Economist 2/9/16

  1. THE extraordinary events that unfolded over the skies of Somalia on February 2nd have now become clearer. About 15 minutes after Daallo Airlines Flight 159 departed from Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, an explosive device carried by Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, one of the passengers, blew a gaping hole just above the right wing of the plane.. Mr Borleh, who is suspected of being a suicide bomber, was sucked out of the aircraft and fell to his death. Everyone else survived.Had the incident occurred minutes later, once the plane reached cruising altitude, the resultant explosive decompression would almost certainly have killed all aboard.Beyond the obvious parallels, these two incidents(Sinai and Mogadishu), bear one chilling similarity: both seem to have been perpetrated by airport employees. Although the Egyptian authorities still deny that Flight 9268 was a terrorist attack.It is hard to say what this means for international civil aviation. These two incidents, as harrowing as they are, do not yet constitute a trend.
  2. African airports are not so ramshackle; Western ones not so impenetrable. Consider how, in 2013, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) removed Mogadishu Airport from its “Zone 5” list of dangerous airports. Or how, last year, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority, which oversees Sharm el Sheikh Airport, passed ICAO’s safety audits with flying colours. As far as ICAO, a United Nations agency, is concerned, Somali and Egyptian airports are up to scratch. Conversely, last year, American airport screeners failed to detect banned weapons planted by undercover agents in 67 out of 70 tests.
  3. ON FEBRUARY 5th Twitter, the social network popular among chirping celebrities and journalists, saw the price of its shares fall to a record low. Part of that drop was caused by LinkedIn, a professional social network, which forecast lower growth.Twitter has suffered from three interrelated problems that have prevented the firm from soaring to the heights many had expected. First, there has been too much executive turnover, preventing the firm from agreeing upon a consistent vision. Second, the perceived turmoil has given advertisers pause. While many brands find Twitter a seamless way to reach online consumers, executive departures and internal changes have made advertisers feel that the platform is not as mature as Facebook or Google and kept them from writing such large cheques. Third, newbies find Twitter too complicated to use, which has prevented potential users from signing up for the service and sticking around.
  4. Germany is a nation that treasures silence more than most; the place that invented earplugs and where even school playgrounds are subject to noise-pollution measures. It also has one of the lowest birth rates in the world (8.2 per 1,000 inhabitants). No surprise, then, that according to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, the country is in the midst of a craze for hotels that forbid children.This should have business travellers rubbing their hands with glee. Families spend more time in hotels, eating overpriced meals and using other services, effectively subsidising business travellers—allowing them to frequent posher hotels and make their per diems go further.
  5. The Netherlands still dominates the global horticulture industry, but Kenya is digging itself a growing niche. Its cut-flower exports increased 12-fold to 137,000 tonnes between 1988 and 2014 as buyers realised it was cheaper, and counter-intuitively greener, to fly blooms thousands of miles than to heat Dutch greenhouses. More than 30% of the European Union’s cut-flower imports now come from Kenya. Most are roses.For many farms this is the busiest time of year—Britain’s Mother’s Day and Women’s Day in Russia come just three weeks after Valentine’s. Maridadi Flowers in Naivasha, for instance, will sell around 10.5m roses over the period, 15% of its annual harvest.The industry is one of Kenya’s biggest foreign-exchange earners, alongside tea, tourism and remittances.

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