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The Nepal Digest Saturday 25 Feb 95: Falgun 13 2051 BkSm Volume 36 Issue 17
Apologies for no header due to time constraints.
* TND Board of Staff *
* ------------------ *
* Editor/Co-ordinator: Rajpal J. Singh email@example.com *
* SCN Liaison: Rajesh B. Shrestha firstname.lastname@example.org *
* Consultant Editor: Padam P. Sharma email@example.com *
* TND Archives: Sohan Panta firstname.lastname@example.org *
* Book Reviews Columns: Pratyoush R. Onta email@example.com *
* News Correspondent Rajendra P Shrestha firstname.lastname@example.org *
* +++++ 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)
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
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
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
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
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
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,"
Stories in the west about children been forced to work under harsh
conditions has also affected hand-woven woolen carpets export, a
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
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
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
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
"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
"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!
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
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
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 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
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 <email@example.com>
Subject: no subject (file transmission)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Eknath Belbase - Math Grad)
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...
Here is a brief table of contents:
(1) Introduction (this section)
(2) The Petition Statement
(3) Instructions for signing this petition
(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
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
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 email@example.com 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!
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
self.proclaimed.net.activist who made a few
suggestions and will be tallying the signatures.
Thanks to the EFF and CDT for the excellent analysis of
(p.s., send your signature to firstname.lastname@example.org)
******(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
SENATOR EXON INTRODUCES ONLINE INDECENCY LEGISLATION
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
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.
B. SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF S. 314
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.
* CARRIERS LIABLE FOR CONDUCT OF ALL USERS ON THEIR
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
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.
* CARRIERS REQUIRED TO ACT AS PRIVATE CENSOR OF ALL
PUBLIC FORUMS AND ARCHIVES
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.
ADDITIONAL NOTABLE PROVISIONS
* AMENDMENT TO ECPA
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
* CABLE OPERATORS MAY REFUSE INDECENT PUBLIC ACCESS
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
CONTROL CAPABILITIES OF INTERACTIVE MEDIA
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
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.
D. NEXT STEPS
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]
OBSCENE OR HARASSING UTILIZATION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
DEVICES AND FACILITIES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR IN
INTERSTATE OR FOREIGN COMMUNICATIONS"
(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]
MAKES, TRANSMITS, OR OTHERWISE MAKES AVAILABLE ANY COMMENT,REQUEST,
SUGGESTION, PROPOSAL, IMAGE, OR OTHER COMMUNICATION which is
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;]
"(B) MAKES A TELEPHONE CALL OR UTILIZES A TELECOMMUNICATIONS
DEVICE, WHETHER OR NOT CONVERSATION OR COMMUNICATIONS
ENSUES,WITHOUT DISCLOSING HIS IDENTITY AND WITH INTENT TO ANNOY,
ABUSE, THREATEN, OR HARASS ANY PERSON AT THE CALLED NUMBER OR WHO
RECEIVES THE COMMUNICATION;
(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]
(D) MAKES REPEATED TELEPHONE CALLS OR REPEATEDLY INITIATES
COMMUNICATION WITH A TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICE, DURING WHICH
CONVERSATION OR COMMUNICATION ENSUES, SOLELY TO HARASS ANY PERSON
AT THE CALLED NUMBER OR WHO RECEIVES THE COMMUNICATION,
(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
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 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],
makes BY MEANS OF TELEPHONE OR TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICE, MAKES,
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
(A) any action which the carrier demonstrates was taken in good
faith to restrict access pursuant to paragraph (1) of this
(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
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
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 Rs185-187.kg. 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
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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