History Podcasts

Luxemberg News - History

Luxemberg News - History

LUXEMBOURG

In The News


Radio Luxembourg

Radio Luxembourg was a multilingual commercial broadcaster in Luxembourg. It is known in most non-English languages as RTL (for Radio Television Luxembourg).

The English-language service of Radio Luxembourg began in 1933 as one of the earliest commercial radio stations broadcasting to the UK and Ireland. The station provided a way to circumvent British legislation which until 1973 gave the BBC a monopoly of radio broadcasting on UK territory and prohibited all forms of advertising over the domestic radio spectrum. It boasted the most powerful privately owned transmitter in the world (1,300 kW, [ dubious – discuss ] broadcasting on medium wave). In the late 1930s, and again in the 1950s and 1960s, it had large audiences in Britain and Ireland with its programmes of popular entertainment, and was an important forerunner of pirate radio and modern commercial radio in the United Kingdom.

Radio Luxembourg's parent company, RTL Group, continued its involvement in broadcasts to a UK audience with the British TV channel then known as Five until it was sold in July 2010.


Luxembourgers: The “Glass House” People

While Luxembourgish immigrants to Chicago worked in a variety of occupations, from saloon keeper to jeweler, Luxembourgers were most famous for being the so-called “glass house” people of Chicago. After originally growing crops outdoors, Luxembourgish immigrants soon realized that it would be much more profitable in a winter climate to grow their vegetables under glass in greenhouses. Over a period of a few decades, Luxembourger greenhouses and truck farms overtook Chicago’s northside neighborhoods and suburbs of Edgewater, Rogers Park, Rosehill, West Ridge, Rogers Park, Evanston and Niles Center (now Skokie). Luxembourgish greenhouse owners would sell their vegetables at the market on South Market Street which fed the masses in rapidly-growing Chicago

The growth of the Luxembourger greenhouse industry led to the development of other businesses needed to support the greenhouses such as boiler manufacturing, seed sales and greenhouse construction. Originally, Luxembourgers grew vegetables under glass but eventually flowers became the plant of choice, especially roses and carnations. The remnants of the Luxembourg greenhouse tradition in Chicago continues today in current greenhouses and florists owned and operated by these Luxembourg-descent families: Pesche, Kinsch, Kalmes, Leider and Urhausen.

Probably Chicago’s most famous greenhouse owner was Peter Reinberg, who was known as Chicago’s “Rose King.” Peter’s parents were Henry and Katherine Reinberg of Pratz, Luxembourg. They had emigrated to the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago in 1848. Peter, born in 1858, excelled in growing roses and carnations. Eventually his greenhouses totaled 1,200,000 square feet (110,000 square meters) of glass and he became not only the largest grower of roses in the world, but he quickly became a millionaire. Peter served as President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, President of the Chicago Board of Education but also first President of the Cook County Forest Preserve Commission. He acquired the first 18,000 acres of forest around Chicago and is rightfully consider the “father” of Chicago’s famous Forest Preserve system.


MEDIA

Luxembourg exerts immense media clout and has a long tradition of operating radio and TV services for pan-European audiences, including those in France, Germany and the UK.

Generations of British listeners grew up with Radio Luxembourg, which beamed pop music programmes into the UK. "The Great 208" is no more, but media group RTL is still a key player in media markets across Europe.

Luxembourg's media empire extends to the skies. It is home to Europe's largest satellite operator, Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES), which operates the Astra fleet.


Luxembourg's Bold Plan to Mine Asteroids for Rare Minerals

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

In 2016 the tiny European country of Luxembourg announced an ambitious initiative to mine asteroids and other near-Earth objects (NEOs) for rare minerals. It wasn’t the country’s first foray into space—in the 1980s it launched some of the first European satellites—but the NEO mining plan represented a bold step for a country with the population of Milwaukee. The idea had roots in Luxembourg history: Blessed with rich deposits of iron ore, the country's economy was powered for much of the 20th century by steel manufacturing. By the time the last iron mine closed in 1981, Luxembourg had already pivoted to financial services, which now accounts for 35 percent of its GDP, but since the 2008 financial crisis the country's leaders have been looking to diversify the economy.

Italian photographer Ezio Dɺgostino first learned about the NEO mining plan during an artist residency at Luxembourg's Centre National de lɺudiovisuel (CNA). "I was interested in understanding why such a small country without a space agency like Luxembourg would be interested in such a complex and visionary space program," Dɺgostino says. With the help of the CNA, Dɺgostino received permission from the Luxembourg government to document the early stages of the program, which it dubbed SpaceResources.

Because the program is still in its infancy—the first space flight isn't expected to take place until the mid 2020s—Dɺgostino took a more conceptual approach to the project. He shot abandoned steel mills from the heyday of iron ore mining, mining tools, industrial landfills, and rare metal collections in Luxembourg's Museum of Natural History. The photographer describes the series as a "visual hypothesis about the forthcoming capitalization of outer space, built on the remains of our era."

Luxembourg isn't the only country interested in exploiting NEOs for their mineral riches. NASA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency, have both launched probes to explore the composition of nearby asteroids. In July, Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft landed on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu after a nearly five-year, 5.5 million–mile journey from Earth. NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe arrived at the asteroid Bennu last December and is currently in orbit around the 500-meter-thick space rock while scientists decide where to land it. For would-be deep space prospectors, there's even an online database ranking over 600,000 asteroids by the potential value of their minerals. (Ryugu is estimated to be worth $83 billion Bennu, $670 million.)

Dɺgostino believes the mining of NEOs will likely exacerbate existing wealth inequality. "In one or two hundred years, the private corporations that have access to space will control raw materials, and water, in a world emptied of resources," he predicts. "And today, we can count those companies on the fingers of one hand."


Easter Sunday – Painting eggs

Easter is one of the most important holidays of the year for many Luxembourgers, and it is a multi-day celebration starting with Maundy Thursday and ending with Easter Monday. Children paint Easter eggs and the traditional food is rabbit, duck or pork roasts with potatoes and hearty spring vegetables. On Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday (Ouschtersonndeg), children go house to house to collect their reward for klibberen bells back to town in time for Easter (see Maundy Thursday), and usually receive chocolates or small amounts of money. On Easter Sunday, parents usually play “Easter Bunny” and hide candies and colored eggs in little homemade nests for kids to hunt to find all the treats.


Be captivated by a stay in Luxembourg, a cosmopolitan country in the heart of Europe.

Discover a multicultural city, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg's capital and seat of many European institutions. Between tradition and modernity, let yourself be surprised by its many tourist places to visit, its UNESCO World Heritage monuments and the numerous museums and squares. Plan your cultural outings with the agenda, full of ideas to complete your stay: festivals, exhibitions, theater.

Nature and sports lovers? Discover the regions around Luxembourg City. Enjoy different landscapes of the nature parks in the Luxembourg Ardennes, but also medieval castles and numerous hiking or mountain biking trails throughout the region. In the south of the country, you will discover the industrial past of the Red Rock region, and its former steel-works sites. Oenophile? Discover the Moselle region with its steep vineyards. Don't hesitate to stop at a winery for some wine tasting.

Looking for a place to eat or sleep during your stay? Concerned about your comfort we offer a list of accommodations and restaurants in every area and to suit all budgets.

Find your ideal stay and reserve our special offers throughout the year online.


Amazon Wins Case Against EU Regulators Over Luxembourg Taxes

A view of Amazon's headquarters in Luxembourg. The online retail giant on Tuesday prevailed at the European Union's second-highest court in a major tax case. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

A view of Amazon's headquarters in Luxembourg. The online retail giant on Tuesday prevailed at the European Union's second-highest court in a major tax case.

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon has won a major court fight against a European Commission order that it pay 250 million euros ($303 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg deemed "illegal state aid."

The General Court of the European Union is based in Luxembourg, where Amazon has its European headquarters. It rejected the European Commission's contention that the online retailing giant enjoyed a selective advantage in the tax deal.

"The Commission did not prove to the requisite legal standard that there was an undue reduction of the tax burden of a European subsidiary of the Amazon group," the court concluded.

In a statement emailed to NPR, Amazon said it welcomes the court's decision, "which is in line with our long-standing position that we followed all applicable laws and that Amazon received no special treatment."

"We're pleased that the Court has made this clear, and we can continue to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe," the company said.

The case stems from a 2014 European Commission investigation into Amazon's tax arrangement in Luxembourg, which ultimately concluding that the country had granted undue tax benefits of around 250 million euros. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the deal was illegal under EU rules because Amazon was allowed to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. She ordered Luxembourg to recover the money.

"Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three quarters of Amazon's profits were not taxed," Vestager said in a 2017 statement. "In other words, Amazon was allowed to pay four times less tax than other local companies subject to the same national tax rules."

Business

EU Investigates If Amazon Hurts Competition By Using Sellers' Data

In 2019, the European Commission also opened a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon, saying last year that it had reached a "preliminary view" that the company "breached EU antitrust rules by distorting competition in online retail markets."

However, Tuesday's ruling comes as a blow to Vestager, who has enjoyed only a mixed track record in her efforts to crack down on what she says are sweetheart tax deals between big multinationals and individual EU countries.

In 2019, the General Court upheld an order for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to pay 30 million euros ($36 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg. But last year, the court threw out an order for Apple to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in taxes to Ireland. It also rescinded similar orders on Starbucks in the Netherlands, and BP and BASF in Belgium.

The Fiat Chrysler case is being appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU's highest court, The Irish Times reported Monday. Likewise, the Amazon case is likely to come before the CJEU on appeal.

Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament from the center-right European People's Party, called the Amazon ruling "an embarrassment for the commission" and suggested that Vestager "prepare her cases more thoroughly so that they can hold up in a court of law."

Last year, Amazon reportedly brought in a record 44 billion euros in revenue in Europe, fueled largely by online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. Even so, the company paid no corporate tax to Luxembourg.

Amazon, however, maintains that it pays taxes and associated expenses on revenue it earns in the U.K., Germany, Spain, France and Italy, where it has branches.

In a separate case decided on Tuesday, the General Court sided with the European Commission that French utility Engie benefited from a tax advantage and upheld an order that it 120 million euros ($145.7 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg.

Editor's note: Amazon is among NPR's recent financial supporters.


Luxembourg timeline

1914 - Outbreak of World War I. Luxembourg is occupied by Germany until 1918.

1920 - Luxembourg joins the League of Nations.

1921 - Luxembourg enters economic union with Belgium. The use of the Belgian currency in Luxembourg is permitted.

1940 - Luxembourg is again occupied by Germany. The occupation lasts for most of World War II, until 1944.

1948 - Luxembourg abandons its neutrality. Forms an economic union with Belgium and the Netherlands.

1949 - Luxembourg joins Nato.

1957 - Luxembourg becomes founder member of the European Economic Community, which comes into effect in January 1958. The EEC is a fore-runner of the European Union.

1964 - Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicates in favour of her son, who becomes Grand Duke Jean.

1974 - The Christian Social party fails to win elections and is out of government for the first time since the end of World War I. New government coalition between the Democrats and the Socialists.

1979 - Christian Social party regains power. Luxembourg enters period of economic recession.

1984 - Jacques Santer becomes prime minister. He remains in power until 1995.

1992 - Luxembourg adopts the Maastricht Treaty creating the European Union.

1995 - Jean-Claude Juncker becomes prime minister after Jacques Santer is appointed president of the European Commission.

1999 - Jean-Claude Juncker re-elected as prime minister

2000 - Crown Prince Henri becomes Grand Duke of Luxembourg on the abdication of his father, Jean.

2002 January - Euro introduced as national currency.

2004 June - Jean-Claude Juncker again invited to form government after his party wins general election.

2005 July - Voters back a proposed EU constitution, rejected earlier in the year by French and Dutch voters.

Constitutional crisis

2008 December - Parliament approves reform restricting the monarch to a purely ceremonial role after Grand Duke Henri's threat to block a bill legalising euthanasia sparks a constitutional crisis.

2009 April - G20 adds Luxembourg to "grey list" of countries with questionable banking arrangements.

2009 July - OECD commends Luxembourg for taking action to improve the transparency of its financial arrangements by signing agreements on the exchange of tax information with a dozen countries.


Los Angeles records largest drug bust in sheriff's department history, Mexican cartel activity suspected

Biggest drug bust goes down in LA sheriff department history

National correspondent Bill Melugin reports on the major drug raid allegedly tied to Mexican cartels.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department documented the biggest drug bust in its history on Tuesday and officials expect Mexican cartels are to blame.

Just north of L.A. in Antelope Valley, California, officials tracked down, identified and destroyed 70 to 80 outhouses filled with illegal marijuana plots in the open desert.

The department brought in massive bulldozers to raid the scene, completely leveling the illegal grows – and there are reportedly hundreds more to tackle. One tented location was alone appraised at approximately $50 million worth of product.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has since launched an operation with up to 500 deputies and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to hunt down and destroy other marijuana plantations.

Villanueva revealed to Fox News that these locations are hot spots for criminal behavior with reports of cartel members threatening residents with firearms. The L.A. plantations also hog water from local alfalfa, carrot, and potato farmers.

"The origins of the sheriff’s department date back to 1850 when this was the Wild West," the sheriff said. "And we introduced law and order back in those days. Now, come 2021, we’re going to have to redo the same concept. We’re going to reintroduce this law and order and make sure we drive these people out of business and give this community back to the residents."