Novartis-CEO Vasant Narasimhan. Foto: Keystone
Novartis-CEO Vasant Narasimhan. Foto: Keystone
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Local News Summary of May, 11th

  • Novartis terminates contract with Trump law firm
  • Ascension Day: Actually, it is the Basel Banntag
  • Food on the stove triggers fire alarm in Weil-Haltigen

Novartis terminates contract with Trump law firm

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has terminated its contract with the firm of a lawyer for US president Trump, which made payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The pharmaceutical company announced on Wednesday that a one-year contract with the firm «Essential Consultants» of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had expired in February 2018.

Novartis was contacted last November by special investigator Robert Mueller's office in connection with Essential Consultants. Mr Mueller has been investigating alleged consultations between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign team.

Novartis responded to a statement issued by Ms Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti. Mr Avenatti had declared that the Swiss company was one of the companies that had made payments to Mr Cohen's Essential Consultants. The others are the US telecoms group, AT&T, and Korea Aerospace Industries.

Avenatti had also stated on Tuesday that, shortly after Trump's election in 2016, Mr Cohen had received a payment of 500,000 dollars from a Russian oligarch close to president Vladimir Putin.

Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is believed to have had an affair with Mr Trump. According to the same account, Mr Cohen gave her 130,000 dollars. The payment was allegedly processed by Essential Consultants. Ms Daniels claims the money was hush money while Mr Trump rejects having had an affair with her.

Dinner with Trump

According to Novartis, the group entered into a 1,2 million dollar one-year contract with Essential Consultants at market conditions in February 2017 after addressing health issues. The pharmaceutical firm emphasised that Novartis CEO, Vasant Narasimhan, is in no way involved in the matter. In particular, the payment had nothing to do with Mr Narasimhan having dinner with Mr Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Mr Narasimhan has been head of the company since February.

In the face of recent payments to Mr Cohen, the US media has speculated that the US president may have been paid by companies. The White House declined to comment on this on Wednesday and referred the media to Mr Trump's personal lawyers.

Ascension Day: Actually, it is the Basel Banntag

In many Baselland municipalities, the town-boundary day («Banntag») is an old tradition. These days in Basel-Stadt, nobody follows the custom. But this was not always the case.

Ascension Day («Auffahrt») is also Banntag in many communities in Baselland - in Liestal, it is always on the Monday before Ascension. On Ascension Day, the local residents, accompanied by flag bearers and musicians, follow a part of the border on the invitation of the civil community in the municipality of Rotten. During Banntag, people traditionally used to check whether the boundary stones at their municipal border were still in the right place - or whether the neighbours had moved them in their favour.

Basel Banntag ride

Some of Basel-Stadt's borders run right through the middle of a street: If you take a few steps, you might suddenly find yourself standing in the canton of Baselland without even realising it. And still, nobody is checking any border stones in Basel-Stadt. However, this was not always the case. Until 1807, both Grossbasel and Kleinbasel also had their Banntag rides on Ascension Day. In Grossbasel, the delegation included the dean of the cathedral, the so-called Scheidmeier, and five wine-growers. The latter were in charge of the vines, fields, meadows, pastures, forests, and paths and also had the task of settling border disputes.

On the eve of Ascension Day, the administration of all monasteries, churches, the hospital, and all farmers and wine-growers called for the celebration on the following day. On the morning of Ascension Day, immediately after the early mass, all participants gathered on horseback at the St. Ulrich's chapel in the Rittergasse. Until 1598, «it was customary to shoot on the driveway while on the Banntag ride, when it was forbidden».

Kleinbasel shared the tradition

The Banntag ride in Kleinbasel was similar. The Day of the Finding of the Holy Cross (3rd May), or also the Philipp and Jacob Day (1st May) was traditionally the day of the annual ban ride. Ascension Day was only the bad-weather option. Early in the morning at six o'clock, the bells of Theodorskirche announced the beginning of the festival. After the early mass, Kleinbasel began to move, down the Rheingasse, past the Niklauskapelle and up the Greifengasse to Bläsitor. At the women's monasteries of St. Clara and in the Klingental, saddled horses stood ready for the priests and chaplains. Accompanied by church servants and other citizens of Kleinbasel on horseback, the procession then moved down the road towards Kleinhüningen and from there along the border of Kleinbasel.

The revolutionary period changed the century-old tradition. In 1792, Basel’s mayor and the Grand Council decided that the Banntag processions should be carried out in the utmost silence, and shooting in particular was forbidden. 1807 was thus the last year when the Banntag was accompanied by «great splendours with the trumpet blare of up to 400 riders».

After more than one hundred years of silence, in 1981 the first attempt was made to breathe new life into the Banntag. However, this revival was not to be understood as an imitation of the popular Banntag events in Baselland, but rather as a recourse to an urban tradition. This old Basel-Stadt Banntag that was celebrated every two years in late summer was not a visit to the border, but rather a city walk through the various neighbourhoods for all inhabitants. Unfortunately, this custom also became lost over time, and therefore the Basel-Stadt borders remain unguarded and uncontrolled today. Who knows how many metres the surrounding communities have secretly stolen by now?

Food on the stove triggers fire alarm in Weil-Haltigen

A man has been taken to hospital after he burnt his dinner and sparked a series of frantic emergency calls to the police and fire brigade on Thursday night.

Smoke pouring from the apartment building in Weil-Haltingen prompted concerned nearby residents to contact the emergency services.

Once they arrived, the emergency services noticed a large amount of smoke coming from the building, but the resident vehemently refused to open his front door.

It was only when a threat was made that the front door would be opened by force that the resident cooperated and allowed the emergency services to enter the apartment.

The Weil am Rhein fire brigade was finally able to locate the cause of the massive amount of smoke in the kitchen: burnt food on the stove. The 46-year-old resident was slightly injured by the flue gas and was taken to the hospital in Lörrach by paramedics.

In addition to the police and the fire brigade of Weil am Rhein, the rescue service was also on site with several emergency units.