Swiss Minister calls for ‘world without #deathpenalty’


Didier Burkhalter (left) with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y MarfilDidier Burkhalter (left) with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil (Keystone)

June 12, 2013 – 21:38

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter has highlighted Switzerland’s commitment to the abolition of capital punishment at the opening of the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty in Madrid.

“Switzerland aims to ensure that those countries which have not as yet abolished the death penalty at least place a moratorium on its use,” he said in a statement released by the foreign ministry.

In it, he added that capital punishment was incompatible with the values represented by Switzerland and had an impact on the country’s other obligations such as the prohibition of discrimination.
 
The death penalty was abolished from Swiss federal criminal law in 1942, but remained available in military criminal law until 1992.

Together with Spain, France and Norway, Switzerland is patron of the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty which is hosting around 1,500 delegates from over 90 states in Madrid until Saturday.

Today, 140 of the world’s 198 states have renounced the use of capital punishment, but a quarter still retain the death penalty. Executions continue to take place every year in around 20 states – mainly China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In 2012, various states (Botswana, Gambia, India, Japan, Pakistan and Kuwait) reapplied the death penalty after years of de facto moratorium, according to the foreign ministry.

Bilateral talks

Prior to the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty, Didier Burkhalter held bilateral talks with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil.

Topics set to be discussed included the OSCE chairmanship which will be taken over by Switzerland in 2014, the situation in Europe, youth unemployment and bilateral issues.

“Step-by-step progress”

The stated Swiss goal is a “world without the death penalty” as capital punishment cannot be reconciled with respect for human rights and, in particular, violates the right to life, said the foreign ministry statement.

“Switzerland strives for step-by-step progress with this goal in mind. It advocates for a moratorium or at least certain limitations to be placed on the use of capital punishment in states which continue to employ the death penalty through lobbying at both the multilateral and bilateral level.”

The foreign ministry also calls for compliance with international standards concerning withholding the death penalty for minors and non-enforcement of capital punishment for pregnant women or mentally disabled persons.

In this regard, Switzerland supports, among others, the work of the International Commission against the Death Penalty which was launched at the Fourth World Congress in Geneva in 2010.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

 

Irish rape victim tries to take her own life in India #Vaw


Indians light candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India. The woman's death sparked a wave of protests like this one
Indians light candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India. The woman‘s death sparked a wave of protests like this one

LUKE BYRNE – 09 JUNE 2013

AN Irish woman, who was allegedly raped by a businessman while working for an aid agency in India, has attempted to take her own life.

It is understood that the 21-year-old woman took a mixture of sleeping pills, painkillers and other drugs.

She was discovered unconscious in her hotel room yesterday by a fellow Irish national who was staying at the same complex.

Sudeshna Lahiri, deputy director of the Calcutta Medical Research Institute, told reporters that the medicines were pumped from the woman’s stomach.

She is expected to make a full recovery.

The woman has claimed she was sexually assaulted after accompanying a man to his home in the Kalighat area of Kolkata on June 1.

She had been celebrating her 21st birthday with friends earlier that night.

Last December, a 23-year-old Indian woman was gang-raped on a bus that was being driven through New Delhi. She died from her injuries two weeks later. The case sparked mass protests and calls for tougher action to combat sex crimes against women.

In March, a 39-year-old Swiss woman was gang-raped as she camped in a remote forest in central India with her boyfriend, while that same month, a 31-year-old British woman was forced to leap from a second-floor hotel balcony to escape an attacker in the city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

The attacks have led to a sharp fall in tourist numbers to India, especially among women. The number of foreigners visiting India is reported to be down 25pc, with the number of women travellers down 35pc.

 

source- http://www.independent.ie

 

Nuclear fears in Europe after unshielded radioactive material is found


 

Nuclear fears in Europe after unshielded radioactive material is found

CALLS are growing for more routine radioactive screening at borders after a second lorry containing unshielded radioactive material was stopped on a European road.

Published: Thu, May 9, 2013

-The-vehicle-was-contained-for-exceeding-the-legal-radioactive-emission-limits-europics- The vehicle was contained for exceeding the legal radioactive emission limits/ europics

The startling discovery in Switzerland came only five days after a group of Romanians carrying unshielded nuclear material were stopped in neighbouring Austria.

The vehicle was contained after it was discovered to be exceeding the legal radioactive emission limits.

Shockingly, the men had even stored their sandwiches and drinking water in with the radioactive material.

In Austria the men admitted they had made the journey from Germany to Romania carrying similar radioactive loads dozens of times and had not realised how dangerous it was.

 Calls are growing for more routine radioactive screening at borders/ europics

It is clearly a growing problem

Wolfgang Mueller

Now, a lorry from Lithuania on its way to Italy has been found to contain dangerous levels of radioactivity by customs officials.

The lorry was cordoned off, while the surrounding 300 feet around the vehicle was evacuated and the Customs border crossing point was closed.

A specialist team from the Bellinzona fire service and specially trained police officers were called in to investigate further, discovering that the radioactivity was from a package being transported in the lorry which was confiscated and secured.

Davide Bassi, from the Swiss Border Control Office said: “It is not unusual that lorry’s have a low level of radiation, and we do carry out controls to check that this limit is not exceeded.”

They were currently examining the package to find out why it was irradiated and what it contained, he said speaking to the Austrian Times.

Wolfgang Mueller from Greenpeace Germany said: “It is clearly a growing problem and about time that tougher action was made to cut down on the number of dangerous nuclear transports that seem to be taking place on our streets.”

 

Ever wondered why Novartis and Roche do not compete ? #Pharma


 

Glivec (Gleevec) film tablet made by Novartis.

 

Expectations of structural change and divestments will be reignited by the Symonds announcement, note analysts at Deutsche BankOne particular conundrum for investors is the 33 percent shareholding that Novartis holds in its compatriot Roche. Jimenez has ascribed an intangible value to the shareholding, which allows the company to have some say in any acquisitions Roche would choose to make that required the issuance of new shares. Investors may feel that the money could be spent more effectively elsewhere, particularly as Novartis’ financial stake in Roche is something of a Vasella heirloom and reminder that the former CEO often talked up the possibility of a Swiss mega merger.

 High-profile personnel changes at Novartis drive analyst speculation as CEO delivers consistent message 

 

(Ref: ViewPoints Desk)

In quick succession to the announced departure of chairman and former CEO Daniel Vasella in January, Novartis announced on Wednesday that Jon Symonds would leave the company at the end of 2013 after four years as CFO.

Despite CEO Joseph Jimenez using the company’s Q1 analyst call to drive home the message that Novartis remains committed to its current growth strategy, the departure of Symonds was a key focus for analysts in notes that were subsequently circulated to investors, and has fuelled speculation that further changes could be afoot.

Insight, Analysis & Opinion

Speaking about his pending departure at the end of the year, Symonds suggested that it was a positive time for a new CFO to take over. That man is the current CFO of Novartis’ pharmaceuticals division Harry Kirsch, who will preside over an emerging post-2013 growth narrative, added Symonds.

There remains some scepticism, however, and Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson suggested that the reason for Symonds departure is not completely clear. Furthermore, added Anderson, close proximity to the departure of Vasella raises the question ‘what next?’

Operationally, analyst reaction to Kirsch’s appointment was mixed. Echoing comments made by both Jimenez and Symonds on the Q1 conference call, analysts at Credit Suisse pointed to a strong record in driving productivity gains within the pharmaceuticals division (during a period characterised by EU austerity measures and generic competition) as a strong precedent for his impending role.

But it is the surprise nature of Symonds departure that analysts have found more difficult to interpret – one conclusion being that Jimenez is keen to appoint his own team and move the company away from the dominant shadow of Vasella (seeViewPoints: Was he worth it? Vasella commits loyalties to his Novartis legacy) Symonds was viewed by many analysts as a driver of improved capital allocation, with some suggesting that his operating role would be enhanced by the departure of the chairman.

Expectations of structural change and divestments will be reignited by the Symonds announcement, note analysts at Deutsche Bank. One particular conundrum for investors is the 33 percent shareholding that Novartis holds in its compatriot Roche. Jimenez has ascribed an intangible value to the shareholding, which allows the company to have some say in any acquisitions Roche would choose to make that required the issuance of new shares. Investors may feel that the money could be spent more effectively elsewhere, particularly as Novartis’ financial stake in Roche is something of a Vasella heirloom and reminder that the former CEO often talked up the possibility of a Swiss mega merger.

See also:

 

 

#India- Ragging case- Student beaten up in Gurgaon, fights for Life in ICU #WTFnews


Another victim of ragging. Image courtesy CNN-IBN

In a suspected case of ragging, a first-year student of a private engineering college was allegedly assaulted and abandoned at a Bilaspur park in an unconscious state on Tuesday.
The park is just a stone’s throw away from Gurgaon College of Engineering, where the victim is pursuing
his mechanical engineering course. 

According to Tularam Gautam’s relatives, his seniors assaulted and forced him to consume liquor. The 20-year-old is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Gurgaon. He is a resident of Vijay Enclave in Delhi.

However, the college management dismissed the claims of the family. Dr Yateendra Tiwari, director of the college, said, “We have formed an inquiry committee to probe the matter. Ragging is not possible during exams.”

Pradeep Singh, a relative of the victim, said, “A group of senior students forced Gautam to consume liquor. There are injury marks all over his body. The incident took place during lunch break after the exam was over. It must be the handiwork of the seniors as there was no outsider on the campus.” The victim’s relatives claimed that his mobile phone and wallet were also missing.

Rahul Sharma, DCP (south), said, “Although the victim has regained consciousness, we are yet to record his statement.”

#India – Minister blames Swiss tourist for gangrape #Vaw #WTFnews


MADHYA PRADESH, Updated Mar 17, 2013 at 09:48pm IST

Bhopal: The Datia Police have arrested six people in connection with the alleged gangrape of a Swiss national even as the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister said the couple should have informed the police about their travel plans for additional security. The suspects – six members of a nomadic tribe in the area – have been arrested and a stolen laptop and a mobile phone have been seized from them.

The Swiss tourist was assaulted when she was camping outside a village with her partner during a cycling trip. “The police had detained 25 people and were interrogating them. During interrogation the names of these accused cropped up. They were searched and have been identified,” RK Gurjar, Inspector, Datia, said.

But immediately after the arrests, the state Home Minister Umashankar Gupta caused a major embarrassment by blaming the Swiss tourists for the incident. Gupta said tourists arriving in Madhya Pradesh flout safety norms by not informing the police of their whereabouts.

“The rape of the Swiss national is unfortunate but foreign travellers should inform the police about their movement so that they can be provided with adequate protection. They often don’t follow state’s rules,” Gupta said.

The Minister‘s statement comes at a time when pressure is building for the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government because of the alarming number of sexual assaults in the state.

 

#India- Swiss woman gang-raped in Madhya Pradesh; 20 detained #Vaw


 

 Updated: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 19:41 
gangrape
Zeenews Bureau

Datia (Madhya Pradesh): In another shameful incident, a Swiss female tourist was gang-raped by seven to eight persons at a forest area in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh, police said on Saturday.

The victim was on a cycling trip with her husband at the time of the incident.

Twenty people have been detained on the basis of suspicion and are being questioned in connection with the incident, DIG(Chambal range) DK Arya told a news agency.

A rape case has been registered, police said, adding that seven to eight unidentified persons were involved in the crime. No arrest has been made so far.

The incident took place at Jharia village, eight km near Datia town, at around 9 pm last night when the 39-year-old woman along with her husband was touring the region on a bicycle as part of their India tour.

The couple–who are adventure tourists– was camping at a forest area for the night while on their way back from Orchha, home to temples of Lord Ram, and were proceeding to Agra when they were attacked. The couple were planning to visit Agra in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh to see the Taj Mahal.

The woman was allegedly gang-raped in the presence of her husband, police said.

The victim was rushed to Gwalior, about 100 km from here, and her medical tests in a hospital have confirmed rape, police sources said.

The tourists told police that their camera, Rs 10,000 in cash and a laptop were missing.

“They (the couple) were coming from Orchha on a bicycle and they decided to stay in a forest. A lot of tourists throng the area. They were beaten up by a few people who took away their laptops,” said ML Dhody, a Sub-Divisional police officer.

“We are scouring the forest area in search of those involved in the crime,” Datia SP CS Solanki told a news agency.

Madhya Pradesh govt slammed

Chairperson of National Commission for Women Mamta Sharma said the MP government should take the incident very seriously and demanded strictest punishment to the culprits.

Leader of Opposition in MP Assembly Ajay Singh said the incident was a “blot” on the BJP government’s name and also put the state in poor light abroad.

(With Agency inputs)

 

Nestlé Found Guilty of Spying on Swiss Activists


by Pratap ChatterjeeCorpWatch Blog
January 30th, 2013

Image by phdinparenting. Used under Creative Commons license.

Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has been found guilty of spying on Swiss activists in 2003 with the help of Securitas, a private security company. Jean-Luc Genillard, president of the Lausanne civil court, told the two companies to pay 3,000 Swiss Francs ($3,267.55) to each of nine victims.

Vevey, Switzerland, based Nestlé sells $91 billion worth of products a year such as Nescafé coffee, KitKat chocolates and Maggi noodles. The company has frequently been criticized for marketing baby food in poor countries in violation of a 1981 World Health Organization code that regulates the advertising of breast milk substitutes. It has also come under fire from Greenpeace for using palm oil grown on deforested land in Borneoand buying cocoa beans from plantations that used child labor in Cote d’Ivoire in a film entitled “The Dark Side of Chocolate.”

In 2003, a group of activists with the Association pour la Taxation des Transactions pour l’Aide aux Citoyens (ATTAC) in Vaud, Switzerland, started working on a book on the global policies of Nestlé. At the time aSecuritas employee started to attend meetings using the false name of Sara Meylan.

In June 2008, Temps Présent, a Swiss TV program, revealed that the Securitas agent had briefed Nestlé security personnel as well as corporate communications staff about the ATTAC meetings she attended including ones that were held in activist homes. Securitas also provided this information to the local police.

ATTAC members sued Nestlé after the news report was aired. “We are revolted by this practice, which overturns the principles of freedom of expression and basic democratic rights,” a press release from the group stated. “We condemn the role played by Securitas. This private security company, whose activities traditionally consist of guarding buildings and car parks, accepted a contract to spy on a group of people who in no way represented a threat or a danger, except for the fact that the results of their research activities could not be controlled by the transnational Nestlé.”

In recent years Nestlé has started to respond directly to some complaints of activist groups like Greenpeace, according to the Financial Times. “For a company like ours to prosper over the long term we have to create value for the communities in which we operate,” Janet Voûte, Nestlé’s global head of public affairs, told the newspaper. “And we fundamentally believe we cannot create shared value – not just for shareholders but for society – alone.”

Despite the new public relations strategy to contain activists, the company has been unable to quash the Vaud group. Although ATTAC dropped a criminal case against the two companies in 2009, it continued to press a civil claim in Lausanne courts which it dubbed “Nestlégate.”

“We are very satisfied that the civil court has now condemned NESTLE’s and SECURITAS AG’s spying activities,” ATTAC said in a press release issued after the judge ruled against the companies last week. “Nevertheless we’d like to point out that we are continuing to critically observe the worldwide activities of multinational corporations like NESTLE, especially concerning its hostile trade union policies and the excessive pumping of groundwater in different parts of the world.”

Nestlé reacted to the court ruling “with disappointment” although it added that “incitement to infiltration is against Nestlé’s corporate business principles.”

 

Open Letter to the Board of the Swiss Press Club- Silencing Alternative Media and Insulting citizens


switzerland

switzerland (Photo credit: siette)


Below is the open letter sent to the Board of the Swiss Press Club, among others, to report on the censorship of alternative media and civil society by the Executive Director, Guy Mettan, on the occasion of a press conference just before the WHA, at which the Swiss delegation to the World Health Assembly were presenting the Swiss government’s position on a variety of  issues including WHO reform.

 

The extraordinary behavior of the executive director is strongly reminiscent of “Les Nouveaux Chiens de Garde” (The new watch dogs) referring to a recent French film documenting the service offered to those in power, by certain journalists who collude, often with zeal, in preventing democratic discussion of issues that are critical to the people and in this case, to their health and survival.

 

It is no wonder that “Health for All” remains a dream. We must support independent journalism everywhere and I want to thank the other staff of the Swiss Press Club whose welcome and respect for freedom of expression were exemplary.  

 

Alison

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to the Board of the Swiss Press Club

Guy Mettan, Executive Director of the Swiss Press Club,

Silences alternative media and insults citizens

Dear Members of the Board of the Swiss Press Club,

On Monday 14 May 2012, a press conference on “Switzerland and Global Health, Swiss foreign policy in the area of health and reform of the World health Organization”.

As a member of the People’s Health Movement (PHM), I attended the press conference in order to report back to the PHM electronic information network (phm-exch).  I am not a professional journalist but I contribute articles to newspapers, medical journals, and magazines on various aspects of international health.

I also contribute regularly to alternative media working on health and environmental issues, and in particular the People Health Movement internet information network (phm-exch) which serves health professionals and /or health activists all over the world. I was an international civil servant with the World Health Organization for 18 years. I continue to defend the constitutional mandate of the people’s international health authority.

The PHM is closely involved in the highly controversial issue of current WHO reform which was the subject of the press conference. Furthermore, PHM, on invitation by the WHO, has participated in all the preparatory discussions on WHO reform that were open to civil society.

Other “simple citizens” were also present at the press conference. Their particular interest was the Swiss delegations’ position on the 1959 Agreement (WHA 12-40) between the WHO and the IAEA which prevents the former from fulfilling its mandate in radiation and health, and the re-establishment of a department of radiation and health, which was closed down 3 years ago, leaving WHO with no competence in this critically important area of public health.

After the four ambassadors’ presentations, the participants were invited to ask questions. There were a dozen journalists in the room of whom 5 or 6 asked a question. With a censorious gesture of the hand, Guy Mettan indicated a vigorous “No” several times to a young woman wishing to ask a question. He informed participants that the Press Conference was for professional journalists and that “he would not take questions from anyone else in the room”.

Ambassador Silberschmidt intervened to say that he and the other ambassadors were very willing to answer questions posed by citizens. Forced to concede and show a minimum of good will and respect for democracy, Mettan announced that professional journalists with press cards would have priority and then he “would allow one question from one other person in the room”.

Astonished at what appeared to be an attempt to censor civil society and alternative media, I remarked that there were no more questions from journalists and that twenty minutes of press conference remained.

“You are here to make propaganda” replied Mettan and he announced that the press conference was over.

Shocked by this behaviour, I approached the podium to ask Mettan about the status of alternative media at the Swiss Press Club. Without replying to this question, Mettan lashed out again: “You are here to make propaganda” and he added “You are here to criticize WHO”.

It is interesting to note that Raphael Saborit, who is the spokesperson for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs came rapidly up to the podium to support Mettan, and repeated his words. His unfortunate gesture somewhat tarnished the courtesy shown by the four ambassadors.

This clumsy censorship had surprised the participants and attracted a small crowd of people one of whom filmed the exchange. Under this pressure, Mettan informed me that I could ask questions after the press conference during the tea break. I observed that the point of a press conference was that the journalists present take advantage of the discussions. Some of the ambassadors were still present around the podium and listening to the exchange. Mettan snapped at me “So ask your question!” which I then did.[1]

Dear Members of the Board of the Swiss Press Club,

I leave aside the question of Guy Mettan’s lamentable rudeness.

I observe that the Executive Director of the CSP deprived the Swiss Ambassadors of the opportunity to respond to question posed by alternative media, which may reflect the positions and aspirations of Swiss citizens. He also deprived the Geneva and international media of precious information on the complex and controversial question of WHO reform. Alternative media, often linked with associations and NGOs, are privy to specialized information which are rarely available to professional journalists working for mass media. Their questions are often incisive and the responses are especially important for their internet readers.

Just to put the incident in context, I must explain that the group, IndependentWHO (of which I am a member and of which PHM is a founding association)  had  held its own press conference at the CSP three days before (for the Scientific and Citizen Forum on Radioprotection: from Chernobyl to Fukushima). Two women, welcoming us with warmth and professionalism, had informed us about the interesting press conference that was to take place the following Monday. We had asked if the event was open to the public and if we could participate and they had replied “Of course, you are very welcome!”

I remind you that “the SPC was established by the Republic and Canton of Geneva and the City of Geneva for public institutions” and I would like to ask the following question:

Given that a large proportion of information today is disseminated through alternative media (often electronic networks) what is the position of the SPC on the participation in press conferences of the many people who are active in the dissemination of information through these networks?

It goes without saying that I respect the current procedures of the SPC. I assume that the SPC fully recognizes the legitimacy and value of alternative media and the need to offer facilities for these networks in the interests of plurality of information sources and freedom of expression.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Katz

Member, Peoples Health Movement, IndependentWHO, SolidaritEs, Centre Europe Third World


[1] I welcome the fact that the Swiss delegation recognizes WHO as the chief architect of international health policy. But the delegation also supports the “multiplicity of health actors” including public private partnerships (PPP). One of the biggest and most influential of these is the Global Fund which deals with the three big killers worldwide (AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria), and WHO does not even have a seat on the board of the GF. Is support for PPPs  therefore incompatible with support for WHO as the central architect of international public health?

Solar-powered catamaran goes around the world in 584 days


Solar-powered catamaranThe solar-powered MS Turanor PlanetSolar crosses the finish line of its trip around the world at the Hercule Harbor in Monaco. (Laurent Gillieron / Associated Press / May 4, 2012)
By Deborah NetburnMay 4, 2012.

 In the spring of 2004 Raphael Domjan, a Swiss electrical engineer, conceived of a borderline insane idea — to travel around the world aboard a ship powered entirely by solar energy.

It would be an adventure and a statement. If he could do it, he would prove to the world that there are other alternatives to powering sea travel besides fossil fuels and wind. It would also demonstrate just what solar power is capable of.

In 2008 he formed a partnership with German entrepreneur Immo Stroeher, who helped provide the funds to make this idea possible.

And now, eight years later, Domjan’s dream is a reality: On Friday, the solar-powered MS Turanor PlanetSolar catamaran pulled into port in Monaco after completing a 37,294-mile journey around the world.

“We have shown that we have the technologies as well as the knowledge to become sustainable and safeguard our blue planet,” Domjan said in a statement.

The ship, designed by New Zealander Craig Loomes, is made of a durable lightweight carbon material and is covered with 38,000 solar cells that feed power to six blocks of lithium-ion batteries.

“Each new sunrise provides the catamaran with the light needed to continue its journey,” the PlanetSolar team wrote on its website.

It took the 115-foot boat 584 days — roughly 19 month — to make it all around the world. That is admittedly not a super-fast pace.

But there were stops along the way to promote solar power and even an encounter with pirates. There was also some waiting for the sun to come up to power those lithium batteries.

Now that the Domjan has completed his mission, he and the team at PlanetSolar will have to figure out what do with the ship.

“We are considering renting out the boat for scientific or commercial uses or even selling it,” Stroeher told Wired. “We are open for ideas and in talks with interested parties — from the use as a ‘green’ luxury yacht to scientific usages and the utilization as the world’s largest mobile solar power battery, everything is possible.”

Go green!

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