World and Nation

Shorts (left)

Pakistan Cuts Access To YouTube Worldwide

YouTube was back up two hours after Pakistan, in an act of information provincialism, inadvertently made the video-sharing site inaccessible to users around the world Sunday afternoon.

The blackout left network administrators and Internet activists wondering on Monday how Pakistan’s actions, meant to restrict only its own citizens from accessing YouTube, could have such widespread reverberations — and whether such a disruption could be reproduced by someone with more malicious intent.

The incident began Friday, according to reports, when the Pakistani government of Pervez Musharraf became worried that a video clip attacking Islam might generate widespread unrest among its Muslim population. The government asked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, which oversees the country’s Internet providers, to cut off access to YouTube for the country’s estimated 8.2 million Internet users.

That action is not unusual. China, Morocco and Turkey have all reacted to potentially risky material posted to YouTube by blocking access to the site within their borders.

As part of its effort to block YouTube within the country, Pakistan Telecom created a dummy route that essentially discarded YouTube traffic, sending it into what Internet experts call a black hole.

Gates Pledges U.S. Help For Indonesian Military

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pledged arms upgrades and other Pentagon support for Indonesia on Monday, as the Bush administration forged closer ties to the military of a country still viewed skeptically by some in Congress for past human-rights abuses.

During a series of meetings in Jakarta, Gates tried to broaden the focus of American relations with Indonesia beyond the fight against terrorist networks, giving only passing mention to the threats they represent, during a speech before a group of foreign policy experts.

Instead, he emphasized the emergence of Indonesia as the “bedrock” of Southeast Asia and vowed that the United States would help to shore up the country’s aging military hardware. He was not specific in the types of upgrades he would approve, but Indonesian officials have, among other things, sought replacement parts for the fleet of C-130 cargo planes.

Russia Quietly Starts to Shift Its Oil Trade Into Rubles

Americans surely found little to celebrate when the price of oil closed above $100 a barrel last week.

They could, though, be thankful that oil is still priced in dollars, making the milestone of triple-digit oil prices noteworthy at all.

Russia, the world’s second-largest oil-exporting nation after Saudi Arabia, has been quietly preparing to switch trading in Russian Ural Blend oil, the country’s primary export, to the ruble from the dollar, though the change, if it comes, is still some time off, industry analysts and officials said.

Still, the effort to squeeze the dollar out of Russian oil sales marks another project with swagger and ambition by the Kremlin, which has already wielded its energy wealth to assert influence in Eastern Europe and former Soviet states.

“They are serious,” Yaroslav Lissovolik, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank in Moscow, said.