News from around the World

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on August 31, 2010

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

ITALY – Gadhafi touts Islam to women in Rome

ROME | Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave a lesson on Islam and copies of the Koran to a few hundred young Italian women Sunday as he arrived in Rome for his fourth visit in a year.

It was the second time the Libyan leader – who travels with female bodyguards and fancies himself a self-styled feminist – had staged such an event for Italian women, who were recruited by a modeling agency and paid an undisclosed sum to attend.

Michela, who asked that her last name not be used, told Associated Press Television News that three of the participants converted to Islam on the spot.

“It was a really beautiful meeting and went very well,” she said. “He is very easygoing and he gave us a copy of the Koran. Three girls converted [to Islam] during the ceremony. It was a beautiful event.”

UNITED KINGDOM – Oxford online phases out printed dictionary

LONDON | It has been in print for more than a century, but the Oxford English Dictionary – the authoritative guide to the English language – may be available only online in the future.

Oxford University Press, the publisher, said Sunday that burgeoning demand for the dictionary’s online version has far outpaced demand for the printed versions.

Publishers are doubtful that there will be a market for the printed form by the time the lexicographers behind the dictionary finish revising and updating the latest edition, a gargantuan task that will take many more years.

The online Oxford English Dictionary now gets 2 million hits a month from subscribers. About 30,000 of the current printed edition – a hefty 20-volume, 750 pound ($1,165) set published in 1989 – have sold.

“At present we are experiencing increasing demand for the online product,” a statement from the publisher said. “However, a print version will certainly be considered if there is sufficient demand at the time of publication.”

SPAIN – Socialists slash budget in bid to keep power

MADRID | The Spanish government is focused on passing its 2011 budget this autumn, a leading politician for the ruling Socialists said, playing down the risk of early elections if the budget fails to get parliamentary approval.

The budget, which will be presented to lawmakers by the end of September, will contain $12.72 billion of spending cuts and needs the backing of small, regional parties to pass.

“The government is only working under the hypothesis that it will have a budget,” Leire Pajin, leader of the Socialist party PSOE told Cadena Ser radio in an interview Sunday.

As Spain struggles to emerge from the recession and fend off worries about its ability to fund its debt, Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has promised huge spending cuts while he tries to keep his unpopular government in power until 2012 elections.

Mr. Zapatero’s Socialists have 169 seats in the lower house, seven seats short of an absolute majority. The conservative PP party, which has 153 seats of out of 350, is unlikely to support the budget, as are the CiU Catalan nationalists, with 10 seats.

CHINA – Kim, son reportedly take succession tour

CHANGCHUN | North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China’s northeastern city of Harbin on Sunday while on a secretive trip reportedly aimed at drumming up support for a succession plan involving his youngest son, a news report said.

Reporters have followed a 35-vehicle motorcade – apparently used by the reclusive Mr. Kim – around several cities in northeastern China. Mr. Kim, 68, rarely leaves North Korea and when he does travels by special train.

In Harbin, Mr. Kim toured a historic site commemorating his father’s communist movement, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said. Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, engaged in anti-Japanese guerrilla warfare in Harbin during Japan’s colonial occupation.

Yonhap said Mr. Kim likely would depart from Harbin later Sunday or early Monday.

Yonhap earlier quoted an unidentified diplomat as saying Mr. Kim would visit Yanbian, a Korean autonomous prefecture in the far northeastern Chinese province of Jilin bordering North Korea, but it later reported that Mr. Kim arrived by train in Harbin without stopping.

North Korea does not announce Mr. Kim’s trips until after he returns home, and China has refused to say whether he is in the country, even though a Japanese television station had a grainy picture of him.

VENEZUELA – Jailed Chavez foe calls case a farce

CARACAS | The leader of a conservative group opposed to President Hugo Chavez has been charged with hiding explosives in his home – allegations he called a farce in comments sent from his jail cell.

Prosecutors announced conspiracy and arms trafficking charges against Alejandro Pena Esclusa on Friday, more than six weeks after he was arrested on July 12.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement that agents who raided his apartment found about 100 detonators and 2 pounds of C4 explosives.

Officials have linked Mr. Pena’s arrest to the capture of a Salvadoran man, Francisco Chavez Abarca, who is accused of helping to organize bombings in Cuba as part of a campaign against the island’s communist government.

Mr. Pena, who is jailed in the intelligence agency headquarters in Caracas, said Saturday night in a written response to questions from the Associated Press that “the accusations against me are a farce.”

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from World Briefs and World Scene published at WashingtonTimes.com on Sunday, June 6, 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.

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 Italy:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What do you know about Moammar Gadhafi? Ask a parent the same question.

3. For the United Kingdom:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Define lexicographer.
c) Why might Oxford University Press make this momentous change?
d) What do you think about the probable end of the dictionary’s print version? Explain your answer. Ask a parent, and then a grandparent the same question.

4. For Spain:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What is the total amount of spending cuts proposed by Spain’s government? – what is the motive behind the proposed spending cuts?

5. For China:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What was the purpose of Kim Jong-il’s trip?

6. For Venezuela:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  What charges were made against Mr. Pena Esclusa?


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Background

ITALY:

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ENGLAND:

Visit the Oxford English Dictionary website at oed.com.

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VENEZUELA: (from aim.org/aim-column/marxist-chavez-jails-prominent-political-opponent)

  • In another outrageous case of the abuse of human rights, the Hugo Chávez regime in Venezuela has arrested anti-communist activist Alejandro Peña Esclusa on trumped-up charges of being a terrorist.
  • The Chávez regime, which functions under the direction and supervision of the Cuban secret police, apparently planted explosives as part of the frame-up.
  • Peña Esclusa, the president of an anti-communist alliance, is a former Venezuelan presidential candidate who has opposed efforts by the Chavez regime to spread Marxist revolution in Venezuela and throughout the region.

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NORTH KOREA’S LEADER KIM JONG-IL: (from wikipedia)

  • Kim Jong-il is the centre of an elaborate personality cult inherited from his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung.
  • Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son.
  • He is often the centre of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK and his birthday is one of the most important public holidays in the country.
  • Many North Koreans believe that he has the “magical” ability to “control the weather” based on his mood.
  • Media and government sources from outside of North Korea say that Kim Jong Il’s cult of personality is solely out of respect for Kim Il-sung or out of North Koreans’ fear of punishment for failure to pay homage.  [However], North Korean government sources say that it is genuine hero worship.
  • An apparent golfer, North Korean state media reports that when Kim Jong-il golfs, he routinely shoots three or four holes-in-one per round(The odds of making a single hole-in-one in one round are around 1 in 5,000).
  • His official biography also claims Kim has composed six operas and enjoys staging elaborate musicals.
  • Kim also refers to himself as an Internet expert.
  • An extensive personality evaluation of Kim Jong-il done by foreign psychologists concluded that the “big six” group of personality disorders shared by dictators Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein (sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid, and schizotypal) were also shared by Kim Jong-il – coinciding primarily with the profile of Saddam Hussein.

Watch a video from June 2009 on Kim Jong Il’s choosing his youngest son as his successor: