German security officials are confident they are searching for the right man after fingerprints of Tunisian national Anis Amri were found inside the lorry that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday night. The terrorist attack that killed 12 increased political pressure on chancellor Angela Merkel – who is seeking a fourth term in next year’s election – and renewed criticism for her immigration policy, which allowed Amri to enter the country despite being identified as a potential threat. The Europe-wide manhunt for Amri came to an end in Milan this morning where police killed the suspect in a shoot-out. A minute’s silence for the victims of the attack will be held at the Brandenburg Gate at 15.00 today, followed by a six-hour long concert under the name Together Berlin, which will see performances by the likes of Max Giesinger and Sebastian Hämer. With Christmas just around the corner, the market at the scene of the crime has reopened too, ringed by concrete bollards for improved security.
Spending Christmas at home? You’ll require the right soundtrack – and a good festive tune sounds all the better if it starts with the crackle of a needle on vinyl. In the UK the interest in records has progressively been rekindled over the past few years and this winter fortunes have been spinning in vinyl’s favour. For the first time, sales of records have exceeded those of digital music. In late November, the week’s sales reached £2.4m (€2.8m) compared with digital’s £2.1m (€2.5m), doubling vinyl’s takings from the same time last year. It looks like records have earned their mainstream popularity back: proof once again that things we can hold, touch and collect still resonate – and, most importantly, look better wrapped up under the tree.
Every Christmas season a large fir tree is set up in front of Düsseldorf’s city hall; a tradition that the German Green party has called into question. A 10-metre tree like the one that annually adorns the old town square takes about 30 years to grow and that’s reason enough for the environmentally engaged party to advocate against cutting down any more for the occasion (even though we’re assured they’re replanted). Seeing as the Norwegian city of Lillehammer will no longer be donating the tree, the Greens have suggested planting a living one instead. “It is surely better to be able to see a planted tree grow,” says the party’s faction leader, Norbert Czerwinski. In Wermelskirchen this idea has already taken hold: it’s home to the world’s biggest living Christmas tree. Whether the seasonal tradition will come to an end in Düsseldorf remains to be seen but what’s certain is that Germans love their Christmas trees. Last year about 25 million were purchased and some one million were exported across the world.
With the economy showing global growth, it’s safe to splash out on some last-minute Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. Despite being rocked by a series of political shocks – from Brexit to Matteo Renzi’s exit and Donald Trump’s win in the US election – 2016 is set to have a happy ending, at least in terms of the financial markets. The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index – a measure of economic news – has this month seen a positive spike for the first time since February 2014. This is only the 16th time that all eight indices (the US, eurozone, Asia Pacific, Japan, UK, emerging markets, China and G10 nations) have been in the positive realm since records began in 2003. And even with the rise of populism, instability and the strain of the refugee crisis, the eurozone’s index is at its highest since 2010. Happy holidays.
The Slovenian capital is a treasure trove of unusual and creative gifts for the festive season – and our pick for all the presents and stocking-fillers you could ever need.
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