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Why the vote in the Swiss town of Moutier was historic

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 14:22
It may have been just a local ballot, but it marked a decisive stage in a long-term Swiss territorial conflict. Here’s why the town of Moutier’s June 18 vote to join canton Jura will go down in history. In brief, democracy, citizens’ consultation and participation were able to solve a drawn-out conflict through mainly peaceful means. Sunday’s decision by local voters means that the municipality of Moutier, a town of 7,000 residents in the Jura region, will be able to secede from canton Bern and join neighbouring canton Jura – more than 200 years after European powers redrew the map of Switzerland at the 1815 Vienna Congress. Over the years, the creation of new borders and new cantons has had far-reaching consequences for many residents in this remote region of northwestern Switzerland. The minority group of Catholic French-speakers long felt they were treated unfairly by the powerful Protestant and German-speaking majority in canton Bern. Escalation The simmering conflict ...
Categories: News EN

Why the vote in the Swiss town of Moutier was historic

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 14:22
It may have been just a local ballot, but it marked a decisive stage in a long-term Swiss territorial conflict. Here’s why the town of Moutier’s June 18 vote to join canton Jura will go down in history. In brief, democracy, citizens’ consultation and participation were able to solve a drawn-out conflict through mainly peaceful means. Sunday’s decision by local voters means that the municipality of Moutier, a town of 7,000 residents in the Jura region, will be able to secede from canton Bern and join neighbouring canton Jura – more than 200 years after European powers redrew the map of Switzerland at the 1815 Vienna Congress. Over the years, the creation of new borders and new cantons has had far-reaching consequences for many residents in this remote region of northwestern Switzerland. The minority group of Catholic French-speakers long felt they were treated unfairly by the powerful Protestant and German-speaking majority in canton Bern. Escalation The simmering conflict ...
Categories: News EN

The nuts and bolts of integration

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 11:00
​​​​​​​ Ropes, lightbulbs and a power drill are the small tools that could catapult migrants into the Swiss workforce.  Peppering his explanations with useful adverbs and prepositions, a lively man in a yellow polo shirt demonstrates how to measure and sort different types of screws. His encouraging manner seems to have a magnetic effect on a group of asylum seekers eager to absorb what they can – knowing that these little pieces of metal could be the key to a brighter future. This is a special integration workshop at Förderschmiede, a private language and business school in Bern. For the past two years, the school has been collaborating with aid groups like Red Cross and Caritas as well as the migration authorities in the nearby city of Thun, for example. These partners send asylum seekers into the classroom to learn German – from Monday to Friday, for two-and-a-half hours a day. The tuition is covered by canton Bern.  But occasionally, a special integration workshop like ...
Categories: News EN

The nuts and bolts of integration

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 11:00
Ropes, lightbulbs and a power drill are the small tools that could catapult migrants into the Swiss workforce.  Peppering his explanations with useful adverbs and prepositions, a lively man in a yellow polo shirt demonstrates how to measure and sort different types of screws. His encouraging manner seems to have a magnetic effect on a group of asylum seekers eager to absorb what they can – knowing that these little pieces of metal could be the key to a brighter future. This is a special integration workshop at Förderschmiede, a private language and business school in Bern. For the past two years, the school has been collaborating with aid groups like Red Cross and Caritas as well as the migration authorities in the nearby city of Thun, for example. These partners send asylum seekers into the classroom to learn German – from Monday to Friday, for two-and-a-half hours a day. The tuition is covered by canton Bern.  But occasionally, a special integration workshop like this one ...
Categories: News EN

For sale: a decommissioned military nuclear bunker

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 17:15
For sale: desirable mid-20th century mountain residence, central Switzerland (underground). All mod cons, including electromagnetic pulse protection, dark fibre network connection and air filtration system. Sleeps 1,500.  The London surveyors Griffiths Eccles recently got in touch about their latest big-ticket instruction: a decommissioned military nuclear bunker in the Swiss mountains, suited for "hyper-secure" storage, a data centre, disaster recovery, research or a "personal bunker" - subject, of course, to planning permission.  The range of potential uses speaks to the paranoia of the moment and indeed, Griffiths Eccles says it is currently sifting through a large stack of expressions of interest. Your casual nuclear bunker enthusiast need not apply: potential purchasers must demonstrate the capacity to spend £25m (CHF31 million) before they can receive any further information, including any details of the bunker's location.  The 15,000 square metre (161,000 square foot) ...
Categories: News EN

For sale: a decommissioned military nuclear bunker

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 17:15
For sale: desirable mid-20th century mountain residence, central Switzerland (underground). All mod cons, including electromagnetic pulse protection, dark fibre network connection and air filtration system. Sleeps 1,500.  The London surveyors Griffiths Eccles recently got in touch about their latest big-ticket instruction: a decommissioned military nuclear bunker in the Swiss mountains, suited for "hyper-secure" storage, a data centre, disaster recovery, research or a "personal bunker" - subject, of course, to planning permission.  The range of potential uses speaks to the paranoia of the moment and indeed, Griffiths Eccles says it is currently sifting through a large stack of expressions of interest. Your casual nuclear bunker enthusiast need not apply: potential purchasers must demonstrate the capacity to spend £25m (CHF31 million) before they can receive any further information, including any details of the bunker's location.  The 15,000 square metre (161,000 square foot) ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss must raise human rights issues in Astana

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 11:16
Human rights activists are concerned about the mixed messages that may come when Swiss political leaders appear at the Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan. This summer Kazakhstan is the first Central Asian country to host a world fair, Expo 2017 Astana, dedicated to the energy of the future. The expo, which opened on June 10, has so far not been subject to much mention or debate in Swiss or other European media. Nevertheless, a public debate would be warranted seeing as Switzerland’s president, along with the foreign and finance ministers, will travel to the expo on official visits this summer, and thus risk lending legitimacy to an authoritarian regime that regularly violates human rights. Whereas European media largely have remained silent about the expo, the event is given considerable coverage by state-controlled media in Kazakhstan, where readers and viewers can marvel at the dazzling architectonic feats (and costs) of the expo site. The showcased grandiose nature of the expo ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss must raise human rights issues in Astana

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 11:16
Human rights activists are concerned about the mixed messages that may come when Swiss political leaders appear at the Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan. This summer Kazakhstan is the first Central Asian country to host a world fair, Expo 2017 Astana, dedicated to the energy of the future. The expo, which opened on June 10, has so far not been subject to much mention or debate in Swiss or other European media. Nevertheless, a public debate would be warranted seeing as Switzerland’s president, along with the foreign and finance ministers, will travel to the expo on official visits this summer, and thus risk lending legitimacy to an authoritarian regime that regularly violates human rights. Whereas European media largely have remained silent about the expo, the event is given considerable coverage by state-controlled media in Kazakhstan, where readers and viewers can marvel at the dazzling architectonic feats (and costs) of the expo site. The showcased grandiose nature of the expo ...
Categories: News EN

Why Swiss watch repairs are becoming a pain

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 11:00
Even a Swiss-brand watch will not run forever. Nowadays, minor repairs can be very expensive or take months because many specialist watchmakers no longer receive spare parts from Swiss manufacturers.  If your Mercedes breaks down anywhere in the world, you don’t need to send it to the factory in Stuttgart. You can confidently take it to an authorised dealer in your area.  But what is common practice in the car industry no longer works for some Swiss-brand watches: the specialist shop in Shanghai, Brussels or Zurich where you bought your Breitling, Omega or Cartier can no longer repair your luxury chronometer themselves. It's due to a breakdown in a once-cooperative relationship between manufacturers and retailers.  “The retail trade is being excluded from repairs,” complains the owner of an established Bernese watch retailer, who wants to remain anonymous. “Certain brand manufacturers no longer supply spare parts but require that the watches be sent to the brand workshop, even ...
Categories: News EN

Why Swiss watch repairs are becoming a pain

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 11:00
Even a Swiss-brand watch will not run forever. Nowadays, minor repairs can be very expensive or take months because many specialist watchmakers no longer receive spare parts from Swiss manufacturers.  If your Mercedes breaks down anywhere in the world, you don’t need to send it to the factory in Stuttgart. You can confidently take it to an authorised dealer in your area.  But what is common practice in the car industry no longer works for some Swiss-brand watches: the specialist shop in Shanghai, Brussels or Zurich where you bought your Breitling, Omega or Cartier can no longer repair your luxury chronometer themselves. It's due to a breakdown in a once-cooperative relationship between manufacturers and retailers.  “The retail trade is being excluded from repairs,” complains the owner of an established Bernese watch retailer, who wants to remain anonymous. “Certain brand manufacturers no longer supply spare parts but require that the watches be sent to the brand workshop, even ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss town of Moutier votes to change cantons

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 18:01
In an historic vote that put an end to one of the oldest political conflicts in Switzerland, the western French-speaking town of Moutier narrowly voted “yes” on Sunday to leave the German-speaking canton of Bern and join neighbouring Jura. The citizens of this working-class municipality of 7,700 made their decision by a margin of only 51.7% in favor of the move: 2,067 for leaving Bern and joining Jura, 1,930 votes opposed.  Moutier was part of one of three districts that had previously opted to remain part of German-speaking Bern even though they are French-speaking. However, the question of whether to instead join francophone canton Jura continued to simmer in the town over decades and resulted in Sunday's vote, the fifth in 42 years on the issue. The issue was so controversial that officials called in election observers, and the closely-watched vote counting made for a suspenseful afternoon. The results came in more than two hours later than expected. The stakes involved in ...
Categories: News EN

Healthcare costs, watch repairs and a new kind of peacebuilding

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we will feature in the week beginning June 19. Monday If your Swiss watch breaks, it is becoming less likely that you’ll be able to get it fixed in the shop where you bought it. We look at the reasons why. Tuesday We visit an integration workshop in Bern where asylum seekers learn German and get advice about the job market. Wednesday Does the Swiss healthcare system – often ranked among the best in the world – really work for everyone? We take an in-depth look at the winners and losers of this system, where high premiums are leaving more and more people in debt. Thursday We catch up with Swiss artist Lea Suter in the middle of her yearlong odyssey around the world where she is visiting areas affected by violence and gathering stories from local artists. ​Her initiative is a new type of grassroots conflict resolution based on cultural exchange rather than high-level diplomacy. Friday We profile an imam who has long provided ...
Categories: News EN

Healthcare costs, watch repairs and a new kind of peacebuilding

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we will feature in the week beginning June 19. Monday If your Swiss watch breaks, it is becoming less likely that you’ll be able to get it fixed in the shop where you bought it. We look at the reasons why. Tuesday We visit an integration workshop in Bern where asylum seekers learn German and get advice about the job market. Wednesday Does the Swiss healthcare system – often ranked among the best in the world – really work for everyone? We take an in-depth look at the winners and losers of this system, where high premiums are leaving more and more people in debt. Thursday We catch up with Swiss artist Lea Suter in the middle of her yearlong odyssey around the world where she is visiting areas affected by violence and gathering stories from local artists. ​Her initiative is a new type of grassroots conflict resolution based on cultural exchange rather than high-level diplomacy. Friday We profile an imam who has long provided ...
Categories: News EN

Juggling motherhood, German lessons and political activism

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 11:00
American lawyer Alexandra Dufresne taught public policy and worked to protect the rights of refugees and children. A year after moving to Switzerland she’s part of a multinational group taking action to protect American and Swiss values. She tells her story to Jeannie Wurz, in the second of a series of profiles of US expats. Our family moved to Switzerland in 2016 for my husband’s job. We came to Zurich from New Haven, Connecticut, where my husband and I both taught at Yale. We met there as undergrads. I actually grew up in Atlanta, and my husband and I have lived in many American cities. We’ve lived in Chicago, Washington, DC, Nashville, Boston. The main reason we came was so that my husband could have an excellent career and yet still have time for the family. We have three children, 10, 8, and 6 years old. Back in the US he was always under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. Here we have so much more time together as a family. The culture of work and family balance ...
Categories: News EN

Juggling motherhood, German lessons and political activism

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 11:00
American lawyer Alexandra Dufresne taught public policy and worked to protect the rights of refugees and children. A year after moving to Switzerland she’s part of a multinational group taking action to protect American and Swiss values. She tells her story to Jeannie Wurz, in the second of a series of profiles of US expats. Our family moved to Switzerland in 2016 for my husband’s job. We came to Zurich from New Haven, Connecticut, where my husband and I both taught at Yale. We met there as undergrads. I actually grew up in Atlanta, and my husband and I have lived in many American cities. We’ve lived in Chicago, Washington, DC, Nashville, Boston. The main reason we came was so that my husband could have an excellent career and yet still have time for the family. We have three children, 10, 8, and 6 years old. Back in the US he was always under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. Here we have so much more time together as a family. The culture of work and family balance ...
Categories: News EN

Prestigious art show with political edge

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 15:00
The international art world is meeting once again in the Swiss city of Basel, bringing together leading galleries and collectors of contemporary art. The three-day show focuses on the role of the artist in a world of political chaos. The prestigious event is primarily a highlight for wealthy collectors of contemporary art and the world's leading galleries, but it also attracts a broad public who come to admire the latest paintings, sculptures and installations. This year's show has a distinctly political edge and showcases works of art by Barbara Kruger, an American conceptual artist best known for laying aggressively direct slogans over black-and-white photographs. Sue Williamson denounces in her work slavery and xenophobia. She is part of a pioneering generation of South African artists in the 1970s who addressed social change under the apartheid regime. The 48th Art Basel, which opened its doors on Thursday, is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors over three days.
Categories: News EN

Prestigious art show with political edge

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 15:00
The international art world is meeting once again in the Swiss city of Basel, bringing together leading galleries and collectors of contemporary art. The three-day show focuses on the role of the artist in a world of political chaos. The prestigious event is primarily a highlight for wealthy collectors of contemporary art and the world's leading galleries, but it also attracts a broad public who come to admire the latest paintings, sculptures and installations. This year's show has a distinctly political edge and showcases works of art by Barbara Kruger, an American conceptual artist best known for laying aggressively direct slogans over black-and-white photographs. Sue Williamson denounces in her work slavery and xenophobia. She is part of a pioneering generation of South African artists in the 1970s who addressed social change under the apartheid regime. The 48th Art Basel, which opened its doors on Thursday, is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors over three days.
Categories: News EN

From refugee to lawyer

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 11:00
Seth Médiateur Tuyisabe arrived in Switzerland as a refugee at the age of nine. Now he is taking exams to become a lawyer. This is his story. Civil war started in Burundi in 1993, and an attempt was made on the life of Seth’s father, a bank employee, who was forced to flee. He went to Switzerland, where fellow members of a Catholic community provided shelter. Back in Burundi, a close friend was blown up and killed by a road mine while using the family car. Seth, his mother and siblings managed to get the last flight out of the country. They fled to Cameroon, where they stayed for two years, before joining Seth’s father in Switzerland. After arriving here, they lived in various asylum centres before finally settling down in Lausanne. Coming from Burundi, they were amazed to see snow, a vast public transport network, people running for buses, public play parks, and the way in which some dogs are dressed up in clothes.  Seth had already learnt French in Cameroon, which was a ...
Categories: News EN

From refugee to lawyer

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 11:00
Seth Médiateur Tuyisabe arrived in Switzerland as a refugee at the age of nine. Now he is taking exams to become a lawyer. This is his story. Civil war started in Burundi in 1993, and an attempt was made on the life of Seth’s father, a bank employee, who was forced to flee. He went to Switzerland, where fellow members of a Catholic community provided shelter. Back in Burundi, a close friend was blown up and killed by a road mine while using the family car. Seth, his mother and siblings managed to get the last flight out of the country. They fled to Cameroon, where they stayed for two years, before joining Seth’s father in Switzerland. After arriving here, they lived in various asylum centres before finally settling down in Lausanne. Coming from Burundi, they were amazed to see snow, a vast public transport network, people running for buses, public play parks, and the way in which some dogs are dressed up in clothes.  Seth had already learnt French in Cameroon, which was a ...
Categories: News EN

Hiking asylum seekers finish trek across Switzerland

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 17:00
Two asylum seekers from Afghanistan finished their “integration hike” around Switzerland, having covered more than 1000 km. (SRF, swissinfo.ch) Hamid and Mohammed are both 26 years-old and ethnic Hazaras. They fled war in their country in 2015. Hamid is a trained builder and Mohammed is a maths teacher. They are based at asylum centres in canton Aargau, and met playing football. The two set out on their odyssey on May 1 with a mission to get to know Switzerland and its people. They stayed at Swiss people’s homes and received gifts from them, such as hiking gear. They now want to encourage other asylum seekers to try and integrate, and learn about the country where they are seeking asylum.  At the end of the trek, Hamid Jafari said his favourite stop along the way was Valais, as the people there were so friendly. The trip ended at parliament, giving the two men the chance to find out how asylum decisions are made in Switzerland. 
Categories: News EN