Russia Claims the Geneva Agreement ...

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a Moscow Press Conference that the Geneva Accord had been violated by Ukraine after a deadly shootout i...


Hundreds Protest in Albuquerque For...

Albuquerque residents protested against 23 police shootings that involved fatal or overkill acts by police officers since 2010. The call was made by c...


PPI Unlikely To Fall in Number the ...

Despite banks having set aside £20bn, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) said that the UK has not yet seen the bulk of PPI complaints. ...


National Dialogue Called to Help St...

However, Gov. Henrique Capriles, the opposition candidate, said that he will not attend the meetings proposed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. ...

Russia Claims the Geneva Agreement With Ukraine is Not Being Fulfilled

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a Moscow Press Conference that the Geneva Accord had been violated by Ukraine after a deadly shootout in Slaviansk, which had killed three people after the attack of men in four vehicles who were yet to be named. According to analysts, Lavrov’s statement is also a reaction to the US’ accusations that Moscow is dragging its feet in implementing the peace treaty.

Despite the implication of the attacks, Pro-Russian activists did not surrender occupied towns and government structures, which the Geneva accord had specifically dictated all parties should follow. The accord calls for all “illegal armed groups” in Ukraine to surrender their arms and halt the occupation of public buildings.

Russian forces near the Ukrainian border also did not stand down. Around 40,000 troops are still guarding the border. The US had called for more sanctions should the Geneva accord fail, but the Russian Foreign Minister had said “it will be impossible to isolate Russia from the rest of the world.”

US Vice President Joe Biden had arrived in Ukraine to speak with the pro-Western leaders of the Interim government. The US had also increased military deployment in Eastern Europe and had pledged billions to help restore Ukraine’s economy.


Hundreds Protest in Albuquerque For Police Involvement in Fatal Shootings

Albuquerque residents protested against 23 police shootings that involved fatal or overkill acts by police officers since 2010. The call was made by cyber-activists, who exposed the information on the internet and social networks. The protests, which was done at noontime, was dispersed in the evening. Some were arrested for disorderly conduct and property damages.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said that it was not trying to stop all protests, but he wants to limit the damages to property the protests could bring. Mayor Berry said that the protesters were putting the public and themselves in danger.

The protest was sparked by a cyber-collective group only known as Anonymous who posted a video of police beating to death a homeless man who had done nothing wrong to the police officers. The video was taken from an Albuquerque police station, and the hacking was confirmed by the Police.

The protests prompted the Federal Department of Justice to launch an investigation regarding the 23 fatal killings and the shooting of a homeless man on March 16 without any reason by police officers in Albuquerque.

According to FBI’s Albuquerque Office Spokesman Frank Fisher, people are concerned about the incident and they want answers, which is why the investigation is pushing through.


PPI Unlikely To Fall in Number the Next Few Years

Despite banks having set aside £20bn, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) said that the UK has not yet seen the bulk of PPI complaints. FSCS Chief Executive Mark Neale estimates PPI can carry on for a few more years.

The FSCS helps consumers recover their money, such as investments or payments for financial products from bankrupt or insolvent businesses. They also handle the PPI complaints of different UK banks alongside the Financial Ombudsman Service.

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 employees mis sold consumers who had no use or were ineligible for the insurance policy. At least £13 had been returned to consumers since 2008.

The numbers of PPI complaints in the FOS had dropped, but Neale said that the FSCS has yet to see a drop in the number of PPI complaints they receive.

National Dialogue Called to Help Stop Venezuelan Protests

However, Gov. Henrique Capriles, the opposition candidate, said that he will not attend the meetings proposed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He said that attending the meeting would make it appear like an endorsement of “repression”, given the situation of Venezuelan police and soldiers and the protesters.

According to Capriles, a peace talk will only show the world that President Maduro is “looking for diplomatic solutions” when the reality is incessantly the opposite.

Aside from Capriles, other opposition leaders, such as Leopoldo Lopez, were jailed for participating in anti-government protests. He is currently in a military jail just outside the city of Caracas and was charged with criminal incitement following a mass rally on February 12.

The Venezuelan protests had begun in February 12 aside from Lopez’s organisation. The protests spread countrywide. Authorities have ordered the suppression of such protests groups, which had left 15 people dead and 150 wounded as the protests died down in violence. No major clashes had been reported, yet opposition protesters have barricaded areas of Caracas to block traffic.

The protesters were against President Maduro for failing to curb the country’s high crime rate and his political platform that has failed to revive their economy by leading the prices to inflate above 50%, including oil, which is part of its natural resources.


Khobragade Freed For Immunity, Asked to Leave US

Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade was arrested by US officials for visa fraud and her arrest sparked controversy and outrage in India. A US grand jury had indicted her and granted her immunity, but US officials had asked her to leave the country. She was also detained for underpaying her housekeeper in New York the previous month.

Controversy sparked in India when the US conducted a “strip-search” on Khobragade, which India viewed as humiliation. The Indian government had asked the US for an apology.

Khobragade’s lawyer said that she has not yet left the United States despite the request of the State Department. Attorney Daniel Arshack said that Khobragade was “at home with her children”.

The Indian diplomat denied all the charges of the US State Department during her trial. She was found to have forged her visa after her maid in New York, Sangeeta Richard, had accused her of underpayment the previous month. Khobragade accused Richard of blackmail and theft.

The diplomat’s case had strained the relationship between the United States and India, which stretched to the stoppage of certain privileges granted by both embassies of each country in both countries.

According to analysts, both countries are at fault because of their bureaucratic and diplomatic negligence. The two parties could have resolved the situation by downplaying prosecution and the US could have declared Khobragade persona non-grata. Indian diplomats have also failed to “clean-house” the entire situation and their removal of security barriers in the US embassy is excessive and irresponsible.


PPI Could Possibly Reach More than £20 billion in 2014

Payment protection insurance makes history as Lloyds adds a further £750 million to their overall compensation package, taking half of the existing £17 billion redress package at £8 billion in total redress. Lloyds is followed by RBS, who added a further £250 million to their recompense package.

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.

Barclays was the only bank not to indicate any further additions to its PPI recompense bill. It had also closed down its Glasgow claims handling centre as “it had done its job”, leaving a potential 200-plus workforce laid off.

Anybody with a mis sold PPI should consult a PPI claim back company to know more about starting a claim and assessing any legal problems.

Syrian Opposition Still Uncertain About Geneva Talks

The Syrian National Coalition said that it has not yet made a final decision regarding its participation in the Geneva talks for Syrian negotiations with the Syrian government. According to the opposition, it would attend the peace talks only if they see progress on building humanitarian corridors to besieged opposition areas and if it releases political prisoners.

The recent statement from the opposition group shows that a diplomatic solution is possible to end the Syrian crisis, but it still has much to overcome. The peace talks were scheduled for January 22. If the Syrian National Coalition agrees to meet the Syrian regime, the talks will be the first time they will meet each other face to face.

Regardless of possible peace talks, fighting in Syria had intensified. A suicide car bombing in a town near the capital of Damascus had killed 15 people and 30 were wounded. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, airstrikes from government forces killed at least seven people in an ongoing offensive by the Syrian regime.

According to Opposition Chief Ahmad al-Jarba, the group has not yet made a final decision. While some rebel groups had the desire to take part, they said it is possible the Syrian regime does not want to attend, but its close ally Russia is forcing them to attend the talks.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University Vows to Hold More Protests Against Government

After Sunday’s violent ending to a protest led by Al-Azhar’s University’s student union, the same union promises more protests after their demonstration in Cairo. The body said that the student union’s protest, which was the first after the Eid holidays, they will continue to call for the release of people who were arrested during the weekend chaos.

On Sunday, Al-Azhar University’s Cairo campuses had hundreds of students shouting in protests against the Egyptian Military’s actions on ousting President Mohammed Morsi from office. During the protests, Egyptian police stormed the schools and seven students were arrested according to officials.

However, students said that there were more than 30 students arrested by the police. The students also shouted anti-police slogans and attacked security forces with stones. Fires were also started, having the Egyptian police respond non-lethally with the use of teargas.

Al-Azhar University Deputy President Ibrahim Hudhud pointed out that many of the student protesters instigated violence. However, the Student Union accuses their University Deputy President of false accussations.

As predicted by political analysts, the beginning of Egyptian school on September will incite more protests from students supporting the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian government is currently detaining Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the country.

New Egyptian Constitution Scheduled for November

The controversial constitution written by the Egyptian Islamist Party the Muslim Brotherhood will be rewritten despite the absence of the deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. According to a 50-member panel from different political and ethnic backgrounds, the constitution is set to be completed by November.

Despite the opposition against the deposition of President Morsi, the interim authorities are pushing ahead of their plan. Expecting protests, the government had deployed security forces at school campuses in Cairo and surrounding provinces.

About two dozen students protesting against the writing of a new constitution were detained according to the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the political party’s leader, Essam el-Erian, called on students to keep up their protests because they are fighting for their future.

Currently, many Muslim Brotherhood members are running from the police being charged for inciting rebellion and murder.
After the crackdown on protesters in Egypt that led to many casualties, the Muslim Brotherhood looked to re-igniting their protests in the new school year.

The 50-member panel rewriting the constitution is liberal-dominated tasked to work on proposals. The Muslim Brotherhood had refused to represent themselves to the panel.

According to reports, the panel’s members were considering to remove the Shura Council widely dominated by Islamist members. It was elevated to legislative status after Morsi came into power.

Protesters were raising their voices for General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to step down and renounce his actions for committing a coup against the rightful president of Egypt.

Pope Warns Against Armed Attack in Syria

As things heat up in the UN Security Council with the US disregarding working with the international community, Pope Francis pleas for peace and a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis and issues a warning to the United States and other countries planning an armed assault.

Pope Francis said that he was against a US-led military invasion of Syria. The Pope was not naming countries that would participate in the attack. He clearly made his message that only a diplomatic solution will be the right way in resolving the conflict.

Pope Francis’ Angelus message was his first entrance into intervening in major international politics. The pope condemned the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, but he said that by inflicting war against war, only violence will be the end result. Only through dialogue will the Syrian conflict be truly resolved.

Tensions between the United States and Russia continue as the US accuses Russia of holding the UN Security Council hostage through veto powers.

The Obama administration had received favour from top congress figures, yet many Americans in general do not support the armed assault in Syria. Iranian Leader Ayatollah al-Khamenei also warned of the consequences the US and the world could have if it decides to attack Syria.