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Cuba Bans PC Sales, Greece Bans Video Games 47

GMontag writes: "From the Wired article -- 'The Cuban government has quietly banned the sale of computers and computer accessories to the public, except in cases where the items are "indispensable" and the purchase is authorized by the Ministry of Internal Commerce.' Sounds like the MPAA is making inroads into Cuba. Opposition view at CubaNet." Greece, meanwhile, has banned all arcade games in an effort to stop illegal gambling." (Thanks, MediaBoy77.)
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Cuba Bans PC Sales, Greece Bans Video Games

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  • My god, the original submitter is an idiot. Cuba is a communist nation, arguably the closest thing to a pure Marxist state left in the world. Fidel isn't banning computers because they could be used for piracy. He's banning them for the same reason that China set up that nationwide firewall and proxy server: he doesn't want his people to communicate with the 'decadent' capitalist world.

    I imagine that if he thought striking against the MPAA/RIAA would deal a blow to the US economic system, he would be encouraging his people to pirate.

  • In the past I would have commented on how communism is stupid and is screwing everything up.

    Now I see this article and can't help but think how long before the US government bans computer sales in favor of more controllable set top boxes for everything. =/
  • sounds like GMontag didnt do his research on the cuba article. I can say with a straight face it wasnt the MPAA/RIAA. This is Cuba remember. Poverty for the vast majority of people there. Movies and entertainment are almost non existent simply because they cant afford it.

    Wired says in the article that they dont know why Cuba banned the PC. They're unable to speak with the government. They can only speculate that they're trying to stop anti-Castro people from publishing to the internet from within Cuba.
    • Re:hmm.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kanon ( 152815 )
      I suspect he just forgot his smiley when he made the MPAA comment. Perhaps he just thought people would get the joke without needing tags.

    • Perhaps he
      just thought people would get the joke without needing tags.


      Nice to see that *someone* (post by Kanon) [slashdot.org] gets what I submitted!
      • it also appears someone else [slashdot.org] didnt catch on either. that leads me to beleive that you more focused on muttering bullshit about the MPAA than on a decent story submission.
        • IMHO, the joke was weird and pointless at best. I don't get it. Is GMontag trying to say that the MPAA is like a communist government? Or is he suggesting that the MPAA is altering the laws in our country to manipulate the population similiar to the Cuban government in the story?
          • Actually, i think we're overanalysing it... i believe he meant only to point out, in the form of sarcasm, the absurd obsession that we slashdotters have with the MPAA and its evildoings. But that's just my opinion.
      • I sure as hell got it -- but then, I already wrote to my Congregates comparing the Hollings Madness to the Cuban computer situation...

        - Robin
    • "Movies and entertainment are almost nonexistent simply because they cant afford it."


      ...But it's the best place in the world for live music.

  • I have to say that, while I am personally opposed to gambling in the traditional sense, I've never really understood why anyone would care if someone else out there in the wide world (or country, as may be appropriate) was gambling.

    Of course, as John Stossel once pointed out, most state governments in the US heavily restrict gambling except under certain circumstances, then run lotteries and encourage their citizens to play. Silly and hypocritical, at best.
    • Evil rich casinos get the profit when you go to one, but when you play in the state lottery, that money goes to you local park.

      So says the ads that the states put out, no doubt spending that lottery money.
      • Absolutely. I remember when my home state (MD) said that the lottery would help reduce gambling by driving out the illegal numbers game, then proceeded to bring gambling to places that had never seen a numbers runner except on Starsky and Hutch. Of course, for a while our lottery also managed to lose money (but the ads were pretty.)

        But mostly I hate standing in line behind some idiot buying three zillion numbers for all his friends and relations when all I want is a carton of milk. And the machines are pink, for God's sake!

    • I've never really understood why anyone would care if someone else out there in the wide world (or country, as may be appropriate) was gambling

      Because if it's not government sanctioned and controlled, the government can't collect taxes on all the money that's exchanged.
      They don't want to lose out on all those tax dollars...
    • Because poor people suck.
    • Of course, as John Stossel once pointed out, most state governments in the US heavily restrict gambling except under certain circumstances, then run lotteries and encourage their citizens to play. Silly and hypocritical, at best.

      There's a reason that sports betting is illegal in most of the US: it would destroy the state lotteries. The typical state lottery has a vig of 50-60% (In Massachusetts, 50% of each ticket is tax and c.10% is taken to cover administrative expenses; only 40% of the take is distributed to winners... thus you have to win 2.5 times more than luck would dictate to break even).

      Contrast with a sports book. Assuming standard Vegas odds, the vig is less than 5%, since the payouts are 11-10. In order to break even in sports betting, you only need to be 4-5% better than dumb luck.

      It almost makes me wonder if we'd all be better off if the Mafia ran the US... it can't be worse than being run by the RIAA/MPAA... ;o)

    • SocialWorm typed: Of course, as John Stossel once pointed out, most state governments in the US heavily restrict gambling except under certain circumstances, then run lotteries and encourage their citizens to play. Silly and hypocritical, at best.

      How true. Here in Georgia our governor, King Roy, has started a campaign to ban all video poker machines in the state, referring to it all as "a cancer on our society." Meanwhile the state is pulling down literally hundreds of millions every year selling low-odds big ball and scratchoff tickets to the state's poorest and most ignorant residents. Cancer indeed...

  • It's sort of ironic that one of the last Marxist states is banning this technology -- 'cause for years the US jumped through hoops to keep technology "with military applications" out of the Soviet bloc. (Actually, in the case of Cuba, it still does [state.gov].) At one time it was even illegal to sell them 16-bit computers! (Apple IIs apparently did not represent a security threat.) In hindsight this was just plain dumb. Information technology played a big role in the downfall of the left-wing dictatorships, and continues to make life difficult for autocracies of every stripe.
  • Stop and consider the discussion, debate, and even trolling that happens just on this site would be considered dangerous in Cuba. Your free speach is a rare and unique thing in the world.

    Not only has Cuba banned computer sales to individuals, but the story say it's $260 dollars a month for an internet subscription. Annual saleries average $240 dollars. It sounds to me like the Cuban dictatorship has been unsuccessful in it's filtering of "enemy" web content. So they just make it too expensive to read.

    There's a reason people are willing to float to the US on unsafe boats and rafts. Life sucks in Cuba. People disappear every day never to be seen again. The standard of living is terrible. School is nothing more than communist indoctrination.

    The world will be a better place once Castro kicks off.

    Janet Reno is a damn fool. I can't imagine the Cuban exile community in southern Florida ever forgivive Reno for deporting Elian Gonzolas.

    • I can't imagine the Cuban exile community in southern Florida ever forgivive Reno for deporting Elian Gonzolas.

      Just because life sucks in some other country doesn't mean that we have to let everone from that country into ours. Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Besides, Elian belongs with his father, who wants to live in Cuba and wants his son back. Obviously, life can't be that bad over there.

    • By extension, if we have responsibility over people's children in other countries, then we should invade Cuba and 'rescue' all of the children from their horrible lives in Cuba, taking them away from their families if the families don't want to come, too.

      Some people in other countries actually like it there better than they think they would like it here. It is their right to live in a different kind of society if they want to. It is not our right to tell parents in other countries what kind of society their children must endure.

      It would have been a totally different story if Elian's father wanted to come and live in the U.S. with his son, away from horrible Cuba (and the U.S. wanted to let him come), but this was not the case.

    • Fucking Exile Terrorist Cuban.

      Elian was an illegal alien found by authorities drifting on one of those rafts and had to be deported because of that. Let's ignore that he was kidnapped by his mother, who risked his life (and lost hers in the process) and then again was held hostage by morons like you.

      • Fucking Communist Nazi Moron. Elian was a legally admitted (under the Cuban Adjustment Act)alien fleeing from a recognized dictatorship who had the misfortune to lose his mother who was heroically trying to bring him to raise in a free (sorta)country. When our own jackbooted NSDAP (Nazi) fuhrer Janet Reno KIDNAPPED him to send him back to Castro's dictatorship, she unconstitutionally interfered in a matter that was PURELY a local Family Court matter, under color of an invalid warrant. Elian was under a District Court of Appeals injunction forbidding him to leave the jurisdiction of the county (and by extension) country, when the illegal action by her Federal SS stormtroopers occurred. See here(http://www.judicialwatch.org/1253.shtml)if by any chance you are a sincere but misguided individual who swallowed the mainstream press' slant on the whole thing. Or maybe,since recent events have shown the incredible efficiency of the INS, (esp. when kidnapping defenseless children at gunpoint or screening out known terrorists from getting student visas)you can afford to ignore the above documents...
        • Dear Sir.

          The Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), Public Law 89-732, was enacted on November 2, 1966. The law applies to any native or citizen of Cuba who has been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States after January 1, 1959 and has been physically present for at least one year; and is admissible to the United States for Permanent Residence.

          Neither was he inspected nor admitted or paroled into the US nor present for a year. That alone makes your inane ramblings pointless. Anyway, exile Cubans are all drug-pushing wellfare-leeching terrorists.

  • The ban on all arcade games in greece is only a knee-jerk reaction because of a large number of arcade owners (750 in the last 2 months) have been arrested for having machines pay out money. Since gambling is illegal outside of casinos there, this is a way to curb illegal gambling. Gaming for entertainment will undoubtedly be allowed after owners get the idea that illegal activity will not be allowed.
    "The problem," said Dimitris Batzelis, secretary general of Greece's Financial Crime Bureau, "isn't enforcing the gaming ban. It's clarifying what the ban will in fact ban."
    They say specifically that there is no final word on what is banned. No need to worry, travellers will still have their pac-man!
  • But I do have a few questions; what percentage of homes in Cuba have electricity? And how many of those have telephone service? And who would be their ISP?
    • According the the CIA Factbook [cia.gov] for 2001:
      • Telephones - main lines in use: 473,031 (2000)
      • Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,994 (1997)
      • domestic: principal trunk system, end to end of country, is coaxial cable; fiber-optic distribution in Havana and on Isla de la Juventud; 2 microwave radio relay installations (one is old, US-built; the other newer, built during the period of Soviet support); both analog and digital mobile cellular service established
      • Internet country code: .cu
      • Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 4 (2001)
      • Internet users: 60,000 (2000)
      So they've got phones, ISPs, even celluar. In addition, it indicates a high literacy rate (95.7%) and long life expectancy (76.41 years, compared with 77.26 for the U.S.). The economy took a big hit when the Soviet Union broke up and stopped sending them $4-6 billion US a year, but has been slowly recovering, due to tourism and foreign investment.

      But obviously it's not a perfect place to live, otherwise so many people wouldn't risk their lives on makeshift rafts and boats trying to cross to the U.S.

      And while PCs may be expensive compared to the per capita income, obviously some people have them and can connect the to Internet, and it would seem that is what the Cuban government is trying to limit.

      • Be sure to mention the total population there. Over 11 million. So less than 1 in 20 has a phone, less than 1 in 3000 a cell phone, and one in 200 is online. Compare with 2 out of 3, 1 in 3, and 1 in 2, respectively, for the US.

        But I agree, Castro and his cronies are trying to keep everyone under control, even if it also means keeping them in the 19th century.

        • The most frequent response (defense of Castro) to the true statements you write is: "The USA embargo is keeping Cuba in poverty."

          Never mind that the whole world besides the US trades with Cuba, the Castro supporters/America haters here just can't apply any objectivity to the situation.
          • No kidding. So the US is the only country not trading with Cuba? Out of a $43 trillion global economy, Cuba has trading access to all but the 10 in the US, and even that can go through foreign middlemen. And that is the only thing keeping them in the Stone Age? I don't buy it. If Ireland and Britain stopped trading, it wouldn't be good for either, but neither would they collapse into 3rd world status.

            That said, I think it is kinda stupid to maintain the embargo. It obviously hasn't ousted Castro and his oh-so humanitarian government and at this point the simplest way to undermine him is to get Cubans living well. Cuba is not much of a physical risk without the Soviet Union behind it.

          • 1) Cuba was never a first world country. It was a colony under the Spanish and then the US. You can't compare it's level of development with that of the states. Why not compare to similar carribean nations? Or even latin American nations. Then it comes out pretty good. Not the best, certainly, but towards the top in terms of literacy, life expectancy, doctors/capita, immunization rates, calories/capita, etc.

            2) Cuba is a carribean country, whose main income (under Batista) was from tourism and sugar sold to the US. So the effect of an embargo is greater than for other countries. But, yes, other nations still trade with it -- but that trade is not as economically efficient (transport costs + size of market) as trade with the US was in the 50's. US tourism, of course, is much harder to replace with the European market because of the distance.

            3) It's not just trade, of course, but lack of investment which hurts Cuba quite a bit.

            4) Despite this, Cuba, by most standards is much better off than Peru, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, and many other latin American countries. Politically, it's a harsh dictactorship with strict controls on the press and political speech. On the other hand, the level of murder and repression can't be compared to Central or Latin America as a whole. Castro, tyrannical as he is, is a pussycat compared to the generals and juntas which rule many of his neighbors, and there are no death squads roaming the streets in Cuba. There are several dozen dissidents in jail at anyone time in Cuba, wheras many latin american nations have hundreds of political murders every year, and Peru has several thousands of political prisoners.

            5) The many thousands of refugees from Cuba wishing to come to the US to avoid persecution and for a better economic life gain much spotlight in the press, and are generally allowed to stay if they reach US soil. But don't forget the millions of political and economic refugees coming from Haiti, Central America, and the Dominican Republic. Now weigh that by the fact that Cuba is relatively close to Florida, and that cuban refugees know they will be granted asylum if they can make it here, and you'll find out that the refugee flows are about the same from Cuba as from the rest of Latin America.

            6) Instead of bashing this country, why not trade with it, like we do with China or Peru, and try to make the life of it's people a bit better?

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