The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition April 17, 2021

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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3 min
softly, softly

PHYSICS IS FAMOUS for mind-bending ideas. Subatomic particles can be in many places at once. The flow of time depends on how fast you are moving. But because such ideas are confined to the realm of the invisibly tiny or the inhumanly vast, most people regard them as little more than diverting curiosities. Biology has mind-bending ideas, too. Since they may concern the everyday world of living bodies, their impact is often felt much more viscerally. One example is “chimeras”, organisms which, a bit like the mythological beast, are formed from cells of two distinct species. Scientists have already produced goat-sheep and mouse-rats. Now a group of American, Chinese and Spanish researchers has reported significant progress in the quest to create chimeras using human cells—in this case, combining them with cells…

3 min
the big divide

More women have top jobs, but many have no job at all ENRICO LETTA , a former prime minister who returned from the political wilderness to lead Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party ( PD ), is one of Italy’s more courteous politicians. Yet in one respect he has acted ruthlessly since being elected leader on March 14th. Having named a woman as one of his two deputies and given women eight of the 16 seats in the PD’s executive, he forced out its male chief whips in both houses of parliament so that women could be appointed to replace them. Mr Letta’s uncharacteristic purge came as a well-judged response to an outcry that followed his predecessor’s decision to put men into all three of the ministerial places allotted to the PD in Mario…

3 min
the disaster that wasn’t

Some American states are in surprisingly fine financial fettle LAST MAY California readied itself for budgetary disaster. State officials, forecasting dire impacts from the pandemic, projected that the state deficit would grow to $54bn over the coming fiscal year. That year has now come and gone, and California instead has a $15bn surplus, equivalent to about 7% of its budget for 2020. It is so flush with cash that its constitution obliges it to put some away for a rainy day. California is not alone in defying gloomy projections. In 22 American states, revenues in 2020 were higher than in 2019. Several now have budget surpluses. The governor of Idaho, which is celebrating a historic surplus, plans tax cuts. Utah will spend some of its windfall on transport infrastructure. Vermont intends to…

5 min
playing with firearms

Jair Bolsonaro wants to arm Brazilians—especially, it seems, his supporters “I ALWAYS HAD the American dream,” says Bernardo Mattos, sitting outside his shooting club in Rio de Janeiro. “Thank God, I fulfilled that dream.” Since he launched his club in 2018 membership has risen steadily—particularly so during the past year of pandemic. Now around 350 people come through his doors to rattle off rounds. Mr Mattos, who says he was trained by the United States armed forces, broadcasts his views to even more. He has nearly 90,000 followers on social media. He encourages whole families to shoot together; 14-year-olds are allowed to do so if accompanied by an instructor. “I succeeded in bringing the gun ideology I saw in the United States to Brazil,” he beams. Brazil’s relationship with guns goes back…

2 min
a dirty business

Tomb raiders are growing more professional BY DAY MR WEI sold pancakes in Shaanxi, a northern province. By night he led a gang of grave robbers who tunnelled under an ancient temple near his shop. It took 11 months for them to reach the treasures buried beneath, which included gold statues of the Buddha and the bones of illustrious monks. Mr Wei and his cronies went on to dig several more passages from restaurants that they opened in the vicinity of shrines and pagodas. Over five years the looting earned them 12m yuan ($1.8m). Last year Mr Wei was sentenced to 15 years in prison. It was the second time that tomb raiding had landed him behind bars. China is redoubling efforts to catch grave robbers. Last year authorities arrested 2,400 such…

5 min
seen and not herd

Why white evangelicals are loth to get the jab, and what to do about it AT FIRST SIGHT, the decision by America’s Food and Drug Administration to pause the roll-out of the covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is a comparable setback to that in Europe over the Oxford­AstraZeneca jab. In both cases the worry is about whether there is a link with blood clots. And in both cases, such clots are extremely rare, meaning that in most circumstances not getting a shot is a far higher risk to health. Yet whereas in Europe the AstraZeneca blow came at a time when countries were struggling to supply vaccines, America is now awash with them. So the main impact in America is less on supply than on people’s wariness about getting vaccinated at…