Monday, October 24, 2005

In the news today...

I reported this first item of news several weeks ago and to my amazement, it almost went unnoticed at the time. Now it seems the controversy it has caused is finally making headlines:

Reuters-US computer game touches Iran's atomic nerve:

U.S. special forces dart through Iran's underground nuclear facilities, gunning down any hapless Iranians standing between them and centrifuges that must be blown to bits.

Much to Tehran's relief, this crack team exists only in a new U.S. computer game. But even these animated saboteurs are too close for comfort, downloadable into Iranian living rooms at the click of a mouse.

The cyberspace troopers have sparked bitter press comment in Iran and a petition asking that the game be shelved.

"Americans have a deep craving for an attack against Iran, but they are going to have to settle for this make-believe assault," wrote the Kayhan daily, whose editor is appointed directly by Iran's Supreme Leader.

"U.S. attacks Iran" is made by U.S. firm Kuma Reality Games whose war games often tie into top news stories.

Iran is at the center of a diplomatic maelstrom, flatly denying U.S. accusations it is seeking atomic warheads. It argues it needs underground nuclear facilities, such as one near the central town of Natanz, to make fuel for power stations.

The United States consistently declines to rule out a military strike against Iran, but has said such an option is "not on the agenda".

...Kuma boss Keith Halper said he has no plans to take the game offline and that he had not realized the games were played in the Middle East as well.

"The controversy does surprise me. I just didn't expect that there were people from Iran who were going to become aware of it," he told Reuters.

Other Kuma games have been criticized in the United States for their realistic portrayal of current events, including recent battles.

The Iran game has been downloaded in Iran thousands of times, Halper said, and the company has received roughly 300 e-mail messages from Iran. Some criticized the game but others had asked how to get a copy without a broadband connection.

Iran has been prickly about the idea of U.S. special forces lurking around inside the Islamic Republic since U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh said in the New Yorker this year that U.S. "Black Ops" had ventured across Iran's borders.

Reuters-VeriSign to control ".com" domain until 2012:

VeriSign Inc. said on Monday it would maintain control of the lucrative ".com" Internet domain until 2012 in return for dropping an antitrust lawsuit against the nonprofit body that oversees the Internet's addressing system.

The agreement settles a long-running dispute between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, and the most powerful company under its jurisdiction. The settlement comes at a time when ICANN is under attack from China, Iran and other countries that want more direct control over the domain-name system that guides traffic around the Internet...