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News Briefs

Annan Outlines U.N. Goals


Secretary General Kofi Annan outlined his vision of the United Nations in the 21st century -- a world body that would use “smart sanctions” to punish dictators while sparing innocent civilians, enlist corporate help for disaster victims and bring the Internet to the Third World.

The proposals, contained in a 57-page “Millennium Report,” represent Annan’s most ambitious effort yet to shape the future of the United Nations and put his personal imprint on it.

Annan said Monday that he hoped the report would stimulate debate among world leaders who will gather in New York for a Sept. 6-8 summit to develop a long-term agenda for the U.N. It contains recommendations on a dizzying array of issues, from curbing illegal traffic in small arms to reversing global warming.

The report “attempts to present a comprehensive account of the main challenges facing humanity as we enter the 21st century, combined with a plan of action for dealing with them,” Annan told reporters. “That may sound absurdly ambitious, but if the United Nations does not attempt to chart a course for the world’s people in the first decades of the new millennium, who will?”

Annan directed his most severe criticism at the Security Council’s use of economic sanctions to try to change the behavior of such states as Iraq and Libya, saying innocent civilians, not the ruling elite, bear the brunt of the suffering. He said the council should give serious consideration to studies underway in Germany, Switzerland, Britain and Canada to find ways to target leaders rather than whole populations.

Random House, Digital Printer Xlibris Strike a Deal


At first glance, a publishing deal announced Monday looked like the case of a prestigious symphony doing business with a garage band. However, it’s the latest example of the established media proceeding to coexist and partner with the brave new purveyors of digital technology.

Random House Inc., the world’s largest English-language book publisher and the literary home of such authors as Norman Mailer and Toni Morrison, has bought what it characterized as “a significant minority position” in Xlibris, a service that gives writers the digital tools to publish books on their own, bypassing the whims of editors and marketplace trends that usually bear on what manuscripts a traditional publisher chooses to buy.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The publishing conglomerate was represented by Random House Ventures LLC, a recently formed investment subsidiary that is seeking out entrepreneurial opportunities and pre-IPO ventures and will put two of its executives on Xlibris’ board.

Xlibris based in Philadelphia, also announced that its core services, which enable writers to publish their books within days, are now free of charge. Xlibris makes its money by offering customized printing features (an advanced package costs $300, and a premium one is $1,200) and by profiting from the sales of books it publishes and distributes through such outlets as and