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Updated: 1 hour 24 min ago

Badenfahrt festival rocks quiet spa town

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 17:00
The ten-day Badenfahrt festival happens just once every ten years – transforming the spa town of Baden into a party animal’s playground. The theme for 2017 is “opposites” and the festival features various purpose-built structures to highlight that concept. Food, drink, music and a fun fair draw a million people to Baden, which has a population of 19,000. Located along the River Limmat, Baden is a 15-minute train ride from Zurich. Established in 1923, the Badenfahrt festival is an example of intangible cultural heritage as defined by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. As a member state, Switzerland is obliged to make a list of living traditions it deems worthy of preservation. This 11th edition of Badenfahrt runs from August 18-27, 2017. For those who can’t wait until 2027 for the next one, there will be a miniature version in 2022. https://www.badenfahrt.ch/
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Enshrining food security, from the farm to the fork

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 11:00
Voters will have the final say on an integral plan for ensuring Swiss food security on September 24. The content of the text spans the entire agricultural and food-supply chain. Opposition against the amendment is very limited and seen as merely cementing the existing situation, while supporters argue it is crucial to enshrine food security in the constitution to face up to future challenges. “Food security means that the population has access to sufficient food of appropriate quality and at an affordable price at all times,” said Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, launching the campaign in June. This is the case in Switzerland today, but it was not always so. Guaranteeing the food security of future generations is therefore a legitimate concern, according to the minister. Article 104a of the Swiss constitution sets out the framework conditions for achieving this goal. Applying the amendment will not require any changes in legislation, the preparatory committees ...
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New malaria drug could be ‘game changer’

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 09:22
The first new malaria drug to emerge for 20 years is beginning clinical trials in nine countries across Africa and Asia. KAF156 could be "a game changer", its developers say, at a time when the malaria parasite is evolving resistance to existing treatments. Novartis, the Swiss drug company, has developed KAF156 in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a public-private partnership, and charities including the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation. Research suggests that the new medicine quickly clears malaria infection, including resistant strains, and blocks transmission of the parasite, said Vas Narashimhan, Novartis head of drug development. About 500 adults and children suffering from malaria will take part in the trial over the next couple of years in two Asian and seven African countries. They will receive various doses of KAF156 combined with an old antimalarial called lumefantrine. Results will be compared with a combination therapy based on ...
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‘Anna Göldi was like a wild horse, impossible to catch’

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 11:00
More than 200 years after her execution, the story of the “last witch in Europe” still fascinates. To this day, the case of Anna Göldi causes discomfort. He thinks long and hard before actually saying it. Walter Hauser knows that his words could sound sensational, or even cynical. After some hesitation, he finally utters: “It’s like a curse. I just can’t let go of this story.” Talking about a curse when referring to Göldi is somehow ironic. She was the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in Europe. Even now, well over 200 years after an executioner from Glarus beheaded her on June 13, 1782, people from all over the world are still captivated by her story. It was 12 years ago that Walter Hauser became captivated by Göldi, and he is unable to let go to this very day. He knows everything there is to know about her life. The journalist and lawyer has written two books about her; he is the president of the Anna Göldi Foundation and he worked tirelessly to have Europe’s “last ...
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Monika Tiffany, US

Sun, 08/20/2017 - 13:28
First-time congress attendee Monika Tiffany feels Swiss banks should make banking less of a hassle for Swiss citizens living abroad. She currently lives in Oregon.
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Vote topics, witches and the Unspunnen Festival

Sun, 08/20/2017 - 12:00
Here's a selection of the stories we will be bringing you in the upcoming week. Monday It’s been more than 200 years since Europe’s “last witch”, Anna Göldi, was executed in Switzerland. She was officially exonerated in 2008 and her name lives on with a new museum in canton Glarus and a musical to remember the injustice she endured. Tuesday-Friday On September 24, Swiss voters will decide on another batch of initiatives, ranging from food security, reform of the old age pension and a Geneva proposal to ban commercial advertising billboards. swissinfo.ch will bring you up to date with the issues ahead of the vote. Wednesday  Cantons Zug and Zurich are positioning themselves to make Switzerland a global leader in the financial technology (fintech) revolution. The Crypto Valley project aims to attract the best start-ups from around the world – and the best fintech talent. Friday  Every dozen years or so, crowds flock to the Unspunnen Festival that features the best of ...
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Jacqueline Tschumi: "Not much flexibility in daily work life"

Sun, 08/20/2017 - 11:00
Five years ago, she left for Japan on a diplomatic internship and fell in love with her new home. Now, Jacqueline Tschumi has no desire to return to Switzerland. But the 32-year-old does miss Swiss efficiency and quick access to the great outdoors. swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland? Jacqueline Tschumi: I applied for an internship at the Swiss embassy in Japan to get some work experience and find out more about life as a diplomat. The initial four months turned into a year, and after a short visit to Switzerland they turned into another three-and-a-half years during which I was working as permanent employee at the embassy. swissinfo.ch: Do you intend to ever return to Switzerland? J.T.: I don’t really know when, however, I assume that I will go back to Switzerland in the long run. swissinfo.ch: What were the first few months in Japan like? J.T.: Everything was new, exciting and adventurous. There was something new to explore every day. Japan, and as a matter of fact ...
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Max Haechler, US

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 17:32
Longtime Organisation of the Swiss Abroad council member Max Haechler is worried about how the next generation can participate. Originally from Erlenbach near Zurich, he and his wife (from Interlaken) now live in Arizona.
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We are Swiss abroad

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 17:27
swissinfo.ch brought along a mobile photo booth to the Swiss Abroad Congress in Basel, allowing journalists to capture portraits of people with very different backgrounds. What connected them all: a great love for their homeland, and honest, diverse perspectives on recent developments in Switzerland.
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Minister praises Swiss expats, values and clichés

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 16:17
Interior Minister Alain Berset has highlighted the experience and expertise of Swiss citizens living around the world and pointed out the truth behind Swiss clichés. “Switzerland doesn’t lose anything if its citizens go and live in another country, on the contrary,” said Berset in his keynote address to the Congress of the Swiss Abroad in Basel on Saturday. Switzerland benefits from its expats and the world benefits from them too, he said in a speech to nearly 400 participants of the annual gathering. He said it’s crucial to have an organisation which makes the link with the expat community and understands its special perspective on Switzerland. He also pointed out Switzerland’s traditions, its assets and its values, including its political diversity. Referring to next month’s nationwide vote on a reform of the old age pension scheme, Berset highlighted a key political value: The ability to find compromises and seek a consensus between different groups. One world The ...
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'Africa does not exist'

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 11:00
This sentence is posted next to images exhibited by Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr.
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Expat delegates give pension reform thumbs up

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 20:07
Delegates of the Swiss Abroad Council have clearly come out in favour of a reform of the country’s old age pension scheme, which will come to a nationwide vote next month. Meeting in Basel on Friday, a majority of 80 members of the assembly recommended approval of the amended social security package, which will also affect Swiss expats all over the world. Twenty-two representatives came out against it, while eight others abstained in the vote which came after a short presentation of arguments by a supporter and an opponent of the proposal. Tim Guldimann, a Social Democratic member of parliament and delegate from Germany, said the proposal was a balanced compromise and would be beneficial to the increasing Swiss expat community. He added that the compromise solution approved by parliament in March came with a price, notably for the younger generation and women. But the reform would also result in a slight increase in payments for all new pensioners and additional legal ...
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Mistreated horses sold off at auction

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 14:14
Horse fans gathered in Schönbühl near Bern for a special auction to find new homes for a number of mistreated horses. The star was stud horse Charlie, a rare Swiss breed. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) In early August, the police in northeastern Switzerland detained a horse dealer suspected of cruelty to animals, and closed down his farm near Lake Constance. About 300 animals, including 90 horses, pigs, cows, sheep, goats and llamas were removed by the Swiss army and taken to a military centre near the city of Bern. The army's veterinary service has now sold 80 of the horses at auction. In many cases the horses didn't go to the highest bidder, instead buyers were picked in a draw, giving private owners and animal rights groups the chance to re-home some of the animals.
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When you cast your vote far from home

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 11:00
Why do the Swiss abroad vote differently from the Swiss at home? An expert takes a closer look at the political profile of the Swiss diaspora. Political expert Thomas Milic has researched the political profile of Swiss expats. He's an expert on voting, parliamentary research and political psychology at the research centre Sotomo. He also regularly works for the Centre for Democracy Aarau. In our new series, 'Inside the Democracy Labs', researchers answer all kinds of questions about democracy.
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Pension reform vote looks set for close result

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 06:00
Most Swiss citizens support reform of the old age pension system and the necessary increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), according to an opinion poll. But there is strong opposition against the plans, which will come to a nationwide vote next month. Supporters of both ideas are 11% and 12% ahead respectively in a survey commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – swissinfo.ch’s parent company – and published on Friday. “The result on September 24 could be close and the debates promise to be heated,” says Lukas Golder of the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute, which carried out the survey at the beginning of August. He believes that the media will play an important part in the coming days and weeks, helping citizens form an opinion on a complex issue. The sweeping reform, narrowly approved by parliament earlier this year, foresees raising the retirement age for women from 64 to 65 in line with men, a reduction in the so-called minimum conversion rate for ...
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A life-changing art project

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 17:00
Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland – to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. This week, Tama visits the Kidswest Association set up a decade ago in Bern, which introduces art to disadvantaged children and can even change their lives, as one former participant explains. (SRF Kulturplatz/swissinfo.ch)
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Historic building rolls downhill

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 16:35
A 140-year-old mansion in northeast Switzerland has been moved 20 metres downhill. Swiss television went behind the scenes of the spectacular operation. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) The historic Jakob mansion in St Gallen had to make space for the construction of an old people’s home.  Some 2,700 tonnes of material had to be shifted millimetre by millimetre along steel tracks with the aid of hydraulic presses. For engineer Rolf Iten and his company, the operation on Wednesday was a special challenge: the new location lies on a lower level. In order to prevent the mansion from sliding downhill out of control, a special breaking mechanism had to be installed. The operation took months of planning and preparation. The basement had to be removed and replaced by stilts to support the building. The operation attracted many spectators. Some locals wondered whether this was worth the high costs or whether the house should have been torn down. However, the mansion is protected and the owners were ...
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E-voting pilot project seen as a big success

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 11:00
A first-time experiment in allowing Swiss citizens to cast their votes online for the Council of the Swiss Abroad has proven to be popular in two countries. Voters were enthusiastic about the pilot project, which relies on an e-voting system from the canton of Geneva to pick delegates to the "parliament of the Fifth Switzerland", a news media term for the council because it represents Swiss expatriates' interests before authorities and public opinion in Switzerland. In June, Swiss living in Australia and Mexico could vote electronically for council delegates for the first time. “E-voting is the future. We were also able to reach more voters this way,” Carmen Trochsler writes to us from Adelaide. The delegate of the Council of the Swiss Abroad, who achieved top results in the elections, sums up what is actually revolutionary about this pilot project. This time around, all Swiss living abroad, who had given their email address to the embassy, were able to vote. “Yes, this is a ...
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"So that every child can get to know their roots"

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 11:00
For a century, the Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA) has made it possible for children with Swiss roots to spend their holidays in Switzerland. The foundation’s CEO, Loic Roth, spoke with swissinfo.ch and portrayed some of the camp participants.​​​​​​​ The foundation was created during in 1917, before the end of the First World War, to give Swiss children living in disaster-torn places abroad a few tranquil weeks back home living with host families. Then in the 1960s, the foundation organised the first holiday camps for children who are among the hundreds of thousands of Swiss citizens living in another country. There are now almost 760,000 Swiss abroad, either temporarily or permanently. "The goal remains the same for us even after 100 years: every child, irrespective of the financial situation of the family, is given the opportunity to come to Switzerland and get to know its roots," Roth said. Some children form lifelong friendships with other Swiss at the two-week ...
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Swiss tourist industry challenged by cultural differences

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 16:56
The recent incident at an Arosa hotel, which had put up a sign instructing Jewish guests to shower before using the swimming pool, has raised the question of how well Swiss hotel and tourism staff are geared up to cater for visitors from other cultures.  “We have ongoing communication with all our hotels – how to correctly welcome tourist groups. But based on this recent incident, we must intensify efforts and point out to hotels what is not possible or not tolerated,” Pascal Jenny, director of Arosa tourism office, told the Blick newspaper on Wednesday.  The Swiss mountain resort has been welcoming Jewish visitors for many years. But the recent posting of a sign at the Aparthaus Paradies hotel in canton Graubünden caught many people by surprise, sparking outrage from Jewish organisations and the Israeli authorities claiming it was anti-Semitic, and damage limitation by the Swiss authorities.  The sign read: “To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, please take a shower ...
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