NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use initiating
questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your students know.
Main Activity: Have
students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Discussion: Use discussion
questions to encourage students to think about how the issues outlined
in the story affect their lives and express and debate different opinions.
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions and/or
Story: After Bombing Spain
Votes in New Socialist Government: 3/17/04
1. What is a terrorist?
2. How do terrorists try to influence political situations in different
3. What happened in Spain last week?
Reading Comprehension Questions:
(click here for printout)
1. What happened in Spain on
Spain is recovering from
a series of ten explosions that ripped through early morning commuter
trains in the capital Madrid last week, leaving over 200 dead and 1,500
"It is the worst
act of terror in the history of Spain and the worst act of terror in
memory in any European Union state," said European Parliament President
2. Who was responsible for
Directly after the March
11 bombing there was confusion over who was responsible for the deadly
attack. Initially the government blamed the Basque separatist group
ETA, which has a long history of exploding bombs in public spaces, but
other evidence pointed to international terror network al-Qaida.
After days of uncertainty
and confusing reports, the interior minister held a press conference
at midnight the eve of elections and played a video in which a man said
al-Qaida carried out the attacks in retaliation for Spain's support
for the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
3. Who are the Basques?
The Basques are a distinct
ethnic group living primarily in northern Spain and southwest France.
During Spain's dictatorship years (1939-75) the Basque people were severely
4. What is ETA?
ETA (Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna),
which means Basque Homeland and Freedom, established itself as a student
resistance movement in the 1960s but has evolved into a terrorist organization
that is fighting for an independent Basque homeland.
5. Why did some analysts say
the government did not want to blame al-Qaida for the attacks?
Political analysts said
many voters believed the government purposely withheld information that
linked the attacks to al-Qaida in order to influence Sunday's election.
If al-Qaida was responsible,
it could hurt the ruling party, which had committed to the war in Iraq
despite lack of support from the Spanish public.
6. What happened in the election?
In the end, a record number
of Spaniards went to the polls, with 77 percent voting -- 9 percentage
points higher than the 2000 elections. An additional 2 million first-time
voters participated, indicating a last minute surge against Prime Minister
Jose Aznar, a close ally of President Bush and the United States. The
Socialist Workers' Party defeated the ruling government.
7. Who is the prime minister-elect
and what did he say that he would do?
Following the election,
the winner -- Socialist Workers' Party leader Jose Zapatero -- told
reporters that he would keep his campaign promise to remove Spanish
troops from Iraq unless the United Nations takes charge of the country
"I have said clearly
in recent months that, unless there is a change -- in that the United
Nations take control and the occupiers give up political control --
the Spanish troops will come back, and the limit for their presence
there is June 30," Zapatero said
Discussion Questions (more
research might be needed):
1. "The attack [in Spain] was obviously an operational success,
but it achieved a political outcome too." -- International security
expert at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Jim Walsh.
Did Spain allow itself to be manipulated by the terrorists by voting out
a political party that supported the war in Iraq? Why or why not? What
impact might this event have on the governments of Italy, Australia and
2. Was the Spanish government
irresponsible in not getting out information to the public that al-Qaida
might be involved in the train bombings? What impact did this have on
the national election there? What could the ruling party have done differently?
3. Should the Basques get an
independent homeland? Why or why not?
Send your answers, in essay
form, to email@example.com for