Must-Reads from Around the World

A Romanian scandal reflects endemic corruption in Eastern Europe, China's urban population will drive the next stage of growth and ultranationalist, right-wing Ukrainian party gains increasing support.

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Ukranian Elections –The governing party of President Viktor F. Yanukovich won Sunday’s parliamentary elections in the Ukraine, writes the New York Times. Opposition parties also enjoyed strong gains, including a surprising increase of support for the Freedom Party, which won 12% of the vote. This ultranationalist, right wing party is led by Oleg Tyagnibok, who has called in the past for purges of Jews and Russians from the Ukraine. The party’s popularity is partly seen as a backlash to the elevation of the status of the Russian language, pushed through parliament by Yanukovich’s Party of Regions. The official make-up of the parliament will not be known for several weeks.

Romanian Scandal — The New York Times analyzes the corruption scandal of former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, who is now in prison for siphoning state funds for his presidential campaign, and explains that the scandal reflects regional struggles, such as endemic corruption and political polarization. There is growing concern among the European Union “that its newest and weakest members are not up to the task of rooting out corruption that is a legacy of decades of Communist rule and weak governance before that,” wrote the Times.

China‘s Growth — The urban population of China is expected to grow by 300 million over the next 20 years, reports CNBC. Experts said the booming urban population will drive the next stage of growth in the Chinese economy and benefit the consumption and services sectors. Citi Bank, according to CNBC, forecasts that this “urbanization dividend” could raise China’s potential growth rate by 0.8 percentage points to 8.5% in 2015.
Rice Trade — Burma plans to double its rice exports over the next five years in an attempt to regain its former status as the world’s number one rice exporter, notes Bloomberg. As yields and infrastructure improve, overseas sales of Burmese rice might double from 1.5 million tons in March 2013 to three million tons by 2017, announced the Burma Rice Federation. The Southeast Asian nation, according to Bloomberg, was the world’s top rice exporter between 1960-1963 and the recent revival of the rice trade is an indication of Burma’s reengagement with the global economy and its shift toward democracy.

Euromillions Hackers – A group calling themselves the “Morrocanghosts” hacked into the French Euromillions site on Sunday, reports France24. The hackers left a message from the Koran on the website, written in both French and Arabic, denouncing gambling as the “work of the devil.” The Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) company, which runs the Euromillions in France, assured its followers that other games were not affected, notes the BBC. The Euromillions lottery is played by nine countries across Western Europe.

Mexican Engineers – The number of engineers graduating from Mexico is now competing with figures from the United States, notes the Washington Post. In the U.S., 83,000 undergraduate degrees in engineering were awarded in 2011, while 75,575 undergraduate diplomas in engineering were presented to Mexican students in 2010. It’s still unclear whether President Calderon’s vision of a “country of engineers” will come to fruition in a country where many of these highly skilled graduates end up working low-level managerial jobs at assembly plants owned by foreigners.