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The Economist UK edition The Economist UK edition

The Economist UK edition November 23, 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 Sri Lanka’s presidential election was won by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former president who oversaw the bloody end to an insurrection by Tamil separatists. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was defence secretary during the fighting. His Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist campaign pledged to wipe out terrorism, following attacks at Easter by jihadists, in which 268 people died. The elder Mr Rajapaska will be prime minister. Police shot rubber bullets at the protesters occupying Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Most of the students eventually left the campus. Meanwhile, a court in Hong Kong overturned a ban on wearing masks in the protests, finding it contravened the territory’s Basic Law. The decision was denounced by China’s National People’s Congress, which suggested that only it had the power to rule on constitutional issues in Hong…

5 min.
hong kong in revolt

A FEW DAYS ago hundreds of young people, some teenagers, turned the redbrick campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University into a fortress. Clad in black, their faces masked in black too, most of them remained defiant as they came under siege. Police shot rubber bullets and jets of blue-dyed water at them. Defenders crouched over glass bottles, filling them with fuel and stuffing them with fuses to make bombs. Many cheered the news that an arrow shot by one of their archers had hit a policeman in the leg. After more than five months of anti-government unrest in Hong Kong, the stakes are turning deadly. This time, many exhausted protesters surrendered to the police—the youngest of them were given safe passage. Mercifully, massive bloodshed has so far been avoided. But…

3 min.
oh brother

AS SRI LANKA’S long civil war was drawing to a close in 2009, the army surrounded 100,000 civilians on a tiny sliver of beach, barely three square kilometres in size. Mixed in among them were a small number of separatist guerrillas, the remnants of a once-formidable force that had been battling for an independent state for the country’s Tamil minority for 26 years. The insurgents had no compunction about using innocent villagers as human shields. The army claimed to have more scruples: it had designated the area a “no-fire zone”, where civilians could safely gather. Nonetheless, it continued to shell the beach mercilessly. The UN warned that a humanitarian disaster was unfolding and urged the government to declare a ceasefire, to no avail. In the end resistance crumbled and the…

4 min.
sunshine is a partial disinfectant

THE HEALTH-CARE system in America has long suffered from two grave problems. The first is that not enough people have reasonable access to medical treatment if they fall ill. President Barack Obama tackled this with his landmark reforms in 2010, which succeeded in extending coverage to some 20m Americans who previously lacked insurance. Mr Obama cut a deal with America’s powerful health-care lobbies and built a grand coalition for reform that included hospitals, insurers and Big Pharma. The law was passed after an epic battle in Congress. Unfortunately, since that success the second problem—exorbitant costs—has spiralled even further out of control. Health spending has risen from 17.3% of GDP before Obamacare was passed to 17.9% today. The average figure for rich countries is 9%. Now President Donald Trump is aiming to…

4 min.
unsettling

NOT LONG after Israel routed the Arab armies that surrounded it in 1967, Theodor Meron sent a “Top Secret” and “Extremely Urgent” memo to his bosses at the Israeli foreign ministry. Mr Meron, the ministry’s legal adviser, wrote that it would be illegal for Israel to settle the territory that it captured in the fighting. For decades that has also been the view of nearly all Israel’s allies. But Israel built scores of settlements anyway, so that 428,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem). Recognising that “reality on the ground”, Mike Pompeo, the American secretary of state, made a leap of legal logic on November 18th, saying the settlements were “not, per se, inconsistent with international law” (see Middle East and Africa section). This is merely…

3 min.
debugging gender bias

TAILORS WORKED out long ago that men and women have different shapes. Yet this message has failed to penetrate many other areas of design. Car seatbelts, for example, which date back to the 1880s, are often still configured for men, who tend to sit farther back than women when driving. Most protective gear used by workers is designed for men’s bodies. And today the most forward-looking place on Earth—Silicon Valley—is still embedding old-school bias into new products. Consider virtual-reality headsets. Women are significantly more likely than men to feel sick when using them, perhaps because 90% of women have pupils that are closer together than the typical headset’s default setting (see Science section). This is not an isolated example. Most smartphones are too big to fit comfortably into the average woman’s…