ICRC aid in Afghanistan – swissinfo

Ten years after the start of the present conflict in Afghanistan, fighting is widespread, particularly in rural areas. Millions of Afghans struggle to get medical treatment. For the International Committee of the Red Cross, Afghanistan is the biggest operation in terms of resources committed. The organisation has nearly 1,600 national staff as well as 142 expatriates based in its main delegation in Kabul and in five sub-delegations and ten offices nationwide. In addition, it operates seven physical rehabili
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Magic plants – swissinfo

Mandrake isn’t an invention from the Harry Potter books. It was used for hundreds of years as a magical root. This and other interesting facts about medicinal herbs, witchcraft and poisonous plants can be gleaned from an exhibition in Schaffhausen. (Raffaella Rossello, swissinfo.ch)
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Cocaine habit – swissinfo

Cocaine is no longer a high-society drug. As a result of falling prices and increased availability, even young teenagers are buying it in Zurich, according to Swiss television. At the recent Street Parade, a mobile laboratory was set up to test the quality of the cocaine on sale on the streets. Tests showed that purity had sunk to an all-time low. (SF/swissinfo.ch)
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Fabia’s life – swissinfo

Fifteen, mentally disabled – and happy- as part of the editorial photography course at Lucerne’s MAZ School of Journalism, Samuel Trümpy, in cooperation with swissinfo.ch, accompanied Fabia and her mother to give us an impression of their life together.
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Welcome to the dark side…

chocolateChocoholics rejoice and make your’s a dark one: researchers at Zurich University have published results from a study that show that dark chocolate doesn’t just taste good or boost your morale. It can also be beneficial for blood flow. Forty grammes of chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa content have measurable effects two hours after being eaten. It apparently induces dilatation of heart blood vessels, improves their function and decreases platelet adhesion, responsible for blood clots. The researchers believe this is all due to the large proportion of antioxidants (flavonoids) found in darker chocolate, although these antioxidant virtues are contested by other scientists. With this kind of news, cocoa and chocolate could going up more than expected next year, and chocolate might end up being branded a health food.

Assisted suicide hits the road

van.jpgAnother twist in the assisted suicide plot: still unable to rent premises where foreigners could come to die of their own free will, the Zurich-based Dignitas association is now resorting to vehicles. Swiss television has reported at least two recent cases of Germans travelling to Switzerland to end their lives with Dignitas’ help that have passed away in a van and a delivery truck. Local police have since confirmed the deaths. The association was forced to leave a flat it had been renting after neighbours complained about the large number of deaths happening on their doorstep. Other towns and villages have refused to let Dignitas set up shop, forcing it to hit the road.

Gotta have chocolate

choc1.jpgIf that craving for your favourite Swiss chocolate sometimes feels like it is coming from deep in your gut, there is a good reason for it. A small study in the Journal of Proteome Research links the type of bacteria living in people’s digestive system to a desire for chocolate. Everyone has a vast community of microbes in their guts. But people who crave daily chocolate show signs of having different colonies of bacteria than people who are immune to chocolate’s allure. The research was carried out at Nestlé’s Research Centre near Lausanne and Imperial College London.

And if you are still craving some chocolate, here’s a video to help satisfy that desire: