Record 290 newcomers join Forbes Billionaires wealth of $7trn

•March 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment


With the global economy stuck in recession and falling oil prices eating into growth, there has been a record 290 newcomers added to the ranks of the world’s billionaires, mostly from China. Their total wealth is an unprecedented $7 trillion.

The total wealth of the world’s billionaires grew from $6.4 trillion in 2014, to $7 trillion according to the 2015 Forbes Billionaires List published Monday.

Seventy one of the new entries in the billionaires list are from China. There are now 1,826 billionaires in the world. Of the newly listed, 46 of them are under the age of 40.

Co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, remains the wealthiest individual with a personal fortune estimated at $79.2 billion. Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim is still second with $77.1 billion. The third place is taken by investor Warren Buffett with $72.7 billion. Buffet made the biggest jump, as his wealth increased from $14.5 billion, mostly due to the performance of his company Berkshire Hathaway.

The founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg moved up 5 positions entering the top twenty at number 16 for the first time. Alibaba’s Jack Ma and three other Chinese appear in the 50 richest.

Evan Spiegel, co-founder of photo-messaging app Snapchat, became the world’s youngest billionaire with a fortune of $1.7 billion at the age of 24.

Russia has suffered the biggest loss in the rankings, as the number of billionaires was down to 88 from 111 the year previous. Now Russia is behind not just the US and China but also Germany and India.

Vladimir Potanin, CEO and one of the principal owners of metals and mining company Norilsk Nickel overtook the principal shareholder in USM Holdings Alisher Usmanov to become Russia’s richest man. The new ranking puts Usmanov in 3rd position with $14.4 billion. He’d held to top spot since 2011.

Potanin’s fortune is estimated at $14.8 billion, which puts him in 60th place on the world’s richest list. In 2014 Potanin was ranked eighth with his fortune estimated at $12.6 billion.

Second place in the list of richest Russians belongs to Mikhail Fridman, chairman of the Alpha Group. Forbes estimated his fortune at $14.7 billion and put Friedman at 68th place in the global ranking. Friedman retains the second place in the ranking of the richest Russians since 2013, according to Forbes.

Evgeny Yevtushenkov, Bashneft CEO, saw the biggest fall in his fortunes, as he nosedived to 663th spot from 114th last year. His fortune shrank to $2.8 billion from $9 billion in the 2014 Forbes ranking.


i cant believe spiegel can be a billionaire from a small reasonably straight forward snapchat app..its all about sending images of naked body parts..and he made a billion out of it!

“He was educated at the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, and attended Stanford University.

He and Robert Murphy, his Kappa Sigma fraternity brother, had previously developed an online guide to the college applications process. Spiegel and Murphy were sued by a third fraternity brother, Reggie Brown, who claims he was partly responsible for the idea.”

no surprise that bill is still the king of the mountain..


Iraqi forces seek to encircle IS fighters in Tikrit

•March 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment



Iraqi army soldiers and Shia militiamen are seeking to encircle Islamic State fighters in Tikrit, on the third day of a major operation to retake the city.

State-run al-Iraqiya TV said government forces were “advancing” but progress has been slowed by roadside bombs.

Security sources said they had captured villages and oil fields east of the city, and blocked a key IS supply line to neighbouring Diyala province.

The offensive is being overseen at least in part by an Iranian general.

On Tuesday, the top US general said Iran’s role in Tikrit could be positive, as long as it did not fuel sectarian tensions.

Some 30,000 soldiers and militiamen from the Popular Mobilisation (Hashid Shaabi) force, backed by Iraqi jets and helicopters, have advanced gradually since the offensive began on Monday.

On Wednesday, a source in the Samarra Operations Command told the BBC that government forces had taken control of the village of al-Maibdi, on the road between Tikrit and the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk, as well as the nearby Ajil and Alas oilfields. The road was a key supply route for IS between Salahuddin and Diyala provinces, the source said.

Another official told All Iraq News that the villages of Siha and Mazraat al-Rahim, just to the north of Tikrit in al-Alam district, had also been retaken.

However, the soldiers and militiamen have not breached IS defences around Tikrit and al-Dour, a town 19km (12 miles) to the south, which officials say is another stronghold of the jihadist group.

Military officials said on Tuesday that al-Dour had been surrounded and sealed off, but that an assault on the town had not yet been launched.


this is the push..tikrit is part of a wider operation that will include trying to take back mosul..i think things are about to get ugly..and just wait till some soldiers get captured..

“Some 30,000 soldiers and militiamen from the Popular Mobilisation (Hashid Shaabi) force, backed by Iraqi jets and helicopters, have advanced gradually since the offensive began on Monday.”

openly using the shia militiamen will leave a permanent scar as well..


Ukraine agrees to tough austerity package to gain $17.5bn IMF bailout

•March 6, 2015 • 1 Comment

The Ukrainian parliament has approved amendments the 2015 budget that sees drastic pension cuts and energy bills tripling. The changes are needed to comply with the terms of the agreed $17.5 billion IMF bailout package.

The budget amendments were passed at an extraordinary meeting on Monday with a majority of 273 votes, well above the minimum 226 votes necessary to pass legislation.

According to the changes, Ukraine’s budget deficit increases from 3.7 percent to 4.1 percent of GDP. Amendments envisage the expenses increasing by about $1.3 billion (35 billion hryvnia), with a 21.7 hryvnia per dollar exchange rate. At the same the cabinet plans to cut government funding of Naftogaz in 2015 by 5.8 percent to 29.7 billion hryvnia.

The changes also see a cut in pensions for retired people by 15 percent. Moreover, pension payments for people working in the tax, customs and regulatory bodies, will be suspended. The job tenure for people working in hazardous and heavy industries will be gradually increased from 20 years to 25 years for men and from 15 years to 20 years for women.

The amended budget provides for increasing the rent charged for gas production from 20 percent to 70 percent.

At the same time Ukraine’s national commission responsible for controlling energy and utilities has more than doubled the cost of gas to average consumers. Thus, gas used for heating will jump 230 percent to about $132 per 1,000 cubic meters.

The price for gas used in cooking and heating water is expected to skyrocket from $43 to $263 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Ukraine is undergoing a serious political crisis that affects its economy and the public sector, in fact, the country is on the verge of default. Authorities hope to improve the situation by means of foreign borrowing.

The IMF two-year loan program for Ukraine is worth $17.5 billion. The overall financial assistance from the IMF and other sources could be as much as $40 billion. The IMF is expected to approve the new aid package to Ukraine on March 11, 2015.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk is sure the International Monetary Fund will agree. He says external financing will increase foreign exchange reserves, which will help stabilize the hryvnia which has lost around 70 percent of its value since the crisis begun a year ago.

Nicholas Burge, the head of the trade and economic section of the EU Delegation in Ukraine suggests the country’s reserves are a third of what is needed. Ukrainian reserves stood at $6.42 billion on February 1, 2015, enough to cover about five months of import.


prepare the vaseline..bend over and assume the position..

“a cut in pensions for retired people by 15 percent”

“pension payments for people working in the tax, customs and regulatory bodies, will be suspended”

“increasing the rent charged for gas production from 20 percent to 70 percent.”

“commission responsible for controlling energy and utilities has more than doubled the cost of gas to average consumers”

“price for gas used in cooking and heating water is expected to skyrocket from $43 to $263 per 1,000 cubic meters.”

and that is only the start..enjoy!


Tsarnaev lawyer admits his guilt

•March 6, 2015 • 2 Comments


The trial of the man accused of bombing the Boston Marathon two years ago has begun, with his defence lawyer telling the jury he committed the crime.

“It was him,” the lawyer said as she prepared to defend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s actions by saying he had been influenced by his older brother.

Mr Tsarnaev, 21, could face the death penalty and is charged with more than 30 counts relating to the bombings.

It was the deadliest terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

Three people, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed after two pressure cooker bombs packed with nails, ball bearings and other shrapnel detonated in April 2013. More than 260 people were injured, with many losing limbs.

In 2013, Mr Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges, including one related to the killing of a police officer in the days after the bombing.

Early in the day, Mr Tsarnaev’s lawyer, Judy Clarke, stunned the court when she began her opening remarks by saying: “It was him.”

The admission marks the beginning of the defence team’s strategy, which is to place blame for the bombings on the defendant’s older brother Tamerlan, who was killed by police.

“The evidence will not establish and we will not argue that Tamerlan put a gun to Dzhokhar’s head or that he forced him to join in the plan,” Ms Clark told the court, “but you will hear evidence about the kind of influence that his older brother had.”

Speaking in explicit detail and presenting the jury with a grisly video, federal prosecutor William Weinreb portrayed Mr Tsarnaev as a cold-blooded killer that had “murder in his heart” and “believed that he was a soldier in a holy war against Americans”.

The jurors were shown a video of the moments after the first bomb exploded. It showed a huge blast of smoke, and several police officers running to the scene where people could be seen lying in pools of blood. The panel was visibly shaken by the graphic images.

Throughout the day, a handful of witness went before the jury. The defence only sparingly questioned their testimony.


he will be found guilty..thats a given..they will try to show he was urged and influenced by his brother..but will they execute him is the question?


Ahmed Gaddafi al-Dam: “Europe will face a 9/11 within two years”

•March 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Colonel Gaddafi’s cousin predicts a “9/11 in Europe within two years,” as Islamic State militants join thousands of migrants beating a path to Europe. His warning comes as Home Secretary Theresa May says Britain’s terror threat is “grave and growing.”

Ahmed Gaddafi al-Dam, formerly one of Gadaffi’s most trusted security chiefs, estimates a minimum of 500,000 migrants will make their way from Libya to Europe in 2015, as the Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] increases its foothold in the North African state.

“There are many terrorists among them, between 10 and 50 in every thousand,” he told the Mail Online.

“They are going all throughout Europe [sic]. Within one year, two years, you will have another September 11.”

The former security chief made the remarks in Cairo on Monday, during an interview with the newspaper. He has reportedly since fled.

Following his comments, Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May said Britons continue to face the risk of a terror attack. She added everyone in the UK needs to play their part to help fight the spread of radicalization.

Considered alarmist by some, Gaddafi al-Dam’s warning will likely alarm Western governments.

Following the brutal massacre of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by IS militants in Sirte, northern Libya, concern is mounting that instability in the region poses a risk to the West.

Militants linked to IS have made gains in Libya in recent times, and are thought to have conquered three towns, including Sirte.

Gadaffi’s cousin says the Islamic State in Libya could be in possession of over 6,000 barrels of uranium, previously guarded by the state’s armed forces.

“They are not stupid anymore. They know how to make money. They will try and sell it,” he added.


they are even telling you how it will happen..

“There are many terrorists among them, between 10 and 50 in every thousand,” he told the Mail Online.”

they will be the excuse when it happens..

my favorite part of the interview was this:

“The former security chief made the remarks in Cairo on Monday, during an interview with the newspaper. He has reportedly since fled.”

popped his head in..said a few words and whoooosh hes gone!


Does Australia’s farm sector need foreign investment?

•March 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment


Foreign investment in Australia is rarely far from the headlines with claims offshore buyers are inflating house prices and controlling too much of the country’s food production. But when it comes to the farm sector, there is another side to the story.

Australians are adept at tut-tutting about how much of the country’s agricultural land has been sold to foreigners.

Fuelled by regular reports about China’s growth, its appetite for Australian sugar, beef, sorghum and more, and its purchase in 2013 of Australia’s biggest cotton producer and irrigator on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, it is perhaps not surprising.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, foreign investors own 10% of Australia’s agricultural land, a figure little changed in 25 years.

But that could soon rise thanks to two huge projects being developed in Northern Territory’s Top End with the help of foreign investors.

Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Zhongfu is developing 15,200 hectares (37,560 acres) of valuable agricultural land in Western Australia in what is known as the Ord Stage 2 project. It will grow sugar and sorghum.

Australian company Integrated Food and Energy Developments (IFED) in North Queensland is looking for capital for a A$2bn ($1.6bn, £1.02bn) beef, guar bean and sugar venture.

This kind of development is crucial if Australia wants to realise what many believe is its potential to double agricultural production by 2030, says National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) chief executive officer Simon Talbot.

“Australians aren’t falling over themselves to invest in agriculture,” Mr Talbot explains.

“When it comes to opening up northern Australia, we can’t do that without foreign investment.”

But under public pressure to keep farms in Australian hands, as of 1 March the government is requiring cumulative sales of farmland to foreign investors worth more than A$15m to be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Previously, approval was only required for deals worth more than A$252m.

From 1 July, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will start collecting information on all new foreign investment in agricultural land, regardless of value – to take stock of what is owned by foreign investors.

CHINESE property development conglomerate Shanghai Zhongfu has won the sole right to develop 15,200ha of high-value irrigated agricultural land in northern Australia after the state and federal governments spent $510 million of taxpayer funds building road, irrigation, port and local community infrastructure to support the deal.

The little-known Chinese private company has been handed all available land in the second stage expansion of the Ord irrigation scheme in Western Australia’s Kimberley region for a peppercorn rent, on the condition it is cleared, developed, farmed and a state-of-the-art export sugar mill built.

The West Australian government will formally announce Shanghai Zhongfu as the preferred developer of the pivotal Ord stage 2 expansion next Tuesday, doubling the size of the East Kimberley’s 30-year-old food and farming scheme.

It will argue that because the Chinese company is taking out a 50-year lease on the valuable farmland and will not own the irrigation channels, it is a good deal for the state’s taxpayers who paid $315m to get the project ready for food bowl farming.

Behind the scenes, the state and federal governments are bracing for a new furore about foreign ownership of Australian agriculture after the Zhongfu deal is announced.

It follows a public outcry in August when Australia’s largest cotton farm and water rights holder, Cubbie Station, was sold to a Chinese textile company.

The Barnett Liberal government claims Shanghai Zhongfu’s long-term investment in the East Kimberley region is a very different scenario from Shandong Ruyi’s contentious $300m purchase of Cubbie Station because the land is only leased and is undeveloped now.

It will cost Shanghai Zhongfu at least $250m to turn the 7800ha of undeveloped country it will lease on the Knox Plains and

Ord West Bank into sugar fields and to build a sugar mill near Kununurra. The other 7400ha of the Ord stage 2 land at Goomig is already fully irrigated with taxpayer-provided water piped right to each block – land the West Australian government originally hoped to sell to small Australian farmers.

Shanghai Zhongfu beat two other Australian shortlisted contenders, including Australia’s largest cattle and land company, AACo, to win the prized tender to develop the second stage of the Ord irrigation scheme into a new Asian food bowl.


it depends on what the asset is..where it is and how important it is to the security of the nation..

“foreign investors own 10% of Australia’s agricultural land”

thats quite a lot in reality and what is the 10% made up of?

“Shanghai Zhongfu has won the sole right to develop 15,200ha of high-value irrigated agricultural land”

creating a food bowl for who?

would like to know who is behind IFED as well..


Shodan: The scariest search engine on the Internet

•March 6, 2015 • 1 Comment

Shodan Banner

“When people don’t see stuff on Google, they think no one can find it. That’s not true.”

That’s according to John Matherly, creator of Shodan, the scariest search engine on the Internet.

Unlike Google (GOOG), which crawls the Web looking for websites, Shodan navigates the Internet’s back channels. It’s a kind of “dark” Google, looking for the servers, webcams, printers, routers and all the other stuff that is connected to and makes up the Internet. (Shodan’s site was slow to load Monday following the publication of this story.)

Shodan runs 24/7 and collects information on about 500 million connected devices and services each month.

It’s stunning what can be found with a simple search on Shodan. Countless traffic lights, security cameras, home automation devices and heating systems are connected to the Internet and easy to spot.
Shodan searchers have found control systems for a water park, a gas station, a hotel wine cooler and a crematorium. Cybersecurity researchers have even located command and control systems for nuclear power plants and a particle-accelerating cyclotron by using Shodan.

What’s really noteworthy about Shodan’s ability to find all of this — and what makes Shodan so scary — is that very few of those devices have any kind of security built into them.
“It’s a massive security failure,” said HD Moore, chief security officer of Rapid 7, who operates a private version of a Shodan-like database for his own research purposes.

A quick search for “default password” reveals countless printers, servers and system control devices that use “admin” as their user name and “1234” as their password. Many more connected systems require no credentials at all — all you need is a Web browser to connect to them.

In a talk given at last year’s Defcon cybersecurity conference, independent security penetration tester Dan Tentler demonstrated how he used Shodan to find control systems for evaporative coolers, pressurized water heaters, and garage doors.

He found a car wash that could be turned on and off and a hockey rink in Denmark that could be defrosted with a click of a button. A city’s entire traffic control system was connected to the Internet and could be put into “test mode” with a single command entry. And he also found a control system for a hydroelectric plant in France with two turbines generating 3 megawatts each.

Scary stuff, if it got into the wrong hands.

“You could really do some serious damage with this,” Tentler said, in an understatement.
So why are all these devices connected with few safeguards? Some things that are designed to be connected to the Internet, such as door locks that can be controlled with your iPhone, are generally believed to be hard to find. Security is an afterthought.

A bigger issue is that many of these devices shouldn’t even be online at all. Companies will often buy systems that can enable them to control, say, a heating system with a computer. How do they connect the computer to the heating system? Rather than connect them directly, many IT departments just plug them both into a Web server, inadvertently sharing them with the rest of the world.

“Of course there’s no security on these things,” said Matherly, “They don’t belong on the Internet in the first place.”

The good news is that Shodan is almost exclusively used for good.

Matherly, who completed Shodan more than three years ago as a pet project, has limited searches to just 10 results without an account, and 50 with an account. If you want to see everything Shodan has to offer, Matherly requires more information about what you’re hoping to achieve — and a payment.

Penetration testers, security professionals, academic researchers and law enforcement agencies are the primary users of Shodan. Bad actors may use it as a starting point, Matherly admits. But he added that cybercriminals typically have access to botnets — large collections of infected computers — that are able to achieve the same task without detection.

To date, most cyberattacks have focused on stealing money and intellectual property. Bad guys haven’t yet tried to do harm by blowing up a building or killing the traffic lights in a city.

Security professionals are hoping to avoid that scenario by spotting these unsecured, connected devices and services using Shodan, and alerting those operating them that they’re vulnerable. In the meantime, there are too many terrifying things connected to the Internet with no security to speak of just waiting to be attacked.


so whats it do?

“Shodan runs 24/7 and collects information on about 500 million connected devices and services each month.”

i see..

“Countless traffic lights, security cameras, home automation devices and heating systems are connected to the Internet and easy to spot.”

how has this occurred?

“Of course there’s no security on these things,” said Matherly, “They don’t belong on the Internet in the first place.”



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