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European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker cuts short holiday for urgent gallbladder surgery | World News

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has cut short his holiday to have urgent surgery to remove his gallbladder.

The 64-year-old was taken back to Luxembourg from Austria to undergo an urgent cholecystectomy.

Mr Juncker, who is due to leave his post as the EU’s figurehead in October, has had to respond to speculation about his health before.

Last year he swayed and stumbled at a dinner for NATO leaders in Brussels and had to be supported on his feet.

His spokesman later said it was caused by sciatica and cramps as he hit back at claims Mr Juncker was drunk.

The gallbladder operation is common and usually happens if a person develops painful gallstones

The gallbladder is a small, pouch-like organ in the upper right part of the stomach which stores bile – a fluid produced by the liver that helps break down fatty foods.

According to the NHS, the patient can usually leave hospital the same day or the next morning if keyhole surgery is used.

Mr Juncker will be replaced as European Commission on 31 October by German conservative Ursula von der Leyen.

The Commission’s role includes proposing new laws, managing EU policies and supervising how its money is spent, negotiating trade deals and representing the EU on the world stage.

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Gerard Butler is set to carry Sparta’s torch before Tokyo Olympics | Ents & Arts News

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In a case of life imitating art, Gerard Butler, the star of ancient Greek epic 300, is to carry Sparta’s Olympic torch ahead of this summer’s Tokyo games.

Sparta’s mayor says the Hollywood A-lister, who played warrior king Leonidas in the 2006 movie based on The Battle Of Thermopylae in 480BC, will return to the city.

The film depicts the heroic rear-guard action by 300 Spartans and other forces to repel the attempted invasion of Greece by a much larger Persian force.

Gerard Butler at the 2020 Oscars
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Gerard Butler, seen at the 2020 Oscars, is to carry Sparta’s Olympic torch

The blockbuster, criticised for playing loose with historical accuracy, grossed $400m (£307m) at the box office, establishing Butler as major action movie lead.

The Scot, 50, will be in Sparta on 14 March to run as a torchbearer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, and will also be in the city for the 2,500th anniversary of the battle, Sparta mayor Petros Doukas told state-run broadcaster ERT.

The movie is based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, which presents a fictionalised retelling of the battle, for entertainment purposes, while retaining many of the historical facts.

Mr Doukas said that Butler will be a guest of honour in the festivities.

The Hollywood star will forever be associated with the battle cry “This is Sparta!” which has become one of the more iconic lines in film history.

Butler has appeared in numerous movies such as Olympus Has Fallen, P.S. I Love You and Law Abiding Citizen but he recently told Greek Reporter that 300 was the “most intense and enjoyable movie” he ever made.

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Nordic airline SAS criticised for saying ‘absolutely nothing’ is truly Scandinavian | World News

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A Nordic airline has been called “disgusting” for saying Scandinavia has imported from other countries many of the things the region is known for.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), the carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, released a video campaign earlier this week that asked: “What is truly Scandinavian? Absolutely nothing.”

It went on to identify Nordic-centric ideas and items – such as democracy, the Danish pastry, and Swedish meatballs – that all originated elsewhere.

“Our democracy? Credit goes to Greece…Even the Danish isn’t Danish. It’s Austrian…The pride of Norway – the paperclip – was actually invented by an American,” the advert said.

It added: “We take everything we like from our trips abroad, adjust it a little bit – et voila – it’s a unique Scandinavian thing.

“In a way, Scandinavia was brought here, piece by piece, by everyday people.”

But this advert – which the airline says was intended to share the message that travel enriches people – was criticised heavily by nationalist and right-wing groups, and forced the company to temporarily take it down.

Soeren Espersen, the foreign affairs spokesperson for the populist Danish People’s Party, said on Facebook that he would have “a bad taste in my mouth” if he were to fly with the airline again “because they spit on us like that”.

Swedish Democrats secretary Richard Jomshof wrote: “What devilish nonsense and self-hatred. Have always tried to fly with SAS, but never again. It’s a promise.”

The airline later released a shorter edit of the campaign video and said it was “regrettable” that their message had been misunderstood.

It said: “SAS is a Scandinavian airline that brings travellers to, from and within Scandinavia, and we stand behind the message in the film that travel enriches us.

“We are proud of our Scandinavian heritage…When we travel, we influence our surroundings and we are influenced by others.

“The experiences we bring back from our travels inspire us as individuals, but also our society.

“It is regrettable that the film is misunderstood, that some choose to interpret the message and use it for their own purpose.”

Speaking about the response to the film, the airline added: “The pattern in the comment sections and the volume of reactions in SAS’ social media channels suggest that the campaign was subject to an attack.

“We cannot accept being a platform for values that we do not share. Consequently, we decided to unpublish the film in our own channels and we have now evaluated the situation.”



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Benjamin Griveaux: Emmanuel Macron ally quits Paris mayor race following sex video | World News

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s favoured candidate to become Paris mayor has withdrawn from the contest following the publication of a sex video.

Benjamin Griveaux, viewed as one of Mr Macron‘s closest political allies, criticised “vile attacks” from a website and on social media concerning his private life.

He said: “My family does not deserve this. No one should ever be subjected to such abuse.”

The 42-year-old, a married father-of-two, is a member of Mr Macron’s La Republique En Marche! party and served as a spokesman for the French government until March last year.

He resigned from that position in order to run for Paris mayor, with voters in the French capital due to go to the polls next month.

On Wednesday evening, a video emerged online along with messages addressed to a woman and quickly spread on social media.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Benjamin Griveaux
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Mr Griveaux is viewed as one of Emmanuel Macron’s closest allies

Mr Griveaux added: “For more than a year, my family and I have been subjected to defamatory remarks, lies, rumours, anonymous attacks, the revelation of stolen private conversations and death threats.

“As if this was not enough, yesterday a new level was reached.”

Following Mr Griveaux’s withdrawal from the mayoral contest, Anne Hidalgo – the current mayor of Paris who is standing for re-election – called for “respect for private life”.

“Parisians deserve a worthy debate, up to the challenges we have to face,” she added.

The Paris mayoralty has been used in the past, notably by ex-French president Jacques Chirac, as a springboard for higher office.

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