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Berlin police are investigating separate shootings that left two young men seriously injured on Saturday and Sunday. Both occurred in the early hours of the morning.

At around 6:30am, a 23-year-old man was shot in the central Alexanderplatz area. He was found lying in a doorway at the train station with life threatening injuries by passersby. Police said that the bullet went through his groin.

Paramedics were called to the scene and the victim was taken to one of the capital city's hospitals, where he received emergency surgery. He was reported to be in a critical condition.

The identity of the attacker is not known - nor is the motive behind the shooting. An investigation has been launched.

The attack came around just 24 hours after another man was shot elsewhere in the city. A 22-year-old was returning from a party at 5am when the group he was with was approached by a stranger.

An argument broke out and the attacker pulled out a gun and fired a shot into the air. The seven-strong group of friends tried to carry on walking but the young Berliner was shot in the stomach as he left.

Police are appealing for witnesses, and have been asking taxi drivers working in the Schöneberg area at the time if they say anything. So far, no clues have emerged.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/jcw

A 23-year-old German woman died while canyoning in the Swiss Alps on Sunday, newspapers reported. She is thought to have drowned after heavy rain created treacherous conditions.

The unnamed woman was canyoning near the Swiss town of St Gallen, the Bild daily reported. The sport has gained in popularity over recent years and involves abseiling, climbing, jumping into water and swimming in mountain rivers.

Despite heavy rainfall, a group of tourists set off from the town for a day in the mountains. But water levels in the river they were to hike along had risen dramatically and was running extremely fast.

When the group were deep in a ravine a surge of water suddenly filled the valley, sweeping two women to their deaths. One of whom was the 24-year-old group leader, from Belgium.

Others managed to climb to safety and were rescued by a helicopter. Three of the five saved were taken to hospital and treated for injuries.

Mountain rescue teams began searching for the two missing women and continued into the night. Bad weather made the hunt difficult, but at around 11pm they found the bodies of the women.

“It had rained a lot on Sunday afternoon in the area, but how exactly the incident happened is still being investigated,” a police spokesman from the St Gallen area told Swiss paper Blick.

The Local/jcw


BERLIN (AP) — German police say someone broke into a hotel room that was used as an office of the chancellor’s conservative party while Angela Merkel was holding talks in the same building.

Police spokeswoman Antje Roeper said Sunday nothing appears to have been stolen and no explosives were found.

She says Merkel and other party leaders were holding an internal two-day conference near the town of Neuruppin north of Berlin when the incident was discovered Sept. 17. Merkel, the Christian Democrats’ chairwoman, was in a meeting on a different floor of the boutique hotel.

Roeper says the room was used as an office to facilitate the conference’s organization. No motive has been established as police continue to investigate.

A spokesman for Merkel’s party declined to comment on the incident.

Steel managers who were fixing prices and dividing up the railway track market took Deutsche Bahn employees to brothels after talking business over dinner, spending more than €71,000 on “entertaining” over five years.

Court documents seen by the Handelsblatt newspaper show that a former manager of a Voestalpine subsidiary spent €71,276 between 2005 and 2009 on his “track friends”. Much of the money was spent in the Berlin brothel “Bel Ami”, the paper said.

While Voestalpine confirmed the existence of the 35 bills paid by the manager, it stressed these had nothing to do with the railway track cartel.

Yet a former manager who was at the price- and market-share-fixing meetings told the Handelsblatt that employees from Voestalpine and ThyssenKrupp had met colleagues from Deutsche Bahn several times. They had discussed prices over dinner, and then gone to the brothel.

ThyssenKrupp was fined €103 million in July, while Vossloh and Voestalpine were fined €13 million and €8.5 million respectively. All admitted to fixing prices and sharing out the market for railway tracks.

The steel managers are only the latest to have been caught spending company money on prostitutes.

Insurance firm Ergo repeatedly sent top-selling agents on trips involving paid-for sex, including one well-documented three-day weekend in Budapest.

The Local/hc

German police called to the scene of a fatal stabbing were plunged into a mystery worthy of a television series – the man’s former girlfriend who had killed him was still tied up and had been tortured

Bonn’s public prosecutor is now trying to untangle the circumstances behind the death of a 55-year old man identified only as Jürgen S.

Neighbours had been pleased for him when he got together with Renata B., an attractive 57-year-old academic, the Express newspaper reported on Thursday.

Jürgen S. was only 1.5 m (about 4'11'') tall, a head shorter than Renata B., and is said to have "blossomed" during their relationship.

But they split up recently, and when she went to his house in Bornheim near Bonn on Tuesday morning to collect her things, she said he tied her up and started to torture her.

Investigators believe that Renata B. managed to wrestle away the knife and stab him, the paper said. A post mortem examination showed he died from one stab wound, the police said on Wednesday.

As Jürgen S. lay bleeding on the floor, she shouted for help –cries which were heard by a passer-by who called the police. The Express reported that authorities broke down the door to the balcony and freed Renata B., who showed signs of physical abuse.

Bonn police said they could not confirm that she was tied up, citing the ongoing investigation.

But a spokesman for the Bonn police told The Local that Renata had not been held in custody because at this point her actions appeared to be self-defence.

The Local /sh

The financial crisis can't touch them - Germany's richest just keep getting richer. Top earners' salaries are up, but the bottom 40 percent of full-time employees are earning less after wages were adjusted for inflation.

The richest ten percent of German households have more than half of the total assets, the report said - taken to include real estate, investments, land or claims from company pensions. And the poorest fifty percent of households have just barely one percent of the net wealth.

The net wealth of German households has doubled in the past two decades, from €4.6 billion to more than €10 billion.

Süddeutsche Zeitung said the report also showed that there was still a wealth gap between people in former eastern Germany and western Germany. West German households had an average net wealth of €132,000, east German households just €55,000.

Private citizens may be getting richer, but the report showed the state was getting poorer. The Labour Department report claimed that net assets of the German state fell by more than €800 billion between early 1992 and early 2012.

It also noted that as part of the rescue efforts during the financial crisis there was "an observable shift of private assets and liabilities in state budgets."

The report defended the increase in non-traditional employment, including part-time work, and temporary or contract positions, saying these jobs were not created at the expense of normal working conditions.

But the Ministry of Labour did note that: "hourly wages which are insufficient to secure the livelihood of a single person who is working full-time, exacerbates the risk of poverty and weaken social cohesion."

The Local/sh

The owner of an Indian clothing store said Wednesday that he would only change its name from "Hitler" if he was compensated for re-branding costs, amid a growing row over the new shop.

The outlet, which sells Western men's wear, opened 10 days ago in Ahmedabad city in the western state of Gujarat with "Hitler" written in big letters over the front and with a Nazi swastika as the dot on the "i".
"I will change it (the name) if people want to compensate me for the money we have spent -- the logo, the hoarding, the business cards, the brand," Rajesh Shah told AFP.
He put the total costs at about 150,000 rupees ($2,700).
Shah insisted that until the store opened he did not know who Adolf Hitler was and that Hitler was a nickname given to the grandfather of his store partner because "he was very strict".
"I didn't know how much the name would disturb people," he told AFP by telephone from Ahmedabad. "It was only when the store opened I learnt Hitler had killed six million people."
Members of the tiny Jewish community in Ahmedabad condemned the store's name, while a senior Israeli diplomat said the embassy would raise the matter "in the strongest possible way."
"People use such names mostly out of ignorance," Israel's Mumbai Consul General Orna Sagiv told AFP.
Esther David, a prominent Indian writer in Ahmedabad who is Jewish, said she was "disturbed and distressed" by the shop, but added that some Indians used the word "Hitler" casually to describe autocratic people.
David said Jewish residents had sought to change Shah's mind about the store's name and told him about the Holocaust.
The row evoked memories of a controversy six years ago when a Mumbai restaurant owner called his cafe "Hitler's Cross" and put a swastika on the hoarding, claiming Hitler was a "catchy" name.
The restaurant owner eventually agreed to change the name after protests by the Israeli embassy, Germany and the US Anti-Defamation League.
Hitler attracts an unusual degree of respect in some parts of India, with his book "Mein Kampf" a popular title in bookshops and on street stalls.
Gujarat schoolbooks issued by the Hindu nationalist state government were criticised a few years ago for praising Hitler as someone who gave "dignity and prestige" to the German government.


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