(NOTE: The News Briefs below are from WorldMagazine.com.)

RUSSIA – Subway terror

MOSCOW | Muscovites did not panic; they bought flowers, according to Russian novelist Olga Grushin. “Flowers in Moscow are very expensive,” she wrote in The Wall Street Journal after female suicide bombers killed 39 and injured dozens more in two separate March 29 attacks, “but both stations are drowning in flowers, and there are flowers on the streets above as well: Every passerby carries at least one flower.” But there is little popular sentiment for Moscow’s government, as calls for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s resignation have increased since the attacks, and respected pundits like the Hudson Institute’s Andrei Piontkovsky warn that the bombings may lead to further government oppression, and could even have been staged to counter growing street demonstrations against the government.

SCOTLAND – Breach of peace

GLASGOW | American evangelist Shawn Holes was preaching to a crowd in Glasgow, Scotland, when some same-sex couples asked what he thought about homosexuality. Holes said he answered, “Your homosexuality is the least of your problems. Your problem is your heart.” He added that homosexuality is a sin deserving of hell but that all sinners, including himself, deserve God’s wrath but are offered salvation. Afterwards, police officers arrested him and took him to jail-a surprise since his fellow preachers had just hours earlier asked a duty officer if it was acceptable to preach freely and to answer questions about homosexuality. The officer told them yes.

Holes spent the night in a damp cell with only a mat for sleeping on the hard floor. The next day he pleaded guilty to breaching the peace by “uttering homophobic remarks” that were “aggravated by religious prejudice,” choosing not to fight the charges so that he could come back to the United States to care for his ailing father. The court fined him £1,000 pounds (about $1,500)-the highest fine ever levied against a street evangelist, according to Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert on Christian Premier Radio. A prominent gay-rights activist, Peter Tatchell, defended Holes’ freedom of speech and called the fine disproportionate.

UNITED STATES – Enough rain

RHODE ISLAND | … Record New England rainfall for March culminated in a storm of 8.8 inches of rain for Rhode Island, forcing the closure of portions of Interstate 95 along the normally busy Northeast corridor and the evacuation of at least 500 families along the flooded Pawtuxet River. CVS pharmacy, headquartered in Woonsocket, announced that flooding had knocked out power to a national computer system affecting prescription services in all 7,000 of its drugstores nationwide.

“It has been the worst, worst flood in our state’s history, and more people have been affected than ever before,’ Rhode Island Gov. Donald L. Carcieri said at an afternoon press conference at the state’s National Guard headquarters. Rhode Island saw a record 16.34 inches of rain in March, according to Neil Strauss, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. River flooding overwhelmed not only bridges but sewage plants, and Carcieri predicted that Narragansett Bay would be polluted for some time, and that it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to repair flood-damaged roads, bridges, and businesses.

IRAN – Catch and release

Authorities released Iranian pastor Wilson Issavi on bail March 28 after 54 days in prison for “converting Muslims.” Farsi Christian News Network reported “that he is in good spirits and thanks the Lord for his freedom” but awaits further investigation and a court review of his charges.

Arrests of Christian leaders continue, reports the network and Barnabas Fund. On Feb. 28 officers handcuffed Hamid Shafiee and his wife, Reyhaneh Aghajary, at their home in Isfahan and conducted a search, they claimed, on orders from the local court. When Aghajary protested, officers assaulted her and shot her with pepper spray. They also confiscated Bibles, books, CDs, and computers.

Authorities are holding Aghajary in the political security wing of the Dastgard prison, and reports say she has started a hunger strike in protest against her treatment. Shafiee’s location and condition are unknown. Both are converts from Islam to Christianity and for 10 years have been active in ministry in Isfahan.

UNITED STATES – All in a name

TEXAS | A group of students at Trinity University, led by Muslims, is lobbying trustees to drop a reference to “Our Lord” on diplomas. “A diploma is a very personal item,” said Sidra Qureshi, president of Trinity Diversity Connection. “By having the phrase ‘In the Year of Our Lord,’ it is directly referencing Jesus Christ, and not everyone believes in Jesus Christ.” Qureshi, who is Muslim, led the charge to change the wording, winning support from student government and a campus commencement committee at the San Antonio school, with trustees slated to consider the request at a May board meeting. Just one problem: Even if they win, they’ll still be left with “Trinity,” a reference to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Copyright ©2010 WORLD Magazine.  Reprinted here April 13th from the April 24, 2010 issue with permission from World Magazine. Visit the website at WorldMag.com.


1. For each of the 5 countries or states, give the following information:
a) the countries or states that border it
b) the name of the capital city
c) the chief of state or governor (and head of government if different)
d) the population

[Find the answers for country information at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country: capital and executive branch (chief of state/head of government) can be found under the “Government” heading; population is listed under the “People” heading.  For U.S. state information, go to worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/us.htm, choose the state, and click on “fast facts” or use wikipedia for state information.


2. For Russia:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How have Russian citizens viewed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin since the attacks?

3. For Scotland:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why did Mr. Holes plead guilty to breaching the peace when it is implied that he didn’t believe he was guilty?

4. For Rhode Island:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What damage was caused by the over 16 inches of rain that fell in Rhode Island in March?

5. For Iran:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) For what reason was Pastor Issavi imprisoned in Iran?
c) Converting to Christianity would cause a Muslim to be disowned by his/her family, and looked down upon, discriminated, harassed or imprisoned by family, friends, and authorities. Why do you think a Muslim would convert to Christianity? Why do you think Christians in Muslim countries would risk physical harm, ostracism or imprisonment to tell others about Jesus Christ?

6. For Texas:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What is ironic about the students’ demand?
c) Do you think the university should comply with the students’ demand? Explain your answer.



IRAN: Read more about Wilson Issavi’s imprisonment at asianews.it.

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