Free-diver plunges to record depth beneath frozen Swiss lake

Czech freediver David Vencl sits in the water after his successful attempt to dive 50 meters under the ice of Lake Sils in one breath and wearing only a swimsuit, in Switzerland on Mar. 14, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 March 2023
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Free-diver plunges to record depth beneath frozen Swiss lake

  • Vencl dived through a hole in the ice then retrieved a sticker from a depth of 50 meters to prove his feat
  • The Swiss plunge in temperatures of between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius took him 1 minute 54 seconds

LAKE SILS, Switzerland: David Vencl emerged from the depths of Switzerland’s Lake Sils on Tuesday after a record dive beneath the ice to a depth of more than 50 meters without a wetsuit.
The 40-year-old Czech diver’s record vertical plunge to 52.1 meters in a single breath follows his entry into the Guinness World Records book for swimming the length of a frozen Czech lake in 2021.
Vencl dived through a hole in the ice then retrieved a sticker from a depth of 50 meters to prove his feat before re-emerging through the same hole. He spat some blood, sat down for a minute and then opened a bottle of champagne. A later visit to the hospital confirmed there was nothing serious.
The Swiss plunge in temperatures of between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius took him 1 minute 54 seconds, his promoter Pavel Kalous said, which was a bit slower than expected.
“He kind of enjoyed it but he admits he was a little more nervous than usual and he had some problems with breathing,” he told Reuters.
“There is nothing difficult for him to be in cold water... Lack of oxygen is something normal for him. But this was completely different because it’s really difficult to work with the pressure in your ears in cold water,” he added.
“If you combine all these three things: cold water, lack of oxygen and the problem with working with pressure, it’s something very unique,” he added.


Four fans get on field for selfies with Cristiano Ronaldo during chaotic scenes at Euro 2024 match

Updated 57 min 22 sec ago
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Four fans get on field for selfies with Cristiano Ronaldo during chaotic scenes at Euro 2024 match

  • That fan then ran off before being stopped and escorted away
  • More chaos ensued when a third field invader emerged in stoppage time and ran past Ronaldo

DORTMUND: Four fans ran on the field in a bid to get selfies with Cristiano Ronaldo in chaotic scenes at a European Championship match between Portugal and Turkiye on Saturday.
Only one appeared to succeed.
Ronaldo was fine having his photograph taken with a young boy who evaded stewards to get on the field in the 69th minute at Westfalenstadion before whipping out his cell phone.
That fan then ran off before being stopped and escorted away — but not before he waved to the crowd.
Then, about 15 minutes later, an older fan tried the same but Ronaldo threw his hands up in the air and turned his back on the spectator, who seemed to grab hold of Ronaldo’s arm.
More chaos ensued when a third field invader emerged in stoppage time and ran past Ronaldo, who was defending a corner.
After the final whistle, there were more security breaches as a fan wearing a Portugal jersey attempted to get close to Ronaldo while holding a phone. He was soon tackled to the ground while another supporter was stopped from confronting Ronaldo as Portugal’s players walked off the field.


88-year-old Montana man who was getaway driver in bank robberies sentenced to 2 years in prison

(Facebook/Billings Police Department)
Updated 22 June 2024
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88-year-old Montana man who was getaway driver in bank robberies sentenced to 2 years in prison

  • The man and his co-defendant were arrested after the second robbery in August 2023 in a car matching the description of the car involved in the first bank robbery just four days earlier, prosecutors said

BILLINGS, Montana: An 88-year-old Montana man has been sentenced to two years in a federal prison medical facility for being the getaway driver in two bank robberies in Billings last summer, the US Attorney’s Office in Montana said.
The man was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in February to two counts of bank robbery. He was ordered to pay nearly $3,100 in restitution and will be on supervised release for three years after he finishes his prison sentence.
US District Court Judge Susan Watters ordered him to report to the US Marshals Service, after which he would be sent to a Bureau of Prisons medical facility.
The man and his co-defendant were arrested after the second robbery in August 2023 in a car matching the description of the car involved in the first bank robbery just four days earlier, prosecutors said. The defendant told investigators he suggested he and the co-defendant rob banks to get money, as he had done in the past. The defendant pleaded guilty to bank robbery in 2008, when he was 72.

 


Lost phone returned with smiling surprise as Scotland-Germany love-in blossoms

Updated 21 June 2024
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Lost phone returned with smiling surprise as Scotland-Germany love-in blossoms

  • “Kieran left his phone in a portaloo. These Germany fans found it, took a selfie, then handed it into the police,” supporters’ body the Tartan Army Group posted on X
  • The Scotland fans have not just been confined to cities where the team is playing

STUTTGART, Germany: When you lose your phone abroad you hardly expect to get it back, let alone with a smiling selfie on it from the good-natured rival supporters who handed it in to the police.
But that’s exactly what happened to a Scotland fan in Germany who was reunited with his lost phone and discovered a pleasant surprise in the camera roll, the latest entreaty in a blossoming love-in between the two countries.
Thousands of Scottish fans have made the long journey to the Euros, in their kilts and sporrans, and have endeared themselves to their hosts with their infectious enthusiasm and 24-hour carousing.
Where once German city centers would have the sound of an oom-pah band echoing through the streets, now it’s the skirl of bagpipes ringing out along with deafening chants of “No Scotland, no party.”
“Kieran left his phone in a portaloo. These Germany fans found it, took a selfie, then handed it into the police. He has his phone back. What a country,” supporters’ body the Tartan Army Group posted on X on Thursday alongside the picture of the five smiling fans.
The two nations may not be famous for their bilateral relations, though there is a connection that dates all the way back to William Wallace’s letters to the Hanseatic League in 1297.
However, there are now calls for a new special relationship to be formed in Europe.
“And we definitely need you guys back in the EU! We’ll always leave a light on for you!,” a German poster wrote underneath the Tartan Army Group post.
“I didn’t know that the Germany-Scotland-Love is what I needed. Please don‘t ever leave, Scots!,” another wrote, adding: “Can we build a direct tunnel? Or a gigantic bridge?“
“There’s something special between Scotland and Germany, I don’t know why, or what it is, but I can feel it,” said another post.
The Scotland fans have not just been confined to cities where the team is playing, with many spread across the country simply happy to soak in the atmosphere — and indeed the beer.
“Dear Scots, these have been a wonderful couple of days with you. I could not be a happier mayor. You are always welcome to Cologne,” Henriette Reker, mayor of Cologne, said on X.
The Tartan Army descends on Stuttgart as Scotland hope to extend their stay in Germany with a win against Hungary on Sunday. No doubt they’ll now have the locals cheering them on, as well.


Albanian player apologizes for encouraging offensive fan chants

Updated 21 June 2024
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Albanian player apologizes for encouraging offensive fan chants

  • Daku was caught on camera whipping up fans after Albania’s 2-2 draw with Croatia in Hamburg
  • Albania are at only their second major tournament and have been roared on by some of the most fanatical supporters seen so far

HAMBURG: Albanian forward Mirlind Daku, who led fans in derogatory post-match chants about North Macedonia with a megaphone, apologized on Friday citing the intense emotions of playing at Euro 2024.
Daku was caught on camera whipping up fans after Albania’s 2-2 draw with Croatia in Hamburg. That triggered a demand for an apology from North Macedonia’s football federation plus an investigation from Europe’s soccer body UEFA.
“Apologising is manly, and I feel a moral and professional obligation to do so, for all those who have been hurt,” he said in an Albanian-language statement on social media.
“Like any footballer, in those moments the emotions are on another level, which can only be understood on the field. It is difficult to describe the feeling of playing for this national team, for these wonderful fans who give us unlimited love.”
Albania are at only their second major tournament and have been roared on by some of the most fanatical supporters seen so far during the month-long tournament in Germany.
“Sorry if I offended anyone after the match with Croatia, the effect of the game does its thing,” the 26-year-old added in his post. “I continue to work together with the whole group for our dreams.”
Kosovo controversy
Rows are proliferating at the tournament over insults relating to bitter rivalries in the Balkans region.
Serbia is demanding punishment for Croatia and Albania over hateful language, saying both sets of fans chanted “Kill, kill, kill the Serb” during their match on Wednesday. Serbia have also been admonished by UEFA for their fans’ behavior.
Most of the controversies center on Albanian-majority Kosovo, whose independence Serbia does not accept.
Kosovo-born Daku represented his homeland before switching to Albania in 2023. Ethnic Albanians revolted in North Macedonia two decades ago.
“An investigation has been opened in relation to the alleged inappropriate behavior of the Albanian Football Association (FSHF) player, Mr. Mirlind Daku,” UEFA said in its statement.
North Macedonia’s football federation said his “nationalist chants” were “scandalous.”


A US veteran died at a nursing home, abandoned. Hundreds of strangers came to say goodbye

US Marine Gerry Brooks is laid to rest Thursday, June 20, 2024 at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta, Maine. (AP)
Updated 22 June 2024
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A US veteran died at a nursing home, abandoned. Hundreds of strangers came to say goodbye

  • Hundreds of people who knew nothing about the 86-year-old beyond his name showed up on a sweltering afternoon and gave Brooks a final salute with full military honors Thursday at the Maine Veterans' Memorial Cemetery in Augusta

AUGUSTA, Maine: Former US Marine Gerry Brooks died alone at a nursing home in Maine, abandoned and all but forgotten. Then the funeral home posted a notice asking if anyone would serve as a pallbearer or simply attend his burial.

Within minutes, it was turning away volunteers to carry his casket.

A bagpiper came forward to play at the service. A pilot offered to perform a flyover. Military groups across the state pledged a proper sendoff.

Hundreds of people who knew nothing about the 86-year-old beyond his name showed up on a sweltering afternoon and gave Brooks a final salute with full military honors Thursday at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta.

Patriot Guard Riders on motorcycles escorted his hearse on the 40-mile route from the funeral home in Belfast, Maine, to the cemetery. Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars paid tribute with a 21-gun salute. Volunteers held American flags next to the casket while a crane hoisted a huge flag above the cemetery entrance.

Some saluted while filing by. Others sang The Marines’ Hymn.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to do this,” said Jim Roberts, commander of the VFW post in Belfast. “There’s so much negativity in the world. This is something people can feel good about and rally around. It’s just absolutely wonderful.” He said Brooks’ son, granddaughter and son-in-law came to the funeral but did not speak during the service.

Roberts said the VFW is called a couple times a year about a deceased veteran with no family or with one that isn’t willing to handle the funeral arrangements. But “we will always be there.” Like other veterans helping out Thursday, he hadn’t known Brooks.

So many groups volunteered to take part in paying tribute that there wasn’t enough space to fit them into the 20-minute burial service, said Katie Riposta, the funeral director who put out the call for help last week.

“It renews your faith in humanity,” she said.

More than 8 million of the US veterans living are 65 or older, almost half the veteran population. They are overwhelmingly men. That’s according to a US Census Bureau report last year. As this generation dies, it said, their collective memory of wartime experiences “will pass into history.”

Much about Brooks’ life is unknown.

He was widowed and lived in Augusta. He died on May 18, less than a week after entering a nursing home, Riposta said. A cause of death was not released.

The funeral home and authorities reached his next of kin, but no one was willing to come forward or take responsibility for his body, she said.

“It sounds like he was a good person, but I know nothing about his life,” Riposta said, noting that after Brooks’ death, a woman contacted the funeral home to say he had once taken her in when she had no other place to go, with no details.

“It doesn’t matter if he served one day or made the military his career,” she said. “He still deserves to be respected and not alone.”

The crowd on Thursday wasn’t all strangers — and it turned out Brooks hadn’t been one, either.

Victoria Abbott, executive director of the Bread of Life shelter in Augusta, said he had come every day to eat at their soup kitchen, always ready to crack “dad jokes” and make the staff smile. He had a favorite table.

“Your quintessential 80-year-old, dad jokes every day,” Abbott said. “He was really great to have around. He was part of the soup kitchen family.”

But most people there Thursday met him too late. The memorial book posted online by Direct Cremation of Maine, which helped to arrange the burial, had a few strangers’ good wishes.

“Sir,” one began, and ended with “Semper Fi.”

The two others, a couple, thanked Brooks for his service. “We all deserve the love kindness and respect when we are called home. I hope that you lived a full beautiful life of Love, Kindness, Dreams and Hope,” they wrote.

They added: “Thank you to all those who will make this gentleman’s service a proper, well deserved goodbye.”

Linda Laweryson, who served in the Marines, said this was the second funeral in little over a year that she has attended for a veteran who died alone. Everyone deserves to die with dignity and be buried with dignity, she said.

Laweryson read a poem during the graveside service written by a combat Marine who reflects on the spot where Marines graduate from boot camp.

“I walked the old parade ground, but I was not alone,” the poem reads. “I walked the old parade ground and knew that I was home.”