Tag Archives: the Guardian

Gangsters of tomorrow?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its members:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Evolving an infrastructure

The news is all over the place when it comes to Saudi Arabia. Reuters (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-defense-naval/saudi-arabia-signs-warship-construction-deal-with-frances-naval-group-idUSKCN1Q60B0), with the headline ‘Saudi Arabia signs warship construction deal with France’s Naval Group‘, then there is Arab News giving us (at http://www.arabnews.com/node/1453471/saudi-arabia) ‘Saudi crown prince oversees $20bn of deals with Pakistan‘, all opportunities lost to the US and Europe (well most of Europe). A lot of it is ‘part of its efforts to develop domestic manufacturing capabilities‘, which they have been very clear about for some time now. All options lost. In part to the circus that Turkey had put in place. Some give us: ‘Turkey Has Not Revealed All About Khashoggi Killing: President Erdogan‘, others give us: ‘Khashoggi’s remains may have been burned in well‘, items like ‘not all revealed‘, ‘may have been‘, as well as a few other implied making statements that leave too much doubt on the matter. The fact that Turkey apparently has not revealed all implies orchestration. As the lackey of Iran it makes perfect sense, the fact that the media has been skating around that issue for months now does not. The fact that Turkey is trying to push the US, whilst they should have revealed all the facts and evidence is a much larger issue.

Let’s be clear, I am not stating that Saudi Arabia is innocent (because I cannot tell), I am not stating that nothing happened (something happened that is clear, what exactly happened is another matter), I am merely claiming that there are too many issues in all this from the very beginning. When it comes to the media, we see close to 18 million placements on ‘Kim Kardashian’ and ‘boobs’, we see 889,000 placements on ‘Jamal Khashoggi’ and ‘tapes’, yet how many made a critical analyses on the tapes? We see mention in papers on: “a man alleged to be Maher Mutreb, the suspected coordinator of the mission who worked for some time in the kingdom’s embassy in London, is quoted as replying to the Washington Post columnist“, we see ‘alleged’, so how were the tapes critically analysed? We also see: “The report adds that a later recording captures another “hitman”, Mustafa al-Madani, who was used as a body double to Khashoggi, saying: “It’s really creepy that I am wearing the clothes of someone who was killed minutes ago.”” as we see ‘a later recording’ should that not be one and the same recording? Then there is ‘transcript of a tape recording’, the fact that it is stated to be ‘a recording’ not ‘the recording’ is also mind for analyses and that list goes on.

We see claims by a Kardashian getting numerous cross references, with Khashoggi there is a consistent stream of doubts and debatable issues. As I stated, I am not saying nothing happened, I am merely wondering what actually happened. The fact that Turkey goes crying to USA to put pressure on Saudi Arabia merely gives more and more debate and debatable doubt to the entire setting. We also see the mention at the UN of “The Special Rapporteur travelled to Ankara and Istanbul with British Baroness Helena Kennedy, a forensics expert who sits in the House of Lords, and homicide investigator Paul Johnston“, yet in the BBC we see: “Evidence suggests the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was planned at the highest level, Baroness Helena Kennedy says“, yet here the BBC states ‘evidence suggests’, which is something different from ‘Evidence shows beyond reasonable doubt’ and for the most that should initially suffice if the stakes were not too high for comfort. In the UK the Press Gazette gives us: “After an initial examination of the evidence, Callamard found that Khashoggi was the victim of a “brutal and premeditated killing planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia”“, yet when we look on we also get claims on quotes made in 2017. All an emotional package to push us in a certain direction, and whilst we might accept: “Woefully inadequate time and access was granted to Turkish investigators to conduct a professional and effective crime-scene examination and search required by international standards for investigation,” the fact is that the event occurred on Saudi territory and the Turkish government has no jurisdiction there. If there was such a level of evidence with the tapes, they would have been made public, yet we see more and more games played by the Turkish government making the issue debatable again and again. We can argue that if they had gone out and revealed everything, the entire setting would be different. They basically invalidated themselves with all the preposterous claims.

This is when we go by the source I used (at https://pressgazette.co.uk/jamal-khashoggi-un-saudi-investigation/). As stated there are issues, there really are, but the emotional games played using the media takes away a lot of credibility. As we were shown “Germany halted arms exports to Saudi Arabia over what it said was the uncertainty surrounding the murder“, we now see well over $20 billion in deals going to other places. That is the name of the game. The issues are important because the governments being holier than though, yet refusing to hold Turkey to account over well over 200 incarcerated journalists is part of the entire package. It comes across as a mockery when we get treated to Turkish journalist Nazli Ilicak who is now apparently serving life plus 6 years in prison. Now we can agree that one should not be the other and I would agree with this. Yet the fact that there is doubt on many levels and the fact that the media kept on shouting and screaming ‘alleged‘ as well as ‘according to unnamed sources‘ whilst there is all kinds of issues in several directions is also a reason for some to not include certain parties. We can argue the same part in the stage with the USA, when we consider “The US Senate, in a largely symbolic gesture, voted in December to end US military support for the war in Yemen and blame the Saudi crown prince for the murder of Khashoggi“, this whilst we can agree that a partial case can be made for the Yemen conflict, the fact remains that the Houthi forces have been receiving support from both Iran as well as terrorist organisation Hezbollah, making the withdrawal by the US a bit questionable (yet not invalid), as for blaming the Crown Prince whilst there has been no evidence showing his involvement is just slightly too silly. If there was clear evidence beyond all reasonable doubt that would be one part, but that part has not been given, now once in 16 weeks makes the claim silly, France was happy though, so there is that to consider.

There is still space for the Dutch if they reconsider a few places. I am decently certain that Saudi Arabia would love to get their ships upgraded with the Dutch Goalkeeper system which is (for the most) a defensive system. And that is merely the defence part, there is a much larger goal for Saudi Arabia and the Dutch could become contenders is a few ways. And in regards to the stage, is being critical about what is written that bad a position to have? I am not stating avoiding writing anything, merely be clear and produce evidence, if we demand it in some directions, should that same request not be in all directions?

The issues evolve even now. As we were introduced to: “Jubeir said the public prosecutor responsible for the case had sought evidence from Turkey but had received no response” is the reference to Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs. The fact that evidence is not shared is also an issue; it could imply that there is no evidence at all making this hot potato no longer a potato, but a disaster in the making. If the evidence was so clear, it would have been in Turkey’s interest to share it with the world and all the media (to some degree), the media will refer to the event as leaking (like they normally do). I wonder when all the facts are clearly published, what would be left?

The fact that News24 also gives us “The CIA has concluded the Saudi operation was likely directed by the powerful crown prince” is now a growing concern. It is not ‘beyond all reasonable doubt‘, it is not ‘on the likelihood of probability‘ it is merely ‘was likely directed‘, implying that evidence is missing on a whole range of issues. So when we see all the unsupported accusations, all the calls for ending cooperation with Saudi Arabia, are we even surprised that Saudi Arabia is spending their cash somewhere else? And when we see the 500 billion and 185 billion go to alternative places, how will that impact economies? To be honest, I would love to get my fingers on the full report of homicide investigator Paul Johnston. It might clear up a whole truckload of issues, and perhaps leave too much reasonable doubt. I honestly do not know, yet I would love to find out.

So when we see that here truly is too much reasonable doubt and when the US hopes to make deals for the good of the economy, we will see what the decisions form Riyadh will be. The fact that 8 hours ago the news as given with ‘Sultan Bin Salman reviews prospects of cooperation with Russian space officials‘ is from my point of view a first message that Saudi Arabia is seeking more interactions on a global scale (read alternative cooperation partners), the fact that it is not going to Europe or the US should be a clear indication that there are troubles brewing under the Saudi sands, and more is coming when we look at the upcoming cutbacks that NASA will be facing.

When we see the amount of evolution that Saudi Arabia is trying to give its own infrastructure should be a massive input towards global economies, but so far the players needing it the most end up with the least, it could of course be a coincidence, but when we realise that it is not, can we actually place any blame, or should we merely blame our own politicians for bluffing whilst holding merely a pair of threes, I will let you decide on that one.

Too many questions and a lack of clear reporting contributed to all this, of that I personally have little to no doubt at all.

 

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Living with choices made

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Outsourcer’s Furlong

The race is on, we heard last year just how poorly the setting of Interserve was. We all head how Interserve served the people the small fact that they were half a billion (in £) in debt. I discussed it last December (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/12/17/one-to-the-hospital-one-to-the-morgue/) in the article ‘One to the hospital, one to the morgue‘, and if the previous financial model applies, there is every consideration that so far another £200 million has been added to the debt. The guardian gives us: “the directors danced around the issue. A “fully consensual” financial restructuring would be preferable but Interserve was “also actively preparing alternative plans to ensure the proposed transaction can be implemented in the event that shareholder approval is not forthcoming”“, and as they very correctly state it ‘What alternative arrangements?

In this Coltrane and Farringdon Capital Management have between them one third of the equity and the message of “the proposed £480m debt-for-equity rescue in which the banks would take control and current investors would be diluted to just 2.5% ownership“, you can imagine that these two campers were not happy. They stand to lose it all if things go pear shaped, the awkward impact of a wrong investment made bare. The fact that these two could stagger it all if there is not a full house (which is the most likely event), could stop everything and as the Guardian states (to be more specific Nils Pratley does at https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/feb/13/interserve-needs-a-plan-b-given-the-rebellion-over-its-current-plan), a plan B is needed. I personally think that a plan C is equally essential. At present chairman Glyn Barker has his work cut out for him, not only are 45,000 out of the 74,000 employees in the UK and they are waited with baited breath, there are more than two parties that are on the ropes and he needs the bulk to fall in line with his vision. One part is the lucrative Interserve Saudi Arabia. Even as it is profitable now, it is also in demand now, auctioning it off to Salini Impregilo could give them a decent reduction in debt overnight and with matters in Saudi Arabia as they go, Salini Impregilo needs the workforce, they are scoring job after job and at some point the workforce will not hold up to the scrutiny of deadlines. As it includes presence in the UAE, Interserve might want to choose dollars for doughnuts before the stage has changed and all that they can hope for is 10 cents to the dollar, because at the stage where two players having one third push for change, Salini Impregilo merely needs to wait for Interserve parties to become utterly desperate and that given stage is a little more realistic than some players are comfortable with.

If debt reduction is the goal and we see that their Middle Eastern part involves:

  • Hospitality and leisure
  • Oil and gas
  • Retail
  • Transport and infrastructure

I see at least three branches that could be pruned and it is a first step to push Interserve back to their core and optionally into a field where cost becomes increasingly lower than the current balance statements require them to be. A similar view could be held for the US and Asia. I wonder just how profitable these branches are, the total debt implies that it goes way beyond the UK (or the UK part is optionally mismanaged in the most dreadful way). I am not implying or judging, half a billion in debt is doing that for me pretty convincingly.

So as the Times gives us: “The New York hedge fund attempting to derail the £905 million rescue plan at Interserve is nursing losses of nearly 90 per cent on a £25 million bet that the public services contractor could recover without falling into the hands of its lenders“, we also see another side. The fact that we see someone hedging 3% into moving away from the £900 million rescue plan, and losing 90% of their attempt also implies that the tress intensifies. Another view is given by the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/8cd9d920-2b98-11e9-a5ab-ff8ef2b976c7) with: ‘Hedge fund in Interserve feud profited from Carillion collapse‘, with the addition “Coltrane Asset Management, the biggest investor in Interserve, earned £4m wagering on Carillion’s collapse by selling its shares short“, so why give them any consideration? the fact that they decided to add a 20+% share in Interserve with the assumed and highly likely path to try that trick a second time implies that they have no vested interest in the firm, merely a need for greed. So why cater to that? When we are given: “Carillion collapsed in January 2018 leaving banks, investors and pensioners nursing heavy losses and the government struggling to deliver key services such as hospital cleaning and school meals. Some 3,000 staff lost their jobs, with another 14,000 transferred to other employers, in one of the biggest corporate failures in British history“, we know that this was not the fault of Coltrane Asset Management, yet they had no issue selling it all down the drain as it allowed them to fill their pockets. We get it and we do understand that Coltrane is in it for the money, that is how the cookie crumbles, yet when we see the impact on an optional 74,000 employees, we need to look beyond. It is not like Coltrane is taking over and making it a profitable setting, are they?

We do get that Coltrane is not the actual evil party in this, unless they explored short selling here too, at that point they are on their own. Coltrane is not without teeth, the mere setting of shareholders losing out on their investment will make them gang together and plenty of them are small investors; it is their retirement that is at stake. Scottish pubs tycoon Alan Macintosh is also still an element in all this, the swap would make him massively rich so he is willing to stick with the plan, there are still 6 weeks until the deadline gives us the setting of the battle line that will be drawn, and where that ends is anyone’s guess. yet as the Financial Times points out “People close to Coltrane said it was confident of winning support from the numerous smaller investors — which include Hargreaves Lansdown and Standard Life“, those with their retirement savings in the balance will turn to Coltrane soon enough, some will be scared enough to offer their part to Coltrane at any amount that gives them more than 30 cents to the dollar, giving Coltrane the option to upgrade the size of the bat that they wield in this encounter, leaving the people at Interserve with little to work with, and in light that there is no plan B or a plan C, gives more and more the impression that they never properly prepared for this war, making the outcome of a win for Coltrane against them a rather large likelihood.

So who goes to a war theatre without at least three options ready? Anyone who starts a tactic without two alternative routes handy at any given time is merely on a one way street to defeat. That is not predictive, that is an issue that has been gospel since WW1, I would go further that the Siege of Khartoum of 1884 was another example to that premise. In those days there were thousands of Brits sneering and making fun of Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah, in the end he walked into Khartoum leaving mountains of corpses in his wake. From that setting alone, the board of directors at Interserve have made a few too many really poor decisions, when we add that to the pile, we see that Coltrane is not done, not by a long short and when it falls over, Coltrane walks away with an ox-cart of gold and a fair share of the 74,000 employees will not be that lucky.

Those who want a better stage better find themselves a new deal and set themselves as independent contractors finding new alliances. It might be easy for some where the market is vastly on the rise, but that is merely in a few places where the stage can be set to take control of the projects, making the situation of Interserve a lot less manageable soon enough.

I am merely speculating now, yet consider the projects over the last 6 months.

  • Qatar National Theatre
  • Southwark Council
  • Highways England
  • North Lincolnshire Council
  • Durham University

These are merely a few of many projects where ownership of the project could revert to other players if the pressure on that project is high enough. Those customers will need to seek a solution for their invested needs and there is now enough doubt whether Interserve can fulfil its side of those contracts, the mere absence of a plan B would essentially be enough to facilitate for change if the proper cards were played and £150 million is nothing to make fun of.

But that could be merely my wrongful view on the matter, we will know soon enough.

 

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When we fail others

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

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

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

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

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

It does not end there

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

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

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

And it goes from bad to worse

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Australian Catastrophic Colliding Canine

I tend to keep my eyes on Europe, mainly because what impacts the UK today will have an impact on Australia a week later; in addition to that, what happens in Japan today when it comes to consumer electronics and mobile events will get to Australia 3-5 years later. In that respect having a larger view on matters is essential to keep an eye on what could become an impact tomorrow.

Yesterday was different, with ‘Regulation needed to save Australian journalism from Facebook and Google, watchdog says‘ we see the impact for Australia now and to be honest, I can’t stop laughing at present. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/feb/11/regulation-needed-to-curb-facebook-and-google-competition-watchdog-says)

When I read: “Rod Sims, said the digital platforms inquiry, which delivered its preliminary report in December, reveals that the market power enjoyed by the digital behemoths is weakening Australian media“, the giggles increase. Especially when we consider ‘the platforms are not creating any original, quality Australian news’, well we could consider that the Australian media is for the most not doing that either. For the most Australian media is weakening Australian media plain and simple. To name but a one issue, October 2012, I alerted the media to an issue impacting 30 million gamers within the commonwealth. I directly alerted Channel 7, Channel 9 and the Sydney Morning Herald; the all ignored it to the largest degree. There were clear screenshots on how the impact was given, yet the left it on the left of what was important. A change by Sony for their gaming community 3 weeks before the PS4 was released, they all (except for the Australian Guardian) ignored it for the most, and perhaps it was not news? What they (as I personally see it) intentionally ignored is that the Sony Terms of Service is a legally binding contract, the mention of a memo is merely a piece of paper that could be ignored the very next directors meeting. The press needed advertisement dollars and Sony is high on that list of needs, PlayStation 4 was big bucks, plain and simple. In addition there were debatable reviews of Microsoft for the period of two years and the least said about Apple the better, as I see it Australian Media is its own worst enemy. It is my personally view to size up global media as a collection of prostitutes with a priority towards the shareholders, the stake holders and the advertisers, the audience comes in 4th position at best. So when I see: “However, while taking the lion’s share of advertising revenue, the platforms are not creating any original, quality Australian news“, we need to wonder where Australian quality news is found. I will agree that this is found at SBS and ABC, but they are the two exceptions to all this.

When the British Daily Mail gives us on the 9th of February “Respected Channel 7 news reporter Emily Angwin (pictured) was said to be furious at a number of work emails questioning the integrity of the newsroom in Melbourne” is anyone actually surprised? Is it true? We cannot tell because in many ways most of the Australian media is no longer that reliable. And from my vantage point it becomes worse when we go to https://au.news.yahoo.com/. Here we see above the fold ‘Hero pitbull breaks out of home to find help for owner during gas leak‘, ‘Restaurant blames waitress for ‘incredibly racist’ receipt‘, and ‘‘Whoah!’ Man’s breath test returns ‘biologically impossible’ result‘. This is the kind of emotional reporting that gives news a bad name. Compare that to abc.net.au where we see: ‘Global drug trafficking operation run out of Villawood detention centre, phone taps reveal‘, ‘Missing persons expert slams investigation of young mother’s suspected homicide‘, as well as ‘Why the AWU wants to question Michaelia Cash in court over union raids‘. So one is clearly about news, the other is about creating emotional events. I let you decide which is which, and as we take notice of: “Given all this, it is also vital that media businesses are not disadvantaged through the exercise of market power or other mechanisms that make it difficult for them to compete on their merits” We see that the there is another case in dispute. The dispute is ‘media businesses‘ versus ‘journalism‘, so I hope that the ACCC realises that not only are they not the same, they are at present mere dimensions apart.

And questions need to be asked at the Channel 9 address as well. We can agree that the headlines are better than those of Channel 7 when we see: ‘Exclusive: Vampire Killer Tracey Wigginton’s disturbing new posts‘, ‘Man found with gunshot wound to his stomach in Melbourne’s north-west‘, as well as ‘Snorkeller found dead on sea floor off Mornington Peninsula‘, yet there too we have issues as every news item gives us headers and banners of advertisement. News is news and the main players have resorted to self-indulgence of advertising, reloading at every page. The journalism is merely second best at best.

It becomes a different puppy when we look at the mention “The financial viability of these businesses is also not assured as demonstrated by BuzzFeed and Vice recently announcing redundancies in Australia, as well as worldwide“, you see from my point of visibility, we see the Wikipage part (for mere illustration) where the visible information is: “Originally known for online quizzes, “listicles”, and pop culture articles, the company has grown into a global media and technology company, providing coverage on a variety of topics including politics, DIY, animals, and business.” Now, I have seen those buzzfeeds on my Facebook page and I decided not to give them any consideration (as a news source). Even as we now see (I was honestly not aware) “In late 2011, Buzzfeed hired Ben Smith of Politico as editor-in-chief, to expand the site into serious journalism, long-form journalism, and reportage.” We can accept and appreciate that Buzzfeed was taking a serious gander into journalism, yet when people are not aware (or another part of them has created more awareness), we get the impact of consideration versus awareness and non-awareness loses clicks, it is that simple, and the same applies for Australian sources. For the most, the only Australian sources I give consideration to are: ABC, SBS, the Guardian (Australian edition) and that is pretty much it; the rest is too often a waste of time. When we are serious about news, we go to the places where they offer it, not where they claim to offer it. That is how I personally see it and I use the Guardian as a source (as it is free) and I neglect the Times (most often) as I am not a paid subscriber and I feel it is money not greatly spend when I am, like most others on a budget, as such it is not money I have available to do that. It is an important factor as I am merely one of many that need to get by on a budget, that too impacts the news and the ACCC is a little ignorant on that part as well.

They might want to strike out at Google and Facebook. Yet Google News gives us ALL the headlines, from almost every source and that links to the local news articles. So when we see “The preliminary report recommended a powerful new authority to oversee the commercial activities of Google and Facebook” My question becomes ‘How is that going to make a difference?‘ In the end this is not about journalism, but about media and they are not the same, if the ACCC wants to make an actual impact, looking at the quality of journalism we will see that Australia will be left with the Guardian, ABC and SBS. When we were introduced to: “The Turnbull government has announced a funding freeze for the ABC but a boost for the Special Broadcasting Service“, whilst the boost is a mere $14.6 million over two years, when we realise that this all reads like a joke, how useless is the ACCC in all this and whilst we see the decimated pool of journalists, what are they doing (apart from wasting our time on something that the seemingly see as a waste of effort and budget), it is from my point of view a mere article on the foundation that reads: “Australian media is seen as irrelevant, we do not know what to do“, and it is shown against the likes of Facebook and Google, where we need to realise that they are also two different dimensions. Facebook is a mass advertisement channel, a channel that assumes that they know what their granular population wants through scripted likes and the scripted likes of the connections of that person, and Google shows the news in directions that the people searched in, or searched for. One is budget based, the other is user keywords based and the ACCC is seemingly in the dark on the fact that for the most people no longer see Australian media as relevant. That is shown a mere 34 seconds ago when I searched for “Channel 7 News” in the News tab, I was treated to: ‘Channel 7 presenter makes heartbreaking plea‘, ‘Ripped bodybuilder ends TV interview on a wild note‘, as well as ‘Caesarean birth to be broadcast live on Channel 7‘. As I see it, when it comes to visibility is seems to me that Channel 7 has a lot to learn as to the bidding on keywords as well as their methodology on how to properly position news, as well as their approach on how they want to present the ‘news’ (https://7plus.com.au/seven-news-sydney), for most people a 44 minute newscast is not the way to go (having one is still important for many though).

In the end, as I see it, the ACCC is up against the image of certain channels, their digital policies, as well as the approach they have towards news and advertisers. It is becoming less about journalism and merely about the positioning of media which is done tremendously below average. If you want to see how it should be done, watch The Guardian (UK) and BBC News (also UK), for those with language skills, the Dutch Volkskrant (at https://www.volkskrant.nl/), as well as The Swedish SVT (at https://www.svt.se/). As I personally see it Australian media has a lot to learn and that lacking part is not up to the ACCC, apart from them bashing the Australian media from drowning people in advertisements to a level that is just making them irrelevant. It is merely my point of view and I might be wrong, yet I personally do not think so. The foreign amount of visitors to the Guardian, the NY Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post, and the French Le Monde (at https://www.lemonde.fr/) are indicative of my views.

So in all that, how are regulations going to solve anything in any near future?

 

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The way of cowards

This is not the first message we see in the news and it will not be the last. We see the everlasting rumble of facilitation and the need to sweep under the carpet the actions of others and never holding them to account. Last week many in the UK were given ‘Instagram bans ‘graphic’ self-harm images after Molly Russell’s death‘, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/07/instagram-bans-graphic-self-harm-images-after-molly-russells-death) gives us a scenario that should kick us all into action, yet not in the way that some believe is the right one.

Even as we saw: “After days of growing pressure on Instagram culminated in a meeting with health secretary Matt Hancock, the social network’s head Adam Mosseri admitted that the company had not done enough and said that explicit imagery of self-harm would no longer be allowed on the site“, we should be angered by the words of Adam Mosseri, yet we are not. The image in this is not as simple as it is given, but it should be. 2 days ago we see ‘Instagram urged to crack down on eating disorder images‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/08/instagram-urged-to-crack-down-on-eating-disorder-images) where the quote: “The Guardian has discovered thousands of hashtags and accounts promoting anorexia, including diaries of weight loss, alarming pictures and comments on goal weights“, we get the advice “Please don’t report, just block,” and that is also the first path where the solution is found. It should instantly apply to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and all other forms of social media.

The simple solution

You as the poster are responsible for the content you post, you can be prosecuted and sued if need be, if a case goes to court all data and information of the account, as well as its posting history will be made available to the prosecuting parties. You are responsible for the created account and the content posted through it.

It is this simple; those who are on that path of chaos and anarchy must bear the responsibilities of the impact. No matter your age ‘I did not know’ is not a valid defence in court. Your life over, no tertiary education (the fast food industry always needs fresh blood).

It is time that we stop facilitating to social media to grow their numbers any way they can, even as the death of Molly Russell is out now, we need to realise that the matter is worse than: “But critics said the changes should have already been made and remained skeptical they would be enough to tackle a problem that some said has grown unchecked for 10 years“, political inaction and facilitation are a direct cause here and it is time to stop fretting and apply every brake we can. The measure ‘including the removal of non-graphic images of self-harm‘, the poster needs to be dealt with, In case of self-harm it might have meant that the proper people talked to Molly Russel immediately, which now implies that Molly Russel could have been alive today if action had been taken earlier. Those who posted fake alerts might find themselves prosecuted, their equipment seized and they can revert to spending hours reading, their library card giving a clear “no internet access” part. There needs to be a price for the damage inflicted. The response ‘I thought it was fun!‘ will not hold water, we have given enough leeway for the longest of times and we need to realise that the parents are often not blameless either.

Dangerous message!

So as we are given: “young people also faced being confronted with pro-anorexia images” we need to be extra alarmed. So when we are confronted with that slogan, how can this be seen as “an ascetic Journey“? If we look at ascetic we see “characterized by severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons“, yet most of the younger people will have considered that they meant aesthetic which means “concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty”, what I would call miscommunication through words that sound alike. You see, ”abstention from all forms of indulgence“, does not include do not eat what your body requires to stay healthy, because the message bringer was pretty clear of remaining in the dark to what constitutes indulgence, and whilst we see: the element of “more than is good for you” to be ignored, we see the sliding scale of danger towards that persons health. So even if we agree with “There is a social obligation and whether there is also an industry obligation is an important point that is coming out at the moment as well.” We see that in the end, the poster is not held to account and whilst we look at the statement of images, it is clear that there is every change that the slogan is kept online, which is more dangerous as slogans can become meme’s in the mind of the troubled person hammering second after second until it grabs hold in daily life. The damage is done!

When we set into law the prosecution of the poster, we also see a first step into resolving the state of cyber-bullying, these cowards are hiding in the shadows, feeling that they have fun, yet when the data becomes available for prosecution as they can no longer delete their activities, we see the impact of their fear reversed, we enable the bullied to go after those bullies. These people will now step into the spotlight and they tend to not like it at all.

All elements solved by properly holding the poster to account and that is what most social media fear, because when accountability comes into play posts decline by well over 30% and that is the fear of social media, to be made responsible is also to be made less flammable and social media grows with every online flame, it is a consequence of participation and when there is an emotional flame everyone wants to participate and have their say in it all.

It is Jade (19) who gives us more in the Guardian, who at age 11 engaged in “When my eating disorder and depression were at their worst, I scoured apps like Instagram to find these images which only worsened my self-image. At this time the posts were few and far between. Clearly the amount of images is now vast across almost all social media platforms,” Now we can understand that this is not the fault of social media that people ignore age requirements, yet this is the common issue that has been around for too long, so when we see “It isn’t only Instagram that is riddled with these potentially distressing images, sites or apps like Tumblr, Pinterest and Weheartit are also full of these posts.” we see the stage where the poster needs to be held to account, we see the stage that has been avoided for a decade and all the players know that they have been avoiding the stage. Now there is a new trend, the image of cutting, even as some sources are about the dream, about: “Cutting oneself indicates family problems“, it is now linked in several ways to self-harm and as such the picture becomes less and less transparent to resolve, yet the first option, hold the poster to account is still there and this path has been avoided for close to a decade, the question becomes why?

Age is no longer a valid point, the transgressors had no issues lying about their age, as such they need to directly feel the impact as they throw away their lives, it puts them and their parents in the picture, it needs to become about this as overworked parents all rely on giving their child a tablet or mobile as a toy so that they can be quiet as they are too exhausted, all replacement towards the failure of raising a child (in some cases). In other cases it is the lack of discipline and peer pressure, it has to stop, holding the poster to account has become an essential first step. There is a secondary need to do this, we see in some parts of the world how social media is used to spread extremism (Indonesia), how long until they start looking for tools to do their work for them? How long until we start seeing the impact of “extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS)“, via a fictive 17 year old boy named Kevin living in Springfield (IL) or Richmond (Vi)? He’ll tell you that they gave him a cool video game for promoting and retweeting something he could not read, and his classmates all did the same because Kevin got a really cool video game, that was money in the bank. For the JAD in the end it would have been money in the bank all that visibility for $59 (plus shipping), Google Ads could not have given them a better deal ever. The federal investigation teams will unable to untangle that mess for months, the perpetrators will have moved on weeks before.

That is how I see it!

We need to change gears on all social media fronts and holding the poster to account is a first step. To remove dangers form people like Molly Russell is a first, but it goes beyond that. Even when we see the sceptical foundation of: “Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, the digital minister, Margot James, said the government would “have to keep the situation very closely under review to make sure that these commitments are made real – and as swiftly as possible”” people like Margot James and her various international counter parts need to realise that it is way too late for ‘keep the situation very closely under review‘, it is over half a decade too late already, we need to change gears and make a first step towards holding posters accountable for what they post, when it results in fatalities a freedom of expression will not hold water and even if the court decides to do just that, the people have a right to know who that poster was. It gets to be even worse when we consider the factor that Apple played in all this. Their part is less easy to see because privacy is set and at times privacy is just that nobody’s business, yet when it results in the death of a 14 year old and it was a cyberbully that was behind it all? Should Apple be allowed to protect the identity of the murderer? It is not an easy matter and some drawers should justifiably be kept closed, yet the image still remains and that too is a moment where the poster could have been held accountable and holding them to account might have stopped a worse matter earlier on, it was not to be the case.

I believe that dozens of lives could have been saved if political players had acted a lot earlier and a lot more decisive.

 

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