The Bigger Picture
By biconews On 15 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Sara Stanley

Northern Ireland’s home rule suspended

The historic Northern Ireland power-sharing government of popularly elected Protestants and Catholics was officially suspended and ceded to Great Britain on Feb. 11, a mere ten weeks after its formation.

British control was reinstated indefinitely due to the Irish Republican Army’s failure to begin the disarmament process, disarmament being the condition on which the power-sharing

government was based. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, promised to pressure the organization to disarm by May of 2000 in accordance with the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accords. The commitment to disarm allowed Northern Ireland to form an autocratic government which included Catholics for the first time in decades.

The British officials hope that by suspending the new government now, will prevent members of the major Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, from resigning. If new elections are held it might result in Protestants opposed to compromise entering office. If this happened this fledgling government of pro-Irish Republicans and pro-British Protestant Unionists could go the way of its 1974 predecessor, which could not survive internal partisan clashes.

The move to shut down the power-sharing government came despite the IRA’s last-minute suggestion for a new series of tradeoffs, for example, the IRA would be willing to discuss

disarmament in return for the withdrawal of British armed units from Northern Ireland. This was not sufficient, though, as many involved saw the IRA offer as too vague on its own promises.

Hackers attack major websites

Several popular websites including Yahoo!, Amazon.com, eBay and CNN.com have been temporarily shutdown by hackers. The websites were disabled by a massive inflow of fake information requests. In these socalled denial-of-service attacks, the system can not handle the all the requests and consequently cannot function properly.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working to find the culprits. Hackers are nearly impossible to trace, however, because they use many shields to block their identity, such as innocent third-parties’ computers.

Many of the high tech companies express their skepticism when it comes to the computer competency of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. It is difficult for government institutions to compete with the private sector for the most talented computer specialists because the private sector is able to pay them up to four times as much.

Only 32 percent of victims of serious hacking attacks report them to law enforcers, outside private investigators are hired more frequently. This may have more to do with publicity though, as internet companies do not want to expose their vulnerability to customers or other hackers.

Hijackers seek asylum, not political gain

All 150 hostages on the hijacked Afghan Boeing 727 were safely released on Feb. 10. There was an atmosphere of congratulations at Stansted Airport, however, it was quickly interrupted by the fact that within hours of being freed, the majority of the released passengers filed formal petitions for asylum. Police officials now believe that the hijacking and subsequent seizure of the plane and the hijackers was an elaborate plot by hijackers and several passengers to secure political asylum in England. Twenty-one people were arrested, including 8-10 “hijackers” and many passengers.

The passengers purchased $20 tickets, the equivalent of 12.50 British pounds, for the one hour flight to Kabul. It was not a bad price for freedom as expressed by a Britain’s Daily Mail, “12.50 ticket to asylum.”

Officials of Ariana Airlines in Afghanistan are speculating that women passengers concealed guns under their gowns then handed them off to the hijackers. This hypothesis would explain why the hijackers did not make any type of political demands during the negotiations.

This event has drawn increased attention to the issues of immigration and asylum in England. Many people arrive there without visas, stay and receive welfare, weighing heavily on national funds.

Yugoslav Defense Minister assassinated

A senior member of Slobodan Milosevic’s cabinet, Palve Bulatovic, was murdered in Montenegro last week. The death of the Defense Minister came less then one month after the unsolved killing of paramilitary Chieftan Zeljko “Arkan” Kaznatovic, an underworld boss with close ties to the

Milosevic regime.

Public concern continues to grow over the lawlessness that prevails under the Milosevic Regime. Citizens are afraid to live in an atmosphere where criminals and government officials are killed alike, without impunity.

Bulatovic was a member of a pro-Serb faction in Montenegro who opposes the province’s government, which threatened to quit Yugoslavia. Officials in Montenegro said Bulatovic was actively raising money for the Unionist cause. His faction has been accused of forming paramilitary groups.

President Clinton’s budget has eye on long term

Bill Clinton hopes to supplement he legacy of the New Democrat with that of the New Economy. After winning the budget battle over Social Security, Clinton is now pushing to use the rest for debt reduction and Medicare.

The Clinton proposal includes an increase, though largely symbolic, to a number of domestic programs and a modest tax cut aimed at working families. The first baby boom President’s proposal consequently works well for both Vice-President Al Gore and wife, Hillary Clinton’s

respective campaigns for President and Senator of New York. The proposal was too much for several Republicans and other conservatives who counted up to eighty new programs.

The argument of how big the budget surplus will be over the next ten years continues. Estimates differ widely as to how much money will be available. Last month the Congressional Budget office projected the non-Social Security surplus at $1.92 trillion over the next ten years. President Clinton, however, projects a surplus of $746 billion, others say it could be less than $150 billion. The discrepancies stem from the political consideration underlying the economic assumptions each set of projections is based upon. Republicans favor higher numbers concerning the surplus to legitimize their wish to finance large tax cuts. Democrats on the other hand, use lower projections to make debt reduction seem to be the more responsible move.

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