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When the BRICs crumble

PARIS – When the BRICs concept emerged in 2001, it served as shorthand for a group of emerging economies that deserved special attention. But it represented pure concoction: Except that they were big and interesting, these countries had almost nothing whatsoever in common. Still, the fortuitous acronym had legs. Investors listened. And some might be sorry. But here’s how to prep for the long-haul. 

Going for the hajj? Yeah, there’s an app for that

BERLIN — Every able Muslim is required to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia — known as the hajj — at least once in their life. But the journey to Mecca can be an overwhelming experience. Over a million people from around the world descend on the Islamic holy sites during the hajj period, and they have to both perform complicated rituals and find their way around heaving crowds in often stifling heat. Now a young German computer scientist has developed a smartphone app to help the pilgrims find their way and offer a guide to performing the rituals that are an essential part of the hajj.

Turkey's woman at the top

ISTANBUL — Two years ago, Turkish businesswoman Arzuhan Dogan Yalcindag was riding high on success when she was asked to do what most believed was impossible: save the family business. Yalcindag’s father, media tycoon Aydin Dogan, had just stepped down from his position as CEO of the Dogan Business and Media Groups in early 2010. The company was one of Turkey’s leading industrial and media conglomerates, but had come under fire for tax evasion after a spat with Turkey’s leadership. Dogan appointed Yalcindag — his eldest daughter — to run the company. That a woman would rise to top positions in such a patriarchal society may seem remarkable. But in Turkey’s leading family enterprises, it’s quite common.

Yandex, Russia's Google, takes off

MOSCOW — One of Europe’s biggest tech companies started as a little experiment in a backroom in the Russian capital. Launched in 1996 when the Russian internet space was so tiny it could fit onto the hard drive of a modern desktop computer, Yandex quickly evolved from a wacky science experiment to become the most popular search engine in the Russian-speaking world, raising some $1.4 billion in an initial public offering on NASDAQ last May.

Hotdesking, the latest office trend to annoy employees

BERLIN — Aiming for that corner office, or any office at all for that matter, is fast becoming a thing of the past. Now, it’s all about hotdesking, in which employees change their workstations day-to-day. These days, management enthusiasm for the non-territorial office is growing, particularly in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It’s also catching on in the US.

Economic growth pulls Rwandans out of poverty

KIGALI — Increasing economic growth between 2006 and 2011 pulled Rwandans from poverty at a rate six times faster than the previous five years. The number of Rwanda's 11 million people living in poverty dropped from 57 to 45 percent in that time.

The Argentine economy's fuzzy math problem

LIMA – Is Argentina cooking its books? The charges include rampant inflation, protectionism — a mortal sin in today’s age of globalization — and the Fernandez government’s use of official statistics that most independent observers simply do not believe.
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