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Switzerland

Economy

Why More Countries Are Banning Foreigners From Buying Real Estate

Canada has become the most recent country to impose restrictions on non-residents buying real estate, arguing that wealthy investors from other countries are pricing out would-be local homeowners. But is singling out foreigners the best way to face a troubled housing market?

PARIS — It’s easy to forget that soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, many real estate experts were forecasting that housing prices could face a once-in-generation drop. The logic was that a shrinking pandemic economy would combine with people moving out of cities to push costs down in a lasting way.

Ultimately, in most places, the opposite has happened. Home prices in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia and New Zealand rose between 25% and 50% since the outbreak of COVID-19.

This explosion was driven by a number of factors, including low interest rates, supply chain issues in construction and shortages in available properties caused in part by investors buying up large swathes of housing stock.

Yet some see another culprit deserving of particular attention: foreign buyers.

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Davos, The Slow Melt Into Irrelevance

The Davos Forum was once a true shaper of our collective future in a globalized world. Today it is beyond its expiry date, even if global solutions to global problems are needed more than ever.

-Analysis-

PARIS — For almost three decades now, perched in the Swiss Alps, has been the sunny face of a globalization that works.

It was the place, in the 1990s, where I understood for the first time the impact of the digital revolution. Davos was a place where one could meet Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk or Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres, up close, and far away from South Africa or the Middle East.

It was also there that the new democracies of Eastern Europe took their first steps into the free-market economy and where emerging countries could be paired up with international investors.

This era, we must say, is now truly over. The dream-like world of Davos, the world of the free flow of goods and capital, the world of globally integrated supply chains, and technology designed for the common good, has run into perils it did not or could not predict.

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This Happened—November 19: Reagan And Gorbachev On Neutral Territory

In order to begin to alleviate decades of tension between the U.S. and Soviet Union, Switzerland hosted the Geneva Summit of 1985 where American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev would begin to lead the world out of the Cold War

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Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

In the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading — and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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Society
Chloé Touchard

Forever Godard: 20 International Newspapers Bid Adieu To French New Wave Icon

International outlets are saluting the passing of the father of the Nouvelle Vague movement, considered among the most influential filmmakers ever.

Jean-Luc Godard, the French-Swiss filmmaker who revolutionized cinema in the late 1950s and 1960s as the leading figure of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) movement, died Tuesday at the age of 91.

The Paris-born Godard produced now-cult movies such as À bout de souffle (“Breathless” 1960), Le Mépris (“Contempt” 1963) and Alphaville (1965), with his later works always garnering interest among cinephiles, even if often considered inaccessible for the wider public.

Godard's lawyer reported that that the filmmaker had been “stricken with multiple incapacitating illnesses," and decided to end his life through assisted suicide, which is legal in Switzerland, where he'd lived for decades.

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Geopolitics
Clemens Wergin

Ukraine's Wounded v. Russian Bank Accounts? Why Swiss "Neutrality" Is Pure Hypocrisy

Switzerland has rejected a NATO request to take in injured Ukrainian soldiers, arguing it would compromise its neutrality. This is an old game of masking moral cowardice by a country that has profited off the Putin regime.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — In recent weeks, NATO sent out a request to members and partners asking them to take in wounded Ukrainians for treatment. Its partner country Switzerland declined the request. It said it did not want to treat wounded soldiers because they might return to the war. This, they said, would endanger Switzerland's neutrality, the famous core principle of Swiss foreign policy.

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But they also don't want to take in wounded civilians for treatment. Because it is "almost impossible to distinguish civilians from soldiers," as Swiss diplomat and politician Johannes Matyassy explained.

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Society
Stefano Lupieri

How Altered Consciousness Is Changing Psychiatry

From self-induced trance to psychedelics, altered states of consciousness are experiencing a renewed interest in the scientific community for their therapeutic value.

GENEVA — Swiss psychiatrist Valérie Picard describes her weekly trance practice as being plunged into a feeling of intense happiness: “I often find myself parachuted into magnificent natural landscapes. With a feeling of weightlessness all my perceptions are amplified, in a kind of ecstasy of the senses”

Working at the Belmont Clinic in Geneva, she does not, however, have the sort of profile of someone traditionally interested in these techniques. These explorations of states of consciousness are still considered by many to be controversial.

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Ideas
Otto Schilly

For Ukraine, It's Time For The Switzerland Solution

No one should be under any illusions that Ukraine is about to join the EU or NATO. If this war is to end in a lasting peace, Ukrainians will have to accept a new position on the world stage and a new approach. The famously "neutral" and multilingual Switzerland could be a model.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — Without a doubt, Vladimir Putin’s deadly war in Ukraine deserves the nearly universal condemnation it has sparked. But in order to understand the conflict, we must also look at the history of political miscalculations that has led up to it.

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Efforts at diplomacy ended in utter failure, including the approach of foreign policy leaders in Germany and elsewhere in the West. Politicians have allowed tensions to simmer away, ignoring the very real threat that they could develop into an explosive situation.

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Coronavirus
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Swipe Vax: Dating Apps Are The New Battleground Of Vaccination Divide

A Swiss-German anti-vax dating app is the latest tool for COVID-19 skeptics. As the pandemic becomes increasingly politicized around the world, will it permanently change how and who we date?

People usually turn to dating applications for a shot at love, but a new Swiss-German platform hopes to connect those who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and are frustrated by European health passes that limit activities (including a romantic dinner date) for the un-jabbed.

The app, called “Impffrei: Love” (“Love Without The Vaccine"), has reportedly registered some 10,000 unvaccinated users aged 20 to 50, who claim they are sick (not literally) of how the pandemic has impacted their personal liberty, reports Berlin-based magazine Cicero.

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Society
Anne-Sophie Goninet

Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are still the exception, but lawmakers from New Zealand to Peru to Switzerland and beyond are gradually giving more space for people to choose to get help to end their lives — sometimes with new and innovative technological methods.

The announcement last month that a “suicide capsule” device would be commercialized in Switzerland, not surprisingly, caused quite a stir. The machine called Sarcophagus, or “Sarco” for short, consists of a 3D-printed pod mounted on a stand, which releases nitrogen and gradually reduces the oxygen level from 21% to 1%, causing the person inside to lose consciousness without pain or a sense of panic, and then die of hypoxia and hypocapnia (oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation).

While active euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed under certain conditions and under the supervision of a physician, who has first to review the patient’s capacity for discernment — a condition that Sarco aims to eliminate. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, the machine’s creator, told news platform SwissInfo. Some argue that this is against the country’s medical ethical rules while others expressed concerns about safety.

But Nitschke says he found the solution: an online AI-based test, which will give a code to the patient to use the device if he passes.

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Switzerland

A Weird 2021 : Our Favorite "What The World" Stories

Tales of odds and ends from deep inside the world's newspapers....


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LE MATIN
Anne Sophie Goninet

A Swiss Thief With A Fondue Fork Tries To Dip Into Till At Funeral Home

Switzerland is famous for its fondue, a national specialty that is eaten by dipping bread into melted cheese, using uniquely shaped long-stemmed forks. Now a 60-year old Swiss man has found a rather unexpected use for his fondue fork, reaching with the length of the utensil and its sharp prongs to steal envelopes containing condolence cards from boxes in funeral parlors. He managed to fork 17 envelopes in three different funeral homes in the towns of Delémont, Bassecourt and Porrentruy, reports Swiss daily Le Matin. The thief, who later admitted that he was hoping to find money left in the cards by mourners to the deceased's family, was eventually caught by an undertaker last April.

It is unclear whether the man actually found money, as no banknote was recovered by the police in his house, but in July, a court ruled his "motives were financial" and condemned him to a fine of 600 Swiss francs ($663) plus 570 CHF to cover fees, for theft, property damage, disorder of funeral service by inappropriate behavior and for undermining the peace of the deceased.

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