Merkel’s Reign In Doubt After Coalition Talks Collapse
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Merkel’s Reign In Doubt After Coalition Talks Collapse

Most Influential Western Leader, European Union Stalwart Fails to Form a Government

Germany. Just two months after Angela Merkel’s re-election, the future of Europe’s longest-serving leader is in doubt after talks collapsed on forming the German chancellor’s next government. A 12-hour negotiating session ended with the pro-market Free Democratic Party walking out. Migration and climate change were key sticking points in negotiations. Merkel has been in office 12 years and has been Europe’s anchor in times of crisis.

Merkel and her party associates announcing the collapse of coalition negotiations

The breakdown leaves her in charge as acting chancellor, but the collapse may signal the end of her non-ideological style of governing and limits her options for staying in power for another four years.

Possibilities include setting up a minority government headed by her Christian Democratic-led bloc or asking Germany’s president to order a national election just months after the last one in September. Merkel, who has been called the most influential leader in the West and a linchpin of the European Union, pledged to maintain stability and said she would talk with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to discuss what comes next.

“It is at least a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany,” Merkel said. “But I will do everything possible to ensure that this country will be well led through these difficult weeks.”

Playwright-actor Lin-Manuel Miranda speaking at the march in Washington (NBC)

Puerto Rico. Thousands of people marched in Washington to protest conditions in Puerto Rico nearly two months after Hurricane Maria left millions of our nation’s citizens without basic services. About 50% of Puerto Rico remains without power, and some residents continue to struggle to find clean water. More than 140,000 of the island’s 3.4 million people have left for the U.S. mainland. Speaker after speaker implored the Federal Emergency Management Agency to attend to problems in Puerto Rico as quickly as they would in our nation’s states. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has asked the U.S. government for $94 billion in recovery aid while the White House has asked Congress for $44 billion.

Economy. Goldman Sachs is predicting that unemployment could drop to 3.5% in late 2019, which would be the lowest level in our country since the late-1960s. The economy is heading into 2018 with strong momentum that is likely to boost wages and inflation, requiring the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates four times next year, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The firm raised its growth outlook for 2018 to 2.5% and lowered its forecast for unemployment to 3.7% by the end of 2018. The jobless rate was 4.1% in October.

Horror show. Trump called elephant hunting a “horror show” and suggested he will permanently block imports of elephant trophies from two African nations despite his administration’s earlier approval of the practice. His reversal means that elephants shot for sport in Zimbabwe and Zambia can’t be imported by American hunters as trophies. That halted a decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to end a 2014 ban on big-game trophy hunting in the two countries. The remains of African elephants, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, can be imported only if federal officials have determined that hunting them benefits the species.

November 20, 2017