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Angela Merkel gets a welcome break from her domestic difficulties today with a stream of European visitors to the Chancellery in Berlin.
If the chancellor thinks she’s got problems, consider her guests: Italian Prime Minister Paulo Gentiloni is facing a messy election that could propel him from office; Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki is trying to defuse a conflict with the European Union over his country’s democratic backsliding; and Theresa May has Brexit Britain on her hands.
The fact they’re all beating a path to Merkel’s door suggests that her allure as Europe’s go-to leader remains undiminished, for all her trouble forming a government. On that front too, Merkel got a boost with a poll overnight showing a broad majority among her prospective Social Democratic partners favor joining her in a “grand coalition.”
All eyes in Germany are on the ballot of Social Democratic members that begins next week. Even if it produces a No vote and fresh elections are called, the chancellor may still have options: Another poll put her bloc and the Greens within a whisker of a majority.
Merkel may well be down. But she’s not out yet.
Immigration dead end? | Chances for a broad immigration deal emerging from Congress this year are all but dead after the Senate within a span of a few hours yesterday rejected both a White House-backed proposal and a bipartisan compromise to address the fate of 1.8 million young immigrants. Known as dreamers, the newcomers still face a deportation threat unless a court intervenes.
Bannon grilled | Former White House strategist Steve Bannon answered all the questions put to him during about 18 hours of interviews over two days with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference, Billy House and Margaret Talev report. His refusal to respond to inquiries yesterday during a separate closed-door meeting with a House panel conducting its own probe sparked the ire of lawmakers.
An Australian scandal | The rift between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his broad-brimmed hat-wearing deputy Barnaby Joyce has widened over the latter’s extramarital affair with a former staffer. Observers say the infighting has put the government in “unchartered waters,” derailing Turnbull’s momentum and threatening the stability of the ruling coalition.
Afghanistan rebuffs Taliban offer | Afghanistan’s government rejected a surprise Taliban overture for peace talks with the U.S., saying the insurgent group that controls or contests nearly half the country needs to cease fighting first, Eltaf Najafizada reports. It follows a Taliban statement on Wednesday asking the American people to pressure President Donald Trump and “war-mongering” congressmen to end the near 17-year-old “occupation.”
African leaders fall | Months of sometimes violent unrest in central Ethiopia prompted Hailemariam Desalegn to step down as Prime Minister of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. He’s the latest African leader to lose his job after Jacob Zuma resigned in South Africa this week under pressure from his ruling party. In November, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign ended when the military pushed him from office — for a story about how the opposition is now in disarray following the death of its main leader, click here.
Bookmark this report on layoffs arriving in Brexit Britain, and this one on Bloomberg’s John Viljoen scrounging for water during Cape Town’s worst drought on record. For a look at the past seven days in Bloomberg photos, click here.
And finally ... Russian billionaires are building mega schools to rival Eton and Exeter. “The more intelligent and educated people are, the less aggressive they are,” President Vladimir Putin told a group of students last year. As Ilya Khrennikov and Irina Reznik report, Putin’s own aggression on the world stage has become an unexpected catalyst for an investment boom in Russian education.