Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Micheline Calmy-Rey elected Swiss President

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has been elected Swiss president for 2007, only the second woman to hold the office in the country's history.

The joint session of the two parliamentary chambers on Wednesday also named Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin vice-president.

Calmy-Rey will keep her foreign ministry portfolio when she takes over the ceremonial one-year post from Moritz Leuenberger, on January 1.

The 61-year-old Social Democrat received 147 votes (out of 192 valid votes), the poorest result in presidential elections for nearly 70 years.

However, she enjoys a high level of support among the public and regularly tops popularity polls for Swiss politicians.


Man-made tremor shakes Basel, Switzerland

from Swissinfo:

Drilling work for a planned geothermal power plant in Basel triggered a small earthquake on Friday that caused minor damage to buildings.

The canton Basel City prosecutor has launched an investigation to find if the company behind the Deep Heat Mining project should pay for repairs.

The tremor was felt shortly before 6pm and measured 3.4 on the Richter scale according to the Swiss Seismological Service. Normally, there are three or four earthquakes of this size annually in Switzerland.

Local police and fire departments received hundreds of phone calls from worried citizens, and some buildings suffered from cracks and broken tiles. Nobody was injured.

Basel is one of the areas in Switzerland most prone to seismic activity. In 1356, the city was almost entirely destroyed by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Too warm in your house?

Why not stay at the Ice Hotel in far northern Sweden?

from their website:
"Over the past seventeen years, we have built a new hotel of snow and ice every winter. It sounds like a fairy tale, but in fact, it is a dream – a dream turned into reality year after year.

ICEHOTEL is situated in the village Jukkasjärvi, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden. The heart and backbone is the River Torne flowing freely through the unspoilt wilderness. Covered with a meter thick ice layer winter time the river is the source of all our art, architecture and design. The pure water and the steady movement of the river creates the clearest ice possible."

A Christmas Goat?

from Radio Sweden:

A town north of Stockholm is hoping this year to protect its annual giant Christmas goat from vandals.

Every year the town of Gävle sets up a 13 meter tall version of the traditional straw Yule goat. And almost every year the goat has been destroyed, usually by fire, but once run over by a car, and another year having its legs cut off.

But for the 40th anniversary of the custom Sunday, local officials had this year’s goat doused in fire-resistant chemicals usually used on airplanes.

In the past, resourceful vandals have proved ingenious in outwitting guards and security cameras. Last year two vandals disguised themselves as Santa Claus and a gingerbread man and ignited the goat by firing burning arrows at it.

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