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Swiss parliament to probe decision to buy US fighter jets

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A Swiss parliamentary committee said Tuesday it would probe the government’s decision to purchase 36 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jets to replace its ageing fleet.

The management scrutiny committee of the National Council lower house of parliament decided to investigate “the legality and advisability of certain aspects of the evaluation procedure taken for choosing the Swiss military’s new combat aircraft”, it said in a statement.

A sub-committee will start work in February and publish its findings “in due course”.

READ MORE: Swiss decision to purchase US fighter jets could force second referendum

Switzerland’s current air defence set-up will reach the end of its service life in 2030 and the search for a replacement fleet was long and hotly contested.

The F-35A combat aircraft — already used by the US Air Force and several European countries — was chosen in June this year ahead of the Airbus Eurofighter, the F/A-18 Super Hornet by Boeing, and French firm Dassault’s Rafale.

The Swiss government said the F-35A had a marked technological advantage over the other candidates because it had powerful new systems that ensured information superiority.

At five billion Swiss francs ($5.5 billion, 4.7 billion euros), the procurement costs were around two billion francs cheaper than the second-lowest bidder, said the government.

‘No Trump fighter jets’: Swiss don’t want to buy American planes

The decision to buy the F-35As could be challenged at the ballot box, with left-wingers and anti-militarists keen to trigger a public vote.

The parliamentary scrutiny committee “wishes to establish transparency on certain points which have aroused criticism from public opinion”, it said.

Its sub-committee will focus on the methods used to assess the competing planes, the room for political manoeuvre with the United States and respect for the principles of public procurement rights.

Switzerland is famously neutral.

However, its long-standing position is one of armed neutrality and the landlocked European country has mandatory conscription for men.



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Viral Russian Parody of Smash Hit ‘Hideaway’ Depicts Typical Village Life (Music Video)

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And on a lighter note …

One of upsides of life in Russia is the rich sense of humor here.  

Here’s a parody of “Hideaway” by Canadian pop diva Kiezsa, (original video below) which gave the previously unknown starlet an astounding 90 million views on Youtube within 3 months of its release in February 2014.

The parody was made by the amateur comic dance duo, “Bonya and Kuzmich” of Perm, a provincial Russian city 800 km east of Moscow.  

It has 5 million views on the Russian internet, but hasn’t really broken out into an international audience. 

Before discovering internet stardom, Bonya was a shoe saleswoman, and Kuzmich a cafeteria cook in Perm.

It has a lot of witty references to Russian country life.

Enjoy!

Here’s the original by Kiezsa:


This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons


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German doctor faces charges after administering thousands of self-made vaccines

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A millionaire German doctor is facing criminal charges after vaccinating an estimated 20,000 people with a self-developed vaccine against Covid-19.

Some 200 people were queueing for a jab at the airport in the northern city of Lübeck on Sunday when police arrived and closed down the improvised vaccination centre.

A police spokesman said doctors had already administered about 50 vaccines: not from BioNTech or Moderna or another recognised producer, but a home brew by Dr Winfried Stöcker.

The controversial doctor, who is also the owner of Lübeck airport, insists his jab is 97 per cent effective against Covid-19.

Dr Stöcker was not present, did not administer vaccinations and faces no charges, according to his lawyer Wolfgang Kubicki, a leading member of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP), which is part of Berlin’s new coalition government.

Lübeck state prosecutors see things differently. On Monday, they announced an investigation into four doctors, aged between 61 and 81, for involvement in the unauthorised vaccination centre.

Dr Stöcker may also face legal action for running an unlicensed vaccination campaign, which is considered a criminal offence under Germany’s Medicines Act. 

Contacted by the Bild tabloid, Dr Stöcker said he had not submitted his vaccine for approval because the process would “take too long and cost millions”.

“We have a responsibility to the patients, not the state, but the police stopped everything,” said the 74-year-old.

In May 2020 Dr Stöcker claimed to have developed a traditional vaccine – without any external assistance – similar to that used against tetanus, using inactive pathogen cells to activate the body’s immune system.

The doctor says he tested the jab on himself and some 100 volunteers before rolling out the vaccinations around the country. In total, he claims some 20,000 people have received a dose of his vaccine.

“Some 2,000 of them are under observation, no side effects were noted to date,” he said. “There were virus breakthroughs in 10 people.”

‘Lubecavax’

On his website, he says his “Lubecavax”, a three-dose vaccine, has proven highly effective. Some 376 friends and colleagues were vaccinated with the substance during the summer, he wrote, and “97 per cent developed high concentrations of antibodies against coronavirus”.

“In our view the ‘Lübeck vaccine’ is safe, effective and presumably the most suitable vaccine for children,” he adds in a blog post. “Doctors have the right to mix together compounds that they believe will help people.”

In this assertion he is drawing on a 2000 German constitutional court ruling which forbade federal authorities from prohibiting an experimental treatment of two doctors using stem cells.

News of the rogue vaccination has horrified German medical authorities. The Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is responsible for approval of medicines and vaccines in Germany, said on Monday it had offered Dr Stöcker assistance with testing in September and December of last year, but that he had not responded to the institute’s offers.

The hurdles to vaccination licensing “are deliberately high”, the institute added, “to ensure the maximum possible security for participants in clinical trials”.

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Denmark school closes due to suspected Omicron Covid-19 case

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Odense Municipality confirmed the closure in a statement on Monday after informing parents and pupils on Sunday evening.

The Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed) said on Monday morning that the case is suspected of being linked to the new Omicron variant.

READ ALSO: Denmark does not rule out new travel restrictions after Omicron variant detected

The authority recommends contact tracing up to “third” contacts, or people who have been in contact with suspected close contacts to the confirmed or “first” case.

Pupils and teachers in the same class as the confirmed or “first” case are considered “second” contacts, with close contacts to the class the “third” link.

People who fall into these categories are asked to isolate at home until they have tested negative on the fourth and sixth days since the potential contact.

The school is closed as of Monday while contact tracing is undertaken.



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