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Merkel emphasizes German prosperity, security at rally

Published: Saturday, August 12, 2017 @ 8:15 AM
Updated: Saturday, August 12, 2017 @ 8:14 AM


            German Chancellor and top candidate of the Christian Democratic Union, CDU, for the upcoming general election Angela Merkel delivers a speech during the start of her election campaign in Dortmund, western Germany, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (Ina Fassbender/dpa via AP)
German Chancellor and top candidate of the Christian Democratic Union, CDU, for the upcoming general election Angela Merkel delivers a speech during the start of her election campaign in Dortmund, western Germany, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (Ina Fassbender/dpa via AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the final phase of her election campaign Saturday with a focus on her record, emphasizing the economic growth and prosperity achieved during her dozen years at the helm as she seeks a fourth term.

Merkel told a rally organized by her Christian Democratic Union party in the western city of Dortmund that unemployment has dropped to a post-reunification low since she first was elected chancellor in 2005.

She told the crowd she hoped to achieve full employment — a rate below 3 percent — by 2025. The rate hit as high as 12.6 percent in early 2005 and was most recently at 5.6 percent in July.

"Those are really excellent figures," Merkel said, going on to note that government and industry must not be complacent because technology is changing the way the economy functions.

"On one hand, Germany stacks up well, but on the other hand we live in a time of change, a time of uncertainty," she said.

Singling out the damage done to the "Made in Germany" label with Volkswagen's diesel cheating scandal, Merkel said honesty in business was a prerequisite going forward.

"The way things were swept under the rug or where loopholes in emissions tests were massively exploited to the point they were unrecognizable, that destroys trust," she told the crowd.

In addition to Volkswagen, Germany is home to Mercedes, BMW and other top brands.

Merkel emphasized the need for the auto industry to develop cleaner technologies, but also sought to allay widespread fears that older diesel cars could be banned from the streets. A "transition phase" would be better than a ban, she said.

The government could help provide the infrastructure to support vehicles run by alternative power sources, but innovation was up to the automakers, she said.

"The question of whether the German automobile industry has recognized these signs of the times will decide their future, and with it hundreds of thousands of jobs," she said.

Merkel, however, rejected outright an idea floated by her main challenger, Social Democrat Martin Schulz, who suggested in an interview Friday that there should be a Europe-wide quota instituted for electric cars.

Merkel said such a quota could harm the development of other alternative technologies and she didn't think the idea "has been thought through."

A defining moment of Merkel's tenure as chancellor was the decision in 2015 to open Germany's doors to 890,000 migrants seeking asylum and economic opportunities. She pledged Friday not to avoid immigration as a topic on the campaign trail, but did not mention the controversial issue in her Dortmund speech.

Merkel's conservative bloc currently enjoys a lead of more than 15 percent over its main competition, the Social Democrats, leading up to the Sept. 24 election. Most polls put support for Merkel's bloc at about 40 percent compared to about 23 percent for the SPD.

The two parties currently govern together in a so-called "grand coalition." The SPD's slumping popularity figures and recent gains by Merkel's bloc, which also includes the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, have led many to speculate that she might be able to form a new coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats or another smaller party.

Merkel urged members of her party to keep up the pressure over the next six weeks.

"We need to advocate, we need to fight and we need to stand up for our ideas," she said.

Campaign posters for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union have highlighted the country's economic prosperity, with slogans such as "For a Germany in which we live well and happily," and "For good work and good pay." Other themes include "More respect for families," and "Security and order."

At Saturday's rally, Merkel cited another campaign slogan: "Strengthening Europe means strengthening Germany."

"For us, the greatest security and the greatest peace project is the European Union," she told the cheering crowd.

Comedy genius Jerry Lewis has died at 91

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 2:07 PM

Jerry Lewis Dead at 91

Legendary comedian, brash entertainer,  zany actor and dedicated humanitarian Jerry Lewis has died in Las Vegas at the age of 91.

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He died at his home at 9:15 a.m. , according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and confirmed by his agent, Variety reported.

Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey to show business parents and made his professional debut at the age of 5.

Lewis made a name for himself in the 1940s and 1950s with his slapstick humor and as part of the comedic duo Martin and Lewis with handsome straight man and crooner Dean Martin. The pair performed together for 10 years before going on to successful solo careers.

Lewis went on to star in the popular movies “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy” in the 1960s, among many other works.

Over his long career he worked in radio, film, and on stage. He was a screen writer and film producer and director.

One of Lewis’ most critically acclaimed dramatic roles was in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” in 1982. He played a late-night television host who is kidnapped by two obsessive fans, portrayed by actors Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard.

The comedian may have been best known in some circles for his humanitarian efforts off the big screen with his decades-long work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and his annual MDA Labor Day telethon.

It’s estimated that Lewis’ annual telethons made more than $2 billion to help fight the neuromuscular disease between 1955 and 2011.

In 1977 he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his long years of work on behalf of MDA.

Dean Martin, left, and Jerry Lewis worked together as a successful comedy team on the radio and in movies for 10 years in the 1940s and 1950s before heading on to successful solo careers.(John Springer Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

4-year-old accidentally shoots, kills himself with gun, father charged

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

An ambulance transports a patient to a local hospital. A Memphis boy accidentally shot himself Saturday with his father’s handgun and was pronounced dead at an area hospital, police said. His father is charged with reckless homicide.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
An ambulance transports a patient to a local hospital. A Memphis boy accidentally shot himself Saturday with his father’s handgun and was pronounced dead at an area hospital, police said. His father is charged with reckless homicide.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A four-year-old boy is dead after accidentally shooting and killing himself Saturday at a residence in Memphis, Tenn. The child’s father is facing a number of charges, including reckless homicide.

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Police said the incident happened around 6:30 p.m. on the city’s southeast side.

When police arrived, they found the child on a walkway, according to news outlets. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The father, who has been identified as Gari Settles, 39, is also facing drug possession and felony weapon possession charges, police said.

Madonna celebrates turning 59, posting first family pic with all six kids

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 1:23 PM

Pop star Madonna performed at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Pop star Madonna performed at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.(Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Photographed for the very first time!

Pop star Madonna shared a debut family portrait Friday that featured her and all six of her children.

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The Material Girl posted the photo on Instagram following her 59th birthday party at a two-day, gypsy-themed celebration in Italy.

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From top left Rocco, 17,  David, 11, and Mercy James, 11, to the right of Madonna.

From bottom left, Lourdes, 20, kneeling along side 4-year-old twins Estere and Stella.

Madge captioned the picture “Birthday.”

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The singer invited long-time friends from all over the world to join her for the celebration.

>> Related: Madonna’s brother speaking out about ‘horrific sister,’ strained relationship

Madonna adopted Estere and Stella in February from Malawi, the same country where she adopted David and Mercy. In July, she opened the African nation’s first-ever pediatric surgery and intensive care center. She shares son, Rocco, with Guy Ritchie and daughter, Lourdes, with Carlos Leon.

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>> Related: Madonna through the years

Police: Mom tried to breast-feed after being pulled over on suspicion of DWI

Published: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 11:09 AM

Mother Tried to Breast-Feed After Pulled Over On Suspicion of DWI

A woman pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated attempted to breast-feed her child while an officer spoke to her, police said.

Natasha Abrams, 27, was pulled over Thursday night in Albuquerque after police observed her driving erratically, KOB reported. As an officer tried to speak to Abrams, he witnessed Abrams attempting to feed her baby, according to the police report. The officer noted Abrams had watery, bloodshot eyes and the odor of alcohol was present.

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Abrams told police that she had been looking at her phone when the dog jumped on her, causing her to swerve. She said she had a glass of wine earlier in the day. Abrams failed sobriety tests and blew at or above the legal limit during a breath test, police said.

Abrams was arrested and charged with child endangerment in addition to DWI. The baby was placed in the temporary custody of the grandparents, police said.