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RUSSIA -- The Russian national internet domain, known as Ru.net, celebrates its 20th anniversary on 7 and 19 Apr 2014 with over 4.5 million registered domains and amid government attempts to curb its freewheeling ways. The celebrations will include a party and concert on 7 Apr. The milestone invites a look at whether the government is succeeding. Observers suggest the authorities might draw back from heavy-handed censorship because of the risk of chilling the country’s flourishing Internet life -- eCommerce is reported to be a key growth sector. The authorities’ moves to date include a law designed to protect children from harmful Internet content by allowing the government to take sites offline. Critics say the law can be used to take pro-democracy or other sites down with the simple explanation that the content was “harmful to children.” Supporters argue that the fears are overblown.
"Runet is 20!" Online Project is Launched (Pres. Library 31 Oct 2013)
Russian Internet celebrates 19th anniversary (Pravda 9 Apr 2013)
Russia internet blacklist law takes effect (BBC 31 Oct 2012)
E-commerce key growth sector in Russia (Russia Now/Telegraph 19 Mar 2013)
Russia's Internet to face censorship (CSM/Alaska Dispatch 12 Feb 2013)
NORTH KOREA – The 102nd anniversary of the birth of the late dictator Kim Il sung falls on 15 Apr 2014. Some experts see signs that his grandson, Kim Jong-un, is readying for a 4th nuclear detonation to honor the birth of the Stalinist state’s founding father. Typically, North Korea favors the birth anniversaries of the venerated Kim and his late son, Kim Jong-il, to irk South Korea and the West with bellicose rhetoric, missile tests and even periodic nuclear detonations. In the two years of the grandson’s rule, North Korea has changed its constitution to define itself in part as “a nuclear-armed state and an indomitable military power.” The North Korean calendar begins with his birth date, a national holiday.
N Korea eyes fourth N-test for birthday (Australian 12 Feb 2014)
Amid Tension, North Korea Celebrates Kim Il Sung’s Birthday (Time 15 Apr 2013)
Lessons from the death of North Korea's first leader (BBC 19 Dec 2011)
UNITED STATES – Boston Marathon competitors will set off 21 Apr 2014 on the 26.2 mile run with the memory of the terror attacks at the 2013 race still fresh. A memorial of a kind to the victims, the first race since two men identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev exploded a homemade pressure-cooker bomb at the finish line sees demand so high that the field has been expanded by 9000 and the qualifying time is tighter to keep the race manageable. The Boston Athletic Association issued a special invitation to the 5625 competitors who were unable to reach the finish line of the country’s most prestigious marathon because of the bomb. The fastest runners in qualifying races are allowed to register first. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the manhunt launched after the explosion on 15 Apr 2013. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev awaits trial, and could face the death penalty. The bombs killed three people and injured some 260.
2014 Boston Marathon a race to the starting line (Boston.com 13 Sep 2013)
Boston Marathon lowers qualifying times, but runners who just miss the cut take it in stride (Washington Post 8 Oct 2013)
UNITED STATES - The American Atheists organization has chosen Salt Lake City, Utah, the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for its convention from 17 to 20 Apr 2014. The year marks the 30th anniversary of Atheists in Utah and also of the last time the national organization met in Salt Lake City. The gathering, which will bring some 1000 nonbelievers to the city, can be counted on to offend the other Christian faiths as well as Mormons because it coincides with the Easter weekend, which marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. American Atheists started in 1963 after famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair won a case in the United States Supreme Court that ended prayer in the nation’s public schools. The organization, advocates the separation of state and church.
Atheists plan convention in Utah next Easter weekend (SL Tribune 5 Apr 2013)
BRAZIL -- President Dilma Rousseff, outraged at espionage revelations leaked by former United States National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, called a global summit on Internet governance for 23-25 Apr 2014 in Sao Paulo. In the meantime, the summit of what was envisaged as a gathering of equally outraged leaders appears to have metamorphosed into a meeting of stakeholders. The title, The Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, will address practical aspects of governance. The meeting brings together representatives of government, industry, civil society and academia, and the US-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) appears to be a key player. The Snowden leaks revealed that the NSA has monitored Brazilian communications, including Rousseff’s, and that Brazil was only one of many nations subjected to US snooping. The agenda doesn’t appear to include the measures Rousseff announced earlier to thwart US snooping, but might pick up on a joint-European Union-Brazilian plan for an undersea communications cable from Lisbon to Fortaleza to reduce Brazil's communications reliance on the United States.
Brazil, Europe plan undersea cable (Reuters 23 Feb 2014)
Global Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance
Brazil to host Internet governance summit(AFP 10 Oct 2013)
US surveillance 'breach of . . . law' (Guardian 24 Sep 2013)
VATICAN - On 27 Apr 2014 Pope Francis canonizes two predecessors, John Paul II, popular with reformers in the Roman Catholic Church, and John XXIII, popular with conservatives. The public ceremony, when they will become Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Saint John XXIII, could draw pilgrims in the millions – in numbers only matched by attendance at the funeral of John Paul II. Pope Francis made his choice of the two former popes and an accelerated canonization process as a means of bringing reformers and conservatives closer. Given the expected number of pilgrims, Vatican officials planning the ceremonies are worried that a severe fiscal crisis in Rome could create enormous problems. Newly installed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has blocked proposals for more cash for Rome, meaning certain disruption to essential services.
Canonization for Popes John Paul II and John XXIII (Vatican Radio 30 Sep 2013) http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/09/30/canonization_date_announced_for_blessed_popes_john_paul_ii_and_john/en1-732952
Francis Sets a Date in April for 2 Popes to Become Saints (NYT 30 Sep 2013)
SPACE – Throngsof enthusiasts usually descend on locations where solar eclipse viewing isbest, but penguins might be the only audience for the annular solar eclipse of29 April 2014; it will be visible from eastern Antarctica. If humans come tothe South Pole for the show, the draw will be the rarity of this eclipse. It isclassified as a non-central annular eclipse. The zone of annularity will appearas a small D-shaped region, not the brilliant halo of sunlight visible aroundthe Moon, the phenomenon associated with regular annular eclipses. Out of the3,956 annular eclipses occurring during the 5,000-year period (-2000 to +3000),according to the NASA eclipse web, only 68 of them were/are the non-central kind.
Annular solareclipse of April 29 (Fred Espenak NASA)