Chinese military pilots were surprised to hear English chatter on their radios during a recent combat drill, reports the South China Morning Post. “Target on a radial 180.60,” said one foreign voice. “Roger,” responded another.
“Who is that? Why is there a foreign language?” some of the pilots asked.
As it turned out, commanders of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had added a last-minute twist to this combat simulation: instead of just fighting an unnamed Asian enemy, as the drill originally called for, pilots were asked to take on an additional “English-speaking third party.” The South China Morning Post writes that the drill could be interpreted as a warning to the United States.
“The ‘third party’ scenario simulated how the PLA would have to react if it was attacked by both the Japanese army and the U.S. air force,” explained Ni Lexiong, a military scholar at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. “The PLA report was also aimed at letting Japan and other Asian countries know that the PLA is prepared for all possible military clashes over territory in the East and South China seas.”
Japan and China are engaged in a long-running territorial dispute over five uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, a conflict the U.S. has until now done its best to stay out of.
Ultimately this story led us to wonder: Do American soldiers sometimes hear Chinese chatter on their radios during training exercises? Defense Department spokesperson Maj. Catherine Wilkinson says she can’t comment on the specifics of U.S. military training, though she did add: “The U.S. military has long held that realistic training makes prepared fighters for today’s wars and smaller conflicts . . . [but] our training scenarios in the Asia-Pacific region do not include real/existing countries in the role of adversaries.”
Canada gives energy drinks thumbs-up while U.S. investigates their role in deaths
Need a kickstart to your day? Maybe have a cup of coffee or tea instead of downing that high-caffeine “energy shot.”
While Canada has approved the sale of around 20 energy drinks in the past month, the Toronto-based newspaper The Globe and Mail points out that the FDA is investigating their possible role in several deaths in the U.S. Most of the energy drinks approved in Canada contain between 100 and 200 mg of caffeine. Canada Health, the country’s public health agency, recommends taking in no more than 400 mg in a single day.
The FDA is looking into one energy drink in particular, 5-Hour Energy, which has been linked to thirteen deaths in the U.S. Canada Health is also reportedly investigating seven cases of “serious reactions” to the drink north of the border. The New York Times recently ran a piece criticizing 5-Hour Energy and other similar products, which promise an edge over traditional caffeine-based drinks, for deceptive marketing claims.
“If you had a cup of coffee you are going to affect metabolism in the same way,” one scientist told the Times.
U.S. says Russian ban on American meat is flawed
Don’t expect to get a grass-fed Kansas City cut strip steak in Moscow anytime soon. Russia says it will enforce a ban on American beef and pork starting February 11, according to a report in the Moscow Times. The country’s health agency says it is worried that American animals are given ractopamine, a feed additive that promotes lean meat growth but could pose health risks for humans. The chemical is currently banned in the European Union and China.
Russia bought 7.5 percent of its imported beef and 11.4 percent of its imported pork from the U.S. between January to September 2012, the Moscow Times reports. The U.S. believes the new ban could violate international law.
“These actions threaten to undermine our bilateral trade relationship,” argues Andrea Mead, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. “They are not consistent with international standards and appear to be inconsistent with Russia’s World Trade Organization commitments.”
There’s been a good deal of speculation that Russia designed the ban in response to the Magnitsky Act, which Congress passed in December of 2012. The bill criticized Russia for human rights violations. At the time, Latitude News looked into how the meat ban would affect ranchers in Montana, who have been promoting their beef in Russia over the last few months. You can read more on that story here: “Montana ranchers will suffer after U.S. attacks Russia on human rights.”