News from around the World

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on September 7, 2010

(The excerpts from World Scene and World Briefs below are from WashingtonTimes.com – from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

CHINA – ID required to buy mobile phone numbers

BEIJING | China began requiring identification on Wednesday from anyone purchasing a new mobile phone number in what it says is a bid to stamp out rampant junk messages but that some say gives the government a new tool for monitoring its citizens.

The rules apply to everyone, including foreigners visiting China for a short stay, the China Daily newspaper reported.

The paper said the regulation was “the latest campaign by the government to curb the global scourge of spam, pornographic messages and fraud on cellular phones.”

But some say China is looking for a way to track people who might spontaneously join protests. Users could previously buy low-cost mobile phone SIM cards anonymously with cash at convenience stores and newspaper stands and use them right away.

EGYPT – Group promotes spy chief for president

CAIRO | Activists on Thursday hung posters across Cairo supporting Egypt’s intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as a candidate in next year’s presidential elections, the latest campaign to try to undermine a possible father-son succession in the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Gamal Mubarak has for the past decade been widely expected to succeed his father, 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak. Both father and son deny that such a plan exists, although Gamal Mubarak’s political clout has significantly grown over the past decade.

The question of who will succeed Mr. Mubarak, Egypt’s ruler of nearly 30 years, gained added importance when the older Mr. Mubarak traveled to Germany this year for surgery to remove his gallbladder and a benign growth in the stomach lining. The surgery raised questions about the president’s health.

It was only this month that posters appeared around Cairo promoting the banker-turned-politician Gamal Mubarak as Egypt’s next president and urging him to run in the 2011 presidential election.

Opposition groups have been vocal against the idea, and have floated other names as candidates, including former U.N. nuclear agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

MEXICO – President defends drug policy, concedes violence worse

MEXICO CITY | Mexican President Felipe Calderon admitted drug violence is worsening in Mexico, but said the cartels had been weakened by the toppling of several major drug bosses, in his annual address Thursday.

Mexico is on the road to economic recovery, Mr. Calderon said, as Latin America’s second-largest economy picks up from hard knocks to tourism and commerce set off by the financial crisis and the swine-flu outbreak.

Mr. Calderon peppered his annual speech with references to independence heroes two weeks before massive bicentenary celebrations and two years before the end of a six-year term so far overshadowed by drug violence.

ISRAEL – Book says Wiesenthal worked for Mossad

JERUSALEM | A new book claims renowned Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal worked for Israel’s Mossad spy agency, providing information on war criminals and Germans working in Arab countries.

The assertions in “Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends” shed a different light on the Holocaust survivor previously thought to have conducted a lone quest to bring war criminals, such as top Nazi Adolf Eichmann, to justice.

It “is quite surprising in the context of his own story, because he was always regarded as a loner, someone who does everything alone against all odds and against local law enforcement,” the book’s author, Israeli historian Tom Segev, said.

The founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Rabbi Marvin Hier, said Wiesenthal had told him he had assisted the Mossad. But Mr. Hier said he never realized how formal the relationship had been or that Wiesenthal had been paid for it. Wiesenthal died in September 2005.

HAITI – U.N.: Crime and drugs threaten elections

UNITED NATIONS | A growing use of weapons and cocaine trading through quake-stricken Haiti poses a new threat to stability ahead of landmark elections in November, the U.N. said Thursday.

A new report on Haiti, where a magnitude 7 quake in January killed an estimated 250,000 people, said gangs were increasing their grip on many of the 1,300 camps where most of the estimated 1.3 million homeless are still based.

Presidential and legislative elections are to be held Nov. 28, and the report said that “the electoral period may bring to the fore new threats to stability.”

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti has noted an increasing number of weapons in circulation, especially in traditionally high-crime areas of the capital.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from World Scene published at WashingtonTimes.com on Wednesday, September 1, 2010 and from World Briefs published at WashingtonTimes.com on Thursday, September 2, 2010.

Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC.  Reprinted from the Washington Times for educational purposes only.  Visit the website at washingtontimes.com.


Questions

1. For each of the 5 countries, give the following information:
a) the continent on which it is located
b) the name of the capital city
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different)
e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country: type of government, capital and executive branch (chief of state/head of government) can be found under the “Government” heading; population is listed under the “People” heading.  Go to worldatlas.com for a list of continents.]

2. For China:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) For what reason did the government say it created this new regulation?
c) Why are some concerned about the new regulation?
d) Considering the Chinese government’s previous treatment of those who exercise “free speech rights” in China, what do you think about this new regulation?

3. For Egypt:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) For how long has Mr. Mubarak been the President of Egypt?
c) How is the campaign to elect Omar Suleiman viewed in Egypt?

4. For Mexico:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What do you know about the drug wars in Mexico?
c) Do you think President Calderon has been effective in fighting the drug cartels? Explain your answer.

5. For Israel:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Read Simon Wiesenthal’s biography under “Background” below. Ask a parent, or a grandparent, what he/she remembers about Mr. Wiesenthal, and how he/she views the revelation that Mr. Wiesenthal worked for the Israeli Mossad.

6. For Haiti:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti has been there since February 2004. How effective do you think this United Nations division has been in helping Haitians move forward after the earthquake? Explain your answer.


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Background

CHINA: (from the U.S. State Department’s 2009 Human Rights report)

  • The People’s Republic of China (PRC), with a population of approximately 1.3 billion, is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party …is the paramount source of power. Party members hold almost all top government, police, and military positions.
  • The government’s human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas [in 2009]. 
  • The government limited freedom of speech and controlled the Internet and Internet access.
  • As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government. Other serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, executions without due process, torture and coerced confessions of prisoners, and the use of forced labor, including prison labor.
  • The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison journalists, writers, dissidents, activists, petitioners, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom sought to exercise their rights under the law.
  • A lack of due process and restrictions on lawyers, particularly human rights and public interest lawyers, had serious consequences for defendants who were imprisoned or executed following proceedings that fell short of international standards.
  • The party and state exercised strict political control of courts and judges, conducted closed trials, and continued the use of administrative detention.
  • Prolonged illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities, known as black jails, were widespread.
  • Individuals and groups, especially those deemed politically sensitive by the government, continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel. 

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EGYPT:

  • Hosni Mubarak, 82,  is the fourth and current President of Egypt. He was appointed Vice President in 1975, and assumed the Presidency on October 14 1981, following the assassination of President Anwar El-Sadat by army officers opposed to Sadat’s signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
  • President Mubarak has been re-elected by majority votes in a referendum for successive terms on four occasions: in 1987, 1993, 1999. The referendum in itself and its results are of questionable validity. No one could run against the President due to a restriction in the Egyptian constitution in which the People’s Assembly played the main role in electing the President of the Republic.
  • After increased domestic and international pressure for democratic reform in Egypt, Mubarak asked the largely rubber stamp parliament on February 26, 2005 to amend the constitution to allow multi-candidate presidential elections by September 2005. Previously, Mubarak secured his position by having himself nominated by parliament, then confirmed without opposition in a referendum.
  • The election which was scheduled for September 2005 involved mass rigging activities, according to civil organizations that observed the elections. (from wikipedia)
  • Lt. Gen. Omar Suleiman, 74, has been Egypt’s intelligence chief for nearly two decades. He is a close Mubarak adviser and is in charge of Egypt’s most pressing foreign policy issues, such as relations with Israel, the United States and neighboring Sudan. 
  • Egypt’s monarchy was overthrown by the military in 1952 and every one of its four presidents have come from the ranks. Suleiman rarely speaks to the media and, like most of those with intelligence or military backgrounds, is viewed positively by many Egyptians who look to him as a candidate that would keep Egypt’s top job within the widely respected military. He has never publicly expressed a wish to run for president and is not a member of the ruling party. (from yahoonews)

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MEXICO:

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ISRAEL: (from wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441351)

  • Weighing less than 100 pounds and lying helplessly in a barracks Simon Wiesenthal was barely alive when Mauthausen [Concentration Camp] was liberated by the 11th Armored Division of the Third U.S. Army on May 5, 1945.
  • As soon as his health was sufficiently restored, Wiesenthal began gathering and preparing evidence on Nazi atrocities for the War Crimes Section of the United States Army.
  • After the war, he also worked for the Army’s Office of Strategic Services and Counter-Intelligence Corps and headed the Jewish Central Committee of the United States Zone of Austria, a relief and welfare organization.
  • Late in 1945, he and his wife, each of whom had believed the other to be dead, were reunited, and in 1946, their daughter Pauline was born.
  • The evidence supplied by Wiesenthal was utilized in the American zone war crime trials.
  • When his association with the United States Army ended in 1947, Wiesenthal and thirty volunteers opened the Jewish Historical Documentation Center in Linz, Austria, for the purpose of assembling evidence for future trials.
  • But, as the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union intensified, both sides lost interest in prosecuting Germans, and Wiesenthal’s volunteers, succumbing to frustration, drifted away to more ordinary pursuits.
  • In 1954, the office in Linz was closed and its files were given to the Yad Vashem Archives in Israel, except for one – the dossier on Adolf Eichmann, the inconspicuous technocrat who, as chief of the Gestapo’s Jewish Department, had supervised the implementation of the “Final Solution.” …

Read Simon Wiesenthal’s biography at wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441351.

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HAITI: (from wikipedia)

  • On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and devastated the capital city, Port-au-Prince.  It was the country’s most severe earthquake in over 200 years.
  • Widespread damage resulted from the quake. The capital city was devastated.  The Presidential palace, Parliament and many other important structures were destroyed, along with countless homes and businesses, leaving many homeless.
  • On February 10th, the Haitian government gave a confirmed death toll of 230,000.
  • International aid flowed in but was hampered by damaged infrastructure: the main port was damaged beyond immediate use, the one local airport was of limited capacity and border crossings with the Dominican Republic were distant and crowded.
  • As many as one million Haitians were left homeless.
  • Haiti will need to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, according to a journalist, as “[e]ven in good times, Haiti is an economic wreck, balancing precariously on the razor’s edge of calamity.”

Read about the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti at the website un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minustah/index.shtml.

Read about Help for Haiti at samaritanspurse.org/index.php/help_for_haiti.