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

BRITAIN – Officials: Students made ‘contact’ with royals

LONDON | Student protesters made physical contact with the wife of Prince Charles during an attack on the couple’s car that has sparked a review of royal security, a British government minister said Sunday.

Home Secretary Theresa May told Sky News that “there was contact made,” although she would not confirm reports Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, had been poked with a stick through an open car window.

The prince’s office also declined to comment, but stressed that the royal couple did not seek medical help after Thursday’s altercation.

Officials are assessing royal security after the attack on Charles and Camilla, whose Rolls-Royce strayed into the path of protesters against tuition-fee increases. They hit the car with sticks, fists and bottles and chanted “off with their heads” before the vehicle pushed its way through the crowd and drove off.

Police have launched a “major criminal investigation” into the demonstrations, which saw protesters scuffle with riot police, smash windows and daub government buildings with graffiti.

GREECE – Economist: Greeks must accelerate reforms

ATHENS | The European Central Bank’s chief economist said on Sunday that Greece needed to press on with difficult structural reforms if it is to overcome the debt crisis plaguing the nation.

“The program remains broadly on track. … But Greece needs to continue structural reforms to lay a sound basis for growth and job creation,” Juergen Stark said in an interview with Greek daily To Vima.

“It is not a 100-meter sprint, it is a marathon, and Greece has just started with this process.”

Greece has committed itself to drastic reforms and cutbacks in its overblown state sector in return for a $148 billion European Union-International Monetary Fund loan that saved it from bankruptcy this year.

In late November, Athens won approval for a new slice of rescue funding but the IMF and EU prescribed even tougher action on tax evasion, waste in health care and on state companies to merit another payout.

HAITI – Palin urges Americans ‘not to forget Haiti’

TITANYAN | Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Sunday urged her fellow Americans not to forget Haiti as she wrapped up a two-day visit to the crisis-torn Caribbean country.

“I do urge Americans not to forget Haiti,” said Mrs. Palin, who was in Haiti at the invitation of Franklin Graham, an evangelical preacher whose Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is involved in cholera-treatment efforts in the deeply impoverished nation.

Haiti is still recovering from the Jan. 12 quake that killed nearly a quarter of a million Haitians a year ago, and the 1.3 million people made homeless by the disaster are still living in makeshift camps and under tents and tarps in the sprawling capital Port-au-Prince.

The country has more recently been hit by a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people and is wracked by political upheaval over a contested presidential election that has sparked violent street protests.

BANGLADESH – 100 hurt in clash between garment workers, police

CHITTAGONG | Garment workers demanding the implementation of a new minimum wage clashed with police at an industrial zone in southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, leaving up to three people dead and 100 hurt, police and news reports said.

A police official said authorities opened fire and used tear gas after thousands of workers attacked factories and smashed vehicles at the Chittagong Export Processing Zone. The zone houses about 70 foreign companies that mainly manufacture garments, shoes and bicycles, and employ about 150,000 workers.

LEBANON – Heavy rain, winds batter Middle East

BEIRUT | Heavy rain and fierce winds pummeled countries across the Middle East on Sunday, killing a woman in Lebanon, sinking a ship off Israel’s coast and prompting Egypt to close its largest Mediterranean port.

The storm, which caused temperatures to plunge to below freezing in some places, ended weeks of unseasonably warm and dry weather across the region that caused dozens of forest fires in Lebanon and helped feed a massive blaze in Israel that destroyed thousands acres of forest.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from “Briefly” and “World Scene” published at WashingtonTimes.com on Sunday, December 12, 2010.

Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC.  Reprinted from the Washington Times for educational purposes only.  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 Great Britain:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What word would you use to describe how Prince Charles and Camilla must have felt when their car was being attacked by a crowd and they heard shouts of “off with their heads”?
c) The protesters were mainly students opposed to a huge increase in college tuition in England, although it is uncertain at this point who actually attacked the Prince’s car. Do you think the attackers should face jail time? Explain your answer.
d) It is reported that the prince’s office declined to comment on whether protesters had poked/hit Camilla, but stressed that the royal couple did not seek medical help after Thursday’s altercation. Why do you think Prince Charles and Camilla are choosing to downplay the incident?

3. For Greece:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How much money did the European Union and International Monetary Fund loan Greece to save it from bankruptcy this year?

4. For Haiti:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How many people became homless after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti?
c) How many people are still living in the same camps under tarps and tents that they moved to after the earthquake in Haiti?

5. For Bangladesh:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How many people are employed by the 70 foreign companies that manufacture garments, shoes and bicycles in Bangladesh?
c) Read a detailed article under “Resources” below the questions. What would have been a better way for the employees to get their employers to comply with the government mandated wage increases?

6. For Lebanon:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How do you think the storms benefited the area?


GREECE:  Why is Greece in so much trouble?

  • Greece has been living beyond its means in recent years, and its rising level of debt has placed a huge strain on the country’s economy.
  • The Greek government borrowed heavily and went on something of a spending spree during the past decade.
  • Public spending [government spending] soared and public sector wages [salaries of government employees] practically doubled during that time. 
  • However, as the money flowed out of the government’s coffers, tax income was hit because of widespread tax evasion.
  • When the global financial downturn hit, Greece was ill-prepared to cope.
  • Greece’s budget deficit, the amount its public [government] spending exceeds its revenues from taxation, last year was 13.6% of its gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is the value of all its goods and services. This is one of the highest in Europe and more than four times the limit under eurozone rules.
  • Greece’s high levels of debt mean investors are wary of lending it more money, and demand a higher premium [interest rate] for doing so.
  • This is particularly troublesome as Greece must refinance more than 50 billion euros in debt this year. (from a May 2010 article posted at news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8508136.stm)



HAITI:  Watch a video from Samaritan’s Purse youtube webpage at youtube.com/user/SamaritansPurseVideo#p/u/1/GD4phHE8fj8.

BANGLADESH:  For details about the incident in the factory district, go to news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101212/wl_sthasia_afp/bangladeshtextilelabourwageprotest.

LEBANON/MIDDLE EAST: For photos from the storms in the middle east, go to gulfnews.com/pictures/news/cold-wave-hits-the-middle-east-1.728360.

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