Surprise Downfalls and a Rare Trump Rebuke

Ruth Pollard
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Surprise Downfalls and a Rare Trump Rebuke

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It was a week of sudden downfalls, from the U.K.’s finance minister Sajid Javid to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s protege, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Javid’s exit left the government’s economic policy in tatters, while Merkel’s plan to serve out her term is now in doubt.

In the U.S., the Justice Department was in uproar over allegations of undue political influence, leading Attorney General William Barr to take a rare public stance that placed him in potential conflict with Donald Trump. His message to the president: “It’s time to stop the tweeting.”Dig into these and other topics with the latest edition of Weekend Reads and click here for more of the most compelling political images from the past week.

Boris Johnson Ambushed His Chancellor in a Quest for ControlSajid Javid never saw it coming. Britain’s finance minister began his day expecting to be confirmed in his position as a mere formality, in Boris Johnson’s reshuffle of his cabinet team. It ended with his resignation, as Jessica Shankleman and Tim Ross report.

Merkel Role in Heir’s Exit Puts Her at Center of German TurmoilMerkel has helped avert the meltdown of the euro, navigated an influx of refugees and handled the tricky personality of the U.S. president. But as Patrick Donahue and Arne Delfs write, how she deals with the German political vortex left by the sudden resignation of her heir apparent may be the final test of her crisis-management skills.

Trump’s Asylum Crackdown Traps Dissident Fleeing Maduro’s ThugsAfter escaping Venezuelan secret police at home, lawyer Carlos Marcano has endured agonizing months in U.S. lockups as Trump’s actions to seal the border from Central Americans have ground the system to a near standstill. It’s testing the endurance and dignity of even the strongest candidates, Thomas Black reports.

Xi’s Pick to Save China From Virus Is Loyalist Who Lured TeslaA month ago, then-Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong was sharing a stage with Elon Musk to celebrate the release of Tesla’s China-built Model 3 sedans. Ying, a former top judge who previously served under Xi in positions in Zhejiang province, has now been tapped to manage Hubei, a region simmering with discontent over his predecessor’s failure to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

What Happens When a Virus Runs Rampant on a Cruise ShipFor 3,700 passengers quarantined on a cruise liner off Japan, it began as a carefree voyage. For the new coronavirus, it was an opportunity to run rampant. Keeping it from spreading on land is hard enough. At sea, K Oanh Ha writes, it’s a whole different challenge.

Putin Squeezes Belarus Strongman in Bid to Skirt Term LimitsVladimir Putin’s surprise firing of Russia’s government and unveiling of constitutional changes that would weaken the presidency may only be Plan B for retaining power after his final term ends in 2024, Henry Meyer, Aliaksandr Kudrytski, and Stepan Kravchenko write. It came after his plan to create a “super state” with Belarus was rebuffed by his counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.

Duterte Tests Trump With Move to Unravel Decades-Old AllianceOver the years, Rodrigo Duterte’s regular rants about the U.S. appeared to amount to little more than bluster. This week the Philippine leader finally moved to dismantle an alliance that has endured since World War II, Philip Heijmans and Andreo Calonzo write.

A Bold Plan to Defuse ‘Time Bomb’ of Inequality in U.S. SchoolsRising inequality is now at the heart of U.S. public debate, Craig Torres explains, looming over just about every policy discussion from trade to interest rates and likely to take center stage in this year’s presidential election. America’s classrooms are one place where the trend could be halted.Rewards Outweigh Risks for Assad in Drive to Retake IdlibWith his decision to make a final push to retake Idlib province, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is walking a perilous line between risking retaliation from neighboring Turkey and saving his economy and moving closer to restoring the nation’s territorial integrity, write Sylvia Westall and Donna Abu-Nasr.

And finally ... Climate change and the coronavirus are threatening Kim Jong Un’s ambition to ski his way out of international sanctions, Heesu Lee and Sam Kim report. The North Korean leader, who once went to school in Switzerland, has made tourism a centerpiece of his economic vision, building ski resorts to attract winter-sports enthusiasts and hard currency. Now that’s all under threat.


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