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The EconomistThe Economist

The Economist May 11, 2019

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Economist Newspaper Limited
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51 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

access_time8 min.
the world this week

Politics America sent an aircraft-carrier group to the Middle East in response to “troubling and escalatory” signs that Iran might attack American forces in the region. Iran, meanwhile, said it would no longer abide by all of the terms of the nuclear deal it signed with America and other world powers in 2015. America withdrew from that deal last year and reimposed sanctions, aiming to cut off Iranian oil exports; it announced new sanctions this week, targeting iron, steel, copper and aluminium, which account for around 10% of Iran’s exports. Palestinian militants in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel, killing four Israelis. Israel responded by pounding Gaza with air strikes, killing 27 Palestinians. It was the deadliest fighting since 2014. A truce was finally brokered by Egypt. South Africans voted…

access_time5 min.
collision course

THE DRUMS of war are beating once again. An American aircraft-carrier strike group is steaming towards the Persian Gulf, joined by B-52 bombers, after unspecified threats from Iran. John Bolton, the national security adviser, says any attack on America or its allies “will be met with unrelenting force”. In Tehran, meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will no longer abide by the terms of the deal signed with America and other world powers, whereby it agreed to strict limits on its nuclear programme in return for economic relief. Iran now looks poised to resume its slow but steady march towards the bomb—giving American hawks like Mr Bolton further grievances. Just four years ago America and Iran were on a different path. After Barack Obama offered to extend a hand if Iran’s…

access_time3 min.
deal or no deal

OVER THE past two years investors and executives watching the trade tensions between America and China have veered between panic and nonchalance. Hopes for a cathartic deal that would settle the countries’ differences have helped global stock-markets rise by a bumper 13% this year. But on May 5th that confidence was detonated by a renewed threat by President Donald Trump to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports. As The Economist went to press negotiations rumbled on, but no one should be under any illusions. Even if a provisional agreement is eventually struck, the deep differences in the two countries’ economic models mean their trading relations will be unstable for years to come. Some trade spats are settled by landmark agreements. In the 1980s tensions between Japan and America were resolved by…

access_time4 min.
under the volcano

DONALD TRUMP’S administration is not famed for its adherence to highfalutin’ political principle, so John Bolton, the United States national security adviser, struck an unusual note when he claimed in a speech in Miami last month that the “Monroe doctrine is alive and well”. The reference to the 19th-century principle under which the United States arrogated to itself the right to police Latin America was taken as a warning to Russia and China not to meddle in what used to be called “America’s backyard”. Mr Bolton gave new life to the doctrine by announcing fresh economic sanctions against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which he likes to call the “troika of tyranny”. But the tone of his speech was optimistic as well as threatening. Once the troika was brought down, Mr Bolton…

access_time3 min.
going down

UNTIL THIS week, Turks who could not stomach the autocratic rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan had one thing to cling to. Their president had locked up journalists and thousands of bureaucrats, gutted state institutions and used a referendum to grab constitutional powers. He had forced the sale of independent newspapers to his cronies, installed his second-rate son-in-law as finance minister and debauched the currency, tipping the country into recession. He had wrecked his country’s relationship with both America and the EU. And yet, at the same time, he was still governed by one master—the ballot box. Elections in Turkey may not have been terribly fair, but at least they were free. No longer. On May 6th, after weeks of pressure from the ruling AK party and the president himself, Turkey’s electoral…

access_time3 min.
how creepy is your smart speaker?

“ALEXA, ARE you recording everything you hear?” It is a question more people are asking, though Amazon’s voice assistant denies the charges. “I only record and send audio back to the Amazon cloud when you say the wake word,” she insists, before referring questioners to Amazon’s privacy policy. Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, gives a similar answer. But as smart speakers from Amazon, Apple, Google and other technology giants proliferate (global sales more than doubled last year, to 86.2m) concerns that they might be digitally snooping have become more widespread. And now that these devices are acquiring other senses beyond hearing—the latest models have cameras, and future ones may use “lidar” sensors to see shapes and detect human gestures (see Science & technology section)—the scope for infringing privacy is increasing. So…

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