Economist 7/15/15

  1. The Chinese government set a growth target of “about 7%” this year. And for a second consecutive quarter, despite ample evidence of stress in its industrial sector, it managed to hit that right on its head. In the three months from April to June, the economy expanded 7% compared with the same period a year earlier.Cue the chorus of scepticism: Chinese data just cannot be trusted, goes the usual refrain. Yes and no.China has a history of ironing out the ruffles in its growth figures.China’s new data, published today, appear to be more credible. In nominal terms, growth rebounded strongly from 5.8% year-on-year in the first quarter to 7.1% in the second quarter. The corollary is that the GDP deflator went from deflation of 1.1% to inflation of 0.1%, a reading that is much more consistent with rising consumer prices and falling producer prices.
  2. The latest outbreak of we-told-you-so-ing follows the murder of Kathryn Steinle, a 32-year-old Californian shot, seemingly at random, as she strolled on a pier in San Francisco on July 1st. Her death is fuelling fresh rows about immigration because her alleged killer, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez (above), is a Mexican with numerous drug convictions and five deportations on his record. He was at large because San Francisco officials—heeding a “sanctuary city” policy of limited co-operation with federal immigration agencies—disregarded a request from immigration officials to keep him locked up.The alleged killer was not at large because border controls failed. He has been repeatedly caught crossing the border, most recently in Texas in late 2009, an illegal entry that landed him in federal prison for almost four years.At the end of the alleged killer’s sentence, the federal prison sent him to San Francisco on the basis of an outstanding warrant for a 20-year-old marijuana charge, which was swiftly dropped by a local court.Police and mayors in a growing number of cities turn to sanctuary policies for pragmatic reasons. They fear that if officers alert immigration agents when undocumented migrants are booked into their cells—even for fingerprinting after being caught driving without a licence—then frightened immigrant communities will stop reporting crimes.
  3. With roughly 170,000 African residents, Washington and its surrounding suburbs have, proportionately, the largest African-born population of any large city in America. Their numbers are still small: even in Washington, Africans make up just 14% of all immigrants, and 3% of the total population. But they are among the fastest growing. Between 2000 and 2013—the latest available figures—the number of people from sub-Saharan Africa in the United States more than doubled, from 690,000 to 1.5m.In Washington, DC, Ethiopians and Eritreans are the most numerous. In New York, Egyptians and Ghanaians are. Around Houston there are plenty of Nigerians. In Minneapolis there is a substantial Somali community.Relatively few Africans are illegal immigrants (those who are have almost all overstayed their visas). Instead, they have particularly benefited from the Refugee Act of 1980, which brought more refugees to America, and the Immigration Act of 1990, which created special diversity visas, issued by lottery, for people from under-represented countries.African migrants stand out from American-born blacks. Indeed, on most measures, they have little in common but their colour. With the exception of some refugees, who are often resettled in areas with cheap housing, they live mostly in the suburbs, rather than in inner cities.In 2013 35% had a bachelor’s degree or better, against a figure of 30% for all Americans and just 19% of American-born blacks (see chart). But despite these qualifications, they earn slightly less than most Americans. In 2013 the average household income for black Africans was $43,000.
  4. The government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt is gearing up for that second campaign. To reinforce a battery of harsh laws already on the books, it has proposed a new counter-terrorism bill. Among its 55 articles is one stating that those who intentionally publish “untrue news or data” contradicting the official line will face at least two years in prison. But, like a controversial law banning street protests that has landed dozens of peaceful activists in prison, it is likely to pass. Under Mr Sisi, a former field-marshal and defence minister, Egypt’s regime has grown increasingly militarised.Mr Sisi, who justifies his authoritarian rule with the promise of stability, gets little trouble from the Egyptian media. Deferential TV networks have yanked critics off the air. Media owners heed pressure from the regime, including directives from the army’s powerful Morale Affairs Department.Foreign media have been more critical. Al Jazeera, a Qatari news channel, is accused of showing sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Mr Sisi deposed and then blacklisted.
  5. Boko Haram seemed to be on the ropes a few months ago. Despite its threats to disrupt the election at the end of March, the vote was largely peaceful, and the militants had been pushed back from many of the towns they had captured. Yet in recent weeks the group has struck back from its remote redoubts, killing more than 200 people in the week to July 5th.The recent attacks suggest that since their ejection from urban areas, Boko Haram jihadis have regrouped in the forests and mountains along the border with Cameroon, or have melted into local populations disguised as merchants or beggars. Many of its 6,000 fighters are still active and its leadership is intact.Things may get still worse. Boko Haram has been formally affiliated with Islamic State (IS) since March and has taken to referring to itself as the caliphate’s “West Africa Province”.
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