Voters endorse labour accord with EU

euA key bilateral accord with the European Union on open labour markets has won a clear majority at the ballot box. Switzerland’s rightwing parties, which forced the nationwide vote, suffered a defeat on Sunday February 8, as nearly 60 per cent of voters backed the government and a broad alliance of parties, organisations and the business community.

Official results show 59.6 per cent of the electorate approving a proposal to continue a labour accord with 25 EU states and at the same time extend the agreement to the newest members Bulgaria and Romania.

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Is Federer broken?

Roger Federer has come up once again short versus his nemesis Rafael Nadal. He hasn’t beaten him in over a year, and despite Nadal disputing an epic semi-final in Melbourne, was unable to win his 14th Slam at the Australian Open and equal Pete Sampras’ record. Versus Nadal, Federer is slowing getting a reputation for choking.

So the question is, can Roger ever climb back on the number one throne and knock off that cocky Spaniard? Or has his time come and gone, and he must know accept the crumbs Nadal is prepared to leave him?

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Human rights won’t get in the way of business

Swiss companies are like firms from all over the world: they are hoping to make it big in China. Many are hoping especially to strike gold at the Beijing Olympic Games by using the world’s largest sporting event to sell their products and services in one of the fastest growing international markets. They even have a temporary base in Beijing, the House of Switzerland. In doing so, they are displaying a very pragmatic outlook, preferring to ignore problems such as human rights abuses in Tibet in favour of their bottom line.

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Showtime

The Swiss Showband is performing alongside the world’s most prestigious military formations at this year’s military tattoo in Basel. The 130-strong music/dance team was recruited from across German speaking Switzerland, and has been practicing its unique show for a year now. (swissinfo, Julie Hunt)

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Gas deal is burning issue

A controversial Swiss-Iranian gas deal is still causing a stir a few weeks after it was signed. The deal, worth up to €22 billion, is being criticised yet again, this time by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League. The Jewish association has posted ads in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times as well as others stating that Switzerland is financing terrorism. The US government, the World Jewish Congress and Israel have already complained about the deal, with the American authorities asking for details to see if violated UN sanctions.
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UBS boss finally leaves the helm

mospel_highres.jpgThe head of Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, has finally called it quits as his institution’s losses from the US subprime crisis continue. Chairman Marcel Ospel announced his departure on April 1, saying he had decided to leave to help restore confidence in the bank, which has has lost nearly SFr40 billion in the American property market mess.

Calls for Ospel’s head had been doing the rounds for some time, with criticism reaching its high point after he announced the first massive losses last October. Ospel refused to budge though, sticking to his (stubborn) outlook.

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Deficient geography strikes in America – again

schaff9.gifWorried the Americans might bomb your home by accident one day? You do have to wonder when they send their military staff to exclusive resorts in the Swiss Alps – at least what the person who wrote this thought. For some reason Garmisch-Partenkirchen is in Switzerland… This is probably no laughing matter if it is any indication of how geography is taught in American schools. The task facing the National Geographic people is looking more and more like the Eiger North Face.

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