TIME Accident

John Kerry’s Broken Leg Won’t Hinder Iran Talks, U.S. Says

John Kerry switzerland bike
Fabrice Coffrini—Getty Images In this picture of US Secretary of State John Kerry rides his bike during a break in Lausanne on March 16, 2015.

"Meantime, work goes on. Big thanks for well-wishes. #Onward."

(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry headed home Monday to Boston from Geneva, Switzerland, for surgery on his broken leg, as U.S. officials insisted that his injury would not hinder his participation in nuclear negotiations with Iran.

With an end-of-June deadline for an Iranian deal fast approaching, the 71-year-old Kerry left Geneva aboard a U.S. military plane accompanied by his orthopedic surgeon Dennis Burke and additional medical personnel. Officials said Burke is expected in the coming days to perform surgery on Kerry’s right femur, which Kerry fractured on Sunday in a bicycle accident when he struck a curb and fell on a regular Tour de France route in France located southeast of the Swiss city.

He had been receiving treatment at Geneva’s main medical center, HUG, and is to receive further care at Massachusetts General Hospital once he returns home. Kerry, an avid cyclist, had hip replacement surgery several years ago. The fracture was near the hip, leading to speculation that his recovery would be lengthy and prevent him from being as involved in the Iran negotiations as he has been over the past two years.

The State Department sought to tamp down such suggestions, saying that Kerry is committed “to pursuing an aggressive recovery schedule” and had spent much of Sunday and Monday on the phone with colleagues, including President Barack Obama and counterparts, including the French, Spanish and Iranian foreign ministers. Kerry had spent six hours with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif on Saturday in Geneva before his bike accident.

“Secretary Kerry’s main focus for the month of June remains squarely on the Iran negotiations,” spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. “His injury does not change that. He and the entire team are absolutely committed to the same timetable and are working toward June 30th as the deadline for these talks.”

Kerry himself expressed optimism as his plane took off from Geneva, saying on Twitter that that was eager to return to work.

“Look fwd to getting leg set & getting back to @StateDept!” he tweeted. “Meantime, work goes on. Big thanks for well-wishes. #Onward.” In a French-language tweet, Kerry thanked the local Swiss and French police and emergency workers, calling them “real professionals.”

The State Department referred questions about Kerry’s treatment and recovery time to his physicians.

But Harf stressed that Kerry expects to participate in person in upcoming rounds of negotiations with Iran.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest appeared less certain but maintained that Kerry’s broken leg wouldn’t derail the talks.

“We do continue to believe that we have the time and resources necessary to pursue and hopefully complete the Iran negotiations,” Earnest said, expressing confidence that Kerry will continue to play a “critically important and leading role” with hopes of completing the deal by the end of the month.

He said, however, that it was unlikely Kerry would be able to return to his previous pace of travel for the talks.

And, the broken leg has already hit his travel plans.

Kerry had planned to travel to Madrid on Sunday for meetings with Spain’s king and prime minister, before spending two days in Paris for an international gathering to combat the Islamic State. He will now participate in the Paris conference remotely.

Kerry had been taken by helicopter to the Geneva hospital following the accident on Sunday after a paramedic and a physician who were traveling in his motorcade at the time of crash provided him with immediate attention. X-rays confirmed the extent of his injury.

His regular government plane returned Sunday night to the United States carrying much of his staff and reporters who had accompanied him on the trip. He had hoped to leave later in the day on a plane fitted with special medical equipment.

Kerry’s cycling rides have been a regular occurrence on his trips. He often takes his bike with him on the plane and was riding that bicycle Sunday.

TIME Switzerland

John Kerry Ends Overseas Trip Early After Bike Injury

Switzerland john Kerry Bike Crash
Brian Snyder—AP In this March 18, 2015 file picture, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rides his bicycle along the shore of Lake Geneva after holding meetings with Iran's Foreign Minister in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The U.S. Secretary of State broke a leg but didn't lose consciousness

(GENEVA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in bike crash Sunday, apparently after hitting a curb, and scrapped the rest of a four-nation trip that included an international conference on combating the Islamic State group.

Kerry was in stable condition and in good spirits as he prepared to return to Boston for further treatment with the doctor who previously operated on his hip, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said. He said X-rays at a Swiss hospital confirmed that Kerry fractured his right femur.

“The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery,” Kirby said in a statement.

Kerry was taken by helicopter to Geneva’s main medical center, HUG, after apparently hitting a curb with his bike near Scionzier, France, about 40 kilometers southeast of the Swiss border.

Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with his motorcade at the time and provided him immediate attention. They quickly decided to order the 10-minute-long helicopter transport.

MORE: U.S. and Iran Accelerate Nuclear Talks a Month Before Deadline

Kerry’s cycling rides have become a regular occurrence on his trips. He often takes his bike with him on the plane and was riding that bicycle Sunday.

During discussions in late March and early April between world powers and Iran, he took several bike trips during breaks. Those talks were in Lausanne, Switzerland, and led to a framework agreement.

Kerry had been in Geneva for six hours of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday as the sides now work to seal a comprehensive accord by June 30.

Kerry regrets not being able to make the rest of his scheduled stops, Kirby said. The top U.S. diplomat had planned to travel later Sunday to Madrid for meetings with Spain’s king and prime minister, before spending two days in Paris for an international gathering to combat IS.

He will participate in the Paris conference remotely, Kirby said.

Kerry’s decision to seek treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital was made because the fracture is near the site of his prior hip surgery, Kirby said.

TIME Soccer

Fallout From FIFA Corruption Probe Intensifies

Soccer's governing body is also at risk of losing millions in sponsorship deals

Corporate sponsors are scrambling to distance themselves from the sprawling corruption dragnet launched against soccer’s global governing body, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), by American and Swiss authorities this week.

On Wednesday, prosecutors in the U.S. unveiled a 47-count indictment against 14 defendants tied to the federation, including nine FIFA officials, who are accused of involvement in racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies.

“Our investigation revealed that what should be an expression of international sportsmanship was used as a vehicle in a broader scheme to line executives’ pockets with bribes totaling $110 million — nearly a third of the legitimate costs of the rights to the tournaments involved,” Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney General, told reporters during a press conference in Brooklyn.

The presentation of the indictment in New York City came as officials in Switzerland launched their own criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, following the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich on the eve of the federation’s 65th international congress in the city.

Corporate sponsors linked to the organization appear to be in all-out damage control mode as the investigation made international headlines. World Cup sponsor Visa joined the chorus of saber rattlers lambasting FIFA and threatened to abandon its deal with the organization if it failed to weed out corruption in its ranks.

“It is important that FIFA makes changes now,” read a statement released by Visa. “Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

Global soft-drink juggernaut Coca-Cola, which is also listed as one of seven FIFA partners for the 2018 World Cup, also sought to disassociate itself from the investigation, blasting the association for bringing disrepute to the sport.

“This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations,” said the company in a statement.

However, sponsors also appear to be firmly in the crosshairs of the U.S Justice Department.

During the press conference in Brooklyn, Attorney General Lynch said the corruption probe also covered “agreements regarding sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company,” a not-so-vague reference to the 10-year, $160 million deal that Nike and the Brazilian national team inked in 1996.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials promised that the investigation launched this week was only the first chapter in their probe into corruption in international soccer.

“This is the beginning of our effort, not the end,” stressed Kelly Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “We are looking into individuals and entities in a variety of countries.”

TIME Switzerland

Switzerland Plans to Close Loopholes that Let International Sporting Organizations Be Above the Law

FIFA and other bodies are subject to the same laws as tiny village associations, which are protected by Swiss law

Switzerland is not a stranger to scandals – its banks have long been embroiled in money laundering and tax evasion. Now, the international football organization headquartered in this Alpine nation is in turmoil as well.

The arrest on Wednesday of seven FIFA officials on charges of corruption involving more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks has plunged the soccer’s controversial governing body into crisis.

Swiss police confiscated documents and electronic data after raiding FIFA’s Zurich headquarters on Wednesday as part of an on-going investigation into money laundering and fraud that came to light after the organization awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

As the detained officials are holed up in a luxury Zurich hotel awaiting extradition to the U.S to face criminal corruption charges, some politicians here claim that the abuses went unnoticed because the organization had not been sufficiently scrutinized. “FIFA likes being based in Switzerland because it enjoys very loose governmental and financial oversight,” right-wing parliamentarian, Roland Buechel, writes on his website.

However, it may soon become more difficult for sports organizations to engage in illegal activities. Last December, the parliament passed a law spearheaded by Buechel that would increase the government oversight of FIFA and other sporting bodies based in Switzerland, which have had little scrutiny.

Currently, FIFA, along with about 60 other Switzerland-based sporting bodies – including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – operates under an “association” status, which means it is exempt from Swiss anti-corruption laws that govern all businesses. Or, as Buechel notes, “FIFA is organized like a small yodeling association in a mountain village. They should be structured like a proper company.”

Perhaps because of the lack of stricter oversight, other Switzerland-based sporting bodies had also been at times embroiled in controversy – in 1998, for instance, several IOC members were charged with taking bribes worth millions of dollars from the Salt Lake City Bid Committee. In 2009, FIFA’s sister organization, The Union of European Football Associations, was involved in a betting scandal, when it tried to influence the outcome of soccer games. And a couple of years ago, the International Cycling Federation faced heavy criticism in the wake of doping scandals like that of the former professional racing cyclist, Lance Armstrong.

The proposed law would designate top executives of sports organizations like FIFA’s Sepp Blatter or IOC’s head Thomas Bach as “politically exposed persons,” which means that their bank accounts would be carefully monitored for suspicious activities.

This legislation is scheduled to be debated in parliament next week, but, due to the notoriously slow nature of the country’s legislative process, may not be enacted until 2017.

In the meantime, Buechel and other lawmakers who are working on the new legislation are hoping that, from now on, the only kickbacks in the sports industry will happen on the soccer field.

TIME Soccer

See John Oliver Take Down FIFA

John Oliver slammed the soccer governing body long before the corruption scandal broke

If you’re confused about what led to the the arrest of International Football Association (FIFA) officials on Wednesday, a piece on comedian John Oliver’s show from nearly a year ago may shed light on the situation.

Oliver covers it all from sexist remarks by the organization’s top official to poor treatment of migrant workers constructing World Cup stadiums. FIFA is much like established religion, Oliver argues.

“Just think about it. Its leader is infallible. It compels South American countries to spend money they don’t have building opulent cathedrals, and it may ultimately be responsible for thousands of deaths in the Middle East,” Oliver said.

Watch below:

Read Next: What to Know About the U.S. Investigation Into Soccer’s Governing Body

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Soccer

Swiss Authorities to Investigate FIFA Over 2018 and 2022 World Cup Bids

FBL-FIFA-CORRUPTION-US-SWITZERLAND
Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio gives a press conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich on May 27, 2015

The suspects are likely to be extradited to the U.S.

Swiss officials rounded up seven leading soccer officials in Zurich on Wednesday morning as a part of an operation that will likely see the suspects extradited to the U.S. on corruption charges, reports the New York Times. The arrests come just days ahead of the 65th congress of the sport’s global governing body FIFA, which is scheduled to commence in the Swiss city on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors in Switzerland have opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and said they have seized “electronic data and documents” at the FIFA headquarters as part of the investigation. Police officials said 10 executive committee members who took part in the 2010 votes will be questioned. The U.S. Department of Justice has also unveiled an indictment against nine FIFA officials, including vice presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugene Figueredo, and five corporate executives for racketeering conspiracy and corruption.

The soccer organization has been long bedeviled by rumors of graft, especially relating to World Cup bids and broadcast rights.“We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did,” an unidentified law-enforcement official told the newspaper. “It just seemed to permeate every element of the federation and was just their way of doing business. It seems like this corruption was institutionalized.”

[NYT]

TIME On Our Radar

Christian Patterson Wins Vevey International Photography Award

American photographer Christian Patterson takes away $42,000 grant

American photographer Christian Patterson has won the 2015-2016 Vevey International Photography Award.

The New York-based photographer received the Swiss grant of CHF 40,000 (around $42,000) to realize his project Gong Co, about a closed Chinese grocery store in the Mississippi Delta whose shelves remained stocked with decades-old products. “[The store] had become an unintentional museum, or something like a time capsule,” Patterson tells TIME.

“I try to seek out a subject matter that has multiple layers to explore and leads me to ideas not only for photographs but for documents, objects and installations as well,” he says. “When these various visual and physical threads are woven together, an ‘other’ world can be entered through the work, and that is what inspires and excites me right now.”

The photographer will have a year to realize the project, which will be previewed at the next Festival Images in the fall of 2016 in Vevey, Switzerland, with an immersive storefront installation, including actual products and objects from the shuttered shop.

Born in Fond du Lac, Wis., the self-taught photographer is most known for his book Redheaded Peckerwood, published by MACK, which won the Rencontres d’Arles Author Book Award in 2012. He was also a 2013 Guggenheim fellow.

“[Since Redheaded Peckerwood], we have all been waiting to see what his next project is, and it’s really exciting that [Gong Co] is going to land here in Vevey,” says Kira Pollack, director of photography and visual enterprise at TIME, who sat on this year’s jury.

Patterson was chosen from among 600 projects. “We saw an incredible range of work and a lot of different types of photography,” says Pollack.

The jury, chaired by American artist James Casebere, also included Julien Frydman, development director of the Luma Foundation in Arles, Marta Gili, director of Jeu de Paume gallery in Paris and Ramón Reverté, editor-in-chief of RM publishers in Mexico.

TIME Switzerland

This Country Has the World’s Happiest People

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Dale Reubin—Getty Images/Cultura RF View of mountains and lakeside village, Switzerland

Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom and the economy all play a role in happiness

The happiest people in the world live in Switzerland, a new study found.

The third World Happiness Report, released by the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network on Thursday, ranked 158 countries based on Gallup surveys from 2012-15 and analyzed the key factors contributing to happiness levels.

Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada were the top five happiest countries, while the West African nation of Togo was the least happy.

The report aims to provide policymakers around the world with new metrics that place a higher emphasis on subjective well-being. While income appeared to play a significant role in boosting happiness—the GDP per capita is 25 times higher in the 10 happiest countries than in the 10 least happy—it was far from the only factor. Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom, generosity and corruption levels also helped explain the happiness scores, according to the report.

The U.S., for example, ranked 15th in the world, one below Mexico and three below Costa Rica, where per capita GDP is roughly a fifth of that in the U.S.

“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement. “It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”

But sharp economic changes in a country can play a role in people’s happiness, the report found. Greece, where the global recession triggered prolonged economic turmoil, saw its happiness levels fall the most since 2005-07, compared to 125 other countries where data was available.

Still, the report warned policymakers against overemphasizing income levels.

“When countries pursue GDP in a lopsided manner, forgetting about social and environmental objectives, the results can be adverse for human well-being,” the report said. “Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of the sharply rising inequalities of income and grave damage to the natural environment.”

TIME robotics

A Drug-Buying Robot Has Been Freed From Police Custody

!Mediengrupppe Bitnik Items purchased on the darknet by the Random Darknet Shopper

The bot, programmed to buy illegal goods online, was part of an art exhibition

A robot programmed to buy drugs from illegal online markets has been freed by Swiss police. The shopping bot, called the “Random Darknet Shopper,” was created last fall by a Swiss art group called !Mediengruppe Bitnik to purchase illicit goods online using a weekly allowance of $100 worth of Bitcoin. The various items the bot bought at random, including counterfeit sneakers and ecstasy, would be delivered to the art group’s gallery for an exhibition.

Swiss police captured the robot back in January and confiscated its purchases. However, last week, the art group announced that the police had returned Random Darknet Shopper as well as all of the goods it bought, except for the ecstasy. A Swiss police official told CNBC that the makers of the robot wouldn’t be charged for programming the robot to buy illegal items.

“This is a great day for the bot, for us and for freedom of art!” the art group wrote in a blog post.

[CNBC]

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