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: 3 hours 14 min ago

Swiss TV antenna gets demolished with dynamite

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:13
The 122-metre-high Swisscom broadcasting tower "La Barillette" in Western Switzerland was blown up on Thursday.  Eight kilograms of explosives were needed to bring down the 60-year-old metal structure installed at an altitude of 1,500m.  "It is rare to be able to dynamite such an object, it is a challenge," said Patrick Berner, CEO of Sagramat SA, the company in charge of the operation.   The 97-ton metal tower fell in the planned direction late Thursday evening. It will dismantled into smaller pieces and recycled. Owned by Swisscom Broadcast, the old mast used to transmit analogue and digital radio programmes. It was replaced last August and the new tower stands only a few metres from the spot.
Categories: News EN

How to serve up an initiative that is hard to digest

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:00
Some Swiss votes can be extremely technical and the need for independent viewpoints is vital. But experts’ clarifications can sometimes be incomprehensible and not necessarily neutral. Fabio Canetg thinks he has the answer.  Grasping a full understanding of cantonal tax models, national fiscal equalisation and monetary policy – such as the current ‘sovereign money’ initiative – can be tough-going for Swiss voters.  Such initiatives are complex, and the public and media rely heavily on specialists for explanation. But care is needed, as they are not always neutral or crystal clear.  Fabio Canetg, an economics PhD assistant at Bern University, thinks he has the solution. He claims to be a strictly neutral economics specialist with a deep understanding of the sovereign money initiative, on which Switzerland will vote on June 10.  He spends part of his time travelling across Switzerland giving 45-minute presentations on the issue to interested citizens to help them form their own ...
Categories: News EN

Americans overseas: friends don’t let friends not vote

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 11:00
Americans may be happy getting on with their lives overseas but they have a duty to cast a vote to shape politics back home, or so argues Alexandra Dufresne. I recently began teaching American law here in Switzerland. On the first day of class, I asked the students to share questions they had about law and policy in the United States. Three questions were by far the most common: why do you have the death penalty, why do you not regulate guns more strictly, and how could Trump possibly have been elected? “Hmm. Let me get back to you on the last one,” I said. I still don’t know the answer, though I ask myself the question every morning when I read the newspaper. There are so many factors at play. But one factor (of many) may have been voter turnout – or lack thereof. How did this happen? In the 2016 Presidential election, only about 58 to 60% of eligible voters voted, depending on how one calculates the pool of “eligible voters”. This means that only about 26% of the American ...
Categories: News EN

Guterres ‘deeply concerned’ by cancellation of Trump-Kim summit

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 20:00
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed alarm at United States President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel an upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Guterres made his remarks in Geneva as he presented details of his global disarmament initiative.  “I am deeply concerned by the cancellation of the planned meeting in Singapore between the President of the United States and the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Guterres told an audience at Geneva University on Thursday.  He urged all parties in the nuclear talks to keep “nerves of steel” while continuing dialogue towards “the peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. In a formal letter released on Thursday, Trump called off the summit scheduled for June 12, citing hostility on the part of Kim.  "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have ...
Categories: News EN

Do the police smoke confiscated weed?

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 13:53
"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.  There are a lot of clichés when it comes to the police: they smoke confiscated marijuana, never get fines, are all right-wing and enjoy violence. Bap, a 27-year-old policeman, fills us in first hand on what's true and what's just a myth. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Categories: News EN

Taking the pulse of democracy around the globe

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 11:00
Bruno Kaufmann, swissinfo.ch's global democracy correspondent, has just returned from his 200-day "modern democracy" world tour. In his backpack: fascinating stories and challenging insights. During his travels over five continents, the Swedish-Swiss democracy reporter met activists, campaigners for independence, local journalists and Buddhist monks, as well as mayors, diplomats, curious border officials and many other interesting people in 100 cities of 20 countries. Academics and the media may be debating the worldwide decline of democratic practices, but Kaufmann found plenty of evidence to the contrary: a world full of encouraging developments and little-known achievements. In most cases, while national entities are often struggling, democratic progress is visible in cities and provinces. Go local (and regional) to win a global approach to modern democracy, Kaufmann says.  Retrace his 200-day voyage by clicking on some of the 20 stops.
Categories: News EN

More parents delay kindergarten start date

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 17:00
Swiss parents are increasingly putting off the start date of kindergarten for their children in a clear push back against efforts to make enrollment mandatory by age four across the nation.   Primary level education in Switzerland covers eight years beginning with two years of kindergarten or what is known as the first learning cycle. The cantons decide when the children start, between age four and five. If a child has reached the required age by a cut-off date (between early April and late July in 24 cantons), they can start at the beginning of the next school year, which is late summer in Switzerland. In only a few German cantons is Kindergarten not compulsory or is only compulsory for one year. According to Harmos – which aims to harmonise school systems across Switzerland – the cut-off date for reaching the kindergarten age of four will be fixed at July 31 for those cantons which have signed up by 2020. This means some cantons have been progressively moving forward their ...
Categories: News EN

Overseeing the UN’s ‘most complex’ relief operation

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 13:42
Every day, the United Nations food agency (WFP) needs $2 million (CHF1.98 million) to help feed vulnerable people in Syria. The Swiss humanitarian worker Jakob Kern, who has been leading the WFP’s Syria action since December 2015, talks to Swiss public television (SRF) about the challenges of his job.  After 30 months, Kern is leaving the Syrian capital Damascus, where, as WFP Syria Country Director, he has led the UN’s biggest relief operation. During this time, he oversaw 350 staff and nine field offices spread across four countries and regularly accompanied aid convoys in the troubled Middle East country, which has been wracked by over seven years of conflict.  The WFP Syria relief operation is probably the UN’s “most complex” worldwide, he told the WFP Blog in an interview in German. In Syria, WFP supplies essential food aid to elderly and handicapped people, women and children. Monthly food rations are distributed for groups of five people: around 50 kilograms of basic food ...
Categories: News EN

Frugal lifestyles on display in Swiss open-air museum

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 11:00
At the Ballenberg open-air museum in the Swiss Alps visitors can experience how the Swiss carved out a meagre existence in earlier centuries. Surrounded by high mountains, around 110 rural buildings are scattered on 66 hectares of undulating forested land. Grand farm houses with shingle facades or straw roofs, chalets, timbered barns, mortar-free stone houses with shingle roofs, a Mediterranean estate, alpine huts as well as a winegrower’s house create the impression that the building traditions of different nations were gathering here. But in fact, all houses are Swiss. They were collected from all over the country and faithfully reconstructed. Ballenberg Open-Air Museum The museum near Brienz is open from April 14 to October 31, 2018. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a series of additional events. A special exhibition is dedicated to the topic of the cow, which played an important role for the Swiss economy. The museum is also a place of research and study.
Categories: News EN

Palestinian return is a right not a dream

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 16:00
The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights writes a letter in response to remarks by Swiss foreign affairs minister Ignazio Cassis that cast United Nations aid work for Palestinian refugees as a stumbling block to peace in the Middle East. Our return is not a dream, it is an internationally recognized right. Ignazio Cassis, Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs, declared on Thursday 17 May 2018 that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is an obstacle to peace in the Middle East as it actively hinders the integration of Palestinian refugees in their host countries. Cassis claimed that the preservation of refugee camps, specifically in Jordan and Lebanon, sustains a “dream of returning home” for Palestinians who reside in them.” He added that the funding of UNRWA by the international community contributes to keeping the conflict alive. He stated, “For a long time UNRWA was the solution to this ...
Categories: News EN

Bikers blessed on mountain pass

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 15:20
On Whit Monday, some 200 bikers were blessed on the "Col des Mosses" pass in western Switzerland. The pass was the scene of another fatal motorcycle accident just last month. The Whit Monday ceremony pays tribute to the bikers who have died in road accidents and to raise awareness of the inherent dangers. The goal of the event, organised by the biker group "Les Têtes Brûlées" (The Burnt Heads), is to comfort and support people who have lost a loved one.   The "Têtes brûlées" group was founded in the late 1970s and was disbanded after the tragic death of one of its members. The group was reborn a few years ago.
Categories: News EN

Swiss charitable foundations continue to flourish

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 08:00
Switzerland has one of the highest concentrations of philanthropic foundations in the world - and the sector keeps growing strongly. Last year, over 13,000 grant-making foundations were registered with a combined fortune of almost CHF100 billion ($100 billion) – a 30% increase since 2012 -, a new report shows. In 2017, a new grant-making foundation was created in Switzerland almost every day (364), while at total of 187 shut up shop, taking the overall total to 13,129, according to the SwissFoundations 2017 annual report, published on Tuesday.  The report’s authors say Switzerland has one of the highest concentrations in the world – 15.6 foundations per 10,000 residents - with half of all new institutions created in the past 20 years.  The most important Swiss foundations? SwissFoundations does not rank national foundations by size or influence. Swiss foundations report their annual account information to the relevant surveillance authorities but the details are not public.  ...
Categories: News EN

Sri Lankans in Switzerland demand justice

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 17:00
Eleven thousand children from Sri Lanka were adopted by Western couples in the 1980s, some with fake identities. Hundreds of children who came to Switzerland are now trying to discover whether they were illegally smuggled into the country. According to the Rundschau current affairs programme on Swiss Public Television, SRF, small children were stolen in Sri Lanka, then sold or adopted. The scandal was reported at the time, but details reemerged after a recent Dutch TV report, causing  an international stir. Joëlle Schickel-Küng, head of the Central Agency for International Adoptions at the Federal Office of Justice has confirmed that the government has launched its own investigations into what seem to have been illegal practices, but as it was so long ago, the enquiry could take a long time. Baby farms Many of the adopted children have sought information about their origins in Sri Lanka. Romy Walcher was lucky enough to find her birth mother, who explained that she became ...
Categories: News EN

Young carers face many obstacles

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 11:00
When a parent or relative becomes ill, children might take on a caring role. Switzerland’s first ever figures show that almost 8% of children aged 10-15 are young carers – far more than previously thought. Having a parent, sibling or grandparent who is ill with cancer or suffering from depression can be life-changing for some children. They might take on extra care, household and childcare duties; they might even have to administer medicines and drips. Young carers often remain silent about their situation, says Agnes Leu, head of the Young Carers research programme at Careum Research, the institute of the Department of Health Science at the Kalaidos University of Applied Sciences in Zurich. “For me it’s like a hidden topic: either young people are hiding it because they don’t want everyone to know or their parents or the person they are caring for don’t want them to talk about it,” Leu told swissinfo.ch. For the first time, Leu and her team were able to shed light on the ...
Categories: News EN

Air Zermatt: 50 years of Alpine air rescue

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 17:00
One of Switzerland’s best known air rescue services, Air Zermatt, is marking a half century of service this year. Although Air Zermatt – with one of its bases in the popular mountain resort of the same name - is most well-known for rescuing people injured or stranded on mountains, or in hard-to-reach crevasses in the Alps, it also operates sightseeing flights for tourists, taking in views of Switzerland’s iconic Matterhorn mountain or the Aletsch glacier. Material transport accounts for 60% of its flight time: moving construction materials up to sites in the mountains for Alpine huts, mountain railways or avalanche barriers. The company’s reach extends beyond their corner of Switzerland. In 2011, Air Zermatt and the Zermatt rescue station built a rescue centre in the Himalayas. The project was planned to be educational, and create an opportunity for knowledge transfer between mountain guides and air rescue pilots in Switzerland and Nepal. Peaks and troughs In the same year, ...
Categories: News EN

Too young to care, recycled flats and a Booker Prize winner

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 12:00
These are some of the stories we’re following in the week of May 21. Monday They may be young but children sometimes have to take on the burden of caring for a loved one. How many such juvenile carers exist in Switzerland and how does the responsibility affect them?  Tuesday Switzerland has one of the highest concentrations of charitable foundations in the world - and the sector is growing strongly. Last year, over 13,000 foundations were registered with a combined fortune of almost CHF100 billion ($100 billion) – a 30% increase since 2012.  We’ll report on what’s behind the recent dynamism.  Wednesday Recycled flats may become the norm in the future but in the past most Swiss lived in grim conditions. An outdoor museum hosts a collection of cramped houses from the 18th and 19th century to help shed light on a less prosperous time.  Thursday Global democracy correspondent Bruno Kaufmann has completed an incredible 200-day tour of the world ...
Categories: News EN

Manuela Rocker: "We’re a very sporty family"

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 11:00
Manuela Rocker had a tough start when she arrived in Australia 22 years ago. But the 52-year-old Swiss expat has settled into life down under, and even has a place where she can buy Swiss cheese. Originally from Lugano, she lives on the coast just outside of Sydney. swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland? Manuela Rocker: I left Switzerland in 1995 to follow my heart. swissinfo.ch: How were the first few months abroad? M.R.: The first few months were all about exploring and finding out about beautiful Sydney. The language wasn't a big issue as I already had a basic knowledge of English. But driving on the other side of the road was a little challenging at times! The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of swissinfo.ch. swissinfo.ch: Was it a one-way journey, or did you plan to return to Switzerland at some point? M.R.: It was a one-way journey even though I had a bit of a re-think and spent 11 months in ...
Categories: News EN

New gold rush, self-driving buses and real-people jobs

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 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 100 Swiss miners said the new 'gold rush' would take them to Sweden. The cryptocurrency specialist, Alpine Mining, announced it wanted to set up a crypto mining farm in the Scandinavian nation to build its capacity for creating tokens to a 100-megawatt operation. Tuesday 26 million The canton of Geneva is set to test a system of self-driving public buses as part of an international project. It's being financed to the tune of CHF26 million, the lion's share from the European Union's Horizon 2020 funding programme. Wednesday 5 million That’s how many francs the government is contributing to fight radicalisation. The authorities want to raise awareness and provide counselling. It’s part of a three-pronged approach to combating violent extremism. Since 2001, ...
Categories: News EN

Taking a cool dip in the archives

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 11:00
Taking a dip in outdoor pools has a tradition in Switzerland going back 200 years. It's a custom that begins anew every May. In the 19th century, the authorities in Swiss towns began to regulate their citizens' love of stripping off and swimming in the local lakes and rivers. They began erecting wooden structures on the water's edge to separate the sexes. In Zurich, a bathhouse for women was built on the Limmat River in 1837. This "Frauenbad" still exists.  A men's bathing area was built along the old city walls in 1864, and continues to be in operation and reserved for men only. One of the first outdoor swimming baths for both men and women, Weggis-Lido, was built in 1919.  In the 1930s, numerous public baths were built, and in some cases as a way to create jobs during the economic downturn of the decade. In our series #swisshistorypics we look back on some of the earliest bathing bathing establishments in Switzerland. (Photos: Archive of Building History, ETHZ library, ...
Categories: News EN

How to marry like a Swiss commoner

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 08:00
How does a typical Swiss couple get married? We’ve created a handy guide on how to tie the knot in Switzerland, with the help of a study by the association of Independent Swiss Wedding Planners. Some 40,000 weddings took place in Switzerland in 2017. To marry just like a regular Swiss couple, there are a few simple rules to follow:  1. Splash out On average, Swiss couples spend CHF30,000 to CHF40,000 ($30,000 – $40,000) on their wedding – not including the cost of the dress and suits, rings or the honeymoon. “That’s probably quite a lot compared to Switzerland’s neighbouring countries,” says Simone Glarner of the Association of Independent Swiss Wedding Planners (VUSH). “Renting the wedding location is particularly expensive here and the standard of living in Switzerland is high,” Glarner explains. Just how much a wedding costs depends primarily on the number of guests and on how long the festivities go on for. “In India, people sometimes celebrate for several days or weeks – ...
Categories: News EN