Presidential Election Will Push Through Despite Civil War in Syria

The Syrian Regime had announced that the June 3 Presidential Elections will push through despite the increasing violence and chaos in the country. According to Parliament Speaker Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, the constitutional court will begin accepting presidential nominations on Wednesday. However, political analysts said that the elections will do nothing but change the name of the Syrian regimes leader, but make no new political improvements for the country.

Over 100,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war from 2011 up to present. Many of the casualties were civilians, who were victims of bombing and covert chemical attacks denied by both the Syrian Regime and Rebels. Upon the announcement of the election date, Syrian opposition activists reported barrel bombs raining all over neighbourhoods across Syria.

The elections may also prove troublesome given that millions of Syria’s population had taken refuge in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Some of them had also migrated illegally to Europe.

Recently, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had visited a Christian village, which political analysts see as a campaign to help improve his chances of winning the upcoming elections on June 3. According to local media, Assad had promised the small Christian population of 10% will be defended by the Syrian military against foreign fighters joining he Syrian Rebels, namely Islam extremists.


Roman Archaeologists Receive £1.6m To Restore Augustus Monument Site

Rome’s first emperor’s ashes, along with successors Tiberius and Claudius, will get the recognition it deserves through the efforts of Archaeologists, who had received £1.6 million to restore the Forum, the Colosseum and Augustus’ Mausoleum. A pedestrianized piazza worth £11.6 million will be built to handle more visitors into the site.

According to Culture Assessor Flavia Barca, the funding is timely for the 2,000 year anniversary of the site. He said that rome was once the world’s biggest and most beautiful city being a capital for business, culture and entertainment.
Emperor Augusts claimed on his deathbed that he found a Rome built of bricks, and he had left one made of marble.

However, the test of time is not kind to the infrastructure built two centuries ago. The Mausoleum’s upper floor is missing and the marble, which once shone proud, had been in terrible shape and had long been gone.

Archaeologist Elisabetta Carnabuci said that the architecture of the Mausoleum is incredible because it had stood the test of time, especially with a modernizing Rome. The Mausoleum was once a castle that was battered by warring families, a concert hall, and then Benito Mussolini’s bid to restore the honour of the Emperor during the Facist Regime.

The restoration efforts may take two years until its reopening. The positive public response to the project ensured that the Romans did not forget about its first emperor.


Pope Francis to Celebrate Anniversary In Spiritual Retreat

Pope Francis announced that he will celebrate the first year of being Pope of Roman Catholicism in spiritual retreat. The Roman Catholic Church does not mark Thursday’s celebration, which marks the day he was elected as Pope of the Church, in any official way.

Pope Francis will be celebrating his first year in a cabin in the woods in Castelli Romani, an area on the outskirts of Rome. He had left and travelled using a humble coach along with 83 members of the Church’s governing body, the Curia.

His retreat is part of the Vatican calendar’s Lenten season, which prepares the religious with sacrifices, self-denial, penance and renewing of their spirit.

The retreat celebration also allows Pope Francis the ability to shun away from the growing tensions between the Church officials and the media circus, which often pounce during the special public anniversary celebrations.

Church attendance had increased because of Pope Francis’ “modern” form of Papacy. He had related religious facts to logic, even if several Church officials vehemently reject the actual meaning of the terms of his statement. He also shunned and denounced the ‘cult of personality’ his popularity had brought him from the public.

Pope Francis is considered one of the most unique figures in Catholicism given that he does away with extravagance. He does not live in the Papal Palace; he lives in a humble, three-room apartment. According to local news, Pope Francis is not a fan of globalization, and is the perfect pope for today’s economically-uncertain and much-divided world.


Italian Prime Minister Comes Under Intense Pressure from Political Rivals

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta continues to try to hold the support of his coalition after Matteo Renzi, the young and newly-elected leader of the Democratic Party that includes the Prime Minister, is locked in a power struggle against Letta. The young political leader said that the current government had done very little to help the country emerge from its recession.

In a bout of talks in a meeting between the Prime Minister and Renzi this week, the young politician did not mention if he would continue to support the policy agenda of the Prime Minister. Coalition members had called on the Prime Minister to set aside to allow a new government run by Matteo Renzi to flourish.

The Prime Minister did not respond to the calls to step down and instead published a 57-page plan that will allow them to deal with Italy’s high unemployment rates specifically in the youth and cuts in high taxes by taking certain cuts from public expenditures and other government savings.

Mayor of Florence Matteo Renzi had won great support within the Democratic Party in December, which pushed him to become the party’s head. Being in such a position, he had become continuously critical of Letta’s government. Coalition members are convinced he could shake up Italy’s struggling economic and political system.


Child Molestation Video Raises Concern and Soul Searching in Saudi Arabia

A viral video spreading in Saudi Arabia’s social networks showing a child being molested in Saudi Arabia had many Arabian netizens discussing about the international moral taboo around the world. Hashtags #guysexuallyharassingalittlegirl had many users discuss about punishing the sexual offenders and encouraging young people to speak out against the abuse.

The video’s details cannot be verified but it appeared on Youtube in the last 48 hours. It showed a surveillance footage of a man molesting a small child wearing a school uniform. The man approached the female child and touched her inappropriately. According to netizens, the location was in Saudi’s Easter Province of Dammam. Authorities told local media that they are currently searching for the man in the video.

Arabian social network users discussed the issue in length, encouraging young people who might have had experienced the same scenario as a child. Some had shared photographs and images of how to know if an adult is abusing them, even if these adults are family. Many users have also shared how to report adult abuse should it happen to a child.

Within 48 hours, the hashtag trended on Saudi Arabian Twitter networks 100,000 times and the video had reached 175,000 views. YouTube removed the video but duplications exist elsewhere in the same platform and in different websites.


Italian Government Faces Fourth Day of Protests

Italy’s enraged citizens, from truckers to students and the unemployed, are raging the fourth day of protests with students throwing firecrackers outside a University where Italian ministers were attending a conference regarding Italy’s austerity measures.

The protests were called the ‘pitchfork’ movement, which included a loosely organised group of farmers from Sicily. Protests spread to Milan, Turin, Palermo and Florence complete with marches and sit-ins. According to protesters, the current Italian government must leave office immediately and that their numbers are growing by the number.

Protesters were fighting against falling incomes, graft and scandals among politicians and unemployment rates above 41% for the younger population of the country. They were also forwarding the idea that the current Italian government needs to be dissolved and the privileges of Italy only available to elites and the Euro.

Italian Minister Angelino Alfano said that the unrest could “lead to a spiral of rebellion against national and European institutions”. He said that the Italian government understood the “suffering of Italy’s poor”, but he said that violence will never be an answer. He said they “intend to defend the freedom of our citizens to live in safety and of our shopkeepers to do business.

Dozens of shops and properties had been damaged because of the unrest. Fourteen police officers have been injured.

PPI Claims News: FOS Chief Steps Down Office

Four-year Financial Ombudsman Chief Natalie Ceeney announced her resignation after her organisation received its one-millionth payment protection insurance complaint. According to Nicholas Montagu, Chairman of the Ombudsman, Natalie felt that it was time to move on from the Financial Ombudsman into new ventures. He added that Natalie’s contributions to the organisation will always be a part of its foundations.

In her term, former Chief Ceeney had dealt with an annual workload of 150,000-500,000 cases, majority of which were related to PPI and other insurance complaints.

According to Natalie Ceeney, she was very proud to have worked with talented people in the Financial Ombudsman Service and to have done a great contribution to society by helping people return confidence in the United Kingdom’s financial industry.

Ceeney had lashed out against banks and financial companies who fail to handle PPI claims properly. She was the one to point out that banks need to address the complaints properly to lower their administration costs and maintain the financial confidence of their consumers.

The Financial Ombudsman is the last stop of the PPI claimant should they be unsatisfied with their bank or financial company’s decision regarding their mis sold PPI refund. The Financial Ombudsman recently handled 265,000 cases of PPI complaints coming from banks who made unsatisfactory decisions about PPI redresses.

Protesters Sit-In Protest in Rome Against Austerity Measures

Hundreds of protesters in Rome camped themselves in a square in the city’s center on Sunday protesting against the austerity measures and evictions while calling for more affordable housing.  The thousands of people protested to call the people’s attention on the social cost of the economic crisis.

The protesters’ banners read “Let’s Take Back the City”. The protesters have blocked major passages to the Italian capital. Other banners displayed encouragement to stop evictions, clear-outs and repossessions.

According to the protesters, their camp is a symbol of the beginning of an uprising. Included in the protests were civil workers, hospital staff and transport workers. The protests have caused disruptions to Rome and Italy’s daily routines.

They also said that Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s 2014 budget shows discontentment among the public. Employees were  getting freezes on public sector salaries and easing was not enough on the worker’s tax burdens.  Protest group leaders said that austerities showed their inefficiency with Italy’s debt still increasing, the economy still falling and unemployment increasing to new heights.

The protest’s disruption had 100 flights cancelled at the Flumicino Airport, 80% of buses failing to run and train/subway systems not functioning.

The tax hikes and spending cuts only worsened the Italian recession according to protesters and the euro zone debt crisis made the problem greater.

Kenyan Attack Claims 68 People Including Two Indian Nationals

Sridhar Natarajan and eight-year old Paramshu Jain were two Indian nationals who died during the attack of Islamist terror group al-Shabaab, closely linked to the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Witnesses said that the militants opened fire at random people in the Westgate Shopping Complex.

Aside from the two Indian casualties, two women and a girl have also suffered injuries during the attack.

Kenyan troops have currently freed many of the hostages during the weekend and are pushing to take full control of the mall by Monday.

The terrorist group al-Shabaab had claimed that it was responsible for the attack on its Twitter account. According to security experts, the attacks on Kenya from the terrorist group had been a continuous attempt to stop the anti-terror activity of Nairobi in Somalia.

Currently, Kenyan troops are still exchanging fire against the terrorists. The troops have secured the upper market.

According to witnesses and survivors, the men entered with masks on their faces. They also said that the Shabaab separated non-muslims from the muslims, asking them about their faith or asking them to recite the Islamic creed or Shahada.

The Red Cross had also called for blood donors to aid the wounded and injured during the terrorist attacks.

Pope Writes to Putin and Praises His Restraint for Military Strike

Pope Francis wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin for showing restraint and standing by for proper order and justice as more G20 members push for a military strike in Syria.

In the letter to Putin, Pope Francis praised Vladimir Putin for seeing through the one-sided interests of some countries regarding the conflict and his efforts in averting a “senseless massacre” in the form of a military strike.

Pope Francis announced in an Angelus that the UN should seek for diplomatic solutions as war could only breed violence and the Syrian people have already suffered enough from the two-year civil war.

The Vatican also rebuked claims of Argentinian newspapers regarding Pope Francis contacting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt attacks in Syria and the Pope Francis contacted the United States to halt any military strike on Syria.

Pope Francis is pushing for a four-hour vigil in St. Peter’s square on Saturday in the spirit of having a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.

Other religious leaders, including Jesuit Head Father Adolfo Nicolas, said that a US attack on Syria could mean an abuse of power and that the United States should stop reacting to the situation like the “big boss” of weaker countries in the international community.