Presidential Election — Afghan officials have set a date to hold the country’s next presidential election on April 5, 2014, reports the New York Times. Afghanistan‘s last presidential election in 2009 was delayed from May to August because of a series of controversies and the election itself was plagued by fraud. Although the new election date has been confirmed, “Western officials have expressed doubts about whether a truly clean and free election can be held given the level of violence in Afghanistan and the deep-rooted corruption within the government,” wrote the Times.
E.U. Bid — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the European Union will lose Turkey if it doesn’t grant the country E.U. membership by 2023, notes Reuters. Turkey officially launched its bid to join the E.U. back in 2005 but it has come to a deadlock “in recent years due to opposition from core E.U. members and the failure to find a solution to the dispute over the divided island of Cyprus,” according to Reuters. The European Commission says Turkey has yet to meet E.U. standards on human rights and freedom of speech.
African Private Schools — Private schooling is on the rise across Africa thanks to the continent’s economic growth, but also heightening concerns about inequality, examines the Guardian. Lack of state funding has prompted private companies, such as Gems Education, to step in and deliver education in Africa. But tuition at private schools remains out of reach for the poorest and could worsen inequality, according to the Guardian.
Highs and Lows – Figures show that there are now 18.49 million out of work in the eurozone area, hitting a new record high, writes the Guardian. The report released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has announced that the jobless total within the eurozone reached 11.6% in September. The highest increases in unemployment were registered in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has criticized the E.U. for its slow progress saying that the eurozone crisis can only be resolved through solutions at domestic and regional levels. You can follow the Guardian’s live blog on the eurozone crisis here, and a TIME.com piece on Spain’s economic woes here.
Tsunami Reconstruction – Funds dedicated to rebuilding following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami 18 months ago have been spent on unrelated projects, reports the BBC. Some of the $150 billion designated to repairing the damage caused by the natural disaster that killed 19,000 people has been spent on roads in Okinawa, an ad campaign for Japan’s tallest building, and support for whaling research, according to the reports. Speaking in parliament Monday, the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said these problems would be addressed and advised fellow ministers to “listen sincerely to the voices calling for the utmost priority to be accorded to disaster area reconstruction.”
Opium Production – There has been a noticeable growth in illegal opium production in Burma for the sixth year running, writes Aljazeera. According to the United Nations, the increase comes in response to the growing demand for heroin in Asia, particularly in China. Burma is the world’s second largest producer of opium after Afghanistan, with opium cultivation up by 17% this year. In 1999, Burma set the goal of becoming opium free by 2014. The government claims that it eradicated poppies on about 24,000 hectares of land in 2012.