Monthly Archives: July 2008

South Korea Cracks Down On Internet Libel

The ever confusing limits of Internet free speech came under examination by the South Korean government in light of recent turmoil surrounding importation of American beef which led to numerous stories appearing on the Internet. Justice Minister Kim Kyung-han vowed to introduce stringent measures against online libel, including criminalizing cyberspace libel. “Online defamatory actin, dissemination of false information and menacing calls for businesses not to run their ads in some newspapers have reached a perilous level, and subsequent damage is at a very serious scale, heightening public concern. We needed special measures to redress such illicit acts and disorder in the cyberspace.”

The Justice Minister wants to compel people to identify themselves when presenting information on the Internet. He was particularly upset because several businesses were warned to cease advertising in newspapers that supported the government’s policy of allowing the importation of American beef. The Justice department indicted a woman reporter las month who posted incorrect information on her web site that a female protestor against been imports had been strangled by the police.

Anyone who spends time on the Internet or in MySpace and Facebook undoubtedly encounters examples of individuals spreading false information. But, in a democracy, the right to spread false information is as protected as the right to spread correct information. The situation undoubtedly becomes murkier when a person is the subject of false information and, hopefully, existing libel laws should handle such situations.

Can I Throw Eggs At People I Dislike? Sort Of In Hungary

During the recent Gay Pride march in Budapest, a group of right wing extremists attacked those marching by throwing eggs at them. They were ordered to halt this demonstration of infantile behavior by a policeman but they persisted. The men were arrested and brought to trial. At their first trial, the judge ruled in favor of the three men on grounds that throwing eggs, in itself, is not illegal and can fall within the scope of acceptable “freedom of expression.” However, Judge Istvan Koya, head of the Criminal Secton of the Budapest City
Court, sharply disagreed and over turned the verdict. He made clear throwing eggs at people is not a legal form of expression in all circumstances. The men were fined.

One can only wonder under which circumstances is it permissible to throw eggs at people? The men who did the throwing certainly did not know the people they were assaulting. Is it OK to throw other objects in certain “circumstances?”

Horn Of Africa Faces Humanitarian Crisis

United Nations aid workers in the Horn of Africa are warning of an impending crisis for millions of its inhabitants as drought and rising food prices are reducing people to the position of beggars in their own land. Dahir Abdi Salah used to feed his children three meals a day, pancakes for breakfast, spaghetti for lunch, and beans for dinner, but now they subsist on porridge once a day. “A kilogram of beans used to cost a few cents, now it’s a dollar.” More than 14 million people across the Horn of Africa rely on food aid and other assistance in order to survive. According to Mark Bowden, of the UN, “this had led to more than belt-tightening. People are reducing their food intake– we have only months before we go into a major crisis.”

There are growing fears rain that normally arrives in the fall will not make its annual visit this year which would devastate an area that already is experiencing disaster. Somalia is a basket case where invading Ethiopian troops have merely worsened a terrible situation in which local chieftains vie for power.

The world needs its oil to drive its cars which can pollute the air. Unfortunately, the wold apparently places its automobiles ahead of humans living on this planet.

Italy Cracks Down On Roma Population

The government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi is pursuing its plan to fingerprint each and every Roma living in Italy as part of his program to end crime. Rome’s city officials and the Red Cross began a census of the city’s Roma population, but would not participate in any fingerprinting of the people. Red Cross personnel are handling the Rome census in order to reassure Romas they are not being targeted for any police action. Rome Prefect Carlo Mosca, the government’s top security official for the city, says he is skeptical of mass fingerprinting. he assured the press Gypsies will not be fingerprinted unless thee is suspicion they may have committed a crime. “When there is suspicion of a crime… fingerprints can be taken as for any Italian.” However, other cities like Naples have been more aggressive and all Gypsies are being fingerprinted.

Among the nations of the world, Italy has long endured the legacy of its Mafia heritage which is undoubtedly alive and well not only in Sicily but in other parts of the nation. Mafia leaders live in the open and are known to local police. Will the police initiate a fingerprint campaign for all members of the Mafia?

Islamist Attacks Rock India

A series of bombing attacks in two major cities in India has been caused by members of a group who call themselves the “Indian Mujahedeen.” At least 29 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in m ore than a dozen co-ordinated bomb attacks in the western Indian city of Amedabad. The series of 16 bombings targeted many buildings including hospitals and the bombs were packed with nuts, bolts and ball bearings to maximize death and destruction. Ahmedabad is the capital of the Hindu nationalist-ruled state of Gujarat where thousands of Muslims in 2002 were killed by angry mobs of Hindus.

The bombs were detonated with timer devices and all went off in a space of 36 minutes with at least four directed at medical facilities. Pakistan immediately denied any connection with these Muslim terrorists but the bombings are expected to hinder attempts to develop peaceful relations between India and Pakistan.

There is fear of a Hindu reaction which would be directed at Muslims just as the 2002 murders occurred. If so, it would most probably end diplomatic discussions between India and Pakistan.

Israel Claims Ahmadinejad Lies About Nuclear Gains

Israeli officials were surprisingly calm in the face of claims by the Iranian government that it now possesses 6,000 centrifuges. President Ahamdinejad’s boast was reported by an Iranian news agency which, if true, would represent a significant increase in the number of uranium-enriching machines in Tehran’s nuclear program. The claim comes a week after the United States sent a representative to participate in nuclear weapon discussions with Iranian officials. But, an Israeli official who monitors nuclear development in Iran, told the Jerusalem Post, Ahmadinejad was most probably lying. ‘Our assessment based on the latest available information and recent reports from the International atomic Energy Agency, s that the fgure of 6,000 centrifuges is unlikely. We believe a figure of between 3,400 and 3,500 is more accurate.”

The Israeli official believes by exaggerating the figure, Ahmadinejad hopes to attain two goals: First, he is trying to exert pressure on his own nuclear technicians to step up the pace of their work which is aimed at producing enough fissile material to make a bomb. Second, he is attempting to enhance his success as a leader in preparation for next year’s presidential race in Iran.

There is evidence Iranian officials are engaged in a delaying process in their negotiations with the west. Some believe Iran does not wish to allow George Bush to receive credit for halting their program of nuclear development and prefer any changes occur under a new American president.

Battle Rages On Afghan – Pakistan Border

Dozens of insurgents in eastern Afghanistan were killed over the weekend in a battle that ranged on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. American troops working in coordination with Afghan forces, fought a tough battle after militants attacked police. The troops called in for air strikes and helicopters blasted away at the Taliban forces causing at least fifty to be killed while other scurried across the border into the safety of Pakistan. Estimates are that about 2,700 Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents have been killed since the beginning of the year which increasingly witnesses growth in the power and fighting ability of insurgents.

The fighting over the weekend illustrates fundamental issues in dealing with insurgent forces in Afghanistan. Many will be killed due to fighting on the land and from air attacks, but when all is said and done, the issue of insurgents being able to flee over the border to the safety of Pakistan must at some point be dealt with or there will be no way to resolve the issue of insurgency in Afghanistan.

An Apology Long Overdue

More then six decades after a tragic example of racism in America in which African American soldiers wee wrongfully accused of a crime, the United States armed forces issued an apology. The Army acknowledged that 28 black soldiers were wrongly convicted after a riot and lynching of an Italian in Seattle during World War II. Ronald James, assistant secretary of the Army form manpower and reserve affairs, admitted, “The Army is genuinely sorry. I am genuinely sorry.” the convictions of the soldiers was set aside, their dishonorable discharges were changed to honorable discharged and they and their survivors were awarded back pay for their time in the brig.

the incident happened on August 14, 1944 when a scuffle broke out between a black soldier and an Italian POW. Forty three soldiers were charged with rioting and three with murder. One soldier was charged with rioting even though witnesses said he tried to quell the disturbance.

The American army during World War II was segregated and blacks were basically made to work in serves like driving trucks or building things. It was a world that hopefully will never again return as the nation has moved past that tragic era.

Do Both Parties In A Lesbian Marriage Have Equal Rights?

According to the Uppsala health authority, only one woman in a lesbian couple has the right to insemination. After three attempts to get pregnant by insemination, one woman in a lesbian relationship become ineligible for further attempts since she passed the maximum age stipulated by the Uppsala health authority. Her younger party then decided she would try to become pregnant in her place, but this request was denied y the Uppsala University Hospital. In their view, “As we see it we have treated them as a couple. Should you have double the number of opportunities to get pregnant just because you are a lesbian couple?”

The Ombudsman Against Discrimination responded to the question by supporting the right of a lesbian couple to each have opportunities to become pregnant and dismissed the claim by the hospital to only provide treatment of one individual as discrimination.

Obama Smear By Army Officer E-Mail

An Army officer’s negative e-mail account of Barack Obama’s visit with troops in Afghanistan set the blogosphere ablaze with both pro and anti-Obama comments. The e-mail signed by Capt. Jeffrey S. Porter at Bagram Airbase characterized Obama’s uly 19 visit with soldiers in terms that were directly opposite to what was reported in the press. According to Porter, “As the soldiers where(were) lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn’t say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the general.” He then claimed Obama went to the recreation area to secure “publicity pictures playing baseball” and “shunned the opportunity to talk with soldiers to thank them for their services. I swear we get more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders than from one of the Senator who wants to be President of the United States. I just don’t understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-in-Chief.”

Captain Porter now asks all to delete his email. Obama headquarters noted discrepancies in the email since he never played basketball in Afghanistan. It was just another lie by a Republican who is once again engaged in a smear campaign.