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French minister backs police chief after officer violence at migrant camp clearing | World News

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A French minister has backed the Paris police chief after clashes at the dismantling of a migrant camp in the capital this week. 

An investigation is under way after pictures were posted on social media showing police officers hitting demonstrators on Monday.

It happened while officers were moving to clear out tents.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin called the images “shocking” and said the officers who carried out the violence would be punished.

A lawyer holds a flare as he demonstrate to show support for asylum seekers, and to denounce police violence and an unwelcoming policy towards migrants in France, after clashes sparked when French police cleared out a new migrant camp at Place de la Republique in Paris, France, November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Demonstrators protest the clearing of the migrant camp in Paris on Monday

He told France 2 television: “I reaffirm my confidence in the police prefect [Didier Lallement]… I am not going to blame all police officers who intervened in this square, nor the prefect of police for the actions of a few of them.”

Protesters were seen waving flags and carrying placards denouncing police violence at further protests on Tuesday.

France has moved towards a tougher stance on illegal migration in recent years amid rising numbers of arrivals.

Most have come from countries in the Middle East following instability in the region.

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The Investigation: Why the story of Kim Wall’s submarine murder ignores her killer | Ents & Arts News

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On 16 January 2018, more than five months after the man who murdered and dismembered journalist Kim Wall’s body was arrested, authorities were finally able to charge him.

In a case that had become known around the world as the “submarine murder”, that charge was the result of a painstaking, dogged investigation by police in Denmark.

Officers knew from the start they had the right suspect but faced a near impossible task to find what they hoped would provide the grim proof – Ms Wall’s body parts sunken somewhere at the bottom of the waters of the Koge Bay.

Kim Wall had travelled extensively to report on social and economic issues
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Kim Wall was a talented journalist who had been on assignment when she was murdered

After boarding the homemade submarine UC3 Nautilus on the evening of 10 August the previous year, the 30-year-old Swedish journalist, who had gone to the vessel to interview its owner, was never seen alive again. At 11am on 11 August, the sub foundered and its creator was rescued at sea, alone.

The details of what happened next have been well documented, with the case making international headlines almost immediately. But those headlines told one side of the story, with many focusing on the “eccentric” killer and his background: what had driven him to such a gruesome crime?

Now, in a gripping account of the police’s Herculean efforts to get a conviction, the other side is being told in new drama, The Investigation. The series is written and directed by Tobias Lindholm, one of the co-creators of the critically acclaimed Danish drama Borgen and who more recently worked on FBI criminal psychology drama Mindhunter.

“The case was covered widely in both local and international press and the coverage focused a lot on the fascination or the scare or the thrill of the crime that slowly showed itself,” Lindholm tells Sky News.

“What had happened out there? And it became like a – at least locally, but in some international media as well – kind of an obsession with this crime and with the perpetrator, since he had some sort of interesting background story and since it happened in a homebuilt submarine. I mean, there was a lot of elements that were easy to be fascinated by. So we were, all of us, fascinated.”

Lindholm says his thoughts about the case were consumed by how Ms Wall’s loved ones – her parents, the boyfriend she had been due to move to China with just days after her murder – must be feeling seeing the non-stop coverage. “Why are we so obsessed with this terrible, gruesome act?”

In an unrelated meeting with Jens Moller, then head of homicide for Copenhagen police, he learned what had gone on behind the scenes; the meticulous investigation by detectives and prosecutors, the physically draining work of the divers who spent months searching the dark seabed in freezing temperatures; the cadaver dogs from Sweden and scientists analysing currents and wind speeds and directions, who eventually were able to successfully pinpoint the best locations to search.

Jens Moller (SOREN MALLING) in The Investigation. Pic: BBC / misofilm & outline film / Per Arnesen
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Jens Moller is played by Soren Malling, who starred in Scandi noir drama The Killing. Pic: BBC/misofilm & outline film/Per Arnesen
Danish Police investigator Jens Moller Monday evening Aug. 21. 2017 in front of the Police Head Quarter, Politigaarden, Copenhagen, Denmark. The police received Monday a notification of a female in the water south of southwest Amager. Pic: AP
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The real Jens Moller, pictured giving a statement in the days following Ms Wall’s death

Meeting Mr Moller gave Lindholm “a very different story”, he says. “A story about human sacrifice, a story about people who put their own life on pause to solve this case, a story about friendship and grief and victory and all these elements that were never even touched in the press.

“And then Jens told me one thing that became very key: he told me that he had never interrogated the perpetrator himself. He had other investigators to do that and then he will analyse the answers, come up with new questions, but never go in there, into the room. And with him saying that I realised that I could make not a true crime show, but a show we could call true investigation.”

So The Investigation, a six-part BBC2 series with a generic title – “we probably could have come up with more fascinating titles, that would point more directly to the crime, but I liked the idea that we would just… be very dry about it” – does not feature Ms Wall’s murderer at all.

He never appears on screen, his name is never uttered, there is no time devoted to his account of what happened, which changed constantly in the months following his arrest. First, he had dropped the journalist off on land unharmed, then she had died accidentally, later he admitted dismembering her but not to killing her. However, we only hear this in the series from the police.

In an era where true crime shows dominate TV schedules, with much debate about the airtime focused on killers and their depravity, and failure to give victims a voice, it is a novel but no less watchable or compelling approach. Despite taking place in the waterway separating Denmark and Sweden, reminiscent of thriller series The Bridge, Scandi noir it is not.

The series starts pretty much “when the case lands on Jens Moller’s table”, Lindholm says. “And by making that decision and by not using flashbacks, I would liberate myself from all of that… with the decision of never meeting, never hearing and never mentioning the perpetrator, but only letting him be a source of confusion in the investigation.

“That’s three decisions that already by just making [them], I would liberate myself from the burden of genre convention.”

The Investigation. Pic: BBC / misofilm & outline film
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The series shows the hours spent searching the sea. Pic: BBC/misofilm & outline film

Mr Moller is played by Soren Malling, who also starred in another Scandi noir favourite, The Killing. He is the hero of the piece, albeit with no fuss or sensation, just a portrayal of a determined, efficient officer who gets the job done, even when the search seemed futile.

“We won’t be able to say what would have happened, if…” says Lindholm. “But I do believe that Jens Moller’s stubbornness and his honesty and his pledge towards [Ms Wall’s parents] Ingrid and Joachim made him just continue, even though a lot of people would have stopped or at least would have started to use very fewer resources on this.

“The divers’ efforts… it’s just amazing. And if you look at the area that they cover, and if you understand that it’s dark, you can only see one metre in front of you and there you are on the bottom of the ocean, going 100 metres in that direction, then 100 metres back, then a new square to dive, then a new route. It’s just incredible. So, yeah, their work was second to none.”

The Investigation has, perhaps unusually, been made with the full backing of Ingrid and Joachim Wall. Lindholm had “not written a word” before meeting them and they were “part of the whole development”, not having complete control but reading scripts and suggesting changes when scenes weren’t quite right. Their real dog, Iso, even plays himself in the show, and they were behind the scenes for his days on set.

Their support is testament to how sensitively and truthfully they feel the story has been told, especially as it comes so soon after Ms Wall’s death. Lindholm says there was no question of making the series without their blessing.

Joachim Wall (ROLF LASSGARD), Ingrid Wall (PERNILLA AUGUST) in The Investigation. Pic: BBC / misofilm & outline film / Per Arnesen
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Joachim and Ingrid Wall are played by Rolf Lassgard and Pernilla August. Pic: BBC/misofilm & outline film/Per Arnesen

“I felt that the story Jens told me needed to be told right now, because we needed to be reminded of the quality of collective strength,” he says. “I feel that our time is full of break-ups and chaos and a culture that is more and more focused on the one person’s achievement.

“This case, with the details that Jens gave me… proved a world that is actually working. It proved a society that works, it proved the system does work, it proves that if we stand together, if people do their best, if we believe in society, if we believe in playing our part in society, we can succeed. And that would not have been as interesting to tell 10 years from now, because then it would have been a reflection on the world of yesterday. I needed it to be a reflection on the world today…

“Had I done a show about the perpetrator and had we done a story about the crime and being fascinated with it, I would say it’s way too soon. But had we done this show 10 years from now, I would say it was way too late. So in this case, by making it about the investigation in our time, proving and showing people a story that they didn’t know, a story that proved that our police officers, that our divers, that our system works, made it relevant and necessary to tell.

“That was the conversation I had with Ingrid and Joachim the first time I met them. They totally agree. Their reason to be in this is because they’re so grateful that all these people, you know, put their own life on pause and went out and actually [made] a difference. And hopefully the show shows how difficult it was. A difficulty and a battle that we don’t really know exists, but it did.”

Members of The Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) assist police at Kalvebod Faelled in Copenhagen on August 23, 2017 in search of missing bodyparts of journalist Kim Wall close to the site where her torso was found on, August 21
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Members of The Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) assisted police in the search of the sea

In one scene, Ingrid Wall, played by Pernilla August (Star Wars) is comforted by neighbours who bring flowers to her door.

“I had done another scene where [Ingrid] would go to the supermarket and everybody would look away, because I had an idea about Scandinavian society being cold and people not knowing how to reach out and be brave enough to touch each other,” says Lindholm. “I imagine the scene where she felt isolated, going out to a community and suddenly everybody looked away because they were scared that they would say the wrong thing…

“I sent that screenplay to them and Ingrid called me and said, ‘We like it, but you got something wrong. We never felt isolated. We only felt to be embraced and felt the love, the support, the help from our local community’.”

The script was changed. “As soon as I had written it, I could definitely see that it made more sense. I just didn’t have that idea, that was all Ingrid being honest. So they had helped me a lot.”

Following their daughter’s death, the Walls, also journalists themselves, set up the Kim Wall Memorial Fund awarding grants to young female journalists; the legacy of her work which often told the stories of those who weren’t able to do so themselves.

A heart-shaped memorial, created from stones and pebbles on the beach, also features in the series. “I wanted to recreate one on another beach and Ingrid insisted that we would film that one, because she wanted the people who had done it back then to understand how much it meant to them.”

Lindholm is still in contact with the couple daily, he says. “I think Ingrid and Joachim enjoyed coming to set and then feeling, seeing it and understanding how serious we were about their story. They felt comfortable about that.”

It seems crass to talk about spoilers in a story such as this but, without giving too much away, there is a speech given by Ingrid Wall at the end of the series. The couple were on set to see August deliver it.

Jakob Buch-Jepsen (PILOU ASBAEK) in The Investigation. Pic: BBC / misofilm & outline film / Henrik Ohsten
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Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen is played by Game Of Thrones and Borgen star Pilou Asbaek. Pic: BBC/misofilm & outline film/Henrik Ohsten

“I wrote that together with Ingrid,” says Lindholm. “I asked her, what do you want… If you could get the last word in this whole story, in this whole media circus, what do you want to say?”

“When we shot that scene, I had Ingrid and Joachim by my monitor… that was kind of an interesting and, for me, emotionally challenging experience. But I think that Ingrid and Joachim were probably the coolest of us all. They are very realistic, and very aware of the choices they make, and they are very responsible to watch each other. I never felt them struggling on set.

“I definitely felt that once in a while, while we were writing and while I was, not interviewing, but talking to them about different ways and the whole preparation, I could feel that we needed to go through a conversation that wasn’t nice to have, but it was never an emotional, brutal experience at all. They are very strong and they’re very realistic about their own situation.”

It must be strange and difficult to see your real life portrayed as a drama on screen, especially under such unthinkable circumstances. But the Walls feel proud, says Lindholm. Proud of their daughter, whose award-winning investigative journalism is highlighted in the show, and proud that those involved in bringing her killer to justice are now being celebrated.

“They feel that it is what it should be, a celebration of the unsung heroes, the ones that helped them through the darkness, the ones that brought their daughter back home, the ones that, you know, without getting rich or getting famous off it, just did a tremendous job to help them,” says Lindholm.

“I believe Joachim said to me that he felt it was very close to a documentary in the sense of how realistic and how precise it is in the descriptions.

“Remember, it’s not a story about Kim, it’s not a story about Ingrid and Joachim, it’s a story about Ingrid and Joachim’s life when it crosses the investigation. But they, together with Jens and [prosecutor] Jakob Buch-Jepsen, who’s played by Pilou [Asbaek, Game Of Thrones], all feel that it’s very honest and very accurate and all feel proud that we did it this way.”

Danish inventor Peter Madsen is on trial for the murder of journalist Kim Wall
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Ms Wall’s legacy lives on in a memorial fund set up to provide grants to young female journalists

On 25 April 2018, following a trial, Ms Wall’s murderer was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Sky News covered the case extensively. For those who didn’t follow it, through Sky News or elsewhere, his name is easy enough to Google. Writing this article about the series raised the question of whether or not his identity, just as in the show, could be ignored when it is clearly so public.

Taking Lindholm’s final thoughts, it was easy to decide.

“I hope that fiction more than anything offers the opportunity to be somebody else for a while,” he says. “In this case, we are given the opportunity to be Jens Moller, to be Ingrid and Joachim. I do believe that… being in their perspective for these six episodes can change our perspective of the world.

“Maybe we realise the responsibility we have as media consumers: what do we click on, how do we treat cases like this, and what are we fascinated by? Hopefully, it can challenge the convention that the killer, almost by nature, is fascinating or interesting. And hopefully it will inspire us to see that together, we can achieve great things.”

The Investigation starts on BBC Two on 22 January and will also be available on iPlayer

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COVID-19: Japan denies claims that Olympics are going to be cancelled, as report says Tokyo may host in 2032 | World News

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Japanese officials have denied claims the Tokyo Olympic Games are being cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 Games have already been delayed once, with the opening ceremony currently scheduled for 23 July this year.

But according to The Times, local officials have conceded the event cannot happen because of COVID-19.

The Olympic Symbol is reinstalled after it was taken down for maintenance ahead of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the Odaiba section Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
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The current opening ceremony is scheduled for 23 July 2021

“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult. I don’t think it’s going to happen,” a senior member of the ruling coalition told the newspaper.

The report claims that Japan is vying to host the Olympics in 2032 instead, with 2024 already awarded to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles.

But in public, both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the board in Tokyo insist the Games will go ahead this year.

“All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the IOC and the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) are fully focused on hosting the Games this summer,” a statement said on Friday.

“We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure Games.”

IOC president Thomas Bach also told the Japanese Kyodo news agency on Thursday: “We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games will not open on 23 July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.”

There is “no plan B”, he added.

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Tokyo has already spent £18.2bn organising the Games, with most of the funds derived from the public purse.

But with a state of emergency declared in response to rising coronavirus cases in the city and surrounding areas this month, there is a chance it may all go to waste.

Public opinion has also turned against the Games, with 80% of those polled recently saying they should be postponed or cancelled.

The Games would involve 11,000 athletes, tens of thousands of coaches, as well as officials, judges and broadcasters. A decision on whether fans should attend is yet to be made.

A further 4,400 athletes are due to take part in the Paralympic Games on 24 August.

But with COVID-19 vaccines being slow to roll out in Japan, organisers would have to rely on testing, social distancing and isolation to keep the Games afloat.

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President Joe Biden urges Americans to wear masks – and says it could save 50,000 lives | US News

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Joe Biden has warned that the fight to bring coronavirus under control in the US is a “wartime undertaking” – devoting much of his first full day in office to tackling the pandemic.

The new president signed 10 executive orders on Thursday that are designed to ramp up testing, tackle vaccine shortages, and increase mask wearing nationwide.

More than 406,000 people have died as a result of COVID-19 in the US, and more than 24.5 million cases have been confirmed – with 4,367 fatalities confirmed in the past 24 hours.

Joe Biden signs an executive order as part of his administration's plans to fight the coronavirus disease
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Mr Biden signed 10 executive orders concerning the coronavirus pandemic

Mr Biden has described the rollout of vaccines in the US as a “dismal failure so far”, and vowed to expand vaccine manufacturing in the coming weeks.

He also made a personal plea to the American people – telling them that experts believe more than 50,000 lives could be saved if the public wear masks for the next 99 days.

In other developments on Thursday:
• Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert, suggested that coronavirus cases may be about to hit a plateau in the country
• New figures showed that a variant of COVID-19 first detected in the UK has now spread to at least 20 states
• Mr Biden said the US will back a global plan to get vaccines to poorer countries
• The new administration announced it will reinstate entry bans on most non-American citizens who have recently been in Brazil, the UK, Ireland and most of Europe
• The president’s top adviser on the pandemic said the US will once again contribute funding to the World Health Organisation – reversing Donald Trump’s plans to pull out
• Authorities in California, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and Hawaii warned COVID vaccine supplies were running out – with New York City starting to cancel appointments

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Dr Fauci: It was ‘uncomfortable’ working for Trump

Mr Biden has pledged to provide 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine during his first 100 days in office – and intends to open up eligibility to new groups including teachers and supermarket workers.

After being sidelined by Mr Trump, Dr Fauci returned to the White House briefing room on Thursday – adding that it was “liberating” to serve under a science-friendly administration.

He told reporters: “One of the new things in this administration is, if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Just say you don’t know the answer.”

Later today, Mr Biden will begin calls with foreign leaders – starting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But Downing Street has said it is unable to confirm when Boris Johnson will be in contact with the US president for the first time since he entered the Oval Office.

President Joe Biden has wasted little time in unveiling a plan to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
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President Joe Biden has wasted little time in unveiling a plan to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Analysis: What a difference a day makes
By Dominic Waghorn, diplomatic editor

What a change in tone – just one day into Joe Biden’s new administration.

War on science under Donald Trump has been replaced with an all-out war on the virus.

Cue the return of Dr Fauci – Dr Doom and Gloom, according to the former president’s team. To everyone else, he is the man best qualified to tackle the pandemic.

Dr Fauci’s insistence on scientific fact was so infuriating to Donald Trump that he was banished from giving briefings in the end.

He’s now centre stage as the Biden administration battles to bring the runaway virus to heel.

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How Biden’s inauguration day went

At the White House, he told reporters it felt “liberating” to “get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence and science is, and know that’s it – let the science speak”.

Dr Fauci smiled as he downplayed his frustrations with Mr Trump. It had been “uncomfortable” to watch the president recommend miracle drugs like hydroxychloroquine, he said.

It must have been excruciating.

Donald Trump seemed to resent Dr Fauci’s star status back in the spring.

The Trump administration’s Cnutian denial of scientific fact in the face of such a devastating pandemic will surely be one of its most shameful records.

Dr Fauci has three decades’ experience dealing with infectious disease outbreaks.

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Bidens watch fireworks from White House

Instead of drawing on this expertise, Mr Trump fulminated that the doctor was probably a Democrat and allowed his staff to issue a dossier smearing his record – sidelining him and his unique expertise.

The doctor’s relationship with the new president seems a lot healthier.

“Everything we do will be based on science and evidence,” he’s been promised. What an idea.

We won’t see a president spouting quack remedies like disinfectant injections and night after night digging himself deeper and deeper into a pit of medical ignorance.

Instead, we will have clinical factual briefings with a man who knows more than any other about one of the gravest-ever threats to the US.

Dry and boring? In contrast with the antics of the outgoing president most probably. But most Americans will probably take boring right now if it starts saving more lives.

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