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: 1 day 6 hours ago

Racism in Switzerland: An expat’s perspective

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 17:16
An African-American woman living in Switzerland shares her and her children's everyday experiences with racism. I personally have experienced the Swiss to be polite, cheerful, helpful and willing, when possible, to speak to me in English when my basic Swiss German fails me.  I feel more the burden of being a foreigner who doesn’t speak the native language than the burden of racism.  But most of the Swiss I interact with are merchants, and being nice is an important part of the job description.  Although my pre-teen/teen daughter and son attend international school, they take public transport, travel to other parts of Switzerland for sports tournaments, and socialize with Swiss kids.  They are much more integrated in Swiss society than I am.  And they have been victimized because of their race.  I will never forget the tearful outrage of my son when he told me of his first experience of racism, which happened in Switzerland.  He had been walking to the lake to meet some ...
Categories: News EN

Switzerland likes to tax differently from Europe

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 16:36
From January 1, 2019, Switzerland will be the only country in Europe where employees’ taxes are not deducted directly from their wages. Despite numerous parliamentary initiatives, Switzerland is not yet ready to introduce withholding tax. Swiss taxpayers and foreigners who hold a C residence permit (longer-term stay) must submit a tax return every year from which their taxation is calculated. Switzerland’s federal structure means that taxpayers pay a tax at national, cantonal and communal level. The former is a direct federal tax levied by the cantons on behalf of the Confederation. In general, it is possible to pay cantonal and communal taxes in instalments over one year. The number of instalments varies from canton to canton. Some even provide for a monthly payment or the possibility of paying everything at once. At the end of the tax year, the administration calculates a final tax demand to determine whether these advance payments were sufficient to cover the bill – or not. ...
Categories: News EN

What’s the essence of modern leadership?

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 09:20
As Switzerland unveil its two newest Federal Councillors, we asked readers, experts, and politicians what kind of skills are needed to lead a modern democracy. What makes a leader? Is it a question of qualification, connection, temperament, or simple political serendipity? Switzerland has been mulling the question for some months now, as it prepares to learn on Wednesday the names of the two Federal Councillors that will replace outgoing Johann Schneider-Ammann and Doris Leuthard. Both declared their departure from the executive body in September. In the consensus-driven Alpine nation, at least, some requirements are more prosaic than others. Firstly, to preserve the so-called “magic formula” that safeguards balance in the seven-member Federal Council, the two new ministers will be drawn from the same political groups as their predecessors – the centre-right Liberal-Radicals and Christian Democrats. Then there is the issue of origin. Switzerland’s diverse ...
Categories: News EN

Leadership skills, climate scenarios and human rights

Sun, 12/02/2018 - 18:00
Here are some of the stories we'll be following the week of December 3. Monday As Switzerland prepares to unveil the two newest members of its executive branch, who will take over from Doris Leuthard and Johann Schneider-Ammann, we look at what kind of skills are needed to lead a modern democracy like Switzerland. Tuesday According to recent forecasts, climate change is driving Switzerland towards drier and warmer weather with more rainfall but less snow. We examine the possible climate scenarios on the horizon. Wednesday On Wednesday, the Swiss parliament will elect two new ministers to succeed Johann Schneider-Ammann and Doris Leuthard, who are both stepping down at the end of the year. The big question: how many women will be elected to the new government? Thursday As international negotiators meet next week in Poland to discuss how to ratchet up the fight against climate change, we look at the effects of rising temperatures on the Alps and how Alpine nations ...
Categories: News EN

‘Our traditions keep us united and define us’

Sun, 12/02/2018 - 12:00
Twenty-seven-year-old Heidi Amstalden Albertin lives in Helvetia, Brazil – a Swiss colony that her ancestors helped to found. Today, she helps keep Swiss traditions alive through food, festivals and folk dancing. swissinfo.ch: You were born abroad: why are you Swiss (through your mother, father, or both)? H.A.A.: I am a Brazilian citizen of Swiss descent on my mother’s side. I also have Italian citizenship from my father’s side. swissinfo.ch: What kind of relationship do you have to Switzerland? When did you start to feel Swiss? Why are you interested in Switzerland? H.A.A.: I live in Helvetia, a Swiss colony in Brazil founded in 1888 by four Swiss immigrant families: Amstalden, Ambiel, Bannwart and Wolf. The Helvetians, ever since the founding of Colônia Helvetia, have preserved its connections with Switzerland through music, folk dance, food, celebrations, and contact with family and friends who live in Switzerland. I have also been a member of a Swiss folk dance group ...
Categories: News EN

Climate talks open amid post-Paris polemics

Sun, 12/02/2018 - 09:00
Three years after sealing a landmark global climate deal in Paris, world leaders are gathering again in Poland to agree on the fine print. Switzerland’s climate ambassador tells swissinfo.ch what to expect from the talks.  “We have to work hard, to keep the United States and Brazil in, but at the same time we mustn’t compromise so much that we undo Paris,” Franz Perrez said. “It’s a delicate balance.”  Since the US announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017, Brazil’s nationalist president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, has threatened to pull out as well. On November 28, the Brazilian government said it would withdraw its offer to host next year’s critical climate summit, just two months after winning the hosting bid.  + Why the Swiss think the US is shooting itself in the foot over climate deal Brazil’s next foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, has said climate change is part of a “Marxist plot” and has criticised the Paris Agreement for failing to recognise the role of ...
Categories: News EN

‘Swiss law first’, Maudet opponents and breweries

Sat, 12/01/2018 - 18:00
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 last week’s stories. 66.2 The percentage of Swiss voters who rejected a right-wing proposal to put the Swiss constitution above international law. 7 The number of asylum seekers from Ethiopia and Eritrea – four adults and three children – who died in a Swiss house fire on Monday morning in the city of Solothurn in northwestern Switzerland. Several others required hospital care. 14,700 The number of people who, at the time of writing on Saturday, have signed an online petition calling for the resignation of Geneva minister Pierre Maudet, who is embroiled in a controversy over his 2015 trip to Abu Dhabi and an investigation for “possible acceptance of a benefit”. 995 The number of small local breweries recorded in Switzerland at the end of October. This represents one of the ...
Categories: News EN

How do traders ensure due diligence in high-risk countries?

Sat, 12/01/2018 - 13:00
Switzerland-based commodity traders Trafigura, Vitol and Glencore have recently come under scrutiny for their alleged links to corrupt intermediaries swept up in Brazil’s Lava Jato [Car Wash] investigations.  The companies deny wrong-doing in the South American nation, but the high frequency of corruption allegations in this sector centered around problematic intermediaries raises the question of how commodities traders ensure due diligence in high-risk countries. “The cases and investigations involving the commodities sector would suggest that in many instances due diligence processes are weak, perhaps non-existent or risks are inadequately mitigated when red flags are apparent,” Gemma Aiolfi of the Basel Institute on Governance told swissinfo.ch. In a November report entitled “Friends in Low Places”, Global Witness and Public Eye laid out a long list of red flags raised by the in-court testimony of individuals embroiled in Brazil’s Car Wash scandal. It concluded there was ...
Categories: News EN

A day in the life of a Swiss nun

Sat, 12/01/2018 - 12:00
Just 20 nuns still live in Switzerland's Fahr Convent. But their future is uncertain, as they can’t find any new members. They have nevertheless called for more equality in the Catholic Church.  Fahr Convent was founded in 1130 and is still in use – for now. There was just one novice who joined the Benedictine order in Switzerland in 2017. Like other orders, many Fahr Convent nuns have criticised the role of women in the Catholic Chruch and have called for more participation. “The Catholic Church only has a future if it is supported and led jointly by women and men together,” says Prioress Irene. During the Middle Ages, convents were the only way for women to gain a little bit of freedom and independence. But the Catholic hierarchy was – and remains – very patriarchal. Convent daily life Much about the nuns’ lives is revealed in a newly published book. Their day is highly structured: it begins at 4:50 am and is organised right through until the evening. The nuns live ...
Categories: News EN

Fire at asylum seeker housing calls safety into question

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 13:08
A tragic fire that killed several asylum seekers, including children, has highlighted Switzerland’s lack of a smoke alarm requirement as well as other safety challenges in asylum seeker accommodations. The fire happened overnight on November 26 in an apartment complex in canton Solothurn, a German-speaking region north of the Swiss capital Bern. The four adults and three children who died were later identified as asylum seekers from Ethiopia and Eritrea. They were among the asylum seekers in the canton who are sheltered in houses or apartments while waiting for the next step in the asylum process. According to Claudia Hänzi of the canton Solothurn migration authorities, the canton sometimes seeks such special accommodations for families, for example, so they can live together in their own space. “These were completely normal rental apartments,” Hänzi says of the units affected by the fire. “It was a coincidence that we happened to be renting them for asylum seekers when the ...
Categories: News EN

Meet the Swiss woman charged with bringing peace to Myanmar

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 12:00
How do you help a country from which nearly a million people have fled, where the government is divided between civilians and soldiers, and where top people are accused of genocide? This is the task facing Christine Schraner Burgener of Switzerland. She was appointed UN special envoy on Myanmar in April this year, and recently discussed her new role over coffee in Bern. She agreed to meet in the Einstein Café in the capital city’s picturesque old town. It is cold outside, and she says yes, she is feeling the changes in temperature, especially after all her recent travelling. Schraner Burgener, 55, looks elegant in white, topped with a leather jacket. She is Swiss but grew up in Japan. She previously served as Swiss ambassador to Germany and Thailand, where she pioneered a diplomatic job-share with her husband, enabling them to both look after their two children. So she is Swiss and a little bit Asian, a champion of “female diplomacy”. She plays the violin and saxophone, she says.
Categories: News EN

How much tech should be in Swiss classrooms?

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 18:00
Where pupils once sat at their desks with the teacher at the blackboard, they might now be putting together a video essay or learning to code a robot. Education is undergoing a sea change, but not everyone in Switzerland feels ready for it. Digitalisation – the move from analogue to digital technology – was a big buzzword at the recent Worlddidac and Swissdidac fairs on educational trends held in Bern. There were many digital learning technologies on display, including this Finnish language-learning robot. In Switzerland, digital learning technologies have been used in classrooms for some time, but it has only recently become a big public issue, said Beat A. Schwendimann of German-speaking Switzerland’s Federation of Swiss Teachers (LCH). Over the last year, the Swiss government has released its digitalisation strategy and the cantons – which are in charge of education in Switzerland – have published their blueprint for schools. “Things are moving forward in Switzerland,” ...
Categories: News EN

A Swiss city made for its watchmakers

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 18:00
La Chaux-de-Fonds is a city resurrected from its ashes. After a catastrophic fire in 1794, it was rebuilt to suit the watchmakers who lived and worked there, making it a unique location in Switzerland. This is the fourth episode of a special series by Swiss Public Television, RSI, in which seven places have been chosen that are linked to historical events, myths and legends that are part of the country's cultural heritage. Throughout history, thousands of men and women have shaped Switzerland's territory and society. The stories of who they were, the battles, revolutionary ideas or quiet but significant changes have been handed down through generations, and now fill the pages of Swiss history books. The traces of this rich heritage are many, some hidden and unknown. La Chaux-de-Fonds, canton Neuchâtel became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, due its unique urban planning that created a city unlike any other. (RSI, swissinfo.ch)
Categories: News EN

More working hours for women? Easier said than done

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 12:17
Encouraging women to increase their working hours could be one answer to tackling looming labour shortages in Switzerland. Currently, six out of ten women in the country work part-time – one of the highest rates in Europe. Over the next decade, nearly a million people will retire in Switzerland, while just 500,000 will enter the workforce, according to estimates by the Swiss Employers' Union. The union's president, Valentin Vogt, is lobbying for women in the workforce to increase their hours by more than 60%. "The issue is not to create new part-time jobs, but to ensure that working women increase their percentage," he said in a recent interview with several German-language newspapers. While Switzerland is a country where the proportion of women in employment (more than 80%) is among the highest in Europe, it is also at the top of the ranking in terms of women employed part-time, just behind the Netherlands. + How work responsibilities have shifted for women and men over the ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss implant makers come under the microscope

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 12:00
The Implant Files revelations of faulty implants and weak safety standards are raising alarm bells for Switzerland’s rapidly growing medical device industry. Manufacturers and industry bodies say that safety standards have improved in the last decade, but do they go far enough? The market for implanted medical devices is booming globally. Tens of thousands of people are walking around with implants, from hip replacements to pacemakers and defibrillators. According to the Implant Files released on Monday, many of these people face serious health risks, in some cases fatal, from what are intended to be life-saving implants. The research was conducted by 250 journalists across more than 30 countries, including Swiss journalists from Tamedia, that are part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation suggests that products are often rushed onto the market with sub-standard testing or approval procedures, and for many, recalls are too late – ...
Categories: News EN

Let us spray: Swiss artist given permission to graffiti church

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 11:11
After waiting more than a decade, controversial Swiss graffiti artist Harald Naegeli has been given the thumbs-up to spray the walls of Zurich’s historic Grossmünster church.   The proposal by the 78-year-old artist to graffiti the inner walls of the Grossmünster towers has been accepted by both the church administration and the cantonal building authorities.  After illegally spraying numerous buildings, including churches, in the 1970s, Naegeli decided to apply for a permit to graffiti the Zurich landmark.  Enfant terrible  In the 1980s he drew support and opposition from intellectuals and the general public alike for his illegal graffiti. After serving a prison sentence in 1984 for illegal defacement of property, he returned to Germany where he had been living before being incarcerated.  + The ‘sprayer of Zurich’ – artist or vandal? Naegeli will receive no payment for his latest artistic venture and the Zurich authorities will have the rights to remove the graffiti after ...
Categories: News EN

Russian spying has ‘calmed down’, says Swiss foreign minister

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 18:40
“Pragmatic” talks, including a visit to Moscow by the head of the Swiss secret service, have helped iron out some of the problems stemming from the alleged Russian spying in Switzerland, according to both countries’ foreign ministers.  Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, were all smiles for the press after a working lunch in Geneva on Wednesday on the margins of the Afghanistan Ministerial Conference at the United Nations.  Alleged Russian spying in Switzerland was one of the main items on their menu, alongside the political situations in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria. Relations have been strained between the two countries after a series of revelations of alleged spying by Russians in Switzerland, which Moscow continues to deny. Swiss authorities believe that two Russian spies targeted a Swiss chemical weapons testing facility outside the capital, Bern, while prosecutors are also investigating a cyberattack against the ...
Categories: News EN

Why is Bern the capital of Switzerland?

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 12:46
Many people are surprised when they hear that pretty little Bern is the Swiss capital. Surely industrial Zurich or international Geneva would be more logical, they say. But it’s precisely to avoid a concentration of power that Bern was chosen as the “federal city” exactly 170 years ago.  Berlin, London, Madrid, Moscow, Bratislava, Reykjavik – whatever their size or power, almost every European country follows the same rule: the largest city becomes the capital city. Not Switzerland though. Indeed, Bern is only the fifth-largest Swiss city:  And even in terms of regions, Bern is much less significant than the agglomerations of Zurich, Basel or Geneva.  Unlike many countries, Switzerland didn’t have a real capital for many years. This was because for a long time it was a confederation, an association of independent cantons grouped together in a larger entity, but without real unity.  From the creation of the Confederation in 1291 to the fall of the Ancien Régime in 1798, the ...
Categories: News EN

‘We want to give women a home’

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 12:00
Proprietors of a Zurich guest house with a long history of sheltering women in need hope that modernisation and a sense of community will allow them to continue to fill a housing gap in the pricey Swiss city.  Only a single word painted on a blue-grey wall points the way to "Josephine's”. The entrance is unpretentious, the reception simple, yet inviting and colourful. There are few signs of all that has gone on in this place over more than a century. The "Töchterheim St. Jakob", a boarding house for women that shares its name with the church across the street, was founded here in 1869. Fifty years later it was taken over by the Marta Association, a branch of the International Association of Friends of Young Women founded in 1877. The "Pension Lutherstrasse", as the guest house became known, served as a refuge for women who had moved from the countryside to Zurich in the search for employment during Switzerland's period of industrialisation. As part of the morality movement of the ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss electronics to take Mars’ pulse

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 15:08
The spacecraft that landed on the Red Planet is carrying a seismometer controlled by electronics devised at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. Now Zurich researchers will be analysing the data collected from the mysterious planet's interior. (SRF, swissinfo.ch) On Monday, the InSight NASA probe successfully landed on Mars after 483 million kilometers (300 million miles) and 205 days in space.  In order to land, the InSight probe had to overcome more difficulties than previous Mars missions: it was heavier, entered the atmosphere at a slower velocity, and landed at a meteorologically less favorable time due to a high risk of sandstorms.  But the unmanned mission overcame the odds to land on the surface of the Red Planet, carrying instruments that will allow scientists to explore its interior. Among these is a seismometer that will record Mars' quakes and meteorite impacts.  The sensor’s data acquisition and control electronics were developed by several teams ...
Categories: News EN