Restoring the Cuban City with a French Colonial Air

The city of Cienfuegos, known in Cuba as the"Pearl of the South", is unique for its spotless cleanliness, the orderly grid pattern of its streets, its 19th century architecture and its air of"Grande Dame"elegance. Now its past splendours, ravaged by time or left to deteriorate because of economic difficulties, are being restored.

CHINA: Tianjin Embraces its Colonial Legacy

When the old Astor Hotel reopened to great fanfare from the local city fathershere in 2010, it marked more the return of the"Grande Dame of Tianjin"to thecity's growing collection of luxury hotels. It was a travel back to the future. Itmanifested the city leaders' eagerness to embrace and rebrand the colonialheritage as a way of boosting Tianjin's modern identity.

NEPAL: Religious Practices Oppress Women

The recent gang-rape of a Buddhist nun and her expulsion from her sect havesparked a debate about the deep-rooted religious traditions and biases thatfoster discrimination and violence, especially against women, in this South Asianstate.

BRAZIL: World Cup, Olympic Social Legacy Thrown in Doubt

Community organisations say the major infrastructure works for the 2014 football World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil do not reflect the spirit of the social legacy promised by the government and business community, which project 68 billion dollars in economic benefits from the first event alone.

PAKISTAN: Troubled Karachi Finds a Happy Enclave

The long boardwalk, balmy sea air and ebb and flow of water under the bridge,but most of all the festive carnival-like atmosphere of people enjoying theKarachi sunset, are images that stand in deep contrast to the violence thismetropolis recently witnessed.

INDIA: Temple Treasures Open Up Problems of Plenty

The discovery that treasures lying in the vaults of an ancient temple inThiruvananthapuram may be worth more than 25 billion dollars is raisingquestions regarding the vast wealth owned by religious shrines in thisimpoverished country.

OP-ED: Foreign Policy Goes Gaga

Lady Gaga and Alice Walker don't have much in common. Onedresses in red meat; the other doesn't even eat the stuff. Onewrites lyrics like"I want your ugly, I want your disease, Iwant your everything as long as it's free."The other writes"The Color Purple".

BRAZIL: Women in Favelas Broadcast Peace

Local women's voices have begun to be heard over a community radio station now broadcasting in Complexo do Alemao, a clump of favelas or shantytowns on the north side of this Brazilian city that were ruled until recently by armed drug gangs.

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