Putin to hold meeting with Russian PyeongChang 2018 medalists

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the exact date for the event has not been chosen yet, as they need to “synchronize” the president’s activities plan with the athletes’ competition schedule.

We are working on the organization of the meeting, which we hope will be held this week,” Peskov said, according to TASS. “Some athletes are now getting ready to participate at various competitions, some are taking an end-of-season rest. That’s why we need to synchronize their competitive schedules with the president’s timetable,” he added.

Putin traditionally greets Russian Olympic participants in the Kremlin and presents state honors to those who grabbed a podium place at the Games. The Russian athletes, who competed in PyeongChang under a neutral flag, claimed a total of 17 medals: two gold, six silver and nine bronze.

The number of bronze medals for the Olympic Athletes from Russia would have been 10 had it not been for the positive doping probe of curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, who was stripped of his bronze after testing positive for the banned drug meldonium.

The country’s roster for the 2018 Games was substantially reduced on the eve of the Games when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided not to invite a number of athletes to PyeongChang over alleged doping violations.

READ MORE: Russian hockey team claims gold in PyeongChang, beating Germany 4-3 in overtime

More than 50 Russian team members were ruled ineligible, including Olympic champion short tracker Viktor Ahn and Sochi biathlon gold medalist Anton Shipulin, neither of whom have ever been implicated in doping.

Those who were allowed to perform at the Games were obliged to compete without the Russian national flag and anthem, which were banned by the IOC.

The Olympic governing body stated that Russia’s provisional suspension could have been lifted by the end of the 2018 Games, but the ban was upheld by the IOC Executive Board due to two positive doping tests of Krushelnitsky and OAR bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, who tested positive for the heart condition product trimetazidine.

The decision to uphold the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) effectively prohibited the national athletes from marching under the country’s tricolor at the Games closing ceremony.

However, the IOC commission did recommend lifting the disqualification, should the remainder of the doping probes of OAR athletes competing in South Korea turn out clean.

منبع مطلب : https://www.rt.com/sport/419841-putin-to-meet-russian-olympic-medalists/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Russia becoming world’s bread basket with wheat exports feeding half the planet

Shipments of Russian food have reportedly grown by 25 percent since 2012. The country also boosted exports of products such as sweets and sugar.

The country has managed to capture more than half of the wheat market in recent years, becoming the world’s biggest exporter of the grain, thanks to bumper harvests and attractive pricing, Bloomberg reports.

The exports are reportedly set to beat another record this season. Russia is expected to sell 36.6 million metric tons of wheat overseas, according to Moscow-based agriculture consultancy SovEcon and the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR).

Nearly half of the world’s nations purchase wheat from Russia, which has been improving yields year after year in an attempt to curb its dependence on agricultural imports. In 2014, Moscow barred purchases of some foods from Western exporters in retaliation for sanctions.

Higher prices for wheat also helped Russia earn more from its food sales last year, according to Managing Director at SovEcon Andrey Sizov, as quoted by the agency.

Egypt, which imports huge amounts of grain, has become the main international buyer of Russian wheat. Last year, the country overtook China to become the largest buyer of Russian food for the first time since 2012.

According to the export center, Egypt’s purchases of Russian foods, including wheat and sunflower oil, skyrocketed 44 percent to $1.74 billion in 2017, while China’s imports of Russian food production like fish and oilseeds totaled $1.72 billion.

Russia expects to boost grain exports to China after Beijing lifted quarantine requirements on Monday, allowing the import of wheat from six Russian regions.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

منبع مطلب : https://www.rt.com/business/419840-russia-wheat-sold-half-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Early voting begins in remote Russian regions for 2018 presidential polls

The Russian law on presidential elections directs that early voting should start not earlier than 20 days before the set date of the polls, and allows this for crews and passengers of ships that are in foreign ports or on long-term expeditions, staff at polar research stations and also for all residents of remote and hard-to-access regions. Russian citizens who are abroad are also allowed to vote early, but no earlier than 15 days before the main polling date (in this case meaning voting for them can start on March 2).

Also, on February 25 the Russian elections authorities started accepting applications from citizens who wish to vote outside the places of their registered permanent residence. This year will be the first when the system of free preliminary choice of a ballot station is used at a federal level. The deadline for such applications is set as March 7 (March 12 for those who will spend March 18 in hospitals or pre-trial detention centers).

The Russian Central Elections Commission has reported that this year early voting for any Russian citizen is held at 17 ballot stations in 11 foreign countries. In addition, certain groups of citizens are allowed to vote at 140 stations in 74 countries.

Sources in the commission have told RIA Novosti that they expect the number of people who take part in early voting to reach 150,000. The majority of them – 120,000 – are those who work in remote and hard-to-reach regions of Siberia and Russia’s Far East: oilmen, gold miners, reindeer herders, researchers and others. About 30,000 early voters are sailors on long-term journeys and expeditions, for whom the authorities have organized about 1000 ship-based polling stations.

In 2012, the number of people who took part in early voting was about 323,000.

Deputy chair of the Central Elections Commission, Nikolai Bugayev, has said that it had been decided to radically cut the number of polling stations on the territory of military bases as previously the majority of Russian servicemen voted at ordinary ‘civilian’ stations. 

The total number of people eligible to vote in the  2018 presidential polls amounts to about 109 million.

منبع مطلب : https://www.rt.com/politics/419839-early-voting-begins-in-remote/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Task of rebuilding Syria laid bare in staggering Aleppo drone footage (VIDEO)

Several years of artillery bombardment and heavy fighting have leveled the country’s infrastructure, as can be seen in new drone footage captured above Aleppo. Flattened buildings and strewn rubble spread as far as the eye in the sky can see, highlighting just how much of a gargantuan task awaits those who eventually step in to rebuild the once-prosperous nation.

Syrians will likely look to allies including Russia and Iran for aid to rebuild their war-torn country, however, official talks in this regard have yet to take place. Western countries and Gulf states are unlikely to invest in reconstruction efforts in Syria so long as President Bashar Al-Assad remains in power, while Assad’s government says it does not need the international community to rebuild its war-shattered infrastructure.

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منبع مطلب : https://www.rt.com/news/419838-aleppo-destruction-drone-footage/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Hackney Colliery Band review, The Forum, London: A politically infused show from a modern New Orlean's style brass band

The ethos of a colliery band might hark back to yesteryear, but this nine-piece New Orleans-style brass band bring their sound – which is made up of saxes, trombones, trumpets, a sousaphone and percussion – bang up-to-date with electronics, making it punchy and lively with a real sense of get up and go.

And with it they’ve been changing perceptions of brass music since 2008, their jazz renditions of pop songs coming with plenty of oomph, youthful excitement and energy.

Opening with two of their own compositions, frontman Steve Petty adamantly reminds the crowd that they don’t only do cover versions (although they are best known for them), ironically before launching into a rendition of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box”, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The song is probably older than most of the crowd, who throw themselves into it, only slowing down when Petty uses the middle of a song – where the band reduce their huge sound to a much lighter hum – to extensively plug their own merchandise for a minute or so, describing items in detail… (which include baby grows and CDs, in case you’re wondering). 

After the self-promotion, Petty turns to politics and says HCB were hoping to “change the world with jazz”, through their own song “Bread and Circuses”, before adding, flatly: “Then Brexit happened, and then Trump happened, so we realised we couldn’t.” The song is a playful mash-up of jazz and funk that begins with the classic circus clown entrance tune and is slipped in right at the end of the band’s 2016 Sharpener album.

Petty doesn’t stop there, and seems to make up for the band’s lack of vocals by talking at length between each song. Following three tracks from Sharpener, the melodic “Timelapse”, “Reawake” and “Cramm” he goes on to describe Kanye West as “the next president of the world”, adding “though not the one we want” as the band plays their super-charged version of Kanye’s “All Of The Lights”. 

The live show is given originality by one of the trombone players downing his instrument and doing an unexpected solo rap, and later the duo of drummers are given their time to shine as the brass players step aside and let them show off. 

The band ends with an encore of their much-loved mash-up of The Prodigy’s “Jericho” and “Out of Space” and finally, with their cover of 1980s American band Toto’s “Africa”, although not before admitting they’d learnt from previous shows that they’d be “lynched if we didn’t play it”.

Which is perhaps not surprising, considering it’s their second most popular song on Spotify, and essentially what we are all waiting for. The finale reaches a climax with the whole band parading through the crowds in carnivalesque fashion, while “Africa” plays out –  another modern twist on the marching bands of yore they are clearly based on.  

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/hackney-colliery-band-gig-review-the-forum-london-brass-band-new-orleans-a8219116.html

650 pounds of meth ingredient hidden in highlighter markers

Feb. 26 (UPI) — Australian police said a man was arrested after officers found nearly 650 pounds ephedrine, an important ingredient in making meth, inside highlighter markers.

The New South Wales Police Force said it opened a joint investigation with the Australian Border Force after 50 boxes of highlighters, containing a total of about 21,000 pens, were put under an X-ray at the ABF’s Sydney Container Examination Facility.

The X-ray detected anomalies in the pens, which had arrived in Sydney from China along with other stationary items, and further testing determined they were concealing 648 pounds of ephedrine, an ingredient in making crystal meth, or “ice” as it is commonly known in Australia.

Police said the ephedrine could have been used to make about $120 million worth of methamphetamine.

Investigators conducted a controlled delivery of the shipment on Friday to a shortage facility in Sydney and three men, ages 24, 27 and 34, were arrested after they allegedly accessed the consignment.

The 27-year-old man was charged with importing a precursor to a controlled substance, while the other two men were released pending further investigation.

“We’ve recently invested heavily in upgrades to x-ray technology at our container examination facilities, including here in Sydney, allowing our officers to see further in to each container and detect even more sophisticated concealments,” ABF Investigations Superintendent Garry Low said.

“This technology, combined with the significant skills of our investigators, and our collaboration with our state police colleagues has once again seen a large amount of precursors seized before it could be turned into millions of hits of ‘ice,'” he said.

منبع مطلب : https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2018/02/26/650-pounds-of-meth-ingredient-hidden-in-highlighter-markers/3271519654103/