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NEW YORK TIMES (U.S.), THE BBC (UK)

Worldcrunch

BEIJING - China's foreign ministry Friday blocked access to the website of the New York Times in response to the newspaper's investigation into the wealth of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's family.

The article by David Barboza, which was published late Thursday, reported that Wen's extended family have assets exceeding $2.7 billion; thus destroying his image as an ordinary leader with the common touch. Beijing called the report a "smear."

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Photo courtesy of World Economic Forum

A foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, "Some reports smear China and have ulterior motives."

The New York Times's main website and its Chinese-language service have been blocked in the country. The government has also censored any searches for the news organization on English or Chinese microblogs.

"China manages the Internet in accordance with laws and rules," Hong told reporters during a press briefing.

A spokesperson for the New York Times said that they hoped full service to the newspaper in China would be restored shortly. However, as the news organization allows users to download a PDF file, the article is expected to circulate anyway.

The investigative report found that Wen's family has acquired holdings in property, insurance and construction firms during his 10-year premiership, which will end on November 8 during the country's transition of power.

"In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. Untangling their financial holdings provides an unusually detailed look at how politically connected people have profited from being at the intersection of government and business as state influence and private wealth converge in China’s fast-growing economy," the New York Times reports.

The report was based on the family holdings from 1992-2012, and no assets were found in Wen's name.

The image below is a screenshot of the details of the Wen family:

"Often referred to as "Grandpa Wen" by state media, the premier is one of the few senior Chinese politicians with the popular touch, usually the first to appear at the side of victims of earthquakes or other disasters as a kind of consoler-in-chief. But there have long been rumors that his decade in the job has brought more tangible benefits to his immediate family, and now the New York Times has put a figure on it," reports John Sudworth, the BBC's Shanghai correspondent.

The report is yet another blow for the scandal ridden political elite in China. The Bloomberg website was also blocked earlier this year when it revealed the multi-million dollar assets of Xi Jinping's family and the $136 million in accumulated assets by disgraced politician Bo Xilai.

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

Keep reading...Show less

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