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Thursday, August 30, 2012

U.N. Secretary-General, Egyptian President Attack Iran At Summit

United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi attacked Iran’s policies at the opening of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran, delivering a serious blow to the host country’s attempt at using the meeting to win support.”I strongly reject threats by any member states to destroy another, or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust”, Ban told the assembled dignitaries. “Claiming that another U.N. member state, Israel, does not have the right to exist, describing it in racist terms, is not only utterly wrong, but undermines principles we have all pledged to uphold.” The U.N. Secretary-General had been referring to remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, who said then that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust. Speaking before Ban, Egyptian president Morsi said that the emergence of a Syrian opposition movement was a “revolution against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy”, a scathing critique of Iran’s support of the Assad regime. This prompted a walkout by the Syrian delegates, who only returned after his speech was over.

Valencia Asks for More Bailout Funds from Spanish Government

Another autonomous region of Spain, Valencia, has asked the country’s central government for an increase in its bailout package. The region, in the country’s eastern seaboard, says it now needs €4.5 billion ($5.6 billion), one billion more than its original plea made earlier in the summer. Valencia has become notorious for its spending in so-called white elephant projects. Over the last decade it invested billions in hosting Formula One races, attracting an America’s Cup sailing competition to its shores and building Europe’s largest acquarium. The Castellón-Costa Azahar airport, built at a cost of €150 million ($188 million) and opened in March 2011, has yet to see a flight take off or land. Debt-ridden Catalonia had already asked Madrid for €5 billion ($6.3 billion) out of the government’s €41 billion ($51.4 billion) internal bailout fund last Tuesday. The stagnant situation in the country’s regions increases Spain’s likelihood of requesting a full financial bailout package.

Barclays Faces U.K. Fraud Probe Over Qatar Payments

Barclays faces a criminal probe over payments it made to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in 2008 as it sought money to avoid a government bailout. The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, which prosecutes bribery and while-collar crime, said that Barclays paid £300 million ($476 million) in fees when it raised £6.8 billion ($10.7 billion) from a group of Middle Eastern investors, including Qatar Holding. The funds allowed Barclays to avoid a government bailout at the height of the financial crisis, unlike other British banks such as Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The news comes on the same day of the appointment of Antony Jenkins as its new CEO. Jenkins is the former head of Barclays’ retail and business banking division and replaces American executive Bob Diamond, who resigned in July after the bank was found to rig Libor interest rates.

Overseas University Students Face Deportation in London

More than 2,000 students face deportation within 60 days after the government stripped a London university of its license to admit foreigners. Immigration minister Damian Green said that London Metropolitan University had suffered a “serious systematic failure” in its admission and vetting procedures. A significant proportion of foreign students did not have a good standard of English and there was no proof that half of those students who had their files sampled by the U.K. Border Agency were even turning up for classes. A task force has been set up to help the affected students who now have 60 days to find an alternative institution that would sponsor their visas or face immediate deportation. No other British university has been stripped of its ability to admit non-EU students, but a stricter set of checks could drive them elsewhere. Foreign students generate 32% of universities’ fee income in the U.K. despite being only about 11% of the whole undergraduate population.

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