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  • Coal power plants across the EU are undermining climate change efforts, reveals the 'Europe’s Dirty 30' report, released today by the Climate Action Network (CAN), WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Climate Alliance Germany.

  • As western leaders pointed the finger of blame at separatists, and at Moscow itself, over the shooting-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine, the government in Kuala Lumpur said little. Though that approach drew criticism at home, its effectiveness became clear today after Malaysia received MH17's black boxes from the rebels and agreed how to repatriate the bodies of those who died.

     

  • New figures suggest UK’s economy will grow by just over three percent in 2014, making it the fastest growing major economy this year. But there will be reservations about what a rising GDP actually means for the majority of Britons. And although the forecast is better than many analysts had predicted, there are doubts about the long-term sustainability of any recovery. VoR’s Flora Neve has this report.

News
  • Coal power plants across the EU are undermining climate change efforts, reveals the 'Europe’s Dirty 30' report, released today by the Climate Action Network (CAN), WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Climate Alliance Germany.

  • As western leaders pointed the finger of blame at separatists, and at Moscow itself, over the shooting-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine, the government in Kuala Lumpur said little. Though that approach drew criticism at home, its effectiveness became clear today after Malaysia received MH17's black boxes from the rebels and agreed how to repatriate the bodies of those who died.

     

  • New figures suggest UK’s economy will grow by just over three percent in 2014, making it the fastest growing major economy this year. But there will be reservations about what a rising GDP actually means for the majority of Britons. And although the forecast is better than many analysts had predicted, there are doubts about the long-term sustainability of any recovery. VoR’s Flora Neve has this report.

VoR Debate
  • Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is defined by the World Health Organisation as a painful and traumatic procedure that intentionally alters and causes injury to female genital organs. It has been recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. As the first Girl Summit kicks off in London on July 22, VoR’s Juliet Spare hosts a discussion.

     

  • As global populations continue to rise around the world, concerns grow over how people will be able to feed themselves in the decades to come. VoR’s Simon Parker hosts a discussion on the future of feeding a growing global population. And what we eat - and what we can produce - is central to the debate.

  • Security is being tightened at European and Middle East airports operating direct flights into the United States. It follows what is believed to be a "credible threat" from Syrian and Yemen-based al-Qaeda affiliates. VoR's Brendan Cole hosts a debate on the nature of the threat facing the UK, and the suitability of the new measures.

Telling It Like It Is
  • Claims of a Westminster paedophile ring, whether parliament is sexist and Britain's relationship with the EU are among topics discussed by Brooks Newmark, the Conservative MP for Braintree and Essex and the former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov. Joining them for this week's Telling it Like It Is, is VoR's Brendan Cole.

     

  • The phone hacking verdicts, the conflict in Iraq and Luis Suarez biting a defender's shoulder and the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland are among the topics discussed in this week's programme. Joining VoR's Brendan Cole are the former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov and executive editor of Breitbart.com, James Delingpole.

  • The Queen's Speech, Theresa May as a possible successor to David Cameron, Barack Obama's prisoner swap with the Taliban and the death of the man who brought ecstasy to the masses are among the topics dealt with by James Delingpole of breitbart.com and ex-Kremlin advisor Alexander Nekrassov. Brendan Cole arbitrates.

     

Talking Points
  • The other night, I saw George Orwell’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”

  • In this Talking Point, Paul Craig Roberts argues that Washington is taking advantage of Russian President Vladimir Putin's reasonableness when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, and is pushing Russia to make moves that would then be used against Moscow to keep the US's European allies in line.

     

  • Another day of artillery shelling and firing missiles from fighter jets has brought new casualties among civilians in the East of Ukraine. The Russian media and social networks exploded with yet another cry of horror and disgust. But there is virtually nothing in the western press, says VoR's Dmitry Linnik.

Debating Russia
  • Gaza is again under Israeli attack. What makes this assault different from past attacks? Should we stop talking about a peace process? And what role can countries like Russia play to finally resolve this conflict? Peter Lavelle hosts the latest edition of Debating Russia.

  • Ukraine and the EU Association agreement: It is hotly debated whether Kiev’s signature on this agreement will result in a more modern and prosperous Ukraine or a country that will experience extreme economic pain and long term austerity. VoR's Peter Lavelle hosts a discussion.

  • After Petr Poroshenko won the presidential election, Ukraine continues down the path of civil war. How can the Ukrainian oligarch known as the Chocolate King change the political calculus? Peter Lavelle asks his guests in this week's Debating Russia.

     

In Conversation
  • It’s long been said that we are what we eat. For many of us in the developed world almost everything we eat comes from commercially produced animals and crops, and is bought from supermarkets. A new book lifts the lid on the dangers of mass food production both for human health and for the health of the planet. VoR's Tim Ecott spoke to Philip Lymbery, one of the joint authors of Farmageddon: the true cost of cheap meat.

  • Australian by birth, author and adventurer Tim Cope decided to train as a wilderness guide in Finland. That led to an adventure riding across Russia to China by bicycle and then to a bolder journey on horseback across Mongolia all the way east to Kazakhstan and Ukraine eventually ending up in Hungary. The journey took three years and his story is told in On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey through the Land of the Nomads. VoR’s Tim Ecott talks to Tim Cope.

  • In this edition of In Conversation, VoR's Tim Ecott talks to Christian Wolmar, Britain’s foremost writer on railways. His latest book is called To the Edge of the World: The Story of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Wolmar, who has himself travelled the line, describes the building of the Trans-Siberian as possibly the greatest human engineering achievement. I asked him what it was about the railway that inspired him.

     

Curtain Up
  • Families from all over England travel down to London to see the Nutcracker ballet at Christmas. But it wasn’t always such a hit. VoR's Alice Lagnado invited Russian music expert Daniel Jaffe into the studio and began by asking him how the ballet was first greeted back in the late 19th century.

  • The ballet world is going through a difficult time in Russia, with courtroom trials and a change in management at the renowned Vaganova academy in St Petersburg. VoR’s Alice Lagnado takes a further look.

  • In this edition of Curtain Up, VoR’s Alice Lagnado talks to conductor Alice Farnham, who is bringing Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia to the Mariinsky Theatre this month. It’s her first time conducting at the Mariinsky, and it’s also the first time the opera has been performed at the theatre.

Features
  • Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae grew up in the world of drag car racing in Australia which gave him a lifelong love of speed and adrenalin. He challenged his energy into dance, becoming a versatile and ambitious dancer at Covent Garden, where he has performed with leading ballerinas like Alina Cojocaru, Sarah Lamb, Evgenia Obraztsova, Natalia Osipova, and Iana Salenko. VoR’s Alice Lagnado caught up with Steven in between rehearsals.

  • A first attempt to reach Lake Ellsworth, which is located deep underneath the West Antarctic ice sheet, failed despite years of careful planning. But now scientists and engineers are working hard to ensure they strike lucky next time. Glaciologist Professor Martin Siegert, who is leading the Lake Ellsworth project, talked to VoR’s Alice Lagnado about his pioneering work.

  • The Church of England overturned centuries of tradition this week by voting to allow women to become bishops. June Osborne is Dean of Salisbury Cathedral and widely tipped to herself become the first female Anglican bishop. VoR's Tim Ecott asked her for her reaction to the historic vote.

Galleries
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned 60 on July 17. Born Angela Dorothea Kasner in Hamburg, she grew up in a small town near East Berlin, where her father served as a Lutheran pastor. Merkel earned a doctorate in physics and worked as a researcher at a scientific academy in Berlin. Her political career began in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. She became the first woman to lead the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the first post-reunification chancellor to hail from the former East Germany.

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron has put the final touches on a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle that sees Education Secretary Michael Gove shunted down and the exit of William Hague from the Foreign Office. Take a look at our gallery of the movers and shakers representing the new face of the Conservatives going into the next election.

  • Sotheby’s sale of fine jewels in London on July 16 promises to be a sparkling occasion, with a stand-out selection of period jewels of exceptional craftsmanship and pieces signed by leading makers such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Giuliano, going under the hammer. Here's a sneak preview of some of the exquisite trinkets.

All programmes
  • Since the start of the political crisis in Ukraine, the West – particularly Washington – has stated that Russia must be ‘isolated’ on the international stage. This includes economic and financial sanctions. However, has Russia, in any meaningful way, become isolated? Peter Lavelle's international guests debate the question. 

  • The conviction of entertainer Rolf Harris for sex offences, why Prime Minister's Questions is a turnoff for Mumsnet and Dolly Parton miming at Glastonbury are some of the topics discussed by James Delingpole of Breitbart.com and Alexander Nekrassov, the former Kremlin advisor.

  • Iraq is again back in the news and in a big way. The sudden rise of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq has not only caught Baghdad by surprise, but Washington as well. Peter Lavelle and his guests debate whether Iraq needs more western military intervention.

     

World

The bodies of some of the 298 people killed in the downing of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine last week are in a part of the country controlled by theUkraine government, the Dutch prime minister said on Tuesday. Mark Rutte said in a statement that the train with the bodies of the victims had left Donetsk and would arrive in a sealed-off area near Kharkhiv today. 

 

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has called on Russia to end any connection it has with separatists in eastern Ukraine, and threatened further economic sanctions on Moscow if no action was taken, following the downing of flight MH17. From London, Tim Walklate has more.

A British parliamentary committee has ruled out the possibility of "any kind" of currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The Committee for Scottish Affairs concluded in a report that Scotland would no longer be able to use the pound if it voted for independence in a referendum on September 18.

British Home Secretary Theresa May is set to announce a new inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian security services (FSB) worker who died after being poisoned by polonium 210 in London. Since then a coroner has failed to hold an inquest because of government attempts to prevent evidence being heard.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog says that Iran is successfully converting its stockpile of enriched uranium gas to much safer levels. The country has long been suspected of enriching uranium to levels that could help build a nuclear warhead - claims that Iran has staunchly denied. VoR's Simon Parker has more. 

Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae grew up in the world of drag car racing in Australia which gave him a lifelong love of speed and adrenalin. He challenged his energy into dance, becoming a versatile and ambitious dancer at Covent Garden, where he has performed with leading ballerinas like Alina Cojocaru, Sarah Lamb, Evgenia Obraztsova, Natalia Osipova, and Iana Salenko. VoR’s Alice Lagnado caught up with Steven in between rehearsals.