Europe

Sweden's controversial approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic has so far failed to produce the expected results, and there are calls within the country for the government to change its strategy.

"We have a very vivid political debate," Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden's ambassador to the United States, told NPR. "I don't think people are protesting on the streets but ... there's a very big debate, if this [strategy] is the right thing to do or not, on Facebook and everywhere."

Children across Spain were able to leave their homes for the first time in six weeks on Sunday, as the government eased restrictions that have kept anyone under the age of 14 from venturing in public.

When the British economy ground to a halt a few weeks ago, Reda Maher suddenly found himself among the ranks of the unemployed, alongside untold millions of other people around the world.

But unlike many others, Maher can rest easy, knowing that money will keep flowing into his bank account until he's called back to work.

Some nonessential workers in Spain, one of the countries hardest-hit by the novel coronavirus, will return to work this week as part of an easing of restrictions imposed a month ago in an effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move allows some businesses that can't operate remotely, such as construction and manufacturing, to reopen, even as the majority of the country's population remains in a lockdown that began on March 14.

Bars, shops and public spaces are also set to remain closed for at least another two weeks.

A painting by Vincent van Gogh was stolen early Monday morning from a Dutch museum in what appeared to be a smash-and-grab from the institution's front entrance.

The painting, an 1884 work titled The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884, had been on loan to the Singer Laren museum near Amsterdam. It is part of the permanent collection of the Groninger Museum, in the northern part of the Netherlands.

President Trump Thursday defended his new policy that, for 30 days, will bar most travelers arriving to the U.S. from much of Europe. Trump says coronavirus cases from the continent have been seeding outbreaks in the United States. The travel ban, he says, will save American lives.

As the cases of known coronavirus infections multiply worldwide, restrictions are increasing on international travel as well.

Updated at 10:52 p.m. ET

Oil prices and stock indexes were in freefall Sunday after Saudi Arabia announced a stunning discount in oil prices — of $6 to $8 per barrel — to its customers in Asia, the United States and Europe.

AGU / YouTube

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET on Jan. 31

People in northern climes have long gazed at the wonder that is the aurora borealis: the northern lights.

In his annual Christmas Day address, Pope Francis offered a message of hope and a call for kindness to migrants around the world.

"May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life," the pontiff said from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

At a workshop in Berlin, Santa arrives to train a handful of apprentices how to act like him. "From out of the forest I appear, to proclaim that Christmastime is here!" he exclaims.

Santa — real name Tim Zander — wears a long, red robe and matching hat, and he pulls on his beard slowly as he recites a traditional poem. He then segues into pointers on how to channel one's inner Santa.

The lagoon city of Venice — a unique experiment nurtured by man and nature — suffered heavy damage in November as floodwaters reached their highest peaks in more than 50 years.

But rising sea levels are not the only threat. As Venetians continue to leave their city, Venice risks becoming an empty shell sinking under mass tourism.

Updated midnight ET, Nov. 30

Police said two people were killed in a stabbing near London Bridge on Friday afternoon that authorities are describing as a terrorist incident. Three others were also injured and remained in the hospital as of early Saturday.

A male suspect was shot and killed at the scene.

Hours after the incident, a similar stabbing attack took place in The Hague, Netherlands, where several were injured. It was not immediately clear if the two attacks were related.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

Spain's Socialist Party again won parliamentary elections on Sunday, but it fell short of a majority, and the recently emerging far-right Vox party made major gains.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists earned 120 of 350 seats, three fewer than in April's election. In second, the mainstream conservative People's Party won 88 seats, up from 66 in the last vote.

Updated at 11:25 p.m. ET

Tim Morrison, the top Russia official on President Trump's National Security Council, who is scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry on Thursday, is set to leave his White House post imminently, three sources familiar with the plan told NPR.

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