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Geopolitics

Ukraine Fighting, Afghanistan Aid, Bye-Bye Mullet

Afghanistan landslide victims receive aid.
Afghanistan landslide victims receive aid.

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN EASTERN UKRAINE
Ukrainian troops have launched a new offensive against pro-Russian militants in the eastern city of Sloviansk, with reports of shootings at rebel-held checkpoints outside the city, forcing them to retreat deeper into the town’s center. At least one woman was killed and another 11 pro-Russian militants were reported injured in the attack, according to RT. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said there were also eight troops injured but said the number of possible casualties was “being double-checked.”

The latest events come after a weekend of high tension following the deaths of at least 38 in an Odessa fire after clashes between pro-Ukrainian government and pro-Russian groups Friday. Both sides were responsibility or the tragedy, the BBC reports. Yesterday, pro-Russian militants stormed the city’s police station and freed 67 prisoners with no resistance from police officers.

German tabloid Bild claims that FBI and CIA agents are advising the government in Kiev on its crackdown of separatists. Read more in English from The Moscow Times.

AID TO AFGHANISTAN
Victims received aid Sunday after a landslide killed at least 2,100 people in northern Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province Friday.

VERBATIM
“If somebody had told me that I would be the leader to bring down communism ... I never would have believed them,” former Polish President Lech Walesa tells the BBC. “That is why I am the happiest man in the whole galaxy,” he said, 25 years after bringing democracy to Poland.

SOUTH SUDAN ARMY OFFENSIVE
An offensive from South Sudanese troops to retake the rebel-held oil-rich town of Bentiu faltered after soldiers came under heavy gunfire, the BBC reports. Although the army had succeeded to enter the town, they were reportedly forced into retreat and it’s unclear who is now in control of Bentiu. This comes after the country’s Defense Minister announcement yesterday that government forces had retaken the rebel stronghold of Nasir. Read more from Sudan Tribune.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As The Economic Observer’s Fu Ting writes, Chinese men of a certain age are so busy trying to become wealthy that they are unkempt unfashionable. “Naturally, it also left me feeling like crying for Chinese women,” the journalist writes. “Perhaps it also explains why so many mature Chinese wives, disgusted by their bedroom mates, are behaving like young groupies with those South Korean male television series stars who look so exquisitely groomed and fashionable. One rich Chinese lady even went as far as taking a whole page of the Beijing News to wish happy birthday to Kim Soo-Hyun, the leading South Korean actor of the successful series You Who Came From The Stars.” Read the full article, The Fashion Education Of The Chinese Male.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD

PANAMA’S VP WINS PRESIDENCY
Panama Vice President Carlos Varela won yesterday’s presidential election and pledged to establish a government of “equity and transparency,” newspaper Telemetro reports. Described by AP as a “free-market conservative,” Varela defeated outgoing President Ricardo Martinelli’s hand-picked successor with an estimated 39% of the vote, against 32%, with another candidate finishing third in the race. Varela will take office July 1.

NIGERIAN PROTEST LEADER HELD
A woman who has been leading the protest movement in Nigeria for the liberation of abducted schoolgirls has been detained by order of the Nigerian president’s wife, the BBC reports activists as saying.

FERRY DEATH TOLL TOPS 250
Divers searching the sunken South Korean ferry recovered dozens of bodies over the weekend, taking the official death toll to 259 as they explored most of the compartments where they expected to find victims, Yonhap news agency reports. Search teams will then focus on the ship’s lobbies, staircases, shops, arcades and bathrooms to find the remaining 43 people. Meanwhile, 11 people are missing in Hong Kong after a cargo vessel sank following a collision with a container ship. Read more from the South China Morning Post.

PISTORIUS TRIAL RESUMES
The trial of Oscar Pistorius resumed this morning after a two-week break in the South African capital of Pretoria. The defense called a new witness in an effort to prove that the athlete believed he was targeting an intruder when he shot his girlfriend through their bathroom door, SAPA news agency reports. Follow live updates of the trial on The Guardian’s website.

FAREWELL
British tennis champ Elena Baltacha has died of liver cancer at age 30.

BYE-BYE MULLET
A Canadian family who had decided to live one year like it was 1986 are back to the present. Read the dad’s reaction as his vintage year ended.

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Ideas

"Collateral Benefit": Could Putin's Launching A Failed War Make The World Better?

Consider the inverse of "collateral damage." Envision Russia's defeat and the triumph of a democratic coalition offers reflection on the most weighty sense of costs and benefits.

Photo of a doll representing Russian President Vladimir Putin

Demonstrators holding a doll with a picture of Russian President Putin

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — The concept of collateral damage has developed in the course of so-called "asymmetrical” wars, fought between opponents considered unequal.

The U.S. drone which targeted rebel fighters in Afghanistan, and annihilated an entire family gathered for a wedding, appears to be the perfect example of collateral damage: a doubtful military gain, and a certain political cost. One might also consider the American bombing of Normandy towns around June 6, 1944 as collateral damage.

But is it possible to reverse the expression, and speak of "collateral benefits"? When applied to an armed conflict, the expression may seem shocking.

No one benefits from a war, which leaves in its trace a trail of dead, wounded and displaced people, destroyed cities or children brutally torn from their parents.

And yet the notion of "collateral benefits" is particularly applicable to the war that has been raging in Ukraine for almost a year.

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