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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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Why beating plastic pollution must be a global priority

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 07:00
Shortly after the introduction of the world’s first synthetic plastic, a magazine published the prediction that one day this magic material would make up everything we touch, see and use. They were wrong, but not by much. More than 100 years after its invention, humanity is addicted to plastic. The benefits of plastic are undeniable. It’s cheap, lightweight, durable and easy to make. It can be used in thousands of different ways. Our food lasts longer because of it. Modern medicine would not exist without it.  But the very properties that have made plastic so revolutionary have created a cycle of irresponsible production, over-consumption and waste.  Today you’ll find plastic where you least expect it, including the foods we eat, the water we drink and indeed the environments in which we live. Once in the environment, it enters our food chain where, increasingly, microplastic particles are turning up in our own stomachs, blood and lungs. Scientists are only beginning to study ...
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Carla Del Ponte: ‘We didn’t achieve anything; I’m angry’

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 02:00
Swiss prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s international reputation has always been driven by her strong sense of justice and fighting spirit. But the 71-year-old says her efforts to investigate human rights violations and war crimes in Syria have clearly failed. Del Ponte was the first guest on a new talk show broadcast by online magazine Republik (link in German). Roger de Weck, the former general director of swissinfo.ch’s parent company, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, interviewed the illustrious human rights expert from canton Ticino.  Carla Del Ponte Her roles have included mafia hunter, Swiss federal prosecutor and investigator on the international tribunal for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Most recently, Del Ponte has served as a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry into the violation of human rights and war crimes in Syria. It was here that the resolute and assertive prosecutor tasted defeat – something that still hurts today. She expressed her frustration in her ...
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Enhancing sustainability through collaboration

News Machinery - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 18:36

Scientists from Saudi Aramco's Research and Development Center (R&DC) recently organized the eighth annual meeting of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute. The meeting, held at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) in Riyadh, brought together more than 100 experts from institutions in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and the U.S. The theme of the meeting was “Clean and Efficient Utilization of Fuels for a Sustainable Future.” The meeting was jointl...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=224864

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Enforcement of OSHA's Final Rule on Occupational Exposure to Beryllium

News Machinery - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 15:01

Enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) final rule covering occupational exposure to beryllium began on May 11th  of this year. It established new Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) and contains several other ancillary provisions that apply to general industry, construction and shipyards, codified in three separate standards. Key provisions of the new rule: - - - • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic met...

Read the full story at https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=224844

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Swiss vocational training serves as a model for others

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:00
Singapore, the United States and Mozambique: three countries, three very different apprenticeship experiences. What do they hope to learn in Switzerland this week at a key congress on vocational and professional training? While Singapore, with an unemployment rate of 2%, is looking to expand its educational options with vocational training, Mozambique, which has 25% unemployment, sees apprenticeships as a way of giving youth skills and jobs. The US has about 4% jobless, but an acknowledged deficit in skilled workers. To find out how apprenticeships work in their homelands, swissinfo.ch contacted an expert from each of these countries attending the 3rd International Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) Congress, which starts in Winterthur on June 6. Switzerland’s own dual system, that combines education with an apprenticeship at a host company, is often held up as a model for others. + Read more about how the Swiss dual track system works here Ong Ye ...
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Martha Stettler: a modern female artist from another time

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 09:57
As a woman working as an artist in the late 19th century, it was never going to be easy for Martha Stettler. Despite her talent and support from her family, the Swiss artist struggled to find a place in the art history books. Now, her work is being celebrated in a retrospective where it all began: the Bern Museum of Fine Arts. Martha Stettler was born into a bourgeois family in Bern, on September 25, 1870. Her father, Eugen Stettler - the architect of the Bern museum - recognised and supported his daughter’s artistic talent.  Having sketched the complete collection of plaster sculptures in the museum her father had helped to build, her devotion to drawing paved the way to an education at Bern’s College of Art in 1886 and later on, to Paris aged 23 in 1893. She made Paris her home and it was here that she came to be mentored by the French painter Lucien Simon, who introduced Martha to impressionist painting. Together with her partner Alice Dannenberg, she founded the ‘Académie ...
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Apprentices, drones and direct democracy

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 12:00
Here are the stories we'll be following the week of June 4: Monday Singapore, the United States and Mozambique: three countries, three very different apprenticeship experiences. What do experts from these countries hope to learn from a key international congress on vocational and professional training, shortly to be held in Winterthur, Switzerland? Tuesday Whether delivering cargo to remote areas, mapping terrain or assessing structural damage, drones are being used more and more in humanitarian operations. But it turns out that using drones for good isn’t so simple. swissinfo.ch found out more at a special event hosted by swissnex Boston.  Wednesday Finding housing for refugees in Switzerland is difficult given the high demand for accommodation. We look at how the authorities have repurposed unusual buildings to lodge refugees as a stop-gap measure. Thursday We take a peek into the invitation-only conference for scientific visionaries that are trying to change the world.
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‘British food is much better than its reputation’

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 11:00
Stephanie Züger-Legler loves her life in northeast England, even though the region is confronted with many problems such as homelessness, drug abuse and littering. The 35-year-old Swiss is a big fan of the friendly locals as well as the English school system.  swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland? Stephanie Züger-Legler: I emigrated with my family for professional reasons three years ago.  swissinfo.ch: Do you intend to go back to Switzerland eventually? S.Z.-L.: We wanted to stay for a year. I was still on maternity leave. However, I was so fascinated by the Northeast that I extended my stay indefinitely. Luckily, returning to Switzerland will always be an option. The points of view stated in this article, especially about the host country and its politics, are the interviewee’s points of view and are not necessarily in line with swissinfo.ch’s position. swissinfo.ch: What do you do for a living? S.Z.-L.: In England, the system of apprenticeships and further ...
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Graffiti bill, cash economy and costly drugs

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 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.   5,400,000 The Swiss Federal Railways spent CHF5.4 million ($5.48 million) in 2017 to clean up graffiti on trains and infrastructure. According to the firm, the costs are passed on to travellers via either higher ticket prices or taxes.  70  According to a Swiss National Bank survey, 70% of Swiss payments are made with cash. Those surveyed believe cash is more widely accepted, user-friendly, speedier and more cost efficient than any other payment method. 500 A new 500-seater boat will be introduced on Lake Geneva in 2020 to provide relief to cross-border workers from France. It will double the number of crossings between Evian in France and the Swiss city of Lausanne.   30 The Zurich airport was shut down for 30 minutes last Thursday due to concerns over ...
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Out and about with the railway police

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 11:00
Since 2009, the Swiss Federal Railways have had their own dedicated police corps. Photographer Didier Ruef documented the daily life of one of these special units in southern Switzerland.  Some 250 police officers are currently working for the Swiss Federal Railways in all the language regions of the country. About 20 of them work in the southern canton of Ticino. The railways are constantly expanding their police corps, due to the increasing rudeness of passengers, as well as modern society’s increased need for security. Railway police rights are laid down by law: they can protect, search or arrest people, check tickets, detect and prosecute criminal offences. They can also record and report acts of vandalism or violence. During an arrest, they may use handcuffs or restraints to hand over a suspect to the regular police. The railway police’s working day is usually shaped by the mood and behaviour of travellers. These can be very different depending on the time of the day. In ...
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Asbestos: scientific breakthroughs and political debate

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 17:00
As the issue of compensation for victims of cancer linked to asbestos exposure is debated in the Swiss parliament, new research has shed light on how asbestos fibres cause cancer.  Every year, around 120 people in Switzerland develop mesothelioma. This is a rare cancer that develops in the mesothelium, a thin membrane that protects the internal organs of the chest and abdomen, and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres. In most cases, people encountered the hazardous material while at work before its use was banned nationally in 1989.  Despite ceasing the production of asbestos, people will continue to die from it for a long time, says Dr Emanuela Felley-Bosco, a researcher at the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology at University Hospital Zurich.  In a recent article she wrote for the scitecheuropa.eu website, the scientist points out that asbestos bans are not in place everywhere. Global production and consumption of asbestos peaked in 1980 at 4.8 million tonnes, before decreasing ...
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Why women vote more to the left than men

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 15:36
​​​​​​​ A wide-ranging study on voting behaviour by gender reported in the international press last month found that young women are more likely to vote for leftwing parties than their male counterparts. This appears to have been the case for some time, notably in Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands. The trend was also evident in the last Swiss parliamentary elections in 2015.  This text is part of #DearDemocracy, 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. Claude Longchamp is a senior political analyst and chairman of the GfS Bern research and polling institute. Why? Because women are more progressive than their male counterparts when it comes to social, environmental and gender issues, the study concludes. But the trend is not universal, as further research in Ireland, Italy and Belgium suggests. Switzerland has its own ...
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