China to build $242bn high-speed Beijing-Moscow rail link

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China and Russia’s multi-billion dollar high-speed rail network project

International Business Times:

China is to build a 7,000-kilometre high-speed railway connecting its capital Beijing to Moscow which will reduce the journey time between the two cities to two days from five.

The $242bn (£160bn, €210bn) project was confirmed in a Weibo post published by Beijing’s municipal government. The rail link will go through Kazakhstan and make travel between Asia and Europe easier, according to the post.

China and Russia had signed a memorandum of understanding on the ambitious project in October 2014. The construction of the project is expected to take eight to 10 years.

The huge investment would mostly be made by China, as Russia’s economy has been hurt by the recent oil price plunge and Western sanctions, according to critics of the project.

However, the high-speed rail line can provide many other long-term benefits that could make up for the cost of the investment, according to an earlier post on Sina’s military blog.

The new high-speed rail line can be used to increase the transfer of energy resources and food items, which are scarce in China, according to the blog.

It noted that the rail network can be used to import some of Russia’s fertile soil to China to improve the quality of its overdeveloped land. Further, the rail line could be used by Chinese farmers to migrate to Russia and set up small agricultural villages.

The relationship between China and Russia has been strengthened as the latter is engaged in a political row with the US and Europe over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The countries earlier signed a $400bn deal for Russian gas giant Gazprom to build a pipeline and start gas supplies to China. The 30-year contract will enable the company to supply 38 billion cubic metres of gas to China per year.

KFC Russia serves up teriyaki chicken with chopsticks

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FoodBeast:

If you’re ever visiting Russia and you have a hankering for some good teriyaki chicken, you don’t have to make a trip down to Japan. Rather, KFC Russia is now offering a variety of teriyaki chicken-based items. Also, they’ll come with chopsticks!

The newly inducted items include the Teriyaki Ricebox and Teriyaki Bites. It might seem a bit odd eating teriyaki chicken with a plastic spork, which is why KFC offers chopsticks to accompany the two Japanese-inspired menu items. The bites are made with your regular KFC crispy (we’re guessing boneless) chicken breast chunks. They’re then covered and tossed in a teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds.

Fans of a lighter alternative can find the Teriyaki Bites in a Twister wrap or salad as well. The bites will be available at all participating KFC Russia locations.

 

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Japan’s Nikkan Sports under fire after publishing hugely unflattering photos of Mao Asada

RocketNews 24:

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Mao Asada, the figure-skating darling so adored in Japan that she’s more commonly known simply as “Mao-chan”, hasn’t had the best week ever. After a less-than-stellar performance at the women’s short event at Sochi 2014, which ended in tears for the young skater, thousands of people took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their support for her.

But a photo spread in a recent issue of Japan’s Nikkan Sports, an affiliate of the Asahi Shimbun, almost definitely won’t make Mao-chan feel especially good about herself, and many net users are decidedly unhappy about it.

The issue of Nikkan Sports in question carries a spread of photos of the 23-year-old skater mid-routine. The photos they chose, however, are far from flattering, and many Japanese have described the article as “awful” and “cruel”.

“Are they making fun of Mao-chan here!?”

“This is really insensitive.”

“These are awful. I mean, she’s such a cute girl!”

“Is this newspaper aimed at Koreans or something!?”

Published on February 18, the paper has been around for a few days now. We’re not quite sure why Nikkan Sports decided to run such unflattering images, especially since Mao-chan is at Sochi representing the country to which the paper belongs, but we have to admit we’re happy to see her fans rallying for her so.

▼ The Nikkan Sports article

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Source: Matometa News

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Japan’s Nikkan Sports under fire after publishing hugely unflattering photos of Mao Asada

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“Bruce Lee Making Breakfast” by photographer VSE OK

Bored Panda:

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Russian miniature figure enthusiast Artem has come up with a unique form of storytelling that lets him create surreal and playful narratives using miniature versions of heroes (and villains) from classic action movies.

In Artem’s miniature world, which he shares with us as VSE OK on Tumblr, each miniaturized larger-than-life movie star gets posed in own personalized and often tongue-in-cheek story… Bruce Lee uses his lightning-fast punches, vicious karate chops and thundering kicks to serve up a healthy breakfast.

The artist’s sense of humor is delightfully dark. It’s well worth checking out the rest of his work, which is hilarious, but be warned – some of it is NSFW. He’s not afraid to depict racy subject material or “recreational substances.”

Source: Tumblr

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“Bruce Lee Making Breakfast” by photographer VSE OK

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South Korean ice skater Yuna Kim takes lead after Russian teen sensation falls

The Guardian:

 

Yuna Kim of South Korea performs during the women's short program at the 2014 Winter Games.

The South Korean star Yuna Kim overcame a bout of nerves to put herself in prime position for the Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating on Wednesday, after 15-year-old Russian sensation Julia Lipnitskaia fell on a triple flip and slipped down the rankings.

Nerves almost got the best of Kim in the short program, and her 0.28-point lead over the 17-year-old Russian Adelina Sotnikov is almost as slim as it could get. But Kim, with a snappy routine that had the crowd on its feet before she finished her final spin, showed she is still the favorite to win another title.

Italy’s Carolina Kostner, whose Ave Maria program is almost a religious experience for her, was just behind. Chicago’s Gracie Gold was fourth, within striking distance after overcoming a sense of stage fright.

Lipnitskaia, who won both programs in the team event to help the hosts take the gold, broke down in tears after her routine was marred by the fall. “This does not define her career or who she is as an athlete,” coach Eteri Tutberidze said through a translator. “She simply made a mistake. That’s all. It happens.”

When it happened, the crowd was stunned. And Kim had the lead, but barely, over Sotnikova.

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South Korean ice skater Yuna Kim takes lead after Russian teen sensation falls

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Michelle Kwan gets the cold treatment over her endorsement of Coca-Cola

Washington Times:

 

Are you now, or have you ever been, a shill for Coca-Cola?

A conservative think tank denounced Tuesday a nutritional advocacy group for its attacks on Olympic figure skater legend Michelle Kwan for being a pusher of soft drinks while sitting on President Obama’s fitness council, while the group doubled down on its position.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) had said Miss Kwan’s dual roles as a Coca-Cola “ambassador” to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and her membership on the Council on Fitness,Sports, and Nutrition were “unacceptable.”

It “cannot be reconciled, since Coca-Cola and the President’s Council communicate opposing messages when it comes to sugar drinks,” CSPI said while going on to note that of the nine athletes on the council, “at least five are current or former endorsers of sugar drinks.”

Council co-chair Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, has appeared in Pepsi commercials, for instance,” the group said. “Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix has endorsed Gatorade, and Chris Paulof the Los Angeles Clippers endorses Powerade.”

Allowing makers of sugar drinks or junk foods to rent Michelle Kwan or other council members is unacceptable,” said CSPI director of health promotion policy Jim O’Hara.

On Tuesday, though, Jeff Stier, senior fellow of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, said CSPI’s “absolutist view” was “absurd” and said it undermines public-health efforts “by suggesting that people who enjoy an occasional sugary beverage cannot be active, athletic and healthy.”

Michelle Kwan’s Coca-Cola endorsement does not suggest consumers drink too much soda. If anything, it conveys that people who do enjoy soda, can do so in moderation while also avoiding a sedentary lifestyle,” Mr. Stier said.

This latest campaign against food and beverage manufacturers further supports the conclusion that when it comes to addressing obesity, the most prominent public health activists are intent on turning the discussion about obesity into a war, rather than a solvable problem.”

A spokesman for CSPI pointed to the council’s own guidelines on Tuesday in response.

The council’s guidelines for “how to eat healthy” include “[drinking] water instead of sugary drinks” as one of eight goals people can try incorporating into their diet: “Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets.”

Soda companies use athletes to inoculate themselves against the studies, which link sugary drinks to obesity, diabetes and other health problems,” CSPI spokesman Jeff Cronin said in an email. “By endorsing Coca-Cola, Michelle Kwan is giving the impression that sugar drinks are somehow linked to fitness and health, when in fact the opposite is true.”

Mr. Cronin also dismissed the conservative group’s criticism, saying it had “been a while since I’ve heard about the National Center for Public Policy Research.”

This was because “presumably reporters have been less likely to cite the [group’s] role in the years since the Abramoff scandal,” he said, referring to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who resigned from the group’s board of directors in 2004.

Neither the White House nor Coca-Cola responded to requests for comment Tuesday.

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Why a Korean speed skating star changed his name and started racing for Russia

RocketNews 24:

 

Twelve years ago, South Korea’s Ahn Hyun-soo crashed into Apolo Ohno a few feet from the finish line in the men’s short track 1000m at the Olympics.

It sparked an intense rivalry between the two skaters that peaked at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, where Hyun-soo won three gold medals to Ohno’s one.

On Saturday night in Sochi, the Hyun-soo won gold again. But now his name is Viktor Ahn, and he skates for Russia.

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Ahn’s story is an example of how nationality is often secondary to the financial demands of being a professional athlete in an Olympic sport.

In 2011 Ahn fell out of favor with the South Korean short track federation. Injuries kept him out of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and at age 26 he was getting old for a short track skater.

With the deepest, most talented short track team in the world, they didn’t need him.

▼ Ahn in 2006

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South Korean journalist Yoo Jee-ho told the New York Times that the public thought Ahn was mistreated by the short track federation:

He is seen as a sympathetic figure. Here is a guy who’d done so much for the country at the Olympics and the world championships, but injuries and some politics outside his control kept him from returning to his glory days.

To keep his career alive, he looked for any country that would have him, and that’s how Ahn Hyun-soo became Viktor Ahn.

The U.S. tried to recruit him, but ultimately Ahn picked Russia because they paid well and he was virtually assured a spot in the Olympics considering the dearth of world-class Russian skaters.

He had to renounce his Korean citizenship to become a naturalized Russian citizen. He changed his name, giving this fantastic explanation for why he picked Viktor:

“First of all, the name Viktor is associated with the word ‘victory’. It’s symbolic, as I want this name to bring me luck. Secondly, I know of another Korean named Viktor, who is very popular in Russia and is well-known in Korea — Viktor Tsoy. I want to be as famous in Russia as he was. And third, I was told that Viktor is a name, which is easy to remember for Russian-speakers.”

Now that he has returned to his 2006 form, the Koreans are wondering how they let him go.

President Park Geun-hye has ordered an investigation into why Ahn was kicked to the curb by the skating federation in 2011.

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Why a Korean speed skating star changed his name and started racing for Russia