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Asia Bibi reunites with family in Canada: reports

The lawyer of the Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy, said Bibi and her husband had arrived in Canada. He did not disclose the exact time of her departure and how she had left Pakistan, citing security reasons. Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who spent eight years on death row on blasphemy charges in Pakistan, has arrived in Canada with her husband, German media reported Friday, quoting her lawyer. "She is united with her family", Bibi's lawyer Saif-ul-Malook told the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. DW was not able to immediately confirm the development. Bibi's two daughters already live in Canada. The lawyer did not disclose any further details about Bibi's departure from Pakistan, citing security reasons. It was previously reported that Bibi could not leave her native country aboard a regular flight. Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after her neighbors complained she had insulted Prophet Muhammad. A year later, she was sentenced to death despite strong opposition from human rights groups. The news comes just days after Pakistan's Supreme Court rejected an appeal against its October decision to acquit her. She had been living under the "protective custody" of Pakistani authorities since her release from prison in November. Bibi's acquittal on October 31 had led to violent protests by hard-line Islamists. The Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, which petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier ruling, had called for new rallies after the top court this week rejected its petition. But nationwide rallies the extremists had called for on Friday mostly fizzled out, barring some violence in the southern port city of Karachi. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Bibi's lawyer Saif-ul-Malook was still in Pakistan. He had returned to the country shortly before the final Supreme Court hearing after spending months abroad due to death threats. "I'm in my apartment, I'm not going to my office," he told the newspaper

The lawyer of the Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy, said Bibi and her husband had arrived in Canada. He did not disclose the exact time of her departure and how she had left Pakistan, citing security reasons. Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who spent eight years on death row on blasphemy charges in Pakistan, has arrived in Canada with her ... Read More »

Major US airports experiencing delays due to staffing issues amid government shutdown

Due to air traffic control staffing shortages, the FAA has warned of delays at New York's LaGuardia and other East Coast airports. The disruption to air traffic has come amid an ongoing federal government shutdown. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported delays in air travel on Friday due to staffing issues at two air traffic control facilities. The FAA delays are impacting flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania — all three airports are in the top 25 busiest airports in North America. Staff shortages at two East Coast air traffic control facilities prompted the federal agency to institute a program that spaces out the time between arriving flights, but that it would lead to nearly 90-minute delays. "We've mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic, and increasing spacing between aircraft as needed," the FAA said. "The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system," the agency added. The FAA also briefly ordered a ground stop for LaGuardia on Friday morning, which meant that airplanes that were not already enroute to the airport were kept at their airports of origin, flight-tracking site Flightradar24 said on Twitter, adding that the order was later lifted Air traffic controllers, airport screening staff and other Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff are among the federal workers who are not getting paid during an ongoing partial government shutdown in the US, which has lasted 35 days. The White House said that US President Donald Trump was being kept up-to-date on the airport delays and that they were "monitoring" the situation. Two competing plans from Democrats and Republicans to end the shutdown failed to pass through the Senate on Thursday. Negotiations over the federal budget have stalled over the issue of building a wall on the US's southern boarder with Mexico, a project that Trump had long said that Mexico would finance. On Thursday, Trump said he would support "a reasonable agreement" to reopen government, but that he'd want a "prorated down payment" on the wall. House and Senate Democrat leaders said they would not support an agreement that included funding for the wall.

Due to air traffic control staffing shortages, the FAA has warned of delays at New York’s LaGuardia and other East Coast airports. The disruption to air traffic has come amid an ongoing federal government shutdown. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported delays in air travel on Friday due to staffing issues at two air traffic control facilities. The FAA delays ... Read More »

Plane crash rescue party ‘fear the worst’ in search for footballer Emiliano Sala

A player who had just become Premier League side Cardiff City's record transfer is thought to have been on a plane that has gone missing over the English Channel. Those searching for Emiliano Sala 'fear the worst'. Police on the British Channel Island of Guernsey said on Tuesday morning that they had resumed the search for the PA 46 Malibu light aircraft, which disappeared from radar on Monday night. On the same day, one of the search party said they were "fearing the worst" for the 28-year-old who was on the verge of signing for Cardiff from Nantes. "Sadly we are fearing the worst...the sea temperature is so cold at the moment," John Fitzgerald, Chief Officer of Channel Islands Air Search, told news agency AFP. "If it came down as an uncontrolled landing, the plane would've broken up, in which case there is no hope," said Fitzgerald, whose volunteer-staffed company assists British and French coastguards. An earlier statement said a search and rescue operation, using helicopters and lifeboats had begun late on Monday 20 kilometers north off the Channel Island of Alderney. Cardiff City had announced the signing of the Argentinian striker on Saturday for a reported fee of £15 million ($19 million) — a record signing for the Welsh club. Cardiff City Chairman Mehmet Dalman said he was "very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala" while Nantes announced that fans will gather in the city in support of the player. Club president Waldemar Kita says "I'm thinking about his friends, his family. There is still hope, he is a fighter." Sala has scored 13 league goals this season in all competitions for Nantes this season.

A player who had just become Premier League side Cardiff City’s record transfer is thought to have been on a plane that has gone missing over the English Channel. Those searching for Emiliano Sala ‘fear the worst’. Police on the British Channel Island of Guernsey said on Tuesday morning that they had resumed the search for the PA 46 Malibu ... Read More »

Envoy says US convinced Germany to ban Iran’s Mahan Air

US Ambassador Richard Grenell says months of pressure from the United States led Germany to ban Iran's Mahan Air. But German officials say they've cut off the carrier as part of their own security policy.   US Ambassador Richard Grenell is claiming a diplomatic victory after German officials decided to ban the Iranian airline Mahan Air from operating within the country. Grenell, who has ruffled a few feathers since President Donald Trump picked him for the post last May, told The Wall Street Journal that the move had come after "months of pressing" from the United States. "I think it's a great step by the German government," Grenell told the DPA news agency. "It shows great leadership." He added: "No country where Mahan Air flies should feel safe." The German Foreign Ministry took a different stance on Monday, when it announced that Mahan Air's landing rights had been withdrawn because the carrier had transported equipment and troops into war zones in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. "We have always said that Iran's destabilizing activities in the region, just like their ballistic missile program, are not acceptable," German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christopher Burger said at Monday's regular government press conference. "That is why it is in Germany's foreign policy interests not to allow any air traffic to Germany from companies who support the war in Syria and contribute to the oppression of people in war zones." "On top of that, serious evidence has emerged about the work of Iranian secret services in European states," Burger said, referring to reports that an employee for the German military had been caught passing on information to Tehran. Read more: US policy spreads gloom in Iran 'Patience with Iran' Bijan Djir-Sarai, the foreign policy spokesman for the opposition Free Democrats (FDP), told DW that he had noticed for some time that "Europeans' patience with Iran is coming to an end," though he acknowledged it was likely that the US had applied "massive pressure." Djir-Sarai said he did not think the revelations about Mahan Air's activities were particularly surprising. "The fact that large companies in Iran have ever-closer connections with Revolutionary Guards is no surprise, because these have a huge economic power in Iran," he said. Earlier this month, EU authorities imposed punitive measures against Iran's Intelligence Ministry following a series of assassination attempts against opposition supporters in France, Denmark, the Netherlands and other member states. Not all of the pressure from the United States has occurred behind the scenes. Grenell, who shares his president's taste for Twitter, has been bringing Mahan Air up on social media more and more often, and he fired off several tweets on Monday and Tuesday celebrating the development, along with John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser. Pressure on Iran This pressure from the Trump administration also appears to have a larger target: the framework deal on Iran's nuclear program, agreed to in 2015 by Iran, the members of the UN Security Council and the European Union. Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018. Germany's position, reiterated recently by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and backed by the UK and France, is that the deal remains crucial — even if just to help the European Union remain in dialogue with Iran on other issues. But Djir-Sarai said this could risk alienating the United States while not making any noticeable progress with Iran. "The question does arise: How successful are these talks?" he said. Grenell's interventions have apparently irritated a few people in Berlin. Earlier this month, he sent letters to German companies working on Nord Stream 2, a new pipeline supplying Europe with Russian natural gas, warning them of "a significant risk of sanctions" if they did not pull out of the project. In a profile on the ambassador published earlier this month, Der Spiegel reported that Grenell was being shunned by political leaders in Berlin and his only allies were the further-right members of Angela Merkel's conservative alliance, such as Health Minister Jens Spahn, and politicians from the far-right opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD). For his part, Grenell is no great friend of Der Spiegel's: In response to a recent scandal about a journalist's integrity at Germany's most prestigious newsmagazine, Grenell accused the publication of anti-American bias.

US Ambassador Richard Grenell says months of pressure from the United States led Germany to ban Iran’s Mahan Air. But German officials say they’ve cut off the carrier as part of their own security policy.   US Ambassador Richard Grenell is claiming a diplomatic victory after German officials decided to ban the Iranian airline Mahan Air from operating within the ... Read More »

2019 Oscar nominations: ‘A Star Is Born’ and ‘Roma’ to vie for best film

The Oscar nominations were announced today in Hollywood, with blockbusters like "A Star of Born" and "Black Panther" up for a swag of major awards. But "Roma" and "The Favourite" topped the nominations with 10 each. Presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for films in 24 categories, nominations for the 91st Oscars saw Ryan Coogler's superhero epic "Black Panther:; Alfonso Cuaron's Mexican drama "Roma", English period comedy drama "The Favourite", Deep South drama "Green Book" and musical "Bohemian Rhapsody" all joining "A Star is Born" as multiple award contenders. "Roma" and "The Favourite" were nominated for 10 awards each. Netflix received its first best picture nomination with "Roma," which was released exclusively through the streaming service. All in all there were eight nominees for best picture, the others including "A Star Is Born," "Green Book," "The Favourite," "Black Panther," "BlacKkKlansman," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Vice," which won eight nominations. German film "Never Look Away," inspired by the life of artist Gerhard Richter, was nominated for best foreign language film and best cinematography. Star power While award season kicked off with controversy when the host chosen initially for the 2019 ceremonies, Kevin Hart, was forced to withdraw due to previous homophobic tweets — a replacement is yet to be announced — the Academy is celebrating a host of fan and critic favorites. Hot Oscar tip "A Star Is Born," which has already taken in $400 million (€352 million) worldwide at the box office, garnered nine nominations despite faring poorly at the Golden Globes, where it only won best song. Stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are both up for best acting awards on February 24 and the pop star drama will also be a frontrunner for best picture. The film is likewise in contention for best song and best screenplay adaptation. Meanwhile, blockbuster Freddie Mercury biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody," a film that has been panned by critics, is also up for best film after it reigned at the Golden Globes — where it won best film and best actor for Rami Malek. Spike Lee was nominated for best director for the first time since 1989 for "BlacKkKlansman" — which is also contending for best film. Other best director nominees include Alfonso Cuaron for "Roma" (also in the running for best original screenplay), Poland's Pawel Pawlikowski for "Cold War," Adam McKay for political drama "Vice" and Yorgos Lanthimos for "The Favourite." No women were on the list in 2019 after Greta Gerwig last year became only the fifth female nominated for best director. Marvelous breakthrough Other films in the running for film's most prestigious prize include Ryan Coogler's superhero epic "Black Panther." While comic book adaptations are generally shunned by the Academy, the Marvel comics work was both a massive box office hit and was also praised by critics. "Black Panther's" seven nominations also included best production and best song. Another comic book adaptation, "Avengers: Infinity War", which was the highest grossing film of 2018, was also nominated for best visual effects. Meanwhile, Wes Anderson favorite "Isle of Dogs" was nominated for best animated feature. The Oscars award ceremony will be held on February 24, 2019 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

The Oscar nominations were announced today in Hollywood, with blockbusters like “A Star of Born” and “Black Panther” up for a swag of major awards. But “Roma” and “The Favourite” topped the nominations with 10 each. Presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for films in 24 categories, nominations for the 91st Oscars saw Ryan Coogler’s superhero ... Read More »

Brazil’s Bolsonaro inherits Davos keynote on overseas debut

President Bolsonaro said he would present a new, investment-ready Brazil to the Davos elite. He told the forum he'd try to walk a line between business interests and environmental protection. Brazil's newly sworn-in nationalist President Jair Bolsonaro was due to give the first keynote speech to the globalist audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday. Bolsonaro has promised to institute neoliberal policies, such as the privatization of most infrastructure. The president did little to assuage the fears of environmentalists who worry about his ideas concerning the economic potential of the Amazon rainforest, by telling the forum that development and concern for the climate should go "hand in hand." "One should not emphasize more than the other," he said. He promised to open up Brazil's "relatively closed" economy by lowering taxes and easing regulations on foreign investment, and to seek active reforms of the World Trade Organization. He further cemented his right-wing populist bonafides by vowing that the left wing "would not prevail" in Latin America. The only major policy initiative undertaken by Bolsonaro thus far is to pull Brazil from a UN pact meant to curb irregular migration, following in the footsteps of other populist leaders from around the world. He has also moved to relax gun regulations in violence-plagued Brazil. Top billing in Trump and May's absence Bolsonaro is taking over the speech slot of US President Donald Trump, who canceled his trip to Davos to address the government shutdown at home. Bolsonaro has already taken a page out of Trump's economic playbook by bashing China. Trump is not the only leader who called off his visit to address problems closer to home. UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron have also chosen to stay away. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are due to address the crowd on Wednesday. The year's meeting is overshadowed by the UK's exit from the European Union, slowing economic growth, rising populism and the threat of catastrophic climate change. "We are at the crossroads of history of humanity. We now have to shape the future," forum founder Klaus Schwab said in his opening speech  

President Bolsonaro said he would present a new, investment-ready Brazil to the Davos elite. He told the forum he’d try to walk a line between business interests and environmental protection. Brazil’s newly sworn-in nationalist President Jair Bolsonaro was due to give the first keynote speech to the globalist audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday. Bolsonaro ... Read More »

Regretful Brexit backers lobby for another vote

LONDON: Britons who have changed their minds since voting to leave the European Union in 2016 are among those uniting to call for another chance to reverse the decision. These ‘Remainer now’ voters, former Brexit supporters, are adding their voices to the chorus of calls for a second referendum amid political paralysis in Britain over the issue. Gary Maylin, 38, from Norwich in eastern England, said he originally backed leaving the bloc after more than four decades of membership because he “wanted sovereignty for the UK”. He recalled facing a barrage of pro-Brexit sentiment at the time which influenced his choice. UK PM May survives confidence vote after Brexit humiliation “My MP was (pro-)Leave, all the arguments I heard were for Leave,” he told source. “So I decided the EU was to blame for a lot of the things that were going wrong — the inability of our government to control our destiny.” The world’s fifth-largest economy is in political turmoil and grasping for solutions that could smooth its planned departure from the bloc just 10 weeks from now. British Prime Minister Theresa May is scrambling to put together a new Brexit strategy after MPs rejected her EU divorce deal, but admitted on Thursday that she can not rule out a potentially damaging ‘no-deal’ split. Maylin was among 51.9 per cent of voters to support leaving the bloc in the nationwide referendum two and-a-half years ago, trumping the 48.1 per cent who went for Remain. But he says he would now ‘absolutely’ vote the other way. “I’ve come to appreciate that we are not going to… succeed as a nation on our own,” Maylin explained, adding “walking away isn’t working for us”. “We really benefit from being strong as a united Europe rather than independent as a country,” he said, pointing to everything from US President Donald Trump to the continued rise of China. How Europe reacted to Brexit deal defeat Earlier this week, Maylin joined a dozen or so other Brexit converts who headed to Westminster, the epicentre of political power, to tell British MPs why they now want another referendum. The meeting was organised by ‘RemainerNow’, an initiative launched by a Europhile, Andrew Davidson, in his spare time with a presence online. Davidson was left ‘disturbed’ by the 2016 result and spurred into action by meeting regretful Brexit voters. “There was so many people both in my personal life but also I’ve seen on social media or TV that had regrets over their Leave vote,” he said. His movement is hopeful of seeing a second vote — repeatedly rejected by the government — as opinion polls show a majority would now support Remain. A recent compilation of surveys by the non-partisan organisation ‘What UK Thinks: EU’ found 54 per cent now favour staying in. Brexiteers have argued that such polls — which showed Leave would narrowly lose in 2016 — consistently ignores harder-to-reach Brexit supporters and are inaccurate. But people’s fears over the economic impact of leaving the bloc are real, according to pollsters. “If you voted Leave but you now think that the economy will suffer as a result, your chances of voting leaving again come down to about 50 per cent or so,” John Curtice, one of Britain’s leading survey experts, told source. Christopher Oram, from the southwestern English county of Dorset, is another former Brexit supporter who believes he was lulled into the wrong decision. “We had the MPs who were saying that we could have our cake and eat it,” Oram said, noting campaign promises of money saved, easy trade deals and a prosperous future. “Then I heard that we were going to leave the single market and custom unions so, again, I’m in shock,” added the 28-year-old. “All the promises were broken.” Those who have lost faith in Brexit revealed it had not been easy sharing news of their switch with friends and family who have stayed loyal to the cause. Maylin said he has been harassed on social media, while Oram quarrelled with his best friend over the issue. “He still thinks that we should be leaving, so that causes a lot of tensions between myself and him,” he said. “Our partners have now said that we’re not allowed to talk about Brexit over the dinner table any more.” Other friends have shunned Oram in response. “I find upsetting that people don’t accept… I have the right to change my mind,” he added.

LONDON: Britons who have changed their minds since voting to leave the European Union in 2016 are among those uniting to call for another chance to reverse the decision. These ‘Remainer now’ voters, former Brexit supporters, are adding their voices to the chorus of calls for a second referendum amid political paralysis in Britain over the issue. Gary Maylin, 38, ... Read More »

Russia detains model claiming Trump secrets

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday detained a Belarusian model who claimed she had evidence of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office, sources told . Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen-name Nastya Rybka, was held for questioning at a Moscow airport on Thursday evening after she was deported from Thailand as part of a group convicted of participating in a “sex training course,” other passengers on the flight told source. Russian authorities detained her and several others including Alex Kirillov, a self-styled Russian seduction guru, witnesses said. Plain-clothes officials led away four of the group including Vashukevich and Kirillov, a woman who gave her name as Kristina told source after emerging at Sheremetyevo airport arrivals. Describing herself as Kirillov’s wife, Kristina said she heard the group shouting and asking for an explanation of “why they were being detained” and saying they were suspected of recruiting for prostitution, a crime punishable by up to six years in jail. A law enforcement source told TASS state news agency that four including Vashukevich and Kirillov were detained at the airport over recruiting for prostitution. Model claiming Trump secrets deported from Thailand Vashukevich was held with several others in a police raid last February in the sleazy seaside resort of Pattaya. In a case that veered between salacious and bizarre, Vashukevich said she had travelled to Thailand after becoming embroiled in a political scandal with Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska — a one-time associate of Trump’s disgraced former campaign director Paul Manafort. She then set tongues wagging by promising to reveal “missing puzzle pieces” regarding claims the Kremlin aided Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory. But the material never surfaced and critics dismissed the claims as a publicity stunt. In the risque Pattaya seminar led by Kirillov, some participants wore shirts that said “sex animator” — though one person at the time described it as more of a romance and relationship course. Vashukevich pleaded guilty alongside seven others to multiple charges, including solicitation and illegal assembly at a Pattaya court on Tuesday, which ordered the group be deported. Kirillov, who has served as a quasi-spokesman for the mostly Russian group, told reporters as they arrived at court Tuesday that he believed they were set up. Model claiming to know Trump secrets arrested for running ‘sex training course’ “I think somebody ordered (our arrest)… for money,” he said. Vashukevich looked sombre as she entered the courthouse and did not respond to questions from the media. On Thursday afternoon, Vashukevich and the majority of the convicted were put on an Aeroflot flight for Moscow, bringing to an end the Thai side of a baffling case. Thailand’s immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said the last of the group would leave the country later that evening. They were also blacklisted from returning to Thailand. It was unclear what would happen to them on arrival in Moscow but as a Belarusian citizen, Vashukevich was expected to transit to Belarus. Vashukevich, who has more than 120,000 followers on Instagram and penned a book about seducing oligarchs, already faces legal problems in Russia. Deripaska won an invasion of privacy lawsuit against her and Kirillov in July after a video apparently filmed by the model showed the tycoon vacationing with an influential Russian deputy prime minister at the time. “I don’t think she wants to get out in Moscow,” a Russian friend in Thailand who helped with the case told source on Thursday. Both Washington and Moscow publicly shrugged off Vashukevich’s story, which the US State Department described as “bizarre”. Kremlin-connected Deripaska and Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign manager, did business together in the mid-2000s. Manafort has since been convicted in the US of financial crimes related to political work he did in Ukraine before the 2016 election as well as witness tampering.

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday detained a Belarusian model who claimed she had evidence of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office, sources told . Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen-name Nastya Rybka, was held for questioning at a Moscow airport on Thursday evening after she was deported from Thailand as part of a group convicted of participating in a ... Read More »

Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, Remains safe after crashing into vehicle

Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip emerged safe after a vehicle he was driving was involved in a traffic accident results two people injured near the monarch's Sandringham Estate Thursday, according to Buckingham Palace and police. “The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon,” a palace spokesman said. “The Duke was not injured. The accident took place close to the Sandringham Estate. Local police attended the scene.” A palace spokeswoman confirmed to Britain's Press Association that the duke was driving, alongside a passenger in the vehicle, when the accident happened. The agency said it was likely the duke was travelling with his close protection officer. Norfolk Police said officers were called to the estate shortly before 3pm (1500 GMT) “following reports of a collision involving two cars”. A spokesman added that ambulance crews also attended and two people in one of the vehicles suffered minor injuries. The royal couple spend most of the winter at the residence in Norfolk, south east England, which continues to operate as a sporting estate. Philip, known for his forthright manner and off-colour jokes, formally retired from public life in 2017. Born a prince of Greece and Denmark, he married then princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey in London. On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, she said of him: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years.”

Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip emerged safe after a vehicle he was driving was involved in a traffic accident results two people injured near the monarch’s Sandringham Estate Thursday, according to Buckingham Palace and police. “The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon,” a palace spokesman said. “The Duke was not ... Read More »

Novel based on Jew ‘catcher’ Stella Kübler stirs controversy

It tells the fictionalized true story of a woman who gave up her fellow Jews to the Nazis. Critics have condemned the novel Stella by Takis Würger, published this week in Germany, as "Holocaust kitsch." "We have a new literature debate," wrote Hannah Lühmann of the Die Welt newspaper when reflecting on the bombshell publication of Stella, a novel by journalist, author and war correspondent Takis Würger. Published by the prestigious Hanser Verlag on January 11, Stella fictionalizes the true story of Jewess Stella Kübler (née Goldschlag), who as a so-called "catcher" betrayed other Jews gone underground to the Gestapo. 'Nazi story for dummies?' Würger's second novel was inspired by the award-winning journalist's fascination for the subject. But while it's too early to judge the success of this study of a character who is already a book subject — for example, Peter Wyden's Stella: One Woman's True Tale of Evil, Betrayal, and Survival in Hitler's Germany — the vehement response to the novel by German critics has been striking. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reviewer wrote on January 11 that Stella is "an outrage, an insult and a real offense." Moreover, the work was described as "the symbol of an industry that seems to have lost any ethical or aesthetic scale if it wants to sell such a book as a valuable contribution to the memory of the Shoah." The critic further accused the author of having written the novel "without any awareness of the problem of literature, literacy and history." A reviewer for Die Zeit was equally scathing. "An abomination in children's book style: Takis Würger writes in Stella about a Jewish woman who becomes an accomplice in the Nazi era. It's a novel full of narrative clichés." Public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk described it as "Holocaust kitsch" and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asked: "Why this Nazi story for dummies?" Publishers weigh in Florian Kessler, cultural journalist and editor at Hanser Verlag, deflected the criticism on social media. In a detailed Facebook post, he responded, among other things, to the allegation by the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the novel would instrumentalize the Holocaust. "One can only answer: this discussion … rightly pervades the literature since '45," he wrote of a debate that has raged around so-called Holocaust literature in the postwar period. Kessler noted that Bernhard Schlink's novel The Reader, which became a hit Hollywood film, was also accused in the 1990s of mixing clichés and Holocaust instrumentalization. Shortly thereafter, he read the book at school in class.\ "We also talked about such allegations against it, and through the book's ambivalences and problems, we had very important and formative discussions about the Nazi period in my entire school years," he wrote. Read more: Holocaust satirist Elgar Hilsenrath dies at 92 Let the public decide Hannah Lühman of Die Welt was also surprised by the ferocity of the critical slating. But while she defended the novel as a whole, she added that many questions of course remain regarding, for example, "the choice of historical material; this extreme story of a Jewish woman who has betrayed hundreds of Jews to the Gestapo; what fantasies it may satisfy among non-Jewish Germans reading it." But she refused, according to Lühmann in his Facebook post, "to join in this scandal." It remains to be seen how the reading public will respond to Stella. Interest has been high in Germany, with the book launch and author reading in Hamburg on Monday sold out weeks in advance. And the novel has already garnered international attention: So far, nine foreign licenses have been sold, with the book set to be published in English, French, Spanish and Chinese, among others.

It tells the fictionalized true story of a woman who gave up her fellow Jews to the Nazis. Critics have condemned the novel Stella by Takis Würger, published this week in Germany, as “Holocaust kitsch.” “We have a new literature debate,” wrote Hannah Lühmann of the Die Welt newspaper when reflecting on the bombshell publication of Stella, a novel by ... Read More »

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