28/02/2013

Yvan Perrin’s Skeletons Out of the Closet

 

            The controversy surrounding Yvan Perrin’s candidacy to be Conseil d’Etat in Neuchatel has touched a profound taboo in Switzerland, the separation between the private and public. Already during the DSK scandal in the New York hotel, questions were raised about how much the public should know about a politician’s private life. Now with the revelation of reports on Perrin’s December 19th hospitalization, once again questions are being raised about the right to privacy of the individual and the right of the public to know about politicians’ private lives.

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25/02/2013

Vasella, Minder and the Unemployment Debate in Geneva

 

                Local and national news have been buzzing about the 72 million franc golden parachute for Novartis’ Daniel Vasella, the upcoming Minder referendum on limiting pay for executives and the Geneva Parliament’s vote on extending payments for the unemployed. The first and second focus on the growing inequality between the salaries of executives and workers, the third on the period of benefits for those out of work.

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18/02/2013

Switzerland at the G-20: A Double-Edged Invitation

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Switzerland was invited to attend the recent G-20 meeting in Moscow. Perhaps as a payback for its creative diplomatic efforts to help the Russian Federation become a member of the World Trade Organization, or perhaps for its role in hosting the ongoing Georgian-Russian talks in Geneva, the Russian Government invited Switzerland to participate in the gathering of central bankers and finance ministers from the world’s largest economies for the first time. While Switzerland’s relations with the United States and some European neighbors are tense over banking secrecy, there is reason to be proud to see Mme. Widmer-Schlumpf, Swiss Federal Councilor and Head of the Federal Finance Department, sitting at the table with representatives from major powers. 

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10/02/2013

A Quiet, Moving Celebration of 150 Years of Humanitarianism

croix rouges.jpgDuring a sparkling winter Saturday morning at the beginning of school holidays in Geneva, 70 people gathered last week in the Villa Moynier to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Speeches were given by the Mayor of Geneva, the Vice-President of the Red Cross, the former President; present were a former Conseiller d’Etat and other dignitaries. A plaque was unveiled in memory of Gustave Moynier. A conference was presented on the dangers to health and sanitary conditions during current conflicts. Statistics were given about medical personnel being attacked, hospitals being destroyed, those in need being denied assistance.

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03/02/2013

Stan Wawrinka: A Modern Tragic Hero

A sense of the tragic was an important element in ancient Greek theatre. From the opening of Oedipus Rex, for example, the chorus tells us that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother. No need to read 666 pages in Joel Dickers “La Verité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert” to know who killed Nola. In ancient times, the tragic hero fought against his or her inevitable destiny which was known from the beginning. The struggle against destiny was what was tragic, not the end result which was announced by the Chorus in Act I. (How many people would have read the entirety of Dicker’s brilliant novel if they had known from the beginning who was guilty? Then again, how many impatient moderns flipped to the end of the book first to find out who did it, thereby ruining the lovely suspense the talented author weaves for 666 pages?)

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