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EL MUNDO (Spain), LE FIGARO (France) BLOOMBERG (U.S.),

MADRID - At the beginning of the week, Spain was supposed to have been saved. So much for that: Moody's downgraded Spain's debt rating three steps to Baa3. The main reason for this downgrade "is obviously the need of Spain's government to ask for external help," Kathrin Muehlbronner, senior analyst at Moody's, told Bloomberg.

Clearly, the 100 billion euros ($125 billion) set aside by the EU to help save Spain's banking sector have not convinced the ratings agency, and "Spain is on review for further downgrade," Bloomberg adds.

Asian stock fell following this announcement, with Japan's Nikkei down 0.2%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index sliding 1.2%. European markets were heading in the same direction, with the French stock market also lost 1.09 percent this morning, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

A second Spanish bailout plan is now considered, El Mundo reports. According to Alberto Matellán, director of macroeconomics and strategy for the Spanish brokerage firm Inverseguros, Spain has nevertheless "not reached the critical point." A markets strategist at IG Markets, quoted by the Spanish newspaper, concludes: "What we need now to reassure the markets are decisions at the European level."

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Geopolitics

Taliban Redux, Cleaned-Up Image Can't Mask Their Cruel Reality

Twenty years later the Islamist group is back in power in Afghanistan, but trying this time to win international support. Now that several months have passed, experts on the ground can offer a clear assessment if the group has genuinely transformed on such issues as women's rights and free speech.

The Taliban have now been in power for almost five months

Atal Ahmadzai and Faten Ghosn

The international community is closely monitoring the Taliban, after the group re-seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

There is legitimate reason for concern. The Taliban are again ruling through fear and draconian rules.

The Taliban’s last regime, in the mid-1990s, was marked by human rights violations, including massacres, mass detentions and rape. The regime collapsed on Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after the U.S. launched its global war on terrorism.

Even after the Taliban officially fell from power, their subsequent two decades of insurgency produced various gross human rights violations, an encompassing term under international human rights law.

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