News in Brief: 3/27/2015

India

In a 200-page ruling, the Indian supreme court struck down a law banning offensive comments on social media, according to The Guardian. The law, section 66a of an amendment to the Information Technology Act, made posting things of a “grossly offensive or menacing character” illegal. It was used this month to arrest a teenager for sharing falsely attributed quotes from a local politician, among others. A spokesman from the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata, said the ruling was a “landmark day for freedom of speech.”

 

Afghanistan

Last week, a 28-year-old woman named Farkhunda began arguing with a mullah over the fact he was selling charms at a shrine. During this disagreement, she was accused of burning a Qur’an — whereupon a mob attacked her, beating her to death, according to the BBC. Now protesters are crowding the streets of the Afghan capital to protest her brutal murder. Over 2,000 people marched Tuesday to call for justice. The police have sacked a spokesman who endorsed the attacks on Facebook and have arrested 19 people associated with the incident.

 

Cuba

Eighteen people have been convicted of diverting eggs from the a state-owned store into the black market, according to the state paper Granma, as reported by The New York Times. The thieves were sentenced to between five and 15 years for their role in misappropriating eight million eggs over 10 months in 2012, costing the government $356,000. One person was acquitted due to lack of evidence. This diversion of state goods  to the black market is not uncommon among state employees, who are paid around $20 a month in addition to a ration booklet.

 

United States

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” a senior U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal. According to The Guardian, the White House has leaked a report to the Wall Street Journal that Israel has been doing exactly that — gathering secret intelligence about the Iran-U.S. nuclear negotiations, and then using it to convince U.S. legislatures not to support the talks. Israel denies the allegations.

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