Current Events

President Obama in Russia

The Wall Street Journal reported on July 6:

“Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev reached a framework agreement to reduce their nuclear arsenals but left open a host of vexing issues in US-Russian relations… the widely anticipated agreements reached Monday are not likely to give [Obama] a big boost…

“The Russians are continuing to say they cannot reach a final agreement on a new treaty if the U.S. insists on deploying missile defense systems on Poland and the Czech Republic…”

Obama Challenges Russia

The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 8:

“President Barack Obama challenged Russians to bolster the rule of law, recognize the sovereignty and borders of its neighbors and rejuvenate its flagging democracy, even as he reassured the former Cold War adversary that the U.S. is committed to a ‘strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia’… But he demanded that Russia accept the rights of former Soviet clients Georgia and Ukraine to sovereignty, secure borders and independent foreign policies. He reiterated that Russia’s neighbors may join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if they meet membership criteria…

“There is little evidence of Obamamania in Russia. Although the audience was considered liberal by Russian standards, its reaction was subdued. The half-hour speech went uninterrupted by applause. The ovation at its conclusion was subdued… A poll last week found that… [three] quarters say the U.S. abuses its power to make Russia do what it wants…

“[Obama said:] ‘In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonizing other countries.'”

Is Russia Preparing for War?

The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 3:

“… the Russian media are now abuzz with speculation about a new war in Georgia, and some Western analysts are voicing similar concerns. The idea seems insane. Nonetheless, the risk is real. One danger sign is persistent talk of so-called Georgian aggression against the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognized as independent states after the war last August… Independent Russian commentators… note that this has the feel of a propaganda campaign to prepare the public for a second war… The expulsion of neutral observers [by Russia] seems odd if Russia is worried about Georgian aggression. But it makes sense if Russia is planning an attack.

“What would the Kremlin gain? A crushing victory in Georgia would depose the hated Mr. Saakashvili, give Russia control of vital transit routes for additional energy resources that could weaken its hold on the European oil and gas markets, humiliate the U.S., and distract Russians from their economic woes…

“Moscow’s actions are not always rational… That is why it’s essential for the United States and the EU to respond now — by increasing their non-military presence in Georgia, expressing a strong commitment to Georgian sovereignty, and reminding Russia of the consequences of aggression.”

Pope Asks for World Authority

Der Stern Online reported on July 8 that Pope Benedict XVI, in his third encyclical letter–the highest form of papal teachings–pleaded for “a real world authority,” which would need to go far beyond the present UN, in order to tackle the economic world crisis and to secure world peace.

Its publication comes on the eve of Wednesday’s G8 meeting of world leaders at L’Aquila.

Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had already called for such a world authority. Benedict stated that it is now absolutely necessary to establish it.

The Associated Press reported on July 7:

“Pope Benedict XVI called Tuesday for a new world financial order guided by ethics, dignity and the search for the common good in the third encyclical of his pontificate… Benedict stressed he wasn’t opposed to a globalized economy, saying that if done correctly it has an unprecedented potential to redistribute wealth around the globe. But he warned that if badly directed and if the problems aren’t fixed, globalization can increase poverty and inequality and trigger the type of crisis under way.”

Mr. Obama Turns to the Pope

Israel National News wrote on July 5:

“U.S. President Barack Obama is turning to the Pope to back his vision of a new Arab state on all of Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. The president told the Catholic Italian newspaper Avvenire, one week before a scheduled meeting with the Pope in Italy, ‘It [the Middle East] is a subject I am keen to discuss with the pope. I think he will share my approach.’

“President Obama has dug in his heels in insisting that Israel stop all building for Jews in Judea and Samaria, and the State Department has indicated that the ban should include all of Jerusalem that was restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967… President Obama faces stiff opposition from Arabs to make any concessions before Israel completely surrenders all of Judea and Samaria.”

Saudi Arabia Will Allow Israel to Use Airspace in Attack on Iran…

The Sunday Times wrote on July 5:

“The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu… that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites…

“Recent developments have underscored concerns among moderate Sunni Arab states about the stability of the repressive Shi’ite regime in Tehran and have increased fears that it may emerge as a belligerent nuclear power… The Israeli air force has been training for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear site at Natanz in the centre of the country and other locations for four years.”

Der Spiegel Online reported on July 7 that Saudi Arabia vehemently denied the report of the Sunday Times.

America Won’t Stand in the Way, Either…

The Associated Press reported on July 5:

“Vice President Joe Biden signaled that the Obama administration would not stand in the way if Israel chose to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, even as the top U.S. military officer said any attack on Iran would be destabilizing.”

Haaretz reported on July 6:

“Iran is ready to take real and decisive action if Israel attacks its nuclear facilities, a senior Iranian parliamentary official said Monday. The remarks… came after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden signaled that Washington would not try to prevent any such Israeli assault.”

… Even Though It’s Denied…

AFP wrote on July 6:

“State Department spokesman Ian Kelly rebuffed suggestions from reporters that Biden could be seen as giving the Jewish state a green light to attack Iran…”

The Jerusalem Post added on July 7:

“US President Barack Obama on Tuesday strongly denied that the United States had given Israel an approval to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Asked by CNN whether Washington had given Israel a green light for such an attack, Obama answered: ‘Absolutely not.'”

Israel and the USA

The Washington Times wrote on July 7:

“One senior Israeli official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, told The Washington Times that Mr. Netanyahu determined that ‘it made no sense’ to press the matter after the negative response President Bush gave Mr. Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, when he asked early last year for U.S. aid for possible military strikes on Iran.

“Israel is increasingly nervous that Iran is developing the capability to build a nuclear weapon, an intention Iran denies. However, Israel is unlikely to attack Iran without at least tacit U.S. approval, in part because that would require cooperation from the United States. At the very least, Israel likely would have to fly over Iraqi airspace, which is still effectively controlled by the U.S. Air Force.”

G-8 Leaders Set Deadline for Iran Resolution

Deutsche Welle reported on July 9:

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters at the summit in the central Italian city of L’Aquila that September’s meeting of the G-20 – the world’s 20 leading economies – would be the deadline for Iran to resolve its nuclear dispute with the West.

“‘We made an effort to accept that we will not reinforce sanctions immediately in order to bring everyone on board,’ Sarkozy said, in reference to Russia’s call for more time to consider fresh sanctions. ‘[The G-20 meeting in] Pittsburgh is the rendezvous. If there is no progress by then we will have to take decisions,’ he added. The G-20 combines major developing powerhouses like China with the G-8…

“The United States and Canada said the world’s main industrialized nations were growing increasingly impatient with Iran’s tactics. ‘All G-8 nations are united. There is a strong consensus at the table that unless things change soon, there will be further action,’ said Canadian spokesman Dimitri Soudas… The United States has had comprehensive sanctions in place for decades against Iran, but its European allies have been reluctant to impose sanctions, preferring to pursue diplomatic efforts…

“G-8 leaders also criticized the Iranian regime’s violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and the “unjustified” detention of journalists in Iran… Ahmadinejad himself was also the focus of G-8 concern over his frequent denials that the mass murder of Jews under Germany’s regime ever happened. ‘We condemn the declarations of President Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust,’ the eight leaders said in another joint statement.”

Saddam Feared Iran More Than USA

The Times wrote on July 3:

“Saddam Hussein allowed the world to believe that he had weapons of mass destruction because he feared the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran more than an American strike, according to declassified documents records of his interrogation. Saddam said that the dramatic increase in Iran’s weapons capabilities had left him feeling so vulnerable to the ‘fanatic’ mullahs next door that he would have been prepared to forge a security agreement with the United States to protect Iraq from regional threats. He warned that the effects of Iran’s unchecked rise ‘will be seen and felt in the future’.

“The revelation… supports the view of many regional experts that Saddam’s weapons bluff was aimed not at the West but at his old enemy Iran. Many analysts believe that the removal of Iraq as a bulwark against Iran has merely fuelled Tehran’s rise to its current hegemony in the Middle East. Iran and Iraq fought a devastating eight-year war from 1980 to 1988, in which Saddam was supported and armed by the United States.”

Mr. Biden Admits Mistakes…

ABC News reported on July 5:

“Big admission from Vice President Joe Biden today. ‘The truth is, we and everyone else misread the economy,’ Biden [said during an ABC] exclusive ‘This Week’ interview in Iraq.

“Biden acknowledged administration officials were too optimistic earlier this year when they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at 8 percent as part of their effort to sell the stimulus package. The national unemployment rate has ballooned to 9.5 percent in June — the worst in 26 years…

“‘We misread how bad the economy was, but we are now only about 120 days into the recovery package,’ he said. ‘The truth of the matter was, no one anticipated, no one expected that that recovery package would in fact be in a position at this point of having to distribute the bulk of money.'”

These statements by Vice President Biden are ridiculous. Even though Mr. Biden and the entire Obama Administration might have misread the economy and the signs of the times, there were voices warning about the inappropriate measures of the US government and the overly optimistic assessment of the economy. The truth is, however, that those voices were ignored or even demonized.

Big Banks Won’t Accept California’s IOUs

The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 7:

“A group of the biggest U.S. banks said they would stop accepting California’s IOUs on Friday, adding pressure on the state to close its $26.3 billion annual budget gap… After state leaders failed to agree on budget solutions last week, California began issuing IOUs — or ‘individual registered warrants’ — to hundreds of thousands of creditors. State Controller John Chiang said that without IOUs, California would run out of cash by July’s end.

“But now, if California continues to issue the IOUs, creditors will be forced to hold on to them until they mature on Oct. 2… When the IOUs mature, holders will be paid back directly by the state at an annual 3.75% interest rate…

“The group of banks included Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., among others. The banks had previously committed to accepting state IOUs as payment. California plans to issue more than $3 billion of IOUs in July.”

Irresponsibility of Obama Administration in Light of California Debacle

Bloomberg wrote on July 6:

“With California mired in a budget crisis… Controller John Chiang said the state planned to issue $3.3 billion in IOU’s in July alone… The California morass has Democrats in Washington trembling. The reason is simple. If Obama’s health-care plan passes, then we may well end up paying for it with federal slips of paper worth less than California’s. Obama has bet everything on passing health care this year. The publicity surrounding the California debt fiasco almost assures his resounding defeat…

“California has engaged in an orgy of spending, but, compared with our federal government, its legislators should feel chaste. The California deficit this year is now [about]… $26 billion. The U.S. federal deficit will be… almost 70 times larger. The federal picture is so bleak because the Obama administration is the most fiscally irresponsible in the history of the U.S…

“The Obama administration… is willing to abandon reason altogether to achieve its short-term political goals… Nobody believes that his unprecedented expansion of the welfare state will lead to enough economic growth. Nobody believes that it will pay for itself. Everyone understands that higher spending today begets higher spending tomorrow. That means that his economic strategy simply doesn’t add up…

“Back in the 1980s, Reagan’s own economist, Martin Feldstein, spoke up when he felt that the Reagan administration was pushing the deficit too far. Where are the economists with such character today?…”

Another US Economic Crisis Looming…

The Telegraph wrote on July 6:

“The US economy is lurching towards crisis with long-term interest rates on course to double, crippling the country’s ability to pay its debts and potentially plunging it into another recession, according to a study by the US’s own central bank… Tim Congdon, founder of Lombard Street Research, called [it] a ‘debt explosion’…

“A US crisis would have implications for the rest of the world, in any case… Mr Congdon said the study illustrated the ‘horrifying’ consequences for leading western economies of bailing out their banks and attempting to stimulate markets by cutting taxes and boosting public spending… Should the cost of raising or refinancing public debt in the markets double, ‘the debt could just explode’, he said…”

Germany Faces Largest Debt Growth in Its History

The Netzeitung reported on July 2:

“Germany is threatened with the largest debt growth in its history due to a fall in tax revenue because of the recession… The German state must borrow EUR 507 billion more before 2013… It will affect public spending on a federal, state and local authority level, and could raise the national debt to EUR 2 trillion. The new debts will be spread over the next few years, beginning with EUR 112 billion this year and EUR 132 billion in 2010.

“The debt increase means that Germany will be violating the EU’s Maastricht Treaty for the entire coming legislation period… If Germany’s national debt rose to EUR 2 trillion, the state would end up paying EUR 80 billion a year in interest alone – around one sixth of the current tax revenue.”

Honduras At the Brink…

The Associated Press reported on July 6:

“Already volatile Honduras slid toward greater instability after soldiers blocked an airport runway to keep ousted President Manuel Zelaya from returning, and protests that had remained largely peaceful yielded their first death…  Zelaya’s plane, on loan from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, arrived to find the runway blocked by military vehicles and soldiers… Zelaya instead headed for El Salvador…

“Honduras’ new government has vowed to arrest Zelaya for 18 alleged criminal acts including treason and failing to implement more than 80 laws approved by Congress since taking office in 2006. Zelaya also refused to comply with a Supreme Court ruling against his planned referendum on whether to hold an assembly to consider changing the constitution.

“Critics feared Zelaya might try to extend his rule and cement presidential power in ways similar to what his ally Chavez has done in Venezuela – though Zelaya denied that. But instead of prosecuting him or trying to defeat him at the ballot box, masked soldiers flew the president out of the country at gunpoint, and Congress installed Micheletti in his place.

“The military solution drew international condemnation… no nation has recognized the new government. President Barack Obama has united with Chavez and conservative Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in insisting on Zelaya’s return.”

Venezuela Blackmails Honduras

The New York Times reported on July 8, 2009:

“Venezuela’ s oil minister, Rafael Ramírez, confirmed Wednesday that his country had halted oil exports to Honduras. Mr. Ramírez said shipments of oil, which Venezuela has sold to Honduras at preferential prices, would not resume until that country’s ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, was reinstated. Mr. Zelaya is an ally of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Venezuela sends about 20,000 barrels of oil a day to Honduras…”

Is the World Supporting the Wrong Side in Honduras?

The Wall Street Journal wrote on July 6:

“Mr. Zelaya’s violations of the rule of law in recent months were numerous. But the tipping point came 10 days ago, when he led a violent mob that stormed a military base to seize and distribute Venezuelan-printed ballots for an illegal referendum…

“Hondurans have good cause for calling on divine intervention: Reason has gone AWOL in places like Turtle Bay and Foggy Bottom. Ruling the debate on Mr. Zelaya’s behavior is Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, who is now the reigning international authority on ‘democracy.’ Mr. Chávez is demanding that Mr. Zelaya be reinstated and is even threatening to overthrow the new Honduran president, Roberto Micheletti. He’s leading the charge from the Organization of American States (OAS). The United Nations and the Obama administration are falling in line.

“Is this insane? You bet… Hondurans had the courage to push back. Now Chávez-supported agitators are trying to stir up violence… This is a moment when the U.S. ought to be on the side of the rule of law, which the Honduran court and Congress upheld. If Washington does not reverse course, it will be one more act of appeasement toward an ambitious and increasingly dangerous dictator.”

Egypt Furious with Germany

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 7:

“A brutal murder in Germany last week has caused shockwaves in far-off Egypt. Thousands of mourners took to the streets of Alexandria on Monday to protest at the funeral of a pregnant Egyptian woman who was stabbed to death inside a German court in a crime that has provoked fury in her home country.

“Egyptian newspapers have given strong coverage to the death of Marwa al-Sherbini (32), describing the veiled woman as a ‘martyr in a headscarf’ and suggesting the killer was motivated by a hatred of Islam. Mourners chanted ‘Down with Germany’ and scuffled with police after prayers in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria for al-Sherbini, who was murdered on July 1 in a courtroom in Dresden, eastern Germany, by a German man of Russian origin…

“Al-Sherbini, mother to a three-year-old child and three months pregnant, was stabbed 18 times by the man she was testifying against during an appeal hearing, German prosecutors said… Her killer also stabbed her husband, who German police then mistook for the attacker and shot in the leg, prosecutors added. The husband is in hospital and has awoken from a coma…

“The killer… was appealing against a conviction for insulting Sherbini by calling her an ‘Islamist,’ ‘terrorist’ and a ‘slut’ when she asked him to make space for her son to go on the swings on a playground in Dresden, prosecutors said. He had been fined €780 and last Wednesday’s court session had been called to hear his appeal against the ruling…

“The Egyptian Pharmaceutical Association has called for a boycott of German-made drugs… Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Egypt’s most senior cleric, called the attacker a murderer and said al-Sherbiny was a martyr. But he appealed for calm and said he hoped the murder wouldn’t harm the dialogue between the West and Islam. ‘It was an isolated case,’ he said.”

Ethnic Violence in China–Why?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 7:

“It is still not clear exactly what sparked the worst ethnic violence China has seen in years… Rioting and violence in the Chinese province of Xinjiang has left over 150 people dead, hundreds more injured and thousands under arrest… Whatever the cause, the result was extreme inter-ethnic violence, with angry Uighurs beating Han Chinese in the streets, vehicles and businesses being burned. This led to an aggressive response by Chinese authorities…

“Germany may have more of a vested interest than most in the events as Munich is home to the largest population of Uighurs outside China…

“Business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘Almost a year ago the tanks rolled into Lhasa; last Sunday cars and businesses were burning in Urumqi. The basic problem is that Beijing has never accepted its issues with its ethnic minorities as a political problem. Peking has not tried nearly hard enough to find a mutually acceptable solution… And this terrible situation in Urumqi only shows — once again — how fragile this Chinese super power really is… there are deep rifts right across this country. And how quickly the violence can escalate…’

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘… It is only too clear that ethnic integration in China is experienced differently, by different races. What is also clear is that when those differences are ignored they make for the sort of situation that can explode into violence at any provocation’…

“The conservative daily Die Welt [states]: ‘… China is notorious for not being understanding of other cultures. Ethnic minorities have equal rights here but only on paper. Many Han Chinese treat their Uighur brethren with thinly disguised contempt and racist arrogance… The proverbial spark that set this violent fire had to do with the unexplained deaths of two Uighur factory workers. The fact that such a spark could set such a blaze in Urumqi, a historically multi-ethnic city in which Chinese, Uighurs, Kazakhs, Russians and Tartars have all lived peacefully together, does not bode well.'”

Ethnic Violence Continuing in China…

The Associated Press reported on July 8:

“Thousands of Chinese troops flooded into this city Wednesday to separate feuding ethnic groups after three days of communal violence left 156 people dead, and a senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting in western China.

“Long convoys of armored cars and green troop trucks with riot police rumbled through Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million people. Other security forces carrying automatic rifles with bayonets formed cordons to defend Muslim neighborhoods from marauding groups of vigilantes with sticks.

“The crisis was so severe that President Hu Jintao cut short a trip to Italy, where he was to participate in a Group of Eight summit. It was an embarrassing move for a leader who wants to show that China has a harmonious society as it prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist rule.

“The heightened security came amid the worst spasm of ethnic violence in decades in Xinjiang… The region is home to the Uighur ethnic minority, who rioted Sunday and attacked the Han Chinese—the nation’s biggest ethnic group—after holding a protest that was ended by police.

“Officials have said 156 people were killed as the Turkic-speaking Uighurs ran amok in the city, beating and stabbing the Han Chinese. The Uighurs allege that trigger-happy security forces gunned down many of the protesters, and officials have yet to give an ethnic breakdown of those killed.

“More than 1,100 people were wounded in the violence… The ethnic hatred in Xinjiang appears to run so deep that many Uighurs won’t express sorrow for the Han Chinese who were attacked Sunday.”

Welt On Line added on July 8:

“Urumqi, Xinjiang’s regional capital, imposed an overnight curfew after thousands of Han Chinese stormed through its streets demanding redress and sometimes extracting bloody vengeance for Sunday’s violence…

“Along with Tibet, Xinjiang is one of the most politically sensitive regions in China. It is strategically located at the borders of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China’s largest natural gas-producing region.

“Xinjiang has long been a tightly controlled hotbed of ethnic tensions, fostered by an economic gap between many Uighurs and Han Chinese, government controls on religion and culture and an influx of Han migrants who now are the majority in most key cities, including Urumqi. There were attacks in the region before and during last year’s Summer Olympics in Beijing.

“But controlling the anger on both sides of the ethnic divide will now make controlling Xinjiang, with its gas reserves and trade and energy ties to central Asia, all the more testing for the ruling Communist Party.”


India to Launch First Nuclear Submarine

The Financial Times wrote on July 8:

“India is expected to launch a locally built nuclear-powered submarine later this month, making it one of only a handful of countries with the technology to produce such a vessel… The deployment of a nuclear-powered submarine would be a major step for the Indian navy, which is anxious to maintain its authority in the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The submarine could allow New Delhi to develop a nuclear weapon strike capability from the sea.

“The submarine, the INS Chakra, has been produced at a cost of $2.9bn… and is expected to go into full service in two years’ time…

“India has plans to lease an Akula-class nuclear submarine from Moscow. It is also awaiting the delivery of a 30-year-old refitted Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov. Additionally, India is building six French-designed Scorpene diesel submarines.

“The country lags behind China’s naval might in the region… Beijing [has] a fleet of eight nuclear submarines, some with ballistic missile capability, although it [lacks] an aircraft carrier. The Chinese navy has three times the number of combat vessels (about 630) as India and a personnel strength of 225,000 — five times that of the Indian navy.”

Swine Flu Pandemic Unstoppable

Bild On Line wrote on July 6:

“The head of the WHO has issued a grim warning about the swine flu pandemic gripping the world – the killer virus can’t be stopped! The UN body has revealed that the spread of the disease cannot be halted, but insisted that the majority of cases were mild and not life-threatening. Most sufferers would recover within a week without the need for any treatment, the BBC reported. But there is still a high risk, especially for pregnant women and people with existing health problems.

“World Health Organisation head Margaret Chan… paint[ed] a dark picture about the fight against the virus: ‘As we see today, with well over 100 countries reporting cases, once a fully fit pandemic virus emerges, its further international spread is unstoppable.’

“About 80,000 people have been infected so far in 100 countries, with more than 330 deaths recorded. And the future prognosis is bad – the WHO forecasts that up to two billion people will contract the H1N1 swine flu virus. In the UK alone, it is thought up to 100,000 new cases could be recorded a day by the end of the summer.”

Abuse of Copyright Law by Big Brother Society?

The Financial Times wrote on July 7:

“If you search for Elvis Presley in Wikipedia, you will find a lot of text and a few pictures that have been cleared for distribution. But you will find no music and no film clips, due to copyright restrictions. What we think of as our common cultural heritage is not ‘ours’ at all. On MySpace and YouTube, creative people post audio and video remixes for others to enjoy, until they are replaced by take-down notices handed out by big film and record companies. Technology opens up possibilities; copyright law shuts them down.

“This was never the intent. Copyright was meant to encourage culture, not restrict it. This is reason enough for reform. But the current regime has even more damaging effects. In order to uphold copyright laws, governments are beginning to restrict our right to communicate with each other in private, without being monitored.

“File-sharing occurs whenever one individual sends a file to another. The only way to even try to limit this process is to monitor all communication between ordinary people. Despite the crackdown on Napster, Kazaa and other peer-to-peer services over the past decade, the volume of file-sharing has grown exponentially. Even if the authorities closed down all other possibilities, people could still send copyrighted files as attachments to e-mails or through private networks. If people start doing that, should we give the government the right to monitor all mail and all encrypted networks? Whenever there are ways of communicating in private, they will be used to share copyrighted material. If you want to stop people doing this, you must remove the right to communicate in private…

“The world is at a crossroads. The internet and new information technologies are so powerful that no matter what we do, society will change… The technology could be used to create a Big Brother society beyond our nightmares, where governments and corporations monitor every detail of our lives. In the former East Germany, the government needed tens of thousands of employees to keep track of the citizens using typewriters, pencils and index cards. Today a computer can do the same thing a million times faster, at the push of a button. There are many politicians who want to push that button.

“… where technology opens up new possibilities, our intellectual property laws do their best to restrict them. Linux is held back by patents, the rest of the examples by copyright… Will we let our fears lead us towards a dystopian Big Brother state, or will we have the courage and wisdom to choose an exciting future in a free and open society?”

Cyber Attack on US Government

The Associated Press reported on July 8:

“A widespread computer attack that began July 4 knocked out the Web sites of the Treasury Department, the Secret Service and other U.S. government agencies… Sites in South Korea were also affected, and South Korean intelligence officials believe the attack was carried out by North Korean… forces. The U.S. government Web sites, which also included those of the Federal Trade Commission and the Transportation Department, were all down at varying points over the holiday weekend and into this week… the fact that the government Web sites were still being affected three days after it began signaled an unusually lengthy and sophisticated attack.”

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