Except for fame, what do celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift have in common? Well, alongside with the Sony Corporation, all four have officially been made targets by a hacktivist group, Anonymous, a global and loosely linked network of hackers, for approving of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). However, the hackers linked to Anonymous are far from the only ones opposing these new pieces of legislation which, if enacted, will enable American enforcement agencies to prosecute and shut down so-called rogue web sites, which are sites containing pirated material. Most importantly, and what has caused the strongest reactions, are clauses giving the US government the power to make US internet providers block access to infringing domains. In addition, the government will also be able to sue US-based search engines and directories as well as blogs and forums, forcing them to remove links to such rogue websites. In other words, the sites themselves will be held accountable for what their users upload through the use of their service, creating a delicate situation where censorship might be the only option.
The question of Taiwan’s independence from mainland China still remains unsolved. For centuries throughout its history, Taiwan has been occupied and oppressed by various colonial powers. In the 20th century Japan annexed and ruled it from 1895 and until the end of the Second World War in 1945, when Taiwan officially became a part of China. In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek, the most prominent opponent of Mao Zedong, and his Kuomintang-National Party took over and transformed Taiwan into a self-governing state. The conflict regarding Taiwan’s independence from mainland China led to the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1995-1996. Still, China consistently claims that it has the right to use force to prevent Taiwan from becoming an independent country. Lee Teng-hui, the president of Taiwan from 1988-2000, sought to achieve Taiwan’s independence.Read More »
- Winners and Losers
Many international and domestic political observers have watched the Egyptian parliamentary elections with hope. This round of parliamentary elections came to bridge a gap of trust between the national Egyptian institutions and the Egyptian people, who had been rendered voiceless by the previous regime. Whereas the SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) has stressed that, unlike in the past era where there was little judicial supervision of elections, this time elections would be carried out “under complete judicial supervision”.Read More »
The Eastern Partnership initiative, a cooperation involving six countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), emerged from a Polish-Swedish idea in June 2008, and developed into an official program one year later. The quest was to improve the relations between the EU and the partner countries in different ways, thus offering a prospect for them which can eventually lead to EU membership. (As Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said: “to the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours”.)The program is based on bilateral as well as multilateral relations including political and economic ties, through meetings and conferences at different levels.Read More »
A few years ago a sleazy, run down bar called D22 was one of the few places where Chinese underground bands in the capital could get a chance to try their wings. Its location in the middle of Beijing’s northwestern district, in close proximity to several of China’s biggest and most prestigious universities, would prove perfect for attracting Chinese youth. The bar quickly became an outlet for the developing local underground music culture.