Tagged: Switzerland

Currency manipulation leads to unintended consequences

Switzerland’s decision to lift the cap on the franc’s value against the euro has had unexpected consequences – in the form of intercepted pizza deliveries.

Swiss people looking for a bargain have been dialling up restaurants across the border in Germany, but now the authorities have had enough…

Uli Burchardt, the mayor of Constance, which borders Switzerland to the northeast, told the publication that German vans have been stopped by Swiss customs officials after it was discovered they had been delivering up to 60 pizzas at a time. And fast food is not the only thing the Swiss have been seeking elsewhere, as people cross the border to do their weekly shop and even visit the dentist.

Cripes. There are dentistas in Mexico who have public school contracts in Arizona and California.

Following the decision to lift the €1.20 cap last month, the franc shot up by 40 per cent against the euro. The franc also rose 30 per cent against the dollar and 15 per cent against sterling. In short, the Swiss can now get more for their money.

However, there is concern that businesses will be negatively impacted by the strong franc. Eurozone companies that buy their products in Switzerland are at risk of being priced out of the market, while Swiss businesses situated on the border may find themselves passed over in favour of their perceived better-value eurozone counterparts.

Interesting – and eventually acceptable when the situation stabilizes. Not out of line with long-term commerce in cross-border towns along the US-Canadian border or the US-Mexican border.

Of course, hypocrites in government can’t pass up an opportunity to whine for domestic political advantage. So, both the White House and Congress whine about so-called Chinese currency manipulation when the biggest fraud in Asia comes from the Bank of Japan. As it always has.

CERN ready to continue the search for exotic particles

Click to enlargeMartial Trezzini/European Pressphoto Agency

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is once again getting ready to smash protons together, hoping to find evidence of elusive and exotic particles that have never been detected before.

The largest and fastest particle accelerator in the world, located in Geneva, will officially start up again in March. When it is turned on, scientists and engineers say the two beams of protons that fly around its 17-mile loop at close to the speed of light will collide with nearly double the energy of the previous run.

The collider’s first stint of proton smashing led to the discovery of the Higgs boson or Higgs particle — a long theorized but never before seen subatomic particle. It exists for just a fraction of a second, and yet its discovery helps explain the existence of all the mass in the universe.

Scientists are not sure what they will find this time around, but some possibilities include particles associated with dark energy and dark matter, as well as particles that could provide evidence for a theory known as supersymmetry. This theory holds that there is a mirror universe made up of invisible particles that have mass but do not react with light, and that correspond to particles that we can detect…

For the last two years the collider has been undergoing repairs and changes in preparation for its next, super-powered run. Already it has already been cooled to its normal operating temperature of 1.9 degrees Kelvin, or -456.25 degrees Fahrenheit.

I surprised we haven’t yet suffered the onslaught of popsci/junksci Talking Heads predicting the end of the world as soon as the the ON-switch is thrown at CERN.

Not that it requires any original thought. Less-than-competent conspiracy nuts have been predicting a human-made end of the earth since the first nuclear reaction. I don’t doubt the Leyden Jar provoked as much fear and trepidation. You’d think the expanding base of real knowledge would diminish fear-mongers.

But, then, who would be left to vote for Prohibition?

Dronie on the Jungfrau

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Jungfrau is a mountain in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland. It rises 13,642 feet high. Nine climbers with the outfitting company Mammut reached the peak. Using a drone with a fisheye lens, they captured a photo of themselves, locked arm in arm, around the peak.

This is one of many outstanding photos that Mammut has staged in the Alps. You can see the rest here, and you really should.

The Jungfrau is a beautiful mountain and standing along with the Monch adjacent to one of the most fearsome climbs in the world – The Eiger. Spent a couple of delightful summers camped below the Eiger while my mate Clyde reconnoitered for a climb of the North Face. Ate lots of tree-ripened apricots from the orchard we camped in. :)

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Swiss officials discovered dump was radioactive 18 months ago — and didn’t tell residents!

A highly radioactive substance, emitting in some places radiation 100 times the permitted amount, has been discovered in Switzerland, local media reported, saying the hazard was known about for 18 months.

Le Matin Dimanche and Sonntags Zeitung reported on Sunday that federal, regional and local officials decided not to reveal the discovery of radium in an old dump in the town of Bienne in case it scared the 50,000 residents.

“120kg of radioactive waste was obtained after sorting. We measured doses of several hundred microsieverts at the source,” Daniel Dauwalder, a spokesman for the Swiss federal office for public health, told Le Matin Dimanche…

In certain places, measurements of 300 microsieverts per hour were taken, more than 100 times the permitted amount for an old dump, the newspapers reported.

Anyone exposed for three hours would absorb the equivalent of a year’s permitted dose.

The waste came from a paint used by the watch-making industry to illuminate the numbers on watch faces.

The substance, which has been banned since 1963 due to its radioactive nature, was discovered when roadworks were started at the site…

The president of the federal commission in charge of monitoring radiation, which was not informed of the incident, said the various authorities had made a “mistake”.

“This will all come back to bite us and it is much more difficult to stay credible and win back the public’s trust,” Francois Bochud told Le Matin Dimanche.

Are we supposed to think the company making the radioactive paint wasn’t aware of the dangers presented by the crap they poured into the town dump? Especially after it was declared illegal to use anymore?

Is someone going to track these scumbags down and make them liable for health and pollution damages? And make the town and regional officials dig up this crap by hand – with trowels.

Swiss voters say NO to Gripen fighter deal in nationwide referendum

Swiss voters have shot down a government plan to procure nearly two dozen Saab-made Gripen jet fighters from Sweden…

The Swiss government said 53.4 percent of those voting on Sunday were against funding the procurement, which would have cost $3.5 billion…

The Swiss air Force currently flies the F/A-18, due for retirement in 2025. The Federal Council planned to replace the U.S.-built planes with 22 Gripens…

Swiss opponents to their government’s Gripen deal argued the money spent to procure the planes could better be spent on other things.

NSS. The Minister of Defense said “This decision has the effect of creating security gaps.” He has gaposis of the brain. Sitting around worrying about someone invading Switzerland next week is like worrying about Canada’s great land army waging a major assault upon Yankee Stadium.

Now, here in the United States, we’re being asked to acquire 2,443 killer F-35 fighter aircraft at a cost of $125 million to $156 million a copy depending on options, radio, powered sub-woofers, Pandora, etc..

Good thing we have Congress to take care of unreasonable and outright stupid expenditures like this from falling on the shoulders of American taxpayers.


Swiss Air Force didn’t intervene in Ethiopian hijacking. It was outside normal business hours!

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The hijacking of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 airliner on 17 February has seen the Swiss Air Force subject to widespread ridicule as it was unable to respond due to the incident occurring ‘outside of office hours’, international media has reported.

With Swiss Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighters being unavailable due to the timing of the incident at 4am on Monday morning, Italian Eurofighter Typhoon and French Mirage 2000 jets, which had earlier intercepted the airliner as it passed through their respective airspaces were forced to remain on station as the Ethopian Airlines co-pilot diverted his aircraft to Geneva Airport.

“Switzerland [could not] intervene because its air bases are closed at night and on the weekend … It’s a question of budget and staffing,” Swiss Air Force spokesperson Laurent Savary was quoted as telling the AFP…

…The hijacking brings into focus the lack of resources available to the country’s air force at a time when it is looking to procure 22 new Gripen E fighters from Saab.

A national referendum into that procurement is due to go ahead on 18 May, and the air force’s embarrassment at its seeming inability to carry out its core mission to safeguard the national airspace could hardly have come at a worse time. With the government looking to convince the Swiss people of the need to spend US$3.5 billion on new fighter aircraft, many in Switzerland and beyond will be questioning whether that money might be better spent in properly funding the assets it already has.

Or they could spend the money developing a few more resorts to provide income and employment for the few not already making a living off 19th Century idiots who attach more importance to war and belligerence than peacefully going their own way.

Look at the circular reasoning in this event: The co-pilot wanted asylum. He waited till the pilot was off taking a pee and locked him out. Because the whole world has to change procedures because of 9-11 in the US, the air marshall on board [remember 9-11] and the pilot couldn’t break in through the new specially reinforced cockpit door [remember 9-11]. Why were fighter jets from France and Italy scrambled to follow the hijacked plane in to the Swiss border – remember 9-11 and be ready to shoot down the airliner if it looks ready to crash into something.

Multiply that by the thousands of commercial aircraft in the air at any minute around the world.

The Swiss don’t belong to NATO, don’t belong to the military forces of the EU and haven’t invaded another European country since Hector was a pup…BTW. They’re not worried about being invaded except during normal working hours.

Thanks, Mike

This banker can verify the identities of 17,000 Americans who hid money in UBS-Switzerland to evade taxes

A former high-ranking UBS banker charged with helping Americans dodge taxes through secret Swiss bank accounts is expected to plead not guilty on Tuesday to tax fraud conspiracy in federal court in Florida.

Raoul Weil, a 54-year-old Swiss citizen and former head of global wealth management at UBS was charged five years ago with helping about 17,000 Americans conceal $20 billion in numbered accounts at the bank.

He initially disputed the charges and was declared a fugitive a few months later but was arrested on a warrant from Interpol in mid-October while on vacation in Bologna, Italy.

Weil’s appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday will be his second since he was extradited from Italy last month. He was granted a $10.5 million bond pending his arraignment, when he appeared in shackles and a gray prison jumpsuit on December 16.

Lawyers for UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, the bank employee who revealed the tax fraud conspiracy to U.S. authorities in 2007, fear that Weil may be negotiating a “sweetheart” deal” that would spare him from a trial and ultimately shield secret account holders and other bankers from prosecution…

“Weil knows where all the skeletons are buried,” Stephen Kohn added. “The Justice Department must work closely with the IRS and Department of State to make sure that every person guilty of tax evasion in the UBS America’s program are identified and prosecuted,”…

In a case that shook Swiss banking to the core, UBS paid a record $780 million fine in 2009 and agreed to hand over the names of U.S. clients with secret accounts, breaking Switzerland’s vaunted tradition of banking secrecy to avoid feared criminal charges against the bank or other executives.

Liberal or conservative administration aside, it’s been decades since we had a Department of Justice that actively prosecuted criminal fraud on the global scale that kept Switzerland in the secrecy business. The biggest world banks and their officials have always been untouchable.

While the DOJ under Eric Holder has done a terrific job on insider trading – mostly from the work of Preet Bharara in New York – that’s not news. After all, he’s just trying to keep the market clean of low level fraud that doesn’t affect our tax burden. OTOH, the one-percenteers who store their gonads and gold in offshore tax shelters will raise even more money for the Republican Party if they end up being charged with fraud and have to start repaying their debts to the United States.


Cubli is a cube that can balance on a corner or edge or walk around by flipping over its edge or can be ordered to have a smooth fall.

The cube, six inches in length, was developed by researchers at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control and can maintain its balance if pushed over. The cube relies on three spinning motors to get it going that will spin faster, slower or stop to help maintain its balance or continue the flipping motion…

In addition to balancing, the motors can also be used to achieve a controlled fall such that the Cubli can be commanded to fall in any arbitrary direction. Combining these three abilities — jumping up, balancing, and controlled falling — the Cubli is able to ‘walk’.

Tech that has many uses in devices small and large, terrestrial and bound for the emptiness of space. And probably more profitable than we might imagine if it could be mass-produced, more or less affordable – in shiny colors. :)

Whistleblower has names of tax cheats with Swiss bank accounts

Hervé Falciani is a professed whistle-blower — the Edward Snowden of banking — who has been hunted by Swiss investigators, jailed by Spaniards and claims to have been kidnapped by Israeli Mossad agents eager for a glimpse of the client data he stole while working for a major financial institution in Geneva.

“I am weak and alone,” Mr. Falciani said, as three round-the-clock bodyguards provided by the French government looked on with hard stares. The protection was needed, he insisted, because he faces constant risk as the sole key to decipher the encrypted data — five CD-ROMs containing a list of nearly 130,000 account holders that may be the biggest leak ever in the secretive world of Swiss banking…

In 2012, Mr. Falciani passed his information to American authorities. They, in turn, used the data to pursue an investigation into whether HSBC flouted controls on money laundering, eventually forcing a $1.92 billion settlement with the bank in December…

Since being released from jail this year after a Spanish judge denied a Swiss extradition request, Mr. Falciani, who is married and has a young daughter, has resurfaced in France. Authorities here have offered protection in exchange for Mr. Falciani giving testimony to local prosecutors who are investigating whether HSBC helped French clients dodge taxes.

As the investigations play out, Mr. Falciani said he was holding down a day job, working for a European Union project as a computer researcher to develop algorithms to detect abnormal behavior. But he worries about his long-term safety, wondering whether he will live another year. He notes that his house has been broken into and that his wife was recently fired from a job at a shoe store because of his notoriety

“This business represents thousands of billions of euros,” he said. “From my side, I’m frightened.”

He should consider moving to a nation like the United States which respects and protects whistleblowers, preserves their liberty and responds to leaks by prosecuting criminals in high places.