Political Upheaval Rocks Global Hotspots

Collapse Of Talks This Morning To Form A New Government Leaves Germany’s Future In Doubt

As well as that of Europe’s longest-running leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Without bogging you down in the details of German politics (American politics are bad enough!), after a marathon negotiating session, one of the parties that had committed to joining a ruling coalition after September’s elections walked out. Its leader saying curtly: “It is better not to rule than to rule falsely. Goodbye!

Options now?

  • Forming a different coalition with parties that had previously been spurned by, or had spurned Merkel.
  • Running a minority government, which would only work if other parties are so fragmented they would not be able to provide coherent opposition.
  • Calling a new election, just 3 months after the last. Which would not only be an embarrassment but would likely put more power into the hands of Far-Right parties that made huge inroads in the last.

The issues that led to today’s crisis: Refugees and climate change. More specifically, differences centered around:

  • Capping the number of refugees allowed into Germany. And at what number. (Germany has taken in far more refugees from Syria than any other Western Country, outpacing the U.S. by more than 10-to-1 even though the U.S. is 4 times the size of Germany in terms of population. That’s led to a backlash in Germany).
  • Controlling (or not) whether refugees would have rights to later bring other family members over.
  • And whether or not to accelerate the shuttering of coal-fueled power plants.

Sound familiar?



Zimbabwe’s 93-Year Old President Takes To TV To Resign, Only He Doesn’t Resign

After his effective ouster by the military that we told you about last week, Zimbabwe’s only leader so far, Robert Mugabe, took to the airwaves for what was expected to be a resignation address. Only that’s not what happened. Instead, another twist that will likely result in the despot’s demise by impeachment early this week.

While there is some glimmer of hope the country might transform into a fledgling Democracy, this piece in the Atlantic suggests that might be some distance off, and the recent (though surprising) action is the result of opportunistic individuals finally sensing some weakness in their previously ruthless leader, and looking to fill that void (and enrich) themselves.

The New York Times offers some perspective, and a dramatic account of the events leading up to the current situation.



Lebanon’s Ex-Prime Minister Is Out Of Saudi Arabia, But Not Yet Back In Lebanon

We told you last week about Lebanon’s ex-Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who many believed was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will, after resigning from his post while in Saudi Arabia. Well, he’s out. But he’s not yet back in Lebanon where that country’s President is refusing to recognize the resignation until it’s done on home turf.

And Hariri isn’t hurrying. He spent the week-end in Paris, where he met with French President Macron, And he’s expected to stop off in Egypt tomorrow and meet with President Sisi, before purportedly getting back to Lebanon later in the week.

It’s interesting to us that very important world leaders are making time to sit down with someone who is by his own proclamation, an ex-head of stateWhich makes us think this is far from over.



Trump Seems To Be Insisting On Making Legacy Of His Asia Trip Whether He’s Been Thanked Enough For Getting UCLA Basketball Players Out Of Trouble In China

After 3 UCLA basketball players were arrested, then released, for shoplifting in China, Trump Tweeted this:

They thanked him.

But then this weekend, the dad of one of the athletes baited Trump: questioning his involvement, to which the President Tweeted this:

To which Conservative columnist Bill Kristol Tweeted this:

Which brings us to the reason we are bringing this up today in the first place. Because Kristol’s got it only partly right. After the 1st Tweet we weren’t completely convinced, but after the 2nd, it seems pretty crystal-clear: this isn’t about gratitude, this is about race. (Or at least about underscoring the futility of doing favors for your “enemies”).



And While We’re At It: We Are Sick And Tired Of Americans Thinking They Have Carte Blanche To Behave Like Idiots Overseas

In some ways we think Trump should’ve “left them in jail”, and let the school deal with it, not U.S. taxpayers (that’s who Trump works for BTW).

We realize our opinion is not shared by everybody, but we do not understand why the U.S. Government wastes money and resources on Americans who are rightfully charged. You are visiting someone else’s home: abide by their rules. It’s that simple. Shoplifting’s even simpler. It’s illegal in the U.S. So it’s probably illegal in China.

Yes, these are just kids, and are probably deserving of some kind of break.

At the same time, it’s not likely (despite Trump saying so) that they were “headed for 10 years in jail!” (Actually, in a Tweet late last night, Trump reeled that back to “5-10 years”). Anyway, sure, it would’ve been no picnic. And we won’t minimize the seriousness of being detained by Chinese police. But in a lot of cases such as these, those arrested are held for a short period of time and if they apologize and show sufficient remorse, are ordered to pay restitution and deported, never allowed to set foot in that country again. So they might’ve missed some games.



Trump’s Budget Director Says It’s Cool If Final Tax Cut Bill Doesn’t Include Partial Obamacare Repeal

Mick Mulvaney said he’s OK with taking out a measure “if it’s an impediment” that’s in the pending Senate version, but not in the House version that already passed. That would eliminate the part of Obamacare that requires people to buy health insurance. Presumably, including it would save the government money because if people aren’t forced to sign up, fewer will sign up, and that will get the government off the hook on paying subsidies. Trump’s Tweeted several times pushing for it to be included, almost like it was his idea in the first place.

Roll Call has a real neat “cheat sheet” about “The 10 Things To Watch As The Tax Bill Moves Forward“.

One related thing we’ve been wondering about: if people are getting used to Obamacare, and like the coverage and subsidies they’re getting, isn’t it possible they’ll buy it anyway even if the individual mandate is repealed? The Congressional Budget Office says the answer is no: significant numbers of people won’t buy insurance. And while the CBO is great at what it does, it’s best when it has past data to base its projections on, which in this case it doesn’t. Which is a fancy way of saying we’re not so sure…The New York Times perhaps answers the question for us, although in a slightly different context.