Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spain unveils plans to build the tallest skyscraper in the EU

Spain unveils plans to build the tallest skyscraper in the EU

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Madrid unveiled plans to build Europe's tallest skyscraper potentially topping current title holder, The Shard

Nail Polish and Mascara - Beauty Brands Eye up Iran

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When Dubai businesswoman Negin Fattahi-Dasmal opened the first branch of her luxurious nail salon chain in Iran this year, it was met with both excitement and skepticism among image-conscious young Iranians. Despite – or perhaps partly because of – strict Islamic dress codes, cosmetics sales in Iran are among the highest in the Middle East. Women are required to wear modest clothes and headscarves, but their faces and hands are not covered, and many express their individuality with lipstick, mascara and nail polish in styles that would seem elaborate by Western standards. With most international economic sanctions now lifted after a nuclear agreement with world powers that took effect this year, Fattahi-Dasmal thinks it is time to bring in a high-end international brand. Her chain of nail salons, N.Bar, already has a customer base among the thousands of well-off young Iranians who holiday in nearby Dubai, where they can sunbathe, shop and dress with relative freedom. "For Iranian women it's a sought-after brand," Fattahi-Dansal, an Iranian-born Emirati, said in an interview. "There have been a lot of counterfeit products in Iran. They are extremely hungry for anything that is real, genuine and imported from the West." Nonetheless, she said some customers were skeptical that the new Tehran branch could replicate the quality and consistency customers are used to in Dubai, where branches offer dozens of standardized treatments and stringent hygiene procedures. High fashion Iran's fashion-forward twenty-somethings have kept up with global trends on social media and travels abroad, skirting diplomatic isolation and domestic repression. Fattahi-Dansal says they are discerning consumers. Even under sanctions, independent shops in the affluent northern districts of Tehran managed to obtain the latest seasonal collections of top global brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Roberto Cavalli. Some of those luxury fashion brands are now entering Iran directly, and there could be similar opportunities for beauty and cosmetics – a market estimated by Iran's parliament's research center to be worth more than $4 billion a year. But they could face resistance from conservative factions in the establishment, which enforce Islamic dress codes and are wary of allowing any perceived Western cultural influence into the country. "The way women dress and look is still one of the red lines in the Islamic Republic," said Afshin Sadeghizadeh, a brand management consultant in Tehran and former editor of Iran's Style magazine. "The brands going to Iran should be ready to face resistance from conservatives or even get shut down and expelled from Iran," he said. Some conservatives even see foreign luxury brands as part of a war against the Islamic Republic. The Tasnim news agency, close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, last week reported that the CIA could spy on Iranians through fake eyelashes or skin care lotions. Franchise it Complex business and banking regulations are another potential obstacle that lead many, including Fattahi-Dansal, to opt for a franchise arrangement, licensing to a local partner rather than owning her Tehran shop herself. An expensive and badly-regulated rental market adds to the difficulties. "Because of the legalities and complications, Iran is not an easy place to do business but it is also very lucrative. That was the reason we franchised," Fattahi-Dansal said. Some brands have been held up by the difficulty of finding a partner who is a good fit for their business and not linked to any entity designated under U.S. sanctions that remain in place. "Iran has potential but we are still at the stage of finding the right partner," said Jean Cassegrain, chief executive of handbag maker Longchamp, adding that the process could take considerable time. But Fattahi-Dansal is not deterred, and is even considering exporting another of her brands to Iran. JetSet, an aviation-themed hair salon chain, could soon land in Tehran. "Why not?" she said.

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Sotheby's Staging Comprehensive Middle East Art Auction

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Sotheby's is staging what it calls its most comprehensive series of exhibitions and sales to cover the history of Middle Eastern art. Five sales which range from the contemporary to the ancient will complement a series of talks and lectures by leading scholars from the region. Benedict Carter, Sotheby's director and head of auction sales in the Middle East Department, said Middle Eastern art was an area in which interest was growing. "There's a big interest. There has been for the last 10 years, I'd say I've seen a boom. A lot of the major museums have reinstalled their Islamic galleries, you know the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and then the opening of new museums like the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha in Qatar, so there has been a lot interest," Carter explained. Big-ticket items Among the big-ticket items in the upcoming "Arts of the Islamic World" sale are an Ottoman tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, ivory and a brass inlaid scribe's box from late 16th century Turkey, estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 GBP. The opulent box is thought to have been a unique commission made for an individual of high rank. Talking about the item, Carter said: "We have got a particularly large and beautiful calligrapher's casket from late 16th century Turkey. This is an extremely refined courtly object, probably a private commission for someone of high wealth and status. It's inlaid with brass and stained ivory." Also on offer at the auction is a collection from a distinguished Egyptian lawyer Octave Borelli Bay (1849-1911), led by a pair of 14th century Mamluk carved wood and ivory inlaid panels from Egypt, which were then mounted as doors in the 19th century (est 100,000 - 200,000 GBP). Collections "We have four items from the collection of a man called Octave Borelli Bey who was a lawyer in Egypt in the 19th century in a period of great change for the country. The most interesting pieces are these two huge sets of doors which include 14th century panels which he then brought back to France and had installed in his chateau in St. Tropez," Carter explained. Another of the most expensive works on offer at the auction is an extremely rare and finely decorated Koran leaf in eastern Kufic script, estimated at between 200,000 to 300,000 GBP "The Koran leaf, that's definitely the top manuscript of the sale. It's a single leaf from a Koran produced at the end of the eleventh, beginning of the twelfth century in the stylised eastern Kufic form of script which is very angular, very stylised. It actually looks very modern. To the modern minimalist taste it fits in very well," Carter said. Among the highlights of the 20th century sale will be a piece called 'On the Banks of the Nile' by Egyptian sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar, which Sothebys said depicted the struggle for political independence and the emancipation of women in Egypt in the first decades of the 20th century. It's estimated at between 120,000 and 180,000 GBP. The auctions will be held between April 19-21st in London.

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Barred From Hundreds Of Occupations In Russia, A Few Women Fight Back 

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Butcher, baker, fine -- but if you're a woman in Russia, better not try to be a blacksmith, carpenter, coal miner, or drive a bus with more than 14 seats. A ban barring women from over 450 occupations is a hangover from the Soviet era, when state ideology claimed equal rights for men and women while the reality was very different.

Russia in Review

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April 14, 2016
Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism for April 8-14, 2016

1 Dead, 4 Injured in Car Bomb in Kherson Region, Ukraine

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Ukraine Day 789: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday April 15, a car bomb went off in the afternoon in the village of Novoalekseyovka in Kherson Region, killing a bicyclist and injuring 4 bystanders.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Russia denies wrongdoing after jet barrel-rolls over US aircraft - CNN

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CNN

Russia denies wrongdoing after jet barrel-rolls over US aircraft
CNN 
The incident Thursday occurred when
 a Russian jet "performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers" as it flew within 50 feet of the U.S. aircraft's wing tip, Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said in a response to a question from CNN.
Russia's military rejects US criticism of new Baltic encounterReuters
 

'Erratic & aggressive': Pentagon protests Russian interception of US spy planeRT
Russian Jet Threatened US Recon AircraftWashington Free Beacon
ABC Online
all 50 news articles »

Putin’s Military Expansion ‘Only Beginning,’ Felshtinsky Says

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 17 – Diplomats, commentators, and the public typically focus on a particular action rather than on the context within which it takes place or the extent to which it points to broader trends, either because this gives them confidence that they can address the particular or because all extrapolations from it are inevitably subject to dispute.

            But that makes the arguments of those who suggest that any particular action is part of a broader trend all the more important because such arguments not only provide a test of the assumptions of others about the limited nature of this or that action but also call attention to what may happen in the future.

            One writer who routinely seeks to go from the particular to the general in analyzing Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy actions is US-based Russian historian Yury Feltshtinsky, who argues in a new essay that Putin’s military expansion is only beginning (apostrophe.com.ua/article/politics/2016-04-17/yuriy-felshtinskiy-voennaya-ekspansiya-putina-tolko-nachinaetsya/4400).

            “Living exclusively on the extraction and sale of raw materials,” he writes today on the Apostrophe portal, “Russia is able to produce only two products – arms and armed conflicts. The first is important as a source of income for the state,” especially given declines in oil prices. “The second is an instrument for expanding political influence.”

            At the present time, Feltshtinsky argues, Russia is searching for new places to exacerbate or create conflicts: “Abkhazia and South Osetia for a new war with Georgia; Crimea and Eastern Ukraine for continuing the war with Ukraine; Transdniestria for the potential seizure of Moldova; Syria and Kurdistan for splitting NATO, destabilizing Turkey and unleashing a major war in the Middle East to increase oil prices; the Karabakh conflict for subordinating Armenia; military bases in Belarus as a place des armes for the annexation of Belarus; ‘the Russian question’ in the Baltic states as an occasion for intervention in the Baltic countries and the reunification of ties between Kaliningrad and continental Russia; provocations towards Finland and Sweden which are not members of NATO for intervention in Finland under the pretext of not allowing it to become a member of NATO; the seizure of the Arctic in order to exacerbate conflicts with Canada; and finally, the demand for the return of Alaska to Russia which sold it 150 years ago as the beginning of an open geopolitical and military-political conflict with the US by means of the use of atomic blackmail against the entire world.”

            Given this list, the historian says, “all signs show that the program of territorial seizures by Russia has only begun with the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of the eastern regions of Ukraine” and that talk about demanding the return of Alaska should not be dismissed as an April Fool’s joke.

            That is how many people reacted to an article published on that date in Moscow’s “Gazeta” with the title “The Return of Alaska will be a Gift to Putin” (gazeta.ru/politics/2016/03/30_a_8151107.shtml). But “perhaps,” Felshtinsky says, this may not prove to be funny at all.

            After seizing Crimea, Putin did not say that this represented the completion of his territorial goals nor did he say that his intention was to restore the USSR, the Russian historian points out. Instead, he again talked about the end of the USSR as “a personal and geopolitical” tragedy and dismissed Ukraine as a non-existent state.

            And taking their lead from Putin’s words, Russian singers talked about taking even more, up to and including the Turkish straits and Jerusalem because they are part of an imagined “Russian world” or because of Russia’s role as “the third Rome,” Feltshtinsky says.

            From this perspective, of course, “Poland, Finland and Alaska which once were part of the Russian Empire are nothing other than ‘Russian lands from time immemorial.’ And it is thus not be any chance that from March 2014, Russian submarines regularly approach Finland, and Russian jets fly up to the air borders of the Baltic countries, Poland, Finland and … Alaska.”

            A year before Putin made these remarks, “Gazeta” suggested that talk about getting Alaska back was either “idiotism or a provocation.” But now, the Moscow paper “seriously discusses if it is possible for Russia to demand the return of Alaska,” a reflection of the changes Putin’s policies have wrought in Russia.

            Felshtinsky points to one detail of this year’s “Gazeta” article: it talks about the return of Alaska not as a gift to Russia as a state but to Putin personally.  “And it is understandable why: Russia and Russians don’t need either Crimea or Eastern Ukraine or Alaska” given the price they have paid and would have to pay for that to happen.

            The only people who need this are “Putin and his small junta of five to seven of the senior KGB/FSB officers who today run Russia.” These people are “very dangerous” because they did not join the organs to become builders but rather to “suppress, kill, control, provoke, ‘split up,’ take away and recruit,” all things they “know how to do and do with enthusiasm.”

            In the propaganda film, “World Order,” Putin declared that he had learned as a child on the streets of Leningrad that if a fight is inevitable, one must strike out first.  That is what he has done, even if many have been unwilling to recognize his moves as a reflection of this perception of the nature of the world.

            In 1999, when he was head of the KGB, he was involved in sending Russian troops to seize the Prishtina airport in Kosovo. Later that year, when he had become prime minister, he unleashed the second post-Soviet Chechen war. Then in 2008, the Kremlin leader invaded Georgia; and in March 2014, he sent his forces into Ukraine.

            “The main problem with Putin and Russia today,” Felshtinsky says, “is that Putin is not a dictator. He is in power as a representative of the KGB/FSB, and with the departure of Putin from the political arena, nothing of principle will change in Russia if the junta of former FSB officers remains.”

            Many have ignored that and have ignored the fact that “not once over the last two years has the Kremlin declared that with the occupation of Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine is the program of Russia’s territorial seizures at an end. To the contrary, everything indicates that it is only beginning.”

            Evidence for this conclusion includes increased military spending, the “bold” testing of NATO’s resolve in Europe, dispatching Russian forces to Syria, increased espionage activity, the aggressive rhetoric of the foreign ministry, and “the activation of anti-Western rhetoric by the Russian media in Russia and abroad to levels unheard of even in Soviet times.”

            “Putin is trying to force the world community to recognize ‘a new world order’ as proclaimed and organized by the Kremlin,” Felshtinsky says. “At the basis of this new doctrine lies Putin’s demand to recognize Russia’s right to a free hand for the realization of the foreign political plans of the Kremlin to control or seize territories and spheres of influence.”

            According to the Russian historian, “the tactical instrument for the realization of this strategic task is the exacerbation of conflicts in various parts of the world” in order to demand Russia’s participation in their resolution as “a fully equal partner of the US.”  And Putin is doing so because “this is the only sphere in which Russia is competitive.”
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German spy chiefs on Snowden: Leaks were Russian op to drive 'wedge' between US & Europe - RT

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RT

German spy chiefs on Snowden: Leaks were Russian op to drive 'wedge' between US & Europe
RT
NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden could have been acting under “Russianinfluence,” the heads of Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said in an interview with Focus ...

США сообщили о перехвате российским Су-27 своего самолета над Балтикой - РБК

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РБК

США сообщили о перехвате российским Су-27 своего самолета над Балтикой
РБК
Представитель Европейского командования ВС США заявил, что российский Су-27 перехватил американский самолет-разведчик над Балтикой. По его словам, российский истребитель пролетел в 15 метрах от американского RC-135. Самолет-разведчик Военно-воздушных сил США ... 
Российский Су-27 перехватил самолет-разведчик ВВС СШАBBC Russian

Российский Су-27 перехватил самолет НАТО над БалтикойВести.Ru 
США сообщили об очередном инциденте с российским истребителем в международном воздушном пространствеРадиостанция ЭХО МОСКВЫ
Газета.Ru-Взгляд-ИА REGNUM-Аргументы и факты

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US Air Force plane intercepted by Russian jet in 'unsafe' manner: Pentagon - Yahoo News

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Yahoo News

US Air Force plane intercepted by Russian jet in 'unsafe' manner: Pentagon
Yahoo News
Washington (AFP) - A US Air Force reconnaissance plane was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 jet in an "unsafe and unprofessional" manner while in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Pentagon said. "The US aircraft was operating in ...

'Erratic & aggressive': Pentagon protests Russian interception of US spy plane - RT

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RT

'Erratic & aggressive': Pentagon protests Russian interception of US spy plane
RT
He said the Russian Su-27 "performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers," only 50 feet (15 meters) away from the US aircraft. The US Boeing RC-135 aircraft was "intercepted by aRussian SU-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner," Hernandez said, ...
Another aerial close call as Russian jet barrel-rolls over US aircraftCNN
Russian Jet Threatened US Recon AircraftWashington Free Beacon
US Reports Another Close Call With Russian Jet Over Baltic SeaRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
ABC Online
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