A final look at Ohio, the bellwether state Tuesday, 6 November, 2012With the polls set to open in the United States, media commentators of all stripes say that it is going to be all down to the swing states. And none of those have been more intensely scrutinized than Ohio—some have declared that Mitt Romney will not win if he doesn’t take this crucial state. WRS’s Dave Goodman speaks to Brian Bull from NPR station WCPN and asks him what it is about Ohio that makes it such a bellwether:
Politicking in Sandy's lethal wake Wednesday, 31 October, 2012Millions of people across the north-eastern U.S. are feeling the after-effects of the tropical storm known as Superstorm Sandy this morning, as the destructive weather heads north for Canada. At least 38 people have died in the U.S., millions are still without power, and transport remains severely disrupted. All of New York City’s major airports are closed because their runways are flooded; floodwaters also rose to a meter on Wall Street—though the New York Stock Exchange is expected to re-open later. To hear about how residents are coping and how the run-up to the presidential election might be affected by Sandy, WRS’s Dave Goodman spoke to our Washington correspondent, Daniel Ryntjes:
UBS job cuts were 'long awaited' Tuesday, 30 October, 2012Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, will cut between 9,000 and 10,000 jobs, roughly 15 percent of its workforce, by 2015. The announcement came earlier today as the third quarter earnings were announced. The move directly impacts the investment bank division, and as many as 2,500 people could be laid off in Switzerland. WRS’s Alex Helmick asks Rainer Skierka, Vice President and Senior Analyst on Buy-side Equity Research at Bank Sarasin, what he thinks of this news:
UBS announces massive job cuts Tuesday, 30 October, 2012UBS has announced massive job cuts after posting a net loss of over 2 billion francs in the third quarter. The Swiss number one bank plans to cut up to 10,000 positions over the next three to five years. That’s in a bid to return over 3 billion francs in cash to shareholders. Around 2,500 hundred jobs will be pulled in Switzerland.
Winter driving tip: 'Don't be scared' Tuesday, 30 October, 2012Drivers and their insurance companies are counting the costs from dozens of accidents on the country’s roads following the abrupt arrival of winter over the weekend. Thousands of incidents were reported, including one involving eight cars on the A12 motorway in the canton of Fribourg. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. Drivers’ association Touring Club Switzerland says it received around 2,500 calls—mostly from people driving on summer tires. To brush up on the kinds of precautions we should be taking in the coming weeks, WRS’s Catherine Allen spoke to Laurent Pignot from the TCS:
UN review pushes Switzerland to deal with racism and intolerance Monday, 29 October, 2012Switzerland was put under the microscope on Monday. The Universal Periodic Review, a process where human rights within member countries of the United Nations are examined, took place at the UN Human Rights Council. Several countries want Switzerland to do more about racism, intolerance and xenophobia, a sentiment that was expressed at the last review four years ago. However, Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter says the country has made progress since 2008. WRS’s Alex Helmick speaks to Alain Bovard from Amnesty International’s Swiss section:
Geneva slammed for mistreatment of prisoners Thursday, 25 October, 2012Prisoners in the canton of Geneva are being mistreated by police according to a new report by the Council of Europe, which examined conditions for people arrested and held in custody. The human rights watchdog visited Switzerland October of last year, accessing 16 detention facilities, including six prisons, in Geneva, Vaud, Thurgau, Zug and Zurich. Most come out well in the report but there are worries in both Geneva and Vaud. WRS’s Dave Goodman talks to Julia Kozma, an expert on human rights law, and a member of the Council of Europe’s torture prevention committee:
Hundreds of Americans give up passports Thursday, 25 October, 2012The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland says hundreds of Swiss dual citizens have given up their American passports in what he calls a “big phenomenon” now in the country. Donald Beyer told the business paper the Handelszeitung that stricter enforcement of U.S. laws make having a U.S. passport less attractive. He said the relationship with Switzerland only has one problem: American justice officials trying to pursue tax evaders without infringing on Swiss laws. The paper asked Beyer why the American relationship was so much better with Liechtenstein, to which he replied that the principality made a decision to break from black or gray lists, and adopted a “clean money strategy” very early.
EBU suspects Syria, Iran of jamming satellites Wednesday, 24 October, 2012Middle Eastern and European satellites are being jammed by Syria and Iran. That is the claim of the BBC and they are being backed up by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Since last week a series of attacks have cut communications to many services including the BBC satellite signal to WRS. To find out more, WRS’s Pete Forster speaks to Graham Warren, network director for Eurovision, the man in charge of satellite and fibre connections for the EBU. He begins by asking which services have been affected:
One in five kids hit by cyberbullying Tuesday, 23 October, 2012Recently after a young girl in Canada killed herself as a result of online harassment, the concern over cyber bullying has come to light in Switzerland. In this country, one in five youths are affected. According to Pro Juventute, kids just don’t know how to protect themselves or who to turn to, and there is an urgent need for prevention in Swiss schools. On Monday, the foundation, which provides a help hotline for children, launched the first nation-wide campaign to address cyber-mobbing. WRS’s Dave Goodman speaks to new media expert Martin Hermida from the Media and Communications Institute at the University of Zurich:
Can cycling begin again after Armstrong? Monday, 22 October, 2012Lance Armstrong has officially been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and been given a life ban by the International Cycling Union (UCI). The UCI, based in Aigle, ratified the sanctions which had been imposed by the United States Doping Agency at a press conference in Geneva hosted by its president Pat McQuaid. These followed a USADA report which alleged the now retired American rider had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen.” The report was published earlier this month. WRS’s Pete Forster speaks to Reuters sports reporter Brian Homewood, who was at the conference.
Looking at a -20 Celcius winter Friday, 19 October, 2012With the first frost having claimed some tomatoes and grapes, the WRS team, checking forecasts more diligently, noticed a story from some weather outlets that this winter could be bitterly cold. German forecaster Wetter.net claims that trends suggest a Siberian chill could drop temperatures to minus 20 degrees Celsius in February 2013. WRS’s Alex Helmick asks Lionel Peyraud, forecaster from MeteoSwiss, how reliable these forecasts are:
Nestlé tweaks cereal...too little, too late Wednesday, 17 October, 2012Many breakfast cereals contain huge amounts of sugar and salt—but that is about to change. Swiss-based Nestlé together with U.S. manufacturer General Mills have announced they’ll be cutting the levels of sugar in 20 of their famous brands by an average of 24 percent over the next 3 years. Sodium levels will be dropped by 12 percent. It’s good news for consumers but why has it taken so long? And how worried should we be about the levels of sugar and salt in our food? WRS’s Dave Goodman speaks to Gemma Bischoff, who’s a dietician based in Zurich:
Bern freezes $1 billion in Arab Spring assets Tuesday, 16 October, 2012Switzerland has blocked nearly a billion Swiss francs worth of assets from former dictators and their associates in Arab Spring countries, including Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. BBC reporter Imogen Foulkes tells WRS’s Alex Helmick how the government is eager to show the world its tougher stance on corruption:
Lance Armstrong and Swiss angles in alleged doping case Thursday, 11 October, 2012The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released its findings Wednesday of an investigation into former cyclist Lance Armstrong. The USADA claims that different evidence combined “including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results” prove the use and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by the well-known cyclist. Also revealed in the report was the fact that Armstrong paid a Swiss-based firm run by Michele Ferrari, a doctor that the USADA says helped the seven-time Tour de France champion with an intricate doping system, more than one million dollars over several years. WRS’s Alex Helmick reports: