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German cities can ban diesel cars



German cities and towns have been told they can ban diesel cars to protect the health of their citizens.

The country’s Federal Administrative Court upheld a lower court’s decision that local authorities can act when air pollution massively exceeds allowable levels.

Stuttgart and Dusseldorf previously said they wanted to ban diesels, but they were challenged by other local authorities who wanted Germany’s national government to bring in laws first.

Stuttgart has said it intends to stop vehicles that have a lower rating than Euro 6 using its streets from 1 September, 2019.

Presiding judge at the Federal Administrative Court on the diesel ruling he gave on 27 February
Presiding judge at the Federal Administrative Court Andreas Korbmacher,

The court in Germany ruled that cities that implement a ban would not need to compensate drivers for being unable to use their diesel vehicles.

Other German states, cities and communities will be now also be able to bring in similar bans to that being implemented in Stuttgart without needing the permission of Germany’s federal government.

ClientEarth’s lead clean air lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “The win is a tremendous result for people’s health in Germany and may have an impact even further afield.”

The mayor of Munich said he may use the powers as his city was one of 70 in Germany which failed its air quality targets in 2017.

The sign said that clean air is not negotiable and was held before the hearings last week
Protesters have been demonstrating outside the court

The Federal government said it remained committed to preventing any bans being brought into force.

Environment minister Barbara Hendricks said: “My goal is and remains that driving bans should never have to come into force, because we can manage to keep the air clean in other ways.”

Stuttgart said it needed to bring in a ban because it had experienced the worst for air pollution in Germany for nearly a decade.

Car industry manufacturers such as Daimler are located in the area.

Concerns over air pollution have intensified since 2015 when Volkswagen was exposed to have been designing engines that tricked the emissions testing system – a scandal known as dieselgate.

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German motor manufacturers’ representative body the VDA said “new paths” were being taken after the scandal and urged local authorities not to ‘confuse drivers’.

Most areas of Germany recorded average of nitrogen dioxide levels that were above EU thresholds in 2017.

A number of other cities around Europe, including Athens and Copenhagen, have said they intend to ban diesel cars by 2025.

In the UK, London mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the T-charge last November for those vehicles which do not reach the standard of the Euro 4/IV.

The UK Government confirmed in its recent 25-year environment plan it would ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars from 2040.

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Into The Grey Zone: Political violence ‘much more likely’ when facts are undermined | World News



The risk of political violence increases when people are unable to agree on facts, a leading author on disinformation has warned, as the US braces for more protests from Donald Trump supporters ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Professor Thomas Rid explained how information can be used as a weapon – by hostile foreign states and domestic actors – to amplify divisions in a society, undermine the credibility of those in authority and win support.

He was speaking on Sky News’ Into The Grey Zone podcast.

Episode Two, out now, explores a battle between truth, lies and every variation of distorted reality in between that is threatening democracies around the world.

“The line between truth and lie is a continuation of the line between peace and war so the stakes here are extremely high,” said Professor Rid, who is a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University in the US.

“The danger is this: If we collectively undermine the authority of the factual, then we will risk losing our ability to resolve conflicts peacefully here at home in our democracies.

“We resolve conflict by definition because we can agree on certain facts: How many votes were counted in a specific precinct or what does science say about COVID? And does this vaccine work? Is the climate warming as a result of human action or not?

“Once we lose our ability to agree on facts… then we will have to ultimately go after not ideas and facts, but after the people who hold them, in other words, political violence becomes much more likely.”

His warning became a reality on 6 January when supporters of President Trump stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC, spurred on by a false belief he had won the 2020 presidential election instead of Mr Biden.

Five people died in the chaos, including a police officer.

It was the first time this beacon of US democracy had been breached since British forces invaded the site and set it on fire in 1814.

Prof Rid has written a book called ‘Active Measures – the secret history of disinformation and political warfare’.

The term active measures is used to describe an entire mode of covert manipulation of information, people and events developed by the then Soviet Union almost a century ago, but used most prolifically during the Cold War.

It is part of a grey zone of harm that sits deliberately under the threshold of war.

:: Subscribe to Into The Grey Zone on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

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Afghanistan: Gunmen kill two female Supreme Court judges in Kabul car ambush | World News



Gunmen killed two female judges from Afghanistan’s Supreme Court in an early morning ambush, which also saw their driver wounded.

The attack happened as the two judges, who have not yet been named, were driving to their office in Kabul in a court vehicle on Sunday, a court official said.

It was the latest attack in the Afghan capital during peace talks between Taliban and Afghan government officials in Doha, Qatar.

No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack. A spokesman for the Taliban said its fighters were not involved.

A woman cries at the scene of the deadly ambush. Pic: AP
A woman cries at the scene of the deadly ambush. Pic: AP

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement on Sunday condemning attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other militant groups.

Mr Ghani said “terror, horror and crime” was not a solution to Afghanistan‘s problem and urged the Taliban to accept “a permanent ceasefire”.

Government officials, journalists, and activists have been targeted in recent months, stoking fear particularly in Kabul.

The Taliban has denied involvement in some of the attacks, but has said its fighters would continue to “eliminate” important government figures, though not journalists or civil society members.

Rising violence has complicated US-brokered peace talks taking place in Doha as Washington withdraws troops.

Sources on both sides say negotiations are only likely to make substantive progress once US President-elect Joe Biden
takes office and makes his Afghan policy known.

The number of US troops in Afghanistan has been reduced to 2,500, the lowest level of American forces there since 2001.

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COVID-19: First person in Brazil inoculated as two coronavirus vaccines approved | World News



A nurse has become the first person in Brazil to receive a coronavirus jab just hours after the country’s health regulator approved two vaccines.

Monica Calazans, 54, who works on the coronavirus frontline, was vaccinated in a ceremony in Sao Paulo.

The rollout of the vaccines made by Sinovac and AstraZeneca comes after months of delay and political disputes over the immunisation programme.

SP - Sao Paulo - 01/17/2021 - SAO PAULO, FIRST VACCINATE CORONAVAC - The nurse at the Emilio Ribas Institute, Monica Calazans, 54 years old, living in Itaquera, east of Sao Paulo, celebrates after receiving the first dose of the Coronavac vaccine that was authorized for emergency use by ANVISA, in a decision taken this Sunday 17 after a meeting that lasted 5 hours at the institution's headquarters in Brasilia. Photo: Suamy Beydoun / AGIF
The 54-year-old nurse celebrates the milestone

Brazil currently has six million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine ready to distribute in the next few days, and is awaiting the arrival of another two million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University jab.

“This is good news for Brazil, but six million doses are still very few,” said Ethel Maciel, an epidemiologist at the Federal University of Espirito Santo.

“It will not allow the entire population at risk to be fully immunised, nor is it clear how quickly the country will obtain more vaccines.”

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised for his handling of the pandemic

Vaccination in Brazil is beginning later than neighbours such as Argentina and Chile despite a robust public health system and decades of experience with immunisation campaigns.

The process to present and approve the COVID-19 vaccines was fraught with conflict, as allies of President Jair Bolsonaro sought to cast doubt on the efficacy of the Sinovac shot which had been backed by his political rival, Sao Paulo state’s governor Joao Doria.

Health professionals on the frontline against coronavirus will be the first to receive the jabs.

It will then be extended to others including the indigenous population, people over 60 years of age and people with pre-existing conditions.

Brazil coronavirus cases pass four million
Brazil has the second highest COVID-19 death toll behind the US

The South American country has now registered 8,455,059 cases since the pandemic began.

Its death toll has risen to 209,296 meaning only the US has suffered more fatalities, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

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