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US: State Department tweaks China for making name of US ambassador 'disappear' from the Internet

© The Associated Press / Charles Dharapak
In this Jan. 19, 2011 file photo, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is seen at the White House in Washington. The U.S. is tweaking China for its online blocking of the American ambassador's name. Searches Huntsman's name in Chinese on a popular microblogging site called Sina Weibo were met with a message Friday that said results were unavailable due to unspecified "laws, regulations and policies."
The U.S. is tweaking China for its online blocking of the American ambassador's name.

Searches for Ambassador Jon Huntsman's name in Chinese on a popular microblogging site called Sina Weibo were met with a message Friday that said results were unavailable due to unspecified "laws, regulations and policies."

Huntsman, a Republican, is leaving his post and is seen as a potential White House contender in 2012.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a Twitter posting Saturday that "it is remarkable" that even before Huntsman leaves Beijing, "China has made him disappear from the Internet."


Hosni Mubarak's Cronies Face Corruption Charges in Cairo Court

© Ben Curtis/AP
In this photo from November 2010 an Egyptian man shouts in front of posters branding Ahmed Ezz a 'loser, loser, loser'. The Mubarak ally is in court on corruption charges
Three stalwarts of the deposed Egyptian president are greeted by angry crowd at courthouse

Three former stalwarts of Hosni Mubarak's regime have appeared in a Cairo court to face charges ranging from abuse of state power to squandering public wealth.

The trio - former housing minister Ahmed Maghrapi, former tourism minister Zuheir Garana and Ahmed Ezz, steel tycoon and one-time secretary general of Hosni Mubarak's NDP party - arrived in police cars clanging with the sound of pelted stones and got out at the courthouse to a chorus of deafening insults.

"Here are the thieves!" yelled some members of the angry crowd; "Liars! Dogs!" taunted others. Inside, the defendants, clad in plain white jail uniforms, were forced to stand in a metal cage.

Their appearance came after Egypt's ruling army generals widened their corruption investigations to include two dozen other former regime stalwarts, from prominent politicians to leading lights of the business world.

"The supreme council of the armed forces strongly believes that freedom and the rule of law, supporting values of equality, democracy, social justice and uprooting corruption are the basis of any ruling system in the world," said a military statement.

The armed forces are walking a tricky tightrope in post-Mubarak Egypt, trying to balance the generals' desire for stability with an explosion of ground-level political and economic expectations that has penetrated every corner of the country.

Critics of the military argue that stability is merely a byword for maintaining the status quo. The army's stance on the prosecution of Mubarak regime officials is seen as a litmus test for the generals' promises of reform.

Che Guevara

Young Palestinians call for protests on 15 March

© Hatem Moussa/AP
Palestinians celebrate the resignation of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. Some now hope to emulate the Egyptian protests.
Movement organised on Facebook aims to end the bitter divisions between Hamas and Fatah

Their movement has no name and no leaders. Just a goal, and a tool.

The goal is to force an end to the political divisions among Palestinians by stirring the youth of Gaza and the West Bank to emulate their brothers and sisters in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Their tool - as elsewhere - is the internet, specifically Facebook. "End The Division", a page in both Arabic and English, calls for protests across the Palestinian territories and refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon on 15 March. It has already got thousands of supporters, and is growing by the day.

The Gaza students behind the Facebook page refuse to give their real names for fear of arrest. They arrange meetings through trusted intermediaries on neutral ground and send emissaries to sound out public figures and politicians.

"This will become a reality," says one of them, who calls himself Abu Yazan. "It's going to happen. We are spreading the word. The first day will be hard, the next day will be better. It will grow."

Another, Abu Ghassan, says: "For the past month, Palestinians have been spectators. We've watched as youth take the initiative and risk their lives. What happened in Egypt needs to happen here."

They are not demanding the overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza nor the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. What they want is the parties to overcome their bitter rivalries and unite to fight their common enemy: Israel.


Online Activists Calling for Jasmine Revolution Arrested in China

© 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.


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.


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.
© unknown
Defiance: Protesters have defied a 'shoot-on-sight' warning issued by Gaddafi to demonstrate against the hated tyrant


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

© 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.


Egypt protesters dispersed by force

© 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

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.