Shades of Kafka in Castro’s new Cuba

Franz Kafka, who wrote about European bureaucratic labyrinths, would have found much inspiration in Cuba officialdom’s Soviet-inspired maze.   Euromoney had hoped to see some of the state-owned Cuban banks during our visit to Havana in August, but multiple requests failed to gain any response.   The Banco Central de … read more >>

Artistic licence in Romania

When Euromoney visited the hulking headquarters of Romania’s finance ministry in Bucharest in December to interview Ioana Petrescu, the then occupant of that prestigious office, we were taken by the portraits in the entrance foyer that honoured those who had served before her. There were 20 portraits – and that … read more >>

Oranges and Lemons: The Royal Houses of Europe

TODAY in Amsterdam, the Dutch royal family will perform something their ennobled Spanish cousins further south in Europe aren’t much inclined to publicly do these days – their job. Admittedly, today’s majestic jollies at Amsterdam’s 15th century church, Nieuwe Kerk, are unavoidable if one’s privileged station is to bestride the … read more >>

Denmark: Inspiring Politics?

ADAM PRICE well remembers the moment one of modern television’s most celebrated series was conceived. It was October 24, 2007 and the polymath Price — he’s a celebrity chef as well as an accomplished Danish scriptwriter — was working out in his Copenhagen gym. As he sweated, the gym TV … read more >>

Pyongyang Pastorale – Updated

Pedalling Propaganda by the paddy (see updated correspondence below text) October 14, 1994 It seemed an image of rural harmony in developing Asia – a woman riding a pushbike beside a paddy field where peasants were harvesting rice. But in communist North Korea, nothing is as it seems. This cyclist … read more >>

Dear Leader and The Golf War-Updated

Pyongyang, October 13, 1994 (see updated correspondence below text) THE first hole at the Pyongyang Golf Club is a 340-metre dogleg par four, a severe test of skill even for Normans and Nicklauses. But it was a mere cakewalk for North Korea’s “Dear Leader”, Kim Jong-il, when he gave “on-the-spot … read more >>

My Life As A Mighta-Been Millionaire

REGRETS, I’ve had a few but, like Sinatra perhaps, too few to mention. But this week as Apple, the much-loved technology company, became history’s most valuable public corporation, I allowed myself a look back at what might have been. Some 15 years ago, almost to the day, I ruefully recall, … read more >>

Spain: Rhapsody in (Smurf) Blue

GLOBALISATION isn’t a topic that ever much exercised the good pueblo of Juzcar, population 221. Tucked anonymously into the southern Spanish sierra dividing Ronda — the stunning mountain town made famous by Hemingway and Welles — from the tacky towers of the Costa del Sol, discussions in this sleepy, whitewashed … read more >>

Boris Bags Gold In London — But Beware The Curse Of Cameron

These Olympics have been stunning — stunning, that is, for the Brits and their much-lauded Team GB. So much so that last Saturday night, after Mo Farah streeted his 10,000-metre rivals and Jessica Ennis triumphed in the heptathlon — achievements which crowned four victories earlier that day, and capped off … read more >>

Tower Of Sun

I NOW know what consumed Richard Dreyfuss as he entered The Mothership at the end of Close Encounters of The Third Kind. Like the ethereal glows that are Spielberg’s cinematic signature, the light emitting across southern Spain’s arid plains from Abengoa Solar’s soaring towers bewitch and entice much as it was … read more >>

Scrabble for Europhiles

A is for Absent. Leadership is made during crises: think Churchill, Giuliani and 9/11, Mandela’s inclusive grace, even Anna Bligh during the Brisbane floods. Overwhelmed by Europe’s most calamitous crisis since World War II, the rudderless European Union threatens to dissolve; it is in dire need of leadership. So where’s … read more >>

The Schlock of Gibraltar

THERE are eyesores, there’s urban blight, and then there is Gibraltar, Britain’s last colony in Europe, a carbuncle of ocean-going ghastliness that’s in a class all of its own. Next April, its 30,000 people will have been officially and determinedly British for 300 years. That’s the anniversary of the Treaty … read more >>

Which Way Paradise?

TO MANY Glaswegians, particularly those of an independent, Catholic and Republican persuasion, Paradise is a football stadium in this tough city’s East End, where urban blight in Britain seems at its bleakest. Their idea of heaven is a drizzly winter’s Saturday, a gutful of lager and fish and chips, with … read more >>

Viva O’Chevolución!

IN history’s pantheon of legendary revolutionaries, there’s Cromwell and Washington, there’s Lenin, Mao and Ho, there’s Gaddafi if you’re so inclined, and Mandela, too. And then there’s Ernie Lynch. Ernie Lynch? Now, there’s a name one doesn’t hear so much in such radical company. If the name doesn’t ring a … read more >>

The Anti Rupert Murdoch

ENGLAND can be confusing, and John Bird isn’t helping. Bird is the Anti-Rupert, a social entrepreneur who in 1991 founded – with Gordon Roddick, who also founded The Body Shop with his late wife, Anita – The Big Issue, that ubiquitous “street newspaper” distributed by homeless people from Brisbane to … read more >>

UK: The Bomb-Chucking Blogger

A DISCUSSION with Paul Staines develops not so much as conventional-journalist-interviews-gadfly-blogger-of-British-politics, as form dictates it should. Rather it mutates into an hour of grilling each other, as perhaps was destined to occur upon meeting the bomb-thrower better known as Guido Fawkes, named after the anarchist who plotted to blow up … read more >>

The Last Grande Dame of Australian Art

    DAZZLING in a sarong of a shade best classified as unspeakably orange, Mitty Lee Brown emerges regally from a nap through Sri Lanka’s tropical torpor to receive an unexpected well-wisher. She’s a little startled at the intrusion because these days, at 89, Mitty doesn’t get too many guests … read more >>

Amsterdam: I’ve Been To Bali, Too

AMSTERDAM. Been here a year. Was concerned I’d find it boring after years absorbed by manic Asia, the last years in Indonesia, which used to be Dutch. But, neo-colonially, we’re now ensconced in the Netherlands, in an agreeably restored 18th century canal-house that once traded silks, pelts and spices shipped … read more >>

The Scourge of ICPS

I NOW KNOW that I first developed symptoms during the 1994 World Cup, waiting for a plane at Chengdu airport in central China. What I didn’t know is that I was catching ICPS, International Couch Potato Syndrome, an exotic lurgy that has infected so many road warriors – usually blokes … read more >>

Is Turkey Ready for the EU?

ISTANBUL: It was Kylie Minogue who made me think Turkey and Europe might just about be ready for each other. There was the pop poppet — well, life-size images of her — flaunting her curvaceous clunes at shoppers in the Agent Provocateur lingerie outlet at Istanbul’s Kanyon Mall. It was … read more >>

Hot spots, pot shots and gold pots for the brazen and the bold

Hot spots, pot shots and gold pots for the brazen and the bold Compile a fake CV, head for a war zone, and a fortune in taxpayers’ dollars can be yours, writes Eric Ellis.   RESOLVED to make big quick money in 2007 at the frontier of commerce? Sure, YouTube … read more >>