Economist 4/14/14

  1. TOWN by town, eastern Ukraine is falling under the control of men hostile to the Ukrainian state. On April 14th it was the turn of Gorlivka (also known as Horlivka), a 45-minute drive from the regional capital of Donetsk. A couple of hours earlier a deadline had expired, set by Ukraine’s president, Alexander Turchinov, who demanded that men occupying government and police buildings leave them. The previous day Mr Turchinov had warned that the army would be deployed to regain control of the east.
  2. WHEN a new French law banned employers from checking work e-mails after 6pm, it was bound to grab headlines. In fact, there was no new piece of French legislation, but a labour agreement signed on April 1st by unions and employers in the high-tech and consulting field. It covers an estimated 250,000 “autonomous employees”, whose contracts are based on days worked, not hours, and so the 35-hour working week limit does not apply. The agreement does refer to an “obligation to disconnect communications tools”, but only after an employee has worked a 13-hour day. Such workers may work into the weekends too, but must be allowed to have one day off in every seven (24 hours + 11 hours). Nowhere does the agreement refer to a 6pm cut-off. By the standards of most French labour contracts, which have to apply the 35-hour working week, it is unusually liberal, and was designed to help global companies that deal across different time zones. Yet, with a 35-hour working week, entrenched union rights within companies, and a strict 3,500-page labour code, the reality remains that the country does not make it easy for firms to operate.
  3. Globally, about one in every 17,000 people is murdered every year.Most of them are men: women make up only two out of ten victims (and less than one in ten perpetrators). Of those women who are murdered, nearly half are killed by their partner or by another family member, according to figures published last week by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The global murder rate for women is about one in 37,000 per year. About one in 77,000 is killed by a partner or family member.And South Africa is among the most violent spots of all: one in 3,300 citizens is murdered each year, meaning that the country vies with Swaziland and Lesotho for the highest rate on the continent.
  4. BOSSES all over the Western world have been warned. Unless they make allowances for the religious faiths of their ever more diverse workforces, they will suffer lawsuits, official rebukes and protests from staff.  In America foreign-born workers are now nearly 15% of the total, up from 5% in 1970, says Joyce Dubensky of the Tanenbaum Centre for Interreligious Understanding, in New York.The judge endorsed the firm’s stance on the ground that the Civil Rights Act says religion must be accommodated as long as that does not cause “undue hardship” to the employer.
  5. Such a view would have been unimaginable only 12 years ago when Angola’s devastating 27-year civil war had just ended, leaving it a basket case. Crude production increased from 800,000 barrels a day (b/d) in 2003 to almost 2m b/d in 2008. The economy expanded by more than 10% a year, making it seem one of the most buoyant in the world. Today Angola’s GDP is the fifth-biggest in Africa. During and after a downturn in 2009 and 2010, caused by a crash in oil prices. Many think 5% GDP growth will be Angola’s lot for the time being. In the World Bank’s latest “ease of doing business” survey, the country ranks 179th out of 189. Enforcing a contract through Angola’s inefficient and sometimes corrupt courts can take years. Getting a visa is a hassle. A dire shortage of electricity means local firms struggle to compete with imported goods.
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