Proposed Oetztal-Pitztal link a potential benchmark for future development in the Austrian Alps

Controversy caused by the expansion of Austrian ski resorts is nothing new. The Alpine arms race continues unabashed, consisting of resorts intra-competing with neighbouring towns and those in adjacent valleys and provinces. There surely though has to be a time, which could already be upon us, when seeking an edge over the competition could reduce…

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Turkmenistan: A totalitarian ‘paradise’ of forced holidays and disappearing people

The timing of a demand made of many of Turkmenistan's state workers situated in the Dashoguz region to take their vacations in the Caspian Sea resort of Awaza, the site of one of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow's many high-profile, exorbitantly costly and ultimately futile pet projects, could hardly have been worse. Faced with the bizarre ultimatum…

Turkmenistan: President Berdymukhamedow’s new-found realpolitik born out of political expediency

For someone of such a narcissistic persuasion it is indeed unusual to witness what appears to be an exercise in pragmatic genuflection towards Russia by Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow. Operating perhaps the most closed, repressive regime outside of North Korea, Berdymukhamedow is not in the habit of dishing out public expressions of admiration or sympathy…

Lampard primed for Chelsea return, for whom Sarri remains the hardest word

The Roman Abramovich-era ha over the last fifteen years brought unimaginable success to Chelsea Football Club but with success comes expectation, impatience, and as demonstrated on innumerable occasions: the costliest of mistakes. A self-made, Russian oligarch who prospered during the aftermath of Soviet disintegration and the economic free-for-all under the disastrous Boris Yeltsin presidency, Abramovich,…

Will Turkmenistan’s proposed desert city be just a mirage?

Turkmenistan's Ashgabat-City project, provisionally sited to the north of the country's capital city will, if it ever comes to fruition, be in effect a 'Greater Ashgabat' initially designed to be autonomous from the most marbled metropolis on earth. But in light of conjecture surrounding the actual population of the former Soviet republic, just who will…

Slovenia: Can Maribor Airport be given the wings it needs?

The world has considerably moved on since Maribor Airport opened to commercial aircraft in 1976. For more than two decades the site, and its grassy airstrip, in the neighbouring Hoce-Slivnica municipality had been the preserve of an acclaimed air school. Only once the construction of a more conventional runway and terminal building had been completed…

Disparity between Premier League & Bundesliga exemplified by Hummels’ return to Dortmund

The return of Mats Hummels to Borussia Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park highlights the widening gap between those long regarded as Bundesliga elite and their Premier League counterparts. Television money and restrictive, although hardly egregious, ownership rules designed to ensure fans remain as such in the eyes of the clubs they support, and not assets from…

Europa League: Sliding Doors final poses more questions than answers for both Chelsea and Arsenal

What was initially billed as the likely denouement to the contrasting Chelsea careers of Maurizio Sarri and talisman Eden Hazard has, following the West Londoners' second-half evisceration of Arsenal in last night's Europe League final, instead switched the focus to Unai Emery's underachievers and indeed the Spaniard's own future at the Emirates. The speculation over…

UK: Local indicators of Global Climate Change

The importance of recent reports detailing the loss of species to our planet is often assumed to involve areas where man's destructive hand has been most evident. Whilst cliched locations like the Aral Sea and Amazon rainforest undoubtedly represent human intervention at its most egregious the loss of indigenous species is evident all around, in…

Turkmenistan: President Berdymukhamedow’s flights of fancy receive foreign assistance

With a little help from their friends Turkmenistan Airlines are once more airborne, undoubtedly to the delight of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow's family. In an era of meticulous attention to safety detail it is indeed rare for an airline's jets to be hooked from European airspace, but February's barring of the Turkmen flag carrier from operating…

Liverpool vs. Barcelona: A night where distinction dispatched presumption into obscurity

A few observations from last night's Champions' League tie between Liverpool and Barcelona: Liverpool have the strongest domestic squad in Europe, and in effect, the world. Barcelona were put to the sword without the absent Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whilst Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri seamlessly stepped up…