Stories written by Ray Smith
Ray Smith is a freelance journalist based in Switzerland. Most of his writing is from the Middle East, where he sporadically lives or visits. From Switzerland, Smith reports on migrants' issues, environmental topics and other social or political subjects.

Davos Puts Protests Behind

Barbed wire and safety fences are dismantled, the police and army are withdrawn and freedom of movement is restored. The 43rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) ended last month with negligible protests against the 'global leaders'.

Dubious Awards Presented at Davos

Only a stone's throw from the Davos World Economic Forum meeting, a group of non-governmental organisations presented the annual Public Eye Awards this week to Goldman Sachs and Royal Dutch Shell.

Wage Dumping Hits Switzerland

The Swiss parliament has decided to tackle wage dumping in the construction sector. With the introduction of chain liability, general contractors can soon be held accountable for labour agreement violations by their subcontractors.

Swiss Battery May Lose Power

Swiss energy companies are determined to turn the country into a 'battery for Europe'. Vast investments are made in big-scale water power projects. But it is not certain they will eventually pay off.

Melting Permafrost Threatens Swiss Villages

Melting glaciers are the most visible effect of global warming in the Swiss Alps. Meanwhile, permafrost is invisible and melting too, often causing rockfall and massive debris flows, ultimately threatening mountain villages.

Hydro power plants in Switzerland are already at full capacity.  Credit: Ray Smith/IPS.

But What in Place of Nuclear Power

In the wake of Fukushima, the Swiss government decided last year to slowly, but definitely phase out nuclear energy. But the new energy strategy for the next decade has drawn criticism, especially from environmental organisations.

Some Swiss Parcels With Migrants In Them

Two years ago, a Nigerian asylum seeker died during a forced deportation attempt from Switzerland. Now, the prosecution has dismissed the case, leaving nobody responsible for the young man's death. Instead of re-assessing the deportation system, Swiss authorities prefer ignorance.

SWITZERLAND: Resistance Rises to Asylum Seekers

Switzerland saw a 45 percent increase in asylum requests compared in 2011 to the year before. The country struggles to accommodate the new asylum seekers while efforts to put up new centres face fierce resistance by local people.

The signpost in Switzerland warns of glacier retreat. Credit: Ray Smith/IPS.

Europe Headed for Water Crisis

Future glacier retreat in the Alps could affect the hydrology of large streams more strongly than previously assumed, a new study shows. Water shortages in summer could become more frequent.

Swiss Bid Disputed Goodbye to Nuclear Energy

Switzerland is witnessing a drastic turnaround in energy policy. Half a year ago, plans for the construction of new nuclear reactors were heavily debated. Now, three months after the disaster in Fukushima, the initial steps for a staged nuclear shutdown have been taken.

A new Ramallah is coming up. Credit:  Ray Smith/IPS

MIDEAST: Music Runs Into Walls

In the West Bank, dissident voices questioning the Palestinian Authority's increasingly authoritarian rule have become rare. But a young musician in Ramallah refuses to hold his tongue.

Historic Nablus attracts few visitors. Credit: Ray Smith

MIDEAST: Nablus Stands Beautiful and Unvisited

Palestine experiences a boom in tourism, as herds of tourists storm the cities of Jerusalem, Jericho and Bethlehem. Meanwhile, the West Bank city of Nablus, rich in historic and religious sites, hardly attracts visitors.

A textile enterprise in the old city of Nablus. Credit: Ray Smith

MIDEAST: Palestinians Find Trade, Not an Economy

The Palestinian Authority is preapring to establish a state in near future. But the Palestinian economy remains strongly tied to Israel, and manufacturers are struggling to recover from the second Intifadah.

A Swiss People's Party campaign poster. Credit: Ray Smith

MIGRATION: Swiss Vote In an ‘Illegal Law’

Just a year after banning the construction of minarets, Swiss voters have approved a right-wing initiative demanding the automatic expulsion of criminal foreigners. The initiative violates international law.

A Palestinian enterprise in Lebanon. Credit: Ray Smith

Lebanon Pressured to Improve Palestinians’ Lot

Abu Yussif doesn't want to talk about his work any more. "It's not going to help and nothing will change anyway," he says. The tall, white-haired Palestinian has just returned from work and relaxes in his little garden in the refugee camp Bourj ash-Shamali near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.

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