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Greek minister caught taking a puff tells EU official to butt out

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ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s deputy health minister has told the European Union’s top health official to butt out after getting a reprimand for smoking in public.

FILE PHOTO: Greek Deputy Health Minister Pavlos Polakis (L) and Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Terens Quick arrive for a cabinet meeting at the parliament in Athens, Greece July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Costas Baltas/File Photo

Deputy minister Pavlos Polakis was caught on video footage this week holding a cigarette while dancing in a club. He had also been photographed smoking at a news conference in 2016.

It drew a rebuke from EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, who was in Athens to mark World Cancer Day.

Andriukaitis said the practice was “shameful”.

Polakis, who is also a surgeon, said he was dealing with more pressing issues at the ministry than smoking. “Learn before you speak,” Polakis wrote on his Facebook account in a post addressed to Andriukaitis.

“I’ll decide when to stop smoking, on my terms,” Polakis said.

Greece has the highest smoking rate in the European Union. It bans smoking in indoor public spaces, such as the nightclub where Polakis danced as red napkins fluttered around him.

The EU official, who was questioned by a daily newspaper frequently critical of the outspoken minister, also complained the health ministry smelt of cigarettes and that nobody wore ties.

“That’s a lie … the security guard at the entrance wore one. I don’t. It’s the suits which passed through here who bankrupted our country,” Polakis said.

His boss, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, also eschews ties. He briefly wore one last year after brokering an agreement with the country’s lenders on debt relief for the nation, which required three bailouts between 2010 and 2015.

Greece emerged from the bailout in August.

Reporting By Michele Kambas, Editing by William Maclean

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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We’ve got this mountain of trash – why don’t we ski down it?

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – What to do with the mountain of garbage a major metropolitan area produces is an age-old question. Copenhagen has come up with a brand-new answer: ski down the mountain.

Well, not exactly. The waste is actually inside Copenhill, a waste-treatment plant 10 minutes from downtown Copenhagen. Its main facility is a futuristic building with a sloping roof 85 meters high that’s covered in a material called neveplast. It looks just like a ski slope, except it’s green.

“I think everybody is surprised to start with when they look at it and it’s not snow,” said Christian Ingels, the director at Copenhill. “It’s green dry-slope material. After one or two runs, your mind is automatically adjusting so you feel exactly like skiing.”

Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the plant is an important step in Copenhagen’s ambition to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital. It’s an attempt to build a waste-treatment plant that local residents are happy to see come to their neighborhood. It seems to be working.

“It’s a fantastic experience in the middle of a city to be able to do what you do like the most,” said visiting skier Pelle Hansen. “Instead of having to go six, seven, eight or ten hours to a ski destination, you can be here in ten minutes.”

The plant will also burn waste from around 600,000 residents and 68,000 businesses to produce electricity and district heating, will be sent back to the resident. It will also recycle some of the waste.

The plant began operating in 2017, and the recreational part will open permanently this spring. The slope will open year-round.

“It’s fantastic that one can ski without snow,” said ski slope visitor Tommy Christensen. “It’s a slightly different experience than to skiing in real snow, but it’s my second run and I’ll try it again. It looks promising.”

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, editing by Larry King

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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'Tinder for cows' matches livestock in the mood for love

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A Tinder-inspired app is helping farmers match up potential partners for their cattle.

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Toronto police probe hurling of chair from high-rise balcony

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TORONTO (Reuters) – Toronto police said on Monday they are investigating an incident of a woman hurling a chair from the balcony of a high-rise condominium that was captured on a video that went viral.

The video, captioned “Good morning,” shows a woman with long, blond hair and dressed in black picking up a chair on the balcony and then looking over the balcony while holding the chair. She then stands up straight and looks into the camera as she appears to speak briefly before turning and throwing the chair off the balcony.

The video shows the chair falling toward a busy highway seen below, though police said the chair landed on the condo building’s entrance. No one was injured or killed in the incident, which occurred on Saturday, Toronto Police Service media relations officer David Hopkinson said.

It caught the attention of users of Reddit who expressed safety concerns and sparked the police investigation.

Hopkinson said he first noticed the video on Sunday and was “outraged” by the incident. He said the woman also threw multiple other objects from the balcony, though only the chair was shown on the video.

Hopkinson said the woman in the video could be charged with common nuisance and mischief, endangering life, which is an extreme level of “mischief.” He said the police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the woman.

Incidents involving objects from high-rise building have come to police attention before, Hopkinson said. “There’s quite a number of things investigated thrown from bridges, condos, towers, other high places,” he said. “People do foolish things.”

Reporting by Tyler Choi; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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