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5 things you absolutely must know today

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Turkey forces Grade 7 student to testify over Facebook post critical of government

He can only be known as U.R.E., because he’s only 13 years old. The Grade 7 student is under investigation in Turkey for mocking president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Facebook, confirming rumours that the leader is sensitive to jabs and dissent. “I have not seen what he wrote or shared. But our prosecutors and police should be more interested in dealing with those who push our country to the edge of division, and with those who rob the country,” U.R.E.’s father told Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News. The Erdoğan government has cracked down on all manor of free speech including jailing of former Miss Turkey for posting a poem to Instagram that made fun of him. U.R.E.’s case is not finished. He may yet be charged under the country’s defamation laws. [Source: Daily Dot]

Rain TV crowd funds for Russian House of Cards

Rain TV, the independent Russian news channel that has to fight hard just to exist, has launched a crowd-funding campaign on to raise nearly $300,000USD for the House of Cards-like political drama Zavtra (Tomorrow). It’s the country’s first ever such drama. Zavtra is set in 2018, at a time when the centre-left opposition defies all odds and wins the election. The station aired the pilot episode (below) on Feb. 23. “The characters have sincerity, the desire to change our lives, to do everything they can to create a Russia they want to live in,” Natalya Sindeyeva, co-owner and general director of Rain TV, told The Guardian. “It’s not important that these guys have no experience, no team; it’s not important that they make mistakes … They have no desire to snatch, to rob, to come to power then to divide it all between them. They are idealists. But I, too, was and remain an idealist, despite all of our problems. And I still believe in the long and successful life of Rain. In the concept of the series, I lay out the idea that if you’re an idealist, if you have a good purpose, you will be able to overcome everything, no matter how difficult it is. And you’ll have decent people around you who will follow you.” [Source: The Guardian]

Harper letting tens of millions of dollars meant for development lie stagnant: NDP MPs

The Harper government is sitting on tens of millions of dollars earmarked for economic development as a way to lower the federal deficit, according to accusations made by three NDP MPs in Quebec at a news conference, who said the stagnant money has been building over time: $57.3 million in 2010-2011, $17.55 million in 2011-2012, $18.1 million in 2012-2013 and $38.6 million in 2013-2014. “They’re putting on shows of smoke and mirrors, announcing investments for the regions of Quebec, for the creation of jobs, for the social economy and, at the end of the day, the money is still lying around in Ottawa, while there’s a crying need for it — be it in Montreal or the regions,” said NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice. Denis Lebel, Quebec’s economic development agency representative, says the MPs did not properly analyse the data. [Source: CBC]

Israeli leader’s speech to Congress panned by critics

Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to US Congress yesterday hammered the wedge between him and Obama’s developing anti-nuclear agreement with Iran. Netanyahu says the US’s 10-year agreement will not curb Iran’s fast advancing nuclear program. And he said this to a Congress already at odds with the president. “The foremost sponsor of international terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons – and this with full international legitimacy,” he said. “That’s why this deal is so bad: it doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” Critics in the US and abroad derided the leader’s speech as posturing for the Israel’s upcoming election, and for further estranging the world from what’s really going on in Iran. [Source: The Guardian]

Ben & Jerry give a soft yes to weed-infused ice cream

Creating a marijuana-infused ice cream “makes sense to me,” Ben Cohen, coowner of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream told HuffPost Live. “Combine your pleasures.” Jerry Greenfield sidestepped a little, but there’s a yes embedded in his quote, as well: “Ben and I have had previous experiences with substances. I think legalizing marijuana is a wonderful thing, rather than putting people in jail for not hurting anyone.” For the potheads out there, this reality does not rest on Ben & Jerry. Unilever owns the ice cream company; the two are merely figureheads. [Source: Death and Taxes]


Follow Toban Dyck at @tobandyck.

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