Friday, July 29, 2005

Of Guns and the Swiss Tradition

Uh oh. Another praise of Switzerland, coming from the gunslingers. Most of the facts are accurate, but to say that crime is "virtually non-existent" in Switzerland is quite overdoing it. Check out the full article at Mens Daily News.

by Eric Ross, Ph.D.

Guns bad, gun laws good, confiscate guns, put gun manufacturers out of business, and let’s all live happily thereafter, crime-free. Right? – Wrong, my dear friend, dead wrong.

Let’s look at Switzerland. Tourists are astonished to see citizens carrying military rifles in public, especially at the time of a rifle competition, Schuetzenfest (shooting festival) in town. You may see men and women, old and young, even children as young as 12, carrying rifles over their shoulders on the streets, right past the police stations. (Make no mistake of trying this at home, in the U.S., as a trigger-happy police SWAT Team, with helicopters, night-vision scopes, and armored vehicles will be called upon you.)

We all heard of those famous brand names, the Swiss banks that don’t bow down to the world’s political powers, the powers which come and go, and the Swiss Army knife, and Swiss Army watch, but this is not what the Swiss military is really known for. The Swiss military has a reputation of having the world’s best marksmen and athletes in its ranks, and it is not a regular army, rather – it’s a citizen’s militia. Between their regular annual tour of duty of two to three weeks per year from ages 20 to 42, Swiss soldiers and officers are obliged to keep their weapons at home, and may practice at the many rifle and pistol ranges managed by local communities. The old tradition of armed citizenry brought the country peace, prosperity and neutrality, which nobody, not even Hitler dared to violate. Nazi armies chose to invade other countries, those with strict gun controls, and easily controlled citizens.

In fact, Switzerland has more firepower per person than any country in the world, and an average Swiss citizen has more firepower than available to combat troops in many armies. Yet, Switzerland is one of the safest places on the planet, a country where crime is virtually non-existent.

Swiss Federal Police Office data often sounds almost too good to be true, with no homicides at all reported in Geneva. Most crime in Switzerland, about 70 percent, is attributed to foreigners. The country had a rate of 1.2 homicides per 100,000 population in 1997, with only a fraction of those committed with firearms, and 36 robberies per 100,000. In 2000, the total number of murders in Switzerland was 69, of which 40 were committed with firearms. That’s a rate of 0.57 per 100,000, or 2.5 times less than in England.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bill Maher is Swiss this Weekend!

Let this be the first blog to support all efforts to make political satirist Bill Maher an honorary Swiss Citizen! The man deserves it. Now that's promotion! Thanks, Bill!


Comedian Bill Maher is chuckling, but miffed.

He's miffed, he tells the crowd, after "apparently voting in a completely different election than most of the country. I thought we were having a rational discussion about how best to protect ourselves in perilous times. And actually, it was a referendum on boys kissing."

There he goes again. And fans of his impish insightfulness will surely delight in this new comedy special, "Bill Maher: I'm Swiss," which premieres 10 p.m. Saturday on HBO.

Taped before a live audience in Portland, Ore., the 90-minute concert follows right on the heels of last November's election.

And, at least for the losing side, Maher brings brilliant clarity to the outcome. (Declaring himself embarrassed by our nation's direction, Maher shares his secret for saving face: He will claim to be Swiss.)

The famously iconoclastic comic (who returns next month with a new season of HBO's weekly "Real Time with Bill Maher") also tackles homeland security, our culture's sexual squeamishness, the war on drugs and the war in Iraq.

"I'm not one of those people who says that Iraq is Vietnam," Maher assures his audience, explaining slyly, "In Vietnam, Bush had an exit strategy."

It's a righteous performance, and -- for slightly less than half the electorate, at least -- an exercise in hilarious good sense.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Swiss Celebrate National Day in NYC

Celebrate the Swiss National Day in a Swiss-New York Fashion at Pier 54 on the Hudson, July 30, Noon - 10 pm
New York, July 2005. The Swiss community in New York for the second time invites all New Yorkers and friends and neighbours to celebrate Switzerland's 714th birthday on Saturday, July 30, at Pier 54, from noon to 10pm.
For more information go to Swisspeaks.

Celebrate Swiss National Day in New York

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

African Dictators, Live 8 and Swiss Bank Accounts

Here is an excerpt of what Walter Williams writes in the Jewish World Review. He has a point, I guess, but it is tiresome to have the term "swiss bank account" equal "ill gotten money", no?

"The worst thing that can be done is to give more foreign aid to African nations. Foreign aid goes from government to government. Foreign aid allows Africa's corrupt regimes to buy military equipment, pay off cronies and continue to oppress their people. It also provides resources for its leaders to set up "retirement" accounts in Swiss banks.

What Africa needs, foreign aid cannot deliver, and that's elimination of dictators and socialist regimes, establishment of political and economic freedom, rule of law and respect for individual rights. Until that happens, despite billions of dollars of foreign aid, Africa will remain a basket case. easy."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

US envoy regrets death of Swiss-Iraqi man

The United States ambassador to Bern has expressed regret to Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey over last week's killing of a Swiss-Iraqi man.

During a meeting with US envoy Pamela Willeford on Tuesday, Calmy-Rey expressed her "dismay" about the fatal shooting and repeated a call for a rapid clarification of the circumstances.

Salah Jmor, who came from the Kurdish north of Iraq, was killed near the capital, Baghdad, last Tuesday as his car travelled past a US patrol.

The foreign ministry two days ago called on the US authorities to launch an investigation into what appeared to be a mistake by the US army.

Jmor, aged 49 and of Kurdish origin, died on June 28 in a car being driven by his brother on a motorway near Baghdad.
According to his family, he was hit by a bullet fired by a US soldier from a convoy of three military vehicles.

"I was driving when I heard a sharp snap. My brother collapsed. I did not even know who fired because we were slightly behind the Americans... Then I saw the blood flowing," said Abdel Jabbar. Jabbar told the French news agency AFP that two or three soldiers got out of their vehicles, saw his brother and simply said that they were sorry. An ambulance then arrived and took Jmor away from the scene.

NZZ ranking 5th, before NY Times

Think that The New York Times is the best paper newspaper in the world? Think again. A Swiss consultancy asked 1,000 respondents in 50 countries what newspaper they thought was the world’s best, and the Times ranked a dismal sixth — down from first place just two years ago. The Financial Times came in first this year, and the Journal was number two.

Complete top-ten list after the jump.

1. Financial Times (U.K.) 19.4% (20.7% in 2003% in 2003)

2. The Wall Street Journal (U.S.) 17.0% (7.5% in 2003)

3. Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) 16.2% (10.9% in 2003)

4. Le Monde (France) 12.5% (2.1% in 2003)

5. Neue Zuercher Zeitung (Switzerland) 12.1% (15.0% in 2003)

6. The New York Times (U.S.) 8.1% (21.3% in 2003)

7. International Herald Tribune (France) 5.2% (11.3% in 2003)

8. Asahi Shimbun (Japan) 2.6% (0.4% in 2003)

9. El Pais (Spain) 1.9% (4.8% in 2003)

10. Corriere della Sera (Italy) 1.3% (0.7% in 2003)

Other papers 3.7% (3.8% in 2003)

(Internationale Medienhilfe)