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  • The Commission on Social Mobility has released its second annual ‘State of the Nation’ report, with gloomy forecasts for social mobility in Britain today. Labour Party politician and Former Secretary of State for Health Alan Milburn is the principal author of the report. Also known as the government’s ‘social mobility tsar’, he struck out at the three main political parties for their failure to tackle child poverty and to act on increasing social divisions in Britain.

  • After extreme weather in Nepal's Annapurna mountain range, as many as forty trekkers and guides are thought to have died when severe blizzards and large amounts of snow struck groups of foreign tourists. VoR's Tim Ecott spoke to Alan Hinkes OBE, the first Brtish climber to reach the summit of all the world's 14 peaks higher than 8,000 metres.

  • British Ukrainian Russian actress and writer Vera Graziadei bemoans the lack of investigation into atrocities in Ukraine, including those against children. 

News
  • After extreme weather in Nepal's Annapurna mountain range, as many as forty trekkers and guides are thought to have died when severe blizzards and large amounts of snow struck groups of foreign tourists. VoR's Tim Ecott spoke to Alan Hinkes OBE, the first Brtish climber to reach the summit of all the world's 14 peaks higher than 8,000 metres.

  • The Commission on Social Mobility has released its second annual ‘State of the Nation’ report, with gloomy forecasts for social mobility in Britain today. Labour Party politician and Former Secretary of State for Health Alan Milburn is the principal author of the report. Also known as the government’s ‘social mobility tsar’, he struck out at the three main political parties for their failure to tackle child poverty and to act on increasing social divisions in Britain.

  • Another bone of contention is emerging between Britain and the European Union. The EU has provisionally agreed to introduce a 'cap' - or maximum amount - on bonuses for bankers within the EU. VoR's Time Ecott spoke to Robin Chater, the Secretary General of the Federation of International Employers (FedEE).

VoR Debate
  • US-led forces have stepped up air strikes against Islamic State or ISIS fighters threatening the Syrian town of Kobane, near the Turkish border. This comes after Turkish officials denied reaching an agreement with the US to use its Incirlik airbase in the southern city of Adana, 100 miles from the Syrian border. So what will the US-led coalition’s strategy to tackle ISIS be, and what of Turkey’s role? VoR's Brendan Cole hosts a discussion.

  • In his address to the United Nations president Obama said of the United States of America: “We are heirs to a proud legacy of freedom, and we are prepared to do what is necessary to secure that legacy for generations to come. Join us in this common mission, for today’s children and tomorrow’s…” So, what sort of claim does America have to global domination? VoR’s Dmitry Linnik hosts a discussion.

  • "Both unbearable and essential" was The Guardian’s review of Exhibit B which is defined by the London Barbican Arts Centre as a work of performance art. However, it was described by others as racist art that "fetishises the black body". The performance has drawn controversy wherever it goes. VoR's Juliet Spare hosts a discussion.

Telling It Like It Is
  • Journalist Maggie Pagano of the Financial News, and former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov join writer and broadcaster Jeffrey Robinson on the line to discuss the week's events in Telling Like it Is. They talk about the crisis on the Turkish border with IS militants, the response to the Ebola outbreak and Nick Clegg's speech at the Liberal Democrat conference. VoR's Brendan Cole asks the questions.

  • US strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Ed Miliband’s Labour Party conference speech and the Tesco scandal of overstated profits are among the topics discussed in Telling it Like it Is. With VoR's Brendan Cole are political analyst Alexander Nekrassov, journalist Maggie Pagano and New York-based writer and broadcaster Jeffrey Robinson. 

  • The United States' decison to conduct air strikes in Syria, the prospects of an unlikely alliance between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, and the Scottish independence vote are among the topics discussed by former Kremlin advisor Alexander Nekrassov, Independent journalist Maggie Pagano and US television and radio commentator Jeffrey Robinson.

Talking Points
  • British Ukrainian Russian actress and writer Vera Graziadei bemoans the lack of investigation into atrocities in Ukraine, including those against children. 

  • This month’s by-election results showed us quite clearly that UKIP – the rising force in British politics – poses a significant threat not only to Conservative chances of success in next year’s general election, but to Labour too, writes Neil Clark.

  • Udo Ulfkotte, former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, has revealed that he was secretly on the payroll of the CIA and German secret service. He would spin news in a way that was positive for the United States and bad for its opponents. Ulfkotte says: "Most journalists from respected and big media organisations are closely connected to the German Marshall Fund, the Atlantik-Brücke or other so-called transatlantic organisations. They work on your ego, make you feel like you're important. And one day one of them will ask you 'Will you do me this favour'..."

    Here are excerpts from his interview which originally appeared on the Russia Insider website. 

Debating Russia
  • Ukraine as a story topic has largely dropped out of the headlines for West’s mass media. This is tragic for many reasons, particularly since the country faces economic collapse and worse. Has the West abandoned Ukraine? VoR's Peter Lavelle hosts a discussion.

  • Protests, democracy demands, outside meddling, regime change and the future of China - all of these issues have put Hong Kong in the spotlight. Have the students and Beijing both blinked at this point? VoR's Peter Lavelle hosts a discussion.

  • US president Barack Obama says he wants to obliterate Islamic State (IS) without the help of Iran or Assad, and he doesn't want to offend the region's Sunnis. This is a tall order. VoR’s Peter Lavelle hosts a discussion on whether there are other ways of dealing with IS.

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
  • Sergei Yastrzhembsky, a former top aide to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, has swapped the big beasts of politics for the arguably less daunting ones of the African plains.

  • In 1994, the current President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, decided that he would move the capital of the country from Almaty, the historic and cultural centre, to the city of Akmola. Was this a wise move? VoR's Tim Walklate has just returned from there and gives his personal account of the result.

  • A rapper in white doctor's scrubs reels off life-saving advice on Ebola to the sound of a hip-hop anthem, one of the many African artists putting their talents to work to fight the killer virus. Upbeat songs and caustic cartoons have cropped up across Ebola-hit West Africa and beyond to spread a public health message that the authorities often struggle to convey.

     

     

Galleries
  • Sergei Yastrzhembsky, a former top aide to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, has swapped the big beasts of politics for the arguably less daunting ones of the African plains. Patriarchal Africa: The Last Sunrise – photo chronicle of a vanishing life is a compendium of photographs that Yastrzhembsky has taken over the last five years, concentrating on recording ways of life there that are now under threat.

  • Street art is one of the most powerful modern art movements and London is lucky to find itself in the middle of it. Blogger and marketer Konstantin Pinaev runs a walking tour of East End, talking about how street art emerged in London, how techniques of street art differ from each other, and how, previously thought of as vandalism, street art now is sought after by the capital’s auction houses.

  • The world's largest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas sailed into the UK, stopping off at Southampton, before departing to the US. The Oasis of the Seas is longer than The Shard in London and wider than the wingspan of a Boeing 747.

All programmes
  • London remains one of the world's top tourism destinations - not least of all for Russian visitors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there's a market for tour guides who are native Russian speakers. One of them is a former Muscovite, Konstnatin Pinaev who takes groups of Russian visitors around the capital on foot - using themed itineraries based loosely on the destinations familiar to anyone who's ever played the game of Monopoly. Around London in 40 Steps is his company. He explained what sort of Russian visitors went on his tours.

  • The US-led airstrikes on ISIS militants in Syria, the Health Secretary’s comments about NHS cuts and a proposed ban on smoking in public spaces in London are among this week’s news items discussed by Alexander Nekrassov, Maggie Pagano and Jeffrey Robinson. VoR’s Brendan Cole asks the questions.

  • The protests in Hong Kong, the air strikes against ISIS, the Conservative Party Conference, drugs and prostitution boosting the UK economy, NATO’s new Secretary General, the White House intruder are some of the topics covered in this week’s edition of Telling It Like It Is. Joining political analyst Alexander Nekrassov are journalist Maggie Pagano and New York-based writer and broadcaster Jeffrey Robinson.

Featured
World

Sergei Yastrzhembsky, a former top aide to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, has swapped the big beasts of politics for the arguably less daunting ones of the African plains.

Political inertia, financial short-termism and vested fossil fuel interests will push up global temperatures, putting 400 million people at risk of hunger and drought by 2060 according to Oxfam. VoR's Brendan Cole spoke to Erinch Sahan, head of food and climate policy at Oxfam.

A mysterious "foreign vessel" the Swedish military have been searching for off the coast of Stockholm might belong to the Netherlands, a source in the Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying on Monday. However, this was denied by the Dutch defence ministry.

Amnesty International has released the findings of its investigation into allegations of execution-style and other deliberate killings in eastern Ukraine. It says both pro-Kiev forces and independence supporters have been involved in extrajudicial killings in eastern Ukraine, however, there is no substantial evidence of mass killings near Donetsk.

The US military said it had air-dropped arms to Syrian Kurds battling Islamic State near the Syrian town of Kobane, the first such delivery in more than a month of fighting and a move that could upset Turkey. Turkey views the Syrian Kurds with deep suspicion because of their ties to the PKK - a group that waged a decades-long militant campaign for Kurdish rights in Turkey.

National Health Service radiographers staged a strike for four hours on Monday over government proposals for an annual pay increase of just 1 percent. VoR’s Tim Ecott spoke to Paul Moloney, a Union manager from the Society of Radiographers.