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Capturing the beauty of Swiss farming

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 15:27
More than 15,000 pictures were sent in to the agricultural photo competition Agrimage.ch. The winning photos – chosen from the 1,500 photographers taking part - have now been announced. Enjoy! Photographers were asked to showcase the charm of the countryside – a wide-ranging topic for a photography competition. Images were sent in over the period of a year, resulting in thousands of pictures for the jury to go through. Prizes were awarded to the top three photos, plus there were winners in nine categories. The competition was launched by Swiss Farmers Welcome You, a campaign run by the Swiss Farmers’ Association. The aim of Agrimage.ch is to document the people, countryside, products and animals in the agricultural sector, giving an intimate portrait of the work and identities involved.
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‘I wish I could invite my boyfriend to my parents’ for Christmas’

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 11:00
David Leuenberger dreams of getting married and one day having children, but under current Swiss law, same-sex couples do not have these rights. He’s had to fight some battles, but David believes Swiss society is open and tolerant. The law will change, he's convinced – he just hopes it won't happen too late.  “The only kind of rejection I've experienced was motivated by my parents’ love." David has an optimistic and light-hearted, yet very sensitive approach to life and its ups and downs. Relaxing on his apartment terrace in the heart of the Swiss capital, Bern, the 30-year-old industrial designer tells his story, as the last rays of the setting sun cast a warm glow over the rooftops. "Being gay isn't a problem in Switzerland. I feel accepted everywhere, including at work. We already have equality – the laws just have to be brought up to date,” he says. Every story has its shadow side, however, which must be overcome. In David's case, it took the form of a rift with his family ...
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A reinvention that puts a premium on services

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 10:28
After a challenging few years, Zurich Insurance is redefining its identity. Oliver Ralph and Ralph Atkins meet the new boss. Zurich Insurance’s lakeside headquarters is just a façade. Behind the original frontage completed in 1901, nothing exists. The company is rebuilding it from the ground up. Mario Greco, who took over as the Swiss group’s chief executive last year, believes the global insurance business is about to go through a similar refit. “The industry is on the verge of a profound change,” says the 58-year-old Italian. “I pretty much bet on the fact that it won’t look the same at all, definitely in 10 years, but most likely in five.” In the past, he says, insurance was the ultimate “push” product – people only bought it if someone sold it to them. In the future, he believes insurers will have to build a closer relationship with their customers to survive. Interviewed at the company’s temporary headquarters in a back office across town, Mr Greco says he wants to turn ...
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Wealthy Rüschlikon, the Alpine ibex and teen media habits

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 17:00
These are some of the stories coming up on swissinfo.ch for the week beginning October 2, 2017. Monday David Leuenberger dreams of marriage and perhaps children. But both are not possible for homosexual couples under Swiss law. The 30-year-old design manager from Bern talks to swissinfo.ch’s Katy Romy about life in Switzerland as a gay man.     Tuesday American artist Edward Monovich was inspired by the iconic Alpine ibex during his recent stay in Switzerland. His eye-catching work is part of a series of artistic and scientific contributions to Displacements – Art, Science and the DNA of the Ibex at the University of Zurich’s Zoological Museum. swissinfo.ch’s Susan Misicka visited the art installation to find out more about their fascination with the goat-like animal, 17,000 of whom live in Switzerland.  Wednesday The future of the press is in the hands of young people, but discussions about reforms are often driven by older generations. What do under-25s ...
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Swiss watches for the mega-city Tokyo

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 11:00
Luca Orduña, 27, put all his eggs in one basket. At the age of 22, he went to Japan for the first time and set himself up in business. Fascinated by the varied cuisine and the natural environment, this adventurous entrepreneur still isn’t thinking about returning to Switzerland. As the manager of a company that distributes Swiss clocks and watches, he nevertheless maintains close links with his home. swissinfo.ch: When and why did you leave Switzerland? Luca Orduña: My parents own a travel agency in Zurich, meaning that even when I was small, I had the chance to explore the world. I developed a passion for Asian cultures and languages at an early age. During my studies in St. Gallen I attended a course on Japanese culture and was fascinated by this multi-faceted culture. During the course, I became aware for the first time of the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Trade (SJCC). It offered a fellowship to young Swiss who wanted to add a year in Japan to their studies. I immediately ...
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Most cups of coffee contain a drop of Switzerland

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 11:00
Your fix of morning joe likely passed through Switzerland, since the country is the world’s trading hub for coffee. In fact, the Swiss export more coffee than chocolate or cheese. “Most coffee traders are present in Switzerland,” said Cyrille Jannet, vice president of the Swiss Coffee Trade Association, in an interview to Swiss public radio RTS last year. “This is also the case for the big names in the industry, like Nestlé or Nespresso. Also present are the main participants in the chain on a logistics level, like maritime transport. This had led to Switzerland becoming the main hub for the coffee trade, from trade to industry.” Switzerland is already home to many important companies trading in raw materials (for example: gold, petrol), thanks to its favourable tax situation and its central position in Europe.  Six of the world’s main coffee traders are based in the Lake Geneva or Zurich regions. As is often the case for raw materials, precise statistics are hard to come by.
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The special objects young immigrants hold close to their hearts

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 11:00
A Chilean photographer who came to Switzerland as a young woman has used her experience of starting a new life far from home to portray the modern face of young migrants. Born in Chile in 1960, photographer Vivian Olmi has lived in Switzerland since 1980. She lives and works today in Pully, canton Vaud. At the age of 20, Olmi left Chile while the country was under the dictatorship of Pinochet. In memory of her country and family, Olmi brought with her a photo album depicting a Chilean landscape on the cover. The memory of her own migration to Switzerland prompted her to document people with similar experiences. She asked 38 young immigrant students of the Béthusy college in Lausanne to pose in front of a blackboard with an object from their country of origin which they held close to their hearts. Those students who did not have a personal souvenir to document brought something which illustrated how they felt about their own migration. Each student wrote a text in their mother ...
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Glitz and glamour

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 15:31
The Zurich Film Festival has started, with Swiss tennis star Roger Federer gracing the opening night. Jake Gyllenhaal will receive the Golden Eye Award, and Glenn Close will be guest of honour. The niche event has become an international one; here's a pictorial look back at its development. There were 8,000 visitors at the very first Zurich Film Festival in 2005. Since then, a lot has happened: the event has grown from four days to 11, the red carpet has changed to green and the number international celebrities attending has risen. There were 90,500 visitors last year – and at least as many selfies taken with stars such Hugh Grant and Jennifer Connelly. The 13th Zurich Film Festival will show 160 films, of which 12 are world premieres. The event was proud to announce that this year there would be 38 films from female directors. Around 80% of the budget comes from the private sector, with the Federal Culture Office donating CHF50,000 ($52,000). In comparison: the Locarno Film ...
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Giant granny descends on Geneva

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:30
Huge crowds filled the streets of Geneva on Friday to marvel at an eight-metre 83-year-old grandmother and her six-metre grand-daughter: puppets from the French street theatre group Royal de Luxe.  Smiles and cameras greeted the enormous marionettes, which awoke from a long slumber and gently ambled through the packed car-less streets, occasionally stopping to talk to spectators.  “The grandmother has a strange language with Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Arabic and Asian sounds,” said Royal de Luxe director Jean-Luc Courcoult. She also smokes a pipe, likes a drop of whisky and is known to spit and break wind.  A 60-strong team of so-called Lilliputians, aerialists, puppeteers and crane-operators, assisted by volunteers, were responsible for the effortless movements of the giant grandmother, who is followed by her own band of musicians and a massive five-ton wheelchair and her five-year-old grand-daughter. The Lilliputians also helped translate the granny’s incomprehensible speech to ...
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Swiss Alpine Club stirs debate over history’s racist scientists

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:00
The Swiss Alpine Club’s recent decision not to revoke the honorary membership of a controversial Swiss glaciologist raises the question: can a person’s contributions to society be judged separately from their prejudices? In early August, the Swiss group “Démonter Louis Agassiz” (Dismantle Louis Agassiz) requested that the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) rescind the honorary member status of Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, a glaciologist and naturalist born in canton Fribourg in 1807. The group argued that Agassiz, known for his pioneering work in the field of glaciology, should not have SAC honorary membership because he made racist statements and conducted research about superior and “degenerate” races. Agassiz was only the second honorary member in the club’s history, according to Hans Fässler, a historian specialising in slavery and racism issues who founded the Démonter committee. To him, the SAC represents a link with “certain Swiss myths”, such as the idea that the country has ...
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Science under duress in Turkey

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:00
The tense situation in Turkey is making it increasingly difficult to conduct research there. Foreign scientists working in Turkey are also aware of this, and they describe diminishing freedoms and a vague sense of fear. ​Our call is answered by an anthropologist on the Aegean coast of Turkey. She travelled there just a few days ago to find out more about the political situation: "I would like to know what kind of research is at all possible here at the moment". She would rather not offer any information whatsoever right now – and the same goes for other researchers. In order not to endanger either her, her partners in Turkey or their current research, some of the sources for the following text remain anonymous. This anthropologist has been researching in Turkey for many years now. What kind of research will remain possible in the future is something that she cannot guess yet: "Either way it will become more difficult to do research here". She is one of several researchers from ...
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How joining a foreigners' club can make you stronger

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 17:00
Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland – to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. This week, she joins a club for foreign women called "Femmes-Tisch" in her home town of Langenthal, which provides members with different forms of training such as German classes, and helps them to integrate in Swiss society.   It's run by the non profit group, interunido, which specialises in migration and integration issues and is funded by the town, canton and federal government. (SRF Kulturplatz/swissinfo.ch) 
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Call on Congress, urge Americans abroad

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 11:03
No matter where you live, you’re never too far away to call the people representing you in Congress. That’s the philosophy of a politically engaged group of Americans based in Zurich.  The group has been urging American expats around the world to get in touch with their members of Congress – and to post photos of themselves doing so on social media. As part of the six-day #nottoofarawaytocall campaign in September, 60 Americans posted photos from 25 countries, including Switzerland, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Colombia, Haiti, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Israel, and many others in Europe.  “What we were trying to do was to normalize political behavior, but we didn’t tell people what to call about,” explains Sara Petchey, a Texan PhD student in teacher education at the University of Zurich. She herself had never phoned a senator or a representative before this campaign – launched by Action Together: Zurich, CH, a volunteer organization of Americans, ...
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Why a Polish/Scottish couple became Swiss

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 11:00
A Polish/Scottish couple decided to apply for Swiss citizenship to boost their children's integration. This is their story. (Julie Hunt, swissinfo.ch) David Kirk comes from Rothesay on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. Dominika Wieczorek Kirk is from the town of Piastow in central Poland. They came to Switzerland as research scientists, and met here. Dominika works at the Swiss multinational healthcare company, Roche, in Basel. David used to work for the pharmaceutical giant, Novartis. He is now a house husband, and takes care of their two small children.     + How difficult is it to become Swiss? When he arrived he could already speak German having worked previously in Germany. Their children have been learning German at daycare. The Kirks like Switzerland because it is clean, relatively safe and offers a comfortable standard of living. When they decided to apply for Swiss citizenship, they had to attend “interesting” courses to find out about Swiss history. Although the couple ...
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