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What We're Watching: Filipinos vote, Taliban vs Afghan women

Is the Philippines ready for Marcos 2.0?

Filipinos go to the polls Monday to vote in perhaps the most consequential and polarizing presidential election in recent memory. The clear frontrunner is Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator. Marcos is leading the polls by a 30-point margin over Vice President Leni Robredo, who has campaigned on a message of good governance to contrast with the kleptocracy associated with the 21-year rule of the senior Marcos. Despite her long odds, Robredo supporters hope that their candidate's late surge in popularity and possibly lower-than-expected turnout could turn the tide in their favor. Marcos, meanwhile, is confident of a victory that'll return his family to Malacañang Palace 36 years after his dad and shoe-loving mom Imelda were chased out of power and into exile in Hawaii. His election would be yet another triumph for political dynasties, which have tightened their long-held grip on Philippine politics in recent years (Marcos' running mate for VP is none other than the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte). Though his victory seems inevitable, will Marcos' many critics accept the result?

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In 1992, supporters of abortion rights mingle with abortion opponents at a State House rally marking the 19th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Roe in trouble, Russia Victory Day, ISIS-K terrorizes Afghanistan, Macron vs the left

US Supreme Court reportedly set to overturn Roe vs. Wade

The US Supreme Court is set to overturn the landmark abortion rights decision of Roe vs. Wade, according to a leaked draft of the decision reported by Politico late Monday. The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, explains the court’s apparent plan to reverse the 1973 ruling, noting that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and that it’s time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” If true, this means the court is siding with Mississippi in its push to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. While SCOTUS drafts do not always reflect final decisions, Eurasia Group’s lead US political analyst Jon Lieber believes the draft is a sneak peek of what’s to come. “Court watchers seem to think the document is a legitimate draft, and given the makeup of the court it sure reads like the majority decision I expected to see,” Lieber says. “So I think this is both real and reflects the reality that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned this year."

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A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of an explosion in Kabul.

REUTERS

In spring offensive, the Taliban get a taste of their own medicine

After months of tense calm, a fresh wave of terror attacks by insurgents and airstrikes by Pakistan have killed dozens across Afghanistan, exposing the inability of the Taliban to secure a country already suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and an economic free fall.

The spate of violence is intense, escalating, and widespread. The attacks have mostly targeted the Hazaras, Afghanistan’s Shia minority, but Sunni Muslims with liberal leanings have also been hit. ISIS-K, the South Asian branch of the Islamic State, has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks. (A bomber from the same group killed 13 US military personnel and 170 Afghans at Kabul airport last August during the last days of America’s military pullout.)

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s scorched-earth policy of pursuing ISIS-K fighters and sympathizers – including the enforcement of collective punishment – has created further unrest and resistance against the Islamist regime, which prefers to ban social media and prohibit females from attending schools and colleges.

Spring is the fighting season in Afghanistan. During the 20 years of US occupation, the Taliban would always step up their attacks against US, NATO, and former Afghan government forces in what was traditionally known as the “spring offensive.” But this time, the Taliban are the ones being challenged by an insurgency even more extremist than their own.

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Meet the party that runs China
Meet the party that runs China

China in the (South Asian) ‘hood

As China faces pressure and criticism from the West for not changing its “neutral” stance despite Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Beijing is trying to create space for itself by shoring up old allies and mending fences in its rough neighborhood.

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Talks With Taliban Won’t Legitimize Them (US Already Did That) | Pakistan's Hina Khar | GZERO World

Talks with Taliban won’t legitimize them (US already did that)

Want the Taliban to form a more inclusive Afghan government? Talk to them. Otherwise, don't complain about millions of starving Afghans.

That's the advice of Hina Khar, Pakistan's former foreign minister, to Western nations who say they don't want to "enable" the regime.

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Ian Explains: Pakistan's Pivot Towards Russia | GZERO World

Pakistan's pivot towards Russia

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has left Moscow isolated through US-led sanctions and economic boycotts. Still, the Kremlin does have friends.

One of them is China. Another is Belarus. And now Vladimir Putin has a new country in his camp: Pakistan.

As Russian forces pummeled Ukraine, Pakistan's PM Imran Khan visited Moscow to discuss a new gas pipeline. Khan says he wants peace, but his trip did not go down well in Washington, Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.

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A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by a Russian air strike in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Ukraine National Police/Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Ukrainian city under siege, Ripple Effects, Afghan railway

Zelensky calls hospital strike in Mariupol an ‘atrocity’

Children and mothers fall victim. On Wednesday, Russian bombs and missiles ravaged the strategic Black Sea port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, just 35 miles from the Russian border. In one of the war’s most gruesome moments thus far, a children’s hospital and birthing center were badly damaged by munitions, reportedly killing two adults and one child and injuring several others. A Ukrainian official said the attack occurred during an agreed-upon ceasefire with Russia. The town’s administrative center was also badly damaged. If the city falls, Russia would have all but established a “land bridge” to Crimea.

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Afghan Humanitarian Crisis is the West’s Fault, Says Pakistan’s Hina Khar | GZERO World

US has set the stage for Afghanistan’s humanitarian disaster, says Hina Khar

Afghans are starving. Not just because the Taliban are now in charge, according to Pakistan's former top diplomat.

“Of course, people are talking about the starving Afghan people who need our help,” Hina Khar told Ian Bremmer in a GZERO World interview at the 2022 Munich Security Conference. “But that's the white man's burden — not accepting what you did wrong in creating the situation that is starving the Afghans right now.”

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