ‘US view’ that opposes certain issues and views we see too often and not because of, and I quote ‘advertising models that almost totally promote pornography, gambling and scams‘. It is however because these markets represent billions in dollars of revenue, and many of these places will pay their taxes as (and if) applicable. One does not bite the hand that feeds the IRS ever!

The last one is the bomb as they say it. The mention of ‘Google says the proposed three strikes policy is too Draconian‘. Is that really so? We should all take a look at the Google approach of people getting banned on AdSense. I can tell you now, there was no strike two (or three for that matter), the quote I read “I’m really disappointed on Google support on this matter, there are no email addresses or real people to talk to” shows an approach even more Draconian then their view of Draconian as one might say. There could be valid reasons on some banning, but the issues I saw were not in that direction and in this instance Google is preaching a ‘pot calling the kettle black approach’.

So six issues of fun and frolic, but where is this going to?

In my view both are dancing around the options. It is my view that Attorney-General George Brandis had put his hand in a Hornet’s nest to say the least and now he is dancing with other people in some version of musical chairs. The powers behind all this do not want the change that some legally want. It is my view that Graham Burke, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of Australian media group Village Roadshow does know what is actually going on, but he is not willing to say it out loud, even though he is representing those artists and people behind the entertainment industry. I had raised similar issues before. I did so on January 3rd 2014 in my article ‘FACT on piracy?‘ In my view going after certain groups was just plain stupid, for obvious reasons, yet there is another side to all this. You see, the Attorney-General realised that the consequences if pursued would be dire indeed. Even though Mr Burke does not want to hear this argument (for obvious reasons), but the people in charge do not care that The Castle, Red Dog and Muriel’s Wedding were downloaded 50,000 or even 100,000 times. Even if 10% would buy it (that is a strong if here), it amounts to $50K or even at the most $250K, which would be a decent part for the artists as they are entitled to part of this. You see, the Hornet’s nest is the consequence for companies like Telstra, Vodafone, iiNet and Optus. It is that part no one wants to touch. Australia has roughly a little over 80% online. If we use the numbers of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, then we are looking at a little over 12 million connections. Should we accept the statements at http://www.news.com.au/technology/third-of-australians-admits-they-download-movies-illegally/story-e6frfro0-1225786870239, which now seem to imply that 4 million people download movies illegally. If this is stopped then these 4 million people would decrease their broadband plan, by $40 and up to $80 a month. This is the real number! These Telco’s would now collectively miss out on $160,000,000 to $320,000,000 EVERY MONTH! If managers at some of these telco’s are rated on their value, how long until they are out on the street when they end up having to tell their stakeholders the following: “the good news: movie piracy is no more, the bad news: you miss out on a quarter of a billion in revenue every month from now on!
It should be quite the show and I will sell tickets and popcorn when it happens.

This is at the centre of it all. From my point of view Mr Burke knows it, Mr Brandis knows it and Google, who has every profit with large broadband usage, knows it too. I think it is time for this sanctimonious posturing to stop. The internet is bandwidth and the more we need, the more we get charged. It is the cost of doing business and morality falters where profit takes a centre seat. Google has a vested interest in all this. If we look at http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/12/12/googles-youtube-ad-revenues-may-hit-5-6-billion-in-2013/, we see that Google is set at the centre of a large web of connections. If Google’s value is partially dependent on bandwidth usage (as it has been implied often enough), then laws that could cut down massively on usage are definitely not in Google’s best interest. Australia, is less likely any more than a blip on the global radar (which makes the current efforts shown by Google interesting as well). Yet, if Australian laws are successful, it could start a change in other common law nations and that would scare Google a lot.

So, we see the players, but in my view, the real issues are for now hidden from view by all players, because the loss for the collected companies in Australia is too large to contemplate and they do tell certain people what is not acceptable, those getting told tend to listen to the few that can destroy their future.

 

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