Ruling cyberspace

John McCaslin
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Posted: Nov 18, 2005 9:05 AM

Congress sent a strong message to the United Nations on Wednesday that day-to-day operations of the Internet should be maintained in the United States.

Aiming to keep the Internet a "tax-free, global communications network governed by the principles of free speech," Internet Caucus co-chairmen Republican Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, and Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher, both of Virginia, introduced a resolution in advance of U.N. debate on Internet governance under way in Tunisia.

The Internet is coordinated by the Los Angeles-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private-sector, nonprofit organization set up by the U.S. government in 1998. Numerous foreign governments see ICANN as an arm of Uncle Sam and want the Internet administered under a multilateral treaty.

'LIBERALS GONE WILD'

That was probably laughter rising out of the Heritage Foundation at noon Friday when syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin was to read from her new book, "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild."

Unlike the so-called "girls gone wild," Malkin says liberals get their kicks by "slashing your tires, burning your lawns, heaving pies at Republican pundits, hurling racist epithets at minority conservatives, nursing nutty conspiracy theories, and pining publicly for the murder of President Bush."

Her book introduces the "top 10" unhinged leftists - media-types to politicians - including the Florida Democrat who tried to run down then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris with his Cadillac, and the congressman who claimed the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was staged by Republican operatives to help Mr. Bush win re-election.

NO TANKS REQUIRED

Relations between the United States and Syria have worsened over the past two years amid accusations that the Arab nation is a gateway for terrorism.

Now, Travel and Leisure magazine, of all nonpolitical publications, has stumbled upon a class of progressive Syrians who, thanks to one woman in particular, are embracing America's culture and freedoms.

Travel writer Lee Smith says that "lately the trendiest spot" in Damascus is the American Language Center, a small building next door to the U.S. Embassy and "the unofficial meeting place for the city's young and well-to-do."

Inside, Syrians aren't bothered by the latest barbs traded by President Bush and their 40-year-old President Bashar Assad (both leaders followed their fathers into office.) Rather, they take turns discussing the latest episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

"To be sure, the political elite is hanging on, but ordinary Damascenes, in their yearning for alternative cultural influences, have already been won over by ... Oprah's alluring combination of openness and honesty," writes Mr. Smith, who says young Syrians watch  more Oprah than they do Al-Jazeera and other Arabic satellite channels.

 "Despite all the commotion in the United States about the challenge of winning hearts and minds in the Arab world," he says, "it seems that on some level this task doesn't have to involve governments and certainly need not be a battle."

AWAITING GODZILLA

"We turned into a park, where the helicopter was already waiting," writes Caroline Daniel, White House correspondent for the Financial Times and yesterday's pool reporter for President Bush's visit to Japan.

"About 50 feet away were dozens of firemen dressed in what appeared to be surreal, puffy silver space suits with large green pills strapped to their backs. With their visors down, and yellow bands on their arms, some looked as if they were dressed for an outbreak of avian flu.

"About half a dozen, on bended knee, holding on their fire hoses, gamely provided the human foreground," she continues. "Some had helmets with bold orange flaps hanging down from each side. Beyond the trees, a red fire engine was parked in front of a temple, making a surreal sight with the silver men leaning against it."

AS THE WORLD TURNS

President Bush may have been correct not to rush his signature onto the Kyoto Protocol treaty on climate change.

Writing in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, physicist A. Kilcik said it "is a clear fact that the earth's climate has been changing since the pre-industrial era, especially during the last three decades."

To find out why, Mr. Kilcik and his team sought to see if a parallel could be established between solar-activity variations and the earth's temperatures. They compared surface air temperature variations of two countries - the United States and Japan - from 1900 to 1995.

"Hence, our results indicate marked influence of solar-activity variations on the Earth's climate," the team reports.

Which might help explain other historic climate changes, from the "Medieval Warm Period" from the 12th century through the 14th century, to the "Little Ice Age" from the latter half of the 17th century into the early 18th century.