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Sovereign money: the answer to financial crises?

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:00
​​​​​​​ Today money is mainly put into circulation by the private banks and not, as is often thought, by central banks. This is claimed to cause speculation and financial crises. The “sovereign money” initiative is intended to restore stability to Switzerland’s financial marketplace with a radical reform of the monetary system. For the government and parliament, however, this would be too risky an undertaking. Launched and supported by a number of economists, financial specialists and entrepreneurs, the people’s initiative “For crisis-proof money: only the National Bank to issue currency! (Sovereign money initiative)”, proposes to set up a more secure financial order in this country. The text cites the world financial crisis that struck ten years ago, and which did not spare Switzerland: among other problems, the government and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) had to intervene to rescue the country’s biggest private bank, UBS. The promoters of the initiative base their argument on ...
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If you don’t book online, you’ll get left behind

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 10:09
To help the elderly use their online services, the Swiss Federal Railways has teamed up with a charity to offer training courses for their non-tech-savvy customers. (SRF, swissinfo.ch) Saver tickets, which offer cheaper fares for specific train times, are only available online. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is generally becoming increasingly digital, and many ticket counters are closing. But what does this mean for older people? Pro Senectute, an organisation that supports the elderly, is running free courses with the Swiss Railways to help this generation learn how to use the public transport app.  The aim of the course is for the participants to feel confident using a smartphone to check the train timetable, look for the best connection and buy tickets. The training is interactive and takes about two hours.  In 2017, 84.8% Swiss Federal Railways' tickets were sold through self-service methods and of these, 32.7% were purchased through digital channels, a trend that is on ...
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Switzerland’s global role in fighting malaria

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 09:00
Each year, some half a million people die of malaria around the world, with particularly high fatality rates among children. Switzerland is a world leader in research to combat the disease. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal is to reduce incidences of malaria by 90% by 2030 – an ambitious target. Indeed, the number of malaria infections has recently increased once again; over 200 million people now contract the disease each year. The exact reason for the uptick is unclear. Thomas Gass, deputy director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), believes that it could be due to increased travel worldwide. With more movement, the pathogen can be transported back to areas that were previously considered malaria-free. Various projects spear-headed by the SDC are also at the forefront of Switzerland’s global fight against the disease. “In Tanzania, for example, we support integrated programmes,” says Gass. “It’s about informing the population, distributing ...
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Hard cash, gambling and welfare fraud

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 12:00
These are some of the stories we’re following in the week of April 23.  Monday Speculative bubbles, insolvency of banks and the financial crisis brought the global economy to its knees in 2008. The “sovereign money” initiative aims to avoid a repeat by proposing that all money loaned by banks is backed by the government. Swiss voters will have their say on June 10.   Tuesday The government’s attempt to update legislation on betting and gambling has not gone smoothly. A provision aimed at blocking foreign online gambling providers has raised concerns of state censorship and prompted a referendum.   Wednesday Scientists may fantasise about trying to decode the mystery of dark matter at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, but it is the engineers who deliver the goods. We take a look at the hands-on people working in the scientific shadows.   Thursday A proposal to grant detectives wider snooping powers to investigate welfare fraud met little resistance in ...
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Thomas Amsler: Loves lobster, misses Bratwurst

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 11:00
After living in coastal Massachusetts for over 50 years, Swiss architect Thomas Amsler says he loves New England, but misses Swiss sausages.  However, the 81-year-old says he has never felt homesick since arriving in the United States in 1964.  “We missed certain things, but there were so many new things to explore. And I’m a forward-looking guy who doesn’t spend much time dwelling on whether I should be home again,” says Amsler, born in the north-eastern Swiss canton of Schaffhausen in 1936. On a recent visit to Switzerland, he dropped by swissinfo.ch to talk about his study of a Ticino village with remarkable architecture.  Without knowing that he’s an octogenarian, you wouldn’t think to offer the elevator, and Amsler takes the stairs in stride, asking, “Is this a new building?” and looking around with curiosity. Atlantic crossing Having been offered a travel fellowship to see American architecture first-hand, Amsler and his wife and two young children embarked on the ...
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Can England learn from Swiss apprenticeships?

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 04/21/2018 - 17:00
English businesses would benefit from a Swiss-style apprenticeship system that starts earlier and lasts longer, a report authored by Swiss experts has found. But not all English businesses agree that apprenticeships are a good thing. Apprenticeships are a key part of the United Kingdom’s government’s plans to improve technical skills among young people and to ensure the country can meet labour market needs post-Brexit. Reforms include a new employer levy (see infobox), and the target is to create three million more apprenticeships by 2020. In contrast, Switzerland has a long tradition of apprenticeships. Two thirds of school leavers opt to take this route, and the system has been singled out as one of the best worldwide by the OECD and researchers at Harvard. + Why Swiss apprenticeships are seen as a model in the US “Apprenticeship training in England – an effective model for firms?” was published by the London-based Education Policy Institute (EPI), German think tank ...
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Drab summer, hot jazz, weak franc

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 04/21/2018 - 15:00
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. Monday 1,231 The number of seconds it took for the head of the Böögg, a stuffed snowman, to explode in Zurich. The 20 minutes and 31 seconds (a relatively long time) traditionally means a poor summer.  Tuesday 52 The Montreux Jazz Festival will take placed for the 52nd time from June 29 to July 14. The line-up was announced on Tuesday, with headline names including Nick Cave, Jamiroquai, Van Morrison, N.E.R.D, Jack White, Chick Corea and Gilberto Gil.  Wednesday 996 Between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019, a total of 996 work permits can be issued to Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants, the government announced.  Thursday 1.20 As the Swiss franc weakens towards the threshold CHF1.20 exchange rate with the euro, the likelihood remains slim that Switzerland’s central ...
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Switzerland - through the lens of a German photographer

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 04/21/2018 - 11:00
A new book, capturing Switzerland through the lens of German photographer Andreas Herzau, gives an insight into how the country’s northern neighbour views the Alpine nation. It’s been a few years since I met up with my fellow photographer Andreas Herzau for a beer in Bern’s old town. He was telling me about his new project; the idea was still very fresh and, at the time, there were yet only a few pictures he could show me. But the intention was clear: to create a portrait of Switzerland from an extremely personal perspective. German immigration to Switzerland has been a hotly debated subject in the Swiss media since 2011. The relationship between the German-speaking part of Switzerland and its big neighbour north of the Rhine has affected people in a myriad of ways. Walking a tightrope of clichés The photographer, who lives in Hamburg, also had a particularly personal reason for choosing this subject. His partner was one of those newly arrived Germans in Switzerland – trying ...
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Rhine river sailors meet again

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 17:00
In April 1968, a group of sailors began their apprenticeships on the training ship MS Leventina in Basel. A half-century later, they met once again to see whether they’ve still got a nose for the nautical. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  The Swiss mariners talked of travelling for miles across the country to join the ship's crew in Basel, the tearful separation from their parents, the strict regime with an obligatory daily dip in the Rhine before breakfast, and how camaraderie brought them through the hard times and demanding work.  Between 1939 and 1973, about 1,500 young men aged between 14 and 16 were trained as sailors in Basel. The school closed at the beginning of the 1990s, and trainee mariners from Switzerland have since travelled to Duisburg in Germany for their theoretical training, at Duisport – the world’s largest inland port, at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr. Between 15 and 20 young sailors still get their practical experience on the Rhine in Basel, which is also home ...
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Celebrating Hodler’s harmonious vision

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 11:26
On May 19, 1918, Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler passed away in his lakeside apartment in Geneva. A major new exhibition celebrates the work and aesthetic ideals of one of Switzerland’s greatest artists from his later “Parallelism” period.  To mark the centenary of the Swiss artist’s death, the Museum of Art and History in Geneva has joined forces with Bern’s Kunstmuseum to show 100 of his works from 1890 onwards. The Hodler/Parallelism' exhibition, which runs from April 20 to August 19 in Geneva, will later move to Bern from September 14 until January 13, 2019.  “Our challenge with this exhibition was to find a new angle,” Jean-Yves Marin, the Geneva museum director, told reporters on Thursday. Since the beginning of 2000s, Hodler has been the focus of major exhibitions, including those in Switzerland in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2011, and in Paris in 2007.  “When you ask people in Geneva about Hodler some say he was a landscape artist, others describe him as a portrait painter, ...
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‘We are constantly surrounded by people yet always alone’

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 11:00
Largely unnoticed by the general public, a Swiss citizen travels around the world in the service of peace. He lives out of his suitcase and negotiates for days on end – ‘even with the devil’ if necessary. Julian Hottinger, a Swiss foreign affairs ministry expert in promoting peace, gave swissinfo.ch some insights into a lonely job.  Hottinger is currently involved in six conflicts. He is not permitted to give information on the countries and parties involved.  swissinfo.ch: The life of a mediator is said to be like that of a travelling salesman: moving from place to place as someone’s representative, never knowing when you will come home.  Julian Hottinger: During my training as a mediator we were frequently compared to the missionaries who trudged from village to village in the southern United States to distribute the bible. This image has some relevance: I travel an enormous amount – that’s a part of my job. I only manage to sleep between 65 and 70 nights a year in my own bed.
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Navajo Express, a National Shipping and Trucking Company, Hires Director of Maintenance, Wiley Peters

News Machinery - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 23:22

Denver based trucking company, Navajo Express, recently welcomed Wiley Peters as the newest addition to its experienced staff. - Peters comes to Navajo with over 27 years of experience in the trucking industry, specifically focusing on maintenance. Peters' more recent roles include Director of Maintenance for Dedicated Logistics and Director of Maintenance for T.S.D. Logistics. Along with these esteemed positions, Peters gained a wealth of knowledge as he spent 20 years improving and o...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=222950

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Odour sensors to combat plant pests

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 19:32
The presence of pesticide residues in food is a problem for human health. To reduce the use of these pesticides, researchers at the University of Neuchâtel are developing a system that detects warning signals emitted by plants attacked by pests. Rapid detection of pests allows for earlier, and therefore more limited, use of pesticides. (RTS, swissinfo.ch) The team led by Ted Turlings, professor of biology at the University of Neuchâtel, discovered that when they are attacked, the plants emit a mixture of odorous molecules specific to the type of aggression. Hence the idea of ​​creating sensors to quickly determine the type of aggression. The majority (80%) of this research, on maize plants, was carried out in Neuchâtel. But other academic institutions were also involved in the project: the University of Bern, the University of Missouri, the Universidad del Mar in Mexico and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The European Research Council has allocated a budget of around €2.5 ...
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How eating disorders take hold

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 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.  This week, Rosanna, who used to be anorexic, talks about why the disease can last for many years. She says that many people don't take anorexia seriously and think it can be cured by simply eating "normally". But this, she says, shows how little people understand about a disorder that kills ten percent of its victims.  (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
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Nazi art theft exhibition puts stolen masterpieces on display

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:47
The second part of an extraordinary exhibition showing off art stolen under the Nazi regime, has opened in Bern. The show is made up of works from a mass collection of masterpieces discovered after a chance raid on the home of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of a Nazi art dealer. The priceless treasure trove of thousands of pieces was uncovered by tax authorities in Gurlitt’s small flat in Munich in 2012. Gurlitt had inherited the tainted collection from his father and had been living off the profits by quietly selling individual pieces. When Gurlitt died in 2014, he left the entire collection to the Bern Museum of Fine Arts, in a move that took the institution completely by surprise. The collection on show The resulting show was divided into two parts, both of which opened in late 2017 in two different cities; Bern and Bonn. Last year in Bern, the Museum of Fine Arts ran an exhibition focusing on pieces that were labelled by the Nazi regime as "degenerate art". This has ...
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How to do an apprenticeship when you are over 40

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:00
It’s still quite rare, but people can change career and start an apprenticeship in their 40s or 50s. Here’s the story of two who’ve done it, and the challenge for those who would like to. It is not common to go back and do an apprenticeship after 20-30 years in the workforce. But it does happen: a report on Swiss public television SRF has highlighted two cases: a former glazier aged 50 who has almost completed his apprenticeship in building maintenance and a 45-year-old physiotherapist who is pursuing her dream of becoming a chef. + How the Swiss apprenticeship system works Trainee chef Sabine Jermann says going back to school with 16-year-olds was a hard decision. “I am the exotic one at school but in the end I’ve got my goal. It’s three years, a half day a week, and I just love it,” she told SRF. Challenges and advantages Building maintenance apprentice Roger Boder is actually older than his teacher, Stefan Ulmann, responsible for his professional studies at the ...
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Swiss tower blocks are on the rise

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 17:00
Living in a block of flats used to have a certain stigma attached to it: inhabitants who lived high up were seen as coming from lower down the social ladder. But high-rise living's reputation is being shrugged off, and there's now a growing trend of high-end apartment blocks being built across Switzerland. The way in which tower blocks were built was criticised between the 1950s and 1970s. In 1967, a documentary by Swiss public television, SRF, about the Lochergut block in Zurich described it as “anonymous” and “confined”. The programme's commentary criticised this style of building as "inhumane", with "a uniform monotony", adding, "you could almost forget that children also live here”. In fact, in the Lochergut building, play areas for children weren’t easily accessible for families living on higher floors. Unless parents physically watched over younger children, it was difficult for parents to multi-task, according to the report. Swiss writer Max Frisch, who was initially ...
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Swiss comic art is due for a revival

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:00
Comics are a Swiss invention, but the country’s market has always been too small to set itself apart. That may be about to change, thanks to a burgeoning scene in Geneva and the revival of a huge and rare comic book collection that highlights the genre’s rich history in Switzerland. Cuno Affolter is the guardian of Switzerland’s biggest collection of comics – Europe’s second-largest – and is one of the country’s longest-standing aficionados of the genre, but not just: journalist, critic and curator since the early 1980s, his authority on the subject is uncontested.  “The comic book is an old medium now,” he acknowledges as he opens his treasure trove in the Lausanne municipal library’s underground storage area. It’s piles of comics, new and old, in various languages. Rare issues of the underground Zap Comix of the late 60s lie in perfect condition beside the very first editions of Tintin. There’s a pirated version of the Belgian hero’s story, called “Tintin in Switzerland”, ...
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Art in a bomb shelter at the Fumetto comic festival

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:00
An exhibition of comic art held in a nuclear fallout shelter in Lucerne takes the idea of underground comics to another level. swissinfo.ch visits “Shelter – drawn into crisis” to learn more about how artists cope with crises.  “I don’t know what I think of Switzerland yet,” says Mohamed Wahba. His colleague, Ahmed Hossam, does. “Lucerne is beautiful, but so small compared to Cairo. I got a bus pass here, but I haven’t used it yet,” he laughs. There is indeed something introspective about Lucerne, far from all the world’s crises.  The city is a perfect dollhouse, points out someone from our group, which is descending into the Sonnenberg civil protection facility. It does not sound like a compliment. The picture-perfect city, the subject of countless smartphone photos, is quite a contrast to this exhibition.  The place could not be more suitable. A few metres within the tunnel, anxiety sets in. The huge bunker was built in the 1970s, in case of war or nuclear disaster. Then ...
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Sika saga shows instability need not be a hindrance

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:57
Business hates uncertainty. Or does it? Switzerland’s longest-running corporate takeover battle –  possibly the world’s longest – is turning on its head the idea that companies need ownership stability to prosper. The lessons could be relevant in other takeover battles, showing how the underdogs can fight back at times of adversity. Back in December 2014, the future of Sika, a 104-year-old chemicals group based in canton Zug, was thrown into doubt by an unwanted takeover approach by Saint-Gobain, its much larger French rival. Rather than make an offer for all the shares, Saint-Gobain proposed simply to buy the controlling stake of Sika’s family owners – comprising just 16% of the share capital but 52% of voting rights. Its dual-share structure is similar to much younger tech companies such as Facebook and Alibaba. Saint-Gobain’s plan quickly hit a snag, however. An angry Sika board, backed by managers and other shareholders, used a “restriction of voting rights” clause to ...
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