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Monday, March 28, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Indonesia Earthquake Damages Buildings

CBS 46 Atlanta - Indonesia Earthquake Damages Buildings: "Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Indonesia Earthquake Damages Buildings
Mar 28, 2005, 3:40 PM

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) -- A major earthquake struck off the west coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Island late Monday, damaging hundreds of buildings and sending residents fleeing in panic. Officials issued a tsunami warning for as far away as Sri Lanka.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor, which occurred at 11:09 p.m. local time (11:09 a.m. EST), measured a magnitude of 8.2. A later reading put the magnitude at 8.7, said Paul Earle, a USGS research geophysicist.

Tsunami warnings were issued in Thailand, Japan and Sri Lanka, although officials in Thailand later called it off for that country. The only tsunami reported within four hours was a tiny one - less than 4 inches - at the Cocos Islands, 1,400 miles west of Australia, meteorologists in Sydney said.

The worst damage was reported on Nias Island, off the Sumatran coast, close to the epicenter of the earthquake, and dozens may be buried in the rubble, said Agus Mendrofa, deputy district head on the island.

"Hundreds of buildings have been damaged or have collapsed. People who were standing fell over," Mendrofa said. "We're not sure about casualties, but there may be dozens of people buried in the rubble."

U.N. disaster relief coordinator Jan Egeland said there were unconfirmed reports of deaths.

"The hard-hit population of western Sumatra have been again struck by a very large earthquake," Egeland said.

Nias, a renowned surfing spot, was badly hit by the Dec. 26 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed at least 175,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations and left another 106,000 missing. At least 340 residents of Nias perished and 10,000 were left homeless.

Indonesian officials said the quake's epicenter was 56 miles south of the island of Simeulu, off of Sumatra's western coast, and just north of Nias. It was described by one of the agency's geologists as an aftershock of the devastating Dec. 26 quake.

An aftershock measuring 6.0 was reported in the same region nearly 30 minutes later, the USGS said.

Preliminary indications are that energy from the quake might be directed toward the southwest, said Frank Gonzalez, an oceanographer with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle. He stressed that it was based on "very scanty information" about the epicenter and magnitude.

In Banda Aceh, the Sumatran city hit hardest in December, the quake briefly cut electricity. Thousands poured into the streets to flee low-lying areas.

The West Coast-Alaska tsunami warning center said that if no tsunami waves are observed in the region near the epicenter within three hours, then it is likely that the danger has passed.

"It seems this earthquake did not trigger a tsunami. If it had, the tsunami would have hit the coastline of Sumatra by now," said Prihar Yadi, a scientist with the Indonesia Geophysics Agency. "And if there's no tsunami on the coastline near the epicenter of the quake, there will not be one heading in the other direction."

Sirens blared along Sri Lanka's devastated east coast as the government warned seaside residents to evacuate immediately.

"The government has ordered coastal areas to move to higher ground. We are giving priorities to eastern coast," said Brig. Daya Ratnayake, the military spokesman.

Low-lying coastal areas in Malaysia's northern states also were being evacuated.

In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said U.S. diplomatic missions in Asia and Africa are in "battle mode" so that they can respond quickly to any contingency.

The International Red Cross in Geneva said their mobile phone systems were down so they haven't been able to talk to anyone on the ground in Indonesia.

At the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which was at the center of U.N. response to the Dec. 26 tsunami, Jamie McGoldrick said, "What's going on is a mobilization of people away from the coast."

But noted that the quake was "a weaker one than before" Dec. 26.

"There have been no reports of a tsunami and no initial reports of damage, but it's very early," said Rob Holden, a Geneva-based technical coordinator for the World Health Organization. "Police are now going around trying to calm people down."

Oceanographer David Burwell of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said the agency was watching water levels "but we don't have any gauges in that area." He said it would be a few hours before officials received any readings.

In Banda Aceh, the quake lasted about two minutes and felt like gentle swaying, like a rocking chair, causing people to feel dizzy. It woke people up and sent them running into the street.

People grabbed small bags of clothes - in many cases likely all the belongings they had left after the disaster - as they fled their tents and homes. Many were crying and jumping into cars and onto motorbikes and pedicabs, heading for higher ground.

Two women wearing prayer shawls and sarongs grabbed a fence and chanted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great."

"People are still traumatized, still scared, they are running for higher ground," said Feri, a 24-year-old recovery volunteer who goes by one name.

The quake was felt as far away as Malaysia, about 300 miles from the epicenter, sending panicked residents fleeing their apartments and hotels in Kuala Lumpur and Penang after authorities activated fire alarms.

Officials issued a tsunami warning for residents of southern Thai provinces, three months after a tsunami devastated parts of Indonesia and other countries in the region.

The quake occurred at a depth of 18.6 miles, and was centered 125 west-northwest of Sibolga, Sumatra, and 150 miles southwest of Medan, Sumatra, the USGS said.

The depth does not mean a lot for a quake this large, Earle said, calling it a near-surface earthquake and comparable to the one that occurred Dec. 26.

After the Dec. 26 quake, the agency initially recorded the depth of that temblor at six miles. Shallow earthquakes like that generally are more destructive because the seismic energy is closer to the surface and has less distance to travel.

Monday's quake was considered to be at a moderate depth.

Tremors also were felt throughout peninsular Malaysia's west coast, causing thousands of residents to flee high-rise apartment buildings and hotels. There were no immediate reports of any casualties or major damage.

"I was getting ready for bed, and suddenly, the room started shaking," said Kuala Lumpur resident Jessie Chong. "I thought I was hallucinating at first, but then I heard my neighbors screaming and running out."

Police were evacuating many residents from low-lying coastal areas in Malaysia's northern states of Penang and Kedah, said Penang Police Chief Christopher Wan.

"We are on the alert for the possibility of a tsunami within the next few hours," Wan said by telephone. "We're better prepared now compared to last year."

Tremors form the quake could be felt in the Thai capital Bangkok for several minutes beginning at about 11:20 p.m.

Chalermchai Aekkantrong, deputy director of Thailand's meteorological department, told a radio station Monday that officials were asking people near the coast to evacuate, although there were no immediate reports of a tsunami.

NOAA spokesman Greg Romano said the U.S. State Department was passing on warnings to foreign governments about the tsunami danger.

The USGS said the quake occurred on a segment of the same fault line that triggered the magnitude-9 earthquake on Dec. 26, the world's biggest in 40 years.

The Dec. 26 quake triggered a huge tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean at the speed of a passenger jet. More than 1.5 million people were left homeless in 11 countries.

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: China Warrants an Arms Embargo

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: China Warrants an Arms Embargo: "The New York Times
The New York Times
March 28, 2005
EDITORIAL
China Warrants an Arms Embargo

It is hard to imagine what China's leaders figured they had to gain by pushing through a law authorizing an attack on Taiwan if it moves toward formal independence. Beijing has been threatening such an attack for years, and the Communist Party's all-powerful leaders hardly need to get their toothless legislature's permission if they ever decide to plunge ahead with such lunacy.

But it is easy enough to see what damage this gambit has already done to China's international reputation and objectives. By reminding the world that Beijing seriously thinks about launching a shooting war across the Taiwan Strait that could conceivably draw in the United States, China has persuaded Europe to slow down its ill-advised drive to lift the arms embargo it imposed after the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement.

President Bush had been urging just such a reconsideration on European leaders without much result. It took China's legislative authorization of war to prove that Mr. Bush was absolutely right. The embargo was initially ordered to demonstrate that what happened on Tiananmen Square was totally unacceptable. To this day, China has not shown the slightest regret for those bloody events, nor has it given any guarantees that they will not happen again.

But the most compelling reason for keeping the embargo involves Taiwan. The island's official status is best deferred to another day, when passions on both sides of the Strait are cooler than they are right now. Independence-minded political leaders in Taipei need to restrain their rhetoric and gestures, while mainland leaders needed to stop brandishing threats.

Until that happens, selling China weapons that might be used to shoot down United States aircraft assigned to defend Taiwan is a terrible idea, and one that could lead Congress to restrict the sharing of American military technologies with European arms exporters.

Japan Today - News - Taiwan stages mass rally to protest China - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Taiwan stages mass rally to protest China - Japan's Leading International News Network: "

japantoday > asia
Taiwan stages mass rally to protest China

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Sunday, March 27, 2005 at 16:16 JST
TAIPEI — An estimated 500,000 people took to the streets here Saturday to show their anger over a new Chinese law that codifies China's policy to use force if Taiwan declares independence.

Answering calls by President Chen Shui-bian and other government officials to attend the largest-ever rally on the island, huge crowds carrying flags, banners and placards marched from 10 locations around the capital. (Kyodo News)

"

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's opposition visits China

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's opposition visits China: Taiwan's opposition visits China
Taiwan's main opposition party has begun its first visit to China since Communist forces defeated it and took power on the mainland in 1949.

The 30-member team of the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT) is being led by vice chairman Chiang Pink-kun.

Mr Chiang said the visit was aimed at easing tensions with Beijing.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. Earlier this month, Beijing passed a law, allowing it use force to stop any Taiwanese independence moves.


TAIWAN-CHINA RELATIONS
Ruled by separate governments since end of Chinese civil war in 1949
China considers the island part of its territory
China has offered a "one country, two systems" solution, like Hong Kong
Most people in Taiwan support status quo

"We hope to help ease cross-strait tensions to ensure people's well-being," said Mr Chiang, on arrival. "[We hope] to do what the government does not do and cannot do."

He said earlier: "We oppose Taiwan independence. We advocate peace across the Strait and oppose the mainland using force."

The delegation will go to the southern city of Guangzhou to visit the graves of dozens of KMT members who died during an uprising against the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

The Taiwanese officials will also visit the grave of the party founder, Sun Yat-Sen, in Nanjing.

They will wind up their five-day trip in Beijing, where they are likely to meet the head of the National People's Congress, Jia Qinglin, Taiwan's China Times newspaper reports.

It said the issue of KMT leader Lien Chan's visit to China would be discussed during the meeting.

Political farce

The Nationalists were defeated by the Communists and sought refuge on the island of Taiwan in 1949.

The party - which was in power for more than 50 years until 2000 - is now considered to have closer relations with China than the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), analysts say.

China has strongly criticised the DPP's drive to change the constitution, which Beijing says could lead to a bid for full independence.

The KMT's visit comes just two days after hundreds of thousands of people marched through Taiwan's capital, Taipei, protesting against China's anti-secession law.

Chinese state-run media on Monday condemned the rally.

"It further exposes the secessionist forces' attempt to misuse people power to pursue their secessionist agenda," said an editorial in the China Daily newspaper.

Another central newspaper - the People's Daily - described Saturday's demonstration as a political farce.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4386787.stm

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's opposition visits China

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's opposition visits China: Taiwan's opposition visits China
Taiwan's main opposition party has begun its first visit to China since Communist forces defeated it and took power on the mainland in 1949.

The 30-member team of the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT) is being led by vice chairman Chiang Pink-kun.

Mr Chiang said the visit was aimed at easing tensions with Beijing.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. Earlier this month, Beijing passed a law, allowing it use force to stop any Taiwanese independence moves.


TAIWAN-CHINA RELATIONS
Ruled by separate governments since end of Chinese civil war in 1949
China considers the island part of its territory
China has offered a "one country, two systems" solution, like Hong Kong
Most people in Taiwan support status quo

"We hope to help ease cross-strait tensions to ensure people's well-being," said Mr Chiang, on arrival. "[We hope] to do what the government does not do and cannot do."

He said earlier: "We oppose Taiwan independence. We advocate peace across the Strait and oppose the mainland using force."

The delegation will go to the southern city of Guangzhou to visit the graves of dozens of KMT members who died during an uprising against the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

The Taiwanese officials will also visit the grave of the party founder, Sun Yat-Sen, in Nanjing.

They will wind up their five-day trip in Beijing, where they are likely to meet the head of the National People's Congress, Jia Qinglin, Taiwan's China Times newspaper reports.

It said the issue of KMT leader Lien Chan's visit to China would be discussed during the meeting.

Political farce

The Nationalists were defeated by the Communists and sought refuge on the island of Taiwan in 1949.

The party - which was in power for more than 50 years until 2000 - is now considered to have closer relations with China than the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), analysts say.

China has strongly criticised the DPP's drive to change the constitution, which Beijing says could lead to a bid for full independence.

The KMT's visit comes just two days after hundreds of thousands of people marched through Taiwan's capital, Taipei, protesting against China's anti-secession law.

Chinese state-run media on Monday condemned the rally.

"It further exposes the secessionist forces' attempt to misuse people power to pursue their secessionist agenda," said an editorial in the China Daily newspaper.

Another central newspaper - the People's Daily - described Saturday's demonstration as a political farce.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4386787.stm

The New York Times > Technology > A Supreme Court Showdown for File Sharing

The New York Times > Technology > A Supreme Court Showdown for File Sharing: "The New York Times
March 28, 2005
The New York Times
March 28, 2005
A Supreme Court Showdown for File Sharing
By SAUL HANSELL and JEFF LEEDS

For someone whose business is under attack in the United States Supreme Court, Mark Gorton was remarkably serene last week, sprawled on a couch in his Manhattan office.

Mr. Gorton's company, the Lime Group, publishes LimeWire, one of the most popular software programs used to trade music, video and other files over the Internet.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case in which the recording and film industries seek to hold makers of file-sharing software liable for the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted material online. The case is against other file-sharing services, Grokster and Morpheus, which won in lower courts, but Mr. Gorton said that if those rulings were overturned, it could make LimeWire vulnerable.

"If the Supreme Court says it is illegal to produce this software, LimeWire the company will cease to exist," Mr. Gorton said. "But LimeWire the software will continue to be on the Net no matter what we do in this business."

The case, M.G.M. v. Grokster, is in many ways the culmination of five years of escalating legal, technical and rhetorical attacks against file-sharing systems and their users by the music industry. It is being eagerly followed by a range of media and technology companies because the court may use this case to redefine the reach of copyright in the era of iPods and TiVo.

But no matter how the court rules, both music executives and file-sharing advocates like Mr. Gorton agree that it will probably always be possible for fans to find loads of free music with a few clicks of a mouse.

Still, the case will determine whether file sharing can continue to be promoted by companies like LimeWire and Sharman Networks, which makes Kazaa, that operate in public and earn profits from advertising and software sales, or whether the software will be written and distributed by shadowy players on the fringes of the law.

"I think this court decision is a game changer. It will dramatically affect behavior, and behavior will dramatically affect how music is sold and distributed and consumed," said Andrew Lack, chairman of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which releases music by stars like Usher and Bruce Springsteen. "It will clarify the law and establish right from wrong."

If the music industry loses, it will likely redouble its efforts to sue individuals trading files and intensify its technical efforts to disrupt the networks. So far, those tactics have been modestly effective at best, and a loss in the Supreme Court may well erode the industry's control of copyrighted material further.

Yet, since the court can do little to alter the spread of technology or the interests of copyright owners to protect their material, many expect something resembling a permanent war.

"We are guerrillas fighting the despotic regime," said Alan Morris, the executive vice president of Sharman Networks, the Australian company behind Kazaa, once the leading file-sharing network and the recording industry's leading target, which is being sued by the music industry in both American and Australian courts. "They have some quite heavy guns, but we can see where they are firing from, " Mr. Morris said.

There are some who say that a court ruling, in any direction, may also help define the terms of a cease-fire. The end of litigation could rekindle the back-channel negotiations between some music labels and some file-sharing services to create ways for users to trade some files free while paying for others.

Some executives have discussed a plan in which users could download free, low-quality tracks with an offer to buy higher-quality versions.

The two biggest music companies, Universal Music Group, a unit of Vivendi Universal, and Sony BMG, for example, recently signed deals to provide music through Snocap, a software package intended to control the swapping of unauthorized songs.

Snocap also happens to be the creation of Shawn Fanning, the founder of Napster, the original file-sharing, or peer-to-peer, service. "Peer-to-peer is the way that people access content," said Mr. Fanning. "There is a void in the marketplace, there are people who are willing to pay for it."

Of course, getting people to pay anything is an enormous challenge. There are about 60 million people using file-sharing services in the United States, with roughly 8.5 million logged on at a time, said Eric Garland, chief of BigChampagne, which studies traffic on file-sharing networks.

While some surveys have suggested that file-sharing activity slowed in 2003, when the Recording Industry Association of America began to sue individual users for trading copyrighted songs, Mr. Garland said that the number of people logging on to file-sharing networks had risen steadily and that he expected the number to increase by 10 percent or more this year.

The music industry, meanwhile, is recovering from a long slump. It sold 814 million CD's, cassettes and units of music in other formats last year in the United States, up 2 percent, its first increase in five years, the recording industry association said. It also sold 140 million digital tracks in the United States, the association said. But the industry says it thinks it would have seen a bigger sales rebound had it not been for online piracy.

The recording industry is exploring ways to release new CD's with technology that will restrict copying. Sony BMG is expected to use such technology on at least half their new recordings in the United States by the end of this year.

Some independent record labels are taking a less confrontational stance and trying to tap into the popularity of file-sharing networks by selling their music on them, often alongside pirated versions of the same songs.

Kazaa has been pursuing that idea for several years through an affiliated company called Altnet, which allows labels to put authorized files of songs on its networks. These files are either offered for sale, or they are free for promotional purposes, often with technology that restricts their use to a certain time period.

Altnet is still small, with revenues of less than $1 million in 2004, but it has been used by some independent labels, including V2, the label of Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

V2 sells songs by its acts like the Stereophonics and Moby through Altnet for 99 cents each because file-sharing networks have eclipsed MTV and radio as the place fans discover new music, said Jeff Wooding, its director of marketing and new media. He said that the move would not stop piracy, but could be used to promote the bands' merchandise and concert tickets as well as earn something for download sales.

"No one's kidding themselves that we expect to convert a whole lot of users," Mr. Wooding said, but he added that he thought many file sharers would buy merchandise and concert tickets from bands they liked and that some might eventually purchase a CD.

Altnet is also experimenting with an advertising-driven format developed by Intent MediaWorks, which buys rights to songs from artists for distribution in a special file format. The first time a user tries to play the song, the file opens a Web page with an advertisement on it. Intent MediaWorks is also working on ways to insert audio commercials into the songs.

"The idea for the advertising model is to transform file-sharing networks into radio," said Lee Jaffe, president of Altnet, which is distributing Intent MediaWorks' files. "But unlike radio where artists and labels don't get paid, they will be able to share the revenue."

Major recording labels, however, have been very resistant to doing deals with Altnet and similar systems, fearing that such alliances might undercut their lawsuits against the file-sharing networks. They have demanded that the networks remove all the unauthorized songs before they do any business with them.

Shawn Fanning's Snocap system is an attempt to help file-sharing networks do just that. It creates a way for copyright owners to register the songs they own. The networks, using a technology called acoustic fingerprinting, can identify whether a file being downloaded is in a copyrighted registry. The copyright owner can choose to block the download, offer the song for sale or offer a limited-use version of the song as substitute.

Snocap, in addition to endorsements from Universal Music and Sony BMG, will also be used by Mashboxx, a new file-sharing service started by Wayne Russo, the former president of Grokster, which is based in Nevis, West Indies.

But it still faces some significant challenges. First, the company has not released a working version of the software, and many file-sharing advocates dismiss the concept as thoroughly unworkable.

"Snocap will fail miserably in the market," said Michael Weiss, chief executive of StreamCast networks, which makes Morpheus.

"If I was looking for a download, and I got some sort of truncated file with a message that says buy this or do that, I don't see why anybody would embrace that," he said. "If you wanted to buy music, you could go to the online stores that are doing a great job like iTunes."

Mr. Russo said that his approach did not need to win over all file-sharing users to make some money for him and the record companies.

"There are 2.5 billion music files traded every month," he said. "If we can capture 1 percent of that, 25 million files, and we convert 5 to 10 percent of those to paid, I am very happy."

Aside from these attempts to reach d├ętente with the free file-sharing networks, the recording industry knows it also needs new products and new avenues for distribution.

It has, for instance, placed a hefty bet on DualDiscs, a new two-sided CD format that features music on one side and video on the other. "We are committed to giving consumers what they want, legitimately and in a way that fairly compensates those that work so hard to create content," said Zach Horowitz, president of Universal Music Group, which releases music by acts like U2 and 3 Doors Down.

"If we win the case," Mr. Horowitz said, "all the efforts we are making to launch compelling legitimate alternatives will gain traction. There will be no turning back the clock in terms of the countless ways we are making our music available to take advantage of the new technologies."