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Authorities reject art project bid to rebuild Berlin Wall

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German authorities said Friday they were blocking a plan to rebuild part of the Berlin Wall for a massive film-art project in the German capital.

Citing security concerns and fire risks, Berlin city authorities said they would not grant a building permit to the “DAU” project by Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky, national news agency DPA reported.

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The plan had been to erect 900 concrete wall slabs, each 3.60 metres (about 12 feet) tall at a city block on Unter den Linden boulevard, for the 6.6 million euro ($7.7 million) event.

The walled-in “city within a city” was meant to have its own visa checks, and visitors to the parallel world would have had to apply online for entrance permits.

But the project sparked controversy, with critics labelling it a stunt hurtful to people who lived in communist East Germany.

Sabine Weissler, the councillor in charge of the Berlin district concerned, said there had not been sufficient time to obtain views from residents who could be affected by the project.

“It has not been possible for the organisation to guarantee that the event would be carried out safely,” she added. Building applications for such a major undertaking should be filed a year before construction is due to begin, she noted.

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The organisers had only put in their application at the beginning of August for a project to be launched on October 12 before ending with a ritualistic tearing down of the wall on November 9, the day of the historic event in 1989.


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China reports 323 new cases of mysterious virus — as death toll rises to 54

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The number of confirmed deaths from a viral outbreak in China has risen to 54, with authorities in hard-hit Hubei province on Sunday reporting 13 more fatalities and 323 new cases.

The latest numbers from Hubei, the epicentre of the contagion, would put the nationwide total of confirmed infections at 1,610, based on figures previously released by the central government.

President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China faced a "grave situation" as authorities raced to contain a respiratory illness that has caused the widespread abandonment of Lunar New Year celebrations nationwide and overwhelmed health facilities in Hubei.

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California offers to reimburse Trump for abortions — but he has to free the women from non-disclosure agreements

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The state of California is offering to reimburse President Donald Trump for any abortions he's paid for in the state, but there's a catch.

On Friday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a "notice of violation" against the state for mandating universal abortion coverage in health insurance plans sold in the state, which the administration claims is "unlawful discrimination."

“Once again, President Trump’s administration is delivering on his promise to protect human life and all Americans’ freedom of conscience,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

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2020 Election

Elizabeth Warren wins coveted Iowa caucuses endorsement from the Des Moines Register newspaper

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) received a coveted endorsement on Saturday evening when her 2020 bid was endorsed by the Des Moines Register newspaper.

"Who would make the best president at this point in the country’s history? At a time when the economic deck has become so stacked against working Americans that the gap between rich and poor is the highest in more than 50 years? At a time when a generation of war has stressed military families and sapped the treasury?" the newspaper asked. "The Des Moines Register editorial board endorses Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses as the best leader for these times."

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