Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pakistan Warns Internationals off Nuke Weapons Grab

Pakistan's military vowed a strong response to any international attempt to seize its atomic arsenal as the army successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable cruise missile on Tuesday.

The security of Pakistan's estimated 50 nuclear warheads has been under global scrutiny since President Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency on November 3 citing Islamist violence and political turmoil.

But the chairman of Pakistan's joint chiefs of staff, General Tariq Majid, blasted reports by "vested and hostile elements in the international media" about the security of its nuclear weapons, an army statement said.

"Suggestions have been made that our assets could either be neutralised or taken away towards safer place to prevent them from falling into wrong hands," the statement quoted Majid as saying after witnessing the launch of the locally developed Babur (Hatf 7) cruise missile.

"We remain alert to such threats and are fully capable of handling these."

The statement added: "Though no responsible state in the world can contemplate such an impossible operation, yet if someone did create such a scenario he was confident that Pakistan would meet the challenge strongly.

"Pakistan's nuclear assets are very safe and secure, and the nation need not to worry on that account. There is a very strong security system in place, which can ward off all threats, internal as well as external."

Musharraf and caretaker Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro congratulated scientists and engineers involved in Tuesday's test launch "on this very important success", the statement said.

The statement said that the test of the 700-kilometre (440-mile) range Babur missile would "consolidate Pakistan's strategic capability and strengthen national security".

"The Babur, which has near stealth capabilities, is a low-flying, terrain-hugging missile with high manoeuvrability, pinpoint accuracy and radar-avoidance features," it said.

"The missile test is part of a continuous process of validating the design parameters set for this weapon system."

Pakistan previously tested the missile in March and again in July. It was first fired in 2005, when its range was only 500 kilometres.

Pakistan confirmed last month that the United States was helping it ensure the security of its atomic weapons and shrugged off reports of a secret programme with Washington as nothing new.

The foreign ministry said the strategic arms were safe and secure under a tight command-and-control structure run entirely by Pakistan, and angrily dismissed fears that they could fall into the wrong hands.

A New York Times report had earlier said Washington was helping ensure their security in a top-secret programme that has cost the United States almost 100 million dollars since 2001, even though Islamabad refuses to allow US inspectors into its nuclear sites.

Advances by Taliban militants in the country's northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan have fuelled fears abroad that hardliners could either threaten Pakistan's nuclear weapons or even stage a takeover.

Proposed Reform of Canadian Copyright Laws

Copyright reform bill critics eye victory
Last Updated: Monday, December 10, 2007 | 2:47 PM ET
CBC News
A controversial bill that seeks to reform Canadian copyright laws, expected to be introduced early this week, may be quashed after a groundswell of opposition erupted over the past week.

The government last week filed a notice indicating the bill would be introduced this week, leading industry experts to expect it to happen on Tuesday. But a spokesperson for Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who was to introduce the bill, said it would not happen on Tuesday and could not say if it would happen this week.

Minister of Industry Jim Prentice has said his proposed copyright reform bill will bring Canada in line with its international obligations.
The House of Commons will take a break until January after Friday's session.

Cory Doctorow, co-editor of influential technology blog Boing Boing and a former director of the Electronic Freedom Foundation advocacy, on Monday wrote that the government's plan is now in disarray.

"Word is that the minister had no idea that this would be such a big deal for Canadians," he wrote. "Word is that the minister and his advisers are scrambling, rethinking the entire matter because of the public outcry."

At an open house in his Calgary constituency office on Saturday, Prentice defended the bill to an angry crowd of about 50 by saying it would bring Canada up to date with the World Intellectual Property Organization treaty it signed in 1997. Canada signed the treaty but has not yet implemented or ratified it, which has provoked criticism from its trading partners, he said.

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Critics have said the proposed legislation will mirror the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and take a hard line against the copying of digital materials, making illegal acts such as the television time shifting enabled by digital video recorders, file-sharing of music and video files, and copying files to DVDs or MP3 players.

Michael Geist, the Canada research chair of internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, has led the charge against the bill and has accused Prentice of caving in to lobbying from U.S. entertainment companies, who are seeking to curtail digital copying in all its forms. He has also accused the minister of ignoring the wishes of regular Canadians and for not including the public in his consultations.

Geist started a Facebook group to protest the bill a week ago, which more than 12,000 people have so far joined. On his blog Monday, Geist wrote that the group has resulted in hundreds of letters and phone calls to Prentice and other MPs from every political party.

"Something exceptional happened this past week. Fair copyright in Canada found its voice," Geist wrote. "It will be silent no more."

The previous Liberal government tried to pass its own contentious copyright reform bill, C-60, in 2005 but it was quashed when the opposition brought down the minority government in a no-confidence vote.

Doctorow said the public would continue opposing bills that strengthen the rights of copyright holders at the expense of the people.

"We will do it a third time, a fourth, a fifth, and forever, until Canada's politicians start drafting balanced copyright laws that protect Canadian artists, scholars, critics, schools, libraries and the public interest," he wrote.