Climate & Environment
Higher-than-usual radioactivity detected near Baltic Sea, origin and source unknown
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map.
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map. Credit: @SinaZerbo (Lassino Zerbo), via Twitter

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has detected slightly increased levels of isotopes produced by nuclear fission near the Baltic Sea. The CTBTO is a network of hundreds of monitoring stations checking for nuclear weapon tests worldwide but is also able to identify other nuclear activities. One CTBTO station detected higher-than-usual levels of the radionuclides caesium-134, caesium-137 and ruthenium-103 earlier this week that are "certainly nuclear fission products, most likely from a civil source," but "it’s outside the CTBTO’s mandate to identify the exact origin," so a spokesperson of the Vienna-based CTBTO.

Nuclear fission products are atomic fragments that are left after an atom is split into two or more smaller nuclei and are radioactive.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Art & Design
Salzburg Festival will take place under strict Covid-19 rules
Il Trovatore, Salzburg Festival 2014
Il Trovatore, Salzburg Festival 2014 Credit: Christian Michelides (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the Salzburg Festival will take place this year, only under more stringent security and hygiene measures. For example, only personalized tickets are sold and checked against the identity card at the entrance.

According to President Helga Rabl-Stadler, the goal must be that infection chains can be traced immediately. All attendees are required to wear a mask upon entrance and can only remove them while seated.

Austria: Trial against former police office for alleged illegal data harvesting
Austria: Trial against former police office for alleged illegal data harvesting
Credit: Plani (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

An Austrian court is currently investigating a potential data scandal. The background is the lawsuit against a former police officer who is said to have carried out more than 90 inquiries from the police network for no official reason.

In court, he defended himself that he only checked security company employees. The judgment is still pending.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Austrian Airlines gets €450 million bailout
An Austrian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER departing JFK Airport
An Austrian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER departing JFK Airport Credit: Adam Moreira (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Austrian government announced today that it is granting Austrian Airlines €450 million bailout that will protect Vienna as a transit hub and safeguard carrier's jobs.

Ministers told during a press conference the structure of the bailout will be €300 million in loans by a banking consortium, 90% of which to be guaranteed by the government, and €150 million in direct grants.

Two women killed in Carinthia, Austria

On Saturday morning, a 60-year old Austrian man killed two women. He murdered the first woman (62), presumably his ex-wife, with an axe and later shot another woman (56) out of his car. The unnamed man fled to Italy where he was spotted at a parking lot by Italian police. The perpetrator fired three warning shots and, upon being approached by police, shot himself.

Regional News • Europe
Hitler's birthplace to be transformed into police station
Adolf Hitler's birthplace in Braunau, Austria
Adolf Hitler's birthplace in Braunau, Austria Credit: Thomas Ledl / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Adolf Hitler's birthplace, a townhouse in Braunau, Austria, will be converted into a police station. Austrian Minister of the Interior Karl Nehammer announced the reconstruction plans in a press conference on Tuesday. Nehammer said the decision to transform "the birthplace of a mass murderer" was "a new chapter in the history of the Second Republic". Architecture firm Marte Marte won the competition which was open for submission to firms across the EU. The townhouse has been a place of pilgrimage for Neonazis.

F1: First 8 races officially confirmed
Lewis Hamilston, Silverstone 2018
Lewis Hamilston, Silverstone 2018 Credit: Carl Jorgensen

The announcement that motorsport fans awaited is finally here: Formula 1 is ready to rumble in Austria with a race on July 5. Both Austria and the UK are hosting two races each this year, a development that is expected to streamline operations and maximize the number of races in a season that starts 16 weeks behind the original schedule.

"While we currently expect the season to commence without fans at our races we hope that over the coming months the situation will allow us to welcome them back once it is safe to do," stated further the Chairman and CEO of Formula 1, Chase Carey.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German government approves easing of border controls from Saturday on
Sunset on Brandenburg Gate
Sunset on Brandenburg Gate Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Germany will begin easing its border controls with France, Switzerland and Austria on Saturday, according to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Border controls will remain in place, but only random checks will be carried out. Additionally, all border crossings between these countries will be reopened, rather than selected ones at present. The use of spot checks should ease traffic jams for commuters over the border, who have been allowed to cross.

Climate & Environment
Sweden's last coal plant to be closed two years early
Image of Coal Plant
Image of Coal Plant Credit:

Sweden's last coal-fired power station, which was set to seize operation in 2022, has been closed prematurely. A statement on Stockholm Exergi's website read: “This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time, today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan." Sweden is the next European country to go coal-free, following Austria and Belgium.

Regional News • Europe
Austria to reopen schools, restaurant industry and churches starting mid May

In a press conference on Tuesday, Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz and vice-chancellor Werner Kogler announced that schools, restaurants and churches will be opened gradually starting May 15th.

After last week's reopening of small retailers, DIY and gardening stores, larger stores and malls are set to open at the beginning of May. Both Kurz and Kogler reiterated that they would review the situation on a biweekly basis and would pull the emergency brake if the situation worsened.

Business • Economy
138,000 people filed for unemployment in Austria since March 16th

The unemployment figure has been rising since Austria ordered a nationwide lockdown on Monday, March 16th. As of today, 138,000 people filed for unemployment – affected industries include the catering and accommodation sector (47,000), construction (17,000) and other economic services such as trade, maintenance and repair (13,000). Sectors with strong fluctuations in employment are particularly affected.

Austria limits movement further following Covid-19 spread

The northern neighbor country of Italy takes on new measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced that people should only leave their homes for essential workes, essential shopping (such as food and medicine) and for helping other people.