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BRICS Vows to Bolster Role as Engine of Global Growth



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Five leaders of BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, vowed to deepen and strengthen cooperation in a bid to bolster their role as engines of global economic growth and prosperity.

BRICS leaders made this commitment in the Xiamen Declaration they signed during the 9th BRICS Summit held from September 3-5 in Xiamen, a coastal city of Fujian province in China.

“We will energize our practical cooperation to boost development of BRICS countries,” they stated in the Xiamen Declaration.

After increasing its combined gross domestic product (GDP) by 179 percent in the last 10 years, BRICS leaders believed that more can be done as they commit to second “golden decade” of practical and vigorous cooperation.

“We endeavor to build on our achievements already made with a shared vision for future development of BRICS,” they said.

Last year, BRICS’s trade has increased by 98 percent while their combined GDP hit USD16.3 trillion or 26.9 percent of the world’s number.

BRICS, which has total population of 3.6 billion, also posted USD179 billion worth of outbound investment in 2016 but only 5.7 percent of it took place among its five countries.

“This means BRICS cooperation still has broad space,” Xi said in his remarks during the plenary session attended Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Africa President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Michel Temer, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In pursuing practical economic cooperation, BRICS leaders emphasized the need to be vigilant against protectionism and inward-looking policies.

“We note that against the backdrop of more solid global economic growth, enhanced resilience and emerging new drivers, BRICS countries continue to play an important role as engines of global growth,” they said in the Xiamen Declaration.

They stressed the importance of an open and inclusive world economy where all countries and peoples can share the benefits of globalization.

“We will continue to firmly oppose protectionism,” BRICS leaders declared.

To foster a more just and equitable international economic order, BRICS promised to enhance communication and coordination with emerging market and developing countries (EMDC) to improve global economic governance.

This year, BRICS Summit was attended by five leaders of EMDCs. They are Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Guinea President Alpha Conde, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Tajikistan President Emomalii Rahmonov and Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

“We will work together towards enhancement of the voice and representation of BRICS countries and EMDCs in global economic governance and promote an open, inclusive and balanced economic globalization,” they said.

BRICS agreed to explore ways to innovate economically, saying innovation is a key driver for mid and long-term economic growth and global sustainable development.

“Living in the era of digital economy, we are ready to use opportunities it provides and address challenges it poses for the global growth,” they said.

They promised to support the implementation of the BRICS Innovation Cooperation Action Plan ‎2017-2020 while committing to further promote green development and low-carbon economy.

BRICS also emphasized fairness and justice to safeguard international and regional peace and stability under the guidance of the United Nations.

They condemned the terrorist attacks worldwide, seeking for comprehensive approach to combat terrorism by countering radicalization and blocking its sources of funds.

“We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomever and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. We reaffirm that those responsible must be held accountable,” they stressed.

The leaders also “strongly” deplored the latest nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“We express deep concern over the ongoing tension and prolonged nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula,” they said.

BRICS, however, underscored the need to address all conflicts based on universally-recognized norms of international relations and not at the expense of the security of others.

“We reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations as the universal multilateral organization entrusted with the mandate for maintaining international peace and security, advance global development and to promote and protect human rights,” they declared.

They expressed strong support for multilateralism and the central role of the UN in international affairs while promised to strengthen cooperation with the UN to increase BRICS’s voice in international fora.

BRICS gave importance of people-to-people exchanges to promote development, mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation.

The leaders agree to deepen cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science and technology, sports and health as well as media organizations and local governments.

With China as rotating chair this year, BRICS has formulated BRICS Trade in Services Cooperation Roadmap, Outlines for BRICS Investment Facilitation, BRICS E-Commerce Cooperation Initiative, BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation and Action Plan for Deepening Industrial Cooperation.

BRICS has also launched the African Regional Center of the New Development Bank (NDB), set up BRICS Model E-Port Network and reached extensive agreement on taxation, e-commerce, local currency bond, public-private partnership, and the network of financial institutions and services.

During the BRICS Summit, Xi announced that China will launch the Economic and Technical Cooperation Plan for BRICS Countries with RMB 500 million (USD75 million) for the first term to facilitate policy exchange and practical cooperation in the economic and trade fields.

He said China will contribute USD4 million to the NDB Project Preparation Facility to support the business operation and long-term development of the bank established two years ago.

BRICS leaders expressed gratitude to China for the successful hosting of the BRICS Summit while promising support for South Africa as the bloc’s next rotating chair. (PNA)

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Award Winning Music Artist, Jon Bon Jovi and Acclaimed French Winemaker, Gérard Bertrand Join Forces to Launch a Premium Rosé Wine



Image Source: David Fritz Goeppinger (PRNewsfoto/Gerard Bertrand)

Award winning music icon, Jon Bon Jovi and acclaimed French winemaker, Gérard Bertrand, have joined forces to launch a premium rosé wine label, Diving into Hampton Water, soon to be available in the US market.

Image Source: PRNewsfoto/Gerard Bertrand

The venture was inspired by Bon Jovi’s son, Jesse Bongiovi, former Notre Dame football player, who played a pivotal role in the brand’s creation. The idea to create a wine, emblematic of a bon vivant lifestyle, emerged during time spent in the Hamptons, between Bon Jovi and his son. Rosé, a popular drink for the Bongiovi’s, had initially been dubbed ‘pink juice’ by Bon Jovi, until Jesse and a friend inadvertently coined the name, Hampton Water, and an idea was born.

Bon Jovi and Jesse began exploring this idea as a real enterprise, designing bottles and building on concepts. They were eventually introduced to Gérard Bertrand by a mutual friend and the three quickly developed a shared vision, to create a unique rosé, uniting the essence of the relaxed lifestyles of the Hamptons and the South of France. “We’d tried rosé from everywhere,” says Jesse. “But when we visited Gérard, we realized that there is an entire coastline in France that is producing some of the best-kept secrets on Earth.”

Coincidently, Jon Bon Jovi and Gérard Bertrand, both giants in their respective fields, had a lot in common. “We just hit it off immediately,” Bon Jovi reports of their first meeting. “We found that we shared a love of family, food, friends, and of course, great wine and great music.” Gérard Bertrand hosts a jazz festival at his main wine estate, Château l’Hospitalet, each year. “For me the connection between wine and music is organic,” says Gérard Bertrand. “I want to create a link between the emotions that spark off a great song and good wine. They elevate each other.”

After a number of visits between the US and Gérard Bertrand’s wineries in the South of France, as well as numerous blending and tasting sessions, the wine is now ready for release. The wine is described as a fresh and lively rosé, with distinctive minerality, featuring Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, grape varieties characteristic of the French Mediterranean region.

Bon Jovi states, “Creating this wine with Gérard was just as creative as collaborating with another songwriter, Gérard uses his talents and wine knowledge just like a gifted musician. And working with my son on this has been an amazing experience.”

Diving into Hampton Water rosé wine is set to hit the shelves before spring 2018 and will retail for $25. (Gerard Bertrand)

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2018 Andrei Stenin Int’l Photo Contest Opens




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A little over three years ago, in August 2014, Rossiya Segodnya’s photojournalist Andrei Stenin was killed in Donbass while performing his professional duty. He would have turned 37 in 2017.

Andrei was famous for his photographs from hotspots, such as Syria, Gaza , Egypt, Libya, Turkey and, of course, southeastern Ukraine, of which Rossiya Segodnya is still proud.

In December 2014, the agency established the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest under the patronage of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.

Participants aged 18 to 33 can now submit their entries at The submission period closes on February 28, 2018.

The Andrei Stenin contest is the only competition in Russia that discovers new names in international photojournalism and develops quality standards for documentary photography.

The contest is aimed at supporting young photojournalists and helping them make a breakthrough in their careers.

This year contestants will again compete in four categories — Top News, Sport, My Planet, and Portrait, A Hero of Our Time. However this time around, photographers can submit up to three entries in each category, giving them a greater opportunity to demonstrate their professional skills.

The 2018 prize money is almost double that of the previous year:
* The Grand Prize winner – RUB 700,000 (around 12 000 USD).
* The first place winner in each category for an individual Photo Image or a Series of Photo Images – RUB 100,000 (around 1 700 USD).
* The second place winner in each category for an individual Photo Image or a Series of Photo Images – RUB 75,000 (around 1 300 USD).
* The third place winner in each category for an individual Photo Image or a Series of Photo Images – RUB 50,000 (around 900 USD).

The opportunity for young photojournalists to showcase their work at Russian and international exhibition venues during the winners’ international tour, now an integral part of the contest, is no less important to participants than the monetary award.

The judges include photography experts from leading news agencies and media outlets. They are Ahmet Sel, Visual News Editor-in- Chief for Anadolu Agency, the oldest and largest agency in Turkey; Jorge Árciga Avila, deputy director of photography at the Notimex Mexican News Agency; Pavel Kassin, head of the Photo Department at Kommersant; Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) special correspondent in Moscow Mladen Antonov; founder and director of the independent Russian photo agency SALT IMAGES Anna Zekria; and Ivan Sekretaryov, photojournalist with more than 20 years of experience, former photographer of The Associated Press (AP) Moscow bureau.

One more jury member is Wang Yao, Honorary President of China Photographers’ Association, President of Chinese Women Photographers’ Association, who in the past served as Deputy Editor-in-Chief at China News Service and Xinhua News Agency.

“For many young photographers, the Andrei Stenin contest has driven their career forward. They got a chance to receive feedback and see where they stand in the photography community. We invite young professionals from all over the world to participate and we wish them good luck,” Oksana Oleinik, supervisor of the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest and head of the Photo Projects Desk at Rossiya Segodnya, said.

In 2017, the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest was supported by major Russian and international media outlets, news agencies as well as the photo community.

Partners in several categories included the Shanghai United Media Group (SUMG), the Al Mayadeen TV pan-Arabic news holding and the International Red Cross Committee, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations.

The contest’s general information partners include: the news website Vesti.Ru, the Russian state Rossiya-Kultura TV channel, news website, news website ZhurDom and the Russian Photo website. International media partners include Sputnik News Agency and Radio, Askanews News Agency, Independent Media holding, Notimex news agency, RT TV channel and news site, The Royal Photographic Society, Shanghai United Media Group (SUMG), news agency ANA, TeleSUR international informative multiplatform, China Daily web-site, Frontline magazine. Industry media partners include the Academy of Photography, GeoPhoto agency, educational portal, the Union of Journalists of Moscow, the Union of Art Photographers of Russia, Young Journalists information portal and the festivals Fotoistanbul, KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO, PhotoVisa. (PR)

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6.2-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Northeastern Japan




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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 struck off northeastern Japan, at 7:51 p.m. local time (1051 GMT) Wednesday, Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The temblor was centered off the coast of Aomori prefecture, with the epicenter at a latitude of 41.0 degrees north and a longitude of 142.5 degrees east and at a depth of 30 km.

The earthquake logged 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, which peaks at 7 in some areas of Aomori prefecture, Hokkaido prefecture, and Iwate prefecture.

So far, no major damage or injuries were reported, and no tsunami warning had been issued. (Xinhua)

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Hong Kong Airlines to Recruit New Cadet Pilots



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Hong Kong Airlines has kicked off recruitment for a new batch of cadet pilots, following the successful launch of its inaugural Cadet Pilot Programme last year. The much-coveted 2017 Cadet Pilot Programme received over 4,000 applications last year and Hong Kong Airlines is excited to welcome new applicants again. The recruitment phase will take place from now until 15 February 2018. Interested applicants can apply online or email for more information.

Hong Kong Airlines’ commitment to developing home-grown talent will once again see it target young people with Hong Kong Permanent Resident status for its second cadet pilot recruitment. All new cadets will undergo 70 weeks of flight training, which includes ground school training and multi-crew cooperation training using medium jet simulator. Following completion of the programme, successful cadets will receive their official appointment as Second Officers of Hong Kong Airlines.

Having served a record seven million passengers in 2017, which represented an impressive 10% climb year-on-year, Hong Kong Airlines is witnessing passenger growth that exceeds the industry average of 7.5% (source: IATA). In turn, the airline has invested substantially in new products, service and infrastructure to help cater to this growing demand.

Currently in the works is the development of a new training centre, which will provide state-of-the-art training facilities to help nurture a new generation of aviation elites. In addition, Hong Kong Airlines is also looking to expand its fleet to 50 aircraft strong by 2019, and is poised to take delivery of all 21 Airbus A350s by 2020. These improvements will prove pivotal to the airline as it continues to transition into a global carrier with long-haul aspirations that will include non-stop services to San Francisco, New York and London in 2018.

“Hong Kong Airlines is currently undergoing a period of unprecedented growth and we continue to seek new talent every day. Our recruitment for new pilots has seen a double digit jump over the past two years and we are committed in our pursuit to help spur growth within the industry. By solidify Hong Kong’s position as a world-class international aviation hub, we can provide our customers with more travel options and flexibility,” said Mr Tang King Shing, Vice Chairman of Hong Kong Airlines.

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