Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation yesterday, just hours ahead of a no-confidence vote. Formerly a well-known law professor with no political experience, Conte was elevated to the office last June to lead a coalition of the nationalist-populist Five Star Movement and the center-right multiparty League, neither of which captured a majority of parliamentary seats in the 2018 national elections. The ousting was seen as a power play by League chief and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. Though the League finished second in last year's elections, observers say its surging popularity, driven by anti-immigrant sentiment, has Salvini angling to become Prime Minister. During a prepared statement to the Italian Senate, Conte skewered Salvini - who sat directly to his right - as opportunistic and overly ambitious. President Sergio Mattarella will attempt to determine whether a new coalition government can be formed or to call new elections in October.
Political chaos is the norm in Italy, which has been ruled by 65 governments in the past 73 years.
President Trump said the White House was examining tools to potentially stimulate the economy, including a temporary reduction in payroll and capital gains taxes. The former refer to taxes on wages that go to fund various programs like Social Security and Medicare (deep dive here), while the latter generally refers to tax on the sale of assets. Officials struck an optimistic tone despite recent fears of a looming recession - an ominous market signal known as an inverted yield curve briefly appeared last week, and 74% of economists in a recent survey said they believe a recession will occur before the end of 2021. Compounding fears has been uncertainty around trade tensions with China, signals that Germany is heading into a recession, and a looming Brexit crisis expected to have a significant economic impact on the United Kingdom and European Union.
Any tax cuts would likely need Congressional approval.
Cardinal Loses Appeal in Sex Abuse Case.
George Pell, the Vatican's former treasurer and adviser to Pope Francis, will remain in jail for at least three more years after an Australian appeals court upheld his conviction on sex abuse charges. Pell, found guilty in March of molesting two 13-year-old choir boys in the late 1990s, is the highest-ranking Church official to be charged with such crimes. The original six-year sentence drew widespread criticism from victim advocate groups, falling far short of the maximum 50 years that Pell faced. Pell actually helped establish the Catholic Church's formal system to handle sex abuse claims in 1997 (see timeline), though he was originally accused of mishandling sexual misconduct cases from other clergy members in 2016, prior to his own charges surfacing in 2017.
The case has had a resounding impact (paywall, NYT) on the Church in Australia, where officials say they've lost "two or three" generations of young people.
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