Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Beliefs: aspirations, assumptions and expectations

Yesterday night, I had a conversation about the danger of expectations. Our expectations about the (future) behaviour of other people often result in (our) disappointments. The less you expect from others, the less they can hurt you by not living up to your expectations about them.

Expectations are our assumptions about (the likelihood of) future events. Why? We must make assumptions because the available data / informations is always incomplete, often late, and sometimes even incorrect. This validity problem of data / information relates to the past (eg, our hypothesis), the present (our perception of reality), and/or the future (our expectations).

There is a distinction in expectations between others and yourself. This distinction is relevant because our expectations about others tend to hurt ourselves, while our expectations about ourself (ie, aspirations, ambition) are generally healthy. Unfortunately, this distinction between others and self is often ignored / neglected.

This neglect results in seemingly opposite views. Examples: 5 benefits of having no expectations, Why do we have expectations of others?, and Expectations: why you should have them. The 1st  and 2nd article are about others while the 3rd article is about a focus on yourself.

It seems impossible - at least to me - to have an assumption about (the likelihood of) future events regarding our own behaviour (ie, our deeds, words, thoughts). Somehow, this goes against our notion of "free will". Hence, ambition, aspirations, dreams, and/or goals are a much better way to describe "our expectations about ourself".



Until today, I had never realised that aspirations, assumptions and expectations are derivatives of beliefs regarding the validity of Data / Information (eg, completeness, correctness, timeliness) - a.k.a. the Truth. The scope of my concept of the 7 Belief systems continues to surprise me.

I'm a Believer (1966) The Monkees


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise

Monday, 30 July 2018

Official report suggests MH370 ‘most likely hijacked’ (Times)

"The final report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 suggests that it was most likely hijacked.

The long awaited 1,500-page report released by the Malaysian government today concludes that the Beijing-bound aircraft’s sudden course reversal shortly after it took off from Kuala Lumpur was “difficult to attribute” to a system failure.

It does not, however, offer a definitive explanation for the aircraft’s disappearance, which took the lives of 239 passengers and crew.

“It is more likely that such manoeuvres are due to the systems being manipulated,” the official air accident report by Malaysian, Australian, US, UK and Chinese aviation experts said. They concluded that when MH370 turned south off its northeasterly flight path to Beijing only 37 minutes after taking off on March 8, 2014, it was being flown manually, not by autopilot.

Dr Kok Soo Chon, the Malaysian government’s appointed head of the international investigation team, told reporters that investigators “have finally reached a consensus” about the flight’s last hours.

“We have carried out simulator sessions to determine how the aircraft turned back and we can confirm that the turn-back was made, not under autopilot, but under manual control.

“[It] was not because of anomalies in the mechanical system,” he said.

However, he said they had been unable to establish if anybody other than Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a senior captain with Malaysian Airlines, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid — the two flight crew assigned to MH370 — might have been at the controls.

“We can also not exclude the possibility that there’s unlawful interference by a third party,” Dr Chon said.

Based on satellite tracking of automated signals from MH370, the aircraft is known to have flown south from Malaysia, past western Australia, and continued over the southern Indian Ocean before it ran out of fuel and plummeted into the sea.

Although around 15 items of wreckage confirmed to be from the aircraft — including a large wing component — have since washed up around Indian Ocean island and African coasts, the aircraft has never been found, despite two mammoth underwater searches.

The investigation found nothing in the background of either pilot to suggest stress caused by personal or professional issues. Investigators even compared CCTV footage of the pair checking in for the doomed flight with footage of them arriving for previous flights but could find no differences in mannerisms or behaviours.

The report, despite finding a pilot was in control when the plane reversed course, rejects the view of many aviators and exports that MH370 was deliberately trying to avoid radar surveillance when it made a series of turns that took it south, instead of north, soon after take-off.

Yet it does not exclude the possibility that there was a deliberate decision by whoever was in command of the aircraft to evade communications with air traffic controllers who noticed the plane deviate off course.

“It is possible that the absence of communications prior to flight path diversion was due to the systems being manually turned off, whether with intent or otherwise,” Dr Chon said.

The report also rejected previous theories that Captain Zaharie had used his home computer flight simulator in the weeks before MH 370’s disappearance to replicate its route south. It said activity files recovered from the flight simulator reflected normal “game” use.

It also supports the theory that by the time the plane exhausted its fuel — six hours after taking off — and crashed, nobody was in control, seeking to make a controlled ditching.

Family members of those on board the plane said they were frustrated as there were many gaps in the investigations and questions left unanswered.

Some relatives looked distraught after receiving the report, many sobbing and saying that the document offered them “no closure”.

Grace Nathan, a lawyer whose mother was on the flight, responded to the release of the report on Facebook. “Just because they call it a final report doesn’t mean it’s over for the next of kin,” she wrote today. “The search must go on. There can be no final report until MH370 is found.”"

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Stockpile food in the event of a no-deal Brexit? Dream on (Guardian)

Subtitle: "Our supply chains work on a ‘just in time’ basis and have neither the space nor the money for a surplus. Dominic Raab, take note"

"The government is spending the summer trying to prove to its backbenchers, the public and the EU that it is genuinely prepared for a “no deal” Brexit, and has plans to manage the massive disruption – most would say chaos – that would ensue if the UK and EU failed to secure a deal.

It might have any number of reasons for doing this. It could be throwing red meat to its backbenchers, to try to show that a no deal hasn’t been ruled out. It could be trying to influence EU negotiators, either by showing that the UK has plans in place, or by suggesting that the negotiators take the blame for the consequences of no deal. It may even be trying to reassure us that it knows what it is doing.

But here’s the problem with any of the above: the government appears to have forgotten to do even the most basic of planning.

As ministers admitted on Tuesday that the UK would be making preparations to ensure an adequate supply of food, medicines and even blood in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the newly installed Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, revealed the staggering extent of his ignorance as to what that would entail.

“We will look at this issue in the round and make sure that there’s adequate food supplies,” he told the Brexit committee during an extended hearing. “It would be wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling.”

The implication of Raab’s comments – especially combined with comments from other ministers – is that it will be the role of industry to stockpile food, and that that is be something they would be able to do. In an interview yesterday evening Theresa May even said the public should find “reassurance and comfort” in the stockpiling. From those comments, you’d think stockpiling food would be easy.

It would not. Anyone knowing the very basics of food production – frankly, anyone who has watched an episode of Inside the Factory on the BBC – would know just how difficult it would be for industry to stockpile food. Most UK factories rely on multiple daily deliveries to keep production, which usually runs 24 hours a day, flowing. Within just 18 to 36 hours without deliveries of ingredients, production in almost all of the UK’s food sector (the country’s largest manufacturing sector) would stop.

Factories couldn’t just step up production before the Brexit date and store the surplus, either. They no longer have much space to store their product: the UK’s highly efficient supply chains work on a “just in time” basis – factories have just enough storage space to manage about a day’s worth of deliveries, as do supermarket depots and the warehouses in the back of stores.

Stockpiling more food would mean industry having to buy or lease vast amounts of extra space, at short notice, and probably at great cost. In practical terms, it would ideally have needed to start spending that money months ago – and it would be serious money. Part of the reason people keep less inventory is that it reduces the amount of money you need to operate. If you increase the amount of stock kept in reserve from a few days’ worth to a few weeks’ worth, businesses across the sector would need five to 10 times the working capital they do now.

Who’s going to pay that? Are we going to require an industry that operates on famously thin margins to prepare for this contingency out of its own pocket? What if it refuses? What if it makes these stockpiles, then we cut a deal?

This is before we step into many of the extra complexities: food has a habit of going off, for example. Other food takes time to make – nine months for mature cheddar for example. And crops, funnily enough, take time to grow – and can’t be rushed.

The UK food sector, like the UK car industry and much of the high-end goods and services economy, is a finely tuned machine, and the sort of disruption we might see in the event of a no-deal Brexit, such as chaos and delays at the border, would result in it grinding to a halt.

With their comments – presumably meant to assure us that they have a plan, or at least a clue – May and her ministers have shown us instead how woefully under-prepared we are. Brexit is perhaps the most complex thing the UK has attempted in the lifetime of most of us, and it is being run by people who don’t understand the absolute basics. In 2016, these sorts of concerns were constantly dismissed as “Project Fear”. In 2018, we now know that we have good reason to be afraid."

• James Ball is a former Guardian special projects editor, and the author of Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World

British food stores ridicule Brexit stockpiling plans (FT)

Subtitle: "Retailers say they have had no government contact over no-deal supplies"

"Britain’s grocers say they have had no contact with the government about stockpiling food in anticipation of the UK crashing out of the EU in March without a withdrawal deal and have ridiculed suggestions it is their responsibility to begin the process.

Dominic Raab, Brexit secretary, said this week he would ensure the UK had “adequate food supplies”, but implied it was the responsibility of the industry: “It would be wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling,” he told MPs. 

But one supermarket chief said the government’s position was “ridiculous” and demonstrated “complete naivety” about the way the sector worked. Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “I would very much welcome a conversation with the government.” 

The possibility of food shortages has become a political issue in recent days, as ministers have ramped up preparations for major disruption at UK borders if Britain leaves the EU on March 29 2019 without a deal. 

Senior executives at several major UK companies have begun to voice alarm at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit following Theresa May’s inability to win consensus among her governing Conservative party over a compromise plan with Brussels. 

The EU has also begun to warn of the possibility of failing to reach a Brexit deal, with Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s lead negotiator, casting doubt on the prime minister’s plan to keep the UK within the EU’s customs system for goods. 

“We have doubts it can be done without putting at risk the integrity of the customs union, our common commercial policy, regulatory policy and fiscal revenue,” Mr Barnier said after meeting Mr Raab in Brussels

France’s Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, on Thursday raised the possibility of a “brutal divorce” with the UK and EU separating amid acrimony and without any deal in place at the border. 

“With no deal, we should start with new tariffs, new controls and that means — of course — traffic jams in Calais and in each and every European port welcoming goods and people coming from the United Kingdom,” she said. 

Even if Britain left its borders open to allow imports from the EU, ministers are braced for the imposition of controls in Calais and other ports for traffic heading from the UK that could quickly bring all cross-channel traffic to a halt. 

Ministers are already drawing up plans to close the M26 motorway in Kent to turn it into a vast lorry park in the event of a no-deal Brexit, raising questions about the availability of food: some 40 per cent of the UK’s foodstuffs are imported. 

“Stockpiling of food is not a practical response to a no-deal on Brexit and industry has not been approached by government to begin planning for this,” the British Retail Consortium said in a statement

“Retailers do not have the facilities to house stockpiled goods and in the case of fresh produce it is simply not possible to do so. Our food supply chains are extremely fragile.” The BRC said it was vital to find a deal to maintain frictionless trade. 

The senior executive at a large British supermarket chain said the government had not talked to the industry about maintaining food supplies and accused ministers of misunderstanding how supply chains function. 

“It’s ridiculous,” the executive said. “It’s scary because it shows how far the government is from the reality of how things work. It’s genuinely worrying.” 

Supermarkets say they operate a sophisticated “just in time” supply model. Fresh food could not be stockpiled for more than a few days, while there was not enough warehouse space to hold large quantities of non-perishable “ambient” goods. 

Government officials said there had been tense meetings in Whitehall to work out how to answer questions about the “stockpiling” question, before alighting on a line which asserts simply that Britain will not run out of food. 

“As the Brexit secretary has made clear, we have no plans to stockpile food,” said a government spokesman. “The UK has an excellent level of food security, built on access to a range of sources including strong domestic production. This will continue to be the case as we leave the EU, whether we negotiate a deal or not.” 

Some retailers have said privately they are making arrangements so that should supplies from the EU be disrupted, they would have plans in place to import from elsewhere. 

When floods in Spain last year washed out a large proportion of lettuces, supermarkets were forced to ration supplies and then to import from South America. “This is the sort of contingency planning taking place — you certainly can’t stockpile salad,” said one retailer."

Source: https://www.ft.com/content/13acf2c0-90e4-11e8-b639-7680cedcc421

Friday, 27 July 2018

Hot Hot Hot

Hot Hot Hot (1982) by Arrow


Feeling Hot Hot Hot (1983) by The Merrymen (video)


Hot Hot Hot (2013) by Vengaboys (video)

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Conceptual framework (6)

About a month ago, I made a new diagram outlining my thinking as an update of my conceptual framework. This diagram incorporates nearly all of the topics that I regularly mention in my blogs, and also shows the interconnectedness of these topics. I am pleased sharing it with you.


The left part of my diagram shows the Body and its Needs (eg, food, shelter, water and quite possibly communication too). This relates to all Life (forms).

The middle of my diagram shows our Mind and its Wants and Beliefs. Our Mind includes our thoughts, our words and our deeds. Deeds are the result of a triangle that I call Faith-Beliefs-Willpower. Our Mind is always somewhere in the 4 stages of Hope-Love-Doubt-Fear.

The right part of my diagram shows the Soul and its connection to Faith. Faith is the engine that keeps us running: (i) Faith drives Hope and Love (1 Corinthians 13:13), and (ii) Faith drives Beliefs and Willpower. Without Faith, the Dark Side will take over through our Doubts and Fears. Faith is the antidote against the Dark Side in our life.

It Keeps You Runnin' (1976) by The Doobie Brothers feat. Michael McDonald


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves (10) - free choice

The UK government is surviving parliamentary votes on Brexit with rapidly diminishing majorities. It seems that UK parliament is in a deadlock: "to describe a standstill, as when two people or sides cannot move beyond a disagreement".

FT 23 July 2018: "The Tories are now caught in a trap — one from which there is no escape, even with a change of leader. They either deliver and own a hard Brexit with all its attendant consequences or they produce a workable outcome which Brexiters proclaim has betrayed the cause."

This FT analysis is rather good but it fails to see the obvious solution. Both Labour and Tories have rebels who both defy their party's voting instructions. These rebels have something in common: either they are pro-Leave or pro-Remain. 

The obvious solution to the Brexit mess is making Brexit a free choice by parliament. This would shift the Brexit responsibility - and blame - from government to parliament. The UK government would still be accountable for executing Brexit. Also see my 2015 blog.

Mr Corbyn is likely to accept Mrs May's offer for a free choice by parliament. Denying free choice might topple his leadership of Labour as denial would be deemed undemocratic. Accepting her offer allows him to vote according to his conscience. 

The outcome of a Brexit vote of conscience in Parliament is unclear. Such a vote could easily follow (ideological) beliefs rather than common sense (my 2015 blog). Nevertheless, the outcome might still mirror the 2016 Brexit referendum: 52% versus 48%, either for Leave or Remain.

A free choice by UK parliament would allow Mrs May to negotiate with Mr Barnier (EU) without 1 or 2 hands tied to her back. This situation would benefit both the UK and the EU as deals would no longer be subject to finding parliamentary majorities in the UK.

Recently, the call for a 2nd Brexit referendum was joined by "the highest profile ex-Cabinet minister". Mrs May replied by saying that this will not happen "in any circumstances" (BBC). Mrs May is quite right as a second Brexit referendum would only open the door to further Brexit referendums (see part 1 of Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves).

I am curious how much more time Mrs May needs to discontinue the stalemate and to gain control over the Brexit debate by offering UK parliament a free choice on Brexit.

Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise. A quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer and statesman. 

One (1992) by U2 feat. Mary J. Blige

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you, now
You got someone to blame


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Transformation from Religion to Faith (7)

An April 2018 publication by Pew Research Center, amongst the American population, confirmed my alleged trend: a decline in Religion and an increase in Faith. This trend was most notable amongst the 19% of agnostics / atheists: almost half of this group does believe in some higher power or spiritual force. This is the essence of Faith versus Religion.

Religion is a man-made institute in the Power domain of the 7 Belief systems, and claims that their Deity or Supreme Being is different from - and superior over - other deities (eg, Allah, God, Yahweh). Faith is a belief in a (good) Force, regardless of its form or shape. For Jesus' criticism on religious leaders, please see Mathew 23.

The differences between religions become weird once you realise that the prophet Muhammad and the prophet Jesus both descend from Abraham. Hence, the concept of Abrahamic religions. However, Abraham was neither a Jew or Muslim, nor from Judah. Abraham was a member of the black-headed Sumerian people from Ur, a Sumerian city-state that currently lies in Iraq.

The Sumerian people are one of the mysteries in ancient history. They "suddenly" appear in a region called Mesopotamia, after the Great Flood of 11,000 BC to 4,000 BC. Nearly all human inventions date back to the Sumerian people, allegedly the "first" advanced ancient civilisation. Please see my "Sumerian" blogs: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7part 8.

Officially, my religion is Roman Catholic, the "largest Christian church". For several years, I have not visited a church, not even on Christmas Eve. My personal decline in Religion was more than compensated by an increase in my Faith. In my prayers, I talk to Yahweh, a name that dates back to the black-headed Sumerian people (eg, Abraham in Genesis 15).

The Abrahamic religions have clearly borrowed key religious concepts from the Sumerian people (eg, afterlife, soul, spirit). A key difference is Sumerian polytheism (the "Anunnaki") versus Abrahamic monotheism (ie, Allah, God, Yahweh). After Abraham fled from the Sumerian city-state Ur towards the Canaan, the Sumerian civilisation (and its beliefs) quickly ended.

Paraphrasing Aristotle and Albert Einstein: the more you know about Religion, the more you realise that you don't know much about Religion. Interestingly, this quest (for information and/or the truth) does strengthen your Faith. Remarkably, the 2018 Pew publication is also about people losing Religion and gaining Faith.

The transformation from Religion to Faith will have a profound impact on the future 7 Belief systems: Religion will disappear from its Power domain, and Faith will appear in its Knowledge domain. It's doubtful if the Knowledge = Power notion will survive these transfers (my blog).

Yah Mo Be There (1983) by James Ingram & Michael McDonald - lyricsvideoWiki


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise

Friday, 20 July 2018

America must deal with Donald Trump, the first rogue president (Guardian)

"The contrast presented by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at their Helsinki press conference was striking. One should not judge a president by appearances, but in this case the comparison was instructive. Putin, immaculate in a beautifully tailored dark blue suit, looked sharp, cool and in control. Trump looked baggy, crumpled and out of his depth – at once baffled and sulky. This mismatch was the equivalent, in post-World Cup terms, of France v Corinthian-Casuals.

Trump was outshone, outmanoeuvred, out-thought and outwitted. Here was no Rocky Balboa, champion of the common man, running up the steps of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art: more a New York version of the ignorant, bigoted Alf Garnett, stumbling glass-jawed into a disastrous public drubbing. Trump had it coming, of course. He has been winging it ever since he took office 18 months ago. To go into a summit of such significance without preparation was the height of folly and vanity.

It was Anthony Lake, Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, who reputedly coined the term “rogue state” to describe countries the US regards as threatening international security. Ronald Reagan preferred “outlaw states”; under George W Bush, these supposed enemies became “states of concern”. But no American administration has yet come up with a term for an outlaw president – let alone a plan to deal with one.

On his European tour that began last week at Nato in Brussels, which careered through England and Scotland, and ended with a dull, sickening thud in Helsinki, Trump went rogue. He proved himself, beyond all reasonable doubt, to be a one-man threat to international peace and security, a menace to America’s friends and a rare tonic for its enemies. Judging by the furore that followed Putin’s knockout victory, nobody in Washington has a clue what to do about it.

Part of the problem is that bemused US politicians, analysts and commentators persist in trying to discern some kind of consistent intellectual or ideological underpinning to Trump’s maverick behaviour. This is a country reared on the notion of presidential vision. For Roosevelt it was the New Deal. For Lyndon Johnson, it was the Great Society. For George HW Bush, it was the “kinder, gentler nation”. But Trump lacks any such coherent, inspirational motivation. His presidency is all about him. If he has any “vision” at all, it is deeply conventional in a wholly regressive, derivative way.

Apologists point to Trump’s “America first” rhetoric to explain and connect his outlook and actions. This is not a new slogan, carrying as it does unedifying echoes of ultra-nationalistic, isolationist episodes in past American life. Even so, Trump does not follow his own advice. In his attacks on the EU and Nato, in his wildly unscripted assault on Theresa May, and again in his display of craven deference towards Putin, Trump put himself first and America last.

Admirers call him an anti-establishment “disrupter-in-chief”, when in reality the overriding, relentless purpose of his actions is to draw maximum attention to himself. Trump only knows what he does not like and wants to destroy. For example, he does not like strong and experienced democratically elected leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel because, in his infinite insecurity, they threaten his sense of pre-eminence and legitimacy.

Trump does not like multilateralism, in diplomacy, defence or trade, because it entails compromise. In his zero-sum world, divided simplistically into winners and losers, strong and weak, big and small, black and white, there is no room for equality. Thus Putin or North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, by exercising unlimited power, command respect and envy. In contrast, a failing yet accountable leader, such as May, invites only patronising pity and contempt.

Trump’s visceral reaction to perceived weakness, like his obsessive worries about contact with germs, seems to be the product of fear that a similar fallibility may infect him, too. And according to psychologists who treat narcissism as a mental disorder, it is fear, more than its other features – shamelessness, arrogance, self-centredness, lack of trust and a chronic need for validation – that is the primary emotion dominating and dictating the narcissist’s life and conduct.

Looking more closely at Trump’s performance on the Helsinki podium, it appears, deep down, he was frightened: frightened of making mistakes, of being “ripped off”, of being exposed as a charlatan, and of being proved to have stolen the 2016 election. For him the summit was not about Syria, or Crimea or Salisbury (though these subjects were discussed and who knows what he may have privately conceded). It all was about his personal standing at home, in the world, and in his own eyes. America came last.

How to handle this rogue president? A gloating Putin will seek to exploit his advantage, in overt and covert ways. Nato and the EU should worry – although, as in other “negotiations”, Trump’s verbal assaults were quickly followed by conciliatory noises. Likewise, having first savaged May over Brexit, Trump backed off. This is the typical cowardly behaviour of a fearful, insecure bully. Trump’s UK visit gave everybody a close-up glimpse of awfulness personified. There will be fewer illusions now, especially over prospects for an equitable US trade deal.

The real Trump problem is not transatlantic. It is America’s to deal with. By now, Europeans have mostly rumbled him. But far too many Americans still don’t get it. Having long proclaimed the superiority of the US governance model, it transpires Congress is unable or unwilling to hold him in check. The unbalanced supreme court, soon to embrace another arch-conservative, is no defence against White House abuse of executive orders, and parti pris American media cannot be relied upon to tell truth to power. Rogue Trump is a crisis made in America. America is where it must be fixed. The world is watching, with diminishing sympathy.

• Simon Tisdall is a foreign affairs commentator"

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/17/donald-trump-rogue-president-vladimir-putin-us-peace

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Transformation of the Truth from Knowledge to Power (6)

Recently, I wrote about the future 7 Belief systems and how the Truth will disappear from the Knowledge domain and reappear as (government mandated) data/info in the Power domain (part 3). Each day, this transformation process can be witnessed in the UK (Brexit) and USA (Russian interference in 2016 US elections).

Last Monday's joint news conference in Helsinki, by the presidents of Russia and USA, provided a perfect example: Republican president Trump "cast doubt on U.S. intelligence findings and said Putin strongly denied interfering in the U.S. election" (WP).

Shortly afterwards, Republican House speaker Paul Ryan "said that there is no question Russia interfered and continues to undermine democracy around the world, stressing that it was the finding of U.S. intelligence and a House committee" (WP).

The Guardian, 17 July 2018: "Donald Trump has been condemned as “treasonous” for siding with the Kremlin over his own government agencies after a stunning joint appearance with Vladimir Putin in which he seemingly accepted the Russian leader’s denial of election meddling." Note LO: bold marking in quote by me.

The messy Brexit process is hard to follow. Its essentials are this: "In a referendum on 23 June 2016, 51.9% of the participating UK electorate voted to leave the EU; the turnout was 72.2%. On 29 March 2017, the UK government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 declares "exit day" to be 29 March 2019" (Wiki).

The UK government still continues with its Brexit process despite:
  • Brexit being a consultative rather then binding referendum;
  • Brexit having a marginal pro Leave outcome at a low voter turnout;
  • growing evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum;
  • threats by UK business to move (production/services) facilities to the EU (my blog).

Clearly, the Leave and Remain sides have 2 opposite truths. Mainland Europe fails to understand the arguments of pro Leave. To a (cynical) extent, Brexit is the best that Project Europe could have hoped for. A notorious EU blackmailer will leave, and the other 27 EU countries will not dare - or dream about -joining the Brexit horror.

The Truth is a belief that only matters in the Knowledge domain. In the Power domain, the truth is just information that one must accept.

Hence, John 8:31-32: (31) "So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. (32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Truth Will Set You Free (1977) by Mother's Finest - acoustic version


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Will the real US President please stand up??

The 45th President was annoyed over the latest action of the American Deep State. On Friday afternoon, they had spoiled his game of golf in Scotland by releasing the names of 12 Russian intelligence officers and their actions in excruciating detail. The American Deep State refused to stop its attempts to undermine its 45th President.

Although the 45th President hated the Special Counsel (of the Deep State), he loved that this guy was working so slow. It allowed him to promote his domestic and international properties and sent the expense bill to the Deep State for early settlement. The 45th President could even promote his 2020 re-election.

On Monday, he finally had his face-to-face with his long-time sponsor. They used their joint news conference for attacking the American Deep State and for praising his sponsor. He chuckled by the idea that someone might ask if the American President would stand up for his country. He would - jokingly - have given the honours to his sponsor.

The Deep State reacted quickly after their "very constructive and very fruitful" summit in Helsinki. A Russian unregistered gun rights advocate was arrested as a covert Russian agent, for lobbying at the American National Rifle Association. A former CIA director had called his Helsinki performance "nothing short of treasonous".

Ever since his election, he had been annoyed that people seemed to forget who is in charge now. His reference to the North Korean leader had not gone well: “He’s the head of a country. And I mean, he is the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” He had been forced to say: "I’m kidding, you don’t understand sarcasm".

Obviously, he wasn’t “kidding”. Early 2018, he had already criticized Democratic lawmakers who did not stand and applaud during his State of the Union address, saying they gave off “bad energy” and calling them “un-American.” “Somebody said treasonous,” he said. “I mean, yeah, I guess, why not. Can we call that treason? Why not?”

During the Helsinki summit his sponsor assured him that efforts for his 2020 re-election are in progress. Unfortunately, one of these was just revealed: “A company that provides key services for Maryland elections has been bought by a parent company with links to a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, state officials said on Friday after a briefing a day earlier from the FBI.

During the Helsinki meeting, his sponsor had asked if he was worried. He had acknowledged and asked whether the American intelligence agencies could assassinate him, like JFK and RFK. His sponsor had smiled at him and had asked him a rhetorical question: “Do you really think your agencies could pull that off and get away with it?”

From Russia with Love (1963) by Matt Monro


Inspired by Andy Borowitz and his satirical Borowitz Report

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Transparency

Transparency is a concept that relates to 4 of the 7 Belief systems: Money, Politics, Science and - especially - the Truth. We often conceal the truth through carefully chosen words. Our deeds often reveal our true intentions. Nowadays, transparency is about uncovering the Truth.

Originally, transparency was merely a scientific concept. Wiki: “Transparency, transparence or transparent most often refer to transparency and translucency, the physical property of allowing the transmission of light through a material.”

The extensive use of jargon in business (belief: Money) and in politics (Politics) is a main reason why transparency has become important. Words often conceal true intentions:
eBay, 2017: “We are passionate about harnessing our platform to empower millions of people by levelling the playing field for them.” Lucy Kellaway: “Bingo! In fewer than 20 words it combined five previous years’ winners, only to say nothing at all.” (AESFT). Please see yesterday’s blog about Nothing. Note: bold marking by LO.
In my youth, people sometimes said “don’t be so transparent!”. Clearly, they referred to transparency being a vice rather than today’s virtue. We were supposed to conceal our true intentions. The Asian culture is often said to be an example of such behaviour.

Corporate scandals are often rooted in accounting (ie, bookkeeping) scandals: profits are overstated and/or losses are hidden. The role of the auditors (ie, independent verification) in these accounting scandals is often a topic of debate. Nevertheless, the audit profession is one of the earliest advocates of increased transparency (FastCompany, 2011).

Transparency in business and politics will never equal the scientific definition. The 1992 movie A Few Good Men (IMDb) gives a reason for this. In a courtroom scene, Jack Nicholson shouts at Tom Cruise: “You can’t handle the truth!” This is indeed a reason why we often conceal our true intentions through misty words.

A lack of transparency might be a vice but that doesn’t mean that transparency should be considered a virtue. The Dutch language has a concept that doesn’t appear to exist in English: brengschuld versus haalschuld. This concept deals with the moral obligation regarding a “debt”: some "debts" must be "collected" while other debts must be “brought” to the "creditor".

Some people claim that transparency is an obligation by the one who owes (eg, information, money). However, one could easily argue that (a demand for) transparency is the responsibility of the one who demands (the “creditor”). A bank seldom has these debates with its debtors.

“There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.” A quote by Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), American publisher.

Transparent & Glasslike (2003) by Carpark North - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise

Monday, 16 July 2018

Nothing

You probably recognise these sentences: “I have nothing [to wear]” and “There’s nothing [interesting] to see”. Both sender and receiver know that these statements are not true. It’s an exaggeration to stress that there is not enough of “something”. Probably, the word “nothing” may only be defined as the absence of something.

Hence, “nothing” is never all-inclusive or (fully) comprehensive. We may think that the air in our garden contains “nothing” but you know better when the sun illuminates the dust particles through a window pane. There’s always something when you look more carefully.

Given my definition of “nothing”, the absence of something, it’s tempting to compare “nothing” with the number zero (0). You could even argue that “nothing” equals zero (0). The number zero is a human invention to facilitate mathematics (eg, SmithsonianVox). If our decimal numeral system is rooted in 2 hands of 5 fingers, there’s no finger “zero”.

Quora: “Zero was invented independently by the Babylonians, Mayans and Indians (although some researchers say the Indian number system was influenced by the Babylonians). The Babylonians got their number system from the Sumerians, the first people in the world to develop a counting system.” Note LO: italic markings by me.

There might even be no situation in which “nothing” would be an objective fact, rather than a subjective opinion. I think, feel and believe there is always “something”, which thus prevents the application of an objective “nothing”.

Why do we even have the word “nothing” if its use is often flawed? I suppose that nothing was the opposite of something, and that’s its original meaning has been forgotten. The word “nothing” subsequently became a (human) concept or invention like zero.

A recent Aeon article has the following intriguing title: “Is a hole a real thing, or just a place where something isn’t?”. Remarkably, the article does not question whether holes have a purpose. I think, feel and believe that holes (ie, empty void or “nothing”) do have a purpose. The most common example is a ring.

The purpose of the hole inside a ring is clear to humans. Without this purpose, a ring would still be a ring, even in the absence of something, like the finger of a guest or a host (eg, Aeon article). The same applies to a bolt and nut. The hole in a nut has a clear purpose. Both “wait” for each other to complete their joint functionality - or purpose.

It’s assumed that all matter gets erased inside a black hole. However, some claim that black holes might be the entry or exit points of wormholes that connect universes (ie, multiverse).

Any house has lots of holes. We use doors and windows to close (and lock) these holes. The functionality of any hole (eg, house, nut, ring) seems to provide a point of entry and/or exit. Closing the hole either completes – or loses - the functionality or purpose.

Using the word “nothing” may have a similar purpose. It’s a plea for empathy. We know it’s not true but we may pretend to believe it. We may even feel generous and help finding a “something”.

Something from Nothing (2014) by Foo Fighters


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Thieves like us


Thieves Like Us (1984) by New Order

I've watched your face for a long time
It's always the same
I've studied the cracks and the wrinkles
You were always so vain
But now you live your life like a shadow
In the pouring rain

Oh, it's called love
Yes, it's called love
Oh, it's called love
And it belongs to us
Oh, it dies so quickly, it grows so slowly
But when it dies, it dies for good
It's called love
And it belongs to everyone but us

I've lived my life in the valleys
I've lived my life on the hills
I've lived my life on alcohol
I've lived my life on pills

But it's called love
And it belongs to us
It's called love
And it's the only thing that's worth living for
It's called love
And it belongs to us
It's called love
Yes, it's called love

Oh, love is found in the east and the west
But when love is at home, it's the best
Love is the cure for every evil
Love is the air that supports the eagle

It's called love
And it's so uncool
It's called love
And somehow it's become unmentionable

It's called love
And it belongs to everyone of us
It's called love
And it cuts your life like a broken knife, no
Love, love, love love love
It's called love and it belongs to us
It's called love, love, love love love
It's called love and it belongs to everyone but us

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Indicting 12 Russian hackers could be Mueller's biggest move yet (Wired)

"In some ways, special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for their hacking and attack on the 2016 presidential election is Mueller’s least surprising move yet—but it might also be his single most significant.

News that paid employees of the Russian government—military intelligence officers, no less—interfered and sought to influence the 2016 presidential election, coming just days before the victor of that election will meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, amounts to nothing less than an international geopolitical bombshell.

Blow by Blow
The new charges, which come in an 11-count, 29-page indictment, lays out Russia's alleged efforts in the excruciating detail and specificity that has become the Mueller investigative team's hallmark. They also undermine President Trump’s long-running efforts to obfuscatewhether the US could determine who was behind the attacks. He’s previously speculated that it could be “some guy in his home in New Jersey,” and said, “I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?”

While some of the details had previously been laid out in a DNC lawsuit, Friday’s blockbuster indictment is the first official blow-by-blow from the US government. It makes clear the attack was coordinated and run by the Russian military, the hacking team commonly known by the moniker Fancy Bear, which Mueller’s indictment names publicly for the first time as two specific units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff—known by the acronym GRU—that are called Unit 26165 and Unit 74455. (The hackers got their public Fancy Bear moniker from the security firm Crowdstrike, which spotted the phrase “Sofacy” in some of the unit’s malware, reminding analysts of Iggy Azalea’s song “Fancy.”)

The same unit, according to public reports, has been involved in attacks on French president Emmanuel Macron, NATO, the German Parliament, Georgia, and other government targets across Europe.

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein announced the charges at a noon press conference Friday, following a tradition that has seen Mueller’s indictments handed down on Fridays, and breaking what had been more than four months of silence since Mueller’s last set of new charges.

As the Justice Department said, “These GRU officers, in their official capacities, engaged in a sustained effort to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and released that information on the internet under the names ‘DCLeaks’ and ‘Guccifer 2.0’ and through another entity.”

Not only was it the GRU, the Justice Department said, but it was at least 12 specific, identified intelligence officers: Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev.

Mueller’s indictment, returned this morning by a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, focuses on two distinct efforts by the GRU: First, the hacking of the DNC, the DCCC, and the attack on Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff that famously included the theft and leaking of campaign chair John Podesta’s risotto recipe; second, the hacking of a state election board and theft of a half-million voters’ information, as well as related efforts to target an election software company and state and local election officials.

Each of Mueller’s indictments, as they have come down, have demonstrated the incredible wealth of knowledge amassed by US intelligence and his team of investigators, and Friday was no exception. The indictment includes the specific allegations that between 4:19 and 4:56 pm on June 15, 2016, the defendants used their Moscow-based server to search for the same English words and phrases that Guccifer 2.0 used in “his” first blog post, where “he” claimed to be a lone Romanian hacker and claimed to be solely responsible for the attacks on Democratic targets.

The indictment carefully traces how the scheme unfolded, including the “spearphishing” by four of the GRU officers targeting the Clinton campaign in March 2016—which enabled the Podesta email theft—and how the officers spoofed their email, hi.mymail@yandex.com, to make it appear to be from Google. The GRU also targeted Clinton campaign staffers by using an email account with a one-letter difference from a legitimate employee, and asking recipients to open a file entitled “hillary-clinton-favorable-rating.xlsx.com.”

At the same time, other hackers zeroed in on the DCCC, checking its internet protocol configurations, and sizing up a way into the system, which they were able to access after another successful spearphishing attack. Ultimately, according to the charging documents, the GRU gained access to more than 10 DCCC computers, and at least 33 DNC computers.

They were even learning along the way; Mueller’s indictment points to evidence of hackers researching their techniques and commands in real time as the attacks unfolded.

The intelligence officers then coordinated with their colleagues in Unit 74455 to gather and release publicly the stolen files through websites like DCLeaks, Guccifer 2.0, and what the indictment calls a “third entity.”

Rosenstein made clear that the new indictment doesn’t charge or allege that any American citizen was involved in the hacking effort, nor is there any allegation that the Russian effort changed the vote total or outcome of the 2016 election. He also said that he “briefed President Trump about this allegations earlier this week,” presumably before Trump left for a whirlwind trip that has seen him lash out at NATO and undermine UK prime minister Theresa May in her own country.

Rosenstein also indicated that unlike the other indictments and guilty pleas Mueller’s team has handed down so far, they don’t anticipate prosecuting any of the Russian intelligence officers anytime soon. Instead, the indictment will be handed off to the Justice Department’s National Security Division and its assistant attorney general John Demers to await a future prosecution on the slim chance any of the individuals wind up in US custody.

In a week that saw a marathon and dispiriting congressional Republican inquisition of FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who once helped lead this investigation, and saw President Trump refer, again, to Mueller’s investigation as a “Witch Hunt,” Rosenstein also offered pointed words about the political environment. “When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it is important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats and instead to think patriotically as Americans. Our response must not depend on who was victimized,” he said, even as cable news screens split coverage between his huge announcement and President Trump’s welcome by Queen Elizabeth to her palace in the UK.
Fresh Answers, New Questions
While the new charges add tremendous detail to the public knowledge of Russia’s unprecedented attack on the election, Mueller’s indictment also leaves us with big, unanswered questions—and creates new questions, including three big ones:

What about Cozy Bear? The new indictment only covers the GRU hackers known as Fancy Bear. However, numerous public reports have pointed to involvement by the FSB, the Russian state intelligence service and successor to the KGB, and a hacking group there known as Cozy Bear. Reporting over the last year has hinted that Dutch intelligence provided detailed information to the US about the role and efforts in the 2016 election—up to and including individual photographs of intelligence officers at work in connection with the attacks. The Wall Street Journal reported last November that at least six individual Russian government hackers had been identified; it’s unclear whether Mueller’s indictment covers those six, but given the prevailing information that both the FSB and GRU were involved in the attacks, are there more charges pending about other FSB intelligence officers?

What about Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos, or any other Americans? One of the oddest storylines of the year-long Mueller probe has been Trump aide Roger Stone’s did-he-or-didn’t-he communications with the pseudonymous Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks. Rosenstein made clear in his remarks, “The conspirators corresponded with several Americans through the internet. There is no allegation in the indictment that the Americans knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers.” But that phrasing seems carefully chosen—and mirrors his comments in the indictment of the Internet Research Agency about the limits of that indictment. It doesn’t rule out that future indictments might focus on the criminal behavior of Americans corresponding with the GRU or the IRA—nor would Americans necessarily have to know they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers to be guilty of various crimes.

As with other Mueller indictments (like the third unnamed “traveler” in Feburary’s IRA indictment), the charging documents include intriguing breadcrumbs. The indictment references at one point that Guccifer 2.0 communicated with an unnamed US congressional candidate and, especially intriguingly, that the GRU for the first time began an attack on Hillary Clinton’s personal emails just hours after Trump publicly asked Russia for help in finding them.

These open questions are additionally interesting because of one of the early tips to the US government that launched the FBI investigation eventually known by the codename CROSSFIRE HURRICANE: Trump aide George Papadopoulos telling an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, weeks before the GRU attacks became public. The charges against the GRU make clear that its effort began at least by March 2016. Papadopoulos, arrested last summer and already cooperating with Mueller’s team, might very have provided more information about where his information came from—and who, in addition to the Australians, he told.

What’s the role of WikiLeaks? Rosenstein pointedly noted that the individuals charged Friday “transferred stolen documents to another organization, not named in the indictment, and discussed timing the release of the documents in an attempt to enhance the impact on the election.” That organization almost certainly was the website WikiLeaks, or at least a cut-out that handed the documents to WikiLeaks, since that website ultimately published them. Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo last year referred to WikiLeaks as "non-state hostile intelligence service,” saying the Julian Assange-founded website “walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service” and is “often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Pompeo also said that the Russian state TV channel RT, which was similarly deeply involved in many of the state-backed election propaganda efforts in 2016, has “actively collaborated” with WikiLeaks. Were his words omens that the controversial site itself would be the subject of a future indictment?

The unanswered questions are, in some ways, entirely consistent with Mueller’s approach thus far. Each indictment has carefully laid out only a specific picture of his multi-faceted investigation. As much as the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani rushed out after Friday’s announcement with the tired refrain that there’s no “collusion,” the indictment does continue tip-toeing towards a moment when the special counsel will begin to connect the dots publicly—and he surely knows already how they connect.

Thus far, Mueller’s probe has focused on five distinct areas of interest:
1. An investigation into money laundering and past business dealings with Russia by people like former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort
2. The active information influence operations by Russian trolls and bots on social media, involving the Russian Internet Research Agency
3. The active cyber penetrations and operations against the DNC, DCCC, and Clinton campaign leader John Podesta
4. Contacts with Russian officials by Trump campaign officials during the course of the 2016 election and the transition, like George Papadopoulos and former national security advisor Michael Flynn
5. Obstruction of justice, whether the President or those around him sought to obstruct the investigation into Russian interference

With Friday's move, Mueller has now brought charges in the first four categories. Even before the new indictments of the GRU officers, he had brought more than 79 criminal charges, against a score of individuals and corporate entities, and elicited multiple guilty pleas from figures like Flynn, Papadopoulos, and Trump aide Rick Gates, as well as lesser figures involved in unknowingly facilitating the work of the Internet Research Agency.

What Mueller hasn’t done—yet—is show how these individual pieces come together. What level of coordination was there between the Internet Research Agency and the GRU or FSB? What ties, if any, exist between the business dealings of Manafort, Gates, and the Russian efforts to influence the election? How coordinated were unexplained oddities, like the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians, and the Russian government efforts by the IRA, GRU, and FSB?

Officials like former CIA director John Brennan and director of national intelligence James Clapper have made clear that the US knew by the fall of 2016 that these efforts were proceeding with the personal approval of Putin, but public evidence of that has yet to emerge.

Mueller’s indictment Friday underscores perhaps the clearest lesson yet of his probe: He knows far, far more than the public does. There was little sign in Friday’s indictment that any of it came from the cooperation and plea agreements he’s made with figures like Flynn, Gates, and Papadopoulos—meaning that their information, presumably critical enough to Mueller that he was willing to trade it for lighter sentencing, still hasn’t seen the light of day.

“The special counsel's investigation is ongoing,” Rosenstein said, adding, “I want to caution you that people who speculate about federal investigations usually do not know all of the relevant facts. We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings.”
Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) is a contributing editor for WIRED and the author of The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI. He can be reached at garrett.graff@gmail.com."