Tag Archives: Trump

Way of the Dodo

Tariffs are nothing new, these things have existed for the longest time. I grew up where that was a given, so in my youth, only the rich bought a Harley, a Chrysler or a Chevy. I still remember walking to the shop in Rotterdam and look at all those awesome vehicles through the windows (I was too young to drive in those days), many grew their passion that way. It seems odd that living next to the country that made Volkswagen and Mercedes, we wanted a Blazer, a Harley or another American car. Nowadays, the petrol guzzlers they used to be wouldn’t make it today in Europe. So when we see: ‘EU tariffs force Harley-Davidson to move some production out of US‘, I merely see a stage setting to the old ways. The Guardian gives us loads of information as the market slides, as the shift of production and the changing of the US stock market. That is the direct visible impact of the Trade wars. Australia had this setting a few years earlier as the car industry packed up and left Australia for more exploitative settings in Asia. In the booming market that is stated to exist, we see ‘Harley: EU tariffs will cost $100m/year in short term‘ (source: the Guardian). this is a war the US president started and he forgot that companies, especially US ones, have one focus, short term ROI and a trade war changes the hats of many corporations overnight. This is seen to some degree as Bloomberg treated us to ‘Bigger Booby Trap for U.S. Economy‘. We get introduced to “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on June 20 that officials are beginning to hear that companies are postponing investment and hiring due to uncertainty about what comes next” (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-24/trump-s-trade-war-sets-bigger-booby-trap-for-strong-u-s-economy). It is what is sometimes referred to as the corporate mindset, the consideration that tomorrow is not going to be any better for now. In all this the US hides behind “tax cuts power both consumer and company spending. That would be the strongest in almost four years and twice as fast as the first quarter’s annualized advance of 2.2 percent“, yet the US seems to forget that tax cuts also means that infrastructures are falling apart, the US has a debt it cannot seem to pay and the debt keeps on rising. This in a nation where the national debt has surpassed $21 trillion (103% of GDP), whilst in addition the statistics show that the US faces a setting where the debt per taxpayers is $175K opposing a revenue per taxpayer is merely $27K, a $148K per taxpayer shortfall, that is not the moment when tax cuts have any clear momentum, because the moment the infrastructures start failing, at that point their momentum seizes. Even as Nariman Behravesh the IHS Markit’s Macroeconomic Adviser give us “If they keep down this path, all the positive effects of the tax cut will be gone“, it is worse than that. This gives the indirect implication that unemployment rates will go up giving additional ‘attack’ against the US infrastructure. All this seems to become a direct result of the tug of war between tariffs and protectionism. The BBC gives the best light (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-43512098), when we consider ‘Five reasons why trade wars aren’t easy to win‘. In this we see (not all five added):

  1. Tariffs may not actually boost steel and aluminium jobs much. The question becomes, how much of a boost would be possible, and is this proven or still merely speculation?
  2. Tariffs are likely to raise costs in the US, so the cost of the product will be increased as these CEO’s do not want to take it out of their margins, so it will be bookkept in another place, the consumer has to pay for all these charges in the end.
  3. Tariffs could hurt allies and prompt retaliation, which is already the case and when you consider that the two largest deliverers of steel are Canada and the EU, the move does not make that much sense. So we see a tariff war that will be about exemptions. In that regard, the tariff war is a bust where the companies hit will be facing a rock and a hard stand on tariffs, this is shown by a few clever people to move part of their operation to Europe, and Harley Davidson is merely the first of several to make that move.
  4. China has options, this is the big one. The US blames China for flooding the market with cheap steel and aluminium and has already stepped up protective measures against Chinese steel products. In opposition, US businesses, including those in the car, tech and agriculture industries, are eager to get into the Chinese market, giving leaders there some leverage. So in the end, the tariff war is not strangling US businesses to fan out to the Chinese market, as exemptions are gained here, the tariff war becomes close to pointless and it merely drove down the economy. This last part is not a given and cannot be proven until 2019, which could null and void any chance of President Trump getting a second term, in addition, if this is not going to be a slam dunk win for the Democrats, the Republicans better have a strong case, because 2020 is the one election where the chances for winning by Jeb Bush (Florida) and Ann Coulter (Florida) seems to be a better option than re-electing the current president. Who would have thought that in 2016? It becomes hilarious when you consider that 2020 is the year that Marco Rubio declined to run, only to give the presidency to Ann Coulter. My sense of humour needs to point that out, whether it becomes reality or not.

The previous part is important to consider, not for the matter of who becomes president, but the setting that the economy is in such a state where we all see the proclamation ““Anyone who thinks the economy is being wrecked doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a June 21 Bloomberg Television interview“. We accept the fact that he states that, yet everyone seems to overlook that the debt also gives an annual interest that is close to $100 per taxpayer, now consider that 80% of the population is in the 15% or 10% bracket. So from their taxation we see a maximum of $755 where 13% goes straight to the paying of the interest, when you are in the higher bracket 3% is lost. So before anything else is done up to 16% is lost and that accounts for 80% of the population, merely because no budgets were properly kept, the US infrastructure lost up to 16% straight from the start, that is the undermining of an infrastructure that also fuels the economy which it can no longer do. You see behind this is the IP, or as the US calls it the IP theft by China. I am uncertain if we can agree. I am not stating that it does not happen, I merely look at the Dutch examples from Buma/Stemra in the 90’s and their numbers were flawed, perhaps even cooked. They never made sense and after that we have seen ‘political weighting‘ of numbers that were debatable from the start.

So when we look back to 2017, we see the NY Times giving us: “Intellectual-property theft covers a wide spectrum: counterfeiting American fashion designs, pirating movies and video games, patent infringement and stealing proprietary technology and software“, yet I have seen these accusations in Europe and the numbers never added up. So when we see: “Central to Chinese cybersecurity law is the “secure and controllable” standard, which, in the name of protecting software and data, forces companies operating in China to disclose critical intellectual property to the government and requires that they store data locally. Even before this Chinese legislation, some three-quarters of Chinese imported software was pirated. Now, despite the law, American companies may be even more vulnerable“. It will happen, yet to what degree does it happen? What evidence is there? Consider the setting when we think of students. Students tend to have one of the harshest budgets to live on. Let’s take 100 students and they all decided to duplicate (read: borrow) the latest album from Taylor Swift ‘Reputation’ (it is easier to imagine it when the victim is a beautiful blonde who only recently stopped being a teenager). Now, basically she lost $2390 in revenue, yet is that true? How many would have actually bought the album? Let’s say 10% of all students are real fans and they would have bought the album (when not confronted with the choice of food versus entertainment), so the actual loss is $239. Now, this is still a loss and she is entitled to take action here. Yet the people making a living in the facilitation industry will demand the loss be set to $2390 that is where the numbers do not add up! There is the setting of eagerness to hear an album versus the need to have the album. We are all driven with the need to hear the album and some will buy it. This opposes several views and whilst the implied copied work allegedly is done so in the hundreds of thousands, the evidence is not there to support it. That is where weighted forecasts are the setting and it is an inaccurate one. So in all this, from the IP point of view, do we have 23,675,129 C# programmers, or merely 24 million people who wanted to take a look at C# only to install it and never use it because they could not figure out what they were looking at?

Now we get to 2018, where we see (at http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/23/technology/china-us-trump-tariffs-ip-theft/index.html) the projected issues with “The United States Trade Representative, which led the seven-month investigation into China’s intellectual property theft and made recommendations to the Trump administration, found that “Chinese theft of American IP currently costs between $225 billion and $600 billion annually“, I wonder what numbers they are set on. Now we can agree that the likelihood of “”China has sought to acquire US technology by any means, licit or illicit,” James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote in a blog post Thursday” being true in regard to defence projects would be high. Yet in all this, where is the data supporting these views? Without proper data we are faced with US companies setting expected revenue that is many millions too high and that part remains unanswered on many fronts. Now in defence, we get it! That is the game, so as we consider the news last year from breaking defense with the news that: “compassion for the Army, which is trying to standardize its computer systems across more than 400 units in the next 28 months. The objective is a “single software baseline,” where every unit has the same set of information technologies. Such standardization should simplify everything from training, maintenance, operations and future upgrades“, this is fun to read as I had to set up something like that for a company much smaller. There we learned that Dell was kind enough to have within two shipments the same model computer yet both had different patches because one chip had been changed. Now consider that this ‘unsettling dream of standardisation‘ was for a company with hardware usage merely a rough 0.13% of what the US Army has. So, that is something that will bite them soon enough. This doesn’t make the setting smaller, but a lot larger, the wrong patches tend to open up networks for all kinds of flaws not correctly set. So the cyber intrusion setting would be an optional 300% larger, giving a much larger success rate, all people willing to sell data to the Chinese (or the Chinese merely enticing the American people to embrace marketing capitalism for their own gains).

To explain the previous part in its proper light we need to realise. It is not merely about IP theft and rights; it is also about common cyber sense. In both the military and corporate setting there is a need for levels of standardisation, whilst IP that tends to rely on standardisation to be more successful, the IP theft setting is actually opposite to that. The Conversation (at http://theconversation.com/three-reasons-why-pacemakers-are-vulnerable-to-hacking-83362) gives us when they look at the medical dangers. As they give us Power versus security as well as Convenience versus security we see the first dangers. So consider the following. First there is “according to Carnegie Mellon researchers, can increase the energy consumption of some mobile phones by up to 30% because of the loss of proxies“, then we get “Most embedded medical devices don’t currently have the memory, processing power or battery life to support proper cryptographic security, encryption or access control“, giving us that hacking into someone’s pacemaker is actually not as hard as one might think. Now consider that encryption, or a lack thereof can be found on a large variety of IoT devices, and any army has their own devices that need to be more accessible at all times. In the second consideration we get “The prospect of having to keep usernames, passwords and encryption keys handy and safe is contrary to how they plan to use them“, as well as “When your pacemaker fails and the ambulance arrives, however, will you really have the time (or ability) to find the device serial number and authentication details to give to the paramedics“, it is the age old setting of convenience for the safety of all. So as we realise this, how much IP theft was already available before anyone realised its need? It is almost like the gun laws in the US, everyone wants gun laws whilst there are millions available for unmonitored purchasing defeating the purpose altogether. In that same setting we ignore common Cyber Sense too often allowing for IP theft on a much larger scale. The issue is that it does not mean that this is actually happening, or that others have interest to steal that particular IP. So we can optionally agree that the Chinese government that they definitely want all the IP on that front, even as some sources state that there is still a problem. So when we consider to an example, we need to look at that part of the information came from a research report by LtCol B. L. Ream, USAF, which gives us “There are two types of guidance systems available, the AGM-65A/B is optical guided and the AGM-65D model Is Infrared guided“, as well as “Once launched, the missile maintains a lock on to the target and guides autonomously, providing a standoff launch and leave capability. The aircraft can then egress the target area or set up to fire again in a target rich environment“, yet the other undisclosed source gives us that a programming issue on the locking when it is set through a buddy system. The: “data link control of the weapon can be provided from two different sources. Either the launch aircraft can guide the weapon or a buddy aircraft can control the weapon after launch. In either case, data link line of sight must be maintained between the data link aircraft and the weapon. Thus, on a standoff control scenario, the further away from the target the control aircraft is the higher altitude it must maintain. Even though this may not appear to be tactically sound, the standoff range is impressive“, so the undisclosed source that gives that the Data Link has a match issue and there is a chance that the speculated offset of 35 metres is ‘accidently implemented on targeting‘, will there be an issue of IP theft? When materials are openly available on the internet, as I was able to read the report on the Defense Technical Information Center site. When is there a case of IP theft? In this I love the reference that WIPO uses. Here we see: “Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such“, considering that ballistic software is 90% math (read: the application of mathematical concepts), copyright as an option goes straight out of the window, in addition, the data link adjustment makes it in theory a new product that was not covered in the first place. So standardisation makes it easier to get to the lollies, and by adjusting the wrapper it ends up not being IP theft, as long as no trademarks reside on the wrapper (a ‘it is more alike than not‘ issue in IP law).

And now for the main meal

This is seen in the CNN article I raised earlier. The headline ‘President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, taking aim at China’s theft of US intellectual property‘. It was and has always been about IP protectionism. Business Insider gives us “Two former senior Defence Department officials said Chinese intellectual property theft cost the US as much as $US600 billion a year, calling it possibly the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”“, the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/995063be-1e0a-11e8-956a-43db76e69936) gives us: “as Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, suggests: “It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States.” Yet once this loophole is used so irresponsibly by the US, of all countries, where might it stop?” The Financial Times takes it a lot further giving raise to the question how did it in the end serve IP? Where we saw more than once the terms ‘as much as $US600 billion a year‘, yet no evidence is presented. There is no setting that ‘Two former senior Defence Department officials‘ can present a list adding the numbers up and with $600 billion in the balance (as opposed to the commercial industry) we see that if proper evidence was presented a better case could have been made. Where we see in opposition to China: a lucrative market in designer knockoff goods in places like Amsterdam and London. London getting its share of 17 million tourists, all happy to get the latest Gucci bag for a special discount price of £19.95 as well as in Amsterdam where the 14 million visitors can get them for a mere €25. So did Gucci report a €812 million in IP theft losses? What about the other brands? I was the proud owner of an Australian Polo for $12, I merely needed a polo shirt (many years ago) as some drunk blonde thought it was perfectly normal to dance in high heels in the middle of the road holding a glass of red wine, so as she jumped to get away from a car (who had an actual reason to be on the road), I ended up with her wine on my shirt. So I got to the first place that sold a polo shirt and got a new one so I would not arrive at a diner red stained before it even began. Did I initiate IP theft? I had no idea what ‘Australian’ was in those days. There is the setting, what we know, what was real damage and how it is presented by those needing inflated IP theft numbers?

It is in this setting that we need to see the stage for reported IP theft. We agree that the smallest fraction is indeed set to the covert acquisition of military IP, yet the bulk (well over 95%) is all about a misrepresenting economy, the brands want their losses to seem as large as possible, the US is setting that stage to prospective economic health, yet that evidence cannot be validated and the tariff war is likely to become a much more detrimental factor in the US economy that is currently presented as a revenue bubble that will impact sooner rather than later. The independent gave us last December (at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/economy-signs-interest-rates-donald-trump-market-bubble-burst-next-year-a8102356.html) that ‘Five economic signs that can tell us if the bubble will burst next year‘. Here we see “The good news is that the world is at last experiencing a coordinated expansion, with all major regions growing reasonably swiftly“, as well as “the policies that have led to this expansion, especially ultra-easy money conditions, have created a boom in asset prices that at some stage will come to an end“. There are a few views in all direction, yet the one that no one seems to focus on is the quality of life. Earlier this year USA Today reported that “California has the worst quality of life in America“, the sunny state is where people can no longer afford to live to any decent degree. That part is forgotten, the QoL in New York is in 25th position, not a great place to be. The Quality of Life in the US has decreased to the degree where it is the lowest in the developed world. That and the fact that the US is at minus 21 trillion does not help. It is shown in the US Social Progress Index where none of the five largest state economies (California, New York, Illinois, Florida and Texas) are in the top ten states on social progress. This is important and reflects back to the student example I gave earlier. So as these people will all ‘borrow’ the latest Taylor Swift album and none of those will buy it, because they cannot afford to do so. That part becomes even more visible when you consider the Wired setting on pre-owned games in 2016. At some point Microsoft made the terminal choice as given by Wired through “You may remember that Microsoft attempted to do away with “used games” with the launch of the Xbox One. (Yeah, they made some hand-wavy claims of players being able to trade games at “participating retailers,” but the DRM scheme meant you couldn’t borrow, lend, sell them on eBay“, that setting is merely exploding in an economy that is not moving forward. That with 80% of the people on merely a 15% tax bracket or lower and the cost of living there is still going up. Even as Microsoft is pushing to “buy at the Microsoft store“, a digital copy cannot be handed out to friends, so there is little push for that move when you can only afford 4 games a year. However, Microsoft is in equal measure pushing for the Game Pass which balances one for the other. EA is making a similar move and it is actually an intelligent move to make. The few that would buy the latest NHL version no matter what gives is nothing compared to the overwhelming group that will happily buy the previous year version when it is part of a package deal at $40 a year. So I might wield the latest NHL version, at $40 a year getting the previous season of FIFA, NBA and NFL is just smart thinking. Yet these people are equally part of the claimants of IP theft. The question becomes (even as we accept that it will happen), how large is the actual IP theft? So when the US adds a 10% tariff on video games, does that merely make the download 10% more expensive? I do not think that from $40 to $44 for EA games is an increase we lose sleep about, yet the ‘cost’ of downloading remains as well, and in the flawed Microsoft design, how does the tariff apply over time, on DLC and other elements in gaming? All these changes and increases, where the consumer sees no upside, all based on projected and presented numbers without its proper representation and scrutiny.

This is how an economy goes the way of the Dodo, so when you think (source: Sydney Morning Herald) that the start of ‘US plans to curb Chinese tech investments, citing security‘ is a good idea and it is waxed with “the White House would use one of the most significant legal measures available to declare China’s investment in US companies involved in technologies such as new-energy vehicles, robotics and aerospace a threat to economic and national security, according to eight people familiar with the plans“, we need to see in equal setting the fact that 750 million Europeans might find the escalation of events important and threatening enough to take a 180 degree position on tech operators like Huawei when we are treated to “Huawei, China’s biggest maker of handsets and networking equipment, which has been flagged numerous times by US lawmakers as a possible security threat to Americans. Upon the New York Times’ publication of a piece (paywall) highlighting Facebook’s data sharing with Huawei, as well as with three other Chinese companies, the social network told the paper it would wind down (paywall) its partnership with the Shenzhen-based phone brand“. One side tries to stop and filter, whilst the other side turned open the tap and let the room flood. Even now, after a congressional hearing and the Cambridge Analytica events, we see alleged transgressions and the sharing of data on a stage where we see only growth. With “Due to the importance of highlighting the natural and heritage landmarks in the Kingdom, “Huawei Saudi” joined together with Qumra’s community of photographers to organize a workshop around “photography through smartphones” by using the latest “Huawei P20 Pro” phone” and the setting that offers the latest in mobile technology far below the prices that Google, Apple and Samsung have. It does not matter on how the tariff war is to become a disaster, it is the mere realisation that it fails because those implementing changes do not seem to comprehend that the economy consists of well over a billion consumers and they cannot afford the 10% more or the 28% more expensive mobile phone alternatives. In all this the people confronted with the dilemma merely went directly to the consumers, as such Harley Davidson is moving to Europe to circumvent a few barricades, a tariff war that was short sighted to a lot of people more intelligent than me and the country that considers naked short selling to not be illegal seems to be doing just that to its own economy, how is that the setting of morality of capitalism?

We consider the way of the Dodo and realise that in the end it merely tasted like chicken.

#HowSmartWereWe or is that #HowSmartHuawei

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How Facebook data flows

This started just 4 hours ago when the Guardian gave us ‘50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election). Even when we see “Whistleblower describes how firm linked to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon compiled user data to target American voters“, we tend to wonder, because me getting any data from my own account in Facebook is a stretch under the most optimal of conditions. So when we see “how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements“, so in all this I am not saying it is not possible and that it did not happened. The video that the Guardian offered, the interview with the whistle-blower is nice, but it is quite something else. You see, what I got out of that interview is not answers, but questions. So when I heard “grossly unethical experiments” and “you are playing with the psychology of an entire nation in the context of the democratic process“. Here I wonder (for a mere moment) if something wrong was done at all. This is social media; social media is something that has no boundaries and no actual setting of limits.

We tend to set the bar of any social given at whatever level it should be according to us, but in reality, there is no social setting, not until enough people complain. I have seen many apps that are out there that do not only want your name, gender, age and so forth. They also want your religious and other settings and most people are happy to click ‘OK’. So this is something we are walking into and the given stupidity of many Americans means that a free game is something that comes for free and whatever it stated with the ‘allowed access to‘ is pretty much ignored, especially when the people around them state that it is a very cool free game. So when I see “built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”” we see that Robert Mercer has found a business model that works. The question merely remains on how that data was captured, if it was through ‘cool apps’ there is little that Facebook can do, unless it has exact legislation at their fingers to state that the law was broken. Yet in all this the fact that this happened in 2014 and that the Guardian (and the Observer) had the scoop 4 years later gives rise that the farmed data is not merely still in use, it is actively used for whatever endeavour Robert Mercer has in play to gain maximum profit, because that is what a billionaire does. So when we see “Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals” the outrage should follow, but with ‘it failed to alert users‘ implies that Facebook did not care about the users, but about the business model, as well as ‘took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information‘ gives rise that their data was merely secure enough and no actual loss was found, that is the view we get when a firm where data is their direct market value data and ‘secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals‘ was not done. It is actually that simple, those who claim it not to be are merely hiding in the margins, hoping to strike it rich themselves, because that is what the data of 50 million people offers.

It goes further when we see the NY Times claim. With ‘How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions‘ (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/us/politics/cambridge-analytica-trump-campaign.html), we see “During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statement expressing alarm and promising to take action“, not only does it imply that the data is beyond their control, it gives rise that others have access to it which is more alarming. The Facebook system has failed its members to the extent that their privacy did not exist for close to 4 years. So how much data have you shared in the last 4 years thinking it was only for your friends?

In addition, the claim we see in the NY Times “Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, and other officials had repeatedly denied obtaining or using Facebook data, most recently during a parliamentary hearing last month. But in a statement to The Times, the company acknowledged that it had acquired the data, though it blamed Mr. Kogan for violating Facebook’s rules and said it had deleted the information as soon as it learned of the problem two years ago“, when combined with what the Guardian is giving us is a rise to the setting that both Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica and the speakers of Facebook are both incorrect, insincere and without any doubt cause for great concern and so far the Facebook users are in the dark on a near global level.

I can applaud Robert Mercer to some extent, you see with “The conservative donor Robert Mercer invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, where his daughter Rebekah is a board member” we see one side, the other side is that all things being equal the return on his investment is close to five-fold, making is a wise investment when the goal is merely $$$$.

In all this we can give the Facebook users the bird, not because we hate them, but for years I have spoken out clearly that these users are all about stating ‘privacy’ no the NSA whilst at the same time sharing indiscriminately on social media like Facebook, whilst not comprehending the system because it was ‘free’. This is the direct consequence and these users will be used again and again because that is what they signed up for. So when Robert Mercer is offered a $25 million deal with an international IT firm like Vintage Alternating Java Academy or Medicinal Office of International Studies, we will see a CEO who will happily oblige, yet have you figured out yet where that data ended up? That is how the game is played, so when they cannot sell the data and the firm gets taken over by a Chinese multinational, do you think that the data stays in that one place? This is what you all signed up for. You might be in denial and you might state that it should not happen, but the law is very easy on what should happen and what is legally possible, the ‘should happen‘ group loses without a moment’s hesitation. The only part that I am not getting is what I would personally describe as ‘the Facebook level of ignorance’. You see, either some players were intentionally extremely stupid, or they were in on it form the beginning. They were in on it as they did not address the flaw they had exposed themselves to and they thought they had stopped the fear for 3 years, but now as we see merely two days ago, over three years after the fact has happened “a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties”“, as well as ““This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network” they are now realising that they set themselves up for a much larger negative boost. You see, when these 50 million users find out that they have been had, will they remain with Facebook? So what happened when the global wave starts and Facebook optionally loses 10% users, how will they sell that? It was the short-sighted prospect of meeting the sales needs and targets that got them in hot water. That is the foundation of the loss they set themselves up for and in all this, Americans far and wide have given their privacy up for a much larger extent that they realise and this path will take at least a few weeks as Facebook is setting all their guns to downplay any information that the public is exposed to.

So as we are ‘exposed’ to ““Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” Mr. Grewal said. “No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.” Still, he added, “it’s a serious abuse of our rules.”“. So is that true? You see the data shows that he is not truthful, because if that was an actual setting than Facebook would have had their own cloud for analytical solutions that did not require the export of data, but we see that this did not happen. So as we see the altered statement of ‘No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked‘, we could paraphrase this into ‘we voluntarily handed over the data to be used outside of the Facebook system‘. So does this make Robert Mercer the most intelligent entrepreneur, or is he merely the first one who got found out. So when we take a look at the flowchart in the Guardian article we see that Alekandr Kogan is linked to Cambridge University, St Petersburg State University, the Russian Government, as well as Global Science Research (GSR), which he founded, we see the setting that as academics are all about reselling their solutions for maximised economic profit, we see that the link between GSR and SCL Election Ltd (which now links Alexander Nix, we see that the data has likely gone a lot wider than anyone expected and there we have the setting that Facebook and their position of ‘it cannot be used legitimately in the future and must be deleted immediately‘, when data is out there it is NEVER deleted, whomever thinks that this actually happens will be delusional at the very best.

So when we see “That to me was the most astonishing thing. They waited two years and did absolutely nothing to check that the data was deleted. All they asked me to do was tick a box on a form and post it back“, which we get from former employee Christopher Wylie, gives the rise of the delusional settings that are seemingly available at Facebook. This now gets us to the final part “Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a data protection specialist, who spearheaded the investigative efforts into the tech giant, said: “Facebook has denied and denied and denied this. It has misled MPs and congressional investigators and it’s failed in its duties to respect the law“. I personally see this as the fallout to keep the billions of advertisement revenue rolling, because the larger the revenue stake, the less oversight is given to that firm. That is a view we have seen with the larger players for close to a decade. So is anyone actually surprised to see the Facebook data flow far beyond the borders of Facebook?

We as users have merely ourselves to thank for the shortcomings that exposes our privacy all over the world making it non-existent.

 

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A big tree in the desert

It started a little while ago, 4 nations got angry at Qatar, I wrote about it earlier. There were issues on both sides and there were intelligence considerations as well. In this Germany intelligence decided to shed light on the matter by investigating certain sources. A path I reckon that until now has not been too successful. A path that was equally a given not to be too successful, yet what was not expected was the issue shown a few days later when on July 16th The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/uae-hacked-qatari-government-sites-sparking-regional-upheaval-according-to-us-intelligence-officials/2017/07/16/00c46e54-698f-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html), the issue shown with “The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials“, in addition there is “In a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post article was “false.”“, which is to be expected. Finally we get “Qatar has repeatedly charged that its sites were hacked, but it has not released the results of its investigation. Intelligence officials said their working theory since the Qatar hacks has been that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt or some combination of those countries were involved. It remains unclear whether the others also participated in the plan“, which is an equal truth. In addition, we need to realise that this is not some fake news site, this is the Washington Post, America’s answer to The Times, and its high ethics in journalism have been established for the longest of times, so when we see a mere 2 hours ago (at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/qatar-diplomatic-crisis-latest-updates-170605105550769.html) the update “Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt say they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it shows willingness to fight ‘terrorism’” a quote given after we see the headline ‘The latest news after some of the Gulf states and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air blockade‘, yet in light of the found hack(s), how valid are these blockades? In addition we see in regarding the Hajj pilgrimage that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are in a he said versus he said situation, a side we would not have expected from these two evolved nations. There is a larger drawback in all this, as Turkey is trying to ‘ingratiate’ their own agenda, they are now becoming a stronger middleman for anything Iran has in mind, whilst not being connected to the action and in addition to that, the pressures at present are also enabling abilities in Palestine. There is no clear intelligence that is in the open that should be regarded as reliable, yet the ‘watercooler chats‘ seem to imply that calls between the PSS and Hezbollah wave allegedly been happening with some ‘regularity’ in the last 4 weeks, if that is so, than additional pressures on Israel cannot be far away.

Back to Qatar, the latest news gives that according to Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State that Qatar has met with the commitments that they were promising, there is a given that when Saudi Arabia, in conjunction with three allies that are not the smallest, any nation under pressure would be willing to comply with any reasonable demand that does not impede national pride to get in the way. Yet, what has the opposition offered at present? In my view the German promise seems unlikely to result to be any form of a working tactic to get some kind of resolution in play. You see, if there was any actual support being given, it would not be registered. I hope that the Americans learned that part when they found Osama Bin Laden a mere one mile from an elite Pakistani military academy. In my view there is no way that those involved with the security there had no knowledge of EVERY building within two miles of the academy. In that same air, you might think that Qatar is aware of any terrorist involvement, that is not the case, but there is ample proof on a few levels that it is utterly impossible that no one knew. The issue becomes how high does it go?

In that same light we need to look at another source. In this case I am looking at a piece by Sami Moubayed. The title ‘Qatar PR blitz is fooling no one‘ (at http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/qatar-pr-blitz-is-fooling-no-one-1.2067427) is not the part that matters. We might wonder why he focusses on the amounts like $150,000 a month for ‘research, government relations, and strategic consulting services‘, which might also include ‘communications with members of Congress and Congressional staff, executive branch officials, the media, and other individuals‘, the second cost at $2.5 million for former US Attorney General John Ashcroft who would be auditing Qatari efforts at halting terrorism funding. It is interesting how he is going to achieve that as the scope of monitoring and verification is close to impossible when we consider the rogue spears we have seen in Iran in the past, a mere general was able to give the largest level of materials and support towards the enemies of Israel. In this I saw that over that they missed out on options to increase visibility of close to 75% for a mere $10,000 a month (excluding my commission mind you), in light of the mentioned $138,000 not the greatest expense. Yet the important truth is given soon thereafter in “This is where the problem started and where serious work needs to be done to rebrand the country’s political orientation. No PR firm can do the job — it can be done by one person only, being Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani“, which is only partially true. They still need a facilitator to give a wider voice, or better spoken a channel to transfer the words of Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani to a much wider audience.

Sami is right when he states “Only he has the power to change his country’s image in the eyes of its neighbours“, and in this I am not even mentioning his valid reason of “All Qatar needs to do is walk away from Hamas and Yousuf Al Qaradawi“, which would have been a good idea any day of the week. Qatar has a few more options, options that they did not even realise that they had. There is a case to be made to revamp Al Jazeera TV’s editorial policy. Yet as it is speaking to the hearts and minds of Muslims (to a larger extent), I would not be able to give proper advice in that place, what does matter is that non-Muslims know what Al-Jazeera is, yet in reality those people do not know what EXACTLY Al-Jazeera is and that could be a small task, easier rectified and it starts on their own website. Not the flaccid minute under the heading of ‘about us‘. That current part of 200 words with the ‘Who we are‘ is so minute, so none telling that is overlooked with the mere blink of an eye. The words there “Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera Arabic was the first independent news channel in the Arab world dedicated to providing comprehensive news and live debate“, is laughter incarnate in my personal opinion! I am willing to bet a building on the fact that their 1996 was a challenge worthy of a small novel to say the least, so why not properly introduce Al-Jazeera to Muslims and non-Muslims alike? If Al-Jazeera is truly in 100 countries, the cheapest of solutions (read: SAP Dashboard) could add visibility to what is being offered, the network could grow through offering visibility using a mere BI consultant, which in all likelihood is already walking around in at least one of their 100 offices. In similar visibility they are presently (as their website indicates) not in France or the Netherlands, and perhaps at least in one office in one of the Scandinavian countries with the ability to offer local language support to thousands of Muslims. To the extent that this is PR that is massively cheaper than some PR offices offer and that is something Qatar would have in their own hands, working a social network with localisation. Interesting that that was not mentioned anywhere.

My ideas are directly reflective of the words of Sami Moubayed as he states “Somebody needs to whisper in the ear of the emir — and senior management at Al Jazeera — that they need to do a better job to polish their image; rather than spend millions on agencies in London and Washington, it’s far more urgent — and less costly — to do the job at home“, yet he does it in absence of directness or direct ideas on how to do it. I reckon that is fair enough, the man is a historian; he mostly lives in the past, not in the tomorrow. That is not an accusation; it is merely a factual realisation.

In this, the strongest point he makes is seen with “After a wave of agony swept the Arab World since 2011, this doesn’t sell any longer throughout the region. In fact, it sounds and reads as cheap, cliché, and very outdated“, this is exactly why the entire dashboard is such a step forward, I noticed a few more issues. There would be a fair debate whether this is laziness, or mere editorial policy. A case could be made for either side, yet the issue remains.

As we say goodbye to the Al-Jazeera side, we need to embrace one more part in the article by Sami. When we revisit the title ‘Qatar PR blitz is fooling no one‘, I will argue that there is no fooling going on, the article reads nice, but it is not an ‘or’ situation, Qatar is in a ‘and’ situation, where they need to visit issues on inclusion and finding more options to visit, not choosing from some selection and there is a need to be clever about it because the cost and effect of $150,000 a month needs to be examined as how it was spend and what was gained. The question on rebranding politics is also up for grabs, is it about branding or making sure that the visibility is correctly vetted? These elements are not the same and the cause and effect here is also implicitly seen as we see the reactions from the 4 neighbours currently not happy with Qatar. In this, there is an additional part for me set in the issues from Saudi Arabia. I have not read the original reports (and my knowledge of the Arabian language can be rounded upwards towards 0%), yet the press on a near global scale have never given proper item by item view of all the elements, more important towards the evidence as the other 3 (minus the hacking UAE) have offered them with shown source intelligence. It would be so embarrassing if the other three plaintiffs are all depending on one and the same source (an unknown part and speculative from my side). I believe that open clear communication is a first step to resolve it. the fact that my glasses got initially tainted because Al-Jazeera was kind enough to start that day with voicing anti-Semitism through  broadcasting sermons by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, that was not a good day for Al-Jazeera in light of the stresses in Doha that day. This is exactly why reforming, or better stated editing the ‘powers to be’ within Al-Jazeera sooner rather than later.

For me, I have always been a fan of oversimplifying any issue, so when I look at the grievances now in play, if there could be talks and the three nations can name one item that would show the good intentions of Qatar, what would it be and could Qatar comply with these three items? You see, it might sound oversimplified, but the reality is that all large achievements start small, one step at a time. In that way, we are not enabling either Iran or Turkey (there are issues with some of their decisions), there is an open view of the matter at hand and there is movement in a stress reducing direction. If those three items would stop the blockades, there would be a first step in resolution and more important, as I personally see it, the risk of escalation, as two nations miscommunicate between two optional dinghies and send missiles in the wrong direction is definitely a good element to prevent. Consider the implications, if we see the choice from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Would the biggest issue of his kingdom be with the dissidents or with the Iranian connections?

I believe that certain actions are becoming increasingly important, not merely because of the pressures and stresses, the short term issue is seen as we read “The boycotting countries have previously told the WTO that they would cite national security to justify their actions against Qatar, using a controversial and almost unprecedented exemption allowed under the WTO rules” (at http://www.trtworld.com/mea/qatar-crisis-latest-developments-413572), the problem here is that if this element is accepted, the WTO is not merely a cannel of facilitation, it would leave Qatar with very little to work with, it would in addition leave Turkey with holding the bag as the shops are showing in big signs ‘From Turkey by air – New products‘, if those remain Turkey itself ends up in deep hot waters with all the repercussions that follow. As my Law classes included all matters Wise, Terrible and Obvious, the words as given in Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/03/01/trump-admins-yugely-terrible-trade-idea-to-ignore-wto-rulings-america-doesnt-like/#7edfa5103a9f)

With: “Not obeying WTO rules allows countries to close their markets to your exports, it doesn’t force them to open them up“, that would be a stage with issues on several levels we really don’t want to end up at.

This also gets me to the article for another reason. The March 1st article shows more than you expected. You see with “The Trump administration sent shockwaves through the world of trade yesterday when the Financial Times reported that it was looking for ways to bypass the World Trade Organization, the 22-year-old oversight body that adjudicates trade disputes, and which Trump has called a “disaster.”” we now get a second consideration, is the Trump administration using the Qatar strategy to try to thwart the WTO in another way, trying to take away the equality and fairness that the WTO had in the past to set a different set of rules. Did the White House legal team brief the four non-Qatari minded players to use this to put more pressure on Qatar? It might be a valid tactic, yet the US could have had other reasons for pushing the WTO, the question is whether that is equally in play here, if that is so (speculative from my side) than it is the US that has done more than increase pressures on Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE. It is trying to change the global setting of trade in what I expect to be the most selfish of reasons, under those conditions, we might soon see that being a member of the EU is no longer a benefit, as it would become the anchor holding the other EU nations back in trade, merely for the reason that they cannot simply change trade rules for the EU.

So if Doha means Big Tree, we have to wonder what the board looks like at present, it seems that certain actions have been put into motion to set a season of drought for this big tree. We can argue that they did part of it to themselves, yet when we see that other players have had certain personal needs, who is actually trying to resolve the situation with a total absence of personal selfish needs? As I see it not the PR firms, in equal measure there are certain steps that Al-Jazeera could have put into place months ago, yet that too has not been achieved, so who on the side of Qatar is actually thinking of Qatar? I know it is not Turkey or Iran. I do not know who is, but as we see other sources state that “In a study by David Andrew Weinberg that was published in January by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) titled “Qatar and Terror Finance: Part II: Private Funders of [al-Qaida] in Syria,” he wrote: “Based on these cases, there is no persuasive proof that Qatar has stopped letting certain terror financiers off the hook.”” (source: Jerusalem Post), we see that Qatar needs to start considering what is important to Qatar, because in the end Hamas will not care, they merely continue with their path of hatred against that state of Israel with whatever funds they can lay their fingers on. With all the considerations we would want to give to Qatar, it is the actions of Qatar, shown by too many sources that they themselves are becoming (read: have become) their own worst enemy. The one question that Sami Moubayed leaves us with is any of this done (read: facilitated) with the clear approval of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar? That is the part that matters the most and that path also shows the path of least resistance in hopefully finding a solution to the matter for all the players involved.

 

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