Jimmy Wales, founder of the open-forum internet encyclopedia Wikipedia, vowed yesterday he would not go down the same path as search engine Google by bowing to pressure from Beijing to censor sensitive articles.
Wikipedia, whose open invitation to write and edit articles has become increasingly popular in China, has been blocked by mainland censors since October. Mainland internet users have had to rely on a similar, but heavily censored clone, put together by Chinese Web portal Baidu, which puts a positive spin on events politically sensitive to Beijing such as the Tiananmen crackdown of 1989.
Mr Wales, chairman of the charity behind Wikipedia, told the first gathering of all-China Wikipedia users he is eager to make the encyclopaedia accessible on the mainland, but not at the expense of sacrificing its independence or its culture of allowing users to add to and modify its pool of knowledge.
In Hong Kong for three days to speak at the Chinese Wikimania 2006 conference at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he referred yesterday to the controversial decision by Google in February to bow to pressure from Beijing to introduce a censored version for the mainland in return for access to its market.
"One of the things deeply important to me, and to the entire Wikipedia community, is that whatever we do to become accessible in China, it not be viewed as what Google has done in compromising censorship.
"If there are subtle changes to policy that we can make which are acceptable anyway because ... we do it already in Germany or it's about quality, then it's fine.
"But it is not acceptable for us to do something to make sure the Chinese government authorises every edition of everything that comes out," Mr Wales added.
Jordanian Prince Hassan Bin Talal, who was the Jordanian heir apparent until Abdullah was crowned as king, launched a sharp verbal attack against the leaders of Arab countries during a Kyoto conference.
"The Arab leaders stole billions of dollars from the Arab people and spent it on weapons to fight Israel, which they will never defeat, instead of using the money for health and education purposes to aid their people," he stated.
Speaking at the world conference of the interfaith group "Religions for Peace", Prince Hassan also attacked the Iranian nuclear development program. Hassan spoke against nuclear armament, especially on Iran's part, and said that it needs to be made sure that the nuclear project in Iran does not reach the stage of nuclear weapons. Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was present at the conference.
Mexico's top electoral court has rejected claims July's presidential election was riddled with fraud.
The court decided not to order a full recount of votes from the disputed election, as demanded by leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Mr Lopez Obrador narrowly lost the election according to the official count. He said the ballot was rigged.
Correspondents say the court is now almost certain to make conservative candidate Felipe Calderon the winner.
Mr Lopez Obrador has warned of a campaign of protests against a Calderon government.
The ruling clears the way for Mr Calderon to be declared president-elect - but Mexico's political crisis is not yet over, the BBC's Duncan Kennedy reports.
Mr Lopez Obrador has spoken of forming a parallel government to fight what he calls this electoral injustice.
Our correspondent says that is likely to mean a continuation of the massive street protests that have blocked much of the capital during the past month.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Nazi Holocaust may be an ``excuse'' by the nations that won World War II to keep Germans ``ashamed.''
``Is it not a reasonable possibility that certain victorious countries in the war aimed to make up an excuse on the basis of which they could keep the defeated people constantly ashamed,'' and to block Germany's ``progress and strength?'' Ahmadinejad wrote in a letter to Merkel cited today by the state-run Mehr news agency. The letter was delivered July 20 to Germany's embassy in Tehran and hadn't been made public previously.
Whatever success the U.N. Security Council would presume to claim, it cannot be said that Resolution 1701 has effectively addressed the direct cause of the fighting--the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser, 31, and Eldad Regev, 26, by Hezbollah, and the earlier abduction of Gilad Shalit, 19, by Hamas. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for the unconditional release of these soldiers has been ignored. Moreover, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, the terrorists have not only seized the soldiers as hostages for political blackmail, they have not allowed the Red Cross to visit them. Their families do not know their physical condition; they have no proof they are even alive.
Undoubtedly, the secretary-general will tell the families of Ehud, Eldad and Gilad that he has dispatched a high-level team to Beirut that will urge the release of their loved ones. But that team negotiates behind closed doors. And by not publicly demanding the unfettered access of humanitarian representatives to the kidnapped soldiers, Mr. Annan has deprived his team of the force of credibility and seriousness they need in those negotiations.