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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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CHINA

Dissident writer freed after five years in jail

BEIJING | A Chinese dissident writer who spent five years in jail said Wednesday he was wrongly imprisoned and subjected to ill treatment “beyond people’s imagination.”

Yang Maodong told the Associated Press that the charges of illegal business activities for which he was jailed were trumped up and that his jailers only questioned him about his pro-democracy activities, not business matters.

“I am innocent,” Mr. Yang said. “It’s a political case and I was called a political prisoner in the places where I was detained. All of this is political persecution of me because I promoted democracy.”

Arrested in September 2006 and sentenced in November 2007, Mr. Yang was released from prison Tuesday.

His release comes as reports emerge about the alleged mistreatment of several Chinese bloggers, lawyers and other intellectuals who were rounded up earlier this year in a crackdown on dissent.

Those detentions were related to government fears that anti-government demonstrations in North Africa and the Middle East could spread to China.

HAITI

Protesters demand ouster of U.N. troops

PORT-AU-PRINCE| Protesters calling for the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers from Haiti clashed with police Wednesday outside the earthquake-damaged Haitian National Palace.

The protesters hurled rocks at Haitian police in riot gear and the officers responded by firing volleys of tear gas canisters toward the crowd of several hundred demonstrators.

As the crowd dispersed, many protesters fled into the Champ de Mars, the park that became a huge encampment of tents and shanties after the January 2010 earthquake.

There did not appear to be any injuries among protesters, who said they wanted to see a withdrawal of the U.N. troops who have helped keep order in Haiti since 2004, when political violence engulfed the country.

Protesters also said they were angry over the alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old Haitian man by U.N. peacekeepers from Uruguay in the southwestern town of Port-Salut in July.

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