Views From Afar: An International Press Review

LA STAMPA (Turin, Italy) The frenetic millionaire's chase for the relics of the Kennedys was a spectacle of exceptionally bad taste, veined with a vague suspicion of necrophilia. It was the costly sale of a myth that should belong to everyone, and not only to those who possess a million dollars in cash that they can plunk down on a rocking chair or some Zircon pin belonging to Mrs. Onassis. The knowledge that those 50 million dollars from the Sotheby's sale will not go to charity but will line the pockets of the Kennedy children does nothing to earn our sympathy for the gluttony demonstrated by the sellers and the absurd consumerism on the part of the buyers. Various Kennedy shills, including the old and faithful Pierre Salinger, explain that the children have to pay the taxes on the estate of their mother. But these justifications are transparent, and hardly convincing.LIBERATION (Paris, France) From a military standpoint, operation "Grapes of Wrath" did not achieve any of its stated objectives. The Israeli Army announced a progressive diminution of Katousha rockets fired by Hezbollah as a result of its pressure in Lebanon. In truth, the salvo of missiles did not diminish. On the contrary, the volume of fire doubled. During the hostilities, the north of Israel received more missiles than it did in the previous quarter century. Only the ready evacuation of the inhabitations prevented a wholesale loss of human life. Tsahal had also promised to execute surgical strikes. But the massacre of over a hundred civilians in a United Nations refugee camp truncated its offensive and dropped any pretense of conducting a clean war. From the moment the tragedy was announced, Shimon Peres has had to rein in his troops, exposing himself to sharp criticism from his cabinet. Unable to annihilate Hezbollah, the Israeli military attempted to attack Lebanese economic centers in order to force Prime Minister Rafic Harari to negotiate. But this too proved futile, as the true power in the region is centered in Damascus, and not in Beirut. Hafez el-Assad emerged onto the scene as the grand guarantor of the military balance. In last month's meeting at Sharm el Sheik, Shimon Peres and his American ally were able to isolate Iran and place Syria on the defensive. But in light of the latest crisis, the pariahs of Sharm el Sheik have made a triumphant return onto the international scene.NEUE ZURCHER ZEITUNG (Zurich, Switzerland) Today, ten years after the catastrophe at Chernobyl, we are looking at a dramatically changed world. The fallout from the explosion did not just catapult cesium, radium, graphite, and other reactor byproducts into the atmosphere. It revealed the decaying, weakened state of the Soviet Union. The disaster was so immense, and so obviously due to human failure, that it was destined to change perceptions within and without the country. The revolution and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire a short two years later was a direct consequence of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. The global political stalemate between East and West has since that time been substantially transformed. And the danger of an all out nuclear first strike is now more likely in a regional conflict rather than in one between the two dominant blocks. At the same time, borders between countries began to disappear. Freed from formerly restrictive trade laws, and with their economies liberated from the strain of maintaining costly military research and development, the great industrial powers have become even more potent, especially in East Asia, where new markets still await exploitation. This "war of industrial competition" must also be seen as a consequence of the Chernobyl disaster, as well as of the collapse of the Soviet Union.EL PAIS (Barcelona, Spain) The address on the Internet was no larger than a line of text: http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/fodea/aprn/bmgii/barmy.htm1. But the surprise was larger than life. On the site indicated by this address one could find a list of the British Army installations in Northern Ireland, including several secret bases. There was a list of roadblocks, the homes of the M15 secret service personnel in Ulster, and the name of the chief of anti-terrorism. The page ended with a request for funds on the part of Irish patriots. Compared to the incitation to terrorism for the sympathants of Sinn Fein, the ETA (Basque Separatist Organization) entry into the Internet appears rather innocent. In fact, the ETA message that appeared through the Committee of Solidarity raised a host of protests from Internet users. In a March statement, the British police force admitted that the information divulged by the friends of the IRA was a violation of state secret and of the country's anti-terrorism laws. But it also admitted that it was powerless to control it. The delicate information is offered through the site of the University of Texas, and that institution's spokesperson has promised that an investigation will be opened. More than 55 million Internet users spread over 160 countries -- their numbers will increase to an estimated 200 million by the end of the century -- can thus accede at their leisure to this confidential information, and will probably be able to circumvent any future obstacles with a bit of ingenuity. Since the beginning of the year, more and more governments, both democratic and dictatorial, have attempted to limit the diffusion of information to certain pages or forums. But their efforts are almost always in vain.

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