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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

The rare Ural owl is doing well in Austria
The rare Ural owl is doing well in Austria (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Friday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

More money for terror victims

A new €2.2 million state fund will be used for survivors and victims of Vienna’s terror attack last autumn, Der Standard newspaper reports. Four people were killed and 23 injured in the attack, and some survivors were unable to work in the weeks afterwards due to psychological problems.

Following the attack, the government promised a special victims fund for victims of terrorism and their bereaved relatives, but there were no immediate concrete plans.

In the meantime, the mother of one of the terrorist’s victims has sued  the republic of Austria. 

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was ‘only a matter of time’

Vienna CIA station chief to leave

A CIA station chief in Vienna has been dismissed for not mounting a strong enough response to the mysterious illness of US diplomats known as “Havana Syndrome”,the Washington Post claims, citing informed circles. The department says Ambassador Pamela Spratlen was exiting because she had “reached the threshold of hours of labor” permitted under her status as a retiree.

According to the newspaper, many US diplomats had started to complain of headaches and nausea in Vienna. In July, the Austrian Foreign Ministry promised the United States help in investigating the mystery disease.

Since the syndrome first appeared in the Cuban capital Havana in 2016, around 200 representatives from the United States had “Havana Syndrome” according to the CIA. The US suspects that those affected were attacked with radio frequencies and that Russia was behind the attacks. The government in Moscow rejects this.

Rare Ural Owl thriving in Vienna

One in three of Austria’s 45 breeding pairs of the Ural Owl lives in Vienna, broadcaster ORF reports. The Ural Owl is one of Europe’s rarest owls. Since 2011 around 460 birds have been released into the Vienna Woods and Lower Austria in 2011. The Ural Owls are said to be doing well in Vienna’s Lainzer Tiergarten. By contrast, in the middle of the 20th century, owls were considered to be extinct all over Austria due to hunting and loss of habitat. 

Tenants ‘should be exempt’ from CO2 tax

Austria’s left wing SPÖ is calling for tenants to be exempted from a planned CO2 tax, arguing these should be paid by landlords, as tenants cannot decide for themselves what type of heating system they want. In addition, the party says there is a need for funding to help people with low incomes and social housing to make their heating systems more environmentally friendly, Der Standard newspaper reports.

According to Statistics Austria, almost four out of ten people in Austria live in a rented apartment and according to a study published by the Chamber of Labour last year, these are most frequently heated with district heating, followed by natural gas.

The Ministry of the Environment did not want to comment on how rental apartments could be included in the CO2 price which should be introduced as part of an ongoing tax reform. In April, however, the federal and state governments had already agreed on phasing out fossil fuels for heating.

Coal and oil heating systems should be replaced by 2035 at the latest, natural gas should only be allowed to be used until 2040. In new buildings, gas heating should be a thing of the past as early as 2025.

Climate change demonstrations on Friday

Further demonstrations calling on greater measures tackle climate change are due to be held later by the Fridays for Future group in Austria. It will be the eighth global ‘climate strike’  in almost 1,200 locations. Actions are also planned in 14 cities in Austria.

In Graz, for example, a large demo will start at Grießplatz at 12 noon. In Vienna, the action begins at Praterstern and then leads across the Ring to Heldenplatz, where the final rally takes place.


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