Switzerland - Hearing over climate inaction against 32 countries opens at European court

Just one Australian hotel makes world’s top 50 list

The Sydney Morning Herald

23-09-20 02:01

Brisbane's The Calile hotel has been named among the top 50 hotels in the world by the World's 50 Best group. It is the only Australian hotel to be featured on the list, ranking No. 12 globally and No. 1 for Oceania. The hotel, which was designed by renowned architecture firm Richards and Spence, is known for its brutalist-inspired design and its embrace of the subtropical climate. The rankings were compiled based on the first-person experiences of 580 jurors who voted for their top seven hotels. The list skewed heavily towards European properties, with 21 out of the 50 slots being occupied by European hotels. Asia performed well, with several iconic Asian stays making it into the top 10. The Passalacqua in Lake Como, Italy was crowned the world's best hotel for 2023. The World's 50 Best lists have faced criticism in the past for their lack of diversity and bias towards European venues. Efforts have been made to address these concerns, including mandating a 50/50 gender balance among jurors.

UBS bondholders tee up risky goldfish impression

Reuters BreakingViews

23-09-20 17:58

UBS may issue contingent convertible bonds (CoCos) in a test for Switzerland’s reputation with bondholders. The country’s reputation was damaged in March after the takeover of Credit Suisse, resulting in a total loss for bondholders. However, UBS hybrid debt prices have recovered since the deal, with investors valuing them with a lower yield than equivalent securities issued by BNP Paribas. This suggests that investors are not demanding a premium to compensate for the uncertainty of how they would be treated in a future crisis. A successful return for UBS would help restore the reputation of the AT1 market, drawing more investors to the asset class and enabling other banks to issue debt at lower cost. However, if bond markets do not punish bad behaviour, regulators will have less incentive to play by the book in the future.

Anti-obesity drugs can shrink more than patients

Reuters BreakingViews

23-09-21 00:29

The development of effective weight-loss drugs such as Wegovy by Novo Nordisk and Mounjaro by Eli Lilly could have a transformative impact on public health, but it may also hurt companies in the medical, food, and fitness industries, as well as other activities such as drinking and gambling. The drugs work by reducing appetite and helping people feel fuller for longer. Sales of these drugs are already soaring, with Novo selling nearly $2.5 billion worth of Wegovy and Ozempic, its treatment for people with diabetes, in 2021. Analysts expect this figure to reach $16 billion by 2027. However, the drugs' ability to suppress appetite has the potential to affect food and beverage companies such as Nestlé, Mondelez International, and Kraft Heinz, as well as fast-food chains like McDonald's and Burger King. The medical industry may also be affected, as over 40% of Americans are obese and obesity is associated with various health conditions. However, the adoption of anti-obesity drugs remains uncertain due to their high cost and harsh side effects.

Six Por­tuguese youth take 32 na­tions to Eu­ro­pean court over cli­mate change

Al Jazeera

23-09-21 11:41

A group of young people from Portugal is taking legal action against 32 countries, including all EU member states, at the European Court of Human Rights. The group, the youngest of whom is 11, will argue that the failure of governments to act on climate change is discriminatory and poses a risk to their lives and health. It is the first time so many countries have been required to defend themselves in any court. The case began following forest fires in Portugal in 2017. The group’s legal team will argue that the climate crisis breaches their rights to life, privacy and family life.

Bank of England Holds Rates for First Time in Nearly Two Years


23-09-21 11:01

The Bank of England (BOE) has decided to leave its key interest rate unchanged at 5.25%, the first time since November 2021. This decision is in contrast to other European central banks, such as Sweden and Norway, which have raised their key rates recently. The decision comes after UK inflation unexpectedly fell in August to 6.7% from 6.8% in July, despite rising energy prices. The UK economy has also stagnated since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, with GDP falling in July and business surveys for August not pointing to a significant rebound. However, with inflation still above the 2% target, the BOE has not ruled out a further increase in interest rates. The decision to hold rates was approved by a narrow margin, with four of the nine rate-setters preferring an increase to 5.5%. The OECD expects the BOE to raise its key rate to 5.5% this week and by a further quarter of a percentage point in November.

Bank of England Leaves Key Interest Rate Unchanged


23-09-21 11:01

The Bank of England (BOE) has left its key interest rate unchanged at 5.25%, the first time it has done so since November 2021. This decision puts the BOE out of step with other European central banks that have continued to raise their key rates at recent meetings. The decision comes after UK inflation unexpectedly fell in August to 6.7% from 6.8% in July, and amid weak economic growth in the country. Despite the decision to hold rates, the BOE did not rule out a further rise in the key interest rate.

China, Japan and South Korea occupy top spots in scientific activity index

South China Morning Post

23-09-21 10:07

China has surpassed the US in terms of the number of science and technology clusters in the top 100 of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) global innovation index. China has 24 clusters in the top 100, compared to the US’s 21. The top five clusters are all located in East Asia, with Japan in first place, followed by the Tokyo-Yokohama, Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou, Seoul, and Suzhou-Shanghai clusters. The index is based on the number of inventors and researchers in the clusters, as well as the number of articles published and patents filed.

Disease-carrying mosquitoes to plague London by mid-century, experts warn


23-09-21 09:47

London could see aggressive, disease-spreading mosquitoes in the summer months by the middle of the century, according to researchers in the UK, US, and Israel. The report predicts that the city will become suitable for Aedes aegypti, or the “yellow fever mosquito”, for between one and five months a year by 2060. The insects carry diseases including Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. The study is the first to take into account natural climate variability as well as human-driven warming. The Aedes aegypti mosquito has already been found in Cyprus and its cousin, the tiger mosquito, is well established in 13 European countries.

Bank of England Holds Rates for First Time in Nearly Two Years


23-09-21 11:01

The Bank of England (BOE) has decided to keep its key interest rate unchanged at 5.25%, marking the first time it has not raised rates since November 2021. This decision comes as the UK's economy is on the verge of contraction and signs of cooling inflation are emerging. The BOE's decision contrasts with other European central banks, such as Sweden and Norway, which have raised their key rates by a quarter of a point to 4% and 4.25%, respectively. The BOE's decision also follows the Federal Reserve's decision to leave its key rate unchanged, despite lower inflation rates in the US compared to the UK. The UK's inflation rate unexpectedly fell in August to 6.7%, down from 6.8% in July, and core inflation also fell to its lowest level since January. The BOE states that it may still raise rates in the future to bring inflation down to its 2% target. However, with weak economic growth and the potential for further inflation surprises, central banks are finding it difficult to determine the right balance of rate increases.

Ancient humans dug up remains of ancestors to use as tools, study suggests


23-09-21 15:50

The skeletal remains of ancient humans found near Granada in Spain have been identified as having been dug up, modified and used as tools by subsequent generations. At least twelve people were buried in the cave between 5,000 BC and 2,000 BC, and examination of the remains revealed intentional post-mortem modifications including fractures and scrapes to extract marrow and other tissues. The team, led by scientists from the University of Bern, said the cave appears to have been a focal point for generations, and that the findings were consistent with other discoveries made in the region.

Swiss financial watchdog to lose more staff


23-09-21 15:25

Johanna Preisig, a member of Switzerland's financial regulator (FINMA) Executive Board, is leaving the authority to take on a new role outside of FINMA. Preisig has headed the Strategic Services division since 2020. This comes after recent resignations from CEO Urban Angehrn and other high-level officials at FINMA. The regulator has faced criticism for its perceived delay in intervening following the collapse of Credit Suisse and its subsequent rescue by UBS. Angehrn cited health consequences from high stress and workload as the reason for his departure.

Spain players decry 'systematic discrimination' toward women's team


23-09-21 19:26

Spain's women's national football team has ended its boycott of games after demanding changes at the country's football federation (RFEF) to address "systematic discrimination". The players had refused to play after former RFEF President Luis Rubiales refused to resign following allegations of assault and coercion. Rubiales eventually resigned, and a majority of the players agreed to end the boycott. Six to nine senior officials at the RFEF are expected to leave their jobs or be sacked.

The promise of possibility: PWHL could transform landscape of international hockey


23-09-21 19:11

The Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) has set out to create a women's professional hockey league featuring the best players from around the world. The inaugural draft of the PWHL included players from eight different countries, including the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Finland. The league aims to make the sport more competitive and close the gap between traditional powerhouses like Canada and the United States and other countries. The creation of the PWHL could also change the way national teams are selected and could lead to more competition for roster spots.

EU asks Poland for ‘clarifications’ on visa fraud allegations


23-09-21 17:08

The European Commission has called on Poland to provide "clarifications" following reports of a cash-for-visas scandal involving Polish officials. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Polish consulates have been accused of participating in an illegal scheme whereby migrants from Africa and Asia were granted Polish visas in exchange for large sums of money. As a member of the Schengen area, visas issued by Poland allow holders free access to 27 EU member states, as well as Switzerland and Iceland. The allegations could deepen European tensions over grain supplies, which have already caused Poland to halt arms exports to Ukraine.

Tories seize on Starmer comments over divergence from EU rules

Financial Times

23-09-21 23:09

UK Conservative politicians have criticised Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for his comments suggesting that he wants to maintain close alignment with EU rules and trade standards. Starmer said that he does not want the UK to diverge from EU rules, and that he wants to renegotiate the Brexit deal to achieve a closer trading relationship. The Conservatives have accused Starmer of wanting to rejoin the EU “in all but name”. Starmer’s comments have highlighted the ongoing debate over the future direction of UK-EU relations and the impact of Brexit on trade and regulations.

3M Agrees to Pay Nearly $10 Million Over Sale of Products to Iran


23-09-21 22:09

3M has agreed to pay over $9.6m to settle an investigation by the US Treasury Department into sales to an Iranian entity. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said that between September 2016 and September 2018, a 3M subsidiary allegedly sold reflective license plate sheeting to a sanctioned Iranian entity. The sales occurred even after outside due diligence staff had flagged potential problems, OFAC said. 3M came forward to disclose the conduct and cooperated throughout the investigation, OFAC said, adding the company had fired several employees and cut off a Germany-based intermediary involved in the sales.

Bavaria touts its border police as model for Germany

Deutsche Welle

23-09-22 06:34

The leader of Bavaria's ruling Christian Social Union (CSU), Premier Markus Söder, is calling for a nationwide limit on immigration in Germany. He is proposing an "integration threshold" of 200,000 per year, a number that was already reached in August 2023. Söder is aiming to keep Bavarians safe from illegal migration by expanding the Bavarian border police force, which he has called a "super success". However, critics argue that the extra force is more of a waste of resources than a contribution to public safety. Illegal crossings into Germany have more than doubled compared to the same period last year.

Is England vs Scotland on TV? Kick-off time, channel and how to watch

The Independent

23-09-22 06:23

England and Scotland will face each other in the first match of the inaugural Women's Nations League on 22 September. The competition features teams initially placed into three leagues based on their positions in the UEFA women's national team coefficient rankings. The top four teams from League A will qualify for the knockout stage, with the league positions determining qualification for the European Qualifiers for Euro 2025. The final of the Nations League will also qualify the two teams for the 2024 Women's Olympic Football Tournament.

Arrogant Germany is incapable of saving itself


23-09-22 06:00

Germany's economic model, long admired by other countries, is in decline due to its own "disastrous decision-making and political culture," according to an op-ed in The Telegraph. The author argues that Germany's luck in the first two decades of this century, including a weak currency, access to cheap Russian gas, and the industrialisation of China, created an illusion of permanent prosperity that allowed Germany to lecture the world on its consensual model. However, that luck has now run out. The war in Ukraine resulted in the loss of Russian gas, factories are closing due to unaffordable power, and China is now outperforming Germany in key industries. Additionally, Germany has failed to digitise and modernise its infrastructure. The author criticises Germany's consensual political system for being unable to push through the necessary reforms, unlike France, Italy, and Poland. The op-ed concludes that Germany will need a radical overhaul of its political system and a shattering of complacent centrism to address its structural issues and revive its economy.

The surprising reality of summer skiing in the Alps


23-09-22 13:00

The future of Europe's ski resorts is uncertain due to climate change. A recent report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service revealed that summer 2023 was the hottest on record, and Switzerland's glaciers are described as "critical". Ski resorts are becoming more reliant on snow-making machines, and some have even closed their operations early due to a lack of natural snow. However, some resorts are still able to offer skiing during the summer months. The Swiss village of Saas-Fee, for example, operates a schedule of snow sports during the summer on the Mittelallalin glacier. The glacier is home to up to 80 international race teams each day and hosts up to 80,000 skier days in total over the summer. The resort had received a healthy dump of snow just days before the author's visit, making for perfect skiing conditions. However, the author acknowledges that opportunities for summer skiing may become increasingly rare due to the effects of climate change.