Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Corruption in Ukraine

April 7, 2014
FEMEN highlight corruption in Ukraine

FEMEN highlight corruption in Ukraine

When the corrupt Ukrainian dictator Viktor Yanukovych was deposed by the people (not a fascist military coup as Vladimir Putin lied to the Russian people), events quickly fast forwarded to Russian attack and occupation of Crimea, and now stirring unrest in the east of Ukraine.

But what happened in between?

When the people invaded the Presidential grounds and palace, focus was first on the opulence and wealth. Chandeliers costing £100,000 a piece, when the annual Presidential salary was only £100,000.

But attention quickly focused on documents, many of which had been dumped in a lake, others shredded.

A call went out, and people power can to the rescue, librarians, historians, archivists, then for digital scanners. Divers in wet suits turned up to help retrieve documents from the lake. Even children have been helping to piece back together shredded documents.

All the material rescued is being uploaded to the net.

What was uncovered was a criminal gang at the heart of government, that was systematically looting the country. Not only the President, but an inner circle, including oligarchs.

In houses was found gold, cash, jewellery, weapons.

Documents showed ordering of political assassinations.

The EU has been meddling for years in Ukraine. They knew what was going on, European banks were complicit in the money laundering.

Is this what Vladimir Putin fears, toppling and exposure of the criminal circle looting the country?

London’s dystopian Olympics: criminal sanctions for violating the exclusivity of sponsors’ brands

April 14, 2012

As London ramps up for the 2012 Olympics, a dystopian regime of policing and censorship on behalf of the games’ sponsors is coming online. A special squad of “brand police” will have the power to force pubs to take down signs advertising “watch the games on our TV,” to sticker over the brand-names of products at games venues where those products were made by companies other than the games’ sponsors, to send takedown notices to YouTube and Facebook if attendees at the games have the audacity to post their personal images for their friends to see, and more. What’s more, these rules are not merely civil laws, but criminal ones, so violating the sanctity of an Olympic sponsor could end up with prison time for Londoners.

Esther Addley documents the extent of London’s corporatism for The Guardian:

“It is certainly very tough legislation,” says Paul Jordan, a partner and marketing specialist at law firm Bristows, which is advising both official sponsors and non-sponsoring businesses on the new laws. “Every major brand in the world would give their eye teeth to have [a piece of legislation] like this. One can imagine something like a Google or a Microsoft would be delighted to have some very special recognition of their brand in the way that clearly the IOC has.”

As well as introducing an additional layer of protection around the word “Olympics”, the five-rings symbol and the Games’ mottoes, the major change of the legislation is to outlaw unauthorised “association”. This bars non-sponsors from employing images or wording that might suggest too close a link with the Games. Expressions likely to be considered a breach of the rules would include any two of the following list: “Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve”.

Using one of those words with London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze is another likely breach. The two-word rule is not fixed, however: an event called the “Great Exhibition 2012″ was threatened with legal action last year under the Act over its use of “2012” (Locog later withdrew its objection).

The London Olympic bid insisted that these restrictions were necessary to get the sponsors, and of course, they were bidding against other cities who were also making promises to police their residents’ free speech and personal expression. Each games’ sponsor doubles down on the previous games’ restrictions and surveillance, which suggests that by 2020, the winning bid will include a promise to imprison all non-attendees for the duration of the games, and permanently tattoo sponsors’ logos on the faces and chests of all ticket-buyers.

Posted by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing.

If UK Uncut or anyone else wishes to sabotage the games, then be outside the venues with unauthorised branding.

- London’s dystopian Olympics: criminal sanctions for violating the exclusivity of sponsors’ brands
Olympics 2012: branding ‘police’ to protect sponsors’ exclusive rights

Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

January 21, 2012

The content on the net does not come from Hollywood studios or from the music business. It comes from you and I, we like to create, we like to share with others. It is part of story telling, of being creative.

I do not watch TV, I do not even possess a TV. I do not watch TV because it is complete and total crap.

I find it very depressing passing down the street as it is getting dark, passing by people’s houses, and seeing all those people sat like zombies watching the same moronic rubbish.

That is what Big Business wants, moronic consumers who do not question, do not think.

As a poor student, I used to go to a photocopy repair workshop and copy off whole books, though more often articles and academic papers. I was not depriving anyone of an income, as I could not afford to buy, but I was helping in the dissemination of information.

I often make use of other people’s work. It is called fair use. But I do not pass it off as my own or claim the credit. The originator is always credited, with a link back to their work.

Sopa and Pipa will end all that. Greedy Hollywood and the music industry wish to end all that. They wish to control what we watch, how we think, as they were able to do in the 1950s when there was only a couple of TV channels, no internet (though there has always been books and the radio).

The US policy-makers who were pushing Sopa and Pipa have accepted millions from Hollywood and the music industry.

What Hollywood does not seem to understand is we do not have to buy their rubbish, we do not have to go to the cinema.

I am suggesting we now go on the offensive. A world-wide boycott of Hollywood. Let’s see what they think of us then as so far we have been treated with contempt.

The Megaupload closure and seizure of assets and equipment, US Imperial Storm troopers trampling on the world in their jackboots, is a taste of what is to come. Many people used Megaupload to store valuable documents, all now lost, or maybe recoverable after years of litigation. If nothing else, a warning not to store valuable documents in the cloud. How can we be sure they are safe, accessible? The Megaupload closure demonstrates we cannot.

- Thoughts of Paulo Coelho on Sopa
Stop SOPA
The Megaupload Mega-Mess: When Innocents Are Crushed‏

Thoughts of Paulo Coelho on Sopa

January 20, 2012
piracy

piracy

IN THE former Soviet Union, in the late 1950s and 60s, many books that questioned the political system began to be circulated privately in mimeographed form. Their authors never earned a penny in royalties. On the contrary, they were persecuted, denounced in the official press, and sent into exile in the notorious Siberian gulags. Yet they continued to write.

Why? Because they needed to share what they were feeling. From the Gospels to political manifestos, literature has allowed ideas to travel and even to change the world.

I have nothing against people earning money from their books; that’s how I make my living. But look at what’s happening now. Stop Online Piracy Act (S.O.P.A) may disrupt internet. This is a REAL DANGER, not only for Americans, but for all of us, as the law – if approved – will affect the whole planet.

And how do I feel about this? As an author, I should be defending ‘intellectual property’, but I’m not.

Pirates of the world, unite and pirate everything I’ve ever written!

The good old days, when each idea had an owner, are gone forever. First, because all anyone ever does is recycle the same four themes: a love story between two people, a love triangle, the struggle for power, and the story of a journey. Second, because all writers want what they write to be read, whether in a newspaper, blog, pamphlet, or on a wall.

The more often we hear a song on the radio, the keener we are to buy the CD. It’s the same with literature.

The more people ‘pirate’ a book, the better. If they like the beginning, they’ll buy the whole book the next day, because there’s nothing more tiring than reading long screeds of text on a computer screen.

1. Some people will say: You’re rich enough to allow your books to be distributed for free.

That’s true. I am rich. But was it the desire to make money that drove me to write? No. My family and my teachers all said that there was no future in writing.

I started writing and I continue to write because it gives me pleasure and gives meaning to my existence. If money were the motive, I could have stopped writing ages ago and saved myself having to put up with invariably negative reviews.

2. The publishing industry will say: Artists can’t survive if they’re not paid.

In 1999, when I was first published in Russia ( with a print- run of 3,000), the country was suffering a severe paper shortage. By chance, I discovered a ‘ pirate’ edition of The Alchemist and posted it on my web page.

A year later, when the crisis was resolved, I sold 10,000 copies of the print edition. By 2002, I had sold a million copies in Russia, and I have now sold 12 million.

When I traveled across Russia by train, I met several people who told me that they had first discovered my work through the ‘ pirated’ edition I posted on my website. Nowadays, I run a ‘Pirate Coelho’ website, giving links to any books of mine that are available on file- sharing sites. And my sales continue to grow — nearly 140 million copies world wide.

When you’ve eaten an orange, you have to go back to the shop to buy another. In that case, it makes sense to pay on the spot. With an object of art, you’re not buying paper, ink, paintbrush, canvas or musical notes, but the idea born out of a combination of those products.

‘Pirating’ can act as an introduction to an artist’s work. If you like his or her idea, then you will want to have it in your house; a good idea doesn’t need protection.

The rest is either greed or ignorance

– Paulo Coelho

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

No one suggests musicians and other creative artists should not be rewarded. Be it buskers on the streets or mega stars. What we all object to is the greed of the music industry and Hollywood, often the same mega corporations.

I often buy CDs off guys who I hear play on the street. I know the money is going straight into their pocket not to a corporation. One female singer was amazed when I bought more than one copy. I can run off copies, if you prefer, I told her.

The music business does not nurture creative talent, we do not see the relationship we saw between George Martin and The Beatles. It is the next clone me-too act, the next mega deal, to then be dropped when the next talentless hyped act comes along.

With Hollywood, it is the blockbuster movie.

Sadly we are now seeing the same in the book industry, the next blockbuster, the next me too copycat book jumping on the bandwagon. These are heavily discounted to supermarkets and High Street book chains, leaving independents who know their trade, to die a slow death.

We used to have the music business equate the sales of blank cassettes to lost record sales. They even tried to force through a sales tax on blank cassettes to compensate them for lost sales. They then tried the same with sales of blank CDs,and no doubt Hollywood does the same for sales of blank DVDs.

I have always recorded music. As kids we used to stick a microphone in front of the speakers. Then we learnt to attach wires to the speaker wires with crocodile clips. Look at all the bootleg Dylan albums. They achieved cult status.

That a CD or DVD is copied does not equate to lost sales. It may never have been bought. But it does expose the artist to a wider audience. I may have a copy, think that is great, when I would not have otherwise have heard of.

I have a love of early music from copies from a friend, music I may not otherwise have heard of. Certainly not the music of Hildergard von Bingen. Would I have gone to Guildford Cathedral to hear The Sixteen, bought one of their CDs, be going to one of their concerts in February and hopefully Winchester cathedral in April?

- Hail, Mother of the Redeemer
On-line tickets for British Museum exhibition

I have seen most of the leading musicians from Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Santana, The Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Vangelis, because I have shared their music with friends. I have also bought their albums and DVDs.

As Paulo Coelho notes, pirate copies of his books has brought him to a wider audience. With over 130 million books sold, he does not appear to have suffered lost sales.

During the summer, I spoke to a couple who had the books of Paulo Coelho stored on their laptop. Because of that they were familiar with his works. When I told of his latest book Aleph (word of which spreads by word-of-mouth because Waterstone’s perversely did not put on display) they thanked me and said they would pick up a copy.

Sopa and Pipa is about satisfying the greed of Hollywood. It was cooked up behind closed doors by politicians for sale to the highest bidder. No one gets their snouts in the trough as deep as US politicians.

What these corrupt politicians did not expect was the reaction from the public. Over 7 million people signed a petition on google.

We are not prepared to tolerate control of the internet.

In what was then Czechoslovakia, a group of dissidents were put on trial in what was known as The Prague Trial. They fought to stop abuses by the Soviet-controlled state. A schoolboy had been sentenced to 21 months in prison for copying a text by Vaclav Havel and showing it to his class mates. In the 1950s show trials led to executions.

Megaupload has been shut down by the Feds. The Hong Kong-based site had around 150 million users and 50 million daily hits. The site was supported by Alicia Keys and Kanye West. Four Megaupload employees were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand, at the request of US Feds! Anonymous retaliated by shutting down several sites in the US.

Megaupload was also used for legitimate file sharing. It is already back up and running with the address (no domain name to circumvent the Feds):

- http://109.236.83.66

US Congress has backed down over Sopa and Pipa. But the bills have only been suspended, not killed. They need to be killed.

We have appalling hypocrisy. The US applauds use of the net by dissidents, attacks control by China, yet seeks to control the net, supplies weapons to the Fascist states the dissidents are fighting.

You cannot kill an idea. You cannot control the flow of information. The Soviets tried and they failed.

- Har Paulo Coelho blitt en pervers gammel gris?
Stop SOPA
The Day the Internet Roared
We are the lobbyists now
Senate and House slow PIPA/SOPA votes, but promise it’s just a delay
SOPA: Anti-Piracy or Censorship?
Feds Shutter Megaupload, Arrest Executives
Anonymous Retaliates Against MegaUpload Takedown, Knocks MPAA, RIAA Sites Offline [plus DOJ]
Sopa and Pipa bills postponed in US Congress
Hackers retaliate over Megaupload
Megaupload wasn’t just for pirates: angry users out of luck for now
Megaupload Is Back in High Tech Whack-a-Mole
SOPA Defeat Is Not the End Of Hollywood’s Ramped-Up Fight Against Piracy

Ignorance and greed

March 13, 2011
Demonstrations in Dhaka these days, supporting Yunus

Demonstrations in Dhaka these days, supporting Yunus

I was teaching in one of the universities while the country was suffering from a severe famine. People were dying of hunger, and I felt very helpless. As an economist, I had no tool in my tool box to fix that kind of situation.

I went to the bank and proposed that they lend money to the poor people. The bankers almost fell over.
They explained to me that the bank cannot lend money to the poor.

Mohammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, is one of the persons I most admire in today’s world. That’s why I choose him to be one of my CHARACTER OF THE WEEK in this blog.

A man who made a gigantic difference in this world by creating the microcredit, Yunus now have to face ignorance and greed.

Some alarming events have unfolded over the last days. This reached a climax on March 8th when the High Court of Bangladesh upheld the Central Bank’s decision to remove Professor Yunus from his post as Managing Director of the Grameen Bank, which he founded over three decades ago.

Poor people are a like bonsai tree, a little tree.

You pick the seed of the tallest tree in the forest and take the best seed out of it, and plant it in a flower pot. You get a tiny little tree, we call it a bonsai.

Nothing wrong with the seed, you’ve got the best seed possible.

Nothing wrong with the tree, because you actually picked the tallest tree in the forest.

But actually it grows this far… why? Because we put them in the flower pot. The base.

We need to change the base.

Next Tuesday the ultimate decision about Prof. Yunus’ position as Managing Director of Grameen Bank will be taken by the Supreme Court. If the verdict is negative, Prof. Yunus would have to leave Grameen Bank and probably also his house. Yunus Centre could be shut down in order to block international communication and Prof. Yunus might even be arrested if he continues fighting after the verdict.

The only weapon that we currently have and that the government doesn’t, is international awareness and presence in media and people’s heads!

Defending the integrity of Professor Yunus, and fighting for him to remain involved in the Grameen Bank and ensuring a smooth transition, is crucial in order to preserve the independence of this unique model which has helped lift over 8 million people out of poverty in Bangladesh.

Poverty is unnecessary.

Published by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

I heard this on the BBC World Service a few days ago. I am baffled. Why is there an attempt to remove Mohammad Yunus from the Grameen Bank? He has done a lot of good. Or is it that the rich and powerful in corrupt Bangladesh feel threatened when the poor are empowered?

Like Paulo Coelho, although I have never met Mohammad Yunus, he has a great deal of respect from me.

More information from Friends of Grameen.

- Muhammad Yunus and social enterprise
Creating a World Without Poverty


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