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Posts tagged ‘United Land of Germany’

3 women investigated for causing deadly blaze at German zoo

January 02, 2020

BERLIN (AP) — Three women are under investigation in Germany for launching paper sky lanterns for the new year which apparently ignited a devastating fire that killed more than 30 animals at a zoo, officials said Thursday.

The three local women — a mother and her two daughters, ages 30 to 60 — went to police in the western city of Krefeld on New Year’s Day after authorities held a news conference about the blaze, criminal police chief Gerd Hoppmann said.

The women are being investigated on suspicion of negligent arson, prosecutor Jens Frobel said. The offense can carry a prison sentence of up to five years. Many Germans welcome in the new year legally with fireworks at midnight. Sky lanterns, however, are both illegal and unusual in Germany. The mini hot-air balloons made of paper have been used in Asia for centuries.

The fire started in a corner of the ape house’s roof in the first minutes of the new year and spread rapidly. The zoo near the Dutch border says the ape house burned down and more than 30 animals — including five orangutans, two gorillas, a chimpanzee and several monkeys — were killed, as well as fruit bats and birds. The animals either burned to death or died from smoke inhalation, authorities said.

Hoppmann said the women had ordered five sky lanterns on the internet and told authorities that they had believed they were legal in Germany. He added that there was nothing in the product description showing that they were banned.

Hoppmann described the women as “completely normal people who seemed very sensible, very responsible” and said it was “very courageous” of them to come forward, saving authorities a tricky investigation. He added that they feared reprisals and authorities limited the details given about the suspects.

Investigators believe that just one lantern started the blaze. They found the other four later, with handwritten good wishes for the new year attached. The destroyed ape house lacked fire detectors and sprinklers, which weren’t required when it was built in the 1970s. The zoo said, however, that it had passed a regular fire protection check a few months ago.

The building’s roof had been renovated after a hailstorm a few years ago and plexiglass was added, Hoppmann said. He said while investigators were confident the sky lantern was to blame, they will look at other factors that may have contributed to the blaze, such as dry fallen leaves on the roof.

Investigators plan to carry out tests to help find out why the blaze spread so quickly. Firefighters were only able to rescue two chimpanzees. The zoo said Thursday it was satisfied with their condition.

Fire kills animals at zoo in western Germany

January 01, 2020

BERLIN (AP) — A fire at a zoo in western Germany killed a large number of animals in the early hours of the new year, authorities said. They did not comment on local media reports that the fire was started by celebratory fireworks.

The Krefeld zoo near the Dutch border said the entire ape house burned down and all the animals inside are dead. The dpa news agency, quoting officials, said the dead animals included chimpanzees, orangutans and two gorillas, as well as fruit bats and birds.

The zoo said the nearby Gorilla Garden didn’t go up in flames, however. Gorilla Kidogo and his family are alive, the zoo wrote on Facebook early Wednesday. “An unfathomable tragedy hit us shortly after midnight.” the zoo said. “Our ape building burned down to the foundation.”

Both the zoo and the city said that they didn’t know the cause of the fire and that police are investigating. Officials would not confirm reports by local media that New Year’s fireworks could have caused the blaze. The zoo will remain closed on Wednesday.

India, Germany agree to boost industrial cooperation

November 01, 2019

NEW DELHI (AP) — India and Germany have agreed to enhance cooperation in tackling climate change, cybersecurity, skill development, artificial intelligence, energy security, civil aviation and defense production.

The two countries signed several agreements on Friday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying India is eager to benefit from Germany’s expertise. Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would also like to collaborate with India in infrastructure projects, waste management and water supply.

Merkel is accompanied by several ministers and state secretaries as well as a business delegation. Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe. Bilateral trade reached $21.9 billion in the 2017-18 financial year, an increase of 17% from the previous year.

Berlin Wall’s fall stokes memories of lost hopes in Russia

October 31, 2019

MOSCOW (AP) — When the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union stepped back, letting East Germany’s communist government collapse and then quickly accepting German unification. Russian President Vladimir Putin now blames the Soviet leadership for naivety that paved the way for NATO’s expansion eastward.

Many in Russia share that view, seeing the collapse of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany as a moment when Moscow reached out to the West hoping to forge a new era of partnership but was cheated by Western powers.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev encouraged the Communist leaders in Central and Eastern Europe to follow his lead in launching liberal reforms and took no action to shore up their regimes when they started to crumble under the pressure of pro-democracy forces.

Berlin’s polar bear cub growing fast, public debut soon

February 26, 2019

BERLIN (AP) — Berlin’s Tierpark zoo says its polar bear cub is almost ready to be introduced to visitors. The zoo on Tuesday released new photos of the as-yet-unnamed female cub and her mother, Tonja. The bear was born Dec. 1 and weighed 8.5 kilograms (18.7 pounds) by the time of her first medical checkup nearly two weeks ago.

Zoo director Andreas Knieriem says that keepers are very satisfied with the cub’s development and Tonja is a good mother. Mother and daughter will probably make their first appearance in the bears’ outside enclosure — and see visitors for the first time — in mid-March.

The Tierpark has the same management as Berlin’s other zoo, which was home a decade ago to celebrity polar bear Knut.

German ruling parties grapple with labor reforms, migration

February 11, 2019

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s governing parties sought Monday to put behind them long-running internal divisions on labor reforms and migration policy, but the results could deepen tensions in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.

Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union leads an uneasy “grand coalition” of what were traditionally Germany’s biggest parties with the center-left Social Democrats, who are trying to reverse a slump in poll ratings ahead of this year’s European Parliament election.

The Social Democrats’ leadership Sunday endorsed a package of proposals aimed at revamping divisive labor market reforms the party launched 16 years ago, as well as calling for a hefty rise in Germany’s minimum wage and a right to work at home. The reforms and benefit cuts introduced under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have been credited with strengthening the economy but alienated many of the party’s voters.

Party leader Andrea Nahles declared that the Social Democrats “are leaving behind us” an unpopular system of limited and conditional long-term unemployment benefits introduced under Schroeder. There is little chance of making the proposals reality in the coalition that the Social Democrats reluctantly entered last year. A deputy CDU leader, Volker Bouffier, charged that they “plan the burial of the social market economy.”

The Social Democrats appear to hope that a flurry of left-leaning proposals that also has included a call for boosting low earners’ pensions could help them avoid a disastrous showing in the European election in May. There has been widespread speculation that a poor performance, or an already-agreed midterm review of the coalition agreement this fall, could prompt the party to leave the government.

“We want to govern, but we want to govern with ideas that are in tune with the times,” the Social Democrats’ general secretary, Lars Klingbeil, said on ZDF television. Separately, the CDU was holding a “workshop” Monday to address migration policy, a hot-button issue inside the party since Merkel allowed in large numbers of migrants in 2015 — annoying conservatives and helping boost the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

New party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer convened the meeting after succeeding Merkel in December, in an effort to prevent the issue becoming the kind of running sore that labor and benefits have been for the Social Democrats. Merkel herself was not participating.

Germany, France renew friendship treaty, warn of nationalism

January 22, 2019

AACHEN, Germany (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Tuesday against rising nationalism in Europe and called for a revival of cross-border cooperation as she and her French counterpart signed a pact renewing their countries’ decades-long friendship.

The new accord was inked in the ancient western German city of Aachen exactly 56 years after the 1963 Elysee Treaty, which set the tone for the two countries’ close relationship following centuries of conflict that ended with World War II.

“Populism and nationalism are strengthening in all of our countries,” Merkel told French, German and European officials gathered in Aachen’s town hall. Citing Britain’s departure from the European Union and the growing protectionist tendencies around the world, Merkel noted that international cooperation is going through a rocky time.

“Seventy-four years, a single human lifetime after the end of World War II, what seems self-evident is being called into question again,” she said. “That’s why, first of all, there needs to be a new commitment toward our responsibility within the European Union, a responsibility held by Germany and France.”

Her words were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who noted that France and Germany no longer pose a threat to each other. “(The threat) comes from outside Europe and from within our societies if we are not able to respond to the growing anger,” he said.

Outside the Gothic town hall, protesters staged noisy rallies — some in support of the treaty, others against. Among those opposed were dozens of people wearing yellow safety vests, which have become the signature outfit of anti-government protesters in France.

The Treaty of Aachen aims to boost cross-border cooperation along the 450-kilometer (290-mile) Franco-German frontier, and also improve coordination between the two nations when it comes to tackling international problems such as climate change and terrorism.

One long-standing bone of contention has been the issue of military action outside Europe. Berlin’s traditional hesitancy to send troops abroad — rooted in Germany’s grim history of militarism — has softened somewhat in recent years.

Merkel said that with the new pact, the two countries pledge to develop “a joint military culture” that includes a Franco-German arms industry and a common stance on weapons exports. “By doing so we want to contribute to the creation of a European army,” she said, noting that this would go hand-in-hand with greater foreign policy coordination in general.

Germany and France are often described as the engine of the European Union — to the occasional annoyance of other members, who feel sidelined by the cozy relationship between Paris and Berlin. The point was made by EU Council President Donald Tusk, Poland’s former prime minister, who told Merkel and Macron bluntly that “Europe needs a clear signal from Paris and Berlin that enhanced cooperation in smaller formats is not an alternative to the cooperation of Europe as a whole. That it is full integration — and not instead of — integration of Europe.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said some countries might feel the constant show of amity between France and Germany was “a bit much.” “But it will be very painful as soon as Germany and France are not of one and the same opinion,” he said. “So you should stick to this policy because that means that we others can also forge a position together.”

Jordans reported from Berlin. Raf Casert in Brussels and Sylvie Corbet in Paris also contributed to this report.

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