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General labor strikes are hitting Italy
General labor strikes are hitting Italy
Worldcrunch

Friday, December 12, 2014

HOUSE PASSES U.S. SPENDING BILL
The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund most government operations until September 2015, The New York Times reports. But the newspaper notes that the liberal base of the Democrat party formed an “unlikely alliance” with the Tea Party in opposition to the spending bill, which the Financial Times says was “attacked as a Christmas gift to Wall Street.” According to The Guardian, the package contains “two concessions to financial interest groups” that made many Democrats “furious,” namely a tenfold increase in donation limits to political parties and candidates, and the rollback of a 2010 banking regulation that will allow public bailouts of banks engaged in risky derivative trading.

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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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