The Arctic Circle: China’s Emerging ‘Polar Silk Road’

DW Documentary (April 1, 2023) – Following the rise of China’s power in Africa, are we on the verge of seeing a Chinese Arctic? Certainly, the country is seeking to expand its influence in this geopolitically important area. The US is worried, while Russia smells business.

But what are China’s plans for the region? In 2013, the “Yong Sheng” made history: It was the first Chinese cargo ship to reach Europe via the Arctic. This promising route, which Beijing soon dubbed the “Polar Silk Road,” made the “Yong Sheng” a symbol of Chinese ambitions in the far north. Increasingly self-confident, China is now expanding its sphere of influence bit by bit in the Arctic – a place of high geopolitical significance.

The country’s influence is spreading, with projects that include investments in gas resources in the Russian Arctic on the Yamal Peninsula. In January 2018, China initiated the “Polar Silk Road” project. Now, the country is pursuing a rapprochement with Iceland and Norway through businessmen. China maintains a research station on Spitsbergen and has even started to define itself publicly as a country “close to the Arctic” – a status from which China hopes to derive new rights.

The Arctic seems a long way from Beijing. But Chinese president Xi Jinping has understood how important this region is. China’s need for resources is driving Xi Jinping to negotiate with the major Arctic powers, who largely view him with suspicion. The new geopolitics of the Arctic are playing out not only in world capitals and in the media, but also on the ground: Emissaries, entrepreneurs, and mediators are traveling to the strategic region.

This group includes Chinese nationals as well as Norwegians, Icelanders, Swedes and Americans. China is expanding. After “Chinafrica,” will we now also speak of “Chinarctica”? China, it is said, has time on its side. And in the meantime it is openly dreaming of superpower status. The Americans are worried, the Europeans are hesitant and the Russians are eager for investments. But what are China’s real goals?


New Art Exhibitions: ‘Juan de Pareja, Afro-Hispanic Painter’, The New York Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Juan de Pareja, Afro-Hispanic Painter (April 3rd – July 16th, 2023) offers an unprecedented look at the life and artistic achievements of seventeenth-century Afro-Hispanic painter Juan de Pareja (ca. 1608–1670).

Juan de Pareja, Afro-Hispanic Painter - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Largely known today as the subject of The Met’s iconic portrait by Diego Velázquez, Pareja—who was born in Antequera, Spain—was enslaved in Velázquez’s studio for over two decades before becoming an artist in his own right. This presentation is the first to tell his story and examine the ways in which enslaved artisanal labor and a multiracial society are inextricably linked with the art and material culture of Spain’s “Golden Age.”

Diego Velázquez’s portrait of Juan de Pareja (ca. 1608–1670) has long been a landmark of European art, but this provocative study focuses on its subject: an enslaved man who went on to build his own successful career as an artist. This catalogue—the first scholarly monograph on Pareja— discusses the painter’s ties to the Madrid School of the 1660s and revises our understanding of artistic production during Spain’s Golden Age, with a focus on enslaved artists and artisans.

The authors illuminate the highly skilled labor within Seville’s multiracial society; the role of Black saints and confraternities in the promotion of Catholicism among enslaved populations; and early twentieth-century scholar Arturo Schomburg’s project to recover Pareja’s legacy.

The book also includes the first illustrated and annotated list of known works attributed to Pareja. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press

World Economic Forum: Top Stories- April 1, 2023

World Economic Forum (April 1, 2023) – This week’s top stories of the week include:

0:15 What happened in the Credit Suisse takeover – The Swiss government has brokered an emergency takeover of Credit Suisse by rival bank UBS. Experts are calling it the ‘most dramatic moment in global banking’ since the 2008 crisis. The deal was worth $3.2 billion, that’s 6% less than what Credit Suisse was worth last Friday and wiped out $17 billion in additional tier 1(AT1) bonds. So what are AT1 bonds? AT1 bonds were created after the 2008 financial crisis when the banking industry became more regulated. They are a type of hybrid debt issued by banks. AT1 bonds can offer high returns. Watch to learn more about how the AT1 bonds were related to the Credit Suisse crisis.

1:48 The world’s lightest paint – It was inspired by butterflies’ wings. It’s so light that you could coat a Boeing 747 with just 1.5 kg of paint, rather than the 500 kg of paint typically used. Its inventors say it’s light enough to make cars and planes more energy-efficient. It absorbs less heat than standard paint and keeps underlying surfaces up to 16˚C cooler. So it could help us cut down on energy used for air conditioning

3:05 Belgium’s Artificial Energy Island – Belgium is building a new island in the North Sea to transform offshore wind energy. Princess Elisabeth Island will be 45km off the coast and will serve as a hub for the Princess Elisabeth Zone, a planned 3.5GW offshore wind farm. This artificial wind energy island will be 6 hectares in size, equivalent to around 12 football pitches. It will collect all the electricity generated by turbines, then send it to the mainland through undersea cables. The artificial wind energy island will also host interconnectors from the UK and Denmark, which will, in turn, connect to other North Sea wind farms. Construction is set to begin next year, and the island is due to be fully operational by 2030. Watch to learn more about Belgium’s artificial wind energy island.

4:11 Switzerland’s Solar Railway – Start-up Sun-Ways has collaborated with the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne for a pilot project testing the panels on a section of rail near Buttes in Western Switzerland. If rolled out to the country’s entire 5,000km rail network they could supply 2% of Switzerland’s electricity. Sun-Ways believes 50% of the world’s railways could be equipped with its system.


The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.

Travel Guides: The 15 Most Visited Places In Germany

DW Travel (April 1, 2023) – Planning a trip to Germany and wondering which sights should be on your bucket list? We’ve had a look at the visitor numbers for 2022 for you…and here are the most visited places in Germany:

  • 1. Cologne Cathedral
  • 2. Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
  • 3. Museum Island Berlin
  • 4. Topography of Terror Berlin
  • 5. Zollverein Coal Mine Essen
  • 6. Humboldt Forum Berlin
  • 7. Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg
  • 8. St. Michaelis Hamburg
  • 9. Deutsches Museum Munich
  • 10. Frauenkirche Dresden
  • 11. Fernsehturm Berlin
  • 12. Berlin Wall Memorial
  • 13. Natural History Museum Berlin
  • 14. Heidelberg Castle
  • 15. Neuschwanstein Castle

Architecture: Hepburn’s Road House, New Zealand

The Local Project (March 31, 2023) – Bordered by the Southern Alps on one side and the sea on the other, Hepburn’s Road House by Warren and Mahoney and Detail by Davinia Sutton is a country home that responds to the New Zealand landscape.

Video timeline: 00:00 – Introduction to the Ultimate Country Home 01:08 – A Symmetrical Home 01:27 – Using Durable Materials 01:52 – An Anecdote to a Town House 02:11 – The transition Between Inside and Outside 02:29 – The Theme of Longevity 02:55 – An Honest and Tailored Approach to Detailing 04:01 – Meeting the Needs of Entertaining 04:18 – Proud Moments 04:35 – Favourite Aspects of the Home 04:45 – Elegant Spaces of Good Proportions

Using a range of trees, orchards, a tennis court and walls, the architects slowly reveal the country home, creating an air of suspense as nothing is immediately available upon arrival. With its symmetrical layout, the home begins with a long gallery at the front entrance with bedrooms on either side and a large living space that is placed behind. To deal with a tough site and the New Zealand climate, Warren and Mahoney employed materials that directly respond to these challenges while also providing durability. Such materials used include concrete, timber weatherboard, profiled metal roof and cladding, timber shutters and flooring, and stone.

Designed to be an antidote to the townhouse, the employed materials of the country home also respond to the difference between the types of homes and, in turn, the difference between city and country living. As such, the approach towards relaxation, level of formality and materials used allows the country home to become a place that the owners can find shelter and freedom. Used to break down the transition between inside and outside, moving timber shutters are placed over the operable glass doors and walls to help create versatile uses for the spaces.

Additionally, the themes of longevity, proportions, symmetry, and the juxtaposition between the interiors and the exterior façade, helped to lead the design choices by Detail by Davinia Sutton. Embracing New Zealand design throughout the build, with an honest and tailored approach, the interior designer offers a sincere tactic delivered with a contained palette. Seen through the bedrooms, the calming palette is a union of travertine stone alongside honed and soft finishes that add a wholeness to the private spaces. Addressing the needs and requirements of the home’s landscape, the interior design incorporates elements that answer these needs directly.

Experienced within the laundry, the room has been turned into a mud room that allows the owners to freshen up before entering the home. Furthermore, extra storage has been introduced with appliances such as a wine fridge and cool and dry fridges, which offer a prolonged ability to store produce. Finished with Fisher & Paykel appliances, the country home integrates a refined ease of living for the owners and responds to their love for entertaining. Deepening the connection and celebration of landscape and entertainment, Warren and Mahoney’s work seamlessly unites with Detail by Davinia Sutton’s interior design so that the owners can easily transition from inside to outside living.

Tours: Hassan II Mosque In Casablanca, Morocco (4K)

Travel HDefinition (April 1, 2023) – The Hassan II Mosque or Grande Mosquée Hassan II in Casablanca is the largest mosque in Morocco. It is also the 7th largest mosque in the world.

Video timeline: 0:00 Minaret & Outside 0:50 Prayer hall 4:39 Minaret & Outside

This mosque was completed in 1993 and was named after the previous king of Morocco, King Hassan II (1929-1999). As the largest mosque in Morocco, it has the capacity to allow 105,000 worshippers to gather together for prayer. Among those, 25,000 people can gather inside the interior of the mosque, while the remaining 80,000 can gather in the mosque’s outer courtyard. 

The mosque’s 210m high minaret and was designed by French architect Michel Pinseau. There is a laser installed at the top of the minaret which directs its light towards Mecca.

Art Exhibition Tour: ‘Philip Guston Now’ In London

National Gallery of Art (March 29, 2023) – What is the duty of an artist? Philip Guston’s answer might surprise you. Philip Guston constantly re-invented his style over the course of five decades.

Philip Guston Now

March 2 – August 27, 2023


As the world whirled around him, he painted to meet the moment. He captured both simple pleasures of daily life (like eating or driving) and large-scale violence by “bearing witness” to the world with an unflinching look at war, racism, and his own inner demons.


Explore Selected Works

Martial Memory, 1941
Female Nude with Easel, 1935

Bicycle Tours: Barichara To Medellín In Colombia

Brompton Traveler (April 1, 2023) – A 300-mile bicycle tour of Columbia from Barichara to Medellín.

Colombia, officially Republic of Colombia, Spanish República de Colombiacountry of northwestern South America. Its 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of coast to the north are bathed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea, and its 800 miles (1,300 km) of coast to the west are washed by the Pacific Ocean.

The country is bordered by Panama, which divides the two bodies of water, on the northwest, by  Venezuela  and  Brazil on the east, and by Peru and Ecuador on the south. It is more than twice the size of France and includes the San Andrés y Providencia  archipelago, located off the Nicaraguan coast in the Caribbean, some 400 miles (650 km) northwest of the Colombian mainland. The population is largely concentrated in the mountainous interior, where Bogotá, the national capital, is situated on a high plateau in the northern Andes Mountains.

The only American nation that is named for Christopher Columbus, the “discoverer” of the New World, Colombia presents a remarkable study in contrasts, in both its geography and its society. The lofty snow-tipped peaks of the country’s interior cordilleras tower high above equatorial forests and savannas where surviving  indigenous  groups still follow the lifeways and traditions of their ancestors. In the cooler mountains, at intermediate elevations, modern cities are juxtaposed with traditional rural landscapes where mestizo farmers cultivate their small plots of coffee, corn (maize), and other crops. The more accessible Atlantic lowlands, dominated by large livestock haciendas and a tri-ethnic population, have a distinctively different character.

Finance Preview: Barron’s Magazine – April 3, 2023


Barron’s Magazine – April 3, 2023:

The Battle Over TikTok Is Just Starting

The Battle Over TikTok Is Just Starting

Americans spent 53 billion hours on TikTok last year, according to one Wall Street estimate. If the service is banned in the U.S., much of that time could go to Meta, YouTube, and Snap. What it all means for stocks.

Barney Frank Says He Tried to Save Signature Bank

Barney Frank Says He Tried to Save Signature Bank

The former Democratic congressman, of Dodd-Frank fame, has a lot to say about the rapid demise of the New York bank that he served as a director.

These 15 Midsize Banks Have a Risky Specialty

These 15 Midsize Banks Have a Risky Specialty

With high concentrations of commercial real estate loans, these midsize lenders could come under pressure. But they look to be managing the risks well.


March’s Stock Market Came in Like a Lion, Goes Out Like a Bull

The Stock Market Rallied Into a Banking Slowdown. Be Worried.