POST-MERKEL?

Are we heading for a post-Merkel era in Europe? The indefatigable German chancellor heads to Brussels for a summit of European leaders tomorrow with an immigration ultimatum hanging over her head that could spell the end of her 13-year tenure. Here’s Gabe with the details…


Merkel’s challenge: Merkel faces mounting pressure at home to strike a deal to prevent migrants from taking advantage of the EU’s policy of open internal borders to seek refuge in the continent’s wealthier countries. But those on the front line of the crisis, most notably Italy, want no part in taking on additional migrants — preferring to either pass them off to others or close their external borders altogether. So Merkel will attempt a delicate balancing act: promoting measures to secure the EU’s external border in an effort to stem the migrant tide while sticking to her guns on the bloc’s policy of open internal borders.

But will it be enough? Over the past 24 hours, Merkel’s internal party challengers have dialed back an earlier promise to institute border controls unless a comprehensive agreement is reached in Brussels. But if Merkel returns to Berlin empty handed ahead of a crucial meeting next Monday with her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, they could opt to put that threat back on the table, reasoning the consequences of backing down to be too politically costly. Merkel would then face the tough choice of whether to fire Seehofer — a move that could bring down her government — or possibly tarnish her legacy by shutting Germany’s borders.

What if she fails? A collapse in Merkel’s already tenuous coalition would usher in a new period of political uncertainty in Europe’s largest economy. While Merkel could attempt to form a new government with the support of the left-leaning Green party, a more likely scenario is a succession struggle between her chosen successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, and more conservative members of her party.

What does it mean for Europe? Such a collapse couldn’t come at a worse time for a Europe that confronts anti-immigrant governments in Italy, Austria, and Eastern Europe, a deeply dysfunctional Brexit process, and a stalled reform agenda. A more conservative government in Berlin could ultimately follow through with border controls, dealing a final blow to one of Europe’s core principles, the free movement of people.

While Chancellor Merkel has a black belt in Stayin’ Alive, this is the biggest test she’s faced yet.

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

What do people think is driving the stock market's recent record high gains?


Well, there's really no precise answer, but analysts point to several factors. So, number one is strong third quarter earnings. Companies have reported stronger than expected results so far this season. The second is the jobs market. You saw the October jobs numbers exceed economists' expectations. And the third is the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates three times this year. That lowers borrowing costs for consumers and businesses and encourages them to spend more.

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In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, Israel launched a precision attack in the Gaza Strip, targeting and killing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander. In response, the terror group fired more than 220 rockets at southern Israel. Exchanges of fire have brought cities on both sides of the Gaza border to a standstill and at least 19 Palestinians are dead and dozens of Israelis wounded. With this latest escalation, Israel now faces national security crises on multiple fronts. Here's what's going on:

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