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Avocado imports soar as Chinese develop taste for ‘butter fruit’

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    • By admin
      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
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    • Guest
      By Guest
      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 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . 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
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. 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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    • Guest
      By Guest
      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
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . “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 TheWorldNewsOrg
      via .ORG
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    • By Queen Esther
      This Is What Will Happen When You Eat Avocados Every Day....
      Youve probably seen avocados being touted as a heart-healthy superfood in recent years. Realistically, the truth isnt too far off from the hype. The next time youre grabbing that burrito or turkey sandwich, you might want to consider adding a healthy dollop of guacamole. Here are four reasons that you should consider eating a little bit of avocado each day.
      1. You may reduce your risk of heart disease.
      Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States, affecting nearly 27 million adults, so it only makes sense that we would want to protect ourselves by being more health-conscious in our dietary choices. Avocados have been shown to positively benefit our cardiovascular system in a number of ways due to its low saturated fat and high unsaturated fat content (predominantly the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) variety). Consuming excess saturated fat (>10% of total calories) may raise your LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. On the contrary, consuming adequate unsaturated fat in your diet may help lower LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol), maintain HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) and potentially improve your insulin sensitivity.
      In addition its nutritious fat content, avocados also contain a potent mix of nutrients (e.g., potassium and lutein), including plenty of antioxidants such as carotenoids, callexanthophylls and phenols. These compounds can help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress in the blood vessels while facilitating improved blood flow.
      2. You may have an easier time maintaining your weight
      Eating fat to lose fat; who would have thought? Avocados can help with weight-loss and maintaining a healthy BMI by promoting a feeling of satiety. A recent study showed that including avocado in meals helped extend feelings of fullness and reduced the desire to overindulge. The belly-filling properties of avocados is aided by their high fiber content, about 14g per fruit on average. In addition, higher avocado consumption has been associated with smaller waistlines and lower BMIs in observational studies. Lastly, some research has even shown that weight-loss diets higher in MUFA, like the kind avocados are packed with, may prove healthier for your heart than low-fat weight-loss diets.
      3. You might reduce your risk of cancer
      Avocados provide us with numerous phytochemicals that may help prevent cancer, including the previously discussed xanthophylls and phenols. A protein compound called glutathione, along with the xanthophyll lutein (both found in avocados), have been associated with decreased rates of oral cancer. Preliminary data also show promising results for avocados potential role in reducing risk of both breast and prostate cancers. Additionally, preliminary studies demonstrate that a specific type of fav derived from avocados is able to exert anti-cancer effects on acute myeloid leukemia cells. Together, these studies show that further research needs to be conducted to draw more conclusive results.
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      Recipes to try:
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          ½ ripe avocado
          1 ripe banana
          ½ cup low-fat yogurt
          ½ cup orange juice
          OPTIONAL: handful of ice
      Combine ingredients into blender and mix.
      Bacon Peach Guacamole
          1 ripe peach
          2 ripe avocados
          ¼ red onion, minced
          2 strips bacon, crisped
          Salt and pepper to taste
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      ***VERY  HEALTHY***
       
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      By Guest Nicole
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      By Guest Nicole
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      By Guest Nicole
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      China is calling in the dogs on North Korea. Kim Jong-un has 120 days to close all North Korean businesses within Chinese borders.
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    • By Raquel Segovia
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      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.
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      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."

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    • By TrueTomHarley
      "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."
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      By 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.
      It reads:
      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.”


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    • Guest Nicole
      By 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.

      Aman Shanghai
      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.
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/travel/2017-years-best-luxury-outdoor-adventure-holidays-namibia-nicaragua/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Avocado supply shrinks, prices soar  Monday, 24 Oct 2016 | 11:45 AM ET | 00:41
      Don't be surprised if you can't find guacamole to go with chips at your favorite Mexican restaurant. There's a shortage of avocados, and as a result supply is low and prices have doubled — and in some cases tripled — from a year ago.
      And those sky-high prices at supermarkets could be around until after the Super Bowl, when guacamole demand soars, according to produce experts. 
      "We're not going to have any avocados for anybody for maybe a week and a half," said Cythnia Guzman of Nature's Produce, a fresh fruit broker and distributor in Vernon, California. "We're seeing fruit out there at double the price it normally would be."
      Don't be surprised if you can't find guacamole to go with chips at your favorite Mexican restaurant. There's a shortage of avocados, and as a result supply is low and prices have doubled — and in some cases tripled — from a year ago.
      And those sky-high prices at supermarkets could be around until after the Super Bowl, when guacamole demand soars, according to produce experts. 
      "We're not going to have any avocados for anybody for maybe a week and a half," said Cythnia Guzman of Nature's Produce, a fresh fruit broker and distributor in Vernon, California. "We're seeing fruit out there at double the price it normally would be."
      "We're seeing fruit out there at double the price it normally would be"-Cythnia Guzman, fruit broker, Nature's Produce
      Hormel Foods, owner of Wholly Guacamole — the nation's top-selling branded guacamole — said in statement it is monitoring the situation and leveraging its global supply chain to "minimize any potential business disruptions."
      In recent weeks, the U.S. market supply has dwindled as a result of a grower's strike in Mexico. It has left retailers struggling to find avocados and resulted in some restaurants temporarily dropping guacamole from menus.
      "We've been out of guacamole for four days now," Abigail Alfaro, who helps manage the Le Vecindad taco establishment in San Diego, said Friday. "Hopefully we will get some avocados soon."
      Del Taco and El Torito Mexican restaurant chains ran out of guacamole briefly at some Los Angeles-area locations, based on calls Friday and over the weekend to locations.
      A check of several Chipotle locations found they had guacamole. Earlier this year, the chain was giving away free chips and guacamole in a "Guac Hunter" online game promotion. The free offer has since ended.
      Other major Mexican restaurant chains were contacted and most didn't want to talk about the issue although one indicated they had "proactively prepared" for the situation. 
      The cost of avocados is likely to put pressure on the bottom line of restaurant chains of all sizes as they struggle to hold down on costs. Indeed, avocados was one of the "primary" areas where BJ's Restaurants said it is seeing pressure in commodities, the CFO Greg Levin told analysts last week during the company's third-quarter earnings call.
      America's appetite for the green fruit has soared in recent years due to health-conscious consumers, the popularity of Mexican food, and fruit appearing on more restaurant menus. It also has helped that Avocados From Mexico, the marketing organization for avocados, has run Super Bowl commercials in recent years.
      Mexico is the major supplier this time of year for avocados and shipments from there have fallen more than 60 percent in recent weeks, according to data from the Hass Avocado Board. The strike was just resolved but the tight supplies and the very high prices of as much as $3 apiece for large avocados could be around for some time, according to grocers.
      "The interruption in harvesting was driven by internal industry issues that have been addressed with mediation by the Michoacan State Government and the Mexican Department of Agriculture," said the Association of Producers and Exporters of Mexican Avocado (APEAM) in a statement. "The primary issue revolved around sales negotiations between the growers and packers."
      Michoacan is one the world's largest avocado producing regions and accounts for about 80 percent of Mexico's roughly 3 billion pounds of production. California's avocado crop also is substantial although it has been coping with the drought and the harvest peaked in July and since has wound down.
      "The market got real tight a month ago," said Alan Arzoian, owner of Handy Market in Burbank, California. "All the inventory in the chain sort of disappeared. Pickers couldn't sell out of Mexico so they didn't pick anything. The strike is settled but it takes a few weeks for the food chain to fill up."
      According to Arzoian, a carton of avocados typically runs around $40 but he's been seeing prices up to $120 per carton, or triple the normal price. He said there was a similar supply problem with limes about two years ago that interrupted the market and resulted in that fruit soaring.
      Last week, cartons of Hass avocados crossing from Mexico through Texas were reported to be unusually low, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Supplies very tight," the USDA said last week in fruit shipping update that referenced avocados. "Trading very active for light supplies."
      Meantime, APEAM last week projected that 40 million pounds of avocados would be arriving in the U.S. market, and it forecast the next several weeks would see "strong, steady volumes moving forward to help offset the temporary product shortage caused by a work stoppage over the last couple of weeks."

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Chinese Communist Party prepares offensive against Christianity
       

    • By 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.
      ABC 
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      New York Times 
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