Tag Archives: Washington Post

In continuation of views

Today is the third and possibly the last part in the Florida shooting articles. This part got here because of an article in the Washington Post. I reckon that those who did not read it should (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/why-school-shootings-are-so-rare-in-israel-where-guns-are-such-a-common-sight/2018/02/22/1fce546a-17e3-11e8-930c-45838ad0d77a_story.html). It gave me info that did not surprise me, but it was still nice to read. Did you know that shootings in schools in Israel are unheard of? In a place where you see guns and armed uniformed men on the streets, that this is the place where things go wrong. Yet, you would be incorrect. So when I reviewed some of the views I illustrated yesterday. It was a nice relief that some of my thoughts and speculations were proven correct. With: ““The guards are there for other reasons, mainly terrorism,” said Amos Shavit, spokesman for the Ministry of Education. He said the guards stationed at schools are under the authority of the police. In large cities, he said, the police and the local authority carry out security patrols around the educational institutions throughout the school day. There are no metal detectors or special door locks on classrooms. And, by policy, teachers are not armed“, it is all dealt with by professionals, as it should.

So as we see: “According to data from Israel’s Ministry of Internal Security, which registers all gun owners, about 260,000 Israelis, or about 3.5 percent of the population, have permits to carry firearms. Half of the permit holders are private citizens, and the others work for security firms” we see an optional clear case for better gun control, Israel is only slightly larger than New Jersey, the US being 450 times the size of Israel needs to be taken into account. Israel is close to the size of the Netherlands, another place not smitten with large space. Israel has 8.5 million people versus 325 million in the US. You think that this does not matter, but it does, especially when we consider people per square mile which is 320 people, a density 10 times higher than the US, you see people density has often been identified with crowd stresses and quick rising agitation levels. In all this, there are more factors, but these were the main ones and in that environment, school shootings are an event the Israeli children do not have to deal with. Then we see something that should wake us up. The Israeli population pretty much all get some form of military training and with “They are taught how to handle a weapon and how to respect a weapon,” Perry said. And, he said, “it is very, very hard to obtain a weapon in Israel.”” we see the part that matters. As I stated it in different ways here we see ‘how to respect a weapon‘. A weapon is for the most a tool, it serves a purpose, now some use it for shooting pieces of carton (targets), yet it is in its foundation a tool to end lives. It does not matter whether it is an animal or a person, when we use it; we are enabled to end the life of a target. A sword, a bayonet and a canon, all tools designed to kill; we need to respect that part. Now, we might use if for sport or for competition, but the foundation of the skill was to be able to end lives, in that it does not matter whether it was to stay alive, to protect your family or to protect others. We tend to walk around that part too often. We trivialise police officers at times as they carry their guns. But they were trained to kill dangers, to the lives of themselves and the lives of the civilians around them. Now, this does not mean that they shoot to kill, it merely means that they have the tool to do that, so the skill of aiming, the skill to properly use a firearm is increasingly important. They were trained with the purpose to protect lives, not to take them away. The article adds its views with “Residents of Tel Aviv, for example, are unlikely to receive gun licenses, whereas Israelis living in border areas or in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, places where they could be targets for Palestinian militants, are more likely to be approved for gun licenses“. The final part is the bacon on the sandwich, but not part of the causes we see, or so I believe. With “her research showed that Israel ranks 81st in the world for per capita firearm ownership, with less than 1 in 10 Israelis owning firearms. The United States, with one firearm for every person, ranks first“, in this Janet Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the State University of New York Downstate in Brooklyn was looking at the difference in homicide, but here we see the strain where I start to disagree. You see in social science views the USA has a flaw, a massive one and that is as I personally see the larger cause of it all. I have seen and witnessed Americans in action (and in non-action) in several walks of life. The entire problem starts in school, almost in primary school. The USA has had a forever growing stigma towards being first, being the best. Now, I am all for a competitive view and those winners are at times heralded, admired and idolised. I have no issue with that part, so as we see the movies and the news on how those ‘great’ football players get to have sex with whomever they want, whether the woman likes it of concedes to it, or not. This is seen in the Arizona Central and several other sources with: “Hamilton High School administrators knew of multiple allegations of sexual assault involving the Chandler school’s football players and repeatedly failed to notify authorities, according to information found in hundreds of pages of police documents released Thursday“. Not only does it happen, we see police reports that the authorities in school are condoning that behaviour. With the quote “Some students aware of the alleged sexual assaults did not appear to grasp the seriousness of the incidents, often using a joking tone about what they saw as a team initiation“, we see the unbelievable truth in how far the USA s failing its children. On the other side, we see those who fail to some extent those requirements of excellence, like any population will, but in the US those in the lowest 30%, especially if they are not athletes become legitimate targets, pariahs and outcasts. It does not matter how clever they are, they fail the social threshold and the athletic threshold and they become targets. This is the setting where the issue comes and it becomes even worse when these children are already receive some form of counselling or are on medication. The Columbine High School massacre, the Virginia Tech massacre, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting all fit the bill to some extent. The last one is important, because it is the one odd duck out. We are shown degrees of isolation from and/or towards the perpetrators in the other ones, within the Stoneman Douglas High School, there is evidence that people had gone out of their way to include Nikolas Jacob Cruz within their community. The second adoptive parents after he lost his adoptive parents, shows that this community was pretty strong on inclusion. That is why the setting is weird.

I am not blaming mental health or medication on issues. Even if that was the case to the larger extent, I believe that the environmental pressures of being the best, being number one are causing way more damage than we are aware of. Actually, that is not correctly phrased. I believe that the stigma against those who cannot make the top levels is a lot more damaging. Now, in the end the perpetrators are the ones to blame, they decided to take the lives of others, yet there is a part in me that wonders whether social changes in the US would enable a much lower stressful and less combustible setting. I know that other nations have much stronger gun laws, yet Norway had to deal with the acts of Anders Behring Breivik in 2011. This does not compare to the school shootings, but the setting is that if Norway can get the unfathomable acts of a lone wolf to this degree, how much danger is the US in? You see, that is a long term issue and to resolve those dangers, we cannot merely point at the police department, the FBI and other players. It is becoming more and more important to change the board of the game and allow for larger changes that can be implemented. Both the shootings and the sex romps that are occurring in US High Schools and universities show evidence of this highly need change. And if that is not enough there are football coaches who dip their feet in the sexual waters and if they do not, in at least two cases their wives did.

We see more and more events like that make it to the courtrooms, there is still from various sources the alleged and likely issue that at least three times the known amount of victims, issues and events remain unreported. I believe these issues are directly linked to this all and even as the people want stricter gun control, there is no way of telling how long that takes, or how successful it will be in the US over the longer term. There is currently enough aftermath evidence that an environment where the pressure bar is lowered, a lot more people will not be in the stressful stage where their personality literally explodes in the faces of others not unlike a shotgun, in that I am personally close to absolutely certain. You see, during my law studies, I got to see loads of footage of the Columbine shooting, the Zero Hour Massacre at Columbine High (2004) gives a lot of facts and information that supports my view, in addition, further materials on YouTube (not the most reliable source) gives additional information that pushes the idea that social changes in US schools become more and more important. In this there are two additional views (read: movies) that count towards Columbine.  The two movies are Bowling for Columbine, the anti-gun movie by Michael Moore, and weirdly enough I’m not ashamed. In both we see the expected views on gun control and in I’m not ashamed we see the confirmation of bullying (not the central point of the movie though). Yet they both show something different in support. We see how Michael Moore gets the limelight in every way imaginable, whilst even Google allowed itself to be used in blocking the trailer for no less than 11 months, which gives added view that only some views in regards to these events are ‘tolerated‘. The papers gave the movie for various reasons mixed reviews. It is of course in the eyes of the beholder how a movie is seen and in that I am fine with that. There the LA Times gives us “a refreshing lack of moralizing here, and a welcome emphasis on accepting people for who they are“, it is an interesting view, especially in the view of social changes that the US desperately needs. Forbes also had good things to say and that is nice, some negativity was seen from the Guardian with “To use the senseless death of a school shooting victim to promote one’s warped political agenda is, to use a trendy term, deplorable“, I do not disagree that it is a valid view, yet as we can see, that is the actionable life of politicians as we have seen them in pretty much EVERY school shooting, so the Guardian was catering to the obvious here. The BBC gives us (at http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180219-toxic-perfectionism-is-on-the-rise) that the age of Perfectionism has very dangerous downsides. They rightfully state “the thing about perfectionism. It takes no prisoners“, it merely enforces 1% success and 99% failure, which is a very dangerous setting and the US schooling system (actually most schooling systems in that regard) show how dangerous it is. In this it is the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo who gives us something much better. He strives for excellence, not perfection: ‘I am not a perfectionist, but I like to feel that things are done well‘, as stated in the BBC article. They also give us: “research shows that maladaptive attributes like beating yourself up for mistakes or feeling like you can’t live up to parental expectations make you more vulnerable to depression, some other studies have shown that ‘adaptive’ aspects like striving for achievement have no effect at all or may even protect you.” that part is actually the key in this. In my view, I refer to the Lord Baden Powell setting. Apart from him being the creator of the boy scouts. He gave us a setting to work with. He gave us “Leave this world a little better than when you found it”. It is a line that has been in my inner core for all of my life. I live by it because it does not require you to fix everything; it does not require you to reach for the unreachable. It merely tells you to do something realistic and in that it opposes perfectionism as perfectionism is utterly unrealistic. In that the US Army has always had a great line. With ‘Be all you can be!’ it opens the door for you to move forward in ways you can and it challenges you to never stop moving forward. That is a great setting for anyone to be in. Learn your entire life, learn more and more skills, and create your own abilities moving forward. It pushes a person, but pushes that person in a realistic achievable way.

It is education tempered through realism, some will go further than others, yet that is the reality of life. The dangers of perfectionism go way beyond normal standards and they are seen even more clearly in Japan where going back to school makes suicide statistics spike, there we see the dangers of perfectionism. Not doing your exam well and bullying when they perform poorly gives another view, not those lashing out decapitating students and teachers. No, they see it as a failure of self and a shame to their family and end their own lives. Some studies show that the suicide of those between 10-19 years is on the rise and the suicide rate in Japan is 60% higher than the global average, with one source stating 70 suicides a day. That gives additional rise to the dire need of changes, both the US and Japan shows the need for a different approach to education. Pressures and social needs are in the wrong segment of importance, whilst the need to score better and better is set unrealistically high in both nations and they are not alone. In the UK it seems that unrealistically high pass grades are needed to get into the better universities and the better faculties like Law and Medicine. The question becomes more pressing as getting to these places is almost too unrealistic on a young age, how can the youth ever be better prepared for a realistic contributing life if they are written off as not good enough long before the brain is at peak performance? To some extent we can see that athletic abilities can be seen earlier, yet the focus to train is gained often much later in life. Now, that does not mean that you can start to get into shape to become a quarterback at 25, whilst entering the NFL at 34. Yet oddly enough the brain has the ability to do just that for more than merely academic fields. In addition, this only happens in a positive environment, both elements are increasingly rarely seen in both Japanese and US schools, making the issue a growing one.

It is in those setting that it is equally important to dim the stresses that we see in schools and universities, especially as it is seen in the US. I am absolutely convinced that at least two of the four mentioned school massacres could have been prevented in a different social setting. I absolutely refuse to give any of the perpetrators a ‘free pass’ on what they did, they are accountable for their choices, but I do believe that an optional other path open to them could have resulted in a non-fatalities path. In equal measure the information as I have been able to read it gives little to no faith that more could have been done in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, too much ‘evidence’ had been shown from several sources that this would have happened no matter what, making the dropping of the ball squarely in the FBI corner (to some extent).

In the end there is one additional need to look at the NY Times. you see (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/us/politics/trump-atf-nra.html) we see ‘In describing its own shortages, the A.T.F. says it remains unable to fulfil even basic regulatory responsibilities, including inspections of firearms dealers’, so apart from the loophole that I discussed yesterday, none of the administrations (the last four at the very least) have done ANYTHING AT ALL to give the ATF the teeth they needed to do something. So as all the media is crying like little bitches on how we need gun control, the German source yesterday and today the NY Times are the only ones giving us the spotlight that the ATF needs a budget twice the size it has now to start getting things done. So as an official at the Justice Department said “the administration was interviewing potential A.T.F. directors but did not know when that might result in a nomination”, which is nice to hear next to the additional fact that the ATF has been without permanent leadership 8 of the last 12 years. So when you see that, how hollow were the promises by former President Barack Obama? You do realise that ATF stands for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. At present we might just call it the AT (Apsens Temperatio), formerly ATF. So even as they are, as stated by themselves under the jurisdiction of the Gun Control Act, National Firearms Act, Arms Export Control Act, Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 and other Federal firearms and explosives laws and regulations, they don’t have the resources to actually do that. Perhaps I should apply for a job there, you never know, with the shortages they have, I might just replace Byron Todd Jones as Director of the ATF by the time he retires in 2022.

Weirder things have happened!

 

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United they grow

I spoke out in the last week in regards to the Florida shooting. I think I got my point across and I have no issue with people taking the opposite side in all this. By looking at all sides, I feel that I get a better feel for any situation when looking at multiple angles, so I was happy to take a look at what the Washington Post was bringing. It has been bringing several pieces and there is a trend, a trend that has not been there before and some will be sad, but I would be happy, even as it is in an opposite direction of the one I have.

You see, the students are taking a turn for the better and they are actually getting smart about doing things, the weird part is that this has never happened before in the way we see it now and that is always refreshing. It is not the emotional ‘NRA, please stop killing our children‘, which was too ludicrous for words. No, the Florida students are starting to become an actual political player in all this. So, some NRA supporting politicians (which is their choice and right) are definitely in need to up their game in the political arena and they will have to do it in a very visible way.

The first view is seen in ‘Florida high school students demand change to gun laws at boisterous rally‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/they-needed-to-see-it-fla-lawmakers-emotional-tour-of-shooting-site-sparks-bipartisan-talks-on-gun-limits/2018/02/21/a930a37c-16c9-11e8-8b08-027a6ccb38eb_story.html). In Tallahassee thousands of students have rallied, now this is nothing new, students rally at many moments, they tend to keep the milestone rather low. Not this time though. This is actually a lot closer to the anti-Vietnam rallies that we saw in the 60’s. This is getting serious, which is always a good thing. The one thing is that the blame part towards the NRA is still wrong in my view. Don’t get me wrong, the NRA is huge so it makes sense that they are a target, but that is probably the only part that they need to change.

The quote “The proposals under consideration stop short of student demands for a ban on the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15-style gun that was used in the most recent shooting. Instead, lawmakers have focused on new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles, new powers for police to confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous by the courts, and new measures to protect schools from mass shooters” gives two parts. The first is that the focus is on semiautomatic assault weapons. It makes sense because they were used and it is a start. Now personally as a shooter I never saw the appeal to work with such a gun. I was in my shooting days always about precision, that weapon does not offer this (to a limited degree only), for that same reason I see no reason to own an Uzi, apart from when I was serving. So going after a target board, or a duck or a fox with an AR-15 or Uzi never ever made sense to me. The issue is not the weapons; it is that the NRA and its members are afraid, not because it is those weapons, but that it is merely the first step. The fact that no harmony can be found with the two very opposing forces is the danger that nothing will ever be done. One of the video commenters brings up a good point. Apart from bringing up the Australian legislation changes after the 1999 shooting, the issue that an example was made that a 20 year old person bought an AR-15 with an expired ID. That is the part that is really worrying and it should worry the NRA too and in that part they should actually unite with the shops, as well as the students to find a resolution there. You see the first part we see is “Instead, lawmakers have focused on new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles“, yet the second part that was ignored by many is: “a 20 year old bought an AR-15 with an expired ID“, so this part needs even more issues. The NRA could help in lowering pressures. The fact that a shop did not take proper actions for the sale of an automatic weapon should be examined. When we see that the shopkeeper would lose their license for life by selling to a person with an expired ID, by knowingly selling to a person with a false ID and by not lodging the right papers, the shops would higher the threshold of selling weapons in the first place, which is not the worst idea. If I go into a shop buying a Remington Model 700, or SVD Dragunov 7.62 Sniper Rifle, I would expect it come with a certain amount of actions. Let’s be clear, these are $1500-$3500 rifles, they will optionally end lives (in my case a Bambi or two), I would expect having to show my valid non expired fire arms license, proper valid identification (driver license or passport) and an ID that confirms my looks (photo) and my current address. If I need that, to get $300 credit on a TV or Chrome book, why not a rifle? I’ll tell you something more; the actual shooters either recreational or competitive would have no issue with any of that. They have children too (many of them at least), they want their kids to be safe.

Yet the video at a later stage shows issues with the way it is presented. They made the claim that only 1% of all shootings was done by people with Mental health problems and I do not believe to be accurate, in addition, when ‘shootings‘ are mentioned, there is a lot of data missing, which remains the issue and remains the cornerstone of the opposing NRA, and in all honesty, as a data analyst, it gets to me too. The proper population (people doing that deed) is too often not known. For example, how many of all the shootings were done by convicted felons back on the street, or shootings because of crimes in progress? Because convicted felons are the perpetrator of a shooting with an illegal firearm. When you are a convicted felon you cannot have a firearm, ever! This is for what I am almost 99% certain changes that statistic as shown in the Washington Post video completely, so we get misrepresentation.

This is what makes the gun control laws fall over. They do give an excellent example on the 10 year ban that had been in place and this is a positive part, because that shows the drop of events and the resurgence of fatalities after the ban was lifted and that is an important part. So could that have been an option to work with? If properly addressed yes, but doing so would require other steps to be taken and if that is done with the assistance of the NRA it would become a much better solution, one that sticks, one that sticks long term.

The second article ‘Students take charge of gun-safety movement with some help from existing groups‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/students-take-charge-of-gun-safety-movement-with-some-help-from-existing-groups/2018/02/20/eeeb8c58-166d-11e8-92c9-376b4fe57ff7_story.html) gives us “More than 250 students braved cold rain the next morning and marched 1½ miles, giving speeches using a megaphone borrowed from Women’s March organizers“, as well as “new momentum across the country to enact firearms restrictions. And the grass-roots campaigns that have sprung up in high school hallways among angry and tearful teenagers are now attracting attention from national groups demoralized after a string of shootings prompted no political response“. It is the second part that is actually more important. When we see ‘attracting attention from national groups demoralized after a string of shootings prompted no political response‘, you see, these grass-roots campaigns were always relying on emotions, always stating emotional truths, yet they were bringing factual falsehoods as I saw it. This is not getting anyone anywhere. These students are not raving, they are asking questions and they are asking very good questions and the politicians in their way cannot trivialise good quality questions, they now have to deal with the issue, they can no longer trivialise the issue and put aside as the grass-roots people allowed them to do. There is a re-invigoration and that is a good thing. As a former shooter, I have no issue with that, or with the need to be serious about owning a gun or rifle. This is seen in “Anti-gun groups are going out of their way to claim distance from the student activists while praising their efforts“, they are seeing that these students are making headway in the way the anti-gun groups have never been able to get. With: “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is starting to talk to students about rallies planned for March and expects to set aside money to help students who can’t afford to travel to the events“, you see, we now have the setting of a rally, that could rival the Anti-Vietnam rallies we saw on TV in the 60’s. Hundreds of busses driving thousands of people to Washington DC, and it’s only February now; so there is every chance that this summer in Washington will be one of the most enterprising and exhilarating summer that Washington has seen for decades. Even as a pro-gun person, I hope that they pull it off. I truly do believe that the business is way overdue for a massive overhaul and in that respect there are many gun shops that are responsible, but there is wildfire too. You see, guns are still a business and the NRA is about being responsible on one side and on being there for the arms business on the other side. When we look at the NRA site, we see in the history of it: “Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church“, the second that matters is: “Due to the overwhelming growth of NRA’s shooting programs, a new range was needed. Gen. Ammon B. Crichfield, adjutant general of Ohio, had begun construction of a new shooting facility on the shores of Lake Erie, 45 miles east of Toledo, Ohio. Camp Perry became the home of the annual National Matches, which have been the benchmark for excellence in marksmanship ever since. With nearly 6,000 people competing annually in pistol, smallbore and high-power events, the National Matches are one of the biggest sporting events held in the country today“, this shown the NRA in its origin, the forward momentum of quality use of firearms, not any illegal act in any way.

There is one part that requires illumination, yet the bulk of ALL will remain silent on it. The best part we can find is the ATF that reported two parts, the first is that more than 5 million firearms were imported into the USA, 20% from Austria (most likely due to Glock). The total import represents 30% of all weapon sales, giving us that 70% are American firearms. We cannot get a clear revenue picture because most media did not seem to take the effort to find out, but the ATF gave us that $62 million in taxation was collected, making this optionally a billion dollar plus market and that is merely the legal sales part. This was in 2016, and we know that 2017 will have much higher revenues. Now an additional side is that one source (at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/2017-is-second-biggest-year-for-gun-sales-ever-might-top-2016/article/2627883) gave that a survey gave the information that 67% of the buyers got one for home protection. It makes sense, if they all did it for the sport; the US would have had a lot more Olympic gold medals in the shooting category. So when we consider this part, we see that the NRA (even seen on their website www.nra.org) has a ‘AFFILIATED CLUBS, RANGES AND BUSINESSES‘ category, in a billion dollar business industry, in a time when economic issues are the highest priority in America, that side would not want any hindrance on revenue, making legislation the one part that gives options and safety to the people.

In this Deutsche Welle (at http://www.dw.com/en/8-facts-about-gun-control-in-the-us/a-40816418) gave us a header that should be important to look at. With “how one loophole undermines gun control” we see the following: “According to the ATF, anyone can sell a gun without an FFL from their home, online, at a flea market or at a gun show as long as he or she is not conducting the sale as part of regular business activity“, this is an issue when we realise that guns are at times like cars. They get used and many have a short term ‘dedicated‘ feel for their rifle (unlike many hunters), so when we consider: “GLOCK is set to release new features on some existing models later this year“, and we realise that security guards and many individuals tend to ‘want’ the latest model, just like their car and mobile phone, we get a screwed statistic and in that a loophole the size of the Grand Canyon. What I find puzzling is that the ATF could have done something about this issue years ago, yet both Democrat and Republican houses do not seem to have been active and more important media active in stopping this gap. It is important because from that point, any ‘decent 1st gen buyer’ ends up selling their gun to optional or convicted criminals. Those groups tend to be very willing to buy a used gun at 90 cents to the dollar (and avoid checks) which makes the seller very happy that he/she got a good deal on a second hand weapon, yet it makes for an indecently less secure America. And this has not been on any of the American articles I saw, merely a German one. So is this because the Germans are a lot cleverer than Americans, or is the media actually part of the problem here? I let you decide, but when we consider Fox News Insider talking to gun rights activist Emily Miller who states: “She argued it’s a purely political move because the administration knows that raising the minimum age for purchasing one specific weapon — which kills about 40 people per year in the U.S. — will not do anything to change the crime statistics in America“, which is absolutely true, yet neither Fox News, or Emily Miller is raising the ATF part that Deutsche Welle is raising (at http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/02/21/white-house-criticized-jaw-dropping-statement-raising-minimum-age-buy-ar-15s), so was this merely a pro-gun talk from both sides? So as we agree with Emily Miller with: “like Texas church shooter Devin Patrick Kelley — should have been red-flagged during background checks“, yet both him and Nikolas Cruz could have still acquired a gun through home sales, all ‘perfectly’ legal and no background checks, so why is it that we do not see a larger exposition to the ATF loophole? Even as a pro-gun person, I am appalled that a loophole this large exists and it seems that the media in America remains unaware (optionally is intentionally being kept in the dark) of such a weakness. This one time that I agree with Rush Limbaugh as he states “Bashing the NRA Isn’t Going to Do It” (I am still in shock I agreed on anything with him), I feel uncertain that concealed weapons will do it as proposed by a few people. Now I agree that having guns for protection in schools is almost the one remaining point. Yet, who should be there?
Should there be more security? Actual trained armed professional protecting students? I am not in favour of arming teachers as they have never been properly trained, and even if we laugh at Betty White holding a .357 magnum and we know that she is the one lady we would not want to piss off, even when she is unarmed. I personally do not see that such pressure should be with a teacher as that person will want to talk down the optional shooter. So in the end, their hesitation will give the shooter another weapon and optionally more victims. In addition, the stress levels handed to teachers would be disastrous to schools and education.

In all this the ATF loophole is still not shown anywhere, so I will let you decide on how this is to be addressed. We can equally argue that the true professionals (like the NRA) have not raised the issue either, that might be the most damning part in the NRA house and one that requires almost immediate debate in the American households. It also gives rise that those selling their weapon second hand should be given an option. Perhaps it is a new market, a growing market where the businesses in selling arms will have a 2nd hands collection, perhaps for those who want to dip their toe in the water of becoming an owner of a firearm. It would stop unchecked arms falling into the hands of whoever sells them to whoever has the cash to buy that second-hand fire arm. Is that not a firm first step in lowering the chance of the wrong person ending up with a firearm? It would be merely a first step, but it is one that could actually make a difference.

 

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Pussy in the White House?

Yes, the Washington Post is bringing us another White House, not the one that we see in some Debbie does Dallas version, the original movie, not the Broadway event. Yet in that version Bambi Woods shows to have more balls than the White House officials seem to have nowadays.

So the issue as shown (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-divided-over-how-to-handle-two-isis-militants/2018/02/09/17c2fafe-0dc6-11e8-8890-372e2047c935_story.html) whost the two parts, the first is the one I agree with. That view is: “top counterterrorism adviser, Thomas P. Bossert, favors sending the pair to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba“. The other one is “families of American hostages killed by the group want the men brought to the United States for a criminal trial“, the fact that this view was given any consideration was fair enough. Yet the dangers that wherever the trial will be, will have increasing dangers of Lone Wolf activities as well as the emotional ball that the media will play in every direction they can. It is nice for those families to have their day in court, but it is a view that is in every direction short sighted. Yes, I do feel for these families, yet in the end they will never get any justice, at best they end up having some peace of mind. Yet the price tag of that peace of mind, with the added dangers that they are inviting is just not worth it. The GB (Guantanamo Bay) solution by draining them of all intelligence and in the end when there is nothing more to get, a mere 9mm through the back of the skull is basically the best solution all around. So as we see the quote “The men, who grew up in Britain, had travelled to Syria to fight with the Islamic State and were part of a four-person cell known as the “Beatles” because of their British accents“, giving them a John Lennon end is not entirely out of bounds. So is that to be the fate of El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey? Let’s not forget that they were seen in gruesome videos beheading American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and other hostages. So why should that fate not be theirs? Because we are so much better than they are? You only have to watch the cut throat activities in Wall Street to know that that part is not entirely true!

The Mother of beheaded victim James Foley stated: “I certainly don’t want them to go to Guantanamo or any place like that, because something like that would just bury the truth. I think there needs to be a public, open and fair trial” is fair enough. She has a right to speak and I will not invalidate her view. I would state that the truth was not buried, that decapitation was tweeted and social media channeled as much as those ‘terror Beatles’ could, as for fair trial? When you become a terrorist you throw away your rights, you decided to invalidate the right to life of others beyond any reasonable view, as such, why should they be given any. The only reason why I want them in GB is because they might still have info. Even as we see: “The two men have been undergoing questioning by U.S. officials, including Special Operations forces, for “operational intelligence,” said two national security officials“, there is a chance that they missed something, not intentionally, but because the data files have too many interactions and we want to make sure we know everything we can. If that was inaccurate these Special Forces could draw straws as to who gets to execute them, if they so desire.

I can understand that the UK has a few issues with this and when we see “Any effort to transfer Kotey and Elsheikh to Guantanamo will run into stiff head winds“, we see a view that is not really surprising, yet in opposition we see: “The citizenship status of the men, who both grew up in west London, is unclear. Elsheikh’s family emigrated from Sudan. Kotey has a Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background“. This is interesting, because if the UK cannot provide actual evidence of their British citizenship, it would indicate that the UK has no opposition to offer. If there is no clarity, it implies that these two were either illegal immigrants who left the country, making it a non-issue for the UK, or they are British citizens removing the uncertainty of a citizenship status. You can’t have it both ways in this case.

I believe that it is Rita Siemion, international legal counsel at Human Rights First who gives the quality opposition that counts. As she gives us: “Sending them to Guantanamo to be prosecuted in the military commission or detained there would be a serious mistake, the federal courts have a proven track record for handling international terrorism prosecutions quickly and effectively, while military commissions are just the opposite” is a valuable view, yet how many of these federal court cases have there been and what has been the time span of those cases? That part is equally important as it puts a large target to any court facilitating to that trial and there had been Lone Wolf activities in the US. In that regard, any wannabe terrorist or upcoming ‘martyr for Allah‘ would want to hit that place for their limelight and the limelight support that their family could get. That risk is actually larger than it was a few years ago and that risk is only going to get larger and not just in the US. Jennifer Daskal, a former senior official in the Justice Department’s national security division gives an additional view that is legally important. With: “Most importantly they are connected to ISIS, as opposed to al-Qaeda, and the Supreme Court has never authorized the detention of ISIS fighters,” she said using an acronym for the Islamic State. “Bringing these men to Guantanamo would put their detention and possible prosecution on shaky legal grounds and set up a good legal basis for them to challenge their detention“. This is an important distinction. Yet I myself and many like me are in opposition with “Why are terrorists given any consideration or rights?” Let’s face it, their victims weren’t given any. Merely watching two beheadings will get you that evidence driven views, so why give them any? Because we are better? Because we believe in the rule of law?

I actually do, but there is a pragmatic difference. You see 99.9999% can fall under the law. This includes any first time offender, any repeat offender and almost every serial killing monster. Yet there is 0.0001% that is so driven to kill everyone, so driven to denounce the rights of others and so determined to blow up whomever they can that pushing them into that same jurisprudence setting whilst we know that dozens upon dozens would knowingly face death whilst the law remains idle is wrong. You see that degrades those victims to human sacrifices for the benefit of that Golden Cow names Jurisprudence and that is just a little too hypocrite for my blood.

The additional fact that the law would require to pass legislation for every splinter group, which we get to consider when we see: “a legal battle could undermine the U.S. government’s overseas military operations if a court rules that the government has no authority to detain ISIS militants under a 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress to be used when going after al-Qaeda and its affiliates” is also scary. It could mean that every extremist Muslim splinter commander would seek another name, getting the limelight as he is given consideration under US Congress, his acknowledgement and as such the US military could face additional complications. All this whilst the defined term ‘Terrorist’ could have settled it all.

In all this revisiting the discussions on Proportionality in targeted killing as discussed in the 2015 publication of ‘Global Alert’, a work by Professor Boaz Ganor might be a better path to take. In that keeping in touch with Professor Ganor might be more important than you think, because if there is a trial in for example New York, the fact that these Lone Wolves might be seeking ‘assistance’ or we see the internet growing call for martyrs is a view he discussed in his 2007 publication ‘Hypermedia Seduction for Terrorist Recruiting‘. Wherever that trial gets to be better prepared for a long hot summer and that hot summer can be viewed in the most negative narration possible.

So even as we understand that the White House is seeking a legally acceptable solution, yet as the events in the Middle East are still heating up, is that a path that they can afford? With ISIS all over the Sinai, Libya, Syria and still being a presence in Iraq, the lack of stability is working for ISIS, not against them. So it is in that setting that we need to contemplate, not merely the values we have, but also the pragmatism of them. You see it is great to have values and to keep them, but at what point in this changing world can we hold on to those values?

It would be great if that was an actual fact, but in this day and age you only need to look at the ever growing problems that the ‘pension crises’ represents, showing that governments at large (on a near global scale) do not have any solution, pushing forward actions on assuring pensions. The US and UK are the more visible ones, but they are not the only ones, not by a long shot. In this day and age where they all misrepresent the collapsing pension systems, at this point do those people want to be the bringers of ‘legally acceptable’ solutions to terrorists?

There is nothing more dangerous than relying on jurisprudential handholding whilst the politicians are largely in denial of the actual problems we face, because they all want to leave it for the next person as it is not an immediate concern. You only need to consider the fact that one firm alone (General Electric) is currently facing a $31 billion deficit, which they are trying to plug using a $6 billion loan. So in this face, whilst the US has currently a deficit of a number exceeding $200 billion, so as we are all so concerned for a decapitating population of 2, we see the White House in a light that it cannot make decisions, hiding behind the law in one side and refusing to enforce or strengthening laws to protect those who have worked a life time to making the US big, so how good is the US economy?

In my view not wasting the courts time on Terrorists and going after these companies who have basically betrayed their employees, who have given their life being faithful employees seems to rate higher on my ladder for a few reasons.

Yet that is merely my likely to be regarded as a ‘short-sighted point of view‘.

 

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Disney’s Yemeni Cricket

Roughly 2 years, 10 months, 15 days and 3.4 hours ago, the Houthi’s decided to take over Yemen from the elected government. It is at this point that the then elected government seeks assistance from Saudi Arabia and whatever other allies it can get, this coalition has been at it since it all started. We see all the condemnation on how civilian bombings are happening, yet the part on all this that “Civilians say the Houthis are dispersing weapons in residential areas leaving people fearing for their lives” is not given the light it needs to be getting. You see, that is exactly the same tactic that Hezbollah has been using, yet the media gives little to no light to that element.

Now the game is taking another turn. This is initially seen though the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/yemens-war-is-so-out-of-control-that-allies-are-turning-on-one-another/2018/02/03/50d26426-05fe-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_story.html) with: ‘Yemen’s war is so out of control, allies are turning on one another’, it is not an incorrect view. Certain alliances tend to not remain focussed unless heir is a true common goal and as for the most the Houthi’s have only had any technology to merely fire on Saudi Arabia, there is a loss of focus for the other allies in that coalition.

In addition, with: “But fighting in the southern Yemeni city of Aden over the past week revealed the extent to which Yemen’s war also is driven by other historical grievances that could pose serious obstacles to negotiating an end to the conflict, according to Yemeni and Western analysts”, which is an absolute given and one that many tend to overlook. The complication is seen with: “The uprising by UAE-backed southern Yemeni separatists against forces loyal to the Saudi-based and internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi could further complicate efforts to dislodge the Houthis from Sanaa”, you see, as the issues in Yemen grow ever more murky for the people in Yemen, the entire issue becomes a less stable and more dangerous place. With the Yemeni having no way to strike against the UAE, Saudi Arabia gets the brunt of all the anger whilst the UAE gets to focus on what is the most tactical way to move forward and can ignore what is the best path for all players around. In this Saudi Arabia could end up having to deal with the entire matter alone. This leaves them, unless the UAE changes its approach with the tactical question, should the Yemeni situation be resolved, or is it safer for the Yemeni people to annex Yemen into Saudi Arabia into a partially self-governing region? It is a dangerous question, not only because of the implication, but when the humanitarian dangers (Cholera, Polio, Measles and famine) are not just on the horizon, but now on the front door of Yemeni citizens, the iron hand required to save whatever citizens are left alive, it is one of the few historical times when annexing is starting to make sense, moreover, it might be one of the few option that soon enough remain.

Not only does it take care of the separatists, it shows a new side which will in equal measure strikes fear in Saudi’s other adversary Iran. When Iran sees the support and the consequence of its so called actions. Especially if in addition Saudi Arabia opens the doors to all UN humanitarian actions to give care and medical support to the Yemeni people, Iran will not merely have to fear Saudi Arabia, it will be hosted with the prospect of giving aid to escalation in UN humanitarian zones, one fact that would require Turkey to cut its ties with Iran or face massive sanctions from all NATO allies as well as all 28 European community nations, those who would side with Turkey would soon find themselves isolated and in a dangerous economic downturn, one that none of the 28 nations can currently afford!

There is an optional second issue that would evolve from that. As any positive humanitarian action within Yemen shows the good side of Saudi Arabia, the long term condemnations will need to write about other matters and even finally show light on the optional benefits of seeing Saudi Arabia as a place of growth and investment. Even as the Google Alphabet group is already looking at growing its presence, Saudi Arabia is set to grow in other ways too and as both the consumer goods and pharmaceutical groups are seeking growth, the need for manufactured goods for 32 million Saudi Arabians, as well as the options to facilitate to 35 million Iraqi’s and 4 million Kuwaiti’s from the relative safety of Saudi Arabia is an even better prospect for those catering to consumers. That is one way of obtaining growth and even as the falling out with the UAE is an issue for Saud Arabia, there is an optional path where Saudi Arabia could come out on top.

It is not a new concept. The solution had been voiced on a few times last year, yet in many cases there was the outlook of larger opposition from the UAE and Oman, now that the falling out with the UAE is an actual fact, the Saudi government could go into talks with Oman to facilitate some solution that make Yemeni Araba a mere temporary solution as a humanitarian implementation is found to protect the civilian population from further harm. By giving Oman a much larger voice in all this could prove beneficial to both Oman and Saudi Arabia, but only for the non-long-term future.

In all this it will not become a long term solution and all parties will be painfully aware of it all, whilst it does give rise to dealing with the insurrections in Yemen and at the same time show Iran that it stands a lot more alone in its inciting tactics than it previously bargained for. In equal measure it gives Turkey the clear message that it either changes its current course of finds itself in a falling out with both the US and the EEC, a situation that could stop whatever economy they thought they had for the next decade. Turkey could end up buying humble pie at $15 (or €10) per slice. In addition, t won’t just be “French President Emmanuel Macron has told his Turkish counterpart that there is currently no chance of Turkey becoming a member of the European Union”, it will be messages from at least 15 of European elected rulers and there is a chance that the number opposing Turkey as a full European member will grow to 25, with that in mind Turkey will also be out of any marketing race in the middle east making them no longer an interesting party to Russia, other than for the need of consumer exploitation for whatever they have for sale.

Now many parts of this is speculation, even as it is based on visible facts, the idea that Yemen becomes the corner stone of several linked issues is a lot wilder than Walt Disney could have ever imagined in any movie he ever made, including that movie of a boy with a growing nose and a conscience called Yemeni Cricket.

In this growth is already an optional given for Saudi Arabia as Google (with a plus one) is already in advanced talks to set up a tech hub in Saudi Arabia. His also partially confirms my initial view (a few months ago) that Saudi Arabia is ready to set the nation into a mobile 5G growth, making it soon a more technical advanced nation than the US will be in 12 months. Outside the states of NY, DC, Pennsylvania and California there is a growing concern that at least 10 states are nowhere near ready to become 5G players, giving rise not to mere net neutrality issues, but a larger technological downturn of the US as a larger nation, a view that has not been seen since America in the great depression (1929-1939). Do you think that this is wrong or me bluffing in some way? Consider how the budget is currently set and see which states can come up with 5-25 billion in the next 18 months to give rise to 5G, then also look what has to be cut to make such a level of investment a reality and then ask yourself how the US had not planned for this technological need. So when you see the next article on how 5G is overhyped and not essential, consider your next internet session and see what you could have done at 800% of the current speed, hat is beside all the other options hat 5G allows for. Should the US make it a national need, than the national debt will be clearly pushed past the 20 trillion mark! So the only way for the USA to be seen as technologically on par with Saudi Arabia is to dive into much deeper debt.

There are of course other considerations for Saudi Arabia to take a certain path, yet it must be one of the rare occasions where annexing might be one of the few humanitarian options left. A cease fire will not get the result and of course the question is equally important, whether Saudi Arabia sees annexing as an option at all, because that part is not a given at all.

There is of course the second part. If the UAE is able to get control of the separatists and get them on target in the direction the coalition wanted it to be and if the Yemeni separatists see what is their best solution than the entire matter diffuses and as such there is no further issue, yet that is still not a given, but as this situation merely escalated over the last week, there is still time to find a non-annexing solution, which is what suits all parties of that coalition best (personal assumption).

Still, with the other news that Al Jazeera gave a mere 20 hours ago (at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/defence-minister-saudi-uae-intended-invade-qatar-180203091422735.html), makes the option of opposing issues between the UAE and Saudi Arabia less likely to simmer down. Yet in equal light the interview that Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah had with the Washington Post, where he is quoted with: “about Doha’s relations with Saudi’s rival, Iran, Attiyah noted that Qatar maintains “friendly relations with everyone”” gives rise that the ‘friend’ of my enemy, is not my enemy, which also means that softening relationships and new ties could change the dynamics of the Middle East as I personally see it. So as Saudi Arabia is trying to get along with everyone except Iran, it could push Iran into more isolation. Even as Qatar is trying to remain friends with all, it also means that Qatar is less likely unwilling to be some kind of facilitator for Iran, a path Iran really had not hoped for and that means that the onus of Turkey’s ‘friendship’ with Iran is now clearly with Turkey, which will push them in even deeper waters, as I personally see it.

So as we end this part of the speculation and forecasting, we will need to see on how talks pan out in the next 2 weeks, the only dangerous part is that the Yemeni civilian population is running out of time faster and faster and inaction equals in their case a diminishing amount of living civilians, a side pretty much all parties are against.

 

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Insights or Assumptions?

Yesterday’s article in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/01/22/the-rise-of-saudi-arabias-crown-prince-reveals-a-harsh-truth) is an interesting one. In this article Professor Bernard Haykel gives a view on the issues we are optionally likely to see in Saudi Arabia. I am not sure I can agree. You see, he might be the professor of the ‘Near Eastern Studies and the director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia’ at a prestigious place like Princeton, but my pupils tend to shape like question marks when someone’s title requires 13 words to be merely one part. We see in the article “depict him as power-hungry and corrupt, and cite these two impulses for his behavior and policies. When King Salman designated MBS as his heir in June 2017, MBS effectively became the most powerful man in the kingdom. And despite ill-advised purchases (including a yacht and a French chateau, which have cemented the impression of the crown prince’s greed)“, so how does that work? You see Prince Mohammed bin Salman is wealthy, his family is very wealthy, and as such is a yacht a splurge? It would depend on the price. Second there is the mention on a French Chateau. Well, I have taken a look and I fell in love with a house in France too, in Cognac (my favourite drink). The house (at http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-58209296.html), has 7 bedrooms, is amazing in looks and in a nice village. The amount comes down to a little over a million dollars (money I obviously do not have), but consider that the same amount will only get you a decent 2 bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Sydney, within some suburbs and in the city, those prices will go up from 250%-1500%, depending on how outlandish your view needs to be, in a measly 2-3 bedroom apartment. So how does that make the Crown Prince greedy? Now his choice is a chateau 50 times that price and a family that owns billions can splurge a little. His place is west of Paris. And let’s face it, as some economies are going, having your money in something substantial is not the worst idea. His second splurge, linking him to greed and power hunger is a yacht. So how does that leap rhyme? I have no idea and I find the professors view slightly too speculative. Yet, the man is not done. He then gives us: “MBS is trying to deal with a harsh truth about Saudi Arabia: The kingdom is economically and politically unsustainable, and is headed toward a disaster“. There is a truth in that. As Saudi Arabia is dependent on oil, there will be a lull in their lives, as the need for oil exists, with prices going down, there is no real prospect of fixing it, but wait that is exactly what the crown prince is doing. He is setting forth his 2030 view, a growing move away from oil dependency, which is actually a really good thing to do. It does not make him greedy, merely a visionary that technological evolution is essential to the continuing future of Saudi Arabia. We then get two quotes that matter. The first I already gave light on with “a sclerotic state with limited administrative capacity and an economy that is largely reliant on declining oil revenues“, yet sclerotic? That means “losing the ability to adapt“, which is exactly what the crown prince is trying to achieve, adapt the nation to other options and new ways. The second is a lot harsher, but requires additional focus. With: “a venal elite comprised of thousands of royals and hangers-on who operate with impunity and are a huge drain on the economy. It is saddled with a bloated public sector which employs 70 percent of working Saudis, and its military is incapable of defending the homeland despite billions spent on armaments“, so we can argue on the wisdom of ‘employs 70 percent of working Saudis‘, I am not stating that it is true, but when we see Walmart in the US, who employs 1% of Americans pumping billions of profit into that one Walton family, we should wonder how wrong the Saudi actions are. So we might not see corporate greed like in the US, but is one method better than the other? I am not sure that this is the case. The other part I need to comment on is: “its military is incapable of defending the homeland“, what evidence is there (it is not in the article at all)? Let’s not forget that Iran has been a warmongering nation for DECADES! How many wars did Saudi Arabia get into? There was the Saudi -Yemeni war of 1934, The Gulf War, where Saudi Arabia was a member of the allied forces, the Saudi intervention in Yemen and the current upcoming conflict with Iran. So, regarding the inability to defend the homeland? Is that perhaps merely gesture towards the incoming missiles from Yemen? Well, we can bomb the bejezus out of Yemen, but it would imply thousands of civilian casualties as these people are hiding in the civilian masses. Something they learned from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah I would reckon, but that this is merely an assumption from my side. I found the restraint that Saudi Arabia has shown so far quite refreshing.

I am not stating that Saudi Arabia is holier than thou. Like any nation, it makes mistakes; it has views and a set infrastructure. It is moving at a pace that they want, not the pace Wall Street wants, which is equally refreshing.

The article gives us truths, but from a polarised setting as I see it. Yes, there is acknowledgement on the achievements too, in both the directions of the USA and Russia, and we can agree that just like 86% of all other nations (including the USA) that the economy is a weak point. So how is America dealing with a 20 trillion in debt? From my point of view, the USA has not done anything in that direction for over a decade. Instead of lowering the corporate tax to the degree it did, it could have left it 5% higher and let that part be reserved of paying of the debt and interest, oh right, the 5% will not even take care of the interest at present, so as such the USA is in a much worse place at present, which is not what the article is about, but we should take that into consideration, and the end of the article? With “Ultimately, MBS wants to base his family’s legitimacy on the economic transformation of the country and its prosperity. He is not a political liberal. Rather, he is an authoritarian, and one who sees his consolidation of power as a necessary condition for the changes he wants to make in Saudi Arabia“, is that true? The facts are likely true and when you employ 70% of a nation, economic transformations are the legitimacy of that nation. There is the one side Americans never understood. In the end, Saudi Arabia is a monarchy; their duty is the welfare of that nation. So it does not make him authoritarian (even as he might be seen as much), he is the upcoming new monarch of Saudi Arabia, a simple truth. Within any monarchy there is one voice, the King/Queen of that nation. So it is in theory consolidation of power, in actuality it is a monarch who wants all voices and looks to be towards an area of focus, what that is, the future will tell, but in the end, until the Iran-Saudi Arabia issue is solved, there will be plenty of space for chaos.

In this his path is clear and that is the part the professor did illuminate too. With: “MBS is trying to appeal to young Saudis, who form the majority of the population. His message is one of authoritarian nationalism, mixed with populism that seeks to displace a traditional Islamic hyper-conservatism — which the crown prince believes has choked the country and sapped its people of all dynamism and creativity“, it is his need to create a population that is nationalistic, that sees Saudi Arabia as a place of pride, which is not a bad thing. In a setting where the end of hyper-conservatism, as it can no longer reflect any nation in a global economy, is an essential path. He is merely conservative in not handing out all those large benefits and multi-billion dollar revenue in the hands of opportunists who are eager to take those billions over the border, out of Saudi Arabia at the drop of a hat, any hat. That will drag down the Arabian economy with absolute certainty. A dynamic and creative nation, especially fuelled by youth and enthusiasm could spell several wells of innovation and profit that could benefit Saudi Arabia. I think that the path from hyper-conservatism towards where it needs to be in 2023 is so far well played. He is not there yet, but the path is starting and that is in the end a good thing. The only thing that the US needs to fear now is that the creative and innovation path that Saudi Arabia is on, could spell long term problems for a nation that has been fixated on a iterative technology path where the US is no longer the front runner, they were surpassed by Asia some time ago, the US merely has Apple and Google. Oh no, they do not, because those are proclaimed global corporations. So where does that leave the US?

So as we see Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/imf-sees-global-growth-picking-up-as-u-s-tax-cuts-gain-traction) gives us ‘IMF Says Global Growth Picking Up as U.S. Tax Cuts Take Hold‘, which is a number I find overly optimistic, Global growth is set to 3.9%, yet the bad news cycle has not started yet, so I reckon that if the global economy ends at 2.45% it would not be a bad achievement. In that light I find the mention “The IMF also predicted that the tax plan will reduce U.S. growth after 2022, offsetting earlier gains, as some of the individual cuts expire and the U.S. tries to curb its budget deficit“. I believe that the US economy takes a hard hit no later than 2020 and the idea of ‘curb its budget deficit‘ is equally amusing, they have not been able to do that for 15 years and as there is at present every chance that President Trump is a one term president only, the Democrats are now likely to win by large margin and the entire budget curbing would be immediately off the table, because spending is the one thing the democrats have proven to be utter experts in, they merely leave the invoices for others to deal with, which is equally unhealthy for any economy.

And in that article we see exactly the fears that are mounting towards Saudi Arabia too. With “the IMF flagged protectionism, geopolitical tensions and extreme weather as risks to the global economy” we see a new frontal attack starting on protectionism. Mentions like “A reduction of Germany’s surplus would help reduce global imbalances” and it is not one source, hundreds of articles over the last 16 hours alone, all hammering the protectionism word in a bad light. It is now becoming all about trade protectionism, even under the terms of Brexit, we saw on how people were stating that it was a disadvantage, the single market falls away and as such the UK cannot benefit. Now that Brexit is still pushing forward, the IMF is changing their tune and it is now on protectionism and trade protectionism. Another way to state that tariffs and import fees are now a problem, it is the final straw in giving large corporation the push for benefit they need and many are in the States (IBM, Microsoft, 3M and so on), they would benefit and even as I mention Brexit, it also affects Saudi Arabia. As we saw last July: “Being a WTO member, Saudi Arabia is expected to bind its tariffs on over three-fourths of U.S. exports of industrial goods at an average rate of 3.2 percent, while tariffs on over 90 percent of agricultural products will be set at 15 percent or lower“, so the IMF is not merely voicing the fear of the US, it is equally scared that the stimulus backlash is about to his impeding presented global growth, the protectionism and trade protectionism are set to plead for open doors, I wonder if that also means that patent protectionism would have to end. I doubt that because pharmacy is what keeps the US afloat in more than one way, and is not a subject that is allowed to be tinkered in.

So were these insights or speculations?

I believe both the professor and myself were doing both, I admit to that upfront, whilst the professor set it in a text that is acceptable yet should have been raising a few more questions that the Washington Post is bargaining for. We can argue that this is a good thing, but it is my personal belief that even as it was a good and insightful article, in the end all the mention of power hungry and corrupt, in the end he showed no real evidence that this was a move of a power hungry person, especially as the person in question (Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is set to be the future king of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince is at the tip of the pyramid, so he needs not be power hungry. That can only be shown if he starts expansion wars with his neighbours. In addition no evidence is shown of corruption, I do not state that this is not the case, but if you accuse a person of being corrupt it would be nice to add actual evidence of that, which is merely my point of view.

In the end, through insight and speculation, I hope that you got some insights of that and feel free to google ‘IMF protectionism‘ and see how many articles were added in the last week alone. It is clear that Davos is about removing limitations, not actually growing a true economy. Which implies from my point of view is that Davos is about big business and what they need, not what the people desperately require. Consider that when you read about the ‘World Economic Forum Annual Meeting’ and when you see who is present. My mind wonders on how many informal meetings there will be and how Theresa May is likely to get hammered on Brexit issues as Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel and perhaps even Donald Trump unite against Brexit. It is an assumption from my side, but at the end of the week, will I be proven wrong?

 

 

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Original Greek food

In the Washington Post, the morning newspaper of choice for America (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2017/08/11/as-greek-yogurt-keeps-proliferating-greece-is-getting-protective/), we see an article on yogurt, Maura Judkis shows us the new way to exploit Parmesan, this is by making yogurt and calling it Greek! With “The Ministry of Agriculture has assembled a group that plans to apply to register “Greek yogurt” in the European Union Register as a term with a protected geographical indication (PGI) or protected designation of origin (PDO)“. In this my initial question would be, ‘Why was this not done before?

Greece needs all the value it can get and Greek yogurt is apparently a big one. I love the stuff, but even I was a bit surprised to see the result with “Chobani saw its sales go from just over $3 million to more than $1.1 billion in its first five years“. So the fact that Chobani is not Greek is not in Greece and owned by a Kurd named Hamdi Ulukaya did not raise flags? I reckon this is one smart cookie; he bought the dispensed building from Kraft and turned it into a goldmine. So is Hamdi in a tough spot? I reckon he is. In his defence he is applying the Greek method of making Greek yogurt, so he has validity in his product, unlike the Czech version, which was taken to court and got scolded. Now, he is the part that is in debate. With “Using the term ‘Greek yogurt’ for products produced outside Greece would deceive consumers and would create unfair competition in the E.U. market” we see a valid case. Even as Parmesan is clearly an Italian product and such should be protected, Chobani finds itself in a similar predicament, or do they?

You see, the origin of Greek yogurt is still at times an issue. Even as we accept ‘Yogurt is known from ancient times , since there are reports from the historian Herodotus in 5th century B.C. and the famous doctor Galen, 2nd century A.D. There are also references to Indo culture that present yogurt with honey as the food of the gods

As I look at some of the historic facts, we need to ask questions, because Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus, which was in fact Persian. Some of the historical parts are a little sketchy, yet of that given and from the fact that he had travelled the ‘then’ known world. Where exactly did it come from and was he calling it Greek Yogurt, because he was Greek? In addition, was the art of straining yogurt limited to Greece?

So although Greece clearly has a case trying to protect Greek Yogurt, is this the trap for the product? So when we look at Article 22 of trips, (at https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips_04b_e.htm) we see:

Protection of Geographical Indications

  1. Geographical indications are, for the purposes of this Agreement, indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
  2. In respect of geographical indications, Members shall provide the legal means for interested parties to prevent:

(a) the use of any means in the designation or presentation of a good that indicates or suggests that the good in question originates in a geographical area other than the true place of origin in a manner which misleads the public as to the geographical origin of the good;

(b) any use which constitutes an act of unfair competition within the meaning of Article 10bis of the Paris Convention (1967).

So here we see the protection that Greek Yogurt has or should already have, and that is now the issue of Chobani. In addition, the Washington Post gives me something weird. With “But those rules won’t apply in the United States, where makers are free to label their yogurt as Greek (and where the distance from Greece makes consumer confusion less likely). There are dozens of “Greek” yogurts in grocery stores, from popular brands like Chobani, Yoplait, Dannon and Fage (a Greek company)“, which is an issue, because as a signatory of the WTO, the US should be at the top of enforcing parts of this. Yet with the opposing defence of ‘the distance from Greece makes consumer confusion less likely‘ we see another part of implied American exploitation. It is seen in a paper by Peter Drahos titled ‘Developing Countries and International Intellectual Property Standard-setting‘ (at http://www.anu.edu.au/fellows/pdrahos/reports/pdfs/UKCommIPRS.pdf)

On page 6 we see “For example, a number of corporations from the US, Europe and Japan claiming to represent the international business community released a document in 1989 that indicated strong support for a plurilateral agreement on intellectual property during the Uruguay Round (the mechanism of modeling). Australia supported the US position on TRIPS despite being a net intellectual property importer because it believed that by doing so it would achieve gains in the area of agriculture.

The US has been playing a powerful business game and they have seemingly won, yet as the sides that have been agreed on, the US is in a place where they would have to give in towards Europe, this is partially clear when we look at the information that the USPTO gives us. Yet in all this the Washington Post is equally giving a disturbing fact. From their view ‘But those rules won’t apply in the United States, where makers are free to label their yogurt as Greek‘, whilst at the same time the United States Patent and Trademark Office (at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/web/offices/dcom/olia/globalip/pdf/gi_system.pdf) gives us: ““Geographical indications” (“GIs”) are defined at Article 22(1) of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 1995 Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.”” as well as “Geographical indications serve the same functions as trademarks, because like trademarks they are:

1) source-identifiers,

2) guarantees of quality, and

3) valuable business interests.

The United States has found that by protecting geographical indications through the trademark system – usually as certification and collective marks — the United States can provide TRIPS-plus levels of protection to GIs, of either domestic or foreign origin.

So from that part, not only is the WP incorrect (to some degree), if Greece pushes forward (and they should), there is every chance that Chobani will soon be relabeling their product. They should consider going with ‘Original Strained Yogurt‘ and the faster they move, the quicker they get to push the envelope in the US (and Global) on the niche they are creating. Oh, and Chobani is not the only one in this situation, there are heaps more and as such Greece should have pushed for the changes a lot sooner, if only to give push and rise to Greek exports.

Even as the Washington Post is trivialising it with: “No, actually, we’re all about French yogurt now. What is French yogurt? It’s a yogurt that comes in a cute glass pot, with a cute brand name — “Oui” — made by Yoplait“, which is merely the waves of consumers, they will get back to the Greek solution and as such for players like Chobani to get the ‘Original Strained Yogurt‘ message out will matter sooner rather than later, because the moment the consumer wave is bored with the glass cup, they will look around again and at that point whoever plays the game better gets those consumers and with the increase of 400 times the original revenue in 5 years makes it a serious task to set the right message and address the right people. I took one look at their website (www.chobani.com) and noticing how ‘Greek Yogurt‘ is their forte, which is not bad, yet if Greece gets their way in this and the information as even the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) gives it, the Greek enforcement would not be totally impossible, adhering to change and educating the consuming readers now will make a truckload of difference down the track. In my view it is not whether the ‘Greek Yogurt‘ mention is valid or not, it is for the most the strongest message the website throws into our eyes and as such they need to consider their steps. The only other thing I noticed is that they had not taken the trouble to make a mobile app to keep people informed, with a $1 billion plus, that seems like a failure to me. If the product is all, than being seen everywhere matters, especially in this mobile environment. Even when we take the Denver Post (March 9th) at their word, where Chobani chief marketing officer Peter McGuinness said he’s not worried about imitation. “It hasn’t hurt our business because our food is better”, this might be true in his case, yet the rivals need to get creative, so Peter McGuinness needs to get (read: stay) ahead of them before they get a chance to catch up, the game is not just to get ahead of all, it is equally a case to make sure that they cannot catch up. It is the one lesson that Sony learned too late with Betamax, VHS was never anywhere near the quality that Sony offered, yes in 1983, 8 years after Betamax was released it was clear that VHS had won and it was downhill for Betamax from there. It seems to me that if Chobani is not assertively busy keeping the message on track others can start to catch up and as such Chobani should not give up ‘Greek yogurt‘, but informing the consumer what ‘Original Strained Yogurt‘ is could make the difference between a clear first position, or a shared top group. The need for that part is equally in the Denver Post as we see “Then there’s the food companies’ relentless drive to improve profit margins. Amid the industry’s sales decline, General Mills, Mondelez International Inc., Kellogg and Campbell have aggressively cut costs“, the question becomes how are they cutting costs? Are they resorting to additives or alternatives to straining as short cuts in manufacturing? Either way, at this point Chobani could have the edge on two terms (for now) and a clear ‘original’ message if Greece continues and secures protection on Geographical Indication. The Washington Post was not incorrect in their statement, even as it differed from the USPTO, yet the other side is that even as the TPP is dead, whatever follows will still have the parts in it and Europe is more and more protective of certain items. We saw in 2014 “As part of trade talks, the EU wants to ban the use of European names like Parmesan and Gruyere on cheeses made in the US“, with consumer value being more and more important, whatever trade agreement comes through at some point, the Europeans will push for this part and the US with much larger Pharmaceutical avenues will most likely give in on that point if they want to have any hope of stopping generic medication to get a freehold in the EU and UK. As such those who alter the course of their products now are in a much better position when they get overrun with some ‘sudden’ news on the matter. In this, I will not and cannot proclaim I am correct. Yet I can state that my view is indeed more likely than not the correct assessment. We will see soon enough if my view holds water. The fact that Pappas Post reported 22 hours ago “Greece’s Ministry of Agriculture has (finally) assembled a group of experts that are planning the application process to register “Greek yogurt” in the European Union Register as a term with a protected geographical indication (PGI) or protected designation of origin (PDO)” implies that the forming of the application is now underway, and whichever trade talks happens during the current US administration could give rise to changes that Chobani and others need to comply with soon thereafter.

 

 

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Automated Fraud Dangers

What a world we live in, not only is there the crime of fraud, there is now the option to automate it. Yes, the Guardian is giving us (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/08/fake-news-full-fact-software-immune-system-journalism-soros-omidyar), the automation against ‘fake news’. It is the subtitle that gets the blackberry pie in this. With ‘Full Fact software backed by George Soros and Pierre Omidyar fact-checks statements in parliament and news media in real time‘ we see the start of a series of events, and I am honestly not sure where they are trying to take it at present. The bias is intentional, because we all have this feeling, when a billionaire (or plural) support something, it will put them in a better position. It could be seen as unfair bias, yet bias is in the human core, which in light of what the media does more and more not the worst position to place yourself in.

To get there, we need to take a few steps. With fraud we need to see where that is at. We get “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain“, so let’s take a gander into The Fraud Act 2006. This gives us three options.

The first being that with fraud by false representation we can go hilariously with ‘I really have an 11 inch dick‘, or better stated, in section 2 paragraph 2 it is all about:

A representation is false if: (a)it is untrue or misleading, and (b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.

This issue as seen in the first part as it could be measured and acted on by the rulering (pun, innuendo and Full Fact challenge intended), yet the statement ‘I am the greatest lover in the world‘ is that fraud, being delusional of conviction of a personal ability through (or enabled by) the deceit of your own ego, so how to prove such subjectivity, against fraud? Now the important part here, which is not covered in lust (or perhaps it is) is seen in paragraph 3 with

(3) “Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of (a) the person making the representation, or (b) any other person.

and the important part that matters in his case is paragraph 5 which gives us (5) For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)“, this puts tweets, social media and optionally this software solution in a similar weird new position.

Now this is part one and you can see where this is going, and there is no twist to this part of the tale, yet the other two are still important.

The second is fraud by failing to disclose information. Now in this case journalists get a free pass, because it is about the legal duty and that person is in breach of this section if he (or she)

(a)dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and (b)intends, by failing to disclose the information

  • (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
  • (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

so this tends to be professionally set to the makers of laws, accountants, those people with red or purple robes and wigs, you know the types, in this case doctors, and not to forget certain contractors working for governments, in this the military and intelligence community cannot be convicted or prosecuted as they have other sets of rules, like national security, military law and in some cases maritime law could leave a person not in breach of this, yet they would have their own set of rules that still sets clearly their responsibilities.

And last we get fraud by abuse of position. I am merely mentioning this almost for the completeness of the fraud as it is in common law. Yet with

(1) A person is in breach of this section if he (or she), (a) occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person,(b) dishonestly abuses that position, and (c)intends, by means of the abuse of that position

  • (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
  • (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

(2) A person may be regarded as having abused his position even though his conduct consisted of an omission rather than an act.

Actually, now that I think of it, the makers of the software program once called the “bullshit detector” in an early version of the system by its creators, is now set to be a virtual truth vaccine. I am in two set mind here, on one side I love the idea and on the other side there are a few hitches that would make it fall over for possibly a lot longer than anyone could consider. You see, when I think of fake news, I do not think merely of the actual fact misusers. The joke that Channel Nine became in the evening as they got the first lead on a shooting (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjkQSREjxH0), the lady now nationally known as the ‘chick chick boom girl’, gave an eye witness report and the journo just ate it all up. A sexy looking girl giving the news all the ‘facts‘ as she was allowed to report this in the limelight offered. The reporter felt so good and six days later the Age gives us “Within 24 hours of the footage first airing on Channel Nine, T-shirts emblazoned with “chk chk boom“, the phrase which Ms Werbeloff used to describe the gunshot, were being sold on a US website. There were also drink bottles with the slogan and a rap-music remix of her video, and in addition, the fact that the news was bogus, fake, not real and pretty well made up“, we now have two issues, she is not merely guilty of fraud, she possibly impeded an investigation into a shooting.

This is more than a funny story, even as we can admit that one comment in the YouTube states that it is still funny and to some extent I agree, merely because the gullible reporter basically got played. We can set in equal measure giggle to the smallest extent as KVTU reported that the names of the MH370 crew members were Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow. The fact that the newsreader and the editor did not ‘seemingly realise‘ that this was fake is a failure on an entirely different level and no software on the planet will protect us from stupid people (or gullible politicians for that matter). So that in the back of my mind within a minute of the article in the Guardian had me pondering this ‘software solution‘. Now, I do believe that the software could be used to flag thousands of messages almost instantly, yet the claim we get from “The early version of the software scans the subtitles of live news programmes, broadcasts of parliament, the Hansard parliamentary record, and articles published by newspapers. It tracks millions of words sentence by sentence until it identifies a claim that appears to match a fact-check already in its database” is dangerous on a few levels, yet as the makers interestingly and validly point out: “Babakar is keen to stress the limitations of the system so far and believes the tool should only be used by journalists in the first instance rather than the general public“, I like that part, they admit that the software is nowhere near ready even when it initially launches.

So where is my issue?

There are a few sides, with ‘claim that appears to match a fact-check already in its databasewe have to realise that the vetting process is a critical part in this, so how soon will we see clearances and cleared checks of miscommunications, the previous news cast from KVTU being a first example. This process would require internal political hands from whoever uses it and there is where the bias sets in. We might go biased and auto accept the facts from sources like the Washington Post, the Times, the Dutch NRC Handelsblad and the Swedish Dagens Nyheter, yet now we get the second part, we have all seen and under the best of conditions there is the danger of getting ‘lost in translation‘ (not the movie which was brilliant). So when we apply the lost in translation, we have the local versions (UK version of English) with the Sun giving us today: ‘1,200 killed by mental patients‘, so is this fake news? I would state so, but knowing the people behind the Sun, they will have some numbers that add up to 1200. Yet ‘today’ was October 2013, when it actually was ‘today’. So here we see the first application of lost in translation, the second side in that headline was seen when we go to the ‘actual’ news, were we see “It discovered 1,216 people were killed by patients with mental illness from 2001-2010 — an average of 122 deaths a year” (at https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1052064/1200-killed-by-mental-patients/), so is this still fake news? That same article gives us “The study — the first of its kind in the UK — found 45 per cent of those with severe psychiatric problems were victims of crime in the previous year“, now giving weight to anything the Sun states is one thing, accepting the good looks of the lady on page three is another, yet in the end, were these stated ‘facts’ lies? I have had loads of issues with tabloids for the longest of times. Still, when we now look at fraud, where ‘A representation is false ifit is untrue or misleading, and the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.‘ The additional ‘a representation may be regarded as made if it is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention)‘. Here is the initial ballgame, you see, it is not merely about fake news, it now becomes about the interpretation of language. In its most basic terms, a grammar system designed to comprehend innuendo. When we know that loads of Journalists are incapable of comprehending sarcasm under even the most optimal conditions and in addition, when I state that sarcasm that backfires is merely irony, they are likely to become even more confused. So the heavens might love the simple minded, but here it becomes an issue on a much larger scale.

The article gives us “The fledgling system is not without its problems; sometimes it flags up a fact-check that isn’t relevant, for example. The challenge for the programmers is to get the software to understand the fuzzy logic and idiom used so often in speech” This actually barely scratches the surface. You see, there are a few other parts, how would the Metro front page ‘Brexit begins‘ be seen? Officially, the letter was delivered, yet the overwhelming ‘news’ is that Brexit has not started yet, could flag this news article. The truth is the interpretation of what constitutes the start of Brexit is also the issue. It’s not like having sex (yes the example matters, so do read on), that is the act and point in time, it is what happens after. So when is the baby seen as alive? When the conception has happened? When the child is capable of being born alive? In Australia it is seen after 28 weeks of pregnancy. Yet in separate Australian states, in this case Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, the terminal points for abortions are 16, 24 and 20 weeks, so there is an issue on a few levels. In cases there is the Crimes Act 1900 (sections 82-84), whilst the ACT had abortions repealed as a criminal offense from the Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Act 2002. So, one moment in time that on a national level already has 4 different assessment dates on one national calendar. In that mess on one ‘simple’ issue, we see a mess that becomes even messier when theology gets in the way of the subject of conversation and that is more than just a reference to separation of church and state. This shows part of the problem, also for the us where federal law can be a real mess for the non-legal people and that also has implications for the ‘fake news’ vetting system. So how could any article on illegal abortion be weighed correctly, especially when a politically or religiously tainted tabloid becomes the provider of that news?

Now, if they pull it off would be quite a feat, yet when we go back to the initial fraud part, if the system flags an article as possible fake, what happens when the news agency in light of thousands of items a day scraps that one item? Would the non-reported article by the journalist be seen as a matter for an aggrieved status? That is part of the problem these makers face, because in some nations the torts law is pretty strong and if there is a case of ‘redress of damage‘ the roll of the dice would be well worth it. There would be a direct and instant case of insurance companies, especially in any editorial status to not warrant any level of insurance when such software is used. Not now, possibly even not ever, although the latter part would be highly speculative by me and I hope to some extent that I am wrong, because pulling it off, getting software to be this able would be quite the achievement and the essential requirement for any evolving AI. This is because intelligence artificial or not would be about the ability to weigh information and facts to the proper value of innuendo and ascertainment of paraphrased facts. Weighing information is a skill that is almost never done correctly on the present day internet. A nice example is to compare the search engines Bing and Google, when you seek ‘UK torts‘ the search engine Bing gave me as a 4th and several subsequent mentions ‘Tort law in Australia – Wikipedia‘ as well as a few other Australian references to Australian law. Was that what I had asked for? No, it was not (which is why Bing is my preferred source for not finding facts, yay Google).

All issues given that could be seen as fake news, or is that fake information, so when we see the flags, how long until the bias sets in? You see that is my largest issue with what could come, with bias I get what they want me to see, which I touched on in the very beginning, because automated or not, censoring is a dangerous principle under the most ideal situations. With software, no matter how good the intention we could see a dangerous curve towards what is automated assumed we wanted to see. You see, there are too many parts of the dimension of ‘fake news’. This has been the larger issue with media for a much longer time. In this, Mevan Babakar the project manager at Full Fact in London has his work cut out for him, I do not envy him, yet if this gets solved and if it works, the value of this software would be a lot larger than most people could realise, and it would be a technological software marvel to behold.

 

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