Kalashnikov inventor’s regret: It’s been revealed in Russia that the inventor of the world’s most famous assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died last month, wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Christian churches a year and a half ago expressing regret that his gun had claimed so many lives.
12 January 2014
In his letter to the Russian Patriarch, Mikhail Kalashnikov wrote that “one question was causing pain to his soul”: if the rifle he had created had claimed lives, then did that mean that he, “a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?”
“The longer I live,” he continued, “the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression“.
The letter has been published by the newspaper Izvestia. It quotes a spokesman for the Patriarch as saying that when weapons serve to defend the fatherland, the Russian Orthodox Church supports those who created them, as well as the soldiers who use them.
It’s thought that more than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold worldwide. Mikhail Kalashnikov had been awarded the title Hero of Russia – he died last month aged 94 – and was buried with full state honours.
China is the biggest source of tourists: New figures from China show that the country has consolidated its position as the world’s biggest source of tourists. A total of 97 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad in 2013, according to China’s National Tourism Administration.
10 January 2014
Whatever measure you choose, Chinese tourists now top the global rankings. Last year just shy of 100 million Chinese made foreign trips. And collectively they spent well over $100bn overseas outstripping any other nationality.
Little more than a generation ago few Chinese ventured abroad. But the restrictions have gone, most are now free to travel, although some minorities like Tibetans still complain of hurdles getting passports.
And as China’s economy has expanded, so have people’s horizons. China’s new middle classes want to see the world. The most popular destinations are in Asia and Europe, Thailand for beaches, France for history and culture.
Britain, which requires a separate visa to the rest of Europe, has lagged behind. It received just 200,000 Chinese visitors two years ago, and is now trying to simplify the process so it doesn’t miss out on China’s new spenders.
Huge increase in obesity: There are new calls for governments around the world to create laws which prevent people eating too much unhealthy food. Researchers at Britain’s Overseas Development Institute, say the number of overweight and obese adults in developing countries went up almost four times between 1980 and 2008.
3 January 2014
Globally, one in three adults is now considered overweight or obese. In 1980 it was one in five.
The Future Diets report analysed existing data and found the steepest rise has been in developing nations like Mexico and Egypt, where people are spending their increasing disposable incomes on fatty, sugary foods. Numbers almost quadrupled from 250 million to 904 million.
The report also said that western countries which have been dealing with the obesity problem for longer have so far failed to tackle it effectively.
It highlighted a more successful mass campaign in South Korea to train women how to prepare traditional low-fat meals.
The report suggests following the example of some American states in taxing things like fizzy drinks and sugary sweets. It also warns if current global trends continue, there will be a huge increase in heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
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