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Ongoing violence

"Ongoing violence" Continued...

Issue: "Libyan exodus," March 26, 2011

Bank grab?

Bangladesh officials forced Muhammad Yunus to resign as head of the Grameen Bank, the pioneering-and profitable-bank for the poor that Yunus founded in 1976. Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for developing microfinance, a tool for providing small loans to the poor that has spread around the world, including recent branches in the United States. But the government says that Yunus, now 70, is not permitted to head the bank because the country's mandatory retirement age is 60. Grameen has appealed the decision. Yunus believes the government "would like to take control of the bank," and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said microcredit institutions are "sucking blood" from low-income borrowers. Grameen Bank borrowers make up 75 percent of its shareholders, and the government controls the remaining 25 percent.

Ethiopia

At least one is confirmed dead and more than 4,000 Ethiopian Christians fled their homes after violent attacks in the western region of Jimma in early March. A large Muslim group burned at least 90 buildings belonging to Christians-including churches, a Bible school, an orphanage, and private homes-after a Muslim accused a Christian of desecrating a Quran. Church leaders said that local police failed to stop the attacks, and that the government sent military forces to end the violence. Authorities arrested 130 people, and local Christians asked the government for greater protections against future violence.

Trending revolution

The South Korean government has resumed aid package drops over North Korea for the first time since the north attacked the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong last year. Using baskets tied to balloons with devices to guide and track them, the Ministry of National Defense has sent more than 10,000 packages of daily necessities and medical supplies to North Koreans, according to South Korean assemblywoman Song Young Sun and democracy activist Norbert Vollertsen.

The South Korean military also dropped more than 2 million leaflets since February, according to Song, containing messages about uprisings in Egypt and Libya. "Something may happen in North Korea also," she said. "We, the South Korean military and the government should be prepared for all contingencies in North Korea." Also this month the Seoul-based Fighters for Free North Korea said it would send about 200,000 leaflets, one-dollar bills, and USB flash drives carrying videos on the recent wave of uprising against authoritarian rulers in Egypt, Libya, and other Middle Eastern countries.

Artistic but not free

Free speech isn't for everyone in Manhattan's artsy SoHo neighborhood. Life Always, a Texas-based pro-life group, bought billboard space after statistics showed that 60 percent of black pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. The billboard displaying the message, "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb," got blasted by pro-abortion groups and local politicians. In less than a week, billboard owner Lamar Advertising Company removed it. The company told The New York Times that it provoked harassment toward workers at a nearby restaurant, but local civil-rights lawyer Norman Siegel said: "The principle of free speech is easy when the speech is something that's popular and noncontroversial. The real test is when you disagree with the content of the speech, and you still defend the right of someone to articulate the message."

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