Economist 6/5/15

  1. KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI, a Japanese printmaker who died in 1849 aged nearly 90, is one of those artists whose long, impressive career has come to be known for a single iconic work.“Under the Wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave”—pictured)” is so famous, and has been reproduced in such a wide variety of contexts and formats.Like media-savvy artists of recent decades, Hokusai appealed to the mass market rather than serving the interests of court or temple.And, like many contemporary artists, he was a master showman, enticing potential customers with bravura performances.When Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh first saw Hokusai’s prints, with their vivid colours and startling, off-kilter points of view, it sparked a revolution in their own art. Above all, Hokusai was a master of line and pattern, inscribing his forms within contours that eddy and spill like the currents of a mountain stream.
  2. The Justice and Development (AK) party of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered a stinging setback in Sunday’s elections. With 97% of the ballots counted, the party had 41% of the votes, a dramatic drop from its 49% total in 2011 and too few to allow it to govern alone. The pro-Kurdish HDP party’s share was running at 13%, enough to gain it between 70 and 80 seats against the roughly 280 seats won by AK. The HDP’s supporters, especially in the eastern city of Diyarbakir (pictured), were ecstatic. The liberal CHP party was on course to win about 25%, roughly the same as its share in 2011. The result will force AK to form a minority or coalition government, and it has put an end, at least for now, to Mr Erdogan’s ambition to change Turkey’s constitution to grant the presidency executive powers.
  3. FOR more than a century, Canadian governments removed aboriginal children from their homes and put them in residential schools modelled on Victorian poor houses. Some 150,000 passed through 139 of these Dickensian establishments from 1883 to 1998. In the 1940s they housed nearly a third of aboriginal children of school age. Half were physically or sexually abused and around 6,000 died. Today Canada’s 1.4m aboriginal people have lower incomes on average and higher rates of incarceration, suicide and disease than the general population. Those brutal boarding schools are part of the reason.he government has so far paid out C$4.4 billion ($3.5 billion) in compensation. On June 2nd, after seven years of sometimes excruciating testimony, the commission issued 94 recommendations.Non-aboriginal Canadians and the country’s three indigenous groups, the First Nations (who are like native Americans in the United States), the Inuit and the Métis (mixed-race descendants of French settlers). Britain instituted the policy of forced assimilation, which Canada’s government continued after self-rule began in 1867. This tried to eradicate indigenous peoples as distinct legal, cultural and religious groups. Canada eventually abandoned the policy; the constitution enacted in 1982 recognises indigenous rights.
  4. Rohingya was used several times at a summit between 18 Asian countries, as well as Switzerland, America and several UN agencies.Even by delegates from Myanmar (ethnic Burmese tend to call Rohingyas “Bengalis”, as a way of distancing Myanmar from the problem). The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) were promised access to the migrants. America pledged millions to the IOM.One week before the Bangkok meeting, Myanmar’s president signed the Population Control Health Care Bill into law. This measure grants local authorities the power to mandate that mothers in areas deemed to have high rates of population growth have children no fewer than three years apart. Buddhist chauvinists in Myanmar have fomented fears of high birth rates among Muslims; this measure is likely to be used against Rohingyas.
  5. SO NUMEROUS are the controversies surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup in 2022 that there is a 3,000-word Wikipedia page dedicated to them. In total the emirate hosts 1.5m migrants who toil under a system that has been compared to slavery. In May 2014 Qatar promised reforms to protect labourers. But over a year later, little has changed. At the heart of the abuse is the kafala system, under which local employers sponsor migrant workers, generally from poorer countries such as India, Pakistan and Nepal. They are thus allowed to enter Qatar, but prohibited from changing jobs or leaving the country without their employer’s permission. Many owe money to unscrupulous recruitment agents back home. Desperate for cash and lacking leverage, they are often forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions.Abdullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi, the minister of labour and social affairs, says he is “90% hopeful” that the kafala system will be replaced by the end of the year. The new system would rely on employment contracts lasting up to five years, after which employees could change jobs. Workers would also be given more freedom to leave and return to the country. But few other proposed reforms have actually been implemented. Housing is one area where the government has made progress. Qatar is building seven new “cities” to house 258,000 migrant workers.

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