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Who's who: among world leaders.

North America

United States George W. Bush, 61, who took office in January 2001, is nearing the end of his second four-year term. For most of his presidency, politics in the U.S. has been a reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

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Since March 2003, U.S. troops have been in Iraq. Bush says U.S. military involvement there is essential, to stop the spread of terrorism, but many Americans want the troops withdrawn.

At home, Bush supports a guest-worker program that would let undocumented workers hold U.S. jobs. But many fellow Republicans want tougher measures. To date, no immigration bill has passed in Congress.

Did you know? Bush played Little League baseball as a boy.

Mexico Felipe Calderon (fay-LEE-pay kahl-duh-RONE), 45, became President in 2006, after winning the closest election in Mexican history--and one of the most controversial Opponents accused him of stealing votes, but a court ruled that he had won the election fairly.

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To combat widespread poverty, Calderon is looking to foreign companies to help create additional, jobs. Calderon believes that the only way to reduce the flow of illegal, immigrants to the U.S. is to create more jobs in Mexico. He has criticized the Bush administration for not yet fulfilling its promise to put Mexico at the top of its foreign-policy agenda.

Did you know? Calderon belongs to the National Action Party (PAN), co-founded by his father.

Canada Stephen Harper, 48, became Prime Minister in 2006. Leader of the Conservative Party, he ended 12 years of Liberal. Party rule.

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In 2006, French Canadians threatened to ask the government to recognize Quebec province as a nation. Instead, Harper put forth a motion that citizens of Quebec "form a nation within a united Canada." Parliament passed it by an overwhelming majority.

In 2007, polls showed a general dissatisfaction with Harper. He responded by making changes to his Cabinet, promising to address concerns about global warming and Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

Did you know? Harper is a big fan of the Beatles and AC/DC.

Oceania

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Australia John Howard, 68, has been Prime Minister since 1996. As a Leader of a coalition of the Liberal and National parties, he has won three elections since then. Critics have attacked him in recent years for supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Severe drought in Australia has harmed the economy and caused widespread despair in the farming community.

Did you know? Howard is a devoted fan of Australia's cricket and football (soccer) teams.

South America

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Chile Michelle Bachelet (bah-shuh-LAY), 56, the first woman elected President of Chile, took office in 2006.

In 1974, her father, an Air Force general, was kilted for opposing Chile's military dictator. Bachelet and her mother were imprisoned and tortured. In 1975, they were released and fled the country. Bachelet returned to Chile in 1979 and worked as a physician. In 2000, she was appointed Minister of Health.

Bachelet is the leader of Chile's Socialist Party. Upon taking office, she promised to address the country's wide income gap while nurturing a strong economy.

Did you know? Bachelet is fluent in English, which she learned as a child while living in Maryland.

Venezuela Hugo Chavez, 53, heads the fifth-Largest oil-producing nation in the world. His presidency, which began in 1999, ended the 40-year reign of two political parties considered corrupt.

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Chavez promised revolutionary social policies to end the severe poverty and unemployment that many Venezuelans suffer. However, oil wealth remains in the hands of a few.

Opponents call Chavez a harsh dictator, white supporters say that he is the first Venezuelan leader to defend the rights of the poor.

Did you know? When Chavez was 15, his Little League team advanced to the Venezuelan National Baseball Championships.

Africa

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Nigeria Umaru Yar' Adua, 56, became President in May 2007, after a controversial election. Many people believe that Nigeria's former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, helped secure the presidency for Yar 'Adua by forcing other candidates to withdraw from the race.

Yar' Adua is described as a strong-minded yet soft-spoken leader. The father of seven children, he has promised to build a new national railway system and protect the nation's lucrative oil industry from violence and corruption.

Did you know. Yar' Adua is the first Nigerian leader in 40 years to be university educated.

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Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH-bay), 83, has been the President of Zimbabwe for more than 25 years. He rose to power as a revolutionary Leader who fought to free the country from British colonial rule.

A former schoolteacher, Mugabe is credited with expanding education in Zimbabwe, which has the highest literacy rate in Africa. But he has been accused of serious human-rights violations. His corrupt redistribution of land caused broad unemployment and ruined the economy.

Did you Know? Mugabe speaks five Languages and has seven university degrees.

Asia

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China Hu Jintao (hoo jihn-taow), 64, became President in 2003. Hu heads China's Communist Party, which limits free speech and human rights. He has steered China toward a Western-style free-market economy, spurring an economic boom in cities. But this growth has come at a huge cost--the pollution of many of China's cities, lakes, rivers, and forests.

Beijing, China's capital, will host the 2008 Summer Olympics, which Hu hopes will raise his country's standing among nations.

Did you know? Hu and his wife were schoolmates at Qinghua University.

Pakistan Pervez Musharraf (PEHR-vehz moo-SHAH-rahf), 64, took control of Pakistan in a bloodless coup in 1999. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he supported the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The decision angered Muslim militants in Pakistan, and Musharraf has since been the target of several assassination attempts.

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He has taken steps to ease poverty in rural areas, but critics accuse him of stifling dissent and provoking religious extremists.

Did you know? As a teen, Musharraf fell from a tree and was badly hurt.

Middle East

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Israel Ehud Olmert (ay-HOOD OL-mairt), 62, became acting Prime Minister in January 2006, after Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke. Olmert was elected Prime Minister that March.

His biggest tasks are maintaining Israel's alliance with the U.S. and trying to resolve conflict with Palestinians. Olmert wants Israel and the Palestinian Authority to establish permanent borders, even if it would mean compromising over disputed land.

Last April, a government commission found Olmert responsible for Israel's failed 2006 war in Lebanon. Despite pressure to step down, he refuses to resign.

Did you know? One of Olmert's five children is an executive at Nickelodeon in New York City.

Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas (mah-MOOD ah-BAHS), 72, was elected President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2005. Head of the Fatah Party, Abbas wants to forge peace with Israel and establish an independent Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. Fatah's main rival is Hamas, an Islamic militant group staging armed resistance against Israel.

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Disputes between Fatah and Hamas have erupted into violence. In 2006, Patestinians elected Hamas to run the Legislature. Last June, Abbas outlawed Hamas's armed forces, but Hamas took control of Gaza.

Did you know? Abbas studied taw in Egypt and received his doctorate in Moscow. He has written several books.

Europe

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Russia Vladimir Putin, 54, became acting President after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin in December 1999. He was officially elected President in March 2000 and re-elected in 2004.

In his second and final term, Putin hopes to improve Russia's failing health-care and education systems. He has helped stabilize the economy, but poverty remains a problem in rural areas.

Like Yeltsin before him, Putin has committed Russia's military to conflicts in Chechnya, a Russian province that has claimed independence since 1991.

Putin's many critics accuse him of steering Russia toward a dictatorship by restricting the civil Liberties of Russians and clamping down on the news media.

Did you know? A former spy, Putin has a black belt in judo.

France Nicolas Sarkozy (nee-koh-LAH sar-koh-ZEE), 52, was elected President of France Last May. He has promised to revive France's failing economy with an American-style work ethic. He also has taken steps to restore friendly relations with the U.S., strained since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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At home, Sarkozy pledges to cut taxes and get tough on crime. He has also set a goal of reducing France's C[O.sub.2] emissions by 50 percent by 2050. Sarkozy's claim that tighter immigration Laws are necessary to protect France's "national identity" has made him controversial among the country's racial and ethnic minorities.

Did you know? Sarkozy, the son of Greek and Hungarian immigrants, is the first French President to be born after World War II.

United Kingdom Gordon Brown, 56, replaced Tony Blair as Prime Minister when Blair stepped down in June. For the previous 10 years, Brown had served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (ex-CHEK-ur), the U.K.'s chief financial officer.

The son of a Scottish minister, Brown teamed early about poverty. He believes, he has said, that the West has a duty to help the world's poor.

Brown began his political career at age 12, working for the local Labor Party. He was first elected to the British Parliament in 1983.

Now that Brown heads the government, national, security and tensions between religious groups are among his main challenges.

Did you know? Brown was injured in a rugby match when he was 16, and Lost sight in his left eye.

** Objective

* Becoming familiar with some of the world's most powerful leaders.

** Words to Know

* agenda [n]: a list of matters to be discussed, or tasks completed by a group.

* civil liberties [n]: freedom from arbitrary interference by government.

* corrupt [adj]: dishonest, cheating.

* motion [n]: a formal proposal put to a group to consider, then vote upon.

* Prime Minister [n]: the head of government in a parliamentary system, chosen by the majority party in Parliament.

** Before Reading

(1) Ask students to name as many national leaders as they can, other than President George W. Bush. Why have they heard of them?

(2) Review the Words to Know above and the types of government defined in Terms to Know, p. 2, student edition.

Reading prompt: What kinds of challenges face leaders of nations?

** During Reading

Pause to discuss each profile as students read these pages. Ask: What do the facts given tell you about the leader's country? What do they tell you about each leader as a person? Explain.

** After Reading

* Whose power? What powers does a head of government have over a country's people? What can happen if a leader abuses his or her power? Consider both peaceful and violent actions or reactions.

* Skills and experience: What qualities should a national leader have? Explain.

* Put yourself in charge: If you were President of the U.S., which of the people profiled would top your list of leaders to meet with officially? Why?

** Keep It Going

(1) Have students name some country leaders not profiled here (or list several yourself on the board). Have students work, individually or in small groups, to find two key facts about one leader, and two key facts about his or her country.

(2) Writing assignment: If you had to choose one of these leaders to live under (not counting President Bush), who would it be and why?

RESOURCES

** INTERNET

* The People Who Shape Our World. Time magazine's top-100 list. time.com/time/specials /2007/time100

* Who You Should Know. Features a new world leader and his or her country every weekday. whoyoushouldknow.com

** BOOKSHELF

* Combinations: Opening the Door to Student Leadership, Ed Gerety [Whaleback Publishing, 2003). Leadership strategies and tips for teens. Grades 6 & up.

* Leaders and Generals, Diane Yancey [Thomson Gale, 20031. Profiles of seven leaders on both sides of the war on terror. Grades 6 & up.

** DVDs/VIDEOS

* The American Presidents DVD Trivia Game. Historical information and fun facts. (Puzzle Vision, 2003).
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Title Annotation:PROFILES
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Oct 29, 2007
Words:1998
Previous Article:Crossword puzzle.
Next Article:Maps of the world.


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