Category Archives: Foreign Reporting, Travel & Reportage

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Final Presidential Debate Lacks Killer Punch

New York, 22 October 2012 It might have been enough to halt the momentum but not to turn the tide. The final presidential debate, on foreign affairs, was the last face-off between the two men fighting for America’s top job. … Continue reading

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Why This Foreign Affairs Debate Matters

New York, 22 October 2012 This is the debate Barack Obama wasn’t worried about. A sitting president who had overseen the killing of Osama bin Laden and the undermining of al-Qaeda versus a rookie whose first foreign trip as a … Continue reading

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Pressure is on Obama Ahead of Tonight’s Presidential Debate

New York, Tuesday 16 October 2012 That over-used line might just be true tonight: this actually could be the debate on which the election hinges. The last time President Obama and Governor Romney met, Obama seemed disengaged, almost absent, while … Continue reading

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Barack Obama Struggling to Stay on Course

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Scotland on Sunday, 14 October 2012 The towering Manhattan skyline recedes into the distance as the Staten Island ferry churns through the water past the Statue of Liberty. The ­tourists are all out on deck, clamouring to get the best … Continue reading

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Drop in Unemployment Figure Gives President a Boost

New York, 6 October 2012 It was a welcome piece of good news for the President after a lacklustre debate performance. The US jobless rate has fallen to the lowest rate since the month President Obama took office. The latest … Continue reading

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Romney Scores Win At First US Presidential Debate

New York, Thursday 4 October 2012 There were no devastating put-downs or gasp-inducing zingers. But the first US presidential debate did deliver a surprise. Mitt Romney, until now derided as robotic, plutocratic and out of touch, was assured, presidential and … Continue reading

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Playing Hardball: The Challenges Facing Barack Obama

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Scotland on Sunday, 2 September 2012 THE emails tell their own story. In 2008, supporters of Barack Obama were galvanised by daily inbox updates from the Democrat candidate, full of soaring hope and rhetorical references to “change”. Today, the emails … Continue reading

Shabby or chic? New York’s Bowery House hotel

The Guardian 28 October 2011

New York’s Bowery House hotel, on the Lower East Side

New York’s past and future jostle for position on the weed- and graffiti-strewn Bowery. A century after it became a byword for desperation, the wide boulevard on the city’s Lower East Side is undergoing a transformation.

The homeless shelters and soup kitchens are still doing a brisk trade but they have been joined by modelling agencies, style bars and sleek hotels.

Homeless men and women file in to the Bowery Mission to be fed and showered. Across the street, at number 220, visitors from every corner of the globe check in at the front desk of the Bowery House hotel which opened with little fanfare in July.

Built in the 1920s to accommodate 200 people, The Prince Hotel as it was called then, was one of dozens of flophouses which sprang up on New York’s infamous Skid Row to give returning soldiers, down-and-outs and the down-on-their-luck a place to sleep.

On the second floor of 220 Bowery, long-term residents still pay minimal rent to sleep in tiny stalls, six feet long by five feet wide. Directly above them, on the third and fourth floors, aspiring actors, creatives and international tourists pay $62 to $129 a night to sleep in renovated designer versions of the tiny flophouse cubicles, complete with Ralph Lauren towels and Egyptian cotton sheets.

Guests have a choice of private rooms or dormitories. Their shared bathrooms have marble sinks, heated floors and expensive toiletries. Film posters and black and white photographs from the 1920s and 30s on the walls hark back to the Bowery’s edgier days.

The developers of the Bowery House have made a feature of the “flophouse aesthetic”, describing the hotel as “a living museum”.

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