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Is racism on the rise in Switzerland?

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 14:03
What do the Swiss think about racism in their country? Is it on the increase? swissinfo.ch asked people in the streets of Bellinzona. In 2017, the Network for Victims of Racism  registered 301 cases of racial discrimination, which was 100 more than the previous year. Is racism really on the rise in Switzerland? There are no simple answers.   The increased number of cases does not necessarily mean there is more racism, according to the organisation’s report. It could also be because people are more aware of advisory centres, whose number has also risen (from 5 to 27 in ten years).  People in the streets of Bellinzona also had different opinions on the issue. One young man told the story of an African friend who was beaten up because of his skin colour. Another person said there was a lot of racism in Switzerland, but not more than in other countries.
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Cows continue to suffer for ‘beauty ideal’

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 11:59
Cow shows are public festivals in Switzerland. Everyone wants to lead the most beautiful cow into the ring, doing her hair, rubbing her with lotion, using sprays to make her glisten. But this year people are nervous at Expo Bulle, the Swiss National Holstein and Red Holstein Show.  The giant udders of the animals which play a central role in the milk cow exhibition have resulted in new rules.  Owners extend the milking times and glue the teats so that no milk can get out. But cows suffer if they go too long without being milked. A study conducted last year showed that around a quarter of the cows checked at the exhibition displayed udder oedema. This can be painful and is a visible sign of overfilled udders.  Since the beginning of 2018, vets have checked with ultrasound the udders of the two top-placing cows directly after the presentation at all exhibitions. If they find an oedema – an excess of watery fluid in tissue – the breeder will face consequences, depending on the ...
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The rebirth of Ma Anand Sheela: from Rajneeshee queen to carer for disabled

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 11:00
Sheela Biernstiel - aka Ma Anand Sheela – has created a new life for herself in Switzerland as a carer for the mentally disabled, leaving behind her notoriety as the suspected mastermind behind a bioterror plot in the United States.  When you arrive in the village of Maisprach, you know you are in rural Switzerland. The yellow postal bus - transporting elderly women carrying grocery bags and school children returning home for lunch - drops me off near the village centre. First unsure of which direction to take, I spot a sign at the bus stop for Matrusaden, the disabled home run by Sheela.  The route there follows a narrow road through green fields and meanders uphill towards a small glen. Just as I begin to wonder if I’d missed a turn, I spot another Matrusaden sign poking out of a carpet of dead leaves. I plod on with growing apprehension of meeting the notorious Sheela. Her Wikipedia page, that I had consulted earlier, does her no favours.  “As the personal secretary of ...
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Viktor Vekselberg: a discreet Russian oligarch in Switzerland

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 15:18
Publicity-shy Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg is again attracting the type of headlines he could do without. Vekselberg and his investment group Renova have been named on a list of United States sanctions targets, which is bad news for the Swiss firms he owns. Renova has been forced to reduce its holding in Sulzer to below 50% to shield the Swiss industrial pumps manufacturer from US sanctions. Sulzer’s association with Vekselberg caused its shares to tumble, along with Oerlikon and Schmolz + Bickenbach, which are also part-owned by Renova. So who is Viktor Vekselberg and what is his connection to Switzerland? The Russian is currently worth more than $13 billion (CHF12.4 billion), making him the ninth wealthiest person in Russia according to Forbes. He has risen from selling scrap metal in Russia to owning the world’s largest collection of Fabergé eggs. He nominally resides in Switzerland for tax purposes, but travels the world extensively, and calls himself a world citizen.
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The group giving a voice to the elderly

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:00
Since 2001, the Swiss Council for the Elderly (CSA, according to its French initials) has given this ever-larger sector of the population a means of speaking out and being heard. But challenges still lie ahead. “Before, politicians made the decisions affecting the elderly. There were various retirement organisations, but no national group. Now, the Council represents and fights for the interests of this community before the federal parliament and government,” says CSA co-director Michel Pillonel. The CSA has about 200,000 members, but as spokesperson for the retired community it represents a much larger number: 1,800,000. It works to safeguard their dignity, quality of life, and social and political participation, especially when it comes to decisions affecting them. As their motto puts it, “we don’t want to be spoken about, we want to be spoken with”. Among the group’s main concerns are the precarious living situation of a third of retired people, the constant increases in ...
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Should English be used when the Swiss Abroad meet?

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:00
The use of English at official meetings of Swiss expatriates is an issue regularly tabled for discussion. At last month's session of the Swiss Abroad Council, delegates passionately argued for and against a proposal to allow English as an option.  Supporters said English is the main language among the Swiss community outside Europe and particularly among the younger generation.  They said it's in the interest of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) - representing the more than 750,000 registered Swiss living outside their home country - to include a third language besides German and French, but not the other official Swiss languages of Italian and Romansh. However, opponents fervently defended the current policy, saying it is a matter of cultural identity, tradition and pride to stick to Swiss languages only. When it came to a vote, opponents had the upper hand with 47 against, 22 in favour and a few abstentions. The defeated side may have taken some consolation from the ...
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How to clear the ocean of plastic? With a giant sailing boat

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:55
A giant solar-powered catamaran to clean the ocean of plastic is the brainchild of French-Swiss navigator Yvan Bourgnon. The boat, named Manta, is to be unveiled for the first time in Geneva this week. Every year almost 9 million tonnes of plastic waste is thrown into the sea. In the North Pacific alone, a giant field of waste – sometimes nicknamed the seventh continent – is now thought to spread over more than 1.6 million square kilometres. Swiss inventors in Geneva The 46th edition of the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, which runs from April 11 to 15, will display more than 1,000 inventions, conceived by 800 exhibitors from 40 countries. As well as a model of Bourgnon’s sea-cleaner boat, presented in the non-competition category, visitors will be able to discover two inventions of the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL): ROVéo, a terrestrial robot agile across all terrains, and Dronistics, a system for delivering small packages by drone. ...
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HBIS Steel Making World's Top Portal Crane

News Machinery - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:16

The world's largest, Type MYQ 5000-ton portal crane successfully lifted the 2638-tons xylene tower, the core equipment of Dalian Heling Petro Chemical Project. All steel plates of this crane were exclusively provided by HBIS.In total, HBIS has delivered over 1500tons of high end plates to this project. - MYQ 5000 ton portal crane adopted the most advanced design concepts of the industry and realized the gliding structure in the self lifting system and a 360 degrees rolling shaft for 5000ton...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=222496

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Swiss kids still prefer outside play to smartphones

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 11:00
Although nearly one in two Swiss primary school kids owns a smartphone, their favourite activities remain playing outside, sports and meeting friends, says a nationwide survey. They also spend half the time on gaming and watching television as their counterparts in the United Kingdom. Around 90% of children in Switzerland played inside or outside at least once a week in 2017, while 84% did sports and 80% met friends, according to the latest MIKE (Medien, Interaktion, Kinder, Eltern) digital media survey of over 1,000 children aged six to 13, as well as over 600 parents. “Children really like being with other children, so classical activities like going outside and meeting friends still can’t be topped,” said study co-author Gregor Waller, from the media psychology section of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Television was the first media form to appear on the list of Swiss kids’ favourite pastimes, above using a mobile phone. But when ranking only digital media ...
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GE Renewable Energy to develop with Mass Energy Group its first wind farm project in Jordan

News Machinery - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 18:07

 GE Renewable Energy (NYSE: GE) today announced that it will provide its latest generation of 3.6-137 wind turbines to Mass Energy Group Holding, a subsidiary of Mass Global, to develop a 100 MW Mass Wind project in the country.  This clean energy project will meet the power requirements of over 150,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by 233,800 metric tons annually. This will be the first windfarm in Jordan for both GE and Mass Global and builds on their longstanding business relations...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=222444

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How a Swiss jet gets made

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 16:57
The new business plane from Swiss manufacturer Pilatus has been 12 years in the making. A behind-the-scenes look at the assembly line shows what it took for the company to make its first-ever jet aircraft. The PC-24 business jet can fly distances up to 3,600 kilometres (2,236 miles) and can reach top speeds of 815 kilometres per hour. Pilatus invested more than CHF500 million ($522 million) in developing and producing the PC-24 at its operations hub in the central Swiss canton of Nidwalden. The 17-metre-long business jet is the only one of its kind that can start and land on short runways made of sand and gravel. The company says that 84 orders have been placed for the PC-24 so far, 23 of which it plans to deliver in 2018. The US company PlaneSense, which offers a sort of time share model for business jets, is receiving the first PC-24. Pilatus revealed in December that the PC-24 jet had obtained type certificates from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US ...
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Cross-border workers in Geneva face ‘toxic’ environment

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 11:00
Cross-border workers are tired of being the target of political attacks in Geneva, says the president of a French-Swiss cross-border lobby group, who calls for a change in current rhetoric to prevent future damage to the Swiss economy.  For Michel Charrat, president of the Groupement transfrontalier européen, disenchantment between Geneva and its cross-border workers may be at its lowest point. The lobby group, which he has headed for 20 years, supports commuters with legal, social and financial advice, as well as help looking for work in the region.  Charrat paints a worrisome picture as the Geneva cantonal elections on April 15 draw near and parties like the populist Geneva Citizens’ Movement (Mouvement Citoyen Genevois) and the conservative right Swiss People’s Party take aim at cross-border workers in their campaigns.  swissinfo.ch: The election campaign in Geneva began with renewed attacks on cross-border workers. What’s your view on this development?  Michel Charrat:
Categories: News EN

What’s to be done about killer robots?

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 11:00
Activists seeking to persuade nations to ban so-called killer robots say they are cautiously optimistic about official talks on the future of such autonomous weapons, which reconvened at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday.  This week over 120 United Nations member states are meeting at the Palais des Nations complex to continue expert talks on the future challenges posed by lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), decried as “killer robots” by critics.  Since 2014, diplomats, disarmament experts and civil society groups have met five times in the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to discuss the multiple ethical, legal, operational and technical challenges of such systems.  Most states acknowledge that some action is needed to address concerns over the robots but seem to differ on the form it should take. While countries agree that international law should apply to the future development of LAWS, there is still no common agreement on the exact ...
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ICO start-up funding craze starts to show cracks

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 10:03
Fears are growing about the high proportion of early business failures resulting from last year’s “initial coin offering” (ICO) crowdfunding craze, which raised an estimated $4 billion (CHF3.9 billion) worldwide. Statistics from ICO monitoring platform TokenData show that between 40% and 50% of 2017 vintage firms, which formed using this type of start-up capital, have already failed. This has raised the spectre of an accelerated dotcom bubble-style collapse. Switzerland emerged as a hub for ICO activity last year, generating some CHF850 million in 2017, according to research by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The adaptation of Swiss foundations as ICO piggy banks also attracted the attention of foreign start-ups such as Tezos and Bancor. Industry insiders, such as Switzerland’s Crypto Valley Association president Oliver Bussmann, have long been predicting that around 80% of ICO start-ups would eventually flop. But the speed of the collapse has proven something ...
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Voith modernizes high-performance machine in pumped storage power plant in Vianden, Luxembourg

News Machinery - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:43

- - • More efficient electricity production: New motor-generator from Voith increases potential output of complete generating set by more than seven percent - • Faster response to changes in load requirements from the grid - • Special design for energy transfer saves rebuild costs - - - Voith has won the order to modernize a motor-generator in the Vianden pumped storage plant in Luxembourg. The project covers the design, calculation, construction, delivery and assembly of one of the t...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=222403

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What the Swiss do for their benches

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 17:00
Benches are considered cultural heritage in Switzerland. But because the state is trying to save money, the private sector is increasingly having to step in. (All images: Keystone)  For 200 years, a public bench has welcomed weary hikers at the Giessbach Falls above Lake Brienz. It was, however, an urban invention for rich people: in the middle of the 19th century, benches were installed in public parks but ended up being used mostly by the middle classes going for a stroll.  Since then, benches have become a Swiss tradition, with a “Bench Day” being held on June 17 as part of cultural heritage year 2018.  But maintaining public benches costs money. Last year, the city of Winterthur removed several of them because the authorities had to tighten their belts. Lucerne wanted to do the same three years ago, but local artists and carpenters jumped in and looked after the 1,300 or so benches for free.  Countless volunteer associations across the country work to install and maintain ...
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Cross-border workers, kids and cultural heritage

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 12:00
Here are the stories we'll be following the week of April 9: Monday As the Geneva cantonal elections on April 15 draw near, cross-border workers are tired of being the target of political attacks by populist parties. The president of a French-Swiss cross-border lobby group is calling for a change in current rhetoric to prevent future damage to the Swiss economy.    Tuesday A nationwide survey brings some good news just in time for spring: Swiss kids still prefer playing outside to using their smartphones. They also spend half as much time on gaming and watching television as their counterparts in Britain.   Wednesday We take you to the other end of the age spectrum and how the Swiss Council for the Elderly is helping older people have a voice in politics. Among its main concerns are the precarious living situation of a third of retired people, constant increases in health insurance costs, and the limbo-like situation of a growing section of society:
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Janina Kauz: ‘In London, the world is on my doorstep’

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 11:00
Studying in a global city guarantees contacts all over the world. Janina Kauz, a 23-year-old Swiss expat, could hardly have chosen a better location for her studies in intercultural communication than London.  swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland? Janina Kauz: I moved to London to study because the course I am doing, Intercultural Communications in the Creative Industries, doesn’t exist in Switzerland. The course began in September 2017 and that’s when I arrived in London. The views expressed in this article, including those concerning the host country and its politics, are exclusively those of the person portrayed and do not necessarily represent the positions of swissinfo.ch. The first months were interesting and exciting, but also very tiring. Although London is not so far away and doesn’t feel very foreign to us, you still gain a lot of new impressions and have to get used to new situations. After a while, things settled down. It’s certainly not a one-way trip. I ...
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Swiss citizens, at home and abroad

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 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. Monday 9,000,000,000 A new star has been found nine billion light-years from Earth, with help from scientists at the University of Geneva and Lausanne's Federal Institute of Technology. “MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1”, or Icarus for short, is 100 times more distant than the furthest stars studied so far. Tuesday 7 Venezuela protested against a series of "grotesque" and "illegal" sanctions imposed by Switzerland, including a ban on seven senior Venezuelan officials from entering or passing through the country. Wednesday 35 The number of years Switzerland's most infamous bank robber had spent in prison on his release. Thursday 751,800 The number of Swiss citizens who live outside Switzerland; 54.5% are women. Friday 8,482,200 Following a decade of annual ...
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What the Swiss abroad think about Switzerland

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 14:00
There are Swiss living all over the world - and we've found some of them on Instagram. What do they think of Switzerland from afar? Swiss abroad can tag their pictures on Instagram with #WeAreSwissAbroad. That's how we found some very interesting people who have been telling us their emigration stories. The result: more than 30 portraits. All have answered this question: "How you perceive Switzerland from afar?" Now, after the first collection of answers, comes part two, with reactions from those who have moved to the Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, Turkey, Austria, Indonesia, Portugal, Canada and Great Britain. Doris Hofer, Istanbul / TurkeyMoved to Turkey in 2004 for loveHas two childrenFitness and nutrition tips have made her an Instagram star "If you speak Turkish, people open their hearts and simply love you. This can be quite useful and it is certainly beneficial for my television shows. Also, I’ve never received any hateful comments here, unlike in Switzerland.
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