(The excerpts from World Briefs and World Scene below are from WashingtonTimes.com – from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

AUSTRIA – U.S. agrees to announce missile launches

VIENNA | The United States has agreed to notify other nations before it launches most ballistic-missile tests or satellites, in a measure that builds on a landmark arms agreement with Russia and is meant to encourage Moscow to reciprocate.

The American decision was contained in a confidential note made available Thursday to the Associated Press and confirmed by three diplomats familiar with the issue.

The move is less far-reaching – or binding – than the treaty signed last month by the U.S. and Russian presidents.

ITALY – Naples police disrupt phony iPhone ring

ROME | Neapolitan mobsters have added another application of sorts to their flourishing trafficking in Chinese-made fakes – phony iPhones, along with counterfeit name-brand drills, chain saws and other consumer goods, Italian customs agents said Thursday as they announced they had broken up a reputed European sales network.

Besides the phony iPhones, fake labels included such well-known known brands as Bosch, Hitachi and Honda, police said.

Naples-based paramilitary tax and customs agents said police in 10 other European nations were involved in the yearlong probe, including in Spain, where a warehouse of fake consumer goods was found; Germany, where two arrests were made; as well as Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands.

EGYPT – Cleric advocates killing U.S. civilians

CAIRO | An American-Yemeni cleric whose Internet sermons are believed to have helped inspire attacks on the U.S. has advocated the killing of American civilians in an al Qaeda video released Sunday.

Anwar al-Awlaki has been singled out by U.S. officials as a key terrorist threat and has been added to the CIA’s list of targets for assassination despite his American citizenship. He is of particular concern because he is one of the few English-speaking radical clerics able to explain to young Muslims in America and other Western countries the philosophy of violent jihad.

The U.S.-born al-Awlaki moved to Yemen in 2004 and is in hiding there after being linked to the suspects in the November shooting at an Army base in Fort Hood, Texas, and the December attempt to blow up a U.S. jetliner bound for Detroit.

“Those who might be killed in a plane are merely a drop of water in a sea,” he said in the video in response to a question about Muslim groups that disapproved of the airliner plot because it targeted civilians.

Al-Awlaki used the 45-minute video to justify civilian deaths – and encourage them – by accusing the United States of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

American civilians are to blame, he said, because “the American people, in general, are taking part in this and they elected this administration and they are financing the war.”

He added that the Prophet Muhammad also sent forces into battles that claimed civilian lives.

GEORGIA – Russia seen losing in bid to reclaim country

Russia is actively seeking to recolonize former Soviet bloc countries before they become too democratic but is losing the race, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Sunday.

Asked in a CNN interview if Russia, which fought a bloody war with Georgia in August 2008, was trying to reassert itself, Mr. Saakashvili said yes and lashed out at his enemy, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“They want to do this before we really become a full-fledged, successful democracy. We are on the way to becoming one.

“He [Mr. Putin] restored the Soviet anthem. He certainly is very fond of some of the Soviet symbols, and certainly he thinks that there is a [rightful Russian] sphere of influence,” said Mr. Saakashvili. “When you have this kind of closed society, when you have authoritarian kind of rulers, the biggest thing they hate is open society, transparency, efficiency, non-corrupt systems.”

Georgia, which gained sovereignty with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, has sought to distance itself from its Soviet past since Mr. Saakashvili came to power in the 2003 pro-Western “Rose Revolution.”

Russia refuses to have any dealings with Mr. Saakashvili, and ties have been frozen since a five-day war in August 2008 over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

SURINAME – Former dictator set to make comeback

PARAMARIBO | Suriname’s former dictator, Desi Bouterse, is set to make a comeback in parliamentary elections in the South American nation on Tuesday, even as he is on trial for murder.

Mr. Bouterse, 64, and chairman of the National Democratic Party is part of the four-member political bloc “Mega Combination” (MC) and leads the majority of the opinion polls held in several districts in this former Dutch colony.

MC leads with 41 percent according to opinion polls held in the capital Paramaribo among 315 voters, published last week by Foundation Scientific Information.

Next in line is ruling government Nieuw Front, with 22.5 percent led by President Ronald Venetiaan, 73, who has said he would not seek the presidency again.

In 2009, Mr. Bouterse said he would seek the presidency if his party gains enough seats.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from Briefly published at WashingtonTimes.com on Friday, May 21, 2010 and World Scene published at WashingtonTimes.com on Monday, May 24, 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 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 Austria:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why did the U.S. make this agreement?
c) Do you support this agreement? Explain your answer.

3. For Italy:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Would you buy merchandise if you thought it was counterfeit? Explain your answer.

4. For Egypt:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why is al-Awlaki on the CIA’s list of targets for assassination despite the fact that he is a U.S. citizen?
c) Do you think the government should be able to revoke al-Awlaki’s citizenship? Explain your answer.

5. For Georgia:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) When/how did Mr. Saakashvili become president of Georgia?

6. For Surinam:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Watch the video under “Resources” below. How would you describe Desi Bouterse, based on this short news clip?


Go to worldatlas.com for maps of the countries mentioned in this week’s news briefs.

Read about Georgia’s Rose Revolution at news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4532539.stm.

Read about Surinam at the U.S. State Department website at state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1893.htm.

Watch a news report from Al Jazeera on Desi Bouterse below:

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