World briefs: Russian law curbs bloggers

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MOSCOW -- Russia has taken another major step toward restricting its once freewheeling Internet, as President Vladimir Putin quietly signed a new law requiring popular online voices to register with the government, a measure that lawyers, Internet pioneers and political activists said Tuesday would give the government a much wider ability to track who said what online.

Mr. Putin's action Monday, just weeks after he disparaged the Internet as "a special CIA project," borrowed a page from the restrictive Internet playbooks of many governments around the world that have been steadily smothering online freedoms they once tolerated.

Widely known as the "Bloggers Law," the new Russian measure specifies that any site with more than 3,000 visitors daily will be considered a media outlet akin to a newspaper and be responsible for the accuracy of the information published.

Besides registering, bloggers can no longer remain anonymous online, and organizations that provide platforms for their work such as search engines, social networks and other forums must maintain computer records on Russian soil of everything posted in the previous six months.

South Sudan sanctions

WASHINGTON -- In its first use of economic sanctions against combatants in the bloody fighting in South Sudan, the Obama administration on Tuesday ordered asset freezes and travel bans on two individuals, one on each side of the conflict.

The sanctions, which were announced by Secretary of State John Kerry, were imposed under an executive order President Barack Obama signed a month ago in response to the violence that has killed thousands and displaced more than 1 million people.

Saudis arrest militants

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Arabian security forces Tuesday arrested dozens of al-Qaida-linked militants who were planning terror attacks on government and foreign targets in the country, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

More than 60 people, nearly all Saudi Arabian nationals, were arrested, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al Turki said, adding the group was planning to assassinate security officials and had built a bomb-making facility.

The cell is linked to al-Qaida groups in Yemen and Syria, he said, adding that it had smuggled weapons across the Yemeni border.

4 arrested in ferry sinking

SEOUL, South Korea -- Four officials with the operator of the doomed South Korean ferry have been arrested on charges of overloading the ship with cargo, a senior prosecutor said Tuesday, as President Park Geun-hye attributed one of her country's worst peacetime disasters to corporate "greed."

With the arrest of the four from Chonghaejin Marine Co., including a 62-year-old executive who was jailed Tuesday, investigators formally identified overloading as one of the causes of the sinking of the 6,825-ton ferry Sewolon April 16 that left 263 dead and 39 missing.

El Nino alert issued

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Australia issued an El Nino alert on expectations the weather-altering pattern will develop as early as July, potentially bringing drought across the Asia-Pacific region and heavier-than-usual rains to South America.

The tropical Pacific Ocean has warmed steadily in recent months, the Bureau of Meteorology said Tuesday, citing large anomalies below the surface and increasingly warm surface temperatures. Models suggested that the likelihood of an event is at least 70 percent, the government forecaster said.


-- Compiled from news services


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