The CSS Blog Network

US Internet Policy: Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Censored, courtesy of gojira75/flickr

Last week, an article in Arab Crunch stated that internet users from Syria, Sudan, N Korea, Iran and Cuba were not allowed to access some services and sites. The US-based open source repository SourceForge is an example.

It must be said though that these countries are also known for their own site-blocking capabilities.

As always on the World Wide Web, nothing is certain. But the evidences point out that it is the US government that is prohibiting access to these websites. These five countries are subject to US sanctions, and as such, Washington is restraining internet access to users in these ‘blacklisted’ countries. It is also worth saying that 4 out of 5 of these countries are the one “sponsoring terrorism” (North Korea having been removed in 2008 following bilateral negotiation on non-proliferation).

But US companies and the citizens of the countries mentioned are not the only ones affected by the sanctions.
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The Power of Photography: Rapid Growth has a Price

Screenshot of New York Times 'Lens' blog

Screenshot of New York Times 'Lens' blog

Words do little to convey the kind of destruction unfettered growth has caused in China. Stories of environmental degradation and displacement are common but fail to show the true, human impact of China’s rise.

Contrastingly, spectacular examples of China’s positive ambition are everywhere; in the mushrooming modern mega-cities as well as events such as the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival; a whimsical Disney-like world made entirely of ice, snow and millions upon millions of Christmas lights. A tourist trap perhaps, but also a testament to the innovative and hopeful spirit of the country.

The following photo essays provide insights into the strange world of China’s yin and yang.

Melting Expectations

Iceberg, Alaska, photo: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton/flickr

Iceberg, Alaska, photo: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton/flickr

With the Copenhagen conference on climate change only two weeks away, it remains doubtful whether a legally binding agreement on climate change will emerge.  Here a run-down of the (mostly vague) pledges made by key greenhouse gas emitters in the wake of the conference:

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A Close-Up of China

Screenshot of the Atlantic magazine

Screenshot of the Atlantic magazine, map of China

The Atlantic and Patrick Chovanec have published an excellent region-by-region analysis of China with an interesting historical/socio-political angle.

Too often, Chovanec reminds us, China is seen, analyzed and treated as a monolithic entity, while the truth is much more interesting: “China is a mosaic of several distinct regions, each with its own resources, dynamics, and historical character.”

He divides China into Nine Nations and analyzes the historical character, make-up and challenges of each ‘nation’ in turn. They’ve added a snazzy map to the analysis too. I highly recommend reading the whole text though, it gives invaluable insight into the unique challenge China faces as a historically, ethnically and socially complex country with a massive population and a vast geography.

It’s a learning opportunity and one that proves that with China in particular, myths- both accidental and self-generated- have to be questioned in order to “understand the Nine Nations and the role each of them is playing in shaping China’s future.”

Amen to that.

And if you’re still hungry for more, remember to check out our Special Report on US-China relations.

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ISN Weekly Theme: US-China Relations

Obama and Mao T-shirts, photo: Shea Hazarian/flickr

Obama and Mao T-shirts, photo: Shea Hazarian/flickr

Obama’s three day visit to China is expected to breathe new life into the US-China partnership. With deep economic and financial links, as well as responsibility for 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, the US and China are under immense pressure to deliver on the promise of great power cooperation and progress on a daunting set of challenges.

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