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Satirical Weekly Charlie Hebdo Mocks Chancellor Angela Merkel in First German Edition, almost 2 Years after Islamist Militants attacked its top Editorial Staff in Paris

The magazine is known in France for ridiculing political and religious leaders

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The first issues of the German version of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo are for sale at a newsstand in Berlin, Dec. 1, 2016. VOA

The first German edition of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo hit the news stands on Thursday, with a front page lampooning Chancellor Angela Merkel, almost two years after Islamist militants attacked its top editorial staff in Paris.

The magazine also picked on another symbol of post-war German might — Europe’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen, still struggling to recover from its diesel emissions scandal.

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“VW backs Merkel,” reads the headline, with a picture showing a VW mechanic fixing 62-year-old Merkel on a hydraulic lift, saying: “A new exhaust pipe and you’ll run for another four years.”

Merkel announced last month she would stand for a fourth term in elections next year.

Launch posters showed Merkel sitting on the toilet reading the magazine, with the slogan: “Charlie Hebdo. It’s liberating.”

The magazine, known in France for ridiculing political and religious leaders, became a symbol for the freedom of expression after two militants broke into an editorial meeting at its Paris office in Jan. 2015 and killed 12 people.

The Islamists accused the magazine of blasphemy for printing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

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Some German customers said they were buying the magazine as a gesture of solidarity.

“For me, this is more a feeling that I support this and I want it to continue now that it has just started,” said Tim Wuennemann.

An initial run of 200,000 will be printed in Germany — twice the circulation of the country’s current best-known satirical magazine, Titanic. Some of its contents will be original, some translated from the French.

The boundaries of satire were tested this year when Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan took legal action against German comedian Jan Boehmermann for broadcasting a satirical poem suggesting the president engaged in bestiality and watched child pornography. (VOA)

 

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Ethiopia to Renew Safety Questions After Devastating Plane Crash

The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it

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FILE - Workers service an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane at the Bole International Airport in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 26, 2017. VOA

Investigators rushed to the scene of a devastating plane crash in Ethiopia on Sunday, an accident that could renew safety questions about the newest version of Boeing’s popular 737 airliner.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it.

In those circumstances, the accident is eerily similar to an October crash in which a 737 Max 8 flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on the plane.

Safety experts took note of the similarities but cautioned against quickly drawing too many parallels between the two crashes.

Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the similarities included both crews encountering a problem shortly after takeoff, and reports of large variations in vertical speed during ascent, “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem” with the Ethiopian jetliner.

ethiopia, plane crash
The Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. Pixabay

But there are many possible explanations, Diehl said, including engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes. He said Ethiopian has a good reputation, but investigators will look into the plane’s maintenance, especially since that may have been an issue in the Lion Air investigation.

By contrast, the Ethiopian Airlines CEO “stated there were no defects prior to the flight, so it is hard to see any parallels with the Lion Air crash yet,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” he said.

Boeing representatives did not immediately respond for comment. The company tweeted that it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew” on the Ethiopian Airlines Max airplane.

The Chicago-based company said it would send a technical to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.

A spokesman for the NTSB said the U.S. agency was sending a team of four to assist Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the Lion Air probe.

ethiopia, plane crash
The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it. Pixabay

Indonesian investigators have not stated a cause for the Lion Air crash, but they are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered an automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.

The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on four flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.

Days after the Oct. 29 accident, Boeing sent a notice to airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.

Pilots at some airlines, however, including American and Southwest, protested that they were not fully informed about a new system that could automatically point the plane’s nose down based on sensor readings. Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane, and that Boeing did not withhold operating details from airlines and pilots.

Diehl, the former NTSB investigator, said the Ethiopian Airlines pilots should have been aware of that issue from press coverage of the Lion Air crash.

ethiopia, plane crash
Safety experts took note of the similarities but cautioned against quickly drawing too many parallels between the two crashes. Pixabay

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max is the newest version of it, with more fuel-efficient engines. The Max is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

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Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes and has orders for more than 5,000. It is already in use by many airlines including American, United and Southwest.

The Lion Air incident does not seem to have harmed Boeing’s ability to sell the Max. Boeing’s stock fell nearly 7 percent on the day of the Lion Air crash. Since then it has soared 26 percent higher, compared with a 4 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. (IANS)