5 minute read
Harriet Barovick, Ishaan Tharoor, Alexandra Silver, Frances Romero and Josh Sanburn

Inspired by Egypt, Protests Rock Tehran


On Feb. 11, Iran’s government celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the country’s Islamic revolution with an organized rally in Tehran’s Freedom Square. While shouting slogans in support of Iran’s controversial President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, many waved Egyptian flags in solidarity with the popular uprising against Egypt’s U.S.-backed dictator, Hosni Mubarak. Just three days later, with Mubarak ousted, Egypt cast a far more troublesome pall over Ahmadinejad’s regime. Using the type of social-media coordination seen in recent protests against dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators marched through the streets of Tehran and a number of other Iranian cities in a revival of the mass antigovernment protests that captured the world’s attention in 2009. But they suffered the same kind of brutal crackdown that had been meted out then, with at least two known deaths. Some Iranian parliamentarians even called for the execution of the protest’s organizers.

World by the Numbers

[The following text appears within a map. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual map.]

7% u.s. Rate of Chicago’s population decline over the past decade, matching a broader trend in Rust Belt cities

$3 billion COLOMBIA Estimated investment by China in an all-rail “dry canal” that would create a second link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

46 THAILAND Number of hours a Thai couple locked lips for Valentine’s Day, breaking a Guinness world record

113 JAPAN Age of a law, now being fought as inequitable, requiring women to adopt their husband’s last name

10,000 KYRGYZSTAN Number of stray dogs to be culled in the Central Asian state because shelters proved too costly

Immigrants Swamp a Mediterranean Islet

Italy More than 5,000 people fleeing Tunisia have reached Lampedusa, a scrub-covered isle that is part of Italy and is just 70 miles (110 km) from the North African coast. The exodus followed the Jan. 14 toppling of Tunisian dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who had previously clamped down on illegal emigration to Europe. Tunisia rebuffed an Italian offer to deploy troops to patrol its borders. Aid groups warned of a “humanitarian emergency” on Lampedusa; Rome has asked the European Union for assistance.

Chevron Responsible For Amazon Damage


A judge ordered Chevron, the second largest oil company in the U.S., to pay at least $8.6 billion in damages after it was found responsible for polluting stretches of the Ecuadoran jungle. While appeals are expected from both Chevron and Amazonian tribes who believe the award was not large enough, it is still one of the largest punitive judgments ever issued for causing environmental harm. Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001, allegedly dumped 18 billion gal. (68 billion L)of toxic wastewater and spilled 17 million gal. (64 million L)of crude oil that caused an estimated $27 billion in damages over three decades and triggered health problems like cancer and skin disease. Chevron could be ordered to pay double the amount awarded if it does not publicly apologize for its actions within 15 days of the Feb. 14 verdict. Legal experts, however, suspect that Ecuador will be unable to force the company to pay up, and Chevron says it won’t abide by the ruling. The case lasted 17 years.

Now No. 2, Could China Become No. 1?


The world’s most populous nation officially became its second largest economy after Japan released its final GDP figures for 2010, showing a fourth-quarter dip in growth that left it lagging behind its East Asian neighbor for the first time in the postwar era. China’s ascension to the second spot behind the U.S. comes after decades of rapid growth that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But the same fiscal woes that hobbled Japan’s once soaring economy in the 1990s may catch up to China, which uses a similar model of state capitalism; China may also be vulnerable to the sort of asset bubbles that derailed Japan. Ruling a vast population with few political freedoms, China’s leaders know that unrelenting growth is key to national stability.

China’s economy has eclipsed Japan’s …

[The following text appears within 2 charts. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual charts.]

2010 GDP





… but its people remain much poorer


JAPAN $33,828

CHINA $7,518

Some forecasters estimate that China’s GDP may almost double that of the U.S. by 2030







Throwing a Curveball at The Iraq War


Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, the Iraqi defector code-named Curveball by the CIA, confirmed in an interview with the U.K.’s Guardian that he lied about the existence of a secret biological-weapons program in Iraq to instigate regime change. The false information the chemical engineer gave intelligence officials in Germany–where he fled in 1995–found its way into a Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, which detailed mobile bioweapons labs and covert factories that produced WMD. Those falsehoods buttressed the U.S.’s case for invading Iraq the next month.

Shi’ite Rage


Days of violence convulsed the capital, Manama, as thousands in the predominantly Shi’ite island kingdom vented their frustration at its Sunni royal family over what protesters say is a discriminatory and repressive state. The government has promised reforms; a diverse coalition of opposition groups has promised to continue with demonstrations.

Palestinian Cabinet Steps Down


Reverberations from Cairo’s Tahrir Square reached Ramallah when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a wholesale Cabinet reshuffle and called for new elections by September. His administration has been in an uncomfortable spot since last month, when internal documents revealed by al-Jazeera English appeared to show a gap between the positions Abbas was taking publicly and offers made behind closed doors to the Israelis. But Hamas, which rules Gaza while Abbas’ Fatah movement controls the West Bank, immediately rejected the idea of holding new elections before the rival movements have been reconciled.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at