The world in brief

Catch up quickly on the global stories that matter

Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, said he would move to oust Kevin McCarthy, the beleaguered speaker of the House of Representatives, for working with Democrats to pass an 11th-hour stopgap funding bill. President Joe Biden signed the bill, which prevented a government shutdown in America, late on Saturday. The bill provides money for disaster relief, but none of the aid for Ukraine that Democrats had sought. The scrambling follows weeks during which hard-right Republican congressmen, seeking swingeing spending cuts, had blocked efforts to fund the government.

罢耻谤办别测’蝉 government said its forces had carried out air strikes on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq, after an apparent suicide-bombing on Sunday in the Turkish capital, Ankara. One bomber died in the attack near the Turkish parliament, for which the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party later claimed responsibility. Police shot a second dead.

In Poland hundreds of thousands of supporters of Civic Coalition, the leading opposition group, marched through Warsaw, the capital, ahead of a general election on October 15th. Many waved EU flags. Earlier the ruling Law and Justice party, which has threatened to take Poland out of the EU, held a smaller rally in the southern city of Katowice.

Smer, a pro-Russian party led by Robert Fico, a former prime minister, won Slovakia’s election. With almost all ballots counted, Smer took 24% of the vote. Earlier, exit polls suggested Progressive Slovakia, a liberal party, had won the election, but it took around 17% of the vote. Smer will now probably attempt to form a coalition with other, smaller parties.

The first UN humanitarian mission in 30 years arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh at the invitation of Azerbaijan’s government. The organisation had no access to the enclave while it was controlled by Armenian separatists, who were ousted by Azerbaijan last week. Armenia’s government has said that the vast majority of Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenians have fled to the country from the enclave.

Mohamed Muizzu, a pro-China opposition leader, defeated Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the incumbent, in a presidential election in the Maldives. After coming to power in 2018, Mr Solih strengthened the Maldives’ ties with India while distancing the country from Chinese investors. Mr Muizzu, the mayor of Male, the country’s capital, has vowed to limit India’s influence in the Maldives.

Europe beat the United States to regain the Ryder Cup, the biennial men’s golf competition that pits the best players from both sides of the Atlantic against each other, by 16.5 points to 11.5. The teams take turns to play host. Despite largely being ranked better players, America’s golfers have long struggled to win in Europe. This year’s event, in Rome, was no exception.

Word of the day: yi mei lun, a moniker from Taiwan used to describe the “US scepticism” narrative being spread by disinformation from China. Read the full story.

Photo: Getty Images

America narrowly avoids shutdown

Americans expected to wake up on Sunday to news that their government had shut down. Instead, hours before a midnight deadline, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican speaker of the House, managed to pass a stopgap bill—albeit only with help from Democrats. The bill later passed the Democrat-led Senate and President Joe Biden signed it.

The bill will fund the government for 45 days, giving Congress a new deadline of November 17th to pass the outstanding budget bills. But an increasingly rebellious hard-right Republican faction means meeting that deadline is far from a given. Mr McCarthy may have to turn to the Democrats again. That is, if he gets the opportunity: Matt Gaetz, a member of the Republicans’ “berserker caucus”, has already hinted at mutiny.

Another concern is help for Ukraine. The stopgap bill scrapped the military aid requested by the White House—a concession to Republicans who have gone cold on Ukraine. A separate aid bill might still be brought. But for now, Ukraine will have to sit tight.

Photo: Shutterstock

Britain’s desperate Conservatives

Britain’s ruling Conservative Party begins its annual conference in Manchester on Sunday. Recent polls put the party somewhere between 14 and 21 points behind Labour. Even the smallest of those leads would see Sir Keir Starmer’s party form a parliamentary majority at the next election, expected to take place in 2024.

Rishi Sunak, the Tory leader and Britain’s prime minister, needs to change the agenda to avoid a painful defeat. In recent weeks he has sought to do so by positioning himself as the voice of the British motorist. Mr Sunak pushed back the introduction of a ban on the sale of cars with combustion engines from 2030 to 2035—and implied that Britons would rather his government fill in potholes than complete HS2, a high-speed railway. Conservative voters, who tend to be older and more rural than Labour ones, are also more likely to drive. Still, Mr Sunak’s appeal to petrolheads smacks of a government running out of time.

Photo: EPA

Gearing up for Poland’s election

As Poland enters the final fortnight before its election, the country’s two largest political parties are rallying their supporters. A bitter campaign has entrenched supporters of both the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and their opponents in their views. But many feel disengaged. On Sunday each side will hold rallies to try to muster enthusiasm.

In Katowice, the largest city in Poland’s southern industrial heartlands, PiS had a final big gathering before setting off on a tour of its rural strongholds. Spirits are low. The party leads the polls, but is expected to fall short of the majority it needs to rule alone again. Meanwhile Civic Coalition, the leading opposition group, held a “march of a million hearts” through the capital, Warsaw. It had promoted the event for weeks. A good turnout will signal to the unusually large group of undecided voters—around a quarter of those planning to vote—that the opposition still has a fighting chance.

Photo: Getty Images

Indonesia’s high-speed train leaves the station

South-East Asia’s first high-speed train is expected to start running on Sunday. The China-funded railway is a prestige project for Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, known for his ambition to improve transport connections in a country that comprises more than 13,000 islands. The train, which has a maximum speed of 350kph, links Jakarta, the capital, to Bandung, a tourist destination 140km to the south-west on Java, their shared island.

China backed the railway as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, a signature aspect of its foreign policy. Yet the project has had problems: it has run $1.2bn over budget and was delayed by four years, partly because of the covid-19 pandemic. Although the train will cut the travel time between Jakarta and the Bandung area from around three hours to 40 minutes or so, the line stops 20km outside of Bandung’s city centre. Passengers will have to wait for another train or bus to finish the trip.

Photo: Getty Images

Weekend profile: Lina Khan, America’s top trustbuster

In 2017 Lina Khan, a student at Yale Law School, published a controversial article. She argued that Amazon, the e-commerce giant, was a monopolist, and that the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust laws had failed to rein it in. Since her appointment as the FTC’s youngest-ever chair in 2021, Ms Khan has launched an aggressive antitrust campaign against big corporations. On Tuesday she took on her old foe: Amazon. The FTC and 17 states sued the company, alleging that it illegally keeps prices high, charges sellers unfair fees and stifles competition.

Ms Khan, now 34, was born in Britain to Pakistani immigrants. Her family moved to America when she was 11. Her interest in corporate misbehaviour sparked early: as a high-school newspaper editor she ran critical coverage of a branch of Starbucks that was preventing teenagers from sitting in the café. The article was picked up by the New York Times.

Before law school Ms Khan worked for the New America Foundation, a left-leaning think-tank. There, she became interested in—and incensed by—corporate consolidation. When asked about her hobbies in 2021, she listed photography and “trying to find the most obscure industry where I can find consolidation”. On her honeymoon Ms Khan ploughed through a book on corporations and American democracy. (Her husband, a cardiologist, opted for Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”.)

Since taking over the FTC, Ms Khan has led it with a single-minded vision, sometimes bruising the morale of long-time staffers in the process. She has pushed through new rules, including banning “non-competes” (which bar employees of one company from working for a competitor) and asserting the agency’s authority to pursue privacy violations. Her past work informs her current efforts, but may risk constraining her mandate: Amazon lobbied for Ms Khan to recuse herself from investigating it, alleging bias.

Last year the FTC filed more merger lawsuits than in any year for over a decade, including an attempt to block Microsoft’s $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a video-game developer. Although the FTC’s court victories have been limited on her watch, Ms Khan’s leadership has reframed public thinking about trustbusting. Companies have become more wary: deals are down in America, suggesting firms are avoiding larger acquisitions. Politicians, too, are more willing to bash big companies. If President Joe Biden fails to win re-election next year, Ms Khan’s tenure will expire. But antitrust cases can take many years to wind their way through the courts. Ms Khan’s legacy may long outlast her time in office.

Weekly crossword

Our crossword has two sets of clues, one for seasoned cruciverbalists and the other for less experienced solvers. Both give the same answers, all of which feature in articles in this week’s edition of The Economist:

Email all four answers, along with your home city and country, by 9am GMT on Monday to [email protected]. We will pick randomly from those with the right answers and crown three winners in next week’s edition.

Cryptic clues

1 down Drunkenly glug gin as a last ditch way to get high (8, 3)

1 across Lasting impact of member with irregular warcry (6)

2 across I subtract 50 from score for country (5)

3 across Stick King in sewer (6)

Factual clues

1 down The second-most commonly used illicit drug in England and Wales among young people (8, 3)

1 across Something Binyamin Netanyahu wants to bolster by improving relations with Saudi Arabia (6)

2 across Somewhere that claims to have a lot of very old people (5)

3 across What the Roman emperor Domitian did to flies with his pen (6)

The winners of this week’s quiz

Thank you to everyone who took part in this week’s quiz. The winners, chosen at random, were:

Maggie Coble, Torrance, California, America

Eric Nelson, Wisconsin, America

Nigel Evans, Paris, France

They all gave the correct answers of pelicans, Asian giant hornets, The Magic Flute, “Thor: Love and Thunder” and chicken nuggets. The theme is NBA basketball franchises: New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets.

The questions were:

Monday: Alcatraz island in San Francisco bay is thought to be named for which type of bird?

Tuesday: Stings from which insects cause around 30-50 deaths every year in Japan?

Wednesday: Which opera was the last one to be written by Wolfgang Mozart?

Thursday: Which 2022 Marvel movie starred Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman?

Friday: What product was reintroduced to KFC’s regular menu in March 2023?

Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that cultivates flowers, not thunder