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Overweight kids, banned foreigners and a new home for Swiss guards

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 04/28/2019 - 11:38
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 some of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. 17.3 The percentage of school-going Swiss children considered overweight or obese. A study revealed various factors that made a difference in the health of minors. 80 The oldest Swiss school abroad in South America is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. The Colegio Suizo in Santiago, Chile was feted by a visit from Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis. 25 The percentage of Swiss girls born in 2017 that can expect to reach the ripe old age of 100. Swiss boys born that year can expect to live to 81.4 years compared to 85.4 years for girls. 78 The number of people banned from entering Switzerland in 2018 due to links to terror-related activities. Despite an almost 50% drop in numbers, the Federal Intelligence Service warned that there ...
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How a trip from Bern to Bucharest changed Swiss diplomacy

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 04/28/2019 - 11:00
Fifty years ago, Swiss diplomacy embarked on a new path when cabinet minister Willy Spühler travelled to Romania. It was the first time a Swiss foreign minister had visited a country in Eastern Europe. “While [Romanian] Prime Minister Maurer, jovial and full of vigour, showed little restraint in his comments, President Ceaușescu presented himself as the party puritan, who considered and weighed up every single word. It was clear he didn’t want to leave anyone in any doubt about his political convictions and his loyalty to communism. On the other hand, he hammered out just as clearly and unequivocally the Romanian position on independence and national sovereignty as well as states not interfering in other states’ affairs.”  ​​​​​​​ That was taken from a report dated April 30, 1969, by Hans Miesch, head of the Eastern service of the Swiss federal political department.  In the mid-1960s, a fresh wind blew through relations between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe.
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Winter and spring brawl in this ancient Swiss tradition

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 04/27/2019 - 11:00
There are many traditional customs in Switzerland marking the transition from winter to spring. One of them, the “Eierleset”, is an ancient tradition involving eggs, elaborate costumes and a physical fight between the seasons. First, eggs are lined up along the road leading through the village. The Eierleset officially begins when participants pick them up. First comes “team spring”, a costumed troupe consisting of a masked wedding couple and the "Hüehnermaa", or the “chicken man”. In the past, he held a hen in his arms to show everyone where the eggs – a traditional symbol of fertility –  came from. Then come the members of “team winter”, in costumes stuffed with straw. They are accompanied by an elderly couple, the counterpart to spring’s newlyweds. Village authorities consisting of a "priest”, a "policeman" and five representatives from the local gymnastics club act as judges in the battle of the seasons. They are often former participants on “team spring” or “team winter” ...
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Switzerland’s open-air voting is now streamed online

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 04/27/2019 - 08:00
On Sunday, the residents of the Swiss canton of Appenzell Inner Rhodes will choose their senator via a traditional show of hands in a tradition known as the “Landsgemeinde”. For the first time, the election will be broadcast live on the internet. By voting for their representative in Switzerland’s upper house of parliament, canton Appenzell Inner Rhodes will kick off the 2019 federal elections. However, they will be doing it in their own unique style. The Landsgemeinde is one of the oldest and simplest forms of direct democracy in Switzerland. All registered electors are invited once a year to assemble in the open air to elect the government with a show of hands. Glarus is the only other Swiss canton which still follows the practice but voting is restricted to changes in the constitution and laws or set tax levels. + Town square voting: all pomp or pure democracy? Appenzell Inner Rhodes’ flirtation with a live online broadcast of the Landsgemeinde is a pilot project. The ...
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Honda Power Equipment Launches Honda Heroes

News Machinery - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 20:05

  Honda Power Equipment, a business unit of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced the launch of a new public service campaign, Honda Heroes - a program created to recognize individuals who perform voluntary, selfless acts, while using Honda power products to benefit others. Honda Power Equipment markets a complete range of outdoor power products including generators, walk-behind and robotic lawn mowers, pumps, snow blowers, tillers, and string trimmers for residential, commer...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=239754

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Flexible 100 MW Combined Heat and Power Plant in Germany Achieves First Start

News Machinery - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 19:07

The new combined heat and power (CHP) plant built by Kraftwerke Mainz-Wiesbaden AG (KMW) and supplied by Wärtsilä has successfully achieved its so-called first start. In this first run on April 18th the gas-fuelled Wärtsilä 34SG engines of the plant were started for the first time on site. This project milestone constitutes an important step towards the start of operations of the power plant later this year. Municipal energy producer KMW can in future reliably provide 100 MW of electrical...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=239681

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GreenWood, Inc. Earns Prestigious Lighthouse Beam Safety Award for 9th Consecutive Year

News Machinery - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 17:26

Greenville, SC - - April 23, 2019 - - GreenWood, Inc., an integrated maintenance, construction and workforce solutions provider, was recently presented with the Lighthouse Beam Safety Award for achieving excellence in safety performance throughout their organization.  The prestigious award is issued by McGriff Insurance Services.  To qualify, a company must achieve outstanding overall safety performance based on criteria for a client's workers' compensation policy loss ratio, workers' comp...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=239592

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Radioactive waste: Japan learns from Switzerland’s mistakes

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:44
How and where should countries build safe permanent storage sites for highly radioactive nuclear waste? As Japan remembers the victims of the  Fukushima power plant disaster, it is looking at the Swiss approach to the problem to figure out how to involve locals in the discussion. Eight years have passed since that terrible March Friday when an earthquake and tsunami struck the east coast of Japan. The huge tidal wave crashed down on the atomic power station of Fukushima, knocking out its cooling system. The result was a three-reactor meltdown, which amounted to the most serious nuclear disaster in history along with Chernobyl. The disaster of March 11, 2011 once again reminded the world of the risks associated with atomic energy. While study of the effects of Fukushima on people and the environment continues, another much older problem is as yet to be resolved. Where can the thousands of tons of radioactive waste produced every year around the world be stored? For Pascale Jana ...
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Women bankers criticise UBS over maternity leave cuts to bonuses

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:39
Top women bankers at UBS have criticised Switzerland’s biggest lender over its practice of using their maternity leave as a reason for imposing long-term cuts to their bonuses, raising questions over its commitment to gender equality. Some have resigned in frustration — forgoing promotions in at least two cases — while others having begrudgingly continued working for less pay than before they became mothers, according to several current and former UBS employees. One woman had her bonus reduced and re-based four times after having had four children. Another was informed that being a working mother was a “lifestyle choice” by means of explanation for her lower bonus, while someone else was told to “focus on her baby” when she challenged the policy. “Basically once pregnant, one will never catch-up again with male colleagues in the career one has built up prior to going on maternity,” said one of the women, who still works for the bank. Despite multiple complaints, “the practice ...
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Political (in)correctness lights up Basel carnival

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 11:07
“To the end” is the motto of this year’s Basel carnival, which began on Monday at 4am. As the lights went out in the city centre, colourful satirical lanterns illuminated the 10,000 revellers and musicians. (Keystone SDA, swissinfo.ch) “Morgestraich, vorwärts marsch!” (morning parade, forward march!). The cry rang out and the groups started shuffling along the streets of Basel’s Old Town behind their massive lanterns. The sky was clear, the wind was calm, and drummers and pipers ensured everyone was wide awake.  The range of targets for the lanterns was as wide as in previous years. In addition to racism, environmental pollution and assisted suicide, the satirists took aim at global news events (US President Donald Trump as a pedlar of fake news) as well as more local ones (a blaze in a Basel timber yard).  As expected, gender roles, sexism and political (in)correctness played a significant role.  ​​​​​​​ The motto, “Bis zletscht” (to the end), alludes to the end of the ...
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A day in the life of an avalanche dog

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 15:00
Vali Meier, responsible for rescue and safety in the Davos-Klosters mountain region, skis off down the slope with canine colleague Woopy on his shoulders. Today, Woopy is looking for a buried dummy.  It’s impossible to say when dogs started being used to rescue avalanche victims. The Swiss Alpine Rescue service says it is not certain that the renowned St Bernard, Barry, was the first. Barry is thought to have kept watch over the St Bernard pass in the 1800s and saved around 40 people.  In 1937 a group of 18 schoolboys was hit by an avalanche in the Bernese Oberland. While rescuers managed to find 17 of them, one was still missing. The search was on the point of being called off when a local mixed-breed dog known as Moritzli drew the rescuers' attention to a particular location in the snow. After prodding the ground with sticks, they found the 18th member of the group who was resuscitated.  A dog specialist, Ferdinand Smutz, heard the story and in 1940 presented the idea of ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss workplace inequality, by the numbers

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 12:00
Work, politics, wages: the differences between women and men in Switzerland are significant. We look at five areas in which women are still underrepresented, and how the Swiss compare internationally. Equality between women and men has long been enshrined in the Swiss constitution - since 1981. But differences remain when it comes to working life. 1. Employment What percentage of the population over the age of 15 has paid jobs? In most countries, the proportion is higher among men, even in Switzerland. According to World Bank data, the difference between women and men is greatest in Turkey. In Switzerland, around 60% of women aged 15 and over are employed, while the figure for men is 70%, which is the average among member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The differences between women and men are smallest in Scandinavia. 2. Working time There is a significant gender gap when it comes to full- and part-time work. In all OECD- ...
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Big money, big vehicles

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 18:00
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 some of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. 1/3 The share of Switzerland’s landscapes that are undeveloped. Most of 2,400 “near-natural” areas identified by Swiss scientists are in the mountains while very few undeveloped areas exist at lower altitudes. 1,000 On Tuesday, the Swiss bank unveiled a new 1,000-franc note with a purple hue and motif celebrating the country’s multilingualism. The new note goes into circulation starting in Bern and Zurich on March 13. 3 The number of elements discovered by Swiss scientists in the periodic table that celebrates its 150th anniversary. Can you guess which ones? 49 The percentage of four-wheel drive vehicles sold in Switzerland last year – a Swiss record and double the share of a decade ago. Switzerland’s growing love affair with big vehicles will likely make ...
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Corruption: Is Trudeau like Blair?

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 12:18
The political scandal currently gripping Canada and the British Aerospace case under Tony Blair both show money’s corrupting influence, writes Swiss anti-bribery expert Mark Pieth. On February 27, the former Canadian Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, took the courageous step of explaining to the media how she had been pushed out of office. Even though she is independent according to the Canadian Constitution, she had for months been cajoled by high-ranking officials close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to strike a deal with the Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin, rather than go to court over whether the company paid bribes to the family of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The reasons for the political pressure are obvious. SNC-Lavalin has its head office in Québec, Trudeau’s main power base. His fear was – as he admits – a dramatic loss of jobs, as a corruption conviction would possibly lead to the barring of SNC-Lavalin from future business. The case ...
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The golden age of winter tourism in Grindelwald

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 12:00
Grindelwald was the first thermal spa town in the Bernese Oberland region to open up to winter tourism at the end of the 19th century. Photos from private collections provide a glimpse into this bygone era. It must have been an exciting time for the small village near Interlaken: with the construction of a road and, a few years later, a cogwheel railway, a connection to the wider world was suddenly established. In 1888, the village experienced a tourist boom thanks to the development of winter sports. Visitors from all over the world came to enjoy sleigh rides, curling, skating and, increasingly, skiing. This boom also encouraged investment - hotels installed central heating and electric lighting. Optimism at the turn of the century was boundless: there were plans to build a casino and make all the mountains accessible by train. However, the outbreak of the war in 1914 led to a collapse of foreign tourism and these ambitious plans had to be buried. Blast from the past The ...
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Oldest Swiss Abroad dies at age 110

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:13
Rodolphe Buxcel, who was born in 1908, passed away last month in Michigan, United States. He was born in a Swiss settlement in tsarist Russia and lived a frugal life in the US in his last years. With roots in the town of Romainmôtier in the French-speaking Swiss canton of Vaud, Buxcel was born in the Swiss settlement of Chabag, under the regime of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicolas II. One of his ancestors, Jacques-François Buxcel, had emigrated there with his six children and wife. The Swiss enclave was created in 1822 by Swiss botanist Louis-Vincent Tardent. Like all Chabag families, the Buxcels kept a Swiss passport during the 120 years of the colony's existence. The youngest of ten children, Buxcel lived a comfortable life in what is now Ukraine. His father owned 50 hectares of vineyards and 130 hectares of arable land. The family prospered until June 28, 1940, when the Soviets arrived. They lost their land and all their belongings. The family then spent five years in camps in ...
Categories: News EN

Mothers face double-edged sword in Swiss workplace culture

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 10:25
Switzerland’s part-time work options can be both a blessing and a curse for working mothers. More women are now calling for an end to a stigma on mothers in the workplace that is holding their careers and the country back. Ingrid Bringas’ career was on the upswing at a big multinational company in Switzerland until she told her employer she was pregnant. “I was managing a global project for Ceva Logistics with 13 to 14 smaller projects running in parallel. I told them I was pregnant, and another manager was put on the project and I was shoved aside.” The real kicker came when she was told not to return the day after her maternity leave ended and given three months’ salary as severance. In a response to swissinfo.ch, Ceva Logistics said they don’t comment on individual cases but that it is a priority to treat all employees equally. A Zurich-area woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, had a similar experience at a big tech multinational in Zurich where she says she was left out ...
Categories: News EN

Taxing airline tickets is an ‘absurd’ idea

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 15:38
Switzerland, like many other nations, is wrestling with how to curb greenhouse gas emissions caused by air traffic. A Swiss aviation expert outlines how the sector is combatting emissions.  The Swiss love to fly, much more than other Europeans. On average, each Swiss citizen flies 9,000 kilometres a year, according to 2015 figures.  Recently, there have been growing calls for stricter rules to curb CO2 emissions in the aviation sector, particularly from young people and environmental groups. Such emissions represent 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, or 10% in Switzerland (2016 figure).  In Bern, leftwing parliamentarians have suggested imposing a climate tax on plane tickets, like those adopted in Italy, France, Germany and Britain. Parliamentarians in the lower House of Representatives rejected such a proposal last December, but it is currently being examined in the Senate as part of the revision of the Swiss CO2 law.  swissinfo.ch talked to Hansjörg Bürgi, editor-in-chief of the ...
Categories: News EN

The dark Swiss fertility tradition with hunters and ‘victims’

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 12:09
Masked men pin down young women and force them to wear blackface. The “Pschuuri” Ash Wednesday festival in eastern Switzerland is possibly the least politically correct custom in the world.  That said, as with other Swiss traditions that might raise eyebrows abroad – for example the cattle show where six-year-olds are allowed to smoke – everyone has a good time and there’s a happy ending involving a big meal.  “Pschuure” means “to blacken” in the local dialect and is an important part of carnival in Splügen, a village near the Italian border in canton Graubünden where all these images were taken on Wednesday. The day begins with young children getting dressed up and harmlessly going from house with a basket around their neck begging for sweets.  In the afternoon, however, things get darker. Literally. Unmarried young men, “Pschuurirolli”, put on furs, masks and bells. Armed with a sackful of a greasy coal mixture, they hit the streets looking for children and, in particular, ...
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Robotic hand teaches kids the power of tech and empathy

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 12:00
On Saturday mornings, a Basel arts centre becomes a playground for kids on a humanitarian mission. They're making 3D-printed hands for their peers in need, learning both technical skills and understanding for others.  They are focused on one part: a prosthetic finger that can be used for the performance of vital daily tasks or simply add an element of fun. “Imagine you have no hand and you can’t eat or drink, you can’t enjoy food,” says Aditi who is working on what she calls a SPRIFE, an index finger replacement that combines the functionality of a fork, spoon and knife. High-tech, low cost helping hand The 13-year-old is taking part in a private class provided by  TechLabs in Switzerland. The programme is certified by Enabling the Future, an international online community of 8,000 people which is using 3D printing technology to create printed hands and arms for those in need of such devices. One in 2,000 children born each day could benefit from such a device, according to ...
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