Black Sea

A trip to the site of one of the Great War's great disasters.

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Can Bidzina Ivanishivil wrest power from President Mikheil Saakashvili next week?

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MOSCOW—Last summer, Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was then still technically prime minister, put on a wetsuit and diving gear, and dove into the Black Sea, where he stumbled upon an ancient urn. It was the beginning of the end for Putin, image-wise. His previous stunts—personally putting out forest fires, tagging whales with a crossbow—were ridiculous, yes, but his deep sea discovery smacked especially of a light insanity. It didn’t help when Putin’s press secretary flippantly admitted the obvious: The urn had been planted.

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Today, Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and veteran opposition leader under Vladimir Putin, and journalist Leonid Martynyuk did something that all journalists hate to do: report out the super-obvious but extremely succulent story.  For about as long as anyone can remember, on-again, off-again president Putin has been rumored to be one of the richest men not only in Russia, but in the world. In 2007, one British journalist estimated his fortune was some $40 billion, about $39,999,900,000 more than Putin makes officially.

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On Monday afternoon, Italian premier Mario Monti and Russian president Vladimir Putin convened a small press conference in the slanting, gold light coming off the Black Sea. They had just met to discuss the European economic crisis as well as energy (Italy is Russia’s second biggest gas client), but they also touched on the deepening conflict in Syria. “We do not want the situation to develop along the lines of a bloody civil war and for it to continue for who knows how many years, like in Afghanistan,” Putin said, standing with his perfect posture in a slate-gray summer suit.

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The Strongman

The Esenyurt District of Istanbul is classic new Turkey: pastel-colored office buildings with plastic-looking facades, rows of high-rise apartment buildings organized into little vertical gated communities, skeletons of shopping malls waiting to be filled with Mango and Starbucks. On a recent May afternoon, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made a campaign stop there. The people who gathered to meet him were both covered and loose-haired, lower-middle class and middle class, and they eagerly sandwiched their way through security checkpoints.

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The Liar as Hero

The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis, 1700-1948 By Ilan Pappe (University of California Press, 399 pp., $29.95) Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel By Ilan Pappe (Pluto Press, 246 pp., $22) The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine By Ilan Pappe (Oneworld, 313 pp., $14.95) I. At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two. Here is a clear and typical example—in detail, which is where the devil resides—of Pappe’s handiwork.

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It seems eccentric, to say the least, that the FIFA selection committee chose Russia as the World Cup’s home in 2018, and all the more so as it meant overlooking perfectly serviceable countries such as Britain. (They also chose Qatar over the U.S. for 2022, but that's another counterintuitive story altogether.) Why not Russia, you might ask. After all, the country is home to numerous top-drawer soccer teams and has a solid pedigree for hosting international club games at their stadiums.

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The Global Imam

The leader of what is arguably the world’s most successful Islamic movement lives in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, otherwise known as “the Camp.” The Camp consists of a series of houses, a community center, a pond, and some tranquil, woodsy space for strolling.

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Is the Senate capable of passing anything these days? It turns out that even Harry Reid's stripped-down, near-skeletal energy bill might not survive a Republican filibuster. Here's The Hill's Darren Goode Republican leaders said Wednesday they cannot support the bill in its current form—mainly due to language retroactively removing a liability cap for oil-and-gas producers—and also want assurances they can offer amendments. What's this liability fight all about? A quick recap.

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