Valerie Hamilton reports on the west coast and the US-Mexico border for US and European public media. She lives in Los Angeles.
Take-out coffee cups are a popular American import that are filling up the country's trash bins. Now there's an effort in Munich to replace throwaway cups with cups you borrow and return, inspired by the longstanding practice at the city's famous beer gardens.
North Korea owns City Hostel Berlin building and leases it to a German hotelier for 38,000 euros per month — despite UN sanctions. It's just one way this unusual landlord brings in hard currency to support the regime.
Germany is shutting down the last of its underground coal mines next year, and the the way it's handling the end of this once-dominant industry could be a model for the US and other countries.
Even though Angela Merkel is its political leader, Germany has one of the worst gender wage gaps in Europe. But the picture is different in the East.
Even as it makes a big push into green energy and hosts big climate conferences, Germany has remained stubbornly reliant on coal for a big share of its energy. That might finally be starting to change.