July 24, 2017 nº 1.888 - Vol. 14

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

Michael Jordan

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  • MiMIC Journal

Uber rival Grab in fresh $2.5bn investment

China's Didi Chuxing and Japan's Softbank are backing the ride-hailing firm with extra funding.

Vietnam halts drilling after 'China threats'

Vietnam has reportedly terminated a gas-drilling expedition in a disputed area of the South China Sea, following strong threats from China. The company behind the drilling, Repsol of Spain, was ordered to leave the area. It comes only days after it had confirmed the existence of a major gas field. Repsol executives were told last week by the government in Hanoi that China had threatened to attack Vietnamese bases in the Spratly Islands if the drilling did not stop. China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also contested by other nations.

In China, herd of 'gray rhinos' threatens economy

Several Chinese conglomerates are now so big, so complex and so indebted that the government is trying to bring them to heel.

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  • Brief News

US Congress reach deal on fresh sanctions

Leaders of both parties in the US Congress have agreed on legislation that allows fresh sanctions to punish Russia for alleged election meddling. The new legislation would also sharply limit President Donald Trump's ability to lift any sanctions against Russia. He has previously said he needs diplomatic leeway with the Kremlin. Trump's time in office has been dogged by claims that Russia tried to influence last year's US election. Moscow denies any wrongdoing but several US investigations are looking into whether anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials. Correspondents say the bipartisan agreement indicates determination in Congress to maintain a firm line against Russia, whatever Trump's view.

Cumhuriyet journalists face terrorism trial

A Turkish opposition newspaper itself is the story as 17 of its employees are about to go on trial on charges of aiding a terrorist organization. If found guilty, their sentence could be up to 43 years in jail. A dozen of Cumhuriyet's journalists and managers are behind bars in pre-trial detention. Ten of them have been imprisoned for almost nine months. Just over a week ago, Turkey marked the first anniversary of a failed coup. There were massive commemorations held by thousands of jubilant people, hailing the day as the triumph of democracy. But critics argue that day - and the introduction of the state of emergency soon after - were actually the beginning of a massive crackdown, with more than 50,000 people arrested in the last year.

IMF downgrades US and UK growth

The UK and US economies will expand more slowly in 2017 than previously predicted, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It said "weaker-than-expected activity" in the first three months of the year meant the UK would grow by 1.7%, compared with an earlier 2% forecast. And the IMF revised down its US outlook from 2.3% to 2.1%. However, its overall global economic predictions - of 3.5% growth in 2017 and 3.6% in 2018 - remain unchanged. Meanwhile the outlook for several eurozone economies is brighter than initially thought, with countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain seeing growth forecasts revised up.

Verdict due in landmark polygamy case

A long-awaited verdict in the trial of two Canadian religious leaders accused of polygamy is expected on Monday. Winston Blackmore, 61, is accused of having 24 wives and his former brother-in-law James Oler, 53, is alleged to have married four women. They are both former bishops of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The landmark polygamy trial is expected to test the boundaries of religious freedom in Canada. Polygamy is illegal under Section 293 of Canada's Criminal Code. Blackmore's lawyer has argued that criminalizing polygamy infringes on his client's freedom of religion. Both men face a maximum sentence of five years if found guilty.

UK and US to start talks on post-Brexit trade deal

The UK is to hold its first talks with the US to try to sketch out the details of a potential post-Brexit trade deal. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will spend two days in Washington with US counterpart Robert Lighthizer. EU rules mean the UK cannot sign a trade deal until it has left the bloc. Fox said it was too early to say exactly what would be covered in a potential deal. Firms and trade unions have both warned of the risks of trying to secure an agreement too quickly.

Takata scandal: Faulty airbags still used in refits

Faulty Takata airbags, which have been linked to deaths around the world, are being replaced by new faulty airbags, Australian consumer group Choice says. The organization said five carmakers had admitted swopping airbags for identical devices in Australia as a temporary fix. Toyota said the replacements would be safe for several years because faults only emerged as the airbags aged. But Choice said the policy left people "driving ticking time-bombs". Japanese car parts maker Takata is facing billions of dollars in liabilities over its defective airbags.

Bank of America chooses Dublin as post-‘Brexit’ European hub

The US firm is the latest lender to announce plans for continuing to serve European clients after Britain leaves the European Union.

Silence equals complicity in workplace sexism

Combating sexism in the workplace has become all the rage, and rightly so. There is no excuse — not now, not ever — for treating women differently from men when it comes to pay and compensation, in representation on corporate boards or in the executive suites, in quotidian meetings where women often are made to feel belittled or inadequate or, heaven forbid, in social interactions where men have been known to take advantage of women against their will. The issue has become especially acute in places like Wall Street and Silicon Valley, which have long been insular, male-dominated ecosystems. It is also a big problem in this White House. But as recent events at Uber show, baby steps in the right direction are possible. Not only can sexist behavior get top executives fired, but it can also lead to serious efforts to change a corporation’s culture. That’s meaningful progress, and we should applaud it.

Macron's uphill battle against France’s labor law

Are France's strict labor regulations responsible for the country’s persistently high unemployment rate? Emmanuel Macron repeatedly said so during his successful presidential campaign, and he set to work on liberalizing French labor law. The last three presidents also tried to loosen labor regulations, and had to partially backtrack in the face of opposition. Will Macron succeed where others failed? France’s unemployment rate is 9.6 percent -- about double the rates in Germany, the Netherlands, the US and the UK France’s labor code runs to 3,000 pages and covers everything from wage negotiations to standards for ventilating offices. France’s main business lobby, has spoken of 1 million jobs being created if France reduces payroll taxes to make its companies more competitive and cuts job protections that make companies afraid to hire. French unions say making it easier to fire people won’t create jobs, and that unemployment results from the tight budget policies forced by EU-imposed austerity. Economists take a middle view. The level of employment protection in France is one of the strictest across European countries, therefore even minor reforms could improve the competitiveness of French companies. But the impact of labor market reforms on the economy has proven to be challenging to identify in the past.

Macron focused on three main areas: giving individual companies more say on contractual issues such as working hours and pay; merging the myriad workers’ councils that proliferate as companies grow; and putting limits on court-imposed severance pay, which are widely viewed as so unpredictable that they discourage companies from hiring people in the first place. As always, the devil is in the details, and there’s lots of detail in those three areas. He wants to avoid taking the usual route, which is sending a formal proposal to parliament, where debate and amendments might well water it down. Instead, Macron met unions and business leaders throughout May to establish what they might and won’t accept. On June 28, Macron’s cabinet asked parliament to give his government the power to change the country’s labor law by decree.

US drops case against 'London Whale' traders

Federal prosecutors said they will drop charges against two former J.P. Morgan Chase traders at the center of the 2012 "London Whale" saga, ending the last US criminal case against traders involved in a debacle that cost the New York bank more than $6 billion.

New Jersey raises smoking age to 21

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed the regulations raising the state smoking age to 21 from 19 into law, putting the state among the first in the nation to do so.

  • Weekly Magazine Review

Time
Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s US Election Plot

Newsweek
Meet Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump's New Spokeswoman

Business Week
The Sinclair Revolution Will Be Televised. It’ll Just Have Low Production Values

The Economist
The future of learning: Together, technology and teachers can revamp schools

Der Spiegel
Das Kartell (Automobil)

L'Espresso
Stato Cecato

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