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Greece did not seek aid: Russian minister

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Moscow: Russian Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukaev said on Tuesday that Greece has not asked for financial assistance from Russia, but his country is interested in investing to help alleviate the country’s financial crisis.

Athens has not asked Moscow for any financial help, while Russia has studied the possibility of engaging in Greek businesses and investing in infrastructure field, Ulyukaev told reporters.

The minister also described as pure speculation the reports that the New Development Bank, which will be officially launched at this week’s summit of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), may provide Athens with a loan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adviser Yuri Ushakov also said in an interview broadcast by Russian media on Tuesday that the New Development Bank will instead begin operations by focusing on its own problems, not Greece’s.

(IANS)

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Vladimir Putin: BRICS relevant due to Western unilateralism

With some Western countries attempting to promote their unilateral approaches, this position becomes even more relevant

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BRICS countries, Wikimedia

October 13, 2016: BRICS reflects the member countries’ commitment to uphold the international law when some Western countries are trying to promote unilateral approaches, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

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And cooperation within BRICS — which clubs Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — was already yielding practical results, Putin told IANS and Sputnik news agencies in an interview ahead of his visit to Goa to attend the BRICS Summit.

Putin described BRICS as one of the key elements of the emerging multipolar world.

“The five (member) countries have consistently reaffirmed their commitment to the fundamental principles of international law and promote the central role of the UN,” he said in response to questions from IANS.

“Our countries reject the policy of coercive pressure and infringement upon the sovereignty of other states. We take similar stances on urgent international issues, including the Syrian crisis and the Middle East settlement.”

The Russian leader said the BRICS summits’ final declarations reaffirm “our shared commitment to the fundamental principles of inter-state communication, particularly, to the observance of international law with the central coordinating role of the UN.

“With some Western countries attempting to promote their unilateral approaches, this position becomes even more relevant,” Putin said, adding that the Goa Summit would be no exception to this rule.

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Traditionally, the declarations of BRICS leaders outline fundamental consensus-based stances on a wide range of issues and identify short-term development goals for the five nations, he said.

This, he added, would serve as a target for follow-up steps aimed at strengthening strategic partnerships among the five countries in various spheres.

“As for rendering practical interaction among the five countries more substantive, I would like to stress that today, there exist more than 30 formats for inter-agency cooperation in the political, economic, humanitarian, security and law enforcement areas.”

Putin said the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement with a total capital of $200 billion was one concrete example of this cooperation.

“I am convinced that, as the bank gets stronger, its output will only increase, including by means of projects that promote integration among the BRICS countries.

“The NDB started its work in 2016, having approved the first projects in all five countries.

“The priority at the current stage is renewable energy. In Russia, this implies the construction of small 50 MW hydropower plants in Karelia worth $100 million.”

Putin said the BRICS countries actively cooperated within the Group of 20 and sought to systematically converge their stand at the WTO to improve the rules and spur multilateral negotiations within the organisation.

“This is why I think the cooperation within BRICS has already begun to yield practical results. It is essential to continue work on consolidating these results and on identifying areas of common interest.

The Russian leader said the participants in the BRICS Summit in Goa would look at the initial results of implementing the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership adopted in Ufa and finalise the draft of BRICS Roadmap for Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation until 2020.

“We intend to establish new formats and mechanisms to cooperate with our partners, in which concerted measures aimed at developing our ties in various fields will be elaborated.

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“At the same time we intend to focus on addressing issues related to strengthening international security and stability, enhancing the competitiveness of our economies and the promotion of international development.”

Putin said Russia supported the initiatives put forward by the Indian chairmanship in such fields as BRICS collaboration in agriculture, railway transport, sports, tourism and building people-to-people contacts. (IANS)

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Australian Man Jacob Welsh from Geelong, Melbourne raises $4,000 to bring stray dog home from Greece

Welsh said he and Chance became inseparable after he found her lying in a pile of broken glass on the side of a busy road in Greece

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Jacob Welsh with the dog. Image source: Facebook

Melbourne, Sept 6, 2016: An Australian man Jacob Welsh has raised $4,000 to bring a stray dog home from Greece.

Welsh is from Geelong, 75 km from Melbourne, raised the money on a popular crowd-funding Website, to bring the dog, which he named “Chance,” back to Australia, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

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The resounding success of the campaign guaranteed Chance would have a home for the rest of her life, said Welsh.

“Thank you! She will not spend another night on the street thanks to all the help we’ve received,” Welsh wrote on social media on Tuesday.

Welsh said he and Chance became inseparable after he found her lying in a pile of broken glass on the side of a busy road in Greece.

“I called her over to me and she hesitantly approached, I gave her a little pat and ever since then she has followed me wherever I go,” he wrote on social media earlier.

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“I didn’t have the heart to leave her on the street after that so since then I have been sneaking her into my apartment, which has a strict no-pets policy.

“The sad reality of her going back on the streets is becoming more and more real as my time left in Greece comes to an end.

“Australia’s laws are very strict with this kind of thing but I have done the research and it is possible, just very expensive. If you can spare a few dollars Chance and I would really appreciate it.”

Costs involved in bringing an animal into Australia include a rabies vaccine, pet passport, plane tickets, airport transfers, de-worming medication and a pet carrier box. (IANS)

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Sex Ratio Tipping towards Men: An Exhaustive Look at Swedish Demographics

Norway swung to a male surplus in 2011, four years before Sweden, while Denmark and Switzerland are nearing a sex ratio of 100

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Sweden. Image source: VOA
  • A National statistics agency, SCB showed 277 more men than women in 2015
  • European Union population statistics suggests women will remain in the majority in most European countries for decades to come
  • Despite a natural birth rate of about 105 boys born for every 100 girls, European women have historically outnumbered men because they live longer

The natural sex ratio at birth, as presented by World Health Organization, WHO, is 105 boys for every 100 girls. However, predominantly, in the West, women have always been more numerous than men because they live longer. Hence, it came as a surprise in Sweden, when, in March last year, the census highlighted the fact that there were 277 more men than women.

What’s more, the number has since then grown to a massive 12000, which is still not very big compared to 9.7 million, which is the current population of Sweden, but definitely perplexing. Many demographic analysts and population experts, like Tomas Johansson and Frencesco Billari, confess they were not expecting this event to occur so soon.

There is currently an excess of 12 million women in the European Union, which has a population of approximately 500 million as a whole. Eurostat spokeswoman Baiba Grandovska believes, however, that this gap between the number of men and women is likely to narrow in the coming years,  “mainly because of the decreasing gap in life expectancy.” This comes as a result of an overall change in the lifestyle of men as compared to their fathers.

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Increasing awareness of heart diseases, adverse effects of smoking and drinking and more sophisticated medical equipment has encouraged them to modify the way they live. Wealthier countries now offer safer desk jobs as compared to working in mines and the construction business.

In Sweden, particularly, the numbers are going a little crazy. There was an unusual increase in the sex ratio to 108 boys for every 100 girls born in the year of 2014. Beating that increase, the sex ratio is now an absurd 123 boys for every 100 girls among 16-17 year olds, which beats even the sex imbalance in China and India.

sex ratio

Valerie Hudson of Texas A&M University, who released these numbers, attributes this sudden rise in the sex ratio to the sudden wave of refugees, mostly adolescent boys, from Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa that have run away from their war-stricken homes to seek asylum in Sweden. BBC reports that Sweden has received more asylum applications than any other country in Europe -163,000 just last year.

The Scandinavian country also houses immigrant-friendly laws; any underage refugee receives stable housing and financial resources. News like this travels fast and many young men often lie about their age to avail of these services, a matter that has now become a pressing concern. The authorities are debating the application of age determination tests for better screening of underage individuals; however, this is still a sensitive topic in the Nordic country.

Adding to the appealing benefits of being an underage refugee in this country, they also enjoy the right to family reunification, through which the entire family can be brought to Sweden. Experts believe this right may work in favor of improving the sex ratio, as an invitation for the entire family into Sweden may mean that sisters and mothers arrive in Sweden, driving up the number of females.

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Security forces of Sweden fear that the country may not be prepared to adjust to the masculine nature of its society. There is an expected increase in the number of crime against women, somewhat following in the footsteps of India and China. Unsatisfied male bachelors, who may not find spouses in time, have a possibility of propagating harassment cases against women, and that is a scary prospect.

Annick Wibben, of the University of San Francisco dismisses this trail of thought, claiming that the concept of gender equality is so deeply embedded in the Swedish society, that it does not make sense to compare with Indian and Chinese populations. “The way in which masculinity works in different societies needs to be taken into account”, she said.

-by Saurabh Bodas

Saurabh is pursuing his engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. 

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