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Regional News • Europe
Italy bans internal travel over Christmas; keeps ski resorts closed until 7 January
Italy bans internal travel over Christmas; keeps ski resorts closed until 7 January
Credit: unsplash/Gabriella Clare Marino

On Thursday night, Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte signed a new decree banning travel between regions in Italy from December 20 to January 6 and travel between municipalities between December 25 and December 26 to discourage large private gatherings. The government also resisted pressure from leaders of Alpine regions and will keep ski resorts closed until 7 January.

Regional News • Europe • France
Ex-president Giscard d'Estaing dies at 94 of Coronavirus complications
European Council in Maastricht, Giscard d'Estaing at Beek airport
European Council in Maastricht, Giscard d'Estaing at Beek airport Credit: Rob Croes / Anefo, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, president of France from 1974 to 1981, has died at the age of 94 of Coronavirus complications. He died surrounded by his family in his home in central France. Giscard d'Estaing was pro-Europe and liberalised laws on divorce, abortion and contraception during his tenure.

President Emmanuel Macron praised Giscard d'Estaing for transforming France and its direction: "A servant of the state, a politician of progress and freedom, his death has plunged the French nation into mourning."

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
The UK approves the Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use next week
The UK approves the Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use next week
Credit: unsplash.com / Daniel Schludi

The UK will be the first country in the West to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to the public after the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the vaccine in record time. The vaccine is expected to be rolled out from next week.

"The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the Independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use," the government said.

The UK has already ordered 40m doses - enough to vaccinate 20m people, and 10m doses should be available soon, with the first 800,000 arriving in the UK in the coming days.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany bans neo-nazi organization "Sturmbrigade 44"
Germany bans neo-nazi organization "Sturmbrigade 44"
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

German Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) banned the neo-Nazi association "Sturmbrigade 44", which also calls itself "Wolfsbrigade 44", on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, the police searched objects of 13 club members in Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia. According to Herbert Reul (CDU), Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, the police seized cell phones and drugs, among other things, during the searches.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German Bundestag has spent €1,4 million to secure private homes of MPs
Bundestag
Bundestag Credit: Herman (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

After an increase of 15% in attacks on politicians compared to 2019, around 100 members of the Bundestag have resorted to the offer of the Federal Criminal Police Office to secure private apartments or houses.

In the current legislative period, the Bundestag has spent around 1.4 million euros on security technology, each member has a budget of 19,000 euros.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany: New mayor decided by lot after both candidates get exact same number of votes
Germany: New mayor decided by lot after both candidates get exact same number of votes
Credit: Courtesy of Facebook / Stephan Hänes

In the municipality of Ahnatal in Hesse, the mayoral election has been decided by chance. The candidates from the social democratic party SPD and Christian democratic union CDU had received the exact same number of votes. In this case, Hesse's municipal regulations provide for a decision by lot.

The candidate of the SPD, Stephan Hänes, has subsequently been drawn and won.

Regional News • Europe • France
Police violence in Paris: a photographer beaten up during the "March of Liberties"

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Paris and other French cities to protest against the "Global Security" law.

Syrian photographer Ameer al-Halbi, a war correspondent known for his coverage of the fall of Aleppo and winner of a World Press Photo award in 2017, was wounded during a police charge while covering the march on Saturday afternoon, AFP reported.

The "Global Security" law would punish punishes the so-called "malicious" dissemination of the image of police officers, particularly during demonstrations.

Controversy over the law was heightened by the heavy-handed evacuation of a migrant camp in Paris on Monday and the revelation on Thursday of the beating of music producer Michel Zecler by four police officers.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Admissions stop at several Berlin hospitals
Berlin-Borsigwalde Am Nordgraben Humboldt-Klinikum
Berlin-Borsigwalde Am Nordgraben Humboldt-Klinikum Credit: Fridolin freudenfett (Peter Kuley) (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

The intensive care units of the Emil-von-Behring-Klinikum in Zehlendorf, the Humboldt-Klinikum (Borsigwalde) and the Auguste-Viktoria-Klinikum (Schöneberg) are working to capacity according to a register of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine. Corona sufferers in the capital city are no longer admitted there.

Besides, the "Berliner Morgenpost" reports that the St. Marien hospital in Lankwitz may be started again by rescue services and ambulances only at the beginning of the coming week. Also, the Vivantes hospital in Neukölln is considering a stop of admissions.

The hospitals in Berlin are the first hospitals in Germany to be overloaded and close their emergency rooms.

Regional News • Europe • France
Paris: Thousands gather to protest police violence and the new proposed security law
Paris: Thousands gather to protest police violence and the new proposed security law
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

Police fired tear gas in the French capital after thousands of critics of a proposed security law that would restrict sharing images of police officers in France joined a demonstration in Paris.

The crowd included journalists, journalism students, left-wing activists, migrants rights groups and citizens of varied political stripes expressing anger over what they perceive as a hardening police tactics in recent years, especially since France's Yellow Vest protests against economic hardship in 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said images of police beating a Black music producer in Paris put "shame" on the country, with top politicians and sportsmen expressing outrage over the incident.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Leader of the German Green party criticises potential collaboration of CDU and AfD in controversy about broadcast license fee.
Robert Habeck
Robert Habeck Credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

After warnings from the SPD, the leader of the German Green party, Robert Habeck, also warned the CDU in Saxony-Anhalt to not collaborate with the right-wing AfD in the ongoing discussion about the planned raise of the broadcast license fee.

The CDU in Saxony-Anhalt is strictly against the raise and could prevent it if they joined forces with the AfD in the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt because every federal state has to approve the raise.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Covid-19: The United Kingdom recorded 16,022 new cases and 521 deaths
Boris Johnson visits a Covid-19 testing facility
Boris Johnson visits a Covid-19 testing facility Credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

According to the official numbers released on Friday, the United Kingdom recorded 16,022 new Covid-19 cases and 521 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus.

Regional News • Europe
Italy reports 28,352 new Covid-19 cases and 827 deaths
Italy reports 28,352 new Covid-19 cases and 827 deaths
Credit: Adam Nieścioruk

The Italian Health Ministry reported 827 Covid 19-related deaths and 28,352 new infections in the country. Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 53,677 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Great Britain.

While Italy's daily death tolls have been amongst the highest in Europe over recent days, the rise in hospital admissions and intensive care occupancy has slowed, suggesting the latest wave of infections was receding. The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy's financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area on Friday, reporting 5,389 new cases from a previous 5,697.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Germany, Italy, France urge to shut ski slopes until Jan 10; EU waves off
Germany, Italy, France urge to shut ski slopes until Jan 10; EU waves off
Credit: unsplash/https://unsplash.com/photos/vZz5RKpVIyg

Germany joins Italy and France in their demand to ban ski resorts from opening until January 10, stating it would be a "great risk, even crazy, to open ski-slopes."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and multiple prime ministers addressed an appeal to all citizens to refrain from "all not absolutely necessary professional and private journeys, in particular, tourist journeys to foreign countries, especially considering the start of the ski season."

"The Federal Government is asked to come to coordinated regulations at European level in order to prevent ski tourism from being permitted before 10 January", the paper continues.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides opposes a Europe-wide ski ban over the Christmas holidays, saying that "there is no formula that applies to all EU countries because every country has a different situation."

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria to start Covid-19 mass testing on Dec 2
The Karl-Marx Halle in Vienna, Austria – one of the three major testing locations
The Karl-Marx Halle in Vienna, Austria – one of the three major testing locations Credit: Gugerell, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped) (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

The Austrian government has announced that it will start mass testing its population on December 2, starting with the capital Vienna, followed by six other states. In Vienna, a total of 1.2 million tests will be provided at three major locations with the support of the Federal Armed Forces. Appointments can be made online and Health City Councillor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) predicts a total of 150.000 daily tests.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austrian town "Fucking" to be renamed "Fugging"
Austrian town "Fucking" to be renamed "Fugging"
Credit: Official Website

The local council has decided to change the name of the 106-soul village from "Fucking" to "Fugging". Mayor Andrea Holzner (ÖVP) has stated "Yes, I can confirm that this renaming will take place, but I really don't want to say any more about it. We have already had enough media hype in the past".

The new name is said to take effect on January 1st in 2021.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Motive unclear - car rams into entrance gate of the German Chancellery
Motive unclear - car rams into entrance gate of the German Chancellery
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Amichai Stein

One photo showed that the dark station wagon was standing directly in front of the closed gate in an otherwise cordoned-off area. Written there was "Stop the globalization policy", on the other side "You damned murderers of children and old people". According to the license plate, the car is registered in the district of Lippe in North Rhine-Westphalia. The motive is still unclear.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany reports record number of Covid-19 deaths
Germany reports record number of Covid-19 deaths
Credit: unsplash.com / bennett tobias

The number of patients treated in intensive care units in Germany for Covid-19 has reached the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic. In Germany, health authorities have reported 410 new coronavirus-related deaths to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within 24 hours. The total number of deaths rose to 14,771, with the highest level ever reached in mid-April with 315 reported deaths within one day.

Regional News • Europe
WHO envoy warns of third Coronaivurs wave in Europe if governments don't build necessary infrastructure

David Nabarro, a World Health Organization special Coronavirus envoy, has told the Swiss newspaper Solothurner Zeitung that Europe could face a third wave next year if governments "don’t build the necessary infrastructure."

He praised Asian countries such as South Korea: “People are fully engaged, they take on behaviors that make it difficult for the virus. They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they’re sick, wash hands and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups.”

“Another element that is very clear in East Asia is that once you have brought down the case numbers … you don’t relax the measures,” he said. “You wait until the case numbers are low and stay low. You have to prepare the necessary measures to stop future outbreaks.”

Regional News • Europe
Czech and Slovak gouvernment criticise Polish and Hungarian stance on rule of law principle in new EU budget
Ivan Korčok Foreign Minister Slovakia
Ivan Korčok Foreign Minister Slovakia Credit: EU2016 SK / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Despite both being in the Visegrád Group, Czechia and Slovakia apparently do not share the Polish and Hungarian rejection of the compromise on the EU´s long-term budget and Recovery Plan negotiated by the German Presidency. The foreign ministers of both states have expressed their hopes that neither Hungaria nor Poland will effectively block the implemantation of those EU funds. According to Polish gouvernment sources, a video summit of the Visegrád Group will take place to discuss the disagreements.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria to start Covid-19 mass testing on Dec 5th
Austria to start Covid-19 mass testing on Dec 5th
Credit: unsplash/Mufid Majnun

Austria is planning to begin Covid-19 mass testing on December 5th, starting with teachers, police forces and communities with high infection rates. Seven million tests have been ordered so far and the government has mobilized both armed forces and forces to help with testing.

According to health minister Rudolf Anschober, the decisive factor is "that the tests do not create a false sense of security, but that they are accepted not as a substitute but as an additional measure to social distancing, masks and proper hygiene.

Regional News • Europe • Spain
Spain creates a camp for 6,000 immigrants in the Canary Islands
Spain creates a camp for 6,000 immigrants in the Canary Islands
Credit: unsplash.com / Michael Bomke

The Spanish Ministry of Migration announces the plan to urgently create refugee camps with 6,000 places on Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Fuerteventura to accommodate the immigrants who are now spread over 17 tourist complexes.

Minister José Luis Escrivá's plan includes using Gran Canaria as a place where refugees will arrive in the style of Lesbos or Lampedusa. New arrivals are won't be transferred to the mainland but await deportation in a center set up for this purpose.

Regional News • Europe
WHO says Europe is facing 'six tough months' of pandemic
WHO says Europe is facing 'six tough months' of pandemic
Credit: unsplash/Isaac Quesada

As Europe has recorded over 29,000 Covid-19 deaths in the past week, meaning that "one person is dying every 17 seconds", WHO Europe director Hans Kluge warns that Europe is facing "six tough months".

"There is light at the end of the tunnel but it will be a tough six months," so Kluge at a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. "Europe is once again the epicentre of the pandemic, together with the United States."

Regional News • Europe
Italy reports 36,176 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, 653 deaths
Rome during the Covid-19 pandemic
Rome during the Covid-19 pandemic Credit: Camelia.boban (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italy has registered 36,176 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, up from 34,283 the day before.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 47,870 Covid-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain's.

The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy's financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area on Thursday, reporting 7,453 new cases, down from 7,633 the day before.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German State Security searches home of conspiracy theorist Attila Hildmann
German State Security searches home of conspiracy theorist Attila Hildmann
Credit: Recreation Facebook

Attila Hildmann has been searched by the police. State protectors searched the flat of the vegan cook, who calls himself "ultra-right" and a conspiracy preacher, in Brandenburg on Tuesday. A police spokesman said that the search had been ordered by the district court of Bernau (Barnim) at the request of the Cottbus public prosecutor's office for the purpose of security. According to the police spokesman, several investigations are underway at the Cottbus public prosecutor's office against Hildmann, including on suspicion of sedition.

Regional News • Europe
Macron reinforced his proposition of a strategic autonomy of the EU
Macron reinforced his proposition of a strategic autonomy of the EU
Credit: Presidencia de la República Mexicana / via Wikimedia Commons

In a direct contradiction of German minister of defense, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, French president Emmanuel Macron said shortly before visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that the European Union should pursue its attempts to get strategic autonomy, especially regarding military matters.

He admitted that the EU still has no strategic sovereignty, but should continue to try to become a fully established European power, even with a new administration in the White House in the near future.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Almost 200 arrests during anti Covid-19 measures protest in Berlin
Almost 200 arrests during anti Covid-19 measures protest in Berlin
Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

At the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the police had declared a rally with several thousand participants to be over at noon after the protestors had not responded to calls to respect social distancing and mandatory mask rules.

In addition the police announced via Twitter that emergency personnel had been thrown at with "bottles, stones and firecrackers and attacked with pepper spray". Around 190 people were arrested. The police used five water cannon vehicles in order to disband the protest.

Regional News • Europe
Switzerland reaches the maximum capacity of ICU beds, switches to triage
Switzerland reaches the maximum capacity of ICU beds, switches to triage
Credit: Courtesy of SAMW

All 876 beds certified by the Swiss Society for Intensive Medicine (SGI) for adults and thus recognized as intensive care beds in Switzerland are now occupied in the course of Covid-19 treatment - with this statement, the Society appealed on Tuesday to the public's sense of responsibility

Patients should consider whether they would like to have life-prolonging measures in the event of a serious illness as "this will help their own relatives as well as the teams of intensive care units in the decision-making process, so that treatment can take place in the best possible way and according to the individual patient's will,".

Switzerland has also updated its triage guidelines in order to assist medical professionals with the decision which patients to treat.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Jeremy Corbyn to be readmitted to UK Labour after suspension over anti-Semitism
Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn Credit: Garry Knight (Public Domain)

The former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was suspended for his comments, which rejected the overall conclusions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the party, and said the problem was "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by opponents and the media.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said in October it had found evidence of failure to adequately train people investigating alleged anti-Semitism, political interference in the processing of complaints, and harassment of individuals.

Current leader Keir Starmer has been trying to make a clean break from the hard-left Corbyn era as he seeks to turn around Labour's fortunes after four successive general election defeats since 2010.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
European Union faces crisis as Hungary and Poland vetoed a new seven-year budget
European Union flags
European Union flags Credit: Thijs ter Haar (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The European Union faces a crisis after Hungary and Poland vetoed the bloc's historic €1.8tn budget and coronavirus recovery plan over attempts to link funding to respect for democratic norms.

The move unravels months of negotiations over the scale and terms of the EU's spending and sets the stage for a stormy videoconference meeting of the bloc's leaders on Thursday. The 27 EU heads of state and government had signed off on the broad spending package and the inclusion of a link to respect for the rule of law in July, after days of hard debate.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Angela Merkel says she is very worried about pandemic in Berlin
Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel Credit: European People's Party (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Covid-19 situation in Germany still concerns even with infection numbers not rising as fast as before, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday. The chancellor said she would have preferred to have agreed stricter rules at a meeting with federal and state leaders on Monday, adding she was apprehensive about the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus in some places, including the capital Berlin.

Merkel had proposed additional measures including making it mandatory to wear masks in schools and shrink class sizes, and urging citizens, and children, to limit social contacts to one household or friend.

Federal and state leaders postponed until November 25 a decision on further lockdown measures