Posts Tagged ‘switzerland’

When the Swiss Voted to Ban New Minarets, This Man Built One (Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

hc-go382_mirane_bv_20100104162501[Editor's note: When is a minaret a minaret? This man has a sense of humor and humanity.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By DEBORAH BALL and ANITA GREIL

Mr. Morand Put It on His Roof, Shined Spotlights on It and Thumbed His Nose

BUSSIGNY, Switzerland — In November, Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets, the towerlike structures that adorn mosques. A week or so later, in an apparent act of defiance, a new minaret unexpectedly sprang up here.

But the new minaret is not attached to a mosque; this small town near Geneva doesn’t even have one. And it’s not the work of a local Muslim outraged by Switzerland’s controversial vote to ban the structures, which often are used to launch the call to prayer.

Instead, Bussigny’s minaret is attached to the warehouse of a shoe store called Pomp It Up, which is part of a Swiss chain. It was erected by the chain’s owner, Guillaume Morand, who fashioned it out of plastic and wood and attached it to a chimney. The new minaret, nearly 20 feet high and illuminated at night, is clearly visible from the main highway connecting Lausanne and Geneva.

“The referendum was a scandal,” Mr. Morand said recently at his cavernous warehouse, near pallets piled high with shoe boxes as pop music played on an old stereo system. “I was ashamed to be Swiss. I don’t have the power to do much, but I wanted to give a message of peace to Muslims.”

Mr. Morand’s provocation has attracted national interest as Switzerland grapples with the fallout of the referendum. On Nov. 29, 58% of Swiss voters approved the ban on new minarets, thus sparking a fresh debate around the world over the integration of Muslims in Western society. While civic and religious leaders in many Muslim countries denounced the ban, the feared backlash against Swiss interests around the world hasn’t materialized.

In Switzerland, the debate over the referendum is still hot. On Dec. 13, hundreds of Swiss Muslims protested the vote in Bern, the capital. According to Swiss legal experts, it is next to impossible to contest the outcome of a referendum. Indeed, on Dec. 18, a Swiss federal court refused to hear a plea by two Swiss citizens to nullify the vote.

But one Swiss Muslim leader has already requested that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, consider whether the ban violates international law on freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

Continue to read at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Automatic Legends for Proportional Symbol Maps (Jenny)

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

bernhardgraduatedsymbols

[Editor's note: My colleague Bernhard Jenny in Switzerland has created a helpful utility for visualizing graduated circle and graduated square legends with user specified parameters for max and min values, size, distance, and breaks. Breaks are automatically nice rounded numbers and the result can be exported as an SVG graphic compatible with Adobe Illustrator. Bernhard likes to tinker, so check back at his site for later updates. Screenshot above.]

Republished in part from Bernhard’s site.

This Java applet demonstrates the automatic legends for proportional symbol maps. Legends only display intermediate symbols for round values (for example 100, 250, 500, 1000, 2500, etc.). The legend will always display a set of appropriate intermediate symbols, even when the minimum and the maximum values are very large or very small.

View the interactive version at Bernhard Jenny’s site . . .

Melting Snow Prompts Border Change (The Independent)

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

[Editor’s note: No, this is not an April Fools joke ;) I often get asked, “Hasn’t everything been mapped yet?”. Well, some things always need remapping (and this begs the question as to why don’t movie goers boycott theaters for showing the same the same Hollywood plots year after year, but whatever). The zones affected between Switzerland and Italy include the Matterhorn. Thanks Laris and Todd!]

Republished from The Independent.

Melting snow prompts border change between Switzerland and Italy
By Peter Popham in Rome
Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Global warming is dissolving the Alpine glaciers so rapidly that Italy and Switzerland have decided they must re-draw their national borders to take account of the new realities.

The border has been fixed since 1861, when Italy became a unified state. But for the past century the surface area of the “cryosphere”, the zone of glaciers, permanent snow cover and permafrost, has been shrinking steadily, with dramatic acceleration in the past five years. This is the area over which the national frontier passes and the two countries have now agreed to have their experts sit down together and hash out where it ought to run now.

Daniel Gutknecht, responsible for the co-ordination of national borders at Switzerland’s Office of Topography, said “the border is moving because of the warmer climate”, among other reasons.

Continue reading at The Independent . . .

Kite-skiing Mt. Eiger (Alps)

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

For all the thousands of you enjoying the Toni Mair piece, check out this crazy YouTube video of “kite skiing” Mt. Eiger in the Swiss alps. They might feature this in the ExtremeGames but I doubt your local Olympics will carry it anytime soon! Thanks Stefan.