The Irish Government and Bord Bia have completed an “intensive series” of virtual trade meetings with China, just as tensions mount following the imposition of European and other sanctions against the world’s second largest economy.
On Monday, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and Minister of State for New Market Development Martin Heydon said the meetings were with both existing and potential customers in China.
An important market for the agri-food sector, exports have grown over the last 10 years and were valued at over €872 million last year, notably dairy and pig meat.
“In normal times, my Department and Bord Bia would lead at least one trade mission to China every year, and I am hopeful that an in-person trade mission to China will be possible before the end of this year,” Mr McConalogue said.
The meetings have taken place against an increasingly fraught international backdrop. Earlier this month the EU, UK, US and Canada co-ordinated sanctions against communist party officials in the northwest of China where Uighurs and other Muslims have been interned since 2017. China responded by imposing its own sanctions.
The Irish trade talks, meanwhile, have also focused on beef exports. Although China is considered valuable to future exports in the sector, they have been suspended since last May.
“My officials, through the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing, continue to engage positively with their Chinese counterparts with a view to reopening market access for Irish beef,” Mr McConalogue said.
“I very much hope that trade will resume soon, but we must recognise that the timing of that decision lies with the Chinese authorities.”
Russians’ Alcohol Consumption Drops 80% in 7 Years
Alcohol consumption has been reduced by 80% over the past 5-7 years in Russia, Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova stated at a working breakfast during the Gaidar Forum today, reports RIA-Novosti.
The Gaidar Forum is an annual event in Moscow hosted by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, which brings together economist, Nobel Prize winners, leading professors, and representatives of the Russian and foreign elite to discuss the most acute problems of the day, especially as concerns Russia’s position and strategic role in the world.
“We have managed to reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages by 80% per capita…” Skvortsova stated. Meanwhile, “the number actively engaged in sports has grown by more than 40%.”
She also noted that smoking among adults has dropped 22%, and has been reduced thrice over among children and adolescents.
According to a 2012 report from the World Health Organization, the number of Russians who drink several times a week had by then declined to 5%, and the number who drink several times a month to 33%. Russian citizens were found to drink about as much as citizens of Denmark, Great Britain and Croatia.
The Russian Orthodox Church has played a key role in reducing the amount of alcohol consumption in the country. There are more than 500 active anti-alcoholism projects in Russia today under the auspices of the Church.
“One of the Church’s most successful works in the sphere of temperance education is the celebration of the All-Russian Day of Sobriety on September 11,” stated Valery Doronkin, head of the Coordinating Center for Combating Alcoholism and Endorsing Sobriety of the Synodal Charity Department.
Special prayers are added to the Litany of Peace and the Litany of Fervent Supplication on the Day of Sobriety. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill stated on this day in 2016:
By decision of the Holy Synod in 2014, the day of the Beheading of St. John the Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist is deemed the Day of Sobriety, because precisely the mad state of Herod, drunk on wine at his banquet, was the cause of such a frightful order which he gave—to behead the holy prophet.
We know what terrible sufferings drunkenness has brought our people in the past, and which continue today: the destruction of families, the birth of sick children, people, losing the meaning of life and health, called to the fullness of existence, becoming invalids in youth only because they didn’t have enough strength to turn from sinful attractions and stop drinking.
According to the primate, not only the health of the nation, but also “the very existence of our people and state” depends upon this question.
Source: Orthodox Christianity
G7 countries accused of prioritising military spending over climate action
G7 countries “are stuck in the 1970s and 1980s” and avoiding profound societal changes needed to address the climate crisis, while embracing “the ruse of net-zero” carbon emissions, according to leading climate scientist Prof Kevin Anderson.
Speaking at a briefing on climate issues at the summit of the Group of Seven leaders, comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States, in Cornwall, Prof Anderson said: “Net zero is the latest ruse that we’re using to avoid making profound social changes and to avoid the rapid and just phasing out of our existing oil, gas and coal industries.”
The former director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK said this was also avoiding the adoption of challenging policies and the huge transformation of infrastructure required.
Net zero was “a way of passing the buck to future generations”, he said at the event hosted by the COP26 Coalition – the campaign group seeking greater climate justice commitments at the United Nations climate conference in November.
“We need leaders now who are prepared to grasp the enormity of the climate challenge but also the wider ecological crisis – rather than the eloquent, simple greenwashing of ‘business as usual’. And that’s what we’re seeing currently.
“Despite ramping up of good news stories in advance of COP26, the reality is that the gap between the necessary action and actual cuts in emissions for both 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees is just getting bigger. Playing into this ongoing failure is the ubiquitous language of ‘net zero’, under which almost any organisation, region or country can claim to be aligned with the Paris commitments,” Prof Anderson said.
“But dig a little deeper and claims of net zero are often little more than a ruse whereby immediate cuts in actual emissions are substituted for future speculative ‘negative emissions’, offsetting and other forms of mitigation denial,” he said.
Niamh Ní Bhriain of the Transnational Institute’s war and pacification programme said prioritisation of military spending, costing almost $2 trillion (€1.7 trillion) a year, was an issue that “must be brought into the room in discussing climate justice and global poverty”.
A total of 57 per cent of that spend on military, security, intelligence and borders came from G7 countries, she added. “This is a political choice. This is a question of political will; that we’re spending this much on the military.”
Unprecedented spending on borders by rich countries of the global north to prevent migrants coming to their shores was part of a militarised response to migration, which she predicted would become even more prevalent when parts of the world became uninhabitable as the climate crisis deepened.
COP26 Coalition spokesman Asad Rehman of War on Want said G7 countries, who bear the greatest responsibility for fuelling crises that threaten the lives and livelihoods of billions, could no longer make empty statements or hollow promises to act. “Leaders must listen to the millions of people in every corner of the world who are demanding a justice transition.”
As a first step the G7 must commit to doing their fair share of emissions reductions by 2030 to limit warming to well below 1.5 degrees, he said, and commit “to unlocking the trillions needed to build a sustainable economy of the future – one that guarantees universal public services, living wages and puts people before profit.”
Rising sea levels
Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion Ireland have been staging theatrical displays along the coast of Ireland calling on G7 leaders to take adequate action against sea level rise.
The UN estimates there could be anywhere between 25 million and 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, with many of those on the move because of the effects of sea level rise, an Extinction Rebellion Ireland spokeswoman said. “These estimates envisage flooding of Irish coasts; meanwhile, other island nations around the world are already suffering,” she said.
“Since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015 these nations have utterly failed to meet their commitments to reduce emissions and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Greenwashing and empty promises won’t stop the sea levels from rising; our crops from failing or the entire ecosystem on which our lives rely on from collapsing. 2021 is a critical year and the decisions made by the G7 are make or break,” she added.
In Cork, protestors used a tape measure to mark the rising sea levels and highlight the risk of flooding that coastal communities face. Off the Down coast Extinction Rebellion Northern Ireland members dressed as red rebels served tea at a table half submerged in the sea.
Spanish movies: Pedro Almodóvar shares preview of new short starring Tilda Swinton | Culture
Pedro Almodóvar has offered a preview of his new short drama The Human Voice, filmed in English and starring Tilda Swinton.
The Spanish filmmaker’s brother and producer Agustín Almodóvar shared a 57-second video on Twitter in which the British actress is seen walking silently across a grey background in a bright red dress.
The latest project by the award-winning director will officially premiere at the Venice Film Festival, which is scheduled to take place between September 2 and 12 amid heightened coronavirus safety measures.
Festival organizers said they are also planning to award a Life Achievement Golden Lion to Swinton, as well as to Hong Kong director Ann Hui.
A few days ago, Almodóvar stated that he felt like returning to Venice on such a “particular” year. “It is an honor to accompany Tilda on a year when she will receive a special award,” said the Spanish director, who accepted the same prize last year.
“The Human Voice is a festival celebrating Tilda, a display of her infinite range as an actress,” he said. “Directing her has been spectacular.”
The shared video clip has no dialogue. Instead, viewers hear music written by the score composer Alberto Iglesias, a longtime collaborator of Almodóvar’s.
The Human Voice is an adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s 1930 play La voix humaine, which also served as inspiration for earlier work by Almodóvar, including his 1987 Law of Desire and 1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
English version by Susana Urra.
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