Putin’s Russia, one year into the war
As the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches, Russia’s military has suffered setback after setback, falling far short of its goal of taking control of Ukraine. But at home, the grievances and imperialist mind-set that drove Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine have seeped deep into Russian life, leaving the Russian leader more dominant than ever.
Putin has turned “traditional values” into a rallying cry — signing a new anti-gay law, for instance — while styling himself as another Peter the Great retaking lost Russian lands. Activist groups and rights organizations that had sprung up in the first 30 years of post-Soviet Russia have met an abrupt end, while nationalist groups once seen as fringe have taken center stage.
Before the war, Putin styled himself as a peace-loving president who would never attack another country. He has characterized the war in Ukraine as a fight against “Nazis” who are backed by the West. He has also cast the invasion as a near holy war for Russia’s very identity, declaring that the country was fighting to prevent liberal gender norms and acceptance of homosexuality from being forced upon it by an aggressive West.
Analysis: “A new system of values has been built,” Aleksandr Daniel, an expert on Soviet dissidents, said. “Brutal and archaic public values.”
Turkey’s earthquake reconstruction bill
As Turkish authorities grapple with a death toll that now exceeds 40,000 people from the deadliest earthquake in a century, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president, is confronting the parallel crisis of a staggering blow to an economy already in urgent need of repair. In May, Turkish voters will head to the polls as Erdogan seeks a third four-year term as leader.
Before the devastation, which has left millions homeless, Turkey was already grappling from economic strife, amid a collapsing currency, runaway inflation and the effects of Erdogan’s own unorthodox financial policies. Those vulnerabilities have punched holes in the nation’s balance sheet and generated a cost-of-living crisis.
Reconstruction is expected to cost $10 billion to $50 billion, although the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation has put the total closer to $85 billion. Over 8,000 buildings were flattened and the supply chain infrastructure was damaged when the quake rocked southern Turkey, a manufacturing hub.
On the ground: The situation in Turkey remains dire, with emergency crews still extracting the dead from the ruins of apartment buildings and homeless survivors sheltering in cars and making bonfires from wreckage to stay warm. Food, fuel and medical supplies are in short supply.
A possible deal on Northern Ireland
Rishi Sunak, the British prime minister, met on Friday with leaders in Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast, to enlist their support for an agreement with the E.U. on post-Brexit trade arrangements in the territory. He hopes to present a deal to the British Parliament as early as this week.
If the prime minister is able to secure a deal, it could open the door to restoring the power-sharing government in Belfast, in turn quieting the voices of those calling for Northern Ireland to break away from Britain and to unite with the Irish Republic.
But there are significant headwinds. Some lawmakers in Northern Ireland have demanded that Britain effectively scrap the protocol, which gives the North hybrid trade status as a part of the U.K. that has an open border with the Irish Republic, a member of the E.U. And others in the pro-Brexit wing of the Conservative Party have threatened to oppose any agreement that would leave the European Court of Justice with jurisdiction over Northern Ireland.
Scotland: The movement for Scottish independence has been left with loose ends, without a clear path to another vote, after the surprise resignation of the country’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon. The Scottish National Party, which controls Parliament, will choose her successor in the coming weeks.
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The BBC Shipping Forecast
Four times a day, at 5:20 a.m., 12:01 p.m., 5:54 p.m. and 12:48 a.m. G.M.T., BBC Radio 4 airs a weather report that narrates the gales and tides around the British Isles. Each briefing begins with the same words: “And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office.”
To those who are not — or have never been — immersed in maritime culture, Grace Linden writes for The Times Magazine in this Letter of Recommendation, “the language of the Shipping Forecast can be indecipherable.” “Backing winds,” for instance, move counterclockwise, while “veering winds” go in the other direction. And the difference between “soon” and “imminent” might be greater than you expect.
These days, with satellites and the internet providing more precise data, fishermen and sailors no longer need four daily forecasts to tell them which way to hoist their sails. But many people, including both Grace and Dame Judi Dench, tune in nonetheless to be captivated or lulled to sleep, like the ancient mariners before them, by the sea’s infinite wonder and possibility.
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