Sports • Soccer
FIFA gives former president Sepp Blatter an additional ban of six years eight months
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter Credit: International Students’ Committee (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been handed a further six years and eight months ban from the game and fined a million Swiss francs ($1.07 million) by the body's Ethics Committee after a probe into massive bonus payments.

The latest investigation looked into World Cup bonus payments made to Blatter and some former top FIFA officials, including former general secretary Jerome Valcke, former vice-president Julio Grondona and ex-finance director Markus Kattner.

The new bans start when the current suspensions of 85-year-old Blatter and Valcke, 60, end in October 2021 and October 2025, respectively.

Regional News • World
2021 World Happiness Report: Finland gets gold again
2021 World Happiness Report: Finland gets gold again
Credit: unsplash.com / SaiKrishna Saketh Yellapragada

In 2021's World Happiness Report, Finland has retained the number 1 position.

In second place, Iceland jumps forward 2 places from 4th last year. Denmark and Switzerland move down 1 to third and fourth place respectively, with The Netherlands and Sweden jumping forward 1 to fifth and sixth place respectively.

Germany makes great strides in 2020, gaining 8 places on last year, moving to 7th place.

Climate & Environment
Research: Europe experiences worst dry period in the last 2,100 years
Research: Europe experiences worst dry period in the last 2,100 years
Credit: unsplash.com / Bernard Hermant

Recent summers in Europe have been the driest in the past two millennia, according to a recent international study based on tree ring analysis. Using a specific method, the team led by Ulf Büntgen of the University of Cambridge succeeded in creating a massive dataset that traces hydroclimatic conditions in Central Europe from Roman times to the present.

For the work, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Büntgen and his colleagues from the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland took more than 27,000 measurements on tree rings from 147 oak trees, covering a period of 2,100 years (75 B.C. to 2018). The samples came from historic wells, buildings, and pile dwellings, as well as from archaeological remains and shore sediments, and also from living trees from what is now the Czech Republic and parts of southeastern Bavaria.

Regional News • Europe
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swiss biotech company Adienne Pharma & Biotech signed an agreement to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine at its production site in the Milan region, said Antonio Francesco Di Naro, founder and president of the company.

The deal comes as Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged to speed up Italy's fledgeling vaccination campaign amid a new rise in infections from the disease that's led to more than 100,000 fatalities in the country.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday lashed out at manufacturers for failing to uphold their commitments as countries in Europe struggle to step up the pace of inoculations.

Regional News • Europe
Switzerland votes to ban nikabs and burqas
A woman wearing the niqab
A woman wearing the niqab Credit: unsplash.com/Elin Tabitha

In a referendum on Sunday, more than 52 percent of voters were in favor to ban facial coverings – commonly known as 'burqa ban' – especially aimed against niqabs and burqas traditionally worn by Muslim women. The results speak against the recommendation of the government, which was against the ban that was proposed pre-Coronavirus. The proposal would also ban protestors from wearing masks. Final results are due later on Sunday.

Swatch Group reports first loss in 40 years
Swatch Group reports first loss in 40 years
Credit: Bielbienneboy, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swiss manufacturer of watches and jewellery Swatch Group has reported a net loss of 53 million Swiss francs for 2020, the company's first annual loss since 1983.

"For 2021, the Group sees a good chance that sales in local currencies will approach those of 2019, with significantly improved margins," the company said, adding that the group anticipated "a strong catch-up in consumption worldwide for watches and jewelry in 2021, as has already been observed in mainland China after normalization of the health situation."

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Hundreds of British tourists disappeared from Swiss quarantine
Hundreds of British tourists disappeared from Swiss quarantine
Credit: unsplash.com / Catharina Short Sundberg

Hundreds of British tourists have disappeared during the night from the Swiss ski resort Verbier despite being in mandatory quarantine because of the new Covid-19 variant.

Authorities had identified 420 guests from Britain who had been quarantined before Christmas, he said. About 50 left immediately, he said, and of the 370 others, less than a dozen were still there on Sunday.

Some have since reported back from France, Jean-Marc Sandoz, spokesman for the municipality of Bagnes, to which Verbier belongs, said today.

Regional News • World
More than 40 countries ban British flights over new Covid-19 strain, EU members discuss co-ordinate response

More than 40 countries have imposed a ban on UK arrivals, include Belgium, Canada, India, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia, and Switzerland. On Monday, European Union member states meet to discuss a co-ordinated response and France is planning to establish a protocol "to ensure movement from the UK can resume.

Diversity & Inclusion
Switzerland permits same-sex marriages
Switzerland permits same-sex marriages
Credit: unsplash.com / Jiroe

The Swiss parliament has approved the introduction of same-sex marriage. With Friday's vote, both chambers of parliament have now approved the "marriage for all" bill.

In all likelihood, however, the Swiss will have the final say: The conservative Federal Democratic Union (EDU) has announced a referendum on marriage for same-sex couples.

Regional News • Europe
Switzerland reaches the maximum capacity of ICU beds, switches to triage
Switzerland reaches the maximum capacity of ICU beds, switches to triage
Credit: Courtesy of SAMW

All 876 beds certified by the Swiss Society for Intensive Medicine (SGI) for adults and thus recognized as intensive care beds in Switzerland are now occupied in the course of Covid-19 treatment - with this statement, the Society appealed on Tuesday to the public's sense of responsibility

Patients should consider whether they would like to have life-prolonging measures in the event of a serious illness as "this will help their own relatives as well as the teams of intensive care units in the decision-making process, so that treatment can take place in the best possible way and according to the individual patient's will,".

Switzerland has also updated its triage guidelines in order to assist medical professionals with the decision which patients to treat.

Regional News • Europe
Swiss warns that intensive care capacity is close to overload

The chief of Switzerland's Covid-19 taskforce, Martin Ackermann, has told reports that "We estimate that the capacity limit in intensive care in hospitals will be reached between November 5-18 if nothing changes from the current situation". Previously a new record of 6,634 Covid-19 cases had been recorded.

Technology • Smartphones, Hardware & Gadgets
20GB of Intel documents were leaked online
20GB of Intel documents were leaked online
Credit: Takuya Oikawa (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

More than 20GB worth of Intel internal documents have been leaked, and it was publicly available on BitTorrent feeds. The leak contains data that Intel makes available to partners and customers under NDA.

The leak, posted Thursday night by Tillie Kottman, an IT consultant based in Switzerland, included source code, development and debugging tools and schematics, tools and firmware for the company’s unreleased Tiger Lake platform.

A misconfigured Akamai CDN server and files with the password “intel123” have been pinpointed as the apparent cause of the leak.

Regional News • Europe
Switzerland: Country signs deal with Moderna for Coronavirus vaccine
Switzerland: Country signs deal with Moderna for Coronavirus vaccine
Credit: Photo: Mykenzie Johnson; Image Manipulation: Pendect

The Swiss government signed a deal with Moderna for early access to 4.5 million doses of a Coronavirus vaccine. It is expected that two doses will be needed for every person, therefore the Moderna deal could cover up to one quarter of the Swiss population. The country is in talks with several other vaccine companies.

Scientists have developed a synthetic blood-thinner without bleeding side-effects
Bleeding wound on finger
Bleeding wound on finger Credit: Crystal (Crystl) from Bloomington, USA (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne have developed the first synthetic blood-thinner. Together with three other laboratories, the Laboratory of Therapeutic Proteins and Peptides of Professor Christian Heinis has developed an inhibitor that stays in the blood plasma for over 120 hours and shows high potency, stability and selectivity.

Together with the University Hospital of Bern (Inselspital) and the University of Bern they've shown that the new blood-thinner can efficiently block coagulation in a thrombosis model without the increased risk of bleeding side effects present in currently used blood-thinners.

Professor Christian Heinis has stated that "our collaboration found that it is possible to achieve bleeding-free anti-coagulation with a synthetic inhibitor". According to him, the "inhibitor is a promising candidate for safe thromboprotection in artificial lungs" and will undergo further studies and optimizations.

Sports • Soccer
Switzerland launches criminal investigation against FIFA President Gianni Infantino
Gianni Infantino
Gianni Infantino Credit: Kremlin (Public Domain)

Swiss special prosecutor Stefan Keller opened a criminal case against FIFA president Gianni Infantino over meetings with former attorney general Michael Lauber. The prosecutors have found indications of criminal conduct related to the meetings between the two men.

Lauber offered his resignation after it was found that the prosecutor had tried to hide a meeting with the FIFA head while his office was investigating FIFA-related corruption.

Infantino released a statement insisting that meeting Lauber is "perfectly legitimate and it’s perfectly legal."

FIFA also said it would cooperate fully with the investigation.

Swiss government says plastic face shields are inadequate protection
Swiss government says plastic face shields are inadequate protection
Credit: unsplash.com/engin akyurt

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health warns of the usage of plastic face shields – or visors – over face masks. A spokesperson said that "the visors do not serve as an alternative to hygiene masks. Visors can be worn with masks to further enhance your own protection." Health officials recommend wearing a visor in tandem with a face mask.

After an outbreak in a hotel in the canton of Graubünden, health officials found that all those who wore plastic face shields were infected with the novel Coronavirus while those who wore face masks were not.

Regional News • Europe
Switzerland quarantines 300 after Covid-19 outbreak in nightlcub
Representative picture of a nightclub
Representative picture of a nightclub Credit: unsplash.com / Pim Myten

The health authorities of the Kanton Zürich have announced that 300 people need to go into a mandatory ten day quarantine after a nightclub visit. Multiple guests had later tested positive for Covid-19. The contact tracing team was able to contact the guests thanks to a list with contact details of all the guests.

Business • Economy
Money transport industry in Switzerland shaken by the corona virus
Money transport industry in Switzerland shaken by the corona virus
Credit: Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum

After several attacks on money transporters in the past in Switzerland, the industry is now facing other challenges: While the protective measures around the transport have stayed the same, the fears of transmission of the coronavirus have lowered the cash flow. However, the cost of protective measures remains the same, which leads to high-cost pressure in the industry.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German government approves easing of border controls from Saturday on
Sunset on Brandenburg Gate
Sunset on Brandenburg Gate Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Germany will begin easing its border controls with France, Switzerland and Austria on Saturday, according to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Border controls will remain in place, but only random checks will be carried out. Additionally, all border crossings between these countries will be reopened, rather than selected ones at present. The use of spot checks should ease traffic jams for commuters over the border, who have been allowed to cross.