Autocrat-in-Chief Calls for Loyalty
Hundreds of thousands rallied in support of President Bashar Assad after a fierce crackdown on antigovernment protesters by security forces and Assad partisans. According to rights groups, 60 to 90 people have died since disturbances began in early March. The country's Cabinet, in office since 2003, resigned March 29 in a bid by Assad to nip the burgeoning uprising in the bud. The next day, Assad, 45, who has styled himself as a reformer since rising to power in 2000, vowed his regime would not fall "like a domino" amid the upheaval in the Arab world. He blamed the troubles on foreign intrigue and called on Syrians to rally around his leadership. He promised change but was vague on when reform would come. Hopes that he'd scrap a 50-year-old emergency law enforced by his father Hafez have proved unfounded. Assad's Syria remains an authoritarian, single-party state.
World by the Numbers
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Distance in miles that trace radioactive elements from Japan's ruptured Fukushima nuclear plant traveled before turning up in rainwater that fell on Boston
Award on offer from the U.S. government for finding those responsible for shooting two U.S. agents in Mexico City in February
Height in feet of Dubai's Burj Khalifa skyscraper, recently scaled by a French daredevil climber
Number of tigers in the wild in India, as counted by a new census--a 20% jump since a 2007 count
Export revenue that OPEC, the cartel of oil-producing states, could earn this year with oil over $100 a barrel, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris
Violence Follows Window Dressing
In the Arab Spring, canning the Cabinet has been the first move of kings and autocrats eager to stave off further dissent. But though Jordan's King Abdullah sacked his government Feb. 1, protests have continued. They grew violent on March 25, when police waded into a demonstration calling for more democratic reforms. One protester died. Officials claim Islamist elements are stirring up trouble, but the opposition says that's a smoke screen, obscuring real grievances regarding social inequity and a lack of political freedoms.
The 'Kill Team' Comes Under Fire