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Munir Bashir

By Allston Mitchell in Features, December 26, 2010

Munir Bashir, from Mosul in Iraq, who died in 1997, was without doubt one of the most celebrated musicians in the Middle East during his lifetime. He was a master of the Oud and a virtuoso of improvisation, transforming the short necked lute into a solo instrument as a result.

Crimea: the Last Crusade

By Allston Mitchell in Features, December 19, 2010

Interview with Orlando Figes about his latest book: “Crimea: The Last Crusade”. This was a war that dominated mid-19th century Europe, killing at least 800,000 men and pitting Russia against a coalition of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire.

Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana

By Allston Mitchell in Travel Writing, December 6, 2010

It doesn’t take long before you realize that you have not come for a simple wander through the grounds of Tolstoy’s country estate as you might through an English country garden. You have (wilfully or not) undertaken a pilgrimage to pay homage to Leo Tolstoy, who is still today described as “the guardian of Russia’s soul”.

Cycling in Paris

By Adrien Mory in Environment, December 4, 2010

In the 90’s, when the first bicycle lanes were set up, riding in the streets of Paris was considered particularly risky. Since then, things have changed. The French capital is making a major effort to promote cycling in a city where motorists’ driving habits are seen as dangerous, aggressive and far from civilized.

A Tale from Cameroon

By John Nelson in Environment,

Industrial logging operations, safari parks, carbon offset credits and climate change are all threatening the Baka people’s age-old way of life – as well as their rainforest’s precious biodiversity. The Sapelli and Moabi trees are in danger from the global demand for timber.

Interpreting the Annunciation

By Raffaela Fazio Smith in Arts and Culture, December 1, 2010

Focusing on 15th century Italian art, this is the third in our series devoted to the iconography of the Annunciation. Artists were strongly influenced by the great cultural changes taking place all over Italy, notably the revived interest in Antiquity and the development of Humanism, with man standing firmly at the centre of the created world.

Inflating China

By Fan Li in Economics and Finance, November 19, 2010

A week is not a long time in Economics. Only a few weeks ago China’s President Hu Jintao was being feted as the most powerful man on the planet, in charge of the most vibrant economy. Here was the man to whom world leaders came to pay homage at the G20 summit. Since then however, China’s image has taken something of a beating.

Rare Earth Metals

By Allston Mitchell in Features, October 28, 2010

Rare earth metals have hit the headlines after a diplomatic spat between China and Japan but the panic has spread worldwide. China produces 97% of the world’s rare earth metals and it looks like they have become the new diplomacy and trade weapon of choice.

A Month in Cuba

By Olga Iazzarelli in Travel Writing, October 27, 2010

When I arrived in Havana I was told “You won’t experience the real Cuba unless you visit the East”. So I booked the first available flight to the historic city of Baracoa in the north-eastern corner of the island and set off to discover Cuba.

Currency War

By David Underwood in Economics and Finance, October 9, 2010

Countries using their currencies as a policy tool are putting global recovery at risk. “Beggar thy neighbor”, “competitive devaluation”, “race to the bottom” are the polite terms but the fact remains, it is a “currency war”. This is not just an argument between China and the USA; anyone can be dragged into the ring at a moment’s notice and be left scrambling for cash.