Economist 9/5/14

  1. So who exactly are the rebels in Ukraine?After Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February and Russia annexed Crimea in March, a patchwork of poorly coordinated militias began seizing government buildings throughout the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in April. These groups, who were made up almost entirely of disgruntled locals and sympathisers from elsewhere in Ukraine, declared independence in May as the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. Together, this budding statelet calls itself “Novorossiya” (New Russia)—a revived term for southern Ukrainian territory conquered by the Russian empire in the 18th century.The Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics maintain separate administrations, complete with their own prime ministers and cabinets (including separate defence ministers). The Luhansk region, which borders Russia, has served as the primary conduit for arms and fighters, while the Donetsk region further west has borne the brunt of the Ukrainian offensive. They retain operational independence on their territories, but coordinate closely.
  2. Heathrow and Gatwick are both full, or close to it, and want to expand. But the two airports presently serve quite different parts of the market. Some 37% of passengers at Heathrow transfer between flights. Nearly a third of its customers are on business. By contrast, only 13% of Gatwick’s customers are business travellers. Most are going on holiday. Just 7% transfer there—a proportion that has fallen by half over the past decade.Boosters for a second runway at Gatwick point to the rising number of orders for aircraft which could offer “hub-bypass” services, flying people directly from one city to another. British Airways (BA), the largest British carrier, has ordered 18 Airbus A350s and 36 Boeing 787s, which efficiently ferry a smaller number of people over longer distances, making some secondary markets more viable.
  3. Since declaring independence in 1991, Somaliland has sought international recognition and the funding and foreign investment it would bring. It has held a raft of elections judged reasonably fair by international observers, but is little-noticed. The international community, with the backing of the African Union, is focused on Somalia, where international forces are trying to curb an Islamist insurgency.Hargeisa itself is buzzing. Roads that for decades had been pockmarked by damage caused by war are now being repaired. Construction is booming too with gaudy McMansions, hotels and malls going up. Many are funded by Somaliland’s wide diaspora. The logos of Dahabshiil, a regional money-transfer giant, and conduit for all those diaspora remittances, and mobile phone companies Telesom and Somtel and private university billboards are everywhere. Some 75% of the population are reckoned to be under 21, and 80% of them unemployed.Oil firms are also taking note. A host of companies, including Turkish and Norwegian firms, have been searching for oil and gas in the east of Somaliland
  4. THE potentially biggest public share offering in history may happen as soon as next week, when Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce site, lists on the New York Stock Exchange. It is expected to fetch as much as $20 billion, valuing the firm at $150 billion or more. But it has been partly fuelled by hasty acquisitions—more than a dozen big ones this year alone, to the tune of around $5 billion. They are meant to plug gaps where rivals lurk, such as mapping, social media and logistics.
  5. Boehnerland’s Washington offices are employing 24 unpaid interns this summer. The 534 other members of the House and Senate have many more—no one knows exactly how many, because Congress is exempt from freedom-of-information laws, but perhaps 6,000, with more in spring and autumn. Down the Mall, the White House has employed 429 unpaid interns in the past year. The internship—a spell of CV-burnishing work experience—is now ubiquitous across America and beyond. This year young Americans will complete perhaps 1m such placements.The first interns were doctors. According to “Intern Nation” by Ross Perlin, one of the earliest mentions is in a report to the trustees of a Boston hospital in 1865. From the 1930s the cities of Los Angeles, Detroit and New York, and the state of California, ran internships in public administration.Nowadays, according to America’s National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 63% of American students do at least one internship before graduating. One reason is a far larger graduate labour pool. In 1970 one in ten Americans over 25 had a bachelor’s degree; now a third do. That means jobseekers need an edge.Unpaid internships are becoming the norm. According to NACE, they make up nearly half the internships undertaken in America. An analysis by the New York Times of 1,500 unpaid interns in the office of Michael Bloomberg, then New York’s mayor, in 2002-13 established that one in five had been recommended by someone in the administration. In America unpaid internships in profit-making firms were given the green light by a 1947 Supreme Court judgment on trainee railway-brakemen. The court ruled in favour of the Portland Terminal Company, which did not pay them during the seven- or eight-day training course they had to start with. The federal minimum wage “was obviously not intended to stamp all persons as employees who…might work for their own advantage on the premises of another”, the court said.

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