English football fans arrested in Munich for Nazi salutes

England’s players attend a training session on the eve of the UEFA Nations League match between Germany and England on Tuesday in Munich. (AFP)
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Updated 07 June 2022

English football fans arrested in Munich for Nazi salutes

  • Two England fans were reportedly arrested in Munich city centre for giving the Nazi salute
  • Munich's fire service was called out to a hotel after an England fan lit a flare out of a window

BERLIN: England football fans were arrested for making Nazi salutes in Munich ahead of Tuesday’s Nations League tie away to Germany, according to local reports.
On the eve of the game, two England fans were reportedly arrested in Munich city center for giving the Nazi salute, which is banned in Germany.
Munich’s fire service was called out to a city center hotel after an England fan lit a flare out of a window, which spread smoke through the building, triggering the smoke alarm.
Police in the Bavarian city were also twice called to a disturbance at one of the city’s famous beer cellars, where a group of around 300 England fans were disturbing the peace.
On Monday, England head coach Gareth Southgate said he hoped the behavior of traveling fans would not “embarrass us.”
“You feel ashamed when you hear about it,” he admitted.
Officially, England fans have been allocated 3,466 tickets for the match at the Allianz Arena, but there are fears thousands more could get in having used fake information to buy tickets from the German FA.


Suspected Rome bank robber foiled by tunnel collapse

Updated 15 August 2022

Suspected Rome bank robber foiled by tunnel collapse

ROME: An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank ahead of the August 15 long weekend, police had said.
Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed and taken to hospital.
“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.
The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.
“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.
For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15 long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome becomes empty.
“The hole gang,” headlined the Corriere della Sera daily, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”
The man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers on Thursday.
The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.
“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So, we had no suspicion and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.


Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

Updated 11 August 2022

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

  • A team of 80 people tried to save the animal’s life by transporting the cetaceous into a refrigerated truck to the port in Ouistreham, in Normandy region.

PARIS: A beluga whale that became a French celebrity after a wrong turn took it up the Seine River had to be euthanized Wednesday after experiencing health complications during an urgent rescue operation, authorities said.
The sparkling white marine mammal appeared deep inside France last week, having accidentally veered off the normal ocean migration route that takes belugas to and from Arctic waters.
Fearing the malnourished creature would not survive in the Seine much longer, a wildlife conservation group and veterinarians planned to move the lost whale to a saltwater port in Normandy, from where they hoped to return it to the open sea.
A team of 80 people assembled to try to save the animal’s life, and it was successfully moved Tuesday night from a river lock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, into a refrigerated truck for the 60-kilometer (99-mile) journey to the port in Ouistreham.
But during the drive, the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale started to breath with difficulty, according to Florence Ollivet Courtois, a French veterinarian who worked on the rescue operation.
“During the journey, the veterinarians confirmed a worsening of its state, notably in its respiratory activities, and at the same time noticed the animal was in pain, not breathing enough,” Courtois said.
“The suffering was obvious for the animal, so it was important to release its tension, and so we had to proceed to euthanize it,” she added.
Environmentalists had acknowledged the plan to move the beluga risked fatally stressing the mammal. But marine conservation group Sea Shepherd said that it couldn’t have survived much longer in the Seine’s fresh water.
The group and veterinarians noted the whale had responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins over the last few days, making them hopeful it would recover once it was back in a saltwater environment.
A necropsy is planned on the whale, which weighed about about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).
Rescuers had hoped to spare the whale the fate of an orca that strayed into the Seine and died in May. In 2006, a bottlenose whale — nicknamed “Willy” — swam up the Thames River as far as London and died during a its attempted rescue.
Another complicating factor during the beluga’s rescue attempt was the extreme heat gripping France. Authorities tried to keep it cool and wet with soaked towels and moved it at nightfall when temperatures are at their lowest.
The sad end to a saga that gripped France in recent days came after experts determined the whale “was too weakened to be put back into water,” Guillaume Lericolais, the sub-prefect of France’s Calvados region, said.
Rescuers tried to feed the whale fish without success since Friday. Sea Shepherd France said veterinary exams after the beluga’s removal from the river showed it has no digestive activity.


Woman injured by polar bear on Norway’s Svalbard Islands

Updated 08 August 2022

Woman injured by polar bear on Norway’s Svalbard Islands

  • Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears; visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms
  • Some residents in Svalbard, home to more than 2,500 people, want a round-the-clock polar bear watch, while others advocate killing all bears that get close to humans

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: A polar bear attacked a campsite Monday in Norway’s remote Arctic Svalbard Islands, injuring a French tourist, authorities said, adding that the wounds weren’t life-threatening. The bear was later killed.
The woman, who was not identified, was part of a tour group of 25 people camping at Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, which sits more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland. The campsite was located across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago.
Authorities responded to the news of the attack, which came shortly before 8:30 a.m., by flying there in a helicopter, chief superintendent Stein Olav Bredli.
“The French woman suffered injuries to an arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area,” he said. Further details on her injuries weren’t disclosed. She was flown by helicopter to the hospital in Longyearbyen.
The main newspaper on the Arctic archipelago, Svalbardposten, said the victim was a woman in her 40s, and quoted local hospital official Solveig Jacobsen as saying that the woman was slightly injured.
Bredil later told Svalbardposten that the animal has been “badly injured” and following “a professional assessment” it was put to sleep. It was unclear how it was killed.
Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms. At least five people have been killed by polar bears since the 1970s. In 2011, a British teenager was killed and the last time a fatal polar bear mauling was reported on Svalbard was in 2020, when a 38-year-old Dutchman was killed.
Following that attack, there was a debate as to whether people should be allowed to camp in tents but no ban has been decided.
Some residents in Svalbard, home to more than 2,500 people, want a round-the-clock polar bear watch, while others advocate killing all bears that get close to humans.
From 2009 to 2019, 14 polar bears were shot, Norwegian broadcaster NRK said. An estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.
In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, clawing his back before being driven away by gunshots. The bear was later found and killed by authorities.


1968 plane wreckage found on Swiss glacier

Updated 05 August 2022

1968 plane wreckage found on Swiss glacier

  • The pieces emerged on the Aletsch Glacier in the southwestern Wallis canton
  • Wallis police said the wreckage was discovered on Thursday

GENEVA: Wreckage from a plane that crashed in the Swiss Alps in 1968 has been discovered on a glacier more than 54 years on, police said Friday.
The pieces emerged on the Aletsch Glacier in the southwestern Wallis canton, near the Jungfrau and Monch mountain peaks.
Wallis police said the wreckage was discovered on Thursday.
“Investigations have determined that the parts were from the wreckage of a Piper Cherokee, registration HB-OYL, which crashed at this location on June 30, 1968. Recovery work will be undertaken as soon as possible,” police said.
The 24 Heures regional newspaper said that on board were a teacher, a chief medical officer and his son, who were all from Zurich.
They had a fatal accident 500 meters south of the Jungfraujoch saddle between the two peaks. The bodies were recovered at the time, but the wreckage was not.
“At the time of the accident, more than 50 years ago, the technical means to recover aircraft wreckage in difficult terrain were limited,” the police said.
“Due to the melting of the glaciers, particularly in summer, it is therefore possible that other pieces or pieces of wreckage may be released from the ice.
“In case of discovery, these elements must not be handled in order to avoid any risk of injury. They must be marked and immediately reported to the police.”
24 Heures reported that a mountain guide discovered the wreckage during an expedition in the area.
Due to climate change and the glacier melting, the route has changed and now passes where the plane pieces were found.


Hindu nationalists push boycott of Bollywood ‘Forrest Gump’ remake

Updated 05 August 2022

Hindu nationalists push boycott of Bollywood ‘Forrest Gump’ remake

  • Example of how Bollywood actors, particularly minority Muslims like Aamir Khan, are feeling increased pressure under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi

NEW DELHI: According to Forrest Gump, life is like a box of chocolates because “you never know what you’re going to get.” Now, an Indian remake of the movie has been hit by boycott calls over years-old comments by its Muslim star Aamir Khan.
It is the latest example of how Bollywood actors, particularly minority Muslims like Khan, are feeling increased pressure under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Modi.
“Laal Singh Chaddha,” an Indian spin on the 1994 Hollywood hit with Tom Hanks, is expected to be one of India’s biggest films of 2022.
This is due in large part to its main star, 57-year-old Khan, one of the Indian industry’s most bankable actors with past blockbusters like “3 Idiots” (2009) and “Dangal” (2016).
But ahead of the August 11 release, the Internet is awash with clips from a 2015 interview when Khan expressed a growing “sense of fear” and that he and his then-wife discussed leaving India.
“She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day,” he said.
More than 200,000 tweets, many from supporters of Modi’s BJP party, have been shared since last month calling for people to spurn the movie with the hashtag #BoycottLaalSinghChaddha.
“Aamir Khan married two Hindu Women, yet named his kids Junaid, Azad & Ira. (Hindu co-star) Kareena (Kapoor) married a Muslim & promptly named her kids Taimur & Jehangir,” said one tweet, referring to the children’s typical Muslim names.
“That’s enough reasons to boycott Lal Singh Chaddha, basically a production from Bollywood’s Love Jihad club. #BoycottLaalSinghChaddha,” it added, using a derogatory term coined by Hindu nationalists who accuse Muslim men of marrying Hindu women and forcing them to convert.
Nicknamed “Mr Perfectionist,” Khan has been credited with pushing films beyond Bollywood’s traditional fare of song and dance into social and cultural issues.
He also hosted a TV chat show — “Satyamev Jayate” — that discussed touchy themes like rape, domestic violence and corruption.
The furor over his new film — which adapts Hanks’ famous line to say that “life is like a golgappa,” an Indian snack — is such that this week Khan stressed his patriotism, a key tenet of the Modi government.
“I feel sad that some of the people... believe that I am someone who doesn’t like India,” he told local media.
“That’s not the case. Please don’t boycott my film. Please watch my film.”
Films have long sparked controversy — as well as violence — in the movie-mad country of 1.4 billion people.
But the heat being felt by Khan, one of a clutch of Muslim megastars in the industry along with Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, mirrors growing intolerance, marginalization and vilification of the minority, commentators say.
“There is no doubt that Aamir is being targeted by those spreading hatred toward Muslims,” one commentator, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of becoming a target himself, said.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) owes its origins to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militaristic group espousing “Hindutva,” or making India an exclusively Hindu state.
Lynchings of Muslims by Hindu mobs over so-called cow protection — a sacred animal for many Hindus — and other hate crimes have sown fear in the 200- million-strong Muslim population.
Social media is full of misinformation claiming that Muslims will soon outnumber Hindus — due to inter-religious marriages — or that the minority is a treasonous fifth column backed by Pakistan.
Critics say that the world’s most prolific film industry and its stars have been gradually changing their output to fit the government narrative since Modi came to power in 2014.
In 2019, the hagiographic “PM Narendra Modi” was too much even for the Election Commission, which delayed its release until after a vote that year.
There has been a recent string of military-themed movies that have been nationalistic, all-guns-blazing stories of heroics by soldiers and police — usually Hindus — against enemies outside and within India.
This year’s “The Kashmir Files,” about the fleeing of Hindus from Muslim-majority Kashmir in 1989-90, saw incidents of people in cinemas calling for revenge killings of Muslims.
Film critic and author Anna MM Vetticad said the methods to “subordinate India’s Muslims and Christians to the majority community... include demonizing these minorities, and constantly demanding proof of their patriotism.”
But little is expected to change.
“India’s tragedy is that a majority in Bollywood... are apathetic, opportunistic or afraid,” Vetticad said.