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Turkey's latest

"Turkey's latest" Continued...

Issue: "Food stamps surge," Nov. 19, 2011

Tunisia's turnaround

Violent protests broke out Oct. 28, forcing police to fire tear gas and shots into the air in Sidi Bouzid, where 10 months ago "Arab Spring" revolts began when vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself. The unrest followed successful Oct. 20 elections in Tunisia-the first Arab country to overthrow its ruler-with 90 percent voter turnout. The majority of votes went to the Islamist Ennahda (or al-Nahda) Party, long banned under ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Ali holdouts likely sparked the Sidi Bouzid violence. Ennahda won 41 percent of votes, meaning it will have to form a coalition government, likely with secularist parties. The country's new 217-seat assembly is slated to draft a new constitution, form an interim government, and schedule new elections for early 2013.

Libya

Members of Libya's National Transitional Council chose Abdurraheem el-Keib, a dual U.S.-Libyan citizen, to serve as prime minister on Oct. 31, formally ending the 42-year dictatorship of Muammar Qaddafi, who was killed by NTC-linked fighters on Oct. 20.

El-Keib, a longtime engineering professor at the University of Alabama, currently resides in Tripoli and joined the NTC earlier this year. "He's not from any ideological faction. He's just a nationalist," said Abdurrazag Mukhtar, a council member for Tripoli.

Chinese torture

Following months of speculation about Chinese human-rights activist Chen Guangcheng, ChinaAid has learned the details of a brutal four-hour beating by local authorities of the blind legal activist and his wife, of whom there's been no reliable news for months. The July beating, witnessed by the couple's elementary-school-age daughter, took place after Chen made phone calls intercepted by authorities. Chen has been under house arrest after nearly five years in prison for exposing forced abortions used to enforce China's one-child policy. According to eyewitnesses, local officials emptied Chen's village and ransacked his home before his elderly mother, who lives with the family, returned and discovered the couple, who've been denied medical treatment.

Book diplomacy

The State Department has spent more than $70,000 buying President Obama's books, stocking his memoirs The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father in embassies around the world, according to an investigation by The Washington Times. Most of the purchases occurred after Obama took office, but the State Department said Washington had no influence over the purchases; individual embassies made those decisions. The State Department said such purchases were "standard practice" in filling out libraries and promoting diplomacy. "The structure and the presidency of the United States is an integral component of representing the United States overseas," said State Department spokesman Noel Clay. "We often use books to engage key audiences in discussions of foreign policy." Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste told the Times the purchases "sounded like propaganda." The Times found no records of State Department purchases of books by either President George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. Obama earned a marginal amount from the total purchases-an estimated $6,000-compared to the Obama family's income last year of $1.73 million, of which the family gave $245,000 to charity.

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