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Entries in Switzerland (9)

Wednesday
Feb272013

Three Dead, Seven Injured in Swiss Factory Shooting

Comstock/Thinkstock(MENZNAU, Switzerland) -- A shooting at the Kronospan wood processing factory in the Swiss town of Menznau on Wednesday left three people dead, including the 42-year old gunman, and another seven injured. Five of the injured are in serious condition.

The shooting occurred during the morning while factory workers were snacking in the plant’s cafeteria. The shooter, described by the chief executive of Kronospan Mauro Capozzo, was an unassuming and quiet man.

Capozzo denied rumors that job cut announcements were imminent, leaving the motivations for the massacre unclear at this point.

Gun violence and mass shootings of this sort arerare in Switzerland, despite the country boasting the third highest rate of gun ownership in the world. However, the rate of domestic homicides and suicides involving firearms is the second highest in Europe.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Olympic Rules: One Bad Tweet and You're Out

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A tweet insulting athletes from another country has cost a second Olympian a spot at the games.

Michel Morganella, one of the players on Switzerland’s Olympic men’s soccer team, sent out such a tweet following his team’s 2-1 loss to South Korea on Sunday. Morganella’s tweet said that Koreans should “burn themselves” and described them as “retards.”

Despite Morganella’s quick apology posted on his Twitter page, a prompt response from the Swiss team chief resulted in Morganella’s Twitter account deleted from the social networking site and his dismissal from the team.

Morganella is the second Olympian to get the boot because of a racially charged tweet. Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was left in Athens after her so-called “joke” about Africans in Greece.

“With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes of West Nile will eat homemade food!!!” she tweeted.

The triple jumper was no longer welcome to travel to London with her fellow Greek athletes.

“Social media is, in the end, about how people are using it,” says social media expert Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer and professor at Columbia University. “Social media doesn’t change the people who are using it and racism has been part of human nature and part of sports for centuries.”

He added, “Twitter is like athletes having their own press conference.”

The International Olympic Committee created “IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines” which clearly states that upon noncompliance of the guidelines an athlete can be stripped of their Olympic Games accreditations.

“These athletes know they live in a world of sponsorships, public opinion and their fans,” said Sreenivasan.  “The world today is about branding, having a following, having people cheer you on and social media has a role in that, social media can build you up.”

Social media can also break you down. An inappropriate tweet can send you out of London, out of the Olympics and straight home faster than you can tweet your apology. Game over.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Michele Bachmann Becomes a Swiss Citizen

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Michele Bachmann is now a Swiss citizen.

The Minnesota congresswoman and former Republican presidential candidate was recently granted dual citizenship, Bachmann's office confirmed Tuesday night, according to CNN.

"Congresswoman Bachmann's husband is of Swiss descent so she has been eligible for dual citizenship since they got married in 1978," spokeswoman Becky Rogness said in a statement. "However, recently some of their children wanted to exercise their eligibility for dual citizenship so they went through the process as a family."

And, according to an interview with Swiss TV, Bachmann, who is currently seeking a fourth term in Congress after her failed bid for the White House, is now also eligible to run for office in the tiny European country.

Asked if she'd be interested in seeking office in Switzerland, Bachmann joked that "there's a lot of competition...and they're very good."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

Swiss Bus Crash Kills 28

SEBASTIEN FEVAL/AFP/Getty Images(SIERRE, Switzerland) -- Families are grieving after a bus crash in Switzerland killed more than two dozen people, including at least 22 children, Tuesday night.

Twenty-eight people were reportedly killed when their bus hit the wall of a tunnel near a major ski resort in the Swiss Alps. The children, all 12 years old, were returning home from a ski trip.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the crash.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan242012

A Social Network for the 'Elite' 1 Percent?

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(DAVOS, Switzerland) -- For one week every year, the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people converge on the picturesque town of Davos, Switzerland. By day they discuss how to solve the world’s most pressing problems at elite meetings. By night, they drink expensive champagne at only the most elite parties.

And now, thanks to a San Francisco-based software company, they are getting their own elite social network.

“If you can get the right people together in Davos, then you can solve problems and make the world a better place,” Vivek Ranadivé, founder of Tibco Software, told ABC News. “It’s about getting the right information to the right place at the right time and in the right context.”

Ranadivé is in Davos this week to unveil Toplink (formerly called TopCom), his invite-only social network for the world’s richest and most powerful people.

He envisions it as a tool to “unlock the collective wisdom” of the world’s best and brightest.

“You can bring the right people and the right information together to solve problems, such as the financial crisis, pandemics and food shortages,” he said.

Users who are privy to the network will be able to hold group video conferences, ask questions and discuss ways to solve the world’s most significant issues.

“We have taken all of the best attributes of [social networks], such as ease of use and familiarity,” Ranadivé said.

Tech-savvy global leaders will be able to download the network to their tech device of choice at Davos this week, and they won’t have to worry about the less-elite spying on their activities.

Ranadivé said the company is using a “sophisticated security mechanism” to ensure outside parties aren’t privy to potential future video conferences between say, Bill Gates and Angela Merkel.

The world leaders won’t be getting the first look, though.That honor went to a group called the “Global Shapers” four months ago.

Global Shapers are defined by the World Economic Forum as people under the age of 30 who are making a significant impact in their community.

David Aikman, a senior director at the World Economic Forum, was one of the few people to use Toplink since its unofficial roll-out four months ago and said the Global Shapers group had already leveraged the power of the platform.

“One of the guys posted a poll about blood donation,” Aikman said. “The results that followed encouraged the city hub in Monterrey, Mexico, to host a blood drive.”

It’s the sort of impact Ranadivé hopes will happen on a larger scale if the world’s richest and most powerful become adopters of his social network.

“They come together for a few days to solve problems and then they go,” he said. “Professor [Klaus] Schwab [the founder of the Davos World Economic Forum] would like to have a certain kind of information always coming and going.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan042012

Swiss Bankers Charged in US Tax Evasion Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three Swiss bankers who allegedly helped Americans hide over $1.2 billion in overseas accounts were charged Tuesday by U.S. authorities, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Federal prosecutors in New York claim the bankers, who all live and work in Switzerland, conspired with wealthy American taxpayers to conceal funds from the U.S. government in Swiss accounts, The Wall Street Journal reported.  It is illegal in the United States to not report money in foreign accounts (and income earned on these accounts) totaling more than $10,000 during any given year.

Prosecutors have not named the Swiss bank where the charged bankers were employed, but they allege that the three financial officers opened the secret accounts to acquire business lost by UBS -- another Swiss financial institution guilty of providing undeclared accounts to U.S. taxpayers. UBS stopped helping U.S. customers evade taxes through offshore accounts in 2009 after admitting to charges of conspiring to defraud the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep282011

Roman Polanski Acknowledges Sex Crime in New Documentary

The Image Gate/Getty Images(ZURICH) -- Roman Polanski makes his first public acknowledgement about Samantha Geimer, the 13-year-old model he sexually assaulted in Los Angeles, in a documentary on his life that premiered Tuesday at the Zurich Film Festival.

“She is a double victim: my victim, and a victim of the press,” Polanski says of Geimer in Laurent Bouzereau’s Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir.

Polanski took to the stage at the Zurich Film Festival Tuesday to accept a lifetime achievement award two years after he was originally intended to receive it: he was arrested and incarcerated in a Zurich prison at the request of U.S. authorities when he arrived to receive the honor in 2009.

“Better late than never,” the 78-year-old filmmaker said after a booming applause from the audience.

The director was held for two months in 2009 following his arrest at Zurich’s airport, then placed under house arrest at his home in Gstaad while the fight over his extradition to the U.S. was waged in courts.  It was in this time that Bouzereau shot the interviews with Polanski for his documentary memoir.

The film reportedly shows Polanski’s side of the story regarding the 1978 legal case against him, which alleged that the then 43-year-old filmmaker sexually assaulted 13-year-old Geimer during a photo shoot for French Vogue.

In 1978, Polanski and his lawyers accepted a plea deal that would have the director put on probation, but Judge Laurence J. Rittenband reportedly suggested to Polanski’s attorney that the sentence may be heavier.  Polanski fled to France, where he was protected from extradition, mere hours before sentencing.

In July 2010, Switzerland rejected the U.S. extradition request.  Six charges against Polanski remain pending in the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Swiss Bankers Charged for Allegedly Hiding $3 Billion from IRS

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Justice Department Thursday indicted four former Swiss bankers accused of helping Americans hide as much as $3 billion from the IRS.

Markus Walder, the former head of North America Offshore Banking at an international bank in Zurich, Susanne D. Ruegg Meier, a former manager with the international bank, Andreas Bachmann, a former banker at a subsidiary of the international bank, and Josef Dorig, founder of a Swiss trust company, were charged as part of a superseding indictment in addition to four other defendants charged earlier this year.

The Justice Department alleges that these managers and bankers solicited U.S. customers to open "secret bank accounts" that would help to hide assets and evade taxes owed to the U.S. government.

According to a release from the Justice department, the illegal cross-border banking dates back to 1953 involving two generations of Americans committing tax evasion, which included the inheritance of the secret Swiss accounts.

The Justice Department Thursday noted that the indictment is only an accusation, and that the defendants are "presumed innocent until proven guilty."  

Each of the defendants face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 if convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Egypt: Deposed Mubarak May Retain Vast Wealth

Photo Courtesy - The White House | Pete Souza(CAIRO) -- Though Egypt's Hosni Mubarak stepped down from the presidency, leaving Cairo for a resort town, experts say his personal wealth will likely remain intact in other countries.

Sources told ABC News that Mubarak left Cairo for a town called Sharm el-Sheikh, 250 miles away on the Red Sea. Mubarak, however, has vowed never to leave Egypt.

Protestors have long demanded that Mubarak be tried for his corruption, though it is too early to tell what will happen to him. Meanwhile there are reports that Mubarak is occupying an entire floor of one of the many hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh, according to Christopher Davidson, professor of Middle East Politics at Durham University in England.

The Swiss government said Friday it is freezing any money belonging to Mubarak or his family in Switzerland.

But Davidson said the former president's wealth in real estate around the world will be more difficult to seize.

"I think it will be only a small part of the cake," said Davidson. "And I reckon it's not his entire wealth."

The Mubarak family's wealth was built largely from military contracts during his days as an air force officer, according to experts. He eventually diversified his investments through his family when he became president in 1981. The family's net worth may be as much as $40 billion, by some estimates.

Amaney Jamal, a political science professor at Princeton, said the estimates are comparable with the vast wealth of leaders in other Gulf countries.

Jamal said that Mubarak's assets are most likely in banks outside of Egypt, possibly in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

"This is the pattern of other Middle Eastern dictators so their wealth will not be taken during a transition," she said. "These leaders plan on this."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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