Tuesday, March 23, 2010

China condemns decision by Google to lift censorship

A computer screen in a Beijing internet cafe shows the new 
Chinese-language Google search home page, 23 March
Chinese users are being redirected to the google.com.hk site
China has said Google's move to stop censoring search results is "totally wrong" and accused it of breaking a promise made when it launched in China.
The US giant is redirecting users in mainland China to its unrestricted Hong Kong site, although Chinese firewalls mean results still come back censored.
Beijing said the decision should not affect ties with Washington.
Google threatened to leave the Chinese market completely this year after cyber attacks were traced back to China.
Google's move effectively to shut its mainland Chinese search service, google.cn, is a major blow to China's international image, the BBC's Damian Grammaticas reports from Beijing.

China is one step nearer a closed door

Google Buzz by Frank

It means one of the world's most prominent corporations is saying it is no longer willing to co-operate in China's censorship of the internet, our correspondent says.
China has moved to further limit free speech on the web - Google's own websites and the e-mail accounts of human rights activists recently came under cyber attack.
The White House said it was "disappointed" that Google and China had not been able to resolve their differences.
'Politicisation of commercial issues'
A BBC search of google.cn on Tuesday using the word "Tiananmen" brought up results but the words "Dalai Lama" returned messages like "problem loading page" and "the connection was reset".
A surveillance camera outside Google's headquarters in Beijing, 23
2000: A Chinese-language interface is developed for the google.com website
2006: Launch of China-based google.cn search page with censored results
Mar-Jun 2009: China blocks access to Google's YouTube site; access to other Google online services is denied to users
Jan 2010: Jan 2010 Google announces it is no longer willing to censor searches in China and may pull out of the country
Feb 2010: Hacking attacks on Google are traced to mainland China
March 2010: Google says it will re-route searches to its Hong Kong-based site

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters that Google's move was an isolated act by a commercial company and should not affect China-US ties "unless politicised" by others.
The government would handle the Google case "according to the law", he added.
Earlier an official in the Chinese government office which oversees the internet said: "Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks.
"This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicisation of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts," the unnamed official was quoted as saying by Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
Chen Yafei, a Chinese information technology specialist, told Reuters that Google should have accepted Chinese regulation if it wanted to operate in the country.
"Any company entering China should abide by Chinese laws," he said. "Chinese internet users will have no regrets if Google withdraws."
Edward Yu, chief executive of Analysys International, a Beijing-based research firm specialising in technology issues, said he did not believe Google's rerouting was sustainable.

"The thing that makes the government unhappy is this kind of gesture," he said. "They may set up barriers against Google."
Young Chinese professionals working in Beijing's main IT hub, Zhongguancun, expressed a mixture of regret, anger and surprise on Tuesday at Google's decision.
"I think it was inevitable though," Chen Wen, 28, told Reuters. "The government was never going to compromise on filtering. China needs this company. It's a great loss for the country."
You Chuanbo, 25, predicted the government would "just end up blocking access to all of Google".
Valued market
In Beijing, some passers-by laid flowers outside Google's offices to thank the company for standing up for its principles.
Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, welcomed Google's decision saying that the CPJ hoped it would "ramp up pressure on the Chinese government to allow its citizens to access the news and information they need".
Rebecca MacKinnon of Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy said Google was playing the role of "the little boy who pointed out that the Emperor has no clothes" by making more Chinese people aware of censorship.
Announcing the decision, Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, said that providing uncensored searches through the Hong Kong-based google.com.hk website was "entirely legal" and would "meaningfully increase access to information for people in China".
The company said it would maintain a research and development and sales presence in China, where about 700 of its 20,000 employees are based.
Google spokeswoman Marsha Wang told AFP news agency she had no information about job losses or a possible transfer of staff to Hong Kong offices, saying only that "adjustments" could be made "according to business demand".
Google is not the biggest search provider in China and its mainland Chinese operation accounts for just a fraction of the firm's total sales, but business analysts say the company is taking a long-term gamble as the Chinese internet search market is growing by 40% a year.
It risks losing market share, revenue and staff to rivals which include market leader Baidu, up-and-comer Tencent and US heavyweight Microsoft, Reuters notes in a commentary.
Tom Online Inc, an internet company owned by Hong Kong's richest man, the billionaire Li Ka-shing, has stopped using Google's search engine in protest, it said, against Google's lack of compliance with Chinese regulations.


KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Amateur Boxing Federation (MABF) are expected to send SEA Games gold medallist Mohd Farkhan Mohd Haron to undergo training in Cuba, as preparations for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, scheduled in October.
MABF secretary-general Major Maulud Othman said the training and preparations in Cuba was important as the federation hopes to win a gold in New Delhi.
He added that MABF's request to send him for training in Cuba had been approved by the National Sports Council while MABF hopes to enroll Mohd Farkhan with the Thailand team that was undergoing training in Cuba.
"If everything goes according to plan, Mohd Farkhan will start his training by June. It will certainly be a worthwhile experience for the boxer," he told Bernama today.
During the Laos SEA Games last year, Mohd Farkan ended the country's 42-year wait for a gold medal.
Malaysia last won a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games through Sapok Biki, during the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games here.

Rural Minnesota group visits Cuba, see trade opportunities

By Joe Kimball | Published Mon, Mar 22 2010 11:29 am
A Minnesota group of agriculture and rural leaders is back from a visit to Cuba and sees lots of opportunities there for such state products as cooking oil and beef, if the trade embargo is lifted.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that 32 delegates from the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program went to Cuba to learn about its economy, agricultural system and the impact of the U.S. embargo that began in 1959.
Tim Alcorn, MARL’s executive director, saw a need for more cooking oil, which is rationed out to the population, and a need for beef in restaurants frequented by foreigners. Although killing cows in Cuba is illegal, beef is imported to serve to foreign visitors.
“In hotels, access to good beef is limited, so there would be opportunity there,” Alcorn said. “They have a taste for cheese already, but it’s expensive. And Minnesota is a good producer of cheese.”
The paper notes other observations from group members:
  • Small private farmers still plow their fields with oxen and horses while the big state-owned farms use tractors, albeit old ones, for growing tobacco, sugar cane and produce.
  • Mostly older cars and trucks are seen, because people were allowed to keep them after the revolution. New ones are expensive, in short supply and can’t be totally owned by the average citizen. Cuban people go to great lengths to keep them running, even without access to replacement parts and tires.
  • Cubans line up for public transportation and for their monthly rations of rice, sugar, coffee, bread and powdered milk for children. While some can afford to shop at farmers markets, few can afford the more expensive grocery stores where some meat is available. Store shelves offer little variety and sparse offerings. And the rare hardware store might offer only old, used parts.
Dave Chura, executive director of the Minnesota Logger Education Program, was on the trip but isn't convinced the United States should lift the embargo:
“Certainly we want to make sure we’re able to provide them with products that can help them meet basic humanitarian needs,” he said. “At the same time, we don’t want to help them prop up and support the existing government.”

PR group to perform in Cuba despite Miami protests

HAVANA – Members of the Puerto Rican music group Calle 13 say they don't care if their upcoming concert in Cuba is criticized by exiles in Miami who oppose the communist regime. The award-winning group is set to perform Tuesday at the open-air Anti-imperialist Plaza, which sits in front of the U.S. Interests Section along the waterfront. The group won five 2009 Latin Grammys including album of the year for its music, which mixes reggaeton with elements of hip-hop. Calle 13's Cuba appearance will be followed by concerts in Miami, where the band expects a backlash from those who see their outreach as tacit support for Cuba's communist government. Lead Singer Rene Perez said Monday that it's "all the same to us" what the exiles think.

LPP Archive...

Butt-end of art sale

Last updated: 30/08/2006 00:00:00
A CIGAR partly smoked by Winston Churchill is going under the hammer.
The unusual item has come up for auction at the next Cheffins Fine Art Sale in Cambridge.
George Archdale, associate partner at Cheffins, said: "It comes with a typed note saying it was taken out of an ashtray at Chequers Court on February 21 1953. We don't have any corroborative evidence, but there's no reason to doubt it."
Measuring 12 cm long, the unfinished cigar comes with a cigar band, and is expected to fetch £80-120.
One of the world's most famous cigarsmokers, Churchill is reputed to have begun smoking cigars in earnest when he went to Cuba as a military observer in 1895.
At Chartwell Manor, his country home in Kent, he is said to have kept a stash of up to 4,000 of them.
Allen Packwood, director of the Churchill Archives Centre, at Churchill College, Cambridge, said: "The cigar is very much a symbol of Winston Churchill - it is omnipresent in press and private photographs we store here. Some of the original documents and papers even contain cigar stains, and we have here his early cigar bills - although it's pretty unlikely he would have ever had to buy a cigar again after July 1945.
"He built up a very large personal collection of high-quality cigars sent as gifts. One of the files we have here is about wartime testing of his cigars - these gifts came from all over the world, some through Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, which were not allied countries."
This led to fears Churchill could be sent an exploding or a poisoned cigar, and MI5 was brought in to test them.
Mr Packwood said: "There's evidence from early school letters that he smoked cigarettes as a schoolboy, and when he went to Cuba he would certainly have been exposed to Cuban cigars. He returned to Cuba in 1946 just before his Iron Curtain speech, by which time, many manufacturers were producing Churchill cigars."
Viewing for the Cheffins sale begins on Sunday, September 3, and the twoday sale takes place from 11am on Wednesday and Thursday, September 6-7, at Cheffins, Clifton Road, Coleridge, Cambridge. Call Cheffins on (01223) 213343.