Economist 7/15/14

  1. LATIN AMERICA is the world’s most violent region. More than 1m people died as a result of criminal violence in the past decade, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). In Honduras, the most murderous country on Earth, the homicide rate in 2012 was 90.4 people for every 100,000 inhabitants—an epidemic of killing that translates to 7,500 murders a year in a city the size of London. In Chile, one of the region’s safest countries, almost a third of inhabitants say their neighbourhoods are affected by gangs.Some of the causes of Latin America’s crime disease are deep-rooted: a demographic bulge of young men, for one, and stubbornly high levels of income inequality. from outside the region: the demand for drugs flowing into the United States, and the supply of guns flowing out of it. But there is another, more tractable culprit—the region’s criminal-justice system. Villains often act with impunity. The global conviction rate for homicide is 43 for every 100 murders; in Latin America it is 24. Nicaragua’s highly regarded police force offers counselling to wayward teenagers: its murder rate is one of the lowest in Latin America.A better criminal-justice system also takes money and sustained effort. 
  2. study of some 20,000 children in rural China, for instance, found that 24% of primary school students suffered from reduced uncorrected vision in either eye and 16% in both eyes. Many impoverished children would benefit from—but are not—wearing.The three researchers studied the results of a government-sponsored field experiment carried out in western China. . Students in grades 4-6 who were found to have poor vision were offered glasses at no cost.In other words, offering poor students free eyeglasses and making sure that they accept the offer had close to the same positive impact on the students’ test scores as putting them through a whole additional year of school.
  3. Exact figures about Iraqi Christianity are hard to come by. It is often asserted that about 400,000 to 500,000 Christians live in the country, down from a total before the 2003 war of perhaps 1.5m.The majority of the remaining Christians live in the far north of the country.Last month, when the extremist Sunni fighters of ISIS over-ran Mosul, thousands of Christians joined other townspeople in fleeing to Nineveh Plains. That district had long been a stronghold of Christians as well as lesser known religious groups such as Yazidis and Mandeans. If Nineveh Plains seemed marginally safer, that was only because Christians and others were being protected by the Kurds.
  4. TOUGH new anti-monopoly legislation in Mexico were  approved early on July 9th.g. They will abolish long-distance phone charges next year, make it easier for customers to switch phone companies, and broaden access to free-to-air television stations. However, it is their success in curbing the power of two companies, América Móvil and Televisa, a TV broadcaster, by which they will be judged. For as long as the two firms continue to enjoy a market share of more than 50% in their respective businesses, the laws subject them to strict, “asymmetric” pricing regimes.mérica Móvil seeks to cut its market share by 15-20 percentage points, so that it is no longer designated a “preponderant” firm (as dominance is known in Mexico).. If América Móvil is allowed to become a normal firm, rather than a dominant one, its competitors fear it will no longer have to let its rivals share its wires or its mobile-phone towers.
  5. The Vatican City is a natural tax haven. Its Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR)—better known as the Vatican bank—has been wreathed in mystery and tainted by scandal since its involvement in the collapse in 1982 of Banco Ambrosiano.But as a result of reforms initiated by Pope Benedict XVI and pursued vigorously by Francis, the outlines are emerging of a more transparent, rational system. Cardinal Pell, a no-nonsense Australian appointed in February to head a new secretariat for the economy, announced two main changes.The first concerns the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA). Less well-known than the IOR, APSA generates most of the cash to pay for the Vatican’s administration. It has two sections. One oversees the property left to the Vatican after the occupation and eradication of the Papal State during Italy’s unification in the 19th century. The other section invests the papal “nest-egg”: the cash Italy’s fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, gave the papacy in 1929 to compensate it for the loss of its territories. The first section is to be hived off into Cardinal Pell’s “finance ministry”; the second will become, in effect, the Vatican’s central bank. The big change at the IOR is that it has a new board and a new president—the third in 26 months (for nine of which the post was vacant).

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