Economist 6/20/14

  1. John Kerry, America’s secretary of state, released the 2014 TIP report, a comprehensive index of governmental anti-trafficking efforts. Trafficking includes not only sex trafficking, but also forced or bonded labour and the unlawful recruitment of child labour. The news for Thailand was not good. It was downgraded to Tier 3, the lowest rank among countries evaluated by the State Department, comprising.Thailand had been at Tier 2 for four years. Its companions on the bottom rung include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Countries in this category could lose American aid, and face American opposition to their receiving aid.The report explains that most of the tens of thousands of trafficking victims in Thailand come from neighbouring countries,
  2. AMERICAN Apparel has long been an unstable mix of good and bad qualities. On the one hand, there was the commitment to manufacturing in America, the resolute avoidance of sweatshops. It boasts of having “the highest-earning apparel workers in the world”.In 2009 the American immigration authorities found evidence that it was employing undocumented workers and forced the company to sack 1,500 people, which disrupted production.And then there is the chequered history of its founder and chief executive, Dov Charney who has been the target of several sexual-harassment suits (all of them dismissed or settled out of court).Yesterday the company’s board sacked Mr Charney “for cause”, saying the decision “grew out of an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.Turning American Apparel around is not going to be easy. It has racked up net losses totalling about $140m over the past two years.
  3. Decriminalisation of drugs does not mean that people can use drugs with impunity. Instead it means that possessing small amounts no longer lands the perpetrator with a criminal record or a jail sentence. Jamaica has proposed that people caught with up to two ounces (57 grams) of cannabis should be fined, but not arrested or taken to court. Drug users in Portugal can be forced to attend classes aimed at getting them back on the straight and narrow. People found with cannabis in Italy may have their driving licences confiscated. By contrast, legalisation means that consumers face no penalty at all (unless, for instance, they smoke in public places). More importantly, it means that the supply side of the business—cultivation, transportation and retailing—is also legal.y. The decriminalised cocaine consumed without criminal consequences in Portugal is still supplied by the gangs who cut off heads in Colombia. Only legalisation takes the business out of the hands of the mafia.
  4. heidelbergensis, a species itself derived from Homo erectus, which made humanity’s first foray out of Africa about 2m years ago.Homo heidelbergensis, the name given to the first humans who lived in Europe, starting about 600,000 years ago. But they also have features of Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal man), a younger species believed to have evolved from heidelbergensis.Homo erectus and its descendants lived in Eurasia until the arrival there of Homo sapiens in a second excursion from Africa which began about 60,000 years ago.
  5. THE tar sands of Alberta already account for 54% of Canada’s daily production of 3.5m barrels of oil. By 2030 that will rise to 75% of total daily output of 6.4m barrels.The boom in shale oil south of the border has reduced demand from the United States. TransCanada’s planned Keystone XL pipeline would ship oil to refiners on the Gulf Coast but that project is stuck as Barack Obama hems and haws over approval.  So it came as little surprise on June 17th when the federal government approved the C$6.5 billion ($6 billion), 1,200km (730-mile) Northern Gateway pipeline to take 525,000 barrels a day of bitumen to Kitimat, on the Pacific coast of British Columbia (BC), for shipment to Asia. In April Kitimat residents thumbed their noses at Enbridge, the oil-transport company that is planning Northern Gateway; they voted against the project in a non-binding referendum. The BC government is also dubious. 
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