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SPOTLIGHT: ABORTION BACK ON WORLD AGENDA

The recurring battle over abortion was bound to resurface in the U.S. presidential campaign, becoming what the Los Angeles Times called "one of the most personal, intense" moments of last night's debate between the respective running mates of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.


Both Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and his Democratic rival Tim Kaine are opposed to the practice, but Kaine argues that his personal (and religious) views shouldn't guide his policy choices. Pence said such a stance was "anathema" to him.


Pence was also forced to respond to a statement made last spring by Trump supporting criminal prosecution against women seeking abortion. Not even ardent American social conservatives like Pence still defend such a harsh approach on the delicate issue.


That is, apparently, not the case in Poland. A proposed law by the ruling government would ban all abortions, and carry five-year jail sentences for women who have them. The issue prompted a momentous series of demonstrations on Monday across what is still a very Catholic country. Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza described the protests as "unprecedented" in the way that Polish women exerted their democratic force: "Something unprecedented has happened. Polish women showed what they're capable of. They proved they have veto power, a power greater than what the heads of many trade unions hold. After all, which union would be able to organize so many protests in so many cities all over the country in just one working day? Only Polish women can do something like that."


The past half-century has shown that the issue of abortion has the power to inflame legitimate passions on both sides of the debate. In religious or moral terms, it is hard to argue with either side. In electoral terms, it is bound to be a winning issue for abortion rights supporters anywhere that women exercise their right to vote. And to protest. And some day, to even run for president.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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