FROM Sylvia Poggioli
Is populism a threat to democracy? In the aftermath of the Cold War, the consensus of Western politics was that more countries would evolve into liberal democracies and stay that way. The European Union was seen as the model but, this week, Italy's centrist Prime Minister was driven from office -- hard on the heels of Brexit. Matteo Renzi announced his resignation after losing a referendum to restructure a famously chaotic government. There's right-wing nationalism in France and Germany -- and Donald Trump won by directly assaulting America's political establishment. We look at evidence that liberal democracies aren't as stable as they were previously cracked up to be.
European and US Economies at the Tipping Point? Europe's debt crisis is causing financial ripples all over the world, and elected leaders are trying to prevent a tidal wave. Looking a lot like Greece but much bigger, Italy is having trouble paying its bills. The national debt is 120 percent of gross domestic product and, recently Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced sweeping austerity measures. The reaction was a national strike on Tuesday that shut down public transportation and air travel. Today, Berlusconi re-vamped his plan and then called for a confidence vote in the Parliament. Will Germany bail out Greece? Italy? If not, what's in store for the US and the global economy? Segment image: Angela Merkel arrives to speak during debates over the federal budget on September 7, 2011 in Berlin. German Chancellor said, 'Should the Euro fail, then Europe fails.' Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Economics and Politics in the Euro Zone It's not just Greece any more but larger countries facing an economic crisis. If they can't pay their debts, the big fear is collapse of a major financial institution. With Italy's national debt at 120% of gross domestic product, last week Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced sweeping austerity measures. The reaction was a national strike on Tuesday that shut down public transportation and air travel. Today, Berlusconi re-vamped his plan and called for a confidence vote in the Parliament. Like the failure of Lehman Brothers in 2008, such a collapse could set off a global chain reaction and another recession with drastic consequences here in the US. Italians don't like austerity measures, Germans don't want to bail them out, and elected leaders in 17 countries are struggling to figure out what to do. US investors are cutting back on exposure to Europe, which could make things worse. We get updates from several countries.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.