Political Unpredictability Is Now the New Normal: Weekend Reads

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The U.S. impeachment hearings, the chaos in Bolivia and Britain’s snap elections have one thing in common: They all underscore how leaders who test the limits of traditional political norms can trigger unpredictable results that aren’t easy to fix.

With Donald Trump, witnesses gave evidence exposing a pursuit of personal interests and disdain of custom that have turned years of work from career officials on its head. The decision by Bolivia’s Evo Morales to step down as president, after facing accusations of electoral fraud he denies, has created a rift among Latin American governments. And U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pushed his country into a ballot that could open the way to Britain leaving the U.K., a new referendum that could scrap Brexit, or further political deadlock.Meanwhile in Hong Kong, lawmakers fear that increasingly violent protests against the mainland’s influence may fuel a deeper crackdown by Beijing, and Spain’s acting prime minister needs the help of a man behind bars if he wants to form a new government. We hope you enjoy these and other stories from this edition of Weekend Reads.

Trump’s Shadow Ukraine Policy Laid Bare in Impeachment OpenerThe first public impeachment hearing against Donald Trump laid out how a handful of loyalists led by Rudy Giuliani wrested control of U.S. policy from seasoned diplomats, all to achieve the president’s political ends, Nick Wadhams reports.

Read Ryan Teague Beckwith’s list of all the ways the GOP has come to Trump’s defense.

How Trump’s Trade War Went From Method to MadnessIt started with a carefully calibrated algorithm targeting Chinese products to rebalance trade between the world’s two biggest economies. As Shawn Donnan and Jenny Leonard report, however, the model didn’t account for the unpredictability of Trump.

Jared Kushner Helped Put Cadre on the Map, Then Held It BackWhen Cadre, which styles itself as the Amazon of real-estate, hooked the interest of SoftBank, it thought it had finally got its chance. But the refusal of co-founder Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, to divest killed the opportunity, Caleb Melby, Gillian Tan and David Kocieniewski report.

Battle Lines Are Drawn in Boris Johnson's Big Election GambleThe U.K. is about to hold a once-in-a-lifetime election in one of the most charged political climates anyone can recall. And as this deep dive lays out, almost everything about this vote is unusual and unpredictable. 

Morales Exit Throws Political Hand Grenade Into Latin AmericaThe toppling of Evo Morales in Bolivia is creating shock waves from Buenos Aires to Washington and pitting governments against each other. Juan Pablo Spinetto reports how the crisis is widening differences between Latin America’s socialists and conservatives.

The Man to Put Sanchez Back in Power Is Sitting in Catalan JailPedro Sanchez faces an unusual obstacle in forming a new government in Spain. Rodrigo Orihuela tells the story of Catalan separatist leader Oriol Junqueras, who’s serving 13 years in jail but still has the ultimate word on how his party will vote.

Pressure Grows on Britain to Return Its Last African ColonyAt a time when British politicians are evoking the U.K.’s imperial past as it prepares to quit the European Union, the country is under international pressure to give up its last African colony. Pauline Bax walks us through this sign of diminished U.K. power.

Hong Kong Protest Violence Risks Empowering Hawks in BeijingHong Kong lawmaker Lam Cheuk-Ting took a drastic measure to resist a growing crackdown on elected leaders. Blake Schmidt, Iain Marlow, and Aaron Mc Nicholas report on Lam’s fears it could get worse as the protests there become more violent. Devastating Fires Fail to Shake Australia Climate Change InertiaAustralia’s record on climate change is getting tougher for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to defend. Jason Scott reports how his government is refusing to discuss whether global warming has contributed to a longer dry season as bushfires ravage the country’s east coast.

And finally … At the Shenzhen headquarters of the Chinese genetics company BGI Group, there’s no excuse for poor health: Co-founder Wang Jian, a 65-year-old geneticist Wang Jian, wants the more than 6,000 employees to be walking advertisements for their genetic research. BGI Group is now racing toward a world where your DNA informs your medical — and maybe some personal — decisions. As Matthew Campbell and Dong Lyu explain, things could get weird.

To contact the author of this story: Michael Winfrey in Prague at mwinfrey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Karl Maier at kmaier2@bloomberg.net

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