Monday, 31 March 2014

Obama's secretive TPPA is driven by self-interest, patents and trade protectionism leading to costly medicines...

Barack Obama’s response to public criticism on the US trade deals with Europe and Asia-Pacific is less than convincing.

UNITED States President Barack Obama will soon be making a trip to Asian countries, including Malaysia. The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will be on his agenda, just as the Trans­atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was a priority during his trip to Europe last week.

The TTIP is the agreement the US and European Union are negotiating — a counter­part to the TPPA that the US is negotiating with 11 Asian and Pacific countries, including Malaysia.

At a live-TV press conference in the Netherlands, Obama responded to strong public criticism against the TTIP and TTPA.

There is no point worrying about the provisions having effects on consumer and environmental protection until the deal is done, he said. Consumer and environmental protection would in fact be strengthened by trade deals.

“I spent my whole political life fighting for consumer protection,” he said, adding there is no ground for worries that companies can take action to weaken consumer and environmental protection.

The President’s comments on the TTIP presumably apply also to the TPPA since both contain similar provisions, and the criticisms from US and other lawmakers and NGOs also apply to both. Consumer and health groups have indeed been vocal in their criticisms and protests against the TPPA and TTIP.

They include Public Citizen, an organisation of America’s leading consumer advocate Ralph Nader, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Nobel Prize winning medical group.

In Malaysia, groups representing consumers, patients, health and the environment, including the Consumers Association of Penang, Malaysian Council for Tobacco Cont­rol, the Malaysian Aids Council and several patients’ organisations, have been actively campaigning against the TPPA.

Obama’s response will not assure the critics. His first point, that there is no point worrying until the deal is done, will hit a raw nerve.

Lawmakers, including in the US Congress, and NGOs in countries involved in the two trade deals, have been disgruntled that the talks are held in secret and that they don’t have access to the texts.

The secrecy of the negotiations, the inability of the public to give feedback, and the lack of legitimacy of the process, is one of the maj­­or criticisms against these two trade deals.

Nevertheless, there is enough information, from leaked chapters, and from provisions in existing US free trade agreements, for the public to have a good idea what the trade deals entail. Obama’s advice that there is no point worrying until the final texts are revealed is likely to earn scorn rather than an assurance.

Second, the critics have good reasons to be worried or outraged.

These agreements would make it very difficult or even impossible for patients and government health authorities to have access to the much cheaper generic versions of the medicines, because of the tighter patent reg­ime the US is proposing in the TPPA.

As a result, millions of patients could be deprived of life-saving drugs since they, and their governments, cannot afford to buy the branded products.

According to MSF, the first generation of HIV drugs have come down in price by 99% over the last decade, from US$10,000 (RM33,000) per person per year in 2000 to roughly US$60 (RM196) today.

This is due to generic production in India, Brazil and Thailand, where these drugs were not patented.

This dramatic price drop enabled HIV/AIDS treatment to be scaled up for over six million people in developing countries.

According to MSF, the US proposals in the TPPA would cause many problems.

These would include extending the term of the patents beyond the already lengthy 20 years, the provision of “data exclusivity” (which will require generic companies to undertake their own costly clinical trials), and widening the scope of what medicines are patentable.

In Malaysia, several patient and medical groups in 2012 issued a joint statement opposing the US proposals, which they say will reduce access to medicines.

“We categorically oppose US demands for longer and stronger patents on medicines and medical technologies that are essential to save Malaysian lives,” said leaders of six groups.

The groups involved include the National Cancer Society Malay­sia, Breast Cancer Wel-fare Association, Malaysian AIDS Council, Malaysian Treatment Access and Advocacy, Malaysian Thoracic Society and Malaysian Mental Health Association.

They said that cancers require affordable chemotherapy medicines.

HIV second line medicines like Kaletra are required to save lives, and are often out of reach to persons living with HIV.

Many other conditions depend on generic medicines, such as cancer, tuberculosis, malaria and diabetes. They asked that the US proposals be rejected.

But it is not only medicines that are affected. Consumers of information, media and books too will be affected by tighter copyright laws that are likely to result in more expensive use of information materials and the Internet.

Health groups such as the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control point out that measures to control cigarette sales, such as requiring plain packaging, will be threatened as the tobacco companies can sue the governments for affecting their revenues.

Under an investor-state dispute system (ISDS) in the TPPA, foreign investors can sue governments in an international tribunal, on grounds that their future revenues are affected by new policies.

Many cases against governments for their health and environmental policies have been already brought by companies under free trade agreements that contain this ISDS, and other bilateral investment treaties.

A tobacco firm has sued Australia and Uruguay for their plain-packaging policy.

A Swedish company made a US$2bil (RM6.5bil) claim against the German government for its policy to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Germany has told the European Commission to exclude the ISDS mechanism in the TTIP, and the Commission has suspended negotiations with the US on ISDS.

In the TPPA, however, the ISDS is still the lynchpin of the whole agreement, as it is a strong enforcement mechanism that hangs over the heads of governments that naturally do not like being sued by companies in an international tribunal for millions or billions of dollars.

Thus, Obama’s assurances that there should be no worries about companies taking action on governments for their consumer and environmental policies ring hollow when many such actions have already been taken under existing US FTAs and other treaties.

Contributed by Global Trends Martin Khor The Star/Asia News Network

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. 

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  2.  TPPA negotiations hot up in early 2014
    3. Winds of change blowing in Asia
    4. Looming danger on contrast and competition of economic models
    5. An eventful week on the TPPA
    6. TPP affecting health policies?
    7. ASEAN plans world's largest trading bloc in Asia, RCEP ...

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Be wary of virtual money! First Bitcoin launched in Malaysia


Bitcoin: the new gold or a giant bubble?

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians have been warned against investing in virtual or Internet money as their savings could be wiped out if the exchange is hacked or runs into financial troubles.

Over the last month, two major Bitcoin exchanges in Japan and Canada have gone offline, filed for bankruptcy or closed down after claiming more than US$500mil (RM1.6bil) in losses due to hacking.

In light of the controversy, Bank Negara has advised the public to be cautious of the risks involved in using digital currency, stressing that Bitcoin is not recognised as legal tender in Malaysia.

“The Central Bank does not regulate the operations of Bitcoin. The value is subject to fluctuations, (hence) the value of the investments may not be preserved,” an official told Sunday Star.

China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Germany, France and Russia, have also issued similar warnings or banned the use of virtual currency. In Singapore, there are plans to regulate virtual currency exchanges and vending machines to address concerns that they could be used for money laundering or to fund terrorism activities.

A check by Sunday Star shows that in Malaysia, there are at least 12 local Bitcoin-related groups on Facebook, including Malaybtc Bitcoin, Bitcoin Malaysia #1 Group, Bitcoin Malaysia Open Group, Bitcoin Malaysia (Trader), Cryptocurrency Malaysia (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, etc) and Malaysia Bitcom Info.

Last week, Bitcoin rolled out its first auto vending machines (AVM) at the Bangsar Shopping Complex in Kuala Lumpur and Gurney Plaza in Penang. Singapore-based Numoni Pte Ltd, which developed and launched the AVMs here, estimated that there were some 2,000 Bitcoin users in Malaysia and was targeting to install 100 Bitcoins AVMs within three years.

Its CEO Norma Sit said that Bitcoins were still in demand despite different countries deliberating its acceptance.

“The AVM lets the public buy small amounts of Bitcoin, which in many countries, is seen as an international voucher that can be used to barter for goods online,” she said.

Bitcoin Malaysia founder Colbert Low said Bitcoin had many unreported successes but was unfairly put in a bad light because of the recent controversy outside of Malaysia.

On March 10, Mt Gox, the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, two weeks after its Tokyo-based exchange reportedly took its entire operation offline and filed for bankruptcy in Japan after claiming to have lost around US$500mil (RM1.6bil) to hacking.

Admitting that there were failures in companies and individuals that provided Bitcoin services, Low stressed that the Mt Gox case was “not Bitcoin” but specific to the exchange.

He described Bitcoin as a “building block for the future” and an innovative decentralised payment system software.

“Currency pricing is just one feature.

“Using it as a speculative tool for investment is up to the individual. Due diligence is needed and you cannot blame Bitcoin for losses suffered,” he said, cautioning that like any new technology, there are risks involved and bugs to fix.

Contributed by Christina Chin The Star/Asian News Netowork

First Bitcoin AVM launched in M’sia


KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore-based payment transaction provider Numoni Pte Ltd has introduced the first Bitcoin auto vending machines (AVM) in Malaysia.

One month after it launched its Bitcoin AVM in Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain in February 2014, Numoni has installed its Bitcoin AVMs in Bangsar Shopping Centre in Kuala Lumpur and at Gurney Plaza in Penang.

Earlier this year, Bank Negara Malaysia issued a statement announcing that the Bitcoin is not recognised as legal tender in Malaysia.

"The Central Bank does not regulate the operations of Bitcoin. The public is therefore advised to be cautious of the risks associated with the usage of such digital currency," it had said.

Called the Numoni Nugen B2-Spirit machine, Numoni had also earlier launched its machines at four prominent locations in Singapore where people can transact.

Numoni CEO Norma Sit said while different countries are deliberating over the acceptance of Bitcoin, Bitcoin remains in demand.

"The Numoni Bitcoin Vending Machines enables the public to participate in buying small amounts of this crypto-currency that is seen in many countries as an international voucher that can be used to barter for goods online. The machines, which are assembled in Malaysia in our Senai factory, was fully developed by Numoni in Singapore since 2012," Sit said in a statement.

Numoni targets to install 10 Bitcoin AVMs nationwide within one year and 100 AVMs within three years.

Bitcoin, a digital crypto currency, had taken centrestage on financial news recently with much focus on issues surrounding Mt Gox, a Bitcoin Exchange based in Tokyo, that was reportedly hacked. Nonetheless, investors and industry players continue to strongly support the virtual currency that is today one of the largest in the world.

Numoni has appointed BTC Future Sdn Bhd for the distribution of Bitcoin AVMs in Peninsula Malaysia.

The Numoni machines can be deployed to sell prepaid airtime and other voucher products on connection with telco gateways. Numoni will work with other industry partners in Malaysia to enable the sale of prepaid airtime on the Nugen machines with an intended roll-out in 2014.

The Numoni Bitcoin AVM reads the user's Bitcoin QR Code, and completes the request to purchase with the insertion of fiat money. The Numoni Bitcoin AVMs can be linked to multiple Bitcoin Exchanges enabling the machines to present the best available price at the time of the requested transaction to Bitcoin customers.

Customers can buy and sell Bitcoins at Numoni Bitcoin AVMs. The machine enables users to sell their Bitcoins through a simple cash-out process working with retail merchants' cash-out-points. Numoni has selected not to implement the cash-out mechanism in Singapore or Malaysia.

"From inception, Numoni understood that virtual currencies and mobile wallets will have tremendous impact on daily lives, in light of the incredible global penetration of mobile phones that today reaches all communities," said Sit.

Sit added that it was a matter of time before virtual currencies are adopted to make life easier for billions who remain underserved by banks and financial institutions.

- Sunbiz@thesundaily.com

Related:

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Bitcoin creator mystery, who is the Face Behind the Bitcoin?

Bitcoin creator mystery, who is the Face Behind the Bitcoin?

This story has been appended to include a statement from Dorian Nakamoto received on March 19th when Newsweek was first contacted directly by Mr. Nakamoto's attorney, denying his role in Bitcoin. 
 
Satoshi Nakamoto stands at the end of his sunbaked driveway looking timorous. And annoyed.

He's wearing a rumpled T-shirt, old blue jeans and white gym socks, without shoes, like he has left the house in a hurry. His hair is unkempt, and he has the thousand-mile stare of someone who has gone weeks without sleep.

He stands not with defiance, but with the slackness of a person who has waged battle for a long time and now faces a grave loss.

Two police officers from the Temple City, Calif., sheriff's department flank him, looking puzzled. "So, what is it you want to ask this man about?" one of them asks me. "He thinks if he talks to you he's going to get into trouble."

"I don't think he's in any trouble," I say. "I would like to ask him about Bitcoin. This man is Satoshi Nakamoto."

"What?" The police officer balks. "This is the guy who created Bitcoin? It looks like he's living a pretty humble life."

I'd come here to try to find out more about Nakamoto and his humble life. It seemed ludicrous that the man credited with inventing Bitcoin - the world's most wildly successful digital currency, with transactions of nearly $500 million a day at its peak - would retreat to Los Angeles's San Gabriel foothills, hole up in the family home and leave his estimated $400 million of Bitcoin riches untouched. It seemed similarly implausible that Nakamoto's first response to my knocking at his door would be to call the cops. Now face to face, with two police officers as witnesses, Nakamoto's responses to my questions about Bitcoin were careful but revealing.

Tacitly acknowledging his role in the Bitcoin project, he looks down, staring at the pavement and categorically refuses to answer questions.

"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

Nakamoto refused to say any more, and the police made it clear our conversation was over.

But a two-month investigation and interviews with those closest to Nakamoto and the developers who worked most frequently with him on the out-of-nowhere global phenomenon that is Bitcoin reveal the myths surrounding the world's most famous crypto-currency are largely just that - myths - and the facts are much stranger than the well-established fiction.

Video: Leah McGrath Goodman discusses her article

Watch Video:  http://nyti.ms/1hTvj8r

Far from leading to a Tokyo-based whiz kid using the name "Satoshi Nakamoto" as a cipher or pseudonym (a story repeated by everyone from Bitcoin's rabid fans to The New Yorker), the trail followed by Newsweek led to a 64-year-old Japanese-American man whose name really is Satoshi Nakamoto. He is someone with a penchant for collecting model trains and a career shrouded in secrecy, having done classified work for major corporations and the U.S. military.

Standing before me, eyes downcast, appeared to be the father of Bitcoin.

Not even his family knew.

Satoshi Nakamoto in Lancaster, Calif. Credit: Photo via Photobucket.com via Satoshi Nakamoto (Wagumabher) Satoshi Nakamoto in Lancaster, Calif. Credit: Photo via Photobucket.com via Satoshi Nakamoto (Wagumabher) 
 
There are several Satoshi Nakamotos living in North America and beyond - both dead and alive - including a Ralph Lauren menswear designer in New York and another who died in Honolulu in 2008, according to the Social Security Index's Death Master File. There's even one on LinkedIn who claims to have started Bitcoin and is based in Japan. But none of these profiles seem to fit other known details and few of the leads proved credible. Of course, there is also the chance "Satoshi Nakamoto" is a pseudonym, but that raises the question why someone who wishes to remain anonymous would choose such a distinctive name. It was only while scouring a database that contained the registration cards of naturalized U.S. citizens that a Satoshi Nakamoto turned up whose profile and background offered a potential match. But it was not until after ordering his records from the National Archives and conducting many more interviews that a cohesive picture began to take shape.

Two weeks before our meeting in Temple City, I struck up an email correspondence with Satoshi Nakamoto, mostly discussing his interest in upgrading and modifying model steam trains with computer-aided design technologies. I obtained Nakamoto's email through a company he buys model trains from.

He has been buying train parts from Japan and England since he was a teenager, saying, "I do machining myself, manual lathe, mill, surface grinders."

The process also requires a good amount of math, something at which Nakamoto - and his entire family - excels. The eldest of three brothers who all work in engineering and technical fields, Nakamoto graduated from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif., with a degree in physics. But unlike his brothers, his circuitous career path is very hard to trace.

Nakamoto ceased responding to emails I'd sent him immediately after I began asking about Bitcoin. This was in late February. Before that, I'd also asked about his professional background, for which there is very little to be found in the public record. I only received evasive answers. When he asked about my background, I told him I'd be happy to elaborate over the phone and called him to introduce myself. When there was no response, I asked his oldest son, Eric Nakamoto, 31, to reach out and see whether his father would talk about Bitcoin. The message came back he would not. Attempts through other family members also failed.

After that, Nakamoto disregarded my requests to speak by phone and did not return calls. The day I arrived at his modest, single-family home in southern California, his silver Toyota Corolla CE was parked in the driveway but he didn't answer the door.

At one point he did peer out, cracking open the door screen and making eye contact briefly. Then he shut it. That was the only time I saw him without police officers in attendance.

"You want to know about my amazing physicist brother?" says Arthur Nakamoto, Satoshi Nakamoto's youngest sibling, who works as director of quality assurance at Wavestream Corp., a maker of radio frequency amplifiers in San Dimas, Calif.

"He's a brilliant man. I'm just a humble engineer. He's very focused and eclectic in his way of thinking. Smart, intelligent, mathematics, engineering, computers. You name it, he can do it."

But he also had a warning.

"My brother is an asshole. What you don't know about him is that he's worked on classified stuff. His life was a complete blank for a while. You're not going to be able to get to him. He'll deny everything. He'll never admit to starting Bitcoin."

And with that, Nakamoto's brother hung up.

His remarks suggested I was on the right track, but that was not enough. While his brother suggested Nakamoto would be capable of starting Bitcoin, I was not at all sure whether he knew for certain one way or the other. He said they didn't get along and didn't speak often.

I plainly needed to talk to Satoshi Nakamoto face to face.

Bitcoin is a currency that lives in the world of computer code and can be sent anywhere in the world without racking up bank or exchange fees, and is then stored on a cellphone or hard drive until used again. Because the currency resides in code, it can also be lost when a hard drive crashes, or stolen if someone else accesses the keys to the code.

"The whole reason geeks get excited about Bitcoin is that it is the most efficient way to do financial transactions," says Bitcoin's chief scientist, Gavin Andresen, 47. He acknowledges that Bitcoin's ease of use can also lead to easy theft and that it is safest when stored in a safe-deposit box or on a hard drive that's not connected to the Internet. "For anyone who's tried to wire money overseas, you can see how much easier an international Bitcoin transaction is. It's just as easy as sending an email."

Even so, Bitcoin is vulnerable to massive theft, fraud and scandal, which has seen the price of Bitcoins whipsaw from more than $1,200 each last year to as little as $130 in late February.

The currency has attracted the attention of the U.S. Senate, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Reserve, the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which in October shuttered the online black market Silk Road and seized its $3.5 million cache of Bitcoin. "The FBI is now one of the largest holders of Bitcoin in the world," Andresen says.

In recent weeks, a revived version of Silk Road as well as one of Bitcoin's biggest exchanges, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, shut down and filed for bankruptcy after attacks by hackers drained each of millions of dollars.

Andresen, a Silicon Valley refugee in Amherst, Mass., says he worked closely with the person "or entity" known as Satoshi Nakamoto on the development of Bitcoin from June 2010 to April 2011. This was before the rise of today's multibillion-dollar Bitcoin economy, boosted last year by the unexpected, if cautious, endorsement of outgoing Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, who said virtual currencies "may hold long-term promise."

Since then, Bitcoin ATMs have been cropping up across North America (with some of the first in Vancouver, British Columbia; Boston; and Albuquerque, N.M.) while the acceptance of Bitcoin has spread to businesses as diverse as Tesla, OkCupid, Reddit, Overstock.com and Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's aviation company, which has said it will blast people into space if they cough up enough Bitcoin.

"Working on Bitcoin's core code is really scary, actually, because if you wreck something, you can break this huge $8 billion project," says Andresen. "And that's happened. We have broken it in the past."

For nearly a year, Andresen corresponded with the founder of Bitcoin a few times a week, often putting in 40-hour weeks refining the Bitcoin code. Throughout their correspondence, Nakamoto's evasiveness was his hallmark, Andresen says.

In fact, he never even heard Nakamoto's voice, because the founder of Bitcoin would not communicate by phone. Their interactions, he says, always took place by "email or private message on the Bitcointalk forum," where enthusiasts meet online.

"He was the kind of person who, if you made an honest mistake, he might call you an idiot and never speak to you again," Andresen says. "Back then, it was not clear that creating Bitcoin might be a legal thing to do. He went to great lengths to protect his anonymity."

Nakamoto also ignored all of Andresen's questions about where he was from, his professional background, what other projects he'd worked on and whether his name was real or a pseudonym (many of Bitcoin's devotees use pseudonyms). "He was never chatty," Andresen says. "All we talked about was code."

Andresen, an Australian who graduated from Princeton with a Bachelor's in computer science, eventually became Nakamoto's point person on a growing team of international coders and programmers who worked on a volunteer basis to perfect the Bitcoin code after its inauspicious launch in January 2009.

Andresen originally heard about Bitcoin the following year through a blog he followed. He reached out to Nakamoto through one of the Bitcoin founder's untraceable email addresses and offered his assistance. His initial message to Bitcoin's inventor read: "Bitcoin is a brilliant idea, and I want to help. What do you need?"

Andresen says he didn't give much thought to working for an anonymous inventor. "I am a geek," he says simply. "I don't care if the idea came from a good person or an evil person. Ideas stand on their own."

Other developers were driven by "enlightened self-interest," profit or personal politics, he says. But nearly all were intrigued by the promise of a digital currency accessible to anyone in the world that could bypass central banks at a time when the global financial system was on life support. In this respect, the launch of Bitcoin could not have been better timed.

In 2008, just before Bitcoin's official kickoff, a somewhat stiffly written, nine-page proposal found its way onto the Internet bearing the name and email address of Satoshi Nakamoto.

The paper proposed "electronic cash" that "would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution," with transactions time-stamped and viewable to all.

The masterstroke was replacing the role of banks as the trusted middlemen with Bitcoin users, who would act as sentinels for the integrity of the system, verifying transactions using their computing power in exchange for Bitcoin.

Bitcoin production is designed to move at a carefully calibrated pace to boost value and scarcity and remain inflation proof, halving its quantity every four years, and is designed to stop proliferating when Bitcoins reach a total of 21 million in 2140. (Bitcoins can be divided by up to eight decimal places, with the smallest units called "satoshis.")

"I got the impression that Satoshi was really doing it for political reasons," says Andresen, who gets paid in Bitcoins - along with a half-dozen other Bitcoin core developers working everywhere from Silicon Valley to Switzerland - by the Bitcoin Foundation, a nonprofit working to standardize the currency.

He doesn't like the system we have today and wanted a different one that would be more equal. He did not like the notion of banks and bankers getting wealthy just because they hold the keys," says Andresen.

Holding the keys has also made early comers to Bitcoin wealthy beyond measure. "I made a small investment in Bitcoin and it is actually enough that I could now retire if I wanted to," Andresen says. "Overall, I've made about $800 per penny I've invested. It's insane."

One of the first people to start working with Bitcoin's founder in 2009 was Martti Malmi, 25, a Helsinki programmer who invested in Bitcoins. "I sold them in 2011 and bought a nice apartment," he says. "Today, I could have bought 100 nice apartments."

Communication with Bitcoin's founder was becoming less frequent by early 2011. Nakamoto stopped posting changes to the Bitcoin code and ignored conversations on the Bitcoin forum.

Andresen was unprepared, however, for Satoshi Nakamoto's reaction to an email exchange between them on April 26, 2011.

"I wish you wouldn't keep talking about me as a mysterious shadowy figure," Nakamoto wrote to Andresen. "The press just turns that into a pirate currency angle. Maybe instead make it about the open source project and give more credit to your dev contributors; it helps motivate them."

Andresen responded: "Yeah, I'm not happy with the 'wacky pirate money' tone, either."

Then he told Nakamoto he'd accepted an invitation to speak at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters. "I hope that by talking directly to them and, more importantly, listening to their questions/concerns, they will think of Bitcoin the way I do - as a just-plain-better, more efficient, less-subject-to-political-whims money," he said. "Not as an all-powerful black-market tool that will be used by anarchists to overthrow the System."

From that moment, Satoshi Nakamoto stopped responding to emails and dropped off the map.

Nakamoto's house Nakamoto's house

Nakamoto's family describe him as extremely intelligent, moody and obsessively private, a man of few words who screens his phone calls, anonymizes his emails and, for most of his life, has been preoccupied with the two things for which Bitcoin has now become known: money and secrecy.

For the past 40 years, Satoshi Nakamoto has not used his birth name in his daily life. At the age of 23, after graduating from California State Polytechnic University, he changed his name to "Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto," according to records filed with the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles in 1973. Since then, he has not used the name Satoshi but instead signs his name "Dorian S. Nakamoto."

Descended from Samurai and the son of a Buddhist priest, Nakamoto was born in July 1949 in the city of Beppu, Japan, where he was brought up poor in the Buddhist tradition by his mother, Akiko. In 1959, after a divorce and remarriage, she immigrated to California, taking her three sons with her. Now age 93, she lives with Nakamoto in Temple City.

Nakamoto did not get along with his stepfather, but his aptitude for math and science was evident from an early age, says Arthur, who also notes, "He is fickle and has very weird hobbies."

Just after graduating college, Nakamoto went to work on defense and electronics communications for Hughes Aircraft in southern California. "That was just the beginning," says Arthur, who also worked at Hughes. "He is the only person I have ever known to show up for a job interview and tell the interviewer he's an idiot - and then prove it."

Nakamoto has six children. The first, a son from his first marriage in the 1980's, is Eric Nakamoto, an animation and 3-D graphics designer in Philadelphia. His next five children were with his second wife, Grace Mitchell, 56, who lives in Audubon, N.J., and says she met Nakamoto at a Unitarian church mixer in Cherry Hill, N.J., in the mid-1980s. She recalls he came to the East Coast after leaving Hughes Aircraft, now part of Raytheon, in his 20s and next worked for Radio Corporation of America in Camden, N.J., as a systems engineer.

"We were doing defensive electronics and communications for the military, government aircraft and warships, but it was classified and I can't really talk about it," confirms David Micha, president of the company now called L-3 Communications.

Mitchell says her husband "did not talk much about his work" and sometimes took on military projects independent of RCA. In 1987, the couple moved back to California, where Nakamoto worked as a computer engineer for communications and technologies companies in the Los Angeles area, including financial information service Quotron Systems Inc., sold in 1994 to Reuters, and Nortel Networks.

Nakamoto, who was laid off twice in the 1990s, according to Mitchell, fell behind on mortgage payments and taxes and their home was foreclosed. That experience, says Nakamoto's oldest daughter, Ilene Mitchell, 26, may have informed her father's attitude toward banks and the government.

A libertarian, Nakamoto encouraged his daughter to be independent, start her own business and "not be under the government's thumb," she says. "He was very wary of the government, taxes and people in charge."

She also describes her father as a man who worked all hours, from before the family rose in the morning to late into the night. "He would keep his office locked and we would get into trouble if we touched his computer," she recalls. "He was always expounding on politics and current events. He loved new and old technology. He built his own computers and was very proud of them."

Around 2000, Nakamoto and Grace separated, though they have never divorced. They moved back to New Jersey with their five children and Nakamoto worked as a software engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration in New Jersey in the wake of the September 11 attacks, doing security and communications work, says Mitchell.

"It was very secret," she says. "He left that job sometime in 2001 and I don't think he's had a steady job since."

When the FAA contract ended, Nakamoto moved back to Temple City, where for the rest of that decade things get hazy about what kind of work he undertook.

Ever since Bitcoin rose to prominence there has been a hunt for the real Satoshi Nakamoto. Did he act alone or was he working for the government? Bitcoin has been linked to everything from the National Security Agency to the International Monetary Fund.

Yet, in a world where almost every big Silicon Valley innovation seems to erupt in lawsuits over who thought of it first, in the case of Bitcoin the founder has remained conspicuously silent for the past five years.

"I could see my dad doing something brilliant and not accepting the greater effect of it," says Ilene Mitchell, who works for Partnerships for Student Achievement in Beaverton, Ore. "But I honestly don't see him being straight about it. Any normal person would be all over it. But he's not totally a normal person."

Nakamoto's middle brother, Tokuo Nakamoto, who lives near his brother and mother, in Duarte, Calif., agrees. "He is very meticulous in what he does, but he is very afraid to take himself out into the media, so you will have to excuse him," he says.

Characteristics of Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin founder, that dovetail with Dorian S. Nakamoto, the computer engineer, are numerous. Those working most closely with Bitcoin's founder noticed several things: he seemed to be older than the other Bitcoin developers. And he worked alone.

"He didn't seem like a young person and he seemed to be influenced by a lot of people in Silicon Valley," says Nakamoto's Finnish protégé, Martti Malmi. Andresen concurs: "Satoshi's style of writing code was old-school. He used things like reverse Polish notation."

In addition, the code was not always terribly neat, another sign that Nakamoto was not working with a team that would have cleaned up the code and streamlined it.

"Everyone who looked at his code has pretty much concluded it was a single person," says Andresen. "We have rewritten roughly 70 percent of the code since inception. It wasn't written with nice interfaces. It was like one big hairball. It was incredibly tight and well-written at the lower level but where functions came together it could be pretty messy."

Satoshi Nakamoto's 2008 online proposal also hints at his age, with the odd reference to "disk space" - something that hasn't been an issue since the last millennium - and older research citations of contemporaries' work going back to 1957.

The Bitcoin code is based on a network protocol that's been established for decades. Its brilliance is not so much in the code itself, says Andresen, but in the design, which unites functions to reach multiple ends. The punctuation in the proposal is also consistent with how Dorian S. Nakamoto writes, with double spaces after periods and other format quirks.

In the debate between those who claim Nakamoto writes curiously "flawless English" for a Japanese man and those who contend otherwise, writing under both names can swerve wildly between uppercase and lowercase, full spellings and abbreviations, proper English and slang.

In his correspondences and writings, it has widely been noted that Satoshi Nakamoto alternates between British and American spellings - and, depending on his audience, veers between highly abbreviated verbiage and a more formal, polished style. Grace Mitchell says her husband does the same.

Dorian S. Nakamoto's use of English, she says, was likely influenced by his lifelong interest in collecting model trains, many of which he imported from England as a teenager while he was still learning English.

Mitchell suspects Nakamoto's initial interest in creating a digital currency that could be used anywhere in the world may have stemmed from his frustration with bank fees and high exchange rates when he was sending international wires to England to buy model trains. "He would always complain about that," she says. "I would not say he writes flawless English. He will pick up words and mix the spellings."

Eric, Nakamoto's oldest son from his first marriage, says he remains torn over whether his father is the founder of Bitcoin, noting that messages from the latter appear more "concise" and "refined than that of my father's."

Perhaps the most compelling parallel between the two Nakamotos are their professional skill sets and career timeframes. Andresen says Satoshi Nakamoto told him about how long it took him to develop Bitcoin - a span that falls squarely into Dorian S. Nakamoto's job lapse starting in 2001. "Satoshi said he'd been working on Bitcoin for years before he launched it," Andresen says. "I could see the original code taking at least two years to write. He had a revelation that he had solved something no one had solved before."

Satoshi Nakamoto's three-year silence also dovetails with health issues suffered by Dorian S. Nakamoto in the past few years, his family says. "It has been hard, because he suffered a stroke several months ago and before that he was dealing with prostate cancer," says his wife, who works as a critical-care nurse in New Jersey. "He hasn't seen his kids for the past few years."

She has been unable to get Nakamoto to speak with her about whether he was the founder of Bitcoin. Eric Nakamoto says his father has denied it. Tokuo and Arthur Nakamoto believe their brother will leave the truth unconfirmed.

"Dorian can just be paranoid," says Tokuo. "I cannot get through to him. I don't think he will answer any of these questions to his family truthfully."

Of course, none of this puts to rest the biggest question of all - the one that only Satoshi Nakamoto himself can answer: What has kept him from spending his hundreds of millions of dollars of Bitcoin, which he reaped when he launched the currency years ago? According to his family both he - and they - could really use the money.

Andresen says if Nakamoto is as concerned about maintaining his anonymity as he remembers the answer might be simple: He does not want to participate in the Bitcoin madness. "If you come out as the leader of Bitcoin, now you have to make appearances and presentations and comments to the press and that didn't really fit with Satoshi's personality," he says. "He didn't really want to lead it anymore. He was pretty intolerant to incompetence. And he also realized the project would go on without him."

On the other hand, it is possible Nakamoto simply lost the private security keys to unlock his Bitcoin and cash in on his riches. Andresen, however, says he doubts it. "He was too disciplined," he says.

If Nakamoto ever sells his Bitcoin fortune, he would likely have to do so at a legitimate Bitcoin bank or exchange, which would not only give away his identity but alert everyone from the IRS to the FBI of his movements. While Bitcoin lets its users conduct transactions anonymously, all transactions can be viewed transparently online - and everyone is watching Nakamoto's Bitcoin to see if he spends it, says Andresen.

For his part, Andresen says he is inclined to respect Nakamoto's anonymity. "When programmers get together, we don't talk about who Satoshi Nakamoto is," he says. "We talk about how we should have invested in more Bitcoin. I mean, we're curious about it, but honestly, we really don't care."

Calling the possibility her father could also be the father of Bitcoin "flabbergasting," Ilene Mitchell says she isn't surprised her father would choose to stay under cover if he was the man behind this venture, especially as he is currently concerned about his health.

"He is very wary of government interference in general," she says. "When I was little, there was a game we used to play. He would say, 'Pretend the government agencies are coming after you.' And I would hide in the closet."

Forensic analysts Sharon Sergeant and Barbara Mathews contributed to research for this piece.

Contributed by  Leah McGrath Goodman Newsweek Mar 6, 2014

Newsweek issued a statement about this article on March 7, 2014

*** Dorian Nakamoto's Statement Recieved on March 19, 2014:

My name is Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. I am the subject of the Newsweekstory on Bitcoin. I am writing this statement to clear my name.

I did not create, invent or otherwise work on Bitcoin. I unconditionally deny the Newsweek report.
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto 
Images for Bitcoin Nakamoto’s images AP

The first time I heard the term "bitcoin" was from my son in mid-February 2014. After being contacted by a reporter, my son called me and used the word,which I had never before heard. Shortly thereafter, the reporter confronted me at my home. I called the police. I never consented to speak with the reporter. In an ensuing discussion with a reporter from the Associated Press, I called the technology "bitcom." 

I was still unfamiliar with the term.My background is in engineering. I also have the ability to program. My most recent job was as an electrical engineer troubleshooting air traffic controlequipment for the FAA. I have no knowledge of nor have I ever worked on cryptography, peer to peer systems, or alternative currencies.

I have not been able to find steady work as an engineer or programmer for ten years. I have worked as a laborer, polltaker, and substitute teacher. I discontinued my internet service in 2013 due to severe financial distress. I am trying to recover from prostate surgery in October 2012 and a stroke I suffered in October of 2013. My prospects for gainful employment has been harmed because of Newsweek's article.

Newsweek's false report has been the source of a great deal of confusion and stress for myself, my 93-year old mother, my siblings, and their families. I offer my sincerest thanks to those people in the United States and around the world who have offered me their support. I have retained legal counsel. This will be our last public statement on this matter. I ask that you now respect our privacy.

Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto
Temple City, California
March 17, 2014 

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Chinese families stage mass walkout, demanded China's inquiry into mysterious Flight MH370

Lone voice: The Malaysian delegation listening to the Chinese committee member talk in the hotel ballroom in Beijing. - AFP

BEIJING: Family members of Chinese passengers on board MH370 staged a mass walkout during a briefing by a high-level Malaysian delegation here.

A member of the committee that represents the relatives had asked them to leave the Lido Hotel ballroom as a show of discontent.

The families are convinced that the Malaysian authorities were hiding facts concerning the airliner, which had gone missing with 239 passengers and crew members.

Delegation members had just finished answering questions posed to them by the families a day earlier when the committee member stood up and addressed the crowd.

“Have you heard any updates related to our loved ones from the delegation?” he asked. “Have you heard any answers from the delegation in response to our key queries?”

The crowd shouted “No” in unison.

The man then asked the family members to leave the ballroom and to go “discuss the next course of action” with the committee in another room.

He stressed that the families should do so voluntarily.

After all the relatives had left, the man posed several questions to the delegation and then concluded with: “You have seen from the incident today that the Chinese people and the next-of-kin are united.

“What you are hiding now will ultimately see the light of the day. There will certainly be people who will receive due punishment.”

Despite the awkwardness of the situation, members of the delegation remained seated at the front of the ballroom.

They were Malaysian ambassador to China Datuk Iskandar Sarudin, Royal Malaysian Air Force air operations commander Lt-Jen Datuk Seri Ackbal Abdul Samad, Department of Civil Aviation air traffic services director Ahmad Nizar Zolfakar and representatives from Malaysia Airlines.

Lt-Jen Ackbal then spoke to the man.

“We would like to ask you how we can move forward from here. We have been trying our best to keep you updated and we have nothing to hide.

“We are telling you what we can tell. There are a few ongoing inquiries and we can only reveal information that will not jeopardise the investigations,” he said.

The representative retorted: “I do not want to hear you saying that you need to go back and check when we ask you simple questions.

“You no longer have to protect the safety of hostages. Which one do you put first, national interest or (the) search and rescue mission?”

After that, the man asked the delegation and news media to leave the ballroom because the families wanted the place for a closed-door meeting.

As the family members started streaming back in, the delegation and newsmen stood up and left.

Yesterday’s meeting was the sixth between the delegation and the families; one session lasted seven hours without a break.

Sources: The Star/Asia News Network

Chinese MH370 relatives demand Beijing probe 
- The Economic Times:
 
The document, sent to Beijing's special envoy in Kuala Lumpur, denounced Malaysia's handling of the search and asked the Chinese government to set up its own "investigation office".

Read more at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/32831901.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

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China stresses importance of international cooperation on MH370 search

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The document, sent to Beijing's special envoy in Kuala Lumpur, denounced Malaysia's handling of the search and asked the Chinese government to set up its own "investigation office".

News of the letter comes as a committee set up by relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers has begun discussions with lawyers  ..

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/32831901.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppstThe document, sent to Beijing's special envoy in Kuala Lumpur, denounced Malaysia's handling of the search and asked the Chinese government to set up its own "investigation office".

BEIJING: Relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have demanded China mount its own inquiry into the disappearance, a letter shows.

The document, sent to Beijing's special envoy in Kuala Lumpur, denounced Malaysia's handling of the search and asked the Chinese government to set up its own "investigation office".

News of the letter comes as a committee set up by relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers has begun discussions with lawyers .. Read more at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/32831901.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Friday, 28 March 2014

Black box scanners arrive Australia as search for MH370 pins hope on new satellite images



Underwater scanners that will be used to try to locate the black box flight recorders from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have arrived at the search headquarters in Australia, as crews pin their hopes on new satellite images showing 300 pieces of possible debris in the southern Indian Ocean.

The new information came as strong winds and icy weather forced planes and ships to call off their search on Thursday of an area where officials believe the plane came down almost three weeks ago.

Australian maritime officials said several planes had reached the search zone, located about 1,550 miles (2,500 km) south-west of Perth, but had returned early without finding any of the floating debris.

Sam Cardwell, a spokesman for the Australian maritime safety authority, said the planes had stayed in the area for about two hours. "They got a bit of time in, but it was not useful because there was no visibility," he said.

The bad weather is expected to last well into Friday, raising the possibility that the hunt for hundreds of pieces of debris that could be from MH370 will not resume until the weekend.

The arrival of sensitive tracking equipment offers a glimmer of hope for a breakthrough in what has become the biggest mystery in commercial aviation history.

An Australian naval vessel ship will sweep the seabed by towing an underwater listening device deep below the surface in the hope of picking up an ultrasonic signal from one or both of the plane's black box recorders, while a small submersible drone will be used to scan the sea floor for signs of wreckage.

Thursday's search involved 11 planes and five ships in an area of the vast southern Indian Ocean where officials believe the plane ran out of fuel and crashed, killing all 239 people aboard.

They were trying to locate 122 objects captured in French satellite images on 23 March that senior Malaysian officials described as the most credible lead yet as to the jetliner's whereabouts.

Later on Thursday, Thailand said it had satellite images showing 300 floating objects floating in roughly the same area. The objects, ranging in length from two to 15 metres, were found about 125 miles from the site where the French satellite had earlier spotted more than 100 pieces of debris.

Anond Snidvongs, executive director of Thailand's space technology development agency, said the information had been passed on to Malaysia. "But we cannot – dare not – confirm they are debris from the plane," he told AFP.

Officials from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Thursday's search had been split into two areas totalling 78,000 sq km (30,000 square miles). The operation involves planes and ships from the US, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Locating and retrieving at least some of the floating objects could prove crucial in the absence of any physical evidence supporting the theory that MH370 ran out of fuel hours after it turned sharply off course and disappeared from air traffic controllers' screens over the South China Sea en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Search teams are hoping that the detection equipment will be able to pick up acoustic pings emitted every second from the plane's black box flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

Each of the two recorders has a beacon, attached to the outside of the black box, which once activated by contact with water makes a sound every second.

But it is a race against time: the beacons have a battery life of 30 days, after which the pings begin to fade. Chuck Schofield of Dukane Seacom, a company that has sold the pingers to Malaysia Airlines, told Associated Press that the batteries might last an additional five days before dying.

Assuming that the plane crashed on 8 March, as Malaysian officials insist, that means the beacons aboard MH370 will begin to fade around 7 April and could go silent around 12 April.

The US navy tracking equipment – a special listening device known as a "towed pinger locator" and an underwater drone dubbed Bluefin-21 – has arrived in Perth, where the international effort is based and is being sent to the search site.

Reports said the equipment would be loaded on to the Australian navy's HMAS Ocean Shield, which will drag the locator through the water in the hope of picking up a signal.

The drone can dive to depths of about 4,500 metres, using sonar to form images of the ocean floor. Similar technology was used to locate the main wreckage from Air France flight 447 in 2011 – yet it still took searchers two years to recover the black box from the depths of the Atlantic.

The operation has been hampered by bad weather and conditions, prolonging the anguish of relatives after Malaysian officials said they had concluded that the aircraft had crashed into the sea with the loss of all on board.

Experts said search crews faced significant dangers due to frequent bad weather and the area's distance from land. "This is a really rough piece of ocean, which is going to be a terrific issue," Kerry Sieh, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, told Associated Press. "I worry that people carrying out the rescue mission are going to get into trouble."

Criticism of the Malaysian authorities' handling of the incident has continued, with relatives of the 154 Chinese passengers on board MH370 ridiculing Malaysian government and airline officials at a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines ran a full-page message of condolence in the New Straits Times. "Our sincerest condolences go out to the loved ones of the 239 passengers, friends and colleagues. Words alone cannot express our enormous sorrow and pain," it said.

Chinese insurance companies have started paying compensation to the families of passengers, according to Xinhua.
Several Chinese celebrities took to social media to voice anger at the Malaysian government. In a widely shared post on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, the singer and actor Chen Kun said he would boycott Malaysian goods, while the Hong Kong-born actor Deric Wan called for evidence that the plane had crashed.

"What Chinese people wanted was the truth of the missing plane instead of a pointless press conference," he said on Weibo, according to China Daily.

But in an opinion piece in Thursday's Global Times, Wang Wenwen said that while Malaysia had handled the crash aftermath ineptly, raw emotion should not be allowed to determine relations between the Chinese and Malaysian governments. "It is too early to let public opinion lead the way at the current stage. Whether Beijing-Kuala Lumpur relations will dim depends to some extent on how the [Chinese] government will act between diplomatic manoeuvering and public opinion."

The New Zealand family of Paul Weeks, one of the passengers, added their voice to criticism of the Malaysian authorities. "The whole situation has been handled appallingly, incredibly insensitively," Sara Weeks, the missing man's sister, told Radio Live in New Zealand.

"Everyone is angry about it. "The Malaysian government, the airline – it's just all been incredibly poor. Who's to say they couldn't have located the plane the day that it happened?" - The Guardian


Don't let extreme feelings preempt MH370 findings

 
A ground crew member directs a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion upon its returns to RAAF base Pearce from searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Monday was a dramatic day for the Chinese relatives of those aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared over two weeks ago.

After the Malaysian side announced that the airliner had "ended in the southern Indian Ocean" and none of the passengers survived, relatives of the 154 Chinese citizens on board became furious. They released a statement accusing the Malaysian government of being "murderers" and protested outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing the next day.

These families have the support of the Chinese people, notably with doubts over the information released by the Malaysian side and criticism against the Malaysian government on China's social media.

When Victor Wong, a Chinese-Malaysian singer well known among the Chinese public, expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims on his Sina Weibo account, a flurry of comments followed, blaming him for being hypocritical and calling for a boycott of his performances in China.

Many also urged the Chinese government to take a tough stance toward Malaysia, which is thought by many to have mishandled the search for the missing plane.

This mysterious accident is being followed by the world, as are China's reactions. In the eyes of some Western observers, China is "doing its best to foster a sense of aggrievement" and "exploiting international incidents for domestic gain."

Indeed, Malaysia should take most of the blame as it dragged this painful accident on for too long. Its approach in handling the aftermath of the tragedy raised doubts from international watchers. The grievances of the Chinese people didn't come from nowhere.

There have already been analyses in the foreign media speculating on a strained relationship between China and Malaysia, despite the fact that Malaysia was the first ASEAN country to establish diplomatic ties with China in 1974 and that Malaysia is China's largest trading partner among ASEAN countries.

China's tourist agencies have reported a sharp decline in the number of Chinese travelers choosing to visit Malaysia.

The past few years have seen the Chinese government facing increasing pressure from the public in making diplomatic decisions. There is a worrying sign that the public mood might be fanned by some opinion leaders at the price of ruining good people-to-people relationship between the two countries.

It is too early to let public opinion lead the way at the current stage. Whether Beijing-Kuala Lumpur relations will dim depends to some extent on how the government will act between diplomatic maneuvering and public opinion.  - Global Times

Read more in Special Coverage:


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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Families filing lawsuits over MH370 while new 122 objects identified by a French satellite

A model of a Boeing 777 aircraft is displayed as representatives of US law firm Ribbeck Law Chartered International hold a media briefing at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on March 26, 2014. Family members of the victims of the ill-fated Flight MH370 are filing a RM4.95 billion (S$1.9 billion) suit for compensation, against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines. -- PHOTO: AFP 

KUALA LUMPUR - Family members of the victims of the ill-fated Flight MH370 are filing a RM4.95 billion (S$1.9 billion) suit for compensation, against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines.

Chicago-based firm Ribbeck Law Chartered, who is acting on behalf of the family members, has started proceedings by filing a petition of discovery in an Illinois court.

Ms Monica Kelly, the lead lawyer from Ribbeck Law, said the firm which specialises in aviation law had been approached by family members from China and Indonesia.

Of the 239 people on board MH370, there were 153 China nationals and seven Indonesians.

Ms Kelly said they had spoken to family members in many countries and expected about half of those affected to take part in the suit.

She said the fact that neither the wreckage of MH370 nor the bodies of the pasengers have been found would not affect the case, as they would be inspecting the rest of the MAS fleet for similar design flaws.

"We've had successful cases where the plane, the victims or even the blackbox were not found," said Ms Kelly, during a briefing with the press in Kuala Lumpur.

"We have done many cases where wreckage was completely destroyed, or no bodies found, or wreckage found but no black boxes working. We are not relying on these things to start the legal process," said Kelly, during a briefing to the press here.

She said such suits can take anywhere between four months to five years, but expects this case to take between one-and-a-half to two years.

The firm would focus its suit against Boeing, as they believe it was a case of equipment malfunction but could expand the defendants to include other component manufacturers or even those who trained the crew. 

A Malaysia Airlines spokesman said the airline is aware of the lawsuit.

"Our lawyers have been advised of this development.

" At this point in time, our top priority remains to provide any and all assistance to the families of the passengers and crew.

"Other matters will be dealt with appropriately," the spokesman said in a statement.

Mr Manuel Von Ribbeck of Ribbeck Law said they are 100 per cent confident of winning the suit, as according to the law, passengers are never at fault.

Mr Ribbeck said the coverage for compensation is about RM4.95 billion, and the firm would demand the full amount be paid.

For the purpose of the lawsuit, the firm assumes that the passengers are dead, based on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's announcement.

"We hope that miracles can happen, but based on the data we've seen so far, it does not look good for the flight and her passengers," said Mr Ribbeck.

Boeing, the manufacturers of the 777-200 aircraft, has been on the receiving end of a number of lawsuits in the past.

The most recent lawsuit was in January this year by a group of passengers, represented by Mr Ribbeck Law, who were aboard an Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed in San Francisco on July 6 last year.

Three people were killed and more than 180 others hurt.

France's Satellite imagery shows 122 'potential objects'
This handout picture received from the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) on March 27, 2014 shows imagery taken on March 23 by a French satellite showing more than 100 floating objects (within higlighted boxes) in the remote southern Indian Ocean.
This handout picture received from the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) on March 27, 2014 shows imagery taken on March 23 by a French satellite showing more than 100 floating objects (within higlighted boxes) in the remote southern Indian Ocean.



KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) has identified 122 “potential objects” that could be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in an area of the southern Indian Ocean, about 2,557km from Perth.

The MRSA had analysed satellite images provided by France’s Airbus Defence and Space.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the new development supported “the most credible lead” for focusing the search in the southern Indian Ocean, alluding to the analysis of British investigators that pointed to the area.

The objects were in an area of about 400sq km, he told the daily press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

“Some objects are a metre in length, others as much as 23m long. Some of the objects appeared to be bright, indicating they are possibly solid,” he said.

Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, added that the MRSA findings were immediately forwarded to the Australian Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Perth.

“It must be emphasised that we cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH370.

“Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation,” he said.

Hishammuddin said the search operation now had four separate satellite leads, from Australia, China and France, showing possible debris.

What had to be done now was to determine whether it was really debris and linked to MH370, he added.

Hishammuddin said Australia was leading the search effort in the southern Indian Ocean while Malaysia continued its coordinating role.

“Australia has divided the search area into two sectors: East and West.

“With the improved weather, 12 planes were deployed to the search area – six in the East sector and six in the West,” he said.

In the East sector, the search would be conducted by one Australian P3 Orion, and three Australian civilian aircraft, one Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 and one New Zealand P3 Orion.

Involved in the West sector were a US P8 Poseidon, two Australian P3 Orions and one each from South Korea and Japan as well as a civilian aircraft.

Hishammuddin also said an international working group was helping refine Inmarsat data to further narrow the search area.

The working group – consisting of Inmarsat, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, Civil Aviation Administration of China, the US National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing and Rolls Royce as well as the relevant Malaysian authorities – will attempt to determine more accurately the final position of MH370. - The Star/ANN

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Flight MH370 ended in southern Indian Ocean! All 239 lives lost, British Inmarsat & AAIB cited, no evidence


Search area for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 update on 23 March 2014.
Search area for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Analysis by the British satellite company Inmarsat and the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was cited on Monday by the Malaysian prime minister as the source of information that has narrowed the location where the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean to a corridor a couple of hundred miles wide.

The analysis follows fresh examination of eight satellite "pings" sent by the aircraft between 1.11am and 8.11am Malaysian time on Saturday 8 March, when it vanished from radar screens.

The prime minister, Najib Razak, said: "Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.



"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."

He added that they had used a "type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort".

The new method "gives the approximate direction of travel, plus or minus about 100 miles, to a track line", Chris McLaughlin, senior vice-president for external affairs at Inmarsat, told Sky News. "Unfortunately this is a 1990s satellite over the Indian Ocean that is not GPS-equipped. All we believe we can do is to say that we believe it is in this general location, but we cannot give you the final few feet and inches where it landed. It's not that sort of system."

McLaughlin told CNN that there was no further analysis possible of the data. "Sadly this is the limit. There's no global decision even after the Air France loss [in June 2009, where it took two years to recover the plane from the sea] to make direction and distance reporting compulsory. Ships have to log in every six hours; with aircraft travelling at 500 knots they would have to log in every 15 minutes. That could be done tomorrow but the mandate is not there globally."

Since the plane disappeared more than two weeks ago, many of the daily searches across vast tracts of the Indian Ocean for the aircraft have relied on Inmarsat information collated halfway across the world from a company that sits on London's "Silicon Roundabout", by Old Street tube station.

Using the data from just eight satellite "pings" after the plane's other onboard Acars automatic tracking system went off at 1.07am, the team at Inmarsat was initially able to calculate that it had either headed north towards the Asian land mass or south, towards the emptiest stretches of the India Ocean.

Inmarsat said that yesterday it had done new calculations on the limited data that it had received from the plane in order to come to its conclusion. McLaughlin told CNN that it was a "groundbreaking but traditional" piece of mathematics which was then checked by others in the space industry.

The company's system of satellites provide voice contact with air traffic control when planes are out of range of radar, which only covers about 10% of the Earth's surface, and beyond the reach of standard radio over oceans. It also offers automatic reporting of positions via plane transponders. It is possible to send route instructions directly to the cockpit over a form of text message relayed through the satellite.

Inmarsat was set up in 1979 by the International Maritime Organisation to help ships stay in touch with shore or call for emergency no matter where they were, has provided key satellite data about the last movements of MH370.

Even as the plane went off Malaysian air traffic control's radar on 8 March, Inmarsat's satellites were "pinging" it.

A team at the company began working on the directions the plane could have gone in, based on the responses. One pointed north; the other, south. But it took three days for the data to be officially passed on to the Malaysian authorities; apparently to prevent any more such delays, Inmarsat was officially made "technical adviser" to the AAIB in its investigation into MH370's disappearance.

Inmarsat's control room in London, like some of its other 60 locations worldwide, looks like a miniature version of Nasa: a huge screen displays the positions of its 11 geostationary satellites, and dozens of monitors control and correct their positions. A press on a key can cause the puff of a rocket on a communications satellite 22,236 miles away, nudging its orbit by a few inches this way or that.

More prosaically, Inmarsat's systems enable passengers to make calls from their seats and also to use Wi-Fi and connect to the internet while flying.

If the plane has its own "picocell" essentially a tiny mobile phone tower set up inside the plane then that can be linked to the satellite communications system and enable passengers to use their own mobile phones to make calls, which are routed through the satellite and back to earth.

After its creation, Inmarsat's maritime role rapidly expanded to providing connectivity for airlines, the media, oil and gas companies, mining and construction in remote areas, and governments.

Privatised at the end of the 1990s, it was floated on the stock market in 2004, and now focuses on providing services to four main areas: maritime, enterprise (focused on businesses including aviation), civil and military work for the US government, and civil and military work for other governments. The US is the largest government client, generating up to a fifth of its revenues of about £1bn annually. The firm employs about 1,600 staff.

, technology editor The Guardian

 This graphic from The Telegraph indicates the suspected flight path of MH370 and the location of the past week's debris sightings and searches:


China demands more information from Malaysia

Earlier, China’s foreign ministry urged Malaysia to provide all available information and evidence o...