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Inside Philippines Gang-Run, Overcrowded Prisons

While most Western prisons operate under strict surveillance, the Filipino penitentiary system functions through an unusual combination of prisoner self-management and gang oversight.

Overcrowded cell.
Overcrowded cell.
Marianne Dardard

MANILA — "I joined the gang so I could have my own room, after a year of scrubbing the toilets."

Lifting his convict's T-shirt, 48-year-old Jimmy* shows off the emblem of his gang, "Sigue-sigue Sputnik," tattooed on his back: it's a flamboyant spaceship, named after some British cyberpunk band. As a reward for joining the gang, Jimmy now has his very own "kubol" (or "shelter" in Tagalog, the Philippine archipelago's main language) next to the dorm he used to share with 800 other prisoners, in the Quezon City Jail in a northern suburb of Manila.

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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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