Must-Reads from Around the World

Bribery is rife in China's state-run education system, widespread malnutrition plagues India, and European leaders meet in Brussels to try to reach a budget deal.

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Chinese Educational Bribery — The New York Times reports that bribery and cronyism are spreading in China‘s state-run education system, as rich and well-connected parents use their money and connections to give their children an advantage at schools. In Beijing, some parents are reportedly forced to pay thousands of dollars to enroll their children in schools — from kindergartens to high schools. “Corruption has broadened the gulf between the haves and have-nots as Chinese families see their hopes for the future sold to the highest bidder,” wrote the Times.

Nuclear Talks — VOA News reports that six world powers want a new round of talks on Iran‘s contested nuclear program as soon as possible. On Wednesday, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said senior diplomats from China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. are committed to renewed talks with Tehran to resolve its disputed nuclear activities. The past talks with Iran ended in June when Tehran rejected “Western calls for it to scale back its nuclear program, which the West suspects is a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb,” reported VOA News.

Indian Malnutrition — Although India has managed to end widespread death by starvation, malnutrition continues to plague the country, where its citizens “eat enough to fill their stomachs but not enough to stay healthy,” notes Bloomberg Businessweek. Experts said the country’s endemic malnutrition can be attributed to a combination of different factors: corruption, inefficient bureaucracy, official indifference, poverty and caste differences. “In essence,” wrote Businessweek, “it may be that Indians are still hungry because India is not yet a fully functional country.”

E.U.’s Boozy Budget — As European leaders meet in Brussels with hopes of reaching a budget deal, some have began to scoff at the institutions’ robust collection of alcohol — totaling 42,789 bottles of wine — the New York Times reports. Additionally, others have questioned whether the sleepless nights spent at summits lasting into the wee hours of the morning have hindered progress on the $1 trillion budget deal, Reuters adds. One E.U. diplomat called the meetings torture, while Sweden has tried to make things more comfortable for its delegation. The country “has organized extra bedding for its diplomats to take a rest in their delegation room if necessary,” according to Reuters.

New Ambassador — Japan has named the new ambassador to China after the previous envoy died before he was meant to start, the BBC reports. Career diplomat Masato Kitera will begin his assignment in Beijing next month. This appointment comes as the two countries face a strained relationship over a contested group of islands that both countries claim.

Sudan Sabotage Plot — Sudanese security services were successful in preventing a “sabotage attempt” led by opposition forces and arrested civilians and military personnel in connection with the incident, Reuters reports. The plot was allegedly aimed at brining “security disturbances in the country,” the Sudanese Media Center reported. Many witnesses claimed that they had seen military vehicles in Khartoum’s city center. Tensions between North and South Sudan have remained high since South Sudan was granted independence last year.