Germany Takes Steps To Guard Women Against Sexual Assault As They Ring In New Year

Fireworks light the sky above the Quadriga at the Brandenburg Gate shortly after midnight in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.

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Michael Sohn/AP

Thousands of party-goers are expected to see in the New Year at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate where an official party and firework display are planned. As usual, security will be tight with road blocks and an increased police presence of some 1, 600 officers. But this year, female revelers attending the open air event will also be able to access a women-only safety zone staffed by the German Red Cross.

The measures are being introduced by the police for the first time in Berlin because of concerns about sexual assaults.

Anja Marx, spokesperson for the organizers of the Berlin event, says a similar set-up worked very well at Oktoberfest in Munich this year, adding that psychologists would also be available in the safety zone.

Two years ago, hundreds of women in the city of Cologne reported being attacked and robbed by gangs of men while out celebrating New Year’s Eve on the square in front of the famous cathedral.

Police targeted migrants after many of the victims described the perpetrators as looking North African or Middle Eastern.

Although hardly any prosecutions were ever made, fears soon spread about the large number of refugees and migrants who had arrived in Germany in 2015. While many Germans initially supported Angela Merkel’s decision to allow asylum-seekers to come straight to Germany, the attacks on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and, on a smaller scale, in other German cities, heralded a change in public mood.

Consequently, Merkel’s conservative bloc lost more than a million voters to the anti-Islam, populist Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in the September election. The AfD is the first right-wing party to enter the Bundestag in more than half a century.

The issue of migration continues to cause tensions as Merkel struggles to build a coalition government.

Following the collapse in talks with the Green party and the libertarian Free Democrats, Merkel’s former coalition partner, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), have agreed to start negotiations next week.

But immigration will prove a major hurdle. The SPD are against Merkel’s conservative bloc’s proposal to introduce an annual upper limit on asylum-seekers. Both the SPD and Merkel’s Christian Democrats worry that a repeat of attacks on the scale of those that happened in Cologne two years ago could politically benefit the right-wing AfD party. Nonetheless, the move to set up a safety zone for female party-goers in Berlin is not welcomed by all, even from within Merkel’s own party.

Antonia Niecke, chairperson of the Christian Democrats’ youth wing in Hamburg, argues that safety zones for women assume that sexual assault is a given and, knowing that, questions how women can really be expected to enjoy New Year’s celebrations.

Criticism has also come from the German police, despite the fact that the safety zone has been set up by the capital’s own police force. Rainer Wendt, head of Germany’s police union, told a regional paper on Saturday that the apparent need for safety zones implies that public space is unsafe, indicating “the end of equality, freedom of movement and freedom of choice.” Wendt says women should feel safe everywhere.

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Emojis Of 2018: Bagels, Kangaroos, Redheads Are In. 'Frowning Pile Of Poo' Is Out

Dozens of new emojis are planned for 2018.

One of the most popular additions? Redheads.

Redheads are a step closer to becoming new emojis.


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Emojipedia

“People felt like they were getting left out,” says Jeremy Burge of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee. It’s part of the Unicode Consortium, which sets the international standards for emojis, among other things.

“Even though I don’t have red hair myself, that was the number one request we got for the last two years running. So I felt like I should step up and try and make that happen,” Burge tells NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered.

People with red hair, white hair and no hair at all are likely to see themselves represented in 2018.

Other contenders include:

A softball. It’s “differentiated from a baseball by size (it is larger, though hard to tell in emoji form) and color (yellow, not white),” according to Emojipedia, a website devoted to every minute change that has happened to the 2,600 emojis over the years.

A kangaroo.

This one is called “Face With Smiling Eyes And Party Horn And Party Hat.”

A bagel emoji. No word on cream cheese, though.

Sixty-seven emojis made the initial list of new additions, but since then, the number has been winnowed down by three.

The three emojis that didn’t make the cut.


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Michael Everson was one of the impassioned commenters who helped kill the “Frowning Pile Of Poo.”

“Why do we need to send a picture of this!” he tells NPR. “It’s just offensive, needlessly offensive and pointless. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it isn’t good in any particular way.”

The final decision about the 2018 emoji list will be made at the Unicode Technical Meeting in January, according to Emojipedia, which Burge runs. Emojipedia writes that we can expect the new picks “to roll out on major platforms in the second half of 2018.”

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Tightest Security In Years At New Year's Celebrations In New York And Las Vegas

New York Police Department officers prepare for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Manhattan’s Times Square in New York.

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Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

New Year’s Eve celebrations are just hours away. And police departments around the country have been preparing for months for the celebrations. New York and Las Vegas, the sites of recent attacks, will see more security than they have in years.

It’s been three months since an attacker shot dead 58 people from a hotel window in Las Vegas.

“I understand that some people may be anxious in light of what happened on 1 October,” Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak told reporters. But he says the precautions “will bring an unprecedented level of security to the festivities.”

The local police department has doubled the number of rapid response teams in case of an incident.

“In previous years we had spotters in elevated position throughout the downtown area and the strip corridor,” said Las Vegas’s sheriff, Joe Lombardo. “This year, along with those spotters, they’ll be accompanied by snipers.”

The federal government has brought in additional medics and medical supplies as a precaution, he said. Revelers will not be allowed to bring backpacks, oversized purses, or strollers onto the strip.

There will be more than 300 National Guard troops, double the usual number. Some 15,000 police are deployed over three days. A federal coordination team will be on the ground to respond to any incidents. This is the only New Year’s Eve celebration in the U.S. that federal officials designated at the highest risk level.

On New Year’s Day, federal officials have also designated the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, Calif., with its highest risk designation, like Las Vegas. There’s a federal coordination team in place there, too.

Across the country, New York is preparing to welcome some 2 million people to chilly Times Square – lows tonight are at just 8 degrees.

“There are no credible and specific threats against New York City at this point in time, and no credible and specific threats against the New Year’s Eve celebrations,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent press conference.

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill says the party, which features performances from Neil Diamond and Mariah Carey, is going to have its tightest security in years. “The bottom line is this: there’s much the public will see, and there’s much the public will not see.”

The police department is closing to traffic more than 20 blocks around Times Square – from West 37th Street through West 59th Street, and from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue.

In that area, they’re closing and sealing 125 parking parking garages and deploying uniformed detectives to every hotel. They’re going to be using dogs that are vapor wake, meaning they’re better at sniffing out explosives in moving crowds. And compared to previous years, they’ll have more snipers, more heavy weapons teams and bomb squad personnel, and more police on the ground.

Former commissioner Bill Bratton told NPR that about 6,000 police officers will be involved in securing New Year’s Eve events in New York, in addition to the police on their normal patrols.

There are also going to be some 1,000 surveillance cameras in the area, said James Waters of the department’s counterterrorism bureau.

He explained what party-goers will see as they enter the heavily guarded Times Square perimeter, marked by cement blocks and city vehicles. They’ll pass a vapor wake dog. Then, “they’ll go through a magnetometer or they will be wanded for weapons. Then at some point they’ll come through a table where they’ll have their bags inspected.”

Then, they will repeat this entire process in a security pen, he says, before entering the celebrations.

Despite recent attacks in New York, the NYPD is vowing that tonight, Times Square will be the safest place in the world.

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New Year's Celebrations Kick Off Across The Globe

Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017.

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David Moir/AP

Over 26 hours and across 39 time zones, the world is celebrating the end of 2017.

New Year’s celebrations kicked off in Samoa, Christmas Island and New Zealand as those countries were the first where the clock struck midnight. Here in the U.S., many events are set to occur under heightened security, including in Las Vegas, which is still reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s modern history three months ago.

In Australia, revelers in Sydney Harbour already celebrated the new year with a rainbow display of fireworks and lights to honor recently passed legislation legalizing gay marriage in the country.

People across Asia rang in the new year, as many Japanese assembled at Shinto shrines to take part in traditional prayers for peace and good fortune. People at Tokyo’s Zojoji Temple took turns hitting a giant bell 108 times at midnight, an annual practice conducted at other Japanese temples.

An entertainer performs during New Year’s Eve celebrations on Dec. 31, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the first major countries in the world to ring in the New Year.

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Dave Rowland/Getty Images

In Beijing, merrymakers braved frigid temperatures as they counted down to the new year at Yongdingmen Gate, a reconstructed version of the Ming dynasty-era gateway. Police in the Philippines reported that scores of people were injured by firecrackers in raucous celebrations hours before midnight.

The new year is still hours away in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of people have already started funneling through tight security in New York’s Times Square, where police expect nearly 2 million people to gather for the New Year’s Eve ball drop at midnight.

In Boston, organizers cancelled a parade and fireworks over the Boston Common as forecasters predicted temperatures to plummet below freezing on Sunday night.

Residents in fox makeup participate in the Oji Fox parade to thank the outgoing and welcome the incoming year at the Oji Inari shrine in Tokyo late on Dec. 31, 2017.

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Toshifumi Kitamura /AFP/Getty Images

Here are highlights from New Year’s Eve celebrations set to occur across the planet:

  • In Scotland’s capital, organizers of the popular Edinburgh Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations say the event will go on as planned despite a major windstorm with gusts expected to reach 80 mph, according to the BBC.
  • Thousands of Ugandans are gathering at churches and along the shores of Lake Victoria to usher in the new year. Police discouraged partygoers from burning car tires in lieu of real fireworks, according to the Associated Press.
  • On Sunday, about 100 people gathered outside of an Istanbul nightclub, which was the site of an attack last New Year’s that killed 39 people and wounded 79 others.

A man leaves a carnation outside Reina nightclub as people have gathered to remember the victims of a deadly New Year’s attack a year ago, in Istanbul, Sunday Dec. 31 2017.

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Emrah Gurel/AP

  • Moscow is preparing to celebrate the new year with fireworks and outdoor gatherings, despite rainy weather and cloudy skies.
  • In Berlin, thousands are expected to gallivant along what is known as “Party Mile” leading from Brandenburg Gate. Celebrations throughout Germany will occur under heightened security after the widespread sexual abuse of women in Cologne two years ago and a terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market last year that killed 19 people.

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1 Officer Dead, 5 Others Wounded In Shooting South Of Denver, Police Say

The Douglas County Sheriff’s office south of Denver is tweeting that five police officers were shot and one is confirmed dead after responding to an active situation on Sunday morning.

The officers were shot while responding to a domestic disturbance call at the Copper Canyon Apartments shortly before 6 a.m., according to the Sheriff’s office. Two civilians were also injured.

**Copper Canyon OIS Update**- Deputies responded to a domestic disturbance resulting in shots fired. 5 deputies shot by suspect. 1 deputy confirmed deceased. 2 civilians also shot by suspect. Suspect shot & believed to be dead & no longer a threat. #CopperCanyonOIS

— DC Sheriff (@dcsheriff) December 31, 2017

The Sheriff’s office reports that the suspect has been shot dead and is believed to no longer be a threat.

“We have multiple officers down,” said Deputy Jason Blanchard of the incident in Highlands Ranch, Colo., about 15 miles south of Denver. “We are not giving numbers or status at this point, we are still working on getting the suspect in custody.”

A Code Red was sent out regarding this incident. Any citizens in the affected area are instructed to shelter in place, avoid windows and stay away from exterior walls. pic.twitter.com/RgutCEqgJA

— DC Sheriff (@dcsheriff) December 31, 2017

A SWAT team is on the scene, according to a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s office, and a major highway south of the city was shut down.

The Sheriff’s office tweeted that “due to the size and scope of this investigation an emergency shelter has been set up” at a nearby recreation center. In a “code red” alert, the sheriff’s office told residents to shelter in place, avoid windows and stay away from exterior walls.

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It's Never Too Early To Celebrate The Music Of 2018

Dessa’s new album, Chime, comes out Feb. 23.

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NPR Music has spent the past few weeks hashing out the best albums and songs of 2017, with a bountiful assortment of lists, discussions, essays and roundups that attempt to make sense of a chaotic and exciting year in music. But we’re also mere days away from what promises to be a tumultuous and fascinating 2018.

The new year should bring hotly anticipated albums from Jack White, Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX, Vampire Weekend, Cardi B, Major Lazer, Arctic Monkeys, My Bloody Valentine and many others. For this admittedly very early preview, Ray Suarez and I highlight a few songs you can already hear from intriguing albums due out in 2018: Rhye returns Feb. 2 with a new album of mysterious and seductive bedroom pop, titled Blood; Lucy Dacus leads off her new album Historian, out March 2, with a stunner of an epic breakup song; Dessa stole The Hamilton Mixtape, appeared on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s benefit single for Puerto Rico, and returns with Chime on Feb. 23; and Khruangbin is a trio from Texas, but it pulls sounds from all over the world — especially the Middle East and Southeast Asia — on a record called Con Todo Del Mundo, due out Jan. 26.

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Toast Of The Nation 2018

Dayme Arocena’s performance at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest is featured in this year’s Toast of the Nation.

Robert Birnbach/2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

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Robert Birnbach/2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

NPR’s New Year’s Eve tradition returns in this year’s Toast of the Nation jazz party. Spirited and swinging, each hour of our annual all-night broadcast features a different live performance sure to get you ready for 2018.

Right now, you can enjoy all six hours of music any time of day or night — complete with festive Happy New Year messages throughout. Hosted by Christian McBride, it’s the perfect complement to your holiday festivities.

Hear John Scofield‘s Uberjam Band at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Dayme Arocena at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, Terence Blanchard at the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, the Herlin Riley Quintet at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York, selections from some of the best jazz Tiny Desk Concertsand performances from Blue Note venues around the world.

Listen To The Performances

  • John Scofield’s Uberjam Band

    Henry Hayes/Courtesy of Berklee College of Music

    John Scofield, guitar; Avi Bortnick, rhythm guitar/sampling; Andy Hess, bass; Louis Cato, drums.

    Set List:
    “Thikhathali”
    “Snap Crackle Pop”
    “Ideofunk”
    “Jungle Fiction”

    Toast Of The Nation 2018

    58:24

  • Dayme Arocena

    Robert Birnbach/2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

    Set List:
    “Eleggua”
    “Madres”
    “Lo Que Fue”
    “Valentine”
    “Maybe Tomorrow”
    “Angel”
    “Negra Caridad”
    “Mambo Na Ma”
    “La Rumba Me Llamo Yo”

    Toast Of The Nation 2018

    58:47

  • Terence Blanchard

    Henry Adebonojo/Courtesy of the artist

    Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Khari Allen Lee, saxophones; Kenny Barron, piano; David Pulphus, bass; Carl Allen, drums; Ravi Coltrane, saxophone.

    Set List:
    “Jackie In The Rain”
    “Deli To Soup Kitchen”
    “Electricity on MacDougal”
    “Isfahan”
    “Jackie’s Lament”
    “Florida Salsa”

    Toast Of The Nation 2018

    57:53

  • Herlin Riley Quintet

    Herlin Riley performs at a Christmas concert on Dec. 8, 2007, at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

    Erik Anestad/Wikipedia

    Set List:
    “Twelve’s It”
    “Profit Stop”
    “New York Walk”
    “Moody’s Mood For Love”
    “Tootie Ma”

    Toast Of The Nation 2018

    58:30

  • Best Of Jazz Tiny Desk Concerts

    Mito Habe-Evans/NPR

    Set List:
    Esperanza Spalding, “Midnight Sun”
    Arturo O’Farrill, “In Whom”
    Gary Burton and Julian Lage, “The Tiny Desk Blues”
    Chick Corea and Gary Burton, “Love Castle”
    René Marie, “Colorado River Song”
    Robert Glasper Experiment, “The NPR Tiny Desk Jam”
    Ravi Coltrane Quartet, “In Three For Thee”
    Nate Smith and KINFOLK, “Skip Step”
    Trombone Shorty, “Do To Me”

    Toast Of The Nation 2018

    58:32

  • Blue Note Encore

    Zhang Dongdong

    Set List:
    Fred Hersch Trio, “Let’s Cool One” (Thelonious Monk)
    Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau, “The Oneness Of Two (In Three)”
    Buika, “Vivir Sin Miedo”
    Dee Dee Bridgewater Trio, “Cotton Tail”
    Ron Carter Quartet, “You And The Night And The Music”
    Dirty Dozen Brass Band, “It’s All Over Now”

    Toast Of The Nation 2018

    58:29

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In 'Green,' A Pre-Teen Wisens Up To His Privilege

It’s 1992. Your hair is gelled up, you’re sporting high-tops and maybe still listening to Run DMC on cassette.

That’s the setting for Sam Graham-Felsen’s Green, a new coming-of-age novel that’s also a look at race in America. It follows a friendship between two adolescent boys in Boston — one black and one white.

“The narrator is a 12-year-old boy named Dave Greenfeld,” Graham-Felsen says. “… He’s one of only three white kids in his entire middle school, and the last thing he wants is to also stand out for being Jewish. So he sort of gives himself a nickname, Green.”


Interview Highlights

On the thing Green describes as “the force”

So the first time Dave sort of comes up with this concept, he’s watching the news on the day of — or one of the days — of the LA riots, and there’s a particular moment during the LA riots where a guy named Reginald Denny, who was a trucker, was stopped at an intersection where there was a lot of rioting going on. He was pulled out of his truck and beaten, and he was a white guy and presumably targeted because of that. And Dave sees this on TV and he finds himself — even though he grew up in a very progressive household — he finds himself sort of rooting for this white trucker. And he feels kind of ashamed and embarrassed of it. And he says that what comes over him is something called “the force.”

The force is kind of this amorphous thing that intrudes on various aspects of life, and Dave is slowly starting to wake up and realize that the origins of the force are some pretty serious things, like institutional racism.

On being the chief blogger for Obama’s 2008 campaign and how it informed the book

I was helping to further the message of hope and change, and I really felt hopeful that an Obama victory would signal a sea change in America and would bring about real racial progress. I never thought we would turn into a post-racial country overnight, but when I saw the, sort of, enormity and swiftness of the backlash against Obama from the Tea Party, it really gave me pause.

I had the kind of idea [for the book] in my head as I was working on the Obama campaign, and then after the campaign I sort of felt more of a sense of urgency. I wanted to explore, you know, why is racism such an intractable problem in this country? And I realized, hey, you know, I have this fairly unique experience as a white kid who went to mostly black schools growing up, and maybe if I dive as deep as possible into my own past, I can kind of understand what happened to me better, and maybe a little bit better about what happened to my city, and even my country.

On political similarities between the 1990s and today

This book is set in 1992, and I felt like the early ’90s in some ways feel so similar to our current moment. There was the explosive incident of the LA riots, which followed the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King brutally on videotape. And you know, we’re seeing echoes of incidents like that all the time right now. There was a presidential election that was very racialized, where Bill Clinton famously threw rappers, including Sister Souljah, under the bus in order to appeal to the white working class. And obviously we had a highly racialized presidential election this time around as well. So I mean in some ways it was disheartening to deep dive into the ’90s and to see kind of how much things have stayed the same, but there’s also a lot of sort of cultural fusion going on, you know, through hip-hop, through the comedy scene. And that kind of cultural mixing gives me hope that the country just very, very slowly is trying to figure out how we can actually not just live together, but thrive together.

Sophia Schmidt and Ed McNulty produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Sydnee Monday and Patrick Jarenwattananon adapted it for the Web.

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