The Nepal Digest - Feb 25, 1995 (13 Falgun 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Saturday 25 Feb 95: Falgun 13 2051 BkSm Volume 36 Issue 17

  Today's Topics:

         Apologies for no header due to time constraints.

 * TND Board of Staff *
 * ------------------ *
 * Editor/Co-ordinator: Rajpal J. Singh *
 * SCN Liaison: Rajesh B. Shrestha *
 * Consultant Editor: Padam P. Sharma *
 * TND Archives: Sohan Panta *
 * Book Reviews Columns: Pratyoush R. Onta *
 * News Correspondent Rajendra P Shrestha *
 * *
 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
 * *
 * "If you don't stand up for something, you will fall for anything" -Dr. MLK *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" - Sirdar Khalifa *
 * *

********************************************************************** Date: 24 Feb 95 09:38:18 EST From: Rajendra.P.Shrestha@Dartmouth.EDU (Rajendra P. Shrestha) Subject: News2/19-22 To:

February 19 Canadian Company Gets Marsyangdi Hydel Contract Financial Post report

    Brampton, Ont.-based Matthews International Inc., a division of Mathco International Inc., said Friday it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Nepal to build a 50 megawatt hydroelectric project on the Upper Marsyangdi River. The company said the project is estimated at about US$ 80 million. Matthews will be responsible for the financing, construction and operation of the project.

February 20 New Ambassador to Washington says Nepal fairs Well Excerpts from UPI report

    Nepal's new envoy to Washington said Monday he expects the United States to be sympathetic to the Hamalayan kingom's leftist government. Basu Dev Dhungana, 62, told the daily newspaper Rising Nepal in an interview Monday, ''I have not seen any shift of us policy toward nepal after the november elections. They are watching the new situation very sympathetically. ''I am sure they have understood how the new government has come to power.'' ''(The Americans) have seen that our constitution is in effect and (that) there has been a peaceful change of government through popular verdict,'' Dhungana said.

    Dhungana, who considered himself independent and associated neither with the left nor with the right, said, ''The new government came to power through the ballot. It is now functioning according to democratic norms. It is the people who have decided who should be in power. I will convey this to the American government and people.''

    ''We have not been getting much U.S. investments in Nepal. Our concern should be on how to expand further the economic relations, and how to attract more U.S. investment in Nepal, '' Dhungana replied to a query. Dhungana was a law minister in the 1970s during the absolute rule of King Birendra, whose power was curtailed by a popular movement in 1990.

February 21 Nepal and Bhutan to Discuss Refugee Issue Escerpts from AFP and Xinhua reports

   Nepal and Bhutan are to hold a meeting next Monday to resolve the problem of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

   The talks, the fifth on the subject, will be held in Kathmandu between the two countries' Home Ministers and seek to arrange repatriation for some 100,000 refugees, the official said.

   Earlier talks have yielded no significant results.

   The flow of Bhutanese refugees into Nepal, which began in 1991 after Bhutanese officials enforced harsh cultural codes on people of Nepalese descent, has not stopped. There are now 86,568 Bhtanese refugees in 8 camps in Jhapa and Morang districts. Most of them have identification papers of some kind, including citizenship or land ownership papers, according to Chhabiraj Panta, CDO of Jhapa. according to statistics, there are 44,108 males and 42,460 females in 4,983 families living in the camps. at the beginning of 1991, there were only 234 bhutanese refugees in 44 families in nepal.

Trade Deficit Jumps Alarmingly By Kedar Man Singh in Kathmandu for AFP

    Nepal's trade deficit in the first six months of the current financial year has jumped an alarming 79.7 percent with little chance of any major change in the short term.

   In the six months under review (mid-July to mid-January) the trade deficit stood at 20.4 billion rupees (408 million US dollars) up 79.7 percent over the same period the previous year.

   Exports to overseas markets dropped 21.1 percent to 171.8 million dollars.

   Although exports to India jumped 36 percent to 32.2 million dollars, this was offset by the increase in imports from the same country -- 190.4 million dollars worth against 156 million dollars in the first six months of the previous year.

   With India the imbalance has been fuelled by the current Indo- Nepal Trade and Transit Treaties signed by the former Nepali Congress
(NC) government in 1992 which say that only Nepalese goods containing 50 percent indigenous raw materials will be allowed into India.

   There are no restrictions on India goods into Nepal, and economists said that unless this one-sided situation changed Nepalese industries would have little chance of expanding.

   Imports from other countries also rose sharply, up 43 percent to 389.2 million dollars.

   Thapa said the fall in exports was due to stiff competition exporters faced from their Indian and Bangladeshi counterparts in the export of readymade garments to Western nations.

   "The export of lintel (a pulse variety) to Sri Lanka has also gone down as Nepalese exporters could not compete with Turkish exporters," he said.

   Stories in the west about children been forced to work under harsh conditions has also affected hand-woven woolen carpets export, a businessman said.

   The only bright sign for the new communist government is the improved revenue collection, which went up 29.7 percent to 201.6 million dollars in the same period, finance ministry economic adviser Dr. Govinda Bahadur Thapa said.

   The minority Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist
(NCP-UML) government can also take a little comfort from the drop in the consumer price index which was down 1.5 percent to 8.1 percent, and a rise in the foreign exchange reserve, up 1.5 percent to 799.2 million dollars, an official said.

   Much of the increase in the reserve was due to growing tourism receipts, the official said, adding the reserve was "quite adequate to meet the country's imports for over nine months."

   The communist government's extensive mobilization of internal resources and austerity measures have helped to bring down the public exchequer's budget expenditure to 28 million dollars against 50 million dollars last year, he said.

Investigation Blames Fatal Accident on Climbers Excerpts from AFP and UPI reports

   The worst mountaineering disaster in Nepal, in which eleven people died on the 6,091-metre (19,983-foot) Mount Pisang in November occurred because the climbers were all roped together, according to a report released Tuesday. Nine Germans, one Swiss and one Nepali died while climbing 19,983- foot-high (6,091-m) Mount Pisang in an expedition sponsored by the German Alpine Club.

   The report by an independent investigation committee, comprising members of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), speculated that one of the climbers had pulled the others with him off a precipice after being hit by falling ice, or when his crampon slipped.

   But the report also said the team had been guilty of irregularities during the expedition.

  A member of the probe said the German Alpine Club did not cooperate with the investigation. The German Alpine Club was not available for comment. The report charged the club and its handlers in Nepal of numerous irregularities. Among them:

--The club took individual trekking permits for its members when it should have taken a group permit from the immigration department.

--One climber did not even have a valid trekking permit.

--The group also planned to attempt climbs of the 14,566-foot (4,440- m) Ramrung and the 20,341-foot (6,200-m) Thorang, which are not open to foreigners.

The news of the accident was first published in Germany without informing the concerned Nepalese officials, the report said. Helicopters were available for rescue efforts, despite claims to the contrary by the handlers and the German Alpine Club, the report said.

February 22 Gurkhas Training Sierra Leone Soldiers Excerpts from AFP, Reuters and South China Morning Post reports

   Gurkha soldiers who served in Hong Kong are now training troops in guerilla and jungle warfare to fight rebels in the West African country of Sierra Leone.

   Sierra Leonean Secretary of state for information Arnold Gooding, speaking at a press briefing, declined to say in what capacity the soldiers were in the west African country, but said they were "not mercenaries." He also declined to say how many Gurkhas were in the country or where they were based.

    About 50 former British Gurkhas, a battalion which makes up the main contingent of the Hong Kong Garrison, left for Sierra Leone on February 10.

   Gooding described the Gurkhas as a "very small" force offering specialist training to troops fighting rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

   "Sierra Leone has never experienced a war before and the army was unprepared for the guerrilla warfare the RUF has been raging for the past few years. Therefore we have no alternative, we have to bring in military advisers," he told an earlier news conference.

      The Revolutionary United Front guerrilla movement, fighting a civil war against the Freetown government for the past four years, has accused the British government of providing military support to the junta led by Captain Valentine Strasser.

     However, the British Government has denied it provides any military assistance to Sierra Leone. This was supported by Gooding, who said the training programme had nothing to do with Britain.

    The company which employs the former Gurkhas has been traced by the South China Morning Post to the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom.

    GSG (Gurkha Security Guards) Ltd now employs about 60 former Gurkhas, all recruited in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu by a former Hong Kong Gurkha, Major Bal Bahadur Gurung.

    GSG director Nick Bell said the company used an employment agency in Kathmandu called Moondrops Agency, and also dealt with Major Bal Bahadur Gurung.

    "We generally recruit once the British Gurkhas have retired from the Army, but we work closely with the Brigade of Gurkhas in Nepal and they are aware of us," he said.

    Mr Bell said that Gurkhas were likely to be made aware of GSG during their final few weeks in the British Army, while on resettlement courses in Nepal.

    Mr Bell said GSG had employed former British Gurkhas for mine clearance in both Kuwait and Mozambique, but he would not confirm GSG had a contract with the Sierra Leone Government.

    "For obvious reasons, some existing contracts need to remain secret," he said.

    However, sources in Nepal said Major Bal Bahadur Gurung conducted the interviews for Moondrops Agency on behalf of GSG for the Sierra Leone contract.

    "We have about 200 British Gurkhas on our books . . . The majority of them are recently retired so are likely to have trained and served in Hong Kong," Mr Bell said.

Conference Invitation Arrives - Two years Too Late! Xinhua report

   A letter has taken some two years to arrive here from geneva due to lack of proper management, according to a local press report today. the letter, addressed to nepal watch on april 30, 1993 to invite it to attend the world conference on human rights by the immediate secretary general of the conference, was received on february 7 this year, according to nepal watch. the united nations world conference on human rights was held in vienna, austria from june 14 to 15, 1993.

Nepali Congress Prepares for Mahasamiti Meeting Excerpts from Xinhua and PTI reports

   The Nepali Congress is scheduled to hold party mahasamiti (general council) meeting in Pokhara from march 5 to 7 (Falgun 21-23) with the aim to consolidate party unity. The powerful 625-member mahasamiti meeting will follow the central working committee (cwc) meeting, also scheduled to be held in pokhara on march 4, according to nc central office. The meeting will also review the party's "critical support" to the ruling UML government.

   Meanwhile, the chariman of the Rashitrya Sabha (upper house), Beni Bahadur Karki, on a private visit to Calcutta, told PTI that the Mahasamiti would also ratify the amended party constitution as passed by the executive committee earlier.

   Mr Karki, who was elected chairman of the 60-member rashtriya sabha as a Nepali Congress nominee, said that there was, however, no political crisis although the communists were heading a minority government.

   He said that though the Nepali Congress was a little short of majority with 83 seats and the UCPN (M&L) had 88 seats in the pratinidhi sabha (lower house) of the parliament, it had double the strength with 31 seats in comparison to the 15 seats held by the ruling UCPN (M&L) in the rashtriya sabha (upper house).

   Mr Karki said that three seats of the 205-member pratinidhi sabha
(lower house) of parliament would fall vacant as the present prime minister, Mr Manmohan Adhikary of the UCPN (M&L) and two former prime ministers-- Dr Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress and Mr Lokendra Bahadur Chand of the Monarchist Rashtriya Prajatantra Party-- had contested two seats and had vacated one each.

   In accordance with the ''constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1992), he said, bye-elections would be held within six months of the November general elections and these were scheduled to take place latest by May next.

   Referring to the internal strifes in the Nepali Congress, Mr Karki said that the prospects of the erstwhile ruling party--Nepali Congress-- in the forthcoming bye-elction did not seem to be bright due to the leadership crisis and groupism in the party which had percolated to the grass-root level.


*********************************************************************************************** Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 09:53:20 -0500 To: Subject: HELP: Travelling to Nepal and Tibet! Plz read! From: ROSEBOWL@HACKS.ARIZONA.EDU ()

My roommate and I are planning on travelling to India, Nepal and Tibet this summer. I would greatly appreciate any experiences any of you have had doing the same thing. In particular, we are looking for more information regarding the following:

* the various alternatives of travelling from India to Nepal

* the same for travelling from Nepal to Tibet (Lhasa, to be specific). Has anyone done it by bus? Was it a nightmare? How much does airfare cost?

* getting from Lhasa, Tibet back into India (probably Calcutta)

ANYTHING you have experienced, whether it relates to what I mentioned above or not (e.g. anything related to touring Nepal/Tibet/India) would be greatly appreciated!

Please e-mail me, since I don't have enough time to check the news often enough to catch everything. Thanks in advance!


********************************************************************** From: Sanjay Kumar <> Subject: no subject (file transmission) To: Date: Thu, 23 Feb 95 15:56:47 EST

INTELLECTUALS (Category: Social Issues)

I hope Pramod Mishra will not be offended by the comparison and the compliment that his thoughts about intellectuals are similar to the one expressed by Karl Marx in his eleventh thesis of Feurbach:

Philosophers have only interpreted the world while the point is to change it.

'Philosophers' should be replaced by intellectuals. If any thing, this class has burgeoned manyfold since Marx wrote these words a century and a half ago. There are many for whom the question of the value of any intellectual activity never arises. Simply, this activity pays, and that is all to it. Undoubtedly, their self interest in preserving their previliges in the status-quo is the main reason for this attitude. But then there are others, unfortunately a minority at present, who are thrown onto the hard ground of self-doubt by the prevailing hypocrisy among the privileged and ruthless exploitation of the poor.

For the latter, Marx's thesis can be the touchstone to test the worth of any intellectual activity. And this touchstone is a prime necessity, because the thought (the sole social product of an intellectual) has a tremendous capacity to fool itself into beleiving that its only source is the head which thinks it. NO doubt, such glorification of 'Thought' boosts intellectuals self image. But fortunately, the real world doesn't run on Narcissists captivated to their own reflection.

Change is inherent in the world, that is not a function of anyone willing it. If not for good, the world changes for worse. The core issue is this. Any intellectual's thought sits in what relation to the machine which sucks labour and toil of many and produces wealth for some. Is it a lackey to this machine, serving and getting handsome rewards? Or does it dare to envision and labour to bring about a diffrent type of world? Admittedly, the latter is easier said(written) than done, but is their any other way ?

************************************************************** Date: Thu, 23 Feb 95 16:13:15 EST From: (Eknath Belbase - Math Grad) To: Subject: To the Editor/Freedom of Speech

To the editor, TND:

I am sending a petition circulating throught the net regarding first amendment rights as applicable to electronic media. It is fairly long, but I think you will likely to be of interest to many TND subscribers. I encourage everyone to read this thing through, if for nothing else than educational purposes! You can get the gist of everything by reading the first couple of pages...

Thanks, Eknath

    Here is a brief table of contents:
    (1) Introduction (this section)
    (2) The Petition Statement
    (3) Instructions for signing this petition
    (4) Credits
    (Appendix) Analysis and text of S. 314 (LONG but excellent)
    ******(2) The Petition Statement
    In united voice, we sign this petition against passage of S. 314 (the
    "Communications Decency Act of 1995") for these reasons:
    S. 314 would prohibit not only individual speech that is "obscene, lewd,
    lascivious, filthy, or indecent", but would prohibit any provider of
    telecommunications service from carrying such traffic, under threat of
    stiff penalty. Even aside from the implications for free speech, this
    would cause an undue - and unjust - burden upon operators of the various
    telecommunications services. In a time when the citizenry and their
    lawmakers alike are calling for and passing "no unfunded mandates" laws
    to the benefit of the states, it is unfortunate that Congress might seek to
    impose unfunded mandates upon businesses that provide the framework for
    the information age.
    An additional and important consideration is the technical feasibility of
    requiring the sort of monitoring this bill would necessitate. The
    financial burden in and of itself - in either manpower or technology to
    handle such monitoring (if even legal under the Electronic Communications
    Privacy Act) - would likely cause many smaller providers to go out of
    business, and most larger providers to seriously curtail their services.
    The threat of such penalty alone would result in a chilling effect in the
    telecommunications service community, not only restricting the types of
    speech expressly forbidden by the bill, but creating an environment
    contrary to the Constitutional principles of free speech, press, and
    assembly - principles which entities such as the Internet embody as
    nothing has before.
    By comparison, placing the burden for content control upon each individual
    user is surprisingly simple in the online and interactive world, and there
    is no legitimate reason to shift that burden to providers who carry that
    content. Unlike traditional broadcast media, networked media is
    comparatively easy to screen on the user end - giving the reader, viewer,
    or participant unparalleled control over his or her own information
    environment. All without impacting or restricting what any other user
    wishes to access. This makes regulation such as that threatened by this
    S. 314 simply unnecessary.
    In addition, during a period of ever-increasing commercial interest in
    arenas such as the Internet, restriction and regulation of content or the
    flow of traffic across the various telecommunications services would have
    serious negative economic effects. The sort of regulation proposed by this
    bill would slow the explosive growth the Internet has seen, giving the
    business community reason to doubt the medium's commercial appeal.
    We ask that the Senate halt any further progress of this bill. We ask
    that the Senate be an example to Congress as a whole, and to the nation
    at large - to promote the general welfare as stated in the Preamble to
    the Constitution by protecting the free flow of information and ideas
    across all of our telecommunications services.
    ******(3) Instructions for signing the petition
              Instructions for Signing This Petition
    It must first be noted that this is a petition, not a
    vote. By "signing" it you agree with *all* the requests
    made in the petition. If you do not agree with everything
    in this petition, then your only recourse is to not sign
    In addition, all e-mail signatures will be submitted to
    Congress, the President of the United States, and the
    news media.
    Including your full name is optional, but *very highly
    encouraged* as that would add to the effectiveness of the
    petition. Signing via an anonymous remailer is highly
    discouraged, but not forbidden, as an attempt will be made
    to separately tally signatures from anonymous remailers.
    Because this is a Petition to the U.S. Congress, we ask
    that you state, as instructed below, whether or not you
    are a U.S. citizen. We do encourage non-U.S. citizens to
    sign, but their signatures will be tallied separately.
    Signing this petition is not hard, but to make sure your
    signature is not lost or miscounted, please follow these
    directions EXACTLY:
    1) Prepare an e-mail message. In the main body (NOT the
    Subject line) of your e-mail include the ONE-LINE statement:
    SIGNED <Internet e-mail address> <Full name> <US Citizen>
    You need not include the "<" and ">" characters. 'SIGNED'
    should be capitalized. As stated above, your full name is
    optional, but highly recommended. If you do supply your
    name, please don't use a pseudonym or nickname, or your
    first name -- it's better to just leave it blank if it's
    not your full and real name. If you are a U.S. citizen,
    please include at the end of the signature line a 'YES',
    and if you are not, a 'NO'. All signatures will be
    tallied whether or not you are a U.S. Citizen
    Example: My e-mail signature would be:
    SIGNED Dave C. Hayes YES
    2) Please DON'T include a copy of this petition, nor any
    other text, in your e-mail message. If you have comments
    to make, send e-mail to me personally, and NOT to the
    special petition e-mail signature address.
    3) Send your e-mail message containing your signature to
    the following Internet e-mail address and NOT to me:
    4) Within a few days of receipt of your signature, an
    automated acknowledgment will be e-mailed to you for e-mail
    address verification purposes. You do not need to respond or
    reply to this acknowledgement when you receive it. We may
    also contact you again in the future should we need more
    information, such as who your House Representative and
    Senators are, which is not asked here as it is unclear
    whether such information is needed.
    Thank you for signing this petition!
    ******(4) Credits
    The petition statement was written by slowdog
    The rest of this document mostly collated from the net
    by Dave Hayes, net.freedom.fighter.
    Much help came from Jon Noring, INFJ and who made a few
    suggestions and will be tallying the signatures.
    Thanks to the EFF and CDT for the excellent analysis of
    the bill.
    (p.s., send your signature to
    ******(Appendix) Analysis and text of S. 314
    [This analysis provided by the Center for Democracy and
    Technology, a non-profit public interest organization.
    CDT's mission is to develop and advocate public policies
    that advance Constitutional civil liberties and democratic
    values in new computer and communications technologies.
    For more information on CDT, ask Jonah Seiger
    CDT POLICY POST 2/9/95
    Senators Exon (D-NE) and Senator Gorton (R-WA) have
    introduced legislation to expand current FCC regulations
    on obscene and indecent audiotext to cover *all* content
    carried over all forms of electronic communications
    networks. If enacted, the "Communications Decency Act of
    1995" (S. 314) would place substantial criminal liability
    on telecommunications service providers (including
    telephone networks, commercial online services, the
    Internet, and independent BBS's) if their network is used
    in the transmission of any indecent, lewd, threatening or
    harassing messages. The legislation is identical to a
    proposal offered by Senator Exon last year which failed
    along with the Senate Telecommunications reform bill (S.
    1822, 103rd Congress, Sections 801 - 804). The text the
    proposed statute, with proposed amendment, is appended at
    the end of this document.
    The bill would compel service providers to chose between
    severely restricting the activities of their subscribers
    or completely shutting down their email, Internet access,
    and conferencing services under the threat of criminal
    liability. Moreover, service providers would be forced to
    closely monitor every private communication, electronic
    mail message, public forum, mailing list, and file archive
    carried by or available on their network, a proposition
    which poses a substantial threat to the freedom of speech
    and privacy rights of all American citizens.
    S. 314, if enacted, would represent a tremendous step
    backwards on the path to a free and open National
    Information Infrastructure. The bill raises fundamental
    questions about the ability of government to control
    content on communications networks, as well as the locus
    of liability for content carried in these new
    communications media.
    To address this threat to the First Amendment in digital
    media, CDT is working to organize a broad coalition of
    public interest organizations including the ACLU, People
    For the American Way, and Media Access Project, along with
    representatives from the telecommunications, online
    services, and computer industries to oppose S. 314 and to
    explore alternative policy solutions that preserve the
    free flow of information and freedom of speech in the
    online world. CDT believes that technological
    alternatives which allow individual subscribers to control
    the content they receive represent a more appropriate
    approach to this issue.
    S. 314 would expand current law restricting indecency and
    harassment on telephone services to all telecommunications
    providers and expand criminal liability to *all* content
    carried by *all* forms of telecommunications networks.
    The bill would amend Section 223 of the Communications Act
    (47 U.S.C. 223), which requires carriers to take steps to
    prevent minors from gaining access to indecent audiotext
    and criminalizes harassment accomplished over interstate
    telephone lines. This section, commonly known as the
    Helms Amendment (having been championed by Senator Jesse
    Helms), has been the subject of extended Constitutional
    litigation in recent years.
    S. 314 would make telecommunication carriers (including
    telephone companies, commercial online services, the
    Internet, and BBS's) liable for every message, file, or
    other content carried on its network -- including the
    private conversations or messages exchanged between two
    consenting individuals.
    Under S. 314, anyone who "makes, transmits, or otherwise
    makes available any comment, request, suggestion,
    proposal, image, or other communication" which is
    "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent" using a
    "telecommunications device" would be subject to a fine of
    $100,000 or two years in prison (Section (2)(a)).
    In order to avoid liability under this provision, carriers
    would be forced to pre-screen all messages, files, or
    other content before transmitting it to the intended
    recipient. Carriers would also be forced to prevent or
    severely restrict their subscribers from communicating
    with individuals and accessing content available on other
    Electronic communications networks do not contain discrete
    boundaries. Instead, users of one service can easily
    communicate with and access content available on other
    networks. Placing the onus, and criminal liability, on
    the carrier as opposed to the originator of the content,
    would make the carrier legally responsible not only for
    the conduct of its own subscribers, but also for content
    generated by subscribers of other services.
    This regulatory scheme clearly poses serious threats to
    the free flow of information throughout the online world
    and the free speech and privacy rights of individual
    users. Forcing carriers to pre-screen content would not
    only be impossible due to the sheer volume of messages, it
    would also violate current legal protections.
    S. 314 would also expand current restrictions on access to
    indecent telephone audiotext services by minors under the
    age of 18 to cover similar content carried by
    telecommunications services (such as America Online and
    the Internet). (Sec (a)(4)).
    As amended by this provision, anyone who, "by means of
    telephone or telecommunications device, makes, transmits,
    or otherwise makes available (directly or by recording
    device) any indecent communication for commercial purposes
    which is available to any person under the age of 18 years
    of age or to any other person without that person's
    consent, regardless of whether the maker of such
    communication placed the call or initiated the
    communication" would be subject of a fine of $100,000 or
    two years in prison.
    This would force carries to act as private censors of all
    content available in public forums or file archives on
    their networks. Moreover, because there is no clear
    definition of indecency, carriers would have to restrict
    access to any content that could be possibly construed as
    indecent or obscene under the broadest interpretation of
    the term. Public forums, discussion lists, file archives,
    and content available for commercial purposes would have
    to be meticulously screened and censored in order to avoid
    potential liability for the carrier.
    Such a scenario would severely limit the diversity of
    content available on online networks, and limit the
    editorial freedom of independent forum operators.
    Section (6) of the bill would amend the Electronic
    Communications Privacy Act (18 USC 2511) to prevent the
    unauthorized interception and disclosure of "digital
    communications" (Sec. 6). However, because the term
    "digital communication" is not defined and 18 USC 2511
    currently prevents unauthorized interception and
    disclosure of "electronic communications" (which includes
    electronic mail and other forms of communications in
    digital form), the effect of this provision has no clear
    Finally, section (8) would amend sections 611 and 612 of
    the Communications Act (47 USC 611 - 612) to allow any
    cable operator to refuse to carry any public access or
    leased access programming which contains "obscenity,
    indecency, or nudity".


***********************************************************************************************     C. ALTERNATIVES TO EXON: RECOGNIZE THE UNIQUE USER
    Government regulation of content in the mass media has
    always been considered essential to protect children from
    access to sexually-explicit material, and to prevent
    unwitting listeners/views from being exposed to material
    that might be considered extremely distasteful. The
    choice to protect children has historically been made at
    the expense of the First Amendment ban on government
    censorship. As Congress moves to regulate new interactive
    media, it is essential that it understand that interactive
    media is different than mass media. The power and
    flexibility of interactive media offers a unique
    opportunity to enable parents to control what content
    their kids have access to, and leave the flow of
    information free for those adults who want it. Government
    control regulation is simply not needed to achieve the
    desired purpose.
    Most interactive technology, such as Internet browsers and
    the software used to access online services such as
    America Online and Compuserve, already has the capability
    to limit access to certain types of services and selected
    information. Moreover, the electronic program guides
    being developed for interactive cable TV networks also
    provide users the capability to screen out certain
    channels or ever certain types of programming. Moreover,
    in the online world, most content (with the exception of
    private communications initiated by consenting
    individuals) is transmitted by request. In other words,
    users must seek out the content they receive, whether it
    is by joining a discussion or accessing a file archive.
    By its nature, this technology provides ample control at
    the user level. Carriers (such as commercial online
    services, Internet service providers) in most cases act
    only as "carriers" of electronic transmissions initiated
    by individual subscribers.
    CDT believes that the First Amendment will be better
    served by giving parents and other users the tools to
    select which information they (and their children) should
    have access to. In the case of criminal content the
    originator of the content, not the carriers, should be
    responsible for their crimes. And, users (especially
    parents) should be empowered to determine what information
    they and their children have access to. If all carriers
    of electronic communications are forced restrict content
    in order to avoid criminal liability proposed by S. 314,
    the First Amendment would be threatened and the usefulness
    of digital media for communications and information
    dissemination would be drastically limited.
    The bill has been introduced and will next move to the
    Senate Commerce Committee, although no Committee action
    has been scheduled. Last year, a similar proposal by
    Senator Exon was approved by the Senate Commerce committee
    as an amendment to the Senate Telecommunications Bill (S.
    1822, which died at the end of the 103rd Congress). CDT
    will be working with a wide range of other interest groups
    to assure that Congress does not restrict the free flow of
    information in interactive media.
    TEXT OF 47 U.S.C. 223 AS AMENDED BY S. 314
    **NOTE: [] = deleted
                    ALL CAPS = additions
    47 USC 223 (1992)
    Sec. 223. [Obscene or harassing telephone calls in the District
    of Columbia or in interstate or foreign communications]
       (a) Whoever--
       (1) in the District of Columbia or in interstate or foreign
    communication by means of [telephone] TELECOMMUNICATIONS
       (A) [makes any comment, request, suggestion or proposal]
    obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent;
       [(B) makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues,
    without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse,
    threaten, or harass any person at the called number;]
       (C) makes or causes the telephone of another repeatedly or
    continuously to ring, with intent to harass any person at the
    called number; or
       [(D) makes repeated telephone calls, during which conversation
    ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number; or]
       (2) knowingly permits any [telephone facility]
    TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITY under his control to be used
    for any purpose prohibited by this section, shall be fined not more
    than $[50,000]100,000 or imprisoned not more than [six months] TWO
    YEARS, or both.
       (b)(1) Whoever knowingly--
       (A) within the United States, by means of [telephone]
    TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICCE, makes (directly or by recording device)
    any obscene communication for commercial purposes to any person,
    regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the
      (B) permits any [telephone facility] TELECOMMUNICATIONS
    FACILITY under such person's control to be used for an activity
    prohibited by subparagraph (A), shall be fined in accordance with
    title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than two
    years, or both.
       (2) Whoever knowingly--
       (A) within the United States, [by means of telephone],
    TRANSMITS, OR MAKES AVAILABLE(directly or by recording device) any
    indecent communication for commercial purposes which is available
    to any person under 18 years of age or to any other person without
    that person's consent, regardless of whether the maker of such
    communication placed the call OR INITIATED THE COMMUNICATION; or
       (B) permits any [telephone facility] TELECOMMUNICATIONS
    FACILITY under such person's control to be used for an activity
    prohibited by subparagraph (A), shall be fined not more than
    $[50,000] 100,000 or imprisoned not more than [six months]
    TWO YEARS, or both.
       (3) It is a defense to prosecution under paragraph (2) of this
    subsection that the defendant restrict access to the prohibited
    communication to persons 18 years of age or older in accordance
    with subsection (c) of this section and with such procedures as the
    Commission may prescribe by regulation.
       (4) In addition to the penalties under paragraph (1), whoever,
    within the United States, intentionally violates paragraph
    (1) or (2) shall be subject to a fine of not more than $[50,000]
    100,000 for each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each
    day of violation shall constitute a separate violation.
       (5)(A) In addition to the penalties under paragraphs (1), (2),
    and (5), whoever, within the United States, violates paragraph (1)
    or (2) shall be subject to a civil fine of not more than $[50,000]
    100,000 for each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each
    day of violation shall constitute a separate violation.
       (B) A fine under this paragraph may be assessed either--
       (i) by a court, pursuant to civil action by the Commission or
    any attorney employed by the Commission who is designated by the
    Commission for such purposes, or
       (ii) by the Commission after appropriate administrative
       (6) The Attorney General may bring a suit in the appropriate
    district court of the United States to enjoin any act or practice
    which violates paragraph (1) or (2). An injunction may be granted
    in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
       (c)(1) A common carrier within the District of Columbia or
    within any State, or in interstate or foreign commerce, shall not,
    to the extent technically feasible, provide access to a
    communication specified in subsection (b) from the
    telephone of any subscriber who has not previously requested in
    writing the carrier to provide access to such communication if the
    carrier collects from subscribers an identifiable charge for such
    communication that the carrier remits, in whole or in part, to the
    provider of such communication.
       (2) Except as provided in paragraph (3), no cause of action may
    be brought in any court or administrative agency against any common
    carrier, or any of its affiliates, including their officers,
    directors, employees, agents, or authorized representatives on
    account of--
       (A) any action which the carrier demonstrates was taken in good
    faith to restrict access pursuant to paragraph (1) of this
    subsection; or
       (B) any access permitted--
       (i) in good faith reliance upon the lack of any representation
    by a provider of communications that communications provided by
    that provider are communications specified in subsection (b), or
       (ii) because a specific representation by the provider did not
    allow the carrier, acting in good faith, a sufficient period to
    restrict access to communications described in subsection (b).
       (3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of this subsection, a provider
    of communications services to which subscribers are denied access
    pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection may bring an action
    for a declaratory judgment or similar action in a court. Any such
    action shall be limited to the question of whether the
    communications which the provider seeks to provide fall within
    the category of communications to which the carrier will provide
    access only to subscribers who have previously requested such
    NOTE: This version of the text shows the actual text of current law as
    it would be changed. For the bill itself, which consists of unreadable
    text such as:
                 (1) in subsection (a)(1)--
                        (A) by striking out `telephone' in the matter above
                      subparagraph (A) and inserting `telecommunications
                        (B) by striking out `makes any comment, request,
                      suggestion, or proposal' in subparagraph (A) and
                      `makes, transmits, or otherwise makes available any
                      comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or
                        (C) by striking out subparagraph (B) and inserting
                        `(B) makes a telephone call or utilizes a

************************************************************* From: To: Subject: ECONuggets #21

ECONuggets #21 (23 February 1995)

1. WAGES: In the budget Government increased wages of all Government employees by Rs300. Recently government extended this increase to ALL employees covered by the Factory Act. This includes all workers in the modern sector, both state and private enterprises, but excludes NGOs and household help. This is NOT an increase in the minimum wage, but it does increase the minimum wage from Rs1150 (including dearness) to Rs1450. Were the goal of government to keep the real level of minimum wages constant, then an increase of Rs214 would have been justified this coming summer
(when the next revision was due).

This increase was supposed to have been approved by a tripartite commission (labor, government and business). No commission had been established so government did it on their own. They have since established the commission which is to report its recommendations within two months. However, it would probably be impossible for them to recommend any change other than Rs300. The IMF team had noted that increasing the minimum wage at this time would harm Nepal s competitiveness. Thus, government is not calling this an increase in minimum wages.

2. CHILD LABOR: Government is still studying whether to implement the proposal to certify child labor free carpets. A group of Nepali carpet producers met informally in Germany at the Domotex fair to agree to using the Rugmark label. It is still under discussion with some of the issues being the need for an international monitoring office, extent of being voluntary, involve ment of government. It appears they want to implement this without government, but will need an international NGO to assist in monitoring. As it would not include government, it would have to be voluntary.

Government appears to prefer to use a non-Rugmark label. They have formally requested from CCIA a response to queries on certification and hope to make a decision within two weeks.

Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO on eliminating child labor. This permits them to access ILO resources that would eliminate under twelve year olds and provide educational and health facilities for 12-14 year olds. USAID/Washington has provided $2million to ILO for this.

3. CARPETS: There was a slight improvement in carpet exports in December
'95. Compared with the previous year export volume is up 25%, and the price is up 10%. However, most of the increase in price was eaten up by increasing costs. Profits probably increased $1-2/m2, or 5%. The price of wool which was Rs135-140/kg has increased to Similarly, the cotton thread has gone up. The increase in exports is not an increase in production, but rather a reduction in the overhang of unsold carpets, estimated at one million square meters.

4. CENTRAL CARPET INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION: Kamal Singh Karki, the President of the Central Carpet Industries Association (the largest association of carpet producers in Nepal) resigned from his position last week citing a lack of progress by Government on programs. He was elected president less than two years ago. [Part of the reason was undoubtedly health related as Mr. Karki recently returned from being treated in India and is now in Bangkok for further medical treatment.] There has also been extensive snipping by different factions within the Association. With the problems facing the carpet industry now (the downturn in sales) this is an unfortunate time for there to be a lack of association leadership. Tashi Lama, previous Vice- President, with whom we have worked extensively and happily, has taken over as Acting- President until elections in April.

5. GARMENTS: There was some misunderstanding about what the US did in raising Indian quotas. There was the regular increases of 0.5%-5% (similar to Nepal) and then a separate lifting of the quota for Indian textile exports. This was the major change and the major source of the story about a 25% increase in quotas. It was actually estimated by Indian authorities that the increase in the value of exports will be well over 25%.

The second thing the Indians did was remove the floor price for readymade garment exports. Nepal had benefited by exported items below the floor price. That will no longer be possible, and thus Nepal will have a reduction in garment exports. However, the change will also increase the likelihood that India filling its quota, with the over quota production coming to Nepal.

The industry is complaining that the increase in mandated wages, plus the lack of facilities such as L/C s in dollars, has harmed their competitiveness.

6. UML PARTY AND ECONOMICS: The party has established a standing committee to review economic decisions. It is headed by Jhala Nath Khanal, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives in the Interim Government. They are looking at the ESAF, Arun, and all pending economic decisions (such as price controls, interest rate controls, privatization, tax reform, financial market reform).


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