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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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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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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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Migrant Lives
Tamim Nashed

Refugees Need Acceptance, Not Mandated Integration

Strict integration protocols can have the opposite effect on asylum seekers, compounding their sense of otherness, a Syrian man now living in Austria argues.

-Essay-

VIENNA — I left Syria in August 2012, as there was no other choice. I had friends in Austria and that is why I ended up in Vienna. At the time, I had no idea what the words "refugee," "asylum" and "integration" meant.

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Sources
Christoph B. Schiltz

Austrian Wunderkind? Kurz Eyes Pivotal Role In Geopolitics

-OpEd-

BERLIN — With his most recent visit to Vienna, made on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin has now met Austria's 32-year-old Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for the second time this year. Meanwhile, Richard Grenell — U.S. ambassador to Berlin and a Donald Trump confidant — has called Kurz a "rock star" in a recent interview with Breitbart.

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Geopolitics

Austria-Hungary And Far-Right Echoes Of History

-Analysis-

Is this the "return of Austria-Hungary"? Following the formation of the new right-wing government in Vienna, acknowledging the like-minded leadership next door in Budapest is a legitimate point — even if imagining the Austro-Hungarian empire rising from the ashes seems far-fetched. It's also worth noting that this provocative historical analogy, as reported by Berlin-based daily Die Welt, was offered up by politicians in Germany. Sure, from the German point of view, it is a preferable reference for a far right on the rise than a much more obvious one.

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blog
Bertrand Hauger

Imperial Memories Of Palaces Past

On two separate trips, we visited the Hofburg imperial palace you see here in the bustling center of Vienna, as well as the emperors' exuberantly baroque summer residence at Schönbrunn. Even if this photograph is better, my memory is quite clear that the summer palace was far more stunning in person.

Sources
Stuart Richardson

New Bans On Burqa And Balaclava: A Halloween Guide

PARIS — Winter is coming. People here in the Northern Hemisphere are ready to start bundling up before leaving home. But if you're in Austria, you might want to think twice about pulling your wool hat too far down or wrapping your scarf up too high. That's because a new law, which came into effect on Oct. 1, has introduced new restrictions on covering your face in public spaces.

Critics of the new law have labeled it a "burqa ban," saying that it follows similar restrictions in France and elsewhere that target Muslim women who cover their faces for religious reasons. Still, Austrian officials make a point of saying that any individual risks fines of up to 150 euros for covering their faces whenever it's unnecessary to do so (for example, wearing a medical mask when you're not sick).

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Geopolitics
Klaus Geiger

The Flash Rise Of Sebastian Kurz, Austria's Emmanuel Macron

BERLIN — Sebastian Kurz was faster than Emmanuel Macron. Following the rapid rise of this year's other young political superstar, Kurz's victory Sunday in Austria"s parliamentary election was even more stunning — and swift. He needed only five months to pull off three unbelievable feats: to rebuild the washed-out Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) into a one-man political machine, to break the spell on a seemingly unstoppable far-right, and to become the most powerful man in Austria. His French counterpart needed six months to do the same.

At 31, Europe's youngest foreign minister is now set to become Austria's new Chancellor — and Europe's youngest head of government ever.

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