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Beijing Snuffs Out Threat of Protests

CHINA

Thousands of miles away from the tumultuous upheaval in the Middle East, China's rulers still felt its reverberations. State authorities rounded up about 80 prominent lawyers, activists and dissidents in a bid to head off calls for a Chinese "Jasmine Revolution"--the nickname of the successful uprising in Tunisia that sparked similar protests across the Arab world. With plans for demonstrations announced on microblogging sites, China's cybercensors swooped in, blocking the ability to even search for the word jasmine on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese version of Twitter. Many of the country's major cities deployed increased numbers of police to quash potential protests. Unlike in the Middle East, the gatherings were small and quickly dispersed. While China's authoritarian leadership accommodates a fledgling civil society, it has no tolerance for any direct challenge to Communist rule, and Beijing has a long history of ruthlessly neutralizing the merest trace of such dissent.

World by the Numbers

[The following text appears within a map. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual map.]

6% U.S. Percentage of residents in New York City's Little Italy who actually have Italian heritage

5.5% MEXICO Rate of GDP growth in 2010, the country's highest in a decade

$37 billion SAUDI ARABIA Size of a new package of government handouts meant to stave off the social unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East

3 CHINA Number of days spent by a 30-year-old man on a nonstop online video-game binge, which led to his death

2 million U.K. Estimated number of rubber bands used daily by the Royal Mail

Just Don't Call It a Revolution

MOROCCO

In the drama playing out across North Africa and the Middle East, Morocco is going somewhat off script. While tens of thousands marched nationwide, denouncing corruption and demanding democratic reform, few called for the ousting of the nation's ruler, King Mohammad VI. The monarch is a popular figure, credited with bringing stability and prosperity to the country. Demonstrations were largely peaceful, though many say this is just the beginning.

Pirates Slay U.S. Citizens

OMAN

Four Americans held hostage aboard their yacht by Somali pirates were killed after negotiations with U.S. Navy forces proved unsuccessful. The hostages--a retired California couple and two others, from Seattle--were the first Americans to die as captives of Somali pirates. They were reportedly headed for the Suez Canal when their vessel, the S/V Quest, was seized off the coast of Oman. U.S. officials say they heard shots aboard the Quest, which led to Navy Seals' boarding the yacht and killing two pirates--only to find the hostages had been shot. Pirate sources have disputed this account, claiming the Navy fired first. With over 600 people currently held hostage, Somalia's pirates are usually intent on obtaining ransom and rarely kill their captives.

Kiwis Shaken by Quake

NEW ZEALAND

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