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04.19.10

Links 19/4/2010: Synaptics Gesture Suite on Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Freedom and Informed Choice

    It’s an old debate among Linux enthusiasts, but new to me. Not because I haven’t heard it before, but because I haven’t really experienced it until now. There’s a lot of talk in the Linux and free open-source software (FOSS) communities about freedom and choice. It’s practically a mantra for many. Most of us non-geeky ordinary desktop users are simply grateful to have an alternative to Windows that doesn’t require a huge investment in new hardware and expensive software licenses. To us ordinary desktop users, “freedom” and “choice” in Linux and FOSS mean that we are no longer stuck with unsatisfactory and expensive Microsoft (or Apple, I suppose, as well) products.

    But my “inner geek” apparently spent his vacation time mulling over a fuller meaning of Linux/FOSS “freedom” and “choice.” When he returned yesterday, he arrived with a Debian Linux installation CD and gave me a stirring speech about it. Most desktop users don’t concern themselves with things that they think have nothing to do with them. But I do, because I’m a wonderful, exceptional person.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • Delicious Transblurency [1]

      The ‘focus‘ word has many meanings, ranging from the optical concept of ‘good convergence of light rays generated by an object’ to the cognitive process of directing the attention to a particular target while ignoring other targets.
      Now the interesting part: this concept can be used in computers too, especially in user interfaces, to direct the user to relevant information or to help him through a step-by-step process. How to do that? Since every image you see on screen is ‘on focus’ by default, you can easily unfocus unuseful information.

  • Distributions

    • Nothing to scoff at: Arch Linux, 300Mhz Celeron

      Arch Linux makes it acceptably light and fast, and with the addition of a very lightweight desktop, it’s a working-class computer. As you can see I added the old ath5k-based PCMCIA wireless card, which gives it decent download speeds, and the entire graphical desktop, plus nfs and ssh can all run in under 30Mb of memory with a little swap used. Triggering rtorrent and screen-vs over ssh takes care of the actual “work,” and all the rest is cake.

    • A pleasant surprise: VortexBox

      As a test for my new torrent slave, I downloaded an ISO of VortexBox, which is something I hadn’t ever heard of, probably because I don’t travel in Fedora circles very much. I had no rationale for grabbing that torrent; it just happened to be at the top of the stack at linuxtracker.org.

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Welcome PCLinuxOS 2010

        Good news for all who are looking for a Mature “Just-Works” Desktop. PCLinuxOS 2010 bandwagon is released. This time Tex and the Gang has offered 6 releases: Main KDE Desktop, KDE MiniMe Desktop, Gnome Desktop, Gnome ZenMini Desktop, LXDE Desktop, XFCE Desktop and Openbox Desktop.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora On The OLPC At LFNW 2010

        While we were trying to find a few good activities to show off the collaborative capabilities of the OLPC, we found out that the wifi connection was no longer working on it. So we decided to go ahead and use our developer key and try out some of the newer OS versions for the OLPC.

        We now have Sugar 0.84.14 and build version 13 running on it. Some things that we found out about this version is that it is running Fedora in a switchable desktop from Sugar to Fedora we have taken some pictures..

      • New storage options for Anaconda on Fedora 13

        Fedora 13 Beta has just been released for testing and bug reporting, with the stable version slated for release in May. Thanks to boot.fedoraproject.org, I didn’t have to download the full CD iso image. Used the same bfo iso image from last month and took the Fedora 13 beta out for spin. But rather than dish out a full review of this beta release (I only review stable releases), I’m using this article to showcase a new storage feature of Anaconda. A storage capability that is not available on any other non-enterprise Linux distribution.

    • Debian Family

      • A Slimline Debian Install: It’s Easier Than You Might Think

        There are some superb desktop Linux distributions that are designed to work with very old hardware. For example, Puppy Linux is a great choice to quickly turn an old PC into a secure, easy to use word processing, email and light web browsing workstation. Puppy can work minor miracles on very old hardware, and I carry a Puppy boot CD-ROM around with me as my emergency recovery system.

      • The Debian Democracy

        Do you consider yourself to be fairly familiar with the Debian Linux distribution? I thought I was familiar with it enough to know its origin and history, how its name was derived and that Richard Stallman, the Father of the Free Software movement, uses a Debian derivative (gNewSense) for his own personal computer. There’s one significant piece of the Debian puzzle that I didn’t know about: Its Constitution.

      • Ubuntu

        • UbuntuOne Music Store: How a music service should be

          One of my biggest complains about Apple is iTunes. Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple. They offer fantastic (albeit overpriced) hardware, a solid operating system, and a killer aesthetic. But as for iTunes – you won’t find much love in this heart for that powerhouse music mecca. What you will find is contempt. I don’t think I need to go off on the why I loathe iTunes. Why? Because everything the UbuntuOne Music Store is is what iTunes is not.

        • Where is Ubuntu going to ?

          Ubuntu, undeniably, is in a great moment, one can say that it has achieved enough traction to trail its own way. When I first had contact with Ubuntu, and it was in the times of 6.06 and 6.10, Ubuntu seemed a better Knoppix than Knoppix . The Distro was very promising, showing signs that it would bring Linux, until then, an arcane magic of geeks and nerds, for the average user.

        • The Ubuntu Software Center- An under utilized asset?

          The USC as it is in Lucid is really great. Well polished, nicely categorized and above all easy to navigate. However, don’t you think there is still one thing missing? Look up an application and it comes up with brief descriptions of what it does. Then you have a place there that tells you the price (in all cases that I have seen, FREE).

        • First Contact Review: Ubuntu 10.04 Beta2

          I recently downloaded Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Linx Beta2 for testing. I love what I am seeing, so I want to share some of my initial impressions on what seems to be a release that could mark a milestone in Ubuntu’s history.

          [...]

          I definitely recommend installing and using Ubuntu 10.04 once it is released, you will be pleasantly surprised!

        • Ubuntu: How to Measure Canonical’s Business Progress

          On the one hand, I want to give Canonical credit: 12 million estimated users is a big figure. And it provides a foundation upon which Canonical can promote additional services — Landscape, Ubuntu One, Ubuntu Music Store, etc. — to consumers and business users.

          But just how well is Canonical doing? In March 2010, new Canonical CEO Jane Silber said the company had about 320 empl0yees and was on a path to profitability. But she conceded the company wasn’t yet profitable.

          As a privately held software company, Canonical certainly doesn’t have to say much about its financial performance. But frankly, I think Canonical can share a bit more information without having to completely open its books.

        • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 189

          In this issue we cover: Archive frozen for preparation of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Ubuntu Open Week, New Loco Council Members Announced, New operators appointed on #ubuntu, #ubuntu-offtopic and #kubuntu, Reminder: Regional Membership Boards – Restaffing, 1st Annual Ubuntu Women World Play Day Competition Announced, New Ubuntu Member, Lucid Parties, Hungarian Loco Team shares Release Party Badges, Lucid Release parties in Norway, Ubuntu-ni presentation at American College, Ubuntu Honduras Visited UNAH-VS, Minor Team Reporting Change, Feature Friday: project announcements, Links round-up 16th April, Facebook app for Lucid countdown banners, Free Software and Linux Days 2010 in Istanbul, Quickly 4.0 available in Lucid!, Out of beta: 40 Ubuntu-based TurnKey virtual appliances, Full Circle Podcast #4: It’s Everyone Else’s Fault, Ubuntu-UK podcast: Hear Em Rave and much, much more!

        • Variants

          • Returning to Linux, Round 2…Mint

            I always likes the ideas within Mint…make a good package better by adding little features and taking out what isn’t necessary. I remembered from the day that everything just worked. Websites played flash, video on DVD would play with audio, documents opened without too much effort or downloading extras. So what else is here that most people would like to know about?

          • A minty experience leaves a pleasant taste.

            Their computer was then taken over by a botnet and started spewing spam left, right and center. Which I found out about a month or so later.

            [...]

            Knowing what sort of computer user type this person is I decided to make sure I chose the right distribution for them. After careful thought and a bit of google trolling (in the searching sense of the word) I decided to give Linux Mint a go. So I backed up their computer and settled down to install Mint.

            [...]

            This is the latest story on how a “typical” computer user made a seamless transition from windows to Linux. Do you have any such stories? What about the other way around? :) While I had no problems transitioning this person doesn’t mean that there are none. What issues have you come up with when introducing people to Linux?

  • Devices/Embedded

    • The User’s Manifesto: in defense of hacking, modding, and jailbreaking

      These questions are natural, because a few years ago they wouldn’t even be possible. What reason would you have for breaking open an first-generation iPod, or hacking an original Playstation? The question of “unauthorized software” on System 9 and Windows XP was plainly moot. But as the capabilities of the PC, console, and phone have expanded, so have their magisteria. And as their power grew, so did their chains. These chains were so light before that we didn’t notice them, but now that they are not only visible but are beginning to truly encumber our devices, we must consider whether we are right to throw them off. The answer, to me at least, seems obvious: no company or person has the right to tell you that you may not do what you like with your own property.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Digg Digs Open Source

    In what is becoming the rule rather than the exception, Digg is the latest social media player to “come out of the closet” and not only acknowledge that it is built on open source components, but they have contributed to and host several open source projects. Like Facebook and Twitter, Digg loves open source.

  • Open Source segment on PBS Newshour

    They spend some time talking about the open source model and a few FLOSS-geeks from Washington, DC (maco and myself included) are featured near the end of the segment. There is also a nice shot of the KDE website featuring KDE 4.4.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 3.6.4 Beta Released

      Firefox 3.6.4 has been in the talks lately because of the intention of the Mozilla developers to add out-of-process plugins to that version of the web browser which basically means that popular plugins run in their own process instead of the main browser process. This is beneficial in case of a plugin crash as it will only take down its own process and not the whole web browser.

    • Firefox 3.6 Release Notes
  • Oracle

    • 9 More OpenOffice Extensions

      Moving all of your apps and information in the cloud has been adopted by a great number of people. However, there are also a large number who still prefer having a desktop application.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • random dvd roundup
  • HelenOS – the operating system that launched a thousand processes

    What’s so interesting about HelenOS that we can’t get from Linux, BSD or MINIX? Having played with HelenOS for a while, I have two answers:

    1. HelenOS is still in a fairly early stage of development. It’s young compared to the other operating systems I mentioned. It’s small, clean and has several papers written on it. This makes the HelenOS project a great way for students to jump in and learn about OS design with a minimum of overhead. It’s light, highly portable and doesn’t have any spare parts left over from a previous decade.

    2. For the same reason people build model cars – the fun of it. Some people stargaze, some collect stamps and some write kernel code. It doesn’t need to be practical to have a purpose. Though, given time, HelenOS may become practical too.

  • Environment

  • Finance

    • Our Pecora Moment

      Pecora exposed the ways in which leading banks mistreated their customers – typically, retail investors. The SEC alleges, with credible detail, that Goldman essentially set up some trusting clients and deliberately misled them – to the tune of effectively transferring $1 billion from them to a particular unscrupulous investor.

    • What’s Wrong with the Financial Reform Bill

      There is some good stuff in the bill, but it is riddled with loopholes. Far more important than the actual bill is the effort to actually enforce existing laws. While it is true that the near-complete absence of a regulatory structure to oversee derivatives trading is problematic, there is a lot the government could have done still, if it had wanted to, to prevent catastrophes like AIG and Lehman Brothers. The decision to take a whack at Goldman for this Paulson business is therefore the best news there’s been on this front…

    • Now we know the truth. The financial meltdown wasn’t a mistake – it was a con

      Hiding behind the complexities of our financial system, banks and other institutions are being accused of fraud and deception, with Goldman Sachs just the latest in the spotlight. This has become the most pressing election issue of all

      The global financial crisis, it is now clear, was caused not just by the bankers’ colossal mismanagement. No, it was due also to the new financial complexity offering up the opportunity for widespread, systemic fraud.

    • Larry’s Corner: Goldman Sachs Knew What They Were Doing

      This is a statement made by GS in their recent Annual Report filed with the SEC and is – BS from GS. As with many of their public statements, they deny any wrongdoing, knowledge or participation. This is the same position they are taking now after the SEC announcement. Not surprising and expected. But the reality is – as I have been saying for almost three years now – THEY KNEW. And knowing makes their crimes premeditated and intentional. Not only criminally wrong but morally wrong as well.

    • Goldman Sachs: A Pattern of Organized Criminal Behaviour?

      My concern is that the American people even now do not understand how serious this crisis is. They are quickly distracted into ridiculous partisan spirit and frivolous diversions. This is the freedom and the welfare of their country that is at risk, and it is time to put aside childish things, and begin the serious work of reforming their financial system, the ownership of their media, and the political campaign process.

    • Hedge funds started by former Goldman Sachs executives
    • Goldman Faces Image Crisis Ahead of Quarterly Results
  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Controversial content and free expression on the web: a refresher

      Two and a half years ago, we outlined our approach to removing content from Google products and services. Our process hasn’t changed since then, but our recent decision to stop censoring search on Google.cn has raised new questions about when we remove content, and how we respond to censorship demands by governments. So we figured it was time for a refresher.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Down the EU Piracy Rabbit-hole

      At 68 pages, the report [.pdf] is quite long, and very professionally produced. It is stuffed full of tables designed to bolster its case. In calculating the claimed loss from piracy, a fairly simple approach is adopted. The number of copyright infringements are multiplied by the substitution rate (the percentage of people who would have bought stuff if they had not downloaded it for free) times the unit retail price. This is calculated for the top 5 economies in Europe, and scaled up proportionally to include all the other EU economies. The claimed job losses caused by that revenue lost is obtained by dividing the latter by an average sales revenue per employee.

      [...]

      In other words, the IFPI is the global equivalent of the British BPI and French SNEP: another industry organisation, whose job is to push its particular interests. Indeed, for some countries in the “Building a Digital Economy” report – such as Italy and Spain – the IFPI is cited directly as the source of the figures for the alleged number of copyright infringements. The only major country that seems to draw on an independent source is Germany, where “GfK” is cited. This is the market research company GfK Group, but I was unable to find anything on their website regarding piracy figures, so there was no way to examine their underlying assumptions or reliability.

      [...]

      We can hardly blame politicians for being fooled by such impressive-looking documents. It is only when you dig down through the Appendices at the back, and start hunting out the actual references given for the claimed figures in multiple national markets that it becomes clear the entirely spurious nature of those shocking headline claims. Given that the Digital Economy Bill passed in part because of this kind of misinformation, we can only hope that the politicians who were deceived by plausible-sounding industry lobbyists will reconsider their position in the new Parliament and repeal the most egregious clauses of this deeply-flawed Act.

    • Will Europe let dogmatists write the future of copyright?

      The draft Gallo report on “Enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market” contains the entertainment industry’s wishlist for the future of copyright policy: extra-judicial sanctions turning internet service providers into a private copyright police, harsher criminal sanctions paving the way for the revival of the IPRED2 directive, etc. These proposals are very similar to the provisions found in leaked ACTA drafts.

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 3 – Episode 8: Sustainability and Alternatives (2006)


IRC Proceedings: April 19th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

The Gates Foundation May Have Silenced Competing Research Ahead of New Gates Foundation-Funded ‘Study’; Gates Connected to Novartis

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, Finance, Microsoft, Patents at 4:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novartis logo of death

Summary: Opposition of the Gates Foundation-funded study is apparently silenced or suppressed; the vaccination goals of the Gates Foundation are still receiving scrutiny and it also invests in Novartis

Gates Foundation-Funded Washington University Study Challenged

THE following new article, which requires registration, is also available from GatesKeepers.

Dr. Horton is quoted as saying: “there needs to be serious reflection among the global health community about how it responds to new data. Even before the paper by Hogan et al was submitted to us, we were invited to “delay” or “hold” publication. The justification for this concern was several fold: potential political damage to maternal advocacy campaigns; confusion among countries, policymakers, and the media, given the difference between this maternal mortality estimate and the previous UN number; undermining progress on global commitments to maternal health; and the risk of an unproductive academic debate while women continued to die. Although well-intentioned, these requests to slow the pace of scientific discussion for political considerations are likely to be far more damaging than fostering a serious debate about progress in reducing maternal mortality as and when new data appear. Is the global health community unable to accommodate diverse voices and sources of evidence? Is it unable to create constructive ways to bring scientists and policymakers together to reach agreement about the meaning of new research findings?”

Was Gates involved, maybe?

More on the pressure on Richard Horton to delay publication. Good on him.

Did the Gates Foundation pressure Horton? Who knows?

Let’s not forget that the head of global health for the Gates Foundation came under investigation after he had intimidated researchers who did not agree with him. These researchers were based in the University of North Carolina and the University of Pennsylvania.

From the New York Times:

Dr. Horton said the advocates, whom he declined to name, wanted the new information held and released only after certain meetings about maternal and child health had already taken place.

Why does he not name them? Did they pay him to stay quiet? Is he afraid of something?

There is more coverage about the original article in:

1. New study says maternal deaths have plummeted globally

2. Who’s Not Happy About a Falling Maternal Death Rate?

3. Lancet: India records decline in maternal mortality rate

4. New Study says India’s Maternal Deaths Have Plummeted

5. Maternal deaths drop in Kenya: study

But wait. Here is the important bit. It is a Gates Foundation study which it paid the University of Washington (as usual) to conduct in support of its private agenda. As the Wall Street Journal puts it:

New data on the subject comes in a study published in the Lancet saying that the number of maternal deaths had fallen to 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980, a 35% decline. The trend “for the first time in a generation, is one of persistent and welcome progress,” a Lancet editorial says.

But the editorial also notes that there are “wide uncertainty intervals around these numbers” in the study, which was led by researchers at the University of Washington and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Indeed, the new numbers contradict data from the World Health Organization, which reported last May that mothers and newborns are no more likely to survive now than 20 years ago, notes Reuters.

The Gates Foundation and other affiliates are funding their own ‘studies’ to promote their own agenda. This is the same University of Washington which has just produced some lies and spin to defend Microsoft's tax dodge (after Microsoft had paid it to do this). This calls to question the credibility of Washington University as a whole, assuming it’s treated like a warehouse of “independent” reports for sale.

“The Gates Foundation and other affiliates are funding their own ‘studies’ to promote their own agenda.”Even NPR, whose financial connections to Gates we mentioned earlier today, is playing along with the Gates agenda by citing the Washington University study. It’s rather sad that many sources ignore Dr. Horton, despite the fact that other sources have refuted the Gates Foundation too. We gave an example last week and there are also older critiques such as this one from the New York Times

Gates and his circles may be trying to give a self-serving illusion that almost acts like a self-fulfilling prophecy defending his work (“fulfilling” as long as Gates funds the confirmatory studies).

Gates Foundation-Funded Vaccination and Deaths

Last week’s many illuminating articles from India showed that Gates’ vaccination projects are going awry and allegedly killing children. Three girls are still said to be dead and the Gates-backed project in India immediately halted (it has not resumed yet and perhaps it never will).

So, some of these vaccines are actually leading to deaths (there are contradictory reports) and enrichment of parties involved, some of which Gates invests in for personal reasons (like Merck, which is connected to Gates [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). There are no contradictory reports about the financial benefit to pharmaceutical giants, regardless of the outcome of this whole experiment. They try out some stuff on a population that can hardly sue or demand high damages.

More Gates Foundation-Funded Studies

Two years ago we showed that NGOs in India may have been bribed by Microsoft for OOXML pressure. So the following Gates-funded NGO leaves us skeptical or at the very least cautious and apprehensive:

1. Maharashtra has most new AIDS cases in India”

According to a study conducted by Population Foundation of India, a Delhi-based NGO funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, workers in the hotel and tourism industry had the highest HIV prevalence among groups tested in the state, followed by drivers and the unemployed. Truck drivers, who travel long distances, brought the infection with them, often to areas where the disease had not yet penetrated.

2. New AIDS Cases Found in Maharashtra, India

After a study conducted by the Population Foundation of India, a Delhi-based NGO funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it was seen that the disease was found maximum in the worker working in the hotels and tourism industry. It was also seen in the people who were unemployed and the driver. The disease was spread by the truck drivers who travelled long distances.

Gates-funded studies are notoriously inaccurate. They usually push an agenda. This is certainly the case when it comes to Microsoft-funded studies, but the reputation of Gates-funded studies is equally poor (see the previous post for a new example). For those who believe that there is no money involved, well… the Gates Foundation works in mysterious ways. And “Revenue up at Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation,” according to this new article. Gates is listed as a “funder”, not a “donor” (and the Gates Foundation has many investments in other pharmaceuticals).

Aeras, which counts the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as one of its prime funders, also lists the Department for International Development, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, The Research Council of Norway, the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, The Mary Lynn Richardson Fund and National Institutes of Health as funders. Late last month, Aeras announced its first-ever grant, $12 million, from the United Kingdom government.

Gates Foundation Meets Novartis

We have also written a fair deal about the notorious patents of Novartis [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Novartis is part of the infamous cartel with nearly 100,000 employees (more than Microsoft). Does the following new article connect Novartis to Gates’ investments again? The original article seems to confirm this.

“Fueled by new funding sources, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, companies have pushed almost two dozen drugs into clinical trials,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The article focuses on the pharmaceutical company Novartis’ work in “finding drugs for some diseases with little or no moneymaking potential,” and examines potential funding sources for drug development (Kupper, 4/11).

This article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions.

Notice the presence of Kaiser again. It is a fond ally of Gates and it occasionally promotes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [1, 2].

“Today, nearly 40 percent of a senior’s healthcare spending is on pharmaceutical medications.“

Dennis Hastert

Direct link

Gates Foundation Accused of “Steer[ing] State and National Policy in Education” (Monopolising Schools)

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

School sign

Summary: Ravitch accuses Bill Gates of turning public schools into part of what she calls the “Billionaire Boys Club” where Bill Gates serves as a form of education czar that cannot and need not be appointed or even elected

IN THE PREVIOUS post we explained how Microsoft avoids paying tax, by funding so-called 'studies' that support its position and then arranging a PR bash. Microsoft also conducts studies on education (by funding others to do it, i.e. by proxy), then lobbying schools using those studies that it produced. Even in Gates’ most beloved Seattle Times, which usually just worships him no matter how the embarrassing the circumstances become, one author offers some criticism of what the Gates Foundation does to schooling.

NCLB’s damage has been compounded, Ravitch argues, by the well-meaning but ultimately misguided efforts of a new group of powerful private foundations, including the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This “Billionaire Boys Club,” she writes, has overstepped traditional foundation boundaries.

“… Never in the history of the United States was there a foundation as rich and powerful as the Gates Foundation. Never was there one that sought to steer state and national policy in education. And never before was there a foundation that gave grants to almost every major think tank and advocacy group in the field of education, leaving almost no one willing to criticize its vast power and unchecked influence.”

Does that sound familiar? To quote a portion that we cannot repeat often enough:

“The chief of malaria for the World Health Organization has complained that the growing dominance of malaria research by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation risks stifling a diversity of views among scientists and wiping out the world health agency’s policy-making function.

“In a memorandum, the malaria chief, Dr. Arata Kochi, complained to his boss, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the W.H.O., that the foundation’s money, while crucial, could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences.”

“Many of the world’s leading malaria scientists are now “locked up in a ‘cartel’ with their own research funding being linked to those of others within the group,” Dr. Kochi wrote. Because “each has a vested interest to safeguard the work of the others,” he wrote, getting independent reviews of research proposals “is becoming increasingly difficult.”

“Also, he argued, the foundation’s determination to have its favored research used to guide the health organization’s recommendations “could have implicitly dangerous consequences on the policy-making process in world health.””

New York Times, 2008

These are private hands on people’s curriculum and funding. Very bad idea!

Another familiar example that we’ve covered before (although this article is new):

There’s another reason Hillsborough stands alone, one so convincing that even the Gates staff acknowledged it shouldn’t be tampered with: Special state legislation passed in 1941 and reaffirmed since then guides how teachers here are retained, paid and dismissed.

Hillsborough’s unique system is working, in the view of teachers, administrators and others who helped land the Gates grant – even though it includes the kind of teacher protections, or tenure, that the reform legislation would eliminate.

“Clearly, tenure was not an obstacle to teacher effectiveness,” said Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association and one of the architects of the Gates grant application.

There are strings attached, as we have repeatedly shown before. Minister of education [1, 2, 3, 4] Bill Gates insists that schools should be run the way he sees as fitting. Why don’t more people use their voice to protect their democracy from convicted felons with a Hubris complex?

More new examples of influence in schools:

1. Commission Hosts Gates Foundation, Green Dot Schools

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) welcomes guest speakers from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Green Dot Public Schools at its April 22-23, 2010 meeting. Greg Sommers, Senior Program Officer at the Gates Foundation, and Cristina de Jesus, Chief Academic Officer for Green Dot Public Schools, will be co-presenters of “Empowering Effective Teachers: An Overview of Current Efforts to Support the Field.”

2. Guest Column: Transforming MCS is a community effort

Several observers in Nashville and Washington, D.C., informed us that the language and ideas in the Memphis Teacher Effectiveness Initiative proposal — funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — served as the cornerstone of Tennessee’s winning Race to the Top application.

More examples like these could be found in the news, but we omit them for brevity. Even Dell and Intel have ‘foundations’ that they put into “education” for PR purposes. To give new examples from the news:

1. Intel rewards math and science school programs

2. Dell Foundation grants $6 million in scholarships

Those foundation are not what they say on the tin, so to speak. The Gates Foundation, for instance, is a shrine to Gates and a powerhouse for him to exercise and increase his power. The next post will elaborate on this point.

Bill Gates — Just Like Microsoft — Incompatible With Tax Law

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Law, Microsoft at 2:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“My background is finance and accounting. As a socially conscious venture capitalist and philanthropist, I have a very good understanding of wealth management and philanthropy. I started my career in 1967 with the IRS as a specialist in taxation covering many areas of the tax law including the so-called legal loopholes to charitable giving. […] However, the Gates Buffet foundation grant is nothing more than a shell game in which control of assets for both Gates and Buffet remain the same. […] The only difference is that the accumulation of wealth by these two will be much more massive because they will no longer have to pay any taxes.”

The Gates and Buffet Foundation Shell Game

Ancient parchment

Summary: How Bill Gates and Microsoft are using their political power to ensure that they need not pay tax like normal people (who are much poorer) always do

THIS is today’s third post about the Gates Foundation. For those who did not know, the Gates Foundation’s donations have declined, but it is the norm rather than the exception [1, 2, 3, 4].

We have already written many posts that explain how the foundation is being used to avoid taxation. It’s good for rich families or dynasties — those who would rather see impoverished people fund their country. The rich people can afford to get away with it for reasons that are explained in the following news article from last week:

So what about the United States? First off, it’s important to point out that our government subsidizes private philanthropy through public policy. For example, any money that I (or more importantly, Bill Gates) gives to the Gates Foundation to promote neo-natal care in Ghana can be deducted from my taxable income. This is why the philanthropic sector is so strong in the United States. But there are limits to philanthropy. Even the Gates Foundation can’t marshal a fraction of the resources that are potentially available to the United States government.

Yes, they are so powerful that they get to lobby for their own policies that benefit them and help glorify them in the eyes of the public. To quote a new article from Seattle:

At times, Democrats threatened to end tax breaks for big banks, private airplanes, gold bullion and the Wall Street investments of companies like Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser.

[...]

His plan to tax the investments of nonfinancial firms drew protests from every big business and foundation in the state, including Microsoft, the Gates Foundation and Weyerhaeuser.

Okay, so “every big business and foundation in the state” has protested, but what about actual people? Many of them do not cherish the corporations, which are not humans. Don’t the people get to decide what’s right for the state? Surely not, or at least not in practice. Bill’s Microsoft and Bill’s foundation fought against the proposition that they should pay tax just like everyone else. So Gates is not only rich but he is also immune to tax laws, apparently. Amazing, eh? They get to call this “legal” because it’s them who determine the law. The same goes for Microsoft, as we pointed out this morning. Microsoft does not think it should pay tax and it keeps insisting that this is good for the state, using studies that it pays for.

“Tjada McKenna of the Gates Foundation says they are actively listening,” but they are not. The Gates Foundation is very discreet and one of its dark sides is the tax exemption it consciously enables (for Warren, not just for Bill). When this foundation goes public it’s mostly done for this kind of PR in the press (employees mutually glorify one another), a bit of lobbying, and there is currently this piece glorifying Jeff Raikes, the CEO of the Gates Foundation. He is not a pleasant person, based on the assaults on WordPerfect for example.

“If they’re going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else”

Jeff Raikes, former Microsoft Business Group president

Ina Fried Receives Microsoft Payback as Gates’ Reputation Laundering Tour Kicks Off in US Colleges

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft at 2:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Excited graduate

Summary: Gates is touring to impress college kids and the press follows him like sheep, unable to actually cover what is happening in the background

A JOURNALIST who is focused on Microsoft once told me that Microsoft has a system whereby it rewards journalists who glorify Microsoft and punishes those who do not. It goes a lot further than that, but the discussion was private. What we do know (and have been writing about for years) is that CNET not only gives blogs to people who are Microsoft analysts (whose livelihood depends on Microsoft’s performance); it also employs de facto Microsoft PR people who pretend to be unbiased reporters. CNET is basically considered by us to be a terrible news source, which is biased by selection of writers and editors (and even the trolls in the comments [1, 2], who are sometimes bribed by Microsoft or are Microsoft employees in disguise). We have already provided many examples [1, 2], so we need not merely theorise.

Let’s remember that CNET used to be funded by Microsoft’s co-founder and it’s a bit of a sibling of ZDNet, which is a den of Microsoft boosters and aggravators. It’s an insult to journalism.

“Let’s remember that CNET used to be funded by Microsoft’s co-founder…”CNET’s most obnoxious Microsoft booster would have to be Ina Fried, who occasionally helps Microsoft attack GNU/Linux [1, 2]. He or she is still working around the clock with Microsoft staff (sending and receiving quotes and scoops) in order to keep CNET full of positive publicity and fake “leaks” for Microsoft. The same goes for people like Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates; Fried regularly generates news glorying him, as if endless PR and people following the latter around (and believing the marketers of his image) are not sufficient.

Well, Ina Fried receives some more payback after advertising Microsoft under the disguise of “journalism” for several years. “Hitting the road with Bill Gates” is the headline of Fried’s very recent post. Ina Fried is already sucking up to him by calling him “The next American Idol” (it’s a contextual pun, but still, it’s intended to deceive and glamourise). Bill Gates is already embarking on that “College Tour” which we wrote about a week ago and he is visiting Stanford to begin with [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. That’s today by the way. It’s just a PR tour, as noted not just by ourselves. TechFlash is another Web site which glorifies Microsoft almost as a matter of formal mission and it writes: “But like an aging rock star who can’t resist the allure of the road, Gates announced last night that he’ll be back at it next week — visiting UC Berkeley, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and MIT.”

Over at Groklaw, Pamela Jones replies to it by saying: “Here’s what Gates writes he’ll be doing there, aside from giving talks: “I’ll also be spending time at each school meeting with students and faculty to learn about innovative work they’re doing in their various programs.” Not to be unkind, but the students and faculty might want to talk to folks like i4i before they share their innovative ideas. Just saying. Ask your lawyer.” She is referring to the i4i vs Microsoft case. Microsoft infringed deliberately.

Next stop for Gates is the home of GNU and the FSF. Stallman must be yearning for it. Chicago is also part of this tour, where Gates will be ushered by people who lack critical thinking skills. Google’s Wikipedia rival, Knol, describes Bill Gates as follows:

Bill Gates ranks as one of the wealthiest and most influential people in history, yet he’s equally controversial. Is he an example of the American dream, a cutthroat businessman who has redeemed himself through philanthropy or a career criminal? This article presents a basic biography, then adds opinions, theories and logic in an effort to promote discussion and discover the truth.

This is a relatively accurate description. Even his current activities appear to be business- and profit-driven. Not much has changed since he was an arrogant man back in 1998 (there is news about what he said about Steve Jobs back then [1, 2) when he was deposed and his company found guilty of breaking the law. Such people would be wrong to glorify.

“Gates’ gimmick of becoming a philanthropist repeats the Rockefeller scam almost one to one a century later.”

Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation

Monsanto Plants Its Lies in the Gates Foundation-funded NPR

Posted in Africa, Bill Gates, Microsoft, Patents at 1:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sunflower seedlings

Summary: The Gates Foundation, one of the bigger supporters of Monsanto’s colonisation of Africa, invests in business-friendly African organisations, including the African Agricultural Capital which supports “plant breeding, seed production”

AS investor of Monsanto, the Gates Foundation has been helping Monsanto privatise Africa’s seeds [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. It’s a profitable business in the long term and there is PR — not just money — to be made. As we showed some months ago, the Gates Foundation also pays NPR, which in turn glorifies the Gates Foundation and currently lies on Monsanto’s behalf, based on this new article at least.

Monsanto targets public radio to spread false biotech messages

For years my alarm has been set to pubic radio so I can lie in bed for five minutes and have a grasp on the day’s news before I even get up. I, like many other Americans, rely on NPR and other public-radio shows for news that is what I deem to be as unbiased and fair as possible. But this morning my ears burned as I listened to an on the American Public Media show Marketplace sponsored by Monsanto, the world’s largest corporate agribusiness chemical firm, touting how its genetically modified (GM) seeds are going to save the world from environmental catastrophe and human hunger. It left me wondering, particularly in tough economic times, how do media ethics hold up? (The GMO seed giant has been bombarding liberal-minded publications with similar propaganda, see image to the right, for months.)

Richard Stallman references this article and says that “NPR presents Monsanto ads that whitewash genetically modified crops and falsely suggest that they help solve the problem of world hunger.

“I stopped giving to NPR in the 90s when I noted the presence of advertisements. NPR is noncommercial, but that no longer means no commercials.”

One of our readers told us about another new article about the many casualties of Monsanto’s long history of criminal behaviour. They are still trying to hide the poisoning of a poor population in the United States (we have shared some videos about it at the beginning of this year).

For more than 30 years, historic mercury discharges in the Anniston community have gone unprobed, an investigation by The Anniston Star found. Industrial-released mercury entered the environment decades ago, but no one is sure how much is out there or where it is.

Monsanto Corp.’s chemical plant in western Anniston used mercury and lead, both neurotoxicants, to produce the raw materials for PCBs in the 1950s and ’60s.

Before the discovery of PCB and lead pollution in local streams, ditches and low-income neighborhoods, Monsanto operated a caustic soda and chlorine plant that sent as many as 40-50 tons of liquid mercury into its waste stream, company records show. Fifty tons is the equivalent of 10 dump truck loads.

Monsanto employees swept mercury spills into drainage ditches leading to the plant’s storm sewer, where traps recovered elemental mercury for reuse. Periodically, Monsanto employees cleaned out the mercury ditches and traps, according to documents provided to The Star by Solutia Inc., Monsanto’s spin-off company.

This brings us back to the Gates Foundation, which is seeding the patented seeds market all over Africa (it also tries to do this in India these days). The following new article is baffling because it talks about “organic farming” (not organic food), saying that it “improve[s] food production”. Is this really about avoiding patented seeds from Monsanto? Or could it be like the tobacco ‘prevention’ we wrote about in the previous post? Based on Skeptoid, GMO giants often own the organic market too (illusion of choice).

In other news from last week, watch the Gates Foundation alongside Shell (the Gates Foundation invests in its oil production, which kills African children). They give money to some curious entities, including the African Agricultural Capital which they can influence with money.

Funding for the grants was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation, and the Shell Foundation.

Organizations selected to receive grants were: African Agricultural Capital, Agora Partnerships, E+Co, the Center for Creative Leadership, Financial Alliance for Sustainable Trade, the Grassroots Business Fund, Mercy Corps, Root Capital, Root Change, the Small Enterprise Assistance Fund, ShoreCap Exchange, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, and TechnoServe.

We have just taken a look at the Web site of the African Agricultural Capital (AAC), only to find that its investment scope includes: “Plant breeding and seed production; companies involved in all aspects of plant breeding, seed production, seed marketing and inputs marketing.” Sounds like a good fit for companies like Monsanto. We have not looked at other organisations yet (there are many listed above and AAC is the first), but this would be an interesting exercise given more time.

Gates Foundation Retreats After Being Exposed as Funder of Big Tobacco

Posted in America, Bill Gates, Microsoft at 12:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Old men smoking

Summary: Longtime tobacco funder, the Gates Foundation, is having second thoughts about its funding after a major blunder breaks loose in Canada, which casts doubt on even more investments of the Gates Foundation

THE Gates Foundation has been very busy handling scandals and blunders recently. Here is last week's story which had fatalities.

As we have been pointing out for almost 2 years now, the Gates Foundation invests in tobacco [1, 2] (unless it has stopped, but it is difficult to tell because the foundation is far too secretive). The Gates Foundation invests in Big Oil too, but that’s another story.

“The tobacco prevention venture turns out to be led by Big Tobacco too.”Gates’ tobacco connections have baffled us for quite some time because he apparently invested both in Big Tobacco and something that’s characterised as “tobacco prevention” (at the same time!). Well, maybe this riddle is a riddle no more. The tobacco prevention venture turns out to be led by Big Tobacco too. It is not unusual for these multi-billionaires to have controlled opposition, i.e. groups that pretend to be fighting against the very same people who control them. “Gates Foundation cuts funding linked to tobacco companies,” says the news.

Gates’ investments in tobacco make more sense now. Facing public backlash, the Gates Foundation immediately pulls out [1, 2, 3, 4]. Was the foundaton aware of where the money was going before the public found out?

“This is the kind of citizen action that demands accountability from the Gates Foundation,” says GatesKeeper, a watcher of the Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation has finally come clean and terminated its tobacco control grant with the Canadian International Development Research Centre as its new (Liberal, shame) leader was on the board of Imperial Tobacco. Though it took action by ATSA for them to do so. No one looks good in this: the Gates Foundation and the IDRC and Barbara McDougall have egg on their faces. Philippe Boucher at Tobacco Control in Africa has been on this case from the beginning. Well done. This is the kind of citizen action that demands accountability from the Gates Foundation.

The protesters were right all along [1, 2, 3]. They knew something was amiss.

Here is more information about this scandal:

Gates charity miffed by alleged conflict-of-interest involving federal official (and here too)

Bill Gates’s charitable foundation has snuffed out a $5.2-million grant to a Canadian initiative to curb smoking in Africa, citing troubling federal links to the tobacco industry.

Anti-tobacco group loses Gates grant; its chair was cigarette company director

The Gates Foundation took the unusual step of terminating a grant, this one for a Canadian group engaged in tobacco control, after the chair of its board was exposed as a director of Canada’s largest cigarette maker.

Canada gets ‘black eye’

When there was no response to the March 15 letters to authorities, the Gates Foundation acted while various participants in the IDRC program known as RITC (Research for International Tobacco Control) and observers such as Collishaw’s group made public their concerns.

Gates foundation cuts support over tobacco

Memo to Barbara McDougall: Resign!

Grant lost over chairwoman’s tobacco links

Gates charity miffed by alleged conflict-of-interest involving federal official

Gates Foundation revokes Canadian tobacco control grant

Gates Foundation Cuts Funds to Canadian Project Over Tobacco Link

Gates Foundation cuts support to Canadian agency over tobacco connection

Gates charity cuts funding to Canadian anti-smoking project in Africa (also here)

Barbara J. McDougall, a former member of parliament who chairs the Canadian government’s International Development Research Centre, also served until a few weeks ago as a director of Imperial Tobacco Canada, that country’s largest tobacco firm.

We cautiously suspect that Gates knew what he was investing in all along. His investment in tobacco (as in pro-tobacco) is not news to us. Other investigators exposed this factoid years ago.

Let us bear in mind that this is a Canadian federal official and Bill Gates funds people inside Canada's government for reasons that are not entirely clear. Some say it’s to do with vaccines, but Gates pays almost $2 billion to the Canadian government and that’s an order of magnitude more than he spent on the vaccination initiative there. By the way, as we showed in several older posts, that project too is quite a bit of a political scandal in Canada and Gates’ involvement is clear. Here are some articles from the past week:

Truth may be harsh on scuttled vaccine facility

To date, Ottawa has offered a decidedly incomplete explanation. The Public Health Agency of Canada, which oversaw the CHVI, said none of the consortiums qualified to host the vaccine facility. Then, PHAC released a report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a funding partner in the project, that said there was more than enough manufacturing capacity and the CHVI facility was redundant.

No reason to cancel HIV vaccine facility, MPs told

Debate about scrapped HIV vaccination centre hits health committee

Study used to kill HIV centre was ‘flawed’

MP seeks proof of political meddling

NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis hopes a parade of expert witnesses on HIV research at the health committee this week might convince the Tories to reignite plans to build an HIV vaccine manufacturing facility.

The committee begins two days of hearings this morning with HIV scientists and Public Health Agency of Canada officials scheduled to appear. Representatives from three of the four finalists who bid for the facility and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will appear Thursday.

Canada and Gates have an interesting relationship, but we’ll leave the pharmaceutical debate to the next post. This is an ongoing exploration that proves ever more fascinating by the week. It involves many hours of reading, linking, and mapping. It all makes sense at the end, but it’s hard to approach the problem without knowing who’s who and how the players are connected.

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