Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Tuesday March 29 2016, @06:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the microsoft-and-fraud dept.

TechRights reports

Last month, we took note of Microsoft [licenses] in the midst of high-profile corruption and a former Romanian minister is finally going to prison over it. To quote one article about this (in English, not Romanian):

"Romania's high court of cassation and justice on Thursday jailed the former telecommunications minister, Gabriel Sandu, for two years for money laundering, abuse of office, and bribery involving the lease of Microsoft IT licenses for schools.

"The ex-mayor of the eastern town of Piatra Neamt, Gheorghe Stefan, and two other businessmen who acted as middlemen also got jail terms of up to three years.

"The four defendants have also to pay a total of almost 10 million euros in compensation. The Supreme Court's sentence is not final."

It is worth noting that, owing to such corruption, it is Microsoft--not GNU/Linux and Free software--that makes it into Romanian schools. Recent reports serve to indicate Microsoft corruption in other countries; this is still the subject of a US-led probe which maybe some more corruption can somehow scuttle.


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @06:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @06:15AM (#324249)

    Romania isn't a designated IT outsourcing country like India or China. Making an example of these Romanian idiots does everyone a huge favor, because it saves other Romanians the disappointment of discovering for themselves that There Ain't No Jobs In IT for Romanians. Romania needs to get in on the Global Social Economy and outsource all their IT shit work to India and China. Nobody, absolutely nobody in Romania needs a computer, in a world where a Facefucking phone is a basic human right.

  • (Score: 1) by anubi on Tuesday March 29 2016, @06:25AM

    by anubi (2828) on Tuesday March 29 2016, @06:25AM (#324252) Journal

    Here is yet another anecdote telling what happens when we pass law supporting artificial monopolization.

    It really breeds corruption.

    Beware of the extended hand with nothing in it. An honest workingman has a tool in his hand. A leech, nothing.

    --
    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @06:32AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @06:32AM (#324254)

      Not true. Everybody knows the basement dwelling leech has his own tool in his hand.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:10AM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:10AM (#324262) Journal

        Everybody knows the basement dwelling leech has his own tool in his hand.

        It's still a tool, you insensitive clod.

        Some basement dwellers would be proud to present it to the world... if only the world would care to step into the basement.
        But noooo... the world is too proud. Well, their loss, they'll never know the wonder.

        (trollish grin... or grinish troll)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:17AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:17AM (#324263)

          Proud basement dwellers donate it to the sperm bank. Fucking the world! from the basement.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:20AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:20AM (#324264) Journal

    TFA - second one.

    Sandu was accused of receiving 3 million euros and of asking for an additional 1.3 million euro in bribes to ensure he chose the company involved.

    I guess Sando stepped juuusst a bit over the budget allotted to bribes, so this is the retribution.

    (grin)

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:23AM (#324265)

      the budget allotted to bribes

      Recent reports serve to indicate Microsoft corruption in other countries; this is still the subject of a US-led probe which maybe some more corruption can somehow scuttle.

      Oh, com'on US probers! Is it not enough you caused Microsoft and Facebook to this world, you are now dictating the acceptable level of bribes?

  • (Score: 2) by jimshatt on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:41AM

    by jimshatt (978) on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:41AM (#324271) Journal
    In the school my kids are on, it's just plain ignorance and a sense of conforming to the de facto standard.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @04:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @04:57PM (#324410)

      Play their game. Demand they teach your child using Freedos. If you can't teach programming and PC using freedos, you can't teach programming and PC altogether.

      • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:50PM

        by bitstream (6144) on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:50PM (#324482) Journal

        Amen!

        Oh and a neat compiler too.. hint: Alt-F5 for results ;)

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:35PM

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:35PM (#324530) Journal

        You can teach programming just fine using FreeDOS, but "PC" is a fairly vague point. Assuming, you mean, teach them how to use a modern computer, yeah, Teaching them FreeDOS won't do much good. They need to be taught on at least a somewhat recent GUI with a decent word processing suite. Something that runs Libre Office would work fine.

        --
        Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:48AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:48AM (#324272)

    As someone intimately familiar with the topic let me explain the fallout that this event had on the education system in Romania:

    Originally the Ministry of Education directly purchased Microsoft timed upgrade licenses for schools after it outfitted the schools with computers through the SEI program.
    After the whole debacle, the Ministry of Education refused to pay the price for the upgrade licenses and had the schools uninstall all windows 7/ office 2010 upgrades, reverting to Vista/ Office 2007.
    During this procedure the Ministry of Education contacted Canonical to help provide a custom Edubuntu version for Romanian schools. Seeing that Canonical was more interested in pushing their non-opensource computer management platforms, the talks ceased.
    During the transition Edubuntu is mentioned as an alternative, and a few lucky schools got Chromebooks, however the Romanian education curriculum is still centered on Microsoft products due to incompetence (or malice) even though they were rewritten to be technologically neutral.

    Right now there are more schools using open source OS-es and productivity apps than ever before, even though there is no official support from the Ministry of Education.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:28AM (#324278)

      How's Siveco fairing these days?
      Still gobbling every govt tender? Has Irina Socol been jailed yet?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:45AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:45AM (#324285)

        Siveco is still gobbling every govt tender (usually as a subcontractor), Irina Socol is in house arrest.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:07AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:07AM (#324291)

          Thanks.
          Business as usual, then. I'm still glad I left the country.

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday March 29 2016, @02:43PM

            by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 29 2016, @02:43PM (#324384) Journal

            I have no dog in this fight, apart from the general Linux vs. MS stuff. I simply want to comment how freaking awesome it is that we have Soylentils who are at the heart of this. It was something I always cherished about Slashdot, that people at the heart of epic tech projects were members and would comment.

            We have people of all political and technical stripes on this site, but I would invite all of us to take a moment to bask in the technical, practical relevance of Soylent.

            --
            Washington DC delenda est.
            • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:19PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:19PM (#324501)

              people at the heart of epic tech projects

              Tech projects you say and how wrong you are.

              Here's how the "business as usual" look like for a govt tender in Romania:

              1. the boss of a software company knows someone in the govt, high enough in the hierarchy - in most cases, a minister, but some govt agency directors are good enough
              2. somehow, they decide there's an opportunity to plunder some budget money allocated to IT (either govt budget or european funds), so a project needs to be created. Sometimes the project is really needed, sometimes... meh.... just something to show for the money.
                In any case, the "commissions" are sorted out in advance
              3. the software boss set the team to work on the request for tender document. That's right, the request for tender is not written by a govt agency, but by a certain bidder, the "designated future winner". Of course, the tech requirements are tweaked to favor the strength of the bidder, and so are the organisation selection criteria (annual turn over, past experience, etc)
              4. once the request for tender is ready, it's handed out to the govt official... first official step, the announcement for the project is trumpeted, usually in a way to emphasize the initiative of the ministry/minister (of course, if the original govt official is not the minister, then some "commission" is set aside for the minister her/himself. They may need to renegotiate the level of cuts to go to each party - in TFA case at hand, probably this step was defective, the minister was expecting some 1.3 MEuro extra, the winner couldn't pay, so it decided to "leak" some info somewhere)
              5. the tender process follows the "official" path, all the publicly visible steps are respected. Sometimes, some "phantom companies" are created just to stack the bidding; they'll "lose" anyway, but this may be needed to make sure that the project lands in the lap of the designated winner.
                If somehow the winner is not the "designated" one (which happens rarely) or if someone successfully contests the result (in court), it just happens the govt "find" some flaws in the "bidding process" and another round (with an adjusted request for tender) will be pushed some time in the future
              6. when the designated winner takes the contract, the project goes ahead and will result in delays, crappy systems, budget overruns, you name it. But it doesn't matter, the ministry may impose some penalties, but its only wool over the eyes of the public: too harsh penalties would result in diminished "commissions" and more money throw into the project ("requirement changes", you see?) means more money for the same percentage cut of commisions

              The tragedy is when the result of such projects are really needed: the expense of maintaining the system (actually, make it work in the first place) will be subject to other projects, more money, more commissions.

              Projects like SEI, eRomania, IT health system and heaps of others I don't know went ahead on this pattern.
              Speaking of the pattern, you can see the same in projects initiated by local administration (municipalities, public utilities administrations, county libraries, etc) - it's only the budget and commissions that changes (central govt works in the order of 100M-Euro projects, local admin goes into 10K-1M-Euro range).

              About 20% of the project budget goes one way or another into "commission", as a rough estimation. To squander the money for them, the winner will need to invent lots of fictive expenses, see the case of Irina Socol [romania-insider.com]. Her fall was probably due to a change in govt officials, the new ones having other industry favorites; the slate had to be cleaned before changing the "traditional suppliers".

              Please note we aren't speaking of bribes, not because its a bad words, but because it doesn't describe the "economic" reality. See, a bribe is usually an one-off fixed payment and can't have that in this kind of unpredictable and ever-changing world .

              • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:58PM

                by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:58PM (#324540) Journal

                I don't dispute the pattern you've described. It's universal. Corruption happens in every country in exactly the way you've described. In Romania, perhaps, it's more apparent because there are not so many layers of lard as here.

                All I meant to do is say, how great is it that SN has members on the inside of this and can comment. That's the beauty, and for which you all ought to take a short, self-aware bow.

                Romania is quite awesome for breaking with the global media narrative. Bravo, Romania!

                --
                Washington DC delenda est.
                • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 29 2016, @10:59PM

                  by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 29 2016, @10:59PM (#324552) Journal

                  In Romania, perhaps, it's more apparent because there are not so many layers of lard as here.

                  Well, seems plausible. Wikipedia entry on the scandal has a quite impressive list of people [wikipedia.org] involved - including 9 former ministers.

                  Romania is quite awesome for breaking with the global media narrative. Bravo, Romania!

                  Mmmm... some googling over the scandal reveals we should congratulate... FBI [romania-insider.com]

                  The investigation in the corruption case in which nine former Romanian ministers are accused of taking bribes for buying overpriced Microsoft software licenses from public funds hasn’t started in Romania, but in the U.S., said the former director of Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) Teodor Melescanu.

                  He added that the investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and that this is not a politically influenced investigation/vendetta in Romania, as some politicians claim.

                  Besides, the cynical in me says: if the layers of lard are less, maybe the simple fact of buying MS licenses should be punishable with jail.
                  Did you know anything to say Romania's education switched away from MS software?
                  Because I found something on the contrary [ubuntuforums.org]:

                  A chain of stores offered last year for free to 159 schools in Romania 1749 functional notebooks ( Asus X101CH ) with Edubuntu on them.
                  Unfortunately I learned that the Ministry of Education began to wipe the Edubuntu system on those notebooks and install Windows .

                  --
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:24AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:24AM (#324295)

      Edubuntu maintainer Stéphane Graber has announced via one of the official mailing lists [ubuntu.com] that Edubuntu won't be getting a 16.04 LTS release.

      I'm sending this e-mail on behalf of the current Edubuntu project leaders, Jonathan Carter and myself.

      [...]at the start, we both had a considerable amount of spare time to invest in making Edubuntu great, even getting paid for it at times, that is simply not the case anymore.

      We've both moved on to new projects, with the hope that we would one day find some time to work on Edubuntu again. That's why we decided to make Edubuntu LTS-only after the 14.04 release, hoping that over the course of two years we would find the needed time to make a good Edubuntu 16.04 LTS. This plan didn't quite work out as we're now a month away from the 16.04 release with little to no work having been done on Edubuntu.

      [...]Edubuntu will NOT be releasing a 16.04 LTS version. Instead, Jonathan and I will focus on ongoing support of Edubuntu 14.04 LTS until it goes EOL in April 2019.

      [...]new contributors are absolutely welcome to take over the Edubuntu project and shape it to their liking.

      Marius Nestor at Softpedia notes [softpedia.com]

      If you care about the future of Edubuntu, go ahead and help the devs keep it alive [edubuntu.org].

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

      • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:01PM

        by bitstream (6144) on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:01PM (#324489) Journal

        Why use Edubuntu instead of a normal Ubuntu, RedHat, Debian, Devuan or even som *BSD?

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:42PM

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 29 2016, @08:42PM (#324511) Journal

          Why use Edubuntu instead of a normal Ubuntu, RedHat, Debian, Devuan or even som *BSD?

          Because the schools are strapped for cash and cannot pay a full IT admin to manage all the computers and the level of access to the network (no pr0n for kids, restricted activities on internet, special access for professors account, managing the learning content and the process of creation, etc).

          See Edubuntu features [wikipedia.org] and you'll note Linux Terminal Server, Sabayon Profile Manager, Sabayon Profile Manager, Gnome Nanny.
          Look on what these do and what are for, then extrapolate.

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:58PM

      by bitstream (6144) on Tuesday March 29 2016, @07:58PM (#324488) Journal

      So what the Romanian school children are stuck with is a Department of Nepotism bribery? and being cheapskates on top of this meant not acting. That resulted in schools to go open source to get things done?

      Almost like a farce. Perhaps good enough material to for a theater play ;)

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:10PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 29 2016, @09:10PM (#324522) Journal

        So what the Romanian school children are stuck with is a Department of Nepotism bribery?

        It seems it is exactly like that. [soylentnews.org]

        Looking over what the hell Siveco and SEI is, I got this [xtec.cat] (PDF warning).
        Suddenly the "implemented by a public-private partnership" on slide 2 gains new meanings. Ouch...

        and being cheapskates on top of this meant not acting.

        Another SEI reference [siveco.ro] - a project spanning 8 years (2001-2009) and:
        * "more than 15,000 IT laboratories, with 192,000 desktops and laptops", I estimate this didn't come quite cheap (at $1200/wks - it's pre-2008 folks, means at least $23 mil only in hardware);
        * "over 7 million people involved in project directly or indirectly" - means a setup cost at least 4-5 times the hardware.

        I don't dare to guess the cost of licenses and/or the project management overhead, but I'd be amazed if the project didn't swallow at least 0.4-0.6 billion dollars over those 8 years.

        That resulted in schools to go open source to get things done?

        Do you imagine for a moment that the main contractor for SEI would allow the schools to do as they please?
        And jeopardize the prospects of future contracts?
        I can bet those computers stay mainly unused rather than being re-purposed.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Tuesday March 29 2016, @11:41PM

          by bitstream (6144) on Tuesday March 29 2016, @11:41PM (#324568) Journal

          I estimate this didn't come quite cheap (at $1200/wks - it's pre-2008 folks, means at least $23 mil only in hardware); /../ "over 7 million people involved in project directly or indirectly" - means a setup cost at least 4-5 times the hardware. /../ I don't dare to guess the cost of licenses and/or the project management overhead, but I'd be amazed if the project didn't swallow at least 0.4-0.6 billion dollars over those 8 years.

          What I noted were that the Ministry of Education refused the price for upgrade licenses and had the schools uninstall all Windows 7 / Office 2010 upgrades, then revert to Vista / Office 2007. And contacting Canonical to get a custom Edubuntu but then ditching that too.

          The incentive is to negotiate big budget for the contract and deliver cheaply so that the difference can be pocketed. There are big costs. It's just that the cost would likely been higher if this had been done properly ie delivered at a quality level that is alright.

          Do you imagine for a moment that the main contractor for SEI would allow the schools to do as they please?
          And jeopardize the prospects of future contracts?
          I can bet those computers stay mainly unused rather than being re-purposed.

          How the Romanian education curriculum ended up centered on Microsoft products seems irrational for a poor nation. But then these contracts are usually designed to benefit the people making them and shafting the users. Then it makes sense.

          It seems however according to an anonymous poster that the schools are using open source OS and productivity software more than ever before without official support from the Ministry of Education. So perhaps the contractor and the Ministry simple is being sidestepped by the people at these schools? So in the vacuum of a botched contract, the schools ditch both Microsoft and the Ministry meddling. How to buy hardware remains an open question. But perhaps it can be filed under "oops broken, must buy now" ?

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 30 2016, @12:02AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 30 2016, @12:02AM (#324576) Journal

            How the Romanian education curriculum ended up centered on Microsoft products seems irrational for a poor nation. But then these contracts are usually designed to benefit the people making them and shafting the users. Then it makes sense.

            That's exactly how. After some googling, I found the best overview here [lse.ac.uk]. The sad effect of all this:

            Low wages for state employees make taking bribes a financial necessity. At a higher level, Kövesi pointed out recently that DNA has over 5000 pending cases and needs more prosecutors. Moreover, the portrayal of corruption as a generational result of the abnormality of Romanian Communism has been discredited by the cases involving politicians who were teenagers when Communism ended. While those unwilling to use patronage networks are leaving the country, many at home are willing to succeed by ‘playing the game’, thus perpetuating existing networks. Politicians who have gained power and influence through these networks – whose lack of transparency facilitates corruption – are unlikely to act to destroy their own powerbases. The party system depends so much upon patronage networks that it needs state institutions to reward supporters. Without the depoliticisation of state institutions, the DNA is likely to continue playing catch up in perpetuity as the system maintains and re-enforces itself.

            Ooops... those on the "starve the beast" track, beware! You may not be immune to lower level corruption; added to the one at the peak (sorry... err... lobby is the PC term) and you may reach a situation of pervasive corruption.

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
            • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Wednesday March 30 2016, @12:39AM

              by bitstream (6144) on Wednesday March 30 2016, @12:39AM (#324599) Journal

              The spooky aspect of this is that the traits of the Romanian government has similarities in countries that are supposedly alright. It all just seems like a pretend game.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @10:42AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29 2016, @10:42AM (#324305)

    In short it's the only ethical and sustainable way of doing things.

    https://www.gnu.org/education/ [gnu.org]