Europe

The Ghost Fleet

This Daily Mail story beggars belief: Here, on a sleepy stretch of shoreline at the far end of Asia, is surely the biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history. Their numbers are equivalent to the entire British and American navies combined; their tonnage is far greater.

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Listen Up

One remarkable thing about watching the Middle East is how what’s celebrated as brilliant in Europe or America is errant nonsense. Writing such stuff makes people successful and gives them an audience of millions.

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Once 2012 rolls around, old incandescent light bulbs will start disappearing from stores here in the United States (the whole process is scheduled to take about two years). So will there be riots in the streets? Filament tea parties? Calls to repeal? Nah, presumably the transition will just look similar to what's going on in Europe right now, where a ban on incandescent bulbs took effect this week. Some Europeans are stocking up on their beloved old bulbs. Some are grumbling about the flat light from CFLs. There's sporadic confusion over how to clean up broken fluorescent bulbs.

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Odd Surprises

Lorna's Silence Sony Pictures Classics My Fuhrer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler First Run Features One of the more thrilling chapters in film history is the account of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. The joint career of these Belgian brothers has been, since they became known, breathtaking. After some twenty years of documentary work for Francophone television, in the early 1990s they began to make features. The first two were not widely seen.

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Israelis are furious about an article printed in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet last week accusing the Israeli army of killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs.

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On The Avenue

Welcome to The Avenue, a blog that will explore what it means to be a metropolitan nation. Americans generally have a mental picture of a “city,” “suburb,” “town,” or “rural community.” We don’t have a mental map of metropolitan areas. They are a different, broader geography, that integrates all of these smaller places in a single landscape, in which people, goods, and social and environmental challenges cross municipal borders as if they weren’t even there. Within metros, conventional stereotypes explode. More poor people now live in suburbs than cities.

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Jeffrey Herf is one of the pre-eminent intellectual historians of totalitarianism. He is a frequent contributor to The New Republic. See, for example, his last few contributions here, here, and here. You can also find a TNR review of one of his books, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys, here. In the current issue of The American Interest, Herf makes a highly convincing argument that radical Islam today is in fact a totalitarian movement with totalitarian ideology and totalitarian methods. No, it is not Nazism or Communism.

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What with all that hot sun beating down on the Sahara Desert day after day, it's no surprise that energy planners have suggested lining the sands of North Africa with mirrors and building vast concentrated solar plants to deliver lots and lots of carbon-free power to Europe.

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Don't Sweat It

As the Dog Days of August descended upon us, there developed across the progressive chattering classes a deep sense of malaise bordering on depression, if not panic--much of it driven by fears about the leadership skills of Barack Obama.

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To confront Iran, the United States must first confront Europe--and more specifically, the continent's powerful business lobby. This confrontation will come into focus in the next months. As Iran refuses Barack Obama's open-handed offer of engagement, the administration will turn towards sanctioning the Islamic Republic. And while there are surely ways in which the United States can tighten the economic screws on the Mullahs, it is Europe that has a much livelier trading relationship with Iran.

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