Category Archive 'Switzerland'
02 Jun 2019

How Do the Swiss Get an Ibex Off the Chimney?

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19 May 2019

Bad News: Swiss Give in to EU Gun Control Demands

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Shooting is a popular sport in Switzerland, where families often can be seen heading for the range, carrying their rifles.

Polls predicted that the Swiss would surrender to EU demands for strict controls on semi-automatic firearms for fear of losing membership in the Schengen agreement bloc, which allows people from 26 European nations to enter any of the countries without passport control. The EU has demanded that the Swiss comply with Brussels’ new firearm restrictions if they want to remain in the borderless zone.

BBC:

What the EU wants:

    Under a Revised Firearms directive, a ban on weapons capable of rapidly firing multiple rounds

    Automatic and semi-automatic weapons would either be banned or heavily restricted

    Each owner of such a weapon, and the weapon itself, are known to police across Europe

    All essential weapon components should be clearly labelled and registered electronically

Switzerland has an estimated 2.3 million guns, with a population of 8.5 million.

That figure could be much higher, as only guns acquired since 2008 (when Switzerland first joined Schengen) have to be registered.

The EU wants to ensure that automatic and semi-automatic weapons are either banned or heavily restricted, and that each owner of such a weapon, and the weapon itself, is known to police across Europe.

For non-EU member Switzerland, the idea of Brussels interfering in hallowed Swiss gun traditions is awkward.

The Swiss government wants voters to back the EU directive, but it has also lobbied Brussels hard for exemptions which might make it more palatable. Those semi-automatic army assault rifles, for example, will still be allowed at home if Swiss militia soldiers want them.

The government argues that gun lovers won’t notice the new regulations, while at the same time Switzerland will have preserved its membership of Schengen.

Business leaders say Switzerland’s Schengen open borders have been good for the economy. Police point to data-sharing on crime in the Schengen information system.

Immigration officials warn that if Switzerland votes No and drops out of Schengen, it will lead to a spike in asylum requests from people turned away by neighbouring countries.

That is because it would no longer be covered by the rules under which asylum seekers can only apply to one EU member state for protection.

Switzerland’s political establishment is united in support of the EU’s restrictions, and latest opinion polls show voters may go along with them.

The deciding factor in this vote is likely to be Swiss women, for decades the most vocal campaigners in favour of gun control.

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And, despite the absence of any Swiss mass shooting problem, and despite Switzerland having a lower crime rate than any of its European neighbors, and despite their own traditions, the Swiss voted by a 63.7% margin to surrender.

Swiss Info.CH:

Voters have endorsed a controversial reform of Swiss gun law to bring it in line with European Union rules.

Final results show the reform winning 63.7% of the ballot on Sunday. The result was much closer in rural regions and voters in canton Ticino rejected the legal amendment.

Ownership of semi-automatic weapons will require regular training on the use of firearms and a serial numbering of major parts of some guns to help track them. …A broad alliance of gun clubs, militia army officers, hunters and collectors, supported by the political right, tried to overturn a decision by parliament last year that limits notably the use of semi-automatic firearms.

The government and most major political parties warned that a rejection of the legal amendment would deny Swiss authorities access to a Europe-wide criminal database and lead to the exclusion of the country from a joint EU security system under the single border Schengen agreement.

Opponents collected the necessary signatures to challenge the decision by parliament, saying the reform was “dictated by the EU” and would lead to “disarming” Switzerland through “useless, dangerous, un-Swiss” measures.

They said that tougher controls on semi-automatic guns and improved traceability of firearms go too far in a country with near-universal conscription, a high rate of gun ownership, but a low crime rate.

Supporters of the amendment argued that the government secured sufficient opt-out clauses in negotiations with the EU, and that Brussels has taken into account Switzerland’s tradition of self-defence and national identity that includes a well-armed citizenry.

“The legal reform respects Switzerland’s time-proven gun tradition,” Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter assured in the run-up to Sunday’s vote.

A majority in parliament, backed by the cantons and the business community, said failure to adopt tougher controls could have serious consequences for police as they risk being cut off from a crucial European database on criminals and suspects.

Supporters were also concerned that exclusion from Europe’s single-border area could complicate cross-border traffic and hamper tourism.

RTWT

19 Jul 2017

Swiss Couple Missing 75 Years Found in Glacier

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Daily Mail:

The remains of 75-year-old remains found preserved in a receding glacier in the Alps have been confirmed as a couple who went missing after going to milk their cows.

Marcelin Dumoulin and wife Francine, who have now been pictured, were found lying near each other in the Diablerets massif in southern Switzerland, along with backpacks, a bottle, a book and a watch.

The confirmation came from a DNA test, and ends decades of uncertainty for their seven children.

Marcelin, a 40-year-old shoemaker at the time, and Francine, a schoolteacher aged 37, had left their village of Chandolin to milk their cows in a meadow above Chandolin in the Valais canton on August 15, 1942.

The couple never returned from their trip, and officials at the Glacier 3000 ski resort said that the couple had likely fallen into a crevasse.

RTWT

28 Apr 2017

Two Rivers

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Two rivers meet in Switzerland. The blue water on the left comes from Lake Léman (Geneva), the turbid water comes from the Arve river, which is full of silt from Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley.

13 Mar 2017

25 Ways the Swiss Are Different From You and Me

If you ever worked with someone Swiss or had a Swiss employee. you probably noticed that he was extraordinarily stubborn and opinionated and a trifle moody. The Swiss are different. Just look at their electrical plug.

Buzzfeed points out 25 examples of Swiss differentness.

11 Jan 2017

Left-wing Dutch Vegan Denied a Swiss Passport Because She is Too Annoying

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Daily Mail:

A left-wing Dutch vegan who campaigned against cowbells in the Swiss village where she lives has had a request for a Swiss passport thrown out after annoying the locals.

Nancy Holten, who was born in the Netherlands but moved to Switzerland at the age of eight, is a fluent speaker of Swiss German and has children who are Swiss nationals.

And she wanted a Swiss passport herself, but was refused after locals who were consulted about her request said they were ‘fed up’ of her challenging Swiss traditions by campaigning against the use of cow bells.

The campaign against cow bells by the 42-year-old vegan and animal-rights activist has made her unpopular in the Alpine confederation.

And now the majority of residents from Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau have successfully blocked her second attempt to get a Swiss passport.

The resident’s committee argued that if she does not accept Swiss traditions and the Swiss way of life, she should not be able to become an official national.

She said of her situation: ‘The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears?’

She also railed against the weight of the famous cow bells.

Nancy complained: ‘The bells, which the cows have to wear when they walk to and from the pasture, are especially heavy.

‘The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.’

The Dutchwoman, who describes herself as a freelance journalist, model and drama student, has also campaigned against a number of other Swiss traditions like hunting, pig races and the noisy church bells in town.
It’s a tradition for cows to wear bells in her Switzerland town. The bell is standard for alpine cattle when left to graze in alpine meadows.

In 2015 the villagers successfully stopped her application for naturalisation in a referendum.

While the town authorities wanted to give her the Swiss nationality, 144 out of 206 citizens voted against the plan.

This time her application was denied again, with locals especially angry about the increasing media coverage Holten seeks for railing against Swiss traditions.

Holten said she does not have anything against Swiss traditions but in the end only cares about animal welfare.

Local politician Tanja Suter agreed with the majority of the town’s citizens and said Holten had a ‘big mouth’, saying she did not deserve to get a Swiss passport ‘if she irritates us and does not respect our traditions’. …

The case has now been transferred to the Cantonal government in Aargau, which can overrule the decision and can still grant her a Swiss passport despite the objections of the locals.

Local residents in Switzerland often have a say in citizenship applications, which are decided by the cantons and towns where the applicants live rather than federal government.

About 20 per cent of the Swiss population is estimated to be foreign.

25 Jun 2016

Nine Swiss German Words

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Bunzli

The Local:

Bünzli

This insult – based on a real Swiss surname – applies to those boring people who follow all the rules and make sure everyone else does too. A Bünzli is the sort of person who would never cross the street when the light is red, who never stays out too late and never gets too drunk.

He is also the person most likely to complain to the building president when you dare to do your washing on Sunday, or to ring the police when he sees someone parked in front of a fire hydrant. Think garden gnomes and socks paired with Adiletten and you have the idea.

Hat tip to Althouse.

08 Oct 2014

Swiss Story

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Ulrich_Wille
General Ulrich Wille, commander of the Swiss Army during WWI

A good story from Michael Z. Williamson.

    While traveling around Switzerland on Sundays, everywhere one hears gunfire, but a peaceful gunfire: this is the Swiss practicing their favorite sport, their national sport. They are doing their obligatory shooting, or practicing for the regional, Cantonal or federal shooting festivals, as their ancestors did it with the musket, the arquebus or the crossbow. Everywhere, one meets urbanites and country people, rifle to the shoulder, causing foreigners to exclaim: ‘You are having a revolution!”

— General Henri Guisan

Switzerland has not been invaded in 800 years, because every man and most of the women are issued guns which they keep at home. Imagine a government that not only allows but INSISTS its citizens keep military grade weapons. That’s points right there. Even more, they hold quarterly Schuetzenfests, at which shooting, carousing and drinking are expected. And it’s entirely possible you will have your ass handed to you by a 13 year old girl shooting a select-fire StG90 assault rifle that she carried to the range from school, slung across her back while pedaling her bicycle. Swiss GIRLS are better men than most allegedly-male American liberals.

There is a story, possibly apocryphal but awesome nonetheless, that a ranking German (possibly the Kaiser) was visiting and watching the Swiss military on their summer maneuvers. He asked the Swiss commander, “How big a force do you command?”

The Swiss general confidently replied, “I can mobilize one million men in twenty-four hours.”

The German asked, “What would happen if I marched five million men in here tomorrow?”

The Swiss replied, “Each of my men will fire five shots and go home.”

Hat tip to commenter Darius.

16 Sep 2014

You Know What They Always Say

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Abyss1
Stephen Hilyard, Dougal, Leysin, 1977.

“Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Jenseits von Gut und Böse.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo via Karen L. Myers.

18 Nov 2013

If You Want to Have a Good Time (Join the Cavalry)

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Swiss Cavalry on patrol near the frontier, 1917.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

06 Dec 2010

Net Closing on Assange — Swiss Close His Bank Account

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The Telegraph reports that the British manhunt for Julian Assange has begun.

Scotland Yard has received the paperwork required to arrest Julian Assange. …

[T]here is no longer any legal impediment to holding Mr Assange and making him appear before City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

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Some news agency reports:

The Swiss postal system stripped WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of a key fundraising tool Monday, accusing him of lying and immediately shutting down one of his bank accounts.

The swift action by Postfinance, the financial arm of Swiss Post, came after it determined the “Australian citizen provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process.”

Assange had told Postfinance he lived in Geneva but could offer no proof that he was a Swiss resident, a requirement of opening such an account.

13 Jul 2010

The Swiss Were Right

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In the aftermath of the Swiss decision to reject the American bid to extradite Roman Polanski, the predicatable indignant editorials are beginning to appear.


Eugene Robinson
, in the Washington Post, is not at all satisfied with the outcome.

It’s relevant that Polanski has never shown remorse. He claimed in a 1979 interview that he was being hounded because “everyone wants to (have sex with) young girls.” It’s irrelevant that the victim, now a middle-aged woman, has no interest in pursuing the case and reliving a traumatic episode. What matters is what Polanski admitted doing to her 33 years ago — and the fact that Polanski decided to run away rather than face the music.

Swiss officials noted the obvious: that Polanski never would have visited Switzerland if he had thought he was putting himself in legal jeopardy. Since he’s not a legitimate candidate for kidnapping and rendition by the CIA, he’s now home free — unless he somehow makes another mistake. He’ll always have to look over his shoulder.

That’s punishment of a sort, but not nearly enough. How about this: As long as he steers clear of U.S. justice, why don’t we steer clear of his movies?

I strongly disagree with the majority of the journalistic community on this one, and since I’ve already explained why at considerable length, today I plan to take pleasure in quoting myself.

The most interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that Roman Polanski’s flight thirty one years ago was precipitated by precisely the same sort of journalistic feeding frenzy which has been replayed all over again recently. A firestorm of sensationalized accounts of Polanski’s misdeed alarmed the publicity-conscious judge who intended to set aside the conventional processes of justice and overrule a plea bargain already agreed to by both the prosecution and the defense.

Polanski did not escape justice. He had already served a 42 day term of imprisonment, which was supposed to constitute his actual sentence. Polanski also settled privately with the young lady, paying her a sum of money of a specific amount never publicly disclosed. What Polanski escaped was injustice.

He escaped a breach of the normal, impartial, and objective processes of justice, which were in the process of collapsing due to official cowardice and unwillingness to resist a wave of public indignation, mischievously created by irresponsible journalism.

Long-standing cultural restraints on sexual expression and activity have been dwindling away in America for all of the last century, but one powerful prohibition not only survives, but continues to be able to turn ordinary Americans into something very much resembling belligerent Muslims bent on wiping out any stain upon the chastity of their females in blood: the issue of age.

Underage sex is still a kind of priapic third rail. And like Nabokov’s Humbert, Roman Polanski proved to be another sophisticated European gentilhomme d’un certain âge susceptible to the charms of the knowing nymphette. His sin happens to be relatively unique in being capable of getting Americans in general worked up into a lather of righteous indignation just as effectively in 2009 as in 1978 or in 1955 (the publication date of Lolita).

In exactly the same way that the idea of black sexual aggression directed at white women was once upon a time so horrifying an idea to the general community in certain American states that any close resemblance to that supreme phobia could suffice to set into motion the processes of storytelling which would fit the details of the actual case into the terrible archetype, frequently with lethal results, so too today is the idea of adult sexual aggression directed at children a compelling, and potentially dangerous, archetype.

Let’s try another literary trope. Picture Roman Polanski, not as Humbert Humbert, but as Tom Robinson, the black defendant in To Kill a Mockingbird. Just like the Polanski case, To Kill a Mockingbird features a public frenzy of indignation at a defendant accused of being a sexual aggressor toward an innocent victim, who is supposed to be protected from the advances of anyone like the defendant by powerful social taboos. Just as in the Harper Lee novel, adjudication of the Roman Polanski case revolved around issues of just who was the actual initiator and whether female consent had been given. Fearful archetypes and framing narratives can work in exactly the same in either case, can’t they?

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