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Switzerland

New Green Housing Developments In Switzerland: Car Owners Need Not Apply

Politicians in Zurich are debating whether rental agreements can forbid tenants to own a car. But in Bern, the Swiss capital, some 80 people have already signed such contracts.

Public transportation in Zurich (andynash)
Public transportation in Zurich (andynash)


*NEWSBITES

ZURICHMany landlords make a point of keeping their properties pet, or maybe smoke-free. But in Switzerland, some new apartment blocks demand that tenants also be car-free.

The issue is currently a subject of debate among politicians in Zurich, where many poeple vigorously oppose the idea. Tages-Anzeiger readers have been battling it out online with hundreds of comments. In the meantime, however, construction has already begun in and around the city on several car-free housing developments where residents will voluntarily -- or not entirely voluntarily -- get along without the comforts of a car.

In the Swiss capital of Bern, a development finished a year ago in the Bümpliz district has 80 tenants, all of whom signed rental contracts agreeing not to keep "individual motorized means of transportation" where they live.

Resident Katharina Gallizzi told a German TV interviewer that she wasn't "giving up" anything. On the contrary: "Not having a car represents a very high standard of living," she said. Commuting on public transportation gives her time to read. Plus she doesn't have the stress of getting caught in traffic jams. For Gallizzi, the environmental implications are also important: "Doing something together for the environment brings people together; it's a nice experience."

One of the developers, Günther Ketterer, said he didn't see himself as anti-car and that if somebody needed to drive for some reason or another they could join a mobility scheme.

In Zurich hundreds of tenants will be moving into car-free developments in the next few years. A 250-unit facility called the Kalkbreite development, for example, is already under construction and is set to open in the spring of 2014.

A second Zurich development scheduled for completion in 2016, with 94 apartments, is in the planning stages and may well be built without parking space. In Leutschenbach, also in Zurich, another development of 450 apartments is going up with reduced parking possibilities – only 106 spaces will be built. In another development, local authorities actually opposed the developers' plans for 131 parking spaces, and authorized only 66.

Read the full story in German by Simon Eppenberger

Photo – andynash

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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