News from around the World – 3/9/10

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on March 9, 2010

(NOTE: The News Briefs below are from WashingtonTimes.com, from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

GERMANY – 4 convicted in plot against U.S. sites

DUESSELDORF | Two German converts to Islam and two Turkish men were convicted Thursday over a foiled 2007 plot to attack U.S. targets in Germany and given prison sentences ranging up to 12 years.

The four men, operating as a German cell of the radical Islamic Jihad Union, had plotted bombing attacks against American citizens and facilities including the U.S. Air Force’s Ramstein base in Germany, the Duesseldorf state court found.

Judge Ottmar Breidling said the planned attacks could have been on a par with the 2005 London transport bombings or the 2004 Madrid train bombings..

Three of the defendants – Fritz Gelowicz, 30, and 24-year-old Daniel Schneider, both German converts to Islam, and Turkish citizen Adem Yilmaz, 31 – were convicted of membership in a terrorist organization, while 25-year-old Turkish citizen Attila Selek was convicted of supporting a terrorist organization.

IRAN – Filmmaker’s wife, daughter freed

TEHRAN | Iranian authorities have freed 14 people arrested at award-winning filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s home but the opposition-supporting director remains detained, an opposition Web site said Thursday.

Kaleme.com said Mr. Panahi’s wife and their daughter were among the 14 released late Wednesday (March 3), adding that Mr. Panahi and two others, Mohammad Rassoulof and Mehdi Pourmoussa, were still being held.

According to the Web site, at least six human rights activists, including women’s rights militant Mahboubeh Karami, were among the group of 17 people arrested overnight Monday (March 1).

Media reports said Mr. Panahi was arrested for making a film about the unrest that rocked the Islamic republic after the June 12 disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In February, the authorities banned Mr. Panahi from leaving the country to attend the Berlin film festival.

RUSSIA – Submarine-launched missile tested

MOSCOW | The Russian military on Thursday successfully tested a strategic missile from a submarine in the arctic, Russia’s federal space agency said.

A Sineva missile was launched from the Tula rocket-carrying submarine in the Barents Sea, and the launch was successful, the agency said.

The Sineva is an intercontinental missile capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads, according to the Web site GlobalSecurity.org. The missile, whose NATO reporting name is the SS-N-23 Skiff, has been in service with the Russian military since 2007.

SYRIA – Israel accused of planting nuke traces

VIENNA, Austria | Syria suggested Thursday that Israel dropped uranium particles onto Syrian soil from the air to make it look as if a covert nuclear weapons plant was being built there, diplomats at a U.N. nuclear watchdog meeting said.

Damascus has strongly denied U.S. intelligence that a complex in the Syrian desert bombed to ruins by Israel in 2007 had been a nascent nuclear reactor, North Korean in design and geared to making plutonium for atomic bombs.

But International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano last month lent independent support to Western suspicions for the first time by saying uranium traces found in a 2008 visit by inspectors pointed to nuclear-related activity on the ground.

He said Syria was still refusing to let the IAEA re-examine the Dair Alzour site, take swipe samples from rubble removed immediately to an unknown location after the air strike, and check three other sites under military control whose look was altered by landscaping after inspectors asked for access.

In a closed-door debate by the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors, Syria reiterated its assertion that the uranium traces came with munitions Israel used to destroy the complex.

GAZA STRIP – Hamas bans men in women’s salons

GAZA CITY | Gaza’s Islamic Hamas government on Thursday banned men from working in women’s hair salons, the latest step in its campaign to impose strict Islamic customs on Gaza’s 1.5 million people.

Since seizing Gaza in 2007, Hamas has taken steps in that direction while avoiding a frontal assault on secularism. The majority of Gaza residents are conservative Muslims, but Hamas is under growing pressure from more radical groups to prove its fundamentalist credentials by imposing ever harsher edicts.

Islamic tradition forbids women from showing their hair to men who are not their husbands or blood relatives. Until now, though, exceptions were made for the eight known male hairdressers in women’s salons in Gaza City.

NOTE: The News Briefs above were published at WashingtonTimes.com on Friday, March 5, 2010.

Copyright 2009 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 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 Germany:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) The four men had obtained 700 kg of hydrogen peroxide and an explosives precursor, which was enough raw material to make the equivalent of approximately 1,200 lbs of TNT. The judge said the planned attacks could have been on a par with the 2005 London transport bombings or the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The men were given prison sentences ranging up to 12 years.
(Read about Islamic Jihad Union at nctc.gov/site/groups/iju.html.)
Do you think this prison sentence will deter the men from continuing their terrorist activities when released from prison? Explain your answer.

3. For Iran:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) According to wikipedia, Jafar Panahi is an Iranian filmmaker who has gained recognition worldwide and received numerous awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Why was Mr. Panahi arrested by Iranian authorities?

4. For Russia:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What is an intercontinental ballistic missile?

5. For Syria:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What requests made by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency (the IAEA) has the Syrian government refused to permit?
c) What do IAEA head Yukiya Amano’s comments and Syria’s actions lead you to believe about Syria’s accusation of Israel?

6. For the Gaza Strip:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What do you think the majority of Gazans (who are also Muslim) think about the government’s ban on men working in women’s hair salons?

We’d love to hear from you – what do you think of a world news briefs section? Email editors@studentnewsdaily.com with your comments.


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Background

A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads (often nuclear) to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the laws of orbital mechanics and ballistics. To date, ballistic missiles have been propelled during powered flight by chemical rocket engines of various types. (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_missile)

The Sineva is a Russian liquid-fuelled submarine-launched ballistic missile. According to Russian press, Russia will be constructing about 100 such missiles.

Resources

Watch an interview with Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi discussing his film “Offside” about some Iranian girls who posed as men in an attempt to sneak into an Iranian soccer game.  Women and girls are not permitted to attend soccer games in Iran under Islamic law.