Economist 6/15/16

  1. From America to Eastern Europe, the use of apps to block online ads is widespread and growing, according to a 26-country survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, based in Oxford. In Poland 38% of people reported using ad-blockers, including most of those under 35. At least 20% use them in each of the 26 countries surveyed, except Japan and South Korea. Some news organisations are fighting back by forcing users with ad-blockers to pay for access. But the survey also found that very few people pay anything for online news—just 9% of people in English-speaking countries, where competition is strongest.
  2. The AR-15 has been the gun of choice in several other recent mass shootings in US. The National Rifle Association (NRA) muses that the “AR” could stand for “America’s rifle”, as the AR-15 is the nation’s most popular long gun, with as many as 10m units in circulation.Whereas its fully-automatic military cousin, the M16, shares its looks, the AR-15 shoots only one round per trigger-pull. It is thus a misnomer, gun-rights advocates say, to call the AR-15 a military-style “assault rifle”.Unlike fully automatic rifles, which can fire 750 to 900 rounds per minute and are available only to the armed forces, the AR-15 and its kin (sold by the millions to the general public) can muster only about 45 to 60.In 1994, Bill Clinton signed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, a law restricting the manufacture of large-capacity magazines and a large range of semi-automatic firearms. But due to a ten-year sunset provision, the ban was lifted in 2004 and efforts to reinstate it—along with attempts to pass other gun-control measures—have failed.
  3. DUBAI, renowned across the world for its oil wealth, now wants to forge a reputation for the arts.Now, construction crews are putting the final touches on a striking building designed by Janus Rostock, a Danish architect. Featuring a protruding roof on top of a window-covered oval building, the edifice is the 2,000-seat Dubai Opera House.When a city (or city-state) like Dubai, with no history of Western classical music, builds one, it is major news to classical-music lovers and foreign policy analysts alike. It signals soft-power ambition, a desire to be taken seriously in the high-brow world of the arts. China, another nation not traditionally known for Wagner and Rossini, is in the midst of an opera-house construction boom that includes boldly designed opera houses in Harbin and Guangzhou.
  4. SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND, a theme park twice the size of California’s original Disneyland, officially opened on June 16th, 15 years since Chinese officials first hatched plans to get the industry’s runaway leader to build it.Even before the official opening, 1m punters had turned up for a look and tickets are sold out for weeks.The market in China is enormous and growing rapidly. Four Chinese firms were among the world’s ten biggest park operators by attendance in 2015; the year before only one made the list. Given the $5.5 billion invested by Disney and its Chinese partners, much hangs in the balance.Disney already runs four of the world’s five biggest theme parks and 55% of all fair-goers around the world visit one of its resorts. But in the past decade, Asia’s share of global theme park visits has swelled to 42% while North America’s has shrunk to 47%. With over 300m people living within three hours’ journey to Shanghai Disneyland, around the population of the entire United States, it is not hard to see why.
  5. Broadway has enjoyed a glorious 30-year run: the average production today collects five times what one did in 1985.Broadway revenues are constrained by the number of seats available: even “Hamilton” can only sell about 11,000 tickets a week. Because producers are typically very reluctant to raise prices sharply, weekly revenues tend to face a fairly hard ceiling at their venue size times a maximum ticket value (currently around $200). As a result, the revenues of shows that operate near capacity tend to cluster fairly closely together, even if demand for some of them is far greater than others.“Hamilton” looks set to become Broadway’s best-selling show ever.

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