business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  USA Today reports that "Starbucks on Monday announced it will cover travel expenses for U.S. employees seeking abortions and gender-confirmation procedures but who do not have access within 100 miles of their home.

"The announcement comes after the leak of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court arguing for overturning its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion … Starbucks joins a group of companies that have assured workers they will help pay for travel to seek an abortion or help workers leave states over abortion laws, including Salesforce, Amazon, Microsoft, Tesla and other employers.

"A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY that the travel benefit will be available to employees who take part in the company's health care plan, regardless of whether the employee works in a store that has voted to unionize."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "McDonald’s Corp. said it would quit Russia and sell its business there, ending more than three decades in the country over its invasion of Ukraine.

"In deciding to sell up, the fast-food giant joins a raft of Western companies, from auto makers to brewers, in exiting Russia having initially opted to pause its operations in the country.

"McDonald’s had in March said it would temporarily close its 847 restaurants in Russia while continuing to pay the 62,000 people it employs there. Since then, pressure has mounted on Western companies - particularly from the Ukrainian government - to pull the plug on their Russian operations. Moscow has also pressured companies, threatening legislation to nationalize assets and compel executives to resist Western sanctions.

"The departure of McDonald’s from Russia is particularly notable given its arrival was emblematic of a rush among Western companies in the 1990s to enter the country, seeking to profit from its move from communism to capitalism. McDonald’s opened its first Russian location in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990, when thousands of locals lined up to get their first taste of the American chain’s burgers and fries."

It would appear that New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman's "Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention," first advanced in 1996, has not aged as well as one would like;  it states that "no two countries that both have a McDonald's have ever fought a war against each other," arguing essentially that once a country gets a McDonald's, it avoids armed conflict because it is not seen as in its economic interest.  Ukraine have several dozen McDonald's, so there's one more thing that we used to be able to count on that the war criminal Putin as put asunder.

I suspect that Russians won't have to go without their Big Macs and fries, though - one thing that McDonald''s probably will be unable to protect from some Putin-enabled oligarch looking to get into the fast food business will be its trademarks and patents.  Though one can only hope that said oligarch chokes on his special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and sesame seed bun.