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Film director Michael Haneke turns 75

Golden Palms, an Oscar, Golden Globes, European and German film awards - few directors have been honored for their work as widely as Michael Haneke. The Austrian filmmaker, now 75, is a living legend. At the start, nothing pointed to an exceptional career. No one could have predicted that the man who once directed a few TV films for a German broadcaster would be among the very few film directors to win two Golden Palms in Cannes. Followed by an Oscar. And Golden Globes. And almost a dozen European film prizes. Over the past years, Michael Haneke has been overwhelmed by awards. It wasn't until he began to work as a director for the big screen in 1989 that he really found his own style. He has directed 11 movies since then. Unforgotten: his debut "The Seventh Continent," a movie packed with relentless intensity that borders on the unendurable about a family that deliberately commits suicide. It is utterly disturbing. His next films are also characterized by glacial intensity and razor-sharp analysis. He appears to have little pity for the protagonists. Michael Haneke tells stories on the screen like a pathologist dissects bodies. "This is what it's like, take a look," he seems to be telling the viewer. "Life happens to be just the way I'm showing it to you." Distraction and escapism are not his thing, nor is glossy superficiality. Perception of reality In 2007, Haneke went to Hollywood to film the remake of his 1997 film "Funny Games" - but not before he had made sure he would also be granted the final cut. No one meddles with the likes of Haneke - that was a precondition for the Austrian director for his US stint. The remake of the psychological thriller is not among the director's best films. That was perhaps not such a disappointment because in 2013 the German-born Austrian director won an Oscar for "Amour," the captivating romantic drama about an elderly couple. A few years before he wining an Oscar, his film about a family in northern Germany before World War I, "The White Ribbon," made waves at festivals, award ceremonies and at the box offices. Haneke is one of the very few directors who won Golden Palms at the Cannes Film Festival not just once, but twice. He is bound to be proud of the many honors, but it's unlikely the director has an eye out for sparkling awards. The intellectual with the keen analytical mind is likely to find more gratification in the enthusiasm of a sophisticated movie audience than in a stroll over the red carpet. New movie in the works Hanecke's new film, "Happy End" - starring Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Mathieu Kassovitz - is scheduled to be released on October 12 in Germany and October 18 in France. The film tells the story of a couple that faces the European refugee crisis in the northern French town Calais.

Golden Palms, an Oscar, Golden Globes, European and German film awards – few directors have been honored for their work as widely as Michael Haneke. The Austrian filmmaker, now 75, is a living legend. At the start, nothing pointed to an exceptional career. No one could have predicted that the man who once directed a few TV films for a ... Read More »

After London attack, eyewitnesses reflect on grisly scenes

UK officials are investigating a deadly attack near the Houses of Parliament. Some of those who witnessed the events spoke with DW's Abigail Frymann Rouch in London. Eyewitnesses spoke of the moment they saw the human carnage left in the wake of Wednesday afternoon's attack on Westminster Bridge. Read DW's live updates on the London attacks here. A young man - who declined to give his name - had been on a bus approaching Westminster Bridge just after the attack. The driver asked all passengers to disembark at St. Thomas's Hospital. Talking over the sound of sirens, he told DW: "I walked off the bus and saw someone laid down by the side with tourist guidebooks around them." "As I walked along I saw more bodies on the ground, and people holding each other. I saw about 12 on the ground, laid out, and the next guy's leg is all broken and to the side," he said. A woman from Manchester, who also asked to remain anonymous, was in London with friends when she saw the grisly incident unfold. "I was on the bridge. I saw the car mow down a lot of people. I saw some people lying flat on the floor, and the police got there really quickly, and the ambulance did. One guy was dead." Visibly shaken, she said: "I never wish to see anything like that again. Ever." Terrorist incident 'not a surprise' Police quickly cordoned off a wide area around the Houses of Parliament and closed Westminster Bridge and Westminster Underground Station. The civil service offices of Whitehall were placed on lockdown, and helicopters circled overhead while ambulances and police vans screeched past. Curious tourists and schoolchildren approached the police cordon, eager to see what was happening. The United Kingdom has been on a terror alert since the July 2005 attacks, in which a swift succession of three suicide bombings killed 52 people and injured hundreds on the London Underground. For Sam and Osmond, both 17, this was one reason why the attack wasn't a surprise. But they did wonder why the attacker chose such a well-patrolled area of the capital. "This is the safest place you could be, when there's loads of police around," said Osmond. If they were to do [an attack] on the train, I'd be really petrified. Here, it's a really stupid place to do it," Osmond said. A mix of emotions Around 5 p.m., workers began streaming out across St James's Park, trying to work out how to get home in spite of various station closures and discussing the disruption to their day. Civil servants are not permitted to speak to the press, but one woman who worked at the Foreign Office and declined to give her name told DW that she hadn't initially known what was going on, and the sound of helicopters was not unusual in Westminster. "I had a lot of work to do. Then I got all these messages from my children asking if I was okay. It was only when I saw a tweet that I realized something was going on. We had to stay in the building, but we were pretty chilled." Caleb, a college student from Exeter on a daytrip to London, said that as a photographer, he came to see if he could get some good shots. His friend, Izzy, was more shaken. "It's a bit scary; you never know when it's going to happen." Would Izzy visit the Houses of Parliament if they're open tomorrow? "No!" she said firmly. "It's just life. You can't not go places," Maureen, an American tourist, told DW. She was texting friends and family back home to reassure them of her safety, but she was emphatic that the incident would not impact her plans. Only the policed cordons and the roar of the helicopters told of the day's horror as the sun set on the swans and daffodils of St James's Park. For those who didn't witness the horror first-hand, years of being on high alert left them grateful to be safe. On Wednesday evening, their first concern was how to get home - and then, to watch the news to better understand the full extent of what just happened.

UK officials are investigating a deadly attack near the Houses of Parliament. Some of those who witnessed the events spoke with DW’s Abigail Frymann Rouch in London. Eyewitnesses spoke of the moment they saw the human carnage left in the wake of Wednesday afternoon’s attack on Westminster Bridge. Read DW’s live updates on the London attacks here. A young man ... Read More »

US-led coalition vows to crush ‘Islamic State’

A US-led 68-nation alliance says it remains "firmly united" in its resolution to wipe out the militant group. A meeting of the coalition in Washington was overshadowed by an attack in London and civilian deaths in Syria. The US-led coalition that is fighting the extremist "Islamic State" (IS) group has said it is determined to continue its efforts to "eliminate this global threat and overcome its false, destructive narrative." After a meeting in the US capital, Washington, DC, to review its campaign, the coalition on Wednesday called for "an integrated, multidimensional and comprehensive approach" to combating the group, which has taken over large tracts of land in Syria and Iraq, and also instigated acts of international terrorism. The statement underlined the allies' "determination to intensify and accelerate ... efforts to eliminate ISIS" in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, referring to the terrorist group with another acronym. The delegates also praised Iraqi forces for ridding more than 60 percent of Iraq of the terrorists, and said they were "gratified" that the group had lost more than one-third of the territory it once controlled there. Hunting down the leader US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson opened the Washington meeting with a pledge to hunt down IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said that defeating the extremist group was the US' number one goal in the region. "Nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere," Tillerson said. "It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets this same fate." A US defense official this month told reporters that Baghdadi had fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is in the process of being recaptured by Iraqi forces, and was no longer in a position to command his fighters on a day-to-day basis. Tillerson also urged coalition members to step up their military and financial contributions to the fight, and toward efforts to stabilize Iraq and Syria once the extremist group has been removed. The coalition has the goal of helping displaced people to return home, and is working with local political leaders to provide stability. Tillerson said the strategy was working well in Iraq, adding that the alliance was looking at a similar approach in Syria. Disturbing reports The meeting in Washington was overshadowed by reports that a suspected coalition airstrike had killed 33 civilians at a school near the northern Syrian IS stronghold of Raqqa that was being used as a shelter for displaced people. The Pentagon has promised to investigate whether US-led forces were responsible for the killings. During the meeting, news also came in about an attack outside the British parliament that police have attributed to "Islamist-related terrorism." Three people and the assailant were killed and 40 others injured in the attack. Analysts fear an increase in terrorist attacks by the "Islamic State" group in the West as it comes under increased pressure in its strongholds in the Middle East. Coalition members at Wednesday's meeting vowed to work to prevent fleeing IS fighters from spreading instability or setting up a propaganda base online.

A US-led 68-nation alliance says it remains “firmly united” in its resolution to wipe out the militant group. A meeting of the coalition in Washington was overshadowed by an attack in London and civilian deaths in Syria. The US-led coalition that is fighting the extremist “Islamic State” (IS) group has said it is determined to continue its efforts to “eliminate ... Read More »

Constant information drip deepens Donald Trump’s Russian woes

The steady trickle of new revelations about the Trump team's real and potential Russian connections is increasing pressure on the White House. And what's more, the issue is unlikely to go away any time soon. On Monday the director of the FBI - in what he himself deemed a highly unusual move - publicly stated that his agency was investigating possible ties between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. While the head of the FBI only confirmed what had already been reported, the official confirmation was still widely described as a bombshell. Two days later, another revelation connected to the Trump campaign and Russia came courtesy of an Associated Press story. According to the report, Donald Trump's former presidential campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, "to greatly benefit Putin." Citing documents, AP reported that in 2006, Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract for his work which included influencing politics in the US. Asked about the story on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to downplay the report, calling it the business dealings of a former campaign staffer from a decade ago. He added that President Trump had not been aware of Manafort's previous work on behalf of Deripaska. Registered as a foreign agent? While it is accurate that the contract was signed ten years ago, Manafort was not just any campaign staffer, but the former head of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Making the revelation even more potentially relevant is that the FBI is already looking into Trump associates' possible contacts with Russia and also, according to the report, that Manafort apparently did not register as a foreign lobbyist as required by the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Manafort, in a statement, said he had always acknowledged that he worked for Deripaska, but that he did not work for the Russian government. The statement did not address the reported nature of his work and whether he registered as a foreign lobbyist. "Legally, the issue is whether he violated a law by failing to register under the US Foreign Agent Registration Act," said Joseph Sandler, an attorney specializing in campaign and election law and a former general counsel for the Democratic National Committee. Failing to register as a foreign lobbyist with the US government is very rarely prosecuted. But it could be different in a high-profile case like this, when there is potentially a significant US foreign policy interest, said Sandler. "It is rare, but that's when they go after it," he said referring to potential US interests at stake. "The question here is whether Manafort was taking directions indirectly from the Russian government, even though he was paid by this oligarch in performing these services." No signed contracts Yoshiko Herrera, a scholar of US-Russian relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it is clear that Deripaska was one of only a handful of oligarchs that were close to Putin during that time. "So if somebody is working for Deripaska, it is absurd to say that he has nothing to do with Putin," she said. "Nobody is going to work directly for the president of Russia. This is how it would work if somebody was working for the government. There are no signed contracts." It does, however, not mean that this was ordered by Putin, Herrera clarified. "Working for Deripaska means that he is working for somebody who is in communication with Putin; so there is a connection to the government, but it doesn't mean that Putin directed his work." Possible legal consequences aside, the new revelations about the conduct of Trumps' former campaign manager will also have a political impact, said Melissa Deckman, chair of the political science department at Washington College. "I think Americans are not buying the Trump administration's line that Manafort played a "limited role" in the campaign last summer," she said. Special prosecutor She also predicted that the constant trickle of new information about Russian involvement in the US election process would force Republicans to yield to Democrats' demands to task an independent, outside prosecutor to investigate the issue. "I think it is just a matter of time before Republicans in Congress acquiesce to a special prosecutor," Deckman said. All of this means that the issue is not going to go away any time soon, and that it could further damage a president who is already reeling from historically low approval ratings. Said Herrera: "The key question that is important for the United States right now is, Were Donald Trump or people around him secretly offered large sums of money in order to change US policy towards Ukraine, towards Russia, towards NATO?"

The steady trickle of new revelations about the Trump team’s real and potential Russian connections is increasing pressure on the White House. And what’s more, the issue is unlikely to go away any time soon. On Monday the director of the FBI – in what he himself deemed a highly unusual move – publicly stated that his agency was investigating ... Read More »

PM May: London attack suspect was British-born, known to UK’s MI5 intelligence service

In an address to parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the London attack suspect was British-born and had been investigated by security forces. May added that one of the injured was a German national. The assailant who carried out a deadly attack outside parliament on Wednesday as born in Great Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons Thursday. "What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism," she told lawmakers. "He was a peripheral figure," May said, adding that "he was not part of the current intelligence picture." The Prime Minister added that there had been no prior intelligence of his plot to carry out an attack on the Westminster Bridge and parliament. British parliament reopened on Thursday, one day after the deadly attack that took place outside the Palace of Westminster. MPs and police observed a sombre minute of silence to remember the victims. Arrests made in police raids Prime Minister May also confirmed that police carried out raids in Birmingham and London as part of the investigation into the attack, arresting a total of eight people. Earlier on Thursday, Mark Rowley, Britain's top anti-terrorism officer, added that authorities believe the attacker "acted alone" and was "inspired by international terrorism." Police have said they know the identity of the attacker but have not yet named him as investigations into his "motivation and associates" are ongoing. The senior counter-terrorism officer added that police have "no specific information about further threats to the public." Rowley also revised the death toll, saying that four people are dead - including the attacker - and that 29 people are currently being treated in hospital for their injuries. Seven of those wounded are in critical condition. British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told BBC Radio that the police have a "working assumption" that the attack is "linked to Islamic terrorism." A knife-wielding man plowed a car into a crowd of pedestrianson London's Westminster Bridge and stabbed a policeman outside the British Parliament on Wednesday. The assailant was shot shortly after stabbing the officer. Police had earlier reported that the death toll was five and that a total of 40 people were wounded. Details on victims emerge Rowley said that there were a mix of nationalities among the dead but gave no identifying information. He said that the victims of the attack include 48-year-old Keith Palmer, the policeman who was stabbed, and two members of the public - a woman in her mid-40s and a man in his mid-50s. The attacker is the fourth dead. Three French high-school students between the ages of 15 and 16 were injured during the attack. They were on a school trip to London with fellow students from Brittany. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was expected to arrive in the English capital to visit them in the hospital, French media reported. Another five South Korean tourists were also wounded, Seoul's foreign ministry said. A Chinese tourist and a Portugese man were also injured, their respective governments said. A seriously injured woman was rescued from the River Thames where she fell after the attacker's vehicle plowed through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. Romanian officials said that the woman was a Romanian tourist who was in London to celebrate her boyfriend's birthday. The woman sustained serious injuries to her head and lungs while her boyfriend suffered a fractured foot, Romanian Ambassador Dan Mihalache told Realitatea TV late on Wednesday. 'We are not afraid' Prime Minister Theresa May previously described the attack as "sick and depraved," adding that Britain's alert level would remain unchanged at "severe," or level four. "We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart," said May on Wednesday. Several Londoners appeared to echo the prime minister's sentiment to defiantly carry on with their lives. The Tower Hill Underground station, known for writing a quote of the day for busy travelers to ponder as they rush through the city, posted a picture of today's quote on Twitter: "The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of them all." They added the hashtags "London is open" and "we are not afraid." Queen Elizabeth II postponed her visit to open the new headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police on Thursday. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said a candlelight vigil for the victims will be held tonight at 6:00 p.m. GMT (UTC) in Trafalgar Square.

In an address to parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the London attack suspect was British-born and had been investigated by security forces. May added that one of the injured was a German national. The assailant who carried out a deadly attack outside parliament on Wednesday as born in Great Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House ... Read More »

US agencies may have spied on Trump communications, Republican lawmaker says

A leading Republican lawmaker has claimed the communications of Donald Trump's transition team - and maybe even the US president himself - were possibly captured in incidental surveillance against foreign targets. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Republican Devin Nunes, told reporters on Wednesday that US spies may have swept up information on Donald Trump "inadvertently" during the president's transition period. The comments prompted the intelligence committee's ranking Democrat, Alan Schiff, to accuse his opposite number of acting on behalf of the White House, instead of behaving impartially. Read: US Congress hearings on Russia could descend into a partisan slugfest Citing anonymous sources, Nunes - who was himself part of the Trump transition team - said Trump and his associates may have been "monitored" as part of an "incidental collection." He added that the revelation did not bolster Trump's unproven assertion that he was wiretapped at the behest of outgoing President Barack Obama. 'Somewhat' vindicated Trump - potentially in hot water for his tweets accusing Obama and spy agencies of collusion that would have been illegal - welcomed Nunes' comments, saying he felt "somewhat" vindicated. "I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found," Trump said. For Democrat Schiff, however, the comments created "profound doubt" about the efficacy of the investigation being carried out. In particular, he lamented the way that Nunes - as committee chairman - had shared the information with the president and media before the committee itself had been consulted. "This is not how you conduct an investigation," Schiff told a news conference. "You don't take information that the committee hasn't seen and present it orally to the press and to the White House before the committee has a chance to vet whether it's even significant." Chairman or patsy? In comments to the news organization CNN, Schiff said Nunes needed to decide "whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation... or he's going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both." The brief of the committee is to investigate potential Russian influence on the 2016 presidential race. It began before Trump took office on January 20. Read: Constant information drip deepens Donald Trump's Russian woes Lines of questioning from Republican and Democratic committee members appeared to diverge during Monday's questioning of security officials. While Democrats concentrated on unmasking Russian officials allegedly in contact with the Trump team, Republicans wanted to hear about the importance of identifying and prosecuting those responsible for intelligence leaks. Trump's claims about the Obama wiretap led the administration to claim the spying had been conducted not by the FBI or National Security Agency, but by Britain's GCHQ surveillance agency. The claim was vehemently denied by Britain.

A leading Republican lawmaker has claimed the communications of Donald Trump’s transition team – and maybe even the US president himself – were possibly captured in incidental surveillance against foreign targets. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Republican Devin Nunes, told reporters on Wednesday that US spies may have swept up information on Donald Trump “inadvertently” during the president’s ... Read More »

Ukraine: Arms depot explodes in act of ‘sabotage’

A series of explosions has hit a warehouse storing tank ammunition and other weapons in eastern Ukraine. The blasts sparked a massive fire, prompting the evacuation of surrounding villages. Ukraine's military said unknown saboteurs blew up the arsenal in the eastern city of Balaklia in the early hours of Thursday morning. "According to preliminary data ... as a result of sabotage…fire and explosions caused the detonation of ammunition at several sites storing rockets and artillery weapons," chief military prosecutor Anatoly Matios wrote on Facebook. The 368-hectare site, one of Ukraine's largest military depots, contained some 138,000 tons of ammunition, he added. Thousands flee Authorities said there was no immediate information about any casualties. Rescue teams have evacuated around 20,000 people from villages in the Kharkiv region, near the border with Russia. Hundreds of firefighters were deployed to put out the blaze. Read: Ukraine bars Russia entry from Eurovision Song Contest 2017 Military spokesman Oleksander Motuzyanyk said security had been bolstered around other military bases. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman was due to fly to the area later on Thursday. Balaklia, a town of around 30,000 inhabitants, lies 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the frontline of Ukraine's war with pro-Russia separatists, which erupted in 2014 in the wake of the pro-Kremlin former president's ouster following mass protests in Kyiv. Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula in March 2014. More than 10,000 people have died in the conflict.

A series of explosions has hit a warehouse storing tank ammunition and other weapons in eastern Ukraine. The blasts sparked a massive fire, prompting the evacuation of surrounding villages. Ukraine’s military said unknown saboteurs blew up the arsenal in the eastern city of Balaklia in the early hours of Thursday morning. “According to preliminary data … as a result of ... Read More »

South Korea raises sunken Sewol disaster ferry

Salvage operators have lifted the Sewol ferry, three years after it tragically sunk off South Korea's southwestern coast with the loss of over 300 lives. Raising the vessel had been a key demand of the victims' families. Some 450 salvage workers in South Korea on Thursday completed one of the largest and most complex ship raising operations ever attempted, lifting the sunken 6,825-tonne Sewol vessel up from 40 meters below the waves off the country's southwestern coast. Two enormous barges were positioned either side of the ferry, while 66 cables connected to a frame of metal beams were attached underneath the vessel as part of an operation that spanned months. Throughout Thursday morning, the Sewol ferry began to slowly emerge from the waters until, at 7am local time (2200 Wednesday UTC), workers were able to climb on it to further fasten it to the barges. The operation brought a sense of closure to the families of 304 victims who died when the vessel sank on April 16, 2014 - one of the country's worst-ever maritime disasters that proved to be altogether avoidable. Almost all the victims on the Sewol were school children. The bodies of 295 were recovered but nine still remain missing. Relatives of those missing hope the remains will be recovered inside the vessel. For that reason, raising the ferry had been key a demand of the affected families. Several gathered on Thursday morning to watch the rusted structure be lifted up. "To see the Sewol again, I can't describe how I'm feeling right now," said Huh Hong-Hwan, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed in the accident, although her body is one of the few that has not yet been found. Lee Geum-hee, the mother of another missing student, told a television crew: "We just want one thing - for the ship to be pulled up so that we can take our children home." Once the vessel has been fully lifted, it will be mounted onto a semi-submersible ship and carried to the port of Mokpo. Lee Cheoljo, an official from South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, estimated that the entire process would 12 to 13 days. A country traumatized The Sewol disaster deeply traumatized South Korea and badly damaged the credibility of the recently-ousted president, Park Geun-hye. During the first crucial hours of the accident, Park reportedly stayed in her residence and out of reach, while officials frantically sent updates and sought guidance. She has never explained what she did in the seven hours in which she failed to respond, sparking rumors of a tryst and that she was undergoing cosmetic surgery. As a result, a permanent protest site was set up around the center of Seoul with effigies of Park's head hanging alongside photographs of the victims. Park was formally removed from office by South Korea's Constitutional Court this month. She is currently under criminal investigation over allegations of extortion and favoritism. Man-made catastrophe Subsequent investigations showed that the incident was namely man-made and completely avoidable. Illegal redesign, an overloaded cargo bay, inexperienced crew and a questionable relationship between the ship operators and state regulators all contributed to the ship's sinking. Investigations also found that, while the ship took some three hours to sink, no evacuation signal was heard and crew members were among the first to leave the ship. The Sewol ferry's captain, Lee Jun-Seok, was sentenced to life in prison for committing homicide through "willful negligence" while 14 other crew members were handed sentences raising from two to 12 years.

Salvage operators have lifted the Sewol ferry, three years after it tragically sunk off South Korea’s southwestern coast with the loss of over 300 lives. Raising the vessel had been a key demand of the victims’ families. Some 450 salvage workers in South Korea on Thursday completed one of the largest and most complex ship raising operations ever attempted, lifting ... Read More »

Podolski delivers his own fitting departure

By the time Lukas Podolski played his last match for Germany, it had long since been clear that he was past his best as a player. However, Joachim Löw and the national team may come to miss him more than they think. It was worth waiting 70 minutes for. It was worth waiting through a poorly timed speech from German football association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel. It was worth watching a first half of tepid football with little evidence of why a game was even necessary to say goodbye. It was worth it all for that one moment when Lukas Podolski scored a goal harking back to the golden moments of his career. It was a goal that deserved to win any game, but fittingly it won his last one in a Germany shirt. With a slap of the badge on his chest and a parting wave, Podolski departed with six minutes to go. The stadium had waited for this moment, but was still reeling from the fairytale goal that Podolski had just scored. It wasn't until Podolski took selfies with the crowd, climbed into the stands to sing with the fans and was thrown in the air by his teammates that it might have dawned on Germany what they have lost. In this month's edition of German football magazine "11 Freunde," Podolski said: "From 80 million people, 22 or 23 are called up for an international friendly. If I am one of them, am I supposed to complain?" The 31-year-old has never lost touch with his roots, he has never changed his relaxed, friendly, humorous manner. It's what made him so rare in modern football, and what him indispensible to the balance of Germany's squad. It has been clear for a while that on the pitch, he won't actually be missed and tonight was, for the most part, more damming evidence. Before the goal, Podolski looked slow and was snatching at his chances. The crowd was anxious, and it didn't feel like the departure Podolski deserved. However, as things so often tend to go in sports, the fairytale ending was yet to come. Better than Hollywood "You couldn't have written it better in a script," Julian Weigl told DW afterwards. Not even Podolski - a man famous for delivering some great lines over the years - could have imagined such a finish. "It's difficult to describe. You have to experience it," Podolski said. The game itself was something many felt they could have been spared. The Podolski goal and standing ovation for his departure would have sufficed. An impressive choreography, an indifferent performance and far too many Mexican waves were familiar but unnecessary additions to this Germany game. England should have won and spoiled the party, but Marc-André ter Stegen delivered a timely performance between the posts for the national team. Jonas Hector will be hoping his performance is quickly forgotten, whereas Mats Hummels was at his commanding best. "You could see that the processes weren't there and that the young lads, myself included, wanted to impress," Weigl said. Timo Werner certainly did that on his debut, but was perhaps a little overly eager to do well. Life goes on "As a person, we will definitely miss him, but I think we have a lot of good and experienced players who can replace him,” Leroy Sané said. Weigl echoed these sentiments, saying this young side didn't need to hide and was ready to take up the mantle as the old guard stepped down. Behind the tweets, the smiles, and the emotion of the evening also lies a hard truth for Germany. The absence of Lukas Podolski unbalances the Germany squad. Thomas Müller might well take up his mantle, but never has there been a Germany player capable of making humor and ease such a pivotal part of a team's winning formula. "You idiots," was Podolski's initial reaction when he was asked how he felt about being in the mixed zone with all of the national team reporters one last time. He smiled and followed it up with heartfelt thanks for all the media's work during his years in a Germany shirt. It was one last reminder of his unique character - a Cologne boy but a Germany man, who will be missed by the national team more than they yet know.

By the time Lukas Podolski played his last match for Germany, it had long since been clear that he was past his best as a player. However, Joachim Löw and the national team may come to miss him more than they think. It was worth waiting 70 minutes for. It was worth waiting through a poorly timed speech from German ... Read More »

FBI confirms it’s investigating links between Russia, Trump campaign

The director of the FBI has confirmed for the first time that the bureau is investigating Russian efforts to interfere in last year's US election. He also shot down President Donald Trump's wiretapping allegations. FBI Director James Comey told a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday that the agency's investigation would include "the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government" as well as any possible coordination between the campaign and Moscow's activities. The congressional committee is examining allegations of Russia-linked meddling in the 2016 US election. Comey told the panel he had taken the extraordinary step of confirming an ongoing investigation because of the extreme public interest in the case. He said the probe is part of the FBI's counter-intelligence mission, and would look at whether crimes were committed. "Because it is an open, ongoing investigation and is classified, I cannot say more about what we are doing and whose conduct we are examining," Comey added. The director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Mike Rogers, also testified before the panel. It is the first time the two intelligence chiefs have spoken publicly about their investigations into the possible links between Russia and associates of US President Donald Trump. Russia denies that it attempted to influence the election. Wiretapping allegations The committee was also examining controversial allegations by Trump that his Trump Tower in New York was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama's administration. Trump first announced the unsubstantiated claim in several misspelled tweets on March 4. FBI Director Comey told the hearing Monday there was "no information that supports those tweets," adding that it was outside the power of the president to order electronic surveillance of any US citizen. The White House last week suggested Britain's GCHQ signals intelligence agency had helped Obama with the alleged surveillance - a charge the UK government dismissed as "utterly ridiculous." Rogers also rejected the accusation in the hearing, saying he had seen no evidence at the NSA to support it. Relations with Russia US intelligence agencies last year announced that hacking attacks against Democratic Party institutions were likely directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. The agencies said the hackers released embarrassing messages with the goal of helping Republican candidate Trump defeat his rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Both Rogers and Comey told the hearing that the intelligence community stands by that assessment. The question of whether Trump and his campaign were coordinating with Russia has dogged his administration for weeks. Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired last month after it emerged that he lied about contact with Russian officials before entering office. New information surfaced last week that Flynn was paid $65,000 (60,350 euros) in 2015 by companies with ties to Russia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also been accused of lying about his meetings with Russian officials.

The director of the FBI has confirmed for the first time that the bureau is investigating Russian efforts to interfere in last year’s US election. He also shot down President Donald Trump’s wiretapping allegations. FBI Director James Comey told a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday that the agency’s investigation would include “the nature of any links between individuals associated ... Read More »

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