Economist 5/10/14

  1. America’s obesity problem is hardly news.But more than one in three American adults and one in six children are fat. Notoriously, America’s school-lunch law counts the tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable.Food companies have pumped sugar into bread and peanut butter, as well as puddings and fizzy drinks. The film explains how insulin helps store sugar as fat, how sugar acts on the brain much like a drug and how sugar helps interfere with signals that a person is full.
  2. The break-up of the planned $35-billion merger announced last July between Publicis, the French advertising firm he heads, and Omnicom, an American rival. But the fundamental problem was cultural differences between the two enterprises and clashes between the two strong personalities at their helm.The first is where it leaves the world advertising market. The merger would have created the largest advertising and communications company by revenues globally, outstripping the current leader, WPP. 
  3. The Angola Prison Rodeo in Lousiana, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, includes wild-cow milking, “guts & glory” (inmates try to grab a poker chip tied to the head of a furious bull). It started with a few spectators sat on upturned crates; now riders compete in an inmate-built arena that seats 10,000. This year 22,500 attended on April 26th and 27th, splurging $1m on tickets, snacks and furniture hand-carved by inmates. Proceeds go to the Inmate Welfare Fund, which pays for the educational and recreational programmes in which Angola abounds. (inmate violence is down 80% since he took over, the prison says). Louisiana has America’s highest incarceration rate. Sentences are harsh: roughly 73% of Angola’s 6,250 inmates are serving life without parole. The average sentence for the rest is 90.9 years.
  4. The rise in the use of renewable power, especially in Europe, has led to surges of supply on sunny and windy days and unpredictable lulls in conditions of cloud and calm. But that is a big opportunity for “demand-response” companies, which use computing power and clever algorithms to divert electricity from some consumers, such as factories or greenhouses, to users who need it more.. In a control room in London’s fashionable Soho district, Ziko Abram of Kiwi Power shows off a “virtual” power plant with a capacity of more than 100 megawatts (MW). Kiwi pays users for agreeing to switch off cooling and heating, pumps and other equipment when asked.Along with competitors such as Flexitricity, Kiwi also buys the right to use standby diesel generators in hospitals, government buildings and elsewhere.The world’s biggest demand-response firm, Enernoc, a publicly traded American company, has bought a dozen foreign providers since 2005. Nearly 20% of its $383m revenues come from abroad. In February it bought Entelios, the biggest German company.The industry has plenty of room to grow. In America it accounts for more than 20 gigawatts (GW), or 2% of the total installed capacity,
  5. THE potential rewards of exposing corporate wrongdoing have ballooned in America, where whistleblowers can now claim up to 30% of fines imposed.Whistleblowing advocates report an uptick in the number of lawyers prepared to snitch for money since the passage in 2010 of the Dodd-Frank act, which increased whistleblower bounties and protections. America’s lawyers are licensed by its states, which allow confidentiality to be breached in only a few narrow cases, such as client perjury, or to prevent a serious crime being committed—and even then disclosure should be the bare minimum “necessary”.Moreover, the SEC has taken the position that its regulation of lawyers’ conduct pre-empts any state rules that clash with it.The question that matters most concerns the long-term impact that whistleblowing lawyers would have on the quality of legal representation.

     

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