VIETNAM – Government bans police from wearing shades, smoking

Vietnam-policeHANOI – Vietnam has banned police from wearing dark sunglasses, smoking, drinking alcohol and making personal calls on mobile phones while on duty after a widely viewed undercover video sparked outrage.

Under the order introduced last week by the Ministry of Public Security, police are also prohibited from chatting and reading books and newspapers while working.

The order, reported in the Tuoi Tre newspaper over the weekend, follows the online posting of a video clip showing a traffic officer clad in dark glasses, puffing on a cigarette and accepting bribes.

Some of the actions covered by the order were already prohibited, but the new regulations are more sweeping.

[Photo:  Vietnam: police wearing sunglasses and smoking in public.]

NIGERIA – Country hit by multiple blasts after inauguration

Goodluck Jonathan inaugurationBAUCHI, Nigeria – Multiple blasts rocked Nigeria’s restive Muslim north and a city near the capital [Abuja] following the inauguration of the country’s southern Christian president [Goodluck Jonathan], officials said Monday.  [Photo:  Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, left, takes the oath of office before Justice Sunday Olorundanusi, center, and Chief Justice of Nigeria Katsina Alu during his inauguration ceremony Sunday, May 29, 2011.]

The most powerful of the blasts tore through a bar in a military barracks in the northern city of Bauchi on Sunday, killing 15 people just hours after the swearing-in ceremony, said an official who participated in the rescue efforts. …..

The multiple blasts illustrate the challenges facing Jonathan. The southerner was sworn in Sunday for a full four-year term and is now faced with the task of uniting a country that saw deadly post-election violence despite what observers called the fairest vote in more than a decade.

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, Yushau Shuaib, said stringent security measures had been taken to prevent such attacks on inauguration day.

“Telecommunications operators blocked service in Abuja yesterday and [the] government took so many other measures to prevent this, but it is unfortunate that this still happened,” he said. “The Agency moved in quickly, otherwise this would have been even worse.” …..

The nation of 150 million people with more than 150 ethnic groups is broadly divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim north. Post-election violence spread quickly across northern states after early results showed that Jonathan, a Christian from the south, was winning.

Many northerners believed someone from their region should be the next leader after the Muslim president died in office. Late President Yar’Adua had been expected to rule for another term, but his death left the presidency in the hands of a southerner. An unwritten agreement in the ruling party calls for its presidential candidates to rotate between the country’s Christian south and Muslim north.

NORTHERN IRELAND – Belfast cheers 100th anniversary of Titanic launch

Titanic anniversaryDUBLIN – A century ago, the people of Belfast celebrated one of their proudest days – the launching of the supposedly unsinkable Titanic. The Northern Ireland capital commemorated that bittersweet anniversary Tuesday with cheers from schoolchildren in Edwardian period costumes, the tooting of foghorns, and a hymn-singing dockside choir.  [Photo: People gather on a boat in Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, May, 31, 2011, to attend a religious service at the exact spot were the Tittanic was launched 100 years ago.]

The doomed Titanic was launched into Belfast Lough on May 31, 1911. Ten months later, [several days after it set sail] more than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers and crew drowned or froze to death awaiting rescue after it struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage to New York City.

For decades Belfast didn’t publicize its status as the birthplace of the world’s most infamous maritime disaster. But ever since James Cameron’s film “Titanic” became a worldwide blockbuster in 1997, Belfast has been working to build a new community and tourism hub on its once-derelict docklands, now christened Titanic Quarter and one of the biggest construction sites in Europe. …..

Behind Tuesday’s celebrations is a determined decade-long push to transform the former shipyards from an industrial wasteland into Belfast’s sharpest new residential and tourist district, a $1.65 billion project.

A new Titanic Quarter visitors center expected to open before next year’s 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking will focus on the liner’s 1909-12 construction. Belfast City Council hopes it will attract 400,000 tourists annually to Belfast, a city of just 700,000.

The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum east of Belfast also launched a major exhibit Tuesday of artifacts from the Titanic’s construction and wreck.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at: the San Diego Union-Tribune’s on May 30th and 31st.)


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 for a list of continents.]

2. For Vietnam:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What prompted the communist government of Vietnam to ban the police from engaging in certain activities?
c) Do you think the bans on police are too strict, or necessary? Explain your answer.

3. For Nigeria:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What group is believed to be responsible for multiple bombings that killed more than 15 people in Nigeria following the presidential inauguration?
c) What do you learn about this group from the “Background” below?

4. For Northern ireland:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How successful do you think the Titanic Quarter will be as a tourist destination?  Explain your answer. (see link to website under “Resources” below)



  • In addition to the bomb that killed at least 15 people in Bauchi on Sunday, a bomb went off at a beer garden in Zuba, near Nigeria’s capital, killing two people and wounding at least 11.
  • Another explosion in the northern city of Zaria on Sunday also targeted a bar hours after the inauguration, police spokesman Aminu Lawal said. He said police were still looking into how many may have been wounded in that blast.
  • And on Monday, two teenagers were injured after stepping on explosives in Zaria, Lawal said.
  • In the northeast city of Maiduguri, a bomb targeted on Monday an army patrol vehicle, Lt. Abubakar Abdullahi said, adding that there were no casualties and five arrests were made after the incident.
  • No one has claimed responsibility for any of the blasts.
  • “For now we are trying to gather intelligence on the perpetrators, make sure the victims are attended to, and investigate the matter,” national police spokesman Olusola Amore said of the blasts around the country.
  • Bauchi city has a history of sectarian violence and was a scene of rioting and destruction after the April elections.
  • Bauchi is also a stronghold of a radical Muslim sect locally known as Boko Haram. Its members are accused of a rash of killings in the area in recent months which have targeted police officers, soldiers and political and spiritual leaders.
  • Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language, has pushed for the implementation of Sharia [Islamic] law in northern states.
  • Authorities blame the group for an explosion at a hotel in April that killed three people and wounded 14 others in Maiduguri, a city close to Bauchi, only days before the state’s gubernatorial election. (from the signonsandiego article)


  • Boko Haram (which means “Western or non-Islamic education is a sin”) is a controversial Nigerian militant Islamist group that seeks the imposition of Shariah law in the northern states of Nigeria.
  • Boko Haram opposes not only Western education, but Western culture and modern science as well.
  • In a 2009 BBC interview, founder Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf stated that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with… the theory that rain comes from water evaporated by the sun.
  • Yusuf was hostile to democracy and the secular education system, vowing that “this war that is yet to start would continue for long” if the political and educational system was not changed.
  • In Bauchi the group was reported as refusing to mix with local people. The group includes members who come from neighboring Chad and speak only in Arabic.
  • In July 2009 the Nigerian police started investigating the group, following reports that the group was arming itself. Several leaders were arrested in Bauchi, sparking deadly clashes with Nigerian security forces which led to the deaths of an estimated 700 people.
  • In the state of Yobe, Boko Haram fighters reportedly “used fuel-laden motorcycles” and “bows with poison arrows” to attack a police station.  At that time, Yusuf was killed by Nigerian security forces after being taken into custody [following Boko Haram’s violent attacks on civilians and police].
  • [Boko Haram was also responsible for several violent attacks and bombings in 2010.]
  • During election season in 2011, Boko Haram did the following:

-On April 1 (the day before the original date of Nigeria’s legislative elections), suspected Boko Haram members attacked a police station in Bauchi.
-On April 9, a polling center in Maiduguri was bombed.
-On April 15, the Maiduguri office of the Independent National Electoral Commission was bombed, and several people were shot in a separate incident on the same day. Authorities suspected Boko Haram.
-On April 20, Boko Haram killed a Muslim cleric and ambushed several police officers in Maiduguri. (from wikipedia)



  • RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, and sank on 15 April 1912.
  • She hit the iceberg four days into the crossing, at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912, and sank at 2:20 am the following morning, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
  • The largest passenger steamship in the world, the Olympic-class RMS Titanic was owned by the White Star Line and constructed at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland.
  • She set sail for New York City on April 10, 1912 with 2,223 people on board.
  • The high casualty rate resulting from the sinking was due in part to the fact that, although complying with the regulations of the time, the ship carried lifeboats for only 1,178 people. 
  • A disproportionate number of men died due to the “women and children first” protocol that was enforced by the ship’s crew.
  • Titanic was designed by experienced engineers, using some of the most advanced technologies and extensive safety features of the time.
  • Adding to the ironic nature of the tragedy is the fact that the liner sank on her maiden voyage.
  • The high loss of life, the media frenzy over Titanic’s famous victims, the legends about the sinking, the resulting changes in maritime law, and the discovery of the wreck have all contributed to the enduring interest in Titanic. (from wikipedia)


NIGERIA:  Watch a video clip from President Jonathan’s inauguration:


NORTHERN IRELAND:  Read about Belfast’s Titanic Quarter at

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