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New year, new laws: a raft of changes in 2014

New year, new laws: a raft of changes in 2014

Countries around the world are ringing in the new year with a host of new regulations, appointments and legislation, Here are some of the most important and most intriguing

So what is changing? Well, if you are driving in Oregon with children in your car, do not light up. It’ll be illegal. And if you’re driving inSwitzerland, turn your headlights on. Even if it’s the middle of the day.

While we’re on the subject of lighting, if you live in Canada please remove those last incandescent lightbulbs – they won’t be allowed any more.

Other things that are no being banned: owning unregistered assault weapons in Connecticut; harassing celebrities and their children with long-lens cameras in California; hunting elephants in Botswana andinjudicious calls to the London Fire Brigade (if you’re a business you’ll be fined for false alarms). Oh, and if you’re an architect practising in Texas, you will have to get yourself fingerprinted. Don’t ask why.

On the other hand, there are moments of great liberalisation to salute. Colorado on Wednesday will become the first state in the US to allow thesale of marijuana for recreational purposes. Also in America, for the first time it will be OK to be a gay Boy Scout, while for their British counterparts, it’s OK to be an atheist. For Germans, liberalisation comes in more subtle ways, such as the new dispensation for universities and libraries, which will henceforth be allowed to upload “orphaned” works of art on to the internet without permission.

If you’re Bulgarian or Romanian, welcome. Work restrictions across the EU for citizens of two of the poorest EU countries are lifted. But despite the dire warnings from the right (er, people who are supposed to believe in free markets no less) the indications are that there will be no suddeninflux of Balkan builders.

In a less-observed border relaxation, it will become much easier for Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan as the Chinese authorities make a concerted effort to improve cross-strait ties.

And in the unlikely event that you are off to do some shopping in Latvia, leave your lats at home and take euros instead: the Baltic republic becomes the 18th country to join the single currency zone.

Indeed, institutional changes are a 1 January perennial. Russia will run the G8 for a year while Greece gets its turn to lead the EU. Democrat Bill de Blasio takes over as New York mayor. And Barack Obama’s system of healthcare coverage, known as Obamacare, is formally launched with hundreds of thousands of newly insured Americans presenting a formidable test to a system that has endured a difficult birth.

Bill de Blasio

Bill de Blasio will become New York mayor from 1 January. Photograph: Seth Wenig/APThen there are more obscure new laws that take some explaining. If you live in France, you can demand your home be checked for electromagnetic waves. If you are arrested, make sure the police address you as “vous” and not “tu”, as they are required to do from 1 January.

If you die in Hungary, fear not: from Wednesday the state will reportedly provide a free grave, coffin or urn – and even a free shovel for gravedigging – to poorer sections of society.

The other thing that 1 January signifies is the start of a year dedicated to an issue or theme. So prepare yourself, and make any necessary adjustments to your schedule, to accommodate the International Year of Family Farming, the International Year of Crystallography and the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

Happy new year.

Europe

• Work restrictions across the EU are lifted for migrants from Romania and Bulgaria.

• Greece takes over EU presidency.

• Latvia joins the eurozone.

• The European fiscal compact, which forces countries across the eurozone to deliver a balanced budget, becomes operational.

UK

 

• The amount of time migrants have to wait before claiming benefits is lengthened to three months.

• London Fire Brigade becomes the first service in the country to introduce a charging scheme for callouts to false alarms at buildings such as hospitals, airports and student accommodation.

• Regulation of undercover police – new rules come into force requiring higher level of authorisation

• Average season ticket prices are due to rise by 4.1%

• Scout Association introduces pledge that removes the promise by Scouts to do their duty to God.

• The Defamation Act 2013 is set to change libel laws. Claimants will need to show they have suffered “serious harm” before suing.

France

• Individuals allowed to import 10 (200 cigarette) boxes of cigarettes.

• Minimum hourly wage rises by 10 cents an hour to €9.53 (£8).

• “Red Bull” tax comes into effect on energy drinks – €1 a litre.

• Minimum hours to be considered “part-time” worker – 24 hours a week• Anyone can demand their home be checked for electromagnetic waves. Same applies to public spaces.

• New code of conduct for police insisting they use the more respectful and formal “vous” when addressing the public and suspects and have a number on their uniform so they can be identified.

• The validity period for a French identity card rises from 10 to 15 years

Germany

• The points system for driving licences will be simplified. Minor offences are punished with fewer points, but Germans will only need eight instead of 18 points to lose their driving licence.

• The tax for bars of silver will jump from roughly €1 to €2 an ounce.

• From 1 January Germans will make less money from subletting their flats. Previously, citizens were able to offset the average local rent for a 60 sq metre flat against tax, in the future they will be able to claim back no more than €1,000 a month.

• Universities and libraries will be allowed to upload “orphaned” works of art – artworks, photographs or books whose creator can no longer be identified – on to the internet without getting permission.Previously, they were only able to do so with the explicit permission of a copyright holder.

Switzerland

• Competition for a new national anthem starts.

• Using car headlights in daylight hours becomes mandatory.

Russia

• Takes helm of the G8.

United States

• Minimum wage rises in 14 states.

• Oregon: no smoking in a car with children.

• Colorado becomes the first state in the US to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

• Affordable Care Act – individual mandate takes effect, requiring most Americans to buy health insurance.

• Guns that are considered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines that have not been registered with Connecticut authorities will be considered illegal contraband.

• Photographers who harass celebrities and their children face tougher penalties under a law in California backed by actors Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner.

• Bill de Blasio becomes New York mayor.

• Texas requires all architects to be fingerprinted.

• The Boy Scouts of America lifts a ban on openly gay members after the organisation’s national council voted against the rule in late May.

US scouts

The Boy Scouts of America has lifted a ban on openly gay members. Photograph: Mychele Daniau/AFP/Getty Images

Asia

• The visa process for mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan will be streamlined in an effort to bolster cross-strait ties

Africa

• Botswana, home to a third of the global elephant population, bans commercial hunting amid growing concerns about the decline in wildlife species.

African elephants Drinking at Dusk

African elephants drinking along a riverbank at dusk in Botswana. Photograph: Frans Lanting/ Frans Lanting/Corbis• Deadline for the controversial “indigenisation” of businesses in Zimbabwe. The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act obliges foreign-owned companies operating in the country to cede at least a 51% controlling stake to black Zimbabweans. Those who refuse face possible arrest.

• Travel for Kenyans, Rwandans and Ugandans to each other’s countries will become easier with the use of national identity cards as travel documents and an east African tourist visa

Reporting team: Dan Roberts in Washington, Kim Willsher in Paris, Alex Hern, Dan Milmo, Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing, Philip Oltermann in Berlin, and Dan Nolan in Budapest

 

 

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3 Ways to Get Promoted

promotion_elbow_patches_519365You’re long overdue for a promotion, and you’ve been showing that you deserve one by doing a great job, taking on additional responsibilities, putting in extra hours and learning new skills. You’ve dropped some hints, but the higher-ups aren’t picking up on them.  What can you do to finally get that promotion you deserve?

Make sure there are opportunities for advancement at your company

It is one thing if co-workers are getting promoted over you. But if nobody is getting promoted, your lack of movement may have nothing to do with you. Maybe there are no openings. Maybe people are consolidating their power. Maybe the company is in trouble and upper-level positions are being eliminated.  If the opportunities are simply not there, it won’t matter how much you deserve a promotion.

Be your own PR person

Maybe your boss does not realize what a great job you are doing. Or maybe he or she thinks you are happy in your current role, and is happy to keep you there since you are filling the role so well.

Your boss may be your advocate for advancement, may consciously or subconsciously be preventing you from advancement or may lack the power to help you get ahead. If you feel that higher-ups are unaware of your accomplishments and/or your ambition, you may need to let them know yourself. Depending on the corporate structure, you can seek out mentors and networking opportunities with upper management.

It may turn out that, fairly or unfairly, upper management does not share your view that you have been doing a great job and deserve a promotion. If so, you may be able to get constructive criticism that could lay out what you need to do to eventually get that promotion. But if you find out that you are unlikely to get a promotion, at least you know the score and can use that information in planning your future.

Redefine yourself

If you dress like the other staffers, joke around like the other staffers and grumble about the company like the other staffers, you can’t be surprised if upper management sees you as part of the staff rather than management material.  Let them know by your actions, appearance and demeanor that you are a dependable and drama-free part of the team.  Instead of grumbling that something is above your pay grade, pitch new ideas that show the brass that you can strategize above your pay grade, and perhaps that is where you will eventually wind up.

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned

Ben Hargrove writes on career coaching sites like MeredithHaberfeld.com

 

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An Inspiring American Story – The Last of a Dying Breed of Craftsman?

Authors note:  There is something about this guy that just got to me.  This is real Americana.  His prices are fair, and the quality is great, but you have to hear his story.  If you have any Americans in the family, think about them at http://store.theleatherbeltshop.com/ for Christmas.

Hi, Bill here, Thank you from all of us here at theleatherbeltshop.com.   I started working leather at the age of ten with my grandfather.  I was raised on a dairy farm in Connecticut where my grandfather made all the leather tack, and saddles, not only for the farm, but for all the other farms around us.    After my grandfathers passing, I kept working leather untill i went in the Army.  After my time in the Army, I moved to California where i worked in construction.  I still worked with leather, making tool bags, belts, and holders for other construction workers i worked with.   After having to retire, I found it was hard to find top quality leather products.  I found “so called genuine leather” belts coming in from China, and other places made with a very thin piece of leather on top, and bottom, with cardboard or other things in between.  So I started theleatherbeltshop.com.   I was surprised to find so many looking for real leather belts.  There are now five of us here to serve you.  Our belts are made in the U.S.A. from U.S.A. products by Americans.   Thank you from all of us for keeping American working.    Bill, Allison, Christian, Pat, and Richard.

 

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