About Russell Chapman

Russell Chapman is a freelance photographer and writer. From the UK, he is now based in Switzerland. Photography has always been his greatest passion. Using photography he tries to communicate strong messages and emotions in a way that will have a lasting impact on those who observe his work. He is recognized for his work in Syria, having been invited to present at international conferences such as Refugee Voices at the Refugee Studies Centre at St Annes College, Oxford University and Franklin University, Switzerland. He has also published the book Syria: Refugees and Rebels which photo documents the human story of the conflict in Syria as well as the refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan.

The Brexit Irish Border Question

It comes down to this. Britain doesn’t want a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The EU is insisting on a border so the British response is this, you want a border, you create it, finance it, control it and take responsibility for it. My brother is reasonably senior at the UK Home Office and the Department for Brexit. This is what’s coming down the line.

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Syria, what comes next?

Syria is almost entirely back under government control, what does that mean? Whilst Russia has been the main player in supporting Assad from the air, without Iran there would be no Assad. Iran is the real political power in Syria

What could this lead to? Iran’s intention is to destabilize the arab world as much as possible and put pressure on Israel. Now, with its access to the border with Jordan, there is a real possibility it will begin work to create chaos in Jordan. There are two objectives, if Jordan can be destabilized enough, it will raise alarm in Israel for the security of its border. In Syria, Israel has the buffer zone of the Golan Heights in Syria to keep Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah at arms length. If Jordan were to become unstable, there would be no buffer zone.

Secondly, if Iran through Syria can unbalance Jordan, then it would also have access to the border with Saudi Arabia, and this I think would be the main objective. Ultimately Iran wants to see the collapse of Saudi Arabia ,its nemesis . Slowly but surely Iran is surrounding the country. It has strong influence in Iraq so therefore has access to the eastern border, Yemen on the southern border is a war zone and Iran supports the Houthi rebels there. The next logical step is to create chaos in Jordan and give Iran access to the northern border of Saudi Arabia.

Russia isn’t strong enough to control Iranian influence in Syria and I’m not sure it would be unhappy if Iran were able to destabilize Jordan an American ally. Jordan in many ways is a fragile country. It is small and poor with hotbeds of potential unrest waiting to explode given the opportunity. The cities of Zarqa in the north and Ma’an in the south are pretty much no go areas, the army and police have to stay out of those cities and manage them by controlling the roads in and out. Given the opportunity, they would rise up now if they could. If Iran, now with its access to the Jordanian border can create enough chaos, it is certain fighting would start in Jordan. This is a huge security concern for both Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The point is this, the war in Syria stopped being about revolution a long time ago. Today it is about increasing power in the region, having geography and the strategic upper hand on your side. Iran is playing a long game here. Winning Syria is just one step further towards its goal of being the dominant power in the middle east.

Why BitCoin Will Not Succeed In The Long Term

Why BitCoin will not succeed in the long term. There are several different reasons.

One of the first is the cost of producing BitCoin. So far about 11 million ‘coins’ have to be mined using computers to ‘hash’ algorithms, out of a total of 21 million coins. To date the cost of electricity to produce a single BitCoin averages $6500. This time next year, because the complexity of computer calculations increases with each BitCoin mined, the average electricity cost will be approx $14000. The final cost of electricity to produce all 21 million coins will be far higher than that.

Second point. Transaction costs with BitCoin are increasing rapidly. The average fee now is $20 for any transaction and increasing all the time. That kills BitCoin as a currency, you will never be able to use it for grocery shopping. It is the way the blockchain technology underlying the system works. The faster you want to process a BitCoin payment, the more you have to pay, and that can be far higher than $20.

Third point. Governments will not allow a popular asset to be traded without being able to collect tax on it. They will start restricting the BitCoin exchanges. European governments on Friday 15/12/17 began doing this.

Final point. BitCoin has no fundamental value, it is just a digital ‘thing’, with nothing to support its value in the real world.

It is just a thing for speculation and ‘get rich quick’, For many investors, when the time comes, will be a way to lose money quickly. Particularly as the BitCoin system can’t handle large numbers of buy and sell orders for immediate processing. Your sell order could well take several days to process. That is simply how the BitCoin system works.

Caveat emptor

The Next War?

The next war could well be in Lebanon. If it happens and it looks likely, it will not be a local war but a proxy war fought by Saudia Arabia (KSA) and Iran. KSA is spending billions of dollars on weapons from the USA and UK and not only for it’s on going war in Yemen. Israel will also support KSA in a proxy war against Hezbollah in Lebanon because of Hezbollah’s deep ties with Iran. Iran on the other hand has been buying weapon systems from Russia. Russia supports Bashar al Assad of Syria, who is very close to Iran.

Can you see where I’m going here? A potential proxy war inside a proxy war. KSA vs Iran, the Sunni, Shia divide, Israel happy to see Iran caught up in a long drawn out war, expending resources, its enemies being weakened and unable to support the Palestinian territories in Israel, so it can continue to take over their land. USA supporting KSA and Russia supporting Iran, as both fight for influence in the Middle East. And people wonder why the global political system is so broken. It is run on a thirst for power and influence.

Russell Chapman Professional Life Coach, New Website

Ladies and Gentlemen, here it is, the launch of my new executive and personal life-coaching website. Please take the time to have a look at it and share it with those around you. If you are interested in my services, then please get in touch for your first free half hour consultation. Besides a wealth of life and business experience, being naturally empathetic and strategically minded, I studied hard to pass an exam in Life Coaching from an accredited UK college, Oxford Learning College. I want to help you be a better version of yourself, in both your personal and professional life.

Russell Chapman Professional Life Coach

One of the reasons I decided to start coaching is so I can have more free time to concentrate on photography and writing, so much happening in the world today and so much to write about. As time goes by, I will be adding more and more to this blog.

Launch of My Executive & Life Coaching Website Approaches

Work continues in preparation for the launch of my Executive/Life Coaching website. I’m very much looking forward to using my life and work experience as well as training as a certified coach to help clients become better versions of themselves, reaching greater potential. In the meantime I have produced a video for the website, which you can now watch.

Too quiet for too long, I know

Yes, I have been quiet here but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I have completed my life coaching course. Now I’m in the process of building the website, lots happening there. I’m looking forward to using my life experience, personal and professional in helping people be a better version of themselves.

As I develop my coaching business I will also have more time for photography and writing as well as other activities. I’m still watching the world very closely, just because I haven’t said much recently about the world situation, does not mean I don’t have many thoughts. We are living in a time when history will be made, for good or for bad.

So watch this space, yes I may be quiet at the moment, but when the time comes there will be very many things to talk about

 

My Journey to Life Coaching

I have decided to become a Life Coach and am now on a year long course to qualification. What led me to this decision and why? Read on to find out.

What triggered my thought process to decide on becoming a Life Coach was this winter. I am not designed to live in the cold. I never liked the cold but this winter was the hardest winter I have ever experienced. I wanted to hibernate. I need heat and sun, it gives me energy. So there I was one cold, dark, snowy day last December, reading some news sites and there was an article about Life Coaching, as I was reading, I realised that I have been informally helping and coaching others for years. It made me start thinking, could I do this as a job? I want to live in a warmer climate, somewhere in southern Europe, I want to work about 15 hours a week so I can have more time for personal things, such as writing and photography. So after doing more research into coaching I decided to go for it and begin studying for a diploma. I enjoy helping people, I have a lot of life experience, I’ve seen the best and worst of life, I’m naturally empathetic and a very good listener, I know human nature, I can also read people very well, it is easy for me to find out what makes a person tick.

Life Coaching has so many different aspects that are useful in both personal and professional life. One thing it isn’t about is being somebody’s psychologist, although elements of psychology are used. Coaching is about helping a person to be a better version of themself. It is about helping a person define what they want in life, what is achievable and realistic and then creating the steps that lead to making it happen. In fact, I hadn’t realised it at the time but it was using coaching techniques on myself that lead to me studying to become a Coach. My desire to live in a warmer climate, to reduce the amount of time I spend working so I can have time for other activities. Researching the best way to make this happen, confirming the goal is realistic and then taking action to make it happen.

A fascinating part of my course study is Neuro Linguistic Programing or NLP. How we speak and think has a huge impact on how we act. How we speak and act affects those around us. Learning how to program our thought and speech patterns has an effect not only on ourselves but also on those around us. Use of NLP in Coaching is about training a person to take more control of their thoughts and using those thoughts to create words and actions to have a positive result. We all want to make positive changes in our lives but so often we set ourselves up for failure because we haven’t thought things through. Coaching combined with NLP techniques, helps create the correct frame of mind, which then leads to the actions that enable a person to reach their goal.

So here I am on my Life Coaching journey. I will keep you posted as my studies progress, It is a fascinating subject, for me it doesn’t feel like study, I get totally absorbed in it. So if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.

Privacy and the Internet

It is getting more and more difficult to have a private conversation online these days. I’m not talking about the need for privacy so something criminal can be planned, but the simple act of being able to talk confidentially with someone and have a reasonable expectation that nobody else can listen in on your conversation or read your emails. As time goes by, the ability to have secure and private access to the internet becomes more difficult, governments and companies such as Google and Facebook want access to our communications, that information is then sold to other companies. The fact is, you should never post something online that you are not happy for the whole world to see, just because you believe it to be private, just for the person you want to see it, does not make it so.

privacySo what can be done to improve the security of your communications? For a start you need to communicate using ‘end to end encryption’ What is that, you ask? It means your communication is encrypted on your computer or phone before being sent to whoever you want to see it. The computer or phone of the receiver then decrypts the message. Nobody in the middle, not your ISP (internet service provider) or anyone else, has access to your communication. Even the service you use to send the encrypted message can not read your messages, even if they try to look, all they will see is a scrambled and meaningless string of numbers and letters. The next important point is that any service you use for secure communication must use ‘open source’ software. Open source means the original software code is freely available for anyone to see and modify. It also means that if a bug is found in the software, it can be quickly fixed and updates made. It is not possible to hide a deliberate mistake in the software that can give access to your messages, for instance, to hackers, ISP or government. For this reason I would not use WhatsApp, it uses end to end encryption but it is ‘closed source’ not open source, the original code can not be seen or corrected, except by WhatsApp and it is owned by Facebook, a company that lives on collecting data about its users.

There are some simple steps you can take to improve the privacy of your email and chats. The first is to sign up for a ProtonMail email account, it is based on open source software and uses full end to end encryption, you can access it through your web browser and on your phone through an App. For chat there are two options I like, one is free the other is not. The first is Signal, it is a free App for your phone, again it is open source and offers end to end encryption. The second option is Threema, also an App for your phone, it isn’t free but it has some features I personally like. While ProtonMail doesn’t need the person you are emailing to also have an account both Signal and Threema do require the person you are communicating with to be using the same software. It is how their systems work.

Those are simple steps you can take to improve the privacy of your communications and for 99% of the time are more than adequate. If you are interested or curious to try something new and don’t mind following a few simple steps, there is an extra layer of security you can add to your communications. Most people will use ProtonMail on their PC or phone, Signal and Threema are for phone use too. But the system to run the PC will probably be Microsoft Windows operating system or the Apple operating system. Signal and Threema run on Android, IOS operating systems etc. The issue is that those operating systems are controlled by the companies that created them, Android is owned by Google and open source, Google updates it but how often does the maker of your Android phone send you those security updates? Both MS Windows and Apple IOS are actively targeted by hackers and they regularly find security weaknesses to exploit and get access to the computers running them. We are trusting Microsoft, Apple and Google to fix those weaknesses as quickly as possible and not to deliberately leave secret access points into the operating system so governments can have a browse through your computer or phone whenever they wish. Most people don’t want to stop using MS Windows or Apple IOS for their regular computer needs, I understand that. But let’s imagine you are working on a highly confidential project that needs to really be as secure as possible, or maybe someone in China who needs full and open access to the internet and communication which really as secure as possible. This is where a ‘Live Operating System’ comes in very useful. A Live OS is a complete bootable computer installation including operating system which runs in a computer’s memory, rather than loading from a hard disk drive; the USB itself is read-only. It allows users to run an operating system for any purpose without installing it or making any changes to the computer’s configuration. Live operating systems can run on a computer without secondary storage, such as a hard disk drive. Today, most people run a Live OS from a USB memory stick, CD or DVD. There is a Live OS that is built from the ground up with security in mind, it is called Tails is open source, concentrates on encryption and making you anonymous on the internet. Using Tails will not change or effect your Windows or IOS installation, You plug the memory stick into your USB and the computer starts from that and when you shut down the PC and remove the USB stick, the next time you start your PC, it starts as normal. What are the advantages of using Tails OS? All work you do, documents created and conversations are kept secure and encrypted, you can create documents that you can save to a memory stick and only you will be able to read them. Tails OS connects you to the internet through the Tor network and keeps you anonymous. If you don’t mind getting a bit technical, it is worth taking the time to read and understand how Tor works and the different ways you can use it. Countries such as China try to block Tor but there are built in ways to get around the block.

In this time of threat to privacy and loss of confidentiality, steps need to be taken by those who want to protect their communications from mass surveillance. You can take some simple steps such as use ProtonMail, Signal or Threema and if you need an extra layer of of security and don’t mind getting a bit technical then use Tails OS with its built in connection to the Tor network.