The Economist

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CEO activism in America is risky business

Apr 14th 2021IF YOU ARE an emblem of American harmony like Coca-Cola, you play your politics carefully, especially on issues as divisive as race and voting. The soft-drinks company did so brilliantly in 1964 when the elite of Atlanta—home to both Coca-Cola and Martin Luther King—threatened to snub the civil-rights leader on his return from winning the...

David Cameron, the Greensill affair and a British government scandal

Apr 14th 2021WHEN SOMEONE claims to have found a new way to make money out of an old idea, it usually pays to treat them with suspicion. Greensill Capital, a now failed finance company, lent firms money secured against their invoices. This type of finance existed in ancient Mesopotamia. Lex Greensill, the business’s founder, updated it with some shiny...

A Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border prompts alarm

Apr 14th 2021THE LAST time that Russia gathered so many troops on Ukraine’s borders, it went on to invade the country and annex Crimea. A deployment in recent weeks “mirrors the size and scope and scale” of Russian activity in 2014, noted General Todd Wolters, America’s senior commander for Europe, on April 13th.A public acknowledgement that same day...

Origin story—where did SARS-CoV-2 come from?

Apr 14th 2021ALMOST A year and a half since the discovery of the virus that causes covid-19, The Economist’s health policy editor, Natasha Loder, investigates one of the pandemic’s most compelling mysteries: where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? Peter Daszak, who was part of the World Health Organisation’s controversial fact-finding mission to China, explains...

Why do companies have so many confusing executive roles?

Apr 14th 2021THE PROFUSION of company executives with opaque and overblown titles can be baffling. Last month Prince Harry became the “chief impact officer” of BetterUp, an American mental-health startup. Explaining his role, the royal-turned-chimpo said he would “foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations”. “Chief listening officers”,...

India is facing a sudden spike in covid-19 cases

Apr 14th 2021ON APRIL 12th and 14th more than 4m people bathed in the waters of the Ganges at Haridwar in northern India. Both were auspicious days for a “shahi snan”, or “holy dip”, a ritual part of the triennial Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival. This year’s may be brought to a close before its scheduled climax on April 27th. The festival coincides with...

Talking selfies with a liquid lens

Apr 14th 2021SERIOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS are usually laden with serious amounts of serious kit, especially multiple lenses. The paparazzi use zoom lenses to sneak closer to their subjects. Mid-range lenses suit street-scenes and portraits. Wide-angle lenses are better at capturing cityscapes. A macro lens is ideal for close-ups. But what if one lens could...

How spooks are turning to superforecasting in the Cosmic Bazaar

Apr 14th 2021EVERY MORNING for the past year, a group of British civil servants, diplomats, police officers and spies have woken up, logged onto a slick website and offered their best guess as to whether China will invade Taiwan by a particular date. Or whether Arctic sea ice will retrench by a certain amount. Or how far covid rates will fall. These...

5G phone networks could provide power as well as communications

Apr 14th 2021THE IDEA behind the Internet of Things (IoT) is that the world would be a better place if all sorts of objects that are not currently computerised were to become so. Microchipped bridges could report when they needed maintenance. Billions of tiny computers affixed to buildings could monitor air quality and traffic patterns. Scattered across...

Why people forget that less is often more

Apr 14th 2021COLIN CHAPMAN, the founder of Lotus Cars, was one of motor racing’s most influential engineers. His philosophy was “simplify, then add lightness”. A stripped-down, featherweight car might be slower on the straights than a beefy muscle-machine, he reasoned. But it would be faster everywhere else. Between 1962 and 1978 Lotus won seven Formula...

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