What Others Are Saying

October 02, 2007

Normando Hernandez Gonzalez may die for exercising free speech in Cuba. An independent journalist, he has been imprisoned since Cuba's crackdown on dissidents in April 2003. Now he is so critically ill that he was transferred to a Havana military hospital last week.

It is bad enough that Mr. Hern?ndez Gonz?lez, 39, is serving a 25-year sentence for criticizing the government, something people in free countries do every day. Yet things could get worse. Returning him to prison would be a death sentence. This is where he contracted serious ailments, chronic digestive disorders and tuberculosis among them. Even if his condition were to improve in the hospital, he would not last long in the filthy cells and eating the food given to political prisoners.

The hope now is that Cuba will free Mr. Hern?ndez Gonz?lez and allow him to leave the country - and soon. International pressure is needed.

- The Miami Herald

If the streets look empty and 7-Elevens are out of Red Bull lately, there's a reason. Halo 3 was unleashed on a willing population of video gamers.

Some 1.7 million copies of the aliens-among-us video game were preordered, and $170 million extracted from wallets the day it went on sale. That's getting into the territory of Harry Potter book sales and summer blockbuster movies, which can take weeks to reach the same sales figures.

In case you're not in the target zone of 16-to-30-year-old males, what's going on is an exclamation mark moment in computer gaming. Sales and audience numbers are pushing the industry past Hollywood movies and music CDs.

From critics comes this evaluation: Gaming, especially the rough "shooter" variety of which Halo is king, breeds anti-social shut-ins who live like mold in hidden places. Divorce, junk food, addiction and general mopery are all laid at the feet of video games.

But video games aren't going away. If anything, they are getting more dominant, flashier and more deeply rooted as a pastime. The ultra-competitive industry is so big that tech colleges now offer preparatory degrees for future designers and programmers. For many, it's not a hobby - it's training for a respectable profession.

- San Francisco Chronicle

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