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Bill Gates To Develop a Revolutionary Nuclear Reactor With Korea

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the power-to-the-people dept.

Power 413

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft founder Bill Gates has pledged to develop with Korea a revolutionary nuclear reactor that will leave far less radioactive waste than existing ones. Gates invested US$35 million in a nuclear-power venture company TerraPower in 2010. TerraPower is led by John Gilleland. It was formed from an effort initiated in 2007 by Nathan Myhrvold's company, Intellectual Ventures. The company includes expert staff and individual consultants who have worked for some of the most prestigious nuclear laboratories and engineering companies in the world." You may remember that Gates worked with China to build a reactor late last year.

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413 comments

My God (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053785)

Microsoft is working together with the North Koreans to kill us all! Give all my moneys to DHS and TSA!

Re:My God (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#41053835)

As a general rule, if someone in the free world just says "Korea," they usually mean South Korea. It's one of those annoying namespace pollution games, like how "China" now always means mainland China, and never Taiwan (although that one's somewhat more understandable, since they have the chunk of territory called China, whereas the Republic of Korea only has half of the Korean peninsula.)

Re:My God (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053913)

How do you know this is the Korea Bill is dealing with? If the U.S government got involved and told him no, Bill would just have all their M$ OS's crashed during a windows update..

More to the point: (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41054133)

Does it run Linux?

Re:My God (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053989)

It's one of those annoying namespace pollution games

To resolve this problem I suggest that we start calling South Korea for The Democratic Republic of Korea.

Re:My God (5, Funny)

Strawser (22927) | about 2 years ago | (#41054079)

It's one of those annoying namespace pollution games

To resolve this problem I suggest that we start calling South Korea for The Democratic Republic of Korea.

As opposed to North Korea's official name, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Yeah, that'll surely clear things up.

Re:My God (2)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41054165)

*Woosh*

Re:My God (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054193)

So, the one with people is comunist?

Re:My God (5, Insightful)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about 2 years ago | (#41054327)

When your country name has "democratic" in it, you can usually count on that not actually being the case:

-Democratic Republic of the Congo (non-functioning government)
-Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Communist)
-People's Democratic Republic of Laos (Communist)

Re:My God (2)

oobayly (1056050) | about 2 years ago | (#41054391)

Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany) - Communist

Re:My God (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054463)

DPRK have also managed to screw up the "republic" bit, by making political power inherited in the ruling family.

Re:My God (3, Funny)

mbone (558574) | about 2 years ago | (#41054461)

The People's Democratic Republic of Korea is still available.

Re:My God (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 2 years ago | (#41054105)

As a general rule, if someone in the free world just says "Korea," they usually mean South Korea. It's one of those annoying namespace pollution games...

That may be, but prepending "North" or "South" is so simple that very few people are lazy enough to drop it. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've seen the term to refer to a country rather than the continent.

Re:My God (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#41054431)

I believe you mean peninsula, not continent; the continent is Asia and the plate is Amuria [wikipedia.org] . The more you know...

As it so happens, though, Koreans invariably refer to their native country as the true and default Korea. That's probably how this story got messed up in the first place.

Re:My God (1)

Bongo (13261) | about 2 years ago | (#41054359)

And "America" often means USA.

Re:My God (2)

mbone (558574) | about 2 years ago | (#41054453)

As a general rule, if someone in the free world just says "Korea," they usually mean South Korea.

But, the story would be much more interesting if they actually meant the DPRK.

Re:My God (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 2 years ago | (#41053859)

Well that's okay. I'd rather Microsoft worked with Kim Jong-Un than Kim Dotcom. The latter is a real danger to democracy.

Re:My God (3, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#41053979)

Microsoft is working together with the North Koreans to kill us all! Give all my moneys to DHS and TSA!

South Korea.

South - good.
North - US says they I bad, I really don't know for sure though.

Re:My God (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054077)

Microsoft is working together with the North Koreans to kill us all! Give all my moneys to DHS and TSA!

South Korea.

South - good. North - US says they I bad, I really don't know for sure though.

Good/Bad - it doesn't matter. A few large nukes and they could both be a memory.

Re:My God (-1, Flamebait)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#41054131)

You want to nuke everything all the time. What's wrong with you?

The US commited genocide twice with nukes, isn't that enough?

Re:My God (1, Offtopic)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41054249)

Uhhh, no. If you want to talk about US genocide in WWII, look no further than the firebombing of Tokyo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firebombing_of_tokyo).

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nothing next to that.

Re:My God (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#41054123)

You should watch some videos of people who have been to North Korea and video taped some of it. There's also a documentary about the more underground life.

It's absolutely terrible. I'd say it's like 1984, but at least in 1984 they had chocolate.

Also happening in Dakota and Carolina (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053815)

Those north-south thingies are just a waste of electrons, pixels or ink.

And why not in the US? (5, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about 2 years ago | (#41053821)

I assume US regulation is far too extreme to pursue such ventures. Gates can get more bang for his buck in a country where it doesn't take 20 years just to get approval to move forward.

Re:And why not in the US? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053941)

Yeah, fucking regulations, who needs em [google.com] !

Re:And why not in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054159)

So building a nuclear reactor that produces less waste is bad for the pollution situation.

Re:And why not in the US? (3, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41054271)

What would China look like today if they had the Clean Air and Water Act? They would still be a land composed of 99% rural peasants starving and scraping away at the land. You can't support environmental regulation until you have an industrial base. Nevermind the amount of regulation on the nuclear industry, which is so severe that nothing can be done at all, except for concentration of more and more nuclear waste on site until something goes *pop* and everybody dies. Thanks regulation!

Re:And why not in the US? (0)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | about 2 years ago | (#41053993)

Yeah. The words "Nuclear Reactor" attract banks of NIMBYs in the US. I dunno how it is in South Korea but I guess that they are more open minded with this idea?

Re:And why not in the US? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054075)

Yes, because if there's one thing that needs to be free of all safety regulation, it's a new design for a nuclear reactor.

Re:And why not in the US? (3, Informative)

hsmith (818216) | about 2 years ago | (#41054241)

Only an idiot would take what I wrote as no regulation. But hey, gotta work your agenda.

Re:And why not in the US? (1)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41054295)

lol, so South Korea has no safety regulation on nukes? Grow the fuck up.

The nuclear regulation in America is very simple. It's just a sheet of paper with one word written on it: NO.

Re:And why not in the US? (-1)

d3ac0n (715594) | about 2 years ago | (#41054091)

Pretty much This.

Also, the Obama administration attempted to block further Uranium mining (needed to fuel the reactors) despite stating they support nuclear power development.

Not sure what they expect to run the power plants on. Solar-incubated superman clones are rather hard to come by.

Re:And why not in the US? (4, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#41054395)

Also, the Obama administration attempted to block further Uranium mining

Citation needed. I just googled it and all I found was that uranium mining would not be allowed on Federal lands in Arizona, i.e. the Grand Canyon. This is a far cry from the universal ban you claimed or implied.

Re:And why not in the US? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#41054137)

where it doesn't take 20 years just to get approval to move forward.

Annnnd where's there's very little regulation governing how you dispose of your environmental waste, or hazmat containment/exposure. Yep, he's a genius.

Re:And why not in the US? (4, Informative)

d3ac0n (715594) | about 2 years ago | (#41054195)

RTFA dude (yes, I know, this is /. where nobody RTFAs) The reactor is designed to produce significantly LESS waste than existing designs. the problem is that getting permits for experimental reactors in the US is even harder than getting one for a known reactor design. We have hobbled ourselves in the Nuclear power area, indeed in ALL power areas due to our extreme fear of all things nuclear. (Despite living on a radioactive mostly molten ball with a thin hard crust orbiting around a giant fusion reaction in space as we get bombarded with interstellar radiation.)

Re:And why not in the US? (1)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41054319)

Yes, much better to have it so heavily regulated that it can't be moved at all, and they store it all on site forever and ever until you have a 50 meter tall pile of nuclear waste, then containment fails, and it all falls into the river, killing everyone and everything downstream. Yeah, too bad we didn't allow LFTRs to be built, which would have consumed all that shit as fuel, leaving only useful isotopes as waste.

MS sniping aside... (4, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41053829)

I really appreciate that someone is working on advancing nuclear energy. Oil and gas are fine for now, but eventually we will need reliable non-oil/gas based energy solution. I believe nuclear, once sufficiently mature, could be that alternative.

Re:MS sniping aside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054189)

While working solar would be better then nuclear here on earth. I think we need to work on is developing better reactor technology for Space travel. I also think don't fusion should be counted on because ether it's ten years or it's two-hundred years away. I just don't see solar or chemical energy being practical for moving ships in space especially in given human time frames. Even to Mars and the Moon, I think Nuclear propulsion going to be how we get there. The simple math is that one gram of uranium has the energy of 3 million grams of coal. Of course I don't think that's counting the fact that you need oxygen or fluorine to burn the coal with in space and am not sure what energy efficiency was given to the power conversion, etc.

In short I if want to see travel to the moon for at even the top 2% of income earners world wide within my life time we need MOVE big ass nuclear ROCKET.... NEVRA, etc.

Re:MS sniping aside... (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#41054397)

Maybe we're reading a different thread but I haven't seen any "MS sniping". My question is this: when you say "somebody is working on nuclear power", am I to believe that BG and his team are the only people actually working on the state of the art in reactors? Because without knowing I'd say that is absolutely fucking absurd.

Care to specify which one? (5, Insightful)

Yosho (135835) | about 2 years ago | (#41053837)

I mean, we can probably guess which Korea they're referring to here, but last time I checked, they hadn't been reunified yet. I really hope that Bill Gates isn't building a nuclear reactor for North Korea.

Re:Care to specify which one? (2)

unitron (5733) | about 2 years ago | (#41053869)

Maybe he achieved re-unification while we weren't looking, and now it's on to the next project over there.

Re:Care to specify which one? (0)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#41053919)

The question is moot. It's a fusion reactor. There will be unification when it's running!

[disclaimer: it isn't a fusion reactor, this was just a bad joke]

Re:Care to specify which one? (0)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#41054023)

The question is moot. It's a fusion reactor. There will be unification when it's running!

The US does not recognize fusion, only blowing things apart.

Re:Care to specify which one? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41054351)

The question is moot.

This is not 4chan.

Re:Care to specify which one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054025)

I really hope that Bill Gates isn't building a nuclear reactor for North Korea.

Building a modern reactor with less radioactive by-products in North Korea would be great. It will help to the people by getting rid of their energy problems and will not be usable to create the components necessary for nuclear weapons.

Re:Care to specify which one? (1)

Yosho (135835) | about 2 years ago | (#41054163)

Building a modern reactor with less radioactive by-products in North Korea would be great. It will help to the people by getting rid of their energy problems and will not be usable to create the components necessary for nuclear weapons.

That would only be true if North Korea's government actually cared about its people. What would actually happen is that the nuclear generator would be used to power the lights in Pyongyang while the rest of the country would be left to starve.

Re:Care to specify which one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054233)

I honestly assumed it *was* North Korea.

He built one in China, didn't he?

Thorium (3, Interesting)

dicobalt (1536225) | about 2 years ago | (#41053843)

That's all I have to say about that.

Re:Thorium (4, Funny)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#41053943)

So we can grow sweet potato like produce that will turn us into aggressive, violent, homophobic, psychopathic "protectors" one we grow past breeding age?

Re:Thorium (3, Funny)

d3ac0n (715594) | about 2 years ago | (#41054141)

No, those plants won't grow properly in our biosphere. Thank goodness too because I really wasn't looking forward to having a beak. Although I wouldn't mind the awesome physique.

Re:Thorium (1)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | about 2 years ago | (#41054287)

Nope, that was thallium.

LENR (1)

kinsoa (550794) | about 2 years ago | (#41054381)


http://www.e-catworld.com/

Thorium nuclear plants doesn't exist for now (and will probably never exist).

I'm just asking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053849)

North or South?

Now I'm scared (-1)

lsolano (398432) | about 2 years ago | (#41053853)

Indeed I am. I mean: getting a Blue Screen of Death in a computer is just a matter of reboot, but I'm afraid that rebooting a nuclear reactor could bring some unexpected behavior.

Re:Now I'm scared (2, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 2 years ago | (#41053915)

Honestly, when was the last time you got a blue screen of death? Honestly?

I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy - well no, come to think of it, I don't hate them anymore, they're like the nasty grandmother who's gotten old and invalid and you feel vaguely sorry for now - but quite frankly they've gotten good at making stable operating systems.

Old BSOD statements are getting really old and stale now...

Re:Now I'm scared (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053981)

Week before last. I thought it might be a hardware error, but the laptop runs Linux just fine. Reinstalling Windows and so far its worked flawlessly.

Re:Now I'm scared (0, Offtopic)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#41054039)

Honestly, when was the last time you got a blue screen of death? Honestly?

Years. They seem to have stopped right when I switched to Linux.

Re:Now I'm scared (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#41054221)

Last week. They are rarer these days with Win 7, but they still happen. It was a company issued laptop so I didn't mess with the settings if that was your next question.

Re:Now I'm scared (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054439)

Honestly, when was the last time you got a blue screen of death?

Last week, whilst watching a DVD with VLC. It was also the first one in the ~3 years I've been using Windows 7.

Bill Gates is a Rock Star. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053863)

A lot of people would just sit on their fortunes (Warren Buffet) or piss it away on political bullshit (Koch brothers). I know a lot of the crowd here is anti-Microsoft, but it's nice to see Bill Gates doing something with his hoard and something halfway-geeky to boot!

Re:Bill Gates is a Rock Star. (2)

j-pimp (177072) | about 2 years ago | (#41054015)

A lot of people would just sit on their fortunes (Warren Buffet) or piss it away on political bullshit (Koch brothers). I know a lot of the crowd here is anti-Microsoft, but it's nice to see Bill Gates doing something with his hoard and something halfway-geeky to boot!

Yeah The Oracle from Omaha should give away large chunks of his wealth to philanthropic causes. Oh wait . . . [givingpledge.org]

Re:Bill Gates is a Rock Star. (3, Informative)

boristdog (133725) | about 2 years ago | (#41054355)

Warren Buffet pledged most of his fortune to the Gates Foundation.

I believe you are thinking of the late Steve Jobs.

develop? Unlikely. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053873)

We know how this guy operates. He'll buy something already developed, and slap his name on it.

Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (5, Interesting)

DMJC (682799) | about 2 years ago | (#41053893)

Why does anyone need nuclear power? Solar salt thermal plants can do baseload electricity already. There's a proposal to convert Australia to 100% solar thermal/0 carbon emissions in a 10 year time frame and it only costs $400 Billion. That completely eliminates our greenhouse gas issues. http://www.http//beyondzeroemissions.org [www.http] Nuclear/Oil/Gas really are dead end Technologies. We should be conserving nuclear resources for long-haul space travel instead of burning our only real means off this rock.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (2, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about 2 years ago | (#41053977)

Nuclear power is not only necessary, it is unavoidable, although it may be possible to avoid it in some places, for some time.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (-1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41054289)

Energy efficiency is not only necessary, it is unavoidable, although some places (USA) are trying to avoid it tooth and nail.

FTFY.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about 2 years ago | (#41054425)

Better energy efficiency is certainly desirable and worth the effort to achieve, to a point. It does not lift the need for nuclear power in the long term, though.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (5, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 2 years ago | (#41054037)

Show me a single Solar Salt Thermal plant running in production. Or even one that is almost in production, running anywhere near the power capacities of even these 'little' nuclear power plants. (let alone the Gigawatts of some of the big boys)

BTW, your "only 400 billion" is a bit crazy.. The US has around 100 Reactors producing about 1/3 of our nations power. At an average replacement cost of about $2billion (each) last I heard. So for that same money, you could move 2/3 of the US to nuclear.. and the land mass used to generate it would be significantly smaller.

There is no single solution, and I wish people would stop claiming there is.. Moving all of any country to any single power source is plain foolishness.. its going to take a mix of wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, wave power, etc to properly diversify and meet the power needs.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054235)

I disagree, nucler plant is very expensive, here in italy we are still paying for our closed nuclear plants, and there isnt' a terminal date for the bill of the waste...nuclear plant are the like of eternit, private gain, public cost. In the USA no one Nuclear plant ever project its dismantlement, its a public problem.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (2)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 2 years ago | (#41054315)

We have actually dismantled several.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_decommissioning [wikipedia.org]

They are expensive, but currently, that is because of the cost of the lawsuits, and delayed start of construction, more than the cost of actually building the plant.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (0)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41054293)

Here's the guy who "thinks" progress in renewable energy sources is to be avoided.

Show me a single Solar Salt Thermal plant running in production

Show me a thorium reactor running in production, idiot.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | about 2 years ago | (#41054305)

Solar anything isn't a realistic power solution for any part of the world where you get less than 8 hours of sunlight per day for several months straight. Also anyone who lives in a cold climate can tell you that using electricity to heat buildings is horribly inefficient compared to using natural gas or oil.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#41054373)

Not every place can rely on solar power. Those that can't may have to rely on very long transmission lines which may not be practical. If you live in Las Vegas, solar salt thermal is practical with its 200+ days of sunshine [worldfactsandfigures.com] whereas Seattle only has 71 days. In terms of constant power generation, fossil fuels and nuclear are really the most reliable and can be used anywhere.

Re:Nuclear Power is unnecessary. (1)

operagost (62405) | about 2 years ago | (#41054451)

There's a proposal to convert Australia

STOP right there. The least sunny city in Australia, Perth, still has hundreds of hours more sunlight than temperate US cities like Philadelphia. Seoul is comparable to Perth in sunshine with about 2,400 hours a year, so in this particular case it might work. But I believe I've answered your question, "why does anyone need nuclear power?"

and of course it will be patented (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41053895)

intellectual ventures is involved. in a few years we'll be paying a licensing fee as part of our bill

Re:and of course it will be patented (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054029)

Well, if the licensing fee is 5 dollars per month, and my energy bill has dropped with 40 dollars per month, fine by me.

Re:and of course it will be patented (2)

andydread (758754) | about 2 years ago | (#41054211)

That would be great but in the real world... we know how companies rarely ever pass their savings back down to the customers. So I would say don't expect to see any cut in your montly bill and it is more likely that you will have a license fee added on if Nathan is involved and that license fee will be passed on to the customers.

Begs the question.... (3, Funny)

robthebloke (1308483) | about 2 years ago | (#41053903)

... are microsoft getting into the refinement of uranium/plutonium as a way to avoid patent litigation from Apple/Samsung/Google over the surface?

"We raise your patent for 'a small button on the device front, that allows the user to turn it on', with two 8Kg blocks of plutonium-239, which we shall now hand to your lawyers as one big block, whilst running away very, very, quickly..... ".

Re:Begs the question.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054149)

Just make dam sure that button doesn't have round corners!

Reality before satire. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053925)

I guess Matt Groening had already in the pipeline for the Simpsons something like Homer at work fiddling with the new Metro interface of the control system.

It's gonna be REAL!

I think I was happier when (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053931)

The only billionaire evil scientists existed in the works of Stan Lee

Re:I think I was happier when (3, Funny)

j-pimp (177072) | about 2 years ago | (#41054153)

The only billionaire evil scientists existed in the works of Stan Lee

So Lex Luthor ruined you on the idea?

Korea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053971)

Korea = North Korea
I bet they mean south Korea. (small s)

One Korea!

Can Bill make it stable this time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053973)

Oh no!
Can you imagine the front page news 10 years from now?
"...and for the news in the international arena, tens of millions of people in South Korea were left without power again due to a reactor Blue Screen Of Death. The Nuclear technicians that operate the reactor confessed to having forgot to reboot the reactor at least once a day to avoid the BSOD"

Wow... how wonderful. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41053975)

I have an idea. If he wants to be genuinely good and philanthropic, why doesn't he use his vast personal fortune to refund all the money he (and his company) stole during three decades in which he, along with his corporate, business-criminal buddies defrauded and conspired to steal untold sums of money from the computer users of the world. He should pay it back, and pay it with INTEREST!!!

Otherwise, he's just breaking off bits of chump-change, and people are praising him from the mountain-tops for giving away what rightly IS NOT HIS TO GIVE AWAY AS IT WAS STOLEN!!! He's a THIEF!!! Stop treating him like he's some kind of merciful benefactor, he's a CROOK, and his company should have been ripped to pieces, and competition been fostered once again, and it would have, if our government had any balls anymore. Sad to think we could invade two completely different countries simultaneously, for basically no reason, but we can't take out a pencil-neck sorry assed little software company. For SHAME!!!

Re:Wow... how wonderful. (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | about 2 years ago | (#41054115)

Or, Yknow he could go to Cambodia and fix the drinking water. That would show humanism in a appreciable way...just spitballing here.

Iran (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054035)

Why not with Iran?

Re:Iran (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054139)

Iran so far away.

What does it say about me... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41054063)

... when the first thing that I think of when I see the headline is that's one way to ensure that he spends all of his money before he dies?

doesn't the windows Eula say not for use in nuke's (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41054093)

doesn't the windows Eula say not for use in nuke plants?

Which Korea? (1)

js3 (319268) | about 2 years ago | (#41054121)

Because North Korea is the best Korea

Re:Which Korea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054203)

It is.

Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054157)

Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation

http://www.latimes.com/news/la-na-gatesx07jan07,0,290910,full.story [latimes.com]

By Charles Piller, Edmund Sanders and Robyn Dixon Times Staff Writers

January 7, 2007
Ebocha, Nigeria â" Justice Eta, 14 months old, held out his tiny thumb.

An ink spot certified that he had been immunized against polio and measles, thanks to a vaccination drive supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But polio is not the only threat Justice faces. Almost since birth, he has had respiratory trouble. His neighbors call it "the cough." People blame fumes and soot spewing from flames that tower 300 feet into the air over a nearby oil plant. It is owned by the Italian petroleum giant Eni, whose investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Justice squirmed in his mother's arms. His face was beaded with sweat caused either by illness or by heat from the flames that illuminate Ebocha day and night. Ebocha means "city of lights."

The makeshift clinic at a church where Justice Eta was vaccinated and the flares spewing over Ebocha represent a head-on conflict for the Gates Foundation. In a contradiction between its grants and its endowment holdings, a Times investigation has found, the foundation reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works.

In Ebocha, where Justice lives, Dr. Elekwachi Okey, a local physician, says hundreds of flares at oil plants in the Niger Delta have caused an epidemic of bronchitis in adults, and asthma and blurred vision in children. No definitive studies have documented the health effects, but many of the 250 toxic chemicals in the fumes and soot have long been linked to respiratory disease and cancer.

"We're all smokers here," Okey said, "but not with cigarettes."

The oil plants in the region surrounding Ebocha find it cheaper to burn nearly 1 billion cubic feet of gas each day and contribute to global warming than to sell it. They deny the flaring causes sickness. Under pressure from activists, however, Nigeria's high court set a deadline to end flaring by May 2007. The gases would be injected back underground, or trucked and piped out for sale. But authorities expect the flares to burn for years beyond the deadline.

The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France â" the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.

Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats.

Oil workers, for example, and soldiers protecting them are a magnet for prostitution, contributing to a surge in HIV and teenage pregnancy, both targets in the Gates Foundation's efforts to ease the ills of society, especially among the poor. Oil bore holes fill with stagnant water, which is ideal for mosquitoes that spread malaria, one of the diseases the foundation is fighting.

Investigators for Dr. Nonyenim Solomon Enyidah, health commissioner for Rivers State, where Ebocha is located, cite an oil spill clogging rivers as a cause of cholera, another scourge the foundation is battling. The rivers, Enyidah said, "became breeding grounds for all kinds of waterborne diseases."

The bright, sooty gas flares â" which contain toxic byproducts such as benzene, mercury and chromium â" lower immunity, Enyidah said, and make children such as Justice Eta more susceptible to polio and measles â" the diseases that the Gates Foundation has helped to inoculate him against.

Investing for profit

AT the end of 2005, the Gates Foundation endowment stood at $35 billion, making it the largest in the world. Then in June 2006, Warren E. Buffett, the world's second-richest man after Bill Gates, pledged to add about $31 billion in installments from his personal fortune. Not counting tens of billions of dollars more that Gates himself has promised, the total is higher than the gross domestic products of 70% of the world's nations.

Like most philanthropies, the Gates Foundation gives away at least 5% of its worth every year, to avoid paying most taxes. In 2005, it granted nearly $1.4 billion. It awards grants mainly in support of global health initiatives, for efforts to improve public education in the United States, and for social welfare programs in the Pacific Northwest.

It invests the other 95% of its worth. This endowment is managed by Bill Gates Investments, which handles Gates' personal fortune. Monica Harrington, a senior policy officer at the foundation, said the investment managers had one goal: returns "that will allow for the continued funding of foundation programs and grant making." Bill and Melinda Gates require the managers to keep a highly diversified portfolio, but make no specific directives.

By comparing these investments with information from for-profit services that analyze corporate behavior for mutual funds, pension managers, government agencies and other foundations, The Times found that the Gates Foundation has holdings in many companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker rights, or unethical practices.

One of these investment rating services, Calvert Group Ltd., for example, endorses 52 of the largest 100 U.S. companies based on market capitalization, but flags the other 48 for transgressions against social responsibility. Microsoft Corp., which Bill Gates leads as board chairman, is rated highly for its overall business practices, despite its history of antitrust problems.

In addition, The Times found the Gates Foundation endowment had major holdings in:

â Companies ranked among the worst U.S. and Canadian polluters, including ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical Co. and Tyco International Ltd.

â Many of the world's other major polluters, including companies that own an oil refinery and one that owns a paper mill, which a study shows sicken children while the foundation tries to save their parents from AIDS.

â Pharmaceutical companies that price drugs beyond the reach of AIDS patients the foundation is trying to treat.

Using the most recent data available, a Times tally showed that hundreds of Gates Foundation investments â" totaling at least $8.7 billion, or 41% of its assets, not including U.S. and foreign government securities â" have been in companies that countered the foundation's charitable goals or socially concerned philosophy.

This is "the dirty secret" of many large philanthropies, said Paul Hawken, an expert on socially beneficial investing who directs the Natural Capital Institute, an investment research group. "Foundations donate to groups trying to heal the future," Hawken said in an interview, "but with their investments, they steal from the future."

Moreover, investing in destructive or unethical companies is not what is most harmful, said Hawken and other experts, including Douglas Bauer, senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit group that assists foundations on policy and ethical issues. Worse, they said, is investing purely for profit, without attempting to improve a company's way of operating.

Such blind-eye investing, they noted, rewards bad behavior.

At the Gates Foundation, blind-eye investing has been enforced by a firewall it has erected between its grant-making side and its investing side. The goals of the former are not allowed to interfere with the investments of the latter.

The foundation recently announced a plan to institutionalize that firewall by moving its assets into a separate organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust. Its two trustees will be Bill and Melinda Gates. The trust will invest to increase the endowment, while the foundation gives grants.

"We've been operating under these principles for many years," said Harrington, the foundation policy officer. "But having an official separation makes it even more clear."

With the exception of tobacco companies, asset managers do not avoid investments in firms whose activities conflict with the foundation's mission to do good.

"Because we want to maintain a focus on the programmatic work," Harrington said in a written response to Times questions, "we have made it a policy to not comment on individual investment holdings."

Finally, the foundation does not invest any portion of its endowment in companies specifically because they advance its philanthropic mission.

Much of the rest of philanthropy, however, is beginning to address contradictions between making grants to improve the world and making investments that harm it. According to recent surveys, many foundations, including some of the nation's largest, have adopted at least basic policies to invest in ways that support their missions.

Major foundations that make social justice, corporate governance and environmental stewardship key considerations in their investment strategies include the Ford Foundation, worth $11.6 billion, the nation's second-largest private philanthropy; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation; and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Moreover, nearly one-third of foundations participate directly in shareholder initiatives, voting their proxies to influence corporate behavior. A few have become shareholder activists. In recent years, for instance, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, with an endowment of $481 million, has sponsored proxies to force corporations to address environmental sustainability and political transparency.

Harrington said the Gates Foundation's investment managers vote proxies, but declined to give any specifics. The foundation would not make its chief investment manager, Michael Larson, available for an interview. In May, Harrington told the Chronicle of Philanthropy that the Gates Foundation did not get involved in proxy issues.

At the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, on the other hand, Michael J. Smith, its chief investment officer, said voting proxies to improve corporate behavior had become a fiduciary necessity.

"Companies that have good governance are generally well-managed," he said, "and have a good record of profitability."

Even the relatively tiny Needmor Fund, with a $27-million endowment, screens its investments to bar companies with poor environmental records, antagonism to worker rights or tolerance for repressive governments.

Leadership, however, is open to the Gates Foundation. It has unique power to move the debate, said Bauer, of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. If Gates adopted mission-related investing, Bauer said in an interview, the shift in the world of philanthropy would be "seismic."

The foundation did not respond to written questions about whether it might change its investment policies.

Life in 'Cancer Valley'

AT a clinic in Isipingo, a suburb of the South African port city of Durban where the HIV infection rate is as high as 40%, Thembeka Dube, 20, was getting a checkup.

Dube had volunteered for tests of a vaginal gel that researchers hope will be shown to protect against HIV. The tests are part of a study conducted by the New York-based Population Council, and funded by a $20-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dube's boyfriend won't use condoms. She hoped the tests would show she could use the microbicidal gel, called Carraguard, and stop worrying about AIDS.

Research into prophylactics such as Carraguard can fight AIDS by empowering women, Bill Gates told the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August. "Whether the woman is a faithful married mother of small children, or a sex worker trying to scrape out a living in a slum ⦠" he said, "a woman should never need her partner's permission to save her own life."

Two days before Gates spoke, Kyrone Smith was born only a few kilometers from the Isipingo clinic. At the same time the Gates Foundation was trying to help Dube, it owned a stake in companies that appeared to be hurting Kyrone.

At six weeks, his lungs began to fail. Kyrone struggled to cry, but he was so weak that no sound came out â" just husky, labored breaths.

His mother, Renee Smith, 26, rushed him to a hospital, where he was given oxygen. She feared it would be the first of many hospital visits. Smith knew from experience.

"My son Teiago was in and out of hospital since the age of 3," she said. "He couldn't breathe nicelyâ¦. There are so many children in this area who have the same problems."

Two of the area's worst industrial polluters â" a Mondi paper mill and a giant Sapref oil refinery â" squat among the homes near Isipingo like sleepy grey dragons, exhaling chemical vapors day and night.

The Sapref plant, which has had two dozen significant spills, flares, pipeline ruptures and explosions since 1998, and the Mondi plant together pump thousands of tons of putrid-smelling chemicals into the air annually, according to their own monitoring.

In 2002, a study found that more than half of the children at a school in nearby Merebank suffered asthma â" one of the highest rates in scientific literature. A second study, published last year, found serious respiratory problems throughout the region: More than half of children aged 2 to 5 had asthma, largely attributed to sulfur dioxide and other industrial pollutants. Much of it was produced by companies in which the Gates Foundation was invested.

Asthma was not the only danger. Isipingo is in what environmental activists call "Cancer Valley." Emissions of benzene, dioxins and other carcinogens were "among the highest levels found in any comparable location the world," said Stuart Batterman at the University of Michigan, a coauthor of both studies.

The Gates Foundation is a major shareholder in the companies that own both of the polluting plants. As of September, the foundation held $295 million worth of stock in BP, a co-owner of Sapref. As of 2005, it held $35 million worth of stock in Royal Dutch Shell, Sapref's other owner. The foundation also held a $39-million investment in Anglo American, which owns the Mondi paper mill.

The foundation has held large investments in all three companies since at least 2002. Since then, the worth of BP shares has shot up by about 83%, Royal Dutch Shell shares by 77% and Anglo American shares about 255%. Dividends have padded the foundation's assets by additional millions of dollars.

The foundation has gotten much more in financial gains from its investments in the polluters than it has given to the Durban microbicide study to fight AIDS.

Sapref said it had cut sulfur dioxide emissions by two-thirds since 1997 and spent more than $64 million over 11 years on environmental initiatives. It said lead in its gasoline and sulfur in its diesel fuel were reduced a year ago. Plant officials said: "Sapref does not accept any responsibility for any health issues in South Durban."

Mondi said that its Merebank paper mill had cut "chemical oxygen demand," a key pollutant, in 2005, and that it was cutting its sulfur dioxide emissions. But by the company's own estimate, the mill still releases about three times the combined amount of sulfur dioxide produced by Mondi plants in five other nations, and the other plants operate at nearly six times the capacity. Merebank uses a coal-fired power plant, while the others burn cleaner fuel.

Just as the Gates Foundation investments in Mondi, BP and Royal Dutch Shell have been very profitable, so too have its holdings in the top 100 polluters in the United States, as rated by the University of Massachusetts, and the top 50 polluters in Canada, as rated by the trade publication Corporate Knights, using methods based on those developed by the university.

According to the foundation's 2005 figures, it held a $1.4-billion stake in 69 of those firms. They included blue chips, such as Chevron Corp. and Ford Motor Co., as well as lesser-known companies such as Lyondell Chemical Co. and Ameren Corp.

At the same time, the foundation held a $2.9-billion stake in firms ranked by the investment rating services as among the worst environmental stewards, including Dominion Resources Inc. and El Paso Corp.

Without double-counting companies flagged by both the University of Massachusetts and the rating services, the combination totals an investment of about $3.3 billion.

The Gates Foundation did not respond to written questions about its investments in companies that were high polluters or those rated as poor environmental stewards.

Drugs out of reach

NEARLY every morning, a 56-year-old retired soldier named Felix makes a short trek from his house on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria, to a factory to purchase a 40-cent block of ice.

Felix has a pressing, private reason to get the ice: He needs it to keep his medicine from melting.

Two years ago, Felix's wife died from AIDS, and he learned he was HIV-positive.

He told his six children, now 16 to 24 years old, but no one else. He was afraid of the stigma of HIV. He agreed to be interviewed only if he was identified by his first name alone. "I thought the world had come to an end for me," Felix said. "Everyone believes that once you have it, you're a living ghost."

He took antiretroviral drugs and felt better. But his treatment was interrupted frequently because he could not afford the cost: $62 a month. His pension as a former staff sergeant was $115 a month, and the money came sporadically.

Worse, his body soon stopped responding to the drugs. His kidneys began to fail, and his count of immune cells crucial to fight off infections plummeted.

In May, Felix began taking Kaletra, a second-line AIDS drug â" needed when the first round of treatments fail.

His health rebounded, but it came at a cost.

Gel capsules of Kaletra melt in Nigeria's sweltering climate, where temperatures often top 100 degrees. Felix kept his Kaletra in a small chest filled with ice.

Each day, he had to go get more ice. And each day, he had to take Kaletra precisely at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. These things made it difficult for him to work, even at odd jobs.

A new version of Kaletra does not require refrigeration. But his physician, Dr. T.M. Balogun, who helps run the AIDS program at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, told him not to get his hopes up.

The hospital is helped by the Nigerian government, which gets money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The fund has been awarded $651 million by the Gates Foundation. Yet the hospital does not offer the new Kaletra. It is too expensive.

In August, private pharmacists said they could sell it for $246 a month. But that was far out of Felix's reach.

Kaletra is made by Abbott Laboratories. As of this September, the Gates Foundation held $169 million in Abbott stock. In 2005, the foundation held nearly $1.5 billion worth of stock in drug companies whose practices have been widely criticized as restricting the flow of key medicines to poor people in developing nations.

On average, shares in those companies have increased in value about 54% since 2002. Investments in Abbott and other drug makers probably have gained the foundation hundreds of millions of dollars.

Drug makers say they need price protection for research and development. "Our global needs and global systems are in conflict," Miles White, Abbott's chief executive, wrote in the Financial Times last year. "This threatens to harm one goal, innovation, in the name of another, access to medicine."

In 1994, however, the drug makers, with other research-intensive businesses, lobbied hard and successfully for the international Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which made it harder to move from costly brand-name drugs to cheap generics. The agreement protected new-drug monopolies for 20 years or more.

This meant no low-priced generic for Kaletra. The pact locked in Abbott as its sole supplier, and Abbott set prices for the world.

Under pressure from activists, Abbott and other companies cut prices for key AIDS drugs in poorer nations. In Guatemala and Thailand, the new Kaletra costs $2,200 per patient per year, plus taxes and fees â" a fraction of the more than $8,000 it costs in the United States. In poorer Nigeria, the official price was $500 a year.

But this was still too costly for most patients, including Felix.

The industry's approach "has the effect of making medicines available only to a narrow spectrum of a rich elite in a developing country," said Brook Baker, an intellectual property expert at Northeastern University.

He called it "pharmaceutical apartheid."

Drug companies say critics overlook billions of dollars' worth of drugs they donate to developing nations. Abbott says it has given AIDS drugs to 25,000 patients, along with millions of test kits, and has underwritten a major project to improve AIDS services in Tanzania.

In emergencies, critics welcome donated drugs. The problem, they say, is that donations scare away generic suppliers. Donations, said Ellen 't Hoen, who directs a drug-access program for Doctors Without Borders, "remove the prospect of any stable supply."

And when the free drugs are gone, patients die.

Most medicines are reliably profitable. In the most recent quarter, Abbott posted a gross profit margin of 59% of sales, and recently paid its 331st consecutive quarterly dividend. A congressional analysis shows that during the first six months of 2006, the 10 largest drug companies earned $39.8 billion in profits.

The Gates Foundation's top priority is stopping AIDS, Bill Gates told the International AIDS Conference in August. Since its inception, the foundation has donated more than $2 billion to fight the disease.

The foundation did not respond to written questions about the problems of patients who cannot obtain needed AIDS drugs due to pharmaceutical company policies.

Meanwhile, the foundation holds its grant recipients to a far higher standard than the drug companies on which it bets large portions of its endowment. Its grant form says it expects recipients "to exercise their intellectual property rights in a manner consistent with the stated goals of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the ⦠availability of inventions for public benefit in developing countries at reasonable cost."

Some critics say the foundation's failure to use its own investments "to promote ⦠public benefit in developing countries at reasonable cost" might trace back to the source of most of its money â" Microsoft â" which Bill Gates serves as chairman.

Microsoft monopolies in computer operating systems and business software depend upon the same intellectual-property and trade-law approaches favored by drug companies.

"The Gates Foundation is in a position to change the dynamic, to make sure that drugs get first to the places they are most needed," said Daniel Berman, deputy director in South Africa for Doctors Without Borders. "But it conflicts with the interests of Microsoft."

In response to written questions, Harrington, the Gates Foundation policy officer, said the foundation tried to guarantee that grantee discoveries made in partnership with for-profit companies trickled down to people in developing nations.

"The foundation's goal is to help ensure that new scientific knowledge is broadly shared ⦠and that lifesaving health advances are created and made available and affordable to those most in need," she said. "We also recognize that private industry needs adequate incentives to develop new drugs."

The foundation's pharmaceutical company investments, Harrington said, "are completely separate from what's being done on the programmatic side to help spur the development and delivery of drugs/vaccines."

charles.piller@latimes.com

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

robyn.dixon@latimes.com

Sanders reported from Nigeria, Dixon from South Africa and Piller from San Francisco. Times staff writer Doug Smith, data analyst Sandra Poindexter and researchers Maloy Moore and Robin Mayper contributed to this report.

Re:Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation (1)

bigt405 (2705553) | about 2 years ago | (#41054261)

Really? You posted an entire article?

Lost the ball. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41054199)

Korea? Really? Wtf on this grand earth would he pick Korea for?

Traveling Wave Reactor (4, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#41054205)

It's a really cool idea if you can get it to work. It breeds fuel right before it burns it. So you can load the thing once and have it run for 50 years without refueling. It's nice because you don't have to have move large amounts of enriched uranium or plutonium around.

Terrorist? (0)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#41054335)

Okay, so why hasn't he been arrested on terrorism charges yet?

Offering to build a nuclear reactor and, of all places, in Korea? I thought there were export laws about things like that?

Not to mention, he's obviously well-funded, has planted malware on every computer in the world (and thus indirectly funds all piracy and peer-to-peer networks).

Seriously? We're chasing after some pillock in an embassy when Bill Gates is building private nuclear reactors in war-torn countries?

Nuclear systems are obsolets (1)

kinsoa (550794) | about 2 years ago | (#41054339)


Have a (serious) look at the LENR move.

Old nuclear systems will become illegals in a few year.

Toilet? (2)

Ronin441 (89631) | about 2 years ago | (#41054357)

Is this related to Bill Gates' plan to re-invent the toilet?

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