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The Wall, Populists and a Giant Wave of Protests: Weekend Reads

Ruth Pollard

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Thirty years ago today the Berlin Wall came down, but the battle that led to its fall is not yet over — the East still trails the West as the struggle between populism and globalization rages across the world.

Two of those populist leaders — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump — are facing a hastily called general election and a rancorous impeachment inquiry, while protesters are on the streets from Latin America to Asia and the Middle East.

Dig deeper into these and other topics in the latest edition of Weekend Reads.

Battle for East Germany Still Rages 30 Years After Berlin WallTo most outsiders, German reunification was a historic success — the communist guards who opened the gates to the West 30 years ago today were helping to end the Cold War and spread democracy. But as Chris Reiter reports, to those pitched into the reality of overnight capitalism, it was brutal.

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives Fight for Survival in ScotlandThe party made Scottish gains under Theresa May. Now her successor, Boris Johnson, risks losing them all as the political pendulum swings back again, and the Conservatives are once more fighting for their political survival in Scotland, as Alex Morales and Greg Ritchie write.

Spain’s Long-Dead Dictator Lives Again in an Impossible ElectionAfter Francisco Franco fell in 1975, Spain raced to catch up with the rest of Europe — and broke its political system in the process, Ben Sills reports. Tomorrow, disenchanted voters head back to the polls for the fourth time in as many years hoping for an end to the deadlock.

Trump’s Top Aides Clash Over Impeachment as House Probe ExpandsTwo of Donald Trump’s most senior aides are clashing over who should direct the president’s response to the House impeachment inquiry. The animosity threatens to further muddle Trump’s defense as the White House struggles to respond to a torrent of revelations, Saleha Mohsin and Jordan Fabian write.

America’s Biggest Problems Are Intensified in CaliforniaMore nation-state than U.S. state, California is a land of superlatives: the most populous, the most prosperous, home to the most companies in the S&P 500, the fifth-largest economy in the world. It also amplifies America’s own anxieties about setbacks, writes Esmé E Deprez.

Most Shocking Revolution of 1989 Still Casts a Shadow on EuropeOn the surface, Romania is thriving. Along with 10 other former communist states, it’s firmly ensconced in the European Union, with new factories, roads and airports to show for its dozen years of membership. But the nation also has one of the region’s widest gaps between rich and poor, Rodney Jefferson and Andra Timu report.

The World’s Protesters Want to Soak the Rich, But That’s Not AllSharp economic divisions are fueling a global wave of unrest — but that’s just one of the grievances driving people onto the streets, Ben Holland writes. Latin America’s yawning wealth gap helps explain its protests, while in the Middle East, anger is directed at political systems shielding elites from change.

India’s Top Court Hands Bitterly Disputed Ayodhya Site to HindusThe Supreme Court in India today handed Hindus ownership of a disputed plot of land in the city of Ayodhya for construction of a temple, an order that may deepen religious polarization in the South Asian nation, Upmanyu Trivedi and Bibhudatta Pradhan report. The site of the 16th century mosque razed by Hindu mobs in 1992 is at the heart of the country’s most politically divisive row.

Ramaphosa’s Challenge May Be Bigger Than That Faced by MandelaWhen Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994, he faced the challenge of uniting a nation divided by apartheid and healing a shattered economy. A quarter of a century later, his one-time protege Cyril Ramaphosa faces even bigger obstacles, Antony Sguazzin and Rene Vollgraaff report.

A 35-Year-Old Woman Steps Up to Revive Angola’s EconomyIn the midst of Angola’s oil boom, Vera Daves de Sousa, then the head of research of a local bank, was a regular guest on TV discussing the economy of Africa’s second-biggest crude producer, Henrique Almeida and Rene Vollgraaff write. Today, she’s facing a more daunting task: the country’s finance minister.

‘Silk City’ Dream Stifled in Only Gulf State Where Voters MatterWinter is coming and residents in one of the world’s richest nations are bracing themselves, Fiona MacDonald writes. Weeks of anti-government protests in Iraq and Lebanon foreshadowed rare demonstrations in Kuwait this week against perceived official corruption and mismanagement.

Millions in Hong Kong Have Been Exposed to Tear Gas Since JuneLocals are feeling the effects of long-term tear gas exposure after police fired as many as 6,000 canisters at protesters, in areas home to as much as 88% of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million residents, Sheridan Prasso reports.

And finally ... A wave of scandals has brought unwanted attention to South Korea’s squeaky-clean music industry. The wall of virtue collapsed amid a series of allegations related to sex trafficking, date rape, spy-camera recordings, and bribery. As Matthew Campbell and Sohee Kim write, politicians appear to share the desire to clean up K-pop, though they may settle for keeping misbehavior out of the headlines.

 

To contact the author of this story: Ruth Pollard in New Delhi at rpollard2@bloomberg.net

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

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