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

The Local Austria
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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Participants of a student's pro-Palestinian protest camp demonstrate with Palestinian flags banners on the grounds of the University of Vienna (Altes AKH), Austria, on May 7, 2024. (Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP)

Austria's Intelligence Service highlights growing extremism threats, long waits plaguing the public healthcare system, changing weather and more news from Austria on Friday.

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Austria's Intelligence Service highlights growing extremism threats

Austria's domestic intelligence agency, the Directorate for State Protection and Intelligence (DSN), has released a report on extremism in the country, ORF reported. Right-wing extremism remains a significant threat, with a 30 percent increase in related offences in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Interior Minister Gerhard Karner condemned the rise of anti-Semitism and warned of the "mental arson" caused by hateful rhetoric that divides society.

The DSN report also highlights the growing influence of the war in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East on Austria's security landscape. According to Karner, the Russian invasion has brought "a new dynamic" to espionage and disinformation efforts. Additionally, the DSN Director, Omar Haijawi-Pirchner, noted that the conflict in the Middle East has increased the threat of Islamist extremism in Austria.

The report underscores the evolving nature of extremism. While "old" and "new" forms of right-wing extremism remain a major concern, the DSN also emphasises the threat posed by "denial of the state" ideologies.

Five of the best city hikes in Vienna

If you live in Vienna and want to go hiking, you do not have to travel far. The city is surrounded by hills where you can enjoy well-marked hiking trails. Here, we list some of the most beautiful and interesting ones.

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Long waits plague the public healthcare system

A new study by the Vienna Medical Association paints a concerning picture of the city's public healthcare system. Waiting times for appointments with specialists have increased significantly in recent years, with some specialities experiencing dramatic delays, Austrian media reported.

The study, which involved contacting over 850 doctors' practices via so-called "mystery calls", revealed the longest wait times for child and adolescent psychiatry, where patients can expect to wait an average of 90 days for an appointment. This issue wasn't even tracked in 2012, highlighting a potential surge in demand.

Other specialities facing substantial delays include neurology (45 days), ophthalmology (44 days), and pulmonology (36 days). Wait times for gynaecology have quadrupled compared to 2012, with patients now waiting an average of 32 days.

While some specialities, such as orthopaedics and psychiatry, haven't seen significant changes, the overall trend is clear – accessing essential healthcare within a reasonable timeframe is becoming increasingly difficult for Viennese residents.

The Medical Association calls for immediate action, urging the health insurance sector to become more attractive and receive better funding. This could involve measures to incentivise doctors to work within the public system, potentially reducing wait times and improving patient access to care.

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Austria faces changing Whitsun weather

Austria braces for a changeable Whitsun weekend with showers and thunderstorms likely throughout. Expect sunshine breaks, but pack your rain gear!

Friday and Saturday will be cloudy, with heavy rain showers and occasional thunderstorms—chilly mornings (9-14C) warming to mild afternoons (15-23C).

Sunday will have Sunny skies with scattered rain showers (low chance of storms) and comfortable temperatures (6-11C lows, 20-25C highs).

Whit Monday will start with morning sunshine giving way to afternoon showers and thunderstorms, potentially heavy, especially in the east. The weather will be warm (7-14C lows, 25C high).

Tuesday will be cloudy with widespread showers and thunderstorms, some intense. A sliver of sunshine is possible in the north and east. Cool mornings (8-16C) will be followed by mild highs (17-26C).

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The oldest German-language gravestone is Styrian

A team of restorers working in the Styrian parish church of Frauenburg, Austria, has stumbled upon a remarkable discovery—the oldest known German-language gravestone, as ORF reported. The stone, believed to be the final resting place of the minstrel Ulrich von Liechtenstein, who died in 1275, dates back to the 13th century.

Located near the town of Unzmarkt-Frauenburg, the Frauenburg church sits at the foot of a ruined castle of the same name, which was once the favoured residence of von Liechtenstein. The hefty 500-kilogram stone was previously thought to be a Roman inscription plaque, remnants of which are still faintly visible.

According to reports from the Diocese of Graz-Seckau, the team discovered the stone while conducting restoration work. 

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