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Luxembourg to become first country to make all public transport free

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Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to make all of its public transport free of charge.

From next summer, fares on trains, trams and buses will be scrapped under plans by recently re-elected prime minister Xavier Bettel, who vowed to make the environment a key part of his campaign.

Fares are currently capped at two euros for two hours of travel, which in a small European nation of just 999 sq miles (2,590 sq km) covers most journeys.

However, even this low fare will end under the plans that will be paid for in part by removing a tax break for commuters.

Luxembourg
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Fares are currently capped at two euros for two hours of travel

The country has a population of nearly 600,000 – but its capital, Luxembourg City, has some of the worst traffic congestion on the planet.

Around 110,000 people live there but another 400,000 commute in for work every day, while nearly 200,000 cross the border from neighbouring France, Belgium and Germany.

Drivers spent an average of 33 hours in traffic jams in 2016, according to a study.

The country already has shown its green credentials.

Over the summer, free transport was introduced for every child and young person under the age of 20.

And secondary school students are provided with free shuttles between their places of study and their home.

Mr Bettel’s Democratic party is to form a government with the left-wing Socialist Workers’ party and the Greens after he secured a narrow victory in October.

The new administration is also considering introducing two new public holidays and legalising cannabis – the latter policy has caused much debate in the country.

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Flight MH17: Four charged with murder over downing of Malaysia Airlines jet | World News

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Four men have been charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which killed 298 passengers and crew.

Almost five years after the Boeing 777 jet was shot down above eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, an international team of investigators announced that three Russians and a Ukrainian were to be “held accountable” for transporting the missile system used to its launch site.

The three Russians were named as former Igor Girkin, 48, Sergey Dubinskiy, 56, and Oleg Pulatov, 52, while the other man was identified as 47-year-old Leonid Kharchenko.

Part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk
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Part of the Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove, some 80km east of Donetsk

Girkin is a former colonel of the FSB, the Russian security service, Dubinskiy was once employed by GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, and Pulatov is an ex-soldier of the Spetznaz, the GRU special forces. Kharchenko is the only suspect with no military background.

The international team of detectives and prosecutors investigating the crash said the men had “co-operated closely” to obtain the weaponry – a 9M38 variant of the Buk missile system used by Russia – and position it in advance of it striking the passenger plane, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Speaking at a news conference at The Hague, Dutch police chief Wilbert Paulissen said their murder trial would begin at the same court on 9 March 2020 – although the men are unlikely to appear as their countries do not recognise extradition requests and are unlikely to co-operate with the investigation.

Chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the failure by Russia to aid the investigation was a “slap in the face” to the families of those who died.

“We have established that there has been involvement of the Russian Federation because they made available the missile that was used to shoot down MH17,” he said.

“The Russian federation has not disclosed anything that happened and that is a slap in the face for all the relatives of the victims, and I call out to them to start co-operating.”

MH17
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The plane was heading to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Moscow did not trust the investigation, but claimed that there had been a willingness to help.

He told reporters ahead of the news conference: “Russia was unable to take part in the investigation despite an interest right from the start and trying to join in.”

A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, Ukraine
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Potential suspects include rebel forces in the area

Relatives of the victims were briefed on the updates provided in the news conference beforehand.

Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers were among those killed, hailed the charges for the four suspects as a “good start”.

She said: “This is what we hoped for. This is a start of it. It is a good start.”

Mr Paulissen said more suspects could be identified at a later date, including those “higher up the chain of command”, but added that there is not yet sufficient evidence to do so.

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Girl, 10, is youngest person to climb 7,500ft El Capitan | US News

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A 10-year-old girl has made rock climbing history by becoming the youngest person on record to scale Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan.

Selah Schneiter, from Colorado, climbed the 7,500ft (1,100 metre) route – known as The Nose – over five days with her father Mike, an experienced climber, and a family friend.

She reached the summit on 12 June after using a rope climbing technique known as jumaring to tackle the famously steep rock formation.

After reaching the top of the granite monolith in central California, Selah celebrated her feat with a pizza.

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The 10-year-old used a rope climbing technique known as jumaring

“I just can’t believe I just did that,” she said in a video captured after her impressive achievement.

“Our big motto was ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ Small bites. One pitch at a time, one move at a time, one day at a time,” she told KFSN in Fresno.

Few adults can say they have successfully reached El Capitan’s zenith, with many experienced climbers considering The Nose to be the most iconic big-wall climb in the world.

Saleh’s father said she was in shock on reaching the peak.

Revealing she broke down in tears, Mr Schneiter said: “She said it was her first happy tears she’s ever had.

“We were tired after a long five days and camped out that night, but she was like a little kid again and wanted to check everything out, exploring almost like it was nothing.”

He said they spent time on ledges throughout the climb “just relaxing… talking about the world… talking about life”.

El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park
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El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park

Selah comes from a family of hiking enthusiasts who have developed a special connection to Yosemite’s trails.

Mr Schneiter, a climbing instructor, claims to have met his daughter’s mother, Joy, while hiking in the region years prior.

Selah is now encouraging her seven-year-old brother to follow in her footsteps.

In 2017, American rock climber Alex Honnold became the first person to scale El Capitan without ropes or safety equipment.

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Mines used in tanker attacks 'strikingly' like Iran's, US says

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Pieces of mines recovered after attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman “strikingly” resemble Iranian mines, the US navy has said.

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