News from Great Britain, Yemen and Israel

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on May 1, 2012

GREAT BRITAIN: Olympics: British Residents May Get Missiles on Rooftops

General view of a gated residential flats in Bow, east London, where the Ministry of Defence have warned residents that surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on their rooftops during the London Olympics

LONDON — Some London residents are getting troops and surface-to-air missiles on their rooftops for the Summer Olympics.

British security officials identified potential sites for the missiles on Monday and announced plans for security tests during the week. …

News of one of the sites leaked out over the weekend when a journalist who lives in one of the buildings found a flyer notifying residents of the plan.

“From the few people I’ve spoken to, and the security we have here, they’re not happy about it,” said Brian Whelan. “I don’t think it needs to be here at all.”

Around 700 people living at Whelan’s building in Bow – about 2 miles from London’s Olympic Stadium – have been contacted and warned that the weapons and about 10 troops are likely to be based at the site for around two months. London is hosting the Summer Olympics from July 27-Aug.12.

In the leaflet, the defense ministry said the venue offered an uncluttered “view of the surrounding areas and the entire sky above the Olympic Park.”

Troops plan to conduct tests this week at the building to determine if the high velocity surface-to-air missiles will be stationed on a water tower attached to the site’s roof. …

Britain has previously confirmed that up to 13,500 troops are being deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards. Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will be a part of the security operation.

YEMEN:  U.N. envoy asks ex-president to stop meddling in state affairs

Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, January 22, 2012.

SANAA — The U.N. envoy to Yemen met Monday with the country’s former president to press him to stop meddling in the country’s affairs, diplomats said, a sign of continuing political instability that has emboldened al Qaeda.

The meeting between U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar and the former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, came after his son appointed a relative to head a new security unit, defying orders from the current president.

In February, Mr. Saleh handed power to his deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in an internationally backed agreement.

Since then, Mr. Saleh has been accused of obstructing Mr. Hadi’s attempts to purge Mr. Saleh’s loyalists from security agencies.

The internal conflict, marked by huge demonstrations against Mr. Saleh and violent government repression, has been going on for more than a year. During the political turmoil, al Qaeda-linked militants have taken over parts of the south.

ISRAEL – Israel marks 64 years of indepencence

Israeli Independence Day

JERUSALEM—Israelis celebrated their country’s 64th anniversary Wednesday with fireworks and military processions at a national ceremony in Jerusalem.

The festivities came immediately after Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of militant attacks, an annual ritual of twinning grief with elation and pointing out the link between the two.

Preparations for Independence Day were marred last week when a lighting rig collapsed during a rehearsal, crushing a young soldier to death.

Speaking at the official ceremony, Parliament Speaker Reuven Rivlin cautioned against extremism of all stripes, naming ultra-Orthodox Jewish zealots, ideologues who burn mosques and activists who delegitimize the state as “those who threaten the future of Israeli society.”

Government statistics showed that Israel’s population grew by 137,500 since last year to 7,881,000. The Central Bureau of Statistics said 75 percent of the population is Jewish and 21 percent is Arab. The remaining 4 percent represents tiny minorities or immigrants who are not Jewish.

Traditional Independence Day celebrations include dancing in city streets and family cookouts in national parks. Some military bases open Thursday for visits, and Israeli cities host open-air concerts in honor of the holiday.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at Chicago SunTimes.com on April 30th, Boston Herald on April 25th and The Washington Times on April 30th.)

Questions

1. For each of the 3 countries, give the following information:
a) location/the countries that share its borders
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch]e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  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) Why will the troops and missiles be stationed on buildings around London?

3. For YEMEN:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Read the “Background” on Ali Saleh and Yemen below the questions. Saleh ruled Yemen for 33 years. He had agreed to step down twice but went back on his agreement both times before actually stepping down.  Upon leaving office he said that he would “stand…by my brother, the president of the republic [Hadi]” and called on Yemenis to “rally” behind the new leader in his fight against “terrorism, first and foremost, al Qaeda.”
Why do you think he is now interfering with President Hadi’s rule?

4. For ISRAEL:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What percent of Israel’s population is Arab?
c) What percent of Arab states’ populations are Jewish? (such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, U.A.E., Lebanon…)  Choose one to find the breakdown.
d) Why do you think there is such a huge difference between the number of Arabs who are able to live in Israel vs. the number of Jewish people who are permitted to live in Arab Muslim countries?


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Resources

YEMEN AND ALI ABDULLAH SALEH:

  • President Ali Abdullah Saleh became the first elected President in reunified Yemen in 1999 (though he had been President of unified Yemen since 1990 and President of North Yemen since 1978).
  • Beginning in February and March 2011, an uprising against the government occurred, and clashes with police and pro-government supporters steadily intensified. Many protestors demanded the immediate resignation of the current leadership, and in particular that of President Saleh.
  • Yemen is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the Arab World, with an unemployment rate of 35%, dwindling natural resources, a young population and increasing population growth.
  • Yemen’s economy is weak compared to most countries in the Middle-East, mainly because Yemen has very small oil reserves.
  • Yemen’s economy depends heavily on the oil it produces, and its government receives the vast majority of its revenue from oil taxes. But Yemen’s oil reserves are expected to be depleted by 2017, possibly bringing on economic collapse.
  • Yemen does have large proven reserves of natural gas. Yemen’s first liquified natural gas (LNG) plant began production in October 2009.
  • Rampant corruption is a prime obstacle to development in the country, limiting local reinvestments and driving away regional and international capital. Foreign investments remain largely concentrated around the nation’s hydrocarbon industry.
  • [In February 2012, Saleh handed power to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in an internationally backed agreement.](from wikipedia)