The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 50.0°F | Light Rain and Windy
Article Tools

Wary of Egyptian unrest,
China censors internet access

BEIJING — In another era, China’s leaders might have been content to let discussion of the protests in Egypt float around among private citizens, then fizzle out.

But challenges in recent years to authoritarian governments around the globe and violent uprisings in parts of China itself have made Chinese officials increasingly wary of leaving such talk unchecked, especially on the Internet, the medium some officials see as central to fanning the flames of unrest.

So the arbiters of speech sprang into action over the weekend. Sina.com and Netease.com — two of the nation’s biggest online portals — blocked keyword searches of the word “Egypt,” though the mass protests were being discussed on some Internet chat rooms on Monday. The use of “Egypt” has also been blocked on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

The Chinese government has also tried to get out ahead of the discussion, framing the Egyptian protests in a few editorials and articles in state-controlled news publications as a chaotic affair that embodies the pitfalls of trying to plant democracy in countries that are not quite ready for it — a line China’s leaders have long held.

Some Chinese news organizations have also seized on the ambivalent U.S. reaction to the Egyptian unrest to underscore the hypocrisy of the United States in sometimes backing dictators over democracy. China Youth Daily noted in an editorial on Sunday that “the increasing turmoil in Egypt is causing a ‘headache’ for the decision makers in Washington.”

More states, governors take
aim against teacher tenure

Channeling a national anxiety over poor student performance, many governors are taking aim at a bedrock tradition of public schools: teacher tenure.

The momentum began over a year ago with President Barack Obama’s call to measure and reward effective teaching, a challenge he repeated in last week’s State of the Union address.

Now several Republican governors have concluded that removing ineffective teachers requires undoing the century-old protections of tenure. Governors in Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada and New Jersey have called for the elimination or dismantling of tenure. As state legislatures convene this winter, anti-tenure bills are being written in those and other states. Their chances of passing have risen because of crushing state budget deficits that have put teachers’ unions on the defensive.

Teachers’ unions have responded to the assault on the status quo by arguing all the ire directed at bad teachers distorts the issue.

“Why aren’t governors standing up and saying, ‘In our state, we’ll devise a system where nobody will ever get into a classroom who isn’t competent’?” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association.

—Trip Gabriel and Sam Dillon, The New York Times

WTO said to affirm that Boeing received improper subsidies

PARIS — A panel at the World Trade Organization ruled on Monday that the U.S. plane-maker Boeing received improper subsidies for its 787 Dreamliner and other jet models, giving it an unfair advantage against its European rival, Airbus, European officials said.

The confidential finding affirmed the WTO’s interim findings released in September in response to a long-standing complaint by the EU over U.S. government support of Boeing, people briefed on the decision said.

The trade panel’s ruling, which runs more than 1,000 pages, comes just weeks ahead of an expected decision by the Defense Department about a $35 billion contract to supply the Air Force with new aerial refueling tankers.

Airbus said in a statement that it expected the final WTO report to say that Boeing would not have been able to start the Dreamliner project without illegal subsidies. But Boeing responded that it would have built the plane just as it did even without the subsidies.

European officials have expressed hope that the WTO’s findings would undercut complaints by many U.S. lawmakers that Boeing is facing a subsidized rival in Airbus in that coveted contest.

—Nicola Clark and Christopher Drew, The New York Times

Where no business has gone before, with help from NASA

BOULDER, Colo. — Sitting in a testing facility at the University of Colorado, the inner shell of the Dream Chaser space plane looks like the fuselage of an old DC-3.

The test structure has been pushed and pulled to see how it holds up to the stresses and strains of spaceflight. With an additional infusion of money from NASA, the company that makes the Dream Chaser, Sierra Nevada Space Systems, hopes to complete the structure and take astronauts to orbit.

“Our view is if we could stop buying from the Russians, if we could make life cheaper for NASA, and if we could build a few vehicles that do other things in low-Earth orbit that are valuable, isn’t that, at the end of the day, a good thing?” said Mark N. Sirangelo, the company’s chairman.

The Dream Chaser is one of several new spacecraft that companies are hoping to launch into space with help from the government. Last year, the Obama administration pushed through an ambitious transformation for NASA: turning to the commercial sector for astronaut transportation.

So far, most of the attention in this new commercial space race has focused on Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — SpaceX, for short — a brash upstart that gained credibility last year with two launchings of its Falcon 9 rocket.