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Crimean Map Scandals: Choice Between Offending Russia or Ukraine www.themoscowtimes.mn

Since Russian troops invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March 2014, world topography has struggled to place the international border between the two countries. Research engines, academic textbooks, businesses and other world organizations have come under fire from both the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministries depending on how they print their maps.

This week, Russia criticized Google for using Ukraine's “decommunized” spellings for street names in parts of Crimea. Google has adopted Ukrainian versions of 900 place names in Crimea.

Russia's Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov called the move a “short-sighted policy” and said that he hoped “the mistake is corrected.” “If Google pays so little attention to Russian law and Russian place names then it will not be able to do business effectively on Russian territory,” Nikiforov said.

Crimea's Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov claimed Google was “pandering to Kiev and feelings of Russophobia in Ukraine,” while another Crimean official accused the company of “topograhical cretinism.”

On Friday, Google reversed its decision and restored the Soviet names for Crimean settlements.

But Google is far from the only company to be caught in the conflict.

Russian search engines

Initially, Russia'a Yandex search engine reacted to the annexation by showing Crimea as Russian on Yandex.ru (the Russian version of the website) and as Ukrainian on Yandex.ua (its Ukrainian version). Russian search engine Mail.ru marked Crimea as part of Russia shortly after the annexation.


Only a handful of countries, including North Korea, Cuba, Syria and Venezuela, have recognized Crimea as part of Russia. Other members of the international community — even staunch Moscow allies like Belarus — have abstained on the issue.

Printing new school textbooks have sparked diplomatic rows with both Russia and Ukraine, depending on where the border was printed.

Kazakhstan angered Russian authorities by ensuring that Crimea remained Ukrainian in academic textbooks. In September 2014, the Kazakh Education Ministry was forced to release a statement on the issue. “The publisher and authors did not fully reflect the position of Kazakhstan or that of the international community in its treatment of the Crimea issue.”

The British publisher Oxford University Press also came under fire for printing a map of Crimea as part of Russia in a geography textbook, prompting complaints from the Ukrainian Embassy in London.

Cuba's Education Ministry, keen to avoid confrontation, printed textbooks with maps showing Crimea as simultaneously part of Russia and Ukraine.

World sporting organizations

FIFA also had to choose whether to offend Ukraine or the Kremlin. When it unveiled a promotional video of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it included Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. This sparked protest from Ukraine's diplomats, with additional uproar as Russia is accused of “kidnapping” Crimean football clubs as part of the annexation.

Global corporations

Coca-Cola made a similar blunder in January when it included Crimea as part of Russia in its advertising campaign, drawing protests and threats of a boycott from angry Ukrainians. The U.S company said that the map, which appeared on its VKontakte page, had been changed by an advertising agency without its approval.

The Crimean annexation was the first time borders were changed in Europe by force and its topographical consequences will live on until the conflict is revolved.



Losses for Lada Manufacturer AvtoVAZ Increase Eightfold www.themoscowtimes.com

Net losses for Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ have ballooned by 800 percent in the first half of 2016, reaching some 27.15 billion rubles ($404 million).

The company, which produces the iconic Russian car brand Lada, reported that revenues were down 5 percent to 87.1 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) for the six months of the year.

The devaluation of non-circulating assets has been blamed for growing operating losses, which hit 27.6 billion rubles ($4.11 million) in 2016, against 5.16 billion rubles ($77 million) a year earlier.

Underproduction at the company's manufacturing plants is believed to be one of the major contributing factors to the devaluation.

AvtoVAZ produced 200,424 cars in its Togliatti and Izhevsk plants in the first half of 2016, including sub-assemblies and orders for Renault-Nissan. Renault, which owns a 37.3 percent stake in AvtoVAZ, reported 75 million euros ($83 million) in losses connected with the company for the first half of 2016, down 14 percent from 2015.

Company president Nicolas Maure announced that the company would be likely to produce 416,000 cars by the end of the year, or 25 percent less than last year, according to the company’s annual report. The AvtoVAZ plants in Togliatti and Izhevsk have a combined annual production capacity of 1.1 million automobiles, and are currently operating at 38 percent capacity.

The situation is far from unique to AvtoVAZ. According to the Industry and Trade Ministry, Russian car factories are currently operating at 40 percent of capacity on average.

Car manufacturing plants work best at 80 percent of capacity – or twice the current level that AvtoVAZ is operating, according to VTB Capital analyst Vladimir Bespalov. He said the automaker would not achieve that level earlier than 2020.

In order to boost production, AvtoVAZ is looking to develop its exports and expanding into new markets. The automaker primarily exports to Kazakhstan, but thanks to a car recycling tax introduced in early 2016, the company has been forced to change its business model. Rather than send finished automobiles to the country, assembly sets of various Lada models are now sent for assembly at the facilities of its partner Bipek Auto – Asia Auto.

If production at AvtoVAZ continues to decline, the size of their devaluation reserves could increase, said King & Spalding partner Ilya Rachkov. If that happens, the company would face even greater difficulty obtaining credit on the market and restructuring its existing debt. It also risks defaulting on its covenant current loans, Rachkov said.

AvtoVAZ has defaulted on loans in the past. In June of this yearm the company failed to meet minimum repayment terms on its 35.13 billion rubles ($524 million) of debt, although the banks did not require AvtoVAZ to make an early repayment.

AvtoVAZ “needs times to improve its financial performance,” Maure said in the company's latest report. The firm is “using all of the tools and possibilities available, including the support provided by the state and shareholders,” he said.

The car manufacturer is one of the main participants in a 50-billion-ruble government program for stimulating demand in the automobile market. Renault loaned AvtoVAZ 3.4 billion rubles ($51 million) in 2015, and another 4 billion rubles ($60 million) in 2016 to its subsidiary Lada Image which distributes AvtoVAZ parts.

Recapitalization will provide AvtoVAZ's primary means of support, details of which will be made public early this fall. State-owned technology company Rostec is prepared to write-off of two-fifths of the 51 billion rubles ($760 million) the automaker owes, and has agreed to convert the remaining 31 billion rubles into AvtoVAZ shares. The terms for Renault’s participation remain unclear.



The Great Wall: Is Matt Damon 'whitewashing' or good business? www.bbc.com

The trailer for the film The Great Wall, which at $150m (£113m) is reportedly the most expensive Chinese production ever, has been released online.
Starring Matt Damon, the film is set 1,000 years ago and follows "an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world's most iconic structure", goes the publicity material tease.
Also starring Willem Dafoe and Chinese superstars Andy Lau, Wang Junkai and Jing Tian and directed by Chinese megastar Zhang Yimou, it looks set to be the first big-budget, English-language Chinese blockbuster.
The dramatic trailer asks the question: what were they trying to keep out?
A brief glimpse of something monstrous attacking the Great Wall gives some hint of the answer, but on social media, people had another theory.
"What were they trying to keep out? Asian actors out of Hollywood apparently," said one of the many people on Twitter picking up on the oddness of the lead role in a film about ancient China going to a white male Hollywood actor.

This user proposes that perhaps Matt Damon was part of the Terracotta army, belonging to the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang
"Now, what about that movie about the Great Wall of China starring everyone's favourite Chinese actor, Matt Damon?" another netizen joked.
"So if you're from China, why are you white?" asked another, referencing pop-culture classic Mean Girls.
There is no indication yet of what Damon's role is, and he certainly hasn't been made to look Chinese, a technique which has not gone down well recently in other films.
Chinese fans, though, did not seem that fussed about Damon's role, instead praising the director Zhang Yimou for bringing "Chinese elements to a Western film".
The Great Wall's Weibo page quickly racked up over 130,000 fans and counting
In fact, among the hundreds-of-thousands of posts on micro-blogging site Weibo, reaction to Damon was totally eclipsed by the excitement about a brief appearance by Wang Junkai, frontman of the hugely popular Chinese boy band TF Boys, as some kind of boy emperor.
"From a silly child into an outstanding boy, Wang Junkai has achieved a breakthrough for all to see. I hope he takes audiences in The Great Wall by surprise," said one Weibo-user.
"Thank you Zhang Yimou for giving Wang Junkai this precious opportunity. We can't wait for the movie to come out!"
"Through his excellent acting skills, I hope Wang Junkai will bring us closer to understanding the history of the great wall."
Chinese fans appeared to be excited about the movie, many praising Zhang for bringing "Chinese elements to a Western film"
Those who did talk about Damon said they liked him and were excited to watch him in the film.
One netizen noted that the "influence of Matt Damon" could help the movie succeed, adding that it was a "positive factor".
The Great Wall quickly racked up more than 130,000 fans on Weibo, while the Chinese video trailer was shared more than 400,000 times in less than 24 hours.
Backing the project are movie giants such as Universal Pictures, state-owned China Film Group and Legendary East
The Great Wall, to be released in 2017, is the English-language debut for Zhang, who has said it is the biggest film he has ever worked on.
"This is an English-language film and a Hollywood blockbuster," Zhang told news outlet Entertainment Weekly. "We are using Hollywood filmmaking to introduce Chinese culture."
Backing the project are movie giants Universal Pictures and Legendary Entertainment.
Legendary, the company behind The Dark Knight and Straight Outta Compton, was recently bought for $3.5bn by Dalian Wanda, the Chinese conglomerate owned by one of China's richest men, Wang Jianlin.
Filmmakers are all looking to conquer the immense Chinese cinema market, which is on course to surpass the US as the world's largest.
China's strict censorship laws, as well as rules to protect the domestic film industry, have prevented many Hollywood films from being released in the mainland, so US studios are increasingly co-producing films with Chinese investors in a bid to counter this.
Several Hollywood films have actually ended up doing notably better in China than at home.
Warcraft: The Beginning, also produced by Legendary Entertainment, was considered to have bombed in the US but took $156m in its opening week in China.
The Great Wall, however, is clearly hoping that it has the right recipe to captivate the two biggest cinema audiences in the world.



Marissa Mayer may walk away from Yahoo divorce with $123mn www.rt.com

Firing Marissa Mayer as Yahoo CEO could be a much more costly procedure than originally estimated, Fortune magazine reports.
Besides the original golden parachute of $55 million from Yahoo if Mayer's contract is severed, the CEO may also profit from selling company stock. This would more than double her walk-away package to more than $122 million, according to Fortune.

The magazine calculates Mayer will get $42 million in stock options and $25 million from selling 650,290 shares of restricted stock.

Mayer is also entitled to receive her salary, which was $1 million in 2015, for two years after she leaves the company. Yahoo is also obliged to pay $26,324 per year for her health insurance and $15,000 for 24 months to help her get a new job.

“I think the bottom line is look at what [Mayer] is ending up with: She did quite well even if shareholders didn’t,” said compensation consultant Brian Foley, who helped Fortune with the figures.

Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo as chief executive in 2012 from rival Google. Mayer had been unsuccessful in trying to revive the company’s core media and online advertising business. She was criticized for spending funds on projects that failed to produce any substantial revenue.

At the height of the dot-com boom the Silicon Valley web pioneer had a market capitalization of $128 billion. Today, Yahoo’s market cap is $36.36 billion.

On Monday, Verizon announced the acquisition of Yahoo for $4.83 billion. The deal has doubled Verizon's digital advertising business, and the buyer got Yahoo's search, mail, and content businesses. Yahoo will be merged with Verizon's AOL unit.

Yahoo is keeping its 15 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, which have a combined value of $40 billion. The company tried to sell its stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant, but has abandoned the idea.

According to the original reports, Mayer’s compensation was supposed to be $54.9 million. Mayer said she doesn’t want to leave, saying “It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.”



Chinese, African companies ink 17-billion-USD deals www.xinhuanet.com

BEIJING, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Companies from China and Africa signed 39 deals worth around 17 billion U.S. dollars on Thursday.

The deals, involving financial institutions and enterprises, were signed on the eve of a meeting on delivering the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

More than 400 participants from government agencies, financial institutions, business associations and enterprises attended the Seminar on China-Africa Business Cooperation and Signing Ceremony in Beijing on Thursday.

The seminar was hosted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), which is a supporting event for the Coordinators' Meeting of the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Johannesburg Summit of the FOCAC.

During the seminar, participants exchanged views on industrial capacity cooperation, trade and investment facilitation and financial cooperation.

Chinese and African companies spanning the sectors of infrastructure, processing and manufacturing, finance, investment, energy, chemicals, agriculture, pharmaceutical and ICT, reached consensus for future cooperation.

Jiang Weixin, chairman of the CCPIT, said the development strategies of Africa and China were highly compatible, and the two sides have many advantages.

In the future, the CCPIT will work with its African counterparts to enhance communication, strengthen policy coordination, and organize more trade and investment events to boost China-Africa trade ties, said Jiang.

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao had a group meeting with the African delegates.

Hailing the success of the Johannesburg summit, Li called on China and the African countries to enhance mutual trust, promote pragmatic cooperation, expand people-to-people exchanges and improve coordination on global affairs.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi held separate meetings with the foreign minister of Chad, Moussa Faki Mahamat; Sudanese Presidential Assistant Al-Jaz; and Gambian Foreign Minister Neneh MacDouall-Gaye, exchanging views on China's ties with their respective countries as well as Africa as a whole.

At the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) last December in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced ten major China-Africa cooperation plans for the next three years, backed by 60 billion U.S. dollars, including interest free loans and preferential policies.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his counterparts from Mali,Madagascar, Comoros and Democratic Republic of Congo.



Norway to create world’s first floating underwater tunnel www.rt.com

The Norwegian coast may be beautiful but with more than a thousand fjords cutting into it, getting from one place to another often requires lengthy journeys.
Norway’s Public Roads Administration (NPRA) has an ambitious plan to solve the problem by building the world’s first floating submerged tunnel system about 30 meters (100ft) underwater.

The $25 billion project will allow vehicles to travel under the Norwegian Sea avoiding a 21-hour drive along the coastline.

The route from the southern city of Kristiansand to Trondheim in the north currently includes seven ferry crossings. As most of the waterways are wide with the largest a mile deep, it is not feasible to construct a traditional bridge. The tunnel would shorten the trip to just over 10 hours.

The first-of-its kind structure will be made up of two 1,200 meter (4,000ft) curved concrete tubes, floating up to 30 meters (100ft) below the surface. The tubes will be supported by pontoons on the surface and kept stable with connecting trusses. For extra stability, the construction might be bolted to the bedrock as well.

On the surface, there would be wide gaps between the pontoons to allow ferries to pass through.

The first underwater tunnel will connect Oppedal and Lavik, passing through the 1,300 meter (4,300ft) deep, 1,000 meter (3,300ft) wide Sognefjord.

Traveling along the new route would feel like driving through any other tunnel, according to Arianna Minoretti, a senior engineer with the NPRA.

The submerged construction will be able to cope with rough weather that is typical for the country, according to NPRA. It will also allow easier access to rural communities.

“Having this connection means that people there do not have to wait for a helicopter to go to the hospital,” Minoretti says.

The project is planned to be completed by 2035, and will preserve the landscape for those who still want to take the scenic route, the agency says.



Scientists: 'New antibiotic' found in human nose www3.nhk.or.jp

A group of scientists in Germany says it has discovered a new antibiotic from germs in human noses.
The finding could help the development of new medicines to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The group at the University of Tuebingen found that many of the people who don't carry in their nostrils the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which causes infectious skin diseases and other ailments, instead have the bacteria Staphylococcus lugdunensis, which produces a new class of antibiotics. The scientists named the new antibiotic "lugdunin."

The scientists also tested the new antibiotic on mice and found it could clear bacterial infections on their skin. Tests on mice also showed that lugdunin worked against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, as well.

Professor Mitsuo Kaku of Tohoku University says antibiotics are usually found in soil bacteria, and finding one in the human body is quite significant.

Kaku says new antibiotics are difficult to find, while drug-resistant strains of bacteria continue to emerge.
He says it may become possible to develop new drugs using bacteria from the human body.



Bezos passes Buffett, becomes third-richest person: Forbes www.reuters.com

Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), has become the world's third-richest person as of the market close for the first time, Forbes magazine said, passing Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N).

Bezos' fortune was $65.3 billion as of 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) on Thursday, compared with Buffett's $64.9 billion.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Bill Gates remained the world's richest person, at $77.7 billion, while Spain's Amancio Ortega, who founded the Zara clothing chain's owner Inditex SA (ITX.MC), was second at $72.7 billion. Facebook Inc (FB.O) co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was fifth, at $54 billion.

Bezos, 52, owns close to 18 percent of Amazon. Its stock has risen by roughly 50 percent since early February, as the world's largest online retailer continued to upend retailing as more people took to the Web rather than the mall to shop.

Amazon's share price rose further in after-hours trading, after the Seattle-based company reported better-than-expected second-quarter results.

Buffett, 85, owns close to 18 percent of Berkshire, but his donation this month of $2.86 billion of Berkshire stock to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities led to his drop to fourth place. He has donated more than $24.3 billion to the Gates Foundation and family charities since 2006.

Berkshire is based in Omaha, Nebraska, and has roughly 90 business units including Geico car insurance, the BNSF railroad and Dairy Queen ice cream.

In June, Buffett called Bezos a "classic example" of how a business owner could thrive, by having focused at Amazon on how to "delight" customers, and keep them coming back, rather than simply process their orders.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby)



Northeast Asian Think Tank opens in Ulaanbaatar www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Northeast Asian Think Tank opened on July 28, under the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia, at the initiative of the Institute for the Humanities of Japan, with an aim of studying the social and historic processes in the Northeast Asian region.

The Mongolian Academy of Sciences have inked a cooperation agreement with the Japanese Institute for the Humanities on January 22. In accordance with the document, Mongolia have assumed a commitment to promote expansion of collaboration of scholars and academicians in Northeast Asia, and to create a new platform of cooperation for deepening the studies on the regional history, culture, society, economy and politics. The Think Tank enables Mongolian scholars to study own country’s history at the regional level, as well as to take active parts in the international and regional programs, implemented by Russia, Japan, China and the Koreas, highlighted D.Regdel, the first Vice President of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

Professor Narifumi Tachimoto, Director-General of the Research Institute for the Humanities and Nature of Japan, said that the institute has been implementing three programs on Chinese Studies, Indian Studies and Islamic Studies. In light of the expansion of these programs, we launched a Northeast Asian Studies Program. “Mongolia is located in the heart of this region, so has the full capacity to become the key research base for Northeast Asia”, he noted.

Doors of the Northeast Asian Think Tank are open to all scholars and academicians of all institutes of the Academy and the university professors of Mongolia.



Hinkley Point: New hitch for UK nuclear plant deal www.bbc.com

Plans to build the first new UK nuclear plant in 20 years have suffered an unexpected delay after the government postponed a final decision until the early autumn.
French firm EDF, which is financing most of the £18bn Hinkley Point project in Somerset, approved the funding at a board meeting.
Contracts were to be signed on Friday.
But Business Secretary Greg Clark has said the government will "consider carefully" before backing it.
According to reports, EDF's chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has cancelled a trip to the UK on Friday following Mr Clark's comments.
Critics of the plan have warned of environmental damage and potential escalating costs.
They are also concerned that the plant is being built by foreign governments. One third of the £18bn cost is being provided by Chinese investors.
EDF still hopes to have more than 2,500 workers on site by next year.
Announcing the approval of investment earlier, EDF described the plant as "a unique asset for French and British industries", saying it would benefit the nuclear sectors in both countries and would give a boost to employment.
The announcement was immediately welcomed by employers' group the CBI, the Nuclear Industry Association and engineering workers' union GMB.
Why is Hinkley Point important?
Somerset hopes for Hinkley jobs boost
Ahead of the vote on whether to approve the Hinkley project, an EDF board member, Gerard Magnin, resigned, saying the project was "very risky" financially.
Earlier this year, EDF's finance director, Thomas Piquemal, had resigned amid reports he thought Hinkley could damage EDF itself.
Cost warning
Hinkley Point C is expected to provide 7% of the UK's total electricity requirement.
The project has been hit in recent months by concerns about EDF's financial capacity.
Despite the Chinese investment, Hinkley Point would remain an enormous undertaking for the stressed French company, which has had to raise money from its owners.
Earlier this week, EDF shareholders approved plans to issue new shares to raise 4bn euros (£3.4bn) to help pay for the project.
The French state, which owns 85% of EDF, will buy €3bn worth of new shares in the fundraising.
But Mycle Schneider, who used to advise the French government on nuclear and environmental issues, told the BBC that neither the state nor the company were fully on board.
"There is now a large front inside EDF, inside the nuclear establishment in France, advising against the construction because the sheer size of it could put not only the company EDF at risk, but this could actually put the whole state finances at risk."

"The price of every other form of energy is falling. That includes gas, which is plentiful and wind and solar are both coming right down in price," Nick Butler, visiting professor and chair of King's Policy Institute at King's College London, told the BBC.
"We should step back and review it. The danger of what we are getting into is that are now locked into a very high price for a very long time."
Ahead of Thursday's vote, EDF had said Hinkley Point was a "unique asset for French industry as it would benefit the whole of the nuclear industry and support employment in major companies and smaller enterprises in the sector".
'Too big to fail'
Although French unions are urging the company to push back the decision until the company is in a better financial position, UK unions - including Unite and GMB - have welcomed the project.
Environmentalists are concerned about the plan. After the announcement about the go-ahead, Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "Countless experts have warned that for British families this power station will be terrible value for money."
He added: "Today's decision doesn't prove the UK is open for business post-Brexit - it just shows the Hinkley deal became too big to fail in the eyes of British and French politicians."
The campaign group added that more investment was needed for renewable energy like offshore wind.
Hinkley Point timeline
Jan 2006 - Government proposes nuclear as part of future energy mix
Mar 2013 - Construction of Hinkley Point approved
Oct 2013 - UK government agrees £92.50 per megawatt-hour will be paid for electricity produced at the Somerset site - around double the current market rate at the time
Oct 2015 - EDF signs investment agreement with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN)
July 2016 - EDF board meets on 28 July to consider final investment decision