World Briefs – 5/11/10

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on May 11, 2010

(The excerpts from World Scene and Briefly below are from – from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

UKRAINE – Communists unveil Stalin monument

KIEV | Communists unveiled a monument to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on Wednesday, sparking the anger of Ukrainian nationalists.

The 8-foot-tall monument shows Stalin from the waist up and is mounted on a pedestal in front of the Communist Party’s office in the city of Zaporizhya.

The unveiling comes ahead of Sunday’s 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. Many communists revere Stalin as commander in chief during the war.

About 200 demonstrators protested the monument’s unveiling. Nationalists denounce Stalin as an oppressor of Ukraine, as he was the Soviet Union’s leader during the state-induced famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s.

THAILAND – Thais cast politics aside, honor king

BANGKOK | Thais put aside their political animosity Wednesday to honor the country’s ailing monarch on the 60th anniversary of his coronation, and his rare public appearance inspired thousands lining the streets to chant “Long live the king!”

The highly revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej emerged in a wheelchair from a Bangkok hospital to preside over the ceremonies. The 82-year-old king, the world’s longest reigning monarch, has been hospitalized for the past nine months with what the palace initially described as a lung inflammation.

The monarch made no comment on the paralyzing stalemate pitting Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government against protesters who have occupied parts of Bangkok and built barricades over the past eight weeks to demand his resignation. Clashes with soldiers and other violence have killed 27 people and injured nearly 1,000.

IRELAND – Volcanic ash snarls Celtic air services

DUBLIN | A new wave of dense volcanic ash from Iceland snarled air traffic Wednesday in Ireland and Scotland, stranding tens of thousands of people and threatening to spill into the air space of England.

Ireland’s key hub, Dublin Airport, admitted defeat for the day and canceled all flights until 4 a.m. Thursday, marooning more than 30,000 passengers in the process.

More than a dozen other airports throughout the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland shut down, too, as unseasonal winds pushed the engine-wrecking ash southwest back toward the Atlantic rather than northeast into the unpopulated Arctic.

The renewed volcanic-ash threat in the skies of Britain and Ireland this week, following a two-week lull, has tested the more precise safety rules adopted by European aviation authorities following the unprecedented April 14-20 closure of most Northern European airspace.

MYANMAR (Burma) – Opposition’s last event as a legal party

YANGON | The party of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, founded more than 20 years ago to challenge military rule in Myanmar, held a final gathering Wednesday at its headquarters before its forced dissolution.

The National League for Democracy, which won a 1990 election but was denied power by the army, held an early celebration of Ms. Suu Kyi’s June 19 birthday, an occasion on which it gives children of political prisoners financial aid for their education.

The NLD declined to reregister as a party this year, which new election laws required to contest an election supposed to be held sometime later this year. It says the laws are undemocratic and unfair, and its non-registration is tantamount to an election boycott.

NIGERIA – Shell spilled tons of oil

LAGOS | Royal Dutch Shell PLC spilled nearly 14,000 tons of crude oil into the creeks of the Niger Delta last year, the company has announced, blaming thieves and militants for the environmental damage.

The amount of oil spilled by Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was more than double what poured into the delta in 2008 and quadruple what was spilled in 2007 – highlighting the worsening situation the oil major faces in Nigeria.

The oil giant faces regular attacks by militants who have targeted pipelines, kidnapped petroleum company workers and fought government troops since 2006. Its chief executive officer even has hinted that the company can no longer depend on Nigeria as a profit-maker despite its 50-year history in the country.

Shell blamed the majority of last year’s spills on two incidents – one in which thieves damaged a wellhead at its Odidi field and another in which militants bombed the Trans Escravos pipeline. In all, some 13,900 tons spilled into the swamps, but Shell said it was able to recover nearly 10,000 tons of that.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from World Scene published at on Thursday, May 6, 2010 and Briefly published at on Thursday, May 6, 2010.

Copyright 2010 News World Communications, Inc.  Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times.  For educational purposes only.  This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.  Visit the website at


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 for a list of continents.]

2. For Ukraine:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What group was angered over the communists’ action? Why?

3. For Thailand:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What is significant about the King’s reign?
c) What effect did the King’s appearance have on supporters of rival political parties?

4. For Ireland:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) For how many days in April was most of Northern European airspace closed because of the volcanic ash?

5. For Myanmar (Burma):
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Who is the leader of the National League for Democracy?

6. For Nigeria:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why did Shell spill so much oil into the creeks?

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  • Burma is ruled by a military junta.  A junta is a government, especially a military one, that has taken power in a country by force and not by election.
  • In 1989, Burma’s military junta changed the name of the country to “Union of Myanmar.” This controversial name change was not recognized by the opposition groups and many English-speaking nations.
  • The present junta, led by General Than Shwe, dramatically asserted its power in 1988, when the army opened fire on peaceful, student-led, pro-democracy protesters, killing an estimated 3,000 people.
  • Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party – the National League for Democracy (NLD) – winning a landslide victory, the ruling junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, has been under house arrest on and off since 1989, the latest since 2003, where she remains virtually incommunicado. In February 2006, the junta extended her detention for another year. Her supporters, as well as all those who promote democracy and improved human rights, are routinely harassed or jailed. In August 2007, Burmese citizens angry over the government’s decision to double the price of fuel, began staging peaceful protests against the high prices. Buddhist monks were also involved and have spearheaded the largest challenge to the military junta since the failed uprising in 1988. (information taken from the CIA World FactBook and


Read about the political protests in Thailand at

Read about the King of Thailand at

Read about the leader of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy at

Read about Nigeria’s oil resources at