Guest Nicole -
Guest Nicole -
Tesla is close to securing a deal with the city of Shanghai that would allow the Silicon Valley-based electric carmaker to produce vehicles in China, according to a newly published report by Bloomberg.
Chinese regulations require Tesla to enter into a joint venture with a local company to manufacture vehicles in the country. Having a presence in the world’s largest electric vehicle market is a critical next step for Tesla as it seeks to scale production globally. Tesla has previously shared that it is looking to build vehicles and batteries in China which would allow the company to avoid a 25% tariff on vehicles it sold in the country. Last year, Tesla’s sales in China tripled to over $1 billion, or roughly 1/7th of its total sales.
[Photo credit: Tesla]
With China serving as a hotbed for plug-in vehicles and manufacturing, it would be an ideal location for Tesla to lay down the framework for its customers in Asia. China is also home to 1/6th of the world population, and with its ever growing middle class represents a large market for its upcoming affordable Model 3 sedan.
The Chinese plug-in vehicle market is on the rise, as the country seeks to pivot away from smog producing internal combustion vehicles in favor of clean energy vehicles like Tesla’s Model S and Model X. To support these clean energy vehicles, China has exempted buyers from paying sales tax which can reach upwards of 115% of the purchase price of the vehicle.
The report by Bloomberg comes on the heels of the announcement that more than 6% of Tesla’s global sales were in Hong Kong, of which 7% of all vehicles sold were Teslas. That will likely change if proposed changes to the EV incentives are put into effect which would nearly double the price of a new Tesla.
Tesla currently builds all of its vehicles in its Fremont factory in northern California and ships them to customers across the globe, though the other half of its supply chain is firmly rooted in batteries. Production of its newest 2170 lithium ion battery cells – the same cells being used in Tesla’s Model 3 – is taking place exclusively at Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada. Contrary to early beliefs that Tesla would migrate the 2170 cell to its flagship vehicles, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that Model S and Model X battery packs would not be updated from the existing 18650 battery cell form factor.
Building a Gigafactory in close proximity to Panasonic’s existing Chinese factories like its recently opened factory in Dalian, China would drastically cut the length of the supply chain and minimize potential disruptions.
We have reached out to Tesla for comment and will update this story accordingly as we learn more.
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Swedish auto manufacturer, Volvo, has announced it is now entering the high-performance EV market. The company is transforming its long-time racing and performance division into an EV powerhouse. Polestar will become a “new separately-branded electrified global high-performance car company.” The new vehicles will not bear the Volvo brand and will be introduced as an entirely new stand-alone brand.
Volvo purchased Polestar in 2015, a move that allowed the brand to introduce higher performing vehicles. At the time of the acquisition, Volvo stated that they intended to incorporate their hybrid technology into the vehicles. Now, as the automotive industry rushes to compete with Tesla in the EV market, Volvo has decided to transform Polestar into its own stand-alone brand.
Rewinding back to 2014, before buying Polestar, Volvo announced its new Drive-E scalable platform architecture (SPA). The SPA focused its complete product line around a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine, tuning the engine with super and turbochargers to increase power as needed. Since then, the company has nearly redesigned its entire line of vehicles around the SPA. The company has seen global sales surge 25% since 2014, and Volvo has yet to see the effects of a major overhaul to its best seller, the XC60.
Polestar announces new management team to develop electrified performance brand for Volvo cars
The Swedish manufacturer has long been committed to environmentally friendly vehicles and is directly going after Tesla’s market. Earlier this month, Volvo’s CEO cited Tesla as a major reason for developing an electric car, “We have to recognize that Tesla (TSLA.O) has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design.”
While it may seem odd that the new performance EV brand won’t be wearing the Volvo badge, the new brand could allow Volvo to mimic Tesla’s business in a larger sense. Volvo’s Polestar brand won’t be tied to Volvo’s network of franchised dealers and could allow the company to pursue direct-to-consumer car sales. Volvo has flirted with the idea in the past, and even allowed buyers of the XC90 order the vehicle online, directly from the manufacturer. While Volvo’s dealers still handled the pricing and delivery of the vehicle, it has allowed the company to test out sales model. Tesla has previously claimed that traditional franchise dealers are the wrong place to sell electric vehicles, citing dealers’ incentives to sell maintenance-heavy gas vehicles.
Polestar’s Logo, Polestar will be transformed into a performance EV brand over the next few years
Leading the new brand is Volvo’s former SVP of Design, Thomas Ingenlath. It’s worth noting that Ingenlath previously worked at VW along with other EV design leaders, Tesla’s Franz Von Holtzhausen and Lucid’s Derek Jenkins. While it is still to be seen what exactly Volvo plans to produce, this new direction for the Polestar brand puts it in direct competition with other EV-only brands such as, Lucid Motors, NIO, Tesla, and Rivian.
Tesla has confirmed that it is now in talks with the Shanghai municipal government to build a Gigafactory and manufacture cars in the city’s tech sector, according to Reuters.
“While we expect most of our production to remain in the U.S., we need to establish local factories to ensure affordability for the markets they serve,” Tesla said in a statement.
[Photo credit: Tesla]
Chinese regulations require Tesla to enter into a joint venture with a local company to manufacture vehicles in the country. While Tesla hasn’t announced a partner yet, all eyes are on Tencent Holdings, the Chinese internet company that holds a 5% stake in Musk’s company.
The EV company has not said which vehicles it plans to produce in China if and when the deal goes through, but the Reuters report cites a supplier source who says the company is considering Model 3 and Model Y production there.
The company plans to release more finalized plans by the end of 2017.
Tesla has previously shared that it is looking to build vehicles and batteries in China which would allow the company to avoid a 25% tariff on vehicles it sold in the country. Last year, Tesla’s sales in China tripled to over $1 billion, or roughly 1/7th of its total sales.
The company currently builds all of its vehicles in its Fremont factory in northern California and ships them worldwide, though the other half of its supply chain is firmly rooted in batteries. Tesla produces its newest 2170 lithium ion battery cells – the same cells being used in Tesla’s Model 3 – exclusively at Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada.
Tesla shares popped 1.5% at the news of the talks, leading to $382 in midday trading.
By Guest Nicole
That's what friends are for
Stray dog kicked by driver for being in his parking bay returns with a pack of friends… and trashes his car
via .ORGWorld News
The similar demolition of a Catholic church last year is prompting Christians to worry that the central government will begin ordering the mass destruction of church buildings nationwide as new religious regulations go into effect next month. These regulations grant the Chinese Communist Party increased power over religion, paving the way for escalated persecution.
according to ChinaAid
Chinese Police Dynamite Christian Megachurch
By Guest Nicole
(EFE).- China inaugura hoy el mayor parque de hielo y nieve del mundo en la ciudad de Harbin, al noreste del país, con 2000 esculturas talladas en hielo y diversas atracciones interactivas de temática invernal.
Leer más: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/2094502-china-tiene-el-parque-de-nieve-mas-grande-del-mundo
President Trump and China President Xi Jinping were one belly-bump shy of a bromance during last month’s trade talks. But now, U.S. and China are back at each other’s throats.
U.S. hits first
The Trump administration voted against recognizing China as a “market economy” in the WTO—a status that would allow China to export goods around the world at cheaper prices than competing countries.
What allows China to sell at cheaper prices? For one, government-backed subsidies that enable Chinese companies to trim expenses from their operations.
But China’s up in arms about the U.S.’ opposition. That’s because after joining the WTO in 2001, it was guaranteed market economy status 15 years later.
So naturally, Xi kicked back
As the world’s steelmakers gathered Thursday to discuss a global oversupply, China crossed its arms and refused to slow down production (or at least, to be the only one slowing down production).
And that’s an issue, considering the country controls~50% of the world’s supply.
China is calling in the dogs on North Korea. Kim Jong-un has 120 days to close all North Korean businesses within Chinese borders.
That means 100,000 workers that help fund the North Korean regime to the tune of ~$230 million a year would be sent home packing.
The U.N. turned up the heat on China to crack down on North Korea in light of its nuclear missiles program—two warning shots over Japan and a handful of threats will do that. And China might be the only one with the key to Kim’s heart: trade.
China controls 80% of all trade (~$6.3 billion) that enters and exits North Korea. It has already cut off North Korea’s biggest exports (coal and textiles), and is capping the country’s biggest import (oil).
If Rogen and Franco couldn’t get Kim to negotiate, maybe China can.
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
Chinese scientists aim to launch more quantum satellites to build hack-proof global quantum global communications networkBy TheWorldNewsOrg
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
By Guest Nicole
Volvo and Audi are looking to do more with Android in its forthcoming connected vehicles, the companies announced on Monday ahead of this week’s Google I/O developer conference. The companies will be showing off the fruits of this deeper integration at the event in San Jose, which goes beyond entertainment and navigation to help drivers and passengers control AC, windows, sunroof and more via Android.
The integration of Android throughout more of the infotainment experience in cars is a win for Google, which is moving out ahead of competitors like Apple in terms of gaining more real estate in automobiles. This will become increasingly important as vehicles become sites for more mobile activity and additional connected activities, which will lead to more generation of data that can be useful to Google as an advertising platform, as well as for other aspects of its business including media delivery.
By Raquel Segovia
BEIJING (AP) — El primer avión de pasajeros de gran tamaño fabricado en China completó el viernes su vuelo inaugural, un hito hacia el objetivo chino a largo plazo de penetrar en el mercado del transporte aéreo dominado por las potencias occidentales.
El C919 despegó entre vítores y aplausos de cientos de invitados en el Aeropuerto Internacional Pudong de Shanghai y fue transmitido en directo por la televisión estatal. El avión desapareció rápidamente en una jornada de viento y contaminación agravada por la proximidad de tormentas de arena desde el norte.
Tras el vuelo de 90 minutos, los pilotos de prueba bajaron sonrientes en sus uniformes naranja decorados con la bandera china.
La agencia noticiosa oficial Xinhua dijo que China ha pasado a ser “uno de los principales fabricantes de aviones jumbo del mundo”, el cuarto después de Estados Unidos, Europa y Rusia.
China presenta el C919 como competido del Airbus A320 y el Boeing 737. El vuelo inaugural estaba previsto para 2014 y la entrega a los compradores para 2016, pero sufrió demoras atribuidas a problemas de fabricación. Difícilmente podrá transportar pasajeros antes de 2019.
El analista de aviación Mohshin Aziz, de Maybank Kim Eng Securities, dijo que pasarán entre siete y nueve años antes de que se sepa si podría afectar el duopolio de Airbus y Boeing.
“Este es apenas el vuelo de ensayo”, dijo. “Con el tiempo necesitará algunos clientes fieles, que los tendrá porque hay aerolíneas de propiedad estatal que estarán obligadas a usarlo”.
Otros clientes potenciales esperarán a conocer la experiencia de los primeros, dijo Mohshin. “Uno no va a gastar mucho dinero en algo que no conocer”.
El fabricante del C919, la empresa estatal Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., conocida como Comac, pedirá las certificaciones de la autoridad de la aviación civil china y de reguladores extranjeros antes de efectuar entregas.
Bao Pengli, subdirector del departamento de desarrollo de proyectos de Comac, dijo el jueves que se planea fabricar dos aviones por año hasta 2019 para tener pruebas de vuelo seguro antes de iniciar la producción en serie.
Veintitrés clientes internos y extranjeros han solicitado pedidos para un total de 570 aeronaves. Entre las extranjeras están GE Capital Aviation Services y la tailandesa City Airways.
Se puede configurar el avión para entre 155 y 175 asientos y su autonomía estándar es de 4.075 kilómetros.
A firefighter risked his life to remove a burning gas container from a restaurant in southwest China’s Tongren City. The accident happened at a hot spot restaurant table, which suddenly caught fire. Firefighters quickly removed the burning gas container to the open air and kept cooling it with a fire hose. They then moved the container to a river nearby to cool it and kept watching until the gas in it was burnt out.
By Guest Nicole
Sacconaghi: Bullish on Tesla long-term Thursday, 9 Mar 2017 | 12:20 PM ET | 05:46
Elon Musk's Tesla is a growing player in China, where the global fight to develop electric, self-driving cars is raging hot.
Hong-Kong traded Tencent, a company best known for its WeChat messaging app, disclosed in a Tuesday filing that it's taken a 5 percent stake in Tesla for $1.78 billion. The investment follows Tencent's new stake in taxi-hailing app Didi Chuxing, which can be accessed through WeChat.
"I think Tencent likely wanted exposure to a company that was growing very quickly in electric and autonomous" vehicles, said Tasha Keeney, an analyst on the ARK Industrial Innovation ETF (ARKQ), whose top holding is Tesla.
"We think the autonomous mobility as a service market could be $10 trillion in gross sales globally by the early 2030s, and companies like Tesla or Baidu could take a cut of that," she said.
Tesla declined to comment to CNBC. Tencent did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
A Tencent spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that "Tesla is a global pioneer at the forefront of new technologies. Tencent's success is partly due to our record of backing entrepreneurs with capital; Elon Musk is the archetype for entrepreneurship, combining vision, ambition, and execution."
Tesla has 24 stores in mainland China, 114 supercharging stations and 348 regular charging stations, according to the automaker's website.
Last year, China imported 11,839 Tesla vehicles, nearly five times the prior year, according to China market research firm JL Warren Capital. The firm's analysis also showed that China's market share in global shipments jumped from 5 percent to 16 percent last year.
"In general, Tesla's done very well in China," said Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at KraneShares. Tencent is one of the top holdings in KraneShares' exchange-traded fund KWEB.
"There's a lot of effort in electric cars in China to help address the pollution issue," he said.
Another Chinese tech giant, Baidu, has its own autonomous driving project, while Chinese automakers have joined the Western giants in the race to develop a viable electric car. The investment money has flowed the other way as well: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is a top shareholder in Chinese automaker BYD.
"If it weren't for Tesla, I don't think the state of the electric car market would be anywhere close to where it is," said Kevin Carter, founder of The Emerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce ETF (EMQQ).
"Everyone is working on the electric car now, and almost everyone's working on the self-driving car, but the actual hardware of it [is made primarily by] BYD, Tesla," he said. "Who knows how this plays out? There's lots of things getting stirred together in this pot, lots of players, lots of money."
"In 1987, I came to the United States to pursue doctorate studies at Texas A&M University. I was aware that in America, many people believe in God and read the Bible. Also, I had heard that the Bible contains a lot of practical wisdom, so I thought I should read it."
It was no more complicated than that. Later, a Witness visited Dr. Fan Yu. and offered a Bible Study, which he and later his wife accepted. He tells his story in the Awake magazine, #3, 2017.
He was a mathematician. When he reexamined evolution, which he had absorbed because from an early age people told him to absorb it, he dismissed it on the basis of probability alone. That's what you do. You find some essential component of evolution, the odds of which could happen accidentally are greater than the number of atoms of the universe, and proceed from there.
A doctor’s poem is going viral in China and raising awareness that smog (surprise!) is a cause of cancerBy Guest Nicole
As toxic clouds of smog continue to cover much of China, more and more Chinese are turning to vent their anger online at the airpocalypse—even turning to poetry.
A poem written by a Chinese chest surgeon has gone viral for pointing out the obvious: there is a link between smog and lung cancer. But in China, where many writers and scholars are punished for speaking out about serious problems, people are hailing the poem as a bold move to raise awareness. Many websites have reproduced the poem in the past week, with the articles racking up thousands of shares and comments on domestic social media (link in Chinese, registration required).
Titled I Long to be King, the verses are told through the viewpoint of a “ground-glass opacity,” the term for a CT scan image showing fluid in the lungs that is an early indicator of lung cancer.
I long to be king,
With my fellows swimming in every vessel.
My people crawl in your organs and body,
Holding the rights for life or death, I tremble with excitement…
From tiny to strong,
From humble to arrogant.
No one cared when I was young,
But all fear me we when full grown.
I’ve been nourished on the delicious mist and haze,
That sweetly warmed my heart,
Always loving when you were heavy drunk and smoking,
Creating me a cozy home.
Dr. Zhao Xiaogang, deputy chief of thoracic surgery at the Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital of Tongji University, said the Chinese public has a low level of understanding about how lung disease develops.
“I see many cancer patients everyday and I feel their pain. I wrote this poem to bring some common knowledge of lung cancer to ordinary people,” he said in an interview by phone. “Lung cancer is the leading form of cancer in China. Stress, smoking and lack of sleep are all factors that can cause cancer, while environmental pollution is also a factor that cannot be ignored.”
The poem originally ran in English in the American medical journal Chest in October. Zhao then allowed the publication of a Chinese translation of the poem in The Paper (link in Chinese), a Chinese state-funded news website, last week. He said he has long enjoyed writing poetry and finds it is a way to express his emotions.
“The intense rise in lung cancer [in China],” Zhao told the Global Times, a state-backed tabloid, “is intimately related to smog.” According to official statistics from 2012, 569,000 people in China die from lung cancer annually. Researchers at the University of California found in 2015 that air pollution kills about 1.6 million people in China each year.
Expatriates and wealthier Chinese commonly use air purifiers at home and wear masks outside to protect themselves, but air purifying machines and effective facemasks are expensive. The poor are also more likely to work outdoors in jobs such as security guards, taxi drivers, and food stall operators.
China may have declared a “war” on pollution and shut down the worst polluting factories, but it is unclear whether the country will ultimately prioritize public health over economic growth. Manufacturing is still the backbone of China’s economy, though the country’s energy agency said last week it plans to invest 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020 in a bid to reduce reliance on burning coal.
However, authorities have sent mixed signals about whether it condones open discussion about pollution. State-run media outlets regularly air in-depth stories about pollution, but they tend to highlight steps the government is taking rather than investigate short-term or long-term health effects. Some Chinese artists have had leeway to protest against the smog, but online comments from citizens criticizing the government’s handling of the crisis have been swiftly removed. Last year, censors pulled an independent journalist’s blistering anti-pollution documentary, Under the Dome, from websites after it racked up hundreds of millions of views.
So it is unsurprising that Zhao was careful to stress that environmental factors are not the only causes of lung cancer. There are many things people can do to lower their risk, such as exercising, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, avoiding cigarette smoke, and managing stress, he said.
As for the toxic air? “Wearing masks helps of course, but it is best to avoid pollution altogether,” said Zhao. “But just as the haze in Los Angeles was solved eventually, I have faith that the Chinese government will tackle the serious pollution and that it won’t take too long.”
From exploring the wilds of Namibia to finding a new heaven in Nicaragua, the best outdoor adventure holidays to take in 2017By Guest Nicole
There's fresh impetus to explore Namibia's startling landscapes this year CREDIT:FOTOLIA
6 JANUARY 2017 • 12:31PM
If your ambition this year is to try new things and explore new places, you're in luck. From Nicaragua to Tajikistan, a number of hitherto "undiscovered" destinations are increasingly catering to discerning holidaymakers, with a host of new resorts opening and experiences launching over the year to come. Read below for more on the most exciting outdoor adventures to be enjoyed around the world in 2017, or for something more sedate see our guides to 2017's best wellness and fitness breaks; 2017's best luxury beach holidays; the year's best yachting and sailing holidays; and the best cities to visit over the next 12 months.
The Desert Circuit: Namibia Exclusive Lodges
The four new luxury lodges on the Namibia Exclusive circuit are located in some of the most remote and beautiful northern parts of the country, each designed by architect Greg Scott and built of local materials that reflect the region’s landscapes and cultural traditions.
Sorris Sorris Lodge in Damaraland has been built into huge granite boulders scattered across the desert landscape, its modern African rammed-earth structures and pool offering views over the Ugab River and the mountains of the Brandberg Massif.
Sorris Sorris Lodge
Omatandeka Lodge is surrounded by vast plains inhabited by the Himba people, table-top mountains and a vital wildlife corridor used by mountain zebra, oryx and endangered black rhino, while Sheya Shuushona Lodge, on the northern boundary of Etosha National Park, is surrounded by photogenic salt pans that change colour with the seasons and turn into a lake in the rainy season.
Finally, Xaudum Lodge, the most recent addition, is surrounded by the sand dunes of the Kalahari, home to some 3,000 elephants. All four lodges are located in areas with indigenous communities and contribute funds so these people can continue to live in traditional ways on their ancestors’ land.
The Explorations Company offers a nine-night safari, staying at three Namibia Exclusive lodges, from £8,985 per person including flights, air transfers, full board and guiding.
The Italian Castle: Castello di Ugento, Puglia
There are few buildings in Europe in which guests can stay above a Norman keep, dine beneath 17th-century Baroque frescoes and wander around a garden in which Bronze Age artefacts have been found. In April, on the southern heel of Italy, the (rather wonderfully named) d’Amore family will open their restored thousand-year-old Castello di Ugento to paying guests for the first time (doubles from £260).
Visitors can relax within walled gardens, in which more than 100 medicinal and aromatic plants are grown for the kitchen and spa; admire the frescoes painted in 1694 to portray the noble family’s history; sample local wines in an ancient cistern-turned-cellar; and take cookery lessons in a wing turned by the Culinary Institute of America into its first European school.
A maximum of 18 guests will sleep in stone-walled rooms with high, star-vaulted ceilings and views over Ugento’s rooftops, and they will feast on Puglian favourites cooked by Milanese chef Odette Fada, whose refined cuisine at the renowned Rex Il Ristorante in Los Angeles and San Domenico NY made her name as one of America’s finest Italian chefs. The nearest beaches are two miles away and Baroque towns such as Lecce are a short drive from the castle.
The Urban Forest: Aman Shanghai
Aman’s latest property in China (its fourth) must be one of its most anticipated to date. The Shanghai retreat (rates not yet available) is a picture of leafy tranquility – and full of surprises. If a visitor were to drop into the 100-acre property, planted with thousand-year-old camphor trees and interspersed with historic Ming- and Qing-dynasty houses, they’d never believe that they were within easy reach of buzzy downtown Shanghai. Neither the forest nor village are native to this area; both were moved here over the past 10 years from Jiangxi, some 500 miles southwest, by Ma Dadong, a pioneering businessman, when the building of a reservoir threatened their survival.
Now that the painstaking replanting (which took three years) and the building of the hotel are complete, the 37 villas in the new sanctuary are being decorated with original beams, floors, sculptures and carvings from the uplifted village homes. Kerry Hill, the project’s architect, has taken care to reflect traditional Chinese culture while blending in contemporary comforts and natural tones of earth, moss and creamy whites. Guests can take day trips to Shanghai, walk in the forest, sample Eastern cuisine, or relax in the spa, beside the two pools or in the Nan Shu Fang contemplation garden.
The South American Sleeper: The Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
For the first time in May 2017, travellers will be able not only to traverse the Andes in one of the most luxurious trains on earth, but to sleep overnight on one. The Belmond Andean Explorer has been built to carry up to 68 passengers in en-suite cabins decorated by the South African designer Inge Moore in contemporary light woods and comforting alpaca-wool colours.
Each of the train’s cars is fitted with expansive windows to frame views of the Andean plains, mountains and grand architecture, including the Unesco World Heritage Site of Arequipa. Although another two trains already operate in this area – Belmond’s Hiram Bingham, which offers day trips to Machu Picchu, and the more traditional Inca Princess – this is the first modern luxury train to offer trips from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa, on one- and two-night journeys. Chefs from the Hotel Monasterio in Cusco will serve modern Peruvian cuisine in two dining cars; guests can also enjoy spacious lounge and observation cars, and an open deck. Doubles from £738 , all-inclusive, for one night.
The Gorilla Camp: Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
One of the key trends in Africa in 2017 is the growth of camps that offer both sustainable luxury and adventure. Hence Wilderness Safaris’ decision to open Bisate Lodge in June as a luxury base for tracking the 10 habituated gorilla groups in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park (doubles from £1,762 full board, excluding gorilla permits).
The lodge, raised high above the forest floor in the amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, has been designed by architect Nick Plewman to echo the spherical, thatched structures that dot the hills, as well as the layout of traditional Rwandan palaces. The interiors by Caline Williams-Wynn have been inspired by the rich detail of Rwandan textiles, many of which are made using a technique called imigongo, an ancient art form incorporating geometric shapes.
When the first guests arrive, they will be able not only to track gorillas, but to hike to Dian Fossey’s grave and her former research station at Karisoke, to trek to the top of a nearby volcano, and then to relax in the extensively reforested gardens.
The Jungle Retreat: Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s first luxe mountain resort sits in the lush landscape of Nandaime, just 40 minutes’ drive from the pretty colonial city of Granada. Nekupe – or heaven, in the indigenous Chorotega language – was designed with the help of a feng shui architect to have the highest energy flow and least environmental impact possible, and the four freestanding villas and four expansive suites, with king-sized beds, made-for-sharing bathtubs and alfresco showers, are decorated in earth tones and warm woods that echo the serene setting (doubles from £720, full board). Floor-to-ceiling windows frame views over Mombacho volcano’s perfect cone, and wraparound terraces are perfect for sipping daiquiris, before farm-to-table feasts of nuevo-Nicaraguan cuisine.
Nekupe will provide access to Nicaragua's underexplored nature reserves
The surrounding nature reserve, which echoes with the sounds of primates and toucans, can be explored on ATVs, as well as on paths created for hikers, bikers and horseback riders, or on zip wires, which soar above the forest canopy. For those not expending energy on target-shooting, tennis and yoga, there is an infinity pool and a spa.
The Cook Ski Spot: Lech, Austria
Size matters to ski resorts, so the hotly anticipated coronation of Ski Arlberg as Austria’s largest contiguous ski area is big news indeed. Encompassing eight villages, including big hitters St Anton, Lechand Zürs, Ski Arlberg is already one of the best-known ski areas in the Alps. But now its four new lifts are open, linking the entire area to deliver 109 miles of pistes (three more than Val d’Isère), Ski Arlberg will join the ranks of the world’s über resorts.
New developments have given Lech a leg up
The four connected lifts, known as the Flexenbahn, will place Lech at the epicentre of the ski area (stealing some thunder from St Anton). While expanding its lifts, Lech has also been consolidating its position as Austria’s leading town for luxury ski chalets. In December – hot on the heels of properties like the Aurelio Clubhouse, Chalet N, Chalet 1597 and Überhaus, which have raised the luxury bar in recent years – Severin’s Alpine Retreat will open its doors. The nine-suite hotel will be fitted with only the best: Minotti furnishings, a spa with an indoor infinity pool and hypoxic chamber for altitude training, and a ski room with bespoke Indigo kit.
Guests can take over the chalet, for free rein over the suites, restaurant, capacious spa and fire-lit lounges, or plump for The Residence: a sleek four-bedroom private apartment spanning two floors with a professional kitchen, cinema, bar and outdoor hot tub. The Oxford Ski Company offers a week for two people at Severin’s Alpine Retreat from £6,440, including transfers and flights.
The Rugged Destination: Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan
Tajikistan was the second-fastest growing tourist destination in the world in 2015, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Which is why in 2017 Edge Expeditions will be running a two-week Luxury Tajikistan tour of the country’s spectacular Pamir Mountains: one the most diverse, wild, exhilarating and least-explored corners of the planet.
With a team of expert guides, a maximum of eight guests will traverse the raw wilderness by either four-wheel-drive vehicles, with a driver, or motorbikes. Journeying along the legendary Pamir Highway, travellers will spend days exploring azure mountain lakes, hidden valleys, ancient ruins and high mountain passes that very few outsiders ever get to see.
The trip starts off at a five-star hotel in the capital, Dushanbe, while on the road the ground crew will prepare yurt camps with hot showers, comfortable beds, Egyptian cotton sheets and gourmet meals prepared by the expedition’s private chef. Along the way, both British and Tajik guides will interpret the layered history of the region, while astronomers with telescopes will also be on hand to explore some of the least light-polluted night skies in the world.
Edge Expeditions is offering a 14-day Luxury Tajikistan journey by four-wheel-drive or motorcycle, from £9,495 full board, starting and ending at Dushanbe, including transfers, motorcycle rental or vehicle (with driver), back-up vehicles, guides and medic, but excluding international flights.
By Guest Nicole
Chinese Communist Party prepares offensive against Christianity
Chinese Communist Party to commence nationwide crackdown on Christianity including Jehovah's WitnessesBy The Librarian
China's governing Communist Party is set to launch a nationwide crackdown on the Christian Church.
By Matthew Carney - ABC
The Communist Party has just enacted much tougher laws that criminalise Christians if they do not pledge loyalty to the state.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that all religions now have to become "Chinese" and the new laws will attempt to bring churchgoers and their leaders under party control.
The new laws will put the state firmly in charge, giving the Communist Party the ability to hire and fire church leaders and change religious doctrine to make it more Chinese...
That means churchgoers will have to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party first.
There is good reason to be afraid. Chinese Authorities have already started the crackdown in the Christian heartland in the southern province of Zhejiang.
It's been extensive and brutal. In the past two years they have torn down nearly 2000 crosses and in some cases demolished churches.
Church leaders and their followers have been arrested and imprisoned.
There's also good reason to why the Communist Party is threatened by the Church.
Some say there are 100 million Christians in China — that's more than Communist Party members.
The Chinese Government admits there are about 25 million Christians registered at state-run churches where pastors are appointed by the state and theology approved by the governments Religious Affairs Bureau.
New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/world/asia/china-religion-regulations.html
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