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Austria: Citizens' group decides fate of heiress' fortune
German interior minister warns of destabilization
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has warned of dangers to democracy in Germany amid rising domestic and external threats. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Tuesday that while Germany's democracy was strong, it was coming under considerable pressure. Among the threats she cited were far-right elements in German society and increasing espionage activities on the part of Russia and China. Her comments came as Germany's domestic intelligence agency BfV presented its report for 2023. 'We won’t be intimidated' Faeser called for active support of democratic ideals. "We must actively defend our democracy," she said. She also said the general security situation "is and remains tense," while stressing that it was clear that "we will not let ourselves be intimidated." She named the Islamist scene with its antisemitic tendencies as one of the risks for security. 'High level of threats' BfV President Thomas Haldenwang also spoke of a "very high level of threats," with the risk of extremist Islamist attacks rising particularly since the deadly raids by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7. He said the danger came both from jihadi terrorists and radicalized lone wolves. The conflict in Gaza had also acted "like an accelerant for antisemitism in Germany," he added. According to the 2023 report, there was a record number of crimes with an extremist background in 2023, climbing by around 4,000 to 39,433.
Thai lawmakers pass landmark same-sex marriage law
10 killed in Mediterranean boat sinking, 51 including Bangladeshis rescued alive
China hit by deadly flooding and extreme heat at same time
India: Several killed in train collision in West Bengal
German education chief sacked over Gaza protest response
The top civil servant in Germany's education ministry has been fired after floating a possible funding cut for academics who spoke in favor of pro-Palestinian students. A top education ministry official has been fired after over a botched response to a dispute about academic freedom and the right to protest. Sabine Döring was found to have explored a scheme to sanction, with financial cuts, university lecturers who spoke against the removal of a pro-Palestinian protest camp at a Berlin university. What we know so far German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger sent a request to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to dismiss Döring, it was revealed on Sunday evening.   The request followed a report by German broadcaster ARD reporting emails that showed a legal review had been requested inside the ministry into whether the academics' funding could be cut.   The review was initiated by Döring, who is responsible for universities. Döring is the second-highest-ranking official in the ministry and, unlike Stark-Watzinger, is not an elected figure. "I have arranged for the facts of the case to be investigated thoroughly and transparently," said Stark-Watzinger. She confirmed that "an examination of potential consequences according to funding law was indeed requested from the relevant departments." Döring admitted that she "had apparently expressed herself in a misleading manner when commissioning the legal review," Stark-Watzinger said. "Nonetheless, the impression was created that the Education Ministry was considering examining the consequences under funding law on the basis of an open letter covered by freedom of expression," the minister added. Why were the academics targeted? Some 150 pro-Palestinian activist students, protesting Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip, occupied a courtyard at Berlin's Free University in early May. The university quickly called in the police, who cleared the area. In response, some 100 academics from universities in Berlin wrote an open letter affirming the students' right to protest. "Regardless of whether we agree with the specific demands of the protest camp, we stand with our students and defend their right to peaceful protest," they wrote. Police said 79 people were temporarily detained following the protest in May, with 80 criminal investigations and 79 misdemeanor proceedings initiated. In their statement, the lecturers urged "university management to refrain from police operations against their own students as well as from further criminal prosecution." At the time, Stark-Watzinger criticized the academics' letter for not mentioning the October 7 attacks by Palestinian extremist group Hamas and other militants in southern Israel. She repeated that criticism on Sunday. Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and others.
US: Several wounded in shooting at Detroit area water park
A man opened fire at a splash pad near Detroit on Saturday. The injured, who include children, have been taken to hospital, while the suspect took his own life, police said. At least eight people — including children — were wounded after a shooter opened fire at a city-run water park in the United States Detroit suburb in the state of Michigan on Saturday, authorities said. Police said the suspect had been cornered in a home nearby, with law enforcement surrounding it, before announcing he took his own life inside the home. What do we know about the shooting? The incident occurred at 5 p.m. local time (2100 GMT) at the Brooklands Plaza Splash Pad park in Rochester Hills, Michigan, where several families had gathered to escape the summer heat. A man fired about 30 shots from a 9mm semi automatic Glock, reloading several times, as he stepped out of a vehicle in front of the park, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told reporters. A handgun and three empty magazines were recovered from the scene, the sheriff added. The wounded were rushed to hospital, and their conditions were not immediately known. Incident echoes 2021 shootout Rochester Hills lies about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of Oxford, which was the scene of a mass shooting in 2021 when a 15-year-old fatally shot four high school students. "It's a gut punch, obviously, for us here in Oakland County," Bouchard said. "We've gone through so many tragedies, you know. We're not even fully comprehending what happened at Oxford." Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wrote on social media platform  X, formerly Twitter, that she was in touch with officials.
Russian forces end prison siege, kill IS hostage-takers
Special forces say they "eliminated" inmates who took two guards captive at a pre-trial detention center in southern Russia. Some of the prisoners were members of the "Islamic State" armed group. Russia's special forces killed several men linked to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group who took two guards hostage at a detention center in the southern city of Rostov, Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service said Sunday. "The criminals were eliminated," Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement, describing how a "special operation" had taken place to free the hostages. "The employees who were being held hostage were released. They are uninjured," the statement continued. The siege took place Sunday at Detention Center 1 of the Rostov region, the prison service said. The Interfax news agency said there were six hostage-takers, The men were said to have been armed with knives and other sharpened objects. Men had demanded vehicle and freedom The hostage-takers were allegedly able to remove the bars from their windows and enter a guard room, according to a Telegram channel cited by Reuters news agency. The Interfax news agency reported that the prisoners had demanded a car and free passage. Before the siege was quashed, one of the hostage takers was shown on social media waving a knife next to one of the hostages. The hostage taker wore a headband with the flag used by the IS. Russia has been targeted by IS in the past. In March, the jihadist organization claimed responsibility for an attack at a concert hall near the capital Moscow, in which 144 people died. State news agency TASS cited a police source as saying that some of the hostage takers were due to appear in court on terrorism charges, while others were already convicted. Russian media speculated that they could be among those convicted of plotting an attack on the Supreme Court of Karachay-Cherkessia, a Muslim-majority Russian republic in the Caucasus.  
Germany: Man wielding ax in Hamburg shot by police
A man tried to attack officers with a pickax in the St Pauli district of Hamburg. The incident took place before the city was due to host the Euro 2024 match between the Netherlands and Poland. Police in the northern German city of Hamburg on Sunday shot a man who attempted to attack passersby with a pickax, authorities said. The disturbance took place in the downtown St Pauli district of the city, near where 40,000 Dutch fans were marching, ahead of the Euro 2024 soccer match against Poland later. Police play down any football connection Police said the man had come out of a pub with the ax in his hand and was waving it at officers in a "threatening manner." "According to current knowledge, there is no football connection," a police spokesperson told DPA news agency. Police said the man was also carrying an incendiary device, probably some kind of Molotov cocktail. The media reports said police used pepper spray against the attacker before deploying a firearm. Warning shot fired first One officer fired a warning shot before several other shots were fired and the man fell to the ground, local media reported. The man is being treated for his injuries, police wrote on X, formerly Twitter. Security has already been tightened ahead of Sunday's soccer match with hundreds of Hamburg and federal police officers deployed. Germany is hosting the month-long Euro 2024 tournament that began on Friday night. On Friday, police in eastern Germany shot dead a man who went on the rampage, stabbing one man to death, before gatecrashing a house party for the championship's opening match. There he stabbed three other people, two seriously. Police said Sunday that the motive for that attack was still unclear.
Flesh-eating bacteria spreads in Japan
A disease caused by a rare "flesh-eating bacteria" that can kill people within 48 hours is spreading in Japan after the country relaxed Covid-era restrictions, Bloomberg reported on Saturday. Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) is an aggressive illness that can be fatal within 48 hours of infection. As many as 977 cases of STSS have been reported in Japan this year by June 2, higher than the record 941 cases reported last year, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, which has been tracking incidences of the disease since 1999. Group A Streptococcus (GAS) typically causes swelling and sore throat in children known as "strep throat," but some types of the bacteria can lead to symptoms developing rapidly, including limb pain and swelling, fever, low blood pressure, that can be followed by necrosis, breathing problems, organ failure and death, according to Bloomberg. “Most of the deaths happen within 48 hours,” said Ken Kikuchi, a professor in infectious diseases at Tokyo Women’s Medical University. "As soon as a patient notices swelling in the foot in the morning, it can expand to the knee by noon, and they can die within 48 hours,” he said. People over 50 are more prone to this disease. Kikuchi added that at the current rate of infections, the number of cases in Japan could reach 2,500 this year, with a “terrifying” mortality rate of 30%. Kikuchi urged people to maintain hand hygiene and to treat any open wounds. He said patients may carry GAS in their intestines, which could contaminate hands through faeces. Besides Japan, several other countries have experienced recent outbreaks of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, according to Bloomberg. In late 2022, at least five European nations reported to the World Health Organization an increase in cases of invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS) disease, which includes STSS. The WHO said the rise in cases followed the end of Covid restrictions. Source: in