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The Intelligence

The Intelligence

Get a daily burst of global illumination from The Economist?s worldwide network of correspondents as they dig past the headlines to get to the stories beneath?and to stories that aren?t making headlines, but should be.


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Ibiza remix: Austria and the European fringe

As a scandal involving Austria?s hard-right Freedom party causes the government to unravel, we examine the fringe parties of Europe and their chances in this week?s European election. As tech billionaires continue to indulge their obsession with space travel, we look at the sketchy economics of moving off-world. And, a stark warning for lovers of avocados: supply concerns make it a volatile brunch choice.

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In a heartbeat: abortion in America

The strict anti-abortion bills cropping up in multiple American states aren?t expected to become the law of the land?but proponents want them to chip away at Roe v Wade, which is. Attacks on albinos have risen ahead of Malawi?s presidential election; we discuss the superstitions driving the violence. And, why young Americans are having so little sex.

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Battle for legitimacy: Afghanistan v the Taliban

After 18 years and almost a trillion dollars to fight the Taliban, Afghanistan?s government still struggles for legitimacy; we ask why. A list of the world?s ultra-rich reveals a disproportionate number of self-made female billionaires from China?but the trend isn?t set to continue. And we examine why presidential libraries are so controversial, and why Barack Obama?s is no exception.

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Private iniquity? The Abraaj case

Not long ago, Abraaj was one of the world?s highest-profile private-equity firms. We take a look at its spectacular downfall, and the fate of its charismatic boss, Arif Naqvi. This weekend Australian voters will elect a new parliament. How can politicians win back a disillusioned electorate? And why do sausages figure so strongly on voting day?

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May, EU live in interesting times: Brexit

As party leaders grill Britain?s prime minister?and with a looming European election the country was due to avoid?we examine how the Brexit mess is dissolving party allegiances. Turkey was once seen as a success story in dealing with Syrians fleeing conflict, but as war has dragged on their welcome is wearing thin. And, kinky and camp meet fraught politics in this year?s Eurovision Song Contest.

Additional music "Thoughtful" and "Under Suspicion" by Lee Rosevere.

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Don?t spend it all at once: Pakistan and the IMF

The International Monetary Fund has struck another deal to bail out Pakistan?its 22nd. But how did the country?s economy end up in such a mess? Never mind rising numbers of vegetarians: the world is eating more meat, and in a way, that?s a good thing. And, how French names reveal social trends that census data cannot.

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Supply demands: Yemen peace talks

UN negotiators are trying to salvage a ceasefire agreement surrounding the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. The Arab world?s poorest country is suffering mightily, but the patchwork of actors makes a successful deal ever more difficult. In Latin America, democracy has stalled as economies have stagnated. Yet for democracy to succeed elsewhere, its Latin American shoots must be preserved. And, a splashy apartment building in Bulgaria that?s become emblematic of graft.

Additional music "Chez Space" by The Freeharmonic Orchestra.

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Spare the Rodrigo: Philippine elections

Personalities, not policies, will determine votes in today?s poll in the Philippines to fill some 18,000 government jobs. Loyalists of the firebrand president Rodrigo Duterte?including his daughter?will do well. Also, why is it that amid a growing need for new antibiotics, the incentives to produce them are fewer? And, a trip to the tiny Greek island of Delos, for an unusual meeting of modern art and protected antiquity.

Runtime: 21min

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Unbalance of trade: China-America talks

Negotiations to end the trade war have been ruffled as the Trump administration again ramped up tariffs. But even if a deal is struck, that won?t address serious systemic troubles in the countries? relationship. Many diets rely on simply counting calories, but the truth is that the scientific-sounding measure is mightily misleading. And, as Uber goes public, we take an instructive ride through historic disruptions of the taxi industry.

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Generals? election: Thai politics

The military junta that runs Thailand almost completely sewed up a momentous vote?almost. After further electoral meddling the generals will now lead a weak government, with a surging youth-led party nipping at their heels. As Russia intensifies bombings in Idlib, the last stronghold of Syrian rebels, we examine how Russia?s involvement in Syria has expanded its role in the Middle East. And, a visit with the soldier-poets of Guinea-Bissau.

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Nuclear diffusion: Iran

Exactly a year after President Donald Trump pulled America out of the Iran nuclear deal?and days after America moved warships into the Persian Gulf?Iran has announced it will break the terms of the deal. Is it more than just sabre-rattling? We examine an impressive new effort to get inside the minds of those unable to speak. And, why is it that British food gets such a bad rap? The answer stretches back to the Industrial Revolution.

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Mayor may not: Turkey?s election re-run

Turkey?s ruling AK party never conceded defeat in Istanbul?s mayoral election in March. Now the result has been annulled, worrying the opposition and international observers. A China-America trade deal has been thrown into doubt thanks to a presidential tweet, but one senator is warning of a grave danger that transcends tit-for-tat tariffs. And, why there?s a growing feminist contingent in a genre of Brazilian music known for its misogyny.

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Everything in moderation: YouTube

Susan Wojcicki, YouTube?s chief executive, tells our correspondent that moderating the streaming giant?s content is her biggest challenge. No wonder: every minute, 500 hours-worth of it is added. Also, how West African research is being used to address gun violence in Chicago. And a look at the declining number of royal families, and why some that have survived will stick around.

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Barr, none: the White House?s defiance

The no-show of America?s attorney-general in Congress is just the latest example of the White House?s broad stonewalling policy; we look at the constitutional crisis that may be brewing. Facebook?s blocking of extremists yesterday is just one front the social-media behemoth is fighting. Mark Zuckerberg?s bid to remake the platform will probably ape its Chinese rival, WeChat. And, we check into the Czech Republic and Poland, finding one immigrant group being embraced in a notoriously anti-migrant region.

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Buy the bullet: global defence spending

Governments the world over are beefing up defence spending?chief among them America?s and China?s. But some aggressive countries? budgets are actually shrinking. May Day protests in France took a violent turn this year, and that complicates President Macron?s efforts to calm an already protest-prone populace. And, academics have been trying to determine which English-speaking country produces the most bullshit.

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Putsch comes to shove: Venezuela

Juan Guaidó, the opposition figure widely viewed as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, has made a dramatic attempt to seize power from President Nicolás Maduro. But the effort appears stalled; how did he go wrong? We look more widely at coups around the world, why they succeed or fail and even how to predict them. And, a dramatic embassy raid reveals why it?s so tough to be a North Korean dissident.

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Inflationary pressure: Argentina?s strikes

Patience runs thin amid rampant inflation and a devaluing currency; Argentines are taking to the streets for two days of strikes and protests. Taiwan?s richest man has joined the presidential race, but lots of his business is based in China. He will struggle to shake perceptions of a conflict of interest. And, America?s Supreme Court is deciding whether to ensure trademark protection for businesses with some pretty racy names.

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Crossing the ?t?s: China-America trade talks

American negotiators will be in Beijing this week, for what appears to be the final stages of striking a trade deal. What?s left to be agreed, and what are the sticking points? Also, America?s shale boom has given it leverage in international oil markets?the trick will be using that newfound power effectively. And, we have a sniff of a pungent Egyptian holiday treat that has the potential to kill.

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The strain in Spain: an election looms

Ahead of this weekend?s general election, we examine Spain?s fractured political landscape. A much-needed bastion of stability in Europe looks set for a long fight to form a government. We also take a look at two lingering effects of Japan?s post-war policies: first, we speak to one of the victims of decades of forced sterilisation, for which the government apologised this week. And, given the country?s notorious culture of work?itself a consequence of post-war reconstruction?not everyone relishes extra time off to celebrate the new emperor?s ascension.

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Five Eyes and 5G: the Huawei debate

Leaked discussions reveal that Britain is going against the grain of its ?Five Eyes? security partners by letting Huawei supply kit for coming 5G networks. What are the risks?to security and to the alliance? Now that Robert Mueller?s report is in the hands of Congress, what should happen, and will American democracy be the better for it? And, after years of considering how office interiors affect workers, the focus has shifted outside.

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Troubling: a death in Northern Ireland

A young journalist will be buried today, after being accidentally shot by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland. The killing is a worrying reminder of bygone decades of violence that fraught Brexit negotiations may be rekindling. We take a look at South Africa?s job market, and the push to get more young people into work. And, why is there a spate of politicians who speak multiple languages?

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Worrying new threat: tragedy in Sri Lanka

After co-ordinated bomb attacks that killed hundreds, Sri Lanka is reeling. But if the government was so consumed by internal struggles as to miss warnings, how can it respond to the devastation? We take a look at global efforts to contain corruption, drawing lessons from Brazil?s sprawling Lava Jato investigation. And, a visit to what will be the precise geographic centre of the European Union?if and when Britain leaves.

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Early to wed: child marriage in Africa

Marrying too young has lifelong effects: on a girl?s body as much as on her education and career. We explore what is behind a sharp decline in child marriage in parts of Ethiopia. There?s an ancient-clothing trend in China that is mostly goofy fun. But its ethnic overtones may soon worry the Communist Party. And, a chat?as well as a hard-fought match?with Africa?s first World Scrabble Champion.

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Planes, trains and automobiles: the travails of travel

Easter weekend is a busy travel time for the many people who celebrate it. If you?re lucky, it means some time off work. But you might be unlucky, and travel through a terrible airport (we talk about the world?s worst). Or perhaps you?ll splash out and take one of the many sleeper train services that are cropping up (we discuss why train travel is such a draw, particularly for artists). Or you might get stuck in traffic (we visit the places where traffic jams are seen as opportunity rather than nuisance). Safe travels!

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[Redacted]: the Mueller report

Today the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated Russian links to the Trump administration, will be released?mostly. What lies behind the redactions, and what investigations are still to play out? Politicians have dabbled in comedy for decades, but comedians who take up politics are an increasingly potent force. And, why Pakistani citizens don?t much mind that their local doctor might be a total quack.

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Roads to success: Indonesia?s election

Joko Widodo, the incumbent president, is expected to win today?s vote, after a people-pleasing term tackling the country?s infrastructure. But there are worrying signs about how Jokowi would continue to rule. As a herd of ?unicorns? stampedes toward stockmarkets, their business models don?t look so sure-footed. And, a battle is heating up as hotpot, a spicy Chinese dish, spreads globally.

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And then, silence: a Paris icon burns

Emmanuel Macron, France?s president, was already battling the flames of national protest when fire broke out at the Notre Dame cathedral. Will the tragedy, and Mr Macron?s leadership, bring the country together? America?s armed forces often don?t know how many civilians are killed in its air-strike campaigns?but that?s changing, thanks to help from some of the Pentagon?s loudest critics. And, the Trump administration?s cancellation of a deal for Cuban baseball players won?t stop them making their way, perilously, to the big leagues.

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Modi?s operandi: India?s enormous election

The world?s largest democratic exercise is under way. Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks likely to win on a divisive platform about Hindu nationalism and Pakistani aggression?even if those aren?t voters? biggest concerns. Social-media companies are increasingly under the microscope of regulators; we take a look at the seemingly intractable problem of policing online content. And, pole-dancing is trying to shed its seedy image. But can it also develop into a global sport?

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Bashir and present danger: Sudan?s coup

A protest movement that began in December at last brought Sudan?s military brass on board. The country?s cycle of dictatorship and democracy may be repeating itself. Bitcoin just turned ten, but it?s still far from fulfilling its promise to upend the financial system?we examine its fundamental shortcomings. And, the human family tree got bigger this week, but as new data flood in the murkier the human-evolution story seems to get.

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Brussels? doubts: another Brexit delay

Britain now has a new Brexit deadline: the end of October. But those negotiations magnified divisions within the European Union that Brexit is revealing?and causing. We visit one of the Chinese towns whose governments are running social experiments, rating people and businesses on their trustworthiness. And, a chat with Dame Stephanie Shirley, a pioneering programmer since before it was a male-dominated field.

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Bibi got back: Israel?s election

Binyamin Netanyahu looks set to win a fifth term as prime minister. How will his policies affect negotiations about some of the most contested land on Earth? Meanwhile in space, Israel?s Beresheet probe is set to land on the Moon?but the recent spate of lunar landings is more about national flag-planting than it is about science. And, how will economies adjust as the old increasingly outnumber the young?

Additional audio courtesy of NASA. Additional music "Fanfare" courtesy of Kevin MacLeod.

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The new mediocre: the world economy

The International Monetary Fund releases its global-growth forecast today. Expect news of a downgrade, but not recession: low growth has become the status quo. We join international forces in Burkina Faso, where African troops are being trained to contain a growing risk of jihadism. And, why is it that concern about climate-change comes and goes? 

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Tripoli threat: a warlord?s bid to take Libya

As rebel forces advance on Tripoli and American troops withdraw, we look at the Libyan general leading the march, and at the country?s fractured politics. There?s evidence that Facebook?s advertisement algorithms discriminate on the basis of race and gender. But who?s to blame, and how to fix it? And, the tricky business of making slot machines appeal to a generation of gamers.

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Theresa looks left: Brexit negotiations

Having seemingly exhausted options within her own party, Prime Minister Theresa May is now trying to strike an EU divorce deal with Jeremy Corbyn, the head of the opposition. We profile the hard-left Labour leader. This weekend marks 25 years since one of history?s most horrifying campaigns of slaughter; our correspondent reflects on Rwanda, then and now. And, a prominent scientist seeks a molecule that confers all of the fun of alcohol, but none of the risks.

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Resigned to it: Algeria?s president

After two decades as president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned. But the cabal that?s been running the country doesn?t want to give up power and the opposition is disorganised. Will anything change? Medical professionals staged protests in Canada this week, calling for stricter gun laws; the country?s debate over gun ownership is intensifying. And, the gender pay gap in many countries is exacerbated by parenthood?you can hear it in the data.

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Fund while it lasted: the 1MDB scandal

Today Malaysia?s former prime minister faces his first of several trials, for alleged involvement in the disappearance of billions of dollars from 1MDB, a state-run fund. Businesses also endure their share of scandals, too?the latest one surrounding the maker of OxyContin, a maligned opioid drug. But why are so many recent corporate scandals coming out of America? And, a fabulously popular Chinese soap challenges deeply held notions of filial duty.

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Vote with pride: LGBT politicians

Chicago votes for a new mayor today. Either way it will become the largest American city run by an African-American woman, but it may also get another openly gay mayor. We examine America?s proliferation of LGBT candidates. Mark Zuckerberg?s open letter calling for more regulation of Facebook should come as no surprise; social-media giants are reckoning with hard truths about where technology meets society. And, Korean pop music?s dark underbelly is revealed.

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AK, not quite OK: Turkey?s elections

Turkey?s ruling AK party made historic losses in local elections. Voters, it seems, are fed up with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan?s economic mismanagement?but his party remains firmly in control. We visit Mozambique to take stock of the damage wrought by Cyclone Idai. And, as Europe comes onto Daylight Savings Time, a look into the past and the doubtful future of the practice.

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Comic?s relief? Ukraine?s presidential race

A television show?s everyman character winds up as president: and now the actor who plays him leads the polls ahead of Ukraine?s election. Many museums house artefacts that were looted from their homelands; we examine why the calls for returning such objects are getting louder. And, why the humble baguette is falling out of favour in France (plus, the secret to making them crispy).

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Another dance ?round the May poll: Brexit

Britain?s prime minister has promised to step down if Parliament passes her deal with the European Union. That has sparked a leadership contest that seems likely only to complicate the mess. As an American county declares a state of emergency over its measles outbreak, we discuss anti-vaccine misinformation and examine its grave consequences. And, your formal grammar knowledge has little to do with your grammar skills; it?s time to change how the subject is taught.

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Seeing the Lighthizer: China trade talks

Another week, another round of negotiations between China and America. But as domestic and economic pressures on both sides have lifted, the path to resolution seems ever more unclear. Apple?s entry into the film-and-television business is just the latest move in a reshuffling of the entire entertainment industry. And, why Kim Jong Un has appeared a bit more approachable recently?and why not to be fooled.

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Loan behold: a global-economy danger

The world has only just recovered from the last global financial shock. But a new trend has economists worried: the rising debt on companies? balance-sheets. Methamphetamine use is skyrocketing in East Asia; we look into the causes and the effects. And, the surprising rise of ?Slovakia?s Erin Brockovich? ahead of the country?s presidential election

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Collusion elusion: the Mueller report

Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has at last delivered his report on President Donald Trump?s campaign. Will it have disappointed or empowered the Democrats in Congress who are still bent on investigating the president? And, four years ago the hard-left Syriza party stormed to power in Greece. But it has broken many of its campaign promises. As an early election looms, we take a look at Syriza?s slow slide.

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The never-ending saga: Brexit delayed

European leaders nixed Theresa May?s request to postpone Brexit for three months, but have given her a short-term reprieve - delaying it by a few weeks and possibly longer. Thailand is about to hold its first election since the military seized power five years ago. The only hitch is that the generals are trying to influence the outcome, and anyone who criticises the ruling royal family can be thrown in prison. And how do you make a whisky age more quickly? The answer lies in dance music. We take a sip. Additional music, "Grangtham (Drowning Dub)" by Hanover.

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Not now, Theresa: Postponing Britain?s EU goodbye

With just eight days to go before Brexit, Britain?s Prime Minister Theresa May wants to extend the leaving date. As an EU summit gathers, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, insists she needs to get her twice-rejected deal through Parliament first. Also, are stronger strains of cannabis causing psychosis among users? And why Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump should have eaten ?family-style? to help pull off a nuclear deal.

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Alpha Beto: O?Rourke?s appeal

Beto O?Rourke launched his bid for America?s presidency. Despite his relative lack of experience, he?s already been raking in donations. We look at the source of his appeal. And palm oil is ubiquitous in many consumer goods used today, but it comes at a high environmental cost. Also, does the field of economics have a culture that is off-putting to women?

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War and pestilence: Ebola makes a comeback

Five years ago Ebola spread across West Africa, killing more than 10,000 people. In August a fresh outbreak hit the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. We look at why the response this time around has been so ineffective. NATO is about to turn 70. It will not be a happy birthday. And Rodrigo Duterte wants to rename the Philippines.

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Replacement anxiety: White supremacist terrorism

The terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, has left 50 people dead and a lot of unanswered questions. How big a threat are violent white supremacists? We take a look at a network of museums in China trying to commemorate that country?s murderous experience in the 20th century without offending the Communist Party. And our San Francisco correspondent goes in pursuit of free stuff - a lot of it-in the Bay Area.

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Can't deal with it: Brexit

It?s been another brutal week for Britain?s prime minister as her deal to leave Europe was swatted down comprehensively?again. As a delay to Brexit looks likely, we ask what all the chaos reveals about how Brexit will ultimately play out. Ahead of global climate protests by schoolchildren, we examine how a proposal regarding geoengineering?radically reversing the effects of climate change?reflects coming squabbles over regulating the approaches. And, why is it so difficult to open an Irish pub in Ireland? Additional music, "Kesh Jig, Leitrim Fancy", by Sláinte, licensed under a Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License

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Lights out: Venezuela?s blackout

Power cuts in Caracas have endangered lives and deepened the misery of Venezuelans. It?s another sign of the corruption that pervades the Maduro regime. Also, how do you make a 10,000 ton ship disappear? And the Hebrew bible - otherwise known as the old testament - gets a fresh new translation. Music courtesy of Ethan James McCollum

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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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