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2024/04/19 第481期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 The Two-Decade Fight for Two Letters on the Internet 價值何在?兩個字母的網域名讓人爭20年
Ukraine’s Deepening Fog of War 俄烏戰爭情勢 更加撲朔迷離
The Two-Decade Fight for Two Letters on the Internet 價值何在?兩個字母的網域名讓人爭20年
文/Jacob Judah


The South Pacific island of Niue is one the most remote places in the world. Its closest neighbors, Tonga and American Samoa, are hundreds of miles away. The advent of the internet promised, in a small way, to make Niue and its 2,000 or so residents more connected to the rest of the world.


In the late 1990s, an American businessperson offered to hook up the island to the internet. All he wanted in exchange was the right to control the .nu suffix that Niue was assigned for its web addresses. The domain did not seem as lucrative as .tv — which was slotted to Tuvalu, another South Pacific nation — and the leaders of Niue signed off on the deal. But the two sides were soon at odds.


Now, after more than two decades of back and forth, the disagreement is finally nearing a resolution in a court of law. Disputes over domain names were not uncommon during the internet’s infancy, but experts are hard pressed to recall one that has lasted this long.


It turned out that .nu was, in fact, very valuable. “Nu” means now in Swedish, Danish and Dutch, and thousands of Scandinavians registered websites with that suffix, creating a steady business for Niue’s business partner, Bill Semich.


Niue felt it had been cheated out of a reliable stream of cash that would have helped it reduce its reliance on tourism and foreign aid.


Niue canceled the deal with Semich in 2000 and has since been attempting to reclaim .nu — which is now operated by the Swedish Internet Foundation, a nonprofit. It is seeking about $30 million in damages, an amount that could be transformative for a tiny island that was recognized by the United States as a sovereign state only in 2023. The dispute has landed in the Swedish courts, and a ruling is expected in the coming days.


“This is a unique, complex, and somewhat strange case,” said David Taylor, an intellectual property and domain name expert at the law firm Hogan Lovells, adding that this made it extremely difficult to predict the outcome.


Websites using the domain are not expected to face any changes even if Niue wins.


Ukraine’s Deepening Fog of War 俄烏戰爭情勢 更加撲朔迷離
文/Marc Santora

俄烏戰爭情勢 更加撲朔迷離

The forecasts are anything but optimistic: The best Ukraine can hope for in 2024, many Western officials and analysts say, is to simply hold the line.


Only a year ago, Ukraine was brimming with confidence. It had defied expectations, staving off Russia’s attempt to take over the country. Western nations, buoyed by Ukraine’s success, promised aid to help Ukrainians break through Russian lines.


But the flow of much-needed weapons from allies was unpredictable and slow. Ukraine’s own domestic arms production was mired in bureaucracy, top military officials have said. And the command structure of the army was not changing quickly enough to manage a force that had expanded from 200,000 troops to nearly 1 million in a matter of months.


Those weaknesses, and some strategic battlefield missteps, stymied Ukraine’s widely telegraphed counteroffensive, which resulted in only marginal territorial gains. At the same time, Russia was fortifying its defensive lines, converting its economy to war production, conscripting hundreds of thousands of fighters and adjusting its strategy for renewed offensives this winter.


Now, as the war enters its third year, leaders in Kyiv are trying to find a new path forward amid ferocious Russian assaults, while facing a series of daunting unknowns.


Can its civilian leaders muster the will to enact a potentially unpopular mobilization plan to replenish its depleted forces? Can the military command and the civilian government mend the rifts that have divided them and that led to the recent firing of Ukraine’s top general?


Even as he presses the case for more Western support, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is starting to take steps to improve some of the systemic problems under his control.


For instance, Ukraine has added several command headquarters to oversee brigades more efficiently. And while the new top general, Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, is a product of the Soviet military system, Zelenskyy has installed a younger generation of generals under him who he hopes will bring more innovation to the battlefield.


The minister of defense, Rustem Umerov, has vowed to accelerate the development of ammunition production in Ukraine. He has also introduced a new procurement process to replace a post-Soviet system that was slower and more susceptible to corruption.


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