Is Japan’s Prime Minister the Next Putin?

In the ads in the back of old comic books, a skinny little kid is hanging out at the beach when a bully comes along and kicks sand in his face. The little kid, who weighed 97 pounds at the time, was Angelo Siciliano. He hightailed it to the gym, where he worked out until he turned himself into someone no bully would ever think of attacking. In addition to getting a new job as the strongman at the...
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Pig Farming in Poland

I know a bit about dairy farming since I spent my summers growing up in the dairy country of Vermont’s Northern Kingdom. But my knowledge of pig farming is all second-hand and comes mostly from Annie Proulx’s novel That Old Ace in the Hole, a devastating indictment of industrial farming in Oklahoma. What remains in my memory are the huge holding ponds of pig excrement and the unholy smell. So...
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Islamophobia in East-Central Europe

It’s often said that anti-Semitism continues to exist in Poland even in the absence of a large Jewish community. The recent Polish film Aftermath, about a farmer who uncovers the terrible truth about his village’s treatment of its Jewish community during World War II, makes that point vividly and tragically. The same can be said about Islamophobia. It too has taken root in countries in...
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Can Ukraine Gnaw Its Way out of Trouble

Animals caught in a trap will often chew off a limb to escape. Even the occasional human being has resorted to this nightmare option, as the hiker Aron Ralston did when a boulder pinned his arm in a remote area of Utah wilderness. He’d run out of food, water, and time. What he did have was a utility knife. You can imagine the rest (or you can see it graphically rendered in the movie 127...
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Church and State in Poland

Poland has one of the stricter laws on abortion in Europe. Abortion is illegal except if the life of the mother is at risk, the fetus has a major defect, or the pregnancy is the result of a confirmed rape. Poland, Ireland, and Malta are the only countries in Europe that do not allow abortion on request. All three countries are also predominantly Catholic (95 percent for Malta, 91 percent for...
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