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.
Swiss voters have approved an initiative by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) aimed at limiting immigration. The result not only threatens the free movement of people, but all agreements between Switzerland and the European Union.
Switzerland facilitated family reunification for Syrians in September. So far, more than 1,100 Syrian refugees have benefited from the programme, while thousands are waiting at Swiss embassies in the region, hoping for a similar chance. Surprised by these numbers, Switzerland put an end to the programme.
As self-appointed global leaders gather at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos and discuss ‘The Reshaping of the World’, a stone's throw away non-governmental organisations named this year's winners for their dreaded Public Eye Awards.
With no acute crisis on the radar, this year's Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) will move away from the response mode of the past years and “look for solutions for the really fundamental issues,” its founder Klaus Schwab said at the pre-meeting press conference.
Swiss voters will decide Nov. 24 on introducing a salary cap that would limit the wage spread in companies to 1:12. The economic lobby is nervous - success for the proposal in the referendum is not as unrealistic as once expected.
A Swiss village has decided to reject tax money from the firm Glencore and to instead donate it to charities. Other towns may follow, sending a strong signal to the government to follow the U.S. and the EU and introduce transparency rules for the extractive industry.
Refugee rights organisations are demanding an EU-wide temporary protection regime for Syrian refugees. The announcement by some countries that they can take a few thousand refugees is not enough, the groups say.
Water power is the backbone of Alpine countries' energy supply. Despite its important role in Europe's energy shift, further development of hydroelectric infrastructure in Austria and Switzerland is on hold.
An accident in a flagship project threatens the future of geothermal energy in Switzerland. The mishap that was followed by earthquakes has come as a warning that geothermal deep drilling still has a long way to go.
Once more, Swiss voters have lashed out against asylum seekers, further tightening the country's already strict asylum law. The government has meanwhile announced a radical restructuring of the asylum procedure.
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'.
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.
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.
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.