Egypt’s brokered peace talks may need adjustments as Israel and Hamas push their own conditions. Hamas had consecutively rejected truce talks. According to an Egyptian Senior Official, Egypt will not mind amending its truce terms and including Hamas’ demands. He said that should all parties approve, the truce is successful.
Hamas is demanding that Israel and Egypt lift the blockade on Gaza and release several hundred Palestinians Israel military had arrested while it was searching for the three teenagers who were killed. Meanwhile, Israel’s Defence Minister said that it would “keep fighting” until the Hamas finally admit to surrendering.
Israel-Hamas fighting had caused the deaths of 530 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and had displaced thousands of Gazans in the past two weeks as bombing runs and humanitarian problems in water and electricity had driven them out of their homes.
The United States had sent $47 million in humanitarian aid to help the displaced Palestinians two weeks ago. Around $15 million of the budget will be sent to the UN Refugee Mission in Gaza.
The total Israeli Army death toll is around 25 in its recent ground war against the Hamas. According to Israel’s Defence Minister, the ground invasion is necessary to finally put an end to the Hamas rocket fire that hits Israel on a consistent basis.
China’s increasing claims of territorial waters is driving other Asian countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines towards closer ties with the United States. As increasing tension develops, China’s influence in the region is slowly dwindling.
The Australian Cabinet Minister Malcom Turnbull, the recent political skirmishes between China and its neighbours show that China only has North Korea as its strongest ally in Asia. US support in terms of military exercises, intervention and enhancement of defences for other Asian countries continue to increase.
He said Australia is in a troubled position as China is its biggest trading partner, with $133 billion in trades between two countries as China purchases 36% of the country’s exports while it continues to complete its negotiations with Beijing on a free-trade agreement to improve its trading ties.
The US Pacific Deputy Commander had asked Australian to assume an assertive “police role” in the South and East China seas to help calm down the situation. However, it may appear to China that Australia is supporting the US by providing warships and destroyers to patrol the waters in the area.
Turnbull said that China’s foreign policy is greatly counterproductive. He also stressed that if China continues to push its neighbours away from it, it can lose so much in terms of economic growth.
According to economic experts, it is becoming common that many Asian investors are turning to start-up technology companies. They said that Asia will become a region that is crucial for the funding of the technology sector. Most investors from Singapore and Hong Kong are establishing new online companies, such as Alibaba and Lazada, which are online retail shops for technology products and services.
According to Morgan Stanley Asia TMT Banker Daniel Wetstein, Asian investors from corporate and financial sectors are making tech investments more sophisticated, growing venture capital deals worth billions of dollars.
One example is Alibaba, which had gained $2.4billion in private equity and venture capital deals. Even if the numbers could not overshadow the investments made in the west’s Silicon Valley, the numbers of deals outside tech-immersed Japan have reached 678 deals just in 2012. The growth continues to progress as Chinese and Singaporean investors continue to find the next rivals to the tech giants at present, such as Google and social network giant Facebook.
Sina Weibo, the equivalent of Facebook in China, had also become a household name due to investors interested in presenting a platform for social media apt to the requirements of the Chinese government. Japan also has several social networks that substitute and have more popularity than the western world’s Facebook.
In the midst of Thailand protests and imposition of martial law, an Australian tourist had been arrested under Thailand’s military rule. According to observers, it is highly likely that he will be prosecuted in Thailand’s military courts.
The Australian tourist Mark Robert Coutelas, 53 years old, was arrested in an apartment in one of Phuket’s resort islands for possessing a handgun, ammunition and methamphetamine. Local newspapers stated that the tourist may face the military courts.
The police found him in Green Mango Apartment complex after an anonymous tip-off.
Everyone, including tourists in Thailand, are subject to a 10pm to 5am curfew, which has many tourist spots, including bars and resorts, closed for business. Thousands of Australians on holidays flock Thailand along with tourists with other nationalities.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that the Australian government will provide consular assistance if requested with the consular services charter.
Due to the military coup, Thailand’s tourism, which contributes highly to its economy, is greatly jeopardised. Music star Taylor Swift had also cancelled her Thailand concert because of the military coup.
Meanwhile, other tourists said that Thailand’s coup had not changed much of the scenery, except that most tourists and the population must go home before 10PM
Thailand Army General Prayuth Chan-ocha said that Thailand’s martial law declaration is to ensure the peace and safety of its citizens. He made it clear that it was not a coup d’etat sponsored by Thailand’s traditional elite. Soldiers had been positioned in different areas and tanks are moving around in streets.
General Chan-ocha had called upon both pro and anti-government demonstrators to halt their activities. In the previous weeks, violence had erupted between both sides.
At 3AM, soldiers had approached Thailand’s Channel 5 Television to deliver Chan-ocha’s declaration of martial law.
The violence between both pro and anti-government protesters began when the Thailand Court of Justice had removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose brother had been involved in a series of political scandals and is exiled. The court accused her of abusing her power and position for personal benefits.
However, political analysts see that the army has its own intent for imposing martial law. They said that things will be clearer in the next few days, especially with the people’s reaction regarding the new law.
Political analysts also said that it was to offset the police, which had already sided with Thaksin and the government. The military had declared it has no side on the political issue, but only wishes the safety and security of citizens.
Malaysia Airlines had announced that it will not be holding mass briefings and providing family assistance starting May 7 on all its Family Assistance Centres in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur. The decision was met with tears and anguish by relatives of the passengers of the still-missing MH370.
The Family Assistance Centre in Beijing provides aid and information for the 239 Chinese passengers’ relatives.
Malaysia Airlines said that it will keep in close touch with the families on news updates through telephone calls, messages, the Internet and face-to-face meetings. They will be providing a detailed plan of follow-up support and will inform families in person about the new information provision scheme.
The initial statement, after its translation from Malay to Chinese, had many relatives break down, then introduced tension in the crowd. Local Chinese police officers had escorted some family members out through a separate exit. Chinese officials continued the briefing and said that the search will continue and the relatives will not be forgotten.
Malaysia Airlines will also comply with the Montreal Convention, which will have them pay an initial sum of $150,000-175,000 to the next-of-kin of the passengers of MH370. They will begin handing out the compensation this year.
The Collective Security Treaty Organisation said that once NATO-led coalition forces finally leave Afghanistan in 2014, the CSTO will not focus on military build up and instead will focus on strengthening the Tajikistan border security by supplying them with weapons, special equipment and ammunition and everything else the border guards need vitally.
Despite the Ukraine crisis and NATO’s disregard with its Russian commitments, Russia will be assisting Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in border rearmament. According to CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, the CSTO is implementing the decisions made by CSTO Presidents in Sochi in September last year, which includes the strengthening of borders to combat the potential Afghan ‘2014 problem’.
Bordyuzha is also concerned about illegal migration and drug trafficking to and from Afghanistan. Chemical drugs from Europe are entering Afghan shores. Bordyuzha said that this is a serious challenge for the Afghan government.
A statement from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Lieutenant-General Leonid Reshetnikov revealed from their studies that drug trafficking from Afghanistan had increased 40 times even with NATO’s operation in the country.
Meanwhile, political analysts see Russia’s operation backing in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan a means to “gear up their ideological battle” with the United States by using “colour revolutions” such as Ukraine’s uprising and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
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.
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.
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.