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Germany

Can A Tattoo Get You Fired?

After a prospective police candidate was banned for a tattoo, Germany debates workplace appearance rules as the number of young employees with tattoos is exploding.

Free (and jobless) as a bird?
Free (and jobless) as a bird?
Johanna Bruckner and Lisa Rüffer

BERLINS'il te plaît ... apprivoise-moi! ("Please, tame me!") reads the large tattoo on the woman’s forearm. It’s a French quotation from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. And the woman from Darmstadt, in her late 20s, recently learned that a local court considered her tattoo too prominent for her to be hired as a police officer.

The Darmstadt judge thus rejected the woman’s official complaint to being told she could not be admitted to the admission process for Germany’s federal police academy. The would-be candidate had accused the authority of abusing her rights of free expression and her right of access to a public authority. The judge stated that the police academy’s reaction had been understandable.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

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

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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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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