Economist 12/3/15

  1. Lebanon broke its own record for longest period without a president—546 days.Local papers now use the plural, writing of the country’s “crises” rather than “crisis”.Water tankers line the streets since the piped stuff reaches few areas of the capital. No community will accept the government’s proposed new landfill sites for the rubbish that has accumulated on the streets for the past few months.The economy has been buffeted by the conflict next door in Syria, Lebanon’s only neighbour other than Israel.Partly because of the strain of housing over 1m refugees—one for every four Lebanese—debt now stands at 131% of GDP.The underlying problem is politics. Under Lebanon’s system, seats in parliament and posts in government are shared out by sect rather than competence. This has, unsurprisingly, produced incompetent government.
  2. A drone announced in May 2015 by Aeronautics Defense Systems, an Israeli company, helps illustrate the difficulty of defeating unmanned aerial vehicles. Toted in a backpack and launched from a small catapult, the battery-powered drone can deliver, after hours of flight, 2kg of explosives and tungsten pellets to a moving target. Being cheap, small drones could be dispatched in numbers that overwhelm air-defence missiles costing millions.Battery-powered drones lack the heat signature of a jet engine and can fly low to duck radar.Jamming, however, can cause “electronic fratricide” harmful to friendly forces. And drones such as the MALD series from America’s Raytheon fly preprogrammed routes and are therefore unjammable.
  3. THE Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), America’s air regulator, has ruled that Thailand does not comply with international aviation safety standards. The FAA downgraded Thailand’s aviation authority from a “Category 1” to “Category 2” rating.The FAA’s decision, which means that airlines from the country are allowed to continue to fly existing routes between Thailand and America but not launch new services, is not likely immediately to have a big impact on the flag carrier, Thai Airways.But much more troubling for Thai Airways is the likelihood that European regulators will follow America’s lead. The European Aviation Safety Agency is due to announce the results of its own audit later this month. The carrier flies to 11 European destinations, on which it relies for much of its revenue.
  4. In Poland, the populist Law and Justice party (PiS), swept back into power after eight years in opposition, is remaking the country in a hurry (see article). It has violated the constitution to replace the previous government’s appointees on the constitutional court, put partisans in charge of the intelligence agencies, purged officials and backtracked on Poland’s commitments to the European Union.Poland matters. It is the anchor of east-central Europe, the region’s biggest country and largest economy by far.The last time PiS was in power, in 2005-07, it picked fights with Germany and created an atmosphere of hysterical unpredictability.the broader worry is that it will cripple the EU on critical issues, particularly the refugee crisis. The European Commission’s plan for redistributing migrants across the union faces dissent from Hungary and two other members of the Visegrad group, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. A deal was reached only with the backing of Visegrad’s fourth member, Poland.
  5. According to one survey, South Korean men use 13 grooming products on average a month, almost half the number that their female peers use (South Korean women follow multi-step skincare routines, involving cleansers, essences and ampoules). Almost all big South Korean brands have men’s lines. The country’s male skincare market doubled in value from 2009 to 2014, according to Euromonitor, a research firm. Its men are the leading consumers of male cosmetics per capita (and buy four times more than the next-vainest, the Danes), making up one-fifth of worldwide is during their two-year military service that many men first dabble in make-up: girlfriends offer them camouflage face-paint kits, and moisturisers for the country’s dry winters and sizzling summers.Yet many men still hesitate to go beyond moisturising. Few feel comfortable perusing shelves in department stores

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