Tag: trump

US Telcos given blank cheque on net neutrality

70977464_7d8ecfa4da_zThe Federal Communications Commission’s new Republican leadership is turning the outfit into the sort of watchdog who snoozes while the comms companies burgle the house.

On Friday evening, the man in charge rescinded a ruling that AT&T and Verizon Wireless violated net neutrality rules with paid data cap exemptions and promised to look away on the racket.

The Trump appointed Chairman Ajit Pai has also rescinded several other reports and actions he disagreed with.

The comms companies had a wizard wheeze to kill off competition for their video services by allowing them to be used without counting against data cap restrictions.  After all there is nothing wrong with throttling your opposition is there?  The FCC disagreed but Pai saw nothing wrong with it. Now he is in charge he is making sure that there is nothing to stop the comms companies throttling who they like – so long as it is not him, we guess.

Pai says that free data offerings are “popular among consumers precisely because they allow more access to online music, videos, and other content free of charge.” He has also vowed to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality rules and hasn’t committed to enforcing them while they remain in place.

But the abandoning of the investigation is the first move that Pai has taken against the FCC’s anti-net neutrality laws.

Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly added that this was just the first step they would be taking to protect the poor comms companies from regulations so they could continue to provide the sorts of products their customers wanted without the fear of red tape.  After all companies with total regional monopolies always provide what their customers want and never think of profits first.

 

Facebook could be gutted by Trump’s visa crack-down

what-we-learned-about-facebook-ceo-mark-zucke-L-gl5gYRSocial notworking site Facebook could be the most vulnerable to US President Donald Trump’s expected crackdown on guest worker visas.

According to a Reuters analysis of US Labour Department filings more than 15 percent of Facebook’s US employees in 2016 used a temporary work visa making it a an H-1B “dependent” company.

That is much worse than Alphabet, Google, Apple, Amazon or Microsoft. This could cause major problems for Facebook if Trump or Congress decide to make the H-1B program more restrictive, as the president and some Republican lawmakers have threatened to do.

Both Trump and Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions have opposed the program in its current form. They have also indicated that they are open to reforming it to “ensure the beneficiaries of the programme are the best and the brightest,” according to a draft executive order seen by Reuters.

The Trump administration has not proposed any new rules that would target companies with the H-1B “dependent” classification. But the fact that Facebook alone among major tech companies falls into that category suggests it is the most exposed in the industry to any changes in H-1B visa policy.

Neither the White House nor Facebook are saying anything. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that Trump would target H-1B visas as part of a larger immigration reform effort through executive orders and Congressional action, but gave no details.

Facebook listed itself as a dependent company in its applications for H-1B visas with the Labor Department last year.

Before he took office as president, Trump discussed changes to the H-1B visa program with top technology executives, including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

 

2,000 Googlers walk off in Trump protest


protest_google_twitter_1485837356289More than 2,000
Google employees across eight offices worldwide staged a walkout yesterday in protest against President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing a travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

The protests were led by Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, both of whom entered the US as immigrants.

Pichai told the rally: “This is something, there are some values, which are really near and dear to your heart. It’s foundational and it’s something you should never compromise on” adding that “the fight will continue”.

Brin had already taken part in the immigration protests at Sans Francisco airport a day back, was cheered by the crowd for his speech in which he said the US, once a courageous nation, was failing to stand up to expectations of ex-refugees like him.

“I came here to the US at age six with my family from the Soviet Union, which at that time was the greatest enemy the US had — maybe it still is in some form — but it was a dire period of the Cold War… some probably remember it. And there was threat of nuclear annihilation. And even then, the US had the courage to take me and my family in as refugees.”

The employees used hashtag #GooglersUnite, to tweet photos and videos of walkout actions around the world, including at the headquarters in Mountain View. The protest came a day after employees donated more than $2m to a crisis fund that will be distributed among nonprofit groups working to support refugees.

Silicon Valley gears up to fight Trump

Donald-Trump-funnySilicon Valley is leading the corporate resistance to President Donald (Prince of Orange)Trump’s clampdown on immigration.

Apparently Big Tech is spending a fortune on financing legal opposition, criticising the plan, as well as helping employees ensnared by his executive order.

It had long been expected that Silicon Valley would fight back against Trump. The industry has depended on immigrants and championed liberal causes such as gay rights.

At the moment, it looks like they are still in the organisation stage. Over the weekend, as Trump tried to shut out immigrants from countries which he does not do business with, most in the tech industry stopped short of directly criticising the new Republican president.

Apple, Google and Microsoft offered legal aid to employees affected by the order. Several Silicon Valley executives donated to legal efforts to support immigrants facing the ban.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and Uber head Travis Kalanick both said on Twitter that they would take industry concerns about immigration to Trump’s business advisory council, where they serve.

Kalanick has faced opposition on social media for agreeing to be part of the advisory group. Kalanick in a Facebook post on Sunday called the immigration ban “wrong and unjust” and said that Uber would create a $3 million fund to help drivers with immigration issues.

Khash Sajadi, the British-Iranian chief executive of San Francisco-based tech company Cloud 66, was stuck in London because of the ban.

Sajadi is hoping that bigger tech companies like Google and Facebook would take legal action to protect affected employees. That could help set a precedent for people in similar situations.

He warned that it is going to take legal action as people speaking up is not going to be enough.

The tech industry also has other matters where it may find itself opposed to Trump, including trade policy and cyber security.

Over the weekend startup incubator Y Combinator president, Sam Altman, wrote a widely read blog post urging tech leaders to band together against the immigration order. He said he has spoken with a variety of people about organising but remains unsure about the best course of action.

“The honest answer is we don’t know yet. We are talking with legal groups and tech groups, but this is so unprecedented that I don’t think anyone has a manual.”

At Lyft, co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green pledged on the company’s blog to donate a million dollars over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which won a temporary stay of part of Trump’s executive order on Saturday night.

Dave McClure, the founding partner of 500 Startups and an outspoken critic of Trump, said his venture capital firm will soon open its first fund in the Middle East and will shift its attention to supporting entrepreneurs in their native countries, if bringing them to the United States proves impossible.

Ironically this will help countries identified by Trump as “enemies” develop their technology base.

 

Theil heads to Middle Earth to escape the Mordor of Trump’s America

new zealand After helping getting Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump elected, one of the Silicon Valley oligarchs is trying to escape the coming Apocalypse.

Despite being on Trump’s transition committee, Theil does not appear to think that Trump will “make America Great Again” and is trying to buy up land in Middle Earth, er New Zealand, the country famous for its health service and belief in battling climate change.

The New Zealand Herald is reporting that Peter Thiel has applied for New Zealand citizenship. The revelation only came after the newspaper started to investigate a 477-acre property that Thiel had bought in 2015. The newspaper was wondering why Thiel hadn’t got official approval to buy the property under foreign ownership laws.

Apparently, he didn’t need to because he was just as much a Kiwi as Nick Farrell.

Thiel currently serves on President Donald Trump’s transition team appears to have joined some other Silicon Valley tech giants setting up apocalypse homes in New Zealand fearing a Trump presidency will destroy the United States in some fashion.

But New Zealand isn’t the only place where the mega rich are setting up shop for life and leisure. Steve Wozniak gained residency in nearby Australia in 2014. His wife is Australian, and he’s said that he likes the idea of being able to “die an Australian.

In the week following President Trump’s election, a whopping 13,401 Americans applied for residency in New Zealand—a full 17 times the normal rate.

Oracle’s Trumpeter CEO lays off more employees

CatzOne of Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump’s staunchest allies Oracle CEO Safra Catz, has decided that the best way to Make America Great again is to lay off lots of American workers.

Catz, who is on Trump’s transition team, does not appear to have got the memo about providing more US jobs. Mercury News said that Oracle is laying off approximately 450 employees in its Santa Clara hardware systems division.

This is a conservative number as a discussion board for technology business firings, claim about 1,800 employees company-wide are being told to clear out their desks.

Oracle claims the company isn’t closing the Santa Clara facility. Instead, “Oracle is refocusing its Hardware Systems business, and for that reason, has decided to lay off certain of its employees in the Hardware Systems Division”.

Those going are members of Oracle’s failing SPARC hardware department. In mid-2016, Oracle claimed its new SPARC S7 processor would be offered on Oracle Cloud. The cloud is Oracle’s new revenue hope since its new software licensing revenue plummeted by 20 percent in its last quarter ended December 15. At the same time, Oracle’s hardware revenue had fallen 13 percent. In Oracle’s most recent SPARC/Solaris roadmap, the next generation Solaris 12 has vanished to be replaced by moderate refreshes called Solaris 11.next and SPARC next.

While some of the staff cleaning out their desks are management and staff, the majority are hardware and software developers.

Things are not going well at Oracle.  The US Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Oracle in January claiming that Oracle had engaged in pay discrimination practices against female, African-American, and Asian employees.

Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger claimed that the court case was politically motivated, based on false allegations, “and wholly without merit”.

Donald Trump could be Apple’s arch-Nemesis

poison-appleApple is hoping for a better 2017 after an embarrassing fall in dominance last year, but it is starting to look it might have found itself an enemy for all things Applish in the new president Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump.

Apple was a frequent target of Trump’s criticism on the campaign trail. He encouraged supporters to boycott Apple because of its encryption policies while also condemning the company for building its products overseas.

One of the few things we know about Trump’s stated economic and trade policies is that damaging large, multinational tech companies who don’t have a plant in the US is high on the agenda. Apple and any company that relies heavily on overseas manufacturing and the global economy and this is the same business model which will suffer.

Trump said that the aim was to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.

Things would be bleak had not Trump has backed away from or moderated his tone on some of the issues he brought up during the campaign. He didn’t jail Hillary Clinton and he backtracked on corporate lobbying – several of his cabinet represent big companies. But he did rather go on about Jobs’ Mob.

Trump claimed to have spoken to Apple CEO Tim Cook about building “a big plant in the United States” and about cutting taxes and regulations that would currently keep Apple from doing so.

Trump claims he’s going to get Apple to “build a big plant” in US. Apple will then be made an example of and it could avoid a huge amount of pain if it does what it is told.

Apple makes most of its gear through Chinese outfits Foxconn and Pegatron. Foxconn has already said it is investigating building a plant in the US. It probably will not create many jobs as the outfit has said that it wants to be nearly fully robotic. However, if Trump says that Apple’s tech is being made in the US he will use that to create a sound-bite win and hope the country are too think to notice that it has made no difference to jobs.

If Apple is clever, it will suck up more government money and maybe get a tax break or too to bring its cash pile to the US and have the phones made by Foxconn robots.

But Apple’s Tame hacks at the New York Times reported that Apple’ Chinese manufacturing arrangements would be nearly impossible to replicate elsewhere.

Cook also has a balancing act to play out if Apple wants to stay in the lucrative Chinese market. While the Chinese interest in Apple has fallen lately, the outfit did get its foot in the door.

Trump has hacked off China big time and appears to be itching for a trade war.

Trump has promised to impose a 35 percent import tax on American companies that manufacture their products in countries like China and Mexico. This will be increased to a 45 percent tax on all Chinese imports from the country, compared to an average tax rate of about three percent currently.

While this could jack up the price of consumer goods, particularly smartphones and other technology China has promised to retaliate by further raising prices.

Obama raised taxes on Chinese tyre imports to 35 percent and the country added between two and 21.5 percent to the taxes for cars imported from the US and caused hell for US companies trading in China.

If Trump follows through, China will buy Airbus instead of Boeing. US auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports will be halted.

Apple has promised to invest in China and Chinese companies in an effort to maintain good relations with the country, but if the Trump administration takes a hard line on China, the benefits that the company relies on to keep its costs down and margins high could evaporate.

Tim Cook the chief executive officer of one of the world’s most valuable companies still showed up to Trump’s tech summit in New York last month, despite looking less than pleased about it.

He explained his presence at the meeting to Apple employees in an internal memo saying that he had to show up because Governments can affect the company’s ability to do what Apple does.

This year we will see how much of Apple is going to go down in a blaze of Trump.

Alibaba promises Trump a million new jobs

Donald-Trump-funnyAlibaba Boss Jack Ma met US President-elect Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump to talk about putting a million small US  businesses onto his platform to sell to Chinese consumers over the next five years.

Alibaba thinks it can create a million US jobs as each company adds a position. Alibaba has previously campaigned to bring more small US businesses onto the company’s sites, but this is the first time Ma has discussed specific targets.

Trump and Ma emerged from their meeting at Trump Tower in New York together. The president-elect told reporters they had a “great meeting” and would do great things together. Ma called Trump “smart” and “open-minded”.

Ma said small businesses, especially in the Midwest, such as farmers and small clothing makers, who could tap the Chinese market directly through Alibaba, whose Tmall online shopping platform offers virtual store fronts and payment portals to merchants.  Apparently foreign brands do well selling their stuff to China’s vast and growing middle class by offering to smoothen out Chinese sales, payment and shipping processes.

Ma gets on rather well with the Chinese authorities which is more than can be said for Trump.  During the election he  often targeted China and blaimed it for US job losses and vowing to impose 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports.

About 7,000 U.S. brands including wholesaler Costco Wholesale and apparel seller Levi’s currently sit on Alibaba’s Tmall, an Alibaba spokeswoman said. They made $15 billion in sales to Chinese consumers last year.

There is also the small matter of an ongoing US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Alibaba’s accounting practices. However Trump’s top choice for the incoming head of the commission is Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton who happened to work on Alibaba’s initial public offering so we guess that means it will go through now.

 

US senators investigate Russian hacking

russian-villagersWhile Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump is denying his chum Tsar Vladimir Putin unleashed his team of hackers to help him win the election, senior U.S. intelligence officials will testify in Congress on Thursday on Russia’s alleged cyber-attacks during the 2016 election campaign.

Trump has not been briefed on the hacks yet, but that has not stopped him denying they took place.  He is apparently going to receive details on the DMC hack today.

He is already heading for a spat with Democrats and fellow Republicans in Congress, many of whom don’t like Putin and distrust Trump’s praise of the chap.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre are expected to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is chaired by Republican John McCain, a vocal critic of Putin.

Their testimony on cyber threats facing the United States will come a week after President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their alleged involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 election.

US intelligence agencies say Russia was behind hacks into Democratic Party organizations and operatives before the presidential election, a conclusion supported by several private cybersecurity firms. Moscow denies it.

US intelligence officials have also said the Russian cyber-attacks aimed to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several Republicans acknowledge Russian hacking during the election but have not linked it to an effort to help Trump win.

Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, were leaked to the media in advance of the election, embarrassing the Clinton campaign.

Trump and top advisers believe Democrats are trying to delegitimize his election victory by accusing Russian authorities of helping him.

However, he has not helped his case by nominating Moscow-friendly types to senior administration posts, including secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who while Exxon Mobil chief executive, was awarded the Order of Friendship, a Russian state honour, by Putin in 2013.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will also hold a closed-door hearing today to look at Russia’s alleged hacking and harassment of US diplomats.

 

Snowden knows that Trump was given a hand by Putin

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong KongWhile the FBI, CIA and President Barack Obama all agree that Russia hacked the DNC and asserted its will on the US presidential election they seem to be having difficulty convincing the world.

If you post news about the hack anywhere online you will normally get otherwise sane people parroting the mantra that “there is no proof.”

So far most of the proof has come from private security companies who normally would be accepted without question, but for some reason no one is believing them this time. Official comments from the spooks are short on anything that people call proof.

Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump has done his best to claim that it was not his good chum President Putin. He claims that hacking is hard to prove.
Only it really isn’t. According to a new document leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA has successfully traced a hack back to Russian intelligence at least once before.

A classified excerpt from page from the NSA’s internal wiki shows that the NSA once verified that Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s email account had been targeted by Russian Federal Intelligence Services a year before her 2006 murder.

The information is classified as “Top Secret Signals Intelligence” which means that the NSA knows Politkovskaya’s email was hacked by Russian operatives because they were able to trace the hack back to Russian intelligence.

The entry itself doesn’t specifically say how this trace was accomplished or provide the evidence — but the existence of the entry shows that the NSA is wholly capable of tracing such hacks back to their source.

While it does not prove that the Russia gamed the US election, it shows that the US intelligence agencies can gather the proof. It also shows that when the proof is found it is classified. The US does not want to risk showing its hand to foreign operators.

This would lead to a strange situation where President Obama, all the spooks and the White House dog all know that Russia gamed the election and can take action against Russia, but the rest of the world will not know why.

When Trump takes office in a couple of weeks he will know too, but it is unlikely he will say anything. After all he owes Putin’s Oligarch mates rather a lot of money.