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Stormtrooper

Online Activists Calling for Jasmine Revolution Arrested in China

Image
© The Associated Press
A policeman urges people to leave as they gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant which was the planned protest site in Beijing
Three Chinese online users have been charged with subversion for re-posting calls for a Jasmine revolution on the internet, a Hong Kong-based civil rights groups has reported.

The arrests are further evidence of Beijing's determination to stamp out any attempt to foment Middle East-style protests in China after a foreign-based website, boxun.com, issued a call for nationwide demonstrations against one-party rule.

The charges have been made under China's draconian "subversion of state power" laws, a catch-all that enables China's ruling Communist Party to jail anyone it deems to be challenging its right to rule.

Liu Xiaobo, the dissident who won this year's Nobel peace prize is currently serving an 11-year sentence after being convicted on subversion charges.

Liang Haiyi, an unemployed 35-year-old woman in the northeast city of Harbin, was taken away Saturday after putting information about the protests on a Chinese chat rooms, according to a lawyer, said the statement by Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy She was questioned and taken away in handcuffs, and her ex-husband has received an official notice saying she has been charged with subversion, added the lawyer, who said he had spoken to the woman's ex-husband.

"I don't think she's broken any law, she only reposted someone else's writings on the Chinese internet and it wasn't her own writing," said Liang Xiaojun said. "Anyone overseas can see these materials." Also detained for spreading word of the planned protest online were Hua Chunhui, from Wuxi city in eastern China, and Chen Wei from Suining city in the southwest, the group said in its statement.

Megaphone

180,000 Attend Yemen Pro-Democracy Protests

Yemen protest
© Allvoices
Largest Protests Yet Against US-Backed Regime

Though the nation's Tahrir Square was the home to a pro-regime rally, where the government orchestrated a march by some 10,000 supporters, bused in from across the nation, the streets of Yemen clearly belonged to the anti-regime protesters today.

In fact, the near daily protests in front of Sanaa University swelled to 30,000 today, and another 150,000+ were reported demonstrating elsewhere across the country, making today the largest pro-democracy protest in the nation's history.

Once made up almost exclusively of student protesters in the capital and secessionists in the south, tribesmen joined the protests today en masse, committing their support to the ouster of long-time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh had once been able to buy the support of key tribes to guarantee his rule, but that time appears to be long over, and as secessionist movements in both north and south crop back up, the mass protests against the regime look to have reached a size impossible to ignore, and impossible for the US-backed Saleh to crush.

Stormtrooper

At Least Five Shot Dead in the Libyan Capital as Gaddafi's Troops Open Fire on Demonstrators

  • Obama refuses to rule out military intervention after late-night call to Cameron and Sarkozy
  • Prospect of setting up no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi bombing protesters
  • Gaddafi packs Tripoli with troops as he prepares 'last stand'
  • Cameron tells him: 'The world is watching, you will be held to account'
  • Up to 500 Britons still trapped in the country
  • Second Navy warship sent to pick up evacuees
  • Switzerland will 'freeze dictator's possible personal assets'


At least five people were believed to have been killed in Libya when forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi opened fire on protesters.

One resident in the Janzour district of Tripoli said the shootings happened as demonstrators shouted anti-Gaddafi slogans in the Fashloum district, in the east of Tripoli.

Thousands of Libyans were called to a mass demonstration in Colonel Gaddafi's stronghold - in defiance of shoot-on-sight directives issued to the military.

The outpouring of anger in Green Square after Friday prayers was seen as particularly significant as areas loyal to the Libyan leader dwindle.
Image
© unknown
Defiance: Protesters have defied a 'shoot-on-sight' warning issued by Gaddafi to demonstrate against the hated tyrant

Megaphone

Tens of Thousands March on Wisconsin Capitol

Wisconsin protest
© Reuters
Tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on Wisconsin's state Capitol on Saturday to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to curb public sector union power in order to balance the budget.

Waving hundreds of American flags and singing the national anthem, the demonstrators were peaceful and the swelling crowds upbeat despite a setback earlier in the week when the state Assembly approved the measure over Democratic objections.

What began two weeks ago as a Republican measure in one small U.S. state has turned into what could be the biggest challenge to union power since then President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers nearly 30 years ago.

If Republicans prevail in Wisconsin, a number of other states governed by conservative majorities could follow. Already, other legislatures including Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, and Kansas are working on union curbs.

No Entry

EU rejects Italy's call for help with likely waves of migrants from north Africa

Image
© Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
Egyptians who used to work in Libya and who are fleeing unrest wait at the Tunisia-Libyan border
Italy faced criticism in the European Union on Thursday (24 February) for raising the alarm about a potential wave of refugees from Libya, with several governments saying Rome's calls for help in dealing with migrants were exaggerated.

EU justice ministers were meeting in Brussels yesterday to weigh contingency plans if escalating violence in Libya triggers massive outflows of people.

But international experts say out of at least 30,000, mainly Tunisians and Egyptians, who have fled turmoil so far, none were headed for Europe.

"For the moment, we had not seen any people coming to Europe from Libya," said Cecilia Malmström, the EU commissioner responsible for home affairs.

"What we see is that people from Libya have started to go to Tunisia and to Egypt, and it is of course important that we can assist Tunisia and Egypt to address this humanitarian situation and to help people who come there," she added.

Stormtrooper

Egypt protesters dispersed by force

Image
© Reuters
The army, which showed restraint during the revolution, has been accused of going soft on Mubarak loyalists

Army uses batons to break up demonstrations in capital Cairo demanding purging of Mubarak loyalists from government.

The Egyptian army has used force to disperse activists gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak loyalists from the interim cabinet.

Egyptian soldiers fired in the air and used batons in the early hours of Saturday to disperse the crowd, the Reuters news agency reported.

Demonstrators had also gathered in front of the parliament building in Cairo, where police beat protesters and used tasers to suppress the crowds, an Al Jazeera producer in the capital reported.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the ruling military council, later apologised for the military's response and said the situation "wasn't intentional".

Bizarro Earth

Italy fears up to 1.5 million North African migrants as revolution takes terrifying turn in Libya

Image
© REUTERS
A Tunisian woman crosses into Tunisia at the Ras Jdir border crossing, after fleeing unrest in Libya
Up to 1.5 million refugees from North Africa could try to flee across the Mediterranean, Italy warned on Thursday as the government begged for help from the EU in dealing with the potential exodus.

Roberto Maroni, Italy's interior minister, said the worst case scenario could see 1.5 million migrants trying to escape countries like Libya, Tunisia and Egypt - a prediction that dwarfed concerns expressed by Rome earlier this week that 300,000 might seek to enter Europe.

"We cannot be left alone," Mr Maroni, Italy's interior minister, told his EU counterparts at a meeting in Brussels which was convened to address the looming crisis.

He said the arrival of so many refugees would represent "an invasion" which would bring Italy "to its knees".

"I ask Europe to settle all the necessary measures to deal with a catastrophic humanitarian crisis," in Libya.

Italy, Greece and Malta fear that if the Gaddafi regime falls, the floodgates will be opened to the estimated 1.5 million sub-Saharan Africans who live and work in Libya.

Heart - Black

1000s die in Libya, reports of poison gas

gaddafi

Libya's deputy ambassador to the UN says thousands of people have been killed during protests, as unconfirmed reports have come in claiming the regime has used poison gas on demonstrators.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, who has turned against the Gaddafi regime, said the death toll is expected to rise as Muammar Gaddafi continues his bloody crackdown against the opposition.

"There are already thousands of people who have been killed, we expect more. They are gathering all the bodies and they are taking them to the desert or somewhere. No one knows where are the bodies of the victims," AFP quoted Dabbashi as saying.

Arrow Down

Record plunge in disposable income

Image
© Unknown
Families' disposable income dived by a record £9 a week during January as inflation continued to outstrip wage growth, research has indicated.

The average family had £174 a week left to spend after meeting all of their essential outgoings, down from £183 a week in January last year, according to supermarket group Asda.

It was the 13th consecutive month during which people suffered a year-on-year fall in their disposable income, while it was also the biggest drop recorded since Asda first began collecting the data in January 2007.

The group said the continued decline in spending power seen during 2010 and into 2011 was caused by the price of essential goods and services rising faster than net incomes.

Inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index rose to 4% in January, but average incomes rose by just 2.4% during the previous 12 months.

Arrow Down

Public sector workers could see their 'gold-plated' pensions halved

Image
© Reuters
Proposals: Chancellor George Osborne will publish plans that could see public sector workers transferred to less generous pensions
Public sector workers could see their 'gold-plated' pensions slashed to make it easier to transfer services to private firms and charities.

Payments due to hundreds of thousands of nurses, doctors and bin collectors could be cut to less than half under proposals being considered by the Treasury.

The Government wants providers other than the State to take over the running of some services as part of David Cameron's 'Big Society' plan.

But ministers fear the generous final salary schemes paid out to public sector workers would deter all but the biggest firms from doing so.

Last night unions said the proposal was 'extremely provocative' and could lead to a fresh round of strikes if enacted.

Public sector workers have their pensions protected, even if another provider takes over the service, under 'fair deal' rules agreed by Labour in the late 1990s.