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Ben Jonson: A Life

By Allston Mitchell in Arts and Culture, January 1, 2012

The volatile and complex character of Ben Jonson, poet and playwright of comic genius is the subject of an excellent new biography by Ian Donaldson. Friend and rival of Shakespeare, “Rare Ben Jonson”, renowned for his wit and appetite, was the stepson of a bricklayer who became the court poet under Elizabeth I and James I and England’s first literary celebrity.

Interview with Justin Yifu Lin

By Allston Mitchell in Economics and Finance, December 11, 2011

The Chief Economist of the World Bank speaks to TGD about his latest book “Demystifying the Chinese Economy”. He explains the dynamics behind the phenomenal growth of the last 30 years and some of the unique challenges that China faced during the transitional reform period.

Azerbaijan’s Ill-Spent Gains

By Astrit Dakli in Politics, December 10, 2011

This small country in the Caucasus is starting to see massive oil and gas revenues, but poverty is still endemic and the war with Armenia is far from over. Azerbaijan is paying the political price of being a strategically-placed country with abundant energy resources.

Bob Dylan: Live and in Person

By Westrow Cooper in Arts and Culture, December 9, 2011

Dylan’s latest European tour is just drawing to a close. Westrow Cooper, secretly hoping for ‘Visions of Johanna’, caught up with him in Bournemouth, and reflects on Dylan past and present. The “Spokesman (still) denies he’s a spokesman,” but in the end it’s the songs that really count.

Fiddling on Climate

By Laura Carlsen in Environment, December 8, 2011

The image of Nero fiddling as Rome burned—albeit apocryphal– has stuck as the metaphor for willfully irresponsible government. Government representatives, gathered at climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, have been fiddling for the past week.

$7.7 Trillion to Wall Street

By Thom Hartmann in Economics and Finance, December 3, 2011

In 2009, the Fed dished out $7.7 trillion in no-strings-attached, super-low interest loans to Wall Street’s biggest players. With no one bothering to inform the electorate about it until now. And since they were super-low interest loans – banks made enormous profits off of them.

Droning On

By John Feffer in Features, November 28, 2011

Today, the United States maintains a near monopoly on military drone technology, with only Israel and Britain also deploying these systems, but the landscape is rapidly changing. John Feffer, from Foreign Policy In Focus takes a look at the unnerving future of drone technology and its seemingly inevitable proliferation.

Central Asia: Oil, Gas and Islam

By Emmanuel Karagiannis in Features, November 14, 2011

Emmanuel Karagiannis, the author of ” Political Islam in Central Asia: The Challenge of Hizb ut-Tahrir” discusses Central Asian energy politics, the political future of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and the growing influence of the controversial Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe

By Allston Mitchell in Arts and Culture, November 13, 2011

Philip Mansel’s “Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe in the Mediterranean” is a remarkable, highly unusual and very readable social history of the ports of Smyrna, Beirut and Alexandria during the final decades of the Ottoman Empire.

Stress and Morality in Tehran

By Allston Mitchell in Arts and Culture, November 12, 2011

“Nader and Simin, A Separation” directed by Asghar Farhadi has been a surprise hit, winning the Golden Bear for Best Film and the Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival. It is a parable of truth and selflessness based in modern day Tehran – and it is a must-see!