Designated new PM for Italy gives some hope for stalemate end

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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Enrico Letta has one of the world’s most unenviable tasks, getting Italian politicians to work together, and a hopeful sign he might manage it is that criticism of his selection is more muted than is often the case. Italy has been without a government since February parliamentary elections that were inconclusive, with […]

Olympics boss recommends paid post for successor

LAUSANNNE, SWITZERLAND – Jacques Rogge, president of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee, says that his successor should be paid a salary, part of a wider set of reforms he would like to see. Rogge is paid a stipend for living expenses, but he and his predecessors have not been paid salaries, in […]

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dies

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Hugo Chavez, age 58, president of Venezuela for 14 years, died Tuesday evening 5 March Swiss time, ending a two-year battle with cancer. Chavez had reportedly been improving until this week, when a new infection was reportedly to have stricken him, but he had not been seen in public for three months, […]

Russia cancels most of Cuba’s debt as Raul Castro wins

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Raul Castro, little brother of famously longtime leader Fidel, had a good day Sunday 24 February: the Cuban parliament confirmed him as president for a five-year term and Russia canceled a $30 billion debt. The Moscow Times calls it “the country’s biggest debt cancellation in years, according to an agreement”, saying that […]

Polemic heats up over plan to retire Patrouille Suisse acrobatic jets

BERN, SWITZERLAND – A remark made by Ueli Maurer, president of Switzerland who is also minister of defense, that the Swiss aerobatic jets team would be retired in 2016 has sent sparks flying. The Patrouille Suisse, part of the Swiss defense department, performs regularly at events around the country. Maurer introduced his project 13 February […]

John Kerry named new US Secretary of State

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – John Kerry, senator from Massachussetts, has been named the new secretary of state for the United States, replacing Hillary Clinton to head the foreign policy programme. Clinton retires Friday 1 February. The Senate confirmed Kerry’s nomination quickly as expected, Tuesday, with a 94-3 vote. Clinton is ending her term with a series […]

Venezuela’s Chavez will not be sworn in Thursday

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – President Hugo Chavez of Argentina will not be sworn in for a fourth term in office Thursday 10 January, as scheduled. The president, who was first elected in 1999, is recovering from a series of cancer-related operations and he is currently being treated for a lung infection. He asked parliament to delay […]

Swiss government changing of the guard: 2013 cabinet photo

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BERN, SWITZERLAND – The new Swiss Federal Council, sometimes referred to as the Cabinet, officially stepped into their jobs 1 January, with Ueli Maurer as the new Swiss president. The year-long post rotates among the members of the council. Photographer: Ulrich Liechti Alain Berset was elected to the council by parliament in December 2012 as […]

Depardieu goes from Russian catsup to passport

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -  French actor Gérard Depardieu is not letting his tax battle with the new Socialist government in France die down lately, with his announcement that he has taken up Russian citizenship after being invited to do so by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The news of a decree to that effect signed by Putin […]

S Korea elects first woman president (update)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Park Geun-hye is leading with 51.6 percent of the vote for president of South Korea, news sources there say Wednesday 19 December at 15:00. Park, 60, was the country’s First Lady in the 1970s, alongside her father, Park Chung-hee a former military leader who headed the country for 18 years. Her mother was […]