German novelists on the fall of the Berlin wall: It was a source of energy we lived off for years

Five German novelists recall the heady days of 30 years ago, and assess their legacy Heike Geissler: For the first few years, I fell into every single consumer trap put in my way Heike Geissler was born in 1977 in Riesa in the former German Democratic Republic. She is the author of four novels, most recently Red Love: The Story of an East German Family, won the European Book prize. Germans like anniversaries; they give such a clear shape to history. At these times you can simplify complicated things a bit, smooth out the contradictions. The GDR, which repeatedly comes back to life on these dates, long ago became a kind of museum country. These days hardly anybody wants to …

Who will be the new owner of democracy.com? Domain to go on sale

Sale is a sealed-bid auction, in which each potential buyer is blind to what others offer, but is expected to get $300,000 or more What is democracy worth? Later this month a broadly philosophical question will be put to a material test. On 25 October at 5pm, the web domain democracy.com goes up for auction. The site is currently administered by veteran social activist Talmage Cooley. The advertised price, according to $872m in 2015. But .com domains attached to prestige words are still going for big sums. In June, Voice.com DomainInvesting.com called the Voice.com purchase easily the largest domain name sale of the year and one of the largest pure domain name sales of all time. Fashion.com goes up for …

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar say they ‘see pathway’ to Brexit deal

Taoiseach convinced UK and Ireland want an agreement in interests of all parties Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar have agreed there is a pathway to a possible Brexit deal, surprising sceptical EU officials with their upbeat assessment after more than three hours of private talks. The British prime minister hosted his Irish counterpart at a country house in the north-west of England for talks on Thursday that had been expected to break down. But when the pair emerged from discussions they painted a more optimistic picture, suggesting the Brexit logjam could be broken by the end of the month. The pair issued a positive joint statement, although Varadkar said afterwards that while he believed the outline of a deal would …

How Extinction Rebellion put the world on red alert

The radical group has galvanised young and old. But in the year since it formed, what has life been like inside the movement? In the last week alone, members of Extinction Rebellion have been described as ecoradicals ignoring our economic doom (Times), a bloody mess (Daily Telegraph). They have been accused of tried to paint the Treasury red using 1,800 litres of fake blood and an old fire engine with a sign reading stop funding climate death. While its actions may seem controversial in some quarters, Extinction Rebellions rise and influence have undoubtedly been extraordinary, galvanising young and old across party lines. Last October, the journalist and activist George Monbiot introduced the group in the national press, a homegrown movement …

Outcry as Bolsonaro’s son questions value of democracy in Brazil

Carlos Bolsonaro, whose father is an admirer of Brazils former military dictatorship, accused of flirting with coup-mongering The rumbustious son of Brazils far-right president, he tweeted to his 1.3 million followers. That comment triggered an immediate outcry in a country that only emerged from two decades of dictatorship in 1985 and whose current leader is a notorious pro-torture admirer of that military period and other authoritarian regimes. Yes, Im in favour of a dictatorship, Jair Bolsonaro once told Brazils congress. The conservative Estado de So Paulo newspaper condemned Carlos Bolsonaros vile statement and demanded an urgent statement from his father on the matter. If this was just any old fruitcake publishing such freedom-destroying nonsense on the internet there would be …

Democrats try to tempt Trump on guns as Beto beats drum for AR-15 buyback

Pelosi and Schumer speak to president on gun control while Buttigieg and Paul offer contrasting criticism of ORourkes rhetoric Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Sunday offered Donald Trump a rare and highly symbolic bipartisan win if he can somehow force Republicans in the Senate to enact gun control legislation containing background check measures passed by the House this year. The House speaker and Senate minority leader said they would both join the president at the White House for a historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden, if he can get Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to act. That remains highly unlikely: close ties between Republican leaders and the gun rights lobby have led to legislative stasis on gun control …

David Koch obituary

US businessman, free marketeer and rightwing activist David Koch, who has died aged 79, was ranked as the eleventh richest person in the world. Charles wanted to minimise the role of government and maximise the role of the private economy … and personal freedoms, but the brothers philosophy was self-serving, protecting their worth and working against regulation of their business interests. David was the more public of the two, his philanthropy extending beyond the brothers massive spending on rightwing thinktanks, academic programmes, activist organisations and campaign funding; he was a major donor to the arts and medicine, especially in New York, where he maintained homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons. He moved between them, Aspen (Colorado), Palm Beach (Florida) and …

Wanda Vzquez: Puerto Rico swears in new governor after ousting predecessor

Puerto Ricos supreme court overturned the swearing-in of Pedro Pierluisi, who was appointed by disgraced Ricardo Rossell Puerto Ricos supreme court on Wednesday overturned the swearing-in of Pedro Pierluisi as the islands governor less than a week ago, clearing the way for the justice secretary, Wanda Vzquez, to take up the post after weeks of turmoil. Vzquez took the oath of office in the early evening at the supreme court before leaving without making any public comment. She became just the second woman to hold the office. I will continue to focus on helping our people regain their way in an orderly and peaceful fashion, she said in a statement in which she promised to assume the position with humility …

Sole to the highest bidder: Sotheby’s to auction rare Nike sneakers

Nikes famous Moon Shoe and limited-edition trainers produced by Kanye West, Air Jordan and Adidas will be sold Sothebys in New York has announced its first-ever auction dedicated to sneakers. The auction house will sell 100 pairs of the rarest sneakers ever produced, including a sample of one of the first Nike running shoes with a pre-sale high estimate of $160,000. The Nike Moon Shoe is one of only 12 pairs created. It was designed by Nike co-founder and track coach Bill Bowerman for runners at the 1972 Olympics trials and the pair up for auction is handmade, according to streetwear marketplace Stadium Goods, which is teaming up with Sothebys for the event. Other sneakers include 2011 and 2016 versions …

How war-shattered Aleppo is preserving its culture

Thousands of Aleppians are using a Facebook group to share their way of life before the Syrian war Going to the hammam was once a beloved ritual for Aleppo resident Atef Shikhouni and his friends. Recalling the boisterous, joyful experience, the 55-year-old wrote: Here is a man shouting, Where is the soap? while another one is asking for the shampoo and a third wants someone to rub his back. It becomes very noisy. After spending some time in the sauna, it is time for the rubbing man. He uses a rough loofah to rub my body mercilessly and I pray it will end without any damage. But that was before the outbreak of war in Syria. Today, the bath is …

PhotoEspaa: where glamour meets grit in pictures

The work of nearly 300 photographers and visual artists is on display at venues across Madrid and six other cities for this years festival USSR in Construction magazine, from the exhibition Avant-garde and Propaganda, Russian Books and Magazines from the Archivo Lafuente 1913-1941 at Crculo de Bellas Artes. International Womens Day march, Madrid, 2019 by Donna Ferrato. From the exhibition Holy at Crculo de Bellas Artes Among the many highlights is a comprehensive overview of photography projects by Stephen Shore, Josef Koudelka, Lewis Baltz, Sophie Ristelhueber and Raymond Depardon, who were officially commissioned to chart the changing landscapes of From the series Like by Eduardo Nave, at Galera Juan Sili Esauira, 2012 by Leila Alaoui from The Moroccans at Casa …

US briefing: Mueller report evidence, North Korea and Bannon’s return

Tuesdays top story: Watergate witness calls report a road map to investigating Trump. Plus, Warriors keep NBA hopes alive receive underlying evidence from Robert Muellers Russia investigation, a breakthrough in the standoff between Democrats and the justice department. The deal was announced on Monday, shortly before the former White House counsel John Dean a star witness in the Watergate investigation wrong person to defend and disseminate its findings? Kims assassinated half-brother was a CIA informant Kim Jong-nam, left, was the exiled half-brother of North Koreas leader, Kim Jong-un. Photograph: Shizuo Kambayashi, Wong Maye-E/AP Kim Jong-nam, un, was a CIA informant who had travelled to Malaysia to meet a contact from the US intelligence agency when he was assassinated at Kuala …

Could you give up flying? Meet the no-plane pioneers

Growing numbers of travellers are abandoning air travel to help save the planet even if it means spending 14 days on a train It has taken Roger Tyers four days to reach Moscow by train from Kiev. His destination is Beijing: a trip that will take 14 days, with a couple of overnight stops along the way. Tyers, an environmental sociologist at the University of Southampton, is on his way to China to research attitudes to the environment, the climate emergency and personal responsibility. Given that, I thought it would be somewhat hypocritical of me to fly, he says over Skype from his hostel room. It has been months in the planning he had to convince his bosses to give …

Ugg: kick in the guts as Aussie maker loses US trademark case

Sydney-based Eddie Oygur ordered to pay damages after footwear and apparel company Deckers puts its foot down The Australian ugg boot maker Eddie Oygur has suffered a $US450,000 ($A643,000) loss in his David versus Goliath legal fight with a major US footwear and apparel company. A jury in Chicago found Oygurs business, Sydney-based Australian Leather, wilfully infringed a trademark registered to California-based Deckers Outdoor by selling ugg boots online to customers in the US. After a four-day trial Oygur was ordered to pay Deckers statutory damages of $US450,000 and he may face an order to pay millions more in legal costs. Deckers generates more than $US1bn in annual sales from its UGG brands. Oygur argued ugg is a generic term …

A cold-water cure? My weekend with the Ice Man

Wim Hof claims cold-water immersion can help fight modern diseases. As outdoor swimming becomes ever more popular in the UK, photojournalist Jonny Weeks joined him for a weekend to experience it firsthand Look at this beautiful tree. An oak, Quercus robur. Its yelling at us, Helloooo! says Wim Hof, the doyen of cold endurance stunts, as we head across Hampstead Heath, north London, for a swim in one of the ponds. Soon hes catapulting himself into a gaping hole in its trunk, peeping out excitedly like a child. Here I am, talking to the tree, he beams. I see the tree has personality. I go in. We are one. Its alive. We are alive. Is that crazy? Bloody crazy! Yes …