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Austria

Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

In the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading — and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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Neutrality Is Not An Option! Austria Must Follow Finland And Sweden Into NATO

While Sweden and Finland are fast-tracking NATO applications, the writer's homeland of Austria continues to cling to longstanding "neutrality" status, sleepwalking through the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The government has the polls on their side. But in reality, it's not our neutrality that protects us.

-OpEd-

Growing up in Austria, there's one word we seem to learn to say faster than “mama.” That word is: “neutrality.”

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It's a status that apparently we all say we want – just look at recent statements by Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner: Neutrality is “in the heart of the Austrians,” she said, making it clear once again that this matter is not up for discussion.

For Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, the matter was also always (and forever) clear: “Austria was neutral, Austria is neutral, and Austria will remain neutral,” he said, shortly before he tried to talk Putin to persuade him to find his conscience in Moscow. Putin remained unimpressed, and so were the Austrians.

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China's Ski Boom Is Bigger Than The Olympics

In 10 years, skiing has exploded in China. The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and the growing middle class have served as springboards for this craze. Are we seeing the beginnings of a great skiing nation or should we put on the breaks?

GUANGZHOU — Chunli traded in her bare feet for snowboarding boots: "I saw some videos on Douyin [TikTok in Chinese] and it made me want to try it. It looks so cool!"

With her board between her mittens, the young student valiantly heads for the snowy slopes. In Douyin, it is -6°C (21°F) all year long and the snow is always there. No wind or sun. As for the mountains, they are only displayed on the walls.

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Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are still the exception, but lawmakers from New Zealand to Peru to Switzerland and beyond are gradually giving more space for people to choose to get help to end their lives — sometimes with new and innovative technological methods.

The announcement last month that a “suicide capsule” device would be commercialized in Switzerland, not surprisingly, caused quite a stir. The machine called Sarcophagus, or “Sarco” for short, consists of a 3D-printed pod mounted on a stand, which releases nitrogen and gradually reduces the oxygen level from 21% to 1%, causing the person inside to lose consciousness without pain or a sense of panic, and then die of hypoxia and hypocapnia (oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation).

While active euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed under certain conditions and under the supervision of a physician, who has first to review the patient’s capacity for discernment — a condition that Sarco aims to eliminate. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, the machine’s creator, told news platform SwissInfo. Some argue that this is against the country’s medical ethical rules while others expressed concerns about safety.

But Nitschke says he found the solution: an online AI-based test, which will give a code to the patient to use the device if he passes.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

Biden-Putin Call, Olympic Boycott, Lockdown Of Unvaccinated

👋 Mbote!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Biden and Putin go face-to-face on Ukraine, China threatens U.S. over Olympic boycott and the world marks 80 years since Pearl Harbor. Meanwhile, we go back to the small town that recorded Italy’s first coronavirus death back in February 2020, which is now a stronghold for vaccine skeptics.

[*M-boh-teh – Lingala, Democratic Republic of the Congo]

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Coronavirus
Jonathan Pugh, Dominic Wilkinson and Julian Savulescu

When Singling Out The Unvaccinated Is OK

Lockdowns can be justified on an ethical basis to achieve an important public health benefit, even though they restrict individual freedoms. Whether selective lockdowns are justified, though, depends on what they are intended to achieve.

COVID is surging in some European countries. In response, Austria and Russia are planning to reimpose lockdowns, but only for the unvaccinated. Is this ethical?

Some countries already have vaccine passport schemes to travel or enter certain public spaces. The passports treat those who have had vaccines – or have evidence of recent infection – differently from those who have not had a vaccine. But the proposed selective lockdowns would radically increase the scope of restrictions for the unvaccinated.

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In The News
Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Modi Bows To Farmers, Belarus Camps Cleared, Extra-Long Eclipse

👋 Dia dhuit!*

Welcome to Friday, where Indian farmers win a major victory against the Modi government after a year of protests, Austria announces a full lockdown and mandatory vaccines and the world is treated to the longest lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years. We also have a feature story from Jeune Afrique magazine that traces the international origins of twerking.

[*Gaelic]

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Geopolitics
Stefan Schocher

Sebastian Kurz: Victim Of Pandemic, And His Own Ego

The rise and fall of 35-year-old Sebastian Kurz was breathtaking in any context. Yet the resignation of the Austrian chancellor offers unique insights into a political scenario that was very much of our COVID times.

VIENNA — Sebastian Kurz is used to being popular. When he was re-elected as Federal Chairman of his party's youth organization in 2012, he received 100% of the votes. And that was exactly the bar against which he, along with all those who basked in his glow, have measured success in the decade since.

Kurz won 99.4% of the votes at the conservative ÖVP party congress this past August. Such a phenomenon might be common in authoritarian regimes, but is rare in a European democracy.

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Geopolitics
Klaus Geiger

Austria, A Laboratory For Hard-Line Policies On Islam

Heated debate over an 'Islam Map' is drawing new attention to the center-right government's aggressive policy, which some in Germany now see as a model.

VIENNA — The colorfully playful facade of the Hundertwasser Museum is hard to miss. Instead, just around the corner in Vienna's Weißgerberviertel neighborhood is another building that you might never notice. Behind the gray door of the house is the Tuna Mosque. It is one of hundreds of small, inconspicuous mosques, as they tend to be in Austria, similar to those in Germany. Often, only members know where they are, and what is preached there.

The mosque in Vienna's Weißgerberviertel is one of more than 600 points on an online map that has recently gotten lots of attention in Austria. The government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has presented an "Islam map" that should give an overview of as many of the country's Muslim institutions as possible.

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BBC
Bertrand Hauger

Austrian Man Makes Case For Lower Fine After “Deliberately” Farting At Police

In Austria, they call it Darmwind — literally "bowel wind."

In June 2020, a man was fined 500 euros for intentionally letting one such Darwmind go at police officers approaching him for an identity check as he sat on a bench in a Viennese park. The Vienna Regional Administrative Court has now reduced the fine to 100 euros.

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Coronavirus
Henryk M. Broder

Alone (Not) Among People: Vienna's Coffee Houses Lost To Covid

They haven't actually gone anywhere. But because of the pandemic, the city's celebrated cafés are off limits — and sorely missed.

VIENNA — In 1964, Viennese cabaret artist Georg Kreisler sang about a fantasy of "Vienna without the Viennese": How beautiful Vienna would be without the Viennese! / As beautiful as a sleeping woman. / The park would be greener, / and the Donau so blue.

That was a long time ago — more than 50 years, about two generations. Unlike in Kreisler's imaginary version, Vienna is now more full of Viennese people than ever. But it is as beautiful as a sleeping woman, and that's because of a catastrophe that no one saw coming: Vienna has lost its famous coffee houses.

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Geopolitics
Christoph B. Schiltz

What We Learned From Austria's Far-Right Experiment

Chancellor Kurz deserves credit for trying to work with the populist FPÖ. But he's also right to end the relationship in the wake of the damning scandal

-OpEd-

BERLIN — "Enough is enough!" It was with those words — full of anger, bitterness and distance — that Austria's chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, severed the alliance between his conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the far-right populist Freedom Party (FPÖ). This is the (provisional) end of political project.

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