Twenty-one Killed in Bangkok Explos...

An explosion close to Erawan Shrine kills 21 people and three foreigners and leaves 81 injured as media focuses its sights on the latest developments ...

Claims for PPI

Claims for PPI compensation, continued to pour in between September and July, scuppering banks' expectations the rate of grievances would abate consid...

UK’s Lack Of Sun May Cause Vi...

Official Health Advisers said in draft recommendations that Vitamin D intake must be increased to counteract the lack of sunlight in the United Kingdo...

NASA Successfully Captures A Photog...

NASA's space vessel New Horizons had confirmed that it is fully functioning and transmitted information back to Earth after travelling for nine and a ...

Twenty-one Killed in Bangkok Explosion

An explosion close to Erawan Shrine kills 21 people and three foreigners and leaves 81 injured as media focuses its sights on the latest developments of the Bangkok Explosion.

The Erawan Shrine at Ratchaprasong, a shopping centre and intersection in the Pathum Wan district of Bangkok Thailand was the target of the explosion. Initial reports indicate that two people died right after the exploision happened in the Central Chidlom District.

Chaos had consumed the entire district, which soon erupted everywhere in the Ratchaprasong area near the Erawan Shrine. Locals described that there were body parts scattered everywhere right after the explosion.

According to police, the perpetrators have used a motorcycle bomb set off at the intersection.

Local authorities said the attacks are almost exclusively in the south of Bangkok and these have never reached tourist areas. Local residents said that it was awful and injuries were catastrophic. The attack was a specifically targeted attack, namely the sacred shrine.

The Erawan Shrine houses a statue of Thailand’s physical interpretation of the Hindu God Brahma. It is a popular tourist attraction and features performances by local Thai dance troupes as tribute and testament to their fate.

According to authorities, at least one Chinese national and one Filipino citizen had been killed in the blast. However, the intentions of the blast were not yet clear. No group has claimed responsibility and the attacks do not match the tactics of separatist rebels.

Claims for PPI

Claims for PPI compensation, continued to pour in between September and July, scuppering banks’ expectations the rate of grievances would abate considerably through the 2nd half. Lloyds, which was the first of the big four banks to report third quarter results on last Tuesday, had by far the largest share of the PPI market, has now allocated a total of £11.3bn for settlement. The sizeable new top-ups may revive calls to impose a deadline on PPI claims, which will call for a time limit on consumers to submit settlement claims.
The FOS currently handles the bulk of PPI complaints, but Neale said that FSCS, which handles 16,000 of these complaints following an estimated increase of 20% in the income of complaints. Neale said that he might not be able to tell how long or the peak of the number of PPI complaints the UK can have, but he said that the FSCS sees a fairly normal distribution curve throughout the years. PPI is designed to protect consumers from late repayments in case of accidents, sickness or unemployment. However, due to abusive sales methods, bank employee’s miss sold consumers who had no use or were ineligible for the insurance policy. At least £13 had been returned to consumers since 2008.
Observers note that the sharp increase in complaints, as indicated by the Financial Ombudsman, will also skyrocket administrative fees for the banks and financial institutions. Without an ending in sight, observers said that the PPI bill could reach further from £20 billion in the following year alone. The Financial Ombudsman had recently received its one-millionth PPI complaint and had reported that it received more than 265,000 PPI complaints in the first two quarters of 2013. However, the Financial Conduct Authority suggested that a drop in PPI complaints is to be expected in the last two quarters of 2013 and decreasing further in 2014.
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UK’s Lack Of Sun May Cause Vitamin D Deficiency

Official Health Advisers said in draft recommendations that Vitamin D intake must be increased to counteract the lack of sunlight in the United Kingdom.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition said at-risk groups including pregnant women, young children, retiring adults, people with darker skin and indoor-only people need to expose their skin to sunlight or else take a Vitamin D supplement.

While the recommendation is still a draft, it could affect the entire UK population.

Vitamin D has a link that helps avoid musculoskeletal troubles, heart diseases, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Barts and London School of Medicine Vitamin D Expert Dr. Adrian Martineau said the advice is a refreshing “sea change”. However, he warns that amount of sunlight and the personal effect it carries varies depending on location. The presence of Ultraviolet rays also pose a significant threat during different times of the day.

He praised the SACN for finally bringing up the UK’s problem with the lack of sunshine.

A Vitamin D deficiency could cause rickets in children. For adults, it could cause osteomalacia, a disease deteriorating bone density and mass, making movement weak and painful.

Consuming supplements and having a diet of oily fish and eggs is key to having a regular intake of Vitamin D without sunshine.

NASA Successfully Captures A Photograph of Pluto’s Surface

NASA’s space vessel New Horizons had confirmed that it is fully functioning and transmitted information back to Earth after travelling for nine and a half years. The vessel had taken a photo of the farthest planet in the Solar System. It is considered an “Apollo Moment” by the press as it has pushed yet again mankind’s craving for exploring the solar system and the universe.

Scientists first discovered Pluto 85 years ago. Due to its distance, it was yet to know more about the planet. NASA confirmed New Horizons to be functioning and it had completed its lengthy tour throughout the solar system.

The project, costing about $720 million, will have the probe never to return to earth. However, its achievement marks a new era for space exploration. Mission scientists believe the achievement of New Horizons will mean the golden age of the space program.

The vessel had captured photos of Pluto and Charon, its satellite. NASA has posted a preview of the photos in its Instagram page. The planet has a smooth appearance and some ragged edges. Pluto has an atmosphere composed of frozen gases, nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide.

The New Horizons was launched in 2006 and was to complete humanity’s first look at the solar system’s original nine planets. The observation of Pluto will yield more answers to the solar system’s formation and history.

Greece Asks Eurozone For Third Final Bailout in Last Minute Talks

As Greece is just a few hours away from defaulting on its loan to the EC, IMF and the ECB, last minute talks show the country’s Prime Minister asking for the third final bailout package from its lenders from the Eurozone.

The European Commission proposed a new Greek two-year bailout deal on the Eurozone that would help free up cash to repay the €1.6 billion it owes the creditors.

Greece is due to pay its lenders by 5pm local time. The proposal comes amid the abrupt shutdown of talks between Greece and its creditors. Greek banks will close for one week should the deadline pass.

However, the deal wasn’t anything new. The European Commission said it was the same deal “as the one last Friday.” Greek local news reports indicate the new offer is different because of some changes in the “Ekas”, a top-up given to poor Greek pensioners.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had hinted at his resignation as he leaves Greece’s decision to receive the bailout in exchange for stricter austerity measures or to abandon the deadline through a Sunday referendum. However, he reassured that his Syriza party will back the “yes” vote in the referendum.

“If the Greek people want to proceed with austerity plans in perpetuity, which will leave us unable to lift our head… we will respect it, but we will not be the ones to carry it out,” he said.

ESA Claims Philae Lander Finally “Woke Up”

The Philae lander, launched to home in on a comet last year, failed to reach its optimal position so that its solar panels can collect enough energy for it to perform its tasks. It had a comet overshadow it, leaving to hibernate for a great amount of time.

The Lander dropped into the surface of comet 67P last November. Upon landing, it had run for 60 hours before its batteries had died.

According to the ESA, the lander woke up 85 seconds before it went to sleep again. As the comet approaches the sun, the lander is gaining enough energy to go at his activities once again.

Upon having an initial energy burst, it sent a message to Earth through its mothership Rosetta.

Rosetta and Philae Lander Twitter accounts tweeted a cartoon about the lander waking up.

The lander was tasked to study the comet’s composition and to serve as the world’s eyes to seeing the surface of a comet. It had taken ambitious photographs of the comet as it landed towards its interior the previous year.

Philae will provide information about the ice and rocky fragments that make up most comets.

NSA Collapses on Sunday After US Senate Failed To Pass Extension Of Powers

The US Senate had let the National Security Agency lapse after it failed to pass legislation to extend the powers. Debates that argue the American public’s privacy is at stake with intrusive government powers to identify potential terrorists.

It was a partial victory for US President Barack Obama, who had pushed for reform legislation to replace the bulk phone records.

An objection from Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican presidential hopeful, had him state the NSA programme was illegal and unconstitutional.

Aside from the NSA, US law enforcement and security agencies lose their authority to conduct security programmes through digital networks.

However, experts said it is highly likely the phone records program may appear in another form, such as the USA Freedom Act.

The implications of the lapse, according to intelligence experts, could have little immediate effect. The organisation could still continue to collect information on local and foreign intelligences but only for a limited.

The senate debate has been heated. According to Rand Paul, the Patriot Act provisions may waste resources that could be spent on targeting those planning attacks

Conservative Party To Renew Funding Vow For NHS

Prime Minister David Cameron reassured the public that the National Health Service is safe in their hands. He had promised that the NHS will see at least £8 billion a year by 2020 and will have a seven-day service.

During the General Election, each political party promised the improvement of the NHS. The Conservatives promised the public they would fill a funding gap of £30 billion by 2020. They also promised that GP opening hours would be extended to create the true seven-day NHS

Analysts believe that the UK’s 2015 Parliament is an accurate reflection of Britain’s sentiments. About 29% of MPs are women. About 6% came from ethnic minorities.

During his speech at a GP Surgeon Summit in the West Midlands, he is expected to say the following:

“There is nothing that embodies the spirit of One Nation coming together – nothing that working people depend on more – than the NHS.

“Our commitment is to free healthcare for everyone – wherever you are and whenever you need it.

“That means getting the best care and making that care available for everyone – free – wherever they are and whenever they need it.

“So I believe that together – by sticking to the plan – we can become the first country in the world to deliver a truly seven-day NHS.”


Global Effort Increases Against Cultural Destruction

The Rome-based International Center for the Study of Preservation of Cultural Property (ICCROM) is training a global team of professionals to save world cultural heritage sites in the time of crisis. Experts from 21 countries took part in a training school semester in Amsterdam. The experts were trained to navigate bomb blasts, bad weather and protests.

Guatemala, the Philippines and Ukraine shared their horror stories about how several cultural heritage sites have affected their sites.

Kiev’s History Museum was ransacked by looters who stole artefacts to sell possibly to the black market. Ukraine Museum Council of the Ministry of Culture Chairman Ihor Poshyvailo said the museum had a strategy, but the situation had them dumbfounded as things escalated quickly.

Another museum looted in Ukraine was the Donetsk Regional History Museum. Its galleries were destroyed by fights between Ukrainian separatists and military.

In the Philippines, a natural weather disaster had destroyed an old church.  According to Culture and Arts Officer from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Joanna Lerio, the Philippines did not have the training and equipment needed to save their heritage sites.

Lerio said that the Philippines is often criticised as weak to respond to natural disasters and risks. She said it was important the country could step up its ability to do so.

More about this story from BBC.

“We Should Never Have Been In The List” – Cuba

Cuba praised the United States for its “fair” pledge on the US terrorism list as it removed Cuba as a potential terrorist backer. The Cuban Government said that it shouldn’t have been in the list in the first place.

Cuba’s removal indicates a normalisation of ties between the United States and Cuba

Cuba was classified along with Syria, Iran and Sudan as a potential terrorist-backing country. It had been placed in the US State Department list in 1982 as a country that promote “armed revolution by organisations that used terrorism.”

The US believed Cuba provided sanctuary for the Basque Separatist Group and Colombia’s Farc Guerilla Group.

Despite its removal from the list, Cuba still has a US trade embargo imposed and could only be ended by the US Congress.

Cuban President Raul Castro met US President Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Obama said on Tuesday that Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism in the last six months,” making them eligible to be removed from the list.

Obama had said that Cuba assured the US that it will not support any act of international terrorism in the future.

The Cuban public welcomed the move. The government said:

“We are not terrorists, just the opposite. We are supporters of peace and tranquillity, and good things for all.”