News from around the world

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on September 28, 2010

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

FRANCE – Strikes continue over retiring age

PARIS | Tens of thousands of French workers took to the streets Thursday for the second day of nationwide strikes this month to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age to 62, with union walkouts crippling plane and train travel and schools across the country.

The strikes are seen as a test for the conservative Mr. Sarkozy and are being watched elsewhere in Europe, as governments struggle to rein in costs with unpopular austerity measures after the Greek debt crisis scared markets and sapped confidence in the entire 16-nation euro currency.

Protesters brandishing flags, balloons and signs gathered at Paris’ Place de la Bastille, the iconic site of the French Revolution and starting point for the French capital’s demonstration, which snaked through east Paris to the Left Bank.

INDIA – More athletes abandon Commonwealth Games

NEW DELHI | Workers sprayed for mosquitoes, mopped up the just-opened athletes’ village and planted flower beds Thursday as India rushed to complete long overdue work less than two weeks before the Commonwealth Games are to begin.

Several teams have delayed their arrival in New Delhi because of hygiene and security concerns, and four more athletes withdrew from the competition. The first occupants of the unfinished village – Indian athletes and Australian officials – moved in Thursday as the prime minister met with officials to discuss the troubled games.

The games, which start Oct. 3 with about 7,000 athletes from 71 countries and territories, were meant to showcase India’s emergence as a regional powerhouse. But long delays in getting facilities ready and a list of scandals have turned them into an embarrassment.

PAKISTAN – Suspected missile hits kill 7 militants

DERA ISMAIL KHAN | Suspected U.S. drone aircraft carried out two missile strikes against a house and a vehicle near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing seven reputed militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The U.S. is now suspected of conducting 19 such attacks this month – the most intense barrage since the strikes began in 2004.

Most have targeted Datta Khel, part of the North Waziristan tribal area that is dominated by militants who regularly stage attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.

In the first strike Sunday, a drone fired three missiles at a house in Lwara Mandi village in Datta Khel, killing three suspected militants, said the intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Minutes later, a drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in the same area, killing four suspected militants, the officials said.

CHINA – China claims progress on human rights

BEIJING | China said Sunday it has made progress on human rights, pointing to improved living standards, but an international rights group quickly described the government’s assessment as unrealistic.

Human Rights Watch said the government failed to mention that since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has gotten tougher on freedom of speech, has stepped up restrictions on the media and Internet and cracked down on lawyers and activists.

In a report released Sunday titled “Progress in China’s Human Rights in 2009,” the government highlighted its $586 billion economic-stimulus package that helped the country bounce back from the global financial crisis.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from World Briefs published at WashingtonTimes.com on Thursday, September 23, 2010 and from World Scene published at WashingtonTimes.com on Sunday, September 26, 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 France:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why does President Sarkozy plan to raise the retirement age to 62?

3. For India:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why have some athletes withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games scheduled to take place in New Delhi next month?

4. For Pakistan:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What do you think of the U.S.’s use of drone aircraft to kill terrorists?

5. For China:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why does the organization Human Rights Watch dispute the Chinese government’s claim?


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Background

FRANCE:  Increasing from 60 to 62, France will have one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe.  Germany is raising its retirement age from 65 to 67, and the U.S. Social Security system is also gradually raising its retirement age to 67.

INDIA:  The Commonwealth Games (from wikipedia)

  • The Commonwealth Games is an international, multi-sport event which is held every four years and features competitions involving thousands of elite athletes from members of the Commonwealth of Nations which was first held in 1930.
  • The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and previously known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organization of fifty-four independent member states. All but two of these countries were formerly part of the British Empire.
  • As well as many Olympic sports, the Games also include some sports that are played mainly in Commonwealth countries, such as lawn bowls, rugby sevens and netball. The Games are overseen by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), which also controls the sporting program and selects the host cities. The host city is selected from across the Commonwealth, with eighteen cities in seven countries having hosted it.

PAKISTAN:  The United States government, led by the CIA’s Special Activities Division, has made a series of attacks on targets in northwest Pakistan since 2004 using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles).  Under the Bush administration, these attacks were successful in killing certain Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants who were thought to have found a safe haven in Pakistan.  These strikes are mostly carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated remotely from Creech Air Force Base and have continued under the Presidency of Barack Obama.  Generally the UAVs used are MQ-1 Predator and more recently MQ-9 Reaper firing AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.  Pakistan’s government publicly condemns these attacks but has secretly shared intelligence with Americans[8] and also allowed the drones to operate from Shamsi airfield in Pakistan. (parts of this blurb from wikipedia)

CHINA:  The government’s extensive police and state security apparatus continues to impose multiple layers of controls on civil society activists, critics, and protesters. Those layers include professional and administrative measures, limitations on foreign travel and domestic movement, monitoring (covert or overt) of internet and phone communications, abduction and confinement incommunicado, and unofficial house arrests. A variety of vaguely defined crimes including “inciting subversion,” “leaking state secrets,” and “disrupting social order” provide the government with wide legal remit to stifle critics. (from the Human Rights Watch website at china.hrw.org/press/review/summary_of_china_rights_developments)

 

Resources

FRANCE:  Watch a news video regarding striking French workers below:

INDIA:  View photos of the Commonwealth Games stadium in New Delhi, India at wsj.com.

CHINA: Read about human rights violations at the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report at state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135989.htm.