A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, MBS: despot in the desert, the era of big-tech exceptionalism may be over (49:05), and why it’s OK not to be perfect at work (55:30).
Lebanon is now going through the worst economic crisis in its history. 80 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. In one year, food prices have jumped 500 per cent due to galloping inflation. Lebanon was long regarded as the Switzerland of the Middle East.
But those days are gone. A series of crises have plunged the nation into the abyss. And its people are suffering. For Riad, who runs a grocery store in the suburbs of Beirut, business has become hellish. Every morning, calculator in hand, he changes the labels of his products according to the day’s exchange rate. An operation made all the more complex by the fact that his store is plunged into darkness, due to a lack of electricity.
The Lebanese government no longer provides more than two hours of electricity per day in the country. It is impossible for the population to heat, light or use their refrigerators. Taking advantage of the situation, a network of private generators has emerged. The Lebanese pound, the local currency, has lost 90 per cent of its value.
The only people unaffected are those paid in dollars. The greenback, which can be exchanged for a small fortune against the local currency, has created a new privileged social class in the country. A salesman in an international pharmaceutical company, Joseph lives like a king in a ruined Lebanon. Thanks to his new purchasing power, he repaid his mortgage in two months, instead of… twenty years!
In a bankrupt state, plagued by corruption, six out of ten Lebanese now dream of leaving the country. In Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, Mohammed and his son set out for Germany by sea. Even though the trip was cut short off the Turkish coast, the young father is still ready to take all possible risks to reach the European Eldorado.
As the planet gets hotter, engineers are racing to find ways to store energy on a massive scale, clearing the way for a transition to renewable electricity.
- “Tier Drops,” by Lisa Owens Viani.
Regulations and apportioning that were set up 100 years ago are under pressure as the Colorado River shrinks. As climate change accelerates and record-breaking drought worsens, cities, tribes, and industries must prepare for a future with less water. (Online August 10)
It’s past time to get real about the Southwest’s hardest-working river.
About 40 million people rely on the Colorado River as it flows from Wyoming to Mexico. But overuse and climate change have contributed to its reservoirs drying up at such a rapid rate that the probability of disastrous disruptions to the deliveries of water and hydroelectric power across the Southwest have become increasingly likely. Now the seven states that depend on the river must negotiate major cuts in water use by mid-August or have them imposed by the federal government.
Those cuts are merely the beginning as the region struggles to adapt to an increasingly arid West. The rules for operating the river’s shrinking reservoirs expire in 2026, and those seven states must forge a new agreement on water use for farmers, businesses and cities.
The pandemic and hybrid working have changed the very idea of the office. This is not only changing the design and purpose of offices, but the look of cities too.
Chapters 00:00 – The office: a shifting concept 00:57 – What do future offices look like? 02:30 – The office as a social destination 03:20 – The rising demand for flexible work 04:06 – How should hybrid employees be managed? 06:01 – Will hybrid work worsen gender inequality? 06:36 – How will flexible working reshape cities?
Heavy industries must decarbonise dramatically to reach net zero. Replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen, created with renewable energy, is one way to reduce emissions. Examples of green hydrogen being used in various industries are emerging, but as the FT’s Sylvia Pfeifer reports, this carbon-free innovation faces a major challenge to scale up.
A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, why ESG should be boiled down to emissions, why the Tory leadership race should focus on Britain’s growth challenge (10:00), and how software developers aspire to forecast who will win a battle (18:20).
A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, why the Democrats need to wake up and stop pandering to their extremes, Europe’s winter of discontent (9:50), and why bottling white wine in clear glass is an error (18:09).
A selection of three essential articles read aloud from the latest issue of The Economist. This week, why Britain is in a dangerous state, why the world’s most exciting app is also its most mistrusted (10:49), and Trumpism’s new Washington army (18:38).
In our modern consumer society, Type 2 diabetes has become a widespread disease. Companies are developing drugs that are increasingly expensive, but not necessarily more effective. Health authorities are powerless. Diabetes is spreading rapidly, all over the world. The disease destroys lives and puts a strain on public budgets.
The UN is calling on governments to take action. Diabetes is proof that modern societies are incapable of adequately treating chronic disease. It affects around 430 million people worldwide, with two main metabolic disorders falling under the name diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that must be treated with lifelong doses of insulin, while type 2 can develop when a person’s diet is too high in fat and sugar and they do not engage in enough physical activity.
With turnover of $46 billion, diabetes is a massive and extremely lucrative market. Constantly promised miracle cures have not led to satisfactory treatment, with patients either taking too many drugs or no longer being able to afford them. It’s a desperate situation, and the only ones benefiting seem to be pharmaceutical companies. A medical focus on blood glucose levels has led to an overreliance on medication, sometimes without due concern for dangerous side effects.
Patients become trapped in a cycle of treatment, which in many cases still does not halt the disease’s progression. This can lead to amputations, blindness and heart attacks. And yet there are alternatives that could flatten the curve of the type 2 diabetes epidemic, while reducing health care spending. Improved diet can be a preventative measure, and a strict adherence to diet can also bring about remission in the case of Type 2 diabetes.
But these solutions require effort, as well as a complete rethinking of chronic disease management. Filmed on three continents, this documentary features industry whistleblowers, patients, researchers and medical professionals. It also confronts pharmaceutical companies about their responsibility for the situation.