The election campaign is already getting dirty

It is still almost 14 months before Americans elect a new president, but the US election campaign is already getting dirty. Yesterday, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the US House of Representatives, announced that he supported the call to open an investigation into impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden. For some time now, some Republicans have been accusing the incumbent president of being involved in the alleged illegal business dealings of his son Hunter Biden. Now accusations have a different weight.

It is virtually impossible that Joe Biden will be chased out of the White House in this way. A president can be removed from office if the House of Representatives initiates impeachment proceedings by a simple majority and the Senate ultimately votes in favor of a conviction by a two-thirds majority. But the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, so why should they oppose their most powerful man? So what's the point of all this drumming? Much ado about nothing?

"The right wing of the Republicans, especially the supporters of Donald Trump, want this impeachment at all costs. They are also being pushed to do so by Trump himself," says my colleague Roland Nelles, US correspondent for SPIEGEL. It is ultimately revenge for the investigations against their idol Trump."

McCarthy is giving in to the pressure, says Roland, even if he has to fear that more moderate voters will be deterred by it. With this step, he probably hopes to gain the support of the right wing in the upcoming difficult budget negotiations with the Senate. However, it is doubtful whether the calculation will work out.

  • Corruption allegations: US Republicans want to start investigations for impeachment proceedings against President Biden

Not a fine draw

Kim Jong Un likes to ride a train, armored and luxurious, after many hours he has arrived in Russia to visit Vladimir Putin, two despots among themselves.

It is also a gauge of Putin's role in the world. He did not dare to go to the G20 summit in India, instead he is now fraternizing with a global outlaw, you can hardly sink any lower.

The meeting of the two, which may take place today or tomorrow, stands for a dangerous symbiosis. Russia needs artillery shells and missiles for the Ukraine war, says my colleague Christina Hebel, correspondent in our Moscow office. And Pyongyang could probably deliver them. In return, North Korea hopes to receive military technology for satellites and submarines, and the country could also urgently need food.

In the West, there are now fears that this could lead to military cooperation for the future, with joint maneuvers, a common strategy – and possibly close ties to China.

The first indications of this were given by Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's visit to the North Korean capital Pyongyang in July. Together with Kim Jong Un and Chinese Politburo member Li Hongzhong, Shoigu had accepted a military parade there.

Now, according to Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Shoigu should also take part in the negotiations in Vladivostock – or wherever the meeting takes place.

A clear sign of where the journey is heading.

  • Kim Jong Un in Russia: The despot's train

More news and background information on the war in Ukraine can be found here:

  • Ukraine releases bodycam footage of commando operation: They fire at a jet, board a platform with their boats that has been in Russian hands since the annexation of Crimea: video footage from the Ukrainian military intelligence service is said to show a successful surprise coup.

  • Close to the trenches: Shrapnel in the shoulder, burns from rockets: In the middle of the combat zone, Ukrainian paramedics are building improvised emergency rooms to save lives. Filmmaker Gabriel Chaim shows her race against time.

The State of the Union – and the President of the Commission

When the U.S. president delivers his annual State of the Union address, it's a great spectacle with rigorous choreography, a master of ceremonies and standing ovations.

It probably won't be quite as glamorous when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her annual State of the European Union address this morning. But it will be exciting, it is the last before the European elections in 2024.

What exactly von der Leyen will say is a well-kept secret. Neither the leaders of the parliamentary groups in the European Parliament nor the ambassadors of the member states would know the content of the speech, says Markus Becker, my colleague from Brussels. And probably not even von der Leyen's commissioners.

What the President should say, however, there were numerous recommendations in advance. Daniel Caspary, for example, the chairman of the CDU/CSU group in the European Parliament, would like to see a "new start" in the negotiationson the EU's "Green Deal" as well as new impulses in migration policy.

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the European Parliament, calls on von der Leyen to clearly distance herself from cooperation between the European People's Party (EPP), which includes the CDU, and right-wing populist or even far-right parties.

The French government, on the other hand, is said in Brussels, would like to hear the announcement today that the Commission is targeting the prices of Chinese electric cars.

Above all wishes and speculations, however, is the question of whether von der Leyen will seek a second term as EU Commission president. And whether she will give a hint about this today.

If she focuses on her vision of the future of the EU in her speech, this should be seen as a sign that she wants to remain head of the Commission, Markus estimates. If, on the other hand, she were to take stock of her work, it could be seen as a signal that she would prefer to be the next NATO Secretary General. There have been rumours about this for some time.

Interpreting their words will be an exciting affair today.

  • Expectations of von der Leyen's State of the EU address: "Then she would have parts of her party against her"

The wounds of the traffic light

Yesterday we reported the results of a study according to which the traffic light government works more successfully than its public reputation suggests. Today the hymns of praise are over.

The Presidium of the Association of German Cities is meeting and will put its finger in the wounds of the government, specifically in two.

Firstly, the municipal representatives will demand a second digital pact for schools, although the first was a mere air number: even years after its introduction, the funds were not called up, the procedure was probably too complicated. And so, to this day, many schools live in uncharted digital territory, as Angela Merkel would probably complain.

Secondly, the mayors gathered in Neunbrandenburg are hoping for a bundle of measures to promote housing construction in their cities.

In the coalition agreement, the traffic light had announced the construction of 400,000 new apartments per year, 100,000 of which will be social housing. In reality, the government is far from this goal. Added to this is the crisis in construction: with rising interest rates, the order situation is falling, the shortage of skilled workers is doing the rest, and the situation is bleak.

If it weren't so worn, one could demand a turning point in housing construction, from the chancellor who still prides himself on having created many new apartments during his time in Hamburg. Oh yes, and while we're at it: A turning point for digitization wouldn't be bad either.

  • Record number of cancellations: Crisis in German housing construction intensifies

Read the latest SPIEGEL editorial here

  • The helpless association: The DFB may be the largest football association in the world, but it gives a pitiful picture. Top personnel are open, the money is gone, his word carries little weight. He made himself small.

Click here for the current daily quiz

The starting question today: How did Mathias Rust gain worldwide fame in May 1987?

Winner of the day ...

... you can decide for yourself if you take part in our Wahl-O-Mat for the upcoming state elections.

You can already find the Wahl-O-Mat for Hesse here, the one for Bavaria will be activated in the course of the day.

The instrument was developed by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, personal data is neither collected nor stored.

Based on several theses, the software determines which party is closest to you.

Examples from Hesse:

Young people should be allowed to vote in state elections from the age of 16.

Hesse is to advocate for the withdrawal of the U.S. forces stationed in the state.

The coal-fired power plants in Hesse are to continue to operate after 2038.

The last year of kindergarten before school enrollment should be mandatory for all children in Hesse.

Examples from Bavaria:

Bavaria will continue to have its own border police.

Bavaria should work to ensure that pure oil or gas heating systems may still be installed from 2024.

Asylum seekers are to be accommodated in collective facilities until a decision has been made on their application.

In Bavarian textbooks, only the traditional image of the family (father, mother, children) is to be conveyed.

Have fun with your personal winner!

  • Wahl-O-Mat 2023: Who you want to vote for in Hesse

The latest news from the night

  • Man grabs Spanish TV reporter's butt – police arrest him: Once again, a case of sexual harassment in Spain has sparked outrage. The attack on a journalist happened in front of the camera.

  • BP CEO Looney resigns unexpectedly: He wanted to reinvent the oil company, but now he's leaving: Bernard Looney is stepping down as CEO of BP with immediate effect. He had failed to disclose relationships with colleagues.

  • Professional association rejects CSU push to ban sex purchases: Bär, deputy leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, now sees Germany as the "brothel of Europe" and is pushing for a ban on sex for sale. The prostitutes' advocacy group warns that those affected would not be better protected.

The SPIEGEL+ recommendations for today

  • Horror Stagflation: The European Central Bank is increasingly desperate to fight inflation. Will further interest rate hikes finally choke off the economy? In the meantime, unconventional measures are also being discussed.

  • World's best only in bureaucracy: Slack at the Olympics, debacle at the World Cup, disappointments in the water, on the track, on the lawn: German athletes are lagging behind the competition. A new funding concept is intended to help. But many problems lie deeper.

  • What the tongue says about your state of health: A healthy tongue is reddish and moist. However, certain diseases can lead to spots, discoloration or pustules. What's harmless, how to take care of your tongue – and when to see a doctor.

  • Just the two of us, without the rest: More and more couples are deciding against large banquets and parties at their wedding ceremony. They elope and celebrate as a couple. Wedding planners now organize very exclusive ceremonies.

I wish you a good start to the middle of the week.

Yours sincerely, Martin Knobbe, Head of SPIEGEL's Berlin Office