Home | Feed aggregator | Sources

Swissinfo EN

Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
News and information from Switzerland about Switzerland: direct democracy, education, science, business, living in Switzerland and a lot more – current, informative, in depth and in 10 languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Russian).
Updated: 11 hours 43 min ago

Social status plays ‘no role’ in career choice

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 11:00
Swiss vocational training has a good reputation internationally, but fears have been raised that it is losing ground at home. But this only really applies to migrants, a study finds. At the recent International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training in Winterthur, participants praised the Swiss dual VET system, that combines education with an apprenticeship at a host company. Currently at least two thirds of Swiss school leavers go down this route. So why is there talk of a decline in its status? “I think that has a lot to do with developments in the economy, so in part with the trend towards upskilling because the labour market increasingly demands a post-secondary education” said Thomas Bolli from the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, part of the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. People may have the impression that apprenticeships are not a good enough basis for boosting their skills and education, Bolli said. There has been, for example, much ...
Categories: News EN

The making of International Geneva

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 12:00
2019 will mark 100 years since the creation of the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations. With United States President Donald Trump attacking the UN system, it is more timely than ever to rally behind International Geneva, the seat of the League from 1919, write historian Sandrine Kott and Geneva politician Grégoire Carasso.  At the end of the highly destructive First World War, US President Woodrow Wilson recommended the creation of a "general association of nations" to protect world peace. In February 1919, the Treaty of Versailles laid the foundation for the League of Nations, the precursor to the UN, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) (simultaneously created in response to the labour movement). The two new organisations had their first meetings in Geneva in 1920, helping elevate the small Swiss town to an international city. Swiss writer Robert de Traz later mythologized this international status as a natural fulfilment of "the spirit of Geneva", ...
Categories: News EN

Can the City of Peace resolve trade wars?

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:00
In the grand corridors of the World Trade Organisation, there is a new sense of urgency.  As Donald Trump ramps up trade tariffs, WTO headquarters, originally designed by Swiss architect George Epitaux in 1923 to house the new League of Nations International Labour Office, are coping with an unprecedented number of dispute cases.  “It’s fair to say our mettle is being tested,” says the WTO’s Director of Information, Keith Rockwell.  It’s all rather different from 2008, the last time I reported extensively on the World Trade Organisation. Then, trade ministers from around the world had gathered, they hoped, to put the final touches on an ambitious new deal which would lower trade barriers around the world and help developing countries access global markets.  That optimism was short lived: after nine days of fractious meetings, hours and hours of stalled talks followed by late night last minute developments, the deal known as Doha looked dead.  It was partially revived in Bali ...
Categories: News EN

New Swiss stock exchange (gingerly) mulls cryptocurrencies

Sun, 07/15/2018 - 13:26
A Swiss digital stock exchange, designed to trade tokenised assets from next year, is playing coy on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering (ICO) tokens that do not qualify as securities. The established financial industry is wary of the new asset class, but SIX Group is not ruling it out. SIX Group, which runs Switzerland’s stock exchanges, announced a week ago that it would launch its digital trading platform by mid-2019. But will the bridge between traditional and digital financial services eventually allow for the conversion of bitcoin to francs?  swissinfo.ch asked SIX Group spokesman Stephan Meier for some more details. swissinfo.ch: Will the SIX Digital Exchange allow the trading of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin? Stephan Meier: With the new service we will provide a safe environment for issuing and trading digital assets, and enable the tokenisation of existing securities and non-bankable assets to make previously untradeable assets tradeable.  Currently we ...
Categories: News EN

Lover, leader, prisoner and carer: The multiple lives of Ma Anand Sheela

Sun, 07/15/2018 - 12:00
Once leader of the almost 5,000-strong Rajneesh spiritual commune in Oregon, Sheela Biernstiel now runs homes for the disabled in Switzerland. A flashback to the time swissinfo.ch met her. 
Categories: News EN

Drones, bears, and summer camps

Sun, 07/15/2018 - 12:00
Here are the stories we'll be following the week of July 16, 2018: Tuesday When you weigh up a university degree as opposed to an apprenticeship course, do you see one as having a higher status than the other? We look at a new study which shows how shifting public perceptions of the value of apprenticeships don't necessarily reflect the reality. Wednesday Follow the 1,400 kilometre journey of Napa the bear, as it travels across Europe from Serbia to Switzerland to become the first resident of the Arosa Bear conservation centre (Arosa Bärenland) in the eastern canton of Graubünden. Thursday How many different types of drones are there? How do they work? How much do they cost, and where am I allowed to fly one in Switzerland? Drones are everywhere these days, and on Thursday we will answer some of the most common questions – sent by our readers – about drone technology. Friday When it comes to sending your kids to summer camp abroad, Switzerland – with its nature ...
Categories: News EN

American by birth, Swiss by imprint

Sun, 07/15/2018 - 11:00
A dog sits on a wooden sleigh bed, chewing on a rabbit bone. The bed seems outsized in Claudia Bucher's small cottage. But it’s understandable why she keeps it. It’s one of the few possessions she has from her eccentric Swiss father.  The bed has travelled from Florida swamplands to the lawn of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to its current resting place in an adobe home near Joshua Tree in California.  “It’s a family heirloom,” Claudia says. “For a while this was the guest bed, and we had all these illustrious characters like William Burroughs sleeping on it. And for a while it was my bed and I’d have to give it up so a visiting artist could sleep on it.” An art history professor by day, Claudia’s father François Bucher had a vision of building an artist and writers’ colony in Florida. He started by buying up plots of swampland near Tallahassee.  “I would go out in the pick-up truck with him. The first order of business was putting in some roads. We’d go traipsing through ...
Categories: News EN

New plagues: ticks, cocaine and drones

Sat, 07/14/2018 - 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 150 Some 150 people in Switzerland have been infected with tick-borne encephalitis since the start of the year – a significant increase compared with previous years.  Tuesday 18 According to a survey by the expat network, Internations, 18% of Swiss who move abroad are classified as "optimisers". Read what defines "optimisers" and how they differ from "explorers", "go-getters" and "romantics".   Wednesday 15 The organisers of Switzerland's most prestigious film festival, Locarno, presented this year's line-up, announcing 15 films will compete for a Golden Leopard award this year. A few star directors will be present, notably Spike Lee.  Thursday 5 That's the number of tons of cocaine that circulate in Switzerland every year. Researchers estimate that about ...
Categories: News EN

World Cup winners and losers – off the pitch

Sat, 07/14/2018 - 15:00
As the 2018 football World Cup in Russia comes to its dramatic end, it’s clear that winners and losers exist off the pitch as well as on it. Swiss photographer Kostas Maros met some of them in Basel. Winners Michael Heim, Felix Labhart and Lukas Holm from beer bar BrauBudeBasel toast a successful month, having shown Switzerland’s games in their bar and sold more beer to thirsty fans. Winners Tizian Aellig and Nora Gysin from vegetarian burger bar “Vegiman” say they are fascinated by how sports fans behave. During the World Cup they could not only study this behaviour but also sell loads of beer and burgers. Loser Markus Keller is a German-Portuguese dual national. Enough said. After both his teams crashed out early, he says he felt a double loser. Winners  The Nomatark team aimed to make people aware of the energy revolution by showing the World Cup matches on their solar-powered mobile cinema. They say that, thanks to their Solar World Cup Tour, ...
Categories: News EN

Recruiting voters to be part of the campaign

Sat, 07/14/2018 - 11:00
Traditional politics has relied on influencing public opinion largely through the press. The new politics is all about mobilising crowds.  Does this mean the end of political discourse as we know it? Hardly. But campaigning for Switzerland’s next parliamentary elections is going to be different from what we have ever seen before. A press release from Zurich University recently created a stir: “Disappearing media are a threat to democracy,” it was headed. It quoted a political science study which claimed to show that turnout for local votes depends directly on the (dwindling) local media. This claim revealed a significant assumption. Our current understanding of political campaigning is based on the idea that information provided through the press is what citizens need to form their opinion. Claude Longchamp is a senior political expert and one of Switzerland's most experienced and highly-regarded political scientists and analysts. He founded the polling and research institute ...
Categories: News EN

Christoph Blocher: ‘The Swiss have to stay out of the EU’

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 09:50
Christoph Blocher’s hilltop home above Lake Zurich is the best known private residence in Switzerland. The modern, cream-coloured mansion, with manicured lawns and a glimmering 21-metre outdoor pool, features in campaign videos for his ultra-conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the most popular political movement in the country. Blocher is shown cutting the grass with scissors and belly-flopping into the pool. The comic clips, viewed more than 1m times on YouTube, attempt to soften the image of a hardline political party that backs tough restrictions on foreigners living in Switzerland and for Swiss independence from the EU. Wearing the same style of straw hat as in the clips, Blocher is in a humorous mood as he greets me on the driveway. A sprightly 77 years old, he apologises for his poor English but proudly notes “an Englishman’s home is his castle” as he surveys his property, built in terraces on the hillside. His cheery politeness and the house’s dreamy setting, with ...
Categories: News EN

"Even deaf people are into music"

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 17:00
"True Talk" puts people in front of the camera who are fighting prejudice or discrimination. They answer questions that nobody would normally dare to ask directly.  Fabienne is 33 and was born deaf, but that doesn't stop her from loving techno music. Unlike people who can hear the beat, she feels the rhythm through her body. But the similarities between the deaf and those who can hear don't end there. Just as there are different spoken dialects throughout Switzerland, there are also regional dialects in sign language.  On the negative side, she says,"Many people think you must be stupid if you can't talk, which is not the case. It makes people feel uncomfortable talking to a deaf person". She makes an appeal for more openness in society towards those who can't hear.   
Categories: News EN

Combating the spread of wartime rape

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 11:00
The Swiss non-governmental organisation Trial International, supported by Swiss diplomatic efforts, is campaigning to put an end to rape as a weapon of war, and the impunity which protects the perpetrators. “Today there is not a single conflict in the world where rape is not used. As a weapon of war it is extremely effective, with multiple repercussions which affect the victims, their families and their communities. And it is used all the more because impunity is the rule for the perpetrators of these atrocities.“ This is the summing-up of the situation from Céline Bardet, founder of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) “We are not weapons of war”.  Along with about fifty other activists, Bardet was attending a meeting organised by TRIAL International on June 18 and 19 in Geneva to mark the 15th anniversary of the Swiss NGO. Susannah Sirkin, of the NGO Physicians for Human Rights, takes a similar view: “The first thing needed is prevention. One of the things to do is to put an ...
Categories: News EN

Family separation under US immigration law has a long history

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 11:00
The US government’s separation of children and parents at the Mexican border has sparked disbelief around the world. But as Alexandra Dufresne explains, the separation of parents and children has been a part of US immigration law for a long time. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that between the fiscal years 2009 and 2013, possibly as many as 500,000 parents of American children were deported. Separations stemming from everyday detention and deportation are more mundane perhaps than those in recent news. But the harm these separations inflict on children is nonetheless significant.  From 2003-2005, I worked as the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Detention Attorney at Boston College Law School. My students and I, along with a colleague from a local nonprofit, were responsible for giving “Know Your Rights” presentations to the roughly 1,000 immigrants and refugees detained in four local jails. We also represented as many individuals in Immigration Court as we could, ...
Categories: News EN

A new model for Swiss innovation

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 17:00
​​​​​​​ On Tuesday, the World Intellectual Property Organization named Switzerland the most innovative country for the eighth year in a row. André Kudelski, president of the newly rebranded Swiss innovation agency Innosuisse, spoke earlier this year with swissinfo.ch about how the country can avoid complacency, and why taking risks is a sure path to success. Traditional Swiss excellence in the areas of trademark filings, scientific publications and education spending, as well as emerging strengths in mobile app creation and green technologies, all helped the alpine nation claim the top spot in WIPO’s 2018 Global Innovation Index of 126 countries. + WIPO crowns Switzerland as world’s most innovative nation The report was published a little over halfway into the inaugural year of Innosuisse, which in January replaced the government’s executive Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI). Since 1996, CTI had been responsible for providing consulting services and financing to ...
Categories: News EN

Glencore: an audacious business model in the dock

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:43
In a sleepy Swiss town 30km from Zurich sits one of the companies that keeps the global economy ticking, supplying the raw materials that touch every facet of modern life from mobile phones to automobiles and petroleum. Since its creation 44 years ago Glencore has become the biggest commodity trader in the world. But with that has come notoriety and this week the attentions of a US Department of Justice investigation into bribery and corruption that some believe will force the Switzerland-based group to change its business model. As well as being a major miner, it is the ultimate middleman, moving millions of tonnes of commodities across the globe, linking the suppliers of raw materials - often in developing countries - with consumers in wealthy and fast-growing ones, earning wafer-thin margins on large volumes along the way. But what sets Glencore apart from its peers is its appetite for risk, at times pushing the limits of what is allowed in the modern global economy.
Categories: News EN

From Serbia to the Swiss Alps: a bear's adventure

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:15
Serbia’s last circus bear recently left his temporary home for the biggest adventure of his life: a 1,400km trip to Switzerland. Napa the bear will become the first resident of the Arosa Bear conservation centre (Arosa Bärenland) in the eastern canton of Graubünden. In 2016, officials rescued the brown bear from a cage in a circus ground, and took him to the Palic Zoo in Serbia. Curator Kristijan Ovari says he was in a poor state, "His fur and teeth were in bad condition. He kept pacing up and down. He had to learn to trust the keepers". A protein-rich diet allowed him to build up muscle and he was in a good condition when he left the zoo in July. Ovari says the keepers were sad to see him go, "It was hard for us to part with him as we had grown to like him. He is very intelligent, very curious. He’s always the first there to see what’s happening". Moving country His transfer to Switzerland was orchestrated by the Four Paws animal rescue foundation, which is providing five ...
Categories: News EN

Meet a Neanderthal woman from one of Europe’s oldest cave sites

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:00
Some 70,000 years ago, a Neanderthal woman about 40 years old died in a small cave in western Switzerland. Or if she didn’t die there, her body was brought there, - maybe by family, maybe by a cave lion or wolf. We know of her because her upper jaw with teeth still intact was found in the cave. Now you can see the exact spot where the woman was discovered. Since early June, this cave, “La Grotte de Cotencher” – just a short drive and walk from the town of Neuchâtel – has been open to the public for guided tours. The cave is the oldest archeological site in this part of Switzerland showing human habitation. The woman’s jaw was found on a little shelf of earth the size of a dinner plate.  “We call her ‘La Dame de Cotencher”, says archeologist François-Xavier Chauvière, who has been in charge of excavations at the cave since 2016.  But the discovery of La Dame is only one dramatic archeological pinpoint along the 700-century timeline of this small cave. Here, in the layers of earth ...
Categories: News EN

How a behemoth crypto trading platform could impact Switzerland

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:00
swissinfo.ch asks what a new Swiss stock exchange, fusing the worlds of traditional and crypto finance, will mean for the burgeoning home-grown blockchain industry. What is the SIX Digital Exchange? It is a new trading platform to be rolled out in mid-2019 by the SIX Group, which runs the Swiss stock exchange. SIX says the fully regulated exchange will be the “first market infrastructure in the world to offer a fully integrated end to end trading, settlement and custody service for digital assets.” This means the platform will host all elements of trading under one roof, unlike other crypto exchanges that use third parties to execute parts of the chain. It will be run on a distributed ledger system (DLS) with similar properties to blockchain. Financial assets, such as bonds and equities, can be digitised and attached to a digital token to store their value and allow swift transaction between parties. Other stock exchanges are also looking at DLS technology. These include the ...
Categories: News EN

Crypto-finance beyond the ‘boom’

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:00
Traditional financial players should not violate the core values of crypto-finance, such as decentralisation and community, as they delve deeper into the new digital world, argues Alexis Roussel, co-founder and CEO of Swiss crypto exchange Bity.com. Crypto-finance is coming out of the woods but governments, banks and industry players in the global financial system need to make sure they understand its core values. The skyrocketing bitcoin price at the end of 2017 got the financial world talking about the credibility of cryptocurrencies in finance.  Even traditional financial exchanges like CBOE, CME Group and Nasdaq, which began listing Bitcoin futures earlier this year, are capitalising on the unprecedented rise of the bitcoin price. But, they’re missing the point of bitcoin.  They criticise bitcoin for being a highly speculative investment, yet futures are essentially for speculation only, unless you are a miner or large consumer of bitcoin. There is more to the hype and ...
Categories: News EN