A woman drapes herself in Belarusian flag. Photo by Jana Shnipelson on Unsplash

A Belarusian athlete at the Tokyo Olympics seeks refuge from going home. A Belarusian activist in self-exile is found dead near his home in neighbouring Ukraine. The Belarusian opposition leader calls upon the western world to do more to put pressure on Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko to restore democracy and end worsening repression.

Think about the three sentences above. The first two are coldly factual. The last is brimful of hope.

Is there any hope for those who seek to influence events by means of western pressure?

One has to wonder. Consider this grim coincidence: Activist Vitaly Shishov’s body was…

Does China have what it to become a superpower? It’s a reasonable question considering the way Beijing has been behaving with its big tech companies and others that are successful enough to be world players.

There is also China’s new data-security law, completed in June, which gives the government greater power to force private companies to share users’ data, which means curtains for any Chinese tech firm to argue to foreign customers that it’s not subject to government pressures.

Some weeks ago, three Chinese education companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange shed more than half their value after…

Photo by Branimir Balogović on Unsplash

From 4 am, Monday, August 2, Britain will unlock itself for the footloose double-jabbed from the United States, the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association countries and Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City. And international cruises will begin to ply again from British ports, after 16 months of inactivity.

It will mean business for the travel and tourism industry but not business as usual — the US, after all, remains closed to non-citizens who have been in the UK or Schengen area in the previous fortnight.

And even such American business as comes to Britain will have to fight…

Our little neighbourhood in Greenwich is having a street party today.

Here are some photos of the prep, with residents selflessly coming together to organise a good show.

Not everyone realises it but street parties are a very British tradition. They started in this country in 1919 as ‘Peace Teas’ after World War I.

Then too, they were held in the aftermath of a pandemic and had a sense of desperate gaiety — an attempt to hold on to a fleeting moment of togetherness after a period of hardship.

I didn’t know until recently that Bristol is Britain’s street party capital with more than a hundred organised every year.

We can’t match that here in Greenwich, but here’s hoping we rack up the numbers.

Pretend you’re on holiday with @TheNewEuropean summer special pod!
@rashmeerl on what other countries think of Boris Johnson
@jamesrbuk on Europe and the case for legalised cannabis
@charlieconnelly on the best Euro reads for your green-list beach https://t.co/COggFEx04b

- Steve Anglesey (@sanglesey) July 30, 2021

For this week’s bumper summer special issue episode, host Steve Anglesey is joined by journalist Rashmee Roshan Lall who discusses if the government’s love of India is reciprocated and emphasises the importance of keeping your word in politics. Global editor of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism James Ball considers the issues on both sides of…

Near the Ritz in central London. Photos: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Notice something about the photos above? There’s almost no one around.

Two years ago, a warm July evening in central London would have been very different. People would have been spilling out of pubs and restaurants on to the pavements. Tourists would have been out in force, selfie-sticks at the ready.

Covid-19 sparked the biggest fall in UK gross domestic product — a measure of the size of the economy — for more than 300 years in 2020, sending it plunging by a record 10 per cent.

But now, seven months into 2021, here we are, with London eerily empty…

‘As You Like It’: Shakespeare in the Garden, 2021. Vicky Gaskin (extreme right, in the purple trousers), is co-founder of the Open Bar theatre company Photos: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Morocco. Photo by Chrissie Giannakoudi on Unsplash

In conversation the other day with a writer who also teaches the art and craft of writing at university, I heard a dispiriting truth: that university students in Britain are no longer willing to read Paul Bowles.

He is, said the writer, considered beyond the pale.

I understand what the writer was delicately trying to convey. Bowles, who wrote about North Africa, was not beyond the pale; rather, he was too pale, a pale white male who travelled around recording his impressions of the world and pretending they were somehow true because he said them.

In other words, Bowles, whose…

A national park in Kenya. Photo by Damian Patkowski on Unsplash

I was very taken by a British professor’s assertion the other day that bankers and pastoralists share more than we might think. Both, said Ian Scoones, work with deep, pervasive uncertainty and both often face unknown unknowns. This makes, he suggested, for “a very distinct approach to navigating day-to-day practices, as well as long-term futures”.

It’s a fascinating comparison and Professor Scoones is well placed to make it because he’s an agricultural ecologist at the Institute of Development Studies and is interested in agrarian change and sustainability.

One of the points that emerges from the professor’s argument about pastoralists is…

Joe Biden hasn’t been US president very long but six months are up, as of July 20. In that half-year, he’s run an MOT and a tune-up of America’s foreign policy apparatus.

He’s re-opened the usual diplomatic channels.

He’s reassured allies that America will be predictable.

Adversaries know too that Mr Biden’s America will be predictable.

After four years of Donald Trump’s tweetstorms and social media sulks, we’re back in the usual world of an American presidency that doesn’t have the commander-in-chief undercutting his secretary of state, even as he empowers his diplomats and allows meetings to run as they…

Rashmee Roshan Lall

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on https://www.rashmee.com email me at rashmee@rashmee.com http://muckrack.com/rashmeerl

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