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Question of the Day
China tries to pre-empt ‘Jasmine Revolution’
BEIJING | Jittery Chinese authorities wary of any domestic dissent staged a concerted show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a “Jasmine Revolution” apparently modeled after pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.
Authorities detained activists, increased the number of police on the streets, disconnected some mobile phone text messaging services and censored Internet postings about the call to stage protests at 2 p.m. in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities.
The campaign did not gain much traction among ordinary citizens and the chances of overthrowing the communist government are slim, considering Beijing’s tight controls over the media and Internet. A student-led, pro-democracy movement in 1989 was crushed by the military and hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.
On Sunday, police took at least three people away in Beijing, one of whom tried to lay down white jasmine flowers while hundreds of people milled about the protest gathering spot, outside a McDonald’s on the capital’s busiest shopping street. In Shanghai, police led away three people near the planned protest spot after they scuffled in an apparent bid to grab the attention of passers-by.
Many activists said they didn’t know who was behind the campaign and weren’t sure what to make of the call to protest, which first circulated Saturday on the U.S.-based, Chinese-language news website Boxun.com.
Warship said to trail hijacked U.S. yacht
MOGADISHU | A warship with a helicopter on its deck is shadowing a yacht with four Americans on board that was hijacked by Somali pirates, a pirate said Sunday, as the vessel was reported to be moving closer to the Somali coast.
The yacht Quest was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman, but is now in the waters between Yemen and northern Somalia, two pirates and a Somali government official told the Associated Press.
Pirates have increased attacks on ships off the coast of East Africa, but Americans have rarely been targeted. The last attack against a U.S. crew — in 2009 — ended with Navy sharpshooters killing two pirates and rescuing the ship’s captain.
If the Quest reaches Somalia’s shores, the four American hostages would likely be taken inland, where a fast resolution is much less likely.
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