This Swedish billionaire has issued a $5 million award for anyone who invents a UN 2.0

TT/Stefan Gustafsson

By Tom Turula (

November 2016

Laszlo Szombatfalvy, one of Sweden’s most successful investors of all time, is urging on the younger generation to rethink global governance.

Now he has issued a large award for the best idea to replace the current global governance system, through a competition called ‘A New Shape’. This was reported by Jill Bederoff, who interviewed Szombatfalvy for Veckans Affärer.

Laszlo Szombatfalvy is something like the Warren Buffett of Sweden.

Like Buffett, he started life in very humble circumstances. He arrived to Sweden from Hungary in 1956 when his native country faced Soviet oppression.

The 88-year old finance sage has one of the world’s best investing track records. Over 45 years, he has achieved an average annual return of 30 per cent.

His philanthropy aims to solve global problems.

Szombatfalvy is donating more than half a billion Swedish krona ($50m USD) through his fund, Global Challenges Foundation.

He believes radical measures are required to tackle inequality, and that the world’s rich need to take more responsibility.

Szombatfalvy believes the global governance system is failing:

”The biggest threats to humanity stem from the global community’s inability to deal with them effectively” he told Veckans Affärer.

“[The Politicians] cannot agree on the necessary measures [for climate change]. Even less are they able to agree on how to divide the costs between countries; or the responsibilities for future generations. Now only short-term national interests dominate” he continued.

His fund’s Global Challenges Prize is awarding $5m USD “in prizes for the best ideas that re-envision global governance for the 21st century”.

The Foundation’s website explains further:

“Entrants should focus on designing a decision-making structure or framework that could galvanize effective international action to tackle these risks.  The proposed model may encompass an entirely new global framework or a proposed reform for existing systems.”

The competition, called ‘A New Shape’, is open to any individual or organization, and at least $1 million will be awarded to the winner. The fund is accepting proposals until May 2017.

Here are Szombatfalvy’s 4 advice for young people:

  1. Be conscious of the fact that you are not only your own country’s citizen; you are a global citizen.
  2. Realize that your children’s and grandchildren’s living conditions to a growing extent will depend on other countries’ citizens, even more than on their compatriots.
  3. Understand, that without a global governance system that cantackle global risks, the likelihood of major catastrophes will become incomparably higher.
  4. Demand action from your elected politicans! Vote out the incompetent people – you cannot afford them!

In November 2016, the Global Challenges Foundation launches a new prize competition, a quest to find models of global cooperation capable of handling the most pressing threats to humanity. The New Shape Prize will offer US$5 million for the best ideas for a global governance frameworks to better manage the threats posed by four interlinked ‘mega-risks’: climate change, environmental damage, conflict (including nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction) and extreme poverty.

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Mike Zint on the Poor Tour

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First they came for the homeless

March 20, 2017

We are entering this contest. If we win, an award for being bad will make my parents so proud.

Did this action have an effect? Did it create positive change? Is our current action, The Poor Tour, doing any good? I can’t answer those questions. What I can say is it was incredibly powerful, shocking, horrifying, and bloody. Over 400 gallons of blood flowed over an hour and a half.

–Mike Zint…/

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“Berkeley sees S.F. efforts as guide to fighting homelessness” by Kevin Fagan

Brett Schnaper cleans up his campsite at a 35-person encampment on Adeline Street in Berkeley. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle

Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle.  Brett Schnaper cleans up his campsite at a 35-person encampment on Adeline Street in Berkeley.

March 16, 2017 (

An ambitious plan to pull Berkeley’s burgeoning homeless population off the streets, first into sheltering mini-villages and then into permanent housing, got a big rollout by the city’s mayor Thursday — but one big question loomed.

How will the city pay for it, especially when President Trump and the Republican Congress are trying to cut funding to social welfare ventures all over the country?

“We’re going to look at everything we can,” from foundations, private donations and nonprofits to ballot-box funding,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at a press briefing on the Pathways Project, which he crafted with City Councilwoman Sophie Hahn. “This is a growing humanitarian crisis, and I think the people want their government to take strong action.”

Homeless camper Brett Schnaper responds. Media: Kevin Fagan / San Francisco Chronicle

For now, the costs are penciled in only as “significant,” and what Arreguin and Hahn have in mind before the plan goes to the City Council on April 4 is a lot of community discussion — and fishing around for buy-in from potential funders. The money required would probably crest into the millions, considering one element of it alone, a Navigation Center-style shelter, cost San Francisco $2 million to start up in 2015.“This is a unique time in the crisis to capture the goodwill of the people,” Hahn said. “We’re a small town with a big voice and a big heart, and we can’t live with the status quo. It’s not acceptable for anyone. It’s time to act.”With tent cities sprouting in Berkeley’s empty lots and freeway exchanges in the same alarming, high-profile way they have in Oakland and San Francisco, homelessness is being called Berkeley’s number one problem by the mayor and other leaders.

The last published street count in Berkeley, conducted in 2015, tallied 834 homeless people, up 23 percent over the previous count taken in 2009. Numbers from a January count are expected this summer — but regardless of that tally, which most expect to be higher than 2015’s, most city officials estimate there are as many as 1,200 people living outside now. The city has 135 shelter beds.

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San Francisco Moves To Divest $1.2B From Companies Financing Dakota Access Pipeline

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“The Poor Tour” by Mike Zint

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March 18, 2017

In case you didn’t know, The Poor Tour is here. Six months on tour, three months without a raid. Stability at last? Will the city leave us alone to help ourselves?

It’s working.

An addict cleaned up to be here. We gave him a spot, food, clothing, and acceptance. He is now employed and saving his money to get off the streets.

A domestic violence victim is here, she is now protected and working her way off the streets.

A young man with HFA is here. He went missing from New York, and was found by his family through photos of the tour. They came out over the weekend to visit him and convince him to come back home. He said no. He is still here. They left him because he is happy, he has purpose, he has meaning, and he has community. And he now has a much larger family.

Jens finally managed to get his passport and paperwork. He can now go back home to Germany.

The Poor Tour is working to help a handful. With sanctioning and help from the city, we can help a lot more.

–Mike Zint

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Berkeley concentration camp?

March 17, 2017

Earlier I said concentration camp. I got jumped by friends saying I was too harsh. The definition is clear. It is a concentration camp. This is the part of the definition that applies. Inadequate facilities is no privacy, personal space, security of possessions, control over living environment, and much more.

concentration camp
ˌkänsənˈtrāSHən ˈˌkamp/
a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities

Put the 80 plus residents in the photo.

I’m not going to sugar coat what this is. I can’t. The homeless talk about this constantly. When will they put us in FEMA camps? If this concept goes through in Berkeley, I fear not long.

–Mike Zint

March 16, 2017

This is Berkeley’s solution? 8 per unit? With a fence and a guard shack?

This is a concentration camp. Plain and simple. Please share Berkeley’s new homeless solution widely. This whole concept needs to be scrapped now!

–Mike Zint

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“Why is the #FakeNews Media Pretending Trump Is Not Just a Tool of the Political Establishment?” by John Laurits (

Media Lies About TrumpFor much of the 81.8% of voting-age citizens who would have liked someone other than Trump to be occupying the White House for the next 4 years, these last months have been a bit rough. On one side of the despair-spectrum, there was that sign-waving activist who called for #resistance as soon as King Tiny-Hands was crowned president-elect and, at the opposite end, that person on CNN saying we should all just give the poor guy a chance. Then, in between & all around those two, there were a lot of folks being shouted at from both sides, shell-shocked democrats, scape-goated 3rd-partiers, & millions of basement-dwelling Sandernistas sitting on their hands, trying very hard not to say, “we told you so.” Though the post-election chaos has subsided, a rift continues to grow between those who want to reform the democrats’ party & those who want to destroy it. Democrats, progressives, & other 81-Percenters, however, are not the only ones with something to lose in this conflict — nor are they the only ones with something to gain.

Theatre of the #FakeNews Media

Whatever else we disagree on, Donald Trump’s supporters are right about one thing — the mainstream media does, indeed, seem to have it out for them. From pushing Clinton’s genius idea that most of them were racists to clipping half-sentences from video of Trump so that his comment sounded worse than it was, a number of news-outlets willfully manipulated the public image of Trump & his “basket of deplorables.” The obvious neoliberal-bias of the media partly explains why a surprising number of independents & Bernie Sanders’ supporters ( who were also burned by the major outlets ) find they can relate more easily with Deplorables than liberals. Trump’s supporters, at least, do not deny the collusion of the media’s commentariat with corrupt democratic officials.


While Sanders & Trump have both been attacked by the neoliberal news-media, the reasons they were attacked were never the same. From the #PodestaLeaks & #DNCLeaks, it is clear that the media shaped their coverage of Sanders at the behest of the Democratic National Committee which maintains close ties to influencers in the news industry. The motive is obvious — party loyalists in the media were simply defending the status quo of their masters by containing the voter-insurgency instigated by an outsider. The Sand-Man gave them hell — but, in the end, the corporatist-DNC was built to crush dissent.

The public perception of Trump, however, was being shaped for very different purposes…

Behind the Curtains of #TheResistance,
The Democrats Remain Resistant to Change

In the alternative reality that MSNBC & other neoliberal sock-puppets live in, the US political apocalypse is a simple battle between Good & Evil. On one side, the racist horde of disgruntled ex-coal-miners led by a stingy orange despot secretly backed by the Russians and, on the other, a diverse & inclusive coalition of liberals called the Resistance™ — if you can swallow that Kool-Aid, picking a side is easy. For people who no longer trust the major US news-outlets — which recent polling says is most of us — things are less simple.

Media Lies, MSNBC-Style
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explains the racist Trump-supporters are also Putin-lovers who have betrayed the USA to the Reds…

MSNBC’s fairy-tale, of course, leaves out the part where they helped the democratic leaders, or “the good guys,” to intentionally elevate “the bad guy,” Trump, as part of the DNC’s campaign strategy.  Just a minor detail, right? To prop up the 2-dimensional story, democratic politicians star in each puppet-show & the party is cast as the voice of what they portray as a unified Resistance™ behind them. The progressive, independent, socialist, & other voices which are also raised in protest — such as the water protectors at Standing Rock — are lost in the noise. Just as they did in the 2016 primaries, the DNC & their propagandists in the media are silencing progressives & other left-leaning independents. That’s why the polls show their approval has now fallen lower than Trump’s.

To the neoliberal-democrats, preserving the platform of their wealthy donors is more important than winning elections, even if it throws us all under the Trump Train…

The DNC Sided with the 1% 
But So Has Donald Trump

As the 81-Percenters’ disdain for establishment democrats grows, many have turned to third-parties and others have called to “Draft Bernie” & form a new one. Any path outside the two-party system would be steep, however, in an electoral system that looks as if it were designed to suppress any challenge to the publicly-funded duopoly. Frustrated by a system that limits their choices to a spectrum of lesser evils, some now declare Trump to be less evil than a complacent & inflexible DNC. That fact alone says a lot, really. The shared experience of media-persecution between Sandernistas & Deplorables, it seems, has built a few uneasy bridges — bridges that the right-wing, of course, aware of. During one of his stump speeches, Trump even appealed directly:

“To all of those Bernie Sanders voters who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of super delegates, we welcome you with open arms

Veterans of the political revolution — progressives, greens, independents, & other leftists — have very real & unaddressed grievances with the democrats. The corrupt establishment, however, is not likely to be fixed by the billionaires who benefit from it. The enemy of an enemy is not always a friend — sometimes, the enemy of an enemy is just an inside-out cantaloupe in a toupee that slashes taxes for its rich friends.

Trump is Not Anti-Establishment
He is the Establishment’s Messiah

And that’s why you should always check your melons before leaving the store…

CNN & MSNBC cast Trump to play the villain in most of their plays and, to be fair, he usually plays that role pretty well. Listening to the grave analysis of their experts & the talking heads, it seems that Washington DC is burning down every day. If all of the breaking news & the exclusive reports were added up — from Putin & Russian Hackers to the scandals & racist pasts of cabinet nominees — it might even look like the established order is in danger of coming apart. While liberals run for cover, however, Trump’s fans appear to think the noise is just more proof that the real-estate mogul is raging against the corrupt machine — but what is really happening, here?

In spite of the commotion, there is very little evidence that any actual raging has occurred, as of yet. Since he was sworn into the presidency, Trump has:

  • Appointed Executives of Industries to Regulate Them
  • Passed Legislation Discriminating Against Muslims
  • Chipped Away at New Deal Social Welfare Programs
  • Deported Immigrants
  • Ignored Environmental Concerns to Help Oil Companies
  • Ignored Treaties with Native Americans to Help Oil Companies
  • Increased Our Already Gargantuan Military Spending
  • Invaded the Middle-East (Maybe to Help Oil Companies But It’s Too Early to Say)

Wait — the US invaded the Middle-East, appointed people with ties to fossil-fuel to high government positions, & screwed over Native Americans? This is unprecedented — and to think that the United States could have avoided all of it, if only a few more voters had selected the democratic party’s candidate.

The globalists of the corrupt political establishment must be devastated. Everything that they had built — ruined.

The $64,000 Question:
Why is the media pretending this isn’t normal?

Oil Exports, Democrats
Just in case anyone is still wondering why Obama did so little, too late to help the water-protectors at Standing Rock…

Republicans & democrats alike have invaded the Middle-East, slashed benefits for the poor, built up the military, & given the fossil fuel industry a free-pass for a very long time. Trump is certainly less deft and, in some cases, he gets to it with more zeal– but what he is doing is not fundamentally different from what presidents on both sides were doing for decades. The US became a net-exporter of crude oil for the first time since 1995 under Obama, no president has slowed the growth of military spending, & the sound of invading the Middle-East is pretty much the theme-song of the USA at this point.

Trump vs. the Establishment
Trump, fighting the corrupt elite of the establishment, as usual…

The lesson is not that Trump should be able to do what Obama, Bush, Clinton, or Old-Bush did — the lesson is that too many of their differences are just the illusions of the media. There is no struggle between the light & the dark side of the Force in the US political establishment — that is just the shiny packaging. Inside of their boxes, they are all made of the same cheap plastic, manufactured for the profit of the same company. It is just a puppet-show, in which there seem to be different characters & motives, some of them good & some bad — but take a hold of each of them & it will be the hand of the same puppet master underneath.

And he is not your friend.

In solidarity,
John Laurits

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Facebook & Digital Sovereignty (from Democracy.Earth)

Not Mark Zuckerberg.

On the risks and opportunities of Mark Zuckerberg’s plan for a global community.

November 12, 2015: Facebook announces a new feature by having Mark Zuckerberg post on his personal feed the first 360 Virtual Reality video in his social network. The feature itself allows any smartphone owner watch an immersive video where you can pan around your phone as if you were actually there. But what was really interesting about this feature announcement was the content in the video itself: it was a military parade held in North Korea 🇰🇵 right at the moment when crowds cheer as a big poster featuring Kim Jong Un entered in scene.

The land (Nation-States).

Deploying unknown technology just a few feet away from authority to capture images under the most secrecy-jealous government in the world (one that doesn’t even allow tourists to take pictures without authorization), certainly feels as flipping the bird to an autocratic dictatorial regime. How would the Great Leader react to such a provocation?

January 6, 2016 (8 weeks later): North Korea held its first nuclear test after three years claiming they have initiated the testing phase for a thermonuclear weapon considered among the most dangerous known to mankind: the H-Bomb. Specialists from China & the US argued that the measurements for the seismic event felt in North Korean territory during the test was of a magnitude of 5.1, insufficient for an H-Bomb but compatible with a 9 kiloton atomic bomb nonetheless.

The cloud (Corporations).

Kim Jong Un and Mark Zuckerberg have in common more things than just the fact that they wear the same outfit for work everyday: they’re both millennials amassing unprecedented power in a perfect juxtaposition of styles. While one aims to split the atom in order to instill fear, the other one multiplies the bits to anticipate behavior. The dialectical relation between force and intelligence. Their respective empires are the perfect example of the clash between matter and information: the land and the cloud.

Politician playing hacker, hacker playing politician. Brazil’s Rousseff and Facebook’s Zuckerberg.

It’s been years since most of us last thought of Facebook as a disruptive startup. The unapologetic brilliant hacker that Mark Zuckerberg once was, now tours the United States to rethink the role of Facebook in the formation of what he calls a global community by meeting with political and industry leaders while running a corporation that has become much more than another site on the web.

Recently, Zuckerberg outlined his vision for the company in a long, quite controversial manifesto. The text emerges in a special context: Facebook is accused of hosting an epidemic of fake news due to blind algorithms that got played with smart use of data that targeted every demographic in America with the perfect fake article on either Clinton or Trump, benefitting the latter. A shadow strategy that certainly helped elect as president a man who seems determinate to take measures to make the world less “open and connected”.

The whole 6,000 words manifesto is pretty much summarized here:

“History is the story of how we’ve learned to come together in ever greater numbers — from tribes to cities to nations. At each step, we built social infrastructure like communities, media and governments to empower us to achieve things we couldn’t on our own. Today we are close to taking our next step.”

That next step is obviously Facebook, where 1.8 billion people gather every day producing the largest group under a centralized administration in history.

Identity providers ranked by population size.

Mark Zuckerberg insists in talking about his company as “social infrastructure” for the global community, meaning he intends to replace many existing institutional roles — like preventing crime and suicide or finding terrorists — with a single platform. Beyond Zuckerberg’s curious and ambiguous use of the trendy term infrastructure, we highlight the important dimensions in which these instruments of community-shaping could endanger our freedom and personal sovereignty.

Facebook as government means Facebook as the police.

We must take into consideration that Facebook is building a global community run by a platform that among other features has, by design:

  • Facial recognition.
  • Access to your private chats.
  • Knowledge of who you privately stalk while browsing their site.
  • Records of who went to which event (and with whom).
  • Ability to censor and curate information (even without users realizing it: shadow banned content can’t be detected).
  • Proliferation of fake news & filter bubbles.
  • A record of experimenting with user’s emotions and more means for surveillance than we can know of.

Many human rights defenders are starting to become aware and they already have a hard time fighting Facebook’s current law enforcement rules. ACLU and other organizations recently sent the company a letter stating:

We are deeply concerned with the recent cases of Facebook censoring human rights documentation, particularly content that depicts police violence.

And Facebook has been quick to react:

But how can they be really held accountable?

Profiling is an ability Facebook has due to the tons of data captured from its users as they develop a company that has 97% of its revenue coming from advertising. By tracking behavior and operating as a digital passport on the web, Facebook optimizes the messaging from those organizations that invest their money on shaping desire and opinion. And although engineers working at Facebook’s big data team are forbidden to make queries to their internal database connecting more than two data points (they will get immediately get fired according to their contract), it is still a byproduct of Facebook’s attention farm the possibility of generating racial, religious and ideological registries even without willing to pursue such goal.

To understand code is law is also to understand the need to prevent code from becoming the law, because a program can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. An automated system might seem like a good substitute for corruptible, fallible human beings, but — as the story of IBM helping Nazi Germany with the registry of Jews during the Holocaust— has also proven the most effective way to bring about massive torture and murders. In simpler words: to leave security and law enforcement duties to Facebook’s algorithms can be dangerous.

Achieving Personal Sovereignty.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, known for having invented the world wide web, has recently stated the top three most pressing issues he considers need to be addressed in order to keep the internet open and free:

  1. “We’ve lost control of our personal data”
  2. “It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the web”
  3. “Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding”

None of this goals can be fixed through the means of traditional software development. There is nothing in the development stack of Facebook that can guarantee the promise of solving these issues because at its core, the problem can be described with a single concept: data centralization. The very same strategy used by autocratic regimes Hence, the rise of new protocols of trust like blockchains that can operate under decentralized information networks can guarantee users that no single corporation or entity is acting as big brother.

When abstracted, the main interactions we have on a daily basis with Facebook are exactly the same ones that we have with our government: Identity, voting (liking) and representation. What happens if we settle these interactions on a public decentralized information architecture such as a blockchain?

Democracy Earth Foundation’s plan with Sovereign.

At Democracy Earth Foundation we believe that what open source did for software, blockchains will do for institutions. The interactions that are now held inside the walled (feudal?) garden of Facebook, as they become a more relevant geopolitical factor driving modern society, need to migrate towards a public commons that shall aim to include every voice in the planet while guaranteeing algorithmic accountability. When software becomes decentralized, sovereignty is what gets transferred to the users. And sovereign software needs to be built in the open in direct collaboration with the pioneering technologies that hold the promise of making any wall, obsolete.

Join us.  (Democracy.Earth)

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“Stability first, says homeless leader” by Mike Zint (

March 2017

Poor Tour activists Tanis and Mike Zint in conversation. The tent protest community has been at its current location in Berkeley CA after many moves and over 15 raids. The city is now considering a proposal for a permanent tent community site and a tiny homes project.

BERKELEY, CA — What does it take to get off the streets? Money? Affordable housing? Employment? Of course the answer is yes, but none of those things is the first step. The first step is stability. And stability is the one thing that is most commonly removed.

Every raid ‘First They Came for the Homeless’ has experienced during The Poor Tour has resulted in chaos. Not only by losing needed gear, but by losing what is known. Every raid results in the unknown. Where do we go? How do I replace what I need?

When will I get stable again?

And that is the question. And the need. During this protest, we have demonstrated the importance of stability. Even with 15 raids, theft of critical gear, medicine, and constantly being relocated, we have succeeded in helping six people become stable enough to get off the streets. We have helped two with work. We have sheltered and fed several dozen during the tour. And our budget is $0.

The government needs to take a serious look at how we have succeeded. They need to take stability seriously. They need to allow an environment where stability can exist. And that means cities need to change how they are doing things.

Step 1 is to allow the homeless tents in a sanctioned campground. A tent solves almost every issue immediately. Shelter, storage, safety, privacy, personal space, and stability. Cost is minimal.

Step 2 is to allow tiny homes, container homes, cabins, or other housing ideas that are outside the box. Perhaps giving away some of the billions of acres of publicly owned land with a cabin.

Step 3 is true affordable housing. Why is it so hard to understand that?

People say housing is a right. I strongly disagree with that. Housing is a necessity! Without housing, you die from exposure. Just like food and water is necessary to live, so is shelter. Denial of shelter is as serious as denial of food and water. That is as true as it gets!

And finally, Berkeley is a sanctuary city. But Berkeley neglects the economic refugees that sleep outside. They are everywhere, suffering. Stop their suffering by allowing them to shelter themselves.

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Note from Mike Zint:

The Poor Tour has been stable at its current location since January. Distribution of donations has begun. Food, clothing, and extra gear has been leaving almost daily to go to other groups for distribution to the homeless. Today, food not bombs will be picking up from us. Usually they just drop stuff off. Disposable free boxes will be going out to areas where homeless stay. These things are being done by the community and the homeless working together. And they are only possible because we are stable.

And our stability has accomplished something else. Jens will be leaving the tour to go back home to Germany. Stability has allowed him to get all his paperwork done and get his missing passport back. His departure time depends on his puppy’s paperwork now. A going away party is being discussed.…/stability-first-says-homeless-…/

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