The web comments on the Chinese president’s visit to the United States. Muammar Gaddafi describes the web as a threat to his country. And a skier slides down the slopes of an Arctic iceberg.
Hu Jintao’s US visit
« Are we crying wolf about China? » this question is being asked on the Foreign Policy magazine web site on the occasion of Hu Jintao’s presidential visit to the US. Joseph Nye is a Harvard University professor and thinks this fear over China’s growth in power is exaggerated and based more on American citizens’ belief the country is in decline than on concrete information.
And whilst there has been an increase in sticking points in recent months, Kenneth Lieberthal, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, feels that this is an opportunity to revive Chinese-American relations and to start over with a clean slate. He says the two countries have everything to gain by working together on problems like North Korea or renewable energy.
He Shuyuan, a trader based in Hong Kong, is also hoping China will shows signs of opening up, notably on the subject of exchange rates. He believes that reevaluating the Yuan would in fact help Beijing combat the country’s escalating inflation battle without giving the impression of succumbing to outside pressure.
Finally, although some are not getting their hopes up as far as human rights are concerned; the question does remain a priority on the Chinese blogosphere. And cyber activists are particularly concerned about lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who went missing last April. To raise awareness on this affair, his wife, in refuge in the US, has recently published a document written by Gao, in which he describes the pressure placed upon him and how he was under constant surveillance.
Gaddafi against the web
“The Internet is like a vacuum cleaner, sucking in rumors that any drunkard or anyone under the influence can create. Must we also become victims of Facebook, Wikileaks and YouTube? The Internet is laughing at us and is a danger to our country.” These comments were made by Colonel Gaddafi in a video broadcast on Libyan television last weekend. In the video he denounces, amongst other things, the harmful role played Julian Assange’s organization in the fall of President Ben Ali and he warns his fellow citizens of the dangers of the web.
His comments have prompted a wave of indignation online. For Bahraini blogger Amira al Hussaini, the Libyan leader’s anti-Internet tirade demonstrates all too well the fear the web instills in the region’s dictators. And she says, with irony, that she has never heard anyone, whether drunk or under the influence of drugs, make such absurd and nonsensical comments.
Jillian York, from Massachusetts in the US, does not think the conspiracy theory holds water and she says that Gaddafi’s words are an insult to all the Tunisian cyber activists who played a crucial part in the country’s revolution.
Web journalist Issandr El Amrani, says here that it is sacrilege to blame the Internet for Tunisia’s political problems. He says that the web was indeed a means of relaying information and mobilizing demonstrators, but the people of Tunisia took to the streets because they had had enough of the situation in the country. He thinks the web helped the movement grow, but did not start it.
Meanwhile, protests against Gaddafi’s regime appear to be multiplying in the country, and are also being relayed on the web. Opposition site Almanara has recently posted several videos online of the rallies organized this week in the city of al-Bayda to demand, according to the site, decent housing.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
The draft copy of John Kennedy’s inaugural address, or recordings of his telephone calls concerning missile sites in Cuba … these are just some examples of the thousands of documents recently posted online by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Just a fraction of these archives have been digitized so far, but in the long run, around 48 million pages and over 10 000 hours of audio and video recordings will be made available online.
Banksy’s real identity
Is Banksy about to be unmasked? Web users have been bidding in an eBay auction for several days now, to be told the name of the British street artist, known throughout the world, but whose real identity remains a secret. A first lot had already appeared on the web and had been hugely successful with bidding reaching the 1 million dollar mark, when all of a sudden the seller withdrew his lot. Another web user has since posted a similar lot with a starting price of 3 000 dollars for a piece of paper with the artist’s real name on it. The seller says he uncovered his identity through tax records with invoices of pieces sold by Banksy.
Video of the day
How could you escape overcrowded ski slopes this season? Well you could quite simply go to the Arctic. This is what extreme skier Andrew Mclean decided to do and we can see what he got up to in this video. During the expedition he notably managed to do what very few winter sports enthusiasts have done: slide down an ice berg … it’s an original idea for skiers and thrill seekers!