Economist 10/27/15

  1. punitive demolitions is a controversial practice based on emergency regulations imposed by the British Mandate in 1945, which authorised commanders to destroy the homes of Palestine’s restive inhabitants. Israel demolished or sealed 1,300 houses in the two decades after it occupied the West Bank in 1967, and hundreds more during the first and second intifadas, or Palestinian uprisings.The Fourth Geneva Convention bars an occupying power from demolishing private homes except where “rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
  2. But the practice continued until 2005, when the Israeli army itself studied it and recommended a halt. Only three homes were blown up or sealed in the nine years after the army panel issued its report.The Fourth Geneva Convention bars an occupying power from demolishing private homes except where “rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” A study in 2014, by Israeli and American academics, found that punitive demolitions brought a short-lived but measurable decrease in suicide attacks during the second intifada. But other research, not least the army’s own study, suggests that there is no effect.
  3. China has travelled far from its command-economy roots, but its policy planning system, an inheritance from the Soviet Union, is one of the most potent remaining vestiges. This will be the 13th five-year plan since the Communist Party took charge of China.In the era of Mao Zedong, China’s five-year plans were strictly implemented. The Communist party set specific production quotas—for instance, for steel and grain—that work units had to meet. This central direction and, often, misdirection squandered resources to disastrous effect, leaving much of the country impoverished. In the 1980s, as the government loosened its grip on the economy, it also became a bit more relaxed about the five-year plans. Rather than rigid agendas, they have become more like rough guides to how leaders want to steer the country.
  4. IVERMECTIN, a drug employed for the treatment of worm infections, has a side effect. It has been known since the 1980s that it kills arthropods (ticks, mites, insects and so on) foolish enough to bite someone treated with it. That has led some researchers to wonder if it might be deployed deliberately against the mosquitoes which transmit malaria. Preliminary studies suggested so. Mosquitoes do, indeed, get poisoned when they bite people who have taken the drug. Moreover, even if a mosquito does not succumb, ivermectin imbibed this way is often enough to kill any malarial parasites it is carrying.
  5. THE Warsaw Philharmonic bristled with competition last week. No less a figure than Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, presented the top prize for the Chopin Competition on Thursday night.Seong-Jin Cho, a 21-year-old South Korean, won first prize, followed by Charles Richard-Hamelin of Canada and Kate Liu of the United States. But it was a close race between Mr Cho and Mr Richard-Hamelin.The Chopin Competition, held every five years, wants to be known as the Olympics for pianists.But musical contests are rather different from athletic ones: once the technical skills of playing the right notes at the right time have been mastered, the artistry is often a matter of taste.The main benefit is exposure, explains Meng-Chieh Liu, a professor of piano at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.Many young musicians see competing as their best chance for getting a good manager, says Gabriela Montero, a former child prodigy who won third prize in the Chopin Competition in 1995.

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