Angela Merkel has secured a fourth term as the Chancellor of Germany. There was some doubt that Merkel could piece together enough of a coalition to remain in power, but she succeeded. This will likely be Merkel's last term as Chancellor, who will be 68 when this term ends. This victory means that Merkel will be the longest serving democratically-elected leader in Europe.
By the end of this term she will have served 16 years at the head of the German government, a rarity in Europe’s
political landscape, where the shelf life of democratically elected leaders is getting shorter and shorter.
- The Wall Street Journal (Mar 4, 2018)
The 90th Academy Awards were given out this week. The awards were pretty evenly distributed, with no single movie dominating the night.
The Shape of Water took home the Best Picture honor and its director, Guillermo del Toro, won for Best Director. Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay for
Get Out. He is the first African-American to win in that category.
The expected winner had been “Faces Places,” a lighter, more nuanced film about Agnès Varda — known as the grandmother of the French new wave — and the environmental photographer JR.
- The New York Times (Mar 4, 2018)
Italy is facing a governmental crisis. Elections were held, but no single party won enough votes to establish a clear majority in the Italian parliament. Without a majority, it is unclear which party will be in control of the government. This dilemma is very similar to the one Angela Merkel overcame in Germany; she built a coalition of support from several parties that insured that she would remain Chancellor. It remains to be seen whether one of the Italian candidates can do the same.
Weeks and possibly months of wrangling beckon before Italy has a government. Failure to form any stable administration, leading to repeat elections, is also possible.
- The Wall Street Journal (Mar 5, 2018)
President Trump has proposed instituting tariffs on steel and aluminum, which would make these items more expensive for the countries that import them. Since many of those countries are our allies, like Canada, critics are worried about a trade war among friendly nations. The nations subject to the U.S. tariffs would likely increase the cost of goods that this country imports, and many essentials would get more expensive.
The statement continued Mr. Trump’s running Twitter defense of the
, which he has positioned as necessary to help the United States protect itself against foreign competitors.
- The New York Times (Mar 5, 2018)
It looks like progress was made in talks with North Korea this week. During meetings with South Korea, the North agreed to stop nuclear and missile testing while talks were ongoing. While North Korea has used this as a delaying tactic to strengthen its military before, both South Korea and the United States are cautiously optimistic that North Korea will abandon its nuclear program altogether.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has also agreed to
from conducting nuclear and missile tests while engaging in dialogue with South Korea, Seoul's national security chief Chung Eui-yong said after returning from talks with Kim.
-cnn.com (Mar 6, 2018)
Lego, the world's biggest toymaker, posted its first revenue loss in thirteen years. The chairman of Lego is now calling for the company to modernize and expand its reach into the digital realm. Expanding the company into new technology is a fine idea, but an even better one is finding a way to make Legos hurt less when you step on them with bare feet. How can one toy cause so much joy and so much pain at the same time?
The man running Lego A/S wants to merge the toymaker's
building blocks with digital gadgets to help revive a slump in sales.
- The LA Times (Mar 6, 2018)
Uber is using self-driving delivery trucks in Arizona. So far, these trucks are only operating within the state, and an Uber employee is in the big rig to keep an eye on things. This pilot program began in November, and the company hopes to expand it soon.
After testing its technology earlier in 2017, Uber began contracting with trucking companies to use its own
Volvo big rigs to take over loads as they traverse the state, it disclosed.
- USA Today (Mar 6, 2018)
Republican Senator Thad Cochran from Mississippi has announced that he will resign his seat, effective April 1st. Cochran, who has been battling health issues, has served in the Senate for 40 years. Cochran is a very powerful senator, serving as chair of the
Appropriations Committee , which distributes funds to many projects. Cochran will be the tenth-longest serving senator in the legislative body's history when he retires.
“I intent to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018
cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate.”
- foxnews.com (Mar 5, 2018)
Scientists in Belgium have discovered that an extract from daffodils can block the production of a protein which causes cancer cells to grow. These scientists have also found that the compound can play a role in killing cancer cells as well. Don't go harvesting daffodils for personal use though. Chewing on the flower can actually make a person quite sick.
The main target will be to identify the most promising chemical backbone which will be developed as a lead compound in cancer
- goodnewsnetwork.org (Mar 4, 2018)
Gary Cohn, The President's top economic advisor, has announced his intention to resign. It is widely believed that Cohn is departing over the issue of
tariffs on aluminum and steel, which Trumps supports and Cohn opposes. Mr. Cohn was viewed as a stabilizing force within the administration on economic issues — so much so that when there were previous rumors of his departure, the stock market fell significantly.
Mr. Trump’s announcement last week that he would levy tariffs on aluminum and steel imports was the most immediate
for Mr. Cohn’s departure, according to people familiar with his thinking.
- The New York Times (Mar 6, 2018)