Tuesday, December 07, 2021

July 16, 2021 BERLIN (AP) — At least 110 people have died in devastating floods across parts of western Germany and Belgium, officials said Friday, as rescue operations and the search for hundreds still unaccounted for continued.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “stunned” by the devastation caused by the flooding and pledged support to the families of those killed and to cities and towns facing significant damage.

“In the hour of need, our country stands together,” Steinmeier said in a statement Friday afternoon. “It’s important that we show solidarity for those from whom the flood has taken everything.”

Authorities in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said 60 people had died there, including at least nine residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities. In neighboring, North Rhine-Westphalia state officials put the death toll at 43, but warned that the figure could rise further.

Rescuers were rushing Friday to help people trapped in their homes in the town of Erftstadt, southwest of Cologne. Regional authorities said several people had died after their houses collapsed due to subsidence, and aerial pictures showed what appeared to be a massive sinkhole.

“We managed to get 50 people out of their houses last night,” said Frank Rock, the head of the county administration. “We know of 15 people who still need to be rescued.”

Speaking to German broadcaster n-tv, Rock said that authorities had no precise number yet for how many had died.

“One has to assume that under the circumstances some people didn’t manage to escape,” he said.

Authorities said late Thursday that about 1,300 people in Germany were still listed missing, but cautioned that the high figure could be due to duplication of data and difficulties reaching people because of disrupted roads and phone connections.

In a provisional tally, the Belgian death toll rose to 12, with 5 people still missing, local authorities and media report early Friday.

The flash floods this week followed days of heavy rainfall which turned streams and streets into raging torrents that swept away cars and caused houses to collapse across the region.

The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Armin Laschet, has called an emergency Cabinet meeting Friday. The 60-year-old’s handling of the flood disaster is widely seen as a test for his ambitions to succeed Merkel as chancellor in Germany’s national election on Sept. 26.

Steinmeier called for greater efforts to combat global warming.

“Only if we decisively take up the fight against climate change will we be able to limit the extreme weather conditions we are now experiencing,” he said.

Experts say such disasters could become more common due to climate change.

“Some parts of Western Europe ... received up to two months of rainfall in the space of two days. What made it worse is that the soils were already saturated by previous rainfall,” said Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization.

It was too soon to blame the floods and preceding heat waves on global warming rising global temperatures, she said, but added: “Climate change is already increasing the frequency of extreme events. And many single events have been shown to be made worse by global warming.”

Malu Dreyer, the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state, said the disaster showed the need to speed up efforts to curb global warming.

“Climate chance isn’t abstract anymore. We are experiencing it up close and painfully,” she told the Funke media group.

She accused the Laschet and Merkel’s center-right Union bloc of hindering efforts to achieve greater greenhouse gas reductions in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and a major emitter of planet-warming gases.

Thousands of people remain homeless after their houses were destroyed or deemed at-risk by authorities, including several villages around the Steinbach reservoir that experts say could collapse under the weight of the floods.

Defense Ministry spokesman Arne Collatz said the German military had deployed over 850 troops as of Friday morning, but the number is “rising significantly because the need is growing.” He said the ministry had triggered a “military disaster alarm,” a technical move that essentially decentralizes decisions on using equipment to commanders on the ground.

Across the border in Belgium, most of the drowned were found around Liege, where the rains hit hardest. Skies were largely overcast in eastern Belgium, with hopes rising that the worst of the calamity was over.

Italy sent a team of civil protection officials and firefighters, as well as rescue dinghies, to Belgium to help in the search for missing people from the devastating floods.

The firefighters tweeted a photo of one team working in Tillf, south of Liege, to help evacuate residents of a home who were trapped by the rising waters.

In the southern Dutch province of Limburg, which also has been hit hard by flooding, troops piled sandbags to strengthen a 1.1 kilometer (0.7 miles) stretch of dike along the Maas river and police helped evacuate some low-lying neighborhoods.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Thursday night that the government was officially declaring flood-hit regions a disaster area, meaning businesses and residents are eligible for compensation for damage.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander visited the region Thursday night and called the scenes “heart-breaking.”

Meanwhile, sustained rainfall in Switzerland has caused several rivers and lakes to break their banks. Public broadcaster SRF reported that a flash flood swept away cars, flooded basements and destroyed small bridges in the northern villages of Schleitheim und Beggingen late Thursday.

Erik Schulz, the mayor of the hard-hit German city of Hagen, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Cologne, said there had been a wave of solidarity from other regions and ordinary citizens to help those affected by the devastating floods.

“We have many, many citizens saying ‘I can offer a place to stay, where can I go to help, where can I registered, where can I bring my shovel and bucket?’,” he told n-tv. “The city is standing together and you can feel that.”

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Entertainment

September 7, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams, who as the rogue robber of drug dealers Omar Little on “The Wire” created one of the most beloved and enduring characters in a prime era of television, died Monday. Williams was found dead Monday afternoon by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, New York City police said. He was 54. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD said. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death. Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, was probably the most popular character among the devoted fans of “The Wire,” the HBO show that ran from 2002 to 2008 and is re-watched constantly in streaming.

September 8, 2021 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father filed Tuesday to end the court conservatorship that has controlled the singer’s life and money for 13 years. James Spears filed his petition to terminate the conservatorship in Los Angeles Superior Court. “As Mr. Spears has said, again and again, all he wants is what is best for his daughter,” the document says. “If Ms. Spears wants to terminate the conservatorship and believes that she can handle her own life, Mr. Spears believes that she should get that chance.” Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will need to approve the move. Britney Spears attorney Matthew Rosengart said in an email the filing “represents another legal victory for Britney Spears — a massive one — as well as vindication for Ms. Spears.”

September 8, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — With Katie Holmes and Lil’ Kim on his front row and singer Marina on the mic high above his runway, Christian Siriano helped kicked off New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows Tuesday with a flurry of neon and lace-inspired in part by all the Italian women in his life. From ornate Gotham Hall, beneath a stained-glass skylight 70 feet up, Siriano’s commitment to size inclusivity was never stronger as he opened and closed the show with plus-size breakout model Precious Lee. She first walked in a stunning yellow trouser suit with wide loose pants and an asymmetrical jacket, a matching crossover bralette underneath.

September 7, 2021  VENICE, Italy (AP) — Paul Schrader knows he has a limited number of films left, so whatever he does from here on out is going to be for himself. At 75 years old, the writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” and director of “American Gigolo” and “Mishima” was even somewhat prepared to call it a day after his 2018 film “First Reformed,” for which he got his first Oscar nomination. He didn’t want to. He just knew it might be the reality. “I thought I would go back to this character again for about the fifth time,” Schrader said in a recent interview. By “this character” he means “the man in the room.” It’s Travis Bickle. It’s John LeTour. It’s Julian Kay. And it’s a formula he’s been working with for 45 years.

Business News

September 8, 2021  -Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street, where weak jobs data and pandemic concerns weighed on sentiment. Shares rose in Tokyo after economic growth for the April-June quarter was revised upward to an annualized 1.9% from an earlier estimate of 1.3%. “Any feel-good factor was ignored, though, given the climb was less than half of the 4.20% fall in Q1,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Japan will be lucky to break even this year as the current Covid-19 wave will almost certainly have weighed on domestic consumption,” he said.

September 8, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — There will be something missing at two Whole Foods stores opening next year: the rows of cashiers. Amazon, which owns the grocery chain, said Wednesday that it will bring its cashier-less technology to two Whole Foods stores for the first time, letting shoppers grab what they need and leave without having to open their wallets. Cameras and sensors track what’s taken off shelves. Items are charged to an Amazon account after customers leave the store with them. But there will be an option for those who want to shop the old-fashioned way: Self-checkout lanes will be available that take cash, gift cards and other types of payment. Amazon first unveiled the cashier-less technology in 2018 at an Amazon Go convenience store and has expanded it to larger Amazon supermarkets. But it will be the first time it has appeared at Whole Foods, a chain of more than 500 grocery stores Amazon bought four years ago.

September 8, 2021  BEIJING (AP) — An avalanche of changes launched by China’s ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: President Xi Jinping’s vision of making a more powerful, prosperous country by reviving revolutionary ideals, with more economic equality and tighter party control over society and entrepreneurs. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has called for the party to return to its “original mission” as China’s economic, social and cultural leader and carry out the “ rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.” The party has spent the decade since then silencing dissent and tightening political control. Now, after 40 years of growth that transformed China into the world’s factory but left a gulf between a wealthy elite and the poor majority, the party is promising to spread prosperity more evenly and is pressing private companies to pay for social welfare and back Beijing’s ambition to become a global technology competitor.

Fashion News

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