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Divorce in the rich world is getting less nasty

SCOTT AND his then wife, who live in Australia, had a vile but not unusual divorce. Their lawyers, he said, “fired off affidavits and legal letters at each other” for eight months. Their children were put on a federal police watchlist so they could not be taken overseas. The couple reached an agreement before going to court but Scott still spent A$35,000...

Do tips make for better service?

DAVID FRANK started working for tips when he was 11 years old, delighting restaurant diners in New York with his magic tricks. As a teenager he would make an average of $60-70 in an evening—not bad, but he wanted more. So he started reading research on tipping, and found a study showing that servers who left a sweet at the end of the meal could up their...

The world’s religions face a post-pandemic reckoning

ASK A VICAR, a rabbi or an imam about the biggest challenge facing his or her congregation, and the need to foster spiritual values in a secular world may leap off the tongue. Yet the world’s religions face an equally acute but different sort of problem: how to stay in business in a material, competitive sense. In religion as elsewhere, covid-19 has...

Are video games really addictive?

WHEN CHINA’S government censors books, bars “effeminate men” from television or spoon-feeds Communist Party dogma to schoolchildren, liberals agree that its behaviour is shockingly repressive. But when in August it banned children from playing video games for most of the week, liberals who happened to be parents were in two minds. Yes, restricting the...

The Omicron variant advances at an incredible rate

EXPONENTIAL GROWTH is a dizzying thing. In the week to December 8th Britain saw 536 new cases of covid-19 ascribed to the Omicron variant, less than 0.5% of the number caused by the dominant Delta variant. But the week before there had been only 32 cases of Omicron—and by December 14th the case number was over 10,000. Omicron looks set to become the...

Politicians are sending mixed signals about private car ownership

THE ALLIANT ENERGY CENTRE, a stadium complex in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, hosts all sorts of events, from exhibitions to concerts. In November it played host to “Mega Monster Trucks Live”, a three-day affair apparently dedicated to choking its attendees, mostly families with small children, with exhaust fumes. The stadium was filled with mud...

A tussle for control of Interpol pits good cops against bad

ALI AHMAD, a British security guard, was arrested while on holiday in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2019. He had attended a football match, and was wearing a Qatari team shirt. He had no idea that the UAE was in the midst of a blazing diplomatic row with Qatar. He was arrested, beaten, electrocuted, stabbed and deprived of sleep, he says. He was...

Vast satellite constellations are alarming astronomers

ON MAY 24TH 2019 a Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX launched 60 communication satellites into a low orbit around the Earth. That evening they appeared as a string of sunlit dots moving across the sky, many of them as bright as the brightest stars, a source of passing wonder and mystery to casual observers—and a portent of doom to astronomers. “There...

The Glasgow summit left a huge hole in the world’s plans to curb climate change

AS COP26 FINALLY came to a close on November 13th, more than 24 hours behind schedule, the mood inside the drab temporary buildings erected to house it on the banks of the River Clyde was a mix of celebration and frustration. The painful reality suffusing the conference was that the world is failing to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial...

In the West, assisted dying is rapidly becoming legal and accepted

SHORTLY BEFORE Ángel Hernández handed his wife the glass of barbiturates that would kill her, he asked her once again if she wanted to die. “The sooner the better,” she replied. Ravaged as María José Carrasco’s body was by multiple sclerosis, she struggled to swallow the poison. In the end she forced it down through a straw. Ms Carrasco’s death in...

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