Germany’s next 30 years: What’s it gonna be?

Today, hundreds of thousands of people will gather to mark "30 Jahre Mauerfall" in Berlin. For days, people have been streaming to open-air exhibitions at the Brandenburg Gate, the former headquarters of the Stasi, and other sites around the city that were part of the drama that culminated in the opening of the Wall on November 9, 1989. The celebrations will reach fever pitch Saturday evening as a concert by the Staatskapelle Berlin gives way to a massive techno and punk rock dance party that will carry on through the night at 27 different clubs across the German capital.


It's going to be very German and uplifting, but scratch the surface and there's an angst lurking beneath all the revelry. Nearly three decades after reunification, Germany is still struggling to solidify its own identity and to stake out its place in the world.

As its people look ahead to the next 30 years, Germany's leaders face three big challenges.

Germany is still, in some ways, two countries: Reunification was one of the great political accomplishments of the 20th century, but today people in the former East still make about 15 percent less than those in the old West. Meanwhile, just 42 percent of people in the East think Germany's current democracy is the "best" form of government, compared with 77 percent of people in the West. This sense of being second class citizens, along with fears about how refugees may change Germany's culture, are what have given rise to the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a largely East-based party that is the first far-right group to enter the national legislature since World War Two.

Mutti won't be around forever: The woman who has been a steadying force in both German and global politics for nearly 14 years – about half the time since reunification – isn't going to be on the political scene much longer. By 2021, and maybe sooner if her grand coalition continues to lose support, Chancellor Angela Merkel, the world's longest serving leader of a democracy, will be leaving her post. The increasingly fractious state of Germany's domestic politics makes it hard to tell who, exactly, will take her place.

What's Germany's role in the 21st century? How will Berlin position itself in a world where the US is retreating from its commitments to traditional allies, and China is seeking greater global reach as an authoritarian technology superpower? There is little political will to massively boost Germany's defense spending to fill the gaps where the US no longer wants to. And challenging Beijing on issues of authoritarianism and surveillance (something you might say Germany knows a thing or two about) is hard when Germany's major industries – like the auto sector – are hugely dependent on exports to China.

These are complex problems without easy answers. For now, though, it's time to celebrate – check in on me on Sunday morning, will you?

This month, a bipartisan group of legislators in Washington state presented new legislation that could soon become the most comprehensive privacy law in the country. The centerpiece of this legislation, the Washington Privacy Act as substituted, goes further than the landmark bill California recently enacted and builds on the law Europeans have enjoyed for the past year and a half.

As Microsoft President Brad Smith shared in his blog post about our priorities for the state of Washington's current legislative session, we believe it is important to enact strong data privacy protections to demonstrate our state's leadership on what we believe will be one of the defining issues of our generation. People will only trust technology if they know their data is private and under their control, and new laws like these will help provide that assurance.

Read more here.

Let's be clear— the Middle East peace plan that the US unveiled today is by no means fair. In fact, it is markedly more pro-Israel than any that have come before it.

But the Trump administration was never aiming for a "fair" deal. Instead, it was pursuing a deal that can feasibly be implemented. In other words, it's a deal shaped by a keen understanding of the new power balances within the region and globally.

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Betty Liu, Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, explains:

Do election years have an impact on the markets?

So, the short answer is it depends. There's lots of factors that affect the markets, right. But there are some trends. So, the S&P has had its best performance in the year before elections and the second-best performance on election year. Now since 1928, we've had 23 election years and the S&P has had negative returns only four times in that duration.

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For months now, the US has been lobbying countries around the world to ban the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the 5G data networks that are going to power everything from your cell phone, to power grids, to self-driving cars. US security hawks say allowing a Chinese company to supply such essential infrastructure could allow the Chinese government to steal sensitive data or even sabotage networks. On the other hand, rejecting Huawei could make 5G more expensive. It also means angering the world's second-largest economy.

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The end of the interim in Bolivia? – Mere months after taking over as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez has decided that "interim" isn't quite permanent enough, and she now wants to run for president in elections set for May 3. Áñez is an outspoken conservative who took over in October when mass protests over election fraud prompted the military to oust the long-serving left-populist Evo Morales. She says she is just trying to unify a fractious conservative ticket that can beat the candidate backed by Morales' party. (Morales himself is barred from running.) Her supporters say she has the right to run just like anyone else. But critics say that after promising that she would serve only as a caretaker president, Áñez's decision taints the legitimacy of an election meant to be a clean slate reset after the unrest last fall. We are watching closely to see if her move sparks fresh unrest in an already deeply polarized country.

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