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ARABICA - A Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing (Weekly Roundup)

ARABICA - A Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing (Weekly Roundup)
Kristen Gillespie

A R A B I C A ارابيكا


instant analysis ...forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi barraged the western city of Misurata as allied airstrikes entered their fourth day. An item on the BBC's Arabic page warns that "the specter of Iraq looms over Libya crisis." Foreign military intervention in both countries is leading "many to think that the goal in both cases is the same: regime change." Still, the article concludes: "it is clear that both Washington and London want the overthrowing of Gaddafi to come from home, not outside the country,".

raw footage ...Al Jazeera rolls video of air raids on Tripoli by Gaddafi's forces Tuesday night. Gaddafi's military continued to hammer Mitsurata, with the network reporting 40 people killed earlier this week when security battalions fired directly into a crowd.

polling data ... an informal poll on Al Jazeera's website asks readers whether or not they support military intervention in Libya. With more than 62,000 votes cast, a total of 61.9 percent voted yes, and 38.1 percent voted no.


on the brink... Yemen's parliament, dominated by members from the ruling People's General Congress, gave sweeping emergency powers to teetering President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which suspend the constitution for 30 days. Al Arabiya reports that Saleh proposed to hold early presidential elections at the end of this year. The proposal is "an effort to appease protesters who are demanding his immediate resignation." Yemeni protesters have rejected all Saleh's proposals that would allow him to remain in power, insisting that that protests will continue and intensify until he steps down after 32 years in power. Members of the political opposition, now joined by senior military leaders who have defected, have said they will not believe Saleh's promises to step down in the future, and will accept no other outcome.

Swedish hub.... The respected opposition news website YemenPortal, run by a Yemeni dissident based in Sweden, is monitoring blow-by-blow the rapidly breaking news of mass defections from the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

official sources...Meanwhile, the official Saba news agency features an announcement by the military, which states: "The armed and security forces announce its loyalty to the pledge it took in front of God and the homeland and the political leadership headed by President Ali Abdullah Saleh."

twittersphere.... from @abanidrees: "Today is Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's birthday, March 21, 1942, making him 69 years old. A suitable day for him to end his rule." .... @mar3e adds: "Yemen is free, Yemen is great, Yemen is united in removing Ali Abdullah Saleh. Glory to the martyrs of Yemen."


facebooked....The online headquarters for Syria's revolution is the Facebook group "Syrian revolution 2011 against Bashar al-Assad." The unnamed administrator posted an audio recording purporting to be by "the official spokesman for Syria's tribes." The speaker denounced Assad's regime as "corrupt and debauched," among other harsh terms. Simply hearing such accusation against Assad and his cronies is revolutionary in itself. The enemy of the regime, the speaker says, "is the nation and its citizens." He calls on Syrians not to back away, and to keep the protests going until the regime falls.

raw footage... *graphic video testimony of victims of government crackdowns in the southern city of Daraa, which left as many as 50 dead.

day of rage redux.... At a protest in the port city of Banias, the Facebook group "Syrian day of anger" posted the protesters demands which include: "allowing demonstrations, the release of political prisoners, the release of teenaged blogger Tel al-Molohi, freedom of speech and providing job opportunities for young people."


party time ... The Egyptian government sets a long list of conditions for political parties, including not accepting any assistance or donation from a non-Egyptian person or entity. Each party must provide 1,000 officially certified signatures of founding members of a new party, with members coming from at least 10 Egyptian provinces. A minimum of 20 members must come from each of the 10 provinces.

facebooked ... Administrators from the "We are all Khaled Said" facebook page that helped launch the popular revolt in Egypt are asking its more than one million fans which direction the group should take now that they have reached their primary goal of bringing down Mubarak and his regime. Readers are asked to submit feedback about whether the page should continue to focus on making political demands or raising awareness about human rights and related issues.

the source... Wael Ghonim, the Google employee who secretly founded the FB before famously being imprisoned in Egypt during the uprising, adds "What is happening in the Arab world is not a foreign conspiracy but rather the result of an internal one by the people whose rulers conquered them, stole their wealth and destroyed their dignity."


long hand ... a letter from King Abdullah of Jordan to Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit published in Jordanian dailies on Wednesday blamed the premier for the slow pace of political reforms. "King: The path of reform requires quick, decisive measures' read the headline in the state-run Al Rai newspaper. "From now on, I will not accept excuses for any delays in reforming political and economic life." The king also instructs Bakhit to "bring the corrupt to justice."

black list... a group of protesters who held a demonstration outside the University of Jordan on Tuesday provided the king with a list of names to begin investigating for corruption: King Abdullah's close friend and ally Bassem Awadhallah, former Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb and Majdi al-Yassin, the brother of Queen Rania, all widely rumored to be involved in corruption on a massive scale. Slogans included "Jordan is not only for the rich" and "yes to change."


subversive artists for hire.... Al Arabiya reports that calligraphers, painters and other artists in Morocco are in high demand as protesters seek to creatively vent their anger during protests. Protests are entering their second month in Morocco, largely unnoticed as large-scale protests unfold elsewhere in the region. But flag vendors and other revolutionary symbols, such as images of Che Guevara, are being snapped up across Morocco. "The work of a calligrapher is usually restricted to special occasions," says calligrapher Mohamed al-Daryoush. "Now, I am earning more money writing banners for protesters."

rebel music.... Yemeni singer Aladry holds a nighttime, outdoor performance before a group of young male protesters that begins with the universal cry from protesters heard around the Arab world, "The people want the regime to fall." Across the region, spoken Arabic varies greatly – a Palestinian, for example, will find it almost impossible to understand an Algerian speaking their local dialect. But classical, written Arabic unites all Arabic speakers, and as Aladry engages the crowd in the rough Yemeni dialect, thousands of protesters respond in literary Arabic, repeating "the people want the regime to fall," uniting them with protesters around the region. Here, Aladry performs an upbeat song rallying Yemenis to fight for freedom.

free speech.... Basma Abdullah posted an article on 7iber.com called "Let's talk about sexual reform." She describes throwing away her gym membership to start jogging on the streets of Amman. "Last Friday provoked an outrage…that prompted me to write this article to discuss a subject closely tied to the process of reforming society: the abuse of women and sexually perverse behavior in the streets." Boys as young as 12 harassed Abdullah as she jogged through Amman's streets. The answer, she writes, lies in sex education, and legal consequences for men who sexually harass women. "If we want reform, we must start with ourselves," Abdullah writes.

March 18-24, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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