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Major pension reform fails in nationwide ballot

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 15:57
Voters have thrown out a wide-ranging overhaul of Switzerland’s old-age pension scheme. It is the third unsuccessful reform attempt in almost 20 years. About 53% of voters came out against the project, which was launched by government but amended by parliament following several years of debate. The planned increase in value-added tax (VAT) to help finance the reform also failed to win the necessary majority, according to final results.   "There has been rejection across the country, notably in rural areas as well as in parts of French-speaking western Switzerland," Lukas Golder, co-director of leading GfS Bern research and polling institute, said on SRF public radio. It was arguably one of the most important domestic issues to be decided by voters during the current four-year parliamentary term. Parliament narrowly approved the reform last March following six years of debate.  The reform package aimed to raise the retirement age for women from 64 to 65 in line with men, a ...
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Swiss mountaintops on the silver screen

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 11:00
It's not surprising that many foreign directors have chosen to film in Switzerland, with its chalets, mountains and banks. It's a land of spies and lawyers, of Heidi and Chaplin, of Dr Frankenstein and St Bernards. Switzerland, in the movies, is a land of adventure where James Bond drives through an alpine setting and jumps off a dam while Clint Eastwood climbs to the top of the Eiger. The images were recently published in the book Backdrop Switzerland. Mostly taken from the vast collection of the Cinémathèque Suisse and arranged by Cornelius Schregle, they form a curious journey into the soul of Switzerland – and its clichés.  Countless stars have come to Switzerland to shoot, for example Sophia Loren, Kirk Douglas, Vittorio Gassman, Sean Connery, Paul Newman and Peter Sellers. Others, such as Elizabeth Taylor, James Mason and Audrey Hepburn, chose to call the Alpine nation home. But the pictures also reflect an imaginary Switzerland, a fantasy world built in Hollywood and ...
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Enhancing inspection, fighting corrosion with education

News Machinery - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 03:51

Sharing knowledge and experience becomes an important part of this innovation process. In line with this, our Jiddah Refinery Department (JRD) recently conducted a two-day forum under the theme “Managing Corrosion and Enhancing Inspection.” The main goals were: - - - • Gaining knowledge and access to specialized applications to enhance inspection quality, simplify processes, expedite inspection setup, and realize easier interpretation of the inspection test results - • Adopting state-of-t...

Read the full story at http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=214078

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Wanted: Novel Approaches for Detecting and Stopping Small Unmanned Air Systems

News Machinery - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 16:56

The rapid evolution of small unmanned air system (sUAS) technologies is fueling the exponential growth of the commercial drone sector, creating new asymmetric threats for warfighters. DARPA's Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program seeks to develop an integrated system capable of defeating self-guided sUAS (i.e., those that do not rely on a radio or GPS receiver for their operation) attacking a high-value convoy on the move, and recently awarded Phase 1 agreements to start research. To a...

Read the full story at http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=214042

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Total signs agreement with Chevron on exploration in deepwater Gulf of Mexico

News Machinery - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 16:31

Total announces that its subsidiary, TOTAL E&P USA, INC. (“Total”), has entered into an agreement to capture 7 prospects operated by CHEVRON U.S.A. INC. (“Chevron”) in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The agreement covers 16 blocks.  The associated prospects are located in two promising plays and areas of the GoM: Wilcox in Central GoM next to the Anchor discovery, and Norphlet in Eastern GoM nearby to the Appomattox discovery. Total's participation in these wells will be between 25% and 40%...

Read the full story at http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=214039

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The UN has started to talk business

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:50
A growing number of business executives have been keen to sign up to the UN's latest pet project: the so-called Sustainable Development Goals. Until recently, if you'd asked most business leaders whether they would like to participate in the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, the answer would have been: "Ugh!" It is bad enough that the gathering leaves the Big Apple in gridlock and that the meetings are notoriously bureaucratic and slow.  But what has been doubly irritating to many business leaders is that dealing with the organisation poses a profound culture clash, with development projects often bogged down by endless lists of pious platitudes and confusing acronyms.  This year, however, something striking has occurred: a growing number of business executives have been keen to sign up to the UN's latest pet project – the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (17 specific targets covering a range of issues from climate change and inequality to education ...
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What are the burning issues in Swiss votes?

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:00
Since 1848, the Swiss have had their say on over 600 nationwide ballots. Which have been the most popular issues in recent times? The Swiss go to polls about four times a year in nationwide votes. Using data compiled by the Centre for Research on Direct Democracy, which tagged all national votes with keywords, swissinfo.ch has analysed the most popular voting themes since Switzerland's first constitution in 1848. Each ballot was assigned between one to three themes. The graphic below offers a more complete picture of vote outcomes by topic over time. It shows three types of votes, all of which are part of Swiss-style direct democracy: mandatory referendums, optional referendums and people's initiatives. These different types of votes are explained at the end of this article.  In general, people's initiatives are rejected more often than referendums. Swiss citizens turn down about 90% of all people's initiatives, while they accept over 70% of mandatory referendums. ...
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India needs firms on board for vocational training success

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:00
India’s attempts to incorporate aspects of Swiss-style vocational education and training (VET) could stumble without industry involvement and investment. As one of the fastest growing economies with the world’s largest youth population, India seems poised to cash in on its demographic dividend. However, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), close to 30% of Indian young people (aged 15 to 29) are neither in employment nor in education or training. Even the country’s engineering graduates are under pressure, with around 60% of the 800,000 that pass out every year not sufficiently prepared to secure a job.  “The kind of people we churn out of our education system are not job ready,” Sunita Sanghi, adviser to India’s apex planning body NITI Aayog, told Swiss and Indian VET providers at an event organised by the Indian embassy in Bern on September 20.  The government is aware of the problem and has created a Ministry of Skill Development and ...
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What Hindus and Muslims have in common

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 17:00
Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland – to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. She’s interested in cultural and religious diversity in Switzerland. This week she meets members of the “Dialogue en route” project. They take groups of young people to religious buildings and teach them about different faiths and cultures. (SRF Kulturplatz/swissinfo.ch) 
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Sport and study: a high hurdle, but help on hand

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:00
It is not always easy for Swiss elite athletes to combine a demanding training schedule and competitions with their studies. But help has come in the form of a new declaration aimed at making it easier for them to study part-time and access the support that they need. The declaration was signed by Swiss Olympic, representing Swiss sports associations, and swissuniversities, the umbrella group of Swiss universities, on Monday. “The main points are that elite athletes can do part-time studies, or extend their studies. In some universities, this is already possible, but with this agreement we would like all universities to offer this option to athletes,” said Alexander Wäfler, Swissolympic’s spokesman. Part-time study is already possible in Swiss universities, also for non-athletes, although full-time courses are still the rule. Wäfler said the agreement was a first step, but was not binding. “Universities have their own rules, we can’t tell them what to do, but we can make ...
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Election of Cassis ‘positive’ and ‘smart’, say papers

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 09:06
‘It’s a fact: Ticino’s returning to the cabinet!” The Corriere del Ticino could barely contain itself given the news that Ignazio Cassis will on November 1 become the first cabinet minister from Italian-speaking Switzerland since 1999. Newspapers elsewhere thought he was a solid choice, although they stressed his responsibility to the nation.  “The choice of Cassis is also a chance for Switzerland, after 18 years, to have an executive in which all the national sensitivities are represented,” the Corriere wrote. Italian, one of Switzerland’s three official languages, is spoken by around 8% of the population.  “Ticino's got what it wanted, let’s now look after the rest of the country,” sniffed 24Heures in canton Vaud, disappointed that its local candidate Isabelle Moret had been comfortably beaten in Wednesday’s election.  The long absence from the seven-person cabinet had led to a sort of “insidious unease” in Ticino, it added. “A sort of lament, a mixture of incomprehension, ...
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Ai Weiwei: Art is a way of questioning power

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 19:30
Art is innocent, says contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, but it is also a means of questioning the establishment. The Chinese native was in Lausanne on Wednesday to talk about his life in exile and a new exhibition which has taken over the city’s Palais de Rumine and museums. “I’m always very grateful to Switzerland as this is where I really started my career as an artist,” the 60-year-old tells reporters. Ai Weiwei’s early work was showcased at Bern’s Kunsthalle in 2004 – his first European solo exhibition. “I feel I have drawn a circle and the two ends have met. I’m like a Swiss product,” he joked. His new exhibition entitled ‘Ai Weiwei. It’s Always the Others’, which runs from September 22 to January 28, 2018, features 46 of his works, many well-known, but in new and often unusual settings. The Zoology Museum on the top floor of the Rumine building, for example, features a 50-metre-long silk and bamboo dragon suspended over the glass displays of stuffed animals. The ...
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Cassis chosen as Switzerland’s new cabinet minister

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:51
Parliament has elected Ignazio Cassis to the seven-member Swiss cabinet, also known as the Federal Council. He won 125 of 246 votes and will replace Didier Burkhalter on the multi-party government.  Following two rounds of balloting, Cassis, who was a favourite for the post, beat his fellow centre-right Radical Party rivals Pierre Maudet and Isabelle Moret. "He was elected by the rightwing and centre-right members of parliament," says political scientist Nenad Stojanovic. But it remains to be seen to what extent Cassis will follow their agenda as cabinet members are not bound by party politics.  According to Stojanovic, Cassis won the race primarily because of his stance "in the political - or ideological - spectrum", not because of his origins.    Italian-speaking minority  Cassis is the first cabinet minister from the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino this century; the most recent Ticinese to hold the post, Flavio Cotti, stepped down in 1999. Cassis replaces Foreign ...
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The lightning election of Ignazio Cassis

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 14:22
Every election of a Swiss cabinet minister actually begins in the bars of Bern – the night before. This is where surprise candidates are chosen in backroom deals. This year, however, the election of Iganzio Cassis was not only surprise-free but also extremely quick. (Photos: Keystone) Traditionally politicians and journalists meet on the eve of a cabinet election in the foyer of the palatial Bellevue Palace hotel, right next to parliament. This is where coalitions are discussed and final interviews are given – and from time to time a surprise candidate is chosen.  But not on Wednesday. Cassis was quickly chosen as the 117th cabinet minister in two rounds, having just failed to get an overall majority in the first round. It's the first time Italian-speaking canton Ticino has been represented in the cabinet since 1999.  The centre-right Radical Party had put forward three official candidates to replace Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, who is stepping down at the end of October.
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Alstom appoints Julien Naudy as General Director for EKZ JV in Astana

News Machinery - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:01

Alstom has appointed Julien Naudy as General Director for EKZ JV, based in Astana, Kazakhstan. Julien was previously Industrial Director at EKZ. Julien Naudy started with Alstom more than 11 years ago and has an extensive experience across the rail industry and other industry sectors. He first worked as Workshop Manager in Villeurbanne where he was in charge of the traction modules 'Agate' assembly during 2 years. Then he moved to La Rochelle and worked in Supply Chain and Industrial depa...

Read the full story at http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=213891

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What’s behind Switzerland’s vaccine shortage?

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:00
It’s one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet Switzerland is struggling to maintain stocks of 16 key vaccines, forcing doctors to adapt their practices. What’s causing the shortfall, and what’s being done about it? Primarily affected are ‘combination’ vaccines, which protect against multiple diseases – for example diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), and a form of meningitis – with a single jab. With restricted access to these critical vaccines from pharmaceutical manufacturers, doctors have been left to tap into their own local clinic or hospital reserves, or to rely on the remaining stocks from wholesalers. But it’s not just Swiss healthcare providers who are struggling to make ends meet.   “This isn’t a Swiss problem – it’s an international problem. However, I can’t remember a situation like this in my 30 years of professional life as a vaccination expert,” Daniel Desgrandchamps, a paediatrics and infectious disease specialist, told swissinfo.ch. ...
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Lost Greek temple found by Swiss scholars

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 08:00
A Swiss-led team of archaeologists in Greece has made a spectacular find: the temple of Artemis, a famous open-air sanctuary of antiquity. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  Researchers have been looking for the sanctuary for more than a century. The site was found at the foot of the Paleoekklisies hill near the small fishing town of Amarynthos on the Greek island of Euboea. It’s about 10km from the place where the temple was wrongly thought to be located. Since 2007, the search for the sanctuary has been led by Karl Reber, a professor at the Universty of Lausanne and director of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Athens. Researchers found parts of a massive wall dating back to the classical era, which they believe belongs to the stoa or portico built near the temple. Exploratory trenches were opened in Amarynthos in 2012, and the Swiss team brought to light a bigger part of the building.  Now, after also finding artefacts with inscriptions, they are sure that they have located the site of the ...
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Who will become the next Swiss cabinet minister?

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 16:27
Three candidates from the centre-right Radical Party are vying to become the seventh minister in Switzerland’s cabinet, or Federal Council. Will it be the first candidate from Ticino this century, a lawyer and party leader or a youthful underdog?  Whoever is chosen in Wednesday’s election by parliament will replace foreign minister Didier Burkhalter, who handed in his notice in June for personal reasons. However, as a newcomer, it is unlikely that the newest cabinet member will also become foreign minister, considered a choice dossier. Each cabinet minister’s departmental responsibility will be announced in December. Will it be…Ticinese Ignazio Cassis?  Ignazio Cassis, a 56-year-old from canton Ticino, would become the first cabinet minister from the Italian-speaking Swiss canton this century; the most recent Ticinese to hold the post was Flavio Cotti in 1999. He is considered a favourite for the post, compared to his fellow Radical Party rivals Isabelle Moret and Pierre Maudet, ...
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How Switzerland chooses new cabinet ministers

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 16:26
The resignation and replacement of a government minister may not be worth more than a shrug of the shoulders in most countries. Not in Switzerland: the distribution of the portfolios in the seven-member cabinet has its own rules and particularities. It didn’t take long for pundits to begin speculating about possible successors when Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter handed in his notice for personal reasons. Swiss citizens have no say in the matter, strictly speaking. Parliament chose Ignazio Cassis as Burkhalter's successor on September 20, and the newly-elected minister will soon meet his six colleagues to decide on the portfolios. In line with the Swiss consensus policy, they will agree together on a solution in the best interest of the collective government. The idea is to reach a decision in talks without a formal vote and certainly not by decree. All individual cabinet members are equal in status, not even the president, a largely ceremonial post, has extra powers.
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The king of chocolate in Mexico

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 12:34
A rags-to-riches career straight out of a film script: as a young man, the protagonist emigrates to Mexico. Once there, he becomes the first ever manufacturer of white chocolate and goes on to become an entrepreneur worth millions. The life of Gianfranco Arnoldi. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) Arnoldi has always been in the confectionary business. He learnt his craft at the Vanini pastry shop in Lugano and, by the age of 19, was already a chief chocolatier. Later, Arnoldi produced chocolate at the upmarket Palace Hotels in Gstaad and Lucerne, then at the Ritz in Barcelona.  Switzerland had become too limiting for him and he was attracted by the revolutionary atmosphere of Mexico. In 1956, a Hilton hotel was opened in Mexico City and Arnold signed a one year contract. He moved from Hilton to Hilton, married a Mexican, and finally opened his own confectionary shop in Mexico city in 1968. The firm prospered, even though he had to overcome some cultural differences. Mexicans mostly knew ...
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