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by Euro Reporter
2009-11-05 08:07:32
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Deutsche Bahn offers €20-ticket for Wall fall anniversary

Deutsche Bahn on Wednesday announced a special €20-ticket in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – but they will only be available for a limited time. The Mauerfall-Spezial, or “Wall-fall special,” can be purchased beginning on November 9 at 6:57 pm until 3 am the following day, the company said.

The timing mirrors the day and time of an East German press conference that announced the immediate lifting of travel restrictions for the country’s residents. The Berlin Wall fell hours later, speeding the collapse of the communist regime and German reunification a year later.

The offer, available online and select ticket offices, is valid for travel on the 20 days between November 12 and December 1, Deutsche Bahn said. No exchanges or refunds will be allowed, and tickets are limited to available space on trains.

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Bare skin bear

Three stressed-out bears in the Leipzig zoo are shedding their fur, leaving them virtually naked as temperatures creep towards freezing, said the zool. The female Spectacled Bears, Dolores, 15, Lolita, 11, and Bianca, 15, are losing hair from their heads, legs and parts of their backs. Daily Bild reported late Tuesday that the animals appeared to be suffering a little-understood genetic defect that causes them to lose their fur when stressed.

"It’s possibly the result of a power struggle. But there isn’t a final diagnosis – and unfortunately no cure for it." An anonymous source told the paper. The animals, which are native to South America and are also known as Andean bears, suffer from itchy skin, which is being treated with skin ointments. “(The hair) hasn’t completely gone, so the animals are scratching themselves. Germs seep in and the inflammation must with be treated with ointment,” the source said.

“Anyone with psoriasis or skin allergies can imagine how the bears are suffering. There is only treatment, no cure.” Leipzig Zoo spokesperson Melanie Ginzel confirmed Bild’s report. “They have been suffering from this for a few years now and are in treatment. It goes through different phases of intensity,” she said. Despite the nasty autumn weather setting in, the bears are comfortable, Ginzel said.

“The bears are allowed to move where they please, and have a warm interior enclosure they can go to any time,” she said. “I saw one of them outside for a bit today but it’s raining pretty hard and she went back inside directly. According to Ginzel, an international symposium is researching the mysterious problem, but so far there have been no conclusions. “We are not the only zoo to have this problem in the world," she said. "The bears are living with it.”

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The sex-video blackmail plot

A former motor mechanic was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on Tuesday for trying to blackmail BMW heiress and Germany’s richest woman, Susanne Klatten, out of €800,000 over purported sex tapes. The 43-year-old is the second to be jailed over separate blackmail attempts on Klatten, 47, who is married and owns a large chunk of BMW.

The Munich court gave three accomplices, aged between 33 and 46, suspended sentences of between 12 and 20 months for helping the man. The lead blackmailer, from the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, had in July of this year claimed to have videos of Klatten and her former lover, the “Swiss gigolo” Helg Sgarbi. Sgarbi was himself jailed for six years in March for his own attempt to extort millions of euros from of Klatten.

The blackmailer sentenced on Wednesday admitted to having sent letters and making phone calls to Klatten demanding the money in return for the videos, with help from the 46-year-old accomplice. In fact, the men had no videos.


   
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