Must-Reads from Around the World

The Irish government is about to pass a law that allows abortions in limited circumstances, Buddhist monks in Thailand struggle to stay relevant and Swiss banking giant UBS is to pay some $1.5 billion in fines for its role in the Libor rate-rigging scandal

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A anti abortion protestors holds up placards outside the Marie Stopes clinic, the first private clinic to offer abortions to women in Belfast, Northern Ireland on October 18, 2012.

Irish Abortion Law — The Irish government is expected to introduce a law that allows abortions in limited circumstances, reports the Guardian. The move comes after Ireland came under pressure from the European court of human rights, which ruled that abortions should be allowed when a women’s life was at risk. According to the Guardian, the new law will “allow terminations where there is a medical risk to a woman’s life or when she is thought to be in danger of killing herself.” Whether the reforms will allow abortions in cases of rape or sexual abuse is unclear.

Thailand‘s Diminishing Monks — The New York Times reports that Buddhist monks in Thailand are struggling to stay relevant as they dwindle in numbers and as the country becomes wealthier and more secular. The number of monks in the Southeast Asian country has dropped by more than 50% over the last 30 years. “In a relatively short time,” writes the Times, “the local Buddhist monk has gone from being a moral authority, teacher and community leader fulfilling important spiritual and secular roles to someone whose job is often limited to presiding over periodic ceremonies.”
Coal vs. Oil — The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that coal will catch up with oil as the world’s top energy source by 2022, notes the BBC. Global consumption of coal will hit 4.32 billion tons of oil equivalent by 2017, says the IEA report. Economic and population growth in developing nations, especially China and India, are driving the demand for coal. The report also adds that China will account for more than 50% of global coal consumption by 2014 and that the U.S. is the only region in the world where demand for coal will decrease.

Polio Workers in Pakistan — Gunmen have been attacking health workers in Pakistan attempting to administer polio vaccinations, reports Reuters. The number killed now stands at 8 in the space of 48 hours, prompting the U.N. to pull all staff working on the project off the streets. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, though “many Islamists, including Taliban militants, have long opposed the campaign” as some believe it to be a sterilization program. One prominent warlord has declared a ban on vaccinations until the U.S. ceases drone strikes.┬áPakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Record Fine — Swiss banking giant UBS have come to an agreement with global regulators to pay some $1.5 billion in fines for its role in the Libor rate-rigging scandal, reports the New York Times. “The UBS case reflects a pattern of abuse that authorities have uncovered as part of a multi-year investigation into rate-rigging,” writes the Times. The fine represents one of the largest sanctions levied against a financial institution says the Times. It comes after a cross-border investigation into the interest rate-rigging scandal from U.S., British and Swiss regulators and is expected to increase pressure on other global financial bodies involved in the scandal to go into settlement talks.