Must-Reads from Around the World

A rights group says migrant workers at the Sochi Olympic construction sites are exploited, the U.K. is the world's top land-grabber and Iran releases footage of a missing U.S. drone

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Anja Niedringhaus / AP

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.

U.K. Hospital Scandal – The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has formally apologized for the care scandal at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Hospital Trust and announced steps to improve patient care, writes the Guardian. A recent report found that hundreds of patients died needlessly at Mid Staffordshire between 2005 and 2009 as a result of a the “institutional and structural failings in the NHS.” Cameron insists that, despite the findings, he has a “deep affection” for the NHS and that most of the staff do a very good job. National reviews have now been ordered into the hospitals with the highest mortality rates in the U.K. and how complaints are handled in the NHS.

Sochi Winter Olympics — A new report by Human Rights Watch reveals that migrant laborers working at construction sites for Russia’s Sochi Olympics have been cheated and exploited, notes Radio Free Europe. According to the report, some employers tried to force the workers to stay in exploitative jobs by cheating them out of their salaries, confiscating their passports and requiring them to work 12-hour shifts with few days off. Foreign workers are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation because of several factors, including “inadequate knowledge of the Russian language, residency status issues and the fear of facing fines or expulsions,” writes RFE.

Global Land-grab — Anti-hunger group Oxfam International said wealthy countries have been buying large swaths of agricultural land at bargain prices in developing nations, especially in regions with serious hunger problems, according to Mother Jones. The No. 1 land-grabber from 2002 to 2012 was the U.K., which acquired 10.9 millions of acres. The other top land-grabbing nations are the U.S., China, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes the land-grabbing as a “new form of colonialism,” as British, American, and Chinese investors buy farmland often without properly consulting and compensating poor small-scale farmers and local populations.

Japanese Whaling — The International Fund for Animal Welfare notes that Japan — despite the drop in whale meat consumption — has been spending nearly $400 million in tax money in recent years to subsidize the whaling industry, reports the New York Times. Tokyo provides the subsidies, saying that whaling is a tradition with wide support among the Japanese. Yet whale meat is no longer a popular item. In 2011, the industry shipped 5,000 tons of whale meat, compared to 233,000 tons at its heyday in 1962, according to data from the country’s agriculture and fisheries ministry.

Iran Drone Footage – According to CNN, Iran has released footage of a U.S. drone that it captured over a year ago. Iran claims to have downed the drone in December 2011 near Kashmar, about 140 miles from the Afghan border. The video, which was aired on Wednesday, shows an aerial view of an airport and a city, believed to be a U.S. drone base and the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan, reports the Guardian. President Barack Obama, who was made aware of the missing drone at the time, vowed to bring it back despite refusals from Iran to return it. Iranian officials have accused the U.S. of spying and attampting to force Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment program. The release of the video coincides with the U.S. drone program that is currently being debated in Washington.

Australian Doping — Following news earlier this week of allegations surrounding a global soccer betting scam run from Singapore, the match-fixing continues in Australia where a government investigation into professional sport has found evidence of drug use and links to organized crime, reports Aljazeera. The report published on the Thursday found that many of the criminals involved in the distribution of illegal substance were also connected with fixing matches and betting fraud. The Australian Crime Commission has referred the report’s findings on to the Australian Federal Police and state police forces. The news of widespread drug use by professional Australian athletes comes in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah in January of taking illegal substances during his cycling career.

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