All posts by culturecenter

Russia to replace US soybean exports to China amid escalating trade war

Russia to replace US soybean exports to China amid escalating trade war (Source

The ongoing trade conflict with Washington is forcing China to look for new suppliers of day-to-day produce to the domestic market. Russia is expected to be the answer when it comes to soybeans and other goods.

According to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the country may partially replace US as the leading exporter of soybeans to China. The nations are also planning to work more closely on deliveries of other agricultural goods, including pork, rice, poultry, fish, as well as developing joint logistics projects.

“Soybeans are in very big demand in China,” Medvedev told reporters Wednesday during his three-day visit to China.

“The Chinese market is huge as they import about 95 million tons of soybeans annually, including 30 million tons from the US.” China, the world’s biggest soybean importer, is currently involved in a long-standing trade dispute with the US. Beijing is seeking to diversify its food supplies after the volume of year-on-year soybean shipments from its overseas partner shrank by more than 80 percent in September.

“A certain part of the soy market has been made available. We agreed with the Chinese partners to hold a more active presence in this particular segment,” Medvedev said, stressing that the step provides Russia with a good opportunity to boost soybean production.

Over the past 10 years, Russia’s soybean production has been growing, with farmers expected to harvest a record 3.9 million tons in the current season that ends in 2019, Bloomberg reports citing projections by the US Department of Agriculture. Russia will reportedly ship up to 700,000 tons of the product abroad, which is still significantly less than Brazil, the world’s leading soybean exporter, which may sell more than 76 million tons this season.

France supporting Iran against US ‘trade policeman

France supporting Iran against US ‘trade policeman’ (Source

France has vowed to fulfil plans to defy the US’ sanctions on Iran while increasing the international role of the euro in order to prevent Washington from acting as the world’s “trade policeman”.

France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, told the British newspaper Financial Times that Europe is planning the formation of a special financial channel to Iran in order to keep trade flowing with the country and assure its own “economic sovereignty”, with the aim of making the euro as powerful as the dollar.

“Europe refuses to allow the US to be the trade policeman of the world,” Le Maire stated in an interview in Brussels, emphasizing that Europe must “affirm our sovereignty” in regards to the US sanctions on Iran and its wider economic hegemony.

Trump imposes ‘unprecedented sanctions’ as Europe scrambles to save Iran deal

After President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear in May, the European Union – along with Russia and China – remained committed to the agreement, and has insisted on defying the sanctions and facilitating trade with Tehran.



On the Edge of Nuclear Armageddon: Donald Trump Welcomes in the Age of “Usable” Nuclear Weapons (Source

Trump has launched a second nuclear age by rejecting the treaty that was meant to initiate the closing of the first one. The arms race was then slowed, but, alas, the competitors stumbled on through the end of the Cold War. Shutting that arms-contest down completely remained an unfinished task, in part because the dynamic of weapons reduction proved so reversible even before Donald Trump made it into the Oval Office. George W. Bush, for instance, struck a blow against arms control with his 2002 abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which rekindled Reagan’s Star Wars fantasy. The way Washington subsequently promoted missile defense systems in Europe, especially in Poland, where a nearly $5 billion missile contract was agreed to this year, empowered the most hawkish wing of the Kremlin, guaranteeing just the sort of Russian build-up that has indeed occurred.  President Trump’s cavalier and supremely ignorant readiness to walk away from America’s most solemn international commitments should offer us all a grim reminder of just how precious that nuclear weapons treaty regime has been. The most decisive covenant of all was the 1987 INF Treaty, which demonstrated that nuclear reductions are possible, and that the movement toward nuclear abolition is, too. The INF Treaty was the pin that has held the mechanism of hope together all these years. Now, our nihilistic president has pulled the pin, apparently mistaking that structure of human survival for a grenade, sure to blow.


China plans to ‘launch its own artificial moon’ by 2020

China plans to ‘launch its own artificial moon’ by 2020 (Source

China is planning to launch its own “artificial moon” by the year 2020, it has been reported. The city of Chengdu has unveiled plans to replace the city’s streetlights with a satellite that will boost the glow of the real moon. The artificial moon will be able to light an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometres. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu aerospace science and technology microelectronics system research institute, announced the news and said that the artificial moon would be eight times brighter than the real moon, according to the People’s Daily. He added that the testing of the illumination started years ago and is now ready. The manmade moon will have a coating that can reflect light from the sun with solar panel-like wings. The angles of these wings can then be adjusted to allow the light to focus on a precise location, Asia Times reported.

The exact details of the spacecraft, the launch date and how the artificial moon would be maintained were not revealed. Officials from the city of Chengdu said they were hoping to save money on street lighting and also increase tourism.

Cuban president arrives in Russia for economic talks

Cuban president arrives in Russia for economic talks (Source Associated Press)

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived in Russia on Thursday for talks expected to focus on expanding economic ties between the two nations. As part of his three-day state visit, Diaz-Canel is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union poured billions of dollars in supplies and subsidies to Cuba, its staunchest Latin American ally. But ties withered after the 1991 Soviet collapse as Russia, hit by an economic meltdown, withdrew its economic aid to Cuba. Putin, who visited Cuba in 2000 and 2014, has sought to revive ties with the old Caribbean ally. Earlier this month, Russian officials have signed contracts worth $260 million to modernize Cuban energy facilities and a metal factory. The two countries have also talked about expanding military ties.

Soviet warships and military aircraft regularly used Cuban bases during the Cold War, and Cuba hosted a Soviet electronic spying facility in Lourdes, near Havana.

Putin closed the Lourdes intelligence facility in 2001 as he sought to establish warmer ties with the United States during his first presidential term. But U.S.-Russian relations have steadily worsened, plunging to post-Cold War lows after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and the Kremlin has sought to rebuild ties with Cuba.

The business daily Kommersant reported earlier this month that Russia plans to provide a $50 million loan to Cuba to help it maintain and modernize its Soviet-built weapons.


America Is on the Brink of a Nervous Breakdown

America Is on the Brink of a Nervous Breakdown (Source “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” ― Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Yet another shooting. Yet another smear of ugliness, hatred and violence. Yet another ratcheting up of the calls for the government to clamp down on the citizenry by imposing more costly security measures without any real benefit, more militarized police, more surveillance, more widespread mental health screening of the general population, more threat assessments and behavioral sensing warnings, more gun control measures, more surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities, more “See Something, Say Something” programs aimed at turning Americans into snitches and spies, more metal detectors and whole-body imaging devices at so-called soft targets, more roaming squads of militarized police empowered to do more stop-and-frisk searches, more fusion centers to centralize and disseminate information to law enforcement agencies, and more government monitoring of what Americans say and do, where they go, what they buy and how they spend their time.

All of these measures play into the government’s hands.

All of these measures add up to more government power, less real security and far less freedom.

As we have learned the hard way, the phantom promise of safety in exchange for restricted or regulated liberty is a false, misguided doctrine that has no basis in the truth.

Things are falling apart.

When things start to fall apart or implode, ask yourself: who stands to benefit? In most cases, it’s the government that stands to benefit by amassing greater powers at the citizenry’s expense.

Unfortunately, the government’s answer to civil unrest and societal violence, as always, will lead us further down the road we’ve travelled since 9/11 towards totalitarianism and away from freedom. With alarming regularity, the nation is being subjected to a spate of violence that not only terrorizes the public but also destabilizes the country’s fragile ecosystem, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry. Clearly, America is being pushed to the brink of a national nervous breakdown.



Most people in the English-speaking parts of the world missed Putin’s speech at the Valdai conference in Sochi this is probably the most important political speech since Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946. The Russian blogger chipstone summarized the most salient points from Putin speech as follows:

  1. Russia will no longer play games and engage in back-room negotiations over trifles. But Russia is prepared for serious conversations and agreements, if these are conducive to collective security, are based on fairness and take into account the interests of each side.
  2. All systems of global collective security now lie in ruins. There are no longer any international security guarantees at all. And the entity that destroyed them has a name: The United States of America.
  3. The builders of the New World Order have failed, having built a sand castle.Whether or not a new world order of any sort is to be built is not just Russia’s decision, but it is a decision that will not be made without Russia.
  4. Russia favors a conservative approach to introducing innovations into the social order,but is not opposed to investigating and discussing such innovations, to see if introducing any of them might be justified.
  5. Russia has no intention of going fishing in the murky waters created by America’s ever-expanding “empire of chaos,”and has no interest in building a new empire of her own (this is unnecessary; Russia’s challenges lie in developing her already vast territory). Neither is Russia willing to act as a savior of the world, as she had in the past.
  6. Russia will not attempt to reformat the world in her own image, but neither will she allow anyone to reformat her in their image. Russia will not close herself off from the world, but anyone who tries to close her off from the world will be sure to reap a whirlwind.
  7. Russia does not wish for the chaos to spread, does not want war, and has no intention of starting one. However, today Russia sees the outbreak of global war as almost inevitable, is prepared for it, and is continuing to prepare for it.  Russia does not war—nor does she fear it.
  8. Russia does not intend to take an active role in thwarting those who are still attempting to construct their New World Order – until their efforts start to impinge on Russia’s key interests. Russia would prefer to stand by and watch them give themselve s as many lumps as their poor heads can take. But those who manage to drag Russia into this process, through disregard for her interests, will be taught the true meaning of pain.
  9. In her external, and, even more so, internal politics,Russia’s power will rely not on the elites and their back-room dealing, but on the will of the people.

Germany Celebrates Charlemagne

Germany Celebrates Charlemagne (Source

Charlemagne. The king. “The Great.” The eighth-century ruler who united much of Western Europe under a theocracy known as the Holy Roman Empire. Today he’s celebrated as a model for Europe to follow. But is Charlemagne’s heritage something to celebrate?

From September 23-30, the Aachen Cathedral, founded by Charlemagne, celebrated its 40-year anniversary as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. About 73,000 people attended the weeklong festival, which involved church services, concerts, cultural events, lectures, pilgrimages, tours, a poetry slam, music and a special light show. The focus was Charlemagne’s legacy. The cathedral is a symbol of how Charlemagne united Europe politically and religiously. The anniversary celebration included political and religious speakers. The ceremony’s opening service was led by Aachen’s bishop, Dr. Helmut Dieser. Following his sermon, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and North-Rhine Westphalia State Premier Armin Laschet delivered opening remarks. “Aachen is special,” Steinmeier said. “If a federal president comes to a place twice in half a year, there must be something special”. During Steinmeier’s previous visit, he went on an in-depth tour of the cathedral, which houses Charlemagne’s throne. Although Charlemagne was a political emperor, he set his throne in the middle of this Catholic cathedral.

Turkey plans to boost trade with China, reviving ancient Silk Road

Turkey plans to boost trade with China, reviving ancient Silk Road (Source

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara hopes to expand cooperation with China in trade, energy and the fight against terrorism.

The minister, who was meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, stressed that “Turkey attaches great importance to relations with China.” Wang Yi, in turn, said Beijing is ready to promote mutually-beneficial cooperation.

On Thursday, deputy governor of Istanbul Ismail Gultekin said the two countries have developed commercial and cultural relations for many years through the historical Silk Road and established close ties.

He also pointed to the progress made in bilateral economic cooperation under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during the past five years. That included more than $100 billion in bilateral trade, a growth of 120 percent in terms of China’s investment in Turkey, and the establishment of branches or offices in Turkey by 1,000 Chinese companies, Gultekin explained.

Ankara wants to join efforts with China in reviving the ancient Silk Road, Cavusoglu said earlier.

Turkey is seen as a gateway to Europe for the Belt and Road Initiative, or the so-called modern Silk Road. Last year, the countries opened a railway line connecting Turkey and Azerbaijan. A crucial part of BRI, the new railroad has halved the time it takes to move goods from China to Turkey.




A year after researchers at a New York university discovered microplastics present in sea salt thanks to widespread plastic pollution, researchers in South Korea set out to find out how pervasive the problem is—and found that 90 percent of salt brands commonly used in homes around the world contain the tiny pieces of plastic.

The new research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that the average adult ingests about 2,000 microplastics per year due to the presence of plastics in the world’s oceans and lakes.

“The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region.” —Seung-Kyu Kim, Incheon National University

Examining 39 brands sold in 21 countries, researchers at Incheon National University and Greenpeace East Asia found microplastics in 36 of them. The three table salts that did not contain the substance were sold in France, Taiwan, and China—but Asia overall was the site of some of the worst plastic pollution.

The study “shows us that microplastics are ubiquitous,” Sherri Mason, who conducted last year’s salt study at the State University of New York at Fredonia, told National Geographic. “It’s not a matter of if you are buying sea salt in England, you are safe.”

Greenpeace East Asia found a strong link between the level of plastic pollution in a given part of the world and the amount of microplastics people in those regions are inadvertently ingesting each year.

“The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region,” Seung-Kyu Kim, a co-author of the study, told National Geographic.



Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella in Chicken Sickens 92

Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella in Chicken Sickens 92 (Source Consumer Reports)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced another widespread salmonella outbreak—this time in raw chicken products. There have been 14 multi-state salmonella outbreaks already in 2018, including ground beef, melon, eggs, Honey Smacks cereal, and kosher chicken. What’s particularly concerning about this latest food poisoning alert is that the strain of salmonella involved is resistant to multiple types of antibiotic drugs, making it more difficult to treat. So far, 92 people in 29 states have gotten sick after eating contaminated chicken, and 22 have been hospitalized. The states where illnesses have been reported are: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The first illness was reported in January 2018, and the CDC started investigating in May. Nevertheless, there are still many unanswered questions about the source and cause of the outbreak. “This has been a difficult investigation,” says Colin Basler, D.V.M., M.P.H., a veterinary epidemiologist with the CDC who is part of the investigatory team. “We’ve isolated the bacteria to raw chicken products from 58 different slaughter facilities, but besides that we have not been able to pinpoint a brand or a purchase location, or even a particular type of product.”

Many types of raw chicken have been connected to this outbreak, including whole chicken, chicken parts, ground chicken and even some raw ground-chicken pet food that one victim fed to his dog. Another victim became sick after coming into contact with someone who raises or processes chicken for a living. Basler says the salmonella contamination in this outbreak likely happened “upstream” from the slaughtering facilities, meaning a farm or other facility where chickens are raised. As of now, no specific facility has been pinpointed—and it appears unlikely any will be found soon, he says. The last reported illness was on September 19, though the CDC anticipates logging more cases in coming weeks.

The CDC was waiting to release information until it could be more specific in its advice to consumers, according to Basler. But because new cases kept coming in—and because contaminated chicken could still be on supermarket shelves now—the agency decided it needed to remind the public of safe handling and cooking practices.

So the chicken, even if it’s contaminated, can still be eaten as long as it’s handled and cooked properly.

“Raw meat products always present some degree of risk,” Basler says. “We want to make sure people are washing their hands and preparation surfaces especially carefully, and always cooking their chicken to 165 degrees.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), in a release, was strongly critical of the CDC and the Department of Agriculture, saying, in part: “Five years ago to the day, I wrote a letter with my former colleague, the late Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, to CDC and USDA regarding their mismanaged investigation and lack of action in response to an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella that contaminated chicken products across the country.

“Now, five years later, CDC has informed the public of another outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella in chicken that has been going on since January. The federal government and the poultry industry need to take this problem seriously. Déjà vu is not an acceptable policy for dealing with food safety.”