Spanish Political Scandal – News that the leading Spanish political party, the Popular Party, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, has become implicated in a financial corruption scandal, was released in the Spanish newspaper El Pais Thursday, writes the New York Times. The newspaper published excerpts showing payouts, said to have come from “donations,” to leading party members above their official salaries. The internal accounts show that Rajoy received sums averaging $34,000 a year between 1997 and 2008. However, the Prime Minister declined to comment on the reports findings until internal and external audits into the party’s finances have been completed. The scandal comes in the wake of news that Spain’s unemployment rate has hit a record high of 26%.
New Delhi, New Pollution — Air pollution levels in New Delhi surpassed those in Beijing on Thursday, according to the New York Times. The level of tiny particulates known as PM 2.5, which are small enough to infiltrate the lungs and the bloodstream, reached over 400 micrograms per cub meter in different neighborhoods in and around the Indian capital — more than double the most recent air quality reading of 172 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing. Despite Delhi’s high level of air pollution, the city government has not been able to keep up with the factors that cause it, reports the Times.
Nordic Success — The Economist sheds light on how the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have created economically competitive welfare states. Reforming the public sector and entitlement programs, cutting public spending and making the government more efficient and transparent are the secret behind their success, according to the weekly. The Nordic countries show that “you can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance [and] put entitlement programs on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations,” concludes the Economist.
Chinese Workers — A new study indicates that China’s surplus labor will disappear by 2025, notes Bloomberg. Researchers at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the world’s second-largest economy will run out of low-cost workers between 2020 and 2025 because of its rapidly shrinking working-age population. China can try to delay reaching the so-called Lewis Turning Point by relaxing its one-child policy and relying more on private consumption rather than investment for economic growth, said the researchers.
Falklands Dispute – Argentina’s foreign minister Hector Timerman has turned down the offer of talks with the U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague, over the future of the Falkland islands, following a dispute about whether the islanders should be present, reports the Guardian. Timerman objected to having representatives of the Falkland government, which Argentina does not recognize as legitimate, attend the meeting. Representatives from Port Stanley had planned to travel to London this weekend to explain to Timerman that the Argentinian government should respect the islanders’ rights and leave them in peace. The Foreign Office has said it is “massively disappointed by the Argentinian response,” and that it would be “unthinkable” not to have representation from the islands.
Turkish Abortion Law – A new law expected to be brought to the Turkish cabinet next week will only permit abortions if carried out by obstetricians in hospitals, notes the Guardian. Abortions in Turkey can currently be carried out by certified practitioners and in local health clinics, but women’s rights activists fear that the new legislation will make access to abortions almost impossible. Meanwhile, in Ireland, the Minister for Health James Reilly has said he hopes a new law allowing abortion when the life of the mother is at risk will be produced before the summer, said the Irish Times. The Irish abortion debate made international headlines in late 2012 when an Indian woman died after reportedly being refused an abortion.