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The Russia News

July 5, 2022 12:12 pm

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Europe: 2019 vintage Burgundy report: the best year since 1865?

Growers believe last year’s crop might break all records


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News: Three people killed as gunman opens fire in Illinois bowling alley


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RSS: Во Владивостоке состоялся открытый чемпионат Тихоокеанского флота по армейскому рукопашному бою

Более пятидесяти бойцов различных объединений, соединений и войсковых частей флота боролись за победу в семи весовых категориях.


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RSS: На Каспийской флотилии прошла встреча в формате «вопрос-ответ»

В ходе мероприятия, на котором присутствовал командующий КФл контр-адмирал Сергей Пинчук и его заместители, любой военнослужащий мог напрямую задать волнующие вопросы.


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Voice of America – English: U.S. Lawmakers Seal Deal on COVID-19 Aid Package

Issues in the News moderator Michael Williams is joined by panelists Molly Ball, Political Correspondent for Time Magazine and Abderrahim Foukara, Al Jazeera’s Regional Director for the Americas. They analyze the top stories of the week including U.S. Congress agrees on a $900 billion COVID -19 relief package to businesses, individuals, and resources for vaccines, as the virus surges across the globe.

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Voice of America – English

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Voice of America – English: From Bean to Bar, Haiti’s Cocoa Wants International Recognition

Although small in the face of South America’s giants, Haiti is slowly developing its cocoa industry, earning better incomes for thousands of farmers and refuting the stereotype that culinary art is the preserve of wealthy countries.

Haiti’s annual production of 5,000 metric tons of cocoa pales in comparison to the 70,000 metric tons produced per year by neighboring Dominican Republic, but the sector’s development is recent in the island nation.

Feccano, a federation of cocoa cooperatives in northern Haiti, became the first group to organize exchanges in 2001 by prioritizing farmers’ profits.

“Before, there was the systematic destruction of cocoa trees because the market price wasn’t interesting for farmers who preferred very short-cycle crops,” said Guito Gilot, Feccano’s commercial director.

The cooperative now works with more than 4,000 farmers in northern Haiti.

By fermenting its members’ beans before export, Feccano has been able to target the market for fine and aromatic cocoa.

“Feccano’s customers pay for quality: they don’t have the New York Stock Exchange as a reference,” Gilot said.

Just-in-time collection

Smelling potential, Haiti’s private sector began investing in the cocoa industry, which until then had been supported solely by non-governmental organizations and humanitarian efforts.

By setting up its fermentation setter in 2014 in Acul-du-Nord, the company Produit des iles (PISA) entered the market. But the logistical challenges are many.

“The producers we work with farm less than a hectare, often divided into several plots, whereas, in Latin America, a small producer already owns four or five hectares,” said Aline Etlicher, who developed the industry at PISA.

“We buy fresh cocoa, the same day as the harvest so the farmer no longer has the problems of drying and storing that they would have if they sold it to an intermediary,” the French agronomist said.

In recent months, this just-in-time bean collection from all sites has been more challenging because many roads were regularly blocked because of socio-political unrest.

Maintaining organic and fair-trade certifications for the cocoa is delicate, but the Haitian style has made its mark abroad.

“Today there are bars sold in the United States that are called Acul-du-Nord,” Etlicher said.

“With our customers, we are part of the ‘bean to bar’ movement of chocolate makers who transform the cocoa bean into the chocolate bar,” she said, adding that by cutting out the middleman, Haitian producers’ revenues have doubled.

And on the other end of the chain, bean processing remains local.

‘Plant your cocoa’

For master chocolatier Ralph Leroy, making a rum ganache — Haitian, just like all the products he uses — was not an obvious choice.

After years in Montreal, he returned home to Haiti as a haute-couture stylist.

His shift to cocoa began when he made clothes out of chocolate for a culinary trade show. The training he then underwent for a year in Italy fueled his passion as much as his pride.

“The first week, I think I was insulted when the professor said, ‘Chocolate is made for Europe. You there, plant your cocoa, we buy the cocoa and do the work,'” he recalled.

Today, Leroy runs the chocolate company he founded in 2016, Makaya, and the edible sculptures that come out of his workshop are a huge sensation at parties. His company now has about 20 employees who share his passion.

“Even in cooking schools, we don’t learn this. I learned everything here and I am very, very proud,” said Duasmine Paul, 22, head of Makaya’s laboratory.

Echoes of car horns reach the ears of Makaya employees carefully sorting cocoa beans, a side effect of the chaotic traffic that paralyzes Haitian capital Port-au-Prince at the end of the year.

From his workshop, where he also concocts chocolate-based cocktails, Leroy sees as sweet revenge the great marketing of his bars.

“The greatest pleasure is when, before traveling, Haitians come here to buy a lot to offer abroad. It’s become their pride. And also when Europeans come and buy all the stock. … I tell myself that I am doing a good job,” he says with a burst of laughter.

Voice of America – English

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Voice of America – English: VOA Newscasts

Voice of America – English

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Voice of America – English: VOA Newscasts (2 Minute)

Voice of America – English

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Voice of America – English: Argentina’s Catholics, Evangelicals Unite Against Abortion Bill

At the entrance to Argentina’s Congress is a plaque reminding legislators that Our Lady of Lujan is the patron saint of the country’s political parties, a not-so-subtle nod to religion in a nation considering whether to allow abortions.

As Argentina’s Senate prepares to vote on a bill that would legalize the practice, the Catholic Church has joined forces with evangelical Christians to fight the measure tooth and nail.

The bill, which aims to legalize voluntary abortions at up to 14 weeks, was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on Dec. 11 and will be debated and voted on in the Senate on Tuesday.

Two years ago, a similar bill passed the lower house but was defeated in the Senate following a determined campaign by both Catholics and evangelicals.

Argentina’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and a 1994 reform removed the requirement that the president be Catholic.

However, it retains a reference to God in its preamble and its second article guarantees government support for the Catholic Church.

“The Catholic Church in Argentina has great sway. There’s a very strong Catholic culture in the political world,” sociologist Fortunato Mallimaci, who wrote a book on what he says is the myth of Argentine secularism, told AFP.

“Religious groups look for state support and the state, when it feels weak, looks for support from religious groups. Today the Catholic Church wields more political than religious clout,” he said.

Catholicism is a strong force in Argentina, the homeland of Pope Francis.

The state pays a salary to archbishops and subsidizes Catholic schooling, which accounts for 36% of education in Argentina, according to Mallimaci.

Francis stays silent

However, Catholicism has been losing influence as evangelical Christianity gains ground.

According to a 2019 poll by a government agency, 62% of Argentines identify as Catholic, 18.9% as non-religious and 15.3% as evangelical.

The Catholic Church’s sway can be seen in Argentina’s delay compared to other countries in adopting a number of laws: divorce was legalized only in 1987, sex education introduced in 2006, gay marriage approved in 2010 and a gender identity law passed in 2012.

Abortion is currently only allowed in two cases: rape and a danger to the mother’s life.

“There is an opposition and huge rejection from the Catholic Church, which weighs heavily” on the chances of the law passing, constitutional lawyer Alfonso Santiago told AFP.

However, Santiago believes the relationship between the government of President Alberto Fernandez, who sponsored the abortion bill, and the Catholic Church will remain strong regardless of which way the vote goes.

“I don’t think there will be a break in collaboration on other issues. It didn’t happen before” when, for example, same-sex marriage was approved, he said.

While Francis has in the past likened abortion to hiring an assassin, he’s remained silent over the current debate.

Protest strength

“The problem for the Catholic Church if abortion is legalized is that it will be up to it, and not the state, to ensure that its faithful comply with a prohibition that will be only religious,” Mallimaci said.

A 2020 government poll found that 22.3% of Catholics in Argentina believe that a woman should have the right to an abortion if she wants one.

Meanwhile 55.7% said it should be permitted only in certain situations while just 17.2% supported a blanket ban.

Since 2018, evangelicals have come to the fore in protesting legalization.

“They have the momentum of the reborn,” said Mallimaci, pointing to the light blue handkerchiefs brandished by evangelicals at their protests, as a counterweight to the green ones sported by abortion rights activists. “Catholics don’t mobilize in that way.”

Despite their constant growth, evangelical churches in Argentina “don’t have the same political weight as in other countries, such as Brazil where they can count on a parliamentary bloc.”

Their strength, however, lies is in street protests and they will be out in force Tuesday in front of Congress, face-to-face with abortion rights demonstrators.

Voice of America – English

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Voice of America – English: The Best of Encounter 2020

On this year-end edition of Encounter, host Carol Castiel presents excerpts from our most memorable programs in 2020. From the politics of the coronavirus pandemic to protests against excessive police violence to US election results, we present key highlights from 2020. 

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Voice of America – English