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The Economist UK edition

The Economist UK edition November 9, 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

8 min.
the world this week

Politics As the British general election campaign officially got under way a stream of MPs announced they would not stand again. So far over 70 have stepped down, more than twice the number who chose not to face the electorate in 2017. More than 60 of those supported Remain, and most represented constituencies that voted for Brexit. The Conservatives’ campaign got off to a bad start, with the resignation of a cabinet minister. Polls still give them a double-digit lead over Labour. John Bercow stood down as Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons after ten years in the chair. Mr Bercow was known for crying “orderrrr!” and breaking parliamentary conventions. His replacement, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has hinted at a return to convention and decorum, promising that he will wear the Speaker’s wig…

5 min.
a continent in peril

TODAY’S EUROPE owes its existence to the United States. America fought two world wars on European soil; American diplomacy was midwife to what became the European Union; American arms protected western Europe from Soviet invasion; and American statesmen oversaw German unification. Now, in a dramatic plea to all Europeans, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has warned that America is cutting Europe loose. The old continent is “on the edge of a precipice”, he warns. Unless it wakes up, “we will no longer be in control of our destiny.” In his Elysée Palace office, Mr Macron spoke to The Economist in apocalyptic terms (see Briefing). NATO, the transatlantic alliance, is suffering from “brain-death”, he says; Europe needs to develop a military force of its own. The EU thinks of itself as just a…

3 min.
words and weapons

FOR 37 YEARS one man has ruled Cameroon, a staggeringly corrupt, oil-rich state in central Africa. President Paul Biya is an old-fashioned autocrat. When democracy swept across Africa after the cold war ended, he called it a “distasteful passing fetish”. Then he realised he would attract less foreign criticism if he quietly intimidated opponents and rigged elections instead of banning them. He has done so ever since, and kept on good terms with Western powers by posing as a champion of stability in a fissile region. His troops, trained and equipped by France, Israel and America, battle the jihadists of Boko Haram and Islamic State around Lake Chad. They also regularly don blue helmets to keep peace in countries such as the Central African Republic. Yet Mr Biya cannot keep…

4 min.
in defence of billionaires

BASHING BILLIONAIRES is gaining popularity—especially among candidates to be America’s president. Elizabeth Warren wants to take up to 6% of their wealth in tax every year. Bernie Sanders says they “should not exist”. “Every billionaire is a policy failure,” goes a common left-wing slogan. In Britain’s election, too, the super-rich are under fire. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, says that a fair society would contain none. On October 31st he vowed to “go after” Britain’s plutocrats, singling out five individuals and bemoaning a “corrupt system”. Left-wingers blasting inequality is nothing new. But the idea that vast personal fortunes are made possible only when government goes wrong is a more novel and serious idea. It is also misguided. Personal wealth is at best an unreliable signal of bad behaviour…

3 min.
sex, lies and politics

ADULTERER, PERVERT, traitor, murderer. In France in 1793, no woman was more relentlessly slandered than Marie Antoinette. Political pamphlets spread baseless rumours of her depravity. Some drawings showed her with multiple lovers, male and female. Others portrayed her as a harpy, a notoriously disagreeable mythical beast that was half bird-of-prey, half woman. Such mudslinging served a political purpose. The revolutionaries who had overthrown the monarchy wanted to tarnish the former queen’s reputation before they cut off her head. She was a victim of something ancient and nasty that is becoming worryingly common: sexualised disinformation to undercut women in public life (see Europe section). People have always invented rumours about such women. But three things have changed. Digital technology makes it easy to disseminate libel widely and anonymously. “Deepfake” techniques (manipulating images…

3 min.
a design for life

DEBATE ABOUT using science to create “bespoke” human beings of one sort or another usually revolves around the ideas of genetic engineering and cloning. People worry about these for two reasons. One is practical. The tinkering involved could end up harming the resulting individual. The other is a more visceral dislike of interfering with the process of reproduction, perhaps best encapsulated in the phrase “playing God”. There is, however, a third way that the genetic dice which are thrown at the beginning of human life might be loaded—and it does not involve any risky tinkering. It is a twist on the well-established procedure of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The twist would be to decide, on the basis of their DNA, which of a group of available embryos should be implanted and…