(The excerpts from World Briefs below are from The Minneapolis Star Tribune – StarTribune.com – from news services.)

CUBA – More political prisoners may be freed into exile

Cuba’s government has contacted about a dozen [Cubans] jailed for crimes against the [Communist] apparatus and asked if they would be willing to accept freedom in return for leaving their homeland, a leading human rights activist said. If such a deal became a reality, it would mark the year’s second major release of Cuban political prisoners — once unthinkable in the single-party communist state. Why Cuban authorities have pushed to reduce the number of political prisoners is unclear, though some have speculated it may be part of an effort to promote reconciliation with the United States.

IRAN – Ahmadinejad calls for U.S. leaders to be ‘buried’

Iran’s president called for U.S. leaders to be “buried” in response to what he says are U.S. threats of military attack against Tehran’s nuclear program. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is known for brash rhetoric in addressing the West, but he went a step further, using a deeply offensive insult in response to U.S. statements that the military option against Iran is still on the table. “May the undertaker bury you, your table and your body, which has soiled the world,” he said using language in Iran reserved for hated enemies.

ITALY – Do not fear, pope tells Sicilians fighting Mafia

Pope Benedict paid tribute to a priest slain by the Mafia and encouraged people in Sicily not to resign themselves to deep-rooted evil on an island where organized crime has held sway for centuries. Sicilians had been hoping Benedict would use his words and presence during his first visit as pontiff to give a boost to efforts to try to rid the island of the Cosa Nostra.

EGYPT – Egypt and Iran to resume direct flights

Egyptian and Iranian airlines agreed to resume direct flights between the two countries for the first time since 1979, when Tehran severed ties because Egypt made peace with Israel and gave asylum to the shah deposed in the Islamic Revolution. Iran has an uneasy relationship with U.S.-allied Arab nations such as Egypt, which are concerned about Tehran’s growing influence in the Middle East, suspicions over its nuclear ambitions and its support for such radical Islamic groups as Hamas and Hezbollah.

GERMANY – Nation celebrates 20 years of reunification

President Christian Wulff celebrated Germany’s new-found national pride but also stressed that more needs to be done to integrate Muslim and other immigrants as he marked the 20th anniversary of reunification. Germany’s post-World War II division ended Oct. 3, 1990 — less than 11 months after communist East Germany opened the Berlin Wall amid pressure from massive demonstrations. Wulff said that East Germans’ chants of “we are one people” as communism crumbled awoke “a national feeling that was long buried, for understandable historical reasons” after the Nazi era.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from World Briefs published at StarTribune.com on Sunday, October 3, 2010.

©2010 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.  Reprinted for educational purposes only.  Visit the website at startribune.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 Cuba:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Some of the prisoners have refused this offer. Why do you think this is so?
c) Read about some of the political prisoners from the Babalu Blog link under “Resources” below the questions. Think about the experiences of people wrongly imprisoned in Cuba. How would you describe those who refused to leave?

3. For Iran:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Think about U.S. leaders and diplomats discourse about leaders of other countries with whom they disagree. How do you think Ahmadinejad’s talk differs from that of U.S. leaders?
c) What 2 adjectives would you use to describe Ahmadinejad’s personality?

4. For Italy:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item

5. For Egypt:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why did the Iranian government sever ties with Egypt in 1979?

6. For Germany:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Ask a parent what he/she remembers about the fall of the Berlin Wall before Germany was reunified


CUBA:  go to babalublog.com/2010/10/unclear-and-unthinkable for a brief opinion on the Cuban government freeing political prisoners who agree to leave the country.
Go to babalublog.com/archives/007471.html for information on some political prisoners.

ITALY: Read more about the Pope’s visit to Sicily at news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101003/ap_on_re_eu/eu_italy_pope_sicily.

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