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How to make abortion rarer






ABORTION, says Theodora, a Greek civil servant, was “an absolute necessity” when she became pregnant last year. Her husband had lost his job and money was too tight for a third child. The procedure, at a private clinic, was “efficient”; she was in and out in three hours. Hers was a typical experience for a middle-class Athenian woman. It is not uncommon for one to have four or five abortions, says a gynaecologist in Athens. In Greece abortion is seen as an ordinary form of birth control.

Most modern contraceptives, however, are not viewed that way. More than half of married Greek women use none at all. Withdrawal and condoms are the methods of choice for most couples who are trying not to have a baby—even medical students, who should know that these fail about a fifth of couples who rely on them for a year. Greeks commonly believe that the pill and other hormonal contraceptives cause infertility and cancer. They also distrust intrauterine devices (IUDs), possibly because they have been taught that tampons are unhealthy.

The same sort of nonsense keeps abortion rates high in many other countries. Statistics are patchy, especially…

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Business this week






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Business this week

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Climate change in the era of Trump

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Stockmarkets in America remained buoyant as investors anticipated that Donald Trump’s presidency will reduce regulations and boost growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and NASDAQ share indices rose to new record highs on the same day, with the Dow closing above the 19,000 mark for the first time. Investors also focused on whether OPEC members will agree to cut oil production, and thus lift oil prices (and oil-industry profits), at their forthcoming meeting. See article. 
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An annual ranking of systemically important global banks was published by the Financial Stability Board, an international regulatory body. It ranks 30 banks based on the risk they would present to the world economy if they went bankrupt. JPMorgan Chase topped the list again and was joined by Citigroup, which moved up a notch in the rankings’ tier structure. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Industrial and … Continue Reading






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What will happen if America’s president-elect follows through on pledges to tear up environmental laws






“LIKE ice water through the veins.” That is how a UN official, in Marrakesh for the UN climate summit that ended on November 18th, described the effect of Donald Trump’s electoral victory. Her trepidation was widely shared at the two-week event—and justified. In a tweet in 2012 Mr Trump called anthropogenic warming a “hoax”. On the campaign trail he said he would abolish America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and “cancel” the UN agreement to curb greenhouse-gas emissions adopted by 190-odd countries in Paris last year. But in an interview this week with the New York Times, he seemed to waver. Gathered in the ancient Berber city, representatives of those countries pondered whether America is about to forfeit the leadership on climate change it belatedly showed when Barack Obama helped bring about the Paris accord. 

That deal, which came into force earlier this month, includes a…

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Banks and “too big to fail”: Kash call






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A veteran of the financial crisis says banks need much more capital

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Kash call

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The new nationalism

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Banks and “too big to fail”

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SINCE Donald Trump won the election, American bank shares have surged on traders’ hopes of a bonfire of financial regulations. So a proposal from Neel Kashkari, head of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, vastly to increase capital requirements looks ill-timed. On the other hand, the plan mimics the direction—if not the extent—of one backed by congressional Republicans.
Mr Kashkari is an experienced financial firefighter. An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, best-connected of investment … Continue Reading






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Agricultural Bank of China: Sanctions with Chinese characteristics






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American regulators show a foreign bank uncharacteristic leniency

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Sanctions with Chinese characteristics

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Agricultural Bank of China

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The new nationalism

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Agricultural Bank of China

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NEW YORK

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THE fines paid to America’s financial regulators by errant bankers vary enormously these days: from sky-high to stratospheric. Deutsche Bank is fighting a demand for $14bn. BNP Paribas paid $9bn last year for facilitating the evasion of American sanctions. So eyebrows were raised at the final settlement disclosed this month between the state-controlled Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS). The fine … Continue Reading






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League of nationalists






AFTER the sans culottes rose up against Louis XVI in 1789 they drew up a declaration of the universal rights of man and of the citizen. Napoleon’s Grande Armée marched not just for the glory of France but for liberty, equality and fraternity. By contrast, the nationalism born with the unification of Germany decades later harked back to Blut und Boden—blood and soil—a romantic and exclusive belief in race and tradition as the wellspring of national belonging. The German legions were fighting for their Volk and against the world.

All societies draw on nationalism of one sort or another to define relations between the state, the citizen and the outside world. Craig Calhoun, an American sociologist, argues that cosmopolitan elites, who sometimes yearn for a post-nationalist order, underestimate “how central nationalist categories are to political and social theory—and to practical reasoning about democracy, political legitimacy and the nature of society itself.” 

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Lost in the splinternet






FREE-SPEECH advocates were aghast—and data-privacy campaigners were delighted—when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) embraced the idea of a digital “right to be forgotten” in May 2014. It ruled that search engines such as Google must not display links to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” information about people if they request that they be removed, even if the information is correct and was published legally.

The uproar will be even louder should France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État, soon decide against Google. The firm currently removes search results only for users in the European Union. But France’s data-protection authority, CNIL, says this is not enough: it wants Google to delete search links everywhere. Europe’s much-contested right to be forgotten would thus be given global reach. The court will hear the case on December 2nd and may hand down a verdict by January.

The spread of the right to be forgotten is part of a wider trend towards the fragmentation of the internet. Courts and governments have embarked on what some call a “legal arms race” to impose a maze of national or regional rules,…

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