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01.26.14

IBM Shows That Collaborations With the NSA Are a Company’s Death Knell

Posted in Asia, IBM, Servers at 5:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: China refuses to buy from IBM because of its “special relationship” with the NSA and shortly thereafter China takes over IBM’s server business

IBM recently reported a sharp decline in sales, blaming this on a slump/collapse of contracts with China after the NSA leaks. Perhaps realising that trust is impossible to regain now, IBM, which does not exactly support software freedom on its servers [1], is selling its server business — just like the desktop business — to China [2-4]. It shows the ongoing decline of IBM, which added NSA-oriented extensions such as TPM to Linux-centric agenda. IBM claims to be “hardening the Linux server” these days [5], but historically its agenda inside Linux has been even more dubious than Red Hat's or Intel's because it pushed into Linux (the kernel) software patents agenda and artificial limitations, as we have demonstrated here for years. Linux is used extensively for server security [6], but when Linux itself becomes less secure, then we have a real issue in our hands. Air France now turns to HP [7] — not IBM — for its private server farm needs. Knowing that Boeing is the benefactor of industrial espionage (aided by US diplomats and the NSA), Air France would be wise to dodge IBM. HP has back doors too, but suffice to say, this is less obvious than IBM’s publicly-advertised NSA collusion.

“For many years now IBM has been outsourcing its workforce to India and China and now it’s actually selling parts of its business to the East.”Techrights has historically been friendly towards IBM but also highly critical of the company's patent agenda (lobbying for software patents), marketing tactics, and promotion of freedom- and privacy-infringing technology. The impact of the NSA on IBM is not at doubt [8], and it’s far from negligible [9,10]. For many years now IBM has been outsourcing its workforce to India and China and now it’s actually selling parts of its business to the East. Can clever people in the West (perhaps former IBM workers) outdo IBM by providing a freedom-respecting stack and consulting services around GNU/Linux and Free software? The term FUD comes from IBM, as IBM used these tactics to demonise a former employee who had gone independent with IBM expertise.

At this stage, despite deceiving marketing, IBM needs GNU/Linux and Free software more than GNU/Linux and FOSS need IBM. Recently, the President of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) called IBM a patent troll. IBM can carry on openwashing its business with OpenStack [11,12], Hadoop [13] and so on (even OpenOffice.org), but until it stops serving the NSA, the software patents agenda and various other conflicting interests (causes that harm software freedom and GNU/Linux) we are better off nurturing “true” (as in completely) Free software companies.

Going a few months back (as we mentioned at the time), we have reports such as:

IBM found black budget from the military/surveillance industrial complex too intoxicating to refuse. It sure it alluring to many companies and IBM is no exception; in the 1930 IBM famously did business with the Nazis, helping Hitler’s party profile people (before the data was used for imprisonment and genocide).

For those who did not know about the IBM/NSA relationship, here is a quick wakeup call. It’s not news. It was made known even in the NSA’s Web site. IBM boasted about it. To quote the page about TAPO:

What the Trusted Foundries have to offer:

Accreditation of Trusted Suppliers, with the list available at the DMEA website http://www.dmea.osd.mil/trustedic.html. Potential customers should engage directly with the listed suppliers (except IBM) for all services.
Through TAPO, a contractual relationship with IBM to produce leading-edge microelectronics parts in a trusted environment. IBM maintains world-class facilities in both Vermont and New York, providing a broad range of capabilities to the government in support of the Trusted Foundry contract.

Who can use TAPO services?
Any government-sponsored program can use TAPO to access the IBM Trusted Foundry:

DoD Sponsored Programs may qualify for subsidized pricing on specific MPW runs, provided funding is available.
Other government agencies will need to provide full funding for access.
Contractors working on IR&D projects may access the foundry provided they have a government sponsor.

What services are available?
Through industry partnership at IBM, TAPO offers:

Foundry Services including Multi Project Wafer runs, dedicated prototypes, and production in both high- and low-volume models.
Intellectual Property (IP) development, including standard prepurchased IP.
Packaging and test services.
Custom Logic Service: Cu-08, Cu-65HP, Cu-45HP, and Cu-32.

Foundry Services:
TAPO offers several production options in the foundry business area depending on the schedule and the quantity desired. Designs up to the secret level are accepted.

Multi Project Wafer (MPW) Prototyping – MPW prototype runs have multiple designs on a single reticle and are targeted to customers in need of low volume with no production quantities.
Dedicated Prototype is a dedicated single design prototype run that includes the mask build. IBM guarantees a minimum of two wafers will be delivered to the customer.
Production phase produces unlimited chip quantities, following a successful prototype phase.

Custom Logic Services:
TAPO now has a contract in place for IBM’s commercial Custom Logic flow on digital chips. The customer provides a netlist of RTL hand off and IBM will do the physical layout, package, design, and GDSII generation, and provides tested packaged parts. Design submissions are accepted in Cu-08 Cu-65HP, Cu-45HP, and Cu-32. IBM’s Custom Logic methodology is also available for classified designs.

Intellectual Property:
TAPO has bought pre-paid access to certain roadmap IP that it makes available to customers on an as-needed basis. A complete list of available IP can be obtained from TAPO. IP orders can also be placed for existing IBM IP, custom IP, and certain non-IBM IP.

No company should brag about working with above-the-law spies who engage in industrial espionage, lists for assassination, political coups, etc. IBM’s affairs with the NSA are not new; what’s news is public disapproval (even inside the US) of the NSA and its actions.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. IBM Stays Committed to the Cloud, But What of OpenStack?

    While there have been questions about IBM’s true commitment to the OpenStack cloud computing platform, the company definitely remains focused on cloud computing. Today IBM announced plans to commit more than $1.2 billion to significantly expand its global cloud footprint. The investment includes a network of cloud centers that clients can apparently leverage, including allowing businesses to run their IT operations in the cloud.

  2. Lenovo Confirms Purchase Of IBM x86 Server Business For £1.4 billion
  3. Lenovo Agrees to Buy IBM Server Business for $2.3 Billion
  4. IBM Sells Server Business to Lenovo for $2.3 Billion
  5. Hardening the Linux server
  6. A10 Networks Debuts Thunder DDoS Hardware

    ACOS is a Linux-based networking operating system.

  7. Air France builds private cloud with HP for Linux server farm

    Air France says it has automated and increased the reliability of its 1,500 Linux servers by deploying a private cloud solution.

    The deployment is based on HP’s Cloud Service Automation (CSA) software to accelerate deployment times for physical and virtual infrastructures.

  8. IBM’s Full Year Revenues Hit by NSA Scandal
  9. IBM Earnings – Don’t Expect Big Blue to Get Out of Its Slump
  10. IBM: At Least 10% Downside To Fair Value
  11. IBM Explains Its Participation on the OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors

    Todd Moore, director, IBM Standards and Partnerships, discusses his participation as a member of the OpenStack board of directors.

  12. IBM Optimizes OpenStack Cloud Performance with Scheduler

    In a nod to the need for more efficient resource management for public and private cloud computing, IBM (IBM) has unveiled a new product for its OpenStack platforms. Called the Platform Resource Scheduler, the resource provides a virtualized programmable interface for automating the allocation of cloud resources.

  13. IBM’s Watson Fails To Compute In A World Of Open-Source Hadoop

    IBM has big plans for Watson, but its proprietary, developer-free approach is under-delivering.

Never Ever Use Coprocessors for Cryptology, Especially If Implemented in the United States

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel, Security at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can you read the source code in this microchip?

AMD microchip

Summary: Why the hype about “accelerated” cryptology (like polygons rendering, but for cryptographic purposes) is a dangerous trap that should be shunned and perpetually avoided

THE QUICKEST and most convenient way to undermine all encryption is to weaken random number generation, e.g. lower the entropy, making keys more predictable and thus easily crackable by supercomputers (or even standard computers). This is effective against everything, including online financial transactions, simply because it cracks the very core components of today’s security: SSL, PGP, etc. My doctoral degree involved a great deal of work with entropy and my daytime job too sometimes involves it, so the subject is not foreign to me. I have been watching the NSA closely for a number of years, and always with great concern and suspicion. Now we know that the NSA compels (and even bribes) US companies to help undermine privacy, if not by direct handover of data (PRISM) then by making encryption too poor, setting up back doors, forcing companies to obey NSL/subpoenas, network wiretapping/DPI, or even a combination of all those things. No need for hypotheses anymore; there’s plenty of hard proof now.

Intel, a cleverly-named criminal company (serving the intelligence community), whose hardware-level random number generator (hidden in silicon) FreeBSD refuses to trust (OpenBSD too is historically very critical of Intel) is no longer the only x86 player seeking to manufacture consent (blind trust) for encryption with no source code, just minuscule circuits of semiconductors. AMD, another US company, is now following suit with ardware-level cryptology (i.e. cryptic algorithms for cryptology, which is a non-starter). This is bad just because AMD is a US company (FreeBSD did not single out the US); any company from any country should not be trusted with this type of task. It’s no better — and it is probably much worse — than proprietary software for one’s security. To quote Michael Larabel’s article about it: “Back in November was when patches first emerged for an AMD Cryptographic Coprocessor on Linux. This co-processor provides hardware encryption and other hashing functionality for the AES crypto API, AES CMAC, XTS-AES, and SHA cryptographic interfaces within the Linux kernel.

“Not much information is publicly known on this AMD Cryptographic Coprocessor but it’s believed to be part of AMD’s embedded ARM Cortex-A5 processor on upcoming server-class Opterons with TrustZone technology.”

“Have we learned nothing at all from Snowden’s explosive leaks?”So, Linux 3.14 will try to offload something so sensitive to proprietary code concealed in silicon. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Sure, it’s Linux, but it does open itself to some blobs (e.g. Microsoft’s hypervisor and more famously drivers for peripheral cards that handle graphics), firmware, and now peripheral, embedded-in-hardware proprietary algorithms. Have we learned nothing at all from Snowden’s explosive leaks? Just look what Microsoft has done (total complicity with the NSA). A new poll at FOSS Force asks: “Do you think Red Hat is cooperating with the NSA by building back doors into RHEL?”

The responses may surprise you. Only 42% say “No”. 28% say “I don’t know” and 30% say “Yes”. This relates to an article that alludes to Techrights. It was read by thousands and has been linked to by numerous news sites. I rarely ever comment in sites where identity cannot be verified (because of fakers), but this one challenged my claims and I had to respond. Here are my three replies:

It is not purely speculative. If you think that it is, then you must not have paid close enough attention.

I have been spending at least 2 hours per day since 2012 reading about the NSA. I knew what Snowden showed even before it was publicly known and I spoke about it with RMS on numerous occasions (he came to the UK to meet Assange and then myself, focusing on mass surveillance).

The truth of the matter just needs a little digging because the corporate press is not helping the general public find it out, just like it knowingly ‘buried’ a captured agent in Iran for several years (this leaked out in November).

Similarly, GNU/Linux sites did a very poor job covering (if at all) what happened in recent months regarding Linux. Let me summarise some facts (without links, as I don’t want to be put in the moderation queue again):

- Torvalds’ father said that the NSA had approached his son regarding back doors.

- Linux had a back door added to it about a decade ago. It got removed quickly afterwards and it wasn’t known who had added it. There was press coverage about it, but it was scarce.

- RSA received a bribe from the NSA to promote security standards with back doors.

- NIST and others had NSA moles and bogus (corrupt) peer review process to help usher in security standards with back doors.

- NSA is a large Red Hat client.

- The NSA sends patches to Red Hat, which in turn sends those for Linus Torvalds to put in Linux.

(the above two are now confirmed to me by Red Hat staff)

- BSD does not trust hardware-level random number generators, suspecting — quite rightly given the NSA’s track record — that it has too low an entropy.

- Several top-level Linux developers found vulnerabilities in Linux random number generation. They quietly (without much press coverage anywhere) addressed the issue (raising the entropy) a few months back. Only the latest kernel release has the fixes applied AFAIK (I don’t know if Greg K-H backported any of it because coverage is too scarce). To lay out the magnitude of this issue, it compromises SSL, PGP, etc. (pretty much everything with encryption, even passwords) not just at client side (desktop, tablet, smartphone) but also the server side (i.e. the Internet). This is huge! But the media hasn’t covered it.

Suffice to say, Red Hat has not done anything to convince me I was wrong. Instead, I notice that Red Hat staff is stalking me in LinkedIn and I see my article cited in several news sites which wrote about the issue in several languages (3 articles in Google News are in Spanish).

If you found holes in the above statements or if you want links attached, please request them and I will provide citations. I wrote about everything before, even years ago (NSA involvement in SLE* and RHEL I covered around 2007 or 2008).

I am frustrated to see people turning against the messenger rather than the message. I see a lot of the same done to Sam Varghese. We are making ourselves more vulnerable by refusing to listen to what seems uncomfortable.

Another reply:

I was thinking along the same lines — that Edward Snowden’s leaks (by the way, they’re not just his anymore, as anonymous people from the NSA reportedly leak more and more documents to be published under his name for their safety) can at some stage show encryption undermined at more levels (hardware level, or even kernel level). We already know that encryption was undermined at RSA and NIST by NSA moles, using bribes too. We also know that Linux (kernel) developers recently revised random number generators, after they had found a weakness.

Several state officials (in 6 state at the very least) now work to stop the NSA locally. Some call for a ban on companies that facilitate the NSA (that would include Red Hat), under the premise that they are complicit in crime. I am not kidding, watch the news this week (I don’t want to paste links here as the last time I did so my comment took half a day to appear).

Lastly, there are numerous E-mails sent from and to Red Hat. These further validated my suspicions.

I saw a lot of personal attacks (trying to discredit me or even remove links to my analyses). I even heard the usual personal attacks against Sam Varghese (which I expected from Red Hat because he dares to do real journalism, i.e. journalism that companies don’t like).

Trusting Red Hat should be based on its record, not emotional leanings and faith.

Don’t get me wrong. I was not offended by you and you oughtn’t be offended by my response. I am used to this type of divisive treatment (people trying to ostracise me) since the days I criticised Novell — only to be proven right throughout and at the very end (Novell gave its patents to Linux foes).

I hope you will wait patiently for more information and assess the facts based on their merit. Don’t rely purely/solely on what you read in OpenSource.com (Red Hat). I saw Novell doing its self-delusional spiel (IP “peace of mind”) and fortunately, at the end, Novell did not find enough fools to sell its lies to.

I have been frank in my analysis of Red Hat (on patents, build process, etc.) and if you want links for particular bits of my claims, just ask. I have a repository of tens of thousands of links I collect while researching. Sometimes people refuse to accept even a well-sourced claim because of cognitive dissonance — something I’ve had a lot of experience with when dealing with Microsoft spinners.

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

― George Orwell

Here is my original reply, challenging the counter-arguments:

This article starts with an incorrect assertion that I accuse “Red Hat of being in cahoots with the NSA.”

No, NSA is a big client of Red Hat (this was not just revealed but also confirmed to me by Red Hat staff some days ago, by E-mail) and it was also confirmed that NSA submits patches to Linux through Red Hat (think of NIST and RSA; we don’t even have NSA E-mail address to keep track of). Back doors can also be added outside the scope of source code, during a build process. My job involves dealing with this risk. I don’t think you read an essential earlier post:

http://techrights.org/2013/11/24/tpm-back-doors-patriot-act-etc/

This, in turn, links to proof that the NSA did try to put back doors in Linux, as noted by Torvalds the father. See:

http://techrights.org/2013/11/17/nils-torvalds-on-back-doors/

http://techrights.org/2013/09/20/linux-backdoor-question/

http://techrights.org/2013/09/25/surveillance-lawlessness/

Defending Red Hat makes sense, but mischaractering my position is a little unfair. I note that trusting Red Hat is not easy and based on articles I read half a decade ago, NSA was involved in the build process of Windows, OS X, SUSE, and Red Hat (only those 4 were mentioned).

The bottom line is this. Do not have blind trust in Linux. Not even access to source code is enough because the build process needs to be carefully checked and validated; moreover, Linux is joined with some proprietary code and even hardware-level code, so trust is seriously harmed. Now that we know about Red Hat’s relationship with the NSA we should ask ourselves if the NSA is once again trying to put back doors in Linux, or worse, maybe it already did. Letting blobs enter the pipeline helps the NSA achieve (but hide) what it already said it wanted to achieve.

Bringing The H Open/H-Online Articles Back Online Without Help From Heise

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 1:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

H Online

Summary: Glyn Moody is beginning to repost his articles from The H, but what about his colleagues, who have been far more prolific and frequent with their coverage there?

THOUSANDS of articles later and after years of valuable research for high-quality reporting, Heise stupidly decided to take it all offline, essentially deleting a huge amount of journalistic work with the simple flip of a switch. FOSS foes must have been cheerful, for a lot of the record about them and against them simply vanished overnight.

We have reached out to three of the regular writers at The H, including the chief editor. Two of them appear to have given up trying to restore the stories based on their reply to us (a a bit cryptic, as they don’t want to disparage Heise) and one of them, Glyn Moody, is now taking the matter into his own hands [1]. He will republish all the articles in his own blog, starting with this Linus Torvalds interview. Moody did not write many articles for The H; some people wrote literally thousands of articles. Will those be restored (published online)? We are still on the case, hoping to combat this gross deletionism by Heise (whose main site is sparingly promoting Apple and Microsoft these days, with two top-level sections for each).

“Stories should not cease to exist when they’re no longer “profitable” or when the proprietor does not agree with them (or is apathetic towards them).”More writers need to defend themselves (pro-actively) against this type of censorship. Recently, a lot of good FOSS sites vanished or came close to vanishing (the domain names were not renewed, whereupon all the stories became totally inaccessible). To name some examples, The Source and MonoNoNo are gone.

Some time later this week we are planning to join Tux Machines to our server, ensuring preservation of the entire site and continued updates too. No site can last forever (one day the Web too will cease to exist), but when copyright and control are left in the hands of writers, then at least for their lifetime’s span they are likely to keep the information publicly accessible in one form or another; anything else is a soft form of censorship and tyranny. Several years ago, after Microsoft had maliciously destroyed Yahoo, my first-ever Web site, a site set up when I was 15, was shut down along with Geocities. Those people don’t value information, they are only driven by greed. Stories should not cease to exist when they’re no longer “profitable” or when the proprietor does not agree with them (or is apathetic towards them).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. “The H Open” is Closed and Offline; Here’s What I Aim to Do…

    Long-time readers of this blog may recall that for some years I wrote for the UK Heise title “The H Open”. Sadly, that closed last year; even more sadly, Heise seems to have taken its archive off line. That raises all sorts of interesting questions about the preservation of digital knowledge, and the responsibility of publishers to keep titles that they have closed publicly accessible – not least to minimise link-rot.

    However, here I want to concentrate on the question of what I, personally, can do about this. After all, however minor my columns for The H Open were, they none the less form a part of the free software world’s history, however footling. Of course, I have back-up copies of all of my work, so the obvious thing to do is to post them here. I can do that, because I never surrendered the copyright, and they therefore remain mine to do with as I please.

Patents Roundup: SCOTUS, Qualcomm, and ‘Beneficial’ ‘Innovations’ (Patent Troll)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Patents at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New gavel

Summary: A quick overview of patent news that’s relevant to FOSS and FOSS backers

THE SCOTUS, which has historically been useless for improving patent policy (it was serving the agenda of the USPTO, which served corporations), finally did something useful [1]. It made it harder to use patents offensively. We no longer cover patent news like we used to, but the impact on Linux is very much clear now that a notorious patent aggressor gains thousands of patents by acquisition. Fortunately this aggressor is an Android/Linux backer, just like Palm, whose patents (for the most part) it took in one fell swoop [1, 2].

“It’s one of those cases where public opinion is ignored and the will of few super-wealthy individuals guides national and/or international policy.”In other news, patent trolls now target the server side too (with software patents of course), but Google has just put one to rest. “A patent-holding company called Beneficial Innovations has been suing over patents related to online gaming and online advertising since 2006,” says this report [2], but the litigation against Google comes to an end. This is good news.

Given more time, we shall be looking again at patents more closely, not only when they affect Android/Linux and FOSS backers. Generally speaking, software patents hurt all of us, except few oligarchs and patent lawyers. FOSS is not unique here; proprietary software developers are suffering from software patents as well. It’s one of those cases where public opinion is ignored and the will of few super-wealthy individuals guides national and/or international policy.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. US Supreme Court: Burden of proving infringement is on patent holder

    The top U.S. Court has upheld that the burden of proof of infringement in a lawsuit rests with a patent holder—not the accused infringer. That holds true even when the parties had previously entered into a licensing deal. The ruling came in the Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures case.

  2. Google wins jury verdict against patent troll that sued its customers

    A patent-holding company called Beneficial Innovations has been suing over patents related to online gaming and online advertising since 2006. Media companies have been one of its favorite targets, and it claims its patents are foundational technology for targeted advertising.

Links 26/1/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 11:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 26/1/2014: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 11:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New Screenshots Galleries

Posted in News Roundup at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Newly-released distributions demonstrated visually

Systematic Looting of Society Disguised as ‘Crisis’ (for Austerity/Privatisation) and Bogus ‘Charity’ as Solution

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Masterminds of financial apartheid can’t fool us anymore

Bill Gates at Davos

Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos

Summary: The oligarchs of the world are fighting against personal ownership and living wages, but people of the world are fighting back and awareness of the problem is increasing

SOCIETY is being robbed blind by the likes of Bill Gates, who pretends to give away his wealth while he is actually increasing his wealth through investments he pretends to be “charity”. According to [1], “Last year Gates increased his wealth by $15.8bn and has now once again become the world’s richest man, worth about $78.5bn. [...] Gates has helped us unmask the true interests of the corporate elite.”

Gates has been increasing his wealth for several years in a row, but the corporate press continues to receive his bribes and then describes him as a giver. There is no lack of money in the world. Dozens of trillions of dollars are being hidden by very few people in offshore havens. It’s state-sanctioned looting.

To quote some new statistics of interest from Oxfam (also co-opted by Gates), the world’s 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world [2-6] (i.e. 85 people have more wealth than 3.5 billion people combined). It’s not an accident, it’s like this by design. It’s a very bad design, and it’s reinforced by those in power — people who strive to continue to crush those at the bottom. Bill Gates invests in companies that are killing people (sometimes literally) and some of them, like Shell, also have former Nazi connections (see the latest [7,8] from a protest site against Shell for example, never mind the genocidal Monsanto, the violent G4S, and many more notorious companies that Gates invests in).

Here in the UK (although it’s not unique to the UK) we are being incited against the poor and the foreign [9], despite the economic realities which say that the real problem is the looters at the very top. Some modernised countries are forced into poverty [10] by corrupt banks [11,12] that fund murderous companies, drug dealers, etc. (only to get away with it time after time). Some banks are now starting to charge for the privilege to take people’s money and lend it out — at high risk — to other people (even if the banks don’t really have this money) [13]. New laws are being passed to better facilitate those who are oppressing in this age of unrest [14,15], protest against the banks are being labeled “low-level terrorism” by the FBI, and Gates himself is investing in companies that crush dissent and protests (like G4S). A lot of people don’t even have the time to study the situation [16], so they happily accept the fiction about crisis and the need to make compromises (like austerity). The super-rich are conspiring to lower our wages [17], driving many of us out of work [18] to making employment scarcity, then pretending to give handouts to the victims [19]. In the UK, whatever is public is being privatised for a profit (creating new super-wealthy barons) [20], and making some wonder whether capitalism still works at all [21].

Fortunately, Bitcoin emerges as a viable contender that even its rivals in the UK embrace [22]. There is a lot of Bitcoin hype these days [23-27]. What’s more, here in the UK cooperatives are rising [28] (employees-owned companies), challenging the systemic tax evaders [29] and a broken economy [30] of financial apartheid [31] (huge gap between rich and poor).

Is there a financial crisis? Yes, the crisis is that there’s looting, and the thieves are getting away with it.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Gates unmasks the real face of Davos

    Last year Gates increased his wealth by $15.8bn and has now once again become the world’s richest man, worth about $78.5bn. He’s not alone – as a whole the world’s millionaires got 11% richer last year. For the rest of us, the decades-long trend of stagnating income continues. In some countries – Greece, Spain and Britain – median household income fell sharply.

    [...]

    This week Gates is portrayed as a dreamy idealist, explaining to Davos seminars how ‘there will be almost no poor countries left in 20 years time’. Presumably this will happen with a lot of charity, but without minimum wages. Certainly Gates’ money will have significantly shaped the form which that ‘development’ will take, not least through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Forget democratic national projects, the world’s richest many will decide what sort of food you will eat and which corporation will supply your medical needs.

    [...]

    Charities like Oxfam which talked about inequality did some essential work to frame the global context in which Davos takes place. But we need to do more than put these issues on their agenda. The corporate elite represented at Davos cannot be allowed to meet in luxury and pretend they have the answers to the world’s problems. They are the world’s problems. Gates has helped us unmask the true interests of the corporate elite.

  2. Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world
  3. Oxfam: Richest 1% own nearly half of world’s wealth

    Further, this poorer “bottom half” now has about the same amount of money as the richest 85 people in the world, and the wealthiest grew their share of bounty in 24 out of 26 countries surveyed between 1980 and 2012, the study says. The research was compiled using data from Credit Suisse’s World Wealth report and the Forbes’ billionaires list.

  4. Davos debates income inequality but still invites tax avoiders

    The rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum are not as worried as they should be about the gap between rich and poor

  5. 85 richest people own as much as bottom half of population, report says
  6. The World’s 85 Richest People Are as Wealthy as the Poorest 3 Billion

    The report that everybody’s talking about this morning is Oxfam’s opus on global inequality, which leads with an eye-popping statistic: The richest 85 people in the world own more wealth than the bottom half of the entire global population.

  7. The destabilisation of Royal Dutch Shell gathers pace

    Since then the destabilisation of Royal Dutch Shell has gathered pace with the profits warning that shocked the markets on Friday.

  8. Wake up, Shell, the days of big spending are over

    From what was stated in a Wall Street Article published yesterday, the new Chief Executive is likely to be receptive, as he apparently already had reservations about the “elephant projects” promoted by a previous Shell CEO, Jeroen van der Veer.

  9. HSBC, Citigroup Said to Suspend Traders on Currency Probe
  10. Greek Recession, Unemployment and Expensive Electricity Bills Will Cause DEI to Collapse

    The Public Power Corporation S.A Hellas (DEI) could not escape the tragic reality that the majority of Greek enterprises and households face every day. There is a deficit in DEI’s revenue due to unpaid bills, which reaches the amount of 1.3 billion euros. This amount is increasing every day by 4 million euros.

  11. When Deutsche Bank sneaks out its results on a Sunday night, they can’t be good

    The numbers: Ugly. Deutsche Bank reported a €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) pre-tax loss for the fourth quarter of 2013. Analysts were expecting a profit of nearly €600 million, according to FactSet estimates. Revenues slipped by 16% versus the prior year.

  12. Those Romanians and Bulgarians

    One achievement of which I am very proud was my part in ensuring that the UK did not place restrictions on the right to free movement of the first EU Eastern European accession wave. The arrival of so many Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Latvians etc in the UK has been a brilliant social and cultural development and provided some support for an economy wrecked by the reckless greed of bankers.

  13. A Glimpse into the Coming Economic Collapse

    The NDAA allows the suspension of habeas corpus, indefinite detention

  14. Wells fargo now charging for deposits!

    Monday, 1/13/14, I got a notice from my bank, Wells Fargo. It was a notice (see copy below) to inform me of changes with my checking & savings accts with them. Ive attached 2 pic of the letter so you can see. It reads: “Effective April 7, 2014, the fee for deposited U.S. or foreign currency denominated international items, including drafts, will be $5.00 per item.”

  15. Who Has The Time And Motivation to Comprehend The Mess We’re In? Almost Nobody
  16. Post-Production Status Report

    The material involved in our project includes more than 200 hours of footage of Austin and Beccy during their 100 plus day experiment of living on bitcoin. We also have between 50 and 60 interviews which we shot over the course of the project. Additionally, there are several more interviews which we are hoping to get to complete the story.

  17. Utah is Ending Homelessness by Giving People Homes

    Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

  18. The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages

    In early 2005, as demand for Silicon Valley engineers began booming, Apple’s Steve Jobs sealed a secret and illegal pact with Google’s Eric Schmidt to artificially push their workers wages lower by agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees, sharing wage scale information, and punishing violators. On February 27, 2005, Bill Campbell, a member of Apple’s board of directors and senior advisor to Google, emailed Jobs to confirm that Eric Schmidt “got directly involved and firmly stopped all efforts to recruit anyone from Apple.”

  19. Judge the Royal Mail sale in three months, said Vince Cable. Time’s up

    Today’s share price confirms the company was grossly undervalued, cheating the taxpayer out of billions of pounds

  20. RT Interview: Richard Wolff on 90th Anniversary of Lenin’s Death
  21. Police to ask home secretary to approve use of water cannon across country

    Police chiefs say water cannon are needed because ‘austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest’

  22. Global unemployment rises above 200 million

    Official worldwide unemployment climbed to more than 200 million for the first time last year, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), a UN agency, underscoring the deepening impact of the global economic crisis that erupted in 2008.

    In its annual “Global Employment Trends” report, issued today, the ILO said an estimated 201.8 million people were jobless in 2013, up by nearly 5 million in one year. This is a new high, exceeding 2009’s record of 198 million.

  23. eBay UK to allow Bitcoin sales in ‘virtual currency’ category
  24. Bitcoin Centre NYC Launches Open Source ATM Software

    A New York City institution for promoting bitcoin has released proprietary hardware and software that enables developers to create and operate inexpensive bitcoin automatic teller machines.

    The Bitcoin Centre NYC, an educational institution for promoting awareness of cryptocurrencies, and its strategic partners released the hardware and software, in a move to open source every aspect of a working bitcoin ATM.

  25. New software tools help developers create Bitcoin-friendly Android apps

    More Android apps may soon have built-in support for Bitcoin payments thanks to a new partnership between Coinbase and BitMonet.

  26. Why Bitcoin Matters

    A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers.

    [...]

    One can hardly accuse Bitcoin of being an uncovered topic, yet the gulf between what the press and many regular people believe Bitcoin is, and what a growing critical mass of technologists believe Bitcoin is, remains enormous. In this post, I will explain why Bitcoin has so many Silicon Valley programmers and entrepreneurs all lathered up, and what I think Bitcoin’s future potential is.

    First, Bitcoin at its most fundamental level is a breakthrough in computer science – one that builds on 20 years of research into cryptographic currency, and 40 years of research in cryptography, by thousands of researchers around the world.

  27. The Toy-Hungry Multimillionaire Market That’s Completely Underserved

    In 2010 and 2011, a lot of geeks acquired something called bitcoin. It’s a novel form of currency that breaks all the rules you know and redefines currency as we know it. In 2011, this currency was worth mid-single digits per “coin”. Today, one such coin is worth upwards of a thousand US dollars, and newly-minted millionaire geeks are hungry for toys – but almost nobody’s selling.

  28. US tech firms make eleventh-hour attempt to halt tax avoidance reforms

    Lobbyists representing leading US technology companies urge thinktank advising G20 not to close international tax loopholes

  29. Uprising Radio Interview: Richard Wolff Reinterprets Conventional Economic Analysis for the 99%
  30. Economic Prosperity and Economic Democracy: The Worker Co-Op Solution

    By establishing democracy inside the enterprise, WSDEs make government responsible and accountable to the people as workers. Political democracy remains merely formal when governments’ direct dependence on people as voting citizens is not matched by governments’ direct dependence on people – in large part the same people – as workers. Real political democracy requires its integrated partnership with economic democracy as envisioned in economies where WSDEs prevail. Traditional socialisms’ over-emphases on macro-level differences from capitalism (substituting state-regulated or state-owned for private property and state planning for market exchanges) would be radically corrected by the micro-level transformation of enterprise organization from capitalist to WSDE.

  31. New, privatized African city heralds climate apartheid

    It’s a sight to behold. Just off Lagos, Nigeria’s coast, an artificial island is emerging from the sea. A foundation, built of sand dredged from the ocean floor, stretches over ten kilometres. Promotional videos depict what is to come: a city of soaring buildings, housing for 250,000 people, and a central boulevard to match Paris’ Champs-Élysées and New York’s Fifth Avenue. Privately constructed, it will also be privately administered and supplied with electricity, water, mass transit, sewage and security. It is the “future Hong Kong of Africa,” anticipates Nigeria’s World Bank director.

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