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The Economist Europe

Continental Europe enters the gender wars

Jun 12th 2021DEBATES ABOUT transgender rights have raged most angrily in the Anglophone world, but they are now intensifying across Europe. Last month the Spanish parliament voted against a bill that would allow people to determine their own gender. A day later Germany’s voted down two such bills. Few newspapers took any notice.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the <audio> element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Self-ID, as it is known, is the idea that...

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Europe’s drug habit proves immune to covid-19

Jun 10th 2021AMSTERDAMONE MIGHT have expected that a pandemic that put a stop to parties would also reduce the use of party drugs. Indeed, wastewater samples in some European cities showed that residues of cocaine and MDMA (also known as ecstasy) fell during the covid-19 lockdowns of early 2020. But by last summer Europeans were riding high again. In many cases, consumption simply moved from club to living room.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the <audio> element.Enjoy...

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Italy has a tough task ahead on climate change

Jun 12th 2021ROMEOF ALL THE appointments to Mario Draghi’s cabinet, arguably the least expected was that of Roberto Cingolani, his minister for ecological transition. A physicist and former science director of the Italian Institute of Technology, Mr Cingolani came into government from a senior job in the defence industry, an odd background for an eco-warrior.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the <audio> element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Mr Cingolani...

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The many faces of Sebastian Kurz

Jun 12th 2021A SENSE OF déjà vu surrounds Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor. It is certainly not due to his appearance. At 34, he is a decade or three younger than most European leaders. A slicked-back bob stands out against the near-mandatory short back and sides of his peers. Nor does it extend to his personality. Where most politicians enjoy grandstanding, Mr Kurz is renowned as a listener. While leaders can be brusque, Mr Kurz is relentlessly polite, cultivating the image of a...

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Britain and France send their aircraft-carriers out together

Jun 12th 2021ABOARD THE CHARLES DE GAULLEUNDER AN AZURE sky in the western Mediterranean, two aircraft-carriers sail eastwards in tandem. One, the Charles de Gaulle, a French nuclear-powered vessel, has 20 years of service behind it. The other, HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s new flagship, is on its maiden operational tour. For the first time the two carriers are taking part in three days of joint exercises. Code-named “Gallic Strike”, this involves war games and simulated sea-to-land strikes...

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With Donald Trump gone, NATO is plotting its future

Jun 12th 2021“OVER THE last four years we had some challenges in the transatlantic relationship,” says Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, drily alluding to the diplomatic pandemonium of the Trump years. Now, he says, “We have a unique opportunity to open a new chapter in the relationship between North America and Europe.” But will NATO’s leaders take it?Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the <audio> element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.On June...

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Germany’s Christian Democrats struggle against populists in the east

Jun 5th 2021MAGDEBURGTHE SMALL east German state of Saxony-Anhalt is run by a so-called “Kenya” coalition, comprising three parties whose colours match that country’s flag: the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), the Social Democrats and the Greens. But so bad is the infighting it should be named after the similar hues of Afghanistan’s flag, chuckles Oliver Kirchner, local head of the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the...

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The era of small-state privilege in Europe is coming to an end

Jun 5th 2021“O NE PERSON, one vote” is a good principle. The ratio in the European Union is a bit more complex: “One Luxembourger, or nine Germans, one vote.” Germany has one MEP for every 860,000 citizens. By contrast Luxembourg—a country roughly the size of Düsseldorf—has one per 100,000.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the <audio> element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.A disproportionate parliamentary weighting is one of many perks enjoyed by the...

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A law to break the Mafia’s code of silence lets a killer go free

Jun 5th 2021ROMESHORTLY AFTER nine o’clock on a Monday night, Giovanni Brusca, his brother, their wives and children had abruptly to abandon their roast-chicken dinner. Armed, masked police burst into their rented villa and arrested both men.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the <audio> element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.That was in 1996. On May 31st Mr Brusca left prison in Rome, a free man after serving 25 years of a 30-year sentence imposed for,...

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A Christian, a Jew and a Muslim walk into the same house of worship…

Jun 5th 2021BERLINIT IS USUALLY bad news when multiple religions claim the same place of worship. It can lead to conflict, as illustrated by the recent violence at Jerusalem’s holiest site. Or it can be a sign that flocks are dwindling, forcing congregations to share space. But Berlin’s House of One intentionally puts a church, mosque and synagogue under a single roof.Listen to this storyYour browser does not support the <audio> element.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or...

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