Schumacher on Netflix: Insights into a fiercely guarded racer – but unanswered questions on recovery of stricken icon

The new Netflix documentary about Michael Schumacher seeks to lift the veil on the infamously private Formula One star, so why then does it feel like a carefully manicured piece which ultimately leaves more questions than answers?

The status surrounding the health of the seven-time world champion has remained one of the most closely guarded secrets in sports since the 2013 near-fatal skiing accident in the French Alps which extinguished the German’s role in public life and prompted his family to retreat – quite understandably – from the watchful glare of the world’s media.

Since then, almost nothing has filtered out. Occasional rumors traverse the sports pages, such as those from a year ago which suggested that Schumacher’s family were seeking stem cell therapy in a bid to improve his health (these have since been flatly denied), or the occasional tersely-worded updates from former Ferrari boss Jean Todt which told us that “Michael is fighting” and little else. 

But when it comes down to brass tacks, the Schumacher family’s pursuit of privacy is ultimately at odds with the very concept of a documentary and as such, it leaves the viewer with a solemn, rich history of his life in the fast lane but pulls its punches when it comes to any substantive disclosure of the past eight years of his life.

Schumacher was, and continues to be, a fiercely private man. Showcasing archived footage from his youth spent on the go-karting circuit, the documentary paints a picture of a supremely talented driver whose ultimate graduation to Formula One seemed inevitable. But when he arrived at the sport’s grandest stage where he was flanked by battle-worn drivers like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell, Schumacher expressed a desire to sidestep the limelight throughout his first seats with the Jordan and Benetton teams.

Schumacher’s talent, however, didn’t allow for this type of humility, particularly in the early years of the 1990s in what many F1 fans still see as among the sport’s golden eras. Senna, who would ultimately become the source of his own grim documentary some years later, is portrayed as a something of a puppet-master, particularly in early footage which shows him chewing the ear off of Schumacher soon after a particularly tense encounter on the racetrack. 

The German, though, was no marionette and eased into the type of professional rivalry Senna was apparently eager to create – something that the documentary states was a defense mechanism launched by the Brazilian when it seemed that this young German driver had arrived to succeed him.

As fate would have it, Schumacher ultimately won the fateful Grand Prix during which Senna lost his life in San Marino in 1994. It was as blunt a ‘changing of the guard’ as one can expect to see in professional sports, and something which affected Schumacher greatly. Footage is shown of a smiling Schumacher after his win and contrasted with a visible existential malaise of the risks inherent in the sport he loved when informed of Senna’s condition soon after.

For months afterwards, Schumacher says he was unable to rid himself of the thoughts of his own potential fiery demise on the track. 

Schumacher’s lust for success is plainly shown, and neatly summed up into two aspects of his character. The first is the exhaustive attention to detail which saw him spend countless hours with Ferrari mechanics as they attempted to coax a world championship performance from a machine that was anything but well-oiled – but the other portrays an element of Schumacher which has been forgotten by some; his win-at-all-costs approach. 

It was aspect of his persona which sometimes betrayed his better instincts. There was the infamous shunt with rival David Coulthard which the documentary had trouble explaining who was actually at fault (Coulthard, interviewed in the documentary, maintains it was Schumacher’s error) or the split second decision to sideswipe Mika Hakkinen. There was also a similar incident involving Schumacher and Damon Hill.

Some of these incidents cast a negative pall over Schumacher at the time, painting him as a vengeful driver and as someone who could not admit error unless confronted with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary – a point which is quickly glossed over in the near two-hour long film.

Schumacher pictured in 2012 – the star was a fierce competitor on the track. © Reuters

After spending the best part of an hour and forty-five minutes celebrating Schumacher’s legendary career, his world championships, his renaissance with Mercedes in 2010, the documentary eventually finds itself in the topic which the more voyeuristic elements of his fanbase are yearning for – but after painstakingly celebrating every element of Schumacher’s life and career, the film’s curiosity largely stops after 2013.

Promotional material for the documentary had, it turns out, said all we were going to hear about Schumacher’s condition for the past eight years with very little saved for the film itself. His wife, Corinna, admits that “Michael is here – different, but here” while son Mick – who is in his first season as a Formula One driver himself – admits that he would give everything up for a chance to talk shop with his father once again.

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These admissions are as close as we get to any forthright statement about Michael Schumacher – and, to be clear, that is his family’s absolute right. 

He will, it seems, remain sequestered in his family’s bosom indefinitely. It is a sad and incongruous conclusion to a life lived at 200mph, but a tell-all piece about Schumacher’s ill health would betray the manner in which we became to know him: that of a man famous for driving fast, taking risks and sidestepping media attention. 

‘Schumacher’ is a worthwhile monument to the man that bears its name; a portrait of an artist as a young man and nothing more. His latter life remains under lock and key, and anyone seeking more will find it to be a fruitless search.

And this it seems is non-negotiable. Michael Schumacher’s life is to be remembered for its heyday and everything else is a strictly private – a noble sentiment to be sure, even if it is at odds with the very concept of documentary filmmaking. 

By John Balfe 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Source: NEWS

German police detain 4, including a 16-year-old, after receiving reports of threat against synagogue

Police in the German city of Hagen announced on Thursday that they have arrested four suspects, after a significant police force was deployed near a synagogue on Wednesday amid concerns about a possible attack.

In response to the reported risk to the synagogue, police imposed restrictions on traffic and pedestrians outside the religious site and surrounding area, with officers also searching several buildings as part of their investigation. The synagogue was forced to cancel an event due to the security situation.

The police didn’t state how they had acquired “information about a possible threat related to a Jewish institution in Hagen,” although the alert did coincide with the holiest day of the year for Jews – Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

On social media, the Hagen police force confirmed that “four arrests have taken place to date,” including the “identification and arrest of a 16-year-old.” According to German media outlets Der Spiegel and Bild, the country’s foreign intelligence service had informed police about receiving a tip indicating a teenager was planning an explosive attack on a Jewish institution. 

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German police respond to ‘possible threat’ at synagogue in Hagen as Jews mark Yom Kippur

Dusseldorf prosecutors are working with terrorism authorities in the region, with North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul stating during an inauguration for new police officers in Cologne that Hagen’s officers had “likely prevented” an attack with their swift response to the threat.

The security alert occurred two years after a far-right individual attacked a synagogoue in Halle and its surrounds, leading to his conviction for two murders and more than 60 counts of attempted murder.

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Ex-Soviet states set to beef up joint military missions on Afghan border to head off risk of instability after US Kabul withdrawal

The heads of six former Soviet republics, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have agreed to modernize and upgrade their forces patrolling the fractious border with Afghanistan in Central Asia amid fears of instability.

In a meeting held in Dushanbe, the capital of neighboring Tajikistan, on Thursday, members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) backed plans to step up their presence. “In connection with the change in the situation in Afghanistan, plans for the deployment of joint CSTO forces in the Central Asian region and the makeup of both military contingents and special forces were agreed,” a statement issued by officials after the summit confirmed. Members of the pact include Russia, Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.

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A militant of Taliban (banned in Russia) holds a rifle while standing on a street in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. The Taliban offensive across Afghanistan was completed on August 15 by the seizure of Kabul. Ashraf Ghani left the country. The movement declared the end of the years-long war.
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According to CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, the situation along the border “remains tense.” Unfortunately, the general said, “we have not seen any improvements in global or regional security.”

Tajikistan saw large numbers of soldiers loyal to the now-collapsed US-backed Afghan government cross the border to seek safety from the Taliban. Working with Russia and Uzbekistan, Tajik forces have staged drills along the frontier aimed at improving their readiness to defend against any armed incursions.

At the same time, the heads of state in attendance agreed on plans to “equip the CSTO’s Rapid Reaction Forces with modern weapons, military equipment, and specialist techniques.”

General-Colonel Anatoly Sidorov, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the joint defense organization, has previously told RT that militants in the region won’t be allowed to operate freely across the border. “We have to project small raids by groups of 20, 40, maybe, 70 people,” Sidorov said in July, but insisted the frontier was generally quiet and that local forces could handle the situation.

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Putin, who appeared at the meeting via video link after going into self-isolation due to confirmed Covid-19 cases in his entourage, has also expressed concern about the risk of destabilization on the frontier, and said he is worried about a rise in the number of people fleeing Afghanistan after the US troop withdrawal.

“Who are these refugees? How can we tell? There may be thousands, or even millions,” Putin said last month. “The border is a thousand kilometers – they will get on everything, a car, even a donkey, and flee across the steppe.

“We do not want fighters disguised as refugees to turn up in our country,” he added.

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Baaad move: Cristiano Ronaldo ‘swaps $8mn mansion because of NOISY SHEEP’ as Man Utd star & family relocate after just 1 week

Manchester United proudly proclaimed that Cristiano Ronaldo had come “home” after his summer transfer move, but the star has reportedly failed to settle at one mansion because of some noisy sheep.

Ronaldo returned to the Premier League with a shock switch from Juventus, with the 36-year-old coming back to his former Old Trafford stomping ground.

The Portuguese icon and his family – stunning partner Georgina Rodriguez and four children – had originally taken up residence at a suitably plush £6million ($8.3 million) home set in 23 acres.

Both Ronaldo and his partner had shared images with their social media following looking happy as their young family enjoyed their new surroundings.

But according to The Sun, some noisy nearby farm stock as well as security concerns over an open footpath meant that Ronaldo wasn’t entirely satisfied.

“While the property is beautiful and is nestled in rolling fields and woodland, it was also close to sheep which are very noisy early in the morning,” the outlet quoted a source as saying.

“It had a public footpath across the land and the road at the front gave a view inside its gates.”

Ronaldo is known for his religious devotion to keeping in top shape – which is key to his remarkable longevity at the top of the game.  

That, apparently, would be jeopardized by the five-time Ballon d’Or winner not getting enough kip because of his bleating neighbors.

Ronaldo needs plenty of sleep to stay in top shape. © Reuters

“Ronaldo is a true pro who places a lot on rest and recovery after games, so it was decided it was best if he and his family moved,” The Sun source added, saying the move had come after less than a week. 

According to the UK tabloid, Ronaldo has now switched to another seven-bedroom pile in Cheshire which boasts equally impressive features for the mega-rich star, as well as more appropriate security arrangements.

On the pitch, Ronaldo seems to have settled in better than with his accommodation situation. The star struck twice in his ‘second debut’ for United against Newcastle last weekend.

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He was also on target in the Champions League clash with Young Boys on Tuesday, although United went on to lose that match 2-1 thanks to a late injury-time goal from the hosts while Ronaldo wasn’t on the pitch.

That match witnessed bizarre scenes before kick-off when a stray Ronaldo shot struck a female steward on the head, causing her to collapse to the floor.

Ronaldo attended the stricken victim and later presented her with a shirt by way of apology.

United’s next game is at West Ham on Sunday – with Ronaldo hopefully getting plenty of sleep as he prepares to help the team again.

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Boom Bust looks at EU’s infrastructure plan to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called on the EU to counter rising Chinese investment with a new infrastructure program, Global Gate. “We want to create links and not dependencies,” she said in her address.

Boom Bust’s Christy Ai and Professor Richard Wolff offer their forecasts on the EU’s latest proposal to counter China’s new Silk Road.

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Source: NEWS

Palace Wishes Prince Harry Happy Birthday as Expert Warns Him Against Issuing Political Message

Ties between the Duke of Sussex along with his wife Meghan Markle and the rest of the family have reportedly been strained since the couple quit royal duties in January 2020. The rift is said to have worsened after the two gave a tell-all interview to US talk show host Oprah Winfrey, during which they made several accusations against the palace.

Iran’s atomic energy chief vows to boost nuclear science despite efforts of ‘enemies’ to curb Tehran’s advancement

Tehran will beef up its commitment to nuclear science, the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has sworn, blasting attempts by its so-called “enemies” to curb the Islamic republic’s atomic advancement.

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday, Mohammad Eslami vowed that Tehran shall continue to boost its atomic related activities, and remarked that the country is “witnessing considerable success” in this field already. 

Eslami slammed “the widespread efforts of the enemies to prevent scientific development in the country.” According to him, Iran’s foes have also restricted the educational pursuits of Iranian students in the nuclear field in high-ranking universities abroad. 

The nuclear chief pledged that Iran will “take special measures” and that “all capacities will be used for this purpose,” stressing that more effort needs to be devoted to this area scientifically and technologically.

The AEOI head’s comments come just days after Tehran agreed to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have access to cameras at Iranian nuclear plants – previously prohibited by the Middle-Eastern nation. The meeting, held between Eslami and Rafael Grossi, the IAEA’s director-general, was hailed as having reaffirmed “the spirit of cooperation.”

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Negotiations are still ongoing between Western nations and Iran with regards to the country halting uranium enrichment. Tehran broke the terms of its 2015 atomic agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), after Washington withdrew unilaterally in 2018 under then-US president Donald Trump and imposed sanctions on the republic.

Joe Biden’s administration is keen to fix the broken deal, but Iran has repeatedly stated that Washington’s sanctions on Tehran must go first. The White House, however, is adamant to keep the sanctions unless Iran is ready to fully abide by the terms outlined in the JCPOA.

Eslami was slapped with sanctions in 2008 from the United Nations for “being engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.”

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