Economist 11/5/15

  1. IN JUNE, Texas became the eighth state to adopt legislation allowing guns to be carried on university campuses.“Campus carry” has been a priority for gun-rights groups since the shootings in 2007 at Virginia Tech.UT Austin has held two public forums on the subject this term, at the student union, in the shadow of the clock tower. Most of the students who spoke were opposed to having guns on campus.Although the legislature clearly passed a campus-carry law, it seems that lawmakers may not have read it first. On closer examination, Texas law now requires the heads of public universities to come up with “reasonable rules” about guns on campus, “after consulting with students, staff and faculty”. The strictest injunction in the law itself is a vague phrase stating that public colleges cannot “generally prohibit” Texans licensed to carry a gun from doing so on campus.
  2. MYANMAR will stage its first competitive general election in 25 years on November 8th. More than 90 parties have registered, but only two have national reach: the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Miss Suu Kyi’s party is expected to perform well but a discordant theme has sounded repeatedly during the campaign.In central Myanmar, monks have reportedly been warning voters that the NLD wants to turn Myanmar into a Muslim country.Miss Suu Kyi herself is Burman, the majority ethnic group, which comprises around 68% of the population. Neither in word nor deed has she expressed any sympathy for Islamism nor even the slightest interest in making Myanmar a Muslim country, whatever that would mean (Muslims account for just 4% of Myanmar’s population). She has spoken out in favour of pluralism. But she has been shamefully silent on Buddhist persecution of Muslim Rohingyas—an ethnic group in western Myanmar whom many Burmans.Partly the answer has to do with electoral politics. Anti-Muslim sentiment is widespread and deep-seated in Myanmar; the USDP would not be the first political party to stir up ethnic grievances for political gain.Myanmar has never really made peace with its plural identity. Though it is home to scores of ethnic groups, Burmans have wielded unchallenged power since independence.
  3. LOOK around Europe, and one leader stands above all the rest: Angela Merkel.By contrast, in her ten years in office, Mrs Merkel has grown taller with every upheaval.Mrs Merkel’s predominance in part reflects the importance of Germany—the EU’s largest economy and its mightiest exporter, with sound public finances and historically low unemployment. She is also the longest-serving leader in the EU.Her personal qualities count for much, too. She has defended Germany’s interests without losing sight of Europe’s; she has risked German money to save the euro.Mrs Merkel is far from perfect. She is not given to great oratory or grand visions. She can be both a political chameleon who adopts left-wing policies to occupy the centre-ground, and a scorpion who quietly eliminates potential rivals.Critics are wrong to assume that Mrs Merkel is about to be toppled. Grumbling aside, she remains the dominant figure of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU). A recent poll found that 82% of CDU members approve of her leadership and 81% want her to run for a fourth term as chancellor at the election due in 2017.
  4. GOLF clubs are places where powerful men in hideous clothes hatch shady deals. So China’s Communist Party has banned its 88m members from playing the game. The order was made public on October 21st after approval by the party’s Central Committee.The new rules also bar party members from “excessive eating and drinking” and “improper sexual relationships”.Officials are not corrupt because they play golf; they can afford to play golf because they are corrupt. Banning the symptoms of graft is no substitute for addressing its root causes.
  5. China’s economic rise is well-known. But the vast improvement in the health and longevity of its people—despite appalling levels of pollution—is less so. A new study published in the Lancet for the first time offers a province-by-province breakdown of China’s health.The study* shows that a baby born in China in 1990 would live on average to the age of 68. One born in 2013 could expect to reach 76.There is a large disparity between provinces, but the gap is narrowing. In Shanghai life expectancy is now 83—as good as Switzerland.. The most impressive progress has taken place in the most benighted regions: a child in Tibet born in 1990 had a life expectancy of 56, akin to one of the poorest African countries.
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