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food / travel

Last Call: Drunken Crowds Cram Munich’s Subway For Final Toast Before Alcohol Ban

A permanent alcohol ban went into effect Sunday for the S-Bahn, Munich’s subway system. The night before, thousands turned up for one last binge. Reporter Marco Marco Völklein shares his notes on this most unusual of underground parties.

Party's over...
Party's over...
Marco Völklein

Odeonsplatz station, 7:24 p.m

Two young girls are seated on the U4 headed towards Theresienwiese. Each of them holds a bottle of Piccolo sparkling wine in one hand and a smart phone in the other. "Hey, look, Sebastian's here already," one of them says. "Is something happening?" the other asks."No. Nothing. Shit!"

Stachus station, 7:40 p.m.

TV crews surround Bernhard Weisser, the head of the S-Bahn, Munich's subway system. "We're ready," he says into the microphones.

Outside Stachus station, 8:06 p.m.

Suddenly, several hundred young people gathered outside a hamburger joint move into action chanting "Jetzt geeeht's los, jetzt geeeht's los' (let's go!) to start the party. They also have some choice words for the MVV, the entity that runs the subway. TV cameras located at the bottom of the escalator film them swarming down onto the platform.

Stachus station, 8:11 p.m.

The kids are chanting "One more! There's room for one more!" But the train, at least this part of it, is full to bursting. There definitely isn't room for one more. In vain, the announcer keeps repeating: "Please use all doors to board." The next subway train is waiting in the tunnel. But the sheer mass of young people is preventing the train from leaving the station.

Hackerbrücke station, 9:40 p.m.

At the far end of the platform stands a young man with a handkerchief wrapped around his hand to stop the bleeding. Police officers are taking down his details. "You might say he, uh, turned off the lights," says another kid standing nearby, laughing maliciously. The train the two got off from is still standing in the station. Inside an open door, shards of glass are visible all over the floor.

Marienplatz station, 9:56 p.m.

An older couple is waiting for the S8 to Herrsching. The train rolls into the station, and the section they planned to board is stuffed with people. In fact, the whole train is bobbing because passengers inside are jumping up and down. "What should we do?" the distraught woman asks. "The next train's in 40 minutes." A subway security officer steps up, signaling to the driver to wait. "Come with me," he says to the couple. "There's room up front. And it's quiet there."

Ostbahnhof, platform 3, 10:54 p.m.

As a train approaches, the young people start shouting "All aboard, all aboard!" before jamming themselves into the same car. Some of them start playing around with the light fixtures. Subway security drag two of them off the train, and a loud argument ensues. "We aren't doing anything," the kids protest. "Material damage!" the subway people push back as they start taking details.

Ostbahnhof, platform 3, 11:06 p.m.

More conflict between security and partiers. "Tone it down," a federal police officer says to subway security. "You're just making it worse." A subway security man counters with "We've got a boss too."

Stachus station, 11:25 p.m.

S-Bahn head Weisser is standing on the platform. His mobile phone rings constantly. He looks exhausted. "We've taken emergency measures to relieve the main line." S1 and S6 have been rerouted. "We took two trains out of service because they were so heavily vandalized." That's what was causing the blockage on the main line. "Look, a subway train with no lighting is one subway train we can't run."

Stachus station, 11:46 p.m.

A young man, very drunk, drops his mobile phone as he gets on a train. It falls on the track. A security man stops traffic and retrieves the phone. He hands it back to the drunk man who, hugging the officer, says "You're my hero of the night."

Marienplatz station, 12:05 a.m.

On the S3 to Mammendorf, empty beer and sparkling wine bottles roll across the floor among discarded potato chip bags and cigarette butts. Every second light is out. "Will you look at this!" says a man who's dressed as if he's been to the opera. "And it stinks," says his wife. Indeed, the air is heavy with stale cigarette smoke.

Isartor station, 12:35 a.m.

On the S4 to Grafing, a woman in her mid-50s is collecting empties. She's already filled a carryall and two plastic bags. She bends down again and again, picking up scraps of paper and bottle caps that she pitches into the trash. "I can't stand it when it's dirty," she says. "I have to clean up, I can't help myself." She leaves the train with the empties. "They're good for at least 20 euros."

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

How October 7 Has Sabotaged Israel’s Tech And Spyware Sector

Hamas’ unprecedented attack last month reflected an intelligence failure for Israel, which raises questions about the country’s dominance on the global market for sophisticated espionage technology and other hi-tech offerings. Meanwhile, some of the best young Israeli coders have been called up for military service.

Two men look at various computer screens and point out details.

March 17, 2021, Haifa, Israel: The Israel Innovation Authority at stage one of eight in a two year plan to create a national mesh network of drones

Nir Alon/ZUMA
Elias Kassem

Beyond the horror and loss of human life wrought by Hamas, the collateral damage of the October 7 attack stretches into all corners of Israeli society. The complex, multi-front attack demolished Israel’s sense of security and military superiority in the face of Palestinian armed forces and other groups and countries in the region.

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But alongside the political, military and intelligence failures, the attack has been a blow to Israel’s thriving technology sector — notably its world-leading spyware — that will reverberate through the economy in the months and perhaps years to come.

The way Hamas fighters breached Israel’s defenses (pushing through a fortified border barrier, sneaking through the Mediterranean, or flying over the border) may have seemed rather low-tech. Yet the raid on more than 20 Israeli towns and army bases in southern Israel, and reported death count around 1,200, must make Israel’s spy agencies question its tools and methods.

“Hamas surprised us. It was both a military failure and an intelligence failure,” Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told The Hindu newspaper. “I can say that everything went wrong.”

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