Economist 5/2/14

  1. In Sloviansk, Ukraine, rival groups of pro- and anti-Ukraine supporters clashed. In a major escalation of the crisis some 30 anti-government protesters were then reported to have died, (numbers vary) after having been chased into the trade union building which was set on fire.The accords, which were signed on April 17th by Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine, and were allegedly intended to help end the conflict, have quickly turned out to be empty. European and American leaders blame Russia for this.
  2.  Ren Zhengfei is the founder and chief executive of Huawei. Mr Ren, who founded the Chinese telecoms-equipment company in 1987, had never given an interview to the press. Only in that year did Huawei even list its directors—without mentioning that they included Mr Ren’s daughter and brother.Last year its revenues exceeded 239 billion yuan ($38 billion), about 70% of it from supplying equipment and services to telecoms carriers, putting it second only to Sweden’s Ericsson. (It also makes smartphones and other consumer devices, and builds communications networks for businesses.) Carriers in Europe, as well as China, have been eager customers.Huawei’s unusual ownership structure—most shares, which are not traded, are held by employees, and Mr Ren owns only 1.4%—also makes some suspicious.Besides Mr Ren it has three rotating “acting” chief executives, who take six-month turns in the job. 
  3. Only two shale wells have been dug in Los Ramones (and fewer than 25 in all of Mexico), compared with thousands in nearby south Texas, which has barely sustained any quake damage despite the “shale revolution”.An influx of oilmen is exactly what the government wants, not a debate about the merits of fracking. On April 30th it sent bills to Congress fleshing out a constitutional overhaul in December which, for the first time in 75 years, lets private companies drill for hydrocarbons. The energy reforms are welcome,although a big legislative backlog in Congress means it is not clear when the secondary laws will be approved. The reforms aim both to spur deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.Pemex, the state oil company, reckons Mexico may contain more shale oil and gas than the 55 billion barrels of conventional hydrocarbons it has pumped in its history.Mexico also lacks infrastructure. It has few pipelines to take gas from the wellhead, not to mention water supplies for fracking, or paved roads.
  4. A MERE 5% of the chief executives of the world’s biggest companies are women. And they are more likely to be sacked than their more numerous male colleagues: 38% of the female CEOs who left their jobs over the past ten years were forced to go, compared with 27% of the men. This is the latest finding from the research on the top management at the world’s 2,500 largest public companies that Strategy& (the clumsy new name for Booz & Company, a consulting firm) has been conducting since 2000. 35% of female CEOs are hired from outside the company, compared with just 22% of male ones. Outsiders generally have a higher chance of being kicked out, and generate lower returns to shareholders.
  5. On April 23rd Nathan Deal, the governor of Georgia, USA, signed a law which, he said, “gives added protections to those who have played by the rules”.Gun-owners who have played by the rules and want to renew their licences will no longer need to be fingerprinted. They also need not worry about the National Guard or a future governor taking their guns during a state of emergency: the bill forbids both, as it also bars anyone from compiling a multi-jurisdictional database of gun-licence holders. Gun dealers need no longer keep sales records for the state, though federal record-keeping laws still apply. Georgia does not yet allow guns everywhere, just in far more places than were previously permitted. Georgians with firearm licences may now carry guns into bars, churches and schools (with permission), non-secure areas of airports and government buildings not protected by security guards during business hours.oo.  In 2013 and 2014 eight states passed laws allowing guns on school grounds, Illinois became the 50th state to allow carrying concealed weapons and several states passed laws either making concealed-carry permits confidential or recognising concealed-carry permits from other states. So far this year 21 states have proposed bills to allow guns in schools or on school grounds; 11 now allow concealed weapons in schools.Today 17 states and Washington, DC demand stricter background checks than the federal government does. Of these, six (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Rhode Island) plus DC require background checks at the point of sale for all gun purchases.

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