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Berlin ban on Airbnb short-term rentals upheld by city court

The Guardian, 9 June 2016
Tourists planning to pop over to Berlin for a weekend break may have to give up on the hipster dream of living like a local in a spacious loft apartment, and get back into the habit of staying in an old-fashioned hotel room instead. Airbnb and other short-term letting agencies face a bleak future in the German capital after the city’s administrative court on Wednesday upheld a de facto ban on short-term rentals, in a landmark ruling that could inspire similar restrictions in cities around Europe.

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Sky rail: Supreme Court dismisses residents’ bid to derail project

The Age, 20 December 2016
A legal bid by angry residents to halt the controversial sky rail project has been dismissed in the [VIC] Supreme Court. Labor is building kilometres of elevated rail track along the Cranbourne Pakenham line between Caulfield and Dandenong station as part of its policy to remove 50 level crossings.

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Beijing smog: pollution red alert declared in China capital and 21 other cities

The Guardian, 17 December 2016
Beijing authorities have declared a five-day pollution “red alert”, shutting schools, ordering thousands of vehicles off the roads and telling residents to stay indoors, after the Chinese capital was enveloped by a shroud of toxic smog that is expected to linger until Wednesday. The warning – the first since Beijing’s inaugural red alert in December last year – was officially implemented at 4.20pm on Friday as a nicotine-tinged haze rolled into the city.

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First tram tracks laid for George Street light rail

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 2016
[NSW] Transport Minister Andrew Constance is confident the state government and Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore will come to a mutually agreeable design for the light rail line and pedestrian boulevard down George Street. Mr Constance on Monday witnessed the first section of track laid on George Street for the tram project, which is scheduled to be finished in 2019.

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OPEC’s Announced Production Cuts Are A Big Deal

Energy Trends Insider, 18 December 2016
By now you have undoubtedly heard that late last month at OPEC’s 171st Ordinary Meeting in Vienna, the group announced that it would reduce output by about 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) by January. This is the first announced output cut by the group in eight years. Saudi Arabia will bear ~40% of the cuts, with Iraq reducing output by nearly 20%. Nigeria and Libya were exempted from the cuts.
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Getting smarter about city lights is good for us and nature too

The Conversation, 16 December 2016
Ideas to enhance the liveability and sustainability of our cities have attracted a lot of interest recently. Examples include establishing or enhancing “urban forests”, or “bringing back nature” into cities to support animals and ecosystems displaced by human activity. While these projects focus on creating space for nature and enhancing biodiversity within cities, they rarely consider the impact on nature of the artificial lighting used across the urban landscape.

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Airline pilot wins major legal victory on fatigue

BALPA, 13 December 2016
An airline captain and member of the British Airline Pilots’ Association has accepted an apology from an airline after being sanctioned for refusing to fly due to fatigue, as well as assurances that the company remains committed to passenger safety. Captain Mike Simkins was suspended by Thomas Cook Airlines for six months and threatened with dismissal after refusing to fly his Boeing 767 with over 200 passengers due to being fatigued. Captain Simkins took the case to an Employment Tribunal which unanimously found in his favour and against the airline.

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Yes, we need to introduce congestion pricing. Here’s how to do it.

Crikey, 15 December 2016
We have to do something about traffic. Expert consensus is we need transport pricing — especially using price signals to ration access to congested roads. This idea comes up time and again — most recently in an Infrastructure Victoria 30-year plan. It is exactly as popular with the wonks as it is unpopular in the real world. A tiny number of cities have done it (notably London), but no sane Australian politician will implement it any time soon.
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Paris Imposes Measures to Fight Pollution, With Mixed Results

New York Times, 9 December 2016
Even those who love Paris have been frustrated this week by a choking haze that descended on the city, irritating residents’ eyes and throats and leading officials to limit the number of cars on the road. The authorities blame the acrid air on pollution, most of it from car exhaust and wood-burning furnaces, and a layer of warm, stagnant air that has trapped the toxic particles.

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Why OPEC’s squeeze on oil prices is getting weaker all the time

The Conversation, 6 December 2016
OPEC’s recent decision to cut oil production for the first time in eight years marked the return of the oil cartel’s favourite tactic: squeeze supply in a bid to jack up the price. Of course, this is nothing new. In 1851, during the Pennsylvania oil rush, the Oil Creek Association helped to push the price of oil up from 10 US cents a barrel to US$4. OPEC can only dream of having the power to move prices by 4,000%. The reality is that its power to move prices at all is waning rapidly, as factors move beyond the bloc’s control.

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