Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Blocher Meets Gonzales, Mueller and Thornberry

Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher has held anti-terrorism talks with his United States counterpart, Alberto Gonzales, and FBI head Robert Mueller.

Speaking in Washington, Blocher said that he was "positively surprised that a superpower like the US took the time for such talks". The meetings focused on strengthening cooperation in the fight against terrorism and between the law enforcement agencies of both countries, as well as mutual assistance on criminal matters.

For his part, Blocher praised the close security ties between the US and Switzerland which had developed following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. He singled out cooperation with the FBI in particular, with whom "the work was carried out every day and at all levels, including and especially, at the lowest levels from police officer to police officer".

Blocher said that Alberto Gonzales and Robert Mueller were of the opinion that high-level exchanges should "take place in an informal way and that we should be able to speak to each other on the telephone directly".

He did not discuss human rights violations with his US counterparts. "They didnt wait for me to bring up these issues," he said at a press conference in Washington.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Swiss treatment for Syria?

THIS IS A REALLY MEAN AND OFFENSIVE Op-Ed piece by Douglas M. Bloomfield in the Washington Jewish Week. He is a US syndicated columnist. I strongly object to the sentence "The Swiss ... were the ones who did the most to fuel the Nazi war machine". The USA could not have gone to war with Switzerland: The Swiss helped the allies at least as much as they helped the Nazis. But to compare Syria and Switzerland and the rebels in Iraq with Nazi Germany is pretty strong...

"As it considers how to deal with Syria, the Bush administration should look at the example of Switzerland more than half a century ago.

During World War II, "neutral" Switzerland provided such critical strategic and financial support to the Third Reich that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff considered bombing its "financial facilities, bunkers and in-transit facilities," according to declassified documents.

A postwar State Department study determined the Swiss prolonged the war by replacing the production of bombed-out German factories. The Swiss -- providing everything from banking to precision instruments to hydroelectricity -- were the ones who did the most to fuel the Nazi war machine.

So the allies sent their air forces to try to persuade the Swiss to change their errant ways. They bombed Switzerland nearly 50 times, insisting every attack was accidental, according to testimony by James Hutson of the Library of Congress. Targets included a firm manufacturing U-boat engines.

The purpose of those Allied bombings was to save American lives by denying critical help to the enemy.

I raise this because it has a lesson for the current U.S. war against international terror. Syria, a major state sponsor of terrorism, poses threats on several fronts. It is an "outpost of tyranny" that is on the ropes, and this is a good time to tighten the proverbial screws.


Copyright: Douglas M. Bloomfield, Washington Jewish Week

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Swiss Director shoots German-Jewish Comedy

Swiss director Dani Levy
Swiss director Dani Levy,
originally uploaded by romangame.
It has been a while since Germans last laughed openly at a Jewish joke, especially one that pokes fun at Jews themselves. Sixty years after the Holocaust, most Germans still feel too guilty or insecure to address any Jewish matter in a lighthearted manner. But now a new movie is encouraging them to get rid of their postwar anxieties and join in for a good laugh.

Mixing slapstick humor and political incorrectness, "Alles auf Zucker!," or "Go for Zucker!," said to be the first German-Jewish comedy since World War II, has attracted huge audiences all over Germany. Its success suggests that humor could be an unconventional form of therapy for the strained relations between Jews and gentiles in Germany.

The movie, directed by Dani Levy, a German Jew who grew up in Switzerland, is a lively family comedy about a notorious East German gambler, who long ago distanced himself from his Jewish roots, and his Orthodox brother, who escaped to West Germany before the Berlin Wall was built.

Copyright: New York Times

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Swiss to make first solar plane

ICARUS crashed and burned when he flew too close to the sun, but now a Swiss adventurer wants to carve out a place in history by harnessing solar energy to fly a state-of-the-art plane around the world.

So far, the plane to be used by 47-year-old psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard exists only in the computers of the researchers at the Lausanne polytechnic.

There, a team of about 50 scientists are working on the 40-million-euro ($86.2m) project, funded by four sponsors who so far remain in the shadows.

But Mr Piccard, grandson of explorer and pioneer aeronaut Auguste Piccard, is determined his dream dubbed 'Solar Impulse' will get off the ground.

His ambition is 'to use a great human and scientific adventure to help sustainable development and the survival of our planet'.

Copyright: afp

Monday, March 07, 2005

Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria: Abacha's Lawyers Made Loot Recovery Tough

AMBASSADOR of Switzerland, Dr Pierre Helg, says the good lawyers engaged by members of the family of late General Sani Abacha have made it difficult for the government of Switzerland to recover the entire $700million statched in 42 banks.

Helg expressed the hope that a member of the family (name withheld) who was arrested in Germany and sent to Switzerland is now assisting the government in identifying new sources of the loots.

He said the late General Sani Abacha did not deposit money in his name, so, the lawyers capitalized on that to drag the issue for over four years. Helg promised that since the $700 million being recovered is the taxpayers money, his country will continue to pursue the issue until it is brought back to Nigeria.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Swiss Singer Natalie Ulrich: File under P for Passion

CD Cover Changing Perspectives
CD Cover Changing Perspectives,
originally uploaded by romangame.

Is it pop, is it soul or ist it rock? The common categories do not matter here, cause this music is mostly one thing: passionate and personal. Whether Natalie Ulrich sings from the perspective of the angry wounded woman wasting no more tears on her lost love or reflects on the human condition, she does it convincingly, yet tenderly. Her strong voice is accentuated by the soft strings of warm guitars and occasionally piano. Natalie does not reinvent the love song, but she lends it credibility again. This is rare in our times.

Her CD "Changing Perspectives" is out now. Write to Natalie at

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Car Size No Longer Reflects Status

Geneva Car Salon
Geneva Car Salon,
originally uploaded by romangame.
GENEVA (AP) -- Big cars, small cars, sporty cars, practical cars, sleek cars, family cars.

Diversity is the name of the game at 75th International Motor Show in Geneva, which opened to the public Thursday and runs until March 13.

With the huge emphasis placed on catering to as many consumers as possible, today's variety means the show's 861,0000 square feet of floor space at the PalExpo are filed with a mind-boggling range of vehicles designed for every conceivable life style.

"The trend is going toward versatility and a lot of variety," said Yves Dubreil, vice president-deputy director of vehicle engineering at Renault. "It used to be that car brands had a straightforward range that went from small to big. It reflected social status. The bigger the car I had, the more important or rich I was.

"Cars are no longer an indication of a driver's social status, instead, they make a statement about a person's lifestyle. And there are a lot of different lifestyles."

The Coldest Night Since 18 Years

The overnight temperature in a village near Switzerland's border with France  sank to minus 34.4 degrees Celsius (minus 29.9 Fahrenheit), the coldest in the country this winter and close to a record low, weather forecasters said.

The low temperature was recorded in the early hours of Tuesday in the mountain village of La Brevine in the Neuchatel canton, part of a region often called the "Swiss Siberia."

It was seven degrees Celsius less frigid than the national record low of minus 41.8 degrees, recorded in the same region on January 12, 1987, the weather office said.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Swiss Have Highest Purchasing Power

originally uploaded by romangame.
GENEVA, Feb. 28 - Residents of Swiss cities have the world's highest purchasing power, despite having to pay more for goods than in most other European countries, according to a results of a survey released on Monday.

The latest update to the Prices and Earnings survey by Swiss bank UBS found that Zurich, Basel, Geneva and Lugano were among the most expensive cities in the world.

The survey, which is published by UBS economists every three years, compares the prices of goods and services, wages, wage deductions and working hours, along with the resulting purchasing power in 71 cities around the globe.

In terms of cost of living, Oslo remains the most expensive city in the world. Zurich ranks fourth, Basel seventh, Geneva ninth and Lugano tenth.

Gross earnings are the highest in Copenhagen and Oslo, with Copenhagen replacing Zurich as the city with the highest wages. It is due to the weaker Swiss franc compared with the Danish currency.

Copyright: Xinhuanet

Estonia Sings For Switzerland

Vanilla Ninja
Vanilla Ninja,
originally uploaded by romangame.
The Swiss song at the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest will be 'Cool Vibes' sung by the Estonian girl group Vanilla Ninja.

The song will receive its first television play on Staurday 5 March during a special Swiss TV show dedicated to fifty years of the Eurovision Song Contest.

'Congratulations! 50 years of the Eurovision Song Contest' will include clips from 50 years of Eurovision. Guests will include Lys Assia, Paola, Peter Reber, Pepe Lienhard, Francine Jordi and Piero Esteriore. The show will end with the premiere of 'Cool Vibes'.

The group revealed the title of the song during a web chat session organised by German music channel VIVA. Regular vanilla Ninja songwriter David Brandes composed the Eurovision song; it will feature on their forthcoming album 'Blue Tattoo'.