Home | Feed aggregator | Categories

News EN

Swiss chocolate, cheaper skiing and not-so-lonely expats

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 18:00
Here is a selection of stories to look ahead to on swissinfo.ch in the week of December 11, 2017.  Monday  In an interview with swissinfo.ch, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer looks back at 2017, and dares a glimpse into 2018. He weighs in on the refugee situation in the Middle East, and Europe’s role.  Tuesday  How can Switzerland solve the conflict between preserving its crucial water resources and maintaining a healthy agricultural sector? We look at why ponds may hold the key.  Wednesday How did a country without a single homegrown cocoa bean become one of the world’s leading chocolate manufacturers? A look at how the history of chocolate as we know it is the history of Swiss innovation, immigration, luck – and love.  Thursday Switzerland is known for its expensive skiing. But after several difficult winter seasons and pressures due to the strong Swiss franc, numerous Swiss resorts are offering cut-price ski passes. Why ...
Categories: News EN

The forgotten story of Swiss au pairs in Britain

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 16:00
In the inter-war and post-war years, Britain was a popular destination for Swiss women. Working as au pairs, they learned about life in Britain and many fell in love with the country and its people, as a new book describes. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) In the book, author Simone Müller describes how young women at the time fought bravely against the confines of Swiss society and for more vocational possibilities. When the Second World War broke out, a mass repatriation scheme took place and many hundreds of the women were brought back to Switzerland.  Two of the people mentioned in the book are Myrtha Parsons-Biedermann, who's 90 and lives in Shepperton near London, and Mina Rui-Oppliger, aged 98, who lives in Laufen, Basel Country. Myrtha arrived in Britain in 1947 as an au pair. She says, "There was nothing going on at home. That's why I was so interested in everything that was different. Something had to happen." Like Mina, Myrtha travelled by train through France and then crossed ...
Categories: News EN

‘I am American. I write from my American soul’

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 12:00
Susan Tiberghien came late to writing, but she’s made up for lost time. The founder of the Geneva Writers’ Group (GWG) is the author of several books and despite living most of her life in Europe, says she is still very much an American writer.  I came to Europe to do graduate work in Contemporary Literature. I was 21, just out of university, with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Literature and a minor in French. I had studied French for three years in high school and four years at college, but when I arrived at Grenoble University in the French Alps, I realized that I couldn’t make myself understood, nor could I understand.  For the first two months I learned more French in intensive classes. And as it happens, suddenly I was able to take notes at lectures in French instead of English! It just switched.   Susan Tiberghien will be retiring in 2018, as the Geneva Writers’ Group celebrates its 25th anniversary. Her story is the sixth in our series on US expats in ...
Categories: News EN

‘We called it the Horny Tour’

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 10:00
In the relatively dry winter of 2017, Christoph Moser and I decided to do one of the absolute classic ski tours of the Bernese Oberland, a tour that serves as an endurance test for mountain guides.  We called it the ‘Horny Tour’ as it links up the Wetterhorn, Mittelhorn and Rosenhorn. Combining ski mountaineering with easy alpine skills, the route is never hard but quite long. In the end, we climbed 3600 meters over the course of 26km. Here, Christoph passes through the crevasse and serac zone on the Rosenlaui glacier while on the way to the Wetterhorn.  As a photographer I enjoy working on glaciers and trying to contrast their beauty with the very real danger that is present when moving on them. At work and play We are fortunate to call the mountains our workplace and still marvel at what we get to do on any given work day, be it in the Alps or Himalaya. After all these years, the passion we have for life as mountain sport athletes and photographers hasn't faded.
Categories: News EN

Rediscovering an ancient medicinal plant

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 12:00
It’s associated with Christmas traditions and even the ancient Druids but Viscum album, better known as Europe’s most common mistletoe, has a more practical use: as a treatment for cancer patients. In fact, the healing power of the plant was already known to doctors around the time of Hippocrates, in ancient Greece. However, it wasn't until 1917 that co-founder of anthroposophical medicine Ita Wegman first used it in Zurich as a treatment for cancer, after her colleague Rudolf Steiner had first realised its cancer-specific healing potential. Ever since, mistletoe has become an increasingly recognised component of complementary cancer treatment, especially in Europe (though it is not yet approved as part of palliative care in the United Kingdom or United States). Here are some of the features that make it so special.  It lives from its tree Mistletoes are flowering plants, but they don’t form a root and they are wholly dependent on food from the host tree. Their leaves are ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss gun fans blast EU-Schengen restrictions

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 18:00
A “light” version of the new European Union gun directive aimed at tightening firearms regulations has got Swiss gun fans hot under the collar. Switzerland, which has deep-rooted gun traditions, is expected to fall in line with the EU restrictions but a referendum could be launched by disgruntled opponents.  Christian Richert leans forward on a red counter bedecked with rows of gleaming hand guns. Behind him semi-automatic and antique rifles hang from the walls of his busy stand at 24th International Gun Fair, recently held at the Beaulieu Conference Centre in Lausanne.   “The Swiss are starting to get fed up with all this,” the Geneva gun dealer tells swissinfo.ch. “In French-speaking Switzerland we are perhaps more fatalistic but I don't think in German-speaking regions people are ready to have their laws dictated to by Brussels.”  In September, the Swiss cabinet presented for consultation a softer version of a new EU gun directive intended to tighten up firearms regulations ...
Categories: News EN

What a typical Swiss student is like

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:36
There are almost 200,000 university students in Switzerland. What do we know about their backgrounds and how do they get by financially? At the end of November, the Federal Statistical Office published its latest survey on the social and economic situation of students – a study carried out four times since 2005. It asked a representative sample of around 26,000 students across the Swiss academic landscape - at universities, universities of applied sciences (UAS) and universities of teacher education (UTE) - about their lives and finances. In all, there were 199,145 people studying at such universities during the 2015-2016 academic year. Women made up 52% of the Swiss student body. The highest percentage of women was found at teacher education universities, at 73%. It should be noted that the number of female university students drops during the post-doctoral stage (PhDs were not covered in the study) in what is known as the “leaky pipeline”, often due to the pressure of ...
Categories: News EN

When shopping gets political

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 12:00
Are there ways of judging how politically involved young people are other than looking at voter turnout? Organic and fair trade products are booming. However, sales figures don't tell the whole story. When people decide to buy something out of conviction, shopping can become a form of political participation.   Political scientist Birte Gundelach is a specialist in this area, and is working on ways to figure out what motivates people to buy products with such labels. This is the latest report in our series in which researchers take us 'Inside the Democracy Labs'.
Categories: News EN

Making fun of migration stereotypes

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 18:00
(To view video subtitles in English, click on the gear icon and turn captions "on"). Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. This week she interviews Arman and Sascha from Austria, who have made a feature film ("Die Migrantigen”), poking fun at migration stereotypes. Omar, a former criminal, and his friends live in the fictional town of Rudolfsgrund. They all eat kebabs and they're all broke, but still drive BMWs. (SRF Kulturplatz/swissinfo.ch) The comedy premiered in January at the Max Ophüls Prize film festival, where it received the Audience Award. The festival, held in Saarbrücken, Germany, has been running for 39 years, with the aim of discovering and promoting young filmmaking talent from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Categories: News EN

A Swiss architect’s love affair with a village set to become a hotel

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:00
An architect who once studied a small mountain community in Ticino weighs in on plans to turn it into a hotel to keep it from dying out. (swissinfo.ch/RTS)  Thomas Amsler, who now lives in the US, first visited Corippo while hiking with his parents in the region in the 1950s. He was so enchanted that he and three architect colleagues produced a book about it in 1959. They were astounded at the amount of stone used, as he recently told swissinfo.ch during a visit to Bern. His best known creation, perhaps, is the high control tower at Logan airport in Boston.  Amsler was interested in Corippo partly due to it being the smallest municipality in Switzerland with just 13 permanent residents. To prevent the village from dying out altogether, the old, vacant houses are being turned into a “scattered” hotel with a total of 22 beds. The Osteria (restaurant) would be the front desk and the lanes would become hotel corridors.  Even though it’s tiny, the village possesses the trappings of a ...
Categories: News EN

Watch the Swiss border for a warning on trade

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:17
When you land at Geneva Airport with the intention of driving onwards, you have a choice. You can pass through Swiss immigration and head straight for the car hire desks.  Alternatively, you can go up an escalator, along a corridor and cross into the French sector where the same multinational car hire companies will offer you a different deal. Swiss regulations insist that hire cars have winter tyres fitted between the autumn and spring and they will also have a “vignette”, paying the annual CHF40 ($40) road tax allowing the car to drive on Switzerland’s motorways. Cars hired from the French side have neither and often differ in specifications, but are generally much cheaper. From the same rental company, it is currently possible to hire a family car for the February half-term holiday for roughly half the price if you are willing to pick it up and return it to the French sector of the airport. Even though car hire is a competitive business with essentially the same product on ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss climate change risks outweigh opportunities

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 18:00
​​​​​​​ That’s the conclusion of an unprecedented nationwide study examining the risks and opportunities for Switzerland in the context of a changing climate, the results of which were released on Tuesday. The results of the report, presented at a conference in Bern by the study’s authors from the Federal Office for the Environment, are based on studies conducted by 360 researchers in eight Swiss cantons. They developed a list of major challenges – along with some 30 associated risks – that Switzerland can expect to face between now and 2060. The environment office experts also identified some opportunities and potential benefits that Switzerland may experience as the climate changes – but that list is much shorter. Heat, health, and harvests The study was originally organised to better develop carbon emissions reduction policies in Switzerland. To do this, the researchers targeted the cantons of Aargau, Basel City, Fribourg, Geneva, Graubünden, Ticino and Uri for their ...
Categories: News EN

Here comes Santa Claus, on Lake Lucerne

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 18:00
Every year, a village on Lake Lucerne hosts one of Switzerland’s most spectacular holiday traditions: the Klausjagen.  Loosely translated as “chasing Santa”, Klausjagen is a procession featuring hundreds of men and boys cracking whips, blowing horns, ringing giant cowbells, and carrying enormous handmade lanterns on their heads.  The candle-lit lanterns – called Iffelen – are shaped like bishop’s hats and made with tissue paper to create the look of stained-glass windows. They take hundreds of hours to make, but they last for years – as long as they don’t get wet. These Iffelen are the main attraction of the Klausjagen, though their purpose is to herald the arrival of Saint Nicholas (Niklaus) and his sinister sidekick, Schmutzli. This 360° film offers some unique perspectives: The tradition has its roots in ancient fertility and harvest rituals, where men would raise a ruckus to scare off evil spirits and improve the next year’s crops. But over the centuries, it degenerated ...
Categories: News EN

Essex Closes $14.99 Million Capital Raise

News Machinery - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 17:17

Essex Capital Group, Inc. (“Essex”), announced today that the firm recently arranged a $14,986,000 term debt capital raise for two affiliated vegetable packing houses located in the Southeastern U.S. (the “Company”).  The new loan facilities allowed the Company to consolidate its debt structure at low rates while extending amortization and lowering monthly debt service.  Additional working capital was also generated from the recapitalization. Rob Swain, Essex President said, “The Company...

Read the full story at http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=217489

Categories: News EN

Remembering ‘French Elvis’ in Switzerland

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 15:17
Johnny Hallyday, the French rock star who has died from cancer, had a large fan base in French-speaking Switzerland, and once made headlines when he moved to the country for tax reasons. (RTS/swissinfo.ch)   Hallyday’s career spanned 57 years. He sold more than 110 million albums, among them "I love you”, "Light the fire”, "The Penitentiary" and “Mary”. Some say he was the biggest rock star that France had ever seen.   The singer performed in Switzerland from the very beginning of his career. His first concert, aged 17, was at "The cricket”, a club in Geneva. He went on to perform at many other Swiss venues, notably in a prison in canton Vaud. He last visited Switzerland on June 13, appearing on stage in Geneva as part of the "Vieilles Canailles" tour with French musicians Eddy Mitchell and Jacques Dutronc.  Bernese resident The French rocker was hardly known outside the francophone world. Yet Johnny Hallyday become famous throughout Switzerland for something that had nothing ...
Categories: News EN

ChemChina thrives at home on strategy of ‘going out’

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 13:33
Back when the Chinese government was encouraging state-owned enterprises and private sector companies to “go out” of the country, few responded as energetically as ChemChina and Ren Jianxin, its entrepreneurial chairman. In March 2015, the Beijing SOE paid €7.3bn for Pirelli, the Italian tyre company. Less than a year later it agreed to purchase Syngenta, the Swiss agribusiness group, for $44bn. So far, so standard. At a time of relative euro weakness, ChemChina took advantage of the renminbi’s purchasing power to acquire overseas companies with better technology and brand recognition.  It is what often happens after ChemChina buys a foreign target that differentiates its overseas investment strategy from so many of its Chinese peers. In what might be termed a kind of Trojan horse strategy, ChemChina then uses its foreign acquisitions — and foreign managers — to win market share back at home.  The Pirelli deal is an example. A year after the acquisition, ChemChina’s ...
Categories: News EN

‘We were the only ones who cared about Swiss self-determination’

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 12:00
In narrowly voting against accession to the European Economic Area (EEA) a quarter of a century ago, Switzerland decided to go it alone as a small island in the European sea. For many voters, the EEA was seen as a precursor to full EU membership. Twenty-five years later, swissinfo.ch spoke with two illustrious proponents of the pro- and anti- campaigns of the time. + Read the interview with pro-EEA leader Peter Bodenmann swissinfo.ch: Christoph Blocher, do you remember saying this: “I must admit I am completely spent – at the point of exhaustion both physically and mentally.” Christophe Blocher: I remember feeling that way. It was in 1992. swissinfo.ch: It was a week before the vote on the EEA membership. You had spoken at a lot of events by then. C.B.: At least one per day, sometimes two or three, for a whole year. A year before the vote, an opinion poll was published. It showed that 80 per cent of Swiss were in favour of joining the EEA. I knew that the media, the ...
Categories: News EN

‘The EU has developed better than Switzerland’

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 12:00
In narrowly voting against accession to the European Economic Area (EEA) a quarter of a century ago, Switzerland decided to go it alone as a small island in the European sea. For many voters, the EEA was seen as a precursor to full EU membership. Twenty-five years later, swissinfo.ch spoke with two illustrious proponents of the pro- and anti- campaigns of the time. + Read the interview with anti-EEA figurehead Christoph Blocher For Peter Bodenmann, then-president of the Social Democratic Party, who was committed to strengthening Swiss cooperation with European partners, it was a heavy defeat. The Valais hotelier is still convinced he was right. swissinfo.ch: At every anniversary of the “no” vote to the EEA, your then-opponent Christoph Blocher celebrates, while you are portrayed in the media as the big loser of that campaign. Does that bother you? Peter Bodenmann: I haven’t seen it quite that way. It bothers me that we missed out on securing a majority of voters, because the ...
Categories: News EN

When an unusual alliance made Swiss voting history

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 09:00
Thirty years ago, voters caused a huge political upset when they backed an initiative to protect Swiss moorlands, thus rejecting government plans to build an army training ground. It marked the beginning of a series of successful ballot box decisions on environmental issues. The result of the nationwide vote on December 6, 1987 took both opponents and supporters by surprise. That day, 58% of voters supported the idea of moorland protection after several years of heated debate and bitter divisions among residents over 100 hectares of moorland and heath in the Biber Valley in central Switzerland. The shrubland area, 35km (20 miles) south of Zurich, is Switzerland’s largest upland moor. “It dealt a double blow to the political establishment,” says political scientist Michael Hermann from the Sotomo research institute. The upset was the result of a rare alliance between rural conservative voters and more liberal sections of society who had developed a growing environmental ...
Categories: News EN

A quarter-century of Switzerland’s special status in Europe

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 18:00
Some 25 years before Britons voted to leave the European Union, the Swiss electorate cast its ballot in a popular vote which would have some of the most far-reaching implications in recent history. On December 6, 1992, Swiss citizens rejected by a small majority a plan for their country to become a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), a move which would have granted near-full access to the European single market. #Dear Democracy This text is part of #DearDemocracy, a platform on direct democracy issues, by swissinfo.ch. The decision echoes the Brexit vote in more than one regard. The campaign was fought with ferocious vigour on both sides, and in the aftermath of the vote, the victorious opponents of the initiative, led by Christoph Blocher from the Swiss People’s Party, cast the decision as an issue affecting the very heart of Switzerland’s sovereignty.  It wasn’t any ordinary vote that took place a quarter of a century ago. Voter turnout hit a record 78.7%, while ...
Categories: News EN