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THEY TORE down the statue and rolled it into Bristol harbour, and none of them denied it. Yet this month a jury in England acquitted four people over the toppling of a likeness of Edward Colston, an English philanthropist and leading slave-trader who died in 1721. Part of the case for the defence was unusual for a courtroom, and revealing of the intellectual...

The rising cost of China’s property and pandemic curbs

NOT LONG ago China stood out for its economic resilience in the face of the pandemic. Today it is a $17.7trn source of vulnerability in the world economy. A sharp slowdown in its most important sector, property, caused in part by a clampdown on financial excess, threatens growth. So does its zero-tolerance approach to covid-19, which requires doing...

Momentum is building for war in Ukraine

THE FIRST WORLD WAR became inevitable once mobilisation orders had been issued in Berlin, argued A.J.P. Taylor, a British historian. The complexities of early-20th-century railway timetables, upon which troop movements then depended, made any alteration virtually impossible. Modern armies do not suffer the same constraints. But as Russia sends more...

Silicon Valley’s supersize superheroes

IS THERE ANY limit to the ambition and hubris of big tech firms? In October Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook Meta and described humankind’s new future in virtual worlds. On January 18th Microsoft, worth more than $2trn, decided it wasn’t big enough and bid $69bn for Activision Blizzard, a video-games firm, in its biggest-ever deal. These decisions are...

The parable of Boris Johnson

IN EARLY SEPTEMBER Boris Johnson set out his vision for beating Margaret Thatcher’s 11-year record, and so to become the longest-serving British prime minister of modern times. Like a bumptious schoolboy, he got far ahead of himself. In the coming days or weeks, he may be kicked out of office by his own MPs. More likely, he will cling on in 10 Downing...

America has failed to learn from the safe opening of classrooms abroad

OVER THE past two years America’s children have missed more time in the classroom than those in most of the rich world. School closures that began there in early 2020 dragged on until the summer of 2021. During that time the districts that stayed closed longest forced all or some of their children to learn remotely for twice as long as schools in Ireland,...

Hindu bigots are openly urging Indians to murder Muslims

“ALL HINDUS must pick up weapons and conduct a cleanliness drive,” bellowed a Hindu priest at a three-day “religious parliament” in north India last month. Another speaker fired up the large crowd even more crudely: “If a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million of them, we will be victorious.” By “them”, she meant India’s 200m Muslims. Those...

Central Asia will remain unstable, however many troops Russia sends

ANOTHER WEEK, another setback for freedom and democracy in the former Soviet Union—and another show of force from Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. That is one way to read recent events in Kazakhstan, and there is some truth to it. When gripes about rising fuel prices escalated into broader protests against a corrupt autocracy, and then erupted...

The worry about cross-border capital flows

WHEN GLOBALISATION was at its zenith, huge rewards flowed to those who squeezed out redundancies in the world’s supply chains. Only when the pandemic struck—when lockdowns in Asia threatened the supply of goods to the world—was it clear how fragile the system could be. The world’s financial supply chains are just as crucial, but even less well understood....

Welcome to the era of the bossy state

THE RELATIONSHIP between governments and businesses is always changing. After 1945, many countries sought to rebuild society using firms that were state-owned and -managed. By the 1980s, faced with sclerosis in the West, the state retreated to become an umpire overseeing the rules for private firms to compete in a global market—a lesson learned, in...

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