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Merkel And Tsipras Meet, U.S. Leaves Yemen, Tortoise Romance

MERKEL MEETS TSIPRAS IN BERLIN
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Berlin today, starting a week that Bloomberg characterizes as “decisive for Greece’s future in the euro area.” According to the Financial Times, Tsipras told Merkel in a letter last week that without the European Union’s continued support, it would be “impossible” for Greece to service its debt.
As tensions rise, the cover of this week’s issue of the German weekly Der Spiegel shows a smiling Angela Merkel spliced into a photograph of Nazi officers standing by Athens’ Parthenon during the German World War II occupation of Greece.

ON THIS DAY
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On March 23, 1919, Italy’s Fascist movement was founded. Time for your 57-second shot of history.

DEFEAT FOR FRENCH SOCIALIST PARTY
France’s governing Socialist Party suffered an important setback in local elections yesterday, coming third behind the victorious center-right UMP party of Nicolas Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen’s National Front, though the defeat was not as stinging as expected, Le Monde reports. Speaking on RTL, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, however, congratulated himself for the fact that National Front didn’t finish first and called on all parties to vote against such candidates that qualified for next Sunday’s second round. Le Pen branded the Socialist Party’s defeat “historic” and called on Valls to resign.

VERBATIM
"For the Ebola outbreak to spiral this far out of control required many institutions to fail. And they did, with tragic and avoidable consequences," said Doctors Without Borders Director Christopher Stokes, as the organization published a scathing report one year after it was alerted about the outbreak. The organization also accused the governments of Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as the U.S. biotech firm Metabiota of obstructing early efforts against the outbreak.

U.S. TROOPS PULL OUT OF YEMEN
Washington has withdrawn its last military personnel from Yemen because of the deteriorating security situation, CNN reports. The decision comes as attacks intensify between Sunni Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the Shia Houthi rebels, who have been in control of the capital Sanaa and its surroundings since September. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings of two mosques where Shia worshippers were gathered for Friday prayers, killing at least 137 people. The UN’s special envoy for Yemen warned that the country was on the “edge of civil war.”

‘O LUNA MIA
Spring has finally sprung here in the northern hemisphere and will be bringing Cancer some confidence. As for Capricorn, it’s a wonderful time for couples to plan a major event. What does this week have in store for you? Check out the Roman Horoscope here.

SINGAPORE MOURNS PATRIARCH’S DEATH
Photo above: Then Chih Wey/Xinhua/ZUMA
Thousands paid tribute to Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died today at age 91. Lee, the first and longest serving prime minister of the city-state, helped transform Singapore into one of Asia’s most prosperous countries.

205%
Myanmar is expected to be the country with the highest increase of antibiotic use in animals with scientists forecasting a 205% increase by 2030. A study from Princeton University warns that antibiotic use in livestock could rise by two-thirds globally, increasing the risk of drug-resistant “superbugs.”

NUCLEAR DEAL IN SIGHT, ROUHANI SAYS
With the last round of nuclear talks beginning on Wednesday ahead of a March 31 deadline, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani expressed hope that an agreement could be reached between Tehran and six world powers, news agency IRNA reported on Saturday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also acknowledged that “substantial progress had been made in key areas, although there are still important issues on which no agreement has yet been possible.” According to Haaretz, an Israeli delegation is currently in Paris to meet French officials today and attempt to “influence” a potential deal. But even if an agreement is reached, The New York Times reported that it would likely increase U.S. spying on Tehran.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
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WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As El Espectador’s Danila Arbilla writes, Brazilian President Lula da Silva spent liberally when the Brazilian economy was booming, leaving Dilma Rousseff to face the deferred impact of the global recession. His personal popularity aside, the country's current woes are largely his fault. “His tenure was marked by prosperity and easy money, neither of which describe today's Brazil,” Arbilla writes. “Lula’s strategy was to give fish to the poor, without bothering to teach them how to catch their own. The annual cost of this subsidy is around $11.5 billion.”
Read the full article, What About Lula? Why Brazil's Economic Mess Isn't All Dilma's Fault.

TORTOISE CHASE
This is what happens when you interrupt mating tortoises.

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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.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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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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