News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories


Russia: More than 16,000 troops marched past Red Square in Moscow on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in the Second World War.

Around 200 military planes and helicopters and 190 armored vehicles were featured in one of the biggest military parade ever hosted in Russia.

Among the display of Russia latest military hardware: the Armata (T-4), the new generation of computerized tank, as well as the RS-24 Yars nuclear missile launcher.

Dignitaries from 27 nations reveled with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.  They included China’s President Xi Jinping, Cuba’s Raul Castro, South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

Alexander Zaldostanov, the leather-clad leader of the nationalist motorcycle club Night Wolves, with whom Putin has ridden, was also among the prominent guests, according to the New York Times.

The Soviet Union lost 26 million lives during World War II.  The annual commemoration of Victory Day on 9 May bears a special significance to many Russians who remember their lost loved ones.

Video of the event follows:


China: Every employee will envy the 6,400 lucky ones who were treated to a free four-day French vacation last week.

Chinese billionaire Li Jinyuan, founder and chairman of the Chinese conglomerate Tiens Group, paid US$14.6 million for more than half of his 12,000 employees to tour France and Monaco in celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary.

The group was not only treated to a private tour of the Louvre museum and a live performance of the cabaret Moulin Rouge, but the luxury department store Galeries Lafayette also gave them a special private shopping session.

After their buying spree, the legion spent the rest of their holiday in the French Riviera in Nice where they broke a Guinness World Record for the longest human sentence by lining up along the Promenade des Anglais and spelling out “Tiens’ Dream Is Nice in the Côte d’Azur.”

The group was transported to Paris in 84 airplanes and dozens of trains where they resided in 140 Parisian hotels.  It was reported that the participants were carried in 146 tour buses to  Cannes and Monaco where they stayed in 4,760 rooms in 79 hotels there.

The Tiens group was founded in 1995 and expanded into an international conglomerate with businesses in biotechnology, health management, e-commerce, hotel and tourism, among others.  Li Jinyuan, 57, is recorded on the Forbes 2011 list of the world’s billionaires.

Here’s a report by euronews:


US: President Barack Obama suffered an embarrassing political defeat on Tuesday when Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would otherwise empower him to close a Pacific Rim trade deal that is supposed to boost trade and promote economic growth in the region.

The Financial Times describes this Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty as a 12-country trade deal that would cover some 40 percent of the global economy.  According to the Economist, the TPP involves contentious reforms in areas such as intellectual property, the treatment of state-owned companies and environmental and labor standards.

Trade negotiators hope to have the agreement concluded before the summer so as to leave sufficient time for its ratification before the 2016 presidential election campaign heats up.

The TPP is important to President Obama because the trade deal represents a core piece of his economic agenda and his potential legacy in his second term of office.  There are also strategic considerations, too as CNN explains.

For more analysis on the TPP, we go to the PBS News Hour:


UK: A conscientious citizen writes to the government to express his opinion or seek changes. Is that news?  Yes, if the citizen happens to be Prince Charles.

The Prince of Wales has been sending letters to ministers, and even the former prime minister Tony Blair, on a variety of issues trying to influence their policies.

“Some of the correspondences date back as early as 1969, with issues including planning, education, the environment and housing,” said one report.

According to The Telegraph, recipients included ministers in the departments of business, innovation and skills; health; children, schools and families; environment, food and rural affairs; culture, media and sport; the Northern Ireland Office and the Cabinet Office.

In the letter to the environmental minister in 2004, the heir to the throne expressed grave concerns about the possible extinction of albatross as a result of over-fishing of the species’ regular diet, the Patagonian Toothfish, and that the Royal Navy should perhaps be deployed to curb such illegal activities.

Readers are now able to read 27 of Prince Charles’ letters and the ministers’ replies thereto, as the dossiers are to be released Freedom of Information laws by order of the UK’s supreme court in March, following a 10-year legal campaign between the Guardian and the UK government for their release.

“The government is reluctant to release the letters, arguing that government’s publication of the letters would make it hard for Charles to maintain a position of public neutrality when he became king,” according to the Guardian.

The so-called “black spider memos,” which characterized Prince Charles’ habitual use of thick black ink in his handwritten notes, were released on Wednesday.

Full text of the letters can be read here.

In the following video, Prince Charles is asked if he’s worried about the letters. Keep your eyes on his aide. Priceless…


Have a story that you’d like us to cover or review? Contact NewsWhistle’s Tony Church at


Prince Charles Image: Paolo Bona /