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Microsoft Not the Only Firm Blocking IM Service To US Enemies

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the unfortunate-consistency dept.

Censorship 173

ericatcw writes "It was reported last week that Microsoft had cut access to its Windows Live Messenger instant messaging service to citizens of five countries with whom the US has trade embargoes. Now, it turns out that Google and, apparently, AOL have taken similar actions. According to a lawyer quoted by Computerworld, even free, downloaded apps are viewed as 'exports' by the US government — meaning totally in-the-cloud services such as e-mail may escape the rules. Either way, there appear to be a number of ways determined citizens of Syria, Iran, and Cuba can get around the ban."

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Goatse also blocked (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28148879)

Goatse [goatse.fr] blocked to US enemies.

hurt the wrong people more (5, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148893)

Ironically, banning these communication tools will more likely hinder dissidents in those countries far more than government. The dictatorial governments already have control over many traditional forms of communication and by introducing these new forums, the US would actually make it harder for them to control their population.

Re:hurt the wrong people more (5, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148997)

Unfortunately the blame doesn't lie with ms/aol/google (a sad day for /.) this time the problem is purely political ( a happy day for /.), the government needs to define "exports" better so that methods of communicating are allowed (even if you forbid encryption).

Re:hurt the wrong people more (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149029)

I always thought the Internet would make wars awfully awkward, since you could be in direct, person-to-person contact with the civilians on the other side. At least a few of them are bound to put up facebook pages chronicling their hardships, in English, for all to see. (And to be fair, foreign propagandists are sure to create sympathetic shills as well - though as long as the pictures of slaughtered children are real, I'm not sure the identity of the supposed grieving mother really matters).

So I guess this practice will help shield us from that little inconvenience.

Re:hurt the wrong people more (3, Interesting)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149347)

"I always thought the Internet would make wars awfully awkward, since you could be in direct, person-to-person contact with the civilians on the other side."

Reminds me of a common thought in the beginning of the 20th century. When aeroplanes were invented, there was the opinion that since everthing would be scoutable from the air, there would be no secrets since every troopmovement would be detected very easily. There would be no secrets and war would be impossible. That hope was crushed very quick I would imagine since war didn't stop and even became more dangerous to civilians(city bombing).

In a real war between equals, internet contact(and all other contact for that matter) between those countries would be immediatly cut off as far as it can be cut off. Sure, you can use proxies and the sort but only a select few would be able to subvert the "firewall". Every time a new way of evading the firewall becomes popular, goverments will try to block it and it will be enough to stop 90%+ of the people coming in contact with people on the other side.

Re:hurt the wrong people more (1)

sharperguy (1065162) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149465)

Surely this would mean the governments of these countries would be more at war with their own citizens than with the other country, then?

Re:hurt the wrong people more (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149625)

âoeThe enemy,â retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, âoeis anybody whoâ(TM)s going to get you killed, no matter which side heâ(TM)s on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And donâ(TM)t you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live.â

Re:hurt the wrong people more (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149651)

"The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live."

Re:hurt the wrong people more (1)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149583)

I would note that during both Iraq wars there were reports that US & Allies could not completely take down Irak's network grid. There was even some anecdotical evidence due to fiber optics being used.

"As far as it can be cut off"... Well the last on the list will probably be those with the weapons, which makes such moves rather unproductive. Civilians loose phone and network links while the military or terrorist keep browsing Google Maps.

One doesn't need to go so far as to Iraq... Pakistan, Swat. Taliban carries a whole spectra of communication devices, they even directly call CNN for their "daily comment". Meanwhile there are hundreds of thousands of civilians stranded in the valley nearly without anything. Each time any one of them reaches a working phone it is a call of despair and anger.

Obongo's America... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149061)

Where SCOTUS appointees being an affirmative action two-fer counts more than legal knowledge or willingness to render judgments based solely on the facts of the case at hand interpreted solely through the lens of existing law and existing (US) legal precedent. Do we really want a Supreme Court that renders judgments based on some vague sense of empathy? How would you feel if you had a legitimate case that was decided against you because you were the wrong race or gender or sexual orientation? Do we really want to let Obongo tear down the last barrier remaining between himself and complete unfettered power? Do you trust him that much?

Re:Obongo's America... (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149097)

Thank you for reminding me why abortion should remain free, safe and legal.

Re:Obongo's America... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149149)

Are you considering suicide and wishing your mother had saved you the trouble 10 years ago?

And what do you mean by "remain?" Abortion isn't currently safe for anyone involved: certainly not for the human infant being violently ripped apart inside the one place that's supposed to be safe: her mother's womb. Certainly not for the woman who will carry a deep emotional wound with her for the rest of her life, unable to escape the knowledge that she murdered her baby, and possibly suffer a uterine cyst and be unable to reproduce again. Certainly not the father who has blood on his hands as well. And certainly not the doctor when he finally stands before his maker and has to account for his role in the slaughter of children which long ago dwarfed the Nazi Holocaust in scale.

Re:Obongo's America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149193)

Wow, snarkiness, appeals to religion, and Godwin to boot. Nice job.

Personally, safe or not, I think people should abort pregnancies more often. What are we going to do with all these people anyway? Grist for the corporate empire? Incubators of bird flu? There's way too many of us. Often the parents are unwilling or unable to take care of their offspring --- in which case, they are better off dead.

Re:Obongo's America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149273)

I guess you've never heard of birth control. Welcome to the 21st Century, Rip Van Winkle.

Re:Obongo's America... (0, Redundant)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149299)

No, no there isn't too many of us. If it wasn't for corrupt government + bureaucracy no one would need to be starving in the world. The earth has plenty of room to grow plus birth rates are declining and birth control is cheaper and more effective than ever.

Re:Obongo's America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149269)

Infant != Fetus

Re:Obongo's America... (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149689)

"How would you feel if you had a legitimate case that was decided against you because you were the wrong race or gender or sexual orientation?"

I'd feel like that's what happens when you fill it with ultra Conservative anti-Constitutionalists like Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts. Kennedy actually takes reality and responsibility into consideration, and I can respect him for it despite his being very conservative, but with him as the "swing" vote God help us all.

Oh, sorry, that completely blew up your spot. Guess you're just another idiotic troll.

Enemy Communications (4, Insightful)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149185)

Also ironically, wouldn't it be better for the U.S. to have all its enemies' secret communications running through servers in the U.S. so we could just eavesdrop anytime we wanted to with no hassle. Or the U.S. thinks the IM doesn't serve any strategic purpose, which makes one wonder why it needs to be embargoed.

This is insightful ??? (-1, Offtopic)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149507)

Okay it is time for me to say NIGGER, NIGGER , NIGGER.

The encryption features with these services make them
WEAPONS. You children need to grow up and realize why
these services are doing this. They have been violating
US Embargo rules for ever. The just now realize they are
culpable for their actions.

Mod me down, who really gives a shit it Slashdotters cannot
read and understand! NIGGERS!

OK With Me (1, Funny)

ElDuque (267493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148899)

That's the point, isn't it? Hopefully citizens in those countries will wish that they weren't embargoed and put pressure on their government to change.

I understand that not everyplace has a representative democracy with regular, free elections like the US, but except for the worst dictatorships that rule by force, the government must remain popular with the people!

Re:OK With Me (4, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148927)

It's hard to change your government when outside forces keep interfering. examples are : big corporations paying warlords (with weapons) in exchange for mining rights; foreign governments placing people in government and supplying them with money/weapons ...

Re:OK With Me (4, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148939)

another example : a foreign much bigger country places your country in isolation, thereby giving the dictator a means to control the population by antagonising the big country. (CUBA)

Re:OK With Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149369)

Fuck that. It's more important to send a clear message that: if you don't give your citizens free speech, don't expect to do ANY business with the free world. It is a means a deterrence to keep governments from becomming oppressive. Sure, you might have your citizens under your thumb, but do NOT expect to have access to the rest of the world (read: the free world). The free world tends to punish anything and anyone who restricts freedom in any way. I'd have it no other way.

Re:OK With Me (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149461)

Yes and that's why nobody deals with China



..... Oh wait

Re:OK With Me (2, Interesting)

Al_Maverick (939029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149729)

Free world. I guess that's why the US keeps the torture prisons outside of that fairy-tale free world of yours (Cuba, Irak, and outsourcing all over the world) And you trade with dictators every time it is good for your economy. China, and the rest of Latinamerica durind the cold war comes to mind. Your ideology is never as good as the health of your economy. Cuba, you are only angry at them because they closed your casinos and whorehouses.

Re:OK With Me (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149667)

How many countries have an embargo on Cuba? (hint, one)

The US's embargo on Cuba has not strengthened Castro's grip on the population, all it's done is made Cubans poorer, which _should_ make the population dislike their leader for letting that happen..

Re:OK With Me (1)

Al_Maverick (939029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149745)

Hint: that one country had put the previous dictators in place, or you thought Cuba was a democracy before Castro?

Re:OK With Me (4, Insightful)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148941)

I understand that not everyplace has a representative democracy with regular, free elections like the US, but except for the worst dictatorships that rule by force, the government must remain popular with the people!

You are kidding yourself. An ordinary person has very little influence on who and what comprises the government, especially in countries where anti-government sentiment is met with force and violence. That Western companies seek to undermine the few remaining means of free communication that these people have is, frankly, irresponsible.

Re:OK With Me (0, Troll)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149119)

Your right. The west blows. So move to North Korea and then post to your hearts content. Oh wait ...

Re:OK With Me (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149333)

What do you think the north korean government tells people is the reason they can't have internet access?
They won't say "because we are an evil controlling corrupt government", they will say "because foreign governments are trying to isolate you"... The people in north korea have no other source of information, so what will they believe?

The west will blow (1, Flamebait)

linumax (910946) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149339)

the day the majority become people like you who see even a complaint about business practices of a few companies as a sign of dissent and unpatriotic (maybe un-American) behavior and recommend complainer to be banished.

Re:OK With Me (4, Insightful)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149357)

Don't you see the point? To use your own example, one of the methods by which the North Korean government maintains power over its people is to block access by those people to things like the web, e-mail, IM, etc. If you keep the people incommunicado, then you can more easily keep them under control.

If the US prohibits its corporations from providing things like IM, e-mail, etc to the people of repressive governments, it's basically helping those governments maintain control over their own people. If the goal of the US gov is to subvert repressive governments, denying the people of those nations access to communication with the rest of the world will not achieve that goal. If on the other hand the goal is to dehumanize the people of those countries, making it easier for all of us to accept wars with those countries, well, blocking communications would certainly help accomplish that.

Re:OK With Me (4, Insightful)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148971)

Ehhh ... no.

Citizens of those countries being able to comunicate with rest of the world and see&compare how people live elsewhere will cause change. That is reason why their cowerment attempt to censor internet. US of A does not need to help them with that.

Big Bad Common Foreign Enemy targeting them too on the other hand ... well, ignorant masses are easy prey to propaganda.

Re:OK With Me (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149017)

You realise that is the same logic Osama uses.

The US people keep electing politicians that screw with the middle east

.'. All us citizens are responsible for the atrocities committed in palatine, the covert operations in iran and the bloodshed in iraq!

.'. It is OK to kill them.

Re:OK With Me (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149219)

In a totalitarian state, you can not put pressure on the gov except by insurrection. Do you see that occurring? I do not.

Re:OK With Me (3, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149305)

Only thanks to actions like this attempting to shut off methods of communication, the only information these people will get about the outside world will be what their government supplies them...

So as far as the people are concerned, it is not their heroic government that needs to change, it is the evil foreign governments who are picking on them.. And were it not for their heroic government fighting their corner, these people would be even more cut off from the world.

Cutting internet into pieces (2, Interesting)

toxygen01 (901511) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148907)

Since when is internet divided into countries?

Re:Cutting internet into pieces (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149419)

There's always IRC.

Don't solely trust your communications to a corporation if you can help it.

Re:Solely Trust (0)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149501)

"First the corps turned off the communication apps in embargoed countries, but that was okay with me because I was using Cloud Computing in America.
"Then the corps turned off the cloud computing apps in America and forced us to pay for the Service we were getting, but by then it was too late..."

"U.S. Enemies"? (5, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148911)

Do you guys in the USA still seriously believe that Cuba is going to invade and conquer you / subvert your citizens and turn them into communists / invite Putin to set up ICBMs pointing at you?

Across the water here in the UK it seems a bit daft. Really interested in some measured responses about why the USA still has a trade embargo against Cuba and treats them so coldly. I'm not trying to wind you up, but really curious and I don't understand. If the reason is because you believe Cuba has a poor human rights record, well that doesn't stop the USA trading with other countries where serious human rights abuses are commonplace. Is it because Cuba is nominally communist? I am pretty sure the USA trades with other countries that have communist/dictatorial leaderships.

Really curious - can any slashdotters enlighten me as to why the Cuba / USA situation continues? I would have thought it's all long gone cold war history and both countries would benefit from getting over it. Or has the Cuban leadership said something that the USA doesn't find acceptable and won't back down until they apologise?

cheers for any insights!

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28148961)

This one goes to "11"

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (4, Interesting)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148969)

Really curious - can any slashdotters enlighten me as to why the Cuba / USA situation continues? I would have thought it's all long gone cold war history and both countries would benefit from getting over it. Or has the Cuban leadership said something that the USA doesn't find acceptable and won't back down until they apologise?

Why do politicians do anything? Political reasons. Gotta look tough 'n macho, or something. Tough on crime. Tough on communism. So on so forth. Yeah we trade with worse countries but Joe Voter is too stupid to know that and he knows that Cuba it the "enemy" of the good ol' USA so only a pinko liberal would end the embarge!*

*the vast majority of liberals don't support removing the trade embargo either. Oh...and I'm not a liberal.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (3, Insightful)

slarrg (931336) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149009)

Not to mention it's a country that's easy to embargo since they have nothing we need. Rest assured, if they strike oil there we'll find every reason under the sun to be the best of allies.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149037)

Not to mention it's a country that's easy to embargo since they have nothing we need. Rest assured, if they strike oil there we'll find every reason under the sun to be the best of allies.

Except Cuban cigars... Oh wait! Even Arnold buys them in Canada...

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149325)

We need their cigars.

Ok, now that the obvious joke's out of the way...

We need their sugar. If you want a conspiracy theory, the embargo goes on because of corn-growing conglomerates. Ever wonder why everything in the U.S. is sweetened with diabetes causing high-fructose corn syrup even though natural sugar tastes better and is (barely, in the case of refined sugar) not as bad for your health?

It's because corn is less expensive than sugar. "But why?" you ask. "Sugar takes fewer resources to grow!" But the government gives subsidies to corn farmers. And a great deal of the world's sugar comes from Cuba. There are sugar plantations in Louisiana, but they are hardly worth noticing next to the endless acres of corn in the midwest.

Do I actually think that's the reason? No, not really. I think it's just obstinance. But it is true that a side effect of the embargo dropping would be that we could have snack food and soda that both tastes better and is marginally healthier.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149055)

I think in the case of Cuba, it's personal. Some Americans just can't stand the thought of Castro outliving our antagonism.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (3, Insightful)

phayes (202222) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149553)

Lets not forget that for decades Cuba/Castro worked to undermine democracy internationally every chance they got while oppressing anyone at home who suggested the slightest criticism of the castrist "nirvana". A unsubstainable nirvana that was bought & paid for by subsidies from the kremlin. When the URSS collapsed, instead of accepting dissent and moving towards a system where the cubans could freely elect their leaders, Castro chose to crash the cuban economy. After all, that wayn whatever the pain to the population, Castro would still be comfortably in power... The problem between Cuba & the US not just one-sided, the cuban government actively hates and fears democracy.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149225)

"Why do politicians do anything? Political reasons"

I agree with the OP, the reason was the missle crisis but I'm 50 and I'm still too young to remember the missle crisis first hand, to an non-american it looks petty and childish. I mean why is the US speaking to Germany and Japan, WW2 was a much bigger shit fight and was only 15-20yrs before the bay of pigs? Seems to me the reasons to hold a formalised grudge against Cuba dissapeared long ago. The sanctions obviously didn't work since Castro remained in power until old age put him out of action, the only direct affect they had on him was to restrict his travel.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Interesting)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149467)

That's interesting. I've lately been seeing more and more evidence that liberals are really just moderates. They seem to be more and more for just maintaining the status quo.

I used to consider myself as in the liberal camp but now find myself much further to the left. I value education, science, freedom, free speech and heavily criticize religion and would like to see it disappear, such values used to be very common with the left.
What seems to me to have happened now though is traditional leftist values have been weakened by the trend towards liberalism, we often find liberal people saying rubbish like science is just a western form of thinking, that we shouldn't criticize cultures and religions that result in the torture and muder of homosexuals or the subjugation of women and children, and then a whole lot of 'anti-western' thinking untempered any form of rationality.

With regards to the article though, I agree with everyone saying this is just stupid, it has the very real potential to hinder progress in less democratic countries, and I can't see what possible good it could achieve.

On the Cuban trade embargo, I also not being from America, see the trade embargo against Cuba as very strange. Though I thought that the reason it still existed was more to keep Cubans living in America happy because they didn't want America dealing with Fidel? I was actually speaking to a guy from Cuba a couple of days ago via Jabber, he said that he fixes computers there. He said that a computer in Cuba costs about 25,000 Cuban Pesos, and he makes only 600 Cuban Pesos a month... I would really like see that trade emargo disappear so that the Cuban people could start trading more easily and get more money.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28148975)

It is an acknowledged fact that Fidel Castro wanted to corrupt the American Way of Life by letting Joseph Stalin install nuclear rockets in Cuba.
Luckily Nixon defused that thread in 1969 successfully.
Otherwise we might have to drive Ladas instead of GM Avengers and eat Solyanka after waiting 6 hours for food at the foodstore.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149083)

It is an acknowledged fact that Cemal Gürsel wanted to corrupt the Soviet way of life by letting John Fitzgerald Kenedy install nuclear rockets in Turkey
Luckily Khrushchev defused that threat successfully

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149271)

6 hours? More like 6 days.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149403)

What did Nixon have to do with the CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS of 1962? Kennedy was in office, not Nixon. AND, I do remember it, since my dad sat on a runway in a b-47 waiting to fly to eastern Russia with a present for them. There is a reason why it is called 6 days of October and not 6 days of a crook.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149629)

It's posts like yours that keep reinforcing the worldwide view that Americans are all utter morons.

Give us all a break and just OD on that glue, please?

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (5, Insightful)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149015)

>Really curious - can any slashdotters enlighten me as to why the Cuba / USA situation continues?

Because it seemed like a good idea at the time and backing off now would mean Davey beat Goliath. American politicians aren't willing to admit they couldn't bully a tiny island nation 90 miles off the coast.

In a word - ego.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Informative)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149319)

The problem is purely economical. If one gets the chronology right, things went bad between US and Cuba when Fidel wanted to get a little bit of Cuba for cubans themselves. Back them 99,9% of Cuba was US, the "little garden" on the Caribbean.

Was it a burst of emotion or something else? The fact is that Fidel nationalized all Cuba! And the US made a pretty messy fuss out of that. Upon which Fidel answered with a fuss of world proportions. Remember the Missile Crisis?

Now the fact is that not only Fidel, or the Castros don't want the US in Cuba. Every single cuban I talked with, strongly stated - everything but the US back. Till now they cannot forgive the US what happened till the Castros. Also they cannot forgive the US what happened later, in the way on how it happened. The word "Pigs" are usually strongly remarked when a cuban talks about a specific bay.

They will support the Castros even if the US becomes communist. Really. Because their wish is nil economic US presence on Cuba. That's how they see things after what happened. Yes it is mostly allergy but that's the way things came into what we have now in Cuba.

But can the US even imagine to accept this?

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149475)

I don't think it's that, or at least it's not the entire problem.

Florida is very often a key state and many Cubans live there, they're a pretty significant voting group. A lot of them seem to be so blind in their hatred of Castro that they don't see the embargo that they support is hurting their countrymen more than it hurts Castro.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149019)

Do you guys in the USA still seriously believe that Cuba is going to invade and conquer you / subvert your citizens and turn them into communists / invite Putin to set up ICBMs pointing at you?

Most Americans, no, they don't believe any of that. There's a minority ruled by the near constant crap flood of fear, racism, xenophobia and negativity offered up by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, along with a handful of media outlets owned by Rupert Murdock and Fred Koch. They don't realize that fear and smear have stopped working but they keep doubling down on the same losing strategy and hoping for a different result.

That 25% minority is now on the verge of tearing themselves apart as the people with two neurons left to make a spark try to wrest control of party away from the wingnuts. A task complicated by the fact that the inmates are running the asylum.

I think ever country has that 15-18% of crackpots, but not every one lets them seize control of the government. Learn the lesson. You can see where it got us.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149139)

That 25% minority is now on the verge of tearing themselves apart as the people with two neurons left to make a spark try to wrest control of party away from the wingnuts. A task complicated by the fact that the inmates are running the asylum.

I think ever country has that 15-18% of crackpots, but not every one lets them seize control of the government. Learn the lesson. You can see where it got us.

Well according to http://www.fravia.com/realicra/basiclawsofhumanstupidity.htm [fravia.com] you are in big trouble!

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149205)

The fact you got modded flamebait suggests that these people even know who they are, but still blinded by their own ignorance cannot and will not change their view.

I have to admit, I was amazed Palin got the VP candidacy. I simply couldn't comprehend how someone so plainly stupid, so blatantly ignorant, so clear corrupt and incompetent could ever get so close to becoming president.

There have been bad leaders in other parts of the world of course such as Blair, Brown, Putin, Sarkozy but one thing that stands out about bad leaders elsewhere is that they're not stupid, they may be incompetent, they may even have turned out to be quite evil, but they certainly know what they're doing. In contrast with the likes of Bush, Palin and even to a lesser extent McCain, American leaders truly often seem to actually be quite dumb.

So the world regularly manages to elect bad leaders, but only in the US for some reason do they ever seem to be stupid as well and it's odd that a nation at the forefront of the world can breed such stupidity and allow it to make it's way all the way to the top.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149385)

The world elects bad leaders because the political process attracts the greedy and power hungry...

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149073)

There were and probably still are several american interests in Myanmar/Burma. Not matter the presence, the regime there is still the same. And the response they made to the huge cyclone that slashed nearly all the country is, at least, barbaric.

Cuba, with its record, had recently to deal with a no less damaging hurricane. Their response was such that I read, a few months ago, that Texas officials were eager to go to Havana to get acquainted with their methods.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149321)

Oh it's much worse than that. You might find this list, particularly the Cuba entry interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_response_to_Hurricane_Katrina [wikipedia.org]

Everyone knows the way the Bush administration dealt with Katrina is bad, but I don't think many realise quite how bad. Realistically in turning down Cuba's offer of help American lives were undoubtedly lost and for what? A refusal to reconcile with what is an entirely harmless nation to the US? A dispute that started over half a century ago?

Could you imagine the shit state Europe would be in if France, Britain, the Netherlands etc. still shunned Germany, Italy, Spain and so forth over World War II for that kind of period? It's really quite mindless with no benefits that aren't at very least far outweighed by resolving the issue. It's not as if Cuba has even chosen a path of confrontation by allowing say China or Iran to stick a naval base on it's land since which is more than can be said for the US which has military bases at pretty much all their opponent's doorsteps now.

I can understand the argument with Iran and Syria because they certainly do sponsor terrorism, they do maintain and agressive rhetoric and so there's some justification, but Cuba is really about as much of a threat to the US as Switzerland is.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149459)

Agree. But one shall take into account that Syria, while helping organisations clearly linked to terrorism, does not make threats against the US. On the contrary it has a policy to avoid directly harassing the US. On the other side, there is that interesting country of Libya.... That did not only made threats... Right?

Where are they now?

BTW, no long ago I took a look at a large book made in the US about Libya's mineral resources. Really fantastic, a super-detailed report on the best of the best Libya has "to offer" the Am... the world, the world.

So, it seems that the question is no only about who supports what.
 

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149087)

Florida, especially the Miami area, has an extremely high proportion of Cuban-Americans, most of whom came to the US to escape Castro and his socialist reforms back when he took power.

As you may remember, Florida had a key role to play in the 2000 presidential elections.

So the reason why Cuba remains such a big issue, even though there really is no logical reason to embargo Cuba anymore is because this is an issue that can deliver a large voting bloc in a state that is right on the edge between the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Or so it was explained to me in my poli sci class.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Informative)

david in brasil (1103683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149091)

When Castro came to power, many, many rich Cuban families left their land, houses, farms and factories and moved to Florida. To this day, these Florida Cubans hold enormous political power. It's very difficult for a national politician to win Florida without appeasing the Cuban population there. And, because of the peculiar nature of the American electoral system, it's very difficult to win the presidency without winning, or at least a significant showing in Florida. So the Cubans in Florida wield enormous political power, despite their small numbers. And despite what the rest of the country wants, there's no way that they will relent and bless an official US recognition of Cuba.

It's the same reason why the US always takes Israel's side in the Mideast conflict. Despite their small number (I think that only 3% of the US population is Jewish), Jews wield enormous political power in the US.

I fully expect to get flamed for saying this.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149401)

I don't think even 3% of the US population is Jewish. That would be 9 million people yet there are only 12 million Jews in the world and 5.3million of them are in Israel.

I'm not sure where their disproportionate hold on power stems from though, simply guilt over what happened in World War II perhaps?

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149105)

When Castro seized the assets of Cuba's property owners, they fled to the US. Obviously, these people don't care much for Castro and they happen to wield a considerable amount of influence, particularly in Florida, one of the most important swing states in the presidential elections.

On top of this, there are still some old cold war hawks who view Cuba as a lingering threat of communist influence in Latin America. There is a lot of nostalgic fear attached to Castro's name. This may soften if Raul turns out to be Castro Lite.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149109)

Really curious - can any slashdotters enlighten me as to why the Cuba / USA situation continues? I would have thought it's all long gone cold war history and both countries would benefit from getting over it. Or has the Cuban leadership said something that the USA doesn't find acceptable and won't back down until they apologise?

Basically, yes. When Castro took over he nationalized the assets left behind by all the rich cubanos who fled to the USA. They weren't happy about that so they capitalized on the political situation and used their influence to get the US government to "punish" Castro in return. Those cubanos and their descendants living in Miami and other parts of the US are still pretty rich and still pretty pissed, so they make use of whatever they can to continue to pressure/lobby the US government to keep those policies in place against Cuba.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149117)

The US is waiting for Fidel Castro to die so that they can declare victory. That, and currying favour of the expatriated and very vocal Cuban population in swing-state Florida. Those exiles are getting up their in age and dying off, and their children don't really care about returning to Cuba, so politicians aren't afraid of pissing them off that voter bloc as they used to be. Once Fidel is gone we'll definitely resume normal trade relations, if not sooner.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149127)

Bah, lots of replies to your question, but most of them pin the blame in the wrong place.

Of course, the embargo started during the cold war. We could debate whether even *that* was a good idea, but dems da facts. The reason the ban stays in place is strictly for political reasons. But it's not to maintain a "macho" image, as other replies have stated. The reason is that the ban is very popular among cuban expatriots in Florida. Cubans are an important minority demographic in Florida. And Florida is a very important swing state. If you oppose the embargo, you lose the Cuban vote, and then you lose Florida, and then you lose the election. *This* is the one and only reason that the embargo is still in place.

We should learn from our mistakes. In the past, we have used trade sanctions to try to reform countries that did things we didn't like. In every instance, these trade sanctions have failed. It is high time to abandon trade sanctions as we knew them in the 20th century.

I suspect that the best way to go about doing so would be to first convince the Florida Cuban population that lifting the embargo would be a good thing. If you can succeed at that, then lifting the embargo becomes politically feasible. Of course, if President Obama remains popular, he may be able to do a limited number of unpopular things, such as lifting the embargo, and still win reelection in 2012. President Obama has already taken the very limited step of allowing Americans with relatives in Cuba to travel to Cuba. Although I didn't vote for Obama, and I disagree with him about a great many things, I applaud him for taking even this small step in the right direction.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149137)

Do you guys in the USA still seriously believe that Cuba is going to invade and conquer you / subvert your citizens and turn them into communists / invite Putin to set up ICBMs pointing at you?

Yes, we do. They did get Hruschev's missiles once, and they (Che Guevara [savecivilization.org] in particular) did try to blow-up New York landmarks — FBI and New York Police Department managed to disrupt that operation by planting a young police cadet in the "Black Liberation Army".

As long as the same people and the same ideology are in charge in Cuba, we will keep trying to keep them down as much, as an 800-pound gorilla can keep down a snake. Thanks for asking.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149231)

right...and the never US funded & armed people who attacked cuba killing ~5k people!

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149155)

I'd guess there's a few reasons:

- Supporting the embargo is good for getting the Cuban dissident vote on the mainland

- It's good for getting the vote of the "America, fuck yeah!" crowd who still think we're in a cold war and that Cuba is their number one enemy alongside Russia and probably Vietnam or something

- It makes the immigrant problem easier to deal with, right now anyone coming from Cuba can be sent right back, if you allow for legal travel it makes checking validity of the claims of people coming across more work and preventing smuggling more work. It's easy to just say "Cuban boat" and turn it round.

Still, there are upsides to it still. It means the rest of the world continue to have a place on Earth that has sun and lovely white sandy beaches and so on without having to deal with the loud and annoying American tourist types - you know, the type who go to Europe and tip people in US dollars because they ignorantly think the US dollar is something to be respected, when in fact it's worth far less over there than the local currencies like GBP, EUR, SEK, NOK so is a bit like an insult.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149247)

I nowadays perceive it as a humanitarian issue--embargoing Cuba hurts the Communist leadership that is oppressing the people there (seems pretty clear that blocking IM hurts the people and helps the oppressors, but whatever). The people who care about it most are people who fled Cuba and hatehatehate the Cuban government, so policy reflects that.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (2, Interesting)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149281)

The reason the US still treats Cuba that way is because the Cuban expat community in Florida has the swing vote in that state. And the way their electorial system works (dosen't work) makes them a very powerful although very small group. So each political party tries to be seen as hard on Cuba to get this all powerful, but again very small, voting block.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149315)

At this time, the cuban's that have moved to America force this issue. They are in the republican party and keep pushing the neo-cons to keep this on. If the dems relax things (such as what just happened recently), the neo-cons point fingers at the dems and scream that they are communists. Sadly, most dems are worried about getting elected, so they knee-jerk back the relaxation. Obama does not appear to be that way. I think that he will drop the embargo, most likely in the next 4 years (assuming that he is re-elected).

The fact that we gave China MFN AND we assumed that they would improve the regular Chinese's lot (which it did), shows that trade is a strong incentive. Now, we just have to get China to live up to the agreement and unfix their money as well as drop trade barriers, which were in the agreements. Sadly, W ignored that. In fact, he and other republican helped the move by saying no taxes for companies that moved their jobs offshore.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149355)

Because they want to be seen to be tough on ... And cuba has nothing they really need. They would like to do the same with china and russia, but the big business lobbyists who pay for their political campaigns wouldn't like that. Cuba are just a scapegoat because noone that matters (read: noone with money) cares about them.

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (1)

KeithJM (1024071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149519)

I think originally it was that a lot of American-owned property was seized by the new Cuban government. It was a big US vacation spot, so many of the hotels and resorts were owned by US citizens and corporations. When Fidel came to power he basically revoked the titles to all of those properties and claimed them for himself, so a lot of rich and powerful US citizens were very unhappy with him. Add to that the fear of communists and you get an embargo. Now it's mostly because the only people who REALLY care are Americans of Cuban descent, and they feel very strongly that it should continue. Why make a voting block angry if no one else will care about the decision?

Re:"U.S. Enemies"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149563)

Its because the CIA really fucked up its Bay of Pigs sponsored invasion and CUBA has been making a success of itself despite the embargo.

This does nothing. (3, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148951)

I'm sure someone is going to step in with some "brilliant" apology for the behavior of the government (now, this applies to the US government now, but could also apply to any other government), but in reality these embargoes do little more than hurt the everyday people in both countries, as most people are completely innocent of whatever games their silly leaders play and this only denies them trade, communication, and sometimes a place to escape a worse regime (although sometimes I wonder if that "worse regime" could be the USA itself...)

The reason for the Cuba embargo is simply for political reasons. You can tell who the more honest politicians are in Congress by whether they'd end the Cuban embargo. How many of them are there, anyway? Two? Sounds about right.

Re:This does nothing. (1, Troll)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149133)

ron paul and...?

Re:This does nothing. (0, Flamebait)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149415)

Kuchinich. I can't think of any others besides those two.

Re:This does nothing. (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149157)

The US should give Castro a break. As you said, the innocent people are the one who gets hurt the most.

Besides, all in all, considering the whole central America crisis, Cuba is doing quite well.

Re:This does nothing. (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149351)

> as most people are completely innocent
> of whatever games their silly leaders play

True... I wonder how would we do without governments.

Silly rules (2, Interesting)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 5 years ago | (#28148999)

Anyway that will not impair Fidel Castro of browsing Google News through Chavez's personal proxy, right?
Or it will not stop Ahmenidjad of reading all those funny books on US rocket programs he already got from googling... Besides he already bookmarked all the stuff.
Anyway I think it will be more damaging the fact that information, on what people think of these countries, is being blocked to them...

Eeeee, stop... North Korea was taken out of terrorism support list a little before they started to mess around with missiles and nukes. Well, missiles and nukes, they already had isn't it? Yes, it could be possible that Kim just decided to google a little bit and found the reason for that litlte meany bug that was plaguing his rockets. But the man went really mad, he is blasting a rocket every day and scrapping every piece of paper he signed. He's cursing the whole world and threatening pure harakiri. Maybe because of such things as this?:

http://www.nkeconwatch.com/north-korea-uncovered-google-earth/

So long for secretive North Korea...

Re:Silly rules (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149387)

This is to be expected when the rules are made by people who have no idea how the technology works. The only good that will come out of this is that the youth of today are aproching voting age and they know that the old guard is just posturing and will treat them acordingly in comming elections.

network enutrality and internet in US hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149035)

I am sure all those 5 countries will certainly gives us a different perspective on whether the internet should stay in US hands or not.

Internets (1)

SchizoStatic (1413201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149081)

Not to sound to elitist but do these countries even offer internet to their masses? Are their people even capable of affording internet?

"Exports" include cloud services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149085)

Technically, cloud services still count as exports. It depends on where the user is sitting who is using the service.

Wait - what? (1)

Twyst3d (1359973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149095)

I can say with 100% surety that a benchmark in the lowering of performance on windows has always been the installation of MSN Messenger. So why discourage them installing it when you are trying to hurt them? Also - morons - could like euh I dunno perhaps MONITOR the communications? Win win? Are we stupid or is today a special holiday?

Residents, not citizens (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149121)

The ban is designed to stop residents of said countries, not citizens. You can still have non-Iranians in Iran, for example, being effected by this and also still have citizens of the counties living elsewhere not being effected by the ban.

With solutions such as Jabber, there is nothing for residents in question to put place their own solution.

Re:Residents, not citizens (2, Insightful)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149179)

Or use relative tools from third countries. There is no access to google.com? Well, let's try yandex.ru.

These rulings give me a weird sense of the Chinese Big Wall of Internet in a mirror image

Sign that surveillance policies are changing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149233)

Before the AT&T stories broke, I was cautioned multiple times about likely eavesdropping at a major service provider that was focused on their IM traffic. While I can't say for sure this wasn't happening, the source was very credible. Moving on, I wonder what the impetus for this change would be. Certainly it seems likely that the former administration would be more hawkish about embargo enforcement than the current one. Of course, if you have active surveillance that's a good reason to not cut off active users that might have valuable intelligence. So what's changed that has gotten the DOJ to contact all of these providers? I don't know, obviously, but if the current administration was dismantling or limiting the scope of these programs it probably would go hand in hand with a bit of house cleaning such as this.

In the cloud? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149265)

Google's IM service is "totally in the cloud"... Sure, they *offer* a downloadable client for it, but you don't have to use theirs, they even encourage you to use other clients to connect to it. People in these countries wanting to connect can just download another client, in fact they could even use XMPP compliant servers located anywhere else to talk to google users... I speak to tons of gtalk users every day, from my own server.

Opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149277)

"Either way, there appear to be a number of ways determined citizens of Syria, Iran, and Cuba can get around the ban."

Including, say, developing their own technology and becoming regional leaders, which is equivalent to giving the local economy a hand at creating wealth. Embargos ftw.

Fuck the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149437)

May God curse the USA for the mess it did to the world by global warming ,Weapons and economic crisis

Re:Fuck the USA (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28149497)

You can't really blame Americans for the economic crisis, just because everybody made bad leveraged investments in their homes and now they don't want to buy all your factory-made gimmicks, reducing worldwide demand. I guess you should have grown food and relied on local demand for expansion instead.

Of course, maybe foreign direct investment wrecked your economy by building all of the gimmicky factories instead of farms like you needed. But you should have regulated your industry to make sure your people won't starve (assuming you're bitching at America from an LDC instead of somewhere posh like France).

Wait, except that the IMF tends to withdraw relief grants from countries that regulate their marketplace and limit foreign direct investment ... and that the CIA tends to assassinate any powerful anti-american political figures in countries who resist the expansion. So maybe you can blame us for the economic crisis.

Oh well ... at least we win, sort of! America, fuck yeah!

Why hold us responsible for dictators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28149587)

I am currently in Sudan...it's on the list. In addition to the the sites and services mentioned, numerous sites including webkit.org and logitech.com block access from the so called axis of evil. ...And to the people who hold us responsible for the Sudanese government's actions, why? We (the people) try, but have no power...a neighbor was hanged several years ago for plotting to overthrow the regime. Yes, that's the reality of life for us.

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