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Europe

The move, brought in among a host of other new traffic laws, applies to all facial coverings including masks but has been interpreted by many as a ban on burqas and niqabs.

The German parliament’s upper house, the Bundesrat, introduced the measure to “ensure a driver’s identity can be determined” if they are caught speeding.

Although the law allows some religious head coverings such as headscarves worn by Muslim women, critics have said the move is symbolic.

Earlier this year, the German parliament supported a draft law banning women working in the civil service, judiciary and military from wearing a full-face Islamic veil.

German chancellor Angela Merkel announced her support for the move, saying full-face veils were “not acceptable” in the country and calling for them to be banned “wherever it is legally possible”.

In February, the state of Bavaria prohibited full-face Islamic veils in schools, universities, polling stations and government offices. independent.co.uk
Catalonia's top security official says the regional government is refusing to hand over control of a regional police force to Spanish central authorities who are trying to stop a referendum on independence.

The announcement by the Catalan interior chief Joaquim Forn followed a move by Spain's Interior Ministry to take over coordinating all policing efforts to stop the Oct. 1 Catalan independence vote that the Spanish government considers illegal.

The measure would mean that Madrid would send direct orders to the regional Mossos d'Esquadra police, who have been criticized for not cracking down hard enough on preparations for the vote.

Forn said the chief of the Mossos d'Esquadra had expressed his opposition to the measure during a meeting Saturday with the top state prosecutor in Catalonia and chiefs of two other national police forces, the National Police and the Civil Guard.

Forn says "we denounce the attempt by the state to intervene in the police forces of Catalonia." usnews.com
The European Commission paid €360,000 (about $428,000) for a study on how piracy impacts the sales of copyrighted music, books, video games, and movies.

But the EU never shared the report—possibly because it determined that there is no evidence that piracy is a major problem.

The Dutch firm Ecory was commissioned to research the impact of piracy for several months, eventually submitting a 304-page report to the EU in May 2015.

The report concluded that: “In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements.

That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.” gizmodo.com
Theresa May has confirmed the UK will seek a two year transition period after Brexit under plans which will see Britain effectively keep its existing relationship with the EU until 2021.

The Prime Minister said she wanted the UK and EU to maintain access to each other’s markets “on current terms” during the transition period.

That means the UK will effectively have to accept freedom of movement rules for the duration of the implementation period. telegraph.co.uk
Spanish national police have stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia's regional government to put a stop to the region's independence referendum.

The Guardia Civil, which acts with the authority of Madrid's interior ministry, is searching for evidence regarding the planned 1 October referendum on Catalan independence, which Spain's Constitutional Court has declared illegal.

In the early hours of the morning armed officers arrived at various Catalan ministries, including the economy department, foreign affairs department, and social affairs department, Spanish media reports.

At least twelve Catalan officials are said to have been arrested, including the chief aide to Catalonia's deputy prime minister, Josep Maria Jové.

The arrests come as the mayors of Catalan towns who back the referendum were yesterday questioned by state prosecutors.

Pro-independence crowds have formed outside the regional ministries in support of the provincial government and in protest against the raids and searches. independent.co.uk
Norway's giant pension fund is now worth over $1 trillion – yes, 1 followed by 12 zeros.

"I don't think anyone expected the fund to ever reach $1 trillion when the first transfer of oil revenue was made in May 1996," fund chief Yngve Slyngstad said in a statement.

Norway is a major oil producer, and it has plowed its energy earnings into the fund in order to fund pensions and other government expenses – the fund's value works out to over $190,000 for each of Norway's 5.2 million citizens.

The fund is among the world's biggest investors in stocks, owning $667 billion worth of shares in over 9,000 companies globally.

Its largest holdings are in Apple, Nestle, Royal Dutch Shell, Novartis, Microsoft and Alphabet, the owner of Google.

The fund also owns large real estate portfolio, including stakes in buildings at the world's most desirable addresses, such as Times Square in New York, Regent Street in London, and Champs Elysees in Paris. cnn.com
Billionaire Russian oligarchs and Ukrainian elites accused of corruption are among hundreds of people who have acquired EU passports under controversial “golden visa” schemes, the Guardian has learnt.

The government of Cyprus has raised more than €4bn since 2013 by providing citizenship to the super rich, granting them the right to live and work throughout Europe in exchange for cash investment.

Prior to 2013, Cypriot citizenship was granted on a discretionary basis by ministers, in a less formal version of the current arrangement.

A leaked list of the names of hundreds of those who have benefited from these schemes, seen by the Guardian, includes prominent businesspeople and individuals with considerable political influence.

European politicians have been watching the sector’s growth with alarm, with some saying the schemes undermine the concept of citizenship.

Later this year the European parliament will debate an amendment tabled by Gomes requiring countries to carry out thorough security checks on “golden visa” applicants. theguardian.com
A Danish woman, who allegedly refused to take off her niqab, the religious outfit covering face and full body, has been deported from the Brussels airport after police were unable to identify her, a Belgian official said.

Theo Francken, the Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, confirmed the incident on Saturday on his official Twitter account.

"A Danish citizen coming from Tunis refused to take off her niqab at our border.

Police could not identify her. She was sent back to Tunis," Francken tweeted.

He did not identify the woman by her name.

"Thursday I informed my Danish colleague Inger Stojberg, Danish minister for immigration, integration and housing] about the niqaab-incident with a Danish citizen on our Schengenborder," he added. aljazeera.com