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UN FAO Points Out Nutritional Defic...

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, persistent nutrition problems are greatly present in Central Asia and Europe. Durin...

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Former Lloyds CEO Might Lose Bonus ...

The Lloyds Banking Group is to discuss about clawing back the bonus payments from former chief executive Eric Daniels. Lloyds has currently around £12...

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Right-Wing Russian Politician Insul...

After the disastrous events in Ukraine, political analysts gauge Russia might want to expand its influence in Central Asia. According to right-wing po...

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South Sudan Conflict Can Spiral Out...

The United States scrambles to South Sudan’s aid as each day the conflict continues, the higher risk the country is put into a potential civil war. Th...

UN FAO Points Out Nutritional Deficiencies in Central Asia

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, persistent nutrition problems are greatly present in Central Asia and Europe. During a biennial Regional Conference for Europe in Romania, the FAO had presented that many nutritional problems exist in many countries in Central Asia.

According to the FAO, the problem is not because of the lack of caloric intake, but the lack of proper micronutrient intake and average diets that lack the quality of the other regions of the world.

Micronutrients, such as iron, copper and essential vitamins, are not present in many diets in Europe and Central Asia. The lack of micronutrients may lead to childhood stunting. Undernourishment, including the lack of necessary micronutrients and caloric intake,  today exists in 5% of the population in three countries of the world.

In Central Asia alone, children under five years old with stunted growth are plentiful compared to the European Commonwealth of Independent States.

The quality of diets may satisfy stomachs, but they do not ensure a proper intake of necessary calories or diets. In Central Asia, poor people mostly obtain ¾ of their calories from cereals and only a fraction from meat products.

The solutions presented by the FAO were the following: a policy focus on smallholder producers to reduce rural overty, increase in product output and improve agricultural competitiveness, reduce reliance on one or two commodities, avoiding consumer subsidies and price controls, and a strong development in agricultural science and technology.

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Former Lloyds CEO Might Lose Bonus Due to PPI Refunds

The Lloyds Banking Group is to discuss about clawing back the bonus payments from former chief executive Eric Daniels. Lloyds has currently around £12 billion set aside for PPI compensation complaints.

Lloyds is currently the biggest mis seller of PPI despite a quarter of the bank owned by the government.

Eric Daniels is now a senior adviser with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners and investment banking group StormHarbour after stepping down from his position as CEO in Lloyds in 2011.

PPI is the UK’s biggest financial scandal in history repaying over £13.3 billion to consumers and having banks set aside a total of £20 billion. Lloyds makes up half of the repayments to consumers.

According to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the PPI recompense is yet to end despite the Financial Ombudsman claiming a reduction in the number of PPI complaints this year. The FSCS Chief Director Mark Neale said that it is highly unlikely that the UK has reached the peak of PPI complaints in the UK.

However, according to economic analysts, PPI became an unexpected stimulus to the local UK economy. Most people made use of the PPI refunds as a holiday vacation fund or a downpayment for a new vehicle.

The average PPI compensation amounts to £3000-3500.

Right-Wing Russian Politician Insults Central Asian Countries

After the disastrous events in Ukraine, political analysts gauge Russia might want to expand its influence in Central Asia. According to right-wing politician Vladimir Zhirinovski, known for his outrageous proposals for political movement, the Russian government must look to “annexing the Central Asian federal circuit.” He pointed out that Moscow has influence in the South from their position, namely in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.

He said that Central Asian countries were not sovereign and independent states and that they were part of Russia’s Central Asian circuit.

Uzbekistan Human Rights groups cried foul against Zhirinovski’s proposals. They said that the proposals were out of touch with reality and such claims insulted the Central Asian countries as it does not recognize the right of the nations for self-determination.

Uzbekistan Opposition Leader Jazhangir Shasalimov also called the remarks insulting.

However, the Uzbekistan government did not make a general statement despite the apparent insulting of the country in Russian and world media.

According to Initiative of Independent Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan Surat Ikramov, Zhirinov is simply trying to be different by trying to stir up trouble and play on people’s emotions.

Currently, Vladimir Zhirinovski is banned from travelling to Kyrgyzstan because of his statements regarding a political issue in the country.

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South Sudan Conflict Can Spiral Out of Control

The United States scrambles to South Sudan’s aid as each day the conflict continues, the higher risk the country is put into a potential civil war. The newest country in the world with the US as its biggest benefactor could face a failure and a loss of billions of dollars for the United States.

South Sudan, which originally separated from Muslim-dominated Sudan, reported since 2006 that it had an epidemic called the “Guinea Worm Disease”, which had infected 20,579 people in the country. According to the United States, the situation of the disease is continuing to worsen due to the conflict. One of South Sudan’s original plans was to eradicate the disease. From 20,000 and over, the disease was reduced to only 115 in 2003.

The likelihood of civil war erupting was highly likely given that almost all the killings performed by both rebels and government were ethnicity-targetted. The Dinka and Nuer Tribes, the tribes of President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar respectively, have been attacking each other. The conflict began when Kiir accused Machar of enabling an insurrection against the government, which Machar denies and blames the current government for rooting out poltical opponents.

The rebelling forces will allow a negotiation only if the government releases 11 high-level political detainees. The US is asking for the South Sudan government to give way to peace talks by releasing the political detainees as soon as possible.

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PPI Actually Aids the Recovery of the UK’s Economy

According to economists, payment protection insurance actually helped the UK economy recover more efficiently. The theory of some economists about PPI withholding the spending of many UK households was proven with the movement of local economies as more consumers make purchases.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said that in the previous two quarters of 2013, they noted over 27,500 new vehicle registrations. The improving efficiency of the PPI reclaim process continues to encourage more UK consumers to reclaim their refunds from their banks.

Consumers are using their refunds to improve their utilities, as downpayment for new vehicles, or make simple purchases on appliances, gadgets and other products their local markets and retailers produce.

Economists said that PPI was better than quantitative easing because it allows the consumer to spend the money rather than deduct it from his or her taxes later.

PPI or payment protection insurance is designed to pay off loans when consumers get sick or get unemployed. Bank employees desiring for a higher commission had mis sold the insurance to almost every UK consumer with a financing. Not all consumers were eligible, bringing the PPI’s total bill to £17 billion and possibly £20 billion in the future.

Police Brutality Suspends Egyptian Charter Committee Activity

To show their disappointment and anger against the police brutality that violated the human rights of top members of Egyptian protesters nationwide, the 13 members of Egypt’s constitutional drafting committee had suspended their participation temporarily. According to experts, their action could possibly deepen the polarisation existing in the country today.

Despite the proceeding of the new constitution, many groups had been disappointed by the provisions. Activists hoped that the constitution would limit the powers of the government.

The brutal police crackdown on protests had left many protesters sexually harassed, beaten and detained. Among the activists, human rights advocates were also arrested. The crackdown was said to be one of the most high-profile police action since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi in July this year.

Photographs on social media proved the brutality of the police crackdown showing many of the protesters manhandled and groped by police officers who were in plainclothes and shoved into police vans.

Many human rights groups worldwide had criticized the Interim government’s new law that bans the gathering of 10 or more people in the country and forbids demonstrations in worship sites.

The captured activists are accused of harming the “armed forces” or provoking them to use force to contain the situation.

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Asia Faces Health Issues Because of Lifestyle

According to the World Health Organisation, the Asia-Pacific region  may suffer great health problems in the future because of lifestyle diseases. Even if the new youth and health medications allow people to overcome traditional diseases, the lack of exercise and poor diet could weaken the body’s immune system.

According to Western Pacific WHO director Shin Young-soo, many diseases from the youth and aging adults were caused by diabetes, hypertension and sedentary lifestyles. China’s had a 3-4% increase of its population with diabetes from 1990.

Around 10% of South Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese adults are also suffering from diabetes. Young-soo said that the great change in diets for over 30-40 years. He also pointed out that only Asian people had a greater tendency to have more diabetes than their western counterparts.

The WHO director said that the entire society of the Asia-Pacific should tackle the issue of proper nourishment. He said that the diseases could be prevented with proper diets.

If not handled as soon as possible, it could lead to high health costs and societies could easily lose their productive power due to diseases as healthy people will be in demand to work in caregiving and health industries.

In contrast, western nations are suffering from obesity due to overeating and binge eating, which is another health concern.

Bo Xilai Sentenced for Death, Chinese Media Looks at Perspectives

Disgraced politican Bo Xilai, charged for abuse of power and immense corruption and bribery. The former Chongqing party chief was sentenced to life imprisonment for taking bribes worth £2m and embezzling £510,000 worth of taxpayer money and abuse of power. However, he denied all his charges. He was given a resolute punishment of a death sentence.

Chinese media looked at the sentence of Bo Xilai as rightful justice and that no one is above the law in China, namely for the Communist party. Regardless of who is involved, whether they have power or not, they will be punished according to state laws.

However, some media offices also look at the situation in a different manner. Bo Xilai’s case might not deter other corrupt officials and that he might have been used as a “scapegoat” trapped in a rivalry between political factions existing in the elite ruling class of China.

The severe charges of death sentence were given to Bo Xilai for his denial to al the charges against him.

Some mediamen also look at Bo Xilai’s case as a sign of determination to fight corruption. It might appear as a sign to warn other officials, but it was a clear sign that the Communist party will go through great lengths to ensure that corruption is weeded out in the institution.

A Syrian Assault Would Mean Higher Gas Prices

The Chinese Deputy Finance Minister Zhu Guyangyao warned that a possible US military strike on Syria could raise gas prices for the entire world, impacting greatly on China and other Asian countries. Recently, oil prices have increased for fears of a military strike in Syria by 5% and analysts said that this could get worse as it continues.

The involvement of other Syrian allies and middle eastern countries, namely Iran, Russia and the Arab league, could possibly increase the price of crude oil at the height of $115 to $120 per barrel. Should the situation become worse, the amount could add five dollars daily. Experts said that crude oil’s prices will sharply inflate gasoline prices.

China and Russia openly vetoed all proposals for a military strike by the United States and other countries in intervening in Syria. According to sources, the draft was revised 50 times. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he is open to a punitive military strike as long as there is evidence present that points to the Syrian regime as the ones who launched the attack.

Russia’s possible response, as described by Putin, would be to protect Syria with a missile defence system should the United States launch an illegal and unwarranted attack.

Private UK Schools May Take International A-levels

Education reforms have recently been a major topic of discussion in the higher-up political circles. A number of top independent schools in England are considering dropping A-levels for an international alternative, as concerns grow over exam reforms.

A number of private independent schools say they are looking at the international version of A-levels, which would still allow pupils to take AS-levels halfway through the course. From 2015, 2 years from now, AS-levels will be separated from full A-levels to form a qualification in their own right. Ministers assert that the changes will encourage greater depth of study, but many experts are sceptical. Last week, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents around 250 independent schools in the UK and Ireland, said it was concerned about the new system being introduced without a trial period.

It warned that the plans for rapid changes to A-levels education system was a “high-risk” and a “huge gamble”. Some private schools have told the Times Educational Supplement website tes.co.uk that they are looking at international A-levels as a way of continuing the AS-level system.

The head of the private St Albans School in Hertfordshire told tes.co.uk: “I know I am speaking for many of my colleagues in HMC when I say we will look for a way of continuing the AS-level system. We at St Albans School are looking very, very seriously at international A-levels because we feel there is a tremendous value in the feedback provided by AS-levels at the halfway point.”

The head of the private Royal Grammar School in Newcastle, said independent schools have the freedom to choose, unlike independent schools in other countries, the qualifications they want to offer. “Whenever we are unhappy with a syllabus or exam we can quickly start to look around to see what else is out there. Why wouldn’t we look at international A-levels?” says the head of Royal Grammar School. The head also said this was what private schools did when there were concerns over GCSEs and now many private schools do use international GCSEs instead. In fact, many experts have predicted that in the near future, more and more reputable schools will turn to the international versions of UK qualifications, due to the higher educational standards. The chief executive of CIE shows his support: “We’re pleased Cambridge International AS and A-level has received interest from leading independent schools in the UK.”