The longer Israel thinks, the more time Washington has to calm its wrath

Jamie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.

BEIRUT — “Once you break it, you are going to own it,” General Colin Powell warned former United States President George W. Bush when he was considering invading Iraq in the wake of 9/11.

And as the invasion plan came together, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld blocked any serious postwar planning for how Iraq would be run once the country’s ruler Saddam Hussein had gone. As far as he was concerned, once “shock and awe” had smashed Iraq, others could pick up the pieces.

British generals fumed at this. And General Mike Jackson, head of the British army during the invasion, later described Rumsfeld’s approach as “intellectually bankrupt.”

That history is now worth recalling — and was likely on U.S. President Joe Biden’s mind when he urged the Israeli war cabinet last week not to “repeat mistakes” made by the U.S. after 9/11.

Despite Biden’s prompt, however, Israel still doesn’t appear to have a definitive plan for what to do with the Gaza Strip once it has pulverized the enclave and inflicted lasting damage on Hamas for the heinous October 7 attacks.

Setting aside just how difficult a military task Israel will face undertaking its avowed aim of ending Hamas as an organization — former U.S. General David Petraeus told POLITICO last week that a Gaza ground war could be “Mogadishu on steroids” — the lack of endgame here suggests a lack of intellectual rigor that disturbingly echoes Rumsfeld’s.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told lawmakers Friday that the country didn’t have plans to maintain control over Gaza after its war against Hamas had concluded, saying Israel would end its “responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip.” Among other minor matters, this raises the issue of where the coastal enclave of 2.3 million people will get life-sustaining energy and water, as Israel supplies most utility needs.

Israeli and Western officials say the most likely option would be to hand responsibility to the West Bank-based Palestinian National Authority, which oversaw the enclave until Hamas violently grabbed control in 2007. “I think in the end the best thing is that the Palestinian Authority goes back into Gaza,” Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said last week.

But it isn’t clear whether Mahmoud Abbas — the Palestinian Authority president and head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is dominated by his Fatah party — would want Gaza on those terms, or whether he has the power to do much of anything with the enclave in the first place.

Abbas is already struggling to maintain his authority over the West Bank. He’s an unpopular leader, and his government is seen to be not only appallingly venal, but is perceived by many as ceding to the demands of the Israeli authorities too easily.

Israel now controls 60 percent of the West Bank, and its encroaching settlements in the area — which are illegal under international law — haven’t helped Abbas. Nor have Israeli efforts to hold back the West Bank from developing — a process dubbed “de-developing” by critics and aimed, they say, at restricting growth and strangling Palestinian self-determination.

In West Bank refugee camps, Abbas’ security forces have now lost authority to armed groups — including disgruntled Fatah fighters. “It is unclear whether Abbas would be prepared to play such an obvious role subcontracting for Israel in Gaza. This would further erode whatever domestic standing the PA has left,” assessed Hugh Lovatt, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

But it isn’t only Gaza — or the West Bank — that risks breaking in the coming weeks.

Neighboring countries are watching events unfold with growing alarm, and they fear that if more thought isn’t given to Israel’s response to the savage Hamas attacks, and it isn’t developed in consultation with them, they’ll be crushed in the process. If Israel wants the support of these countries — or their help even — in calming the inevitable anger of their populations once a military campaign is launched, it needs their buy-in and agreement on the future of Gaza and Palestinians, and to stop using the language of collective punishment.

Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Hezbollah — Hamas’ ally — has been intensifying its skirmishes along the border with Israel, is currently the most vulnerable. And Lebanese politicians are complaining they’re being disregarded by all key protagonists — Israel, the U.S. and Iran — in a tragedy they wish to have no part in.

Already on its knees from an economic crisis that plunged an estimated 85 percent of its population into poverty, and with a barely functioning caretaker government, the Lebanese are desperate not to become the second front in Iran’s war with Israel. Lebanon “could fall apart completely,” Minister of Economy and Trade Amin Salam said.

But the leaders of Egypt and Jordan share Lebanon’s frustrations, arguing that the potential repercussions for them are being overlooked. This is why Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called Saturday’s Cairo summit of regional and international leaders.

El-Sisi focused the conference on a longer-term political solution, hopefully a serious effort to make good on the 2007 Annapolis Conference’s resolution to set up a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Egypt has much to lose if the war escalates — and the country’s officials are fuming at what they see as a careless attitude from Israel toward what happens to Gaza after Hamas is subjugated, potentially leaving a cash-strapped Egypt to pick up some of the pieces.

More than that, Egypt and Jordan harbor deep suspicions — as do many other Arab leaders and politicians — that as the conflict unfolds, Israel’s war aims will shift. They worry that under pressure from the country’s messianic hard-right parties, Israel will end up annexing north Gaza, or maybe all of Gaza, permanently uprooting a large proportion of its population, echoing past displacements of Palestinians — including the nakba (catastrophe), the flight and expulsion of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians in 1948.

This is why both el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II are resisting the “humanitarian” calls for displaced Gazans to find refuge in their countries. They suspect it won’t be temporary and will add to their own security risks, as Gazans would likely have to be accommodated in the Sinai — where Egyptian security forces are already engaged in a long-standing counterinsurgency against Islamist militant groups.

And both countries do have grounds for concern about Israel’s intentions.

Some columnists for Israel Hayom —a newspaper owned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s close friend, American casino mogul Sheldon Adelson — are already calling for annexation. “My hope is that the enemy population residing there now will be expelled and that the Strip will be annexed and repopulated by Israel,” wrote Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. intelligence analyst who served 30 years in prison for spying for Israel before emigrating.

And last week, Gideon Sa’ar, the newly appointed minister in Netanyahu’s wartime government, said that Gaza “must be smaller at the end of the war . . . Whoever starts a war against Israel must lose territory.”

Given all this, there are now signs the Biden administration is starting to take the risks of the Gaza crisis breaking things far and wide fully on board — despite widespread Arab fears that it still isn’t. By not being fast enough to express sympathy for ordinary Gazans’ suffering as Israel pummels the enclave, Biden’s aides initially fumbled. And while that can easily be blamed on Hamas, it needs to be expressed by American officials loudly and often.

In the meantime, the unexplained delay of Israel’s ground attack is being seen by some analysts as a sign that Washington is playing for time, hoping to persuade the country to rethink how it will go about attacking Hamas, prodding Israel to define a realistic endgame that can secure buy-in from Arab leaders and help combat the propaganda of Jew-hatred.

Meanwhile, hostage negotiations now appear to be progressing via Qatar, after two American captives were freed Friday. There have also been reports of top Biden aides back-channeling Iran via Oman.

So, despite Arab condemnation, the Biden administration’s approach may be more subtle than many realize — at least according to Michael Young, an analyst at the Carnegie Middle East Center. He said it was always inevitable that Washington would publicly back Israel but that a primary aim has been to “contain Israel’s reaction” to the Hamas attacks, while seemingly deferring to the country.

And time will help. The longer Israel thinks, the more opportunity Washington has to reason, to calm, and to explain the trail of cascading wreckage Israel risks leaving behind if it is unrestrained and fails to answer — as Biden put it — “very hard questions.”

But that might not be sufficient to prevent everything spinning out of control. Israel morally and legally has the right to defend itself from barbaric attacks that were more a pogrom, and it must ensure the safety of its citizens. There are also others — notably Iran — that want the destruction of the Jewish state, and even a scaled down response from Israel may trigger the escalation most in the region fear.

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Why we need to improve heart health in Europe

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one killer in Europe. They cost the EU an estimated €282 billion in 2021, larger than the entire EU budget itself.[1] Sixty million people live with CVDs in the EU, while 13 million new cases are diagnosed annually.[2]

Behind this data are individual stories of suffering and loss, of lives limited and horizons lowered by, for example, heart attack and stroke. These diseases directly affect every community in every country. And they strain our health services which must respond to cardiac emergencies as well as the ongoing care needs of chronic CVD patients.

Sixty million people live with CVDs in the EU, while 13 million new cases are diagnosed annually.

Cardiovascular health is a priority not just because of the scale of its impact, but because of the scope we see for significant advances in outcomes for patients. We should take inspiration from the past: between 2000 and 2012, the death rate from CVDs fell by 37 percent in the five largest western European countries (France, Germany, the U.K., Spain and Italy).[2] This progress was achieved through a combination of medical innovations, and supported by a mix of health care policies and guidelines that propelled progress and improved patients’ lives.

New treatments can now help prevent strokes or treat pulmonary embolisms. Others can delay kidney disease progression, while at the same time preventing cardiovascular events.

Despite progress, this downward trend has reversed and we are seeing an increase in the CVD burden across all major European countries.

And the research continues. Precision medicines are in development for inherited CVD-risk factors like elevated lipoprotein(a), which affects up to 20 percent of the population.[3] A new class of anti-thrombotics promises to bring better treatments for the prevention of clotting, without increasing the risk of bleeding. New precision cardiology approaches, such as gene therapy in congestive heart failure, are being investigated as potential cures.

Despite progress, this downward trend has reversed and we are seeing an increase in the CVD burden across all major European countries.[4]

Getting the definitions right

This year’s World Heart Day, spearheaded by the World Heart Federation, comes amid the revision of the EU pharmaceutical legislation. The European Commission’s proposal of a narrow definition of unmet medical need, which could hamper innovation is causing deep concern across stakeholders.

Instead, a patient-centered definition of unmet medical need taking the full spectrum of patient needs into consideration, would incentivize more avenues of research addressing the needs of people living with chronic conditions. It would provide a basis for drafting the next chapter in the history of cardiovascular medicines — one that we hope will be written in Europe and benefit people in the EU and beyond. Not only would this inspire advances that help people to live longer, but it would also improve quality of life for those at risk of, and affected by, cardiovascular events.

Unmet medical need criteria currently included in the draft Pharmaceutical Legislation would do a disservice to patients by downplaying the chronic nature of many CVDs, and the importance of patient-reported outcomes and experience.[5] And many of the advances seen in recent decades would fall short of the narrow definition under consideration. This limited approach disregards incremental innovation, which might otherwise reduce pain, slow disease progression, or improve treatment adherence by taking account of patient preferences for how therapies are administered.

Much of the illness and death caused by CVD is preventable — in fact, 9 out of 10 heart attacks can be avoided.

At this moment it is unclear how the unmet medical need criteria in the legislation will apply to these and other situations. Policymakers should create a multistakeholder platform with the space to discuss patients’ needs, getting expert views from medical societies, patients and industry to better understand the innovation environment. The European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health (EACH), a multistakeholder network comprised of 17 organizations in the CVD space in Europe, stands ready to inform policymakers about the CVD burden and the pressing needs of patients. [6] EACH not only supports the EU´s endeavor to develop more policies on CVD, it also supports and promotes the idea of an EU Cardiovascular Health Plan to work towards better patients’ health care across the EU and more equal health standards. So far, structured discussions with such stakeholders do not sufficiently take place, and we risk missing those opportunities, and lose in both patient access as well as R&D attractiveness of the EU.

Primary and secondary prevention

As well as driving future innovation, Europe must also make the best possible use of the tools we have now. We must do what works — everywhere.

At the heart of this approach is prevention. Much of the illness and death caused by CVD is preventable — in fact, 9 out of 10 heart attacks can be avoided.[7] Primary prevention can dramatically reduce rates of heart attack, stroke and other CVDs. Secondary prevention, which includes screening and disease management, such as simple blood tests and urine tests, as well as blood pressure and BMI monitoring, has a key role to play in containing the burden of disease. [8]

Joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks at primary care level, taking an evidence-based approach, would help diagnose and treat CVD before the onset of acute symptoms.[9] By following current treatment guidelines and protocols, health care professionals across Europe can help to prevent complications, improve health outcomes for patients and save health care costs. Also here, a multistakeholder approach is key. Policymakers should not miss out on listening to the CVD multistakeholder alliances that have already formed — at EU and at EU member countries level, as for example EACH. These partnerships are great ways for policymakers to better understand the needs of patients and to get the experts’ views.

Research-driven companies exist to meet the needs of patients in Europe and around the world. We need to create an environment that enables companies to embark on complex and unpredictable trials. That means having the rights incentives and clarity on the regulatory pathway for future treatments.










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Nagorno-Karabakh evacuations begin as Armenia warns of ‘ethnic cleansing’

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KORNIDZOR, Armenia — The first convoys of civilians have left Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia following an Azerbaijani military offensive amid growing warnings that a mass exodus could be on the cards.

On Sunday, humanitarian organizations and the Armenian government said that dozens of people had been evacuated after Azerbaijan agreed to open the Lachin Corridor that links the breakaway territory to the country. According to the Ministry of Health, the Red Cross escorted 23 ambulances carrying “seriously and very seriously wounded citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Meanwhile, other civilians say they had begged the Russian peacekeepers to take them across, after Karabakh Armenian leaders on Tuesday accepted a surrender agreement following just 24 hours of fierce fighting and shelling.

At a checkpoint near the village of Kornidzor, on the border with Azerbaijan, a steady stream of civilian cars is now crossing over — many laden down with bags or filled with loose bedding and other possessions.

At the border, POLITICO spoke to Artur, a Karabakh Armenian who had been stranded by the 9-month-long effective blockade of the region. Awaiting news of his relatives after Azerbaijani forces launched their offensive, he received a call from his sister to say she had been evacuated with the Russian peacekeepers.

After an hour of waiting anxiously, he was reunited with 27-year-old Rima. Sitting in the back of an SUV, she cried as her two children — aged three and one — unwrapped bars of chocolate, a luxury they have done without amid severe shortages of food and other essentials. “We’ve arrived,” she said.

Marut Vanyan, a local blogger, said many others were planning to follow suit. “People right now say everyone is leaving. In Stepanakert, there is no second opinion, everyone is trying to find a few liters of petrol and be ready any time, any second, for when we are going,” Vanyan said, speaking after being able to charge his telephone at a Red Cross station in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto capital.

At a Red Cross emergency aid point, one elderly man asked the camera crews and journalists why they had only taken an interest once the situation reached crisis point. “Where were you when we were in Karabakh? You want to film? Here are my legs,” he said angrily, raising the ends of his trousers to reveal bandaged, bruised shins.

At a Red Cross emergency aid point, one elderly man asked the camera crews and journalists why they had only taken an interest once the situation reached crisis point | Gabriel Gavin/POLITICO

Meanwhile, Armenia’s prime minister warned that, despite assurances from Russia, “the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh still face the danger of ethnic cleansing.”

“If the needs of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are not met [so that they are able to stay] in their homes, and effective mechanisms of protection against ethnic cleansing not put in place, then the likelihood is increasing that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see expulsion from their homeland as the only way out,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan predicted.

At the same time, Pashinyan said Armenia would welcome its “brothers” from the exclave — inside Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders but held by Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population since a war that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.

The prime minister’s stark warning comes just two days after Pashinyan said he “assumed” Russia had taken responsibility for the fate of the population, after Karabakh Armenian leaders accepted a Moscow-brokered surrender agreement following almost 24 hours of fierce fighting with Azerbaijani forces. The embattled prime minister, however, said he believed there was a genuine hope that locals would be able to continue living in Nagorno-Karabakh.

A steady stream of civilian cars is now crossing over — many laden down with bags or filled with loose bedding and other possessions | Gabriel Gavin/POLITICO

Shortly after Pashinyan’s address, the official information center for the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic issued a statement saying “the families of those left homeless as a result of recent military action and who expressed a desire to leave the republic will be transferred to Armenia accompanied by Russian peacekeepers.” Officials will provide information “about the relocation of other population groups in the near future,” according to the statement.

According to Azerbaijan’s foreign policy adviser, Hikmet Hajiyev, the government will “also respect the individual choices of residents.”

“It once again shows that allegations as if Azerbaijan blocked the roads for passage are not true,” Hajiyev told POLITICO. “They are enabled to use their private vehicles.”

Dozens of trucks carrying 150 tons of humanitarian aid, organized by the The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Russian Red Cross, gained rare access to the region via a road controlled by Azerbaijani troops on Saturday. Speaking to POLITICO, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s foreign policy adviser, Hikmet Hajiyev, said the guarantee for humanitarian aid access “once again shows the good intentions and seriousness of the Azerbaijan government to meet the needs and requirements of Armenian residents and also to ensure a safe and decent reintegration process.”

“People right now say everyone is leaving. In Stepanakert, there is no second opinion, everyone is trying to find a few liters of petrol and be ready any time, any second, for when we are going” | Gabriel Gavin/POLITICO

Azerbaijan has said the Karabakh Armenians can continue to live in the region if they lay down their weapons and accept being governed as part of the country.

However, in an interview with Reuters on Sunday, David Babayan, an adviser to the Karabakh Armenian leadership, said that “our people do not want to live as part of Azerbaijan. 99.9% [would] prefer to leave our historic lands.”

Accusing the international community of abandoning the estimated 100,000 residents of the besieged territory, Babayan declared that “the fate of our poor people will go down in history as a disgrace and a shame for the Armenian people and for the whole civilized world. Those responsible for our fate will one day have to answer before God for their sins,” he said.

Pashinyan has accused citizens with close ties to the Nagorno-Karabakh leadership of fomenting unrest in the country, with protesters clashing with police in the capital of Yerevan as criticism of his handling of the crisis grows.

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From horse paddock to iconic stadium: The MCG celebrates 170 years

It’s hard to imagine a time when the Melbourne Cricket Ground wasn’t such a conspicuous feature of the Melbourne skyline.

Known as “the people’s ground”, the MCG is celebrating its 170th birthday this weekend — fittingly, the day after hosting a bumper AFL preliminary final between Collingwood and the Giants.

Really, it’s a cricket ground in name only, having hosted everything from music concerts to religious gatherings, an Olympic Games, a Commonwealth Games and more than 3,000 games of football.

The chances are, if you live in Melbourne, you’ll visit the ground at some point, for some reason even if the thwack of leather on willow is not your cup of tea.

It’s a magnet.

David Studham has worked in the MCC library for close to 30 years.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)

Few people know the ground and its history as well as Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) librarian David Studham, who has spent much of the past 30 years working in the MCC library in the heart of the stadium.

“It’s a big landmark that you can see from different parts of the city, those light towers especially stand out to show what is like the beating heart of Melbourne,” he said.

“We joke many times that it’s Australia’s backyard. The sporting events happen here and they always have.”

Ironically, the current stadium was not the first “Melbourne Cricket Ground”, nor was it the MCC’s first choice as a home.

A statue in front of the MCG.

The MCG has been the home of Victorian sport for decades.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)

Humble beginnings in a horse paddock

Prior to 1853, the fledgling Melbourne Cricket Club played its matches at what was known as Emerald Hill, in the area roughly where Crown Casino now stands.

That first “Melbourne Cricket Ground” was prone to flooding and was slowly being enveloped by a tent city that sprung up as the gold rush took off.

An illustration of a cricket game.

An 1858 cricket match at the MCG between Victoria and New South Wales.(National Library of Australia)

The final straw for the MCC was when the government decided to build a railway line adjacent to the ground, prompting the club to search — quite literally — for new pastures.

The Governor, Charles Latrobe, offered the club the use of a paddock in what at that stage was effectively the semi-rural village of Richmond.

Prior to white settlement, the area had been a meeting place for the Wurundjeri people, and in 1853 was being used to keep horses used by the police.

By the mid 1870s an impressive stand had been built at the MCG.(National Library of Australia)

According to an article in The Courier in 1853, the Governor had “ever been foremost in patronising this manly game, is understood to be favourable to the claim, and disposed to give to the club a free grant of ten acres.”

It took a year for the paddock to be made fit for cricket, with the first match being played there in September 1854.

Visiting English teams sparked improvements

There wasn’t much in the way of stands in those early days, but the arrival of the England cricket team in 1861 sparked the first major upgrade of the ground.

“There was a temporary stand that was put up that went about a third of the way around the ground,” David Studham said.

“So you just had the small members’ pavilion and then this massive temporary stand.”

A photo of the ground at the MCG in 1878.

The playing surface at the MCG in the 1870s was not exactly as pristine as we have come to expect in modern times.(National Library of Australia)

Local entrepreneurs Spiers and Pond brought the England team to Australia in what was the first commercial sponsorship of cricket.

They made their money back on the first day of the tour when 25,000 people — roughly a quarter of the Melbourne population at that time — turned up at the MCG to watch.

An old photo of a building at the MCG.

The MCG pavilion built in 1881 was the envy of visiting English cricketers.(State Library of Victoria)

Improving the ground to impress visiting English teams would be a running theme over the first 50 years of the MCG’s life and the wealth that flooded into Melbourne courtesy of the gold rush meant even the loftiest dreams of the MCC were attainable.

A reversible stand was built in 1876, which allowed seats to be rotated to face the adjacent football ground and meant the MCC could charge spectators to watch a game that was being played on public ground.

An old photo of Indigenous cricketers.

A team of Indigenous cricketers pictured in front of the MCG pavilion before their 1868 tour of England.(State Library of Victoria)

If the stands were first rate for their time, the ground itself was a different story.

Photos from the 1870s show the outer edges of the playing surface looking more like a potato field than a world class venue.

That’s not to say the MCC didn’t try everything they could to get grass to grow.

“One year they were using it to dump night soil so they could help fertilise and another year they had a dog plague and they had dead dogs that were buried to help fertilise,” David Studham said.

The MCG’s reversible grandstand burnt down in the 1880s and its replacement stood until 1954 when it was demolished as part of improvements ahead of the 1956 Olympic Games.

The pavilion made quite an impression on the visiting England team in 1882 during what was the first Ashes series played in Australia.

“They looked at this magnificent new building and went back to England and said to their friends at Lords, hey Melbourne’s got this massive new pavilion and they had a tiny pavilion which they soon replaced and built the current pavilion we know at Lords,” Mr Studham said.

Getting the ground ready for the Olympics

It wasn’t until the 1930s that the MCG became a full “doughnut” stadium, with seating in a complete circle around the ground.

The capacity in the 1930s was around 90,000, but that grew to more than 110,00 thanks to another renovation ahead of the 1956 Olympics.

There was not much interest in conserving what we now think of as heritage aspects of the stadium, with the Olympics considered more of a chance to show visiting royalty how modern Melbourne had become.

An old aerial shot of the MCG from the 1930s.

The MCG in the 1930s.(State Library of Victoria)

The oldest remaining feature of the stadium is a section of wrought iron fence dating to the 1880s that still exists in front of what is now the Shane Warne Stand.

The fence was originally adorned with ornate spikes which were removed before the 1956 Olympics given how close they stood to the end of the running track.

Other than that, the oldest remaining structures at the ground are the six enormous light towers erected in 1984.

Stands full of people at the MCG during the 1956 Olympics.

The MCG during the 1956 Olympic Games.(State Library of Victoria)

Links to the past remain

Inside the members’ atrium hangs the same clock that hung on the exterior of the original pavilion in the 1860s and its 1881 replacement.

The face of the clock was repainted in the 1920s and it sat in storage for years before taking pride of place in the rebuilt stadium in 2006.

MCG clock

A clock that hangs in the members’ atrium dates back to the 1860s.

It’s a link to the past, like the MCG itself — standing the test of time in a way nobody could have predicted in 1853.

In 2023, the MCG has just experienced its biggest attendance during a home and away AFL season in its history.

What would the original MCC members think if they could see the ground today in all its glory, with tens of thousands of people streaming through the turnstiles?

“They’d be blown away,” David Studham said.

“You’d hope they’d be proud.”

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Vienna seeks to calm Selmayr ‘blood money’ furor

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Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg signaled his government was de-escalating a row with the EU’s senior representative in the country, Martin Selmayr, who last week accused Vienna of paying “blood money” to Moscow by continuing to purchase large quantities of Russian gas.

“Everything has already been said about this,” Schallenberg said over the weekend in a written response to questions from POLITICO on the affair. “We are working hard to drastically reduce our energy dependency on Russia and we will continue to do so.”

Austrian officials insist that the country’s continued reliance on Russian gas is only temporary and that it will wean itself off by 2027 (over the past 18 months, the share of Russian gas in Austria has dropped from 80 percent to an average of 56 percent).

Some experts question the viability of that plan, considering that OMV, the country’s dominant oil and gas company, signed a long-term supply deal with Gazprom under former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that company executives say is virtually impossible to withdraw from.

Those complications are likely one reason why Vienna — even as its officials point out that Austria is far from the only EU member to continue to rely on Russian gas — doesn’t want to dwell on the substance of Selmayr’s criticism.

“We should rather focus on maintaining our unity and cohesion within the European Union in dealing with Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine,” Schallenberg told POLITICO. “We can only overcome the challenges ahead of us in a united effort.”

Schallenberg’s remarks follow a decision by the European Commission on Friday to summon Selmayr to Brussels to answer for his actions. A spokesman for the EU executive on Friday characterized the envoy’s comments as “not only unnecessary, but also inappropriate.”

Given that the Austrian government is led by a center-right party, which is allied with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s European People’s Party bloc, the sharp reaction from Brussels is not surprising. An official close to the Austrian government said Vienna had not demanded Selmayr’s removal.

Selmayr made the “blood money” comment, by his own account, while defending the Commission chief. He told an Austrian newspaper that he made the remark during a public discussion in Vienna on Wednesday in response to an audience member who accused von der Leyen of “warmongering” in Ukraine and having “blood on her hands.”

“This surprises me, because blood money is sent to Russia every day with the gas bill,” Selmayr told the audience.

Selmayr expressed surprise that there wasn’t more public outcry in Austria over the country’s continued reliance on Russian natural gas, which has accounted for about 56 percent of its purchases so far this year. (A review of a transcript of the event by Austrian daily Die Presse found no mention of the comments Selmayr attributed to the audience member, however.)

Austria’s deep relationship to Russia, which has continued unabated since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has prompted regular criticism from its European peers.

Even so, the EU envoy’s unvarnished assessment caused an immediate uproar in the neutral country, especially on the populist far right, whose leaders called for Selmayr’s immediate dismissal.

Europe Minister Karoline Edtstadler called the remarks “dubious and counterproductive” | Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE

Schallenberg’s ministry summoned Selmayr on Thursday to answer for his comments and the country’s Europe Minister, Karoline Edtstadler, called the remarks “dubious and counterproductive.” Some in Vienna also questioned whether Selmayr, who as a senior Commission official helped Germany navigate the shoals of EU bureaucracy to push through the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline — thus increasing Europe’s dependency on Russian gas — was really in a position to criticize Austria.

Nonetheless, Selmayr’s opinion carries considerable weight in Austria, given his history as the Commission’s most senior civil servant and right-hand man to former Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Though Selmayr, who is German, has a record of living up to his country’s reputation for directness and sharp elbows, even his enemies consider him to be one of the EU’s best minds.

His rhetorical gifts have made him a considerable force in Austria, where he arrived in 2019 (after stepping down under a cloud in Brussels). He is a regular presence on television and in print media, weighing in on everything from the euro common currency to security policy.

After Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer recently pledged to anchor a right to pay with euro bills and coins in cash-crazed Austria’s constitution, for example, Selmayr reminded his host country that that right already existed under EU law. What’s more, he wrote, Austrians had agreed to hand control of the common currency to the EU when they voted to join the bloc in 1994.

A few weeks later, he interjected himself into the country’s security debate, arguing that “Europe’s army is NATO,” an unwelcome take in a country clinging on to its neutrality.

Though Selmayr’s interventions tend to rub Austria’s government the wrong way, they’ve generally hit the mark.

The latest controversy and Selmayr’s general approach to the job point to a fundamental divide in the EU over the role of the European Commission’s local representatives. Most governments want the envoys to serve like traditional ambassadors and to carry out their duties, as one Austria official put it to POLITICO recently, “without making noise.”

Yet Selmayr’s tenure suggests that the role is often most effective when structured as a corrective, or reality check, by viewing national political debates through the lens of the broader EU.

In Austria, where the anti-EU Freedom Party is leading the polls by a comfortable margin ahead of next year’s general election, that perspective is arguably more necessary than ever.

Victor Jack contributed reporting.

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Decline, fear and the AfD in Germany

Mathias Döpfner is chairman and CEO of Axel Springer, POLITICO’s parent company.

In Germany today, the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) is maintaining a stable 20 percent in opinion polls — coming in two to four points ahead of the ruling center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and running hard on the heels of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

In some federal states, the AfD is already the strongest party. In Thuringia, for example, it has reached 34 percent, meaning the party has three times as many supporters there as the SPD. And in some administrative districts, around half of those eligible to vote are leaning toward the AfD. According to one Forsa survey in June, the AfD is currently the strongest party in the east of Germany — a worrying trend with elections due this year in Bavaria and Hesse, and next year in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg. And, of course, there are also the European Union elections in 2024.

However, this rapid rise should come as no surprise. The writing has been on the wall for a long time. And more than anything else, the party’s recent advances are a result of an increasing sense among broad swathes of the population that they aren’t being represented by traditional political and media elites.

This disconnect was first accelerated by the refugee crisis of 2015, then increased during the pandemic, and has since escalated in response to the increasing high-handedness of the “woke movement” and climate politics. Just a few weeks ago, a survey by the German Civil Service Association revealed trust in the government’s ability to do its job is at an all-time low, with 69 percent saying it is deeply out of its depth.

Meanwhile, opinion polls show the government fares particularly badly in Germany’s east. A rising number of people — including the otherwise stable but also staid middle classes — now feel enough is enough, and no other party is as good at exploiting this feeling as the AfD.

The problem, however, is the AfD isn’t a normal democratic party.

The regional offices of Germany’s domestic intelligence services in the federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg have all classified their local AfD associations as “organizations of interest.”

And the same applies at the federal level. The national office of the domestic intelligence service, the remit of which includes protecting the German constitution, has also classified the national party of the AfD as “of interest.”

These concerns about the party’s commitment to the constitution aren’t unjustified. In a 2018 speech at the national conference of the party’s youth section, Junge Alternative, former AfD chairman Alexander Gauland said that “Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in a thousand years of successful German history.”

When speaking about the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Björn Höcke, group chairman of the AfD in Thuringia, said on 2017 that “We Germans — and I’m not talking about you patriots who have gathered here today. We Germans, our people, are the only people in the world to place a monument of shame in the heart of our capital city.”

And in a speech in the Bundestag in 2018, party boss Alice Weidel bandied about terms like “headscarf girls” and “knife-wielding men,” while her co-chairman Tino Chrupalla speaks of an “Umvolkung” — that is, an “ethnicity inversion” — which comes straight out of Nazi ideology.

This small sample of public statements leaves no doubt that such utterings aren’t slips of the tongue — they reflect these leaders’ core beliefs.

And while many vote for the AfD out of protest, more than anything else, the party feeds off resentment and fear, exploiting and fueling anger, hate and envy, pushing conspiracy theories to hit out at “those at the top,” as well as foreigners, Jews, the LGTBQ+ community or just about anyone who might be deemed different. And the party leaders’ blatant admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin exposes their reverence for autocracy.

Failure to prevent the AfD’s rise could potentially first corrode, then shatter democracy and rule of law in Germany.

But how can a party like this, which is getting stronger in the polls, be dealt with? Is a ban the right way to go? They are always difficult to deal with, and it isn’t even an option at this stage. What about joining the AfD to form a coalition and temper the party? That is even more difficult, as it is unreasonable to argue that the AfD should be treated like other parties. The Nazis and Adolf Hitler had also been democratically elected when they seized power in 1933.

So, what options remain? Many politicians and journalists say we need to confront the AfD with critical arguments. Sounds good on the face of it. But people have already been doing that for a decade — with scant success.

This is why the only remaining option is to attempt what neither the AfD nor many politicians from established parties have been able to do: Start taking voters’ most important concerns and issues seriously, and seek to find solutions.

The fears that have allowed the AfD to become as big as it is today are clearly identifiable. When a recent survey by Infratest Dimap asked “What topics most influence your decision to vote for the AfD at the moment?” 65 percent said immigration, 47 percent said energy policies and 43 percent named the economy.

And in their handling of all three of these key issues, the older parties have demonstrated moral cowardice and a lack of honesty.

This is especially apparent when it comes to immigration.

Why is it so hard for centrist politicians to just come out and say a few simple truths? Germany is a land of immigration, and it must remain so if it wants to be economically successful. And modern migration policy needs a healthy balance between altruism and self-interest.

According to economists’ most recent estimations, Germany needs to bring in 1 to 1.5 million skilled individuals per year from abroad. What we need is an immigration of excellence and qualified workers. People from war zones and crisis regions should obviously be taken in. But beyond that, we can only take the migrants we need, the ones who will benefit us.

This means the social welfare benefits for immigrants require critical rethinking, with the goal of creating a situation where every immigrant would be able to and would have to actually start working immediately. Then add to this factors that are a matter of course in countries with a successful history of integration: learning the local language and respecting the constitution and the laws. And anyone who doesn’t must leave — and fast.

Germany’s current immigration policy is dysfunctional. Most politicians and journalists are fully aware of this, but they just won’t say it out loud. And all this does is strengthen the AfD, as well as other groups on the left and right that have no true respect for democracy.

Not speaking out about the problem is the biggest problem. Indeed, when issues are taboo, it doesn’t make the issues any smaller, just the demagogues stronger.

We’re seeing the same with energy policy. Everyone knows that in the short term, our energy needs can’t be met by wind and solar power alone. Anyone interested in reality knows decarbonization without nuclear power isn’t going to be feasible any time soon. And they know heat pumps and cutting vacation flights won’t solve the global carbon challenge — it will, however, weaken the German economy.

We need only look at one example: While just over 2 percent of global carbon emissions come from aviation, almost a third are caused by China — an increasing amount of which comes from coal-fired power stations. Ordinary Germans are very much aware the sacrifices they’re being asked to make, and the costs being piled on them, make no sense in the broader scheme of things, and they’re understandably upset.

In some cases, this makes them more likely to vote for the AfD.

This brings us to the third and final reason why people are so agitated. The EU, and above all Germany, has broken its promise about advancing prosperity and growth. Fewer young people now see a future for themselves in Germany; more and more service providers and companies are leaving; and the increasing number of immigrants without means is reducing the average GNP per capita. Germans aren’t becoming more prosperous — they’re becoming poorer.

Traditional politicians and political parties unable to offer change are thus on very shaky ground. They have disconnected themselves from their voters, and they are paving the way for populists who use bogeyman tactics and offer simplistic solutions that solve nothing.

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#Decline #fear #AfD #Germany

How heritage conservationists are preserving culturally and historically significant artefacts and monuments

A leopard skin lies on a table at Namita Jaspal’s lab, set on the second floor of her three-storeyed house in New Chandigarh, a township just outside the eponymous state capital of Punjab and Haryana. “It has come for restoration from a private collection,” says Namita, the chief conservator of Heritage Preservation Atelier, a company she started in 2011. .

There are old paintings in the lab too, but Namita’s work takes shape outside — in the wall paintings of the 16th Century Golden Temple in Amritsar, 18th and 19th Century temples built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and a nine-foot flag gifted by the Chinese to the British Indian Army in the 1800s. “In 2013, I conserved the wall paintings at one of the holiest, most-revered sites in Sikhism — Golden Temple. It took three-four years to complete the project as there was a lot of footfall and we could only work at night. We have also done frescos and wall paintings in temples from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time. In all of them, there was an amalgamation of faith. In a Krishna temple, there were paintings of all 10 Sikh gurus,” she says.

Hoshiarpur Temple_Before
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Hoshiarpur Temple_After

Hoshiarpur Temple_After
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Namita is among the people bridging the gap between art and history in India, work which includes wall paintings and murals spanning several centuries. Nilabh Sinha, principal director of Delhi-headquartered INTACH Conservation Institutes, has dabbled in much older wall paintings. He restored those on Ladakh’s 12th Century Mangyu temple complex. Nilabh, who also conserved nine oil paintings of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2008 and 2009, says it took three-four years to finish work on the paintings and the structure of the complex. “The original paintings at Ladakh had gold and natural pigments, but they had been overpainted garishly over the years by locals. The structure is made of mud, so the paintings and the structures had been damaged because of the roof leaking during heavy rain,” he says.

Ladakh’s 12th Century Mangyu temple complex

Ladakh’s 12th Century Mangyu temple complex
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Detail of a painting before conservation of Mangyu temple

Detail of a painting before conservation of Mangyu temple
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Detail of a painting after conservation of Mangyu temple

Detail of a painting after conservation of Mangyu temple
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Nilabh’s team also repaired, conserved and restored the complex’s structure. He says they employed locals and trained them to continue preserving the monastery. “Local monks too were involved in our project,” says Nilabh, who has also restored the 19th Century, limestone Flora Fountain in Mumbai. He outlines the difference between material conservation and monument conservation stating that the former involes any material that constitutes an art form, ranging from textiles to paintings, while the latter is a more elaborate process requiring architects and engineers. “In both cases scientific investigations go into the restoration of heritage,” he says.

19th Century, limestone Flora Fountain in Mumbai before and after restoration

19th Century, limestone Flora Fountain in Mumbai before and after restoration
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Sreekumar Menon, a freelance painting conservator, was involved in the conservation project of Sumda Chun in Ladakh, which was awarded for excellence by UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2011. “We started in 2006 and continued up to 2010,” he says.

Sreekumar working at the monastry

Sreekumar working at the monastry
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

In places like Ladakh, where temperature drops to -20°C, work is not possible in winter. “There is more rain in Ladakh now, so it gets tougher. In all, we could work for 10 months in a year,” adds Nilabh.

In both the projects in Ladakh, the biggest challenge was removing soot which had discoloured the paintings. For Sreekumar, work in Sumda Chun was the most enriching. “During the initial two-three months, there was no electricity. It was interesting to work without a mobile connection,” he says.

Sreekumar says the guiding principle for an art conservator is staying true to the art. “The main thing is how much can one preserve a work of art. For the project in Ladakh, we work with local agencies and the local community. We don’t know the artist, we only know the art school and dynasty that the art belongs to. The significance of the painting or the project is the main guiding factor; I pick up the ones that are at least 200-300 years old,” he adds.

Sumda Chun in Ladakh

Sumda Chun in Ladakh
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Sreekumar has also worked on private collections. When asked about the price it could take to restore a painting or structure, he says it depends on the project. “You could need team members for some projects too. But, by an estimate, the price could go up to between ₹20 lakh and ₹1 crore for a month,” he says. “There are many variables — logistics, lodging for team, materials and many more. It is highly demanding to work on a site. Sumda Chun is among them: difficult, but rewarding.”

The temple was listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites in World Monument Funds 2006 Watch List, along with three other Indian sites — the 17th Century Dalhousie Square in Calcutta, the 15th Century Dhangkar Gompa in Himachal Pradesh, and the 19th Century Watson’s Hotel in Mumbai.

Drawing of Purasaiwalkam house in Madras Inked

Drawing of Purasaiwalkam house in Madras Inked
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Sujatha Shankar, who specialises in architecture, planning, and restoration and conservation, is the convener of INTACH’s Chennai chapter. She is also on the governing council and executive committee of INTACH. She has restored a bungalow which was over 100 years old and had colonial vernacular architecture. “The structure had been leased out to Sri Krishna Sweets. We put back light fixtures and preserved the flooring,” she says.

The house, based in Purasaiwalkam, dates back to the early 1900s and is a vernacular idiom that evolves from Indo-Saracenic styles, says Sujatha. “The tenant, who occupied it, asked us to restore it. With regard to matching of materials, and skills employed, all of it is as close to the original as possible. The walls were in lime; the flooring, in some places, was replaced with handmade tiles compatible to the period. The only intervention was to install an elevator, which too was done without compromising on the architectural features. Other than working with lime and brick, much of the work had to be done in wood. We were able to replicate missing pieces. These were for the eaves of the monkey top,” she adds.

Purasaiwalkam house

Purasaiwalkam house
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Sujatha has been practising for 39 years. She has mostly worked in Chennai, restoring and conserving structures dating to the British era. Challenges have also involved bringing modern utility to structures built over a century ago. “INTACH has been holding workshops on working with lime, timber and other materials to train labourers and masons to work in this area. As for research, it runs parallelly to the brief, condition assessment and photo documentation,” she shares.

Training the staff is one of the most challenging tasks when it comes to conservation, echoes Sreekumar. “We hire conservators who have, at least ideologically, an idea of conservation. But that is not always a possibility, so sometimes we train people on site under the supervision of two or three senior conservators,” he says.

Namita Jaspal at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

Namita Jaspal at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Recently, Namita restored 17th Century Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur’s angrakha, a piece of clothing. “We used needle and a transparent thread for it, and a weaker adhesive, so that it is removable. When it comes to materials, we’re meticulous in our selection. We source specialised materials that match the object’s composition and characteristics, often going beyond what’s readily available in stores. This allows us to ensure an accurate and authentic conservation process that effectively addresses ageing effects and maintains the object’s integrity,” she adds.

A wall painting at the Golden Temple before conservation

A wall painting at the Golden Temple before conservation
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

A wall painting at the Golden Temple after conservation

A wall painting at the Golden Temple after conservation
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

For Namita, the commitment to upholding the originality of each object is paramount. “We understand the importance of striking a balance between conservation efforts and preserving the object’s inherent value. Through our diligent adherence to ethical guidelines and thorough research, we’re able to achieve conservation results that honor the object’s history without drawing any unwarranted criticism,” she shares.

Golden Temple, she says, was a huge learning experience. “I needed artists, but had to make it clear that they did not have to show their artistic skills, but just fill the gaps from where the paintings were chipped off. They could not use any material; we had to tell them what pigments they needed to work with,” she says. “You cannot make new art on something that has already been made; that’s one of the key points of restoration.”

In concurrence with Namita’s views, Sreekumar highlights the most significant responsibility of a conservator: “Respect the art of the creator.”

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#heritage #conservationists #preserving #culturally #historically #significant #artefacts #monuments

Here’s everything coming to Amazon’s Prime Video in September 2023

Amazon’s Prime Video has high hopes for its September lineup, which includes the return of “The Wheel of Time” and a spinoff of “The Boys.”

After a two-year layoff, Season 2 of the sprawling fantasy epic “The Wheel of Time” (Sept. 1) picks up with Moraine (Rosamund Pike) and Rand (Josha Stradowski) now scattered and forced to regroup as the Dark One turns out to be far from defeated. Season 1 was one of Prime’s most-watched series ever, and Season 2 will reportedly be darker and more action-packed, spanning the second and third books of Robert Jordan’s series.

The end of the month will bring the premiere of “Gen V” (Sept. 27), set in “The Boys” universe and following a group of students with extraordinary abilities at a prestigious — and extremely competitive — college for superheroes-to-be. It looks every bit as depraved and violent as the massively popular “The Boys,” for better or worse.

Also see: What’s coming in September to Netflix | Hulu


streaming service also has “Kelce” (Sept. 12), a feature documentary about Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro center Jason Kelce’s 2022-’23 season, which will serve as a prelude to the return of NFL Thursday Night Football (Sept. 14), which kicks off with the Eagles against the Minnesota Vikings.

Here’s the complete list of what else is coming to Prime Video in September (release dates are subject to change):

What’s coming to Prime Video in September 2023

Sept. 1

Spin City S1-6 (1997)
The Wheel of Time Season 2
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1970)
21 Grams (2004)
23:59 (2011)
A Bullet for Pretty Boy (1970)
A Force of One (1979)
A Man Called Sarge (1990)
A Matter of Time (1976)
A Rage to Live (1965)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
After Midnight (1989)
Alakazam the Great (1961)
Alex Cross (2012)
All About My Mother (2000)
Amazons of Rome (1963)
American Ninja (1985)
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)
American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989)
American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1991)
Anaconda (1997)
And Your Name Is Jonah (1979)
Angel Eyes (2001)
Apartment 143 (2012)
April Morning (1988)
Arabian Nights (2000)
Are You in the House Alone? (2022)
Army of Darkness (1993)
As Above, So Below (2014)
Back to School (1986)
Bad Education (2020)
Bad News Bears (2005)
Bailout at 43,000 (1957)
Balls Out (2015)
Beer (1985)
Behind the Mask (1999)
Belly of an Architect (1990)
Berlin Tunnel 21 (1981)
Bewitched (2005)
Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
Blow (2001)
Body Slam (1987)
Born to Race (2011)
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Boy of the Streets (1937)
Breakdown (1997)
Brides of Dracula (1960)
Brigadoon (1954)
Broken Embraces (2010)
Buster (1988)
Calendar Girl Murders (1984)
California Dreaming (1979)
Campus Rhythm (1943)
Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954)
Carpool (1996)
Carry on Columbus (1992)
Carve Her Name With Pride (1958)
Chasing Papi (2003)
Cheerleaders Beach Party (1978)
Children of Men (2007)
Child’s Play (2019)
China Doll (1958)
Chrome and Hot Leather (1971)
Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction (1983)
Committed (2000)
Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Condor (1986)
Confidence Girl (1952)
Courage Mountain (1990)
Crossplot (1969)
Curse of the Swamp Creature (1966)
Curse of the Undead (1959)
Cycle Savages (1969)
Dagmar’s Hot Pants, Inc. (1971)
Damned River (1989)
Dancers (1987)
Danger in Paradise (1977)
Dangerous Love (1988)
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Defiance (2009)
Deja Vu (2006)
Desert Sands (1955)
Desperado (1995)
Detective Kitty O’Day (1944)
Detective School Dropouts (1986)
Devil (2010)
Devil’s Eight (1969)
Diary of a Bachelor (1964)
Dogs (1977)
Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title (1966)
Double Trouble (1992)
Down the Drain (1990)
Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980)
Dracula (1931)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Driving Miss Daisy (1990)
Dust 2 Glory (2017)
Edge of Darkness (2010)
Eight Men Out (1988)
Eight on the Lam (1967)
Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
Elephant Tales (2006)
Europa Report (2013)
Evil Dead (2013)
Explosive Generation (1961)
Extraction (2015)
Face/Off (1997)
Fanboys (2009)
Fashion Model (1945)
Fatal Charm (1978)
Fearless Frank (1969)
Finders Keepers (2014)
Flight That Disappeared (1961)
Flight to Hong Kong (1956)
Fools Rush In (1997)
For the Love of Aaron (1994)
For the Love of It (1980)
For Those Who Think Young (1964)
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
From Hollywood to Deadwood (1989)
Frontera (2014)
Fury on Wheels (1971)
Gambit (1967)
Ghost Story (1981)
Gigli (2003)
Grace Quigley (1985)
Grievous Bodily Harm (1988)
Hangfire (1991)
Haunted House (2023)
Hawks (1989)
Hell Drivers (1958)
Here Comes the Devil (2012)
Hollywood Harry (1986)
Honeymoon Limited (1935)
Hostile Witness (1969)
Hot Under the Collar (1991)
Hotel Rwanda (2005)
Hugo (2011)
I Am Durán (2019)
I Saw the Devil (2010)
I’m So Excited! (2013)
Inconceivable (2017)
Innocent Lies (1995)
Intimate Strangers (2006)
Invisible Invaders (1959)
It Rains in My Village (1968)
Jarhead (2005)
Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)
Joyride (2022)
Juan of the Dead (2012)
Kalifornia (1993)
Khyber Patrol (1954)
La Bamba (1987)
Labou (2009)
Lady in a Corner (1989)
Ladybird, Ladybird (1995)
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde (2003)
Legend of Johnny Lingo (2003)
Little Dorrit (Part 1) (1988)
Little Dorrit (Part 2) (1988)
Little Sweetheart (1989)
Lost Battalion (1960)
Mama (2013)
Mandrill (2009)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
Matchless (1967)
Meeting at Midnight (1944)
Men’s Club (1986)
Mfkz (2018)
Midnight in the Switchgrass (2021)
Miss All American Beauty (1982)
Mission of the Shark (1991)
Mixed Company (1974)
Mystery Liner (1934)
National Lampoon’s Movie Madness (1983)
New York Minute (2004)
Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Night Creatures (1962)
No (2012)
Observe and Report (2009)
Octavia (1984)
October Sky (1999)
Of Mice and Men (1992)
One Man’s Way (1964)
One Summer Love (1976)
Operation Atlantis (1965)
Overkill (1996)
Panga (1990)
Passport to Terror (1989)
Phaedra (1962)
Play Misty for Me (1971)
Portrait of a Stripper (1979)
Powaqqatsi (1988)
Predator: The Quietus (1988)
Private Investigations (1987)
Prophecy (1979)
Pulse (2006)
Quinceanera (1960)
Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953)
Red Dawn (1984)
Red Eye (2005)
Red Riding Hood (1988)
Red River (1948)
Reform School Girls (1969)
Riddick (2013)
Riot in Juvenile Prison (1959)
River of Death (1989)
Rocky (1976)
Rocky II (1979)
Rose Garden (1989)
Roxanne (1987)
Rumble Fish (1983)
Runaway Train (1985)
Running Scared (2006)
Safari 3000 (1982)
Season of Fear (1989)
Secret Window (2004)
Sense and Sensibility (1996)
Sergeant Deadhead (1965)
Seven Hours to Judgment (1988)
Sharks’ Treasure (1975)
She’s Out of My League (2010)
She’s the One (1996)
Sin Nombre (2009)
Sinister (2012)
Slamdance (1987)
Snitch (2013)
Son of Dracula (1943)
Space Probe Taurus (1965)
Spanglish (2004)
Spell (1977)
Stardust (2007)
Step Up (2006)
Sticky Fingers (1988)
Stigmata (1999)
Sugar (2009)
Summer Rental (1985)
Surrender (1987)
Sword of the Valiant (1984)
Tangerine (2015)
Tenth Man (1988)
The Adventures of Gerard (1978)
The Adventures of the American Rabbit (1986)
The Assisi Underground (1986)
The Bad News Bears (1976)
The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955)
The Birdcage (1996)
The Black Dahlia (2006)
The Black Tent (1957)
The Bourne Identity (2002)
The Bourne Legacy (2012)
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
The Break-Up (2006)
The Cat Burglar (1961)
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
The Clown and the Kid (1961)
The Diary of a High School Bride (1959)
The Dictator (2012)
The Evictors (1979)
The Fake (1953)
The Family Stone (2005)
The Final Alliance (1990)
The Finest Hour (1991)
The Frog Prince (1988)
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)
The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971)
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
The Late Great Planet Earth (1979)
The Legend of Zorro (2005)
The Little Vampire (2017)
The Living Ghost (1942)
The Locusts (1997)
The Machinist (2004)
The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery (1975)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
The Mighty Quinn (1989)
The Misfits (1961)
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
The Mouse on the Moon (1963)
The Mummy (1932)
The Naked Cage (1986)
The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968)
The Possession (2012)
The Prince (2014)
The Program (1993)
The Ring (2002)
The Sacrament (2014)
The Savage Wild (1970)
The Secret in Their Eyes (2010)
The Sharkfighters (1956)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
The Winds of Kitty Hawk (1978)
The Wolf Man (1941)
The Young Savages (1961)
Three Came To Kill (1960)
Three Kinds of Heat (1987)
Through Naked Eyes (1983)
Time Limit (1957)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1987)
Track of Thunder (1967)
Transformations (1991)
Transporter 3 (2008)
Trollhunter (2011)
True Heart (1996)
Underground (1970)
Unholy Rollers (1972)
Unsettled Land (1989)
V/H/S (2012)
War, Italian Style (1967)
Warriors Five (1962)
We Still Kill the Old Way (1968)
When a Stranger Calls (2006)
Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)
Where the River Runs Black (1986)
Wild Bill (1995)
Wild Racers (1968)
Wild Things (1998)
Windows (1980)
Woman of Straw (1964)
Young Racers (1963)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Sept. 5
One Shot: Overtime Elite

Sept. 7
Single Moms Club (2014)

Sept. 8
Sitting in Bars with Cake

Sept. 12
Inside (2023)

Sept. 14
Thursday Night Football

Sept. 15
A Million Miles Away


Written in the Stars

Sept. 19
A Thousand and One (2023)

Sept. 22
Cassandro (2023)

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (2023)

Sept. 26
The Fake Sheikh

Sept. 29
Gen V

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#Heres #coming #Amazons #Prime #Video #September

Evacuation of Kyiv icons takes fight for Ukraine’s heritage to Louvre in Paris

The Louvre in Paris is hosting some of Ukraine’s most treasured works of art that were secretly evacuated from Kyiv to shield them from the war. Their exhibition at the world’s best-known museum highlights the role played by culture and heritage as Ukraine resists Russian attempts to deny both its past and present.

In mid-May, as Russia’s Vladimir Putin mulled the transfer of the country’s holiest icon from a Moscow museum to a cathedral church, a secret convoy slipped out of Kyiv, under military escort, carrying artefacts equally precious and more than twice as old.

Bound for Poland, Germany and then France, the cargo featured 16 extremely fragile works from Kyiv’s most prestigious art gallery, the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum, including 1,400-year-old Byzantine icons that rank among Ukraine’s most emblematic treasures.

After months hiding in undisclosed storage facilities in Ukraine, the precious icons found a new and temporary showcase on Wednesday, June 14, at the Louvre in Paris, the world’s most visited museum, far from the war raging in eastern Europe and out of reach of Russian bombs.

Hailing from an ancient monastery located at the foot of Mount Sinai, in Egypt’s eponymous desert, the icons have a track record of escaping cataclysm, said Olha Apenko-Kurovets, a curator from the Khanenko Museum currently working at the Louvre.

“There’s barely a dozen left in the world today, including the four that are now here at the Louvre,” she said, noting that the Khanenko artefacts survived the iconoclastic “war on icons” that swept the Byzantine empire in the 7th and 8th centuries.

“They’re not just Ukrainian treasures or Byzantine heritage,” she added. “They are hugely important to world heritage, too.”

A visitor looks at an icon depicting Saints Plato and Glyceria, from the Khanenko Museum’s collections, at the Louvre in Paris. © Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP

Icons are stylised painted portraits, usually of saints, that are considered sacred in Eastern Orthodox churches. The four Khanenko pieces are encaustic paintings on wood – a pioneering technique that gave birth to the oldest painted icons in the Orthodox world.

The Louvre exhibition includes a fifth work: an exquisitely crafted micro-mosaic representing Saint Nicholas, with a gold frame, believed to hail from late 13th or early 14th century Constantinople. It is one of about 50 such works in the world, noted Apenko-Kurovets, stressing that “all five exhibits at the Louvre are extremely rare – and extremely fragile”.

The Khanenko Museum's micro-mosaic depicting Saint Nicholas, attributed to late 13th- and early 14th-century
Constantinople workshops.
The Khanenko Museum’s micro-mosaic depicting Saint Nicholas, attributed to late 13th- and early 14th-century
Constantinople workshops.
© Khanenko Museum

Unlike Putin’s decision to transfer Andrei Rublev’s “Holy Trinity” to the Cathedral Church of Christ the Saviour, which was motivated by propaganda purposes, disregarding the fragile work’s safety, the decision to evacuate the Khanenko icons was dictated by necessity, coming months after the iconic Kyiv museum was damaged in an air strike.

Transporting such works is a delicate operation at the best of times, let alone in wartime. It required absolute secrecy from all parties involved, until the works were safely in Paris.

The artefacts travelled in air-conditioned boxes that were purpose-built in France and transported to Ukraine. The operation was financed in part by the Action Plan for the Protection of Heritage in Ukraine (ALIPH), a Swiss-based foundation that has spent millions of dollars helping to salvage Ukraine’s artistic heritage.

“We did everything we could to ensure they travelled comfortably,” said Apenko-Kurovets, who spoke of her conflicting emotions at seeing the icons in their new temporary home in the heart of Paris.

“It’s a huge relief to have them here, in a safe environment, but very sad that they had to leave in the first place,” she explained. “It is also a major opportunity: to spread knowledge about Ukraine’s art collections and cultural wealth, and raise awareness of the threat weighing on this heritage.”

Scramble to save Ukraine’s artistic treasures

Ukraine was home to seven UNESCO world heritage sites at the start of the war, including Kyiv’s St Sophia Cathedral, whose stunning Byzantine frescoes and mosaics survived multiple invasions, from the onslaught of Genghis Khan’s Mongols to the Nazi occupation.

In January, the UN culture agency rushed to add an eighth site – the historic centre of Odesa, the “Pearl of the Black Sea” – to shield it from the bombardment that has ravaged Ukrainian cultural landmarks across the country.

The monument of the Duke of Richelieu in Odesa, covered with sandbags in preparation for a possible Russian offensive, in March 2022.
The monument of the Duke of Richelieu in Odesa, covered with sandbags in preparation for a possible Russian offensive, in March 2022. © Petros Giannakouris, AP

Since February 2022, UNESCO has verified damage to 259 cultural landmarks, including religious sites, museums, monuments and libraries. Ukrainian officials have put the number at twice as many, warning that the catastrophic flooding caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River has put many more at risk.

In the early days of the war, as residents of Kyiv and other cities went underground for cover, so did the art collections from the Khanenko Museum and other venues. Responding to Ukrainian pleas for help, museums across Europe raced to donate emergency supplies to help with the evacuations.

Between March and December 2022, French galleries provided 75 tonnes of packing and preservation materials, from bubble wrap to fire extinguishers, in a collective effort coordinated by the French branch of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). The material was delivered by Chenue, an art transportation company, which volunteered its services for free.

“The priority was to protect museum staff and the collections,” said Emilie Girard, head of ICOM France, noting that several museums also offered to hire colleagues from Ukraine for the duration of the war.

“At first, museum workers were keen to stay nearby, in western Ukraine or in Poland, hoping that the war would end quickly and they could return to their jobs,” Girard explained. However, those hopes rapidly faded as the fighting dragged on, turning Putin’s so-called “special military operation” into a deadly war of attrition.

Despite the relentless bombing, and their emptied galleries, Ukraine’s cultural institutes refused to be silenced.

At the Khanenko Museum, director Yuliya Vaganova said staff continued to work night and day, “through blackouts and missile raids, running contemporary art projects, lectures, master-classes for children and concerts”.

The Khanenko Museum in Kyiv after it was damaged by a Russian missile strike in October 2022.
The Khanenko Museum in Kyiv after it was damaged by a Russian missile strike in October 2022. © Yurii Stefanyak

The continuing danger became all too apparent in October when a missile landed a few steps away from the gallery’s elegant 19th century mansion, shattering its windows and damaging the interiors. While the collections had already been moved to a secret location, Russia’s targeting of Ukrainian infrastructure meant they were exposed to repeated power cuts, hampering their safekeeping.

Days later, while on a trip to Paris, Vaganova approached her counterpart from the Louvre, Laurence des Cars, taking up her offer to shelter the Khanenko’s most precious items for the duration of the war. The Kyiv institute pointed to its Byzantine icons, touting the potential for scientific collaboration with the Louvre. Their transfer was formally agreed in February during a visit to Kyiv by France’s culture minister, Rima Abdul Malak.

At the show’s opening in Paris, Abdul Malak’s Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Tkachenko spoke of a “symbolic and effective gesture of support for Ukrainian culture”, thanking French authorities and the Louvre for their support.

The minister added: “[The Russians] are stealing our artefacts, they ruined our cultural heritage sites and this shows how big and huge Ukrainian culture is, which is part of world heritage.”

‘We have to protect Ukrainian people – and their culture too’

The Khanenko icons come at an opportune time for the Louvre, which is poised to launch its new Department of Byzantine and Eastern Christian Art, with dedicated rooms scheduled to open in 2027.

“We’re talking about some of the very first icons in the Orthodox world, which made them an obvious draw for the Louvre,” said Apenko-Kurovets. She stressed that the works’ transfer to France is part of a scientific project – involving “close collaboration between French and Ukrainian experts” – as much as it is a rescue operation.

Once the exhibition wraps up on November 6, the precious artefacts will be analysed at the Louvre’s laboratories to determine, among other things, their exact origin and age. The new department’s director, Maximilien Durand, plans to launch an international research programme centred on the icons.

“This is not about questions of identity or nationalism, but about cultural cooperation that will open up new networks for the Khanenko Museum,” Durand told French daily Le Monde, when news of the icons’ evacuation first broke.

Ukraine's Culture Minister Oleksander Tkachenko (centre), pictured with his French counterpart Rima Abdul Malak, at the opening of the Louvre exhibition.
Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksander Tkachenko (centre), pictured with his French counterpart Rima Abdul Malak, at the opening of the Louvre exhibition. © Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP

According to Olha Sahaidak of the Ukrainian Institute, a government agency tasked with promoting Ukrainian culture abroad, such scientific endeavours are of vital importance for a nation fighting for its survival.

“When a country and its people are destroyed, only culture can tell their story,” she said. “Of course we have to protect the Ukrainian people, but also their culture, and do everything we can to learn it, research it and spread it.”

Sahaidak hailed the Louvre exhibition as a case of “successful collaboration between two culture ministries and two national museums”. She highlighted the speed at which Ukrainian and French teams had collaborated on the project, noting that the Louvre is “not the type of place that normally works in a hurry”.

“We’re talking about a huge institution that plans exhibitions years in advance,” she said. “It was a big challenge to urgently include Ukraine in its plans – and an important gesture of solidarity.”

The Paris show, Sahaidak added, is an opportunity to advance what she described as three “equally important” objectives: to showcase Ukrainian collections, foster international co-operation and research, and relocate Ukraine’s tangible and intangible cultural landmarks within the wider European framework.

“Unfortunately, Ukrainian heritage has long been terra incognita for the rest of Europe,” she said. “It is very important that we raise awareness of this heritage in order to realise what we are losing in this war.”

Decolonising Ukrainian art

Since the start of the war, museums and art institutes across France have rushed to adapt their programmes and sift through their collections to showcase Ukrainian artists and raise awareness of the plight of the country’s cultural landmarks.

“While the first reaction was to offer material help to Ukrainian galleries, the focus now is on giving maximum visibility to Ukraine,” said ICOM’s Girard. “It’s a form of resistance, with the tools at our disposal: proving that Ukrainian culture, art and heritage exist – and that this rich and vibrant culture deserves to be seen far and wide, including at a formidable venue such as the Louvre.”

In some cases, this has sparked a reflection on the way museums qualify works by artists hailing from Ukraine – though critics say France has lagged behind others.

In an op-ed published by Le Monde in March, Olena Havrylchyk, a professor of economics at the Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, noted that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had recently recognised the 19th century painters Arkhip Kuindzhi and Ilya Repin as Ukrainian, after previously presenting them as Russian painters. She drew a contrast with the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, which chose to ignore the painters’ Ukrainian identity, ties and subject matter during a roundtable on Russian art held just days later.

“Instead of perpetuating the Russian narrative, the Musée d’Orsay could have questioned the ways in which painters born in Ukraine became ‘Russian’ in the context of Russia’s colonisation of Ukraine,” Havrylchyk wrote, noting that the painters lived at a time when Russian imperial power was “systematically destroying Ukrainian identity” – much as Putin is now dismissing Ukraine as a post-Soviet fantasy or a Western plot.

French reluctance to question Moscow’s narrative reflects a lingering Russophile sentiment and the legacy of a long-established dialogue with Russian art historians, argued Sahaidak of the Ukrainian Institute.

“In the past it was always Russia that provided names, facts and context, so now we are seen through the eyes of Russian researchers and art historians,” she said. “We need our colleagues around the world to requalify their collections, in dialogue with Ukrainian experts, identifying the works of art that are connected with Ukraine and its history.”


The tragedy unfolding in Ukraine has presented an opportunity to foster such a dialogue, while also encouraging the circulation of Ukrainian art and artists in spite of the war – and sometimes because of it.

“Now is the time to access and discover some of the finest works from our national collections, which would otherwise not move,” said Apenko-Kurovets, pointing to the icons from the Khanenko Museum.

With its unprecedented Ukrainian-language captions, and a leaflet referencing Ukraine’s “millennia-old history”, the Louvre exhibition suggests the dialogue between experts is beginning to bear fruit in the world’s best-known museum.

“It’s the first time an exhibition at the Louvre ‘speaks’ Ukrainian,” added the Ukrainian curator in exile. “It might sound like a detail, but it makes all the difference to us.”

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Turkish century: History looms large on election day

ISTANBUL — From the Aegean coast to the mountainous frontier with Iran, millions of Turks are voting at the country’s 191,884 ballot boxes on Sunday — with both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his main rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu warning the country is at a historical turning point.

In the last sprints of the nail-bitingly close election race, the dueling candidates have both placed heavy emphasis on the historical resonance of the vote falling exactly 100 years after the foundation of the secular Turkish republic by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923.

In the Istanbul district of Ümraniye on the final day of campaigning, Erdoğan told voters the country was on “the threshold of a Turkish century” that will be the “century of our children, our youth, our women.”

Erdoğan’s talk of a Turkish century is partly a pledge to make the country stronger and more technologically independent, particularly in the defense sector. Over the past months, the president has been quick to associate himself with the domestically-manufactured Togg electric car, the “Kaan” fighter jet and Anadolu, the country’s first aircraft carrier.

But Erdoğan’s Turkish century is about more than home-grown planes and ships. Few people doubt the president sees 2023 as a key threshold to accelerate his push away from Atatürk’s secular legacy and toward a more religiously conservative nation. Indeed, his campaign has been characterized by a heavy emphasis on family values and bitter rhetoric against the LGBTQ+ community. Unsurprisingly, he wrapped up his campaign on Saturday night in Hagia Sophia — once Constantinople’s greatest church — which he contentiously reconverted from a museum back into a mosque, as it had been in Ottoman times.

The state that Atatürk forged from the ashes of the Ottoman empire in 1923 was secular and modernizing, often along Western models, with the introduction of Latin letters and even the banning of the fez in favor of Western-style hats. In this regard, the Islamist populist Erdoğan is a world away from the ballroom-dancing, rakı-quaffing field marshal Atatürk.

The 2023 election is widely being cast as a decisive referendum on which vision for Turkey will win through, and Erdoğan has been keen to portray the opposition as sell-outs to the West and global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund. “Are you ready to bury at the ballot box those who promised to give over the country’s values ​​to foreigners and loan sharks?” he called out to the crowd in Ümraniye.

This is not a man who is casting himself as the West’s ally. Resisting pressure that Ankara should not cozy up so much to the Kremlin, Erdoğan snapped on Friday that he would “not accept” the opposition’s attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin — after Kılıçdaroğlu complained of Russian meddling in the election.

All about Atatürk

By contrast, Erdogan’s main rival Kılıçdaroğlu is trying to assume the full mantle of Atatürk, and is stressing the need to put the country back on the path toward European democratic norms after Erdoğan’s lurch toward authoritarianism. While Erdoğan ended his campaign in the great mosque of Hagia Sophia, Kılıçdaroğlu did so by laying flowers at Atatürk’s mausoleum.

Speaking from a rain-swept stage in Ankara on Friday night, the 74-year-old bureaucrat declared: “We will make all of Turkey Mustafa Kemal’s [Atatürk’s] Turkey!”

In his speech, he slammed Erdoğan for giving Turkey over to drug runners and crony networks of oligarch construction bosses, saying the country had no place for “robbers.” Symbolically, he chided the president for ruling from his 1,150-room presidential complex — dubbed the Saray or palace — and said that he would rule from the more modest Çankaya mansion that Atatürk used for his presidency.

Warming to his theme of Turkey’s “second century,” Kılıçdaroğlu posted a video in the early hours of Saturday morning, urging young people to fully embrace the founding father’s vision. After all, he hails from the CHP party that Atatürk founded.

“We are entering the second century, young ones. And now we have a new generation, we have you. We have to decide altogether: Will we be among those who only commemorate Atatürk — like in the first century — or those who understand him in this century? This generation will be of those who understand,” he said, speaking in his trademark grandfatherly tone from his book-lined study.

At least in the upscale neighborhood of Beşiktaş, on Saturday night, all the talk of Atatürk was no dry history lesson. Over their final beers — before an alcohol sale ban comes in force over election day — young Turks punched the air and chanted along with a stirring anthem: “Long Live Mustafa Kemal Pasha, long may he live.”

In diametric opposition to Erdoğan, who has detained opponents and exerts heavy influence over the judiciary and the media, Kılıçdaroğlu is insisting that he will push Turkey to adopt the kind of reforms needed to move toward EU membership.

When asked by POLITICO whether that could backfire because some hostile EU countries would always block Turkish membership, he said the reforms themselves were the most important element for Turkey’s future.

“It does not matter whether the EU takes us in or not. What matters is bringing all the democratic standards that the EU foresees to our country,” he said in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of a rally in the central city of Sivas. “We are part of Western civilization. So the EU may accept us or not, but we will bring those democratic standards. The EU needs Turkey.”

Off to the polls

Polling stations — which are set up in schools — open at 8 a.m. on election day and close at 5 p.m. At 9 p.m. media can start reporting, and unofficial results are expected to start trickling in around midnight.

The mood is cautious, with rumors swirling that internet use could be restricted or there could be trouble on the streets if there are disputes over the result.

The fears of some kind of trouble have only grown after reports of potential military or governmental involvement in the voting process.

Two days before the election, the CHP accused Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu of preparing election manipulation. The main opposition party said Soylu had called on governors to seek army support on election night. Soylu made no public response.

Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) has rejected the interior ministry’s request to collect and store election results on its own database. The YSK also banned the police and gendarmerie from collecting election results.

Erdoğan himself sought to downplay any fears of a stolen election. In front of a studio audience of young people on Friday, he dismissed as “ridiculous” the suggestion that he might not leave office if he lost. “We came to power in Turkey by democratic means and by the courtesy of people. If they make a different decision whatever the democracy requires we will do it,” said the president, looking unusually gaunt, perhaps still knocked back by what his party said was a bout of gastroenteritis during the campaign.

The opposition is vowing to keep close tabs on all of the polling stations to try to prevent any fraud.

In Esenyurt Cumhuriyet Square, in the European part of Istanbul, a group of high-school students gathered on Saturday morning to greet Ekrem İmamoğlu, the popular mayor of Istanbul, who would be one of Kılıçdaroğlu’s vice presidents if he were to win.

Ilayda, 18, said she would vote for the opposition because of its position on democracy, justice and women’s rights.

When asked what would happen if Erdoğan won, she replied: “We plan to start a deep mourning. Our country as we know it will not be there anymore.”

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