Home | Feed aggregator | Categories

News EN

Foreigners could suffer under new building restrictions

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 13:07
Swiss politicians and investors are at loggerheads over government plans to tighten the laws on non-EU citizens buying property. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  Under the proposed reform of the ‘Lex Koller’ law, people living outside the European Union or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) may have to get a permit before they can buy property in Switzerland. Some restrictions already exist, but the reform would further tighten the terms under which property may be acquired by foreigners. The justice ministry says the changes would close loopholes in the current legislation and reduce the administrative burden for the local authorities.  People from countries not in the EU or EFTA may have to sell their apartments or houses if they leave Switzerland.  Both right and leftwing politicians support the changes, but property investors and the homeowners’ association have rejected the proposal, saying it is xenophobic. 
Categories: News EN

Why Glencore bought out tycoon in Congo

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:09
After years doing business together in one of the world’s poorest countries, Swiss-based Glencore has dissociated itself from Dan Gertler, an Israeli mining tycoon implicated in the payment of bribes to the ruler of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Glencore’s announcement last month that it would pay $534 million (CHF538 million) to Gertler to buy him out from their shared prize assets in the DRC – two giant copper mines – is designed to insulate the London-listed mining-cum-trading behemoth from the fallout of a widening corruption investigation involving the Israeli businessman, say people who have followed the saga. The decision by Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore’s chief executive, highlights the risks of doing business in the resource-rich, war-torn central African country, where Gertler wields influence by virtue of his close friendship with Joseph Kabila, the DRC president. Settlement documents released last September by US authorities in a ...
Categories: News EN

Why young people are falling out of love with cars

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:00
Geneva attracts global attention for its motor show currently underway, but fewer and fewer young adults in Geneva itself are showing an interest in cars. For decades, youngsters have drooled over Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other supercars, and longed for the day when they turn 18 and finally get the keys to their very own car. But fewer young adults are getting their licence and their interest in the latest models is reflected in the percentage of people aged 18-34 visiting the Geneva show. Their numbers have fallen from 50% of the total in 2006 to 46% in 2016. According to Vincent Kaufmann, a mobility expert at Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), a combination of factors - from improved public transport to the rising costs of car ownership and distractions like mobile phones and the internet - have led to a ‘major disenchantment’ with cars among the under-25s. The professor has just completed a survey in Italy, Germany, France, Spain and for the ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss first time mothers among the oldest

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:43
Women in Switzerland are on average the third oldest in Europe - at age 30.6 - when they give birth to their first child, according to the latest statistics. Only women in Italy and Spain are older. First time mothers are the youngest in Bulgaria and Romania, at 26 years old and 26.3 years old, respectively, according to statistics released by Eurostat on March 8. They are over 30 in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Greece. The average age across the European Union – of which Switzerland is not a member – was 29 years old. The trend of mothers choosing to have children later in life in Switzerland is well known. The number of younger mothers has been falling since the 1970s, when about a third of all births were to women under the age of 25. By 2005, it was only 7%. However, the number of women aged 35 or older who had children virtually tripled during this time, from around 10% to more than 30%. Switzerland’s fertility rate of 1.54 per ...
Categories: News EN

A century of seducing holidaymakers

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 18:00
The exhibition "Take a Holiday!" looks back at the innovative and colourful ways in which Switzerland has been advertised as a tourism destination. The Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich commemorates the centenary of the Swiss tourism office. (SRF, swissinfo.ch)
Categories: News EN

Being Swiss-born is 'like winning the lottery'

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 12:00
As a child, Swiss-born Silvia Spross dreamt about the United States. Today, she has realised that dream by living in Los Angeles. She makes a living from acting and other artistic endeavours. She tells swissinfo.ch why she left “the best country in the world”. swissinfo.ch: Why did you turn your back on Switzerland? Silvia Spross: I wanted to paint, to sing, to dance and to act. I just wanted to be free to do the things I wanted to do, even if it sounded like a totally unrealistic proposition. When I was thirteen, I created a crazy collage of California and hung it on my wall. At the time, we lived on the eighth floor of a building and I would look out of the window for hours fantasising about one day flying over the mountains to far-away California. My parents said they would only let me go after I had attained a diploma. So I did an apprenticeship at the SKA Bank, and three months later, I was on a flight to New York. Amazingly, that collage I created at thirteen ...
Categories: News EN

Biodiversity: everything on four legs - and wheels

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 03/12/2017 - 13:00
Here are a few of the stories we will bring you during the week starting on March 13.   Monday For a century now, the national tourism marketing body has been in the business of selling mountains, cheese and chocolate. We examine how their promotion has changed over time.   Tuesday In the age of Netflix and Spotify, what role should public broadcasters play? That is one of the questions parliament debates on March 14. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – which runs swissinfo.ch – faces critics who worry about a media monopoly. Also on Tuesday, we report on ‘the other car show’ – something of an anti-car demonstration – alongside the Geneva Motor Show. Wednesday Do you know why red deer have such long legs and big ears? A top Swiss conservation biologist answers that question and tells us more about bears, wolves, and his concerns about Swiss biodiversity. We also launch a new series on iconic species of Switzerland. ...
Categories: News EN

No respite for war criminals

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 03/12/2017 - 12:00
By delving into an ex-Gambian minister’s past, Swiss prosecutors have bucked a recent trend among some nations to undercut the work of the International Criminal Court, the world’s top tribunal for prosecuting war crimes. The founder of a Swiss advocacy group explains. Philip Grant, who founded TRIAL International, has been helping uncover allegations against Ousman Sonko. Swiss authorities arrested him in late January after he fled Gambia. TRIAL aims to hold people accountable for some of the worst crimes known to humanity that are committed in other countries. swissinfo.ch: Gambia wants to prosecute the former Gambian interior minister. What do you think? Philip Grant: If justice can be done at home for the victims that is the best scenario. For Gambia, which is turning the page on an extremely repressive regime, this type of trial can bring enormous benefits for each of the victims and for the reconstruction of the rule of law in this country. Nevertheless, at ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss wow with concept cars

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 03/11/2017 - 18:00
Swiss designers are capturing the public imagination with futuristic concept cars, now on display at the International Motor Show in Geneva. (Julie Hunt, swissinfo.ch)  This year’s show is expected to attract 700,000 visitors in ten days, making it the biggest crowd-pulling event in the Swiss calendar. It’s also one of the world’s most important automobile shows, together with Frankfurt, Paris, Detroit und Tokyo. Some 900 models including 148 world and European premieres are displayed in huge exhibition halls. “Technology” and “Design” are the two key words that best characterise the show – and the Swiss are big on both.  Swiss design school Sbarro reveals an unusual selection of concept vehicles including the open-top Mojave roadster and the off-road buggy ArCad. Rinspeed, another Swiss concept car manufacturer, is also in Geneva with the self-driving electric vehicle “Oasis”. Among other things, the car features a small garden with enough space to grow radishes or even Bonsai ...
Categories: News EN

Life goes on after the Fukushima disaster

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 03/11/2017 - 12:00
Six years after the Fukushima disaster on March 11, 2011, 70% of the evacuated and forbidden areas have been freed up by Japanese authorities and the policy of returning the population to those areas continues. Two Genevans, Matthieu Berthod and Jean-Patrick Di Silvestro, recount their trip there and present the reality of Fukushima today with a book of drawings and photographs entitled "After the Waves - Around Fukushima". The Fukushima nuclear accident was coupled with an earthquake of magnitude 9 and a tsunami that killed 20,000 people and destroyed 600 kilometres of coastline. In Odaka, the devastated area, triangular concrete breakwaters that weigh tons were brought down by the tsunami 3 kilometres inland. Photographer Jean-Patrick Di Silvestro recounts: "The wind was blowing, the squalls crossed the houses, the crows were croaking and that was all. The area was deserted." In this area of Odaka, contaminated by the radioactivity of the nuclear power plant, the two artists ...
Categories: News EN

Does democracy make people happy?

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:00
The more options people are given to participate politically, the happier they are, according to scientific research. So shouldn’t every country introduce Swiss-style direct democracy? Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen, professor of comparative politics at the University of Bern, shares her thoughts. swissinfo.ch: Does direct democracy make people happy? Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen: I think direct democracy has many positive aspects. But I’m rather sceptical about whether it can determine how happy someone is on a personal level. Scientifically, the findings are not really robust. We carried out further analysis of a 2000 happiness study [into whether happiness prospers in a direct democratic system like Switzerland], to which you are probably referring. We found that if the aspect of satisfaction with democracy is included in the analysis, the positive effect of direct democracy on everyday happiness disappears.  This also seems to make more sense. If we ...
Categories: News EN

To ban or not to ban: a diplomatic conundrum

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 11:27
The controversial visit that Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu plans for Sunday pushes the boundaries of usual diplomacy, according to international law expert Vincent Chetail. It is “rather rare, in fact, exceptional” for a high-ranking minister to promote an electoral campaign abroad, said Chetail, a professor and centre director at Geneva’s Graduate Institute. There are no international laws that apply to this kind of situation, he told swissinfo.ch. Each nation can refuse a foreign minister’s visit, he said, but that could cause diplomatic tensions. On Thursday, the Swiss government said it had no reason to forbid him from visiting for safety reasons, because it believes the planned visit poses “no heightened threat to domestic security”. Authorities in canton Zurich, citing security concerns, had asked the federal government to prevent him from visiting. Cavuşoğlu reportedly plans Zurich meetings with the Turkish consul generals of Switzerland and ...
Categories: News EN

Say It With Flowers!

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 09:38
Expert florists in Switzerland stepped out of their ordinary work environment to demonstrate their profession can be about more than making bouquets. At the Aarau Museum of Fine Arts, they interpreted contemporary and classical works of their choice from the collection. The smell of flowers, grass and roots permeated the museum spaces. Flower decorators worked on their creations, playfully and poetically entering into a sensual dialogue with 14 works by Swiss artists – two worlds otherwise rarely entwined. The exhibition series "Flowers for Art" was developed in collaboration with the "Flowers to Arts" association. For the fourth time already, the Aarau Museum of Fine Arts invites the public to a six-day exhibition of the transient floral art, set in unusual surroundings that also offer a chance to view an outstanding collection of Swiss art works. It's a winning formula: so far, the exhibition series has brought in record attendance. The exhibition runs through March 12, 2017.
Categories: News EN

An expat’s 10-step guide to political engagement

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 18:00
Moving abroad as an American is no reason to abstain from exercising your democratic rights at home, argues Alexandra Dufresne. In the following essay, she explains how to remain active. It is a strange time to be an American abroad.  Perhaps you know the feeling. Before your first cup of coffee, you debate whether to check the news to see what happened while you were sleeping. You try to resist, as something about your news obsession feels voyeuristic, undignified. But you check anyway. You make rules with your friends about not discussing American politics at dinner, or in front of the children. But someone always brings it up anyway - like sticking a finger in a wound - and when they do, you feel both sick and relieved. You feel overwhelmed and powerless. You are torn between focusing on what is happening in America and retreating into the comfort of being far away. Yet you know in your gut that retreat is a privilege whose comfort is illusory.         If ...
Categories: News EN

How blockchain could soon affect everyday lives

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 12:00
Could 2017 be the year of blockchain, when the digital transaction system breaks free from computer geeks, bitcoin enthusiasts and academics to make an impact on ordinary households? Blockchain is e-banking on a vast scale, minus the bank and other middlemen who take charge fees for making payments. It’s a digital scorecard of payments, contracts, property ownership, health records – in fact any data of economic value. It promises to put individuals in control of their own personal information and keep it safe from exploitation or fraud. Here are five Swiss companies developing blockchain services that could have an impact on your daily lives sometime soon. Health records Everyone has medical records, and many people are adding personalised health information via wearables and apps that measure everything from your heart rate, blood sugar levels and how many steps you take each day. But how do you make this mountain of data work for you rather than companies ...
Categories: News EN

Driverless vehicles gain momentum

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 12:00
Self-driving cars seem poised to be one of the most talked-about trends at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show. The Touring Club Suisse (TCS) motoring association says the boom in these vehicles is just around the corner, with several trials already underway in Switzerland. The 87th edition edition of the 10-day motor show, which opens its doors on Thursday, puts the main car market trends on display. In recent years, it has reflected growing public demand for SUVs and the emergence of electric vehicles. One of this year’s striking trends is the rapid evolution of self-driving transport. Self-driving vehicle tests are taking place all over the world, and Switzerland has piloted several of its own. The latest, announced Tuesday, involves a Federal Railways trial with two driverless shuttle buses in the city of Zug’s public transport system. Beginning this summer, two vehicles will operate along a stretch between the railway station and a technology centre. ...
Categories: News EN

The Swiss women who inspire

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 15:34
On International Women’s Day, we asked our readers which Swiss women – past or present – they find most influential. Here are the results. Marthe Gosteli (born 1917)... …because she is the “Grand Old Lady” of the women’s vote. Born to a farmer’s family in the canton of Bern, Gosteli dedicated her life to Swiss women’s suffrage. As the president of the committee of Swiss women’s organisations, she played a major role in negotiating the matter with the cabinet in 1971.  Sophie Hunger (born 1983)... …because she makes the beat go on. Hunger, from Bern, has made an international name for herself as a jazz singer, musician and composer. She was the first Swiss artist to play at the legendary Glastonbury music festival in 2010.  She also composed the film music for the Oscar-nominated Swiss film "Ma vie de Courgette".  Carla Del Ponte (born 1947)… …because she’s fearless. The lawyer from Ticino and former public prosecutor ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss women’s ‘absurd’ struggle hits the big screen

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 12:00
Switzerland’s women didn’t win the right to vote until 1971, which isn’t usually considered a laughing matter. But a new film puts a comedic spin on Swiss suffrage to make a point about the patriarchy of the time.  “The world was changing in 1971,” a voice narrates over footage of protests in the late 1960s. Cut to a shot of an idyllic Swiss town. “But here, it was as though it had stood still.” Women aren’t allowed to work without their husband’s permission, young women can land in prison for romantic relationships outside marriage and the man of the house holds on to the money. The Switzerland portrayed in the film “The Divine Order” is no paradise. The film’s story is told by a housewife and mother who becomes active in the women’s suffrage movement in her small town. But small encounters throughout make it clear the real story is about the Swiss patriarchy under which men, women and children all suffer. ‘Women in politics goes against the divine ...
Categories: News EN

When women were told to ‘cook not vote’

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 12:00
“They just don’t want it – you can’t do anything about it,” a disappointed female resident of canton Appenzell Inner Rhoden told Swiss public television, SRF, in 1982, after male voters in the rural region decided against letting their mothers, wives and daughters have a say at the cantonal level. Swiss men really held out for a long time. While women in New Zealand have been able to vote since 1893, Swiss women had to wait another 78 years: until 1971. What’s more, the only reason female residents of Appenzell Inner Rhoden can have their say at the cantonal level is because the Federal Court put its foot down in 1990. Is Switzerland particularly backward? History books show that power and co-determination around the world have been almost exclusively in male hands for thousands of years. Men – as kings, dictators, presidents, parliamentarians or judges – determined the interests of a country. In most cultures, women did not have any political rights. Unfortunately ...
Categories: News EN

Sion 2026 chosen as Swiss bid for Winter Olympics

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 20:07
The Swiss Olympic committee's executive board has voted to back Sion's bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.  The joint proposal - “Sion 2026: The games in the heart of Switzerland” – comprising cantons Valais, Vaud, Bern and Fribourg was selected by the executive committee of Swiss Olympic on Tuesday as the Swiss bid for the Winter Games. Swiss Olympic, Switzerland's umbrella organisation for the Olympic Games, said it supported the Sion project as it was based largely on existing infrastructure, which would enable a Winter Games ‘of human size’ and with a ‘reasonable’ budget. The plan to include different regions and areas of expertise to organize the sports competitions and the strategy to strengthen tourism were welcomed. A Swiss Olympic task force suggests hosting the Winter Olympics and Paralympics could have a "significant economic impact" of up to CHF2.5 billion ($2.47 billion).  However, there are still several major hurdles to cross before the Sion ...
Categories: News EN