Global Scan

Is this China's environmental future?

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LED sunrise.jpg

Credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

The LED screen shows the rising sun on Tiananmen Square, which is shrouded with heavy smog on January 16, 2014 in Beijing, China. Beijing Municipal Government issued a yellow smog alert.

It seems a scene straight out of a sci-fi film: The air is so hazy that the government has to remind people what a sunrise looks like using giant digital screens. The setting is real — Beijing, China's capital — but it turns out the image is not a government plan to bring sunshine to residents, as it was portrayed by the UK's Daily Mail.  

(Editor's note: This article was upated to correct misinformation that this photo was part of a Chinese government plan.)

The city's giant commercial TV screen generally advertises tourist destinations, and the sunrise is in one of the ads. Tech in Asia reports the Daily Mail's portrayal of this as a government plan is false. And we were one of several media groups that were snookered. Given Beijing's frequent and dangerous air pollution, it's not so far-fetched. Though full-spectrum streetlamps might be a more productive idea.

Uganda's president says 'not so fast' to an anti-gay law  

Last month, Uganda's parliament passed a law that made homosexual acts punishable with life in prison and made it a crime to not report gay people to authorities. But President Yoweri Museveni hasn't signed the law.

Uganda's Monitor newspaper reports that Museveni is saying the parliament lacked a quorum when it passed the law. And he claims parliament passed the law against his advice. While the president believes homosexuality is "abnormal," he says gay people can be rescued, mainly through economic development. Some suspect that Museveni wants to avoid an international backlash if he signs the bill into law.

India, but not its athletes, will be missing from the Sochi Olympics

Just this week, India came through with money to send three athletes to the Winter Olympics. But the Olympians won't be allowed to officially represent their country.

The International Olympic committee disqualified the Indian Olympic Association from participating in the Olympics because two of its top officials had corruption charges filed against them in 2013. India could have elected new officials, but didn't. And the country is barely supporting its athletes. PRI's The World reports that India still hasn't granted money for two of the athletes to buy equipment, and the luge competitor had no practice track, so he raced between cars and trucks as he practiced on mountain roads (check out the video.)

'Cool Runnings' II, if Jamaica's bobsled team can raise cash fast

In Switzerland this weekend, Jamaica's two-man bobsled team of Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon qualified for the Sochi games. After a 12-year absence, Jamaica will be back, if the team can raise $80,000 in expenses. Britian's The Independent says the athletes already had to downsize from four to two men because of a lack of funds. 

An Italian politician wears blackface to protest immigrant policy

A politician from Italy’s right-wing Northern League party shocked members of the Parliament by "blacking up" to protest the allegedly excessive benefits awarded to African immigrants.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the stunt was part of an ongoing series of insults and attacks directed at the country’s only black minister, Cecile Kyene, who is the minister for integration. But the newspaper notes that the United Nations, the European Union and other groups have actually castigated Italy for its poor treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

Should you be able to call someone a Nazi in Israel?

Israel's partliament is considering a law that would outlaw Nazi name-calling and other references that trivialize the Holocaust. PRI's the World reports that insults are often hurled at Jews, by other Jews. And Holocaust jokes are common, too.

Israeli lawmaker Dov Lipman was himself called a Nazi by ultra-Orthodox Jews when he protested their attacks on young girls who were thought to be dressed immodestly. He is fighting to outlaw the insult. Opponents say the new law would limit free speech.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Whether it's fair to blame the polar vortex or not, the cold is coming back! The frigid temperatures over the US and Canada are expected to return in the coming week, though probably not quite as cold as in the early weeks of the month, according to Weather.com. By Tuesday, a new mass of cold air from the Arctic will anchor itself over the Northern Plains to the Upper Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Northeast. It will bring temperatures 10 to 25 degrees below average just at the coldest time of the year.

This post is a regular feature of PRI.org. It's a daily brief and email newsletter of stories, events and graphics that are catching the attention of our news staff. The World's Leo Hornak kicks it off from London and various folks on our editorial team around the globe contribute from there, like Cartoon Editor Carol Hills in Boston. Don't expect anything near the standard wrap of major news stories. This blog post and its email companion will be as idiosyncratic as our staff... and we'll want you to tell us what you like and don't like. Sign up for a PRI.org account and subscribe to our newsletter to get it delivered to your inbox. The newsletter arrives during the US morning hours.

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