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RACISM

Clooney’s ex is VIP guest at Opera Ball

George Clooney’s former girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis will be billionaire Richard Lugner’s celebrity guest at the Vienna Opera Ball on February 12th.

Clooney's ex is VIP guest at Opera Ball
Elisabetta Canalis. Photo: EPA/GEORG WENDT

Lugner has held true to his promise of avoiding scandal by inviting a woman with a more demure image than last year’s guest, Kim Kardashian, who made headlines after complaining that she experienced racism whilst in Vienna and called the whole trip a "nightmare".

Canalis, a 36-year-old Italian actress and model, has had roles in films such as Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo and Virgin Territory. She was linked with Hollywood star George Clooney from 2009 to 2011.

In Austria she is known as the face of Ferrero’s Giotto chocolates.

Lugner said that inviting Kim Kardashian last year had been a mistake as she had brought a TV crew with her to get footage for her show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and was constantly stopping to film. “It was a mess,” he said.

She was confronted by an Austrian comedian in full 'blackface' during the ball, who pretended to be her husband, rapper Kanye West.

Lugner’s previous VIP guests to the Opera Ball have included Harry Belafonte, Joan Collins, Sophia Loren, Sarah Ferguson, Jacqueline Bisset, Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton.

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RACISM

Deputy mayor of Hitler’s hometown to resign over racist poem

The far-right deputy mayor of Adolf Hitler's hometown, whose poem comparing migrants to rats sparked uproar, will step down, his Freedom Party (FPOe) said on Tuesday.

Deputy mayor of Hitler's hometown to resign over racist poem
Christian Schilcher, deputy mayor of the town of Braunau am Inn. Photo: AFP

The poem by Christian Schilcher, deputy mayor of the town of Braunau am Inn in Upper Austria, used the image of foreign rats integrating with Austrian ones to illustrate the dangers of “mixing” cultures and languages.

FPOe leader and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said that Schilcher would quit his job and leave the FPOe “in order to avert any damage to the party”.

The row overshadowed the FPOe's campaign launch ahead of European parliament elections next month.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has led a coalition between the FPOe and his own centre-right People's Party (OeVP) since late 2017, praised Strache's “clear actions”.

“The resignation of the deputy mayor of Braunau was the only logical outcome of this abominable and racist poem,” Kurz said.

Both Kurz's and Strache's parties have run on anti-immigration platforms but with May's elections looming Kurz has come under pressure to condemn outbursts from FPOe members.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPOe) said the coalition should be dissolved to protect “the country's image”.

“There has to be a democratic consensus that human beings cannot be denigrated, insulted or humiliated,” SPOe leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner said on Tuesday.

Strache himself was criticised last week for a Facebook post linking to a site which has published Holocaust denial and various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

The post was subsequently deleted.

Last week Kurz's predecessor as OeVP leader, Reinhold Mitterlehner, sharply criticised Kurz for the government's current direction, accusing it of scapegoating migrants and refugees.

In March the FPOe came under scrutiny for its ties to the nationalist Identitarian group, which received a donation from suspected New Zealand mosque attacker Brenton Tarrant.

After that episode Kurz demanded that the party break all ties with the Identitarians.