Tag Archives: Skripal

Consideration for dinner

It is Monday, Monday morning and I am in a stage of contemplation. There are all these events going on and for the most they are hollow, empty and merely the setting for the next stage for whatever the staging area needs to be. It is at this point that the Guardian gives us: ‘Two images that show we need to be sensitive about our photos‘, or perhaps the article started the contemplation I am in, it works either way!

The article was actually a quite excellent read, so well done Paul Chadwick!

Where’s Wally (Khlalid Masood)?

The article discusses Khalid Masood, who killed 5 people in March 2017 at Westminster. Now we get the goods. We are offered: “Over several days of covering the hearing, Guardian editors had access to a limited range of images of Masood. For one report they used a photo of him taken in the Great Mosque of Mecca, Islam’s holiest site“. We are then treated to: “From an editorial standards perspective, there was nothing wrong with the image. Legitimately obtained, it depicted a smiling Masood dressed in the traditional white, and behind him the Kaaba, the great cube, around which pilgrims walk seven times. Conscious that the Muslim community can suffer discrimination when terrorist acts are committed in the name of a political ideology that feigns religiosity“.

My thought becomes: “How many criminals and murderers were photographed in a church, or cathedral?” That does not seem to happen either does it? Of course in that specific example Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals were taken away from consideration in this case. I searched Google and a few other sources and I could not find an example. So when I see: “as a gesture of goodwill the editors replaced the photo for another image, a police mugshot. Muslims who had raised the issue were appreciative“, I do accept that the Muslims are appreciative of the gesture, yet the question remains how many criminals were photographed and observed in church? It also gives me the question on how they were able to identify Khalid Masood in that picture to begin with. I understand that the photograph exists; I reckon that the hearts of Muslims will flutter at the sight of being able to see the Grand Mosque of Mecca on the inside to begin with. I myself am struck with wonder, amazed to see this image. Not for the religious reason, but the fact that the original parts were build 1380 years ago is important. You see, it would take centuries until the Netherlands had decent housing (places not made from wood, or a mixture of shit and clay). The oldest house in the Netherlands is almost 500 years younger than this mosque and only parts of a wall in that Dutch building are that old, the rest of the house would not be build (or restored) until 230 years later. When we consider that, seeing the grand Mosque of Mecca should have an impact on anyone, Muslim or not. So as we realise that the building is not merely a beautiful building, it is a millennia old marvel for all the religious reasons, we understand that anyone would want to be photographed in that place and be recognised, but as you take a look at the inserted photograph (click on it to see the full version), finding that person, considering the resolution of the film remains a slight miracle at best. So what would have been the value of showing thousands of Muslims in that one place whilst we cannot tell with any certainty who exactly Khalid Masood is there. Yet, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/14/sensitive-images-upsetting-photos-essential-truthful-account), is still important. We see that with: “Coverage can justifiably include images of perpetrators but should take care not to glorify them. Had the photo related directly to evidence given in the inquest it might have been necessary to retain it“. I personally do not completely agree. If we accept that a picture is 1,000 words, which photograph ads a 1,000 words or more to the story? Is it the one in Mecca, or the photograph of the scene (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/12/westminster-bridge-attack-khalid-masood-lawfully-killed-inquest-concludes). I like it that Paul Chadwick makes us consider the use of a photograph and when not to do it. It gets us to the linking of another event. You might have heard of a disagreement between the elected government of Yemen and Houthi’s which has since spilled over into a much larger disagreement. the amount of times where the western world trivialised the attacks on Saudi Arabia whilst Iran backed Houthi’s were firing missiles into Saudi Arabia has been too large to ignore, In addition the Washington Post gave us a mere two days ago (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/foiled-paris-bomb-plot-raises-fears-that-iran-is-planning-attacks-in-europe/2018/10/11/2ccf8d0a-c8b9-11e8-b1ed-1d2d65b86d0c_story.html). Here we see ‘Foiled Paris bomb plot raises fears that Iran is planning attacks in Europe‘. In this article, the use of the image of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) supporters makes perfect sense. In light of “The diplomat, based at Iran’s embassy in Vienna, had been under surveillance for some time and was suspected of involvement in a plot to bomb a rally of Iranian dissidents in Paris. Despite his diplomatic status, he was arrested and extradited to Belgium, where two others, suspected of planning to carry out the attack in France, were detained”, yet would the image of the ‘Iranian diplomat’ not have made more sense? The fact that he is not mentioned anywhere by name is also a consideration in all this. The fact that this indirectly links to the proxy war that Iran is having with Saudi Arabia is linked in all this. So when we consider these elements. So as we get back to the Diplomat named Assadollah Assadi, we need to some degree also look at Jamal Khashoggi. You see, you cannot turn a page in any paper and Jamal Khashoggi shows up. Probably best known as a contributor to the Washington Post, we wonder why he ended up MAAC (Missing as a contributor). ABC gives us: “But his troubles began later, when he was fired from his post as an editor at the Al-Watan newspaper just two months after he took the job in 2003. The country’s ultra-conservative clerics had pushed back against his criticism of the powerful religious police and a medieval cleric viewed as the spiritual forefather of Wahhabism, the conservative interpretation of Islam that is the founding tenant of the kingdom“, and the question becomes not merely did he vanish because he was a critic of ruling Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. I reckon that the Crown Prince has been surrounded with people disagreeing with him, as such Khashoggi might not have been a blip on his radar. Yet, when we see the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/10/06/read-jamal-khashoggis-columns-for-the-washington-post) we see a different story, one that opposes mine and I am fine with that. Yet consider that the people in charge in Riyadh are actually decently intelligent (compared to me) and the entire event in the embassy does not make sense. Lt. Gen. Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan is not stupid, he is a general and he has been around the war time sandbox long enough, to just let a person vanish in an embassy, whilst there are dozens of cameras pointed at it is not seemingly the brightest act. This leaves me with the setting that there is either orchestration, or someone not as bright listened to the wrong person and acted individually. The quote in the Post, which was “Dozens of Saudi intellectuals, clerics, journalists, and social media stars have been arrested in the past 2 months — the majority of whom, at worst, are mildly critical of the government. Meanwhile, many members of the Council of Senior Scholars (“Ulema”) have extremist ideas“. So here we have a setting that certain people are seemingly opposing the forward drive that HRH Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud is trying to move towards. The post mentions both Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan and Sheikh Saleh Al-Lohaidan and also we see “protected by royal decree from counter argument or criticism“. Yet when I search for these two men, I find close to nothing at all in the present media. Now, that is not an essential part, but in light of the Washington Post articles, I wondered what would drive an implied assassination this short sighted. Whether you agree or not, targeted killing is both an art and a skill and in the digital age, the skill outguns the art by a lot. There are additional parts that do not make sense, yet when you look at the larger picture, there is (highly speculative by me mind you) an active stage of attacking Saudi Arabia any way possible. the overly leftish liberal side to break up US sales to Saudi Arabia, the UK is on a partial similar setting, yet they trivialise any attack on Saudi Arabia (I did filter for the fake news from places like PressTV and a few other sources), yet the attacks are quite clear and even as I understand that the press at large (in more than one way) would want to be protective of fellow journalist Jamal Khashoggi and I get that, yet the absence of critical questions is also a larger issue. When you see this, does the openly defensive stance of Saudi Arabia not make sense?

So how does this get us from where we started?

There are two parts here. The first is the image of the Grand Mosque, whilst we know that Saudi Arabia is its protector, and the view from Paul Chadwick makes perfect sense. Yet, here too we should take caution on certain notions. Mind you, I am asking the question, I am not implying that there is more. that part is seen when we look deeper into the ‘Cricklewood mosque’ event of September 19th and when we search the international news bringers, the shiploads of newspapers that would strike out against Saudi Arabia and others in what I perceive to be non-hatred stories, yet they are certainly not pro Saudi Arabia, or pro Muslim, they did not show up in any google search when I look for the ‘Cricklewood mosque’ event, not at all. That too is important, whilst some are taking down the steam a notch, the opposition events are also ignored to a much larger degree. It leads us to the question, was the mosque image not added as it made for an overly clear anti-Muslim article?

The second part is the setting of events and more importantly how certain parties decided to illustrate them. Anything that is about Jamal Khashoggi carries his photograph and that makes perfect sense, no one debates that, yet when we seek Khalid Masood, we see no image of him in several Westminster attack articles, merely the stage and the victims. Now, here we see clearly that some will say that it might glorify him. There is equal voice not to give Islamic State any kind of visibility. I do not totally agree, but I understand the logic behind it. Yet the article I mentioned earlier, ‘Westminster attacker lawfully killed by minister’s bodyguard, jury finds‘ shows no mention of Islamic State at all, which is actually a little weird. all the other parts are there, the justification of the protective units, the victims, the stage as well as the attack on Sir Craig Mackey, which gets more light in another Guardian article with “The Express front page on Thursday read “Police hero who put his boss to shame”, comparing Mackey’s actions unfavourably with those of the armed protection officer who shot Masood dead, while an article on the Sun website was headlined “Mark of cowardice”“, the actions of Sir Craig make perfect sense and the Express, not the most intelligent player in the news world under the most optimal conditions was left in a clueless state aiming for (a speculated) increased circulation that day, whilst the actions of Sir Craig made tactical sense to say the least, cowardice was not a factor here as I see it. Mind you, getting fired at is unnerving under the best conditions, seeking out a hair storm of lead is just stupid to begin with and Sir Craig staying out of the way, especially as he had no useful gear makes sense. Yet the Independent gave us in March 2018: “A review by Mr Hill’s predecessor found that neither MI5 nor the police had any reason to anticipate the attack, concluding that Masood was “a long way from the top of anyone’s grid”“. From the little that I was able to access, all the elements make sense, the Guardian article leaving Islamic State mention out does not.

It is the illustration by the news that matters, because it causes a lack of illumination and more important we see the shifting balance of a seesaw in the direction of emotional acts, which has never been a good thing. There are questions regarding Jamal Khashoggi no one denies that, yet the stage we see ourselves in is expanding. We see this with: “The event is being hosted by the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman to promote his reform agenda. Several sponsors and media groups have decided to withdraw“, as well as “US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox might not attend an upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, but White House aide Larry Kudlow said Mr Mnuchin had not yet pulled out.” Now I understand that such a situation would not have been expected, or even anticipated. Not by me. Yet, do you think that this was not on the mind of Lt. Gen. Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan? when we see settings that are adding up to half a trillion dollars, do you think that a Saudi event like the one we see now regarding Jamal Khashoggi would not have been looked at from every angle? And in light on how highly regarded journalists are in Turkey, the overreaction by turkey is equally unsettling (or let’s just call it suspicious). In the entire setting towards the consulate, we see that the one event now taking shape is a direct win for Saudi’s indirect enemy (Turkey as a supporter of Iran), no one seems to look too deeply there either. It does not mean that Turkey was involved, or that Turkey did anything. The mere absence of looking is an issue and that would drive the defence from the side of Saudi Arabia high up, all this in an action on Saudi soil (the embassy) where there would have been absolutely no tactical advantage for the Saudi government by acting in a building everyone is watching 24:7.

The elements do not add up and the photograph of the Grand mosque brought it to light (read: the forefront of my mind). You see, in opposition to the Christians and their bible (they have over 40 different versions), we see that there is ONE Quran, Sunni and Shia they all have the same Quran, exact to the letter, yet their split happened as you can see in the New York Times (at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/04/world/middleeast/q-and-a-how-do-sunni-and-shia-islam-differ.html) through: “A schism emerged after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, and disputes arose over who should shepherd the new and rapidly growing faith. Some believed that a new leader should be chosen by consensus; others thought that only the prophet’s descendants should become caliph“, I am not wise enough to give any level of wisdom here.

I do feel I am wise enough to look into the matters we currently face. Until the press has a more balanced view of the matters in the Middle East, specifically the acts by Iran and the acts by Houthi’s in Yemen, we will see a prolonged level of distrust. Let’s not forget that the building of Neom in Saudi Arabia continues and that it is the utter need of American stability that requires cheap oil. In all this, merely going back to 2017 levels will drain the American economy to the levels if cannot sustain and its need to do business with Iran at that point will be the largest moral defeat the US has ever faced. In addition, the Saudi coffers are getting $73 per barrel against the optional setting that the prices return to $121 per barrel, as winter sets in the US (UK too) that impact will be felt by these populations to a much larger degree, so in all this an optional demand from Saudi Arabia to get the news more balanced is not the weirdest request. Yet the foundation of issues giving rise to the price of oil next month by a mere 2% is not out of the question, and that is not all. The overreaction by President Trump with: ““severe punishment” if Khashoggi, who has been critical of Bin Salman, has been killed“. Fair enough, yet in all this, he has been merely setting the stage where Russia comes for a visit and is the reason for cancelling orders, whilst Saudi pilots are suddenly optionally ‘retrenched’ to get better in using the Mikoyan MiG-35 (Fulcrum-F), and a few other alternatives. Shutting down options for American business seekers in Neom is not a good step to take either; no one can afford walking away from 1,000 billion dollars in projects in this day and age. In addition, for Saudi Arabia having a united technical air force corps with Egypt might not be the worst consideration either, and as ties with Egypt and Russia optionally strengthen in Saudi Arabia, the US will be finding itself on shallow ice with fewer options for their economy and even less possibilities over the next 10 years. All elements out in the open and it would be a strategy that Iran would love to see happen, whether it was to weaken Saudi Arabia or to kick the US where it really hurts, it would be an Iranian victory either way.

So when you consider these elements as well as the notion that for the most there is not a high regard for journalists in the first place (for a few years now), do any of the overreaching actions by certain players make any sense? It is there that we see the consideration for dinner.

Yet I could be wrong in all this. I openly admit that. I have had the longest issues with the entire Skripal setting, the Novichok debacle in Salisbury. Yet there is no denying the Reuters article that gave us ‘Russian website names third GRU officer involved in Salisbury poisoning‘ 4 days ago. With: “The Russian news website Fontanka named on Wednesday a third GRU military intelligence operative, Sergey Fedotov, as having been involved in trying to kill ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the English city of Salisbury“. You see, the facts did not add up, there was too much noise and too little reliability. I have no reason to doubt Reuters, yet I still have issues with this. I do acknowledge that they name a Russian site, yet I know next to nothing about the Fontanka online news agency. When I read (yet again) on this, and the fact that they all seem to know the staff directory of the GRU, as well as the setting of travel, there are things not adding up. Not the travel, that part can be verified in several ways. The fact that we now have a third player, one that apparently did not show up in all those CCTV stills, the fact that three people were involved in a failed attack does not speak highly of the abilities of the Russian GRU, is that not weird either? The fact that humidity decreases the potency of the Novichok, but the perfume was dumped in the trash, not merely ‘accidently’ dropped in a pond, where retrieval would have been unsuccessful and the lethality of the Novichok would have been close to nullified. So with Salisbury basically surrounded by the Avon, they did not consider dropping the ‘perfume’ in there? How badly are these ladies trained (me stating the need for a well-paid job and replacing Colonel general Igor Valentinovich Korobov), I mean, I could hardly do any worse, could I? Let’s face it, in Australia a general’s pay starts at $235,595 with 0 years of experience in that rank. I’d accept that as a starting wage (LOL), even if it turns out to be merely for a year.

Getting back to the Russian stage, Bellingcat gives us (at https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/09/26/skripal-suspect-boshirov-identified-gru-colonel-anatoliy-chepiga/) the goods which are hard to deny, but it is merely their word against others. Yet they also become the doubt in this. Even as we accept: “The suspect using the cover identity of “Ruslan Boshirov” is in fact Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated GRU officer bestowed with Russia’s highest state award, Hero of the Russian Federation. Following Bellingcat’s own identification, multiple sources familiar with the person and/or the investigation have confirmed the suspect’s identity“. When we add “Anatoliy Chepiga graduated the academy with honors in 2001. He was then assigned to serve in the 14th Spetsnaz Brigade in Russia’s farthest-eastern city of Khabarovsk, one of the elite Spetsnaz units under GRU command. Chepiga’s unit (74854, formerly 20662) played a key role in the second Chechen War, and was also observed near the Ukrainian border in late 2014“, we see an optional picture of a dedicated Russian officer, no one questions that, yet in that light, how come that he was involved in active failures of this degree and in the end a second event caused the death of an innocent bystander?

He could have used a knife, a mere piece of thin nylon rope, all methods that optionally makes finding evidence a near impossibility. Then we get the doubt again with “The research team was able to find Anatoliy Chepiga in two locations and time periods in the database: in 2003, in Khabarovsk; and in 2012 in Moscow“, you see, even by their own admission, heroes of the Russian Federation tend to be really well documented, so why do we see awards, failures and almost no documented admissions (even less photographs, beside the point that most photo’s never made it into newspapers)? It makes no sense and that brings us back to the Saudi Arabian setting. Even now as we are treated to so called audio evidence, evidence that was debunked by the BBC on more than one level, yet in all this Al Jazeera gives us: “Technology experts are sceptical that Jamal Khashoggi was able to sync recordings from his Apple watch to a phone in his fiancée’s possession from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The claim, as reported in Turkey’s pro-government media, is that Turkish officials have audio recordings from Khashoggi’s smart watch that prove the Saudi journalist was tortured and killed while inside the embassy. Saudi Arabia has called the allegations “baseless lies” and it is still unclear how Turkey would have obtained the audio evidence“, I personally believe that Al Jazeera is wrong here. The BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-45857777) debunks that story via Rory Cellan-Jones, the Technology correspondent. He does it point by point and does it with clarity, so in all this, why would the pro-Turkish government media blatantly lie about this? that and the other elements give doubt to all this and when we consider that it was optionally not a Saudi operation at all, we might be treated to a setting where the Turkish government is optionally involved in making the trade waters murky, optionally merely as a tool for Iran. What do you think is more likely and when we look at the photographs and the choices made, it is not merely contemplation for dinner, the entire setting of doing what is correct sheds a light on the media that is not as great as we hoped it would be.

Yet the BBC also gave us: “it seems far more likely that they have other means of detecting what foreign diplomats are up to and the Apple Watch story is just useful cover“, that we can agree on, both Iran and Turkey have every interest in keeping ears on every room in the Saudi Consulate and there we agree is the option that technical solutions are in abundance but without the proper vetting of sources, it remains speculation to some degree.

Still the actions in the consulate are a question mark, a person that is watched to this degree, acting in the consulate only seems to be the safer option, ‘seems’ being the operative word.

We need to take all these elements into consideration, whenever we ‘actively engage’ in settings of consideration, the larger picture matters, it matters a lot and even as I spoke out against the guilt of Russia as a state operator in Salisbury, the Bellingcat part is seemingly more persuasive in voicing that there is an issue, yet what I personally perceive to be the stupidity levels of the Skripal operation (for lack of a better description) is one that we should also consider in the Khashoggi events in Istanbul. So until the Turkish government gives public access to their audio files I remain in doubt. Clearly something happened, but what exactly and by whom are still elements that cannot be answered for now, and when we contemplate things that needs to be on the forefront of our minds.

When confirmed the implied image of Khalid Masood in the grand mosque of Mecca is merely the fact that he is Muslim, we already knew that, yet the Guardian also gave us the goods that he converted no earlier than 13 years before the attack, so after his prison sentence in 2000, so he was optionally a Christian for the longest time of his life, another part that few news media looked at to a better degree, the Guardian fortunately did. We are also given that around 12% of home grown terrorists were converts, considering that there are billions of Muslims, that number is interesting. It might not merely be about the conversion; it could be that those doing the conversion might have optionally left converts at the mercy of extreme imams, which is a debate for another day. It merely shows that there is a larger issue I all this and before we contemplate what is the right course of action, we need to realise that certain acts to stop intelligence gathering has been the shackles that prevent the intelligence community and the police to effectively act against lone wolves, moreover, there is less evidence that it can be stopped, for that you merely have to look at the picture of Masood in his football team when he was young, even as the one non-white individual he does not stand out, giving MI-5 a much larger headache then they needed in the first place.

Yes we need to be sensitive about photographs at times, yet when they also reveal that they basically reveal nothing, how would their use have value in the first place? Setting a stage, setting an emotional bias, or merely an illustration to make the article readable?

 

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IQ versus PI

I could not believe my eyes this morning. OK, I admit I had a weird night. It was suddenly too warm (for winter) and I ended up cleaning my kitchen at 03:00, that’s how I roll at times. So when I got my morning routine together which was delayed by 30 minutes, I ended up having to wake up to ‘Moscow using UK as dumping ground for poison, says Sajid Javid’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/05/sajid-javid-uk-to-consult-allies-over-novichok-response-russia-poisoning), whilst having my first (and second) coffee. Now as a conservative, I am worried. For the most, I do not consider politicians to be overly intelligent. Now that is not really a big deal, my IQ test was around 12 point lower than Alan Turing, so I don’t have the biscuit on Intelligence, I know that much. Yet as a former boss of the Deutsche Bank, I would have thought that Sajid Javid had a decent handle on things (like common sense). So when I get confronted with “using the UK as a “dumping ground” for poison and urged Russia to explain “exactly what has gone on””, I do wonder whether Sajid is smitten with IQ or with Plenty Ignorance (PI). So as the article is giving us things like “Sources close to the investigation dropped a hint that they may now know the identity of the would-be killers who targeted the Skripals”, that whilst the transmission method was never determined, for either case, the fact that the goods cannot be traced as the individual parts were never found, we are confronted with ‘dropped a hint’ that comes across as an almost desperate attempt to shake the tree and wonder if anyone will be running away. The additional part where we are all still confronted with what the fans of the Hammers might regard as a ‘load of bollocks’, so when you see “the novichok that harmed them may have been in a sealed container left following the attack”, we need to realise that the operative part in all the unknown parts is ‘may have been’.

Now, this is nothing against the metropolitan police or the counter terrorism units, as this is not ANYONE’S cup of tea and we can add the CIA to that list as they are learning the issues that the Salisbury detectives are confronted with and with Salisbury with an utter lack of CCTV’s, the detectives get to work with a lot less than their peers in Sussex and Brighton currently have access to.

Now, the article also gives us “The incident in Amesbury is being viewed by the authorities as an after-effect of the March attack rather than a major new development. This would suggest the police do not regard the agent as being from a fresh batch” and that is important as I mentioned towards that yesterday (it was speculative at the time), and the fact that it might have been thrown out (if that is true) then it was a dump, but I feel certain that it was not done as a state driven action. People in that setting do not leave evidence behind. In addition, we need more factual data before we can draw on any speculative conclusions, yet it seems that Sajid does not have them either. The ‘may have been’ and ‘dropped a hint’ give us that much.

I do get it, they are all about smothering optional panic, but being stupid about it does not tend to be a solution, it pretty much never is. So when we see: “Our strong working assumption is that they came into contact with the nerve agent in a different location to the sites that were part of the initial clean-up operation”, we see to a decent regard a factual part, yet most common sense brains would have gotten us there, in addition, there were only two affected in both initial cases, so the investigators do not have anything and the additional police officer hit, would have been most likely from a transfer from one of the initial victims, which makes sense. In addition to that, the fact that the second pair was hit so much later, knowing that all the Novichok versions are highly unstable. Now in all regards, we cannot give Sputnik news the sentiment of being unbiased yet they gave us in April parts that were already known. “the Novichok is a very unstable substance, which depends on [exposure to] water, on alkalis, on everything”, So when we consider the rain and humidity in the Salisbury region, how likely are some of the presented facts? They also gave a part that I did not know (having no degree in Biomedicine or Ways of Mass Discomfort). The quote: “Mirzayanov said that the toxin did not kill Skripals since the substance is vulnerable to humidity, and there was fog in the United Kingdom on March 4, the day of the poisoning attack on Skripals”. I surmised part due to its instability, yet the given ‘the substance is vulnerable to humidity, and there was fog in the United Kingdom on March 4, the day of the poisoning attack on Skripals’ gives us that humidity is a much stronger factor in negating the efficiency of the substance, making it a lot less terminal. Something a state ordered visiting person would have been made aware of. So as we are confronted with more and more media outbursts, we are watching a show where the cast is unflatteringly (and undeserving) caught with their pants around the ankles doing the penguin.

The final part that is questionable is the quote: “scientists had said novichok degraded in the natural environment over time, adding to the notion that the substance Sturgess and Rowley came into contact with was in a container.” Yet when we accept that all the Novichoks are unstable and that humidity impacts it in a larger degree implies that there was no ‘degradation’ not after such a long time, not to remain this potent. So if it was a sealed container, there might be some reflection on that, but that requires a lucid person to answers a lot of questions and the victims are still “critically ill and doctors at Salisbury district hospital are trying to stabilise them”, so there is that part gone. In addition, they either have the container, or they do not. It might make most sense, but in the end it seems that some people of authority are setting a stage of implied emotion through speculation and half truth, so whilst they are all members of the Ignoranus clan and basically blaming the Russian government on this (this one time they might actually be innocent, so go figure), we see ‘The eyes of the world are currently on Russia, not least because of the World Cup’. It is a dangerous setting, not because of the fact that it is done, but merely because the people are not looking and perhaps realising that there was something that they missed which might have actually helped the detectives working on this.

And in the end Sajid Javid made it worse with: “We will stand up to the actions that threaten our security and the security of our partners. It is unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison” the mere fact that there is close to no evidence linking the Russian government to this event because they basically invented the stuff, is almost like blaming Alfred Nobel for all the blown up buildings in Syria in the last 5 years when dynamite was used. The fact that the man has been dead for almost 122 years is the smallest of issues that the media will find a loophole for. Adding: ‘Sources close to the investigation’ or ‘may have been’ usually does that trick.

Yet no one denies that there is an issue, there is one that needs a resolution and we need to realise that one of several Novichok nerve agents are out in the open. There is even the consideration that someone with an utter lack of common sense is playing with one (or more) of them. The fact that there are no terminal cases might imply this, yet the wielder and the reason are unknown. We can also agree that in the Skripal case there might have been Russian government employee involvement, yet no evidence was ever brought to light. In the second case it is so much less likely, yet there we do not know how the nerve agent was set upon the couple, the timeline clearly indicates that she was the initial infected and the setting of a third unharmed person implies with a level of certainty that it happened outside of their premises and that is about all we have been exposed to. There might be more, but the police will not and optionally should not reveal that for the longer of times, which is fair enough, they have a hard task ahead and they can do without the Monday morning quarterbacks called bloggers (including me) and journalists (pretty much every paper on the planet). I do hope that they can solve and close the case, yet until that point comes, I do hope that Sajid Javid gets clue and gets it fast, because the PI he is showing is getting to be exponentially larger than his IQ ever was.

 

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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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