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Switzerland

Economy

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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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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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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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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Switzerland

Bertrand Piccard: Profits And Saving The Planet Go Together

Five Questions for the legendary pilot, environmental activist and founder of Solar Impulse Foundation, supporting solutions that are profitable and protect the planet.

In partnership with: ChangeNOW

Environmentalist, Psychiatrist, Aviator, Explorer, Entrepreneur. Bertrand Piccard's many hats have made him a pioneer and leading voice on the themes of innovation, clean technologies and sustainability. He is the first person to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe, as well as the co-pilot of the maiden around-the-world flight in a solar-powered airplane.

Founder and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, the Lausanne-born 63-year-old has made it his mission to select 1000 solutions to protect the environment in a profitable way. He is currently United Nations Ambassador for the Environment and Special Advisor to the European Commission.

Ahead of the 2021 changeNOW summit, the world's largest gathering of innovations for the planet, where he will be sharing his vision and pioneering spirit, we asked Bertrand Piccard 5 questions about building a smarter future.

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Switzerland
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Spring Rolls Sprung At Swiss Border Crossing

Drugs, weapons and... spring rolls? Add the Asian fried staple to the list of contraband items that have been seized in the illegal international smuggling market.

Police discovered 61.5 kilograms (136 lbs) of chicken spring rolls stashed in a car trunk during a control at a France-Switzerland border crossing on Feb. 16. The driver, a Vietnamese national, and the passenger, a French national, were returning to Switzerland where they own a restaurant. But they did not declare the rolls to the Swiss administration at Ferney-Voltaire.

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Switzerland
Irene Caselli

Switzerland's 'Contract Children' - Abused, Exploited, Forgotten

A report turns much-needed attention to a dark and long-ignored chapter in Swiss history.

In Switzerland, well into the 1970s, children of unmarried mothers or from poor families were taken away from their parents and sent to live with new ones. They were placed in new homes, especially on farms, where they were made to work.

In many cases, they were exploited, beaten and abused at the hands of those who were meant to look after them. And yet attacks were rarely investigated, not least because foster families were barely controlled by the authorities.

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