Economist 10/21/15

  1. For the past 25 years America has utterly dominated great-power politics. Increasingly, it lives in a contested world. The new game with Russia and China that is unfolding in Syria and the South China Sea is a taste of the struggle ahead.The struggle is also over legitimacy. Mr Putin wants to discredit America’s stewardship of the international order. America argues that popular discontent and the Syrian regime’s abuses of human rights disqualify the president, Bashar al-Assad, from power. Mr Putin wants to play down human rights, which he sees as a licence for the West to interfere in sovereign countries.Power and legitimacy are no less at play in the South China Sea, a thoroughfare for much of the world’s seaborne trade.America does not take a view on who owns the islands, but it does insist that China should establish its claims through negotiation or international arbitration. China is asserting that in its region, for the island disputes as in other things, it now sets the rules.
  2. HOUSING bubbles have a lot to answer for.A new paper, from researchers at Chicago and Northwestern universities, adds another item to the charge sheet: a housing boom might stop your kids going to university.When they can get a decent wage without going to university, some young people will choose work over lectures.The authors argue that this is exactly the choice that many young Americans made in the early noughties. A housing boom pushed up wages in related industries, like construction and real estate. Wages may also have increased in low-skilled retail and service jobs, as upbeat homeowners spent their newfound wealth. At the same time, the growth in university attendance slowed. By 2006, the proportion of young people who had spent some time in higher education was four percentage points below where it would have been had earlier trends continued.
  3. SLEEPING and airports; it is a fraught relationship.It has always been a mystery why airports seem so keen to stop you dozing off. (A few take things to extremes: Reykjavik even puts up signs explicitly forbidding flyers from attempting some shut-eye.)I was grateful, therefore, to be pointed in the direction of “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports”. The website has just released its 2015 ranking of the best airports around the world in which to get some sleep.Singapore Changi International comes out top. The website cites Singapore’s free lounge chairs, low-lit relaxation zones, armrest-free seating at the gates, free massage chairs and easy chairs.Singapore Changi International comes out top.Others in the top five are Seoul Incheon, Helsinki, Munich and Vienna. To no one’s surprise, given its zero-tolerance policy, Reykjavik is rated the world’s most sleep-unfriendly.
  4. Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president, is standing down, and for the first time since its creation in 1977, the CCM faces a serious challenge.Chadema, the main opposition party, has formed an alliance with three other parties to avoid splitting the anti-establishment vote. Its presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa, is a well-known and popular former prime minister who defected earlier this year.Politics in Tanzania does not tend to be fought along tribal lines, as it is in its neighbour, Kenya. That is partly thanks to the legacy of Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first post-independence leader, who tried to build a strong national identity as well as a socialist state.Chadema has been winning over young voters.Mr Lowassa, however, is far from being an unqualified good for Chadema. The party’s candidate in 2010, Dr Wilbrod Slaa, campaigned aggressively in that election against corruption. Mr Lowassa, by contrast, resigned as prime minister in 2008 after a fraud scandal. Remarkably, it is Mr Magufuli’s record which is relatively clean, despite the fact that he served as minister of public works and is a member of a party with a long history of theft.Polling suggests that despite Chadema’s surge, Mr Magufuli is still the solid favourite to become president. But a close election may have a messy aftermath.
  5. Since 2004, Google has teamed with libraries to scan over 20m titles—including many that are out of print—and put them on the web for anyone to access. Users cannot read entire books, unless they are in the public domain.A decade ago, a group of authors sued Google, claiming the service cut into their copyrights. After years of legal machinations, a federal district court ruled in favour of the internet giant in 2013. The plaintiffs—including Jim Bouton, author of “Ball Four”, and Betty Miles, who wrote “The Trouble with Thirteen”—appealed to the Second Circuit Court in New York and on October 16th, they were rebuffed again.In his ruling, Judge Pierre Leval explains that copyright law gives “potential creators” the exclusive right to copy their own work in order to expand everybody’s “access to knowledge”. It’s not all about enriching authors.Reproducing too many of somebody else’s words for profit and without adding value to the work generally constitutes a copyright infringement. But if a reasonable portion is spun into parody or criticism, or if the work is put to a “transformative purpose”, it counts as permissible “fair use” under the Copyright Act of 1976.
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