Tag Archives: Washington Post

Media rigging

We have had issues, massive issues for the longest of times. Now we can focus on the blatant transgressors, we can focus on the exclusion examples of good journalism like the guardian, the Independent, the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Times and the Financial Times (the Australian and non-Australian editions), yet the founding flaw is actually larger.

You see, journalism has become an issue in itself. Whatever people and participators thought it was in the 70’s is no longer the case. Perhaps it never was. In my view, journalism is no longer merely about ‘exposing’, it is about partially revealing, whilst mediating the needs of the shareholder, the stake holders and the advertisers making it a very different issue. It is there where I did not just have my issue with Microsoft, in that same setting the hands of Sony are equally tainted. They are the two visible ones; but that list is distinguished and very long. So as we see overcompensation we see it on both sides of the equation, not giving it a level of equilibrium, but an exaggerated level of grossly unsettling.

In this we have two articles. The first is directly linked to what I have been writing about so let’s start with that. The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/16/thousands-of-android-apps-may-be-illegally-tracking-children-study-finds) gives us ‘Thousands of Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds’. Now, I am not convinced that this is all limited to Android, but that is a personal feeling that has not been met with in-depth investigation, so I could most certainly be wrong on that count. What is the issue is seen with “Seven researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that the majority of them may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without a parent’s permission, the study found“,as this had been going on for years and i reported on it years ago, I am not at all surprised, yet the way that this now reaches the limelight is an issue to some degree. I am unaware what Serge Egelman has been doing with their life, but “The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done” was not a consideration in 2010, or 2009, so why is it an issue now? Is it because Osama Bin Laden is dead now (intentionally utterly unrelated)? There has been a freedom of actions, a blatant setting of non-investigation for close to a decade and even as it is now more and more clear that the issue was never ‘not there’. In February 2016 we saw (unfortunately through the Telegraph) “The security flaw in Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear meant access to a child’s name, date of birth and gender could have been easily accessed. The researchers at Rapid7, a Boston-based security company that spotted the defect, said the toy could also be hijacked to give a malicious actor control over account data and in-built functions“, so this is not new. The fact that it was the Telegraph who brought it does not make it false. And yes, I did bite my tongue to prevent the addition of ‘in this case‘ to the previous line. In addition we see (at http://www.dickinson-wright.com/news-alerts/legal-and-privacy-issues-with-connected-toys) that law firm Dickinson Wright has been on the ball since 2015, so how come that the media is lagging to such an extent? Like me, they saw the rain come and in their case it is profitable to be aware of the issues. So with “Since 2015 the technology and legal implications regarding these types of toys has only grown as the market now includes smart toys, such as Talk-to-Me Mikey, SmartToy Monkey, and Kidizoon Smartwatch DX; connected toys, such as SelfieMic and Grush; and other connected smart toys such as Cognitoys’ DINO, and My Friend Cayla“, they again show to be ahead of the curve and most of the media lagging to a much larger degree. Did you think that this was going to go away by keeping quiet? I think that the answer is clearly shown in the Post article. The most powerful statement is seen with “The researchers note that Google has worked to enforce COPPA by requiring child app developers to certify that they comply with the law. “However, as our results show, there appears to not be any (or only limited) enforcement,” the researchers said. They added that it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research to detect the apps and the developers that may be violating child privacy laws“, in this we see two parts, and the first is that the call of data value tends to nullify ethics to a much larger degree. The second is that I do not disagree with ‘it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research‘, I merely think that the people have not given Google the rights to police systems. Can we hold Microsoft responsible for every NBA gave that collects the abilities of users on that game? Should Microsoft police Electronic Arts, or 2K for that matter? The ability does not imply ‘to have the right’. Although it is a hard stance to make, we cannot go from the fact that all software developers are guilty by default, it is counterproductive. Yet in that same light, those transgressors should face multi-million dollar fines to say the least.

The final quote is a good one, but also a loaded one. With “Critics of Google’s app platform say the company and other players in the digital-advertising business, such as Facebook, have profited greatly from advances in data-tracking technology, even as regulators have failed to keep up with the resulting privacy intrusions” there is a hidden truth that also applies to Facebook. You see, they merely facilitate to give the advertiser the best value of their advertisement (like AdWords), yet the agency of advertiser only benefits from using the system. Their ad does get exposed to the best possible audience, yet the results they get back in AdWords is totally devoid of any personal data. So the advertiser sees Gender, age group location and other data, but nothing that personally identifies a person. In addition, if the ad is shown to an anonymous browser, there will be no data at all for that case.

So yes, data-tracking gives the advantage, but the privacy intrusions were not instigated by either Google or Facebook and as far as I know AdWords does not allow for such intrusions, should I be wrong than I will correct this at the earliest opportunity. Yet in all this, whilst everyone is having a go at Facebook, the media is very much avoiding Cambridge Analytica (minus one whistle-blower), other than to include them in speculations like ‘Cambridge Analytica appears to have an open contract‘, ‘Was it Cambridge Analytica that carried the day for Kenyatta‘ and ‘could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica‘. It almost reads like ‘Daily Mail reporter Sarah Vine might possibly have a vagina‘, which brings us to the second part in all this.

Invisibly linked

For the first time (I think ever) did I feel for a reporter! It was not what she said or how she said it, it was ‘Daily Mail fires reporter who inadvertently published obscenity‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/apr/16/daily-mail-removes-obscene-language-attack-on-reality-tv-stars). Now it is important that we consider two parts. the first is the blatant abuse of ‘political correctness‘ which has been putting the people at large on their rear hooves for way too long, which might also be the reason why comedians like Jimmy Carr are rising in popularity in a way we have not seen since Aristophanes wrote The Frogs in 435BC. My issue starts with “Daily Mail Australia has fired a reporter who accidentally uploaded her own “musings” about reality television contestants being “vapid cunts” on to the news website on Sunday“, so the Daily Mail does not have a draft setting that needs to be approved by the editor, no, it gets uploaded directly and even as that might be commendable. The fact that we also see “Sources at the Daily Mail earlier said the young reporter was “mortified” by the mistake“, whilst the lovers of the TV-Series Newsroom saw a similar event happen in 2014, so the fact that reality catches up with comedy and TV-Series is not merely fun, the fact that this happened in the heralded ‘Newsroom‘ should be seen as a signal. As we see “The Daily Mail reporter was writing in a Google document because of problems with the content management system and she inadvertently cut and pasted a paragraph about Bachelor in Paradise contestant Florence Alexandra which she says was written for her own eyes only, Guardian Australia understands” it is not merely about the fact on who wrote it, the mere part that the content manager part was flawed, we also see “The reporter had filed no fewer than five stories on Sunday and four on Monday, which is a normal workload for a Daily Mail journalist. It is customary for Mail reporters to upload their own copy into the system unless the story is legally contentious“. So even as we accept that the pressure is on, the system was flawed and that there was a lot of truth in her writing, and all this about a Dutch model whose fame seems to be limited to being ‘not ugly‘. So as the Daily Mail was happy to get her bum-shot and label it ‘wardrobe malfunction’ (9th September 2017), whilst in addition there has been no other transgressions, she was quite literally thrown to the wolves and out of a job. So when we do see the term ‘vapid cunts‘ (with the clever application of ‘vapid’, did the editorial consider that the term might have meant ‘a bland covering of the green envious setting of finding love and overcoming rejection‘, which we get from ‘vapid=bland‘ and ‘vagina = a sheath formed round a stem by the base of a leaf‘.

You see, in the end, this is a paper covering a reality show, a fake event created to entice an audience from living a life and wasting an hour on seeing something fake whilst they could have sought it out for real. In all this the overworked journalist gets the axe. So even if I feel a little for the journalist in this case and whilst we see that the audience replied with ‘Refreshing honesty from the Daily Mail this morning‘, which should be a real signal for the editor in change, no he threw it all out to hopefully avoid whatever would come next.

You see, even if it is not now, there are enough issues around which means that Leveson 2 might be delayed, but will still most likely happen. So even as the Telegraph is already on the ‘would be a threat to a free press‘, whilst trying to drown the reader with ‘The first Leveson inquiry cost taxpayers £5.4 million, yet the legal bill for the newspaper industry to comply with the process was far more than that‘, some journalists were up to their old tricks even before the Leveson ink dried. So in this the moment that Leveson 2 does happen, their clean desks will not be because some journalists tried to keep it clean, it will be because they were told to leave. The fact that some see Leveson 2 in relation to ‘undermining high quality journalism‘ seems to forget that high quality journalism is a thing of the past. It perhaps ended long before John Simm decided to portray a journalist in the excellent ‘State of Play‘. In all this there will be a massive blowback for the media at large, the moment it does happen, I will have every intention to get part of it set as an investigation of news that would have been considered as ‘mishandled’. There is at large enough evidence that the Sony event of 2012, the Microsoft events of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, as well as IBM 2015 and 2017. There have been too many of events that were somehow ‘filtered’. In addition to that there are not merely the data breaches, the fact that there are strong indications that the media at times, merely reported through the act of copy and paste, whilst not looking deeper into the matter. Tesco, the North Korean Sony ‘Hack’ and a few other matters that should be dug into as there are enough indications that events had faltered and faltered might be seen as the most positive way to define an event that should be seen as utterly negative.

In my view, as some editors and shareholders will try to navigate the term journalist, I would be on the horse of removing that word altogether and have those papers be subject to the full 20% VAT. I wonder how they will suddenly offer to (again) monitor themselves. Like that was a raging success the first time around. It is as I see it the price of not being held to any standards, apart from the overreacting from two unintended words, which is in my view a massive overreaction on several levels. I wonder why that was and who made the call to the editor on that, because I don’t think it was merely an overreacting Dutch model. In that I am decently convinced that she has been called a hell of a lot worse, the side effect of trying to be a ‘social media selfie darling’. Yet that is merely my point of view and I have not always been correct.

 

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The congressional sham

The papers are ‘covering’ live the entire Facebook hearing, we see several papers covering it and I think that this is a good thing. Yet, most papers are not without flaws. The fact that I have been writing about the entire mess of data privacy since 2013 makes it to the best of my knowledge a Capitol sham at best (pun intended) . you see, these so called senators are all up in arms and we see the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/10/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-hearing-congress-testimony) give quotes like “from data privacy to Russian disinformation“, you see, it is a lot less about data privacy than it is about the Russians. The anti-communist gene in Americans is too strong; the yanks get too emotional and become utterly useless in the process. So is it about the 44 senators grilling Mark Zuckerberg, is it about their limelight and about their re-election visibility, or is it about global data privacy? I can guarantee you now that it will not be about the last part and as such we will see a lot more warped issues shine on the congressional dance floor.

In that regard, when you read “They demanded new detail about how Facebook collects and uses data and elicited assurances that it will implement major improvements in protecting personal privacy“, it might be about that, but it will be a lot more on oversight and how the US government wants to be able to ‘check’ all that data. They wanted access to all that data since Facebook became one year old. So when we see ‘Sen. Kennedy: “I don’t want to have to vote to regulate Facebook, but by god, I will. That depends on you.”‘ you better believe that the ‘depends on you‘ can be read as ‘as long as you give us access to all your data‘, which contains the shoe that fumbles.

So when we see “Several asked for detailed answers about how private, third-party companies, such as the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, gained access to personal data on 87 million Facebook users, including 71 million Americans“, we see the valid question, yet that did not require a congressional hearing, so that is merely the icing that hides the true base element of the cake. It is the honourable Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee that gives the first goods: “Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook”, you see, freedom of data and misuse of information as set by insurances. The statements like ‘Insurance companies warn that under certain circumstances, posting about your holidays on social media could result in your claim being declined if you are burgled‘. These senators were not really that interested in all this whilst the entire insurance issues have been playing as early as 2010; they were likely too busy looking somewhere else. The entire privacy mess is a lot larger. We see this at the Regis University site when we take a look at: “A new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reveals nearly one in five Americans (19%) has been the victim of some form of cyber stalking, defined as any persistent and unwanted online contact with another individual. Through aggressive social media contact, repeated emails or other methods of online connectivity, cyber stalkers represent a serious and growing threat to men and women who otherwise wish to disengage from those who make them feel uncomfortable. Still, the NCSA report shows only 39% of those who believed they were being stalked online reported the incident to authorities“, so was there a senatorial hearing then? No, there was not. In addition, a situation where one in 5 Americans is subject to stalking, yet in all those years almost nothing was done. Why is that? Is that because the overwhelming numbers of these victims have tits and a vagina, or merely because they are less likely to be communist in nature?

Does this offend you?

Too bad, it is the direct consequence of inaction which makes todays issue almost a farce. I stated almost! So, is the issue that the data was downloaded, or that the data on millions of Americans is now in the hands of others and not in the hands of the US government? This loaded question is a lot more important than you might think.

The fact that this is a much larger farce is seen when the Democrat from Illinois decides to open his mouth. It is seen in “Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), asked Zuckerberg what hotel he stayed at Monday night and the names of anyone he messaged this week“, was it to break the ice? If all 44 senators do that, then we see evidence why the US government can’t get anything done. It is actually another Democrat that gives rise to issues. It is seen in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “We’ve seen the apology tours before… I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are different rules of the road.”, the man makes a good case, but I am not certain if he is correct. You see, unless the US government is ready to lash out massively in the abuse of data towards any corporation found using social media on exploiting the privacy of its members, and insurers are merely one part in all this. You see, the rules of the road have been negated for some time in different directions, unless you are willing to protect the users of social media by corporate exploitation, Richard Blumenthal should not really be talking about traffic rules, should he? This directly links to the fact that 90% of hedge funds were using social media in 2014. Were they properly looked at? I wonder where those 44 senators were when that all went down.

The one part that will actually become a larger case comes from Massachusetts. “Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) plans to introduce a new bill Tuesday called the CONSENT Act that would require social giants like Facebook and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data“, it will change the business model where data is no longer shared, or sold, but another model where all this is set up by Facebook and he advertiser can get the results of visibility in top line results. That is the path Facebook would likely push for, a more Google approach in their setting of AdWords and Google analytics. Facebook is ready to a much larger extent on this and it is a likely path to follow for Facebook after all this. Yet in all this the theatre of congress will go on a little longer, we will know soon enough. In the end 44 senators will push regarding “The Federal Trade Commission is investigating violations of a 2011 consent decree over privacy policy at Facebook that could lead to record fines against the company“, in the end it will be about money and as it is more likely that the data on Americans made it to Russia, the fine will be as astronomically high as they could possibly make it. They will state in some way that the debt of 21 trillion will have nothing to do with that, or so they will claim. In the end Mark Zuckerberg partially did this too himself, he will get fined and so he should, but the entire theatre and the likelihood that the fine is going to be way overboard, whilst in equal measure these senators will not chase the other transgressors is a much larger case and calls for even more concern. You see, there is a much larger congressional sham in play. It was exposed by Clay Johnson, formerly of the Sunlight Foundation, (more at http://www.congressfoundation.org/news/blog/912). The issue is not merely “On the Hill, congressional staff do not have the tools that they need to quickly distill meaning from the overwhelming volume of communications that they receive on any given day“, it is that Facebook has been able to add well over 400% pressure to that inability. That given is what also drives the entire matter of division in American voters. I myself did not think that ‘fake’ news on events did any serious damage to Democrat Hillary Clinton, from my point of view; she did that all to herself during her inaction of the Benghazi events.

In the end I believe that the bulk will go after Mark Zuckerberg for whatever reason they think they have, whilst all hiding behind the indignation of ‘transplanted data‘. The fact that doing this directly hit the value that the rest of his data has is largely ignored by nearly all players. In addition, the fact that the BBC gave us ‘More than 600 apps had access to my iPhone data‘ less than 12 hours ago is further evidence still. So when will these 44 senators summon Tim Cook? The fact that the BBC gives us “Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you many never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it” and the fact that this is a given truth and has been for a few years, because you the consumer signed over your rights, is one of those ignored traffic rules, so the statement that Richard Blumenthal gave is a lot larger than even he might have considered. It is still a good point of view to have, yet this shown him to be either less correct on the whole, or it could be used as evidence that too many senators have been sitting on their hands for many years and in that matter the least stated on the usefulness of the European Commission the better. So when we read “The really big data brokers – firms such as Acxiom, Experian, Quantium, Corelogic, eBureau, ID Analytics – can hold as many as 3,000 data points on every consumer, says the US Federal Trade Commission“, we see that Equifax is missing from that list is also a matter for concern, especially when we consider the events that Palantir uncovered, whilst at the same time we ignore what Palantir Gotham is capable of. I wonder how many US senators are skating around that subject. We see part of that evidence in Fortune, were (at http://fortune.com/2017/10/10/equifax-attack-avoiding-hacks/) we see “Lauren Penneys, who heads up business development at Palantir, advised companies to get their own data and IT assets in order—both to better understand what risks do exist and to improve readiness to respond when a breach does happen“, she is right and she (validly) does not mention what Palantir Gotham is truly capable of when we combine the raw data from more than one corporate source. With the upcoming near exponential growth of debt collection, and they all rely on data and skip tracing of social media data, we see a second issue, which these senators should have been aware of for well over two years. So how protective have they been of citizens against the invasion of privacy on such matters from the Wall Street Golden Child? Even in London, places like Burford Capital Ltd are more and more reliant on a range of social media data and as such it will not be about traffic rules as the superrich are hunted down. We might not care about that, mainly because they are superrich. Yet as this goes on, how long until the well dries up and they set their nets in a much wider setting?

We claim that we are humane and that we set the foundation for morally just actions, but are we? The BBC actually partially addresses this with: “Susan Bidel, senior analyst at Forrester Research in New York, who covers data brokers, says a common belief in the industry is that only “50% of this data is accurate” So why does any of this matter? Because this “ridiculous marketing data”, as Ms Dixon calls it, is now determining life chances” and that is where the shoe truly hurts, at some point in the near future we will be denied chances and useless special rebates, because the data did not match, we will be seen as a party person instead of a sport person, at which point out premiums would have been ‘accidently’ 7% too high and in that same person we will be targeted for social events and not sport events, we will miss out twice and soon thereafter 4 fold, with each iteration of wrong data the amount of misconceptions will optionally double with each iteration. All based on data we never signed up for or signed off on, so how screwed is all this and how can this congressional hearing be seen as nothing more than a sham. Yes, some questions needs to be answered and they should, yet that could have been done in a very different setting, so as we see the Texan republican as the joke he is in my personal view, we see “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Zuckerberg about 2016 reports that the company had removed conservative political news from its trending stories box, and followed up with questions about its moderators’ political views. When Zuckerberg said he didn’t ask employees for their political views, Cruz followed up with “Why was Palmer Luckey fired?”“, we wonder if he had anything substantial to work with at all. So when you wonder why Zuckerberg is being grilled, ask yourself, what was this about? Was it merely about abuse of data by a third party? If that is so, why is Tim Cook not sitting next to Zuckerberg? More important, as I have shown some of these issues for close to 5 years, why was action not taken sooner? Is that not the more pressing question to see answered?

 

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Slicing the Tiramisu

Perhaps you remember the old days, the days where France was ruled by Marie-Antoinette, as well as King Louis XVI. In days of hunger she stated “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, or for those who did not serve in Etrangere: “Let them eat cake”. Yes those were the good days. It was 1789 (it was April if I remember correctly). It was around the day when those bloody colonials (now known as Americans) inaugurated George Washington as the first President of the United States of America. You see, nowadays we fend of hunger by wallowing in greed, to set our stepping stones towards gaining a piece of the action, any action and what I predicted (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/24/losing-values-towards-insanity/) in ‘Losing values towards insanity‘, is now turning into a reality. You see, when I stated on February 24th “Both Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin are now perfectly placed to rake in billions” is now as we see in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iran-russia-and-turkey-meet-over-syrias-future-as-trump-mulls-troop-withdrawal/2018/04/04/c607e27c-3770-11e8-af3c-2123715f78df_story.html) becoming a reality. With the quote “The three presidents — including Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Russia’s Vladimir Putin — gathered in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where they pledged to cooperate on reconstruction and aid” we see the present escalate for the facilitation towards President Assad, whilst they now are willing to state “The leaders called for more support from the international community and emphasized their opposition to “separatist agendas” in Syria“, you see now that they are at the table getting rich the rest of the Syrian oversight will be costly thing and now they are willing to let the US and the EU pick up the bill for those costs. It is the price of doing business with the wrong party, or basically staying out of it all.

In addition, with “It was the second time that Erdogan, Putin and Rouhani have met in recent months to discuss the conflict, underscoring those tensions and the extent to which U.S. power has waned in the region“, which is not news, it is a clear sign of making all the wrong choices and the US is about to make a few more. In regards of Syria, I do stand with President Trump. You see, the title ‘As Trump talks of leaving Syria, his top commander in the Middle East emphasizes the need to stay‘ (also the Washington Post) is deceptive, dangerous and not too bright. I do sympathise with General Joseph L. Votel, head of U.S. Central Command. His statement “A lot of very good military progress has been made over the last couple of years, but the hard part, I think, is in front of us,” is correct. Yet now that the Russians have delivered, the US is at the political mercy of the steps taken by President Rouhani, President Erdogan and President Putin. Each of these players with their own needs to play their games with the U.S. in any way they can and as much as possible. Turkey wants the EU membership, whilst knowingly endangering the EU values forever, Iran wants whatever Iran can lay their fingers on and Putin wants to screw with the Americans for all he can. So any US presence is like walking through a minefield day in day out for months, even years. In addition, there is no evidence that the rebels will ever stop, they will come back and by letting the Russians and Iranians and Turks take those reprisal blows is not the worst idea to have. The wise play is to move out of Syria altogether, the US can only lose here, it is almost the certainty of facing a ‘lose-lose’ situation whilst every blow delivered to the US will mean that the Russians and their Megaline LLC (or known as the delicious cake makers Prigozhin and Utkin).

It will rake in the massive wealth that they will most likely share with President Putin and a few of their friends on the inside. There is every chance that this is the year is the year where Yevgeniy Prigozhin becomes the second most important man in Russia for a very long time and with every contract that they score and deliver to the Syrian government means an additional ascension of his stardom. With the US gone they will actually have to deal with the matters themselves and as the EU stays out, their goose will be partially cooked with every act of retaliation the defeated rebels successfully make. The UK with the entire bungled Salisbury events are only the icing on the cake that Putin is lashing out with for all to see in the media. The fact that he is calling for the joint investigations on several levels whilst there is enough indications that his involvement might never be proven is one part that also works against the UK and the EU. There was never any doubt that Russia created and developed the Novichoks and as the world is seeing what a mess the OPCW and the SAB made of it all merely intensifies the need for other players to get their fingers on this technology and learn skills they never wanted earlier. That part was invigorated by the outspoken misses of the Porter Down and the bunny jumps by Gary Aitkenhead stating “we have provided the scientific information to the government, who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they have come to” only made matters worse. So the Russians are now slicing their Tiramisu which they will share (to some extent) with Iran and turkey, but the message is clear, the US lost massively here and staying behind is not a wise choice (as I personally see it). You see, I do respect the view of General Votel. Even as President Trump thinks short term (his ‘reign’) and General Votel has the right long term strategy view, It is the Trump action that is the wisest one. Syria is about to become cold war territory and the US military is not ready and even nowhere near trained to get into that field. The fallout of such strategic blunders would haunt anyone serving there for a very long time to come. In addition I think it is what the Syrians deserve, they wanted this, so let it be maintained in a ‘cleaned’ state by Russian troops. The US gearing up optionally against Iran by standing next to Saudi Arabia and gaining a better profile in that way is a much better option. It allows for a better humanitarian standing as they set their sights on Yemeni relief is a better option, it will set them against Iran, which is good, because at that point Iran will either back down against Saudi Arabia, or face the wrath of the Saudi, US and Israeli forces which would be quite the show, and I would love to test (for a fee of course) that solution I designed to sink the Iranian fleet (but that is merely my sense of humorous ego).

The second reason is that ISIS might have been dealt serious blows, but they are not out of the fight. The Sinai is merely one focal point, the fact that they are also in Yemen makes for a strategic need for the US to see if they can operate from Saudi Arabia. It would allow for other means to deal with ISIS and for the US to gain a much better foothold in the Middle East. With Saudi Arabia moving well over 500 billion towards a futuristic NOAM, the US have a lot more to gain, doing so before Russia gets options in NOAM is again the wise strategy to follow.

In the second view, it sickens me that ‘after the war‘ we are suddenly ‘allowed‘ to give what the Syrian four now regard as ‘aid’. That was a step they should have allowed 6 years ago. Let them solve it themselves now and live with the consequences of that aftermath and the costs that come with them.

They can have the cake, the crumbs and the table it stands on, that whilst we know that there are several players eager to set fire to that table whilst the 4 rulers are trying to eat the cake. Setting the US and the EU up as a decoy whilst they eat all the cake is a little too distasteful to my liking.

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Something for the Silver Screen?

There is an issue in Europe, well, there are plenty of issues in Europe, but until now, I steered clear of one of them. Something does not add up and it is now more of an issue than ever before.

This trip started in the Washington Post, after I saw several articles in the Guardian. You see, with one article it has become something else and that is very much an issue. So (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-to-respond-very-soon-to-british-decision-to-expel-its-diplomats/2018/03/15/89e27b4a-2839-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html), we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain in saying Russia likely responsible for chemical attack against former spy‘, the mere title. Now, I am not saying that this is not what happened, not even implying that it is some figment. Yet, why would we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain‘? This is a simple murder, perhaps an assassination, or liquidation. Whatever word you use for the event, it does not matter to the person who got iced, he definitely no longer cares. But we, we should care, for us this entire situation matters. So when we see in the very beginning “formally backed Britain’s claims that Russia likely was responsible for a chemical toxin attack against a former spy living in England“, I personally am not convinced. There would have been any number of actions that would have resulted in the demise of that person. To get a gun is usually not hard if you know the people. There was a person in the 90’s that one could meet near Ilford, would be able to get a whole range of guns, no silencers though. Still for £350-£500 (in those days) you could get something not too fancy and it would clean the clock of whoever needed to be done. Just make sure you do not do it in the wrong place and upset the local family guy, because that tends not to work. Still, consider the ease of a mere gun against the dangers, the risks and the trouble of getting VX into the country, than getting it to the location. You only need to see the movie ‘The Rock‘ to know that it requires several things, a lot of it dodgy and that stuff is not that stable to begin with. Now, as we see that there was a nerve agent in play, so I am not opposing that. I am merely stating that this kind of work is odd to begin with. That is beside the point of any SVR RF, FSB or GRU member freaking out having to take that shit with them. It is not merely overkill; it tends to leave you without options if you fail at first. And ask any Murphy that your shit goes wrong the first opportunity nature gets their hands on you. It is a fact of life. So in that regard it seems to me that Novichok is a weird choice to use. This is also me stating that I have no evidence that it was NOT used. So when I take a little lesson in Novichok, I learned the following:

  1. At https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CSP/RC-3/en/rc3wp01_e_.pdf, we see “Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”” which they state on page 3 in paragraph 8. Now this is 2013 and this is 5 years later. Yet, as some sources give us that it was developed in the 70’s up to the early 90’s, it seems interesting that there was nothing on the matter 20 years later.
  2. Yet that same OPCW gave us in April 2011, two years earlier the two following parts on page 7 at 11.1 and 11.2. With: “This has been attracting increasing attention in recent years, particularly among non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Although very little information has appeared in the public domain, there have been claims that a new class of nerve agents, known as “Novichoks”, has been developed. In December 2008, a former defence scientist published a book, which included information on structures reported to be those of the new agents. Some of these structures meet the criteria for Schedule 2 B4 (S2 B4); however, all others are non-scheduled chemicals. The author claimed that the toxicity of certain “Novichok” agents may exceed that of VX“, something that should have woken up the CIA instantly, something deadlier than VX and no defence? There is no way that they wouldn’t have been chasing that, even if it was merely to find a defence against it.

So now we have the play to some extent in view. The BBC gave first view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43377856) with “Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia“, yet it is the innuendo of News.com.au that takes the limelight. With “Investigators believe the nerve agent that poisoned former Russian agent Sergei Skripal was planted in his daughter’s suitcase before she left Moscow, The Telegraph newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the genteel southern English city of Salisbury on March 4“, so not only did they go the whole nine yards to get to both, the entire issue is that both could have been removed simple enough in Salisbury. The entire matter does not add up. Another source, The Jamestown Foundation gives us “Sergei Skripal (66), a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) colonel, was arrested in Moscow in 2004 for allegedly being an agent of the United Kingdom’s MI6 intelligence service. Skripal was convicted, in 2006, to serve 13 years in prison for treason. In 2010, he was pardoned, released and sent to the UK in a major spy exchange involving a big group of “sleeper” spies who had been arrested in the United States, promptly convicted and deported to Russia“, so if we accept these facts, than we see that he was shipped to the UK 8 years ago. So now we see such an overkill event? It does not add up!

This level of overkill implies (mind you I am saying ‘implies’) personal orchestration, this is a message, but for who the message is for (or ‘from’ for that matter) is not clear. There is enough evidence that the toxin was used, but there is a long road here. Even as we accept the Jamestown Foundation giving us “Other officials insist Novichok was never officially defined as a chemical weapon and was not destroyed, because it never officially existed (Interfax, March 14). Mirzayanov, who is apparently the main whistle-blower on Novichok, is being actively discredited by the pro-Kremlin press (Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 15). Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov categorically denied there ever was a secret nerve agent program named “Novichok in Russia or in the USSR,” while Russia has stopped all work on developing new chemical weapons and has completed the destruction of existing stockpiles. Ryabkov referred to Mirzayanov as a “defector,” who was not trustworthy (Militarynews, March 15)“. This now gets us to the crux of the matter. The whistle-blower Vil Mirzayanov is now living in the US. Now we get to the good stuff, which is given by The Guardian, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/russian-spy-poisoning-attack-novichok-chemist) gives us ‘chemist says non-state actor couldn’t carry out attack‘, that is a notion I can very well agree with. In addition, as I stated earlier “the chemical was too dangerous for anyone but a “high-level senior scientist” to handle and that even he – who worked for 30 years inside the secret military installation where novichok was developed and gained extensive personal experience in handling the agent – would not know how to weaponize it“. If this stuff has been weaponised it would be a novel usage and also a very novel situation. The fact that the luggage went from Moscow without setting off any alarms, the fact that it survived the trip (you know how luggage carriers tend to be), as well as the setting that it went off at the time it did gives rise to all kinds of technological options. Still we have the setting of who would have done it. Mirzayanov supports this with ““You need a very high-qualified professional scientist,” he continued. “Because it is dangerous stuff. Extremely dangerous. You can kill yourself. First of all you have to have a very good shield, a very particular container. And after that to weaponize it – weaponize it is impossible without high technical equipment. It’s impossible to imagine.”” and let’s not forget the target, a former GRU agent who had been in prison for 4 years and then exchanged. It seems to me that it is not impossible that Russia was behind it, but I feel that the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind, moreover this was a test-run (a mere speculation) and the person decided to go after the one person he had hatred for and in that regard going after the daughter made perfect sense, even more so as it would hurt the person he wanted to get to even more. So was this the case?

Now the last part is all speculative but it adds up, the effort shown for stuff that is still material for denial from the original whistle-blower giving us ‘would not know how to weaponize it‘, and that is from the person who actually handled the stuff. It is the very last part that also matters; with “Mirzayanov thinks the Salisbury attack was performed with a binary version of the agent brought through customs and automatically mixed at the time of the attack“, so two elements, mixing and distributing, such a device was not seen when the luggage got to the UK?

There are too many issues and even as I agree wholeheartedly on the message that Vil Mirzayanov brought to us, I am not convinced that this was some elaborate scheme from the Russian government. Sending any officer of the SVR RF, FSB, GRU or even the Voyska Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya to go shopping in London with the message “Oh, and before you fly back, would you kindly put a bullet in the back of the head of both Sergei and Yulia Skripal?“, a simple mandate avoiding well over half a dozen of cogs that could be clogged with mere sand at any given time.

That is why it does not add up. In hindsight there is one additional part. Is it true that ONLY Russia has that stuff? The entire matter when we see some papers where the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was to some extent in the dark 5 years ago. In light of Vil Mirzayanov moving to New Jersey in 1996, so 15 years later the OPCW is still in the dark? That path makes even less sense. In addition, the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) seemed to have been equally in the dark. From those parts alone, whilst one of the handlers was in the US for the last 22 years, the entire setting is a stretch. It does make sense that the US would have been part of the conversation, yet how do France and Germany fit in? Some presented unity on standing up against Russia?

There is little question on the timeline. So when we see the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43297638), they are found by a doctor and nurse at 16:15, both unconscious. So they had made it to the Malting’s shopping centre (or so the information implies). So when we learn “A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now in a serious condition in hospital, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said“, which we get form the article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43323847) we should be able to tell more. But we cannot, the News is too chaotic, BBC, SBS and other reliable sources give us the snippets, but not an actual slice of the cake. The timeline implies that they were poisoned on the spot, the fact that Nick Bailey, a police officer who became unwell after taking part in the early response to the attack gives additional rise to the use of a toxin, but that implies that it was done there, on the spot. Even if the toxin was moved through touch, the speed at which Nick Bailey got it implies (speculative from my side) that the toxin worked fast, unless the location was less than a 4 minute walk from their house, that option would be taken away as the toxin would be pushed through the body via the bloodstream. In addition any longer would make the Novichok useless, nerve agents are that because they are close to lightning fast, even as we expect that the police officer was lucky and too little got to him.

Yet it was only a few hours ago that the Guardian is giving us a timeline (aren’t they just the best). So the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/skripals-poisoning-what-we-know-so-far) gives us a decent timeline. I particularly liked “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as a letter“, so perhaps it might be: “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as the restaurant bill“, you see the hour at Zizzi as well as the fact that they were found 40 minutes later. A nerve agent will work fast, really fast so the 40 minutes would have been a stretch no matter what, yet the fact when they were found and when they were overcome is not a given, so they could have been smouldering there for over 20 minutes. It equally gives rise that the longer they were there the less impact it would have had on Constable Nick Bailey, his luck I might add. The Guardian is now showing the issues I had and that is good (for me), so as I finalise reading that article, I see a number of issues and even as I had seen most issues, the one part that they aren’t giving us (as It was not part of the timeline) was seen in the in depth of the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-russia-nerve-agent-attack-spy-poisoning-sergei-skripal-salisbury-accusations-evidence-explanation-a8258911.html). Here we see: “Some analysts have claimed that Novichoks could have been smuggled out of chemical weapons and storage sites after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when facilities were abandoned by unpaid staff and security was low“, “if the precursor ingredients were smuggled out in the 1990s, stored in proper conditions and mixed recently, they could still be deadly in a small-scale attack according to some experts” as well as “In 1995, a Russian banking magnate called Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary died from organ failure after being poisoned with a military grade toxin found on an office telephone. A closed trial found that his business partner had obtained the substance via intermediaries from an employee of a state chemical research institute known as GosNIIOKhT, which was involved in the development of Novichoks” give us a few things. In the first that the experts are kind of clueless, we might be blaming Russia on all this and it might be true, yet the latter part that involves Ivan Kivelidi takes away the ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. The fact that this stuff is out in the open to some degree is a much larger issue and when we see “Leonard Rink, told police he had been storing poisons in his garage and selling them to pay off debts“, we see part that takes the Russian government optionally out of the equation and gives us the part I came with earlier “the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind“, it fits the bill of the restaurant one might state, that is, if the timeline of the events and the timeline of the toxin can be proven, because both are the axial in the issue.

No matter how this plays out, this could become one hell of a movie and when we see it on the silver screen, will Matt Damon play the person with the grudge, or the scientist who initially played a role in developing it? However we should reserve the role of Skripal for John Larroquette, it will be nice to see him again on the big screen.

 

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Guns on a plane

The Washington post is giving us another look at a situation we saw but most of us (including me) in the light it deserves. I mentioned it a week ago to some degree, but in this (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2018/02/27/hypocrisy-takes-flight-in-georgia/), we see that Karen Tumulty takes an interesting look at hypocrisy. She starts pretty hardcore direct with “Republicans have been trying for years to convince us that corporations have First Amendment rights — at least, that is, when it works in their favor“, although in this light the wooden spoon should hit the democrats with equal vigour. So when we see “Protecting free speech was the principle behind the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case, which lifted the ban on corporate spending in elections and opened the spigot for unlimited outside spending” we see the first part, and with “Religious freedom is the rallying cry in a raft of efforts to give businesses the ability to deny birth control to their employees or to refuse service to customers based on their sexual orientation” part two. Yet we see the power that Karen has a much stronger point with “I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back”, in that instance I agree with the sentiment to the smallest degree and less with the action that Casey Cagle, ‘replacement’ (read: secondary) Governor of Georgia is making. You see, I saw the Delta move not in regards to enticing NRA members, as guns are not allowed on a plane, but the fact that they decided to cater to 5 million members, basically the discount was wooing almost 2% of the American to choose Delta instead of the other company that owns planes. It was just a good business strategy. In light in all this, when we use the Delta information with “Adjusted pre-tax income for the September 2017 quarter was $1.7 billion, a $182 million decrease from the September 2016 quarter”, so why they are given a $50 million jet fuel sales tax exemption t begin with is beyond me, it is not like the US government with 20 trillion in debt should be able to give tax exemptions to begin with. It does remain a matter that America is a populist culture that is emotionally blaming the largest target that makes them short sighted, a failing skill in marksmanship and overall they are not too clued in, which still remains their right to have.

But it is not about them, it is about the way that corporations are running for their life because the NRA member is the preferred member to discriminate at present, which is hypocrisy gone nuts I say. There is however another side that Delta was happy to ignore. You see, when we see: “In other words, it was a business decision, made not to promote a political agenda, but to distance the airline from controversy by treating NRA members just like its other customers” is one take, but consider that up to 5 million will now NOT be flying Delta, whilst the others are not Switching to Delta (in light to a previous annual downturn of profits) gives rise to the likelihood that Delta will have to report their numbers to be down for at least another year. In light to the reference to Delta withdrawing support from the New York City’s Public Theater shows them to be not strong of character, merely weak in the back, merely paperbacks, not a hardcover among them. So when the $50 million jet fuel sales tax exemption does not pass and they lose on customers as well on reduced cost of ‘existing’, how will Delta then look at its poor record of character?

Even as we are all likely to agree on: “There is a reasonable argument to be had over whether that kind of tax break is smart economic development on the state’s part, or corporate welfare. But Cagle’s threat makes it clear that what’s really going on here is political retribution, not economic policy” we need to acknowledge that Delta basically got caught between populist shortsightedness and 17 cadavers. Yes, I am stating it that blunt, in light of the UN ceasefire failing in Syria and the 250 fatalities in Syria in the last 2 days alone. How much outrage against the Syrian government and the Russian mercenaries was shown? Oh, no! Perhaps it does not count if it is done with plane bombs and artillery shelling?

It is cruel to set the Florida victims in such light and I do apologise for that, but it is important to see that we seem to have multiple grades of values in place and that is not fair (read: acceptable) either, especially as these NRA members, those 5 million get the hatred and bullying in light of acts they never did, contributed to or set any level of approval towards. This entire matter is exploding (with exception of the family members of these victims) by people who hate people that like guns. It feels too much like the segregation and isolation of the Jews in the Germany in the 30’s as well as the Netherlands (and several other nations) during WW2 (an exaggeration, I admit). Yet in all this, I feel that the NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch is equally off her game (at http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/florida-school-shooting-nras-response-to-parkland-attack/news-story/9f565d930e6fe7e9a6d1fd768190f696). With ““I don’t believe this insane monster should ever have been able to obtain a firearm,” Ms Loesch responded. “This individual was nuts,” she said. “None of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm.””, she is right of course, but the entire mess of calling him nuts sets the mental health issue in play and even if we agree to some extent with Joe Rogan, the comedian and podcaster of ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ as he stated in one of his podcasts on “how the “gun problem” is actually a mental health problem“, he brings a decent case, but there is an issue on several matters. You see if a person is sane enough not to trigger flags when trying to buy a gun there is a more complicated matter in play, optionally not all set towards mental health, in addition, none of the parties involved have touched on the ATF failings, which I found and continued on after the Deutsche Welle brought it to my attention. That part alone is a much bigger failing on ALL the parties involved. I raised that issue 6 days ago (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/22/united-they-grow/), with the reference to the Deutsche Welle article. At this I understand that the NRA needs a working relationship with the ATF, but that should include showing them the failure (read: fault) of certain matters, even if that causes ‘discomfort’ of the consumers towards the issues of second hand firearms sales. Dana could have conceded there to some degree showing how certain matters could have been safer, no matter if that impacted the Florida shooting or not. Any improvement is one that both sides need to grasp.

So even if we give proper acknowledgement to “To her credit, Ms Loesch did have the guts to show up to CNN’s forum, knowing she would face a hostile crowd. And the survivors of the Florida shooting grilled her“, I equally see that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel saw things wrong. He has a point only to some degree, yet with ““I understand you’re standing up for the NRA and I understand that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he said. “But you just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You’re not standing up for them until you say: ‘I want less weapons.’”” he shows a flaw. That is not or has ever been the function of the NRA and it is not about wanting fewer weapons, it is about stopping a person who had been flagged more than once and nothing ended up getting done, as well as keeping the American environment safer due to proper handling of firearms, as well as emphasising on the need for proper gun care and gun safety. The previous articles show that. He is correct with “stricter gun control needed to be introduced“, yet equally the ATF issue was not raised, even as the Deutsche Welle article had already hit the limelight by the time the forum happened. So why was this element not discussed there? In that regard I am happy to exclude the family and friends of the victims on that topic, but they should have been informed by the US media at large and that was not the case either.

If there is one element that Dana Loesch requires a discussion on it is given with “I had to have a security detail to get out. I wouldn’t be able to exit that if I didn’t have a private security detail. There were people rushing the stage and screaming ‘burn her’. And I came there to talk solutions, and I still am going to continue that conversation on solutions, as the NRA has been doing since before I was alive“, in that she should open the discussion on the ATF elements, as well as seeing their budget increased by close to 100%, so that the ATF can look at the current situation and get a report in place that might actually result in better gun control, because in that light not only does it serve the NRA, there is every confidence that in the end it will also serve the 5 million members that the NRA has, even if it comes with 1-2 inconveniences, in that light I can state that inconveniences have until now never resulted in fatalities, unless you are in Syria, where we see “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a daily five-hour humanitarian pause in hostilities in the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, as bombardment has continued despite a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire“, apparently a 30 day ceasefire was too much of an inconvenience. Yet there is another side not mentioned. This was only brought to light just now by Fox News. We see (at http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/02/27/nra-just-got-new-member-here-s-why-this-mom-two-joined-group.html) on how “a mom of kids in elementary school, I became a proud member of the NRA for the first time last week. I did so because the absence of common sense that I’ve witnessed recently is alarming to me as a parent“, this is to some degree to be expected, yet in light of the entire populist emotional mess that the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is now bringing. You see the entire emotional mess that is pushed by too many ‘gun hating sides‘, not the friends and family of those victims mind you, which I see as an excluded group as they get a pass to be as emotional as they want to be, the others should have taken some level (read: any level) of a common sense road. The entire matter worsens when we realise that in the last event there is plenty of blame to go around. Even as the FBI admits to its failure, it in equal measure should have mentioned the many times it got things right, which gives us: ‘the terrorist axiom’. Any terrorist only needs to get it right once for any valid system or solution to be under attack and soon thereafter could become less effective. That danger is very much in play here and still the ATF remained off the sniper scopes of the media at large, especially in the USA, which is a rising oddness in all this.

To me the highest issue are the politicians and populists who are stealing the limelight in the guise of those poor 17 fatalities, whilst with a brazen state of illusion going after the NRA. It is in comparison almost like me calling Bill Gates a weepy geriatric softy because Apple IOS exists, and it only exists because he could not get the Windows editions, and safe affordable windows phones hack free and fast in time for Apple to be irrelevant. it is a weird and utterly obsolete way of thinking, but that is what we face and in that regard, the Fox News article which gives us “When I joined the NRA last week it was because I was tired of being preached at by people who are unwilling to look at the problem and only want to treat the symptom. It’s easy to blame the NRA, and it’s easy to blame guns. It’s the new trendy target, but it’s not the solution” and that is the truth of the matter which all the shouting parties are ignoring as well. So, as a pro gun person, am I happy with what the woman did? I cannot tell, the article does not tell me that she is a responsible gun owner, that she is clearly trained in properly using a firearm (which can be done in one weekend), but also whether she has all the right settings and safeties in place, so that when she is working, her early teens, when they are that, and find the gun and start playing with it because it looks cool and that is how ‘cops’ and ‘detectives’ hold their guns and shoot when they go after their ‘criminals’ in their playful fantasy. The Fox article is short of certain questions that should have been asked, or have been intentionally omitted from the article, I cannot tell either way, but that is also an issue here. And even when we see the trivialisation of “Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer to kill 168 people in an Oklahoma federal building in 1995“, whilst we see no mention of the technological solution to reducing the usefulness of Semtex to terrorists as well as the control and monitoring of the sale and distribution of Semtex. So in that changes has been made to some degree, we cannot tell how well it works but changes were made, so Fox News misses the target at least twice, making the article nothing but a shot in the dark at best, a worrying one, because mothers tend to get frantically neurotic when it is about keeping their children safe and as such thousands of new NRA members could come to the NRA fold, but as a gun lover, do question if they are doing it in the proper path, because the right way does not hold any water to a mother in fear of her child and too many are seeing that no guns is not a realistic option and mothers tend to look for and demand Direct Action in that regard.

And all this merely fades into nothingness when we realise “The U.N. humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that conditions in Yemen are “catastrophic” after three years of war, with a record 22.2 million people needing aid and protection“, (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/un-humanitarian-chief-calls-yemen-conditions-catastrophic/2018/02/27/651660e8-1be0-11e8-98f5-ceecfa8741b6_story.html), so when we see “Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock warned the Security Council that conflict in Yemen has escalated since November, leaving more people hungry. “Famine remains a real threat,” he warned“, a nation where close to 85% of its population is now stricken with despair, famine, disease and death. As the UN reports to the people that close to nothing has been achieved, 85% of a nation approaching death. So as we relate that to the emotional and populist activities that followed a tragedy of 17 victims in regard to their limelight. We can make that into a movie and call it ‘Guns on a plane‘, in relation to its Herpetological cousin that cost $33 million to make and made $66 million in revenue, so there would be that consideration to keep.

 

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Losing values towards insanity

Even as we see more and more anti NRA actions and other actions that are indeed positive geared towards making schools ‘safer’, there are now also people who are trying to cash in quick, school safety is an exploding business and some should be ashamed of that. Yet it is not about that, it is not about the schools. It is about the children. So tell me, how come that these 17 American children, are seen as more important as the 101,500 civilians killed in Syria. The total amount of civilians killed is close to 1/3rd of all casualties. In one week, we see 13 children and 10 women all killed. Not much noise there, is it? So when we see that the UN Security Council failed to agree after a second day of intensive talks on a proposed 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow for emergency humanitarian deliveries and medical evacuations. How much as a failure should we regard ourselves? How we pat our backs by stopping Hertz discount to NRA members, not the people at the NRA, merely the members of the NRA. The utter ridicule that people are setting themselves up to be for hating people who like guns, for going after targets for the mere pleasure of ones ego, that whilst the UN is failing hundreds of thousands of people. So as we see “The talks at the UN headquarters in New York followed an appeal by French and German leaders to Vladimir Putin, asking for Russia to stop blocking the measure’s passage, pointing to the dire situation of the trapped civilian population in the rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus” (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/23/macron-merkel-urge-putin-back-ceasefire-syria-eastern-ghouta), the infuriating part is that I gave rise to this on October 17th 2016, so 16 months later after I wrote: “I reckon all the players know that, yet, having long conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose only concern is to stall so that the population can be made extinct before the resolution passes, reads a lot more like the Friends edition of Pinocchio, than the original by Carlo Collodi” (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/10/17/a-new-disney/), so here I present the first piece of evidence that the United Nations is no longer a functional apparatus. Because the evidence as given by the UN themselves (at http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-i/index.html), in its first article stating the purposes of the United Nations. Here we see in the first paragraph: “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace“, I think that we can state for the record that the United Nations has failed the Syrian people in the most amazing way. that failure and the repeated stalling by one of its members (in both cases Russia) most people seem to merely turn a blind eye, look at the populist activities that will lead nowhere, merely harass and abuse people. Go after 5 million members who never fired their guns in any school or at any child. Think yourself clever and pat yourself on the backs because your non-actions will get another 50 children killed before the end of the month.

So as Al-Jazeera gave us ‘the meeting, however, has already been delayed multiple times as negotiations continue over the wording of the draft resolution‘ , we see that whilst people are trying to be clever about events more people will get killed. So yesterday (according to the AP) “Syrian government warplanes carried out a sixth day of airstrikes Friday in the rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus, killing 32 people, activists said, as the death toll from a week of bombardment soared over 400“, how many will it be today? The fact that according to several sources (Washington Post amongst them) we get: “the situation was complicated further by reports that Russian mercenaries had taken part in the attack and were among the dead“. You see, no one might cry about these mercenaries, but as they are basically not part of any army, they will kill first and consider asking questions later. More important, the mercenary firm Wagner, allegedly owned by Yevgeniy Prigozhin is reaching out in other directions too. He is linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) in St. Petersburg. He has been indicted (at https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477/download) for his part towards violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere “with U.S. elections and political processes“, according to the Justice Department. Some state (not too reliable sources) that they are now growing in making botnets, not to spread issues, but to collect data. So, even as he is connected, he is growing data, knowledge and opportunity on almost a daily basis.

How does that connect to Syria?

Apart from the money he makes on the mercenaries and their actions, he is now in a position where he can set the foundation to get access to all the Syrian national data on almost all levels, whilst having a comfortable place to start collecting data on everything on all the nations bordering Syria too. This is not some cake walk or just fun. When we consider the WP on this, we see: “Wagner first gained attention for its operations in 2014 in Ukraine, where mercenaries with the group — mostly military veterans and ultranationalists — were reported to be fighting alongside Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. The group was believed to have been led by Dmitry Utkin, who until 2013 had served in Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU“, do you think that billionaires, especially Russian ones are in it for the ego? No, he wants to grow, grow fast and in every direction. At least two other sources give us “A former lieutenant colonel and brigade commander of the Spetsnaz GRU detachment. The 700th Independent Spetsnaz Detachment of the 2nd Independent Brigade of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (Части и подразделения специального назначения (спецназ) Главного управления Генерального штаба Вооружённых сил Российской Федерации). These are not kids playing on the side of the road, these people tend to have very serious plans and when they are not connected to an official army they tend to get selfishly lucrative really fast.

That does matter, because professionals like that are not in it to kill civilians, yet they will kill whatever gets in their way or in the way of them completing their mission, so in this it matters what their mission is in all this.

There is a second part in all this and be aware that this is all pure speculation from my side. When we consider the Washington Post quote “Russian mercenaries had taken part in the attack and were among the dead — making it the deadliest U.S.-Russia clash since the Cold War“, so what if that is exactly what they want? What is a new cold war is their intent? As people are shouting and arranging all kinds of partially useless actions regarding 17 kids, in a nation that is basically beyond bankrupt, how much will it take to flame a new cold war, one where the US and NATO are on the roes due to lack of brainpower and resources. The technical advantage that the US and NATO had during the previous one is no longer there. You might remember stories of Russian men in ridiculous rain coats, having almost no knowledge of electronics. That time has passed and the US no longer has the options it used to have, whilst in addition they tied their own hands in several ways. At this point a cold war could end up being devastating to the west. In addition, when we are treated to both “The USS Michael Monsoor, the second and latest Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer, suffered an equipment failure that prevented the ship from conducting sea trials” as well as “It’s been more than a year since the Navy decided to cancel procurement of an expensive new ammunition for its Zumwalt-class destroyers, but the service is still pondering how to best replace the munition, a Navy official said Wednesday. In 2016, the Navy decided to stop buying the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile, or LRLAP, after discovering that its price had spiked to $800,000 per round. LRLAP was the only ammo developed specifically for the ship’s Advanced Gun System“. So not only are these ships dodgy (for now), they can’t afford the ammunition, it seems to me that (even though we know that the US navy is a lot larger) that we should see the developing issues as a worry. You see this all links back to Syria. Do you think that Russia is going to play ball when there is no need? A paper tiger is only scary for the time you do not know that it is merely a paper one. After that all bets are off and it is entirely possible that this is the gamble that resident Putin is currently making. If proven correct we will see all kinds of developments, not merely in Syria, but the Kurds will get more tank slamming by Turkey and the dangers of Iran v Saudi Arabia would become a likelihood too.

So back to Syria, as the WP gave us on Yevgeniy Prigozhin: ‘He now has a reputation as a man willing to do Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dirty work‘. I think that this is the cost of doing business. I think that there had been a clear plan in place, even as I do not agree with Alexey Khlebnikov, a political risk consultant and a Middle East expert at the Russian International Affairs Council. He calls this a “double-edged sword”. The risk is almost negligible for Russia, even as we see the quote “details have trickled out in embarrassing ways“, getting captured is not an embarrassment it is merely an inconvenience. It seems that Yevgeniy Prigozhin is the creative side, when you take a High value target like Dmitry Utkin you get something else, on his level a person does not get to walk away, there is a tactic in play and whilst we stare at certain parts we all forget that a man like that over 25 years has created its own network of people and skills. It could be that Wagner will grow faster because of opportunities, but in which direction? That is a part we can see when we realise that smiley face Dmitry is also CEO of Concord Management and Consulting. With these two gentleman owning 50% (actually more than that) into LLC Megaline, with Megaline receiving a large chunk of the capital construction contracts for the Russian military we see that link. When the dust settles, Assad will need to rebuild, and they will be the front player and possibly only consideration on a nation needing to be reconstructed. So now how weird are their actions? Both Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin are now perfectly placed to rake in billions and in that regard we get back to the options for the dying in Syria; they don’t get to have any. Whilst everyone is settling around clever text on how to word the phrase ‘cease-fire‘ in that timespan Damascus could be adequately be made devoid of life bringing the optional closure of the Syrian war with President Bashar Hafez al-Assad remaining in power. If only the US and NATO had actually acted in 2012, the picture might have been a lot different. Yet for now, up to yesterday 150 children, were killed in Ghouta, yes the loud actions on behalf of 17 school dead children from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida makes a lot of sense in a global perspective, especially as we see the shouting and actions that are partially senseless and baseless, all emotional outrage whilst none of them are on the failings of the ATF (not due to their own accord) and its legislation.

Just like Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief as well as the letter Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel sent to Putin on Friday said the continuing attacks on civilian populations represented “clear violations of international humanitarian law”, all actions that look nice when covered by the media, yet in the light of the U.N. Security Council delayed a vote on a resolution demanding a 30-day humanitarian cease-fire across Syria until Saturday in hopes of closing a gap over the timing for a halt to fighting, that whilst we hear that “after six hours of negotiations, Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaiba, the current council president, told reporters Friday evening that members ‘are so close’ to agreement, and negotiations are continuing“, so there will be more killing and more bombing and more actions for at least 12 more hours. So how many children will die in the next 12 hours and how ridiculous does the man with the yellow card look with the text “NRA stop killing our kids”, an act they never did, an act they would never approve of or support, are you starting to comprehend the insanity of it all?

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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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