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Drought leaves mark on Swiss trees

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 12:00
As an unusually hot and dry year comes to an end, this autumn’s foliage seems more brilliant than ever. But how well equipped are Switzerland’s trees to survive the winter – not to mention a future that will likely bring more drought?  “Fantastic” is how forest dynamics ecologist Thomas Wohlgemuth describes the red, orange and golden leaves surrounding the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Birmensdorf near Zurich.  Colleague Valentin Queloz is also struck by the vibrance of the 2018 foliage. “I’ve never seen it turn such a bright red,” remarks the forest health and protection specialist, holding a reddish-orange hornbeam leaf plucked from WSL’s driveway.  Is the spectacle in spite of – or because of – the past summer’s extremely dry conditions?  “In principle I think it’s always the same. Foliage is more weather dependent,” points out Wohlgemuth, noting the season’s lack of fog and frost.  Defence mechanism  However, there are signs of ...
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Marie-Antoinette’s jewels soar at ‘once in a lifetime’ sale in Geneva

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:56
A royal treasure trove including jewels that belonged to French Queen Marie-Antoinette has fetched CHF53.5 million ($53.2 million), as collectors snapped up rare historic gems fresh to the market, Sotheby's said.  The total exceeded the $50 million at its historic two-day auction of the Duchess of Windsor jewels, held in the Swiss city in 1987. The top lot on Wednesday was an 18th-century natural pearl and oval diamond pendant with a bow motif, which Marie-Antoinette would suspend from a three-row pearl necklace. The pendant soared to CHF36.4 million – which Sotheby's said was a world record for a pearl – after ten minutes of seesaw bidding. The necklace with a diamond clasp fetched nearly CHF2.9 million, also drawing applause. A monogram ring, bearing Marie-Antoinette's initials MA and containing a lock of her woven hair, had been estimated at $8,000-$10,000 but soared in bidding to CHF447,000. "Prices really rocketed. Some items sold for 25 times more than the pre-sale ...
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The global fight for assisted suicide

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 12:00
Swiss right-to-die organisations are politically and legally active abroad in a drive to legalise assisted suicide worldwide. They believe that political and religious elites do not respect the will of the people.  Assisted suicide is legal under Swiss law, and several organisations offer this service. As one of the few countries in the world with such a law, Switzerland sees many foreigners coming to end their lives from countries where assisted suicide is forbidden.  Some Swiss right-to-die organisations take their commitment a step further, by engaging in efforts to legalise assisted suicide in other countries. Internationally, one of the most active proponents of assisted suicide is the association Dignitas, whose motto is “To live with dignity - To die with dignity". Dignitas' self-proclaimed aim is to make itself superfluous: the seriously ill should not have to travel to Switzerland to get the help they seek, but should receive this assistance in their own countries, the ...
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Rebel chic: a Swiss view of a post-war generation

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 11:44
In the late 1950s Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger focused his camera on Switzerland’s postwar generation of misfits and young rebels, whose heroes included Elvis and James Dean. It had been barely a decade since the end of the Second World War and the youth of Switzerland were dissatisfied with the conservative values of the day. Their influences came from America. Imports in the form of rock’n’roll, blue jeans, James Dean and Elvis, put pay to their disillusionment, and they created a subculture and gang-like identity of their own. They could now walk and talk like their American heroes. Zurich-born Karlheinz Weinberger (1921-2006) began taking photographs as a teenager and joined the "Bund der Naturfreunde photography club" (Association of the friends of nature photography club) to improve his technique. In the 1940s he joined the now well-known Zurich underground gay club “Der Kreis” (The Circle) and began to publish his photos in its magazine under the pseudonym of Jim.
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Support for ‘Swiss law first’ initiative remains limited

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 07:00
A rightwing proposal to put Swiss law above international law has failed to win additional support over the past few weeks. Pollsters expect the initiative will be rejected in a nationwide vote later this month. In its latest survey published on Wednesday, the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute found opponents widened their margin over supporters of the conservative right People’s Party proposal by 9% (from 16% to 24%) early this month. Along with the ‘Swiss law first’ initiative, two other proposals will be put to a vote on November 25: One proposal is to pay subsidies to farmers who keep cows and goats with horns. The other is to adopt a law with the aim of cracking down on social insurance fraudsters and setting the legal basis for social welfare detectives. See graphic below for the polling results on the three issues. “It appears the arguments of the ‘Swiss law first’ initiative committee have not convinced many citizens outside the ranks of the People’s ...
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The Swiss return of Nazi ‘Angel of Death’ Josef Mengele

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 18:01
After the Second World War, Josef Mengele – a war criminal and the man behind experiments on human beings at the Auschwitz concentration camp - fled to South America. There he managed to hide and escape justice until his death. However, he returned to Europe once as a tourist - and came to Switzerland. Josef Mengele decided who was 'fit' to be put to work in the concentration camp and who would be put to death in the gas chambers. As the camp doctor from May 1943, he performed cruel experiments on people and carried out abhorrent tests with twins. In 1945 he fled for South America, but later returned to visit Europe, more specifically Switzerland, as a tourist, and using his real name. French author and journalist Olivier Guez sheds new light on how Mengele managed to flee Europe after his involvement in the Holocaust. His new bestselling book 'The Disappearance of Josef Mengele' is also interesting from a Swiss perspective. For a long time, there has been a lack of clarity over ...
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Topsy-turvy campaigning styles enliven controversial vote

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 17:00
Known for its brash posters the political right has surprised the public with unusually plain and sober designs ahead of the vote about the ‘Swiss law first’ initiative. At the same time, it’s their opponents who have resorted to more populist and spectacular imagery and events. It is a calculated and thought-out strategy on both sides. The visual appearance of the campaign ahead of the November 25 vote about giving the Swiss constitution priority over international law is not what the general public expected to get. The rightwing Swiss People’s Party has used unusually sober language, even omitting the party symbol from its posters, in an effort to convince voters to approve its controversial initiative. They merely show a man or a woman holding a sign saying “Yes”. This is in contrast to previous imagery with black sheep, strong symbols and crude language. Georg Lutz, political scientist at Lausanne University, was also astonished by the choice, but says there is a logic ...
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Blockchain start-ups ‘not ready’ for mainstream investment

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:00
Swiss start-up investor Daniel Gutenberg, who has earned a reputation for picking the right technology companies, believes the emerging blockchain industry is several years away from attracting traditional venture capital. In an interview with swissinfo.ch, Gutenberg said blockchain needs time to realise its undoubted potential to produce the next generation of technology giants – known as “unicorns”. At present, many start-ups are funded via crowd investing schemes known as initial coin offerings (ICOs). The Swiss venture capitalist should know, having made his fortune from early investments in tech giants such as Facebook and Mobileye. He is also one of the founders of the Crypto Finance Conference that brings investors and start-ups together in St Moritz, California and Tokyo. swissinfo.ch: How excited are you by blockchain start-ups as an investor? Daniel Gutenberg: I am a traditional start-up venture capital, seed-stage investor. In 2013 I started investing in bitcoin and ...
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True or false: ‘Cows need horns to communicate’

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:00
Armin Capaul, the farmer behind the nationwide vote on November 25 to save Swiss cow horns, has often claimed that cows need horns to communicate. Is he right?  A study between May 2013 and April 2016 by the Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs, a branch of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), looked into the relevance of horn status in dairy cows.  The project, which was also carried out by Agroscope, the Swiss federal centre for agricultural research, had no connection to the cow horn initiative. However, one of its aims was to “examine how different aspects of social behaviour are influenced by the presence or absence of horns”.  Initial results suggest that dehorning cows influences clashes between members of a herd.  “Cows with horns resolve conflicts and rivalries by and large without physical contact,” Eva van Beek, FSVO spokeswoman, told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper last month. She explained that a threatening wave of the horns was usually ...
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Nestlé Waters' Cabazon Plant Installs Third Wind Turbine

News Machinery - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 19:28

Today, Nestlé Waters North America announced the installation and operation commencement of a third wind turbine at its water bottling facility in Cabazon, California. This week also marks the sixth anniversary of the groundbreaking of the facility's first two wind turbines in 2012.The three turbines combined have a rated capacity of approximately 22 million kilowatt hours a year, and are expected to supply nearly 50 percent of the plant's total electricity needs, while offsetting 18,048 t...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=231213

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Metso receives favorable court decision in China on infringement of IP rights

News Machinery - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 18:41

Metso has received a favorable decision by the Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Court's in China that fully supports Metso's claims against Shenyang Sanland Mining Equipment Manufacture Co. and Shenyang Sanland Crusher and Grinder Equipment Manufacture Co. Ltd. for infringement of Metso's intellectual property rights. The court ordered the two companies to immediately cease their infringement, which constituted of production and marketing of imitations of Metso's equipment and parts. The...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=231200

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Geneva, City of Aspiration

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 16:00
I had an interesting day in Geneva last week: in the afternoon I went to see Marie Antoinette’s jewels. November in Geneva means the auction of all sorts of sparkling baubles, and this month it is the turn of the diamonds and pearls that once graced the neck of the last queen of France.  We all know what happened to her, of course, and I was reminded of that in a strangely ironic way when I reluctantly left her pearls to hurry to my next appointment: a debate on “Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilisation”.  More than two centuries after Marie Antoinette’s death, the reasons that caused her to be parted from her jewels, and indeed that caused her head to be parted from her body, are still around today.  The debate was the start of a two-day conference organized by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Focusing on the shameful fact that the gap between the world’s wealthiest and the world’s poorest is actually ...
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Meet a company at the heart of Swiss-made high precision

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 15:00
Swiss industry owes much of its success to the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that export extreme precision parts, tools and machines around the world. This is the story of one of them. Sylvac is a world-renowned specialist in the production of digital measuring instruments. Eric Schnyder is head of the family-run business that will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.  Schnyder is satisfied with the way business is going, and with good reason. Sitting opposite the large bay windows in the ultra-modern factory, which opened in Malleray-Bévilard in the canton of Bern in 2014, the CEO of Sylvac describes how his company has taken off in recent years. “Our turnover has increased by nearly 30% since 2015, reaching almost CHF30 million ($30 million); whereas we actually aim for 2% annual growth over the long term,” he explains. Sylvac exports more than 85% of its production, mainly to Germany, China and the United States. Although it occupies only 3 to ...
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The rise and fall of St Gallen textiles

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 12:02
St Gallen was once a world-renowned textile capital. Today, very little of the industry remains. One of the last great names of the textile industry, Bischoff Textil, announced last month that it would outsource production to Asia. What remains of the textile stronghold?  Bischoff, an embroidery company from St Gallen in northeastern Switzerland, is moving most of its production to Thailand and Sri Lanka. Switzerland has become too expensive for the production and sale of high-quality embroidery and textiles.  Of the 1,000-strong global workforce, 76 people currently work in Switzerland. Of these, 45 are expected to lose their jobs. The company is based on a long St Gallen tradition in the textile industry. As early as the Middle Ages the textile industry was the economic backbone of eastern Switzerland. For centuries, thousands of families and workers lived from manufacturing and trading textiles. Of particular value was St Gallen embroidery, which became one of Switzerland’s ...
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Social sleuths to snoop on Swiss Abroad too?

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 11/12/2018 - 12:00
Surveillance of social insurance clients abroad may take place only if provided for by international treaties, according to the Swiss authorities. Negotiations are underway for a series of accords with governments mainly in southeastern Europe and Latin America. The new legal basis for covert surveillance will be put to a nationwide vote on November 25. Could the issue affect Swiss Abroad? No, unless they happen to be visiting Switzerland, says the government. New legislative amendments approved by parliament in March 2018 give the option to social insurance agencies to carry out covert spying on their clients, where there is reason to suspect benefit fraud. + Learn more about the new legislation The new rules were drafted following a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which found that there was not an adequate legal basis in Switzerland for surveillance of social insurance clients. Opponents of the new rules have since triggered a referendum, so there will be a ...
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‘Switzerland is the model I always refer to’

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 11/11/2018 - 17:00
Claudio Ghizzo was born in Italy to a Swiss mother. The 32-year-old nurse works in Italy and believes his Swiss origins have influenced his way of thinking and civic spirit, but he is also very much attached to the landscape of the Dolomites. swissinfo.ch: Have you ever thought of living in Switzerland? Claudio Ghizzo: The wish to live permanently in Switzerland is a recurrent thought – but it’s not easy to change your whole life just like that. swissinfo.ch: What do you do for a living? When did you get your job? How are things going for you career-wise? C.G.: I’m a nurse with a degree and I work in a hospital near where I live. I got this job by going to university and passing a state exam to become a public service employee. Career-wise things could be better, as my profession is not very well recognised at the political and social level. I think in Switzerland the work I do would be more highly valued. swissinfo.ch: Where do you live at the moment? How is the lifestyle and ...
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Conflict resolution, cow horns and carbon capture

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 11/11/2018 - 15:00
Here are some of the stories we'll be following the week of November 12: Monday In our series on International Geneva, we’ll be examining the role of the city as a meeting point for discussing the world’s challenges. Does the self-proclaimed “Capital of Peace” deserve the title?     Tuesday  Switzerland will vote on November 25 whether to encourage farmers to let their cows keep their horns. We will be verifying the claim that bovines need their horns to communicate with each other.     Wednesday  Switzerland is one of the world leaders in assisted suicide thanks to the services offered by organisations like Dignitas and LifeCircle. We look at the global impact of these institutions on making a case for legalising assisted suicide.     Thursday  The impact of climate change has not proved enough of a deterrent to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions to the extent necessary. We visit a Swiss carbon capture plant that offers a technological route to ...
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Switzerland’s armistice memories, carved in stone

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 11/11/2018 - 12:00
On Sunday, many countries are celebrating the centenary of the end of the First World War. At the heart of these ceremonies are monuments that honour the memory of the dead.  Saint Martin’s cemetery in Vevey, overlooking Lake Geneva and the French Alps, is one such place. The British military section of the cemetery honours 88 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the First World War and 48 others who lost their lives in the Second World War.  The presence of foreign soldiers’ graves on Swiss soil dates back to the presence of prisoners of war in Switzerland since the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. This policy continued during the two world wars.  During the First World War, Switzerland welcomed more than 65,000 prisoners of war for humanitarian reasons from 1916 to 1919. They were either seriously ill or wounded or relatively old. A number of them died in Switzerland, where they are buried.  This policy has left its mark on the stone. There are more than 100 places in Switzerland ...
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Swiss artist brings Indian rug-making tradition to world stage

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 11/11/2018 - 12:00
A near-extinct carpet-making technique is receiving global exposure thanks to collaboration between a Swiss artist and Indian artisans.  Instead of fulfilment, an opportunity for Karim Noureldin to be a part of a unique artistic project only brought frustration. He was among ten artists invited to create designs that would each be transformed into carpet artworks in China. It was a unique chance for the Swiss-Egyptian artist, who was already a fan of textiles due to the many parallels with his geometric designs realised with colour pencils on paper.  “I wasn't happy with the result. So much so, that I bought the carpet I had designed,” he told swissinfo.ch.  The frustration with the outcome is what drove Noureldin on a quest to find a partner that would produce the perfect carpet for his abstract work. Online research and well-connected contacts led to him to India. Three years ago, he found a workshop near Delhi that could produce “dhurrie” rugs to his liking. But Noureldin ...
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Hazardous mountains and expensive tastes

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 11/10/2018 - 18:00
Almost every article published by swissinfo.ch contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting statistics to appear in last week’s stories. 336 The number of Alpine sites in Switzerland under surveillance for climate change-related risks like landslides, rock slides and mudslides. 1.1 million The number of Swiss residents exposed to excessive noise pollution that can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, coronary issues and depression. 136 The number of deaths on Swiss mountains in the first nine months of the year. This was nearly double the fatalities during the same period last year. 100 million The estimated cost in Swiss francs of a new glass and steel building at over 3,000m altitude on Mount Titlis designed by Swiss architect firm Herzog & De Meuron. 7 The percentage of Swiss youth who support leftwing extremism, according to a survey. This was higher than those with ...
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