Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "O Jerusalem," April 10, 2010

The G-end

Following a scuffle with Chinese officials at the beginning of this year, Google ended its agreement with the communist government to censor search results. On March 22 it lifted restrictions on its search engine in mainland China by redirecting users to its uncensored Hong Kong site, google.com.hk. Google announced it would be reconsidering its presence in the country in January after it detected a cyberattack targeting Gmail accounts of human-rights activists. The sophistication of the attack pointed to the government as the perpetrator. The government was able partly to block mainland users from the Hong Kong site, but shutting out Google entirely is already proving a problem for a country where millions rely on the internet giant for email. The government is also working to shut Google out on its other business deals in the country-like contracts with cell phone companies.

Get your fiber

No one's running away from Google in the United States. In fact, a ferocious race broke out among mid-sized cities after the internet giant announced it will build-for free-an ultra-high-speed broadband network to serve 50,000 to 500,000 customers in one or more cities. With hundreds of cities bidding ahead of the March 26 deadline to become the Google Fiber site, one-upsmanship reigned: A Madison, Wis., dairy came up with Google Fiber ice cream (using M&Ms to match the company logo); the mayor of Sarasota, Fla., swam with sharks to win Google's attention; and Topeka, Kan., went all out-its mayor renamed the city "Google" for the month of March.

Climate fallout

The 100-year-old Science Museum in London is changing its exhibits in the wake of recent controversy over the science of global warming. A $6 million gallery slated to be named the Climate Change Gallery will now be called the Climate Science Gallery, in an effort to remain neutral about whether the ballyhooed temperature changes are man-made. Last fall the museum began an exhibit titled "Prove It! All the evidence you need to believe in climate change"-but now it is backing away from that project as well. "We have come to realize, given the way this subject has become so polarized over the past three to four months, that we need to be respectful and welcoming of all views on it," the museum's director Chris Rapley told The Times of London. "The role of the museum should be to lay out honestly and fairly what the climate science community has found out about the science. There are areas of uncertainty which are perfectly reasonable to raise and we will present those."

Uzbek threat

A court in Uzbekistan sentenced Baptist pastor Tohar Haydarov, 27, to 10 years in prison on what local Baptists and neighbors believe to be false drugs charges. Police arrested Haydarov in January and asked him to renounce his faith. When he refused, drugs were allegedly planted in his pocket and home, and he was held on drug charges. The court did not allow fellow church members to testify at his March 4 trial, and on March 5 his father was found dead in the home where Haydarov also lived. The court sentenced him March 10 on drug and trafficking charges. State-run media in the former communist country have launched a campaign against Protestant Christians, while longstanding persecution is escalating, according to Elizabeth Kendal of the Religious Liberty Commission.

One cut by Congress

After a number of state chapters from California to New York began cutting ties with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), it seemed inevitable that the tarred national organization would dissolve. Toward the end of March ACORN's board announced the organization will formally begin shutting down. The organization plans to close its state offices and field offices by April 1 and work on resolving its outstanding debts and obligations. ACORN lost support in Congress for its federal funding after conservative activists released unflattering videos of ACORN employees helping two individuals posing as a pimp and a prostitute.

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