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The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 04/21/2018

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.

Land:
United Kingdom
Språk:
English
Utgiver:
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Europe
Hyppighet:
Weekly
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8 min.
the world this week

Politics The barrage of missiles fired by America, Britain and France at facilities inside Syria “significantly crippled” the ability of the regime of Bashar al-Assad to produce chemical weapons, the Pentagon claimed. No casualties were reported as a result of the raid, which was a response to the regime’s suspected use of chlorine and sarin on civilians in the town of Douma, killing dozens of people. A security team doing reconnaissance for UN inspectors was fired upon when visiting the town. The White House said that Donald Trump was not considering a new round of sanctions against Russia. That contradicted Nikki Haley, America’s ambassador to the UN, who had announced that new penalties would be imposed on Russian firms helping Syria with chemical weapons. The White House said that Mr Trump stepped…

5 min.
what has become of the republican party?

ALL presidents, Republican and Democrat, seek to remake their party in their own image. Donald Trump has been more successful than most. From the start, the voters he mesmerised in the campaign embraced him more fervently than congressional Republicans were ready to admit. After 15 months in power, as our briefing explains, he has taken ownership of their party. It is an extraordinary achievement from a man who had never lived in Washington, DC, never held public office, who boasted of groping women and who, as recently as 2014, was a donor to the hated Democrats. The organising principle of Mr Trump’s Republican Party is loyalty. Not, as with the best presidents, loyalty to an ideal, a vision or a legislative programme, but to just one man—Donald J. Trump—and to the…

3 min.
a polish pickle

THERE was once no brighter star in Europe. Since shaking off communism in 1989 Poland has rivalled the bounciest Asian tigers in GDP growth. It has become a vital NATO ally. But it is also on the front line of what France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, calls a “European civil war” over the rule of law. The optimism that attended the EU’s great eastward expansion in 2004 has given way, in some places, to angry, nationalist “illiberal democracy”. In Hungary, having nobbled the courts, media and public prosecutor, Viktor Orban is squeezing civil society and using state (and EU) funds to nurture oligarchs. Romania’s leaders endlessly seek to weaken anti-graft laws that might otherwise ensnare them. But the gravest challenge is in Poland. Since taking office in 2015 the nationalist Law and Justice…

3 min.
deliverance

THE Founding Fathers thought that operating a postal service was a crucial responsibility of the federal government. The constitution allows Congress a monopoly on delivering post. Today the United States Postal Service (USPS) is the third-biggest employer in America, behind Walmart and the Defence Department. For most of the country’s history, USPS provided the arteries along which information flowed. Not any more. The number of first-class letters has fallen by almost half from its peak in 2001, as communication has migrated to the internet. About half of what still lands in letterboxes is advertising. USPS’s revenue from its monopoly is down by 35% in real terms since 2008. Seeking a survival strategy, and with online shopping booming, the post office is focusing on delivering parcels. But it has no monopoly in…

4 min.
the humbling of the tycoons

FOR decades, personal connections have provided a well-trodden path to success in Indian business. State-owned banks provided cheap financing for firms whose success often rested on winning official approvals. If a venture soured, the taxpayer frequently ended up being left to shoulder losses. There are plenty of gifted businesspeople in India. But crony-ism, not competition, has been the surest route to riches, even after the partial dismantling of the “licence raj” nearly three decades ago. A new era of Indian capitalism may be dawning. For the first time a large number of struggling tycoons face the prospect of having their businesses seized from them. The fate of 12 troubled large concerns is due to be settled within weeks; another 28 cases are set to be resolved by September. Between them, these…

3 min.
the kamprad test

COMPUTERS have already proved better than people at playing chess and diagnosing diseases. But now a group of artificial-intelligence researchers in Singapore have managed to teach industrial robots to assemble an IKEA chair—for the first time uniting the worlds of Allen keys and Alan Turing. Now that machines have mastered one of the most baffling ways of spending a Saturday afternoon, can it be long before AIs rise up and enslave human beings in the silicon mines? The research also holds a serious message. It highlights a deep truth about the limitations of automation. Machines excel at the sorts of abstract, cognitive tasks that, to people, signify intelligence—complex board games, say, or differential calculus. But they struggle with physical jobs, such as navigating a cluttered room, which are so simple that…