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China

Is Luxury Losing China?

As China expands its anti-bribery crackdown, targeting ritzy gifts to officials, luxury brands are seeing drops in Chinese sales. The hope now is in the rising middle class moving up.

So fashion in Shanghai
So fashion in Shanghai
Sa Ke

BEIJING — Are China's days of deluxe already over? In the aftermath of the carnival-like consumption on the Chinese market between 2010 and 2012, luxury brands can't help but ask themselves that question.

That stratospheric growth rate should now be considered part of the past, according to an analysis of both global and regional earnings reports from several major luxury brands. Take the Hong Kong operations for Italy's Prada group, for instance. It made almost no profit in 2013, its latest financial report shows, and its sales were declining overall. Its share price fell by no less than 12%.

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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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