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Gorillas, GDP, and a guaranteed basic income

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 17:00
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.   2.4 The current unemployment rate in Switzerland, expressed as a percentage. The figure, announced Thursday by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), represents the lowest jobless rate Switzerland has seen since the 2008 financial crisis hit. 58 The age of Goma the gorilla, who died of natural causes on Friday at the Basel Zoo. In 1959, Goma became the first gorilla to be born in a European zoo, and the second to be born in any zoo worldwide. 130 The number of people who had to be evacuated on Wednesday by helicopter from the Titlis, a popular mountain top in the Swiss Alps, due to a technical problem with the cable car system.   1,913 The average gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, in euros, that Switzerland has gained annually thanks to ...
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Massive defeat for ‘sovereign money’ initiative

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 14:00
Voters refused to buy the 'sovereign money' initiative by an overwhelming margin. More than three quarters of votes went against a radical overhaul of the Swiss financial system. The initiative called on the central bank to take total control of money supply, which would have imposed much tighter controls on commercial bank lending. The margin of defeat was much higher than opinion polls had earlier predicted. These had suggested that a third of voters would support the plan, but this was highly optimistic. Only 34% of voters turned out on Sunday, showing a general lack of interest in the main votes. Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said voters had rejected risk to the financial system. He told reporters that despite several measures already taken to reduce volatility from the banking sector, the authorities would remain vigilant. The Swiss Business Federation economiesuisse hailed the rejection of a "risky experiment". "This may also be interpreted as a sign of confidence in ...
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Mousetrap: the Swiss whodunnit

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 11:00
She already has 90,000 dead to her credit and is hunting more. Kathrin Hirsbrunner is Switzerland's only professional mouse trapper. Hirsbrunner's target: voles that destroy farmers' crops. But her lethal skills are also in demand at airports. A sculptor by trade employed as a social worker, she wanted a change of scenery and to work outdoors. In 2003 she was inspired by a documentary she saw about Switzerland's last mouse catcher. Self taught, she revived the trade and started offering her services and lives modestly from the income. Hirsbrunner says that natural enemies of mice are not enough to regulate the population. A female can produce up to 20 offspring a year. Hirsbrunner's traps set in farmers' meadows catch and kill up to 200 mice a day. A further 50 are caught in orchards. Mice can also indirectly cause problems for planes, which is why her services are in demand at airports. The rodents attract birds of prey which can be a threat to aircraft during take off and ...
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GE Board of Directors Authorizes Regular Quarterly Dividend

News Machinery - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:57

The Board of Directors of GE (NYSE:GE) today declared a $0.12 per share dividend on the outstanding common stock of the Company. The dividend is payable Wednesday, July 25, 2018 to shareowners of record at the close of business on Monday, June 18, 2018. The ex-dividend date is Friday, June 15, 2018. About GE GE (NYSE:GE) GE drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges: Energy, health, transportation—the essentials of modern life. By combining world-class engineering with...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=225102

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Asian nations want industry and youth to embrace vocational training

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:39
With a median population under the age of 30 and high unemployment rates, Asian countries are looking to vocational education to prevent their demographic dividend from becoming a curse.  It is 10am and the entrance area at the Winterthur Theatre is abuzz with people. They are not here to watch a play but to take part in the 3rd International Conference on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) hosted by Switzerland. Coming from countries as far away as Indonesia and Tanzania, they are keen to see how the Swiss apprenticeship model can be adapted to their countries.  “We apply the dual education system that was brought by Jesuits from Switzerland in 1968,” explains Wahyo Nursanto, the operational director at vocational institute ATMI-APII Indonesia.  “The core focus is industrial activities with two-thirds in the form practical workshop training and the remaining third in the classroom,” adds the Indonesian native who stood out from the dark suited crowd with ...
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Motor racing returns to Switzerland via Formula E

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:00
Zurich is hosting its first ever Formula E electric championship race on Sunday. This is the first time for 63 years that motor racing has been allowed on Swiss soil since it was banned. Swiss driver Sébastien Buemi is one of the favourites among the 20 drivers from ten teams taking part in Zurich in one of the final races of 2017-2018 Formula E season. One of the unusual characteristics of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship – the world’s first fully electric international single-seater street racing series – is that the races all take place in city centres. With this race, Zurich joins the big leagues. The other races of the season will be held in in Hong Kong, Marrakech, Santiago, Mexico City, Punta del Este, Rome, Paris, Berlin and New York. It’s an important event for the city. No fewer than 100,000 people are expected to attend the race on Sunday.  Swiss champion  The idea of a Formula E championship was born in 2002, on the initiative of the International Automobile ...
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‘I prefer dealers to a deserted street’

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 15:46
Can drug dealers and locals coexist peacefully? A study by Geneva University has analysed the phenomenon in parts of the city centre. The research was published as a drug-dealing controversy rages in neighbouring Lausanne.  “The dealers look pretty harmless a priori,” explains Marie, a 30-year-old who lives and works in Geneva. “I find that a neighbourhood where there are always people at any time of the day and night is more reassuring than a neighbourhood that’s deserted at night when you come home late.”  Marie was one of dozens of Geneva residents, shop and business owners, and West African street dealers interviewed in the central Pâquis and Jonction neighbourhoods for a study into urban co-existence by Geneva University sociologists Maxime Felder and Loïc Pignolo. Their research was published in the May edition of the Sociologie journal.  According to their study, certain inhabitants resented dealers standing around “on their own or in groups waiting for their customers, ...
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Zurich and its 14-item monster vote

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 11:00
Porsches, private banks, parties, cocaine – Zurich is in many ways a city of extremes. That is also true when it comes to direct democracy. On Sunday June 10, citizens will vote on no less than 14 issues. This marathon of democratic decision-making is not without its dangers. This text is part of #DearDemocracyexternal link, a platform on direct democracy issues, by swissinfo.ch. Contributors, including outside authors frequently share their views. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of swissinfo.ch. Many of the people you see strolling on the Bahnhofstrasse are carrying the signature shopping bags of fancy brands like Chanel, Bulgari, and Gucci. Others carry briefcases and wear expensive suits, grey being the preferred colour.  If Zurich is the world’s richest city, as a UBS study recently found, then Bahnhofstrasse may well be the priciest street in the world. Here designer boutiques are laid out one after another like expensive pearls on a string. Farther ...
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The war reporter who hates violence

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 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 Kurt Pelda. For over 30 years he has been working in the most dangerous places in the world. Pelda explains what his job entails and why so many people have prejudices against it. His first report from a crisis zone appeared as early as 1984, but it was his pictures from Afghanistan that marked the firm beginning of his career. Today Kurt Pelda is one of the best-known war reporters in the German-speaking world.
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An ‘ideas salon’ for the 21st century

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 17:00
Jet suits, flying cars, intergalactic microchips, and plenty of canapés were just some of the highlights at the recent World.Minds conference on mobility in Zurich. Richard Browning, a former marine officer, ultra-marathon runner, oil trader, and family man – and who is not yet 40 – has now invented a jet suit that can fly at speeds of up to 450 km/h. Why? Why not! As a backdrop video montage streams through the various trials and tribulations – and ultimate success – of his real-life Iron Man suit, he tells the 400-odd crowd in Zurich’s Kaufleuten theatre that he simply “likes a challenge”. Unfortunately, he hasn’t the permission to do a live demo in the venue. Neither was he allowed do so in the nearby Zurich main station. Apparently, 1,000-horsepower jet engines tend to “frighten commuters”, he says. But the audience is rapt as he runs through the sensations and callisthenic strength that are involved in teaching your body to fly. The suit may soon even be picked up by Red ...
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US education minister, DeVos, makes controversial Swiss visit

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 15:36
The attendance of United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at a vocational education conference in Switzerland is a sign the Trump administration still wants to collaborate over the Swiss apprenticeship model. “There is much to learn from our European counterparts as they continue to advance education options centred on the needs of individual students and focused on their ability to succeed in the modern economy,” said DeVos in a statement ahead of the third International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET). Her stop at the event in Winterthur is part of a ten-day tour to learn about education and vocational training in Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. She continued the theme of learning from others in her keynote address to the congress, pointing out that apprenticeships in Switzerland were not just for welders and carpenters, which is common the US, but include many options in every sector of the economy, ...
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From drugs to food: delivering sensitive goods safely

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 14:51
A Swiss company that makes high-tech air freight containers to transport delicate medicines is getting its teeth into into the food sector. Smart Containers is teaming up with Dutch packaging firm Schoeller Allibert to venture into the booming market. A division of Smart Containers called FoodGuardians has an initial contract with an unnamed European supermarket chain to test its product in Poland. The recyclable insulated boxes are fitted with sensors to keep constant track of temperatures and ensure the transported goods, be it vaccines or fresh food, arrive at their destination in good condition. Co-founder and CEO Richard Ettl sees huge potential in the food industry. “Food is way bigger than pharma,” he told swissinfo.ch. “E-commerce is a booming sector.”  The portable boxes are aimed at both hotels and restaurants and companies, such as supermarkets, that make online food deliveries to households. Ettl says such firms could rent out its boxes for less than €1 per day ...
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Still waters run deep

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 11:11
The Swiss rise early and work hard. One day each summer, however, Zurich’s residents take the afternoon off to swim across the lake around which their city is built. Far from the shore, the clear, sun-dappled water is choppy — and the view dramatic. The Alps rise majestically to the south, the city’s spires to the north. The Swiss experience goes deeper, though. Mid-lake you are aware of the freedom of self-reliance — the floor is perhaps 100 metres below your feet — yet you feel safe. Although there was a fatality last year, the route of the annual Seeüberquerung (“lake crossing”) is marked with inflatables and there are lifeguards in abundance. Zurich is not top of everyone’s most desirable foreign postings. It is no global power centre, more a city of grey financiers — the “gnomes of Zurich” as British prime minister Harold Wilson described them in the 1960s. Thanks to the strong Swiss franc, it is also fantastically expensive. Early in our posting, my wife was so shocked at ...
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Swiss support for vocational training monopoly in India questioned

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 08:00
Has Switzerland’s eagerness to export its vocational training and education model to India led to an unsatisfactory compromise that ultimately hurts the battle against poverty:  granting a private company exclusive rights to the curriculum developed with Swiss taxpayers’ money? This year, India and Switzerland will celebrate 70 years of a Friendship Treaty that was signed by the two countries in 1948. A decade ago, the 60th anniversary of the Treaty was commemorated by launching a pilot project called the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India (SVETII). The objective of the project was to train young Indians under the Swiss apprenticeship model to ensure Swiss companies in India had the skilled workers they needed. It was touted as a win-win outcome. The timing of the SVETII couldn’t have been better. It helped establish Switzerland’s reputation in India as a leader in vocational education. As the Swiss pilot project was drawing to a close, the Indian ...
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Inside a school for future citizens

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 17:00
Earning a Swiss passport is not easy – even if you meet the strict application criteria, a knowledge of the ins and outs of the country is also required. Preparation courses exist for those hoping to become citizens. (RTS/SWI) The recent case of a British-born, long-term resident in Switzerland, who was denied citizenship for purportedly not knowing the precise origins of the raclette dish (it’s canton Valais) is the latest example of the harsh vicissitudes of the Swiss naturalisation system. + Read more about "raclette-gate" and the man denied citizenship And though authorities in the man’s local municipality in canton Schwyz have defended their decision and said that cheese was irrelevant to the outcome, the nature of the question – and the knowledge of Swiss history, geography, and culture that it implies – is not uncommon. Do you know what Switzerland’s highest mountain is? In what year the confederation was founded? How many signatures are needed to bring a people’s ...
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A Swiss court throws opens its doors to visitors

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 11:00
The Swiss justice system is often criticised for its lack of transparency. The canton of Bern has an innovative approach to this problem: the activities of the courts are presented to the public as part of an open house. Despite the nice weather at the start of the summer, many visitors flocked this past Saturday to a mock court hearing in the city of Burgdorf in canton Bern. The crowd was so large that some visitors had to be turned away. But the open house of the regional court of Emmental-Oberaargau (link in French and German) included several other attractions. In a small room, experts explained how children are questioned, for example, when their parents are engaged in a legal dispute. In another room, free legal advice was on offer. Prosecutors explained how often criminal acts are committed in Switzerland – far more often than numerous visitors would have thought.  Experiencing drunk driving There were also attractions for the many children. Outside the courthouse, ...
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The Swiss World Cup squad – everything you need to know

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 14:13
Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic has opted for continuity in his 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup, introducing only six new faces to the group that went to Euro 2016.  “It was a difficult decision,” Petkovic said on Monday. “But I’m convinced I’ve made the right choice. Maybe they are not the best 23 players individually, but this is the most complete squad.”  Ten players are based in the German Bundesliga and five play in Italy’s Serie A. Only one, defender Michael Lang from FC Basel, plays in Switzerland.  The youngest of the Swiss players taking part in the 2018 World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on June 14, is 21-year-old Breel Embolo. The oldest is 34-year-old Stephan Lichtsteiner, who has played for his country 99 times.  Valon Behrami is set to become the first player to represent Switzerland at four World Cups. The 33-year-old, who set an unwanted record in 2010 when he became the first Swiss to be sent off at the World Cup, has played in the last three global ...
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Trump is making a ‘short-term political gamble’ on tariffs

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 14:00
Tensions are running high after United States President Donald Trump's decision to slap tariffs on the steel and aluminium imports of close allies. Trade specialist Cédric Dupont warns that the move is bad news for the US in the long term.  Trump has imposed tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports from top US trading partners, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union, which took effect on June 1. He has also threatened tariffs on Chinese imports that could rise to some $200 billion (CHF197 billion).  The US president campaigned on a pledge to rewrite trade agreements and crack down on China, Mexico and other countries. He blames what he calls their abusive trade policies for America's persistent trade deficits – $566 billion last year.  His action has provoked retaliation from key allies, including the EU and Canada, who filed challenges with the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO) last week. Mexico responded in kind by imposing its own duties ...
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Switzerland among the European countries that invest the most

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 13:46
Switzerland is one of the few European countries where more investments are made today relative to ten years ago. This achievement comes in spite a strong Swiss franc, which was particularly detrimental to parts of the industrial sector. It shows the Swiss economy is rebounding after the global economic crisis that began in 2008.  While the political situation in Italy has raised fears of further turbulence in financial markets, many European countries are still struggling to recover from the financial crisis that has weighed down their economies for the past decade. This is clear from various indicators, particularly the index on public and private sector investment recently published by Eurostat last month. In 2017, the countries of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, which also includes Switzerland) recorded public and private investments totaling about 3.2 billion euros (CHF3.7 billion, $3.5 billion). This is a considerable amount, but still ...
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How drones are transforming humanitarian aid

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 11:00
Whether delivering cargo to remote areas, mapping terrain or assessing structural damage, drones – usually associated with the military and sport – are being used more and more for humanitarian aid. But it turns out that using drones for good isn’t so simple. On May 15, experts convened in Cambridge, Massachusetts to develop much-needed guidelines for this emerging application of a powerful technology. The event was run by Swiss-American non-profit WeRobotics, and hosted by swissnex Boston as part of its new event series, Aerial Futures: The Drone Frontier. Participants came from humanitarian organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), universities including Harvard and MIT, tech companies, and local government.  But the question on everyone’s minds was: How can the powerful robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies used in drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – be harnessed safely and effectively for good? “We're ...
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