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Hamburg moves forward with concert hall designed to rival Sydney Opera House

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German city Hamburg ended a row Thursday with the firm building a concert hall intended to rival the Sydney Opera House, already years behind schedule and millions over budget.

Under the deal between the local government and the construction company Hochtief announced in a joint statement, the Elbphilharmonie hall, which the city hopes will become a global attraction, should now open in 2016.

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“We were able to correct a birth defect in the project with this agreement,” Hamburg’s top official for culture, Barbara Kisseler, said in the statement, estimating the end of construction in mid-2015.

Construction delays and problems as well as a price explosion have plagued the landmark project since the groundbreaking ceremony in 2007.

Originally budgeted at 114 million euros ($144 million), the costs have ballooned to an estimated 323 million euros, though few in the northern German city expect that to be the end of the story.

Bitter infighting between the city government and Hochtief led to an eight-month halt in construction and threats to cancel all contracts but the two sides said building would now resume.

The agreement foresees a redivision of responsibilities and a plan for legal recourse for outstanding disputes over the project, which planners have compared to Sydney’s iconic opera house.

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Jutting out from the end of a pier between the Elbe River and the city, the hall will take a boxy brick former warehouse as its base, and perch a spectacular glass structure recalling frozen waves on top.

Sandwiched between the two levels, a public plaza will offer stunning views of the city’s 800-year-old port and plentiful church spires. A hotel and luxury flats are also planned.

It was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the team behind Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games, who welcomed the agreement.

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The city aims to create one of the world’s top 10 concert halls with 2,150 seats and acoustics designed by Yasuhisa Toyota, best known for his work at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, as well as two smaller venues.


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Supreme Court stuns experts with 7-2 ruling in Trump tax case

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In a 7-2 decision that surprised many court observers, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that President Donald Trump cannot block a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney seeking his tax returns.

"Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding. We reaffirm that principle," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision.

The court sent the case back to lower courts for further proceedings. Axios described the ruling as "a stinging loss for Trump, who has fought relentlessly to keep these records secret."

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GOP has all but given up on containment — instead they’re feeding Americans to the ‘coronavirus meatgrinder’: op-ed

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Writing in The Week this Thursday, Ryan Cooper says that as the coronavirus continues to spike across the country, Republicans have essentially abandoned efforts to stem the spread. "Instead they are feeding the American people into the coronavirus meatgrinder," he writes.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is focused on protecting companies from liability if they infect their employees or customers, while President Trump threatens to cut off funding from schools that don't open in the fall.

"For months now Republicans have been positing a tradeoff between pandemic containment and the economy, as if we just cancel the lockdowns then everything can go back to normal," Cooper writes. "What they stubbornly refuse to understand is that the virus is the problem. As we are seeing, even in this benighted country a critical mass of people will not go about their normal activities if they are afraid of catching a dangerous disease. Similarly, Sweden did not officially lock down, and as a result it has suffered six-12 times as many deaths as its Scandinavian neighbors — yet its economy took just as bad a hit as theirs. Now that Norway, Denmark, and Finland have contained the virus and are reopening safely but many Swedes are still staying home, the economic damage will be even worse in relative terms."

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Mask-free UFC fighter punches and hurls racial slurs at older man for ‘touching’ him at restaurant

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UFC fighter Mike Perry was seen on video punching an older man for allegedly touching him. Perry, who is white, can also be heard using the N-word multiple times.

According to ESPN, the incident occurred at Table 82 in Lubbock, Texas on Wednesday.

In a video shared on social media, Perry appears irate as he is ushered out of the restaurant.

Austin police officers who arrived on the scene declined to arrest Perry but said that an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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