The surprising spryness of fighters in 15th C armor

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Paris's Musée national du Moyen Âge teamed up with The University of Geneva to make this video demonstrating the fighting techniques available to people in 15th century armor, which are much more fluid and athletic that I had presumed -- turns out you can really move in those tin cans. (via We Make Money Not Art) Read the rest

Negative Swiss 50-year bond yields just shattered the global insecurity barometer

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National treasury bonds are the safe option in times of global turmoil, and the more uncertain things are, the more people buy them, and the higher their prices go. Read the rest

When Brad Birkenfeld blew the whistle on UBS, the US government paid him $104M and sent him to jail

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This interview with UBS whistleblower Brad Birkenfeld is as neat a case study in financial corruption as you could ask for: Birkenfeld's disclosures detailed 19,000 US tax evaders, including the bank's super-secretive list of "politically exposed persons," including people who laundered money for terrorists, and the US government threw him in prison (as well as paying him the largest reward in US history), declined to prosecute three quarters of those implicated, and then put him in prison. Read the rest

US trade rep threatens Colombia's peace process over legal plan to offer cheap leukemia meds

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Colombia wants to produce Novartis's leukemia drug imatinib under a compulsory license, something it is allowed to do under its trade agreement with the USA, to bring the price down from $15,161/year (double the annual average income) to prices like those charged in India ($803/year). Read the rest

The U.S. just labeled Switzerland an internet piracy haven

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Switzerland is a haven for internet piracy, the Obama Administration's global trade rep says. The European nation famous for Swiss Alps, Swiss Cheese, Fondue, and being a long-term U.S. political ally since WWII is now on America's annual intellectual property shitlist.

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Swiss pro-privacy email provider forces a referendum on mass surveillance

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Protonmail is a Swiss pro-privacy email provider that offers end-to-end encyption to its customers. When the Swiss government proposed the Nachrichtendienstgesetzt -- a bill to create a "mini NSA" with the power to effect warrantless mass surveillance, including hacking residents' computers -- the company called on its users and supporters to petition the government for a referendum on the law. Read the rest

Swiss cops' dawn raid snags top FIFA officials

Six top executives of international football's (notoriously corrupt) governing body were arrested at the crack of dawn in their Zurich hotel by Swiss police acting on a US criminal corruption warrant. Read the rest

HSBC boss used tax havens to keep underlings from discovering his outrageous pay

HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver admitted that he used two secretive banks -- one in Switzerland, the other in Panama -- not just to avoid taxes, but to hide his amazing compensation package from other HSBC bankers, lest they wax jealous. Read the rest

Random Darknet Shopper: Internet art randomly spends $100/wk of Bitcoin in darknet

It's part of a Swiss gallery exhibit called The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland, where all the random junk the algorithm buys (from ecstasy to fire brigade master-keys to boxed Tolkien sets) are displayed. Read the rest

Switzerland reportedly offers Snowden safe passage, immunity from extradition

A report in the Swiss weekend paper Sonntagszeitung states that Snowden would not be extradited to the USA for "politically motivated" reasons if he were to attend hearings on illegal NSA spying. Read the rest

Here's that relaxation video you were looking for (nightmare fuel)

Jordan Wolfson's "Female Figure" (2014): a dancing animatronic that wants to help. Read the rest

For sale: Swiss Scrooge McDuck swimming pool/vault full of shiny coins

If you've ever dreamed of owning a bank-vault mounded high with shiny coins in which you can bathe like Scrooge McDuck, now is your chance. A Swiss bank-vault filled with 8 million Swiss 5-cent pieces is up for auction. The vault was made in 1913 for the Schweizer Volksbank. The coins -- 15 tons' worth -- were used in a 2013 installation in which they were dumped in a public square, with no security, as an exercise in public trust. The coins and the safe are presently in Basel. You will have to relocate them. Read the rest

Cubli: motorized reaction-wheel cube that can balance and walk on its edges and corners

A clever combination of motorized reaction wheels, sensors, processors and software allow the 15cm^3 Cubli to balance on its corner or edge, and to stabilize itself in the face of disturbances, or spin on its corner. It can also ramp up its wheel speed, brake them suddenly and use the angular momentum to leap up onto its corner from a flat rest, then fall onto a proscribed side, and leap up -- walking, in other words. Read the rest

Skull/face paste-up wrapped around a sharp corner

Street artist Maldito Juanito installed this perspective-driven paste-up in Geneva. It wraps around the corner of a concrete pillar, and depending on your angle of approach, you see a boy's face, a skull, or a half-boy/half-skull. (via Kadrey) Read the rest

Life imitates art: Swiss police brutally crack down on squatters who inhabit fake "art favela"

Richard sez, "The Swiss riot police have taken a page out of the Turkish authorities' book. After occupiers ('critics'?) responded to the 'irony' of Tadashi Kawamata's cafe/boutique in the form of a favela by occupying it, moving in and throwing a down-home favela house party, the Swiss police forcibly evicted them from the art installation using real, unironic tear gas and batons."

Polizei räumt Favelabesetzung auf dem Messeplatz Read the rest

Drones toss and catch inverted pendulum

Ever see flying robots doing stuff that you never suspected flying robots could do? I have.

Switzerland is one gigantic booby-trap

Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG has been exploring the bizarre world of Swiss self-destructing infrastructure, documented in La Place de la Concorde Suisse, John McPhee's "rich, journalistic study of the Swiss Army's role in Swiss society." It turns out that the Swiss Army specifies that bridges, hillsides, and tunnels need to be designed so that they can be remotely destroyed in the event of societal collapse, pan-European war, or invasion. Meanwhile, underground parking garages (and some tunnels) are designed to be sealed off as airtight nuclear bunkers.

To interrupt the utility of bridges, tunnels, highways, railroads, Switzerland has established three thousand points of demolition. That is the number officially printed. It has been suggested to me that to approximate a true figure a reader ought to multiply by two. Where a highway bridge crosses a railroad, a segment of the bridge is programmed to drop on the railroad. Primacord fuses are built into the bridge. Hidden artillery is in place on either side, set to prevent the enemy from clearing or repairing the damage...

There are also hollow mountains! Booby-trapped cliff-faces!

Near the German border of Switzerland, every railroad and highway tunnel has been prepared to pinch shut explosively. Nearby mountains have been made so porous that whole divisions can fit inside them. There are weapons and soldiers under barns. There are cannons inside pretty houses. Where Swiss highways happen to run on narrow ground between the edges of lakes and to the bottoms of cliffs, man-made rockslides are ready to slide...

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