Nord Stream 2 is purely business project, it doesn’t prevent gas supplies through Ukraine – Putin

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is a “purely economic project” and does not mean the transit of gas through Ukraine will stop, Vladimir Putin has stressed during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I am aware of the federal chancellor’s position, she keeps raising the issue. All that matters to us is that this transit is economically feasible, and makes economic sense,” he said.

The comments were made after Putin arrived in Berlin for a meeting with Merkel. The two will speak about the pipeline project, as well as international topics such as Ukraine and Syria.
“We hope this project will improve the European energy system, diversify gas delivery routes, and meet the increasing demand of the European economy in natural gas,” Putin said.

The Russian president also spoke of trade with Germany, stating that the country is “one of our leading partners in trade” growing by 22 percent last year. “From January to June this year, we added another 25 percent,” he said.

The two leaders will also discuss the Iran nuclear deal, with Merkel saying: “We would like to preserve this deal but we are also concerned about the missile program with Iran.”

The goal of the $ 11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is to double the existing pipeline’s annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. Although the partnership between Russia and Germany has been slammed by US President Donald Trump, Berlin and Moscow say it is a private business project which is due to be operational by the end of the year.


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Europe’s handshake rows: Sweden says Muslims have a right to refuse, Switzerland says they don’t

Two cases with very different outcomes involving the right of a Muslim person to refuse to shake hands with a member of the opposite sex were in the spotlight in Europe this week.

A Muslim couple in Switzerland lost their bid for citizenship after a municipal commission ruled that their refusal to shake hands with people of the opposite sex showed a disrespect for gender equality.

In Sweden, however, a Muslim woman was awarded 40,000 kronor ($ 4,350) in compensation after the labour court ruled that a company’s decision to end her job interview after she refused to shake hands with a male interviewer amounted to discrimination.

Many Muslims avoid physical contact with members of the opposite sex, except for those in their immediate family, for religious reasons. The practice has caused contention in Europe, however, where it is custom to shake hands in certain circumstances. In many instances Muslims recognise the greeting by putting their hand to their heart.

In Switzerland, the city of Lausanne determined that the Muslim couple did not meet the criteria for citizenship as their refusal to shake hands demonstrated their failure to integrate.

Lausanne Mayor Grégoire Junod argued that freedom of belief and religion is enshrined in local laws but insisted “religious practice does not fall outside the law.”

Vice Mayor Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand, who was on the three-member commission that questioned the couple told AFP that “the constitution and equality between men and women prevails over bigotry.”

READ MORE: ‘What, no handshake?’ Swedish company sued over job interview turned sour

The couple, whose nationality has not been revealed, has 30 days to appeal the decision.

 Sweden’s labour court took an opposing view, however, ruling that in the case of Farah Alhajeh, her refusal to shake hands on religious grounds was protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

It accepted the company’s argument that its employees were required to treat men and women equally but said it was not fair to expect this in the form of a handshake only, noting  that Alhajeh placed her hand on her heart when greeted with the handshake. It branded the company’s policy of demanding a specific greeting as detrimental to Muslims.

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Pele wishes Cristiano Ronaldo luck ahead of Juventus debut

The Brazilian legend has sent good luck wishes to his Portuguese counterpart ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus debut, and revealed that the Turin club tried to sign him in the early 1960s.

Pele, who is widely considered to be the best football player in history, sent the message to five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo ahead of his Juventus debut at Chievo Verona on Saturday.

“Good luck, Cristiano, for your first game with @juventusfc,” he wrote on Twitter.

“In ‘61, Fiat’s owner offered to buy me, but these are the only stripes for Pele!” he said, referring to the Santos strip that he wore between 1956 and 1974.

READ MORE: Can Cristiano Ronaldo maintain goal-scoring heroics against Serie A defenses?

The Agnelli family owned and operated both Fiat and Juventus Football Club.

Ronaldo’s debut in the black and white stripes of Juventus today comes following his blockbuster transfer from European Champions Real Madrid earlier this summer.

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Feathers ruffled after British boxer chucks chicken at US fighter in Nando’s restaurant (VIDEO)

A brawl between two professional boxers has unfolded in a Belfast Nando’s. A now-viral video caught fighter Deontay Wilder chasing Billy Joe Saunders after Saunders reportedly hurled a chicken at the US heavyweight boxer.

The two boxers are in Northern Ireland ahead of British boxer Tyson Fury’s heavyweight showdown with Italian Francesco Pianeta. Fury and Wilder look to face off in the ring, with Wilder telling the media to expect a clash between the two by the end of the year.

The clash no one was expecting, however, was between 28-year-old Saunders and 32-year-old Wilder. The viral video, which reportedly shows the two boxers going at it in the chicken chain store, has already been watched over 275,000 times on Twitter.

In the footage, US boxer Deontay Wilder can be seen chasing Billy Joe Saunders out of the Belfast Nando’s after the Brit reportedly threw chicken at him while open-mouthed onlookers watched on.

Prior to the bird-laden brawl, the American boxer argued with Tyson Fury’s crew at Friday’s weigh-in for the Brit’s bout with Pianeta in Belfast on Saturday.

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Super-rich freeze their brains to ‘come back to life’ in 200 years

The ultra-wealthy are ready to spend huge amounts of cash to have their brains frozen after their death in the hope of being re-born in the future.

Deep-pocketed citizens are reportedly paying $ 100,000 for cryogenic preservation of their brains in liquid. The service is being provided by the Arizona-based Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

The company is led by Bristol-born scientist Dr Max More and his team of eight people. Alcor has some 1,000 paying members on the book, with some of them paying more than $ 250,000 for full-body preservation instead of freezing just the brain. The full-body freezing involves hanging upside down in steel cylinders.

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Three meter high chambers where deceased patients are frozen to liquid nitrogen temperatures. ©Cryonics Institute

“I know that a lot of people will think I’m daft, but why not give it a try? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I don’t have any children and I’m not married and at my age that’s unlikely to change,” a businessman in his late 60s, who asked to be identified only as ‘David,’ said in an interview with the Daily Star. “I thought I’d invest a bit of money in this and I may wake up in 200 or 2,000 years’ time and be able to experience a whole new life.”

According to Alcor’s website, the company expects surgeons in the future to be able to grow an entire new body around a repaired brain. However, removing a brain from the skull involves unavoidable damage, so the specialists leave the organ protected inside the head during preservation and storage.

The company starts operating only when a client’s death is officially declared. Alcor’s technicians pack the body in ice while attaching a “heart-lung resuscitator” to get the blood circulating. After that, 16 different medications are administered to protect the cells from crystalizing.

Alcors says it currently keeps 149 dead “patients” at its facility, including US baseball legend Ted Williams. The company has also preserved Matheryn Naovaratpong, who died at the age of two and became the youngest person ever to be crystalized.

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Georgian teen solves six Rubik’s cubes underwater in single breath (VIDEO)

A Georgian teen solved six Rubik’s cubes underwater in a single breath, setting a new Guinness World Record. Vako Marchilashvili was submerged in a glass tank for 1 minute and 44 seconds.

The feat took place on Friday, in front of a crowd at the Gino Paradise aqua park in Tbilisi. The 18-year-old student solved each Rubik’s cube, sending them one by one up to the top of the tank as he completed them. After he finished the sixth puzzle, he arose from the tank to loud cheers.

The previous underwater record was held by Anthony Brooks who solved five rubix cubes in New Jersey in 2014.

Marchilashvili, who spent six months preparing for the challenge, said he believed that his new record would stand for a long time.

“I trained a lot, planning to break a record, and to ensure my safety because, even a small mistake could be dangerous and life-altering.”

His result was confirmed by the Georgian Records Federation and will be sent to the Guinness World Records for official verification.

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Detained pastor case important for midterms, so US will ramp up sanctions on Turkey – ex-envoy

Pastor Andrew Brunson’s fate is important to evangelical voters in the looming midterm elections in November, so Washington may impose more sanctions on allied Ankara, a former Turkish envoy to the US says.

“There will be additional sanctions, not just rhetorical threats,” Osman Faruk Logoglu told RT. “They have invested a lot of pressure into the release of Brunson, given the importance of the midterm elections in the US. President Donald Trump wants to control Congress.”

Brunson, an evangelical Christian cleric from North Carolina, was detained by Turkish officials in 2016 over terrorism and espionage charges. On Friday, the court rejected his third appeal to be released from house arrest. This happened several weeks after Washington imposed sanctions on two high-ranking Turkish officials, and promised more restrictions if Brunson isn’t freed.

READ MORE: Turkish court rejects US pastor’s appeal for release

Osman Faruk Logoglu, who now leads an Ankara-based think tank, the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies, argues that Brunson’s fate can rally the religious base at home. “Many key figures, like Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are evangelical Christians. They represent at least 25 million votes,” the former diplomat says. “So the Brunson case is important not just as a US-Turkey issue but also in terms of its impact on US domestic politics.”

Brunson’s detention is one aspect of a broader, multi-pronged diplomatic spat between the US and Turkey. Lawmakers in Washington passed a bill effectively delaying the shipping of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. Trump signed it into law on Tuesday. One of the chief reasons was Turkey’s willingness to buy Russian S-400 air defense missile systems.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Rize, Turkey, on August 11, 2018. © Reuters

Other points of contention between the two nations include the Turkish military operation against the Kurds in northern Syria, and Ankara’s refusal to back Washington’s plan to target Iranian oil exports.

Turkey has been pushing back against US pressure, insisting that it will determine its own economic policies and choose its own trade partners.

Evgeny Bakhrevsky, director of the Moscow-based Heritage Institute and Middle East researcher, believes the US approach to Turkey is similar to its usual stance on nations it comes into conflict with – working towards regime change. “Washington wants to show that it’s not against Turkey as a nation, Turkey remains its ally in NATO, and they just don’t like Erdogan. The US wishes to tell the Turkish society that its leader has to be removed.”

Bakhrevsky noted that the US pressure on Turkey serves as an additional incentive for Ankara to seek closer ties with other nations, like China, Russia, and European states. “The Europeans will maintain the existing objections to certain Erdogan policies and continue to voice their concerns, but that won’t stop them from developing pragmatic cooperation with Turkey,” he said.

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Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has passed away – United Nations

Kofi Annan passed away from a “short illness” on Saturday, his family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announced in a statement. Annan, a former diplomat from Ghana, led the United Nations from 1997 to 2006.

In 2001, Annan and the UN were co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

After his tenure as secretary general, he served as the UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria in 2012, until he became frustrated with the lack of progress.


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Can Cristiano Ronaldo maintain goal-scoring heroics against Serie A defenses?

Juventus’ new signing, Cristiano Ronaldo, makes his competitive debut for his new club today, but it remains to be seen if he can keep up his impressive scoring rate in a league heralded for its defensive excellence.

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© Wiese

Ronaldo has scored goals no matter what color jersey he has worn. In his final three season in the red of Manchester United, he became one of the game’s greats, finding the net 91 times for Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering side.

He continued that trend following his move to Real Madrid, scoring an incredible 450 goals in just 438 appearances over nine years; but can a player who turns 34 in February maintain this level of excellence against the famously miserly Italian backlines?

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo scores in Juventus debut friendly match

For Ronaldo, there is no team in Italy that would give him a better chance. Max Allegri’s side begin their Serie A campaign on Saturday away to Chievo Verona as they chase their eighth successive Scudetto. The Portuguese will find himself as the focal point of a Juventus team that is arguably the best Italian club side in a generation.

While Jose Mourinho’s 2009-10 Inter Milan side or the all-conquering AC Milan team of the early 90’s were dominant forces on the domestic and European front, neither was able to replicate their form season after season as Allegri – and Antonio Conte before him – did in the black and white of Juve.

However, Juventus fans hoping for the 45+ goals that Ronaldo regularly plundered year in and year out at the Bernabeu might well be disappointed.

Typically, and even for world class players, Serie A is a difficult league for forwards to find success. Gonzalo Higuain, who has also represented both Real Madrid and Juventus, scored a record 36 goals for Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side in the 2015-16 season – a figure which Ronaldo eclipsed in La Liga on three separate occasions.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo ‘as fit as a 20-year-old,’ Juventus medical shows

Last season, the top four teams in Italy scored 290 times between them, while the top four in Spain combined for 26 more goals. Conversely, the four best Spanish sides conceded 133 times compared to 111 in Serie A. While these statistics aren’t directly comparable (different leagues, different players, different systems), they suggest that Italian defenses are typically more difficult to break down.

Ronaldo’s vintage may also be a determining factor. While his recent form, particularly against Spain in the World Cup, says that he is still at the top of his game, age, they say, waits for no man, not even the Portuguese footballing icon.
Then again, it won’t be the likes of Paolo Maldini or Franco Baresi that Ronaldo will have to contend with.

Even the previously indefatigable Leonardo Bonucci, now CR7’s teammate at Juve, is appearing increasingly mortal after a less-than-successful spell at AC Milan last season.

Ronaldo’s new side will begin the season as the odds-on favorites to win another Scudetto, but the real measure of their record signing’s success will be their performance on the European stage, where it is hoped that his addition to a squad already containing the likes of Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic will bring a much-desired Champions League to Turin.

READ MORE: ‘I’m here to help Juventus win Champions League,’ says Cristiano Ronaldo at unveiling

The capture of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has already proven to be a financial coup in terms of shirt sales and the growth of their online brand, but football matches are won on the pitch. It will be a measure of the man’s greatness if he can seamlessly transition from one European league to another, and adjust to all of the subtle differences that come with it. Perhaps no man is more equipped to do so than the world’s most famous footballer. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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3 dead, dozens injured, including children, as bus overturns in southeastern Poland (PHOTOS)

At least three people have been killed and 51 injured, including children, after a tour bus carrying Ukrainian citizens overturned in southeastern Poland.

The incident took place near the village of Leszczawa Dolna, 300km south of Warsaw, on Saturday morning, local emergency services said on Facebook, adding that the bus was registered in Ukraine.

When rescuers arrived at the scene, they found several people still trapped in the bus, while some passengers were unconscious. The injuries of at least 37 people are serious.

Rescuers said the majority of people were sleeping at the time of the incident, but those who were awake said the driver was going too fast.

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