Theranos Re-branding Bamboozles the Media. Again.

By abandoning the semi-official name Edison to refer to its one-stop mobile bloodwork platform and officially branding it as the Theranos Sample Processing Unit, or miniLab, Theranos seems to have once again confused a lot of the media that it’s doing something different. 

August 1, 2016

After all the skepticism about Theranos, the media went to the AACC conference where founder Elizabeth Holmes publicly talked about the Theranos technology – introducing a new term called miniLab which was enough for many in the media to proclaim “Theranos introduced a brand new technology”.

MiniLab is essentially a technology platform – formally called the Theranos Sample Processing Unit – which allows for a single portable platform “designed to process small sample volumes across a broad set of different test methodologies.”

Now isn’t this exactly what the platform formerly-known-as-Edison was supposed to do?

The answer is: Yes of course.   This is exactly the same vision that Theranos has been hawking for the past few years.

So how is MiniLab different?  As per the media, it’s apparently different because the name is different.  

Here is the interesting thing: Theranos itself did not say it was a new technology platform.  The triumphant announcement on its site simply says this is the first time it is being presented in a public setting (true).

Now no doubt the latest version of the platform, call it Garkle v53 is better than the previous versions, just as Garkle v54 will be better than v53.   Garkle v53 may be better in accuracy, calibration, consistency, volume processing, efficiency etc etc than the previous Garkle versions which didn’t work so well, but the basic concept is still the same: a mobile platform that can do multiple tests using a small amount of blood which would relay data remotely.

Yet because previous versions of Garkle were code-named Edison and the one unveiled today was official named the Theranos Sample Processing Unit – or MiniLab – the media announces “new technology”!  If Theranos called it an updated version of Edison, the media would have reported it with less fanfare as “a new version of their platform.”

Here’s a picture of the previous platform as pictured in October 2015 and what was presented today side-by-side.


So Does miniLab – aka latest version of Edison – work?

Well we don’t know. Theranos presented a bunch of non peer-reviewed data similar to that previously available on its site with graphs and correlations for venous blood draws (and not capillary draws). 

They announced that they are now going to go for peer review and opening up the gates to show their platform.

Holmes also admitted to a sharp question that whatever was presented today did not show that hundreds of tests could be conducted on a couple of drops of blood – that still seemed an aspirational goal.

Even if upgraded Edison works, is it revolutionary?

Again this was not clear.  It was pointed out that there are current FDA approved technologies that were – for example in the case of testing for the Zika virus – 50x more sensitive than still-to-be-approved Theranos tech

So even if miniLab works, whether it works more efficiently than existing tech is not clear.

Conclusion

Essentially Theranos went back-asswards by FIRST commercializing its secret technology platform (then code named Edison) and operations before both were ready, falling on its face and THEN presenting its still work-in-progress and to-be-validated technology platform (now officially branded TSPU or miniLab) as some sort of Big Reveal to say “We have something very exciting” and “we would like to work with you all on it” and “get independent peer review.”

Which is of course what they should have done first.  Before commercializing it.

And it’s still not clear when it will be cleared for the field and even then whether it’s particularly efficient or revolutionary compared to existing technology.

And yet the media seems to have fallen for the latest dog-and-pony show.

Again.

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The Guardian’s Naked Lie on “Russian” Reaction to Brexit

While a clear majority of Britons in a high turn out referendum voted for Brexit, and are presumably delighted at winning, the Guardian bitterly lashes out at its favorite target Russia, by instead nakedly lying about the Russian position as being “delighted” when the official reaction by the top three officials – Putin, Medvedev, Lavrov – was cautious and expressing concern about economic fallout.

June 24, 2016

In the era of the internet where one can simply look up what world leaders are saying themselves, the British establishment outlet, the Guardian still believes that it an get away with lying about what is being said by what the establishment considers “enemies”.
Here’s what the Guardian who had vociferously supported the Remain campaign, announced that “Russia” feels about Brexit.

The above were based on the comments of the mayor of Moscow simply because he is Russian. It’s like focusing on what the Mayor of London Boris Johnson – who having campaigned vigorously for Brexit and a potential candidate for the next British PM is delighted- says as a proxy for “Britain”.

Meanwhile earlier TASS had a report on comments by the Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev which headlined the exact opposite:


Meanwhile the man the Guardian loves to hate, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said this while in China for an important Shanghai Council Organization with China, India and others:


And the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the following remarks.


The Irony

Given the clear majority (52%) of Britons voted to Leave including the Mayor of London, against weighty campaigning by the Western establishment including the Guardian, a more accurate headline would be 

“Britain delights in Brexit”

Yet the Guardian unable to swallow the bitterness of the result it was against, is lashing out at its “enemies” with lies, unable to understand it is precisely this sort of agitprop that makes it inherently untrustworthy to many outside the establishment bubble.

Conclusion

As shown, the top three Government officials who can speak for “Russia” internationally were cautious in their outlook, careful in their comments and stressing that Brexit was an internal matter for the UK and Europeans whose outcome they had nothing to do with.  If anything they expressed concern on any negative effects on the Russian economy, the key thing they would care about. Putin explicitly shrugged off any change that this would have on the sanction policy on Russia, which no Russian official expects will change anytime soon.

Meanwhile it is fair to say that since a majority of UK citizens voted for Brexit, including the Mayor of London who campaigned for it, a headline “the UK is delighted with Brexit” is more accurate.

Yet the Guardian leads with inflammatory messaging about “Russia” being delighted, oblivious to how it’s torpedoing its OWN reputation (not Russia’s) by disseminating agitprop as “news”.

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The Empire Strikes Back: US State Department Seeks Military Solution for Regime Change in Syria

How key factions in the US Establishment, including now the State Department are gearing up to escalate the Syrian conflict, pushing for direct bombings of Damascus and regime change as always, in a preview of how the Clinton administration will act.

June 16, 2016


[NOTE: All bold italic assertions need to be updated with links.]

Introduction

On February 25, 2016, soon after the ceasefire announcement I wrote about the coming Western Disinformation Campaign Regarding the [Syrian] Ceasefire Being Broken.

The key point I made is that because the so-called moderate opposition will not separate out from Al-Nusra, the USG and media, instead of blaming the opposition, will blame Syria and Russia for continuing their attacks on Al-Nusra areas as they are legally entitled to as per the ceasefire agreement.  In particular I wrote What Happened Next

An unexpected thing happened.  Russia instead of pressing their momentum, actually gave time for the ceasefire to work.  Putin announced a drawdown of the military and there were intense efforts to make the ceasefire work and talks started.  

These talks were repeatedly derailed by the Opposition which included extreme Jihadi factions indistinguishable in idealogy from Al-Nusra but protected by the US Government and allies (which vetoed resolutions to put them on the terrorism list along with Al-Nusra.)

Meanwhile Al-Nusra beefed up its forces with help from Turkey, with various Jihadi groups allied to Al-Nusra joining them in attacks on Government held parts of Aleppo and other towns and cities.  The US State Department continued to say that they were “working” to convince the groups to separate but it was “complicated”.

It became apparent that the USG and its allies had no indication to really press the opposition for a ceasefire and were using the time to strengthen forces.

Over the last two weeks, faced with Al-Nusra gains in Aleppo,  Russia started to escalate its Airstrikes along with the Syrian Government to regain the initiative.

And Now

Over the past few days Kerry talked of “US patience thinning” (even as Lavrov kept indicating what was wearing thin was Russia’s patience in waiting for USG to help separate the opposition from Al-Nusra.)  

And then hours ago came the news that 50+ plus US Diplomats sent a note to Obama urging military strikes on Assad.

This is an astonishing move by diplomats and show how warmongering the State Department has become:

1. They are urging a military solution and thus are admitting their own failure as diplomats.

2. Strikes on Assad would violate International Law yet again (after Iraq, Libya, Yemen and on and on), Laws that Diplomats should be very cognizant of.

3. The escalation of the conflict would have unpredictable consequences.

Why Now?

This is ultimately not about Syria.  This is about Russia and the determination of many factions in the United States establishment including media like the New York Times to re-establish “US leadership” – ie “US diktats” – over the region and to show Russia that the unipolar world with USG at its helm is alive and kicking.

This is happening against three key events:

1. Upcoming EU meetings where discussion of extending EU sanctions are going to take place, an event I have already said in January is virtually sure to happen (thanks to USG pressure on a reluctant EU).  A manufactured conflict in Syria is as likely a trigger for extending sanctions as I pointed out then.

2. The upcoming  NATO meeting where more militaristic policies against Russia will be revealed.  Escalation in Syria will only helps NATO’s cause (much like gun deaths in US only help the NRA).

3. The US Presidential elections which pits Clinton – a corrupt, establishment warmonger who seeks to expand US involvement everywhere – versus Trump – a nativist, bigoted, nationalist who questions why the US needs to police the world.

Clinton of course supports a more aggressive policy in Syria and an escalation will help her platform.

Meanwhile in Russia

Putin is increasingly torn between two factions: one that favors accepting that Russia is too weak economically to challenge the West and quietly and meekly accept its fate to be another Western dominated nation, and nationalists who warn that Russia needs to draw a line somewhere and push back hard.

That line in the sand could be Syria.  A USG attack on Damascus would be a direct challenge to Russia’s goal of preserving the state institutions.

Russia’s choice could be to

(a) Let it happen which will expose it’s claim to any power as toothless;

(b) Put pressure on Assad to step down which will not only expose Russia as caving in to pressure but put in jeopardy the millions of Syrians who do support the Assad Government.

(c) Directly or indirectly support Syria’s air defenses to shoot down any planes / missiles.

Option (c) of course can be the spark that can take the whole conflict to another level of chaos.

Conclusion

Various factions in the US establishment have decided that now is the time to escalate the pressure against Russia by proxy.   This thinking gives a preview of how the neo-con backed Clinton administration – which is virtually sure to be elected barring some sort of disqualification – will act.

And most of the Western media will fall lock step into this warmongering policy as they did for Iraq and Libya.

And so it goes.

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How Eurovision Voting correlates to Geopolitics: Case of Poland and Israel

Analysis of Eurovision 2016 data shows how Jury voting by country often mirrors their country’s establishment political positions and how the divergence in the Televoting mirrors the growing divide between the establishment and population in these countries.

June 3, 2016

Introduction

In Analysis and Initial Conclusion from the Eurovision 2016 Voting for Russia and Ukraine” it was shown how despite Russia comfortably winning the overall Televote (popular vote) in Eurovision 2016,  Jury (Establishment Elites) Bloc voting by an anti-Russian coalition of 17 of the 42 countries, giving zero points to Russia while 132 to Ukraine meant that the latter came out ahead in the sum of the two (Jury + Televotes).

A further point was made that the popular voting in these same 17 countries actually gave a slight edge to Russia (149-148).  In particular the popular votes among many countries was in contrast to how the estbalishment from the same countries voted.

Summary tables of the overall rankings and the Ukraine vs Russia voting by country split by Jury and Televotes are given below.

Voting patterns for Russia vs Ukraine (Yellow is more to Ukraine; Blue is more to Russia)

The Case of Poland and Israel

While the Ukrainian victory over Russia was wildly celebrated in the Western establishment by (among other apparent music afficianados), NATO, a look at the voting patterns for two other countries, Poland and Israel, illustrates the same points as above: how Jury voting in Eurovision mirrors the political view of their respective Establshments and how different they are from the popular vote.

Here’s a summary table.


As one can see, Poland got a total of only 7 (!) points from juries of all 42 countries (placing it 25th out of 26 finalists) while racking up 222 points in popular voting (3rd out of 26).

Israel on the the other hand got 122 votes from Juries (8th overall) while only 11 in popular voting (22nd overall).

Analysis

The new Polish Government is more right-wing than its precedessors and in addition to ramping up its anti-Russian rhetoric – which is of course welcome by the EU elites – it has ALSO been hostile to the EU’s pan-European agenda, taking on a more anti-EU, nationalist tone.  The EU bureacracy has retaliated not just with the usual harsh rhetoric about “threat to freedoms” but has taken an unprecented step of warning Poland that it could be stripped of voting rights within the EU

Thus Poland’s new Government has few friends among the EU elites while of course continuing to alienate the Russians.  The result is that though the Polish entry was overall quite popular among the people, who perhaps were listening more to the music than thinking about sending a message, Poland was shut out in the establisment voting on all sides.

The reverse can be seen in the case of Israel.  By and large,  Israel is unpopular among the European populace either because of its policies towards the Palestinians or a latent anti-semitism.  Or perhaps the music was just bad.  In either case the Israeli entry hardly got any popular votes.

But the EU elites of course are by and large staunch defenders of Israel which is reflected in the voting.

The stark contrast between the voting of the German elites versus its population is once again interesting to note given the growing internal turmoil in Germany between its establishment and population.  In the case of Russia, the German jury gave 0 to Russia and the second highest score (10) to Ukraine while the German televoters gave the maximum (12) to Russia.  In the case of Israel, the German jury gave its maximum (12) to Israel while its population gave 0.

Conclusion

The Eurovision is a kitchy, cultural affair with little relevance to actual good music.  However it serves as an unintended glimpse into both how political preferences of the elites from different countries is reflected in their voting; and also how divergent they often are from how the televoting public which mirrors the disenchantement of the public from ther leaders in many of these countries.

 

 

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Jason Calacanis’s Contradictory Views on Aggressive Journalism

May 27, 2016

Jason Calacanis, a well-known Silicon Valley enterpreneur and blogger, in a very frank, lengthy and informative interview on January 28, 2016 with Wall Steet Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou who broke the story about flaws in Theranos technology and operations, commends the latter stating near the tail end of the interview (starting 1:26:32 – transcript by ear below with emphasis added)

I don’t think with you or your tenacity to stay on this story any of the journalists here in Silicon Valley who I can tell you are bought and sold [..] Lot of them won’t take on these big projects. It has to come from New York journalists. It has to come from the East Coast because the East Coast people don’t have a horse in the race.   They don’t have friendships to maintain, they don’t have spouses or cousins or brothers or friends or people they go on vacation with on private jets and go to you know islands. You know these journalists are very tied into the ecosystem here. And they are bought and sold largely. They don’t want to risk somebody not giving a keynote at their conference.  They don’t want to risk knocking over the apple cart.   I know this because, listen, I am a Brooklyn kid who lives here and I can tell you,  I feel the pressure. Like when I wrote bad stuff about Zuckerberg and Facebook and how they were screwing with people’s privacy, just in my blog, and like how I thought it was ridiculous and bad.  You know I had people try to, somebody try to literally scuttle my career and told me essentially  ‘You’ll never work in this town again. Stop beating up Zuckerberg.’   That’s the kind of pressure journalists out here are under. They are not really journalists.  They are more like content creating PR extensions in this town. The East Coast, you know, the bulldogs, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, 60 Minutes, Frontline, Propublica – like you need to have this aggressive East Coast, Northeast approach to taking on these giants.  Because it’s not going to happen here.  And I applaud you for doing this. I think it’s tremendous the work you’re doing. [..] I know you’re doing it not for the money because let’s face it you’re making a fraction of what you would get paid working on the PR. Put it this way, the PR person is literally making 5 times what you make.  And David Boeis is making 500 times as much as you make defending the other side of this. And so people who are attacking you about this I think are pointing the target at the wrong place.

So after this brave and revealing commentary, it’s astonishing for Calacalis now to be celebrating Gawker‘s plight on being found liable for $140m for invasion of privacy, with individual journalists also being targeted in lawsuits funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel – who acknowledged a 10-year long plan to target and bankrupt Gawker’s for their irreverent attitude to him and his friends in Silicon Valley, an attitide as Calacanis makes clear above, they are used to from the compliant press back in the Valley.

As Nick Denton, the founder and proprietor of Gawker, in a open letter to Peter Thiel makes the same point as he lists the many investigative reports that Gawker, a “small New York media company” put out, while acknowledging they “overstepped the line” a few times “into snark” among the millions of posts, to offset the “fawning coverage of tech luminaries”.  The kind of fawning coverage that led to Elizabeth Holmes to be valued $4.5 billion and being written as the next-Steve Jobs without putting out a single product in public.

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How Maxim Trudolyubov Lets Ideology Trump Facts

A look at how an supposed Editor and researcher gets basic facts wrong in his frantic desire to smear Russians on the pages of the New York Times.

May 27, 2016

Introduction

Maxim Trudolyubov is an editor-at-large for the Russian business daily Vedemosti, and more importantly for the Western establishment, a part of the small rabid anti-Kremlin community who dreams of Russia taking its rightful place of becoming THE key client-state of the US Government as many of the European countries are.

His latest is “The Sore Losers of Russia” published in the New York Times whose only questions for its op-Ed are “Piece Against Russia? How many inches do you want?”

He leads with the Eurovision 2016 contest and starts with 

Actually the FACTS are these: 

1. The result was determined by the SUM of the Televoting by the various countries AND the points from the Jury from those countries.  So Trudolyubov basically gets this fact wrong.

2. Regarding “The Audiences were sending a message to Russia [by voting against it]“:   Perhaps there were many who voted against Russia because they believed – thanks to their media’s propaganda – that the Crimean people were taken kicking and screaming against their wishes into the deep, dark, cold embrace of the Russians (as opposed to the FACT that an overwhelming number of Crimeans have always wanted to be, voted in the referendum, and as Western polls show still are, for union with Russia.  See here and here). 

But here’s the actual FACT: Russia won the popular vote via Televoting.

So how did they lose the overall?  Well a Jury – a proxy for the elites – from 17 countries where anti-Russia propaganda is the shrillest – Bloc voted to give zero points to Russia and 132 points to Ukraine (6 gave the maximum 12).  The Televoting from the same 17 was 149-148 for Russia vs Ukraine.

A summary of the voting between Ukraine and Russia is below.  The details are laid out in “Analysis and Initial Conclusion from the Eurovision 2016 Voting for Russia and Ukraine“.

Voting patterns for Russia vs Ukraine (Yellow is more to Ukraine; Blue is more to Russia)


Why Does This Matter?

Evidently to Trudolyubov, who leads with the Eurovision farce, the Russian reaction to Eurovision is symptomatic of the larger whole.

And indeed it is.  Whereas for him, the twisted “facts” he believes are true display how Russians don’t like losing and see enemies everywhere, the reality of the actual facts show clearly 

(a) the agenda of the European elites who bloc voted to deny Russia any points and;

(b) the defiance of the televoters from these countries who collectively –  despite many of them no doubt voting against Russia because of what they heard from their media –  STILL managed to vote Russia the winner.  In Germany where the elites voted 10 (second highest) to Ukraine and 0 to Russia, the televoters voted 12 (maximum) to Russia and 6 to Ukraine.

So the FACTS that the Eurovision broke its own rules about not having political songs which Ukraine’s entry by the signer’s own admission post-victory clearly was; stated a victory for Russia would be disastrous; placed Ukraine’s entry in a more favorable time slot; had the elites Bloc vote against Russia; and then having achieved a Ukrainian victory gleefully crowing about it with NATO (!) doing a profile of the winner, is all evidence of something alright.

It is indeed evidence of the absolute desire to deny Russia victory by any means even in a stupid kitschy competition like the Eurovision.   This is not to humiliate the Kremlin – who did not comment – but the Russian people for whom Eurovision mattered, and who were indeed outraged.

What’s interesting is that for those of Trudolyubov’s ilk, all the above actual FACTS – all of which he either got totally wrong or conveniently omitted – are evidence of the “paranoia” of the Kremlin and Russians.

Meanwhile a few days ago Putin – who is a known hockey fan – attended the Hockey World Championship final in Moscow between Canada and Finland, two countries from the Western Bloc.  He did not attend the semifinals where Russia beat the United States 7-2.

In the final, Canada beat Finland 2-0 and Putin came down to the ice, heartily congratulated Canada (whose leadership has been strongly anti-Russia) and Finland and had this to say among other comments.


Yeah, what a sore loser!

Conclusion 

Trudolyubov used the Russian reaction to Eurovision as lead-in to his “evidence” of Russian’s being “sore losers” even though the “facts” he uses to come to such a conclusion are wrong and the real facts show Russians had much reason to be aggrieved.

Given Trudolyubov has proved ignorant of the facts and basic researching abilities, the question should be asked as to how he achieved seemingly exalted postions as an Editor and Fellow of the Wilson Institute.

Or perhaps facts, researching abilities are not the chief qualities looked for.  It certainly is not to get to write in the New York Times op-ed section against Russia.

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The Thiel/Gawker Saga Highlights Role of Money in Legal System

What Billionaire Thiel’s bankrolling of $10m to try and bring down Gawker in a case he was not involved in says about the legal system.

May 26, 2016

Introduction

The revelation that the lawsuit pursued by Terry Bollea aka Hulk Hogan against Gawker for invasion of privacy – for which Bollea won a staggering $140 million dollar judgement –  was funded behind the scenes by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, based on his own conviction that Gawker deserved to be put out of business, has generated a lot of commentary.

It appears from first glance, that many of the Silicon Valley enterprenuerial class (see for example Marc Andeersen’s Tweet)  who have suffered from Gawker‘s irreverent – and according to them scurrilous – takedowns have reacted with approval and delight at Gawker‘s plight.

On the other side have been staunch free-speech advocates like lawyer-turned-journalist Glenn Greenwald (despite himself being employed by an outlet funded by a Silicon Valley Billionaire) as well as many in the liberal media who are troubled by the slippery slope implications of such “litigation finance” against media outlets.

This commentary is however about a bigger point, viz. the role of money in buying “Justice”, a theme only referred to in passing in the New York Times article about Thiel’s involvement in various suits against organizations that he believes are detrimental to society:


Rich and Powerful Can Buy “Justice”

The free-speech debate has overshadowed the deeper issue as to why Peter Thiel’s deep pockets were needed by Bollea to win the award.  Thiel himself said:


So there is the casual acceptance of the reality of the American Legal System: that serious “resources” that not even “mere” multi-millionaires like Bollea can afford, are needed to buy – what Thiel and others who despise Gawker would call –  “Justice”.

What this has confirmed to all but the most naive is that just as in politics and healthcare, in the legal system the rich and powerful have access to the best resources to influence the outcome in their favor.

It has long been known that the legal system is biased against the poor, but the Gawker case reinforces the fact that the rich and powerful can utilize the legal system not only to escape serious penalties versus those with less power,  but also to coerce and stifle what they regard as poisons in building a better society.  This desire to socially engineer humanity to their liking is a pattern of thinking that informs the behavior of billionaires across the establishment political spectrum from George Soros to the Koch Brothers.

Conclusion

Peter Thiel’s use of his deep pockets to try and bring down Gawker, shows that the Rule-of-Law – which supposedly is a foundational element of why the US is superior to other countries – is more like other countries the US criticizes,  where the influence of the powerful on the legal system is just more easily observable.

 

 

 

 

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