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

GERMANY – Minister uses taboo word ‘war’

BERLIN | Germany’s defense minister on Sunday for the first time referred to military operations in Afghanistan as a war, while he promised to investigate a friendly fire clash that left six Afghan soldiers dead.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg broke a government taboo on the politically charged word, preparing Germans to expect more fighting by telling reporters: “Even if not everyone likes it, regarding what happens in parts of Afghanistan, one can colloquially refer to it as war.”

German politicians have stopped short of using the word to refer to military operations in Afghanistan for fear of generating even more public opposition to a mission that is already deeply unpopular. Some 4,000 German soldiers control the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan, and 39 German soldiers have died in Afghanistan in the last nine years.

Mr. Guttenberg admitted Sunday that German troops mistakenly killed six Afghan soldiers at the weekend, and expressed condolences for the deaths. The German troops were en route to reinforce others under attack and had opened fire on a civilian vehicle that had ignored warnings to halt and in which the Afghans were travelling, the head of the German armed forces said.

ICELAND – New active volcano attracts tourists

LONDON | Officials in Iceland say the opening of a second fissure and constant lava flow are not putting in danger hordes of tourists seeking a glimpse of a rare volcanic eruption.

Civil Protection Department Spokesman Vidir Reymissom said hikers are being drawn to the area in southern Iceland by the spectacular view of the lava flow. He said Sunday tourists are in no danger even though a second fissure opened several days ago, releasing more lava.

Initial fears that the eruption could trigger the dangerous melting of a nearby glacier have lessened unless conditions change, he added. The volcano erupted two weeks ago after being dormant for nearly 200 years. Some 500 people were evacuated but have since been allowed to return to their homes.

RUSSIA – Man says bomber may be his daughter

MOSCOW | A Russian newspaper quotes a man as saying that one of the Moscow suicide bombers may have been his daughter, a 28-year-old teacher named Maryam Sharilova.

Novaya Gazeta quotes Rasul Magomedov as saying that a photograph of the suicide bomber looks like his daughter and that she was wearing the same red scarf the last time he saw her. The woman disappeared from her home in the southern province of Dagestan the day before the March 29 attacks.

The attack by two female suicide bombers killed 40 rush-hour commuters. Investigators have identified one of the bombers as the 17-year-old widow of a slain Islamic militant, also from Dagestan.

TURKEY – Coup-plot suspects ordered imprisoned

ISTANBUL | A Turkish court Sunday ordered the purported leader of a coup plot against the government and about 20 other suspects back to prison in a probe that has rattled the country, media reports said.

The suspects were among 70 serving and retired soldiers rounded up in February over a suspected 2003 plot to overthrow the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). Last week, 19 of them were released from prison pending trial after a judge cited a “lack of a strong suspicion” and said their trial would not be affected if they remained free.

After prosecutors in charge of the investigation appealed against their release, a court on Sunday decided to issue arrest warrants against the suspects, the Anatolia news agency said. Among them was retired four-star general and purported ringleader Cetin Dogan, former head of the Istanbul-based First Army, where the coup plan was supposedly drawn up shortly after the AKP came to power in November 2002.

SPAIN – ETA blames France in shootout death

MADRID | The Basque separatist group ETA said Sunday the French police started the shootout last month that led to the death of one of the French officers by firing at an ETA militant who was lying on the ground and unarmed.

Jean-Serge Nerin is thought to be the first policeman killed by ETA in France, where the separatists stash weapons and hide members who cross the border into Spain to carry out bombings and shootings.

“They were the first to fire (on an ETA member) who was on the ground and unarmed,” the group said in a statement published in Basque newspaper Gara.

ETA has tried to avoid direct confrontation with France in its 50-year armed struggle to carve out an independent Basque state from parts of Spain and France. More than 850 people have been killed. Mr. Nerin’s death led French President Nicolas Sarkozy to reiterate his pledge to root out ETA bases in the country.

NOTE: The News Briefs above were published at WashingtonTimes.com on Monday, April 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.


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)  Why have German politicians avoided referring to German military operations in Afghanistan as “war”

3.  For Iceland:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  For how long has the volcano that recently erupted in Iceland been dormant?
c)  Watch the video of the volcano in Iceland in “Background” below.  Would you get as close to the volcano as the people in the video did?  Explain your answer.

4.  For Russia:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  Why does Mr. Magomedov think one of the suicide bombers is his daughter?

5.  For Turkey:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  Who were the arrested suspects?

6.  For Spain:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  How did French President Nicolas Sarkozy respond to the killing of a French policeman by the ETA?
NOTE: (from wikipedia): The Basque Country is a European cultural region in the western Pyrenees that spans the border between France and Spain, on the Atlantic coast. It comprises the Spanish Autonomous Communities of the Basque Country and Navarre, and then the Northern Basque Country in France. Over the centuries, elements from both Spanish and French culture (including the respective languages) have been a major influence in the respective parts of the region’s culture.
ETA (stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom), is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and they evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.

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


Find maps of all of the countries at worldatlas.com.

Find background information on each country at the U.S. State Department website at state.gov/misc/list/index.htm.  After opening any country’s page, click on “Background Notes” above the map.

SPAIN – Read about the Basques and ETA at cfr.org/publication/9271.

ICELAND – Video dated March 24, 2010.  Caption reads: Now that the weather has improved, it has finally been possible to get near the volcano in South Iceland. This video was shot by a crew from the Icelandic national TV channel RUV.

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