By Linda Hall •
Updated: 26 Jan 2024 • 16:19
Caption: KING HARALD: Norway’s king has no intention of abdicating
Photo credit: CC/Samediggi-Sametinget
Norway: Here to stay King Harald once more stressed that unlike Queen Margarethe of Denmark, he had no plans to abdicate in favour of his son and heir, Prince Haakon. King Harald, who will be 87 on February 21 said that he swore an oath to parliament when he came to the throne 33 years ago “and it is for life”, he added.
Denmark: Old words Runes were the alphabet of Denmark’s earliest written language and archaeologists believe they have located the oldest inscription yet discovered in Odense on the island of Funen. Etched 2,000 years ago on an eight-centimetre knife found in a grave there, the five characters spell out “hirila”, meaning “little sword.”
Careful move: Denmark will grant more work permits for immigrants who work in the social care sector, after MPs and the government reached agreement on increasing the country’s Positive List scheme for “desired professions.” This will now enable1,000 foreign applicants to enter the country to work in the care sector.
Italy: Not so hot The famous calendar featuring “hot” young priests on sale in Rome’s newspaper kiosks and souvenir shops is an annual bestseller although the photographer responsible for the photos admitted that few are actually priests. “But the intention was to give a profile to priests as a symbol of Rome,” he told Il Post newspaper.
Foraging mishap Briton Steven Harper (38), who had planned to cycle from Dundee to India, plummeted to his death from a cliff in Ventimiglia, presumably on becoming delirious after eating foraged wild mushrooms. Helicoptered to hospital after he was seen falling, the father of two died of injuries caused by the fall.
Belgium: Pay up Belgium’s expatriate tax scheme, introduced in 1983 for residents who were hired from abroad, came to an end in January 2024. Only residents who earn more than an annual €75,000 gross or are engaged in scientific, industrial, technological or academic research are now eligible for the scheme.
Extra mile Food packaging in Flanders will include information about animal production standards, identifying products from companies that follow ethical procedures when raising animals. “The public can now see which producers go the extra mile for animal welfare and which do not,” Flanders’ Animal Welfare ministry said.
Germany: Joint plan Health minister Karl Lauterbach expects the Bundestag national parliament to pass the Cannabis Act legalising marijuana in February. The new legislation could come into force by April, despite opposition from some regions, including Bavaria, and even members of Lauterbach’s own Social Democrats party.
Keep clear Anti-abortion activists could soon face fines of up to €5,000 for demonstrating or approaching the public within a 100-metre radius of family planning centres or clinics where terminations are performed. Once a draft law goes through, they are also prevented from displaying intimidating posters or handing out leaflets.
Netherlands: Eco-friendly A survey by two labour economists found that an increasing number of residents would prefer to work for a climate-conscious company rather than a firm without sustainability goals. Some said that would be willing to take a “considerable” cut in their wages in order to work for a sustainable employer.
Not wanted A total of 1,040 British residents had to leave the Schengen area as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland in 2023. The Netherlands was responsible for 275 expulsions, more than other nation, after Brits overstayed, had residence and work permits rejected or, in some cases, committed serious crimes.
France: All the same The French government intends to “erase inequality and create conditions for respect” by introducing uniforms in all state school pupils, beginning with a trial period for 100 chosen centres. According to the national media, the authorities have settled on a white or grey polo shirt, a blue jersey and grey trousers.
Breathe easy Analyses carried out for the regional transport system found “high particle pollution” at the Belleville, Oberkampf and Jaures metro stations in Paris. Environmentalists had already attributed the high air pollution in some parts of the metro system to the trains’ mechanical brakes applied each time they came to a stop.
Finland: Less aid Finland’s Foreign Trade and Development ministry confirmed that the government is cutting foreign aid, multilateral co-operation, humanitarian assistance, development loans and investments by more than a billion euros. This includes discontinuing the Afghanistan, Kenya, Mozambique and Myanmar programmes.
Northern lights The forecasting service introduced 20 years ago to inform the public when they are most likely to see the aurora borealis uses fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field to predict the chances of aurora appearances. This has now has been “significantly upgraded” to enhance accuracy, Finland’s meteorological service said.
Ireland: Toy story An investigation into broadcaster RTE’s Toy Show The Musical found there was no record that the RTE Board ever gave its approval for the musical at Dublin’s Convention Centre in December 2022. Expert advice was allegedly ignored and the project accumulated €2.2 million in losses after a shortfall in ticket sales.
Free trees Trinity College, Dublin, gave away more than 100 birch seedlings that sprang up during 2023’s No Mow May initiative to provide wildflowers for pollinators. As the seedlings grew, the lawns were left unmown until the following September, after which they were potted and cared for by the university’s gardeners.
Portugal: Name sakes Portugal’s Statistics Institute (INE) revealed that the country’s four most-encountered names were Maria for females and Francisco, Tiago and Duarte (a variation on Eduardo) for males. Most common surnames were found to be Silva, Nunes, Santos and Ferreira, the same source announced.
Fado feature The Poor Things film soundtrack composed by British pop musician Jerskin Fendrix has been nominated for Best Original Score in the upcoming Oscars to be held next month. This includes a Fado performed by Carminho who has a role in the film, singing and playing the guitar in an imaginary Lisbon.
Sweden: Sweden’s Migration Agency issued 102,139 new resident permits in 2023, a 28 per cent reduction on the 143,179 granted in 2022. These included 36,000 work permits which, again, were down on the previous year’s 41,396, with the majority issued to berry pickers, IT architects, system developers and test leaders.
Hack attack Along with other public authorities, the Swedish parliament was affected by a ransomware hit on IT supplier Tietoevry’s data centre by the Russian group Akira between January 20 and 21. This involved Primula, a human resources system that is used by 120 public bodies including the parliament offices.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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