Under what circumstances might Russia cut off gas deliveries to Europe for a prolonged period of time, and what might be the consequences? Such a scenario may seem too absurd to contemplate. Russia depends heavily on energy exports to Europe and likes to be known as a reliable supplier. Even in the gas crises of 2006 and 2009, the Russians did not go so far. Why would Moscow do something that, on the face of things, would harm its own interests more than it would advance them? Read more

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(Key Biscayne) Donald Trump claimed that “bad things would happen” if the party tried to block him from getting the presidential nomination, warning about possible “riots’ at the Republican convention in July in Cleveland. Bad things have already happened to Marco Rubio, who lost his home state on Tuesday and now needs to find a new job since his senate term expires in January. To see just how badly the local son lost to Trump in Florida take a look at this mapRead more

Can Angela Merkel survive Europe’s refugee crisis?
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats suffered a setback in regional elections last weekend. How wounded is the chancellor and have German politics changed fundamentally under the pressure of the refugee crisis? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Fred Studemann and Stefan Wagstyl.

After Jeb Bush scared Mitt Romney out of running in 2016 only to be outshone by Marco Rubio, his former protégé, one Republican joked that the ghost of Banquo had brought Macbeth to Miami. But on Super Tuesday – March 15 – it was Julius Caesar and the Ides of March that took centre stage in the Sunshine State. Donald Trump won a huge victory in the state, prompting “Little Marco” to drop out of the GOP race. Read more

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On Super Tuesday 2, the five primary races — in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina — helped to draw the contours of the nomination for the White House. Donald Trump knocked Marco Rubio out of the Republican race by winning Florida and three more states, reinforcing his status as the party frontrunner, but lost to John Kasich in Ohio, complicating his path to Washington. Hillary Clinton secured overwhelming victories in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, and a far narrower win in Illinois, putting her much closer to securing the Democratic nomination.Track the results and reaction as it happened: 

Once upon a time Florida was the key state to watch in the Republican race. But with Donald Trump way ahead of Marco Rubio, the charismatic Cuban-American who has failed to live up to the hype, all eyes have shifted to Ohio. Trump abruptly cancelled a Monday night event in Miami so that he could campaign in the Buckeye State where John Kasich, the Ohio governor, has overtaken him in the polls. Ted Cruz has been focusing on other states where he has a better chance to pick up delegates.

Rubio is desperately trying to save his campaign, but the odds are heavily stacked against him. I went to a Trump rally in Boca Raton on Sunday where the mogul mercilessly mocked the Florida senator as “Liddle Marco”. If Rubio loses on Tuesday – when Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina vote on Super Tuesday 2 – he has no path to the White House, unless the nominee picks him as his running mate. If you want a flavour of the theatre at Trump events, watch this video of his helicopter doing a fly-by in Boca. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

The fate of Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy on refugees has assumed global significance. Nationalists from Russia to the US are pointing at the German chancellor’s policies as a symbol of the failure of an out-of-touch liberal elite. In the most recent US presidential debate, Donald Trump denounced Ms Merkel, adding: “Germany is a disaster right now.” Even within the EU, many leaders, particularly in the east, echo that sentiment.

The Atlantic magazine’s article on “The Obama Doctrine” has caused ripples all over the world, because of the frankness with which the US president discussed his foreign policy with Jeffrey Goldberg, the article’s author. In the UK, most of the headlines have concerned President Obama’s criticism of David Cameron, over Libya. But, in fact, the article is full of fascinating stuff on all sorts of subjects. Here are some of my selected highlights:

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Donald Trump’s press conference in Florida today was like a Peter Sellers movie. Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who recently quit the race, endorsed Trump and said there were “two different Donald Trumps” – the public persona and the private “cerebral” persona who would be appearing more frequently on the trail.

Asked about this, the cerebral Trump said: “Perhaps there are two Donald Trumps”. But minutes later his alter-ego corrected him: “I don’t think there are two Donald Trumps”. Trump likes to shout “Stand up!” to human props at his rallies. Well, would the @realDonaldTrump please stand up! Read more

 

What are we to make of President Barack Obama’s on-the-record criticism of the role of UK Prime Minister David Cameron over Libya? I would make four points. First, Mr Obama is trying to protect himself from criticism. Second, broadly speaking, Mr Obama is right. Third, that said, it is not clear that there were good alternatives in Libya that Mr Cameron somehow failed to embrace. Fourth, the larger context is US exasperation and alarm at the decline of Europeans as effective security partners in the Middle East and elsewhere. Read more

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President Barack Obama said it was “novel” that Republicans were blaming him for their primary “circus” and criticised the GOP for “creating an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive”. Here are his comments, made at a press conference alongside Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister. Read more

Can the EU-Turkey deal resolve Europe’s migration crisis?
European leaders have negotiated a deal with Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into the European Union. But can it work? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Alex Barker, the FT’s European diplomatic editor, and Tony Barber, the FT’s Europe editor.

The ECB has cut rates further into negative territory as it seeks to stimulate the eurozone amid the global economic downturn.

Mario Draghi has unveiled a whole host of new measures in response to the slowdown in growth in emerging markets and the sharp fall in the oil price.

Key developments

  • Headline deposit rate cut by 10 basis points to -0.40%

  • The asset purchase programme increased from €60bn to €80bn

  • Scope of QE expanded to include non-bank corporate bonds issued in eurozone

  • A new series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations aimed at providing cheap liquidity

  • GDP and inflation forecasts revised down:

  • GDP: 1.4% in 2016, 1.7% in 2017 and 1.8% in 2018

  • Inflation: 0.1% in 2016, 1.3% in 2017 and 1.6% in 2018

  • By Emily Cadman and Mark Odell

 

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Donald Trump is going for the kill in Florida on March 15. After sweeping three of the four states that voted on Tuesday, the pugnacious tycoon wants to knock out “Little Marco” – his pet name for Marco Rubio who has seen his Marcomentum turn into Marcollapse after he failed to win a single delegate on Tuesday night. Read more

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Polls will soon close in Michigan and Mississippi. Republicans are also voting in Idaho and Hawaii, but the focus is Michigan, which has the most number of delegates on offer and may give an indication of how rust-belt states, including Ohio on March 15, will vote. In the GOP race, the big question is whether Donald Trump is losing steam. Ted Cruz did better than expected on Saturday, winning two states and giving the mogul a run for his money in Kentucky and Louisiana – a performance that landed the Texas senator with more delegates than Trump on the night. Read more

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Michael Bloomberg is not running for president. The New York billionaire ended months of speculation that he might challenge another New York billionaire – no prizes for guessing who that is – and the Democratic contenders. The former New York mayor concluded that he could not win enough electoral college votes in November and worried that entering the race would hand the White House to a Republican.

“There is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience,” he said in deciding not to launch an independent bid. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

He has been called a phoney, a fraud and a threat to democracy — and that is just by members of his own party. Other critics have compared Donald Trump to Hitler and Mussolini. I have shared in the widespread horror at Mr Trump’s rise but at the same time, a small voice in the back of my head has sometimes asked: “Is he really that bad? Might all this hysteria be a bit overdone?”

I found myself mesmerised on Monday looking at the Italy page of a website called National Debt Clocks.org. A 13-digit figure, representing Italy’s outstanding national debt, goes up by a couple of thousand euros every second. Now the debt is just under €2.2tn, or about 133 per cent of Italy’s annual economic output.

Despite its astronomical debt burden, the Italian government succeeded last October in selling two-year bonds at a negative yield. In other words, investors paid Italy, one of the planet’s most indebted nations for the past quarter of a century, for the honour of buying its debt.

This is a topsy-turvy world that inspires me with something less than full confidence in financial markets. It leads me to the topical question of whether Italian banks own too much Italian government debt for their own good. On this issue Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, holds forthright viewsRead more

Some of the thousands of refugees and migrants queuing at the Greek-Macedonian border

Rarely has the EU needed Turkey so badly. And rarely has Turkey looked like such an unattractive partner.

The EU’s strategy to end its “migrant crisis” hinges on an effort to persuade Turkey to stop the flow of would-be refugees heading from Turkish shores to Greece. That plan will be the focus of an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on March 7th. So it is particularly unfortunate that the Turkish government should have chosen the days before the summit to raid and effectively take over the country’s largest opposition news group in an apparent bid to end its critical coverage of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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The Republican debate on Thursday ​elevated farce to new heights. ​​Donald Trump ​raised eyebrows when he hit back at earlier innuendo by Marco Rubio about his masculinity.

“He referred to my hands [suggesting that] if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee,” he told the roughly 17m viewers who tuned in to the debate. Read more