- - Thursday, November 4, 2010

SOUTH KOREA

Report: N. Korea hacking into networks

SEOUL | South Korean media has reported that next week’s Group of 20 summit in Seoul is of enough interest to North Korea that it has been hacking its neighbor’s computer networks more often.

North Korea has a track record of provocations when world attention is focused on the rival South, and Seoul is bracing for any possible North Korean moves to sabotage the meeting of world leaders.

A South Korean newspaper reported that North Korean hackers based in China collected unspecified minor information about the summit from South Korean government networks.

South Korean officials say they can’t confirm the report.

It’s widely believed that North Korea runs a cyberwarfare unit aimed at hacking into South Korean and U.S. networks to collect confidential information and disrupt service. Last week, South Korea’s spy chief told lawmakers that North Korea has about 1,000 hackers.

CHINA

China pressures countries over Nobel

OSLO, Norway | China is pressuring European governments to avoid the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for imprisoned democracy activist Liu Xiaobo and not make any statements in support of him, several diplomats said Thursday.

The Chinese Embassy in Oslo has sent official letters to a number of European embassies in the Norwegian capital asking them not to attend the Dec. 10 ceremony, two Western diplomats said.

According to one of the diplomats in Beijing who said he has seen the letter, China cited its repeated position that Mr. Liu is a criminal for his advocacy of widespread political reforms and called the prize an interference in China’s internal affairs.

The letter also urged embassies not to issue any public statements in support of Mr. Liu on the day of the ceremony, the diplomat said.

PHILIPPINES

President calls for lifting of terror warnings

MANILA | President Benigno Aquino on Thursday urged the United States and other foreign governments to lift travel warnings over an imminent terrorist attack in the Philippines, saying they are unfounded.

The U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand issued travel advisories this week warning that an attack may occur at any time in the Philippine capital and that areas frequented by foreigners are potential targets.

“We will express our displeasure. We believe there is no adequate basis,” Mr. Aquino told reporters.

According to Mr. Aquino, a tip from foreign security agencies said a terrorist group not known to operate in the Philippines wanted to enter the country to assassinate foreign diplomats and Filipino security officials.

“The purported subjects of plots [are] several security officials and two ambassadors,” he said without giving names. “I am not sure I believe all of these.”

“It adds unnecessary anxiety to our citizens. One has to question whether that was prudent,” Mr. Aquino added.

SRI LANKA

Police to publish pictures of porn actors

COLOMBO | A Sri Lankan magistrate on Thursday ordered police to publish photographs of 83 local pornography actors in a bid to identify and arrest them for violating obscenity laws, officials said.

Police told Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne that telecommunications regulators have blocked 180 Sri Lankan pornographic websites that feature local men and women.

“We now have a court order to publish the photographs in the national press and seek public assistance to identify and arrest them,” a police officer said, declining to be named.

He said the actors face up to six months’ jail or a fine of $90, or both, if convicted.

The government has asked the Sri Lankan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to prevent Internet users in the country from accessing websites that feature local men and women.

Other porn sites featuring non-Sri Lankans remain available, however.

MALDIVES

Government regulates tourist marriage vows

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka | The Maldives has set rules for conducting marriage ceremonies for tourists drawn to the islands’ white-sand beaches, after being embarrassed by a celebrant who heaped abuse on a Swiss couple renewing their vows.

A government statement issued Thursday said hotels that breach the new rules will be fined $78,000.

The vows must be supervised by resort management, and couples can choose the language and translation of the ceremony.

The celebrant and the participants also are prohibited from engaging in any activity “disrespectful or degrading to any religion, Maldivian culture or custom,” the statement said.

Last week, a marriage-ceremony video posted on YouTube with English subtitles showed the marriage celebrant heaping abuse and curses at a Swiss couple.

Speaking in his native language, he chanted in a prayerlike tone and called the couple “swine” and said their children would have spots on their skin and be considered illegitimate.

President Mohamed Nasheed apologized to the couple, who haven’t been named.

Police arrested the celebrant and an assistant and said both were still in custody Thursday and have not yet been charged.

The Maldives is an Indian Ocean archipelago of 350,000 people chosen by many tourists for weddings and honeymoons.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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