News from Honduras, India and Spain

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on September 18, 2012

HONDURAS – Government signs deal to create private cities

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras | The government of Honduras has signed a deal with private investors for the construction of three privately run cities with their own legal and tax systems.

The memorandum of agreement signed Sept. 4th is part of a controversial experiment meant to bring badly needed economic growth to this small Central American country. Its weak government and failing infrastructure are being overwhelmed by corruption, drug-linked crime and lingering instability from a 2009 political coup.

Both sides hope to begin work on the first city in coming weeks and say the project could create 5,000 jobs over the next six months.

The project is opposed by civil society groups including indigenous Garifuna people who say they don’t want their land to be used for the project. The developers say the fears are unjustified.

INDIA – McDonald’s to open vegetarian restaurants in India

McDonald’s Corp., is opening what may be its first vegetarian-only restaurants.  The world’s biggest hamburger chain said [this month] that the locations in India will serve only vegetarian food because of customer preferences in the region. The company could not immediately say when the restaurants would open or how many there would be.

Already, McDonald’s said its restaurants in India do not sell beef or pork, and that the kitchens are separated into sections for cooking vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

They have menu items that cater to local tastes, such as the Maharaja Mac, which is a Big Mac made with chicken patties instead of beef. It also offers a McAloo Tikki, a burger made with a spicy breaded potato patty, red onions, tomatoes and a “special vegetable sauce.”

The chain offers such localized options in countries around the world.

The opening of the vegetarian-only restaurants “further speaks to McDonald’s efforts to cater to local tastes,” the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company said. Without providing details, it said the restaurants will be in areas that are popular pilgrimage destinations.

McDonald’s said the new restaurants are the only ones it’s aware of that will serve only vegetarian food. However, local franchises in India and other regions may already have meatless menus.

For religious reasons, beef is not eaten by Hindus, who make up the majority of India’s population of about 1.2 billion people.

McDonald’s has more than 33,500 locations around the world, but only about 250 are in India.

As McDonald’s faces rising competition and a volatile world economy, it has said it will focus on offering more food options that cater to local tastes in order to grow sales. Last month, the company said a key revenue measure came in flat for July, which was its worst showing in more than nine years. The figure had grown every month since April 2003.

In 2002, McDonald’s agreed to donate $10 million to Hindu and other groups in the U.S. to settle lawsuits that accused the chain of mislabeling french fries and hash browns as vegetarian. The vegetable oil used to prepare the fries and hash browns had contained traces of beef for flavoring purposes.

SPAIN – Bullfights return to state television

Bullfights returned to Spanish state television on Wednesday night [Sept. 5], six years after the fights were banned from the widely watched public channel.

The broadcast featured three of Spain’s most famous bullfighters and bulls by a renowned breeder, giving a boost to a tradition hit hard by declining popularity and a dire economic crisis.

Julian Lopez, known by his stage name of “El Juli,” killed three hulking half-ton bulls raised by Victoriano del Rio.

He and fellow matador Alejandro Talavante delighted the crowd at northern city Valladolid and were carried out of the bullring on their assistants’ shoulders, an honor accorded only to fighters that have thrilled their audiences.

The RTVE broadcast from the northern city of Valladolid is a big victory for pro-bullfighting forces that saw bullfighting banned altogether this year in the northeastern region of Catalonia. It is a defeat for animal rights activists who denounce bullfighting as barbaric. The transmissions were halted in 2006 by Spain’s previous Socialist administration, which said they were costly and coincided with key TV viewing hours for young children.

But the Socialists were ousted last November by voters outraged over Spain’s nosediving economy, and the conservative Popular Party that won in a landslide is led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a staunch bullfighting defender.

Bullfighting aficionados hope the revived national broadcasts will spur renewed interest in the fights and reverse the trend of increasingly greying audiences seen in bullfighting rings with more and more empty seats.

The tradition has also suffered deep cutbacks over the last several years by Spanish towns and cities that traditionally fund fights during the summer months.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at SeattlePI.com and YahooNews.com on Sept. 4 and Telegraph.co.uk on Sept 5.)

 

Questions

1. For each of the 3 countries, give the following information:
a) location/the countries that share its borders
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch]e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  Go to worldatlas.comfor a list of continents.] 

2. For HONDURAS:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What is the Honduran government’s motive for agreeing to this deal?
c) Read the “Background” below the questions. The plan’s backers say it is the only way to kick start development in Honduras, which has the world’s worst murder rate, and where 65 per cent of the over 8 million population lives below the poverty line. Do you think these private cities will improve Honduras and pull people out of poverty?  Explain your answer.
 
3. For INDIA:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why is McDonald’s opening these restaurants?
c) Do you think this is a smart business move on the part of McDonald’s corporation?  Explain your answer.
 
4. For SPAIN:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why do you think bullfighting is not as popular among the young people of Spain as it used to be? Explain your answer.
c) Do you think the Spanish TV station should broadcast bullfights?  Explain your answer.
 
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Background

HONDURAS –  PRIVATELY OWNED CITIES:

The project’s aim is to strengthen Honduras’ weak government and failing infrastructure, overwhelmed by corruption, drug-related crime and lingering political instability after a 2009 coup. [Read about the coup:  studentnewsdaily.com/world-briefs/hondurans-vote]

The project “has the potential to turn Honduras into an engine of wealth,” said Carlos Pineda, president of the Commission for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships. It can be “a development instrument typical of first world countries.”

The “model cities” will have their own judiciary, laws, governments and police forces. They also will be empowered to sign international agreements on trade and investment and set their own immigration policy.

Congress president Juan Hernandez said the investment group MGK will invest $15 million to begin building basic infrastructure for the first model city near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast. That first city would create 5,000 jobs over the next six months and up to 200,000 jobs in the future, Hernandez said. South Korea has given Honduras $4 million to conduct a feasibility study, he said.

“The future will remember this day as that day that Honduras began developing,” said Michael Strong, CEO of the MKG Group. “We believe this will be one of the most important transformations in the world, through which Honduras will end poverty by creating thousands of jobs.”

Hernandez said another city will be built in the Sula Valley, in northern Honduras, and a third in southern Honduras. He gave no other details. (from abcnews.com)