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The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea between February 9 and February 25. Olympians are in full training season preparing for the big games that are less than two years away.
Winter Olympics include Skiing, Bobsleigh, Curling, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, Luge, Snowboarding and several other disciplines.
The games captivate the world, as they do every time they’re in progress.
Cuba was in the spotlight at the 2016 Summer Olympics. The small country won 11 medals in total, and this includes 5 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze metals.
Cuba dominated two sports during the Olympics: wrestling and boxing. The two sports are competitive, but Cuba came out on top with:
- Ismael Borrero and Mijain Lopez winning gold in the men’s wrestling division (59 kg and 130 kg respectively).
- Julio Cesar La Cruz, Robeisy Ramirez and Arlen Lopez walking away with the gold medal in boxing (light heavyweight, bantamweight and middleweight).
Idalys Ortiz’s performance in Judo led her to win the silver medal in the women’s 78+ kg division. The Cuban squad won 6 medals in boxing and 3 in wrestling, with the remaining medals earned in Judo and discus.
Cuba’s rowing competitors qualified four boats. Two of the crews confirmed their spots for the single and double sculls. A top six finish at the 2016 Latin American Continental Qualifications helped Cuba secure one more boat per gender.
The four boats left the 2016 Olympics empty-handed. Angel Fournier was a powerhouse in the single sculls as the top rated rower in the heats and a first-place rank in the quarterfinals. He ranked third in the semis, but Fournier fell short in the end, ranking sixth in the finals.
Cuba failed to qualify in the double sculls and didn’t advance.
Tension between Cuba and South Korea lessened in recent months, with the two countries establishing diplomatic relations in 2016. Trade among the two countries expanded in 2015.
Cuba is a country that has never participated in the Winter Olympics. The lack of presence at the Winter games had made Cuba the most successful Olympic team among nations that never participated in Winter Olympics.
The country first participated in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, winning two gold medals and ranking twelfth in the Summer Games. Cuba’s highest rank in the Summer Olympics was third in 1904 in St. Louis when they won nine medals.
South Korea promises a seamless preparation for the country’s first Olympic hosting. Issues in Rio will not be repeated, according to South Korea.
A great deal of preparation will go into the games.
The lack of a Cuban presence at the Winter Olympics shouldn’t keep fans from watching the games.
Rumors from the International Olympic Committee state that rowing and canoeing events in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are up for move consideration. The events are facing a proposed move to South Korea. The games may move due to rising costs despite a smaller venue promised.
Teams around the globe are preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pita Taufatofua, the Taekwondo athlete, plans to represent his country in cross-country skiing at the games.
Venezuela’s Petroleum and Mining Minister Eluogio del Pino announced on June 11 that crude oil production in the Orinoco Belt jumped from 20,000 to 30,000 barrels per day. The increased production greatly benefits the region, which is facing challenges amidst falling oil prices.
The announcement comes just one day after the minister attended an agreement signing between Venezuela and Aruba. The agreements, which were ratified in front of Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman, initiate the revival of an old oil refinery and other joint development projects.
Authorities from both governments gathered in Caracas to sign the agreements, which will reopen a 209,000 BPD refinery in San Nicolas, Aruba.
Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, was in attendance as was the energy and petroleum minister and the CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corporation.
The meeting follows several months of negotiations between CITGO Aruba and the Aruban government. The agreement will reactivate operations at the refinery, which had been idle since 2012, through a lease agreement lasting 15 years. A 10-year extension option is available.
CITGO Aruba will be operating the facility, and CITGO Petroleum Corporation will provide the group with services.
The project will transform the refinery into an upgrader for Venezuela’s extra-heavy crude within the next 18-24 months. The project will require an investment of $450-$650 million, which will be secured through external lenders.
Once the refinery has been transformed, the facility will upgrade the extra-heavy crude sourced from the Orinoco Oil Belt into intermediate crude. From here, the oil will be sent to CITGO’s refining network in the U.S. to be further processed. Meanwhile, PDVSA will purchase naphtha to dilute its extra-heavy crude.
A complementary project is also being considered that would allow for natural gas in Venezuela’s Paraguana region to be used. Natural gas would not only lower costs, but also reduce refinery emissions.
The United Nations General Assembly elected its new president on Monday through a rare secret ballot vote. The assembly chose Peter Thomson, the Permanent Representative of Fiji, to serve as President of its 71st session.
Thomson will replace Mogens Lykketoft, current President of the General Assembly, in September at the start of the 71st General Assembly session.
The Permanent Representative of Fiji beat Cyprus representative Andreas Mavroyiannis 94 to 90 in a secret ballot vote.
The General Assembly selects a president using a geographical rotation system. Regional groups put forward a candidate every year. If the group cannot come to an agreement on a nominee, a secret ballot vote is held.
This is the first time a representative of a small island developing State in the Pacific has been elected as Assembly President. Mr. Thomson said he plans to be vocal on climate change issues. He also noted that the 71st Assembly session will focus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Mr. Thomson plans to bring a spirit of commitment and loyalty to the common good.
Mr. Lykketoft, current Assembly President, acknowledged Mr. Thomson’s experience in rural development matters and international affairs. He expressed his support for Mr. Thomson, but noted that there is still much work to be done in the current session, including the large movement of migrants and refugees in September.
Mr. Thomson served as Chair of the Executive Board of the UN Population Fund, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Office for Project Services. He also served as Vice President of the General Assembly from 2010 through 2011.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Mr. Thomson on his achievement and said he believes the President-elect will help the UN carry out its 2030 Agenda and reach its goals for the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The UN General Assembly is comprised of 193 Member States and meets in regular sessions that run from September through December of each year.
Cuban President Raul Castro gave his condolences to the United States following a massacre in Orlando, Florida on Sunday. A statement was provided to a news channel that operates on Cuban State Television.
The statement read, “I reiterate that Cuba rejects and condemns all acts of terrorism.”
Cuban and United States relations have been in turmoil since 1962 when United States President Kennedy signed into law a Cuban embargo. The embargo effectively cut the country of Cuba from the United States.
Efforts to end the embargo reached its heights on March 21, 2016 when United States President Barack Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro shook hands in Havana. Obama requested that the United States Congress lift the embargo on Cuba after being in place for over 50 years.
Castro’s condolences come at a time when both countries continue to cooperate with each other after over 50 years of strife.
The Orlando, Florida massacre left 49 people dead and over 50 people injured following a shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse. The attack came early on Sunday morning before the club was closing for the night.
The attacker, Omar Mateen, was a 29-year old male who was born in New York and grew up in Long Island. The shooter reportedly called 911 before the shooting to pledge his allegiance to the extremist group ISIS. The massacre ended with Mateen exchanging gunfire with officers and members of the SWAT team.
Mateen was of Muslim faith and pledged his alliance to many extremist groups. The shooter reportedly visited the LGBT nightclub often and was considered a regular. Mateen was married with a child. Recent findings point to the shooter using gay dating apps and sending private pictures to men.
Castro’s statement gave condolences to the United States government and the people following the attacks, but he emphasized his condolences to the friends and family of the victims.
Researchers at Nottingham and Oxford Universities have found a promising method to slow the growth of one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.
The team of researchers used a new drug that can attack cancer tumors in deeper regions than conventional treatments, like radiotherapy and chemotherapy, can reach.
The drug, known as JQ1, was tested on mice with human cancer tumors. JQ1 alters a cancer cell’s response to hypoxia (low oxygen), which is found in triple negative cancer, a form of the disease that is the most difficult to treat.
During a trial, scientists found that JQ1 was able to slow cancerous tumor growth by about one third each day.
When combined with conventional therapies, the researchers say the drug may offer added benefits to patients with triple negative breast cancer. Triple negative patients account for roughly 15% of the 50,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
The triple negative variation of breast cancer is difficult to beat because the cancer cells have adapted to the low oxygen environment, which makes them more resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It also lacks the receptors for progesterone, oestrogen and the protein HER2. The most successful treatments for breast cancer use these receptors to target the disease.
When oxygen levels are low, tumor cells activate certain genes that send signals for blood vessels to supply them with more oxygen. This response gives the cells the nutrients they need to continue growing.
JQ1, a BET inhibitor, addresses this issue on the molecular level.
Triple negative breast cancer is difficult to treat because of its aggressiveness, but the disease is typically responsive to chemotherapy.
Dr. Alan McIntyre, the study’s co-author, says the drug can mean added benefits for patients and may play an important role in the treatment of aggressive breast cancers.
Cuba’s construction minister and Vietnam’s transport minister met in Hanoi on June 13 to discuss cooperation on transportation and ways to improve cooperation in the future.
Truong Quang Nghia, Vietnam’s Transport Minister, said that while his country faces economic challenges, it views infrastructure development as a top priority. The country is encouraging investment from all sources, including foreign and private investors, through a public-private partnership or build-operate-transfer arrangement.
Vietnam is in the midst of changing certain mechanisms and participating in multilateral free trade agreements to help attract foreign investment.
Mr. Nghia said the supervisors and advisors of the Dinvai Company, part of Cuba’s ministry, worked well with other projects in Vietnam. However, he noted that the company can improve its performance by updating its understanding of local laws and its professional knowledge.
Cuba’s Construction Minister Rene Mesa Villafana says the Communist Party’s 7th national congress resolution in April calls for more resources to develop infrastructure. The resolution requires the improvement of inter-provincial roads and the building of expressways.
The Construction Minister said Cuba is learning from other countries’ experiences, including Vietnam.
Mr. Villafana expressed Cuba’s wishes to extend its cooperation with Vietnam in transport infrastructure construction, especially now that several Cuban companies are participating in the Southeast Asian country’s transport projects.
During their meeting, both sides agreed to move forward with transport agreements, including those in the aviation and navigation sectors.
Vietnam’s Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha encouraged Cuba to facilitate a joint venture between the Cuban Geicons Group and the Vietnam Glass and Ceramics for Construction Corporation, or Viglacera.
Mr. Ha called on Mr. Villafana to extend his support of exporting materials from Viglacera to his country. The Minister also expressed his hope that Cuba will initiate cooperation between the two nations. Vietnam is also willing to share its experience with Cuba in the development and management of urban areas, housing, material production and technology.
A laser weapon may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but the U.S. has developed a directed-energy weapon that brings the future to present day. No, this is nothing like your dinky little at home laser hair removal device. This is a serious weapon, and its precision is stunning.
Known as the AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System, or XN-1 LaWS for short, this weapon was developed in 2010 by the United States Navy. In 2014, it was installed on the USS Ponce to carry out field tests. In December of that year, the U.S. Navy announced that laser weapon system worked perfectly, and the Ponce’s commander was authorized to use the XN-1 LaWS as a defensive weapon.
The XN-1 LaWS was designed to be a ship-defense system, and thus far, it has only publicly engaged in simulated attacks from a small boat and a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) drone.
The LaWS features scalable power levels. On low power, it can be used to dazzle a person’s eyes, causing them to turn away from a threatening posture. On high power (30 thousand watts), the laser has the power to burn out motors, fry sensors and even detonate explosive materials.
Against a helicopter, this laser can burn through vital components, causing it to fall and crash.
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions won the $11 million contract to develop the system in 2010 as part of a U.S. Navy program. The Navy spent $40 million on the research, development and testing of this system over six years.
If testing goes well, the Navy may deploy a laser weapon with a one-mile range sometime between 2017 and 2021.
Directed-energy weapons are highly sought due to their economic benefits. An LaWS can be fired for little more than a dollar per shot, whereas conventional projectiles can cost thousands of dollars each.
Cuba’s Foreign Trade Minister, Rodrigo Malmierca, visited Panama on Sunday in a joint meeting. The meeting was welcomed by Panama. Panama’s CCIAP, a committee of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture met with Mr. Malmierca.
Miguel Antonio Pardo, Cuban Ambassador to Panama, announced on Monday that Mr. Malmierca is slated to have meetings through Tuesday with personalities and businessmen in Panama.
Panama and Cuba reinforced their relations last year following a visit to Cuba from Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela. The visit in 2015 was part of a stimulus effort to jumpstart a commercial exchange between the two countries.
Officials in Panama and Cuba have stated that the cooperation between the two countries will be beneficial and generate opportunities.
Commercial operations between the two countries requires opportunities to expand and diversify in an effort to improve the juridical safety and environment of commercial opportunities.
Panama and Cuba trade primarily in non-original goods. Trades are made through the Free Area of Colon. The two countries aim to boost trade and their potential to increase exports among both countries, according to sources close to the matter.
The signed Protocol allowed for new tariff preferences of Panama goods in Cuba. The new tariff laws include 73 lines, with some items reaching 100%, including butter and palm oil. There is an 80 to 30 percent agreement for goods, such as toilet paper, t-shirts, fiber and other items.
Cuba’s embargo with the United States came to an end this year, allowing the country to extend trade with numerous countries. High debt levels in the country have been used by rich countries as a way to enter into the Cuban market. The United States and Cuba must learn and work together, according to a new report from Mr. Malmierca, which was released earlier in the month.
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