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US election: Five stories you may have missed amid battle for White House

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Catch up on the European news you may have missed
Catch up on the European news you may have missed   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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The eyes of the world are on the United States, where Joe Biden appears to be edging closer to winning the White House, although the race is not over yet.

The presidential election has now been dragging on since Tuesday, and there are important stories happening back in Europe that may have gone under the radar for those who have been fixated on the edgy contest in the United States.

Here’s a look at five stories from Europe you may have missed.

1. Kosovo's president Hashim Thaçi resigns to face war crimes charges

Hashim Thaçi, who was a guerrilla leader during Kosovo's war for independence from Serbia in the 1990s, stood down as president in order to face charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity at a special court based in The Hague.

The court was established in 2015 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a group Thaçi was a part of, during the conflict in Kosovo in 1998-1999.

“I will cooperate closely with justice. I believe in truth, reconciliation and the future of our country and society. Therefore today, more than ever, I call upon you to not lose hope, patience and faith,” Thaçi said at a press conference in Prishtina.

The indictment was announced to the public in June, and Thaçi’s close collaborators and other high-ranking members of the KLA had been arrested or surrendered to the court in the lead up to the president’s announcement.

2. Denmark to cull millions of mink over coronavirus fears

Denmark is going to kill all of the mink in the country’s mink farms after a mutated version of coronavirus was detected, which had spread to humans.

Denmark's police chief Thorkild Fogde said they would start culling the country’s estimated 15-17 million mink as "soon as possible”. They are spread over 1,080 farms.

The country is the world’s biggest producer of mink fur. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen justified the move saying the mutation "could pose a risk that future (coronavirus) vaccines won't work the way they should”.

Several animals -- including dogs and cats -- have tested positive for the virus and there have been reported cases at mink farms in the Netherlands and Spain, as well as in Denmark.

3. Luxembourg-sized iceberg on a collision course with South Georgia island

A giant iceberg, which is apparently the size of Luxembourg, is drifting toward the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, raising fears it could indirectly endanger young wildlife.

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said on Wednesday it is concerned the iceberg may run aground near the island, preventing land-based marine predators from reaching food supplies and returning to their offspring.

Professor Geraint Tarling, an ecologist with the BAS, said it is the time of year when seals and penguins are tending to pups and chicks. The distance penguin and seal parents have to travel to find food is important.

"If they have to do a big detour, it means they’re not going to get back to their young in time to prevent them starving to death in the interim," he said.

The giant iceberg, named A68, has been floating north since it broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017, the British Antarctic Survey said. It was at the time about 175km long and about 50km wide, a surface area larger than Luxembourg.

4. England goes back into lockdown

England has entered a second confinement period in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.

People enjoyed a final night out in pubs, bars and restaurants on Wednesday, before the second lockdown came into force, with authorities hoping to stop the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Non-essential shops and businesses, such as pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, clothes shops and cinemas have been forced to close until at least December 2.

It joins a host of European countries to impose new restrictions as the continent fights a second wave of COVID-19.

5. No-deal Brexit back in play as stoppage time talks fail to bridge gulf between EU and UK

The end of the latest round of Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the EU have ended with both sides saying there are still “divergences” on key issues.

The transition period ends on 31 December this year, and the two sides are still unable to reach agreement over a future UK-EU trade deal.

London and Brussels have been struggling to reach agreement on ensuring fairness in future competition, fishing rights and an enforcement mechanism.

Brussels' chief negotiator Michel Barnier, leading the talks on behalf of the 27 EU nations, said on Twitter that "very serious divergences remain in Level Playing Field, Governance & Fisheries", describing them as "essential conditions for any economic partnership". Europe, he added, was "prepared for all scenarios".

His British counterpart David Frost was less pessimistic, tweeting that progress had been made. But he added: "I agree with Michel Barnier that wide divergences remain on some core issues". He said his team would continue to seek solutions that "fully respect UK sovereignty".

These latest remarks have dimmed hopes a breakthrough could be close.