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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2012-11-27

Chinese official brought down amid online sex scandal

A Chinese official sacked after a sex scandal is exposed online. Activists in Malaysia are protesting plans for a rare earths plant. And the president of Azerbaijan engages in a Twitter rant against Armenia.

Chinese official brought down amid online sex scandal

Lei Zhengfu, a communist party official in Chongqing in south western China, has been sacked after a video purporting to show him having sex with his mistress appeared online last week. These screenshots, apparently from 2007, were initially posted to this anti-corruption website.

According to an anonymous source, the young woman was offered up to the civil servant as part of a bribe for contracting work and the sexual encounter was filmed to be later used as blackmail if he went back on his promise.

One journalist who shared the revelations on social networks, and who has been investigating the story, claims that when the communist official realized he had been caught in a honey trap, he ordered police to arrest the young woman, and keep her in prison for one month.

The fall of Lei Zhengfu has pleased many, and he has since become a laughing stock on the web. He is now held up as the perfect example of a corrupt politician leading a life of debauchery.

The affair illustrates, yet again, the growing influence of bloggers in pursuing local officials. A number of officials have lost their jobs in recent months after netizens exposed their extravagant lifestyles, by for example, posting photos of them wearing luxury designer watches. And more scandals could be on the way. The site that broke the Lei Zhengfu story claims to be in possession of other compromising videos, implicating at least five senior officials from the Communist Party. 

Protests over rare earths plant in Malaysia

Campaigners and environmental groups in Malaysia are protesting a recent High Court ruling to authorize the construction of the world’s largest rare earths plant near the eastern city of Kuantan. The controversial project is attracting growing opposition on the web.

A number of websites and Facebook groups have been set up, condemning the creation of this refinery which will be operated by Australian mining company Lynas. Malaysian activists have openly voiced their concerns over the project, and the pollution and irreversible environmental damage it will cause, and they are urging the Malaysian authorities to change their minds.

Many inhabitants from the region where the facility is to be built think building such a refinery on Malaysian soil will do little for the country’s reputation, and the international community, and rightly so in their opinion, will see it as dumping ground. A group of mothers wrote and posted this document online, asking the government to do everything in its power to protect Malaysia’s natural heritage for future generations, suggesting the first step would be to ban the construction of the controversial refinery.

And although most of the campaigning is taking place online, there have been street demonstrations. As we can see here, thousands of protesters joined a 300 kilometer long march across Malaysia to show their opposition to the famous plant. And as this YouTube video suggests, the march was just one of many protests staged over the past few months.

Now trending on social networks

Last week, the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, posted a series of inflammatory tweets criticizing neighbour and historical enemy: Armenia. The posts included "Azerbaijan grows stronger and more powerful by the year, while Armenia weakens and declines every year," or “Armenia is a country of no value”. Harsh words, which soon sparked lively reaction online with many slamming the head of state for his remarks saying he should have better things to do with his time than insulting a sovereign state via the web. 

New Google initiative promotes web content in Arabic

On November 20, Google launched a month long initiative called "Arab Web Days" aimed at promoting web content in Arabic, which Google says represents just 3 percent of the total digital content online, something the Mountain View company intends to rectify. So the web giant will be holding a number of events across the world to encourage web users to post more content in Arabic, a language that is under-represented on the Internet. 

Video of the day

The video for “Gangnam Style” performed by Korean singer Psy, has racked up a staggering 824 million hits on YouTube… taking it into the record books, because it is now officially the most watched video ever on sharing sites. Over the weekend, the global mega hit knocked Justin Bieber’s “Baby” off the top slot.

By Electron Libre

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