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The village teacher with the foreign name

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 12:00
Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. This week she talks to Driton Idrizi, an ethnic Albanian from Macedonia. At school he encountered racism and nearly dropped out, but he was brought back on track by his private tutor, who inspired him to also become an educator. Driton now works as a secondary school teacher in the mountain village of Sigriswil in canton Bern.  (SRF Kulturplatz/swissinfo.ch)
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Qualified refugees find new paths to jobs

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/27/2017 - 18:00
The job prospects for qualified refugees in Switzerland are poor. Many are on welfare, even after living in the country for years. A PR agency in Zurich wants to draw attention to the untapped potential of qualified refugees and has taken on a refugee as a member of its own staff. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) Speaking at an integration conference earlier this year, Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga laid out the advantages of better integrating refugees in the job market.  “If you have a job, you don’t need welfare,” she said.  The justice and finance ministries, along with three cantonal government conferences, set out to define a more concrete plan and budget for such integration while determining how to better utilise the professional potential of refugees.  A 2014 study from the United Nations agency UNHCR showed that, despite many training offerings at a cantonal level, only about one in five refugees had found work in the first five years after their arrival, during which ...
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On-the-job training: a Swiss calling card

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/27/2017 - 12:00
2017 was an exceptional year for the Swiss vocational model on the world stage. So what sets the country’s job training apart from the competition? A young woman who took home the top prize at an international skills contest provides some insights. “Some people from other countries trained for two years just for this competition,” says Irina Tuor, a young woman from eastern Switzerland, of the WorldSkills contest where she recently won a gold medal in her field. Tuor met competitors from China and Brazil, for example, who were laser-focused on learning and re-learning material they might be asked to present at WorldSkills.  But the Swiss team of 38 candidates in 36 different fields continued to work in their everyday apprenticeships and jobs right up until the competition. It paid off: in the end, Switzerland came in as the best European country in the competition in October out of 59 nations represented. The Swiss team was second overall, behind China, and won 20 medals.  That ...
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Switzerland thrives on apprenticeship tradition

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/27/2017 - 12:00
As Europe’s economy recovers, companies and investors across the continent are gearing up for new opportunities by taking advantage of its hidden strengths: education, skills and innovative people. Here we look at how the Swiss vocational training system helps it to top global competitiveness tables. A cavernous brick workshop behind the main train station in Zurich is one place where, at 8am on a dark winter’s morning, it is possible to find teenagers beaming with enthusiasm and professional pride. At work benches under fluorescent lights, 13 apprentices are in their second year of training to become Swiss federal railway automation engineers. “In Switzerland, if you do an apprenticeship, you can also get a very good job,” says Robin Witschi, 17. “In lots of countries, you have to go to university.” Switzerland’s long-established apprenticeship system, combining classroom and workplace learning, is widely seen as one of the affluent country’s greatest economic strengths, ...
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Unravelling the mysteries behind the Gurlitt art collection

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 12/26/2017 - 15:00
A collection left to the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern by the son of a Nazi art collector is now on show in the Swiss capital. At first, little was known about the ownership history of these pieces, but painstaking work has been carried out to discover where the artwork came from, before it was confiscated by the Nazi party under Hitler for being “degenerate art”.  You can contact the producer of this podcast on Twitter or Facebook. 
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2017 by the numbers

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 12/26/2017 - 12:00
Almost every article published by swissinfo.ch over the past year has contained a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a look back at a few memorable statistics.  In 2018, swissinfo.ch will introduce “The week in numbers” column to inform, surprise and entertain you.  January 17 5,000 To guarantee ground and air security during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, the defence ministry could employ up to 5,000 of its staff, roughly double the number of participants. January 27 69 Army officials said 69 military weapons had been reported permanently or temporarily lost the previous year, most of them stolen or “misplaced”. Between 1969 and 2015, some 5,155 weapons went AWOL (reassuringly – or not – 317 were later recovered).  February 28 87 The government admitted its measles eradication strategy had failed. The measles vaccination rate in Switzerland lies at 87%, below the 95% that the World Health Organization deems a ...
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Candles, carols and the internet, please: Swiss Christmases that were

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 12/25/2017 - 12:00
What were the stories of Switzerland’s holidays past? A look through the archives reveals tales of tradition – some controversial – as well as a surprise or two. A bright Christmas On December 24, 1999, the year that swissinfo.ch came into existence, we reported that nine out of ten Swiss households put up a Christmas tree, with most preferring real candles rather than electric bulbs.  In 2008 we wrote that candles not only illuminate trees in family homes but also in many churches, even though open flames are banned in public places where more than 100 people can gather. The article stated that candles caused some 1,000 fires a year.  Electric bulbs may save property and even lives, but they don’t save money. That was the story in 2010, when our reporter in Zurich found that Swiss light decorations use nearly 100 gigawatt hours of electricity – the equivalent of the annual electricity costs for 25,000 households. A traditional Christmas If a study concluded at Bern ...
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Stories of holidays past, and 2017 in review

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 12/24/2017 - 13:00
Here is a selection of stories to look ahead to on swissinfo.ch in the week of December 25, 2017. Monday As Christians celebrate yuletide, we dig up stories of holidays past from our archives and uncover traditions like the risky but enduring ritual of lighting real candles on the Christmas tree. Tuesday Take a look back at 2017 through the lens of some memorable statistics as reported by swissinfo.ch. Can you remember how many bottles of wine each Swiss drank in 2017? Hint: not as many as the year before. Thursday In an interview with swissinfo.ch, Swiss comedian Mike Müller explains his fascination with town hall meetings, a form of direct democracy still prevalent in many smaller communities and the subject of his latest stage act. The cost of pharmaceuticals in the US and Switzerland is among the highest in the world. Is anything being done about it? Find out in the latest of our ongoing series on health care in the two countries. Sunday As 2018 ...
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A festive journey back in time

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 12/24/2017 - 12:00
Colourful Christmas trees, dressed up shop windows, illuminated streets, carols and the smell of cookies are traditions that encapsulate the spirit of the festive season for many of us. It is hard to imagine now, but what we regard as the festival of family and love hasn’t always been celebrated in this way. The Christmas we celebrate is in fact an eclectic mix of traditions and customs of Germanic and Christian origin which have evolved over many years. Many of them, like the Christmas tree, have only been around since the beginning of the 19th Century. (The tree is thought to have been introduced by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and proved so popular that the tradition spread around the world.) Switzerland shares many of its Christmas traditions with its Central European neighbours. Church services, presents, baking cookies and decorating the tree all play a central part in the celebrations. On Christmas Eve, there is a festive family meal and many people visit a midnight ...
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Borderline running: Which way is Italy?

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 12/24/2017 - 10:00
In Switzerland there are mountains, people that run up them, and photgraphers like Dan Patitucci who are crazy enough to chase after the runners. We spent the summer of 2017 primarily doing one thing; running trails in the Swiss Alps. We’d taken on a trail running book project, a guide to the best trail runs of the Swiss Alps due out in spring 2018. One of the highlights of the project was discovering new corners of the Alps. High above Saas Almagell, we crossed the Jazzilücke in thick fog.  There we explored the ridge along the crest of the Swiss-Italian border where I made this photo of the book’s writer Kim Strom on the jagged ridge. 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 ...
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Celebrating Christmas around the world

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 12/23/2017 - 12:00
Imagine a Swiss Christmas market where you can get into the holiday spirit by sipping Norwegian glogg and nibbling on Argentinian banana empanadas – while watching a Portuguese folk dance. swissinfo.ch found one: in the heart of Switzerland! 26 countries were represented at this year’s three-day Venite Forum in Lucerne. The international Christmas market aims to increase understanding and awareness of folklore and culinary traditions around the world. Many visitors escaped from the cold in the musical tent, where singers and music groups from Tibet to Portugal performed in traditional costumes. Other visitors were more interested in the stalls selling typical products from participating countries, and traditional foods such as Tibetan dumplings, Indian curries, Eritrean sour dough and Finnish reindeer sandwiches.  The event is financed by private donors and sponsors such as the Catholic and Protestant churches, the city of Lucerne, local newspapers, a tourism academy and ...
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Reindeer? No, postmen on skis!

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 16:00
The Swiss Post may soon be using drones to deliver Christmas packages in isolated areas, but 60 years ago, postmen used a good old analogue method: skis. Modern postmen have more to fear from aggressive dogs than sporting injuries. But last century, postmen in mountain areas of Switzerland risked breaking their necks to get the Christmas packages to their destinations on time.  In this footage from the archives of Swiss Public Television, RTS, you can see how the post office in Einsiedeln came to terms with heavy snow fall affecting the village of Oberiberg (canton Schwyz) at Christmas in 1957. The postal bus was driven as far as possible, but then the postman had to strap on his skis in order to get through the heavy snow. The village is located at 1125 metres above sea level and receives quite a lot of the white stuff in winter. This is traditionally an agricultural area but many people now commute to Einsiedeln or Zurich for work. Tourism is important for the local economy.
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Korean peninsula’s ‘only impartial body’ watches and waits

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 12:00
The Swiss military contingent on the tense border between North and South Korea is keenly aware that the smallest mistake can be disastrous for humanity. Still they keep calm, a neutral force in a conflict that is far from over.  For more than six decades, Swiss soldiers have been based on the border between North Korea and South Korea, known as the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). Despite its name, it is in fact the most militarised zone in the world. On one side are two million North Korean soldiers and 14,000 artillery guns pointed at Seoul. The other side is guarded by 600,000 South Korean soldiers.  The spark potentially leading to a Third World War could be ignited here at any time through a mistake or misunderstanding. The recent North Korean nuclear crisis has heightened the tension, especially with the knowledge that a missile would reach Seoul in 92 seconds. The professional troops’ calm demeanor belies the unspoken anxiety stretching along the 270-kilometre-long ...
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Pressure mounts on Tezos Foundation head Gevers

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 08:52
The ongoing Tezos Foundation row is severely testing the patience of investors and developers working to get the project up and running. The foundation sits on a stockpile of assets worth more than $1 billion. Complaints are mounting that these assets are not being deployed at the coal face. This irritation is playing out alongside the ongoing feud between Tezos founders, Arthur and Kathleen Breitman, and the foundation’s president Johann Gevers. On December 4, a group calling themselves the Tezos Community launched a petition calling for Gevers to be removed from his post. It has now been signed by more than 1,400 people. Tezos Community spokesman Jonas Lamis insists he is not formally connected with the Breitmans or their company Dynamic Ledger Solutions (DLS), although the community has clearly sided with the Breitmans in the dispute. The petition, he says, was partly motivated by the Gevers bonus row, but mainly from seeing no concrete progress from the foundation since Tezos ...
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Stock exchange limitation prompts Swiss indignation

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 15:10
The Swiss government has dismissed as discriminatory a decision by the European Union to grant only limited access to the stock market exchange and is reconsidering its pledge for a CHF1.3 billion ($1.32 billion) payment to the 28-nation bloc. “Switzerland fulfils the conditions for recognition of stock market equivalence every bit as much as the other third countries that have been granted indefinite recognition,” President Doris Leuthard said in a statement following an extraordinary meeting of the Federal Council on Thursday. She also announced the government had decided to bolster the competitiveness of Switzerland’s financial sector by preparing to drop the stamp duty - a tax on securities trading and insurance transactions. Leuthard said the government had strong doubts about the legality of the EU decision, adding that the linking a technical bilateral dossier with institutional issues was unacceptable. Brussels said on earlier this week it would make unlimited access to ...
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TechnipFMC Awarded Contract for the Statoil Snorre Expansion Project in the North Sea

News Machinery - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 12:17

TechnipFMC has been awarded an Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) contract by Statoil for the Snorre Expansion Project. The Snorre Expansion contract covers the delivery of subsea production systems and includes 6 subsea templates and subsea production equipment. Snorre is located in the Tampen area of the North Sea and has been producing oil and gas since August 1992. Hallvard Hasselknippe, President Subsea Projects at TechnipFMC, commented: “TechnipFMC has delivered subsea...

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Categories: News EN

Net neutrality ruling ‘deepens the split’ between US and Europe

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 12:00
What’s the fallout for Switzerland and Europe from the US decision to overturn net neutrality regulations? It could stifle online innovation, says an American researcher working in Zurich on internet access issues. But paradoxically, many laws aimed at mandating a neutral internet may have the same effect. The decision “creates a world in which ‘you must be at least this tall to play’,” says Brian Trammell of the United States Federal Communications Commission’s vote last week to overturn regulations that kept internet service providers from charging content providers money for better access to their networks. Net neutrality: the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. Since the US internet is no longer required to be “neutral” – or a level playing field for all seeking to use and access it – Trammell foresees that large ...
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If parliament refuses to act, it’s the people’s turn

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 13:45
The Swiss parliament recently rejected a motion to ban imports of foie gras, frogs’ legs and other products involving cruelty to animals, but two proposed people’s initiatives could bring the ban into effect anyway. In Switzerland, if something fails in parliament, all is not lost because there is still direct democracy. A No from parliament does not mean a No from the people. By launching a popular initiative, you can thumb your nose at parliament with support from the electorate. That is what happened recently with the proposed import ban on products involving cruelty to animals, which are banned from production in Switzerland: + Animal rights groups seek to ban foie gras, other imports After the Senate decision on November 28 to continue allowing such imports, an alliance of animal rights organisations announced it planned to collect the necessary signatures for a popular initiative, which would force a nationwide vote. The aim is to implement the motion introduced by Social ...
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What makes modern luxury watchmaking tick?

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 12:00
Swiss watches are synonymous with luxury, not - as is increasingly the case today - robots and production lines. An anthropologist has delved into a profession at a crossroads.  Hervé Munz interviewed more than 150 watchmakers across the industry’s heartland in the Jura region of western Switzerland for his book, “La transmission en jeu. Apprendre, pratiquer et patrimonialiser l’horlogerie" (Transmission at stake: Learning, practising and passing down heritage watchmaking). He looks into an industry that has undergone extensive industrialization in the last 20 years, a phenomenon that he says has devalued the traditional watchmaking profession. swissinfo.ch: Swiss watchmaking has seen increased automation in production over the past two to three decades. But few brands are keen to talk about the factory floor being populated with robots and machines. Why is this such a taboo? Hervé Munz: Over the last 30 years, Swiss watch companies have successfully repositioned themselves in ...
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Santa in the sun - how the Swiss Abroad celebrate the holidays

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 12:00
More and more Swiss nationals living abroad are posting their pictures on Instagram with #WeAreSwissAbroad, making Switzerland visible to the world – including during the holiday season.  About 18 months ago we created the Instagram account to provide a platform for the Swiss Abroad. Since then we have posted a selection of photos almost daily. Thanks to these snaps, we have already portrayed many interesting Swiss people who have emigrated from Switzerland. For example, Raphael Knopf, who exchanged Fribourg for the wilds of New Zealand's North Island, or Manuel Schuster from Thun, who now lives in the Philippines. To save you the trouble of searching for advent pictures on #WeAreSwissAbroad, we have selected the most best and funniest examples. 1. Poetically captured Christmas illumination in Colmar, France 2. Picture gallery of a Santa Claus and Schmutzli visit at the Swiss Club Victoria, Melbourne, Australia 3. Futuristic Christmas lighting in Sydney, Australia 4.
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