Connect with us

Foreign

Austrian unemployment sets new post-WWII record

Published

on

  The number of unemployed people in Austria reached a record 563,000 at the end of March as the novel coronavirus pandemic took its toll, the Labour Market Agency said on Wednesday.

This is the highest jobless figure the country has seen since the aftermath of World War II in 1946, when 439,000 people were without work.

Since a coronavirus lockdown took effect in mid-March, people were mostly laid off in the tourism, construction, retail and temporary work sectors.

Nearly 200,000 people lost their jobs in the second half on March, pushing Austria’s jobless rate to 12.2 per cent, according to the national unemployment calculation method, which does not include the self-employed labour market.

According to the EU counting method, Austria has an unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent.

In addition to the lay-offs, Austrian companies have shortened working hours for 250,000 employees, Labour Minister Christine Aschbacher told a news conference.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

Fatima Sule: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Austrian gov’t outlines step-by-step plan to resume cultural activities

Published

on

The Austrian government on Friday outlined a step-by-step plan for the resumption of cultural activities in the Alpine country.

From May 29 indoor and outdoor events with up to 100 spectators will be allowed, said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober at a press conference here on Friday.

From July 1 events with up to 250 spectators will be possible and cinemas are also due to open, he said.

The one-meter social distancing rule will have to be observed at all events, and there should be one representative responsible for coronavirus issues at each event, he added.

“A very big step” should take place on Aug. 1, when events with up to 500 visitors will be permitted, while events with up to 1,000 visitors will be allowed if a special security concept is available, said the minister.

Anschober was pleased with the latest coronavirus figures, saying that there are just over 1,000 active cases and only 212 patients in hospital at present.

“Austria is on a positive path,” he said.

The step-by-step plan, completed after a week of dialogue with cultural workers and politicians, is to be put into a regulation on May 25 and is to be carried out on May 29, the minister added.

(XINHUA)

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian gov’t announces 500 mln euros “pub package” to boost economy

Published

on

The Austrian government announced Monday a “pub package” of 500 million euros (541 million U.S. dollars) to boost consumption and ease the tax burden on bar and restaurant owners.

As planned, the catering business can reopen on Friday with the low number of new infections as a good basis, said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at a press conference on Monday, announcing a “pub package” as part of the existing aid fund of 38 billion euros (41 billion U.S. dollars).

“Gastronomy is part of the Austrian soul and part of the Austrian identity,” said Kurz, calling on the public to “consume” and “support the regional economy“.

The package is all about relief, said Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger who presented the details of the plan at the press conference.

Among other things, starting from July 1, the sales tax (VAT) for non-alcoholic drinks will be reduced to the minimum rate of 10 percent, the sparkling wine tax will be abolished, the tax flat rate will be increased from 255,000 euros (276,000 U.S. dollars) to 400,000 euros (433,000 U.S. dollars) for bars and restaurants, according to the minister.

This package will benefit about 41,000 companies and 145,000 employees all over the country, she said.

Chamber of Commerce chief Harald Mahrer said that tourism and inn culture are at the heart of the local economy, and it is a matter of turning the mood so that shopping and consumption are possible again.

“The economy has a lot to do with psychology,” said Mahrer.

As part of the federal government’s phased plan, bars and restaurants will be allowed to open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from May 15, with restrictions such as wearing face masks by employees and a maximum of four adult guests per table.

Hotels may then reopen from the end of May, according to the plan.

(XINHUA)

Continue Reading

Sport

Leaders Linz become first Austrian team to re-start training

Published

on

League leaders LASK Linz on Monday became the first Austrian top-flight team to re-start training amid the COVID-19 outbreak with the players divided into small groups and observing social distancing guidelines.

Austria has become one of the first countries in Europe to loosen a lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and the government gave the go-ahead last Wednesday for professional teams to start training again.

Under government rules, the Linz players were divided into groups of six for practice and stayed two metres apart. Other Austrian teams were due to start training on Tuesday.

“We’re all happy to be on the pitch again,” said LASK captain Gernot Trauner.

The Austrian Bundesliga is hoping to resume the season in mid-May though all games would have to be without fans for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a completely new situation, we are starting from scratch.

“We know what we have to do, we must respect the two metres distance and that is a challenge, but there is a good feeling and the important thing for the lads is to be back on the pitch after five-and-a-half weeks,” said LASK coach Valerien Ismael.

“This is all a change, but I think it is good the way it is now. I think we have found good solutions,” added the Frenchman.

LASK’s last match was on March 12 when they were thrashed 5-0 by visitors Manchester United in a Europa League lat 16, first-leg tie played behind closed doors.

They have a three-point lead over Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga with 10 games remaining and are chasing their first title since 1965.

Á

Edited By: Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)

 

 

Continue Reading

Foreign

Two Austrian carriers stop all regular flights

Published

on

Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines and Ryanair group carrier Lauda on Monday said they would suspend all regular flights as the coronavirus pandemic had slashed demand and triggered travel restrictions.

Austrian Airlines says that two of its 83 aircraft will remain on standby to repatriate Austrians from abroad if needed during the flight suspension that is scheduled to end on March 28.

Vienna-based budget carrier Lauda has grounded all its aircraft and plans to resume operations on April 9.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Felix Ajide
(NAN)

 

 

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrians hoard cash as country shuts down to weather the coronavirus

Published

on

 Austria’s central bank tried to ease fears of cash shortages on Monday with citizens withdrawing more money than usual as the country went into a lockdown designed to slow the coronavirus infection rate.

During the past days, people in Austria withdrew between two and three times as much cash as the usual daily 200 million euros (223 million dollars), Austrian National Bank chief Robert Holzmann told a press conference in Vienna.

“Be assured that Austria is able ‘’he added.

Austrians will find it difficult to spend their euro bills in coming days as only key shops, such as supermarkets, remain open, and police have been ordered to enforce a ban on all outdoor activities except for commutes, vital errands and private walks.

However, the barrage of new measures affecting schools, playgrounds, universities, restaurants, cultural venues and sports clubs, which the government has announced over the past week, has raised expectations that the lockdown could be tightened even further.

As the number of Austria’s confirmed Covid-19 virus disease patients approached 1,000 on Monday, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel announced that the government would raise its planned economic aid package against the economic fallout of the epidemic from four to six billion euros.

Analysts at major lender Bank Austria forecast that the virus measures mean Austria’s economy will shrink by 0.6 per cent this year, as opposed to the one per cent growth that they had previously predicted.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Tajudeen Atitebi
(NAN)

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian urologist charged with abusing 109 young male patients

Published

on

  A urologist sexually abused 109 boys and youths over the course of nearly 20 years in Austria, according to the indictment that was made public on Monday.

Forty of the alleged victims were younger than 14, the prosecution office in the Upper Austrian town of Wels said in a statement.

All of the victims were patients of the 57-year-old medic.

The doctor’s paedophilia amounts to a serious mental disorder, according to an expert witness report that was drawn up for the prosecution which requested that the defendant be locked up in a prison for mentally disturbed criminals.

He faces up to 15 years behind bars.

The charges include grave sexual abuse, instigating others to create child pornography, and distributing cannabis to minors.

The prosecution office previously said that the doctor made his young patients believe that the abuse was a normal part of his medical examinations.

In addition, he handed out small money gifts and showed some of the boys pornographic films at his hom, where some of the abuse took place in addition to the doctor’s office.

The alleged crimes started in 2000 and lasted until January 2019.

The case came to light after a mother came forward with the allegation that the doctor had started abusing her son when he was 13 years old.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Tajudeen Atitebi

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian top court repeals welfare law that burdened foreigners

Published

on

A Constitutional Court ruling on Tuesday repealed the previous right-wing government law that stated that foreigners in Austria would get less welfare if they did not learn German.

The law was one of several policies by the coalition between conservatives and the far right that were explicitly designed to make Austria less attractive to potential immigrants.

The court argued that the provision that tied welfare payments to language qualifications violated the constitution.

The court added that the provision discriminated against people with learning disabilities or people who managed to find jobs for which they did not need German.

In addition, the court repealed a provision that gradually lowered welfare payments for each additional child.

This law had an especially negative effect on migrant communities that tend to have larger families than Austrians.

“This regulation creates a disadvantage for families with several children.

“It is objectively unjustified and therefore unconstitutional,’’ the court declared.

The ruling came one week after the constitutional judges repealed the right-wing government’s online police surveillance policies.

The cabinet led by conservative chancellor Sebastian Kurz collapsed in May over corruption allegations against vice chancellor and far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

Kurz is currently negotiating with the Green party about forming a new government.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian top court revokes sweeping electronic surveillance laws

Published

on

Austria’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday revoked key parts of electronic policing laws that had been put in place by the country’s previous right-wing government.

The security policy package that had been passed by the coalition between conservatives and the far right gave investigators the right to install surveillance software to monitor encrypted online communications.

The top court found that the surveillance law violates the European Convention on Human Rights, as it not only targets criminal suspects but all users of computer systems in which the software is installed.

The judges criticised the fact that the law `grants investigative authorities far-reaching insights into users’ private lives, including political views and lifestyles.

The court also repealed a law that gave police access to vehicle data from road traffic control systems.

The opposition Social Democrats and the liberal Neos party had brought the security policies before the court.

Social democratic chief Pamela Rendi-Wagner said in a statement “this is a great success for Austrian citizens. It protects our free society.’’

The former interior minister of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), Herbert Kickl, warned that “this Constitutional Court decision turns this day into a holiday for organised crime and terrorist extremism.’’

The right-wing coalition broke down in May after the publication of a secretly recorded video that showed FPOe leader and vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache discussing media and infrastructure deals with a woman posing as a wealthy Russian political donor.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)
Related

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian army dog handler mauled to death by Belgian Shepherds

Published

on

 

Dog

 Austrian military dogs have killed a handler who was tasked with exercising and feeding them.

The spokesman for the Austrian defence ministry, Michael Bauer made this known on Thursday.

The ministry said that the previous night, an officer at the Flugfeld barracks south of Vienna noticed that two Belgian Shepherds were running free on the premises.

When a dog handler was called to bring the animals back to their kennel, he found a lifeless colleague who had apparently been mauled to death by the two dogs, the ministry added.

Bauer told dpa that the 31-year-old staff sergeant who was attacked was on duty on Wednesday evening and had taken the two animals out of their enclosure to give them exercise.

The Belgian Shepherds had been trained “to enter buildings with potential enemies inside, and to stop the enemies,” he said.

According to the spokesman, the staff sergeant had worked as a dog handler for two years and was known to be very dedicated to his job.

An investigation into the incident has been launched.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

Continue Reading

Foreign

No fewer than 10,000 Austrian homes without electricity after heavy snowfall

Published

on

Electricity
Vienna, Nov. 13, 2019    The first heavy snowfall across Austria’s Alpine regions caused power
outages in around 9,800 homes on Wednesday.

The wet and heavy snow toppled trees that fell on power lines, electricity providers in the provinces Tyrol,
Salzburg, Styria and Carinthia reported.

Several roads and one train line were closed because they were blocked by trees, or because of avalanche risk.

The onset of winter weather spelled a vacation day for students in Carinthia, where 11 schools remained
closed on Wednesday.
HS/HA

Edited by Halima Sheji/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

 

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian officer indicted for being part of Russian spy network

Published

on

 A retired Austrian army colonel has been charged with espionage and faces 10 years in prison for having worked for Russia’s military intelligence service for at least 25 years,  the prosecutors in Salzburg said on Friday.

The case that was uncovered one year ago has created diplomatic tensions between Vienna and Moscow, which had traditionally tried to maintain constructive relations in spite of EU sanctions against Russia.

The 71-year-old man used radio and satellite communications as well as specialised software to stay in touch with his handler at Russia’s GRU agency, according to the prosecutors.

Since 1993, the Austrian allegedly provided extensive information about Austrian weapons systems and about army and air force tasks.

“Investigations revealed the defendant was integrated into a structured, state-run agent network,’’ the prosecution office said in a statement.

Investigators estimate that the Austrian officer received several 100,000 euros (111,000 dollars) for his services, which he continued to provide after retiring.

Authorities have seized 28,200 euros in cash that the defendant allegedly received when he met his handling officer for the last time in September 2018.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2018 shrugged off the allegations and claimed that this was an issue about which we know nothing.


HS/DCU

Edited by Halima Sheji/Donald Ugwu

Continue Reading

Foreign

100,000 sign petition against ski piste plan for Austrian glacier

Published

on

A plan to connect two Austrian ski resorts by developing the glacier between them has triggered a public outcry and a protest petition that had more than 100,000 signatures on Thursday.


The project highlights the tensions between the tourism industry that is key for Austria’s Alpine regions, and the public’s increasing concerns that the country’s signature glaciers are under threat from climate change and business interests.


The project would link Tyrol’s Oetztal and Pitztal resorts by building glacier slopes the size of around 90 football fields, digging a 600-metre tunnel, building several ropeways and extensive landscaping to lower a mountain ridge by 36 metres.


Backed by the World Wildlife Fund and the 570,000-member Austrian Alpine Club, the petition points out that glaciers are sensitive ecosystems and a key source of drinking water.


“Given the rapid melting over the past decades, protecting untouched glacier areas must be a priority,” says the letter addressed to the government of Austria’s Tyrol region.


Authorities are currently carrying out an environmental impact assessment.


Local supporters of project have responded with a petition of their own.


A platform of young tourism entrepreneurs argued in a letter to the Tyrolean government that their industry forms the economic backbone of the area, and that “developing the glacier ropeway infrastructure is closely connected to the developing the entire region”.



Edited by Fatima Sule/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian suspected of imprisoning family on Dutch farm

Published

on

  An Austrian man is suspected of imprisoning a family on an isolated farm in the Netherlands, authorities said on Wednesday.

The 58-year-old man, detained the previous day, is accused of false imprisonment.

He was to appear before a judge on Thursday. The family is believed to have spent the past nine years at the residence.

The family, comprising six siblings aged 18 to 25 and their father, is believed to have lived on the farm near the village of Ruinerwold, in the eastern province of Drenthe, since 2010.

The family was discovered in a cellar at the farm after one of the sons sought help in a nearby pub earlier this week.

The Austrian man apparently rented the property and did repair work on it.

He was reportedly detained initially on the allegation that he had refused to cooperate with investigators.

An Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman told dpa that the man had refused consular help from his home country.

Dutch media have reported that the family had been living in isolation as they awaited the end of time.

Residents of the town were in shock, telling reporters that they had only ever seen a man at the property and were unaware of the family.

The farm is hidden behind trees and about 200 metres from the edge of town.

According to reports, there was a large vegetable garden and goats, allowing the family to sustain itself.

HS/YEE

Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian cross-country skier gets life ban for doping 

Published

on

Austrian anti-doping agency (OeADR)  on Thursday said Johannes Duerr, a cross-country skier, has been given a life ban for repeat of doping offences.

The OeADR reached its decision in September, but did not announce it until Duerr’s four-week window to appeal expired.

Duerr, 32, tested positive for the blood booster, EPO, at the Sochi 2014 Olympics and was banned.

He then acted a whistleblower which led to the ongoing investigation on a doping ring centering on a German doctor who was detained in February along with his aid.

The probe also revealed that Duerr had continued to dope after his return to the sport, and he was suspended in March.

Munich prosecutors said in March that the probe had brought to light a client list of 21 athletes from eight countries.

HLM/TA

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed/Tajudeen Atitebi

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian manufacturer, AMS fails in takeover of Germany’s Osram

Published

on

A takeover bid of German lighting manufacturer Osram by an Austrian company on Friday failed.

AMS, a producer of sensors, said it failed in its goal to achieve the minimum acceptance threshold of 62.5 per cent of Osram’s shares.

Only the owners of 51.6 per cent of the shares of Munich-based Osram took the offer of 41 euros (or 45 dollars) per share.

The company said it would continue to pursue Osram, adding that merger would enable the creation of a globally leading company in sensor technology and photonics.

Meanwhile, Osram’s board of directors and supervisory board had supported AMS’s takeover bid, but with so many reservations that it was seen as a hidden “no. “

The IG Metall union was already strongly opposed to a takeover by AMS because the union feared Osram would be dismantled.

The bidding battle, which lasted several weeks, was started by two U.S financial investors, who however, only offered 35 euros per share and therefore, had no chance.

Osram will remain independent for the time being. AMS now the largest shareholder with just under 20 per cent of the shares.

YI/AFA


(NAN)
Edited by Yahaya Isah/Felix Ajide

 

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian defence chief: Country unprotected due to lack of funding

Published

on

Austria’s armed forces are so severely underfunded that they can no longer protect the population in case of a serious emergency, Defence Minister, Thomas Starlinger, on Tuesday said.

The general, who serves in a caretaker government composed of senior officials, issued a call for much higher defence spending two weeks before parliamentary elections that will lead to the formation of a new cabinet.

The armed forces’ annual budget should be more than doubled from what it is currently – 2.2 billion euros (2.4 billion dollars) to around 5.6 billion euros – by 2030, according to a plan the Defence Ministry presented on Tuesday.

This would bring defence spending to one per cent of Austria’s gross domestic product.
In a video message, Starlinger brought up the scenario of a terrorist attack by armed foreign fighters who return to Austria from crisis regions.

“You might think that the Federal Army protects you in such situations, but I have to disappoint you,” he said.

“Because of drastic cost-cutting policies over the past 30 years, we can no longer guarantee this.”

Weakened by a backlog in investments and lack of staffing, the army lacks defence systems against drones and is unable to protect key national infrastructure, the minister warned.

As a neutral country, Austria is not part of the western NATO alliance.
FAT/AFA

Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian far right, conservatives spat over campaign slogan

Published

on

Kickl’s Freedom Party (FPOe) apparent supporters voiced their resentment on social media on Thursday, as the advertising campaigns for both politicians feature the sentence `one who speaks our language’.

“It’s shameful to use an old Kickl slogan,’’ a user named Sophia Bauer wrote on the Facebook page of People’s Party (OeVP) chief Kurz.

The coalition between FPOe and OeVP collapsed in May, when a covert video appeared in which leading FPOe politicians talked about potential media and infrastructure deals with a woman posing as a wealthy Russian donor.

Kurz had won the previous parliamentary election in 2017 with anti-immigration policies that were originally the hallmark of the FPOe.

“After copying FPOe themes, Sebastian Kurz’s advertisers have taken to borrowing FPOe slogans,’’ the OeVP’s far-right rival said in a statement.

Kickl came up with the very similar “the only one who speaks our language’’ already in 2015 for the Vienna city election campaign, the FPOe said.

OeVP party manager Karl Nehammer accused the FPOe of gleaning Kurz’s slogan at a printing company that makes campaign posters.

“Apparently the FPOe liked the slogan so much that they wanted to adopt it,’’ he said.

Ahead of the Sept. 29 election, Kurz leads in polls while the far right and social democrats vie for second place. (dpa/)

HLM/IS

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian far right outraged as conservatives use same campaign slogan

Published

on

Kickl’s Freedom Party (FPOe) apparent supporters voiced their resentment on social media on Thursday, as the advertising campaigns for both politicians feature the sentence `one who speaks our language’.

“It’s shameful to use an old Kickl slogan,’’ a user named Sophia Bauer wrote on the Facebook page of People’s Party (OeVP) chief Kurz.

The coalition between FPOe and OeVP collapsed in May, when a covert video appeared in which leading FPOe politicians talked about potential media and infrastructure deals with a woman posing as a wealthy Russian donor.

Kurz had won the previous parliamentary election in 2017 with anti-immigration policies that were originally the hallmark of the FPOe.

“After copying FPOe themes, Sebastian Kurz’s advertisers have taken to borrowing FPOe slogans,’’ the OeVP’s far-right rival said in a statement.

Kickl came up with the very similar “the only one who speaks our language’’ already in 2015 for the Vienna city election campaign, the FPOe said.

OeVP party manager Karl Nehammer accused the FPOe of gleaning Kurz’s slogan at a printing company that makes campaign posters.

“Apparently the FPOe liked the slogan so much that they wanted to adopt it,’’ he said.

Ahead of the Sept. 29 election, Kurz leads in polls while the far right and social democrats vie for second place. (dpa/)

HLM/IS

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian pensioners lose savings worth 2.5m euros to fraudsters

Published

on

The police in Vienna have said that three fraudsters, who posed as officers persuaded pensioners in the area to hand over their savings worth 2.5 million euros (or 2.8 million dollars).

The police department in Austria’s capital made this known on Wednesday.

Criminals across Europe had been using this ruse for several months, but the three men – two from Serbia and the other Turkish – have been detained.

They seemed to have worked independently of suspects in other countries, a police spokesman told dpa.

Since November, the three men had called elderly people on the phone, pretending to be criminal police investigators, who were working on burglary cases, according to Vienna’s real law enforcers.

To add credibility, they used manipulated telephone connections that mimicked Austria’s police emergency number 133.

While one of the suspects told their victims that their savings would be safer in the hands of police, an accomplice would have arrived at the door with a fake police badge to take over the money.

Out of hundreds of fraud attempts, they were successful in at least 38 cases, police said.

Continue Reading

Foreign

Austrian urologist suspected of abusing nearly 100 boys

Published

on

 Austrian investigators have identified 95 mostly underage male patients, who were sexually abused by a doctor, a prosecution spokesman in the city of Wels said on Tuesday.

The 55-year-old urologist has been held in custody since early this year after one patient filed a criminal complaint.

The magnitude of the case emerged when investigators started going through the doctor’s patient files.

The crimes, which were first made public by the Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten newspaper, allegedly took place between 2000 and 2019.

The urologist claimed that he carried out his “treatments” for medical reasons, but prosecutors have commissioned an expert report, which dismissed this explanation.

So far, four of the boys have been found to suffer from long term trauma.

Continue Reading

Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

Latest News