Crunch Time in Europe

Late last week, Germany’s two largest parties reached a preliminary agreement to form a new government, presenting a possible breakthrough in the country’s worst political crisis in decades. While the agreement between Chancellor Merkel’s CDU and the center-left SPD still faces serious hurdles, a successful deal would end an unusual period of uncertainty in German politics and create new momentum behind French-led efforts to further integrate Europe.


Two key questions to consider:

  • Would a new Grand Coalition be good for Germany? The country’s two largest parties — the SPD and CDU — have held the reins of power in a so-called “Grand Coalition” for 8 of the past 12 years. Bringing the center-right and center-left together provides stability and consensus, but can they deliver on an ambitious agenda that will reverse the historic electoral gains of the country’s far-right and renew faith in the value of the European project? A majority of Germans (55%) are skeptical.
  • What would another Grand Coalition mean for Europe? French President Emmanuel Macron has put forth a set of bold proposals to deepen European economic and financial integration by creating an EU finance minister and a joint budget for the eurozone, the bloc of 19 countries that use the euro as their currency. Macron can only succeed if he has a stable and willing partner in Berlin. While momentum has shifteddecidedly in his favor, time is of the essence–elections for the European parliament are slated for early 2019, and voters will want to see progress.

In 2017, the European Union dodged several existential crises that risked undermining the bloc’s future–from the influx of millions of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa to the historic performance of the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in France.

The Merkel-Macron axis represents a unique opportunity to push back against populist, anti-establishment parties and to demonstrate that the European Union can benefit all of its members. Progress depends on what happens next in its least expected source of instability–Germany.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.

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Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until last year, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate, and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.

It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses combating cyberbullying, CCPA and tech "fashion":

What is a "troll score" and is it a realistic way to combat online bullying?

Something that Kayvon Beykpour, head of product at Twitter and I talked about, and the thought was: Twitter doesn't give you a lot of disincentives to be a jerk online. But what if there were a way to measure how much of a jerk someone is and put it right in their profile? Wouldn't that help? I think it's a pretty good idea. Though, you can see the arguments against it.

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