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Luisa Vieira

Should NATO watch its southern flank?

As NATO leaders gather this week in Madrid for their first summit since the war in Ukraine began, they will talk mainly about the immediate bogeyman, Russia, and the long-term strategic rival, China. Meanwhile, host Spain is seizing the opportunity to get the alliance to pay at least some attention to Africa and parts of the Middle East, where Russia and jihadists are stirring up trouble that could impact Mediterranean countries.

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Abortion-rights activists protest outside the US Supreme Court after it overturned Roe v Wade.

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

What We’re Watching: The future of abortion in America, Madrid hosts NATO summit

US states fight over post-Roe abortion rights

In case you've been living under a rock, on Friday the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that protected abortion rights in America for almost 50 years. The decision, as expected, caused an outcry among abortion-rights activists and sparked jubilation for those in the anti-abortion camp. Now, the center of attention shifts to individual US states since 13 Republican-led ones had so-called "trigger laws" to prohibit or severely restrict abortion in case Roe was overturned. Although the verdict is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, when and how those laws will go into effect — and potential legal challenges to them — make the timeline hard to predict. Conversely, several states governed by Democrats are taking steps to codify Roe into law, ushering in an uncertain period of legal fights between states to determine whether those who perform and assist abortions can be prosecuted out-of-state, and over access to anti-abortion pills. Politically, the ruling is a double-edged sword for the GOP, which hopes it'll fire up social conservatives, but also fears the Dems could use the verdict to energize their own base and make inroads with suburban women in swing states ahead of the November midterms. Moreover, the ruling has already become a major battleground of the larger culture wars for corporate America.

Check out more of our coverage on the historic SCOTUS reversal:

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi upon his arrival in Cairo.

Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: MBS on tour, Lithuania vs. Russia, Spain’s moderate swing

MBS makes BFFs ahead of Biden visit

With barely a month until his controversial summit with President Joe Biden, the Saudi crown prince is on a regional tour this week to show that he’s hardly the “pariah” that America’s president once promised to make him. In Jordan, Mohammed bin Salman will look to patch up a monarchy-to-monarchy relationship that became strained last year over allegations of Saudi involvement in a plot to overthrow King Abdullah II. The Jordanians hope MBS’s visit leads to a resumption of lavish Saudi financial support. In Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed will be highlighting Riyadh’s tight relationship with the Arab world’s most populous country. Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi enjoys strong backing from the Saudis, who have gifted or invested billions of dollars in Egypt in recent years. But the most significant stop on MBS’s tour will be in Turkey, where always-dicey relations between the regional rivals nearly broke off entirely over the Saudi government’s 2018 murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. But with Turkey looking for financial help to right a listing economy, and MBS looking to shore up ties with a mercurial member of NATO, it seems that bygones are bygones.

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A truck is towed from in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

What We’re Watching: Canada freezes protesters’ assets, Spanish right in turmoil

Canadian protesters see accounts frozen. Authorities have started blocking accounts of people linked to Canada’s trucker convoy and protests in accordance with the Emergencies Act invoked last week by PM Justin Trudeau. Royal Canadian Mounted Police froze more than 200 financial products, including bank and corporate accounts, linked to vaccine mandate protesters who have brought chaos to Ottawa and US border crossings in recent weeks. Opposition leaders and a Canadian civil rights group question the legality of the move, which Trudeau says is necessary for restoring order. American truckers and President Joe Biden, meanwhile, will be watching closely as a similar convoy gets underway in the US this week. Plans are reportedly in place to set up perimeter fencing around the US Capitol building ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1 for fear of similar protests plaguing the nation’s capital.

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Gabriella Turrisi

The Graphic Truth: By land or by sea — migrants head for Spain

Last week, some 400 migrants arrived on Spain's Canary Islands in a 24-hour period after making the perilous journey by boat from Africa. Up until October, migrant arrivals to the Canary Islands had surged 44 percent compared to the same period last year. While COVID-related economic crises have surely contributed to the uptick in desperate people trying to start over in the EU, this wave of migration — mainly from Morocco and Algeria — predates the pandemic, and even the 2015 refugee crisis. We take a look at the number of people who have sought refuge in peninsular Spain and the Canary Islands since 2015.

Happy US Independence Day! Now can you sing it?

When the United States celebrates its Independence Day on July 4th, many Americans will be singing the Star-Spangled Banner at sports games, parties, and other patriotic-themed events. To mark the date, we take a look at some fun facts about national anthems around the world.

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People wave separatist Catalan flags and placards during a demonstration following the imprisonment of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart in Barcelona, Spain.

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Why is Spain pardoning Catalan leaders jailed for sedition?

On Tuesday, Spain's leftwing coalition government will pardon nine Catalan politicians jailed over their failed attempt to secede from the rest of the country less than four years ago. It's a huge gamble for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who's fighting for his political survival against a majority of popular opinion, an opposition on the rise, the courts, and even part of the Catalan independence movement.

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Morocco makes a play for Western Sahara

Morocco and Spain have spent the past two weeks at loggerheads over Madrid allowing the leader of the independence movement for Western Sahara, a former Spanish territory claimed by Morocco, to get medical treatment for COVID in a Spanish hospital. Polisario Front chief Brahim Ghali has now left the country, but the Moroccans are still furious.

Indeed, Rabat's initial response was to open its border gates to allow a deluge of thousands of migrants to overwhelm the Spanish border in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast. Although that crisis ended in a matter of days, the wider issue that caused it in the first place remains unresolved.

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