A new battle has broken out in Turkey, between President Abdullah Gul and those who oppose his proposal to impose tight new restrictions on the Internet. He claims his new regulations will guarantee Internet users’ privacy — but protestors say it will reduce freedom of expression.
The battle isn’t taking place in the streets, but on Twitter — where the #UnfollowAbdullahGul campaign has already cost the Twitter-mad president more than 96,000 followers this week. According to the BBC, Gul hasn’t commented directly on the drop in his followers, although he tweeted a message promising parliament would consider these concerns.
Protesters still have a lot of work ahead of them, though. At last count, President Gul still commands an impressive 4.3 million followers.
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China says no, it will not be the world's dump
Ever wonder what happens to the things you dump in the recycling bin? All those bottles, cans and paper have to go somewhere. Until recently, that was usually China, where the trash is processed through recycling plants.
Now however, China has decided it doesn't want to import all the trash (a quarter of the recycling refuse it receives can’t be reused) that ends up in a Chinese landfill. Beijing has set up a so-called "Green Fence" to keep low-quality recyclables out of the country — and it’s starting to have consequences in America, as Jason Margolis reports for PRI’s The World.
Israel 'secretly' sends dozens of African asylum-seekers to Uganda
Israel is secretly flying African asylum seekers to Uganda, according to a senior government official, raising fears migrants are being pressured to leave the country for places they may not be safe. Activists say asylum seekers are being offered $3,500 in order to leave, under the terms of a '"voluntary departure" procedure, but it's not clear what Uganda has promised for the new migrants.
According to Haraatz, asylum-seekers held at two Israeli detention facilities say they have been approached by officials from the Population and Immigration Authority, asking them if they wish to leave. The detainees say the conditions at the facilities, and some official intimidation, have led some people to agree, despite fearing for their own safety. Reut Michaeli, director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, told Haraatz that Uganda is known to deport asylum-seekers to their countries of origin. The Israeli government has refused to confirm that Uganda is the migrants' destination and the Ugandan government denies such an agreement exists.
Wellesley College finds itself embroiled in Chinese politics
American universities are forming lucrative and prestigious partnerships with their counterparts in China, but what happened at Wellesley College in Massachusetts offers a cautionary tale. Staff inadvertently found themselves caught up in Chinese politics when they wrote an open letter in support of their Chinese colleague, Xia Yeliang, a professor at Peking University for 13 years.
His outspoken criticism of the government led to him being threatened with dismissal — a situation staff at Wellesley thought was unfair. Matthew Bell reports for PRI’s The World that Xia was eventually fired, and officials even blamed the American "meddling" in Chinese affairs for his termination. But a professor at Wellesley says it's not the case at all.
Greece has a budget surplus. Really
Finally, some good economic news for Greece. The indebted Mediterranean country has reported its first budget surplus since 1946, according to the national bank. Greece reported a current account surplus of 1.2 billion euros for the year that ended in December 2013. That compares to a deficit of 4.6 billion euros the previous year, according to the financial newspaper City Am.
The news will be welcomed by the country’s struggling economy — although unemployment remains high at 28 percent of the working population. The country also has the highest level of youth unemployment in the European Union, reported at 61.4 percent last November.
What we're seeing on social
— Hamish Macdonald (@hamishNews) February 19, 2014
Weather around the world
Weeks of torrential rains in Zimbabwe are causing headaches for hundreds of people. Three helicopters from neighboring Namibia have been dispatched the southeast African country to help evacuate hundreds of families that have been isolated by rising waters. Almost three feet of rain have fallen since the storms started in the past few weeks. The Zimbabwe air force hasn't had enough resources to handle all of the evacuations needed, defenceWeb reports.