Economist 7/14/15

  1. AFTER 19 days of haggling and brinkmanship between Iran and the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), the exhausted negotiators dragged themselves over the finishing line of an historic deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme, and thus prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon.It seeks to cut off several routes to a possible nuclear weapon: it contains limitations on uranium enrichment levels, a reduction on the number of centrifuges, limits on their design and a cap on Iran’s stockpiles of low-enriched uranium. Expiry dates for the various provisions, ranging from a decade to as long as 25 years were also established.
  2. THE latest report from the United Nations’ anti-HIV agency, UNAID states that of the number of AIDS-related deaths and new infections a year, have fallen since 2005 by 41% and 24% respectively. They now stand at 1.2m and 2m.t the drop in the death rate is the consequence of a third number, which is that 15m of the 37m people reckoned to be infected are now receiving drug treatment. This treatment, known as antiretroviral therapy, or ARV, not only keeps them alive, it also greatly reduces the risk of their infecting others.all but the poorest places pay much of the bill themselves. South Africa, for example, picks up the tab for almost all of the 3.1m of its citizens who are on ARV.
  3. In exchange for the third bail out package to Greece, which could amount to as much as €86 billion ($95 billion) over three years, Mr Tsipras has had to sign up to precisely the sort of demands his Syriza party railed against during its successful election campaign in January.Those pledges, on matters like VAT and pension reform, must be legislated by the Greek parliament no later than July 15th. A week later further legislation must follow, including a total overhaul of Greece’s judicial system.Greece must also enact further pension reforms, open up professions, loosen trading rules, privatise its electricity network, reform its labour market and strengthen its banks. Once that is out of the way, Mr Tsipras’s government, if it is still standing, will have to produce plans for “de-politicising” the Greek administration, a task that has eluded every government since Greece obtained its independence from the Ottomans in 1832.Most painful of all, it will have to deposit what the seven-page summit statement calls “valuable Greek assets” into an independent privatisation fund with the aim of raising €50 billion over the course of the bail-out.
  4. The Puerto Rico‘s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, last month conceded that public debts of $72 billion are “not payable”.To take just one measure, the island’s workforce-participation rate is a dismal 40%, thanks in part to rigid labour laws and welfare schemes that too often pay better than taking a job. For those on the left, this is a chance to preach against investment funds which piled into Puerto Rican bonds in search of high returns, and now want islanders to take the pain after that gamble went wrong.Though the 3.5m inhabitants of Puerto Rico cannot vote in presidential elections and only send a non-voting delegate to Congress, they are American citizens and enjoy full voting rights if they move to one of the 50 states. For decades, the votes of the Puerto Rican diaspora hardly swayed national elections, because most lived in New York or New Jersey where Democrats romp home in presidential contests.. There are about 5m Puerto Ricans on the mainland now, a fifth of them in Florida.
  5. Although rates of smoking continue to fall in some countries—such as America and Britain—elsewhere they are rising. Banning smoking would be wrong. As the decades-long “war on drugs” shows, when people really want to get hold of a mind-altering substance, they will.Bans on legal sales fuel illegal ones. But discouraging smoking is entirely legitimate.The most effective measure against smoking is taxation. Fiscal engineers need to be careful to set the rate neither so high that it encourages smugglers, nor so low that it fails to deter smokers. The WHO reckons that it should be at least three-quarters of the value of a pack. And, as they raise the tobacco tax, governments need simultaneously to tighten their borders. Britain cut the smugglers’ share of the market from 21% to 9% by sharpening customs operations.Bans on smoking in public places can have immediate benefits. In eight countries in Europe and the Americas, admissions to hospital for heart disease fell by an average of 17% in the year after the implementation of such a ban.But according to a WHO report published on July 7th (see article), Turkey is the only country to have introduced all the necessary measures. Some countries, such as Indonesia, still have hardly any regulations. Others have too many loopholes.
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