Economist 4/20/16

  1. MOST analysis of Donald Trump’s support in the primary elections has focused on his appeal to poorer, working-class white voters, who are assumed to have lost the most to globalisation and are more open to his particular brand of populist politics. But his victory in the New York Republican primary on April 19th underscored his wider support across the party’s base. Mr Trump took 61% of the vote overall (the first time he has gained over 50%) winning across all demographic groups.on average, voters with a high-school education or less have made up 16% of the Republican electorate overall and a fifth of Mr Trump’s voting base; but college graduates and postgraduates account for 43% of his support. Looking at income: voters earning under $50,000 have made up 29% of the electorate and 32% of Mr Trump’s support. Those earning over $100,000 have accounted for 37% of the electorate and 34% of his base.
  2. For three years Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former president had been banned from travel while facing a charge of high treason, initiated by the government, and numerous other cases launched against him after he returned from self-exile in 2013. But the government finally agreed to let him travel abroad, supposedly for medical reasons.The decision to order a special prosecution of Mr Musharraf was a bold move. For an ex-army chief to appear in court, let alone be convicted of a capital offence, would have been a historic assertion of civilian power.The army fought back with a series of security and health scares to frustrate efforts to bring Mr Musharraf to court—although he did finally make an appearance in February 2014.More important was the appointment of a new army chief in November 2013. Not only is General Raheel Sharif untainted by the Musharraf years but he has gradually eclipsed the prime minister in public esteem after launching a major military campaign against domestic militants that led to a slump in terror attacks.Realising he cannot govern without the army Mr Sharif appears to have accepted a joint-rule with his (unrelated) namesake.
  3. In 2013, when Ryanair first announced its plan to rehabilitate its toxic reputation for customer service, many were sceptical.But the ensuing years have proved the naysayers wrong. Gone are the punitively high surcharges and obfuscatory booking systems designed to trick customers. In their place are generous baggage allowances, a slick consumer-friendly website, and an ever-obliging social-media persona.Mr O’Leary launched a “Business Plus” service two years ago, offering more flexibility and comfort for a higher airfare.Now he is making life easier for corporates to book multi-city tickets.Search for flights from Marrakech to Edinburgh, for example, on Ryanair.com and the booking engine comes up blank.It is only by breaking up the journey into two stages—Marrakech to London, and London to Edinburgh—that Ryanair and Stansted emerge as the clear first choice, offering cheap transfers with a short layover.
  4. The terrorists who staged the attacks last November in Paris employed AK-47s made by Zastava, a Serbian manufacturer. The Kouachi brothers, who attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo the previous January, used Kalashnikov ammunition made in Bosnia. Whatever else these terrorists may have shared, one thing they certainly had in common was a fondness for Balkan arms.The tendency of guns from the Balkans to show up in terrorist attacks in Europe is no surprise. The wars attending the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the near-collapse of the Albanian state in 1997, left a vast supply of small arms in the region. One study estimated the number of firearms in private hands in the Balkans at over 6m, most of them unregistered.Serbia has the highest concentration of private guns per head in Europe.
  5. The big customers for Balkan guns are foreign governments—many of them Western. In 2014 American, Australian, British and Canadian military cargo planes collected 22m rounds of Kalashnikov ammunition and other arms from Albania and delivered them to Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq.In that case the munitions were free: Albania donated them to earn political credit with Washington.But in most cases the contracts are lucrative. Many of the militias that Western countries back in the Middle East use weapons from the former communist bloc, especially the cheap, reliable, long-lasting AK-47. Since Western countries do not make them, Balkan sources come in handy. America has been buying crates of Kalashnikovs from Serbia’s Zastava since the late 2000s, mainly for Iraqi and Afghan security forces.Some of these guns leak into local bazaars, or are seized when militias capture government arsenals.Although most of the Balkan arms business is above-board, some is not. Non-state groups can get the “end-user certificates” needed for international deals through well-connected consultants.
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