Reporters on the Job

Brazil's Version of Facebook: Correspondent Andrew Downie used to have a spot on Brazil's most popular relationship site, Orkut. But he decided to delete his profile.

"I found my work productivity fell because I spent endless hours spying on ex-girlfriends, searching for old pals, and checking out communities like 'Volunteer Work' and 'Rio Nightlife.' "

But Andrew confesses that he's recently rejoined the Orkut community – for work purposes only. "I went back to do research on a Brazilian election story. But I made the decision not to add anyone to my friends' lists and have stuck to that. I use Orkut as a journalism tool. And it is useful for that. Orkut really does give you a way to take the pulse of the nation's youths."

Red Tape Index: Georgia topped the 2006 Top 10 list of nations making the most strides in simplifying starting and running a business. It was followed by Romania, Mexico, China, Peru, France, Croatia, Guatemala, Ghana, and Tanzania.

As reported in the Jan. 6, 2004, story "How to be your own boss – in 215 highly regulated days," this annual survey of 175 nations, by the World Bank and International Finance Corp., is based on the assumption that less red tape means businesses will flourish and pay taxes. Categories evaluated include starting a business, registering property, getting credit, and enforcing contracts. The site:

In Georgia, the report notes, the social-security contributions paid by businesses decreased to 20 percent of wages from 31 percent, making it easier to hire new workers. Corporate tax collection shot up by 300 percent, more than making up for the loss in social security revenue.

The easiest places to start a business? Singapore, New Zealand, and the US.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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