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‘No Billag’ initiative has many opponents, few supporters

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:00
The No Billag initiative, which seeks to abolish the licence fee used to finance public radio and television, is supported by a relatively small number of parties and organisations. The main official supporters include the Swiss People’s Party and the Swiss Arts and Crafts Union. Most other parties and organisations advocate rejecting the initiative. Political parties in favour  Swiss People’s Party  It is the only party in government that supports "No Billag". Its members have been clear in their support for the initiative.  Young People’s Party, Young Radical-Liberals  The youth sections of the Swiss People’s Party and the Radical-Liberal Party were among the earliest supporters of the initiative.  Organisations in favour  Swiss Union of Arts and Crafts  The umbrella organisation of small and medium enterprises supports the initiative and expressed this decision by a two-thirds majority.  Initiative Committee  At the heart of the initiative are young Swiss people who ...
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Ski resort staff say bosses made false promises

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 02/04/2018 - 18:00
Staff at a mountain restaurant near Gstaad have told Swiss public television that they were lured to their workplace on false pretences. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) In an interview with the consumer programme, Kassensturz, Landislav Schwartz and Karim Essakal, both waiters, said they were promised 100% employment, but were actually only able to work about five hours a day, so they ended up earning much less than they expected.  Their work hours were curtailed at short notice when the weather was bad, as their bosses needed less staff when there were fewer visitors. Schwartz also complained about the size and cost of his accommodation, rented from his boss.  Carlo Mathieu from the Syna trade union believes the Kappeler Gastro group that runs the Horneggli restaurant was in breach of contract. He told Kassensturz that workers should have been paid for the work scheduled, even if their shifts were cancelled at the last minute.  Samuel Kappeler, director of the Kappeler Gastro group, ...
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Public broadcasting, Olympic dreams and the Swiss flag

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 02/04/2018 - 13:00
These are some of the stories we’re looking ahead to in the upcoming week on swissinfo.ch.  Tuesday  Money to help lift the world’s poorest people out of poverty is drying up, even as private investors are looking for new opportunities in a zero-interest environment. Switzerland is well poised to assume a leadership role in linking the two. We take a look at the phenomenon of so-called “development impact bonds” and their investment potential.  Wednesday  As voters prepare to head to the polls in Switzerland to decide the fate of license fees funding the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – the national public broadcaster and swissinfo.ch’s parent company – we take a look at how public broadcasting works in other countries around the world through a collection of in-depth reports.  What are the arguments for and against the people’s initiative over license fees, up for a nationwide vote on March 4? Two perspectives on the issue.  Thursday  Can the Olympic Games, beginning ...
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Swiss in Austria spends his life sheltering animals

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 02/04/2018 - 12:00
Burnout led 42-year-old Emanuel Wenk to completely change his life: he went from working in restaurants to working with animals. He now runs an animal sanctuary in Austria, which is popular among children. The sanctuary, called Edelweiss, is located in Wildon, in Styria in the southeast of the country. Wenk says it’s a challenge to run the operation – money can be tight – but it is worth the fight. swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland? Emanuel Wenk: I left Switzerland in 2001 because I was going to have a baby with an Austrian woman who was a seasonal worker in Switzerland. I wanted to take advantage of my visiting rights and carry out my paternal duties. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of swissinfo.ch. swissinfo.ch: Was it a one-way journey, or do you intend to return to Switzerland one day? E.W.: I didn’t envisage my move to be temporary; my only goal was to be as close as possible to my son.
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When skiers become sun worshippers

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 02/04/2018 - 10:00
Swiss photographer Dan Patitucci had to go a long way up to get above the fog and take this stunning shot. In Interlaken, we woke to a sunny forecast but thick fog. It was a day to get up high for some much needed sun so we decided to ski up to the Faulhorn, via Bussalp, from Grindelwald.  We started with skis on our packs, not on our feet. Three kilometres went by before we finally stepped into our bindings. A couple hours and 1600 meters of vertical later, we made our way to the summit of the Faulhorn from where we looked down onto a sea of fog and out to endless views of the Alps. 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. Experiencing the Alps on so many levels keeps us motivated for what comes next. Grandiose landscapes Since December, ...
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By the numbers: Olympic athletes and patient commuters

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 02/03/2018 - 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 the past week’s stories. Sunday 20 It’s score time! Swiss tennis player Roger Federer won his 20th grand slam title when he lifted the Australian Open trophy for the sixth time.   Monday 171 The Swiss Olympic Association has nominated a record 171 athletes for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea, which begin on February 9.   Tuesday 13 On average 13 people are reported missing every day, but the Swiss authorities rarely initiate a public search.   Wednesday 9,600,000 The Federal Customs Administration this year expects to sell 9.6 million vignettes – CHF40 stickers which are needed to drive on Swiss motorways. A third will be bought by foreign drivers.  Thursday 14.8 The average commute in Switzerland increased in 2016 to 30 minutes or 14.8 kilometres.  Friday 20,000 ...
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Switzerland contributes funding to contested Kosovo tribunal

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 02/03/2018 - 13:57
Is the Kosovo war crimes tribunal dead before it even begins? Parliamentarians close to the country’s President and Prime Minister are trying to sabotage it. Meanwhile Switzerland has granted it funding support. In January 2018, Switzerland granted funding of CHF200,000 ($214,750) to the tribunal charged with shedding light on war crimes committed in Kosovo between 1998 and 2000, particularly the disappearance of 500 mainly Serb civilians in the context of conflict between separatists and Serb forces plus a NATO military intervention. But numerous parliamentarians from the party in power in Pristina remain determined to put an end to this new tribunal which could threaten key people in power who were commanders of the former rebel movement UCK. So, Switzerland’s support is more important for the political message it sends than the amount of the funding. Ekaterina Trendafilova, president of the tribunal, understood this when she said the money will help “to disseminate knowledge ...
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Post-war Olympic camaraderie in St Moritz

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 02/03/2018 - 12:00
Seventy years ago, Switzerland hosted the first Olympics since World War II in the alpine village of St Moritz. Japan and Germany were excluded due to their role in the conflict and the Soviet Union did not send any athletes to compete. But almost 700 athletes from 28 nations did take part in 22 events and in four different sports. The impact of the war was still felt throughout Europe. Athletes had been prevented from leaving their home countries or taking part in any competition for some time, and there had been no investment in sport. In order to boost morale, the post-war winter event, which took place at the end of January 1948, was named "The Games of Renewal". The International Olympic Committee chose St. Moritz as the venue for the 1948 Winter Games because of its well-maintained infrastructure, which had been built for the previous Winter Olympics in 1928. The problem of limited supplies of sports equipment was met with a sense of camaraderie, notably towards the ...
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French communes step up fight against ‘false’ secondary residents

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 13:22
French communes bordering Geneva are stepping up their search for so-called “false residents” – around 20,000 undeclared Swiss, who allegedly pretend to live in Switzerland to avoid paying tax in France.  The Swiss public broadcaster, RTS, reported on Friday that the French commune of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois had recently sent a list of Swiss car number plates to the Geneva authorities to help track down false secondary residents living in neighbouring France. RTS said the commune wants to expand this list or to introduce systematic checks on false residents. The Geneva cantonal authorities told the broadcaster that more details were needed from the French authorities to handle such a request. It is thought there are around 20,000 undeclared Swiss or “false residents” in French regions bordering Geneva - Swiss who live most of the year in French communes and work in Switzerland, but who declare their French home as a secondary residence and claim primary residence in Switzerland.
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