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Vaccinations Set to Start, China Tensions Rise: Weekend Reads

Balance of Power
Bloomberg

The race is on among nations around the world to roll out coronavirus vaccines, with tens of millions of people lining up for the shot by the end of this year.

In the U.S., President-elect Joe Biden vowed to mend ties with allies that frayed under Donald Trump's "America First" policy. Republicans meanwhile are getting worried that the outgoing head of state may be imperiling runoff election races in Georgia key to their keeping control of the Senate.

China is also raising pressure on the U.K., which must negotiate a new trade deal after its departure from the European Union, while Venezuela's opposition is boycotting elections for parliament in a move that may forfeit their last bastion of power.  

Dig into these and other topics with the latest edition of Weekend Reads. — Michael Winfrey

A health worker injects the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine into a patient's arm in Moscow on Nov. 26.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Click here for more of this week's most compelling political images, and tell us how we're doing or what we're missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net. 

Tracking the Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Around the Globe 
The biggest vaccination effort in history has begun, with the U.K. first to clear the use of a shot from Pfizer and BioNTech, which the companies say stops 95% of coronavirus infections. Drew Armstrong and Tom Randall deep dive into the effort to inoculate billions of people around the world.

Trump's Georgia Visit Worries Republicans Over Key Senate Races
Trump's plan to campaign in Georgia for two Senate candidates has sparked concern within the GOP. Jordan Fabian reports that several Republicans have raised the alarm that the president's efforts could backfire, jeopardizing their bid to keep a majority in the upper chamber.

A transatlantic alliance fractured by Trump's unilateral trade policies appeared headed for repair as both Biden and Europe signaled an urgency to rebuild a united front against China's ascendancy in the global economy.

The End of a Wonderful Friendship and the Beginning of Trade Woes
Half a decade ago, President Xi Jinping visited London to thaw the diplomatic freeze gripping Chinese-U.K. relations. But as Rosalind Mathieson writes, Beijing is now seizing on the economic vulnerabilities arising from Brexit to press its advantage against Britain.

For North Korean Spies, Vienna Provides Key Gateway to Europe
Author John le Carré, often places his spies in Vienna. So does Kim Jong Un. As Alberto Nardelli and Jeong-Ho Lee report, the Austrian capital, long a smuggling hub for the North Korean regime, may grow in importance to Pyongyang if Biden sways Kim to mull rolling back his weapons program.

Thai Protests Target King's Property Investments Worth Billions
Thailand's taboo-breaking demonstrations are about more than the right to criticize the monarchy without fear of going to prison. As Randy Thanthong-Knight and Daniel Ten Kate explain, protesters want taxpayers to control investments and real estate worth tens of billions of dollars.

Protesters at an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Nov. 25.

Photographer: JACK TAYLOR/AFP

QAnon's Rise in Japan Shows Conspiracy Theory's Global Spread
QAnon's days as a solely U.S. phenomenon are over. As Max Zimmerman discovers, the conspiracy theory's foothold in Japan — home to one of its most active networks outside the U.S. — demonstrates how the movement can be made palatable in a range of countries.

Exploit the Amazon: Brazil Unveils Its Radical New Sales Pitch
Brazil's environment minister has a vision for the Amazon — as a money-making venture. While the Amazon is under threat, Simone Preissler Iglesias and Shannon Sims report that his plans typify the unorthodox attitude of one of the world's most controversial environmental officials.

Why Venezuela Opposition Is Boycotting Congress Vote: QuickTake
Since 2015, Venezuela's National Assembly has been the center of opposition to the government of President Nicolas Maduro. But as Alex Vasquez and Patricia Laya, after Maduro seized control of the Assembly this year, its role as the last bastion of the opposition is likely to end in parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Poor Risk Losing Access to Microloans When They're Most Needed
The microlending movement, which provides small loans to combat poverty, has helped 140 million borrowers buy what they need to make a living in the past 15 years. But the economic fallout from the coronavirus has now decimated their ability to pay.

And finally ... Pope Francis's vow to introduce accountability in the Catholic Church's bureaucracy, which he has called "the last court that remains in Europe," is running into obstacles. John Follain looks into how career administrators are refusing to yield the privileges they wield with control of the Vatican's purse strings.

Francis with Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, who heads the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.

 

 

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