Gaza, Guns and the Balkan Flank: Balance of Power Weekend Reads

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From analysis of the brutal scenes in Gaza to an insider’s view of an oasis of calm in the Gulf, here’s your round-up of our best political stories from the past week.

You can also read about elections tomorrow in Venezuela, the leader who wanted a ‘crooked bridge’ with Singapore, and the future of artificial intelligence.

Images from the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday contrasted with ones like this above from the border with Gaza, where scores of Palestinians were killed in confrontations with Israeli soldiers. Click here for more photos, and here for a story on Palestinians struggling to be heard.
Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Gun-Law Loophole Gives Tycoons and Criminals Reason to Play Cop
An accused drug smuggler, Elon Musk bodyguards, hedge-fund magnate Robert Mercer and hundreds of others got privileges meant for the police – Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux profile a town with 433 people and at least 323 cops.

Wyoming Is Vying to Be the Wild West of Cryptocurrency
It’s about 1,000 miles from Silicon Valley and even farther from wealthy East Coast investors. But as Benjamin Bain writes, the Cowboy State is hitching its wagon to the virtual currency craze, bidding to reinvent itself as the most crypto-friendly state in the U.S.

Venezuelans will choose a new president in an election tomorrow largely boycotted by the opposition and challenged by the UN. See this piece by Fabiola Zerpa on the breakdown of  a system that enticed needy voters for almost two decades and this one by Andrew Rosati on a grim resignation that President Nicolas Maduro is gambling what remains of the economy. 

In an interview with Bloomberg, Erdogan said he intends to tighten his grip on Turkey’s economy and take more responsibility for monetary policy if he wins an election next month. Benjamin Harvey has this analysis on why investors are becoming so skittish about the country.

From Sao Paulo, Aline Oyamada and Julia Leite explain why a radical firebrand running for president in Brazil is gaining support, though no one wants to say it out loud. And in New York, Walter Brandimarte and Simone Iglesias sit down for a rare interview with Sergio Moro, the Brazilian judge who put some of the country’s most powerful business leaders and politicians behind bars. 

Global Powers Square Up for Influence in Europe’s Balkan Flank
Andrea DudikMisha Savic and Gordana Filipovic look at a tug of war between powers in a strategic corner of the continent torn apart in the bloody conflicts of the 1990s.

ANC Battles Slow Ramaphosa's Drive to Transform South Africa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa may have won the battle to lead the African National Congress, but Amogelang Mbatha shows why the war to fully control South Africa’s ruling party rages on.

Donna Abu Nasr reports from Oman and finds it succumbing to the strains of countries reliant on petrodollars and the geopolitics of its location. For a rare look inside the Switzerland of the Gulf, see this photo essay.
Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

Trump's Global Disruption Pushes Merkel Toward Putin’s Orbit
As the U.S. president shakes up the global order, Patrick Donahue and Ilya Arkhipov report that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is being pushed closer toward a more predictable partner in Moscow.

The Leader Who Wanted a ‘Crooked Bridge’ With Singapore Is Back
Mahathir Mohamad is, at the age of 92, again in charge in Malaysia, having pulled off a stunning election upset. In Singapore, which had fractious ties with Mahathir during his stint in power from 1981 to 2003, many are wondering if he’s changed at all. Keith Zhai examines the rocky relationship between the two neighbors.

And finally …  Bloomberg Businessweek’s Sooner Than You Think issue is out now, focusing this year on the dreamers, die-hards and driving forces of artificial intelligence – from its early architects in Canada to the latest experiments by the world’s biggest companies. The cover images? Landscapes created by a computer in a little more than two weeks.

“AI is going to be one of the larger art movements of this century,” says Robbie Barrat, a Stanford researcher. “It really has great untapped potential.”


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