Economist 11/18/15

  1. Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president since he took power after a coup in 1985. A staunch ally of the West, he introduced multiparty elections in a country torn apart by Idi Amin. But he has been in power for almost 30 years and seems determined to stay for longer. In February Uganda will hold elections.There are eight presidential candidates, but only three are credible. Mr Museveni himself; Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister who has broken with his one-time boss; and Kizza Besigye, a long-standing opposition leader who was Mr Museveni’s doctor in the bush wars of the 1980s.At the last election in 2011 turnout was just 59%, down from 71% in 2001. Mr Museveni’s supporters are largely bought, reckons Mr Sewanyana. Some say they are paid between 5,000 and 10,000 Ugandan shillings ($1.50-$3) to come to rallies, as well as given transport and food.Partly thanks to long suppression, the opposition is weak and divided.MPs are obsequious to the president; officials and judges serve at his whim, and ministerial jobs are given to allies and family members. Janet Museveni, the president’s wife, is a cabinet minister; Muhoozi Museveni, his son, is head of the presidential guard.
  2. THE $12.2 billion deal in which Marriott, an American hotelier, will buy a rival, Starwood, follows months of rumours about the bid target, whose brands include Westin and Sheraton. In April Starwood’s slow growth, at a time when other chains are doing well, prompted it to start exploring “strategic and financial alternatives”. Marriott’s acquisition, announced on November 16th, will make it the world’s biggest hotelier: it will manage more than one million rooms, about 50% more than its closest rival, Hilton.In America revenue per available room (RevPAR, revenue divided by rooms available in a given period), has risen for the past five years, according to STR, a data firm. PwC, a consultant, expects occupancy rates this year to reach their highest level since 1981.Crucially, hotel companies own fewer hotel buildings than they once did. In this “asset-light” model, firms earn fees for managing and franchising hotels. Marriott owns or leases just 2% of the hotel rooms it operates. Hoteliers do not profit from soaring property prices, but they aren’t gutted by a slump either.
  3. ON AVERAGE, a nonstop transatlantic flight and back spews out about a tonne of CO2 emissions per passenger.A new study of the 20 biggest transatlantic carriers by the International Council of Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that there was a 51% difference between the fuel efficiency of the best-performing airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and the worst, British Airways (BA).One reason for its impressive performance is that it predominately runs a fleet of modern, efficient Boeing 787-8s. Norwegian only began flying the transatlantic route in 2013. The planes it uses are, on average, also only two years old. Its high pax-km/l is also down to the fact that it squeezes in more passengers. Its planes typically have no business-class seats, and are instead configured with 259 seats in the economy cabin and 32 seats in a premium-economy one.
  4. FOR well over a century, people have predicted that technology will make business travel obsolete.Yet far from stowing their strollers, putting away their passports and signing in to Skype, the corporate world’s “road warriors” are clocking up more miles than ever.According to a report by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), firms around the world will spend a record $1.25 trillion this year on sending employees on work trips. This largely reflects growing business confidence.Another survey, by BusinessTravelNews, suggests that management consultants and makers of expensive hardware remain the biggest spenders on travel among American companies.Yet despite this, most executives say they enjoy life on the road. According to the GBTA around half are happy with the amount of travelling they do, while over a third say they would like to do more. This may be because the daily grind back at base has got a lot tougher too.
  5. Worldwide deforestation is bad for the environment. It is responsible for about 10% of climate-change emissions and leads to massive reductions in biodiversity.How can we protect forests? One option is direct regulation: in other words the placement of restrictions on road building or the establishment of protected areas. Another option is to impose a fine or tax on forest clearing. Governments can also pay landowners to conserve their forest under a “payment for ecosystem services” (PES) contract.It is extremely difficult to measure the success of such policies. For example, after Brazil tightened regulation and introduced satellite monitoring in the mid-2000s, deforestation slowed to about half a million hectares annually.The gold-standard method of evaluating conservation policies is the systematic use of randomised-controlled trials (RCTs), similar to those used to test pharmaceuticals. RCTs involve randomly selecting two groups of individuals or regions and implementing a policy only for one group, keeping the second as a control.

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