Home | Feed aggregator | Categories

News EN

'Our children have two mothers who love each other.'

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 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.  Meet Luana: she's 43 years old, self-employed as a driving instructor and is in a same-sex relationship. She and her partner have four children between them. Luana carries her (new) sexual orientation with pride. "Sure, I was surprised at first when I fell in love with a woman. And at the beginning, of course, it was hard to think how we would cope with that, having four children." The outing was well accepted by everyone around her. She thinks that in Switzerland some improvements could still be brought in at the political level: "It would be nice if lesbian couples adopted children - and were also allowed to marry in a church.
Categories: News EN

Swiss shooting event draws fewer gun enthusiasts

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 16:19
Shooting in Switzerland is no longer as popular as it once was. There were 20,000 fewer participants at the recent Swiss field shooting competition than there were ten years ago. Nationwide, around 130,000 shooters took part in shooting competitions last weekend during what is considered the world’s largest shooting festival. Weapons are closely linked to Swiss traditions and the country’s sense of identity. Tens of thousands of members of the army keep their weapons tucked away in closets at home after the end of their compulsory military service. Underaged participants can also handle assault rifles at the shooting range as members of shooting clubs. But the Swiss Shooting association is experiencing a gradual decline in membership. In addition to a fall in the number of participants, clubs are struggling to recruit younger members. Shooting has an image problem among a certain segment of the Swiss population. The association also points out that there are so many new sports ...
Categories: News EN

Switzerland’s biggest airport turns 70

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 13:59
It’s exactly 70 years since the first flight took off from the brand new tarmac of Zurich Airport. We take a look back at the development of what has since become the biggest airport in Switzerland. On June 14, 1948, a ceremony took place at Zurich-Kloten airport, with speeches made on the tarmac in front of a "Swiss Air Lines"-branded plane. The reason? The official opening of the airport’s first runway, a 1,900-metre long track that had taken two years to build. And though it was a modestly sized airport at the time of construction, Zurich was progressively expanded over the next decades. Now it is the biggest in the country, far outstripping nearest rival Geneva. The figures speak for themselves: last month, 2.71 million passengers passed through the airport (about two million who were landing or taking off from Zurich, the rest in transit). In the same month, the airport registered 24,463 flights and processed over 40,000 tonnes of merchandise.
Categories: News EN

Responsible Business debate could cause ripple effects globally

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 13:56
A decision by the Swiss parliament this week on an initiative to hold companies accountable for their impacts on human rights and the environment could send a message on how far governments are willing to go. Set for Thursday in the House of Representatives, the debate will centre on a counter proposal to the Responsible Business Initiative. If adopted, it will put Switzerland at the forefront of a rapidly growing trend to embed corporate responsibility into national laws. The initiative has already been the subject of heated debate. Originally rejected by the Federal Council (executive body), a counter proposal has kept alive core tenets of the popular initiative, which was put forward in 2016 by the Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice, a group of more than 80 civil society organizations. If approved by the House, it will move to the Senate for a vote. If both chambers agree to adopt the counter proposal, it’s likely the initiative will be withdrawn. House approval June 14:
Categories: News EN

No jail for Swiss Tamil Tiger financiers

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 12:16
The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has given no prison terms to alleged financiers of the Sri Lankan Tamil separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). The 13 accused were either given suspended custodial sentences or acquitted. The court on Thursday said accusations of participation in and support of a criminal organisation did not stand and released all of the accused. Five of the defendants were fully acquitted. Others still face charges for financial offences.  The court also ruled that the World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC), which coordinated the fundraising and money distribution operation, was not a criminal organisation. Compensation for participation in the proceedings, the outcome of an investigation launched in 2009, and moral damages were awarded to the defendants.   During the eight-week trial, which opened in January and closed in March, the federal prosecutor requested sentences of up to six-and-a-half years in prison. The proceedings cost ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss firms pushed to put Tehran dreams on hold

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:00
Euphoria at the prospect of big business in Iran was short-lived. As a result of the new sanctions imposed by the United States on the Islamic Republic, Swiss companies are beating a retreat. China stands ready to step in and fill the void. In early March, the Swiss Embassy in Tehran and the Iranian press agency IRNA proudly announced a deal worth billions for the Swiss company Stadler Rail to deliver almost 1,000 underground train carriages to Iran. Was this rejoicing premature and pointless? According to a report in Blick newspaper, the deal is about to be cancelled. Since US President Donald Trump scrapped the Iran nuclear agreement, business with Iran is once again a risk for companies which rely on the goodwill of the United States. These companies stand between two enemy fronts in world politics. Stadler Rail’s head of sales, Peter Jenelten, was quoted in Blick as saying “the Iranians can’t wait forever. The underground train order will probably be snapped up by the ...
Categories: News EN

Art Basel 2018: fast and furious

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:58
The number of living artists who have seen their work fetch $20 million (CHF19.7 million) is very, very small. A highly significant addition to that super-select band is the Chicago-based African-American Kerry James Marshall, whose 1997 work “Past Times” smashed a whole set of records when it was sold a month ago to rap mogul P Diddy for $21.1 million (with fees). Word has it that Diddy even outbid Marshall’s own dealer, David Zwirner, who was buying for a US museum. So the appearance of two works by Marshall, one brand new, at Art Basel this week was bound to be of intense interest – and it’s hardly surprising that both found buyers in an early-hours slam dunk. While Zwirner sold “Vignette #12” (2008) to one private collector in the US, Jack Shainman gallery placed this year’s “Vignette (The Kiss)” with another. Neither gallery wishes to release information on the prices. Art Basel is known as a “front-loaded” event, with a furious pace of selling in the first few hours of ...
Categories: News EN

Art in Basel is much more than Art Basel

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 11:00
​​​​​​​ Art Basel, which opens on Thursday, and its circus is mainly about the arts market: a perfect setting for packaged artworks, buyers and sellers, whereas artists are just supporting actors, at best. It hasn’t always been like this. When it started, back in 1970, Art Basel was an ingenious idea of a group of gallerists to bring together most of the different layers of actors and agents in the then expanding arts world (and market). Success was immediate. Already in 1976, the number of galleries granted the privilege of a stand at the fair reached its limit, kept until today, of around 300 – this year there are 291. In 2017 it received 95,000 visitors who roam, cruise and browse throughout its 27,500 square meters of exhibition space. But as Art Basel became more and more of a fixture on the commercial arts circuit, parallel initiatives began to bloom around the main show, offering fresher perspectives on younger artists, performers and galleries. LISTE, created in 1995 by ...
Categories: News EN

Chicago artist displays his ‘engaged practice’ with Black Madonnas

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 11:00
​​​​​​ As a counterpoint to Art Basel - one of the most important arts fairs in the world - the fine arts museum of Basel is opening a large exhibition of US artist, activist, urban planner Theaster Gates: "Black Madonna".  For the Kunstmuseum, Gates explores the cult of the "Black Madonna",   showcasing new works made especially for the occasion of the exhibition as well as interactions with works from the collection of the Kunstmuseum Basel curated by the artist. Together with local and international partners, the artist will engage viewers in a series of live performances planned to last until the end of the show on October 21.   A few days before the opening, and at the request of swissinfo.ch, Damian Christinger, an independent curator and author based in Zurich, visited Gates in the middle of the exhibition’s montage.  The conversation I enter the Kunstmuseum Basel Gegenwart by the backdoor. It is Monday, so the museum is closed, and the artist is busy assembling ...
Categories: News EN

‘And the winner is … Kim Jong-un’

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:40
The Swiss media have reacted with caution to the meeting in Singapore between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump – the first time a sitting US president and North Korean leader had met face to face.  “Smile in a friendly manner, shake hands, pat him on the shoulder – Kim Jong-un came across as experienced and wasn’t intimidated by the most powerful man in the world,” said Swiss public television, SRF, in an editorial headlined “And the winner is … Kim Jong-un”.  Trump and Kim pledged on Tuesday to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula while Washington committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy. The joint statement signed at the end of their historic summit gave few details on how either goal would be achieved.  “It was only at the signing that Kim appeared somewhat overwhelmed, when Trump answered journalists’ questions. This was because the meeting was new ground for Kim – the North Korean leader’s first trip ...
Categories: News EN

Will Switzerland win the football World Cup?

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 08:00
Highly unlikely, agree all analysts. But can the boys in red and white reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 1954? swissinfo.ch, which accepts no liability for any daft bets, assesses the probabilities provided by bookmakers, bankers and academics.  Let’s start with the bad news. Switzerland have a 1.8% chance of lifting the trophy in Moscow on July 15, according to an analysis by Swiss bank UBS that used econometric forecasting tools. This puts Vladimir Petkovic’s side in ninth position when it comes to winning the FIFA World Cup 2018, which kicks off in Moscow on Thursday.  The UBS predictions were based on a statistical model using the results from the previous five tournaments and adjusting for factors such as team strength and success in the qualification phase.  It calculated that Switzerland were most likely (39.6% probability) to come second in their qualifying group and then lose in the knockout Round of 16 (see box for an explanation of the World Cup format).
Categories: News EN

High-achieving pupils still attracted to teaching

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 17:13
The teaching profession remains an attractive choice for talented young people in Switzerland, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report has found. The rate is higher than the OECD average. In all, 6% of all 15-year-olds answered “teacher” to the question “what kind of job do you expect to have when you are 30 years old”, according to the Effective Teacher Policies: Insights from PISA report that was released on Monday. This was more than the 4.2% average across OECD countries and more than the share of teachers in the labour force (2.4% OECD average). The rate was also higher than in some other top-performing PISA countries such as Finland (4.6%) and Singapore (4.4%). Like in other OECD countries, more girls in Switzerland opted for teaching (9%) than boys (3%). Best students And the students wanting to teach were among the best students. “…perhaps a reflection of the fact that the teaching profession in Switzerland is relatively well-paid, is ...
Categories: News EN

Are you a Swiss expat? What kind of expo would you like?

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 17:00
In Switzerland, ideas for the next national exhibition are percolating. What role should the Swiss abroad play? Join the discussion! At the moment there are three concepts in development: Svizra 27 In northwestern Switzerland, several business associations want to initiate a show on the subject of the "working world". When? In 2027 Nexpo The ten largest cities in Switzerland have put forward an idea for a decentralized expo on "Living Together in the Switzerland of the 21st Century". When? In 10 to 15 years X-27 Personalities from the fields of communication, architecture and culture want to launch a process-oriented future laboratory at Dübendorf airfield near Zurich. When? In 2027 The community of the Swiss abroad often has a special role in these concepts. That's why we're launching this survey to initiate a debate with expats. Dear Swiss abroad: What kind of expo would you like? Write down your ideas, wishes and visions in the comments section below, or send an email ...
Categories: News EN

The enigma explorations of Bruce Nauman at Schaulager

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:00
Dedicated to the American Bruce Nauman, the 2018 exhibition at Schaulager Basel celebrates the creativity of an elusive artist who for 50 years has explored art as an experiment. For five months, the ambitious Disappearing Acts retrospective runs alongside Art Basel and showcases works that trouble, amuse, shock and delight. Since 2002, Schaulager Basel has staged some of the most enigmatic and powerful artists of our times and this year’s edition is no exception. Bruce Nauman is the Houdini of the art world and arguably one of America’s most respected contemporary artists. The aptly named Disappearing Acts retrospective in Basel does him justice as it seizes his constant state of flux.  Nauman has the tireless mind of a scientist who explores answers to questions that have not yet been asked, and proposes art works as both answers and new questions. It comes as no surprise that he first studied mathematics and physics, before turning his explorations into an artistic process. ...
Categories: News EN

How direct democracy has grown over the decades

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 10:12
Just like neutrality and federalism, direct democracy is part of the Swiss identity. The number of issues put to vote has increased considerably since the 1970s, as shown in these graphics, which present more than 600 nationwide votes since 1848. World champions of the polls, Swiss citizens can participate directly in political decision-making by expressing themselves up to four times per year on diverse and varied themes. The graphics below present the three main tools of Swiss direct democracy, and the evolution of their use over time. Note: The interactive graphics are optimised to be viewed on a computer or tablet. Select an area on the graph, or pinch to zoom. Move your cursor over a square to learn more about a vote. People’s initiatives allow citizens to propose changes to the constitution by introducing new provisions, or by amending or repealing existing provisions. For an initiative to be submitted for a verdict at the polls, its proponents must gather at least 100,000 ...
Categories: News EN

‘Patriotic fans are a very tough group to control’

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 09:00
Who are the Russians? How much do they care about football? And is it all going to kick off at the FIFA World Cup, which begins in Moscow on Thursday? Ulrich Schmid, professor of Russian society and culture at the University of St Gallen, gives his opinion.  This is a shortened version of an interview Schmid originally gave to the St Galler Tagblatt newspaper.  Is there still such a thing as a Russian soul?  Ulrich Schmid: The Russian soul is an invention of the West. People have always liked to romanticise the spiritual people in Russia, whose soul reflected the expanse of the landscape. But Russia is an old European ‘Kulturnation’ [a community of people who feel connected by language, culture, traditions and religion] which has been significantly influenced by various artistic periods, such as the avant-garde and modernism.  In the current tense political situation, there is of course a deviating strategy of nationalistic self-portrayal. The Kremlin claims Russia is a ...
Categories: News EN

Scent of success for Contexa’s liquid dosing robots

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 11:00
Home to two of the world’s largest manufacturers of flavours and fragrances, Geneva has also developed a vibrant ecosystem of innovative SME servicing them: one such company is Contexa, world leader in automated liquid dosage machines. Located in Lignons, in the shadow of Europe’s longest row of buildings at more than a kilometre in length, is the Contexa headquarters: a small, faded pale pink two-story building. Here in a maze of offices, some thirty employees work on research, quality control and after-sales service. The warehouse where the company’s high-tech machines are assembled, however, is practically deserted.  “We have just delivered our last three dosing robots to clients in Europe and Asia,” comments Daniel Schupbach, founder and head of Contexa since 1999.  Despite their high price – between CHF500,000 and CHF3 million each – the machines made by the Geneva business, which are named after animals such as Cobra, Fox and Colibri, are increasingly in demand from ...
Categories: News EN

Globalists vs Tribalists: The false debate over ‘Switzerland First’

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 10:23
Parliamentarians have been battling over the question of whether national law or international law should have primacy in Swiss affairs. Can the recognition that we now live in a globalized world be reconciled with tribal, patriotic emotions? “Who should have the last word concerning laws within our country? Swiss citizens and the cantons or international organizations and foreign judges?” asked Roger Köppel of the conservative right People’s Party during a recent heated debate in the Swiss parliament. “One puts the law of the European Union above our constitution!” exclaimed a scandalized Hans-Ueli Vogt of the same party. “Why so much hatred?” responded a left-wing politician.  “Five thousand commercial treaties were not submitted to the people for votes,” added a colleague. He argued that a People’s Party initiative seeking to establish the priority of national law over international law would cause enormous insecurity and call into question Swiss trustworthiness. The ...
Categories: News EN

‘Foreign judges’ initiative: fact checking the parliamentary debates

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 10:13
As the Swiss parliament gets set for a final debate on an initiative aimed at giving domestic law precedence over international law, swissinfo.ch checks the accuracy of some of the statements heard so far in both chambers.  The initiative "Swiss law instead of foreign judges", backed by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, proposes making the Swiss constitution the country's primary legal source. The initiative would prevent Switzerland from entering into international obligations that contradict the constitution. Where such conflicts exist, the country would have to change or terminate agreements, although treaties that have been subject to a national referendum would continue to be applied by the courts. “We are not under the thumb of international law. We can terminate a treaty that we entered into at any time […] Switzerland can cancel any contract at any time. If we wanted to, we could even terminate the European Human Rights Convention tomorrow. We just need to ...
Categories: News EN

Voters give clear thumbs up for reform of Swiss gambling law

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 16:45
Offshore casinos will be banned from offering online gambling in Switzerland. Voters on Sunday endorsed an overhaul of the country’s gambling law that also includes measures against addiction. Final results show a 73% majority approving the law amid low voter turnout. "Voters prefer to continue the current policy, only allowing gambling under restrictions," Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told a news conference. However, the amended law, to come into force at the beginning of next year, will not set a precedent for blocking other websites, she added, in response to concerns that it would lead to internet censorship. Approval of the law is a "pragmatic decision by Swiss voters who want to continue funding civil society projects with revenue of the casinos and lotteries," according to Karl Vogler. The Christian Democrats led a parliamentary committee campaigning in favour of the law. Opponents who had collected enough signatures to challenge the regulations approved by ...
Categories: News EN