British Traffic Jams, China’s Secret Children and Nurdles: Weekend Reads

Caroline Alexander
British Traffic Jams, China’s Secret Children and Nurdles: Weekend Reads

(Bloomberg) -- The partial government shutdown (now the longest in U.S. history) and the increased likelihood President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency on the Mexican border was the focus of many headlines this week. Brexit, too, garnered its fair share of attention, with the deal Prime Minister Theresa May struck with Brussels looking doomed. 

You can read more on those stories, and others (heard of Nurdles?) in this edition of Weekend Reads.

Keeping Wall Promise Is Blocking Other Signature Trump PledgesMore than a dozen federal agencies have been closed in the fight over funding for the wall along the southern border, keeping the president from honoring some high-profile campaign pledges and policy priorities, Ryan Beene and Jennifer A. Dlouhy report. They include a State Department review of the Keystone XL and payments to farmers who lost sales due to the trade war with China.  As the shutdown enters its fourth week, the U.S. is wading into uncharted legal territory.Brexit’s Key Question: Where in the World Does Britain Stand?Britain’s imperial glory still looms large in the popular imagination, but as David Goodman and Jess Shankleman write, the realities of a post-Brexit world are unlikely to live up to it. To read about one city where the people voted with gusto to leave the EU and now serve as a warning over the dangers of a second referendum, click here.

Watch out for a vote by U.K. lawmakers on May’s Brexit deal set for Jan. 15 .

Africa’s Biggest Conservation Success Was Once a Poachers’ ParadisePauline Bax explores the remarkable turnaround at Akagera, Rwanda’s oldest national park. In 2010, its rangers could barely cope with poachers. Today, tourists are eager to observe such wildlife favorites as 22 lions and 18 black rhinos flown in from South Africa.

The Key to Nancy Pelosi’s Legislative AgendaAs the Democratic Party went from the majority to the minority and back again, Nancy Pelosi worked consistently to keep her bloc united and its legislative agenda intact - and virtually everyone in Washington agrees the house speaker is a master strategist. But as Anna Edgerton writes, her political skill will be tested over the next two years.Maduro Era Is Endurance Test as Venezuela's Lifelines Fall AwayNicolas Maduro was sworn in on Thursday. His second term is officially six years but, it will endure only as long as Venezuela’s moribund economy allows. Alex Vasquez and Andrew Rosati take stock of the country’s stamina.

China’s Secret Children Step Out of the Shadows to Share StoriesThe world’s biggest social-control experiment — China’s one-child policy — is winding down as the government grapples with how to reverse its legacy: a graying population with 30 million fewer women than men. Those who defied the directive have come forward to tell Bloomberg of derailed careers and forced adoptions as the veil is lifted on the much-criticized program.

Hollywood Bit Player Had Curious Walk-On Role in Manafort LoanJoey Rappa spent decades on Hollywood’s fringes. He was a production associate on “The Nutty Professor’’ and an assistant to Keanu Reeves. Recently he played an unlikely bit part – front man for a company seeking to collect the $1 million it lent to the family of former Trump’s campaign chairman. Andrew Martin, David Glovin, and Stephanie Baker explain how.

And finally … Environmentalists say Nurdles may be the second-largest source of marine pollution. They’re tiny pellets of plastic resin no bigger than a pencil eraser that manufacturers transform into things like packaging, plastic straws, and water bottles - and billions of them are lost from production and supply chains every year, spilling or washing into waterways. Eric Roston looks at efforts to address the issue.

Photography credits: from top to bottom: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg. John Dickens/African Parks. Education Images/Citizens of the Planet/UIG via Getty Images

To contact the author of this story: Caroline Alexander in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Williams at

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