Weekend edition—Britain’s joke politics, safari corruption, beach reads

Good morning, Quartz readers!

It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment in the last eight days at which Britain’s politics became officially more absurd than America’s. Last week’s Brexit vote, shocking as it was, was just the starting gun. Since then both the Labour and the Conservative party leaderships have collapsed. The “Leave” campaign has swiftly backtracked(paywall) on its promises. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, after enduring a stunning no-confidence vote, appeared to compare Israel with the Islamic State. The Conservatives’ Boris Johnson, the cheerleader of Leave and presumed next prime minister, bowed out after beingstabbed in the back by his own sidekick, Michael Gove. And a leaked letter from Gove’s wife exposed the Tory party’s leading figures as little more than the puppets of media barons.

The US primary season was by turns hilarious and horrifying, but it fulfilled its purpose: There are now the requisite two candidates for president, and the one who is a racist liar with no idea of how to govern is pretty unlikely to win. Britain has no credible leadership on any side, nor are there any clues as to where it might emerge. With astounding swiftness, the UK has replaced the US as the political laughingstock of the world.

This compounds the disaster of the referendum itself. If, as some hopeful pundits speculate, Brexit may yet be halted, it will take extraordinary leadership to mollify the pro-Leave voters who will feel cheated. If Brexit goes ahead, it will take equally extraordinary leadership to steer the economy through its impacts, and to negotiate new trade deals with an unforgiving EU and other countries. (Perhaps they should appoint Donald “I make great deals” Trump as chief negotiator.)

When Trump was on the ascendancy in America, many British politicians could hardly hide their smug disdain. How hollow that looks now.—Gideon Lichfield

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Analytics technology from Formula E—the electric car race series—will model London’s streets as a speedway. Data simulations from racecars may help connected cabs make optimizations for the real world. That means smart racecars and taxis could find the fastest routes, reduce energy consumption, and ease traffic congestion in the city.Advertisement

FIVE THINGS ON QUARTZ WE ESPECIALLY LIKED

Safari deals and wildlife squeals. In Tanzania, trophy hunting is big business, but leaked videos of wildlife abuse and a land dispute between Gulf sheikhs and an American billionaire’s conservation trust have spiraled into a much bigger story of deception and influence. Tim Fernholz looks at what this scandal reveals about the country’s new “anti-corruption” president and his crackdown on dissent. (Warning: the videos are disturbing.)

How Brexit awaked Britain’s dormant racism. The toxic Brexit campaign and the flood of anti-immigrant abuse following the vote brought Indrani Sen back to the racism she encountered as a child in 1980s London. Now, she writes, the country must face its old demons and continue the process of repairing itself. Plus, Akshat Rathi offers a simple, clear guide for how to intervene safely if you see a racist attack.

New York’s best dumplings, by someone who knows dumplings. Quartz’s Zheping Huang, a Shanghai native, tries out eight Chinese food joints across the city, rating them on one strict criterion: the authenticity of their pork soup dumplings. A mouth-watering odyssey, filmed by Siyi Chen, and a masterclass in dumplingology.

It’s time to go after guns. It’s becoming ever clearer that Americans’ de facto unlimited right to bear arms is infringing on their right to life and liberty. The Founding Fathers didn’t think civilians should be able to stockpile semiautomatic weapons. Meredith Bennett-Smith argues the case for reforming the Second Amendment.

The psychology behind a brilliant beach read. Experts say the light “cognitive load” of vacation primes us to be immersed in a great book, and reading character-driven stories makes us more capable of empathy. Some such books—Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars and Zadie Smith’s NW—appeared on the Quartz reporters’ list of all-time favorite beach reads, along with a handful of guilty pleasures and ambitious non-fiction tomes.

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A PODCAST WE LIKE, AND THINK YOU’LL LIKE TOO

In this episode of Actuality, we ask: Why is there a reversible contraceptive for women, but not for men? (OK, other than condoms.) Learn the surprising story behind the female contraceptive pill, why Big Pharma has given up on a male equivalent, and the trends that suggest that could be a $50 billion mistake.

FIVE THINGS ELSEWHERE THAT MADE US SMARTER

Explaining North Korea: a game of privilege. When South Korean journalist Suki Kim published a book about her time undercover in North Korea, it came under attack from an unexpected direction: other journalists. In the New Republic, she writes about her discovery that the profession still silences and undermines the authority of non-white women like her.

Why must female athletes be sex-tested? For decades, elite female athletes have been scrutinized, sampled, and tested for signs of masculinity, while male athletes’ strength and hormone levels go virtually unregulated. For the New York Times Magazine, Ruth Padawer tells the story of the young Olympic sprinter Dutee Chand, who challenged the practice of sex-testing in court last year, and won.

America’s student debt crisis made some people very rich. An investigation by Reveal News from the Center for Investigative Reporting looks at where the profits from student loans go. There is no single answer, but Wall Street, the federal government, and especially Sallie Mae have earned billions, while students racked up trillions in debt.

How psychotherapy became a status symbol for the rich. Many American psychiatrists have opted for comfortable lives in private practice as therapists, charging the well-to-do $400 an hour while rejecting insurance. NPR speaks with Stanford professor Keith Humphreys who laments how crucial mental-health services are out of reach for Americans who desperately need them.

Software is eating us all. Maciej Cegłowski, a painter and programmer, writes that “approaching the world as a software problem is a category error that has led us into some terrible habits of mind.” Despite the benefits of IT, coders have made a mess of applying their rigor to social problems. The technology world must learn from the past before it loses complete control of the surveillance apparatus it created.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, dumpling recommendations, and relaxing beach reads to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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