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Banking for Swiss abroad, apprenticeships and a quiz

Sun, 07/22/2018 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we'll be following the week of July 23, 2018: Monday In Rüschlikon, on the outskirts of Zurich, researchers at an IBM facility are churning out an array of blockchain projects that go well beyond the original cryptocurrency concept. We go inside the blockchain factory to find out how the company is aiming to tackle everything from the scourge of fake medicines to counterfeit concert tickets. Tuesday As the Organisation for the Swiss Abroad prepares for its annual congress, swissinfo.ch sits down with its president to talk about what needs to happen next so that Swiss expats can gain greater access to banking services in their native country. Wednesday We asked and you told us: apprenticeships are a valid career choice in little more than half of the countries of our readers, as we take a closer look at how vocational training is perceived outside Switzerland. Thursday If you live in the Geneva region or happen to follow the work of ...
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Pensioners give their time to get time back

Sun, 07/22/2018 - 10:00
It's an idea that has caught on in smaller Swiss communities: sprightly seniors assist the elderly who are less able than they are with daily chores. In return the hours they invest are credited to their accounts which they can draw on when they too need help. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
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Ancient Greek secrets, mobile phone harm and bridge builder

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 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 2,000 Using ultraviolet and infrared imaging scientists at the University of Basel solved the mystery of a 2,000-year-old papyrus. They deciphered the Greek document and discovered a medical script which was probably written by one of the most important doctors of late antiquity.  Tuesday 400 Almost 400 medications are currently in short supply in Switzerland. Ibuprofen drugs, the popular heart medication Aspirin Cardio, and the asthma spray Ventolin are currently no longer being delivered to Switzerland, reported Swiss public television, SRF.   Wednesday 700 Making calls with your cell phone can weaken memory, according to a study involving 700 teenagers. The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute said exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields ...
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How Queen Victoria transformed the Swiss tourism industry

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 11:00
Exactly 150 years ago, Queen Victoria and a small entourage headed to central Switzerland for a five-week getaway. It was the first visit to the Alpine country by a reigning British monarch and left its mark not only on Victoria but also on the Swiss tourism industry.  Queen Victoria Victoria was born in 1819, became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837, married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840, and died in 1901.  She and Albert had nine children and 40 grandchildren, many of whom married into royal families across Europe.  Their 142 (legitimate) great-great-grandchildren include Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Philip, King Juan Carlos I of Spain and his wife Queen Sofia, King Constantine II of Greece and his wife Queen Anne-Marie, King Harald V of Norway, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Peter II of Yugoslavia, King Michael I of Romania. “Oh, it is too awful, too dreadful. And a ...
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Why global elites trust Switzerland with their children

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:00
JTCamp operates in a hip Alpine lifestyle hotel that is popular with snowboarders in the winter but elegantly converted into a child and teen haven over the summer. Children check in their mobile phones and valuables on arrival, then plunge into a schedule that has been meticulously considered and colour coded in line with their interests. This is a family-run business that takes pride in high standards and the smooth blending of children with different tastes, ages, language abilities and cultural backgrounds. It has already started welcoming its third generation of clients from the Middle East –  children whose grandparents also went to the camp. Almost two-thirds of students who experience the camp return the following summer. What’s not to like?  Rose Marie Repond, a former physical education teacher, oversees the afternoon sports activities and excursions. These range from visits to iconic Swiss chocolatiers and glaciers to more unusual llama rides in the Alps, as well as ...
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Dealing with death on a daily basis

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 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. Earning a living through death: working as an undertaker certainly wouldn't suit everyone, but Michael is anything but unhappy with his average day at the office. And indeed, there is a lot to do: From supporting the relatives and families to transferring and preparing the deceased and to meeting special wishes of the relatives. SRF/swissinfo.ch)
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Curious about drones? Here are the basics

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 11:00
It seems like drones are everywhere these days – in the news, in stores, and in the air above us. From technology and uses to risks and regulations, here’s a crash course (no pun intended) on this rapidly advancing technology. Switzerland is at the forefront of drone innovation. Over the last five years, it has given rise to a “Drone Valley” of some 80 start-ups in the sector, many of which have spun off from leading research groups at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne. The country has also integrated aspects of drone use and safety into its aviation and data privacy laws. “Switzerland plays a leading role in drone technology today,” said Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard at the World Economic Forum Drone Innovator’s Network, held on June 26 in Zurich. “Innovative companies and universities driving the success, along with pragmatic government regulation that takes the needs of research and development into account: This unique mix has ...
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Swiss wealth manager looks at London as Brexit looms

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 09:34
UBP, the Private bank, is about to buy a UK investment boutique in a sign of how Swiss wealth managers intend to increase their London business ready for Brexit. Some Swiss bankers fear the post-Brexit City could snatch business from Geneva as a centre for offshore financial advice to the world’s ultra-wealthy. UBP, which manages $125bn for clients, is close to finalising a deal to buy ACPI, a specialist wealth manager overseeing $4bn assets, according to two people involved in the negotiations. ACPI is run by Brett Lankester, a former managing director in Goldman Sachs’ UK private wealth management division. It has 70 staff. UBP plans to merge ACPI with its UK business, which is a similar size. Wealth managers are typically valued at 1.5-2 per cent of their assets under management. This is understood to be the size of the ACPI deal. UBP declined to comment. ACPI said the deal had not been finalised. The expansion of UBP in the UK follows similar moves by Swiss banks such as ...
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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 ...
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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", ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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. 
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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"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.   
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