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Never Offer a Russian a Cold Beverage: Russia’s Liquid Kryptonite Explained

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When you visit or live in a foreign country, it’s always the little differences that stand out the most.

And if you spend more than one week in Russia, you will quickly discover that Russians are not keen on drinking cold beverages. It’s not their cup of tea. Tea is their cup of tea. And it should be very hot tea. Ideally with lemon. Spasibo.

<figcaption>'If it's cold it kills'</figcaption>
‘If it’s cold it kills’

Sure, they’ll have a cold beer, or a glass of chilled kvas (it’s sort of like moldy bread water; it’s delicious, just trust us on this one). But you will almost never see a Russian chugging an ice-filled 80oz Big Gulp. (As a result, diabetes is not nearly as prevalent over here.)

If you’re at a Russian cafe and order water, your waiter will ask you two important questions: 1. Would you like carbonated water? and 2. Are you a freak who prefers cold water?

The moral of this story is that if your Russian language skills aren’t that great, it’s always easier to just order vodka with every meal.

Russians drink hot beverages. It doesn’t matter what season it is. We have a Russian acquaintance who told us a pleasant anecdote about a recent business trip he took to the United States: Our Russian friend was flying from JFK to LAX. It was July. Hot, humid, extremely sticky. You get the idea.

When it was his turn to receive beverage service, our Russian comrade asked the flight attendant for a hot, steamy cup of tea (with lemon, of course). She immediately replied to him: “Oh — you must be Russian!”

In fact, there’s even a traditional Russian method of drinking hot tea, “Пить из блюдца”, which basically involves pouring your tea into a saucer and slurping it in order to decrease serious bodily harm. We know at least one Russian who is so fond of hot tea that she burnt her lips and didn’t even know until her dentist asked why her lips had basically melted off her face.

What’s the deal, Russia? We demand answers.

Luckily there are many patient Russians who are part of the RI family; Russia expert and long-time Russian Elizabeth Curry was kind enough to explain why Russians are so weird:

Yes, apparently Russians don’t drink cold water because they’re afraid of getting sick.

Seriously. These people will jump into freezing lakes, but won’t drink a cup of ice water? Because they’re afraid of catching cold?

And these are the same people who crushed a million (rough approximation) SS divisions? If Hitler had known about Stalin’s Achilles’ heel — an ice cold Fanta — the Axis Powers might have conquered the whole world.

Oh well. According to our Russian Russia expert, if you can’t deal with Russia’s many delightful quirks: too bad! (Elizabeth finds a much more poetic way of saying this.)

Of course, there’s another way of looking at this strange phenomenon: Why are Americans so obsessed with cold drinks? We demand answers.

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When will face masks no longer be compulsory indoors in Spain?

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With Covid-19 vaccine campaigns in their later stages and infection rates generally lower, several countries around the world have eased their face mask rules.

Such is the case in England, where masks are now not required in shops and even on certain modes of public transport, or in the US, where fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear one in most indoor settings. 

Spain on the other hand has been strict on its mask-wearing policy throughout the pandemic and its citizens have willingly complied in general.

Many people are still wearing masks outdoors, even though they’ve not been required by Spanish authorities since June, as long as a safety distance of 1.5 metres can be maintained.

So when might it be possible to remove face masks indoors in Spain (other than for eating and drinking) ?

In early October, Spanish media reported that Health Minister Carolina Darias had said that the use of masks indoors would be required until the spring of 2022.

On Wednesday at a press conference after Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council, Darias stressed she never stated that the mandatory use of masks would end in spring next year.

“The face mask has come to stay, at least while the flu virus or other possible viruses are present this autumn,” she reiterated.

“Spain was one of the first countries to regulate the safety distance in outdoor spaces to not have to wear a mask outside, but we know the importance of its use indoors where transmission by aerosols is proven”.

“Let’s take it slowly,” Darias concluded.

READ ALSO – Calendar: When will the Covid restrictions end across Spain?

As usual, Spain’s regional governments have their own views on Covid-19 rules.

Madrid president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the regional leader with the most liberal take on Covid restrictions during the pandemic, has again taken a different approach by actually offering something closer to a date for when mandatory mask-wearing indoors will be scrapped.

The end of indoor masks should come “after Christmas,” stated Ayuso in late September. “Total” normality and “pre-pandemic” life should not be delayed beyond the spring of 2022, she added.  

Castilla-La Mancha president Emiliano García-Page has also suggested February 2022 as an end date for mandatory masks indoors in the central Spanish region. 

Are regions relaxing any mask-wearing rules?

Catalan Education Minister Josep González-Cambray said on Wednesday that “We will get rid of face masks in schools as soon as we can”. 

According to González-Cambray, the use of face masks in schools is a “health measure” dependent on epidemiological criteria, which is why it will be down to the health departments to decide.

In Valencia, the Generalitat government has said that it will scrap the requirement for children to wear a mask in the school playground. 

“We are working every week with the Health Department and in the next few days the protocol will be updated” because the numbers have been very favorable,” said Valencia’s Minister of Education Vicent Marzà on Saturday.

However, in the Balearic Islands, the regional government has decided the use of masks in the school playground should continue, causing an outcry from many students and their parents.

Balearic  Minister of Health Patricia Gómez confirmed yesterday that the use of masks will continue to be mandatory in school playgrounds “until the situation improves”.

READ ALSO – Going out in Spain: What are the rules for bars and nightclubs?

Why wait until after the winter if the numbers are good now?

The epidemiological situation in Spain is currently the best it’s been since autumn of last year, with a 14-day cumulative incidence of 40.85 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

This means that the country is currently at very low risk for Covid infections according to the categorisation used by the Spanish health ministry.

In addition to this, almost 80 percent of the total population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a percentage that’s higher still if focusing only on those who are eligible for the vaccine (people aged 12 and over).

According to César Carballo, deputy emergency physician at Hospital Ramón y Cajal in Madrid, Spain is in a good epidemiological situation now which should allow to at least remove their masks outdoors.

But flu season is on its way, government leaders and health professionals are keen for the use of masks indoors to continue until after the winter.  

“There is talk that we may have more cases of the flu. We do not know. Last year the flu disappeared completely. We will see this year,” Carballo told Spanish TV channel La Sexta.

“Health personnel are exhausted … to suffer a wave of flu this year would be a severe blow,” he added. “If it were up to me I would maintain that mask-wearing indoors should be required until January or February, accompanied by hand washing and distance”.

READ ALSO: Getting the flu vaccine in Spain in 2021: What you need to know



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‘Million Years ago’: Toninho Geraes vs Adele: The latest plagiarism case in Brazilian music | USA

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Legendary jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny once said that Brazilian pop music “might have been the last in the world to have a sophisticated harmony.” Metheny, the winner of 20 Grammy Awards, is one of many international artists to have fallen in love with the Brazilian music of the 1970s and 1980s and incorporated the sound into his own songs. Another example is Greg Kurstin, an award-winning music producer who studied Música Popular Brasileira (or Brazilian Popular Music) in New York, and now works with superstars such as Paul McCartney, Pink and Adele. Now Kurstin and Adele have been accused of plagiarism: singer-songwriter Toninho Geraes, who has written hits for the likes of Zeca Pagodinho, Diogo Nogueira and Martinho da Vila, among others, has claimed that the producer and the British singer almost completely copied the melody of his song Mulheres (recorded by Martinho da Vila in 1995) on the single Million Years Ago, which was released in 2015 and featured on Adele’s album 25.

This dispute over intellectual property coincides with the pre-launch of Adele’s new album following a six-year hiatus. The singer, whose new album 30 is due for release on November 19, felt compelled to mute comments from fans on social media after being inundated with messages from Brazilians on her publications and live transmissions asking her to respond to the accusations of plagiarism. For the time being, both Adele and Kurstin have made no public comment on the matter.

I only wish to protect my musical legacy

Brazilian singer-songwriter Toninho Geraes

“This silence is an evasive strategy,” says Fredímio Biasotto Trotta, Toninho Geraes’s lawyer, who last February sent two extrajudicial notifications to Adele, the British record label XL Recording, Sony Music and Kurstin. In a press release, Sony stated “the matter is currently in the hands of XL Recordings [which owns the rights to the record] and of Adele herself,” explaining that it had only been responsible for the distribution of the single in Brazil and that its contract had expired. XL Recording, for its part, has not made any statement. “We are gathering evidence to file a claim in the British courts, where judges tend to be meticulous in cases like this,” says Trotta, who has been working in the industry for three decades and has been a musician since the age of 11.

What has not yet been revealed, however, is the amount of compensation the lawsuit is seeking. The documents from Trotta ask Adele and Kurstin to provide details of the income derived from album sales of 25 and the profit generated by Million Years Ago on streaming platforms. Martinho da Vila’s album Tá Delícia, Tá Gostoso, on which the single Mulheres is included, was a hit in Brazil and sold 1.5 million copies, according to data from Columbia Records. Toninho Geraes, however, does not want to take legal action and will settle for his name appearing on the writing credits for Million Years Ago, his lawyer has stated. “I only wish to protect my musical legacy,” Geraes says.

Geraes found out about the surprising similarity between the two songs through Misael da Hora, the son of Rildo Hora, who wrote the arrangement for Mulheres and who has worked with the greatest Brazilian samba composers. “He told me about it, thinking it was an authorized version in English, and I was stunned,” says Geraes. The expert analysis requested by his lawyer identified 88 identical, similar or slightly varying bars in the two songs, as well as identical parts in the intro, chorus and endings.

“Brazilian music is very well known, it is a reference point and it is studied wildly everywhere in the world, especially that of the 1960 and 1970s, but generally all of the melodies up to the beginning of the 1990s,” says Trotta. Perhaps one of the most famous cases in this sense was that of Brazilian singer Jorge Ben Jor, who in 1979 sought compensation from British rock singer Rod Stewart for plagiarism of his song Taj Mahal (released five years earlier) in the chorus of the star’s hit single Da You Think I’m Sexy? Stewart publicly admitted the plagiarism in 2012, describing it as “overstepping the boundary” in his autobiography.

In keeping with Trotta’s claim, bossa nova musician and multi-instrumentalist Edu Lobo filed at least two international claims for plagiarism of songs he wrote in the 1960s: one against a French songwriter whose name was never revealed and another, in 1994, against Japanese songwriting trio Tsukasa Yamaguchi, Eiji Takehana and Yasuhiro Nara, who copied his song Ponteio Numa Outra and rebaptized it as Beatitude on their compilation album Multidirection. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

More recently, the heirs of songwriter Luiz Bonfá, who died in 2001, accused Belgian-Australian artist Gotye of plagiarizing a small part of Bonfá’s instrumental Seville on the hit single Somebody That I Used to Know, which won two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Record of the Year. Gotye reached an agreement to credit Bonfá as a co-writer of the song, a credit that has even been registered with the Australian Copyright Council.

Lawyer Caio Mariano, a specialist in copyright and intellectual property, says though that cases like this are not that common. “At the end of the day, there are also coincidences in music, so it is necessary to prove mens rea – the will and the intention to copy something – to be able to accuse someone of plagiarism. Something that happens a lot is the unauthorized use of musicians such as Tim Maia and Arthur Verocai, among others, who have a rich body of work. In the genesis of genres like hip-hop and rap, for example, there was the culture of sampling in songs. The problems arise when it is done without proper authorization, without worrying about whether it is a violation of copyright,” Mariano explains.

On the dispute between Toninho Geraes and Adele, Mariano opines: “There is a very striking similarity in the harmony, tempo and structure of the songs.” The lawyer points out that Brazilian legislation follows international copyright conventions and that cases such as this one tend to be resolved out of court, via agreements and negotiations. It remains to be seen if this is the path Adele and Kurstin choose when they decide to break their silence.

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South Dublin site with potential for 400 homes seeks €23m-plus

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A substantial residential development site of about 29.4 acres, with the capacity to build almost 400 homes in a prime south Dublin area, has come to the market seeking what is understood to be in excess of €23 million.

The “Brennanstown” plot, which is available in one or more lots, is situated off the Brennanstown Road, one of Dublin’s premier postal addresses, close to the villages of Cabinteely and Foxrock.

It is also close to the Green Luas line, and the site benefits from extensive frontage on to the Brennanstown Road and extends as far south as the Luas Green line at Laughanstown. The site, which is situated within the Cherrywood SDZ, is largely undeveloped and contains five existing residential units.

The land is for sale in one or more lots. Lot 1, known as “Druid’s Glen”, comprises about 8.8 acres of residential development land and 11.1 acres of forestry land, while Lot 2, “Lehaunstown”, consists of about 9.5 acres of residential development land, with a small portion zoned for town centre use under the Cherrywood SDZ.

Zoning status

The third lot comprises the entire 29.4 acres, with development potential for more than 370 residential units and about 600sq m of commercial space.

A report detailing the zoning status and planning potential has been prepared by McGill Planning and is available upon request.

According to selling agent CBRE, the two distinctive plots of lands offer interested parties the potential to deliver both traditional housing and private rental sector accommodation, subject to planning permission, in a well-established residential location.

Darragh Deasy, associate director with CBRE, said: “The scale, affluent location, connectivity and situation of the site within the Cherrywood SDZ offers the purchaser the opportunity to buy a rare development opportunity in Dublin 18.”

There have been significant developments within the Cherrywood SDZ in recent years, with the delivery of housing, apartments and schools well under way, further solidifying the attractiveness of Cherrywood as a residential location.

Upmarket development

Brennanstown Road itself has been home to a marked step-up in construction of late.

Park Developments is currently readying a launch in Brennanstown Wood, a mix of large spacious three-, four- and five-bedroom family homes, while Cairn Homes is planning an upmarket apartment and luxury home development, Barrington, also on the road.

The land at Brennanstown is being brought to the market by CBRE, on the instruction of Declan McDonald of PwC, acting as receiver on behalf of Nama.

The site was previously placed on the market back in 2018 for €35 million, but was withdrawn after developer Johnny Ronan issued High Court proceedings against a Nama-appointed receiver over the sale. The dispute arose over a right of way across the land.

Mr Ronan was subsequently reported to be interested in acquiring the land for about €29 million in 2020, but this sale didn’t proceed.


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