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Geopolitics

Strauss-Kahn Conspiracy Theories And The State Of French Democracy

Editorial: Just as with the Sep. 11 attacks, a surprisingly large chunk of French society is prone to turn to conspiracy theories to explain Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sex scandal. It’s a bad sign for the health of public debate in France, says Le Monde.

Strauss-Kahn Conspiracy Theories And The State Of French Democracy

There is no end to the wild talk unleashed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest by the New York police, on May 14, over charges of sexual assault, unlawful imprisonment and attempted rape. As if the extraordinary nature of this affair and the mind-blowing – and dramatic – situation in which the former head of the International Monetary Fund now finds himself could justify the most extravagant of explanations.

Ever since the news first broke on Sunday, the notion that it was all a set-up meant to bring down Strauss-Kahn has spread like wildfire, especially on the Internet. The world of imagination being boundless, each theory brought forward seems more surprising than the other: they point to the CIA or rivals inside the IMF, to big American banks or financial interests threatened by Strauss-Kahn's push for more regulation, to murky schemes by some "black cabinet" working for Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysée palace, or even to Socialist party rivals only too eager to get rid of a dangerous candidate ahead of the 2012 presidential elections.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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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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