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The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 09/08/2018

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.

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The Economist Newspaper Limited - Europe
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8 min.
the world this week

Politics The Senate Judiciary Committee began its hearing into Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Calls by the Democrats for the White House to release more documents relating to Mr Kavanaugh’s work for George W. Bush fell on deaf ears (over 1m pages have already been released, more than for any previous Supreme Court nominee). Democratic senators griped about the vetting process and activists disrupted the hearing, but Mr Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed. Rahm Emanuel, a fiscally sober Democrat, said he would not seek a third term as mayor of Chicago next year. He had been expected to run again, but despite an impressive economic record has grown unpopular because of rampant gun crime and the police’s reaction to it. There was another upset in a Democratic primary, this time…

5 min.
has finance been fixed?

WHEN historians gaze back at the early 21st century, they will identify two seismic shocks. The first was the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, the second the global financial crisis, which boiled over ten years ago this month with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. September 11th led to wars, Lehman’s bankruptcy to an economic and political reckoning. Just as the fighting continues, so the reckoning is far from over. Lehman failed after losing money on toxic loans and securities linked to America’s property market. Its bankruptcy unleashed chaos. Trade fell in every country on which the World Trade Organisation reports. Credit supplied to the real economy fell, by perhaps $2trn in America alone. To limit their indebtedness, governments resorted to austerity. Having exhausted the scope to cut interest rates, central…

3 min.
trouble in the east

RUSSIA has long feared a Chinese invasion of its sprawling far east. Large Russian armies regularly drill in southern Siberia. This year the exercises are the largest since the cold war. But what is striking is not just the scale of “Vostok-2018” (see Europe section), but the fact that thousands of Chinese soldiers will take part in them as honoured guests. To some this looks like the reversal of Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. Back then, America split the big communist powers. Now China and Russia are binding closer to challenge the American order. The parallel with the cold war is imperfect. But the West should worry nonetheless, not least because the exercises hold a mirror to America’s weakened alliances. The art of war games Exercises matter both militarily and politically.…

4 min.
truth and power

GOOGLE marked its 20th birthday this week. It celebrated in fitting style—being lambasted by politicians in Washington. Its failure to send a senior executive to a congressional hearing, over Russian use of tech platforms to meddle in the presidential election in 2016, was tone-deaf. Like Facebook and Twitter, whose top brass did show up, Google wields too much influence to avoid public scrutiny. A vital debate is under way over whether and how tech platforms should be held responsible for the content they carry. Angering legislators increases the chance of a bad outcome. Back when Google, Facebook, Twitter and others were babies, the answer that politicians gave on the question of content liability was clear. Laws such as America’s Communications Decency Act (CDA), passed in 1996, largely shielded online firms from…

4 min.
idlib is falling

WHEN the Syrian army crushed the rebel enclave of eastern Aleppo in 2016, thousands of civilians and fighters were evacuated to Idlib province. When the Syrians bombarded eastern Ghouta, thousands more were bused there. Now the Syrians are massing to take Idlib itself. But this time there may be nowhere in Syria for civilians to flee to. In a country that has suffered many horrors, not least the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, the UN is warning of “the most horrific battle of the seven-year Syria war”. About 3m people live in Idlib, the last big rebel pocket, roughly half of them displaced from other parts of Syria. Idlib has thus absorbed the most irreconcilable anti-regime rebels, among them jihadists linked to al-Qaeda, who know they face a fight to…

3 min.
the bonfire of the antiquities

ON THE night of September 2nd a fire consumed the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, destroying most of its 20m or so artefacts. Among the treasures incinerated were Egyptian mummies, frescoes from Pompeii, the 11,500-year-old skeleton of “Luzia” (the oldest human remains in the Americas) and a vast South American collection from the pre-Columbian era to the present day. Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, called the loss “incalculable”. But it was not unpredictable (see Books and Arts section). More than a decade ago, inspectors had pointed to the museum’s ropy electrical wiring. Its director had complained of termites and closed a third of the exhibition rooms. It was running on an annual budget more suitable for a parish church: less than $0.01 per artefact, only some of which was…