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The Economist UK edition The Economist UK edition

The Economist UK edition September 28, 2019

The Economist is the premier source for the analysis of world business and current affairs, providing authoritative insight and opinion on international news, world politics, business, finance, science and technology, as well as overviews of cultural trends and regular Special reports on industries and countries.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Economist Newspaper Limited - UK
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51 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

access_time8 min.
the world this week

Politics Donald Trump asked the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to “do us a favour” and investigate the business dealings of Joe Biden’s son in Ukraine, according to the rough transcript of a phone conversation they had in July. The White House released the transcript after it emerged that Mr Trump’s attempt to lean on a foreign power to discredit the frontrunner among Democratic presidential candidates had formed the basis of a whistle-blower’s complaint to the intelligence services. After months of warning her party about the unintended consequences of trying to impeach Mr Trump, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker, announced that the House would start an impeachment inquiry. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that the world’s oceans and frozen regions have been “taking the heat” from climate change, and that the…

access_time5 min.
the reckoning

NO BRITISH INSTITUTION is any longer immune to the Brexit virus. On September 24th the Supreme Court ruled that the queen herself had been led to act unlawfully when her prime minister, Boris Johnson, advised her to suspend Parliament in the run-up to Britain’s departure from the European Union (see Britain section). Unanimous, the judges ruled that the government had not provided “any reason—let alone a good reason” for this intrusion on “the fundamentals of democracy”. The very next day MPs returned to work triumphant. This was the worst week in Mr Johnson’s extraordinarily bad two months in office. The unelected prime minister has lost every vote he has faced, squandered his majority and fired a score of MPs from his Conservative Party. Following the court’s ruling, he was dragged back…

access_time5 min.
the promise and the perils of impeachment

AMERICA ALMOST didn’t have a president. The men who arrived at the constitutional convention in 1787 brought with them a horror of monarchy. Absent a figure of George Washington’s stature, the young country might have adopted a parliamentary system of government. Yet having created the office, the founders had to devise a way to remove presidents who abuse their positions—not all people are Washingtons. They defined the mechanism: an impeachment vote in the House, followed by a trial in the Senate. The question of what exactly a president should be impeached for—“treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours”—was deliberately left to Congress. Hence, though impeachment is a constitutional provision, it is also a political campaign. That campaign began in earnest this week when Nancy Pelosi directed her Democratic colleagues in…

access_time3 min.
supreme achievement

“NATURE ISN’T classical, dammit, and if you want to make a simulation of nature you’d better make it quantum mechanical, and by golly, it’s a wonderful problem because it doesn’t look easy.” With those words, in 1981, Richard Feynman, an American physicist, introduced the idea that, by harnessing quantum mechanics, it might be possible to build a new kind of computer, capable of tackling problems that would cause a run-of-the-mill machine to choke. Feynman was right: it has not been easy. Over the past four decades quantum computers have slowly evolved from squiggles on theoreticians’ blackboards to small machines in university laboratories to research projects run by some of the world’s biggest companies. Now one of those machines, built by researchers at Google, has at last shown what all the fuss…

access_time3 min.
work in progress

“FROM NINE till five, I have to spend my time at work,” warbled Martha and the Muffins back in 1980. “My job is very boring, I’m an office clerk.” Many of the hundreds of millions of people who trek into an office will feel as despondent at the prospect as Martha did. The office needs a revamp (see Business section). But the crisis at WeWork, a trendy office-rental firm whose boss, Adam Neumann, stepped down this week after its attempt to float its shares turned into a debacle, shows that businesses are still struggling to come up with a new format. The large office, like the factory, is an invention of the past two centuries. The factory arose because of powered machinery, which required workers to be gathered in one place.…

access_time3 min.
bureaucratic herbicide

A CENTURY AGO American crop scientists began experimenting with the plant known there as corn, and elsewhere as maize. They discovered that by crossing two inbred strains they could create seeds that would consistently grow better than either of the parent plants. It was the beginning of a seed revolution. By the 1940s American agricultural productivity was shooting up; by the 1960s Asia had joined the race, thanks to improved varieties of rice and wheat. In most of the world, the green revolution continues. Open an American seed catalogue today and you will see dozens of varieties of each plant, many of them labelled “new” to show that they have been released or improved somehow just in the past year. But on one continent, it never quite happened. African farmers still tend…

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