TIME Gas

Ukraine, Moscow Clinch Deal on Russian Gas Supply

"There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter"

(BRUSSELS) — Moscow and Kiev on Thursday clinched a multi-billion dollar deal that will guarantee that Russian gas exports flow into Ukraine and beyond to the European Union throughout the winter despite their intense rivalry over the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, whose offices mediated the talks for months, said the EU will also help cash-strapped Ukraine with the payments through aid and guarantees.

“There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter,” he said. Barroso added that he was “hopeful that the agreement can contribute to increase trust between Russia and Ukraine.”

EU energy chief Guenther Oettinger said that “we can guarantee a security of supply over the winter,” not only for Ukraine but also for the EU nations closest to the region that stood to suffer should the gas standoff have worsened.

A similar standoff in 2009 had caused serious disruptions in gas flowing from Russia into the EU and it was a prospect the bloc sought to avoid.

The agreement long hinged on the question whether Ukraine was in a position to come up with the necessary cash to pay for the gas. “Yes, they are,” a confident Oettinger said. Oettinger said the $4.6 billion deal should extend through March.

“We can claim and pay for amounts that we need. That question has been totally settled,” said Yuriy Prodan, Ukrainian Minister for Energy. “There will be no problems.”

Under the deal, Ukraine would pay for its outstanding debt by making a $1.45 billion deposit without delay, and $1.65 billion by year’s end. The final sum of debt would be determined through arbitration.

For new gas, Russia will only deliver after pre-payment and Ukraine intends to buy some $1.5 billion by the end of December.

The EU said in a statement it had been “working intensively” with international institutions and Ukraine to secure funds to pay for gas delivery in the coming winter.

“Unprecedented levels of EU aid will be disbursed in a timely manner,” it said.

The deal only stretches through March and the difficulties of the talks were immediately evident when the Russians and Ukrainians started disagreeing on terms and prices of gas for next summer.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, agreed earlier this month on the broad outline of a deal, but financial issues, centering on payment guarantees for Moscow, had long bogged down talks.

But with each week, the need for a resolution becomes more pressing, since winter is fast approaching in Ukraine, where temperatures often sink below freezing for days.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June after disputes over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March. Ukraine since then has been relying on gas transfers from other European countries and its own reserves.

TIME Belgium

A Belgian Rapist and Murderer Has Won the Right to Be Euthanized

His lawyers say he has not been able to get over his violent sexual impulses

In a groundbreaking ruling, a man who is serving a life sentence in Belgium is to be allowed to have doctors end his life, the BBC reports.

Fifty-year-old Frank Van Den Bleeken was convicted in the 1980s for rape and murder. His lawyers say he has not been able to get over his violent sexual impulses.

Belgium introduced an assisted-dying law in 2002, but the ruling is the first time involving a prisoner.

Van Den Bleeken says he cannot control his sexual urges, which have caused him “unbearable psychological anguish,” and argued because of this he had no prospect of release, says the BBC.

Van Den Bleeken first requested to be euthanized in 2011, but his plea was rejected by Belgium’s Federal Euthanasia Commission.

For the past three years he has been fighting the courts to allow doctors to end his life.

Van Den Bleeken will be taken to a hospital where doctors will perform the procedure, but it is not clear when it will be conducted.

[BBC]

TIME energy

Africa and Belgium Generate the Same Amount of Electricity – But That’s Changing

Laborers work at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region in Ethiopia, March 2014.
Laborers work at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, March 2014. Tiksa Negeri—Reuters

Lack of power is holding Africa back

This article originally appeared on OilPrice.com

The statistics of the African Development Bank are terrifying: Africa’s total installed power generation capacity is 147 gigawatts. That’s about the same amount as Belgium’s total capacity, and the equivalent of what China installs every 12 to 24 months.

To turn this around by 2030 and ensure universal electricity access, the International Energy Agency assumes a $30 billion investment would be needed, at minimum.

It would be foolish to envision a future where Africa’s energy needs are to be met by expensive conventional fossil fuels. Sadly, few intercontinental efforts to boost installed renewable energy capacity seem to be gaining traction. However, a number of countries have come to this realization. Unfortunately, they are not necessarily Africa’s dominant power generators but represent those who have set achievable renewable energy plans in motion. In these countries, the sheer magnitude of investments being made shows how importantly African governments take the challenge of making the continent energy efficient and sustainable.

Certainly, some countries have advantages. Due to the presence of the Blue Nile – one of the two major tributaries of the Nile River — 96 percent of Ethiopia’s energy comes from hydropower, but authorities have not seen this as a reason to ignore the country’s potential from other renewable sources. Over the current decade, Ethiopia is seeking to increase its supply fivefold from 2,000 megawatts (MW) to 10,000MW through renewable energy. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam across the Nile, set to be the biggest dam in Africa when it launches in 2017, will provide the bulk of that with a capacity of 6,000MW. However, Addis-Ababa’s renewables plan is remarkably well rounded, and includes wind, solar and geothermal. This is no mere paper pledge either, as leading geothermal expert Reykjavik Geothermal is on the ground to build a 1,000MW power plant, the first stage of which will open in the Rift Valley in 2018.

Kenya is Africa’s second biggest renewable energy power producer, behind Ethiopia, and presents a similar model. Hydropower powers half of Kenya and it will likely remain the continent’s foremost geothermal producer until Ethiopia opens its Rift Valley plant. Kenya is also planning Africa’s largest wind farm — a 300MW project to be built by the Lake Turkana Wind Power Construction. Should the project come to fruition, it will be Kenya’s largest-ever foreign investment, no mean feat for one of Africa’s most investment-friendly economies. Kenya also struck out from the pack by understanding the role financial services must play in any steady renewable energy plan and launching Africa’s first carbon trading platform in 2011.

Algeria has chosen a different tack than its sub-Saharan colleagues. In setting its own renewables plan, Algeria is seeking to become an energy exporter off the back of its solar potential. In 2011, it announced plans to install 22GW by 2030 with the goal of keeping 12GW for internal consumption and exporting 10GW. Rather than focusing on one massive project like Ethiopia or Kenya are, Algeria envisioned this capacity being spread across a myriad of smaller plants. This would largely be done with Chinese involvement, including Yingli Solar, which won a bid in December 2013 for the first 400MW tranche of 1.2GW solar plant. With instability in the region rising, it remains to be seen whether Algeria’s medium-term plans come to fruition, but its energy export ambitions are a wonderful example of the continent’s potential.

These examples are positive, but not every African country has a major river or serious interest from foreign investors. Many of the continent’s smaller economies, even trusted democracies like Botswana, are dependent on importing most of their power. But this should not stop them from taking active steps to halt this dependence.

Botswana has imported 80 percent of its electricity on average in recent years, but this country of 2 million has a program devoted to electrifying rural areas through renewables, has implemented renewable energy feed-in tariffs to stimulate investment, and used funds from the World Bank to fully investigate its concentrated solar power potential.

Efforts like these will hopefully serve as a clarion call to other African nations to explore their options for developing renewable energy sources, and to foreign investors about opportunities in this sector. Africa’s smaller countries cannot wait indefinitely for outside help: their energy future is in their own hands.

 

TIME Belgium

World Leaders Gather in Liege to Commemorate World War I Centenary

BELGIUM-HISTORY-WAR-WWI-CENTENARY
Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, French President Francois Hollande, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, her husband King Philippe and German President Joachim Gauck attend on August 4, 2014 in Liege, Belgium, commemorations marking 100 years since the invasion of Belgium by Germany at the start of World War I. JOHN THYS--AFP/Getty Images

Heads of state from around the globe gathered to mark the centenary of World War I in the Belgian city where fighting started a century ago

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium hosted dozens of heads of state and other international delegates on Monday to mark the centenary of the start of World War I. The dignitaries gathered on a forested hill overlooking the city of Liege, just a few dozen kilometers from the border where German soldiers took their first fateful steps 100 years ago, triggering a war which would engulf the world like none other before it.

Among the guests were Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, King Felipe of Spain and US Secretary of the Army John McHugh. The speeches paid tribute to the fallen and included messages of reconciliation. But the remembrance was also tinged with anger that the world today is not quite as peaceful as many had hoped after the sacrifices of a century ago, and warnings that the ties that bind can so quickly be broken.

Speaking at the foot of Liege’s towering Allied Memorial, French President Francois Hollande spoke of the breach of Belgium’s neutrality a century ago, drawing parallels with the conflicts of today. “How can we stay neutral when people not far from Europe are fighting for their rights and territorial integrity?” he asked. “How to stay neutral when a civilian aircraft can be shot out of the sky in Ukraine? When there are civilian populations being massacred in Iraq, Syria, and Libya? When in Gaza a deadly conflict has been going on for over a month?”

German President, Joachim Gauck, also lamented that “millions of people are afflicted by violence and terror; millions have fled their homes.” He urged nations to remember the “terrible and bitter lessons” of a war which many once thought impossible.

The tumble into the Great War began with the bullet that assassinated Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914, putting the empire and its ally Germany on a collision course with Serbia and Russia, eventually dragging in Britain and France. No amount of diplomacy or warnings of a coming catastrophe were able to prevent the spiral of nationalism and paranoia. On August 4th, 1914, German soldiers crossed into Belgium, hoping for a swift advance to Paris. This triggered a British pledge to protect the small nation’s neutrality, and by 11 pm that night Germany and Britain were at war. “The lamps are going out all over Europe,” said the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, at the time. “We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

A day later, Liege would become the first battlefield of the first global conflict, which would eventually draw in 65 million combatants from 72 nations, with millions of them never making it home alive.

In 2014, the centenary’s resonance is keenly felt when conflict is blighting many corners of the world. Wartime leaders’ warnings of “monstrous slaughter” would not seem so distant to the Syrians today facing barrel bombs in a civil war that has now claimed more than 150,000 lives. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has its roots in the carve up of the Middle East after World War One, and the number of casualties are still rising by the day in Gaza.

Even the belief of lasting peace in Europe has been shaken by events in Ukraine, such as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and an increasingly bloody separatist insurgency which last month claimed nearly 300 lives – 211 of them, European – in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Belgium’s Prime Minister, Elio di Rupo, also used the occasion to warn about the rise of anti-Semitism and extremism in Europe after the bruising economic crisis. “It takes a great deal of time and effort to bring peoples together and unite them in a common destiny,” he said. “However, it often does not take much to shatter this solidarity and revive the worst tensions.”

But there were also celebrations of how a continent overcame differences that once seemed insurmountable, and a reminder that reconciliation is possible, no matter how deep the animosities, how cruel the conflict, how many dead.

Later in the evening British and German delegates will stand together at Saint Symphorien cemetery in Mons, where fallen soldiers from both nations lie side-by-side. “The fact that the presidents of Germany and Austria are here today, and that other nations—then enemies—are here too, bears testimony to the power of reconciliation,” said Britain’s Prince William. “We were enemies more than once in the last century, and today we are friends and allies. We salute those who died to give us our freedom. We will remember them.”

TIME World Cup

The Soccer Net: A Popular Destination for World Cup Players

Players have taken to the net in celebration, frustration and disappointment

TIME World Cup

Here’s How World Cup Fans Represent Their Favorite Soccer Icons

Messi. Suarez. Rooney. Around the world, fans construct idols, some more creative than others, of their favorite players.

TIME World Cup

World Cup Cheat Sheet: No Tim Howard, But Some Great Games Ahead

Brazil FIFA World Cup 2014-Argentina v Switzerland-Round of 16
Messi dribbles at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 1, 2014. Reinaldo Coddou—H./Pixath/SIPA

Bummer about the U.S., isn’t it? Tim Howard deserved another game just on his performance alone. But let’s be honest, you can’t suddenly start attacking after you’re down 2-0 and expect to win. Lack of attack is what often happens as underdog teams get deeper into the World Cup. But the quarterfinals promise a lot more attacking, and are well worth watching, even if you’re just a casual fan.

France vs. Germany (Friday, 12 noon ET): No European team ever lacks motivation to play against Germany. The grudge list of history is too long. But for France, it’s more about redeeming the reputation of Les Bleus, which the team trashed in the 2010 World Cup, following a player revolt against Raymond Domenech, the coach from another planet. Relatively speaking, the current French squad is playing blissfully. Coach Didier Deschamps has a lot of buttons to push, from precocious Paul Pogba and the vibrant Mathieu Valbuena in the midfield, Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud up front and the world-class Hugo Lloris in goal. Germany has looked less impressive every game so far, gasping for air against the suffocating Algerian pressure until Andre Schuerrle rescued die Mannschaft in extra time. Germany coach Joachim Loew is probably busy tinkering with the parts of his Bayern Munich-centered team —Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm— as well as the lethargic Mesut Özil, to get them to produce more power. Right now Loew has a Mercedes sedan and he needs an F-1 model. The Germans, as you know, are very good mechanics. This game is going to be about French style vs. German muscle, and style is looking good.

Brazil vs. Colombia (Friday 4 p.m.): Which team would you rather be coaching? The glamorous home side, the famous Seleção of Brazil, or the guys from the country nearby? Brazil coach Big Phil Scolari’s team was on the verge of collectively wetting its pants against Chile. The pressure to win is so great that Scolari had to bring in a psychologist to consult some emotion-wracked players after the narrow penalty-kick shootout win over the Chileans. But if you are Colombia’s coach José Pekerman, you can just tell your team, “Take it to’em, boys.” Colombia is a team playing without its leading scorer but, more importantly, playing without fear. And it has the wondrous James Rodriguez in the middle—the Monaco man’s price has skyrocketed during this tournament— creating highlight reel goals. Colombia will feel free to go at Brazil’s vulnerable defense, which features wingbacks like Marcelo who just hate hanging around their own end of the field. Brazil will also be missing Luis Gustavo, who has held its midfield together. Brazil’s offense, run by the endlessly inventive Neymar, lacks any cohesive imagination in its attack. There’s no beauty in Brazil’s beautiful game at moment. The Seleção had better find some, or the party could well end this weekend.

Argentina vs. Belgium (Saturday 12 p.m.): Game after game, Argentina has faced opponents trying to frustrate its attack at all costs. The Swiss erected massed ranks of defenders in front of its goal like so many Alps, and waited to counterattack. It’s a strategy that almost worked but for another burst of genius from Lionel Messi to set up Angel di Maria’s winning goal. Belgium, like Switzerland, is a small country, but unlike the Swiss, the Belgians are loaded with talent. They are here to play, not defend. Against the U.S., midfielder Kevin de Bruyne spent 68% of the game in the American end of the field, leading endless attacks. So did Eden Hazard, whose penchant for getting behind defenses should worry Argentina. Then again, if Messi is on your team, you can relax a little bit, knowing that he’s capable of miracles. Not that Argentina should need them. In a wide-open game, with players like di Maria and Sergio Aguero surging forward, this match could restore the high scoring that marked the group stage, and should restore Argentina as a favorite to win it all.

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica (Saturday 4 p.m.): The Ticos are one of the last teams that anyone would figure to reach the quarters, but its qualifying and World Cup run has been impressive. Costa Rica beat Uruguay, Italy and Greece, and drew with England. Led by Bryan Ruiz, who only recently had a hard time getting a game with Fulham, the Ticos have also handled Mexico, a team that gave the Oranje fits in the round of 16. Still, any team featuring Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder is going to be a handful, as Spain learned. Each player has the ability to change a game in an instant, although Robben’s conspicuous diving—it ought to be a red card offense— is hardly recommended viewing. Don’t expect the Ticos to be awed by this much talent; do expect them to be done in by it.

 

TIME World Cup

The 16 Best Photos From the World Cup’s Round of 16

The celebrations, the heartaches, and the sometimes gravity-defying saves and goals that made this leg of the tournament all pins-and-needles

TIME World Cup

Belgium Beat the U.S. Because They Played a Better Game

Even the Herculean efforts of Tim Howard couldn't outdo the U.S. opposition's

Finally, Tim Howard could no longer save his team. Two minutes into overtime, Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne collected yet another loose ball after yet another U.S. breakdown, to score past Howard to take a 1-0 lead in their round-of-16 game. And when Romelu Lukaku added what seemed to be the finishing touch from a De Bruyne assist a few minutes later, the American World Cup dream finally looked to be over. The disappointment was coast to coast, as millions of people stopped work or gathered in stadiums and outdoor venues to watch.

Then the game exploded back to life. Down two goals in extra time, U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann played his last card, the German-American teenager Julian Green, brought on for a sniff of Cup experience. But when the fresh-legged Green connected with Michael Bradley’s pass to flick the ball past Thibaut Courtois with his first touch, it was suddenly game on. Late, very late, too late, the Americans took the initiative. A Jermaine Jones flick went just wide. At 113 minutes a rare designed play on a free kick — Bradley to Jones to Clint Dempsey — nearly sprung the trap, with Courtois providing the game-saving block against Dempsey. Jones smashed one high four minutes later.

To be blunt, this was a game that Belgium richly deserved to win. The Red Devils were the better team and maintained nearly constant pressure on the U.S. defense for the bulk of the game. With Eden Hazard running down the left wing and De Bruyne everywhere else, the Red Devils tilted the playing field from the early minutes. The first U.S. shot didn’t take place until the 21st minute, when Jones, who had an incredible World Cup, swept a pass toward Courtois, who was largely untroubled until that incredible overtime.

Amazingly enough, the U.S. had a chance to steal the game in regulation, during injury time when substitute Chris Wondolowski — another surprise move by Klinsmann — found himself alone in front of goal with Jones’ headed pass settling at his feet. But Wondo whiffed, sweeping the ball high and wide with his right foot, and American chances for a smash-and-grab job went with it.

In soccer, you get punished for giving up possession. It happened to Switzerland earlier in the day against Argentina. And throughout the course of a lopsided game, Belgium almost made the U.S. pay dearly for its lack of possession of the football. But there was Howard to bail them time and time, again. But eventually, something has to give. “It’s a bummer,” said Klinsmann. “We were so close. But I think we can all be very, very proud of this team.” So does an entirely new generation of American fans.

TIME

PHOTO: Obama Surprises World Cup Watchers, Chants For Team USA

He believes that USA will win

President Barack Obama joined the World Cup-watching bandwagon at a viewing party in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House Tuesday afternoon. Obama led about 200 White House staffers in a chant of: “I believe that we will win!” after entering to watch the game around halftime.

“So I was worried that if I walked in and Belgium scored, I’d get in trouble — oh no!,” quipped Obama.

According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Obama had been meeting with his national security team around the game’s start time.

While Obama was watching at the Eisenhower Building, reporters at the White House had a viewing party of their own going:

 

 

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