Author Archives: VidWorld

ByVidWorld

Lone Gunman Opens Fire at Germany’s Heidelberg University

A gunman at a German university on Monday killed one and wounded three during a lecture in the school’s auditorium before fatally shooting himself.  

The incident took place at the University of Heidelberg in southwestern Germany, and police say the man appears to have acted alone.  

“We assume that there was only one perpetrator. At this stage we see no further danger to the public,” police said.

The suspect, who was reportedly a student, reportedly used a rifle and also had other firearms.

No motive has been determined.

“My sympathy in this terrible situation. So terrible. I am shocked,” tweeted lawmaker Franziska Brantner, who is from the area.

Heidelberg has about 160,000 inhabitants and is located to the south of Frankfurt. The university is Germany’s oldest and best known.

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press.

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ByVidWorld

Biden Meeting with European Leaders About Threat of Russian Invasion of Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden is meeting virtually Monday afternoon with key European leaders about the ongoing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as he weighs sending several thousand U.S. troops to the Baltics and Eastern Europe. 

Biden has not decided whether to move U.S. military equipment and personnel closer to Russia. But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in advance of the meeting with the European officials that the U.S. has “always said we’d support allies on the eastern flank” abutting Russia. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin placed 8,500 U.S. military personnel on “high alert” of being dispatched to Eastern Europe, where most of them could be activated as part of a NATO response force in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“It’s very clear the Russians have no intention right now of de-escalating,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “What this is about, though, is reassurance to our NATO allies.” 

Biden has ruled out sending troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion of the onetime Soviet republic but vowed to impose quick and severe economic sanctions on Moscow. 

Kirby said the U.S. military is “keenly focused” on the Russian military’s 127,000-troop buildup along the Ukraine border and in Belarus. He said the U.S. is “taking steps to heighten readiness over Ukraine,” including for a NATO response force if the Western military forces are activated. 

U.S. and Russian officials have had four face-to-face meetings in the past two weeks over Western concerns about the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and Russian fears of NATO operations in Eastern Europe, and Biden has also talked directly with European allies. 

The White House said Biden would be in the highly secure Situation Room for his Monday call. He is meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Polish President Andrzej Duda and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

Earlier Monday, NATO said its members were sending more ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s military buildup along its border with Ukraine. 

A NATO statement said additional troops and equipment could be sent from several countries, including Denmark, Spain, France, the Netherlands and the United States. 

“NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the alliance,” Stoltenberg said. ”We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense.”  

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov accused the United States and its NATO allies of escalating tensions.

The United States and Britain also announced orders for their embassy staff and family members in Kyiv to leave Ukraine, citing the potential for Russian military action.  

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry noted the U.S. move but expressed displeasure.  

“While we respect right of foreign nations to ensure safety & security of their diplomatic missions, we believe such a step to be a premature one & an instance of excessive caution,” spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeted Monday. 

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday the EU was not planning any similar withdrawals. He spoke to reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers, which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to join virtually. 

“We are not going to do the same thing, because we don’t know any specific reasons. But Secretary Blinken will inform us,” Borrell said. 

In addition to its order Sunday for the departure of eligible family members from the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, the State Department also authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct-hire employees, asked U.S. citizens in Ukraine to consider departing the country, and reissued travel advisories warning against traveling to either Ukraine or Russia. 

Asked about the timing of these actions on Sunday evening in Washington, a senior State Department official told reporters they come against the backdrop of reports that Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine. 

The State Department official said security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and could deteriorate with little notice. 

The State Department officials who briefed reporters declined to give any estimates of the number of Americans working at the embassy in Kyiv or of the number of Americans living in Ukraine. 

Russia denies it plans to invade Ukraine and has sought guarantees against further NATO expansion in Eastern Europe. The U.S. and Russia are planning to exchange written statements this week about their demands of each other. 

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 

 

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ByVidWorld

США приводять 8,5 тисяч військових у підвищену бойову готовність

У Пентагоні заявили, що Росія наразі не планує деескалації

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ByVidWorld

Стрілянина в Німеччині: кілька людей поранені, нападник мертвий – поліція

Співробітники сил безпеки кажуть, що, за попередніми ознаками, нападник не мав жодних політичних чи релігійних мотивів

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ByVidWorld

Assange Wins First Stage in Effort to Appeal US Extradition

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday won the first stage of his effort to overturn a U.K. ruling that opened the door for his extradition to U.S. to stand trial on espionage charges.

The High Court in London gave Assange permission to appeal the case to the U.K. Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court must agree to accept the case before it can move forward.

“Make no mistake, we won today in court,” Assange’s fiancee, Stella Moris, said outside the courthouse, noting that he remains in custody at Belmarsh Prison in London.  

“We will fight this until Julian is free,” she added.

The Supreme Court normally takes about eight sitting weeks after an application is submitted to decide whether to accept an appeal, the court says on its website.  

The decision is the latest step in Assange’s long battle to avoid a trial in the U.S. on a series of charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents more than a decade ago.

Just over a year ago, a district court judge in London rejected a U.S. extradition request on the grounds that Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions. U.S. authorities later provided assurances that the WikiLeaks founder wouldn’t face the severe treatment his lawyers said would put his physical and mental health at risk.  

The High Court last month overturned the lower court’s decision, saying that the U.S. promises were enough to guarantee Assange would be treated humanely.

Those assurances were the focus of Monday’s ruling by the High Court.  

Assange’s lawyers are seeking to appeal because the U.S. offered its assurances after the lower court made its ruling. But the High Court overturned the lower court ruling, saying that the judge should have given the U.S. the opportunity to offer the assurances before she made her final ruling.

The High Court gave Assange permission to appeal so the Supreme Court can decide “in what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state … in extradition proceedings.”

Assange’s lawyers have argued that the U.S. government’s pledge that Assange won’t be subjected to extreme conditions is meaningless because it’s conditional and could be changed at the discretion of American authorities.

The U.S. has asked British authorities to extradite Assange so he can stand trial on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse linked to WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents.

Assange, 50, has been held at the high-security Belmarsh Prison since 2019, when he was arrested for skipping bail during a separate legal battle. Before that, he spent seven years holed up inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London. Assange sought protection in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed.

American prosecutors say Assange unlawfully helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk.  

Lawyers for Assange argue that their client shouldn’t have been charged because he was acting as a journalist and is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees freedom of the press. They say the documents he published exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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ByVidWorld

Germany Seen as Western Alliance’s Weak Link

Germany doesn’t appear to view Russian military threats against Ukraine with the same sense of urgency as the United States and some of its European allies, who have started to identify Berlin as a weak link in the Western alliance, say diplomats and analysts.

The country’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has added his voice to the stern Western warnings about massive consequences for Russia if President Vladimir Putin orders an invasion of Ukraine. But Germany has refused requests from Ukraine for military assistance, prompting exasperation in Kyiv.  Berlin has also blocked the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania from supplying Kyiv with German-made weapons.

Ukrainian dismay only deepened Saturday when the head of the German navy, Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, described Western fears of a Russian invasion as “nonsense” and called for Vladimir Putin to be given “the respect he demands — and probably deserves.” The German defense ministry quickly condemned the comments, and the admiral promptly resigned.

 

That has failed to quell Ukrainian fury. Kyiv believes the admiral’s remarks reflect the thinking of a chunk of the German establishment and has called on Berlin to change its whole position on the geopolitical conflict.

“Today, more than ever, the firmness and solidarity of Ukraine and its partners are important to curb Russia’s destructive intentions,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry.

Ukrainian officials point to a series of disappointing German positions amid rising Western fears that war momentum is building.

“Everything is moving towards armed conflict,” says Estonia’s defense chief Gen. Martin Herem. He and his counterparts in Central Europe are watching closely to see if Russian reservists are mobilized. They fear Putin has been rearming Russia the past decade for this moment and that he’s only waiting now for frigid weather to harden the ground more so Russian armor has an easier time rolling across Ukraine.

 

Berlin has remained ambiguous about whether it will be prepared in the event of war to shut down the just-completed Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline, which will pump natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Responding to increasing domestic and international pressure, Scholz said last week Germany is ready to discuss closing the pipeline should Russia attack but has demurred from committing to anything more.

Scholz’s studied ambiguity is worrying many NATO members.

Berlin has pushed back on proposals that include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international cross border payments system in any possible post-invasion sanctions package the Western allies announce. Last week, German officials told the country’s leading business newspaper that excluding Russia from SWIFT isn’t being considered.

The U.S. National Security Council has denied this, saying “no option is off the table.”

Baltic states have also expressed their frustration with Berlin’s reluctance to give the go-ahead for them to supply Ukraine with German-made military equipment. Germany’s defense minister Christine Lambrecht told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag Saturday that arms deliveries to Ukraine are “currently not helpful.” The Ukrainians have been lobbying Berlin furiously to secure vessels to defend their coasts on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.

Some analysts say Scholz is in a tricky position in terms of Germany’s domestic politics and that much of what is being interpreted by outsiders as pulling in a different direction from allies should be seen more as strategic ambiguity required to keep together his three-party coalition government, which is deeply split on relations with Russia.

Scholz’s own party, the Social Democrats (SPD), the coalition’s senior partner, has a powerful left-wing which advocates closer ties with Moscow, and its parliamentary leader, Rolf Mützenich, has championed a new “European peace order including Russia.”

And even moderate SPD luminaries are reluctant to pursue a tough Russia policy; they favor détente and dialogue. Germany’s defense minister Lambrecht and the SDP’s secretary-general, Kevin Kühnert, are opposed to shutting down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying it should be kept separate from the unfolding geopolitical crisis.

 

They want to see the pipeline, which is awaiting regulatory approval, up and running. More than 60 percent of Germans agree with them, according to an opinion poll published last week by state broadcaster ARD.

The Greens and the center-right Free Democrats want Germany to pursue a much more forthright policy towards Russia. But to further complicate matters, the Greens, whose origins lie in the anti-nuclear peace movement of the 1970s and 1980s, are ideologically opposed to the export of weapons to conflict zones.

“Since the new coalition government entered office in December, confusion has reigned about who is now setting the direction of its policy on Russia – the SPD-led Chancellery or the Green-led Foreign Office? This naturally includes the role and importance of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which still awaits approval to operate from German and EU regulators,” comments Jana Puglierin, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a policy research organization.

The “cacophony of different voices” doesn’t present “a picture of clear German leadership,” she adds.

Divisions within the German coalition are likely to be exacerbated, Puglierin says, in the coming weeks as fears mount about the country’s economic vulnerability to any fallout from the unfolding geopolitical confrontation. Germany exports machinery, vehicles and vehicle parts to Russia and the country’s politically influential auto-manufactures fear blowback.

The imposition of new wide-ranging and punishing Western sanctions on Russia will likely have major economic consequences for Germany, especially if Moscow retaliates by suspending natural gas supplies to Germany.

Like other Western European nations, Germany is battling an energy crunch and soaring energy prices. According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, Germany buys 50 percent to 75 percent of its natural gas supplies from Russia. 

Ten other EU members, including Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary, also get more than three-quarters of their natural gas imports from Russia. 

Ukrainian officials — and Germany’s NATO allies — fear any wavering by such a key player as Germany risks being seen by the Russian president, who has been adept exploiting European divisions in the past, as evidence that the alliance against him isn’t as united as Washington and Kyiv would wish.  They fear that could prompt the Russian leader to make a big military gamble.

“That’s why Berlin’s decision on Friday to stop Estonia selling German-made weapons to Ukraine was a mistake,” according to Tom Tugendhat, a British lawmaker and chairman of the British parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

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ByVidWorld

Китай: у Пекіні тестуватимуть 2 мільйони людей перед зимовою Олімпіадою

За розпорядженням влади, мешканці районів Пекіна, де ризик зараження вважається високим, не повинні залишати місто

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ByVidWorld

Помер відомий французький дизайнер Тьєррі Мюглер, автор костюмів для Цирку дю Солей

Мюглер був персональним стилістом співачки Бейонсе, пошитий ним одяг носили Мадонна, Леді Гага та інші відомі особи

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ByVidWorld

ОАЕ перехопили випущені по Абу-Дабі ракети на тлі ескалації конфлікту в Ємені

За нападом, як кажуть в Міноборони ОАЕ, стоять повстанці Хуті, підтримувані Іраном

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ByVidWorld

French Fashion Designer Thierry Mugler Dies Aged 73

French designer Thierry Mugler, who reigned over fashion in the 1980s and died on Sunday, was as famous for his fantastical couture as for his blockbuster fashion shows. He was 73.

Mugler’s daring collections came to define the decade’s power dressing, with his clothes noted for their structured and sophisticated silhouettes, showcased by his extravagant shows.

“I always thought that fashion was not enough on its own and that it had to be shown in its musical and theatrical environment,” he once said.

In later years, he dressed Beyonce and Lady Gaga — and in 2019 came out of retirement to create Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala look.

“We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022,” said a post on the designer’s official Facebook account.

His agent Jean-Baptiste Rougeot, who said the designer had died of “natural causes,” added he had been due to announce new collaborations early this week.

Born in Strasbourg in December 1948, as a young teen Mugler joined the Opera du Rhin’s ballet company before studying at the School of Decorative Arts.

From a young age he created his own clothes, adapting items bought at nearby flea markets. He moved to Paris aged 20, initially to work with another ballet company — but was more successful with his own wardrobe.

Mugler soon became a freelance stylist and worked for various fashion houses in Paris, London and Milan.

In 1973, he took the plunge and created his own label “Café de Paris”, before founding “Thierry Mugler” a year later.

His designs exacerbated and celebrated women’s forms: shoulders accentuated by padding, plunging necklines, constricted waists and rounded hips.

“Dancing taught me a lot about posture, the organization of clothing, the importance of the shoulders, the head carriage, the play and rhythm of the legs,” said Mugler.

A showman at heart, he organized spectacular presentations of his creations pioneering the modern spectacle of the 21st century fashion show.

“Today’s fashion shows are a continuation of what Mugler invented. The collections were pretexts for fashion shows,” recalled Didier Grumbach, former CEO of Thierry Mugler.

He had showmanship in his blood: for the 10th anniversary of his label in 1984, he organized the first public fashion show in Europe with 6,000 attending the rock concert-like show.

But nothing compared to the 20th anniversary celebration in 1995, staged at the Cirque d’Hiver.

Models including Jerry Hall, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova and Kate Moss paraded alongside stars such as Tippi Hedren and Julie Newmar with the spectacle culminating in a performance from James Brown.

The 1992 launch of his company’s first perfume “Angel” — in collaboration with Clarins, which acquired a stake in the company before taking control in 1997 — was a runaway success.

Clarins shuttered Thierry Mugler ready-to-wear in 2003, a year after the designer reportedly left the brand, but continued the scent business with “Angel” rivalling Chanel’s No.5 for the top spot in sales.

Renowned for his work with celebrities, he counted Grace Jones and Hall among his muses, and had a long-running creative collaboration with David Bowie — even dressing him for his wedding to Iman.

Despite seemingly retiring from fashion’s frontlines in the early 2000s, Mugler continued to impact culture and worked with Beyonce on her “I am…” world tour. 

In later years the designer suffered a series of accidents requiring facial surgery and rebuilt his body with intensive bodybuilding while engaging in meditation and yoga.

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