Planet still getting hotter, more extreme says UN's weather agency

Planet still getting hotter, more extreme says UN's weather agency Geneva - The year so far has been marked by weather extremes across the planet and low levels of ice in the Arctic Sea, the World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday.

The overall ice volume in the sea during the melt season was the lowest since satellite measurements began in 1979. At the opposite pole, the Antarctic ozone hole was larger than in 2007.

Red Cross: Zimbabwe cholera could be "catastrophic"

Red Cross LogoGeneva - Zimbabwe faces potential "catastrophic" results if humanitarian efforts against cholera are not provided soon, an official with the Red Cross said Tuesday, as the UN confirmed that at least 978 people have died of the disease since August.

The UN statistics are generally seen as the minimum number of deaths and it is assumed the actual toll is higher. Some 18,413 suspected cases of the disease have been reported.

The rainy season about to hit Zimbabwe will likely exacerbate the spreading of the disease, triggered in part by the deteriorated state of the country's sewage system, aid workers said.

Italian aid worker killed in DR Congo

Congo FlagGeneva - An Italian aid worker was shot and killed in the Democratic Republic Congo, the United Nations reported Tuesday, condemning the death.

The UN's refugee agency said it "deplores the cold blooded murder" of the Italian who was working with internally displaced people in the troubled North Kivu area.

In the incident Monday afternoon, near the village Rutshuru, armed men ambushed a vehicle carrying staff from the Voluntary Association for International Service, killing the one aid worker and wounding another.

Mia Farrow says Congolese need international protection

Switzerland FlagGeneva - Mia Farrow issued an appeal Monday for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, focusing on the abuse suffered by women and children in what she has described as "a lawless place torn apart by violence."

The actress and goodwill ambassador for UNICEF said she wanted to "plea for protection and peace," and recounted stories of her recent visit to the North Kivu region in the troubled eastern DR Congo.

"People asked me to tell the world they need protection, need the violence to end," said Farrow at the UN's Geneva office.

Geneva firms said to have lost 4.2 billion dollars in Madoff scheme

Geneva  - Banks and financial institutions in Geneva have lost possibly some 5 billion Swiss francs (4.2 billion dollars) in their involvement with former Nasdaq chairman Bernard L Madoff who was arrested the day before in New York, a Swiss paper reported Saturday.

The Le Temps newspaper, without naming its sources, called the affair an "earthquake," and that a leading hedge fund, Union Bancaire Privée, had exposure of about 1 billion dollars.

The company declined to comment on the report.

A private bank, Benedict Hentsch, said on Friday it could lose up to 47 million dollars to the fraud, meaning about 5 per cent of the assets it manages.

There was also concern for private investors.

Kuitunen gets first season win, beats Saarinen

Davos, Switzerland - World Cup champion Virpi Kuitunen got her first cross-country skiing season victory on Saturday in a Finnish one-two ahead of season leader Aino Kaisa Saarinen.

Kuitunen, 32, won the women's 10-kilometre classic style race in Davos in 29 minutes 51.0 seconds. It was the 19th career win for the 2007 and 2008 World Cup champion.

Saarinen led early on but eventually trailed by 18.0 seconds in second place. Former World Cup winner Marit Bjoergen of Norway was third on the podium, 46.7 seconds behind the winner.

The consistent Saarinen tops the World Cup with 365 points from five races, where she made the podium four times with one win, two second places and one third-place finish.

Amas Bank acquires 40 per cent stake in PATERSON

Amas Bank acquires 40 per cent stake in PATERSONAmas Bank (Switzerland) Ltd has acquired 40 per cent stake in PATCO Investments & Consultancy Services Private Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. PATERSON is a Chennai-based stock broking firm, while Amas Bank is a global banking entity of the trans-national Hinduja Group, founded in 1978 as a finance company and granted banking license in 1994. Amas Bank is headquartered in Geneva, having offices in Zurich, Lucerne, Basle, St. Margrethen, Dubai, London, Paris, New York and Mauritius.

Developed countries lagging behind goals on care for youngest

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) LogoGeneva - Only Sweden, out of the world's developed countries, managed to meet all of the UN's Children's Fund's 10 benchmarks for early childhood care and education, a report on Thursday showed.

A look at the 24 countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Slovenia, ranked the five Nordic countries and France at the top of the list.

They were the only ones to have allotted a full 1 per cent of GDP to early childhood services.

Road accidents main cause of accidental death among children

Geneva - Injury and violence were responsible for 900,000 children's deaths each year, 90 per cent of which were accidental, a United Nations report released Wednesday said.

The leading cause of death resulting from an injury was road traffic accidents, followed by drowning and fires or burns.

War made up only 2.3 per cent of child-injury deaths, according to the World Health Organization and the UN's Children Fund, UNICEF.

The first UN report on the subject said millions of children suffered lifelong disabilities due to injuries, and that the poor were at an increased risk.

In 2004, some 260,000 children died in road accidents, but only 7 per cent of them were in the most developed countries.

Zimbabwe cholera cases hit 746; government blames West for outbreak

Zimbabwe MapGeneva/Harare - The death toll in Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak shot up to 746, the United Nations reported Wednesday.

The figure released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, which reflects the situation as of Tuesday, marks a sharp increase from the 589 that had died by the weekend.

The increase is likely due to the fact that the latest figures include 256 people who have died outside health clinics in their communities.

The total number of suspected cases has also galloped ahead to 15,572, OCHA said.

First prototype of Mindset electric car

First prototype of Mindset electric carSt. Niklausen, Switzerland - The Swiss car company, Mindset, has revealed a prototype of its E-Motion electric-drive vehicle 18 months after project started.

Designed by former Volkswagen styling chief and Mindset company founder Murat Guenak, the E-Motion sports car will undergo testing on public roads during the next few weeks, according to an announcement.

The prototype, built in France by the car parts supplier Heuliez, features round retro headlamps and 22-inch wheels with ultra-low profile tyres and a coupe-station wagon design.

Airlines bracing as economy looks bleak for 2009

Airlines bracing as economy looks bleak for 2009 Geneva - Revenues of airlines are expected to fall by an average of 6 per cent next year, an outlook released Tuesday said, as passenger and cargo traffic is likely to drop.

The International Air Transport Association said in its 2009 forecast the industry would expect to lose 2.5 billion dollars.

"We face the worst revenue environment in 50 years," said Giovanni Bisignani, the IATA's chief.

IOC to retest 500 Beijing samples for CERA and insulin

IOC to retest 500 Beijing samples for CERA and insulin Lausanne, Switzerland - Some 500 drug samples gathered at the Beijing Olympics will be retested for a new generation of the blood booster EPO and for insulin, the International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday.

The IOC said in a press release that the retested samples are mainly from endurance events in cycling, rowing, swimming and athletics from January onwards. First results are to be announced by late March.

UN official: Israel should be investigated by international court

United Nations LogoGeneva - The International Criminal Court should investigate Israel and its leaders over the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, a United Nations expert said Tuesday.

In a statement, Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the civilian population in Gaza was "being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity."

The international court should "determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law."

Australian fire crew can't save Swiss benefactor

Australian fire crew can't save Swiss benefactor Sydney  - An Australian fire brigade Tuesday told a Swiss woman who paid for a new fire engine her generosity had failed to save her beachfront home in the Queensland town of Deepwater.

Annemarie Geckeler, 75, bought the Deepwater fire brigade a new fire engine in 2001.

But the fire brigade arrived too late to save her multi-million-dollar home at the weekend.

Geckeler was not home when the fire started.

Pack the snow shoes for some winter wandering in Wengen

Pack the snow shoes for some winter wandering in WengenWengen, Switzerland  - It must be rather elevating for the train driver since the Wengenalp (WAB) rack railway from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen, central Switzerland, is uphill nearly all the way.

Travellers can gaze out over sparkling, snow-covered roofs and pine trees, and as if to underscore the picture-postcard nature of this wintry scene in the Bernese Oberland, a brook alongside the tracks babbles into the valley below.

Swiss lead the world in railway travel

Swiss lead the world in railway travelGeneva  - The Swiss seem to enjoy trains more than other nations, with the average resident travelling around 2,103 kilometres annually, the Information Service for Public Transport said putting the confederation at the top of the global list.

The Japanese came second with residents averaging 1,976 kilometres by train in 2007, though they did make the most trips with 70 a year, compared to 47 for the Swiss.

Business leaders launch anti-corruption campaign on YouTube

YouTube LogoGeneva - Chiefs of several leading international companies launched a call on YouTube Monday, asking for the public to submit ideas on how to combat corruption.

Executives appearing on the video streaming Website - including Alan Boeckmann of the Fluor Corporation, Peter Bakker of the Dutch delivery company TNT and Samuel DiPiazza, CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers - said over 1 trillion dollars were lost annually to corruption.

They said, in a short clip just over a minute in length, that bribes hindered workers' ability to get jobs and patients' access to basic medical care.

CERN to restart particle accelerator in the summer of 2009

Geneva  - The unique giant particle accelerator along the French-Swiss border, which scientists hope will give clues as to the nature of matter itself, will be functioning again by the summer of 2009, its operators said Friday.

The machine, known as the Large Hadron Collider, was turned off in September following a malfunction which caused damage to integral parts just about a week after the first experiment. It has since been turned off.

The LHC, operated by European Organization for Nuclear Research - known by its French acronym CERN- is run on a budget of some 10 billion Swiss francs (8.17 billion dollars), making it one of the most expensive science experiments.

Logitech has made its one-billionth computer mouse

Logitech has made its one-billionth computer mouseLondon, December 5 : Swiss company Logitech has revealed that its factory in Suzhou, western China, has produced its one-billionth computer mouse.

The company has made this revelation at a time when analysts claim that the mouse will not exist for longer.

"It''s rare in human history that a billionth of anything has been shipped by one company," the BBC quoted Logitech''s general manager Rory Dooley as saying.

"Look at any other industry and it has never happened. This is a significant milestone," he added.

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