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SPOTLIGHT: A FRENCH HERO AND THE REST OF US

When a murderous truck hurtled down a promenade in the French city of Nice last week, slamming into innocent bystanders and leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake, a 49-year-old man riding his scooter nearby threw his life on the line to stop it. Franck, a mild-mannered local airport employee, says he's not a hero. But his attempt to stop the attacker, as recounted to French newspaper Nice-Matin, is certainly heroic. We have it here in English.


For most of us, it's hard to imagine reacting with such physical courage in front of a 19-ton vehicle and its well-armed driver. But we are all called on to think about how we must react as a society in the face of a terrorist threat that will not go away by itself. A piece by Worldcrunch editor Jeff Israely explores the symbolism of the Nice attack, which took place on Bastille Day, an occasion that marks the values of the French Revolution. The article refers to the 2011 book by historian Yuval Noah Harari that argues that humans have always organized themselves around "myths," which includes ideas such as liberté, égalité and fraternité that we take for granted as natural law and a public good. Israely writes: "The more frightening lesson in Harari's book is that the sheer scale of human history makes our supposedly self-evident progress look immensely small and fragile." You can read the piece here.

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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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