The Best of the Economist – April 2013

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Drone warefare: America’s killing machineIn September 2011 a fleet of Predator and Reaper drones took off from a secret CIA base in the Saudi desert. They crossed into Yemen and began patiently tracking a convoy of vehicles that was travelling near the border with Saudi Arabia. America’s spy agency had earlier recruited a source within al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula. He was now providing information about the movements of Anwar al-Awlaki, the group’s chief propagandist and strategist, and the man at the top of the CIA’s wanted list since the killing of Osama bin Laden a few months before.

Germany and Europe: The battleground country: One country and one person have been at the fore in the euro crisis: Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel. Unlike almost all other European leaders, she remains trusted and even popular at home. But in recent months both she and her country have been vilified around the rest of Europe for imposing excessive austerity, with reminiscences of the second world war and cartoons depicting her as Hitler. In short, what is known as the German question—how to contain a dominant country at the heart of Europe—is back.

George W. Bush’s legacy: Still the guy who taught America to torture: It’s absurd to believe that America would have started torturing people or invading countries unprovoked if Barack Obama, Al Gore, Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush had been in the White House on September 11th, 2001. That is George W. Bush’s historical responsibility, and it’s what he should be remembered for—along with the financial crisis, the rich-skewed tax cuts that left us with a half-trillion-dollar structural deficit, the listless cronyism that hollowed out the SEC and FEMA, a couple of positive public-health initiatives marred by corporate giveaways (PEPFAR, Medicare Part D), and the decision to doom the world to global warming by opposing the Kyoto Protocol. On balance, a legacy worthy of contempt.

Casual games: Sweet spotA pretender to the throne in the world of casual games. Line up three icky sweets of the same colour; they vanish. Not because your greedy children have stolen them: this is part of a game called “Candy Crush Saga”. Unlike real sweets, the virtual ones never run out. The game continues for 365 levels, and more are added all the time. A startling 15m people play “Candy Crush Saga” on Facebook each day, making it the most popular application on the social network. It is also the top-grossing app in Apple’s and Google’s stores.

The Twitter crash: #newscrashrecoverA hacked tweet briefly unnerves the stockmarket. It was over in less than three minutes. At 1:08pm on April 23rd a fake tweet from a hacked Associated Press account asserted that explosions at the White House had injured Barack Obama. Stock prices immediately dropped, wiping more than $130 billion off the value of the S&P 500. That understates the severity of the episode, since in many cases liquidity simply disappeared altogether.


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