Berne

Gunman kills three in Switzerland village

/GunmanBerne, Jan 3 : Three people were killed and two injured when a gunman opened fire in a village in Switzerland in a region known for its beautiful ski resorts, BBC reported Thursday.

The incident occurred late Wednesday in Daillon village in Valais canton, best known for the Matterhorn mountain and ski resorts, 100km from Geneva.

Police arrested a suspect who was shot and wounded after he threatened them. The gunman had reportedly been drinking heavily before the shooting.

"Three victims died at the scene," said Valais police. "Two other people were wounded and hospitalised."


UNSC must reflect today''s geopolitical realities, says Patil

UNSC must reflect today''s geopolitical realities, says Patil Berne, Oct 4 : President Pratibha Devisingh Patil has said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must reflect on contemporary geopolitical realities in order to combat global security challenges better.


Swiss presidency upset with OECD over tax list

Swiss presidency upset with OECD over tax list Bern - Switzerland sent a letter of complaint to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, posted on a government Website Wednesday, saying the think-tank did not receive its permission to publish a grey list of so called tax havens.

The OECD, which is supported a group of developed economies of which the Alpine nation is a member, placed Switzerland and several other countries on a grey list around the G20 meeting held in London at the beginning of this month.


Switzerland and US begin taxation talks

Switzerland and US begin taxation talks Bern - Swiss and US tax authorities began negotiations on Tuesday on opening and re-drawing the double taxation agreements, an official confirmed. The negotiations followed Switzerland's announcement last month, along with other countries with banking secrecy laws, that it would relax the strict rules and help fight tax fraud in line with the standards of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

That OECD has placed Switzerland on a so-called grey list until it implements its pledges.


New chair for Swiss central bank

New chair for Swiss central bankBern - Philipp Hildebrand will replace Jean-Pierre Roth at the helm of the Swiss National Bank starting at the beginning of next year, the Federal Council announced Wednesday.

Roth announced in January his plans to retire as chairman of the governing board of the SNB, a post he has held since 2001.

The council, the executive branch of government, also promoted Thomas Jordan from being a member of the board to replacing Hildebrand as vice chairman responsible for financial systems.


Digital age, economic woes: can the post office survive?

Digital age, economic woes: can the post office survive?Bern, Switzerland  - E-mail, internet bill paying and other electric substitutes had already been hitting the world's postal services hard when the global economic crisis struck, leading individuals and companies to cut back anywhere they could including in the mail.

"Some of our largest mailers are in financial services, catalogue sales, manufacturers," said Lea Emerson, the head of the international division at the United States Postal Service (USPS). "Those are some of the ones hardest hit by crisis, and they are mailing much less."


Postal sector sees some upsides to global downturn

Postal sector sees some upsides to global downturn Bern, Switzerland - The global postal sector has been hit by the economic crisis but the downturn also has financial benefits, the Universal Postal Union said Thursday.

The crisis was most advantageous for post offices that were able to offer financial services.

"Some European operators, such as Swiss Post and Deutsche Post, are experiencing annual growth rates above 50 per cent in the number of postal deposits and savings accounts opened in 2008," the UPU said, noting that a similar phenomenon occurred during the Great Depression.


Swiss economy expected to shrink by 2.2 per cent in 2009

Swiss economy expected to shrink by 2.2 per cent in 2009 Bern  - Revised government figures for 2009 released Tuesday showed that Switzerland's economy would shrink by 2.2 per cent and the recession would be significantly worse than had been envisaged.

Previous statistics by the Swiss Economic Ministry had predicted a contraction of 0.8 per cent.

The latest forecast said that if there was an easing of the global financial crisis, Switzerland could see slightly positive growth of 0.1 per cent in 2010, even as the labour market would continue to deteriorate.


Federal Council backs secrecy, seeks international cooperation

SwitzerlandBern  - The Swiss Federal Council rejected criticism Friday which had been directed at the Alpine nation over tax issues, saying that privacy in banking remained intact.

In a statement, the council, the executive branch of government, said it would, however, work "to improve cooperation with other countries in the area of tax offences."

The Council added that "it is prepared to enter into dialogue with third countries on the taxation of savings income." To do so, it set up a "group of experts," which includes civil servants, bankers and academics, to advise the government.


Switzerland enters recession as economy declines in fourth quarter

Switzerland enters recession as economy declines in fourth quarter Berne - The Swiss economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2008 by 0.3 per cent compared with the previous quarter, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs said Tuesday.

Revised figures for last year's third quarter showed the economy had contracted slightly - by 0.06 per cent - an official said, putting Switzerland officially into a mild recession.

The decline in real gross domestic product was 0.6 per cent when compared to the last quarter of 2007.


Head of Swiss central bank to step down

Head of Swiss central bank to step downBerne  - Jean-Pierre Roth, chairman of the Swiss National Bank, said Friday he would retire at the end of the year, having served in the role since 2001. He named no successor.

Roth, who worked for the bank for three decades, will step down in midst of a global economic crisis, which has also hit Switzerland, particularly as it is an exporting nation and relies on a financial sector that makes up an estimated 12 per cent of GDP.

Many observers have commended Roth's monetary policy during the onset of the financial woes and as it turned into an economic crisis.


Swiss skier Albrecht needs specialized care

Swiss skier Albrecht needs specialized care Berne - Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht will need several months of intensive rehabilitation and specialized treatment as he recovers from injuries in a serious downhill training crash.

"The next weeks and months will be about Daniel Albrecht recovering well enough to be able to lead a normal life," the skier's manager, Guisep Fry, said in a statement Friday.

Berne University's hospital said Albrecht, 25, would need complete peace and quiet and can only be visited by close friends and family.


Swiss-Libyan ties chilled after arrest of Gaddafi son

Libya Tripoli/Bern - Libya has shocked Swiss officials by announcing plans to reduce its economic ties to Switzerland, apparently in continued protest over the brief arrest in July of the son of Libyan leader Moamer Gadaffi.

Measures announced Thursday night by the state-run JANA news agency include the withdrawal of 7 billion dollars of government funds from Swiss banks, the cessation of multiple economic cooperation projects between the two countries, and a cutoff of Libyan oil exports to Switzerland.


Swiss Reverend Beat-Man rocks his blues church

Swiss Reverend Beat-Man rocks his blues churchBern  - His voice is creaking and gargling, his fingers strumming the guitar strings hard. The kick-drum leads a steady beat and a cymbal clangs from time to time.

When Reverend Beat-Man from the Swiss capital Bern performs as a one-man-orchestra, it sounds one minute like enchanted swampland, another like the open range, and maybe occasionally like voodoo rituals and the curses of the possessed.


Dalai Lama cancels Swiss visit for health reasons

Berne - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has cancelled a visit to Switzerland next month on the advice of doctors urging him cut back his travels and to rest, it was announced Saturday.

The 73-year-old, who recently spent several days in a Mumbai hospital being treated for exhaustion, would also be cancelling other European visits, the Swiss-based announcement quoted exile-Tibetan sources as saying from the Dalai Lama's base in Dharamsala, northern India. (dpa)


Three Guantanamo detainees apply for asylum in Switzerland

Berne - Three detainees at the US Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba have applied for political asylum in Switzerland, reports said Thursday.

The men are from Libya, Algeria and China, the Swiss federal office for migration confirmed. The Chinese man is a member of China's Uighur Muslim minority.

The spokesman for the migration office, Jonas Montani, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the applications would be handled like any other.

According to Swiss media reports, the three asylum seekers have since been released from the US prison camp without charge. The camp was set up following the 2001 attacks on the US to house suspected terrorists. (dpa)


Swiss army chief resigns amid stalking affair

Roland-NefBerne  - After a weeks-long scandal over allegations of stalking, Swiss Army chief of staf Roland Nef resigned on Wednesday.

The Swiss government's Federal Council in a statement said it has formally acknowledged Nef's resignation.

Nef, 49, had been suspended from service at the end of July after Zurich prosecutors launched punitive proceedings against him over allegations that he had stalked and sexually harrassed his ex- girlfried over an extended period. (dpa)


Swiss-Libyan diplomatic spat over arrest of Gaddafi son

Berne - Switzerland has advised its citizens not to visit Libya because of a row triggered by the temporary arrest of Moammer Gaddafi's son, officials said Wednesday.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry voiced concern at what it described as "alarming" retaliatory measures introduced by the Libyan leader in the wake of his son Hannibal's detention in Geneva a week ago.

Since last Thursday Gaddafi's government has detained Swiss citizens in Libya, demanded the closure of Swiss firms present in the country and recalled its diplomatic representatives to Switzerland, the ministry said.


Why deadly Dutch left France gasping By Barry Whelan

Netherlands coach Marco van Basten can bask in the glory of two famous victories over the two 2006 World Cup finalists, knowing at least one of them and possibly both will be heading home from Euro 2008 in a few days.

Van Basten, aiming to become the first person to win Euro titles as a player and a coach, was rewarded for his boldness in the 4-1 defeat of France on Friday night just as he got the tactics right in the 3-0 drubbing or world champions Italy on Monday.

The 43-year-old coach was fortunate in both games in that the Dutch scored at the right times, but seven goals can't just be luck, and now the Dutch are riding on a huge wave of confidence.


Berne's bearpit gets a major makeover

Berne - Things are looking up for bears in the Swiss capital Berne which is famous for both these big, furry animals and the less than ideal conditions in which they are kept.

Now after many years the bears are about to get a new custom-built home on the outskirts of city named after what was allegedly the first wild beast killed by its hunting founder in the Middle Ages.

Bears have been kept in a pit in Berne for centuries but many visitors are dismayed to see the creatures languishing in an ancient pit in the Nydegggasse alongside the River Aare. The site is historically correct but it gives the animals little view of the world outside.


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