Tag Archives: the Guardian

They had been warned

Only hours ago, the NY Times gives us a part that wants to makes me want to go ‘I told you so!‘, but I will not. With ‘The U.N.’s Uncomfortable Truths About Iran‘, Nikki Haley gives us the goods from a report published a week ago (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/opinion/nikki-haley-united-nations-iran.html). The quote: “A panel of experts found that Iran is violating a United Nations weapons embargo — specifically, that missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran“, part of these issues I raised in ‘Disney’s Yemeni Cricket‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/04/disneys-yemeni-cricket/) two weeks ago. The part I had not looked at is seen in Nikki’s article. She captures it perfectly in: “The mullahs in Iran don’t want to hear this news, because it proves Iran is violating its international agreement. Die-hard defenders of the Iran nuclear deal don’t want to hear it because it proves, once again, that the Iranian regime can’t be trusted. And some members of the United Nations don’t want to hear it because it is further proof that Iran is defying Security Council resolutions, and the pressure will be on the U.N. to do something about it“. Yet, the UN is not acting, is it? The Guardian on Jan 11th gives rise to the ‘need’ that the US is not tearing up the Iranian nuclear deal. With “the three EU signatories to the deal insisted that Iran was respecting the agreement signed in 2015” they are making a reference to the UK, France and Germany. The fact that we see: “Federica Mogherini, said the deal, denounced by Trump as the worst ever made, had in reality “made the world safer and prevented a potential nuclear arms race in the region”“, which might hold some truth in regards to the fact that it was the worst deal, but that is pretty much it. In addition she gives us “any doubts the EU harboured over Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, or its overall policy of interference across the Middle East, were separate from the nuclear deal – also known as the JCPOA“. Now the part in the Guardian happened a week after the actual attack. I think that the entire event is a sham. I think that the three nations had been clearly briefed on the entire Houthi matter, as well as the fact that the three parts that Nikki Haley gives us is on par, the EU is merely in denial, because after all the wasteful blunders and failures they had signed up for, another failure is a lot more than any of the three could handle. The intelligence services did what they needed to do, but here it is again short-sighted side in all this, whilst they remain nationally protective, for now that is.

So is that true?

Well that is the issue. Apart from e not having the original texts, there are a few issues that Nikki is completely correct in, yet in the end she is not (not completely at least). When we look at United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, we see “The resolution updates and adds to the list of technical items related to nuclear and missile proliferation that are banned for transfer to and from Iran“, which makes the view of Nikki Haley correct, then there is “Iran is subject to a new regime for inspection of suspicious cargo to detect and stop Iran’s smuggling. States should inspect any vessel on their territory suspected of carrying prohibited cargo, including banned conventional arms or sensitive nuclear or missile items. States are also expected to cooperate in such inspections on the high seas“, so is this enough, can we state that the arming of Houthi’s in Yemen is a ‘smuggling operation’, or ‘a classified shipment’ in support of Houthi’s? You see, the classification is everything in this limelight.

The resolution holds a lot more, yet most of that is directed at shipments to Iran and/or nuclear materials. Yet now we get to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which makes the view of Nikki Haley wrong. Here we see: “Resolution 2231 calls for Iran to refrain from activity related to nuclear-capable missiles (“Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology“, however, the Deutsche Welle give us: “according to diplomats the language is not legally binding and cannot be enforced with punitive measures“, so basically, Nikki is in spirit very correct, yet in black letter law, there is no clarity and more important, no punitive option. In all this, we see that top EU diplomat, Federica Mogherini was correct.

In the spirit of it all, Iran seems to become a bigger player and a much larger danger to any level of Middle Eastern stability. Nikki ends the article with “Today, armed with this evidence, we have the chance to rein in Iran’s behavior and demand that it live up to its international agreements that discourage conflict. But if action is not taken, then someday soon, when innocent Saudi civilians are killed by Iranian weapons, the chance for peace will be lost.

I am not sure of that, you see, just like Turkey, Iran will do whatever it pleases and the US knows that, as did the three players (UK, France and Germany), who are desperately trying to hold on the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) like it is the golden fleece.

However, only 4 hours ago Reuters treats us to: “Britain, the United States and France want the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran for failing to stop its ballistic missiles from falling into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group and commit to take action over the sanctions violations, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters“, with “The U.N. Security Council has banned the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.” It can also blacklist individuals and entities for threatening the peace and stability of Yemen or hindering aid access” we see the other part the Nikki mentioned and here she is proven right. Even as Iran claims that it is fabricated, there is enough evidence, that the parts are indeed from Iranian missiles, which invalidates their side in all this. The most striking part is the part that both Nikki Haley and Reuters are giving us and that part seems to be ignored by too many. The mention of: “Some members of the United Nations don’t want to hear it because it is further proof that Iran is defying Security Council resolutions, and the pressure will be on the U.N. to do something about it” is a much larger issue. Is it because they are unwilling to act, or has the coin toppled in the many outstanding issues in play and the UN is now unable to do anything?

That part is more important, because that means that the UN has no longer options to set issues against rogue nations like Iran, it could be a renewed signal for North Korea to do whatever it pleases as well and that could give more worries regarding stability in Far East Asia as well.

The question becomes can the situation be diffused? Should Iran comply and seize all missile shipments, it will change the Houthi field. They will not win (they never could) but a larger consideration to remove Houthi forces and start larger humanitarian aid would become increasingly more realistic. The bad side is that the Houthi’s would go underground so the humanitarian aid groups would have to deal with sabotage and armed strikes on a daily basis if no green zone can be established. That part is also no longer a real issue as we got only a few days ago that civilian life in Aden is safe, stable and calm, with all signs of life returning to normal, almost three years after diplomats and UN staff fled Aden. Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammad Al Jabir also mentioned that recent demands made by a single social strait, which later led to clashes, have been calmed and resolved. We get this from the Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper (at https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1170916/saudi-ambassador-yemen-says-arab-coalition-proved-efficiency-resolving-aden), the issue now becomes, will Iran back off, or continue in its actions to remove stability from the Middle East, that alone gives support to Nikki Haley and her view regarding Iran, If she is proving correct and Iran remains on the path they are now, we should consider that soon enough, the JCPOA will not be worth the paper it was printed on, because if Iran can play games to this extent, there will be absolutely no guarantee that Iran will not break word and move on their path to enrich Uranium, I have no doubt in that regard, the issue has been diminished to a mere when they will start, there is no longer an ‘if’ in the matter.

In my view, these matters are only increasing stresses and pressures between Israel and Iran, they were never cordial, but now they are at an all-time high on the volatility aggressive response scale and that is mainly due to the Syrian issues in play. This now gives more and more rise to the dangers of escalations and the moment this happens all bets are off. The Guardian gives us: “Emboldened by a belief that Assad is winning, Iran is turning its eyes, and guns, on Israel – or so Israeli leaders believe. Their “red lines” – forbidding a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah – are being ignored”, Another source gave us much earlier (November 2016) that “the Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces announced to commanders of the Iranian fleet that Iran may establish naval bases in the future far from its shores”, which was Major general Mohammad Bagheri at that point, in that address both Syria and Yemen were raised as options. Now, if this is happens in Syria the IDF would reacts and Iran will plunge the Middle East in another war, if it is in Yemen, there is every indication that this will set off the legitimate Yemeni government as well as Saudi Arabia optionally starting a war with those players, giving again full support to the views Nikki Haley gave earlier, more important, at that point any UN representative avoiding that discussion better give up their seat quick and proper as the fallout of that discussion will impact the confidence levels of the UN on an almost global scale and it again would open the door for North Korea to do whatever it pleases. A scenario that roughly 98.4% of the UN nations who are currently part of the UN will not be too happy about either.

As I personally see it, too many issues have become interconnected, it has become a mess that several nations want to steer clear off, they want to ignore it and/or they remain in denial. It would make for an excellent front page though, when the moment comes and we get to read ‘UN in denial of Iranian actions’, how will you react?

 

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That pathetic sign

The guardian gives us the news with ‘Grieving Florida community pleads for end to gun carnage after mass shooting‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/15/florida-shooting-suspect-charged-questions-nikolas-cruz), actually the news is not new. They have been on top of it since it happened just like any decent news agency would. It was the image this morning, the image of a man holding a sign ‘NRA please stop killing our kids‘ that set me off. A sign so pathetic that I had to speak out! You see, the National Rifle Association does not kill children, people kill children! It is a simple and basic concept. If anything, I would optionally be a member of the NRA if I was in America. You see, I love rifles. The army trained me (and trained me well), I have been a member of the shooters association for a decade and if it had been a possibility, I would have been a hunter too.

Why was I not?

You see, I grew up in the Netherlands. I got some of the highest scores when I was an active shooter and the club I was a member of, were equally driven to excellence. On several events we could have forgone showing up and still end up with the annual cup. Now, I was by no means the best shooter, but our scores put all others merely in the shadow of our scores. We were all finely coached and aware of the fire arms law (which is a lot more constricting than the US, UK or Australian laws will ever be). A rifle is a tool, merely a tool and that is how it is to be used, whether we use a fire arm for target shooting, hunting or other needs, and as for the hunting part. I never really hunted like others; you see the Netherlands is not really a hunting country. It is the size of New Jersey with over 17 million people, so even if I went to the most remote part of the Netherlands and shoot a bullet in a random direction, there is still a chance that I would accidently hit a person. So those who are into hunting will go to France, Sweden or Germany. In this, I myself have a code, if you hunt, only hunt what you will eat! If that is not your goal then you become no more than a basic wannabe killer, and who needs those to be around? So if there would be hunting for me, I would do it in Sweden, because I do love my Bambi burgers, venison is the good life for me! So this is about me, which in light of all this is important.

So back to that pathetic sign!

I understand that parents and direct friends will be angry, they are driven by emotion. I get that, the man with the sign is merely seen by me as a man pointing a finger in the wrong direction, optionally intentionally doing so.

When you see some of the articles, you can see that this is a person with anger issues, with other issues and if he did not have a rifle, he would have acted out with pipe bombs or something similar. The ABC gives us: “Chad Williams, 18, a senior student at the school, said Mr Cruz would set off the fire alarm, day after day, and got expelled in the grade 8. More recently, Mr Williams saw Mr Cruz carrying several publications about guns when they ran into each other at the high school“. My issue here is that I had at times the Guns and Ammo a few times when I was a lot younger, does that make me a danger issue? OK, I don’t remember ever setting of the fire alarm, yet that shows us a person with perhaps some kind of an attention disorder, we can equally opt that he was some kind of pranker with a lack of imagination, or merely a person trying to skip classes regularly. None of this breathes school massacre initiator. So as we see the part from Senator Bill Nelson as briefed by the FBI: “He said the shooter wore a gas mask as he stalked into the school carrying a rifle, ammunition cartridges and smoke grenades, then pulled a fire alarm, prompting students and staff to pour from their classrooms into hallways“, now from the previous part to the part now (that is not being questioned by me), is still a part in the middle and that is the part that counts. Nobody and I state again nobody suddenly starts doing that, something set him off and it was not an in the moment thing. He was prepared, had smoke grenades, additional cartridges, additional ammunition and a gas mask. So he had made preparations, so there are two parts missing, and we can accept that they might be missing for now. So let’s keep on checking the sources.

CNN gives us a little more, especially the part from attorney Jim Lewis. He gives us: “The family took Cruz in last year after his adoptive mother died. Cruz was depressed, Lewis said. The family’s son knew Cruz, so they opened their home, got him into a GED class and helped him get a job at a Dollar Tree“, this is a reference to the family too him in after he lost his adaptive mother died. So he was receiving signals that people around him cared. It also leaves me with additional question on how he got the weapons and where from. It was not merely the depression, we also get: “Cruz had shown him guns, and other students say they worried he was violent“, where were these shown to them? It seems to me that this is a clear red flag, now the kids who it was shown too is not to blame, but that signal should have been passed on to others. The article (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/14/us/nikolas-cruz-florida-shooting-suspect) ends with: ““They care about this kid. They took him into the home,” the attorney said, “but, as the mother told me, if they had any inkling … that this kid was capable of something like this, they never would’ve brought him into their home.”“, a response that makes sense and as we realise that he was not the only kid in that family, there is even more cause for concern, because there are several clear indications that he was hiding it all from everyone, which gives (from my non-medical insights) cause for concern as he seemed to have deeper levels of paranoia.

Insider news (at http://www.thisisinsider.com/florida-shooter-nikolas-cruz-bought-ar-15-legally-2018-2), gives us a little more. When we read “Cruz bought the semi-automatic rifle about a year ago, and law enforcement agents said it was done legally“, yet the timeline is now an issue. The events happened around the time his adoptive mother died, even as we accept that every person is innocent until proven guilty, the data should have raised additional flags, the question is whether the police have these kinds of data or authority to get them. If we accept the red flags as were admitted to be the case earlier. CNN had given us “Cruz had a gun. The family knew that, but they had established rules. He had to keep it in a lockbox in his room. Cruz had the key to the lockbox“, which is fair enough. However, in the beginning it gives: “Before he allegedly committed one of the worst mass shootings in US history at a Parkland, Florida, high school on Wednesday, police officials say Cruz wrote social media posts so threatening he was twice reported to the FBI” the two show the picture, no matter how innocent, the second quote should have had someone look into the data, showing he had a rifle and it was purchased around the time his mother died. This data should have been readily available. The death of his mum as public record, the purchase of the rifle as they should be recorded together with the background check and the red flag could have given the FBI the signal to give that data to local police forces to investigate. It is actually that simple!

The fact that these end up being non actions is for others to look into, yet the one thing that was stupid is to merely blame the NRA. It would be like me slamming a basketball into someone’s face until they die and blaming the NBA for showing games on TV, as I see it pointless, ludicrous and utterly stupid.

Yet we are still left with the notion on the trigger. Even as he (allegedly) went on social media to become a “professional school shooter“, the act of seeking attention in violence and chaos was set off somehow, a rage, mistreated, some suggest jilted love, whilst the last one would make me sad, and some might get angry. I am not sure what set him off, but from that moment there would be the FBI notion that he started his preparations and the outburst in the school might be him seeking attention, the fact that he allowed himself to be captured alive could be indicative of that (but I is no shrink, so I is not knowing for certain).

It is actually Fox News (at http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/15/nikolas-cruz-school-shooter-comment-reported-to-fbi-months-ago-vlogger-says.html), that gives us some parts that were reflected in the previous articles, yet they fly with the parts focused on it. The title ‘Nikolas Cruz ‘school shooter’ comment reported to FBI months ago, vlogger says‘, gives weight to the view I had regarding the available data, yet they also give us: “After conducting database reviews, however, the FBI said it could not identify the user who made the comment a part that is new. If that is truly the case than it means that Nikolas Cruz had done above basic things to remain ‘less traceable‘, with “Ben Bennight said he reported a comment made by user Nikolas Cruz that stated “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”” and the fact that it was on YouTube and given to the FBI, the fact that this profile was made with his actual name does not make it easier, but it gives rise that a few more facts should have been available to the FBI as well as to Google, so there is a system flaw here. So, Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman did the right thing, reported it and the FBI was there the next day. In this my question becomes, why give that quote to a bail bondsman? It seems to be a cry for attention, but was it asked or shouted in the right direction?

The Fox News article shows that the FBI reacted and acted as far as they could, the question becomes why parts were missed. I am not claiming it was intentionally so, I am questioning how Nikolas Cruz, who seems to have been seeking attention, was not higher on the list to be found. If I had skip traced the Google account, how far would I have gotten? Was there a Google+ account? What else had he watched; and who else was connected to him? Could the FBI have asked Google the data on what interactions the ‘Nikolas Cruz‘ account could have made? So, when we get to ‘the right to privacy‘, we need to look back at the man holding the ridiculous sign blaming the NRA. He wanted his right to privacy and he got it, along with all the other Americans and that also got 17 people killed. Is it not interesting that this part is not shown anywhere on the media? It seems so much fun to point and blame, to go after the NRA, in this case making a case for ‘white supremacist referencing‘, but there too there was cooperation. Even as I am not approving of white supremacists, as they all tend to be racists in the first degree, yet I want to know more and a local news station gives us more on the Republic of Florida group (at https://www.local10.com/news/parkland-school-shooting/what-is-the-republic-of-florida-militia), they a start with the 10 codes that they need to obey. The part that got to me was seen in the second code. With ‘The group’s site states that members can consider people of other races allies, but they must not “sexually mix with them or pretend that we have no differences.”‘, I see something I had not expected, they seem to not be focussing on hate, but on finding themselves better than others, which is a foundation of white supremacy, but most non-Americans have only seen what some call white-power in league of hatred towards others. It ends with “ROF has members in north and south Florida and “borrows paramilitary concepts from the anti-government extremist militia movement.”“, so there is no interview, no captions or talks to other members. It seems to me that the foundation of the ROF is to grow as a political party. This would require more members, yet their setup is not openly hatred based, so over time we will see the name ROF pop up more often. The article also links to Florida Governor Rick Scott stating that ‘everything is on the table’, you see he cannot alienate the NRA, but something has to happen, and there is too much emotion on it all. In my view he needs to look at the data captures, the data available and the missing data in all this, more important as signs were given that the FBI knew long in advancement, there will be questions on how this was not stopped in time. Even as the Republican is getting ready to go up against Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, we need to be cautious of any politician at this stage, with upcoming midterms we need to be aware that events will be misrepresented to a much larger degree and any issue will be deflected under the guise of ‘miscommunication‘, yet that is just my personal view in all this.

And in all this there is still the given that there was nothing wrong with the people of Florida in all this, the fact that two teachers, Football coach Aaron Feis and Geography teacher Scott Beigel as they decided to act as human shields trying to protect the students. I find that important as there is more and more evidence that the school, the adoptive parents all show a level of care that is more outspoken than we usually see. So in my eyes the people surrounding Nikolas Cruz never failed Nikolas Cruz, Nikolas Cruz failed them all, no matter how his mindset was or how he got there. there is an abundance of shown care that gives voice to the fact that to some extent the system alone is left with a degree of blame, not the NRA, not the ROF, not the school or their teachers, in the end Nikolas Cruz could have been able to prevent it all by telling someone ‘I have a problem!‘, he alone as an ‘adult’ decided not to do that.

 

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Racing to last place

Even though it is less than 24 hours since my last story that involved the CPS, it is equally less than 6 hours since the Guardian gave us ‘Police outsource digital forensic work to unaccredited labs‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/feb/12/police-outsource-digital-forensic-work-to-unaccredited-labs). It is here that Hannah Devlin informs us of the issues that might plague the courts over the next 2 years. She decides to start strong with the subtitle ‘Market for data analysis called a ‘race to the bottom’, with trials failing because of evidence issues‘ and that is not all. Her article gets stronger paragraph by paragraph. I raised some of these issues yesterday, but that was in general before I even touched on the outsourcing issues. She removes all brakes with the quote: “Gillian Tully, the government’s forensic science regulator, said there is “no excuse” for police forces to continue to use unaccredited providers. “It’s clearly of concern when contracts are being placed with providers that are not compliant,” she said“. Hannah is right, there is a lot wrong at this particular moment in time. And with “The Met outsources digital forensics provision to a defence technology company, called Mass, which subcontracts casework to other private companies, some of which are unaccredited. City of London Police uses six external providers, three of which are not accredited” we see two additional issues. The first is that when a contractor decides to subcontract, they will only do that whilst there is still a profit, so the costing of this endeavour will, once highlighted make matters worse for the CPS. As it is crying on resources, we see outsourcing of outsourced materials. The second issue is that the chain of evidence is now all over the place, which could endanger the privacy of the accused, the victim and possible give additional cause for concern that the course of justice could be in theory end up being perverted in more than one way. This must be the ultimate wet dream for Rupert Murdoch, all that optional information without having to hack mobile phones. The call for an immediate public inquiry in this matter seems almost unavoidable. I think that even without a ‘digital forensic degree‘ the fact that I saw a failing within 5 minutes of reading certain matters in R v Allan is only juicing the frenzy for hard draconian actions in all this. Hannah is completely correct when she states: “In the past decade, digital forensics has evolved from a niche capability to a central element in the investigation of almost every serious crime. The electronic footprint left by suspects can help rapidly establish alibis, identify accomplices and expose spurious claims“, setting is fuelled further that it was not only on disclosure, the joint review gave me clear thought on the lack of actual investigation into the basic connections. That part took me LESS than 300 seconds; or alternatively less than 5 minutes for those less interested in precision. So when we see the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42417553) which gives us: “A computer disk containing 40,000 messages revealed the alleged victim had pestered him for ‘casual sex’“, we need to realise that checking text messages is done by using the most simple of computer find actions through <CTRL>-F and enter the place of transmission (phone number or identity) would have given the investigation the clue that something was amiss and that is something any IT technician or entry level helpdesk support representative could have done in under a minute, so when Hannah Devlin is implying that something is wrong she is not kidding, she is basically being slightly too diplomatic (a flaw I am fortunately not gifted with). This situation is almost like 30 people walking in on a man sledgehammering another person to death in full view of an audience of 30, and one of them states: “You might require legal representation“. Yup! That would be regarded as the quote of the year!

The article also shows an issue with the view of criminal barrister Andrew Keogh, who gives us: ““You’d be led to believe that there’s some magic in this accreditation and that if you’re not accredited you’re not good,” said Andrew Keogh, a criminal barrister based in Wigan and a visiting fellow at the University of Northumbria. “That’s not true at all.”“, actually, my learnered friend would be wrong in more than one way. You see that unaccredited office is simply ‘not good enough‘, because being ‘good enough’ is ascertained by the accreditation. Feel free to check with the Rt Hon the Baroness Tessa Blackstone on accreditation by the Bar Standards Board and ask whether there is any validity of hiring any legal counsel to represent you in a criminal matter who is not accredited by the Bar Standards Board.

So his view of ‘if you’re not accredited you’re not good’ might sound true, but it is not about being ‘good’, it is about being ‘good enough‘. The commercial sector has all kinds of accreditation, some are as one might think, a ‘load of bollocks‘, and some are essential for keeping afloat. It might merely be my personal view, but being accredited before being allowed anywhere near a life changing situation seems really important to me. Would you trust the first passer-by to use a non-automated defibrillator on you? I reckon that the situation that puts you in prison for life (or merely 8-15 years) requires to be handled by a person who has been checked for having the right qualifications and knowledge of how to deal with evidence. Call me old-fashioned that way, that just how I roll.

So basically I am in line with Norman Lamb who gives us: “The whole fragility of the market and what happens to samples that are suddenly in insolvency, we can’t mess around with this, it goes to the heart of people’s rights as citizens“, so the chair of the science and technology select committee (the person sitting on it) states that there is a flaw in the current tendering and it is leaving the sector vulnerable. I think that it in equal measure endangers the people accused and also the optional victims in all this. So when we consider that there is now evidence that Liam Allan (now 22) has been on bail for almost 2 years will have suing nature with the Metropolitan Police. Can we blame him? In addition, as we might feel for the woman connected to this, the stigma will haunt both. The messages shows him to be allegedly innocent (I am stating alleged, because I never saw the actual messages) and on the other hand we have a case on non-repudiation, because is there evidence that she actually send those messages? That part I can understand as I have had a few messages (from an unmentioned non linked source) where I was offered to ‘fuck her‘ whilst I know she had never had any interest in me in that way (or any other way for that matter). It took less than 5 seconds to realise that someone used her mobile trying to be ‘funny’. The entire forensic screw up gives, again, a wrong light to parties and it could have been prevented, a 2 year mess that could have been largely diffused in less than 2 hours. It now gives both the stigma that could have been avoided as well, and as we read that this work is done by unaccredited companies and people makes it an infuriating one because there are hundreds of people who are hoping to get justice through their day in court and they will be waiting for an additional longer time to get there.

And that is not all, the CPS mad it even worse with the statement: “it was decided that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction“, which in some measure implies that he was the man ‘who got away with it‘ and that is optionally a separate level of failure. That too came from the BBC in December 2017. So, even as we were given the ‘casual sex requests’ part on one side that does not prove that the woman in question was giving consent when they met. Because digital forensics failed, the stigma will remain and in addition they are empowering events where victims grow less and less certain that they will receive justice or get the protection that these victims are entitled to. That is a failing beyond merely the forensic side and that makes the entire mess even a lot larger than merely the academic view of accreditation.

Yet beyond Andrew Keogh, there is another view. With “Others dispute whether the accreditation system, widely used to assess DNA and toxicology labs, is readily applicable to digital work” we need to realise that this is a bigger basket of worms. One field of science is not the other one and the digital science part has been and will remain in motion for years to come, which also gives more considerations to the digital forensics field. Even as we can agree that there are basic needs, the fact that mobile technologies alone are in transit and in an in-usage evolution spiral, which means that the technology is evolving whilst the technology is used, so there are more issues even below the surface. You have to merely look at the Android and IOS updates a user goes through on a weekly basis to see that there are constant changes. The dangers are that these changes have two sides, the parts we see and the parts we do not see. The second one includes data streams and as these streams optionally change (or have additional digital parameters), there are moments when data is wrong, or better stated wrongly set. To view this I will give you two quotes. The first was: “Google is adding a real-time location sharing function to Google Maps that can be very useful. It can also be restrictive and annoying or, in a worst-case scenario, potentially abusive and controlling“, the second one is: “When we bought our house in 2011, Google maps placed it 1.5 miles south of the actual location“. So important that these are two different quotes, not related to one another. But the essence is that the mobile could have optionally given information that a mail was send from ‘another’ location given the perpetrator a ‘false’ alibi. That error could be the vital part in a defence setting a perpetrator wrongfully free. So in that one instance we see that accreditation is essential and in the second part that there is a supporting side that the DNA and toxicology accreditation might not be (completely) correct for digital accreditation. Without knowing more it is hard to completely agree with the given dispute, but it is clear that here is a possible agreement on that side.

So you would rightfully be left with the question, how anyone in this entire chain of organisations decided to make the call to just outsource it all and how those not passing any quality testing would have been allowed near the evidence in the first place. The implied issues as we see the articles from the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent give a rise to concerns all over the field, not in the least with the victims related to this. You see in light of the transgressor and the victims, the person being the victim in the end is not a given and raises the issue even further. If I can add a reasonable doubt to these cases, how far could I get, without the accreditation to add reasonable doubt to any murder case that relies on digital evidence? In the R v Allan case, I merely needed two minutes and knowledge on how to use an ASCII editor, what happens when a murder case gives me the digital data and optional setting of time and location? The ‘opportunity’ to add reasonable doubt because a lot of this data has no non-repudiation will add to the mountain of reasonable doubt that would add to a long list of acquittals, that is before any barrister can raise the lack of accreditation of the people processing the digital evidence in the first case. And these are all matters that happen before someone wants a proper list of decisions regarding the rules of outsourcing whilst looking at the documentations from the Metropolitan Police, the CPS and the DPP. It is pure speculation on my side, but I reckon that the list of issues would grow even beyond the scope I can see at present. You see, part of this is seen in the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-derbyshire-42453405). Here we read: “Judges heard police asked the woman to retrieve Facebook messages that they had exchanged. Three pages of messages had been printed and the woman, who cannot be identified, told jurors she had deleted some to free up storage space“. I have an issue with that part, because of the setting. In the first how many messages were deleted? What space was freed? I find the entire matter very debatable, especially as something that I noticed almost immediately, that part took the CPS and parties 4.5 year to figure out? OK, it happened 4.5 year earlier which is not the same thing, but the issue stands. How many cases have been bungled like that and what happens when the courts start to overturn murder cases because there is an issue with the digital evidence? Even if the digital evidence was not key; the chance of additional cause and effects could potentially be seen when there are retrials and they could give issues to a lot more damage. Consider the partial quote “jurors at the trial had been given an “edited and misleading” picture“, in a murder case that will have far reaching consequences.

I feel certain that the end of these events have not been reached and I reckon it will take the CPS several months to realise the full impact of all of this, which would be another worry altogether, because all this could potentially lead to a case load that is a lot higher than ever before and the claimed damages that the government faces could add up to a lot more than most could ever imagine. The latter part is speculation, but in light of claims already underway, I am unlikely to be incorrect on that matter.

It is not without concern that I wonder what other matters Hannah Devlin can raise in subsequent articles on this matter, because I am certain that in the near future we will see more, not less of these ‘evidence failure’ events.

 

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A sickly gamer?

The Guardian had an interesting article on Monday. It took me a while to get there, because I am intricately familiar with the subject and the issues. The name of the game is gaming, and in the article titled “‘Dangerous gaming’: is the WHO right to class excessive video game play as a health disorder?” has the interesting question.

So as we read (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/feb/05/video-gaming-health-disorder-world-health-organisation-addiction), which holds: “included “gaming disorder” in its draft for the next edition of its diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which is due for final release this year“, we need to wonder. In the first what constitutes a disease, when is something actually a disorder and more important, is it the first step in getting this label added to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5, with an update which is supposed to come out at the end of the year. Even in the academic field there is doubt, which Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University voiced with: “I just feel like we don’t know enough yet and we feel we know a lot“. This is merely one voice. This part is important, as we see the following that matters: “the WHO was initially exploring excessive use of the internet, computers, smartphones and similar electronic devices, but determined that the biggest concern was gaming“, in addition we see: “The authors write: “These features clearly have their parallels with substance disorders and recognised behavioural addictions, such as gambling disorder“. They decided to make a dangerous step. As I personally see it, they are comparing apples with oranges, dumping the load into a basket named fruit and walk away. That view is not just supported, by others; Nena Weinstein gives us (paraphrased): “we found very small correlations, if at all, of symptomology with broader life wellbeing. So we actually didn’t find, for example, that symptoms correlated with health directly. It might be that something that we think of as addiction is actually just engagement and enthusiasm“.

That is the part that matters, gaming is about engagement and enthusiasm, now we can agree that some people go overboard. I for one have spent 5000 hours (not all at in one sitting mind you) in the Fallout universe and close to 3000 hours in the Elder Scrolls universe, I just love my RPG’s. The fact that this comprised a total of 5 games makes this the best value for money ever. I have played plenty of other games, and they were fun too. The fact is that the world is changing in several ways, a fact that the researchers are also ignoring. I also like the opposing view given by Prof Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University. With: “The bottom line is problematic gaming. Whether you call it ‘gaming disorder’, whether you call it ‘gaming addiction’, there is a small minority of people out there where gaming has completely taken over their lives“, he has a point there. I have more than once gone so deep and enthusiastic into Minecraft, so when I suddenly realised that I was really hungry and getting tired, I looked up to notice that it was 03:50 in the morning and I remember the sun being up when I started to play. This happens, and it rarely happens, but still it happens. The fact is that the body reminded me and I did not ignore it. I was less positive about his remark: “in extreme cases some people have played themselves to death, though such incidents are extremely rare“, this is a case I remember, some league of Legend player, high on energy drinks playing 23 hours in one stretch. When it happens once, or perhaps less than half a dozen times on a population of 8 billion, it is not a case, it is an extreme outlier. We could in the worst case state that the proprietor had a duty to set a maximum usage of lets state 12 hours per 24 hours. Was that point ever raised?

Weinstein goes on in the debate on why few get addicted. Well, because there are many types of players and there are in equal measure many types of games. We can argue that in my case one style could lead to addiction, but I have a life with other elements too and even as I might spend a large chunk of my weekend on my console, I have lived for the longest time requiring no more than 5 hours of sleep per day, these days are now alas over (hence less gaming), but choosing the fun of a game over wasting money on alcohol in a bar, wasting it on fake smiles in a casino seems that I have taken a healthier life style. The entirely other side is that I even had more time in the kitchen, making my life even better by making myself a nice steak with a salad, a pasta salad or even a nice Bambi-burger or sourdough. I would not go hungry. My only little squandering would be to ignore my Nespresso and go to the Coffee place up the hill (roughly 723.4 metres) and get myself a yummy cappuccino, extra-large of course, sometimes even splash out and have a big breakfast there on Sunday. A walk in the fresh air, sunshine optional and preferred, good food, caffeine for the veins and after that groceries on the way back and the rectangular entertainment from console or Blu-ray, a life of relaxed bliss!

The package could be seen as addictive, gaming is merely one element in all of that. So as people then go with the mention of ‘all that gaming‘, tell me to just watch some TV. So how does that work? Constant badgering from advertising whilst you get hammered by two screwed up reality settings from places like ‘My Kitchen Rules’, or even worse some ‘married at first sight’, so it’s not that the divorce ratings weren’t high enough, we now get some reality TV show where ‘experts’ know what we need, want or desire? How fucked up is the TV nowadays? It is the second part where I oppose her view. With; “at least some elements of modern video games are closer to gambling. The newly popular and increasingly controversial implementation of “loot boxes”, where players pay real money for unpredictable rewards, is increasingly drawing the attention of regulators“, she only has a partial point. As far as I can tell, this was introduced in gaming by the Mass Effect series (I apologise if I am incorrect). You see, that is an option, but the game gives clear warning that you can earn these boxes by playing. Yet some people cannot go that distance. So like Ubisoft who allowed you to unlock all elements of Assassins Creed multiplayer for less than $10, people had no interest to unlock the abilities, they want it all from the start, a level 1 steroid character. So yes, you can buy chests for real money, but the ones I saw have always allowed you to get those chests by playing the game, it merely takes a little longer to get them. The second element that she is not lingering on is what is in such a loot chest. The loot chest is very much like a CCG (Customisable Card Game), each package will cost you around $5 and the 10 cards will give you 1 rage (or legendary), 2-3 uncommon and the rest are common items. So basically after the first 10 packages you only buy them to get the remaining uncommon, rare or even the legendary cards. Loot boxes work in the same way. That origin actually comes from a CCG game called Magic and was introduced by mathematics professor Richard Garfield and introduced to consumers in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. So, now as it is in video games 25 years later, now they want to regulate it? Oh please, go cry me a river, will you?

Yet Weinstein raises a gem of a point with: “concern about comorbidity (when a person has more than one condition): “We need to know that it is about the gaming itself, or we’re treating something that’s not the actual problem.”“, she poses an excellent issue. You see if we accept that gaming is escapism, knowing what it is escapism from, that becomes the golden question and that is not easily explained.

Prof Mark Griffiths brings another side to the table. With: “I can’t think of a single [case of] addiction where there aren’t any other comorbidities. The addiction is usually symptomatic of other underlying problems. If you’re depressed and therefore you drink heavily, then you treat that with antidepressants“, you see, in that view, if these people escape into gaming, they still might not have a gaming addiction, they merely escape to it and we see the dangers of a wrongful diagnoses. So in the time where the depression is not seen and as these people ‘are cured‘ by gaming less the depression could take over leading to additional harm and even fatality. The problem (as I personally see it) is where is the trigger, the threshold where ‘addiction’ is set at. It is a grey area that cannot be correctly quantified as there are other elements in play. As I see it, it too often relies on what others think is ‘too much’ and that is equally dangerous. The parent who grew up playing outside and as such, junior should be outside, not playing on his console. Do they realise he was playing with school friends in an online 4v4 battle? They are talking to one another on the headsets, so they are still communicating were they not? Our comprehension of several elements is shifting, as a gamer I see the shift, but the people around me do not (want to) comprehend that. It is icky, it is geeky, they do not care.

That part is equally ignored and that is a worry too.

You see social media made the bucket of issues larger, but the level of comprehension beyond using the tool has not increased. That is the danger, usage without knowing what it implies, means or ratifies. Consider the articles like: ‘5 Ways to Generate More Exposure for Your Content Through Social Media‘, to improve your personal PR, or ‘How to Scale Your Social Media Exposure‘, that whilst the people trying to grow followers and to be ‘cool’ have no concept of ‘engagement’ and the use of common sense for that matter whilst exposing themselves to all kinds of risks. Those people will happily sit in any ‘gathering place‘ and remain in negative judgement of a gamer. I remember a nice issue in 1996 in the UK. I was in a bar taking a rest from the ECTS (7 morning presentations on newly released games will do that), so as I was sipping coffee and nodding to someone I knew in the business. He was talking to some girl who was way too good looking for her own good. So when he mentioned he was into gaming, she walked away as he was nerdy. So as she walked away, she had no idea that this was the guy who just made 1.5 million pounds ending with 4 times that much at least over the 3-5 years that followed. You see, even as more and more people are no longer stigmatising ‘gaming’ and ‘gamers’, the issue is that most do it because it is now a $120 billion market and money is money, no matter how you slice it. The actual issue of ‘addiction’ cannot be set for various reasons because it relies on other elements on how you still function when you are not gaming. How you see the world when you are merely shopping for groceries, enjoying a movie, setting in a corner chumping down on ice-cream or engage in conversation with friends. Those are elements that matter and if you can still relate to non-gaming issues with enthusiasm (like how ambulances in Kabul are an excellent way to move C4 from one place to another), we might wonder about the scepticism in all of it, but for the most that person is still OK and unlikely to be a true game addict.

Wasn’t that what mattered?

You see, it is actually the end of the article that had the truffle that mattered; no pig was going to get that one! With “The significance of the WHO’s decision will depend on your point of view. Griffiths admits it’s “a vindication for three decades of research”. Trade bodies such as Ukie naturally resist suggestions that anything their industry produces could be harmful“, this part could actually become the invalidator to his work. Prof Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University seems to forget a few parts. In all this, I have been connected to games and gaming from before that. Gaming had several triggers over the last 30 years. First there is the arcade machines versus the home consoles (and home computers), there is an issue with any emerging technology and the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 are just over 20 years, before that it was all about home computers and the lasting time of a game was no more than one day of game time with only Loderunner to be a larger exception. Even in PC’s larger computers with larger games would be able to get finished in no more than 50-70 hours, and again there is an exception now, it was Diablo. Longer lasting games did not really get to the surface until multiplayer came out and it was not until the Unreal engine took off that people hid for a lot longer behind their computers (overly generalised). Now we can argue that those collecting games were indeed addicted, but were they? What data was there on them? I reckon that it was not until the sixth generation of consoles came out that we have the foundation for some level of actual addiction. Yet when we got back, we forgot the arcade machines. How much money did you pour into those machines? Was it to complete Donkey Kong? Was it to be in the top mention of Space invaders or Pac-Man? Does that make you addicted to gaming, or merely a person trying to pass time or dealing with OCD? I am not sure if I can give the right answer, but between generations 4 and 8 (1989-2012) the market has been in technological turmoil and that is disregarding the massive technological leaps PC’s had made over those years. I feel uncertain that with so many changes in a market that has not stopped running, how can anyone be correctly seen as addicted? For example, who would not spend their entire weekend finding the secrets that Tombraider brought in the first instalment? Who did not run to the shop (and claimed a sickie) the day that Tombraider 2 was released? Who did not drop their jaw the day Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots started on their PS3? That game can still hold up to the most that the PS4 brings to the table today. One view was: “The game has been considered one of the best games of the seventh generation of console gaming and among the greatest of all time“, a view I very much agree with. When perfection, art, challenge and achievement come to the table, the view we have changes, because exceptional quality keeps us at the screen. Just look at all those 4K nature movies Bing Lee sets on the TV’s they really want to sell, that’s not addiction, that is admiration/amazement. So in that all, I think that there is a case that Prof Mark Griffiths might not make the mark on this ‘addiction’ addition, there are just too many variables. And even if we recognise that an unhealthy devotion to games might be worth investigating, it would be to find the underlying cause to it all as Dr Netta Weinstein justifies. In that she is completely correct, so as we realise that Jo Twist, the UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) states the correct part with “We are very concerned about the inconclusive nature of the research and the evidence that WHO is using to base this potential classification on“, she could have (as not seen here) stated the matter a little better than what we got to read.

That is merely $0.04 on the matter (due to the FTSE Crash my $0.02 devaluated whilst writing this).

 

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Mining the Ocean

We might look at how Dow dropped 1175 points; we might in equal measure react to the act that Yemeni Houthi’s have decided to perform another attempt to send missiles into the Saudi civilian populations, all factual events of the last day alone. Yet that is not the initial issue that I am looking at. These are short term events and the media loves them because they get to report on the event, the proclaimed solution and the actual solutions. All follow up stories and the media loves them for the coin they tend to bring to their personal pockets. So it was nice to get a look at Saturday’s article by Jonathan Watts who gave us a look at an upcoming disaster (at https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/feb/03/day-zero-cape-town-turns-off-taps), not in Saudi Arabia, but in Cape Town no less. Yet it must be said that what is good for the one, could potentially hit the other as well.

So when you initially read the caption, you might think that the quote “In 10 weeks engineers will turn off water for a million homes as this South African city reacts to a one-in-384-year drought” is no big deal. Let’s face it, an event that hits once every 7 to 8 generations is not really a big deal is it. Yet that is not really the part that matters. You see, when you see the pictures, not on merely the empty swimming pool, but the image on the Theewaterskloof dam and how we see on what was and what now is. When we realise that ‘Day Zero, the apocalyptically named point when water in the six-dam reservoir system falls to 13.5% of capacity‘, is upon them just as autumn is ending, is in my view a much larger issue. When we see the people in queues with as many jerry cans as they can carry, that same point of befuddlement is reached when you consider why alarms have not been ringing a lot earlier, or were they ignored? They were not! The official Cape Town page (at http://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/residential-utility-services/residential-water-and-sanitation-services/Residential-water-restrictions-explained) gives us a lot. So as we see “A daily limit of 50 litres or less per person whether at home, work, school or elsewhere” we need to realise that 433 thousand people will still potentially drill down on 21.6 million litres of water every day. I am not putting any doubt on the 10 weeks until day zero, I merely wonder what else could be done to bring that number down and not to forget, that the WWF reported merely 4 days ago that only 39% of the Cape Town residents are adhering to these restrictions. The question becomes, when these restrictions began. For how long was there some plan of no-water, because the article gives us: “Greg Pillay: “We had to go back to the drawing board. We were prepared for disruption of supply, but not a no-water scenario. In my 40 years in emergency services, this is the biggest crisis.”“, it is fair that there was no plan and the fact that this happens once every 384 years makes the non-plan acceptable part, but the fact is that the empty dam pics should have been an alert stage when it had gone down to 50%, the restrictions to the degree as now might have been less severe pushing the reserves forward to a longer time. Now we see that the oddest thing will happen in 10 weeks, the taps will be turned off, no water from the taps. As seen the current 10%, who own up to 95% of all assets can likely afford, that each person buys a 20 ft. container filled with mineral water and ship it to their home, yet the other 90% will not have such an option setting a very dangerous situation, a very flammable and oddly fluid one to say the least.

the one good part is that Cape Town will start getting more rain by the time Day Zero approaches, so with April getting on average 300% more rain than the quarter before, and the steady incline in the months thereafter implies that the worst might be over, the dangers are that mother nature is a bitch on the best of days, so if they end up with a soft and warm winter the Cape Town goose ends up being most literally dry-cooked. There is just one other element. It is the one that they got to live with in Australia, these water catchments have no real purpose if the rain falls in the wrong place, so there is still that risk to look forward to.

So, why mention Saudi Arabia?

Well, Saudi Arabia has a similar drought pressures, yet they have additional issues as well. In Saudi Arabia, according to some sources groundwater extraction far exceed the level of natural recharge. The Al-Asha aquifer in the Eastern Province experienced a drop of 150 meters over the past 25 years. the National Geographic reported in 2015 that by 2012 80% of the aquifers had been depleted. That is one large setting whilst on taps the vein to find out in the first just how reliable those numbers are, but in the second degree as to how the impact on larger cities will become when the news brings them the story that ‘the fore mentioned source of water has been drained‘, because at that point the breakdown will be a lot larger when you consider 433 thousand in Cape Town versus 5.1 million in Riyadh. When that happens in one place, who long until Jeddah, Mecca and Medina follow? The problem is that there is no way to tell because there is no transparent oversight (an issue in many countries), there is no way to reliably forecast the issue and in all this the long terms impact of places that want to upgrade and maximise their economic potential sounds nice, but when the water level hits zero, everything stops, and right quick.

This might be the one long term danger that some are not looking hard enough at. so with: “Under the slogan “Bounties of our land,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih inaugurated the 12th International Geological Conference on Sunday and an accompanying exhibition at a local hotel in Jeddah“, is nice to propagate the Vision 2030, but it is still 12 years away and at present, the water mining issues as well as the water disruptions that are currently still happening (as stated by more than one source) would impact it all. The growth of infrastructures, the middle eastern heat that is about to hit Saudi Arabia for the next 6 months, whilst the rain will again decide to remain absent until December (speculated forecast), that alone would require a much higher priority to resolve water issues in Saudi Arabia, or at least give it additional priority. The fact that there are 27 plants in Saudi Arabia, creating millions of litres of water every day implies that perhaps it is time to see if this process can be improved upon and more important 9 more plants will be added to the need of Saudi Arabia. Now we can agree that Saudi Arabia has made massive strides here and the fact that they have upped it to 5 million cubic metres a day should not be underestimated. I am merely speculating that if someone finds a way to improve this process by 1%-5%, the impact for the water quality of life for Saudi’s would go straight through the roof, the impact is that large at present. In addition, the fact that for now the 36 plants would suffice in the short term, the long term is still not a given, that is because the need cannot be predicted. Here too it is about the data captured and to learn where the losses to the water cycles are found and how they can be prevented. More important, if mining is an initial issue now, how much of an issue will it be in 10 years, because depleted places could have other implications too, implication mind you! There is a lot that is not known, but it seems to me that both Saudi Arabia and South Africa will have issue to deal with over the coming year. Not just the water as needed for consumption, whatever else relies on water will also impact structural changes and even more drastic show an optional impact on infrastructure. Part of this was also seen last month (at http://meconstructionnews.com/27099/emerson-opens-new-tech-lab-in-saudi-arabia), where Emerson is set to a “new $25 million new technology and innovation centre at Dhahran Techno Valley, in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia enables the company to host Saudi students, entrepreneurs, researchers and industry stakeholders to collaborate with its technical experts to develop process automation technologies and design products and solutions that, “meet the country’s goals.”“. Yet how much priority is given to design new ways to give rise to measuring and monitoring production, distribution and delivery of water solutions towards data collection, designed to contribute to longer term forecasting of water needs. You see, most of these systems tend to be short term, or when they are longer term they lose reliability because of a number of factors, so what happens when we can map and monitor the factors themselves? It is one of the powers that 5G could bring to an automation system, automated drone technologies that monitor and feed. This reminds me of a 2006 paper called ‘Modular learning models in forecasting natural phenomena‘ by Solomontine and Siek. Now in the paper we see in the abstract: “Comparison of the algorithms based on modular local modelling to the more traditional ‘global’ learning models on a number of benchmark tests and river flow forecasting problems shows their higher accuracy and transparency of the resulting models“, now what if the plant is the source of the river and the pipes are the river themselves. What if losses and therefor risks of these pipe systems could be mapped and correctly categorised? Only last year the Saudi Gazette reported (at http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/500157/SAUDI-ARABIA/Water-supply-disrupted-in-five-Jeddah-districts), “Residents of five districts in southeast Jeddah have complained about disruption of water supply to their homes after the National Water Company (NWC) changed its supply schedule. The residents of Al-Musaed, Quwaiza, Al-Nakheel, Al-Raghama and Al-Obaid districts in southeast Jeddah were mainly affected by the supply disruption“, now there can be all kinds of valid reasons why this happens, yet the official response was: “it was beyond their control as the quantity of water they receive from Shuaiba plants was less than what they received before“, the question is not whether, why or the issues of delivery, it is whether quantity of water changes can be measured and set into data models that give better forecasting, this is seen as that nations will soon face provision from 36 plants and any plan to rely on full production and let things run will have longer term problems. Knowing where water is going and what losses are measured will also give rise to initial better information and longer term better water measurement. In my view it is the same with almost every port in the world. It is not how much you ship and how many vessels you service, it is the one place where idle time is not monitored, that is the place where the cost of it all spins out of control really fast.

As I see it, both South Africa and optionally Saudi Arabia have a flaw in the long term view of water, from the articles South Africa is already past the initial point of worry from what I have read and I am speculating that Saudi Arabia has an optional issue growing as it is working towards Vision 2030, because when those tech firms start rolling in in 2031, Riyadh with all its growth could potentially grow by at least 10% in the short term, the question becomes whether Riyadh would be ready to service a jump that is twice the size of Cape Town? I have no way of knowing and it is not yet the point where it is out there, but Vision 2030 is only 12 years away and desalinisation plants do not grow overnight, which would be awesome if someone could design one that did so.

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Patsy Ross and the curse of greed

Yes, we can do all kinds of things in Davos, Switzerland. We can enjoy cheese; we can enjoy the white slopes of Davos and not to mention learn about greed in the World Economic Forum. One article to start with Fortune, who gives us ‘Wilbur Ross Tells Davos: U.S. Is Done ‘Being a Patsy’ on Trade‘ (at http://fortune.com/2018/01/24/davos-2018-trump-wilbur-ross-trade-war-tariff/). The article brings up a few things and has a great ending (from a comedy point of view). With: “Ross also issued a warning against misinterpreting the Trump administration’s hardline approach to trade, in what could foretell what Trump himself will communicate to the Davos crowd on Friday. “We don’t intend to abrogate leadership,” Ross said. “Leadership is different from being a sucker and being a patsy.”“, you see if that was actually true than you would have had fairness in mind with the Trans Pacific Partnership. That document is a joke giving all the power to business and leave governments running for the hills as they get sued for diminished profits, in addition the TPP would not have given additional powers to patents leaving the option of generic medication in the basement. That cursed piece of parchment should never have been allowed to be completed to the degree it was, in secret and without proper open consultation. Now, we agree and accept that this was basically before the Trump administration and they rightfully opposed it, yet the dangers that the people of 12 nations are exposed to and exploited by is just too large. Consider the quote “Critics on the left also said the TPP would pave the way for companies to sue governments that change policy on, say, health and education to favour state-provided services“, since when is any corporation allowed to endanger the health of people by suing for damages? How greedy and stupid does a government need to get by endangering their citizens to such a setting? The full text (at https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/about-us/who-we-are/treaties/trans-pacific-partnership-agreement-tpp/text-of-the-trans-pacific-partnership), also gives other dangers. Part of the deal was that, large pharmaceutical corporations (most of them American) want to extend the life of their patents, arguing that having spent billions to bring their research to fruition they should be entitled to a just reward so they can invest the profits into developing new medicines, the issue is that that timeframe had been given and they merely want to double that profit as much as possible. Yet in light of an aging population the effect is that generic medication becomes a long term inability driving cost up for the retired population by a lot, in some cases well over 100% more. So as we read that “Time Inc. chief content officer Alan Murray, agreed that pacts brokered decades ago “need a facelift,”“, the people are not given a fair shake in all this, it is all about the large corporations, whilst their tax accountability is off the table, making the forum a very imbalanced exercise. So as we saw the Patsy mention of Wilbur Ross, we are treated to no approach to keep the ‘jokers’ of Wall Street in check, there the political wings all fall silent and that is where the kneejerk dangers are. The law has failed the people, the Wall Street gains are beyond normal whilst those getting the cash seem to remains non-taxable, or taxable to merely the smallest possible degree. In this The Financial Times has an additional setting (at https://www.ft.com/content/cb18f700-011b-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5). The emphasis on TTIP over TTP, as well as In this we see that he “repeated a willingness to revive negotiations on trade with the European Union“, yet left the United Kingdom unmentioned, which I see is merely a shot across the bow. In this Davos has been making jabs in that direction for 2 days now. In a place where every word and specific mentions are essential, it comes with clear setting on poses, stances and hand gestures, we see the total disregard and consideration regarding Brexit, or Brexit mentions in the same way that toilet paper advertises ‘softness’.

Finally, there is a continuation from yesterday’s blog as we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2018/jan/24/davos-2018-merkel-macron-mnuchin-inequality-slavery-wef-day-2-live), the mention “Macron hails French recovery“, which sounds nice, but there is no evidence on that, only overly optimistic views for 2018. So as France still had 9.8% unemployment in July 2017, that against 4.2% in the UK and 3.6% in Germany, France is a long way away from hailing ‘recovery’. In addition, it was the view of Natixis Research that was used by Reuters to give us: “With growing optimism on the health of the Euro zone economy and its equity markets, it’s easy to forget that GDP growth in some countries such as France is somewhat below what one would expect at this stage in the cycle, with forecasts of under 2 percent for 2017 and 2018. According to Natixis’ research, structural unemployment and the rise in numbers of young people with no qualifications are a drag on the Gallic economy and will keep holding it back. “When the structural unemployment rate is as high as in France currently (more than 9%), recruitment difficulties will very prematurely stop growth,” Patrick Artus, who heads research at the French bank“, as such he uses a more academic stance, but our views partially align, France is not out of the woods yet and the Draghi Stimulus will still hit France as well because that money needs to come from somewhere in the end and France stands well over minus 2 trillion Euro. That is the part all the players are ignoring whilst the paths are made for large corporations, whilst the need to dam the flow through proper corporate taxation. None of that is properly in place in Europe (and the UK needs to fix a few things too). And as the people get to hear from Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on how Brexit is a mistake, the first part of my prediction comes out. I only need to see one of the five as mentioned last week to make a similar remark to make the prediction I made over a week ago come true. Yet in all this there is also a benefit to get soon enough. You see as the US is now hitting others with steep tariff increases, he is directly giving the danger that all the others (probably with the exception of Japan), will hit back by doing the same to video games, when that happens America will get a massive hit to that $130 billion market which is predominantly American, in this the tariffs would equally hit the digital sold titles. In light of the numbers, The US is making a dangerous move that could hit them harder than they bargained for.

The fact that Digital game revenue surpassed $10 billion in December 2017 alone gives rise to the awkwardly bad decision that the US set itself up for. We will see if the last day of Davos gives us a few more pointers on how large corporations will see more opportunities come your way that is if we can believe Breitbart. That is how we got the news from the Washington Post with ‘Breitbart called Davos a collective of ‘leftist elites’ and ‘corporate cronies.’ Then Trump said he was going’, the article is not really giving us anything besides the views that Breitbart has and therefore not really informative, but they seem to touch on the part that I found interesting, is Davos about upbeat presentations, or is it the one informal place where certain power players can align their presentations because there will be large shifts in 2018, France seems to be starting the events that will hit the people in Europe, in this Reuters also reported on Italy’s view with: “Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni sent a message to US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (Jan 24) that leaders can defend their countries’ interests but must respect existing international agreements”, which is a truth, yet as several sides are hitting the European Community, it is a view that raises other questions on current international agreements .

In the end, Fortune dot come gives us two additional parts. The love of blockchain and the need for smart data will be driving elements over the next few years. None of that was a real surprise, but the amount of push towards blockchain was a larger surprise that I thought it would be. Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/dantedisparte/2018/01/28/one-thing-is-clear-from-davos-blockchain-is-out-of-beta), the power is seen in “While Blockchain and digital assets were widely featured on the main stage at Davos, perhaps the most insightful conversations were taking place in standing room only events hosted by groups like the Global Blockchain Business Council, whose CEO, Jamie Smith, and chairman, Tomicah Tillemann, have emerged as global emissaries helping Blockchain go mainstream. Indeed, Jamie Smith has made it her personal mission to be the explainer-in-chief of this powerful technology so that more of the world can grasp its potential”. I am still not convinced! You see, the Blockchain is clever and it is one that has great potential, yet the push of a solution that is unregulated and in addition to that it is an option for others to skate around the laws, because the use of blockchain will raise legislation to another level. This was partially discussed in the Business Insider on October 20th (at http://www.businessinsider.com/blockchain-cryptocurrency-regulations-us-global-2017-10). With: “Blockchain is the technology of choice for many start-ups. As per research by Outlier Ventures Research Team in May to June of 2016, 200 new start-ups were added in six weeks. Businesses and start-ups popped up around the virtual technology and sprouted with lightning speed. While many countries are supporting the development of the digital currencies, thus encouraging new ways of transacting and new businesses to bud, there are some that have boycotted the new technology, deeming it as an illegal negative disruption that brings financial instability and global economic unrest”. There is no denying the view that Davos is spreading, yet the push (partially implied in the Business Insider) to get Blockchain approved and mainstream by 2025 is a larger issue than some realise. The banking industry that took close to two decades to accept ATM’s to the degree it did in the end is now setting a new digital path in less than 10. That worries me, not because of the digital leap forward, but because of WHY they are doing it and I feel certain that we will see more and more revelations in the next 2 years.

It is my personal feeling that it is a greed driven path and that never spells any good for the people at large around, because they end up paying for it all, one way or another.

 

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A linguistic joke

The British Metro came with a hilarious article a mere 12 hours ago. The quote is not enough; it already starts with the title. With: ‘British children aren’t learning foreign languages after the Brexit vote‘ is just too funny. We can clearly state that they were not learning foreign languages before Brexit either. To be more precise, not for decades! And, why should they? Now, let’s be fair, there is a benefit to learning languages. For the Dutch it is essential, because only the Dutch (and perhaps the Flemish) can understand the Dutch. So they (me in my youth) got to learn German, French and English in our first year of secondary school. I dropped French in favour of Physics and continued. In the years that followed I learned a few more languages, and as such I can get by across the planet. It was only in Asia where I learned that English is not a language that was used much, yet until that moment, I had learned that nearly everyone spoke English (except the Americans, they have a weird variation on it). So from that point of view, and when you see “The council claims the lack of language skills is holding back international trade performance by nearly £50 billion each year and worries there could be a gulf once the UK leaves the EU“, I merely reply that I want to see evidence here! I want that the British council to show actual data proving this, because at present, the British council is showing to be a joke. This joke is personified in Schools advisor Vicky Gough who stated “At a time when the UK is preparing to leave the European Union, I think it’s worrying that we’re facing a language deficit“, well Vicky, for your information the Brits have always been language deficit since before World War 1, so we can agree that your logic is faulty at best. This is followed by “And I think without tackling that, we stand to lose out both economically, but also culturally. So I think it’s really important that we have a push for the value of languages“, I will agree that she has a case on the cultural side. There has always been a cultural benefit to knowing languages that much we can all agree on. But in this day and age, should we focus on the local languages (German, French and Spanish), or should we concentrate on the global economic area languages (Hindu, Chinese, Arabic and Japanese)? That is a much harder consideration to make. You see do you cater to your local setting or are you catering to a workforce to become global. This is not an easy question to answer, because the planet is in flux and what is now wisdom might be folly in 5 years, so after 6 years to truly have linguistic skills in some areas; those areas are no longer viable as international players, so how does that pan out? So when we see “A report by the British Council claims Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic and German are the top five languages the UK will need post-Brexit“, my view seems to be correct, yet in what setting? The Spanish only speak Spanish (for the most), so why adhere to that side? So why would the UK need German and French? Most of them speak English and hiring a foreign national in your company is likely cheaper and more productive, that is if you have quality business with that nation, if not, why bother? At that point, the article comes with an interesting view “One pupil studying Mandarin at London’s Alexandra Park School said: ‘We can’t just presume that countries are going to learn our language, because if we don’t do the work why should they?’” It is a good point, but those people also realise that Mandarin is one of the most complex languages in the world and if you are not born in that environment you start with a large disadvantage. Now, there are plenty of reasons to study Mandarin and learn the language, but on the premise that it might lead to a job is long term folly, taking the language up when you are to be in China, perhaps even after you arrive makes a lot of sense, perhaps more sense. Now, we can see that the only way to do business in Saudi Arabia is to learn Arabic and plenty of brits trying to make quick bucks are up to the challenge, but that nation has its own set of rules, customs and culture and those all need to be taken in, merely learning the language will not get you there, so in my view, not only is the article to some part a joke, it is merely another jab at giving stress in relation to Brexit. So, until Metro publishes clear evidence from the British council that the UK is missing out on 50 billion, the entire matter is hilarious and folly at best.

And it is merely one of several articles. the Guardian with ‘Britain’s tired old economy isn’t strong enough for Brexit‘, Computer Weekly with ‘We must avoid the Brexit risks to London’s tech community‘, and Clean Technica with ‘Current State Of Brexit Likely To Leave UK Environment Worse Off‘, all fearmongering, and Social Europe is giving the people: ‘Reversing Brexit: Legal Route Via Vienna Convention‘. Social Europe is actually setting the premise to protect bankers and the IMF. I have not seen such levels of what I regard to be deceptive and naive conduct since the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who stated on September 30th 1938 that the British people would have “Peace in our Time“. Do you remember what happened after that? In the end, on the Allied side alone, up to 3.7% of a population of 2.3 billion ended up dead, both military and civilian, excluding 7 million Germans and 26 million Russians. I think that fearmongering and the naive approach to all this needs to stop.

It was never said that there was not going to be a hard time, but it seems to me that the financial sector has now become so afraid of losing the ability to fulfil their greed driven needs that they are using every media outlet to spread the fear and see if they can get a recount whilst getting at least 4% into the Bremain group.

In all this, the Guardian article makes a decent point, but does so by keeping certain parts unmentioned. With: “Manufacturers were unable to make things cheaply, reliably or efficiently enough against the headwind of a high-value currency, forcing many to give up. An economy that boasted 20% of its income coming from manufacturing in the 1980s found it was the source of barely 10% at the beginning of this decade” they are telling you the truth, but they do not tell you that opposing this were China, India and Japan, with almost no labour laws, whilst both India and China had no protection for child labour, so these nations made goods with 90% less costs, giving them a large advantage. Even now, in 2000 some sources gave us that there were approximately 11,500,000 children at work between the ages of 10 to 14 in China. This violates article 32 of the Convention of Rights of The Child. So if the Guardian article was being fair, why not mention these parts that clearly impact it all in a negative way?

So as we see the linguistical joke that Metro brought and the additional articles that raises questions as they go overboard not mentioning things, we need to consider why such presentations are not clearly shown by the media. Even the IMF is involved in all this, whilst their prediction have been wrong regarding the UK three times, so should they be given any level of reliability as they try to downgrade the UK, whilst upgrading the other European Nations for 2018? I know that this might be a hard year for the UK, yet as the stimulus train called ‘the Draghi Disaster‘ is running its final stage, the moment that ends, will spell even harsher environments for Europe and particularly France who could see a downturn of their economy for 0.5%-0.75%, this implies that they will barely be above 0% for the three years that follow. In this I might be equally wrong. Even as France24 (at http://www.france24.com/en/20180122-macron-hosts-140-business-leaders-versailles-investment-france-economy), predicts “Economic growth has been forecast to rise to 1.9 percent in 2018 by the central bank”, which is already slightly too positive. Even as it books the Toyota move into the positive, France will soon realise that at this point Toyota is likely to push for additional rebates beyond the 25% corporation tax (as is Microsoft for 4 new data centres), which will closer to the end of this tax year will show up in the news as ‘unfortunate bad news on the economy due to a miscalculation’, it is not the first time and the French are not the first to do this. Yet in that, we can see that the IMF boast is overly positive towards Europe, implying that the view from that point shows the UK economy as stated to be overly negative. I personally see it as another ploy to undermine Brexit that could bite them in much harsher ways down the track, if the media is actually able to show some balls standing up to large corporations.

So even if I see the linguistic joke as a large one, there is no denying that France is clearly opening its doors to certain people and in only that moment there is a sense of truth in the words Vicky Gough, yet what is equally not given is that this is the first time since I started my first job in 1979 that such a view is given by France. With the graying population they are not the only ones doing that and as such the working population will make a drastic change, I cannot predict how it will filter out for France, but at least Emmanuel Macron is making active changes to an ancient unyielding protocol and that might be the best news of all for France, that alone could spell my realistic numbers to be slightly less positive than the actual numbers will turn out to be.

 

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