Must-Reads from Around the World

Denmark's fat tax is repealed after one year, eBay enters the Chinese online market, and Afghanistan gets both a boost and a suspension when it comes to aid

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JEROME FAVRE/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Ebay Inc. company logo is displayed in the company's office in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011.

Fat’s Your Lot — After one year of taxing foods high in saturated fat, lawmakers in Denmark have decided to kill the controversial measure, the New York Times reports. The tax drew frequent complaints from consumers and small businesses, as the prices of essential items such as butter, oil and cheese rose as much as 9%, according to the Wall Street Journal. Danish business owners said they had been losing money as Danes traveled to Germany and Sweden instead for cheaper fatty foods. The failure of the fat tax has also prompted the lawmakers to give up implementing a sugar tax. There is one silver lining: This past has generated an estimated €170 million ($216 million) in revenue.

Teaming Up  — As Western nations prepare to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, India is getting ready to partner with the war-torn country, Reuters reports. Having pledged $2 billion in development aid, India will help train Afghan police and build roads and railways, with Indian companies starting to invest in the war-torn country. While India’s involvement may help prevent a Taliban resurgence, its Afghan ties could be perceived as a threat by Pakistan.

eBay’s Latest Bid — The BBC notes that the world’s biggest online marketplace is joining many Western companies by working with Chinese firms to tap into the wealth of local consumers. The plan to create a Chinese version of eBay came after the firm discovered a 40% sales increase from customers in China using its English-language website. China’s Internet market is considered the world’s largest with some 500 million users; it is predicted to grow as online activities increase in rural areas. The country’s online retail profit amounted to $129 billion in 2011.
Brazilian Corruption – The ex-chief of staff of the former Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for his role in a vote buying scheme, writes Aljazeera. Jose Dirceu was an aide to the president from 2003-2005 and a leader of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT). The 66-year old lawyer and ex-guerilla fighter was sentenced Monday for corruption and conspiracy and fined $350,000. Dirceu wrote in his blog that the sentence “only aggravates the outrage and ignominy of the whole process,” which “openly violated our constitution and the democratic rule of law.” Former president Lula has denied having any knowledge of the operation.

Debt Delay – Greece has been given another two years by the eurozone’s finance ministers to make its promised cuts, writes the BBC. However, finance ministers have not come to an agreement on whether to release further funding for the under-fire country, with the decision put on hold until November 20. In August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the possibility of Greece leaving the euro was out of the question, resulting in the eurozone deciding to help Greece whatever happens. The current target is for the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio to reach 120% by 2020. That target has now also been pushed back by two years to 2022.

Afghan Aid Suspended – While India is becoming more involved, the European Union has suspended $25 million in aid to Afghanistan, reports Aljazeera. The E.U. has warned that aid depends on whether the government can stick to agreed reforms. E.U. ambassador Vygaudas Usackas announced Monday that the payment had been suspended due to a lack of progress in reforming the Afghan justice system. “If the European Union is deeply committed in supporting Afghanistan, it needs to stress that in the spirit of the Tokyo agreement,” explained Usackas.  Donor nations who met in Toyko in July pledged $16 billion to Afghanistan through 2015 to help support the country as foreign combat troops are expected to depart a year earlier. The E.U. and member states have donated $1.5 billion a year to supporting the country and its development over the past decade.

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