Merkel’s husband calls unvaccinated Germans ‘lazy’

Merkel’s husband calls unvaccinated Germans ‘lazy’
Joachim Sauer, German quantum chemist and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s husband, on Tuesday accused unvaccinated Germans of “laziness” as the country struggles to contain a dramatic surge in Covid-19 infections. (AFP)
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Updated 23 November 2021

Merkel’s husband calls unvaccinated Germans ‘lazy’

Merkel’s husband calls unvaccinated Germans ‘lazy’
  • Germany's Covid-19 resurgence has in part been blamed on its relatively low vaccination rate
  • "It is astonishing that a third of the population does not follow scientific findings," Merkel's husband, Joachim Sauer, said

FRANKFURT: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s husband on Tuesday accused unvaccinated Germans of “laziness,” as the country grapples with a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections that has fueled debate about making jabs mandatory.
Germany’s Covid-19 resurgence has in part been blamed on its relatively low vaccination rate compared with other Western European nations like France, Italy or Spain, with just 68 percent of the population fully jabbed.
“It is astonishing that a third of the population does not follow scientific findings,” Merkel’s husband, Joachim Sauer, said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica and picked up by German daily Die Welt.
“In part, this is due to a certain laziness and complacency of Germans,” said Sauer, who seldom speaks in public.
“The other group are people who follow a personal conviction, a kind of ideological reaction to what they consider a vaccination dictatorship,” Sauer said, a cohort he said also included doctors and scientists.
Like his famous wife, Sauer is a quantum chemist, and was in Italy on an academic visit.
The couple keep a low profile and Sauer rarely speaks to the media.
Sauer added that Germans’ vaccine hesitancy was all the more regrettable given the “miracle” of how quickly safe and effective jabs were developed during the pandemic.
Sauer’s comments come a day after Merkel warned that Germany was not doing enough to curb the “highly dramatic” fourth wave of the pandemic.
The outgoing chancellor, who is acting in a caretaker capacity and will likely be replaced by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz next month, has repeatedly urged Germans to get vaccinated.
Sluggish vaccine uptake and rapidly filling intensive care beds have led to growing calls for Germany to follow Austria’s example and make coronavirus jabs compulsory.
Although Merkel’s federal government has always ruled out doing so, the mood has started to shift in recent days, particularly in Germany’s hardest-hit regions.
Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder, from Merkel’s conservative camp, and his Baden-Wuerttemberg counterpart Winfried Kretschmann, from the Green party, issued a joint plea for mandatory jabs in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.
Society will “pay an ever higher price for a small part of the population” rejecting the vaccine offer, they warned, stressing that mandatory jabs were necessary “to give us back our freedoms.”
Hesse premier Volker Bouffier, whose state is home to the city of Mainz where the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs were co-developed, also came out in favor of compulsory Covid-19 jabs.
Merkel’s center-right CDU party, which is gearing up for a stint as the opposition, urged the incoming Scholz-led coalition government to tell the German public where they stood on the issue.
In one novel attempt to entice Germans to get jabbed, a foundation in Frankfurt has invited more than 200 homeless people to turn up for free curry sausages and get inoculated at the same time.
Separately, local officials in Hanover said Tuesday they would give away 1,000 tickets to the January 23 second-division football game between Hannover 96 and Dynamo Dresden to those getting their first or booster jab in coming days.
Germany added 45,326 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, according to the Robert Koch Institute health agency.
A further 309 people died, bringing the total toll since the start of the pandemic to just under 100,000.
Germany’s weekly incidence rate stood at 399.8 new infections per 100,000 people, an all-time high.


Jordanian flies the world from homemade basement cockpit

 Muhammad Malhas, 76, operates his flight simulator cockpit at his home in Jordan's capital Amman on November 8, 2021. (AFP)
Muhammad Malhas, 76, operates his flight simulator cockpit at his home in Jordan's capital Amman on November 8, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 04 December 2021

Jordanian flies the world from homemade basement cockpit

 Muhammad Malhas, 76, operates his flight simulator cockpit at his home in Jordan's capital Amman on November 8, 2021. (AFP)

AMMAN: Jordanian Muhammad Malhas has long harbored dreams of being a pilot. Now at 76 years old, he’s soaring above the clouds in a cockpit he built in his basement.
“Since the beginning of time, man has been watching the birds in the sky, and dreaming of flying freely,” Malhas told AFP.
As a boy, he enjoying flying his kite and wondering how something so flimsy made of paper could soar so high.
“It was then the desire and love of flying began to obsess me,” he added, sitting in the flight simulator, a replica of the cockpit of a Boeing 737-800, which he has spent three years building from scrap and secondhand items.
“My heart was always hanging in the sky, and my dream was to become a pilot, but circumstances did not allow it,” he said.
He graduated in hospital management from a London university in 1969, and went to work with his father at the Amman hospital the family had founded.
But Malhas kept his dreams alive, devouring books on aviation, aircraft engineering and guides to learning how to fly.
He even joined the Royal Jordanian Air Academy in 1976, rising before dawn to take flying lessons in a small Piper aircraft, before heading to work. He obtained his license two years later.
For almost a decade he was a member of the Jordanian Gliding Club, taking to the skies every weekend.

Muhammad Malhas (L), 76, sits at his flight simulator cockpit at his home in Jordan's capital Amman on November 8, 2021. (AFP)

And by 2006, he was flying virtually thanks to flight software he downloaded on his computer.
He joined a global network of flight simulator fans, where they could fly in almost real conditions directed by an air traffic controller.
“We were a group of about 30 to 40 friends, aviation enthusiasts from different countries chatting about flying virtually in our spare time.
“We used to fly to Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad... even Britain and the US. Sometimes we sat for six hours on computers as if we were flying real flights,” he told AFP.

Now retired, his life-long passion has taken a new spin.
Sat in front of three large screens, equipped with switches and indicators, in his homemade cockpit, Malhas has the world at his fingertips.
All the parts were bought at local markets. The chairs were originally part of a bus.
The screens show pictures of clouds and sky above, rivers, forests and deserts below. He can even choose what the weather outside is like.
The work took three years, with the help of friends who are electronic engineers. And it cost around six thousand dinars ($8,400).
His friend Ahmed Fares, 25, helped installing switches and indicators which “respond to the conditions of the plane, so that it looks like a real plane flying.”
Sometimes his wife joins Malhas in the cockpit.
“I think it is amazing to fly while sitting at home and to feel the joy of flying around the world,” he said.


Belgian zoo hippos test positive for Covid

Belgian zoo hippos test positive for Covid
Updated 03 December 2021

Belgian zoo hippos test positive for Covid

Belgian zoo hippos test positive for Covid
  • The infections at Antwerp Zoo are not the first time that zoo animals have tested positive
  • It is not known how the hippos were exposed to the virus

BRUSSELS: Two hippos in a Belgian zoo have tested positive for Covid-19, their keepers announced Friday, stressing that the giant animals do not appear to be in danger.
The infections at Antwerp Zoo are not the first time that zoo animals have tested positive during the pandemic, but most cases are thought to have been in cats and monkeys.
The building housing Hermien and Imani, a mother and daughter aged 41 and 14, has been closed to the public and their keepers have formed an isolated social bubble.
Antwerp Zoo tested its animals last year and found no cases of coronavirus, but veterinarian Francis Vercammen checked the hippos as cases rose again this winter.
“This time they were expelling snot, which I had tested as a precaution to check for bacteria,” he said, explaining how he came to send samples to Belgium’s national veterinary lab.
“In view of current events, I took the additional decision to test the samples for Covid-19, which gave this surprising result,” he said.
“As far as I know, this is the first known infection in this species. Worldwide, this virus has mainly been reported in great apes and felines.”
It is not known how the hippos were exposed to the virus. Their keepers have had no symptoms but are taking additional precautions and will be quarantined if they test positive.
Belgium, in common with much of Europe, is facing a growing wave of Covid-19 infections as winter grips the country, including a so far small number of cases of the new Omicron variant.
On Friday, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced a series of measures to tighten sanitary rules, bringing school Christmas holidays forward and asking children aged six and over to wear masks.
Belgium, with a population of 11 million, has recorded an average of more than 17,800 daily infections with Covid-19 over the past seven days, as well as 44 deaths.
Around 800 people with severe forms of the disease are in intensive care in hospitals across the country, leading to overcrowding and the postponement of treatment for many other conditions.


Indian man builds one-third sized Taj Mahal replica for wife

Indian man builds one-third sized Taj Mahal replica for wife
Updated 01 December 2021

Indian man builds one-third sized Taj Mahal replica for wife

Indian man builds one-third sized Taj Mahal replica for wife
  • The imitation includes the real monument's large dome, intricate minarets and even some of its artwork
  • The replica took three years to build

NEW DELHI: An Indian man has built a one-third sized replica of the historic Taj Mahal for his wife, but unlike the original, it’s their residence, not a mausoleum.
Constructed with white marble from the same city in Rajasthan state that provided the Taj Mahal’s stone, the imitation includes the real monument’s large dome, intricate minarets and even some of its artwork.
The famed 17th century Taj Mahal, often called a monument to love, was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the northern Indian city of Agra in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz.
She died in Burhanpur, the site of the newly built replica, while giving birth to their fourteenth child.
Her body was temporarily buried in the city and later exhumed and taken to Agra, according to Anand Prakash Chouksey, 52, who built the replica.
“I jokingly told my wife, if you pass over, then I will build a Taj Mahal,” said Chouksey, 52, a hospital owner who lives in Burhanpur. “She obviously refused and said she doesn’t want to die. Then I said, not a problem, I will make a Taj Mahal you can live in.”
The replica took three years to build and artisans from Agra were hired to recreate the artwork on the marble.
Emperor Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built between 1632 and 1654 after Mumtaz died. The complex houses both of their graves and a mosque, as well as several graves of lesser Mogul royalty.
The monument, acclaimed for its delicate lattice work, is India’s biggest tourist draw, attracting millions of visitors every year. The tourists keep hundreds of thousands employed and Agra’s economy moving.


New Zealand politician cycles to hospital in labor, gives birth

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter rides a bicyle to the hospital while in labour, in Wellington, New Zealand, November 28, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter rides a bicyle to the hospital while in labour, in Wellington, New Zealand, November 28, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
Updated 28 November 2021

New Zealand politician cycles to hospital in labor, gives birth

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter rides a bicyle to the hospital while in labour, in Wellington, New Zealand, November 28, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
  • Amazingly now we have a healthy, happy little one sleeping, as is her dad,” said Genter, a dual New Zealand-US citizen who was born in Minnesota and moved to the Pacific country in 2006

MELBOURNE: New Zealand Member of Parliament Julie Anne Genter got on her bicycle early on Sunday and headed to the hospital. She was already in labor and she gave birth an hour later.
“Big news!” the Greens politician posted on her Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JulieAnneGenter page a few hours later. “At 3.04am this morning we welcomed the newest member of our family. I genuinely wasn’t planning to cycle in labor, but it did end up happening.”
The island nation of 5 million already has a reputation for down-to-earth politicians. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern famously took maternity https://www.reuters.com/article/us-newzealand-politics-ardern-idUSKBN1KN0A8 leave while in office and brought her three-month old to a United Nations https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-assembly-leaders-idUSKCN1M30XW meeting as she was still breastfeeding.
“My contractions weren’t that bad when we left at 2am to go to the hospital — though they were 2-3 min apart and picking up in intensity by the time we arrived 10 minutes later,” Genter wrote.
“Amazingly now we have a healthy, happy little one sleeping, as is her dad,” said Genter, a dual New Zealand-US citizen who was born in Minnesota and moved to the Pacific country in 2006.
Genter — her party’s spokesperson for transport issues and whose Facebook profile includes “I love my bicycle” — also biked to the hospital in 2018 to give birth to her first-born, local media said.


French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0

French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0
Updated 28 November 2021

French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0

French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0
  • C.S.C. de Cayenne were only trailing 1-0 when they were reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute before collapsing in the second half
  • Saint-Denis made the most of their trek from the island of Reunion, beating Canet Rousillon on penalties to reach the last 64

PARIS: C.S.C. de Cayenne traveled over 7,000 kilometers from the capital of French Guiana for their French Cup eighth-round tie against Paris FC on Saturday, but lost 14-0.
The visitors were only trailing 1-0 when they were reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute before collapsing in the second half, conceding 12 goals after the break.
Cayenne will make the return trip across the Atlantic Ocean after seeing their cup run end in remarkable fashion.
Moustapha Name, Lamine Diaby Fadiga and Morgan Guilavogui, the brother of former France midfielder Josuha, all scored hat-tricks for second-tier side Paris FC.
Elsewhere, though, Saint-Denis made the most of their trek from the island of Reunion, beating Canet Rousillon on penalties to reach the last 64, where the 20 Ligue 1 teams enter the draw.