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Ideas

What Britain Can Teach India About Religion And Politics

Rishi Sunak, a Hindu of Indian origin, is in the running to become the UK's next prime minister. His religion has not factored at all into debates — a fierce contrast to a religiously divided India.

-Analysis-

NEW DELHI — Rishi Sunak, a British politician of Indian origin, is in the running to be prime minister of the United Kingdom. He's competing against Liz Truss to lead the Conservative party after Boris Johnson's resignation. After Kamala Harris’s attempt to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for U.S. president, he is the most recent person of Indian descent in the West to try to reach the political pinnacle.

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The Enemy Within: Why Zelensky Must Take On Ukraine's Oligarchs To Defeat Russia

Ukraine has long had an issue with oligarchs standing in the way of progress, and they have almost always been linked to the Kremlin. Now in the context of the war with Russia, President Zelensky has no choice but to tackle this problem.

When Volodymyr Zelensky was first elected president, he had two defining challenges, one from home and one from abroad: Russia’s continued aggression; taking on Ukraine’s oligarchs.

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Back then, it may have seemed like the domestic challenge was the more imposing of the two, with the deep-seated corruption and grip on power of his country’s own lineup of cynical multi-millionaires and billionaires. That all changed with Russia’s all-out invasion, and Zelensky has risen to the challenge of a war leader of historic proportions.

Yet over the past few weeks, accelerated by the close-up scrutiny of Ukraine’s candidacy for EU membership, it seems that the dual challenges of Russian aggression and domestic corruption are ultimately bound together.

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A Battle For "New Rights" Or Trick To Maintain Wealth And Privilege?

The expansion of constitutional rights has become a rhetorical tool for populist governments, when they do nothing to address much more vital questions like wealth inequality and social injustice. Latin America offers sharp examples, past and present.

-Op-Ed-

BUENOS AIRES — Days ago, the jurist Martin Loughlin, a professor of Public Law at the London School of Economics, published an important book entitled Against Constitutionalism. Curiously, or perhaps not, many of his written concerns are relevant to our own reflections about the current state of politics and legislation in Latin America.

The author refers to the "rights revolution," which entered the public debate in Chile as the nation seeks to rewriting the Constitution, and makes sharp observations on what politicians do with these "new rights."

Loughlin adamantly rejects a misleading idea that democracy and constitutionalism are the same. The supporters of the latter ultimately replace redistributive politics with the theoretical recognition of new rights whose implementation, in practice, ends up bogged down in the judiciary's corridors.

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Tunisia’s New Constitution And Risks Of A Return To “Presidential Dictatorship”

In the cradle of the Arab Spring, democracy is once again at stake.

Modern Tunisia has adopted three different constitutions. The first two were linked to proud moments in the nation’s history: independence from France in 1956, and the fruit of the 2011 Arab Spring pro-democracy movement that ousted strongman President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for almost 24 years.

The adoption of a third constitution, which Tunisians were called to vote on in a referendum on Monday, has been a very different story. Though exit polls report that more than 90% of those voting approved the new constitution, the referendum saw a low turnout of just above 30% after the major political parties boycotted the vote.

Still, with no minimum turnout required or expected legal challenges to the referendum results, by Saturday Tunisia is set to be governed by the new constitution when the final results of the referendum are announced.

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moïsi

What Boris Johnson's Fall Says About The Troubled State Of Western Democracy

Boris Johnson's resignation is another example of the political crises in the democratic world. But that does not necessarily mean that dictators and despots will win.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Even Vladimir Putin could not save Boris Johnson. The invasion of Ukraine bought the Conservative Party leader a few weeks or even months. But enough was enough. The man who presented himself as the heir in line to Winston Churchill was only an actor, full of panache to be sure, but above all he was an inveterate liar. The illustration, next only to Donald Trump, of the political crisis in the democratic world.

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Society
Arfa Khanum Sherwani

Journalism In A Zero-Trust World: Maria Ressa Speaks After Rappler Shut Down Again

The Rappler CEO and Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke with The Wire's Arfa Khanum Sherwani about how journalists everywhere need to prepare themselves for the worst-case scenario of government-ordered closure and what they should do to face up to such a challenge.

HONOLULU — For someone who’s just been ordered to shut down the news website she runs, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is remarkably cheerful about what may happen next.

In a speech she gave to a conference at the East-West Center here on challenges the media face in a “zero trust world”, Ressa said that she and her colleagues were prepared for this escalation in the Philippines government’s war on independent media and will carry on doing the work they do. “If you live in a country where the rule of law is bent to the point it’s broken, anything is possible…. So you have to be prepared.”

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Geopolitics
Hye-kwan Lee and Stanley Leung

A Bitter Road Back For Hong Kong Students Arrested During 2019 Protests

Thousands of students and young people were detained during Hong Kong's democracy protests in 2019. Now with criminal records, many are struggling to re-integrating into a changed society

HONG KONG — Shortly after his release from the Detention Center, Ah Tao received a phone call from his secondary school headmaster. The headmaster told the Hong Kong teenager that it might not be a good idea for him to continue his studies, and that there were some barista courses outside school he might as well try.

Tao did not respond to the suggestion, and hung up after a few pleasantries.

Back when he was arrested on the street in 2019, Tao had completed his third year, and the school promised to hold his place. However, they stated that if he committed any offenses again, he could be expelled. Tao was already prepared for such a phone call. At that moment, he felt strongly that he was just a young person who had broken the law, and even his school did not want him anymore.

In 2019, the Hong Kong government proposed an amendment bill on extradition that would allow the transfer of fugitives from between Mainland China and Hong Kong. The bill received widespread criticism, with fears it would hamper political dissent in Hong Kong and led to large-scale protests.

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Ideas
Anna Akage

Servant Of The People: Why Zelensky Will Concede Nothing To Russia

Those calling for Kyiv to negotiate away part of its territory, understand neither history nor the current reality of Ukrainian democracy.

In democracies, politicians depend on the will of the people. Making choices that defy the wishes of the majority may, at worst, cause them to lose the next election. But in transitional democracies like Ukraine, when the majority disagrees with a leader who has suddenly strayed too far in his own direction, it can cost him far more than an election. A fast-rising career can suddenly implode in a wave of protests that often force the dethroned to spend the rest of his days in exile, with no right to a name and no position in society.

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This is what happened to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who did not abide by the public desire for Kyiv to move closer to the European Union. Four years after his legitimate 2010 election victory, when he tried in vain to quelch student demonstrations in Maiden Square, he was forced to flee to Russia.

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LGBTQ Plus
Frédéric Schwilden

A Trans Soldier Fighting Abroad For Freedom Is Denied Her Own Back Home

A German soldier was reprimanded because of an online dating profile. She was punished for her sexual freedom — the same freedoms that the armed forces claim to be fighting for abroad.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — Anastasia Biefang completed two foreign missions in Afghanistan. For two years, she was the first trans woman commander of a battalion of the Bundeswehr, Germany's national armed forces. Her rank: lieutenant colonel. She defended and fought for Western values such as democracy, tolerance, respect for human rights and freedom of the individual.

And this freedom, for which she endangered her own life, is now being denied to her – by her employer, the Bundeswehhr, after all, and the Federal Administrative Court of Germany. “Commanders must consider the impact on their professional reputation when making private internet appearances,” reads a recent press release from the Federal Administrative Court.

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Geopolitics
Luis Rubio

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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Society
Magdalena Środa

A War Against Putin, A Fight Against The Patriarchy

In Poland, the support for the war effort against Russia is linked not only to history but to an aggressive male-dominated narrative, tinged with tales of martyrdom and acceptance of sexual violence.

-OpEd-

WARSAW — In addition to all the terrible things we already know about it, the war in Ukraine also appears to be a time machine that takes us back to a very masculine world of heroes and beasts — where the former are worthy of glory, the latter inhuman and deserving of death.

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This way of seeing reality and all that it encompasses is as tragic and retrograde as war itself. We Poles have finally begun to learn such values as equality, rule of law, democracy, dialogue, tolerance, and diversity; and yet once again we are returning to the paradigm of the heroic martyr that is unfortunately firmly established in our history and morality.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Patricia Simón

Traitor, Spy, Pro-Russian: Ukrainians Who Question Kyiv Face Grave Accusations

In Ukraine, those who do not want to fight on the front or who want negotiations cannot say so publicly for fear of accusations of being traitors.

“I don't want to fight. They are sending the soldiers to almost certain death because they have far less means than the Russians. Also, I don't think that (President Volodomyr) Zelensky, Europe or the United States have negotiated enough to try to stop this war. But, of course, you can't say that publicly, nor do we have a way to escape.”

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The young man speaking wants to preserve his anonymity. For uttering statements like this, he can be accused of desertion, collaboration with Russia, or being a traitor or a spy. He could also end up being sentenced to more than ten years in prison. Dimitry, a pseudonym to protect him, no longer even dares to talk about these issues by online chat with his friends.

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