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Why the Swiss still speak in dialects

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 11:00
In German-speaking Switzerland, people who cannot speak dialect end up feeling left out of things. In French-speaking regions, however, speakers of patois are hard to find. Use of dialect differs in the different language regions of the country. The reasons are surprising. Phone conversation: "Kantoonspolizäi, Grüezi" (Cantonal police, morning) "Süddeutsche Zeitung aus München, Grüzi" (This is the Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich, morning) "Grüss Gott" (Hello) This dialogue, with its abrupt switch from Swiss dialect to High German (and for which there's no real English equivalent), took place on an emergency response line. The calls were recorded for research purposes and studied by a team at the University of Fribourg led by Helen Christen. According to Christen, the brief dialogue shows how German-speaking Swiss – even policemen – habitually begin any conversation with a stranger in dialect, and then, if they pick up cues that the person is not a dialect speaker, they switch ...
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Komatsu has been included in the FTSE Blossom Japan Index

News Machinery - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 19:23

Komatsu Ltd. (President and CEO: Tetsuji Ohashi) (hereinafter "Komatsu") announces it has been included in the FTSE Blossom Japan Index again this year. - -  Created by the global index and data provider FTSE Russell, the FTSE Blossom Japan Index is designed to measure the performance of companies demonstrating strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices. The FTSE Blossom Japan Index is used by a wide variety of market participants to create and assess responsible inv...

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'No, you can't touch my hair'

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 17:00
"True Talk" puts people in front of the camera who are fighting prejudice or discrimination. They answer questions that nobody would normally dare to ask directly.  This week, Les talks about being a black African in Switzerland. "The same people who thought I was so cute as a child clutched their bags tighter when they saw me going out aged 18 or 19." He admits to being macho, "We have to put on a tough face because we're in the minority." Asked about the notion that black people have bigger penises, he replied: "I don't know. I've only seen my own and I'm happy with that".  (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
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Major overhaul of northrail's Gravita locomotives in just eight weeks

News Machinery - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 13:24

- - • Manufacturer's comprehensive expertise decisive factor for award of order - • Short lead times reduce downtimes - • Product improvements enhance ease of use and availability - - - As part of a major inspection and overhaul of 13 Gravita 10BB locomotives from the northrail fleet, Voith is upgrading the vehicles with state-of-the-art technology. A decisive factor in the award of the order was Voith's comprehensive expertise. It is this proficiency that allows a lead time of just e...

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Swiss elected to lead Council of Europe body in tough times

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 11:00
Rocked by a corruption scandal which saw members accused of accepting bribes in exchange for votes and hampered by financial difficulties, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has elected Swiss Liliane Maury Pasquier as president to steer it through its current difficulties. The so-called “caviargate” scandal revealed a “strong suspicion” that Azerbaijan had attempted to bribe parliamentarians with gifts or cash to change their votes on a 2013 report denouncing that country’s treatment of political prisoners. Despite the results of this investigation and other measures taken by its members to insulate itself from corruption, Pasquier says the PACE has yet to recover the full confidence of the people in the wake of the scandal. Switzerland joined the 47-member state PACE in 1963. Rules of the Assembly stipulate that only parliamentarians duly elected in their home countries can be elected to the body. Pasquier is the fourth female to preside over the assembly ...
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Swiss doctors pledge to resist economic pressures

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 17:00
In Switzerland, the Hippocratic oath, stating the obligations and proper conduct of doctors, has been given a make-over.  40 doctors at the cantonal hospital of Fribourg recently gathered to take a new oath, the aim of which is to counter the trend towards making medicine too money-focused. They have pledged to withstand economic pressure to operate when it's not absolutely necessary.  "The Swiss Oath" was drawn up by the umbrella group for Swiss surgeons. The Swiss Medical Association is expected to introduce it at other hospitals around the county.  The Hippocratic Oath is one of the oldest and most widely known codes of ethics. The original text is attributed to Hippocrates, a Greek physician commonly credited with beginning the practice of medicine as a rational science. Its most basic principle was that a doctor must always cure patients, but never harm them. It also discussed respecting teachers, passing medical knowledge to new generations and keeping patients’ secrets.
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Switzerland are out of the World Cup: who to support now?

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 14:17
Switzerland are out of the World Cup - though not for lack of support, as we saw from the pictures and messages you sent us from around the globe. You showed us how you supported the Swiss team, wherever you are. From large-screen cinemas, to Swiss flags, cuddly bears and of course, the team t-shirt, Switzerland was cheered on from far outside Swiss borders. Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Sweden in the knockout round was a disappointment for Switzerland's many supporters, some of whom thought the squad deserved to go further.  No matter the end result, some Swiss abroad still think the Swiss players gave their best. It was a big disappointment for others, who questioned the team's performance.  For Switzerland's large foreign population, or Swiss with roots in different countries however, the World Cup dream lives on. How are you supporting your country from at home in Switzerland? Send us your pictures via Facebook or Twitter!
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Raiffeisen report raises questions for Europe’s co-operatives

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 12:09
In his 16 years as chief executive of Switzerland’s Raiffeisen group, Pierin Vincenz aggressively expanded the country’s third-largest bank by assets.  A network of local co-operative banks, Raiffeisen is the biggest mortgage lender in the affluent Alpine state, where house prices scaled dizzy heights as its central bank drove interest rates deep into negative territory to battle a strong franc. But Mr Vincenz’s reign has attracted the attention of Swiss authorities for a different reason. A scathing report recently by the Finma financial supervisor into Mr Vincenz’s business dealings found serious corporate governance failings by Raiffeisen’s board, which allowed him “at least potentially, to generate personal financial gain at the bank’s expense”. Mr Vincenz, who left the bank in autumn 2015, is under investigation for mismanagement by public prosecutors in Zurich, and has spent 15 weeks held in jail. Mr Vincenz denies allegations he abused his position as chief executive.
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Tour the Swiss flat made from recyclable, compostable...and edible materials

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 11:00
This modern flat doubles as a research project aimed at finding new materials and technologies to help reduce the resources needed for construction. What’s special about this design is its life cycle concept: after a few years, the flat will be completely dismantled and all materials used elsewhere. The NEST (Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies) building in Dübendorf, near Zurich, is probably the craziest building in Switzerland. The Federal Institute for Material Science and Technology (Empa) has a few offices and several research projects under its roof. Before entering the modernly furnished flat or ‘unit’, we have to put felt slippers over our shoes. The first thing we notice is the pleasant smell of oil-treated wood. The apartment on the third floor is referred to as "UMAR" which stands for "Urban Mining and Recycling". This month, two students are due to move into this modern flat. “This is a real environment. This is not an exhibition piece or a lab,” ...
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GE Power awarded twin boiler equipment orders by BHEL for supercritical thermal power projects in Patratu and Udangudi

News Machinery - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 17:25

 Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has awarded twin boiler equipment orders to GE Power's Steam Power business for supercritical thermal power projects at Patratu in Jharkhand and Udangudi in Tamil Nadu,  at a combined order value of $72.4 million  out of which the scope for GE Power India Limited (GEPIL) is $ 68.3 million. BHEL is executing Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for a Phase-I expansion of Patratu Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited's (PVUNL) 2,400-MW (80...

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Painting and decorating: not just a man’s job

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 17:00
Painting and decorating used to be considered a man’s job. But in some cantons, there are now more women finishing apprenticeships in the profession than men. In central Switzerland, for example, women make up 62% of apprenticeship graduates in painting and decorating. They are not just working as house painters; some also have jobs on building sites. Those in the field say that one reason for the rise is that young women get better school results and decide independently that painting is their dream job. Young men might however see it as a fall-back when other apprenticeship options don’t work out. Women are increasingly making inroads into traditional “male jobs” in Switzerland, but professional stereotypes for both genders remain hard to eradicate. In fact, overall in Switzerland, men still remain in the majority in painting and decorating. But experts warn that increased numbers of women coming into sector means that it will have to become more family-friendly in the ...
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Nike aced as Federer dons new wardrobe from Uniqlo

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 14:54
In the cutthroat world of celebrity athlete endorsement, Nike has just been served the equivalent of an ace by Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo. Nike was among the biggest decliners in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday as it surrendered some of last week’s strong share price gains and as investors digested news that Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer has ended his longstanding relationship with it in favour of an apparel deal with Uniqlo reportedly worth more than $300 million (CHF298 million). Plenty of air had been pumped into Nike’s share price, which leapt 11.1% on Friday to a record high after the Oregon-based group revealed sales in North America turned positive in its fiscal fourth quarter for the first time in a year and lifted its revenue growth guidance for 2019. Federer had been a longtime Nike athlete, wearing the company’s shoes and clothing for more than two decades and through all of his record 20 grand slam singles titles. But, as defending ...
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Rouhani: Iran will respect nuclear deal as long as interests preserved

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 13:30
Iran will continue to respect its nuclear agreement with world powers as long as its interests are preserved and it believes it can benefit from the resulting advantages, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday during an official visit to Switzerland.  However, Rouhani appeared to threaten to disrupt oil shipments from neighbouring countries if Washington pressed ahead with its goal of forcing all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.  “The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran’s oil exports. They don’t understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region’s oil is exported," Iran’s presidential website, president.ir, quoted him as saying.  When asked at a news conference in Bern whether those comments constituted a threat to interfere with the shipping of neighbouring countries, Rouhani said: “Assuming that Iran could become the only oil producer unable to export its oil is a wrong assumption .
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Pressure builds on banks to offer Swiss crypto start-ups accounts

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:00
Switzerland’s drive to become a “Crypto Nation” has hit a road block: Swiss banks are unwilling to offer accounts to many blockchain start-ups. Following a personal intervention by Swiss finance minister, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) is now addressing the impasse. The bottleneck has become acute thanks to the extraordinary rise of cryptocurrencies and the initial coin offering (ICO) crowdfunding craze that attracted $1.46 billion (CHF1.45 billion) to Switzerland last year. Companies seeking ICO funds typically issue tokens in exchange for cryptocurrencies, which they use as start-up capital. The ‘wild west’ ICO market has been peppered with high profile cases of fraud, scams and Ponzi schemes – one reason that practically all Swiss banks steer clear of this business. Having been stung by a calamitous tax evasion fight with the United States, Swiss banks are also now alarmed by what they see as money laundering risks associated with bitcoin and other digital tokens that ...
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Swiss enjoy more and more paid annual leave

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 17:00
Swiss employees have more and more holidays: within a period of 20 years the average annual quota has gone up by half a week. Even a 2012 national referendum, which saw two-thirds of voters reject the proposal of increasing statutory leave to six weeks, didn’t stop the trend. At that time, the reasons for rejecting the people’s initiative were mainly economic: business groups feared that accepting the proposal would lead to job losses and would cost the economy billions. Currently, the legal minimum number of holidays in Switzerland is four weeks (20 days) per year, or five weeks for those under the age of 20. However, contracts – individual or collective – can, and often do, provide for a higher number of annual days. Employees over 50 years of age are often granted more paid leave. Teachers on top According to recent data (in German) provided by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the average annual figure in Switzerland is now 5.1 weeks – half a week more than when ...
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Bosch plans to sell its packaging business

News Machinery - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 12:59

- - • Faced with the need to transform, Bosch wants to focus its resources - • Packaging technology is not a core Bosch business - • Few business or technology synergy effects within the group - • SME rivals are at a structural advantage - • Aim is for all the division's roughly 6,100 associates in 15 countries to be retained by new owner - • Division will remain a stable partner for its customers - - - After intensively and thoroughly considering all its strategic options, Bosch has decided t...

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Nest boxes and neutrality: Middle East barn owl project seeks Swiss participation

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 11:00
Swiss ornithologist Alexandre Roulin is helping farmers in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian West Bank fight rodent infestations using avian predators instead of pesticides. The project, which aims to restore the ecosystem and cross-cultural dialogue, hopes Switzerland will play a leading role. With their distinctive heart-shaped white faces, onyx eyes and honey-coloured wings, barn owls can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Their exceptional vision and hearing and almost soundless flight – not to mention their powerful talons – make them formidable nocturnal hunters. But these aren’t the only reasons that Alexandre Roulin has been fascinated by barn owls – scientific name Tyto alba – since he was a teenager. “Eagles kill their siblings like Cain and Abel, but the barn owls help each other,” Roulin told swissinfo.ch in his office at the University of Lausanne, where he is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution. “The barn owl has all the ...
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‘Iranians crave European culture’

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 11:00
As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pays an official visit to Switzerland, a former Swiss ambassador to Tehran explains Iran’s complicated relationship with the West, how the international nuclear deal changed everyday life – and why Donald Trump is disastrous for the region.  Philippe Welti was Switzerland’s man in Iran from 2004 to 2008. In a recent interview with Schweizer Illustrierte, a Swiss weekly magazine, he remembers how the Swiss were trying to defuse the conflict in Iran just as the pre-Obama United States wanted the opposite.  He also discusses Switzerland’s reputation in Iran and, rather unreassuringly, why “everyone should be afraid”.  Mr Welti, when was the last time you were in Iran?  Philippe Welti: In February, as president of the Swiss-Iranian chamber of commerce. It was the first meeting of the mixed committees. It was a very good meeting.  What was it about?  P.W.: How to implement the trade agreement with Switzerland – which I was involved in creating.
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What family means to Roger Federer

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 07/01/2018 - 18:00
Roger Federer, No.2 in the ATP world tennis rankings, is the favourite to win Wimbledon, which starts on Monday. The 36-year-old Swiss insists it's his love of family that continues to drive his competitive spirit.  The "King of Green" enters the Grand Slam tournament having missed the clay court season to be fresh for the grass. Federer's record eighth Wimbledon men's singles triumph in 2017, and his 20 grand slam singles titles, the most in history for a male player, confirmed his place as not only the greatest tennis player of all time but also one of the best athletes. Crying for joy Moments after his most recent Wimbledon victory, he wept when he found out that his twin sons, Leo and Lennart had unexpectedly been courtside alongside twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, his wife Mirka, mother Lynette, father Robert and sister Diana. In January 2018, while competing in the Australian Open, he told a local TV channel how he felt about his wife, former tennis player ...
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How the government is regulating Airbnb in Switzerland

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 07/01/2018 - 17:00
A new proposal could make it easier for tenants to sublet using online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb. But other regulations continue to clamp down. The pattern is familiar: a new technology or innovation appears; public enthusiasm drives it beyond the scope of regulators to keep up; it grows more dominant; associated problems arise, competitors kick up a fuss; the public cools, politicians belatedly try to impose some order. Many pioneers of the tech economy – from Uber to Facebook – have seen themselves chased by regulators in recent years. All the more surprising, so, that in Switzerland – a country where change is often slow – legislation recently proposed at the federal level appears to facilitate Airbnb’s growing foothold in the accommodation market. On July 3, a three-month consultation process launched by the government comes to an end. It proposes (link in French) relaxing a current rental law that obliges tenants to ask permission from their landlord each ...
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