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Swiss doctors pledge to resist economic pressures

Wed, 07/04/2018 - 17:00
In Switzerland, the Hippocratic oath, stating the obligations and proper conduct of doctors, has been given a make-over.  40 doctors at the cantonal hospital of Fribourg recently gathered to take a new oath, the aim of which is to counter the trend towards making medicine too money-focused. They have pledged to withstand economic pressure to operate when it's not absolutely necessary.  "The Swiss Oath" was drawn up by the umbrella group for Swiss surgeons. The Swiss Medical Association is expected to introduce it at other hospitals around the county.  The Hippocratic Oath is one of the oldest and most widely known codes of ethics. The original text is attributed to Hippocrates, a Greek physician commonly credited with beginning the practice of medicine as a rational science. Its most basic principle was that a doctor must always cure patients, but never harm them. It also discussed respecting teachers, passing medical knowledge to new generations and keeping patients’ secrets.
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Switzerland are out of the World Cup: who to support now?

Wed, 07/04/2018 - 14:17
Switzerland are out of the World Cup - though not for lack of support, as we saw from the pictures and messages you sent us from around the globe. You showed us how you supported the Swiss team, wherever you are. From large-screen cinemas, to Swiss flags, cuddly bears and of course, the team t-shirt, Switzerland was cheered on from far outside Swiss borders. Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Sweden in the knockout round was a disappointment for Switzerland's many supporters, some of whom thought the squad deserved to go further.  No matter the end result, some Swiss abroad still think the Swiss players gave their best. It was a big disappointment for others, who questioned the team's performance.  For Switzerland's large foreign population, or Swiss with roots in different countries however, the World Cup dream lives on. How are you supporting your country from at home in Switzerland? Send us your pictures via Facebook or Twitter!
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Raiffeisen report raises questions for Europe’s co-operatives

Wed, 07/04/2018 - 12:09
In his 16 years as chief executive of Switzerland’s Raiffeisen group, Pierin Vincenz aggressively expanded the country’s third-largest bank by assets.  A network of local co-operative banks, Raiffeisen is the biggest mortgage lender in the affluent Alpine state, where house prices scaled dizzy heights as its central bank drove interest rates deep into negative territory to battle a strong franc. But Mr Vincenz’s reign has attracted the attention of Swiss authorities for a different reason. A scathing report recently by the Finma financial supervisor into Mr Vincenz’s business dealings found serious corporate governance failings by Raiffeisen’s board, which allowed him “at least potentially, to generate personal financial gain at the bank’s expense”. Mr Vincenz, who left the bank in autumn 2015, is under investigation for mismanagement by public prosecutors in Zurich, and has spent 15 weeks held in jail. Mr Vincenz denies allegations he abused his position as chief executive.
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Tour the Swiss flat made from recyclable, compostable...and edible materials

Wed, 07/04/2018 - 11:00
This modern flat doubles as a research project aimed at finding new materials and technologies to help reduce the resources needed for construction. What’s special about this design is its life cycle concept: after a few years, the flat will be completely dismantled and all materials used elsewhere. The NEST (Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies) building in Dübendorf, near Zurich, is probably the craziest building in Switzerland. The Federal Institute for Material Science and Technology (Empa) has a few offices and several research projects under its roof. Before entering the modernly furnished flat or ‘unit’, we have to put felt slippers over our shoes. The first thing we notice is the pleasant smell of oil-treated wood. The apartment on the third floor is referred to as "UMAR" which stands for "Urban Mining and Recycling". This month, two students are due to move into this modern flat. “This is a real environment. This is not an exhibition piece or a lab,” ...
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Painting and decorating: not just a man’s job

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 17:00
Painting and decorating used to be considered a man’s job. But in some cantons, there are now more women finishing apprenticeships in the profession than men. In central Switzerland, for example, women make up 62% of apprenticeship graduates in painting and decorating. They are not just working as house painters; some also have jobs on building sites. Those in the field say that one reason for the rise is that young women get better school results and decide independently that painting is their dream job. Young men might however see it as a fall-back when other apprenticeship options don’t work out. Women are increasingly making inroads into traditional “male jobs” in Switzerland, but professional stereotypes for both genders remain hard to eradicate. In fact, overall in Switzerland, men still remain in the majority in painting and decorating. But experts warn that increased numbers of women coming into sector means that it will have to become more family-friendly in the ...
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Nike aced as Federer dons new wardrobe from Uniqlo

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 14:54
In the cutthroat world of celebrity athlete endorsement, Nike has just been served the equivalent of an ace by Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo. Nike was among the biggest decliners in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday as it surrendered some of last week’s strong share price gains and as investors digested news that Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer has ended his longstanding relationship with it in favour of an apparel deal with Uniqlo reportedly worth more than $300 million (CHF298 million). Plenty of air had been pumped into Nike’s share price, which leapt 11.1% on Friday to a record high after the Oregon-based group revealed sales in North America turned positive in its fiscal fourth quarter for the first time in a year and lifted its revenue growth guidance for 2019. Federer had been a longtime Nike athlete, wearing the company’s shoes and clothing for more than two decades and through all of his record 20 grand slam singles titles. But, as defending ...
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Rouhani: Iran will respect nuclear deal as long as interests preserved

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 13:30
Iran will continue to respect its nuclear agreement with world powers as long as its interests are preserved and it believes it can benefit from the resulting advantages, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday during an official visit to Switzerland.  However, Rouhani appeared to threaten to disrupt oil shipments from neighbouring countries if Washington pressed ahead with its goal of forcing all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.  “The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran’s oil exports. They don’t understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region’s oil is exported," Iran’s presidential website, president.ir, quoted him as saying.  When asked at a news conference in Bern whether those comments constituted a threat to interfere with the shipping of neighbouring countries, Rouhani said: “Assuming that Iran could become the only oil producer unable to export its oil is a wrong assumption .
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Pressure builds on banks to offer Swiss crypto start-ups accounts

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:00
Switzerland’s drive to become a “Crypto Nation” has hit a road block: Swiss banks are unwilling to offer accounts to many blockchain start-ups. Following a personal intervention by Swiss finance minister, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) is now addressing the impasse. The bottleneck has become acute thanks to the extraordinary rise of cryptocurrencies and the initial coin offering (ICO) crowdfunding craze that attracted $1.46 billion (CHF1.45 billion) to Switzerland last year. Companies seeking ICO funds typically issue tokens in exchange for cryptocurrencies, which they use as start-up capital. The ‘wild west’ ICO market has been peppered with high profile cases of fraud, scams and Ponzi schemes – one reason that practically all Swiss banks steer clear of this business. Having been stung by a calamitous tax evasion fight with the United States, Swiss banks are also now alarmed by what they see as money laundering risks associated with bitcoin and other digital tokens that ...
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Swiss enjoy more and more paid annual leave

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 17:00
Swiss employees have more and more holidays: within a period of 20 years the average annual quota has gone up by half a week. Even a 2012 national referendum, which saw two-thirds of voters reject the proposal of increasing statutory leave to six weeks, didn’t stop the trend. At that time, the reasons for rejecting the people’s initiative were mainly economic: business groups feared that accepting the proposal would lead to job losses and would cost the economy billions. Currently, the legal minimum number of holidays in Switzerland is four weeks (20 days) per year, or five weeks for those under the age of 20. However, contracts – individual or collective – can, and often do, provide for a higher number of annual days. Employees over 50 years of age are often granted more paid leave. Teachers on top According to recent data (in German) provided by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the average annual figure in Switzerland is now 5.1 weeks – half a week more than when ...
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Nest boxes and neutrality: Middle East barn owl project seeks Swiss participation

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 11:00
Swiss ornithologist Alexandre Roulin is helping farmers in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian West Bank fight rodent infestations using avian predators instead of pesticides. The project, which aims to restore the ecosystem and cross-cultural dialogue, hopes Switzerland will play a leading role. With their distinctive heart-shaped white faces, onyx eyes and honey-coloured wings, barn owls can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Their exceptional vision and hearing and almost soundless flight – not to mention their powerful talons – make them formidable nocturnal hunters. But these aren’t the only reasons that Alexandre Roulin has been fascinated by barn owls – scientific name Tyto alba – since he was a teenager. “Eagles kill their siblings like Cain and Abel, but the barn owls help each other,” Roulin told swissinfo.ch in his office at the University of Lausanne, where he is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution. “The barn owl has all the ...
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‘Iranians crave European culture’

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 11:00
As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pays an official visit to Switzerland, a former Swiss ambassador to Tehran explains Iran’s complicated relationship with the West, how the international nuclear deal changed everyday life – and why Donald Trump is disastrous for the region.  Philippe Welti was Switzerland’s man in Iran from 2004 to 2008. In a recent interview with Schweizer Illustrierte, a Swiss weekly magazine, he remembers how the Swiss were trying to defuse the conflict in Iran just as the pre-Obama United States wanted the opposite.  He also discusses Switzerland’s reputation in Iran and, rather unreassuringly, why “everyone should be afraid”.  Mr Welti, when was the last time you were in Iran?  Philippe Welti: In February, as president of the Swiss-Iranian chamber of commerce. It was the first meeting of the mixed committees. It was a very good meeting.  What was it about?  P.W.: How to implement the trade agreement with Switzerland – which I was involved in creating.
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What family means to Roger Federer

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 18:00
Roger Federer, No.2 in the ATP world tennis rankings, is the favourite to win Wimbledon, which starts on Monday. The 36-year-old Swiss insists it's his love of family that continues to drive his competitive spirit.  The "King of Green" enters the Grand Slam tournament having missed the clay court season to be fresh for the grass. Federer's record eighth Wimbledon men's singles triumph in 2017, and his 20 grand slam singles titles, the most in history for a male player, confirmed his place as not only the greatest tennis player of all time but also one of the best athletes. Crying for joy Moments after his most recent Wimbledon victory, he wept when he found out that his twin sons, Leo and Lennart had unexpectedly been courtside alongside twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, his wife Mirka, mother Lynette, father Robert and sister Diana. In January 2018, while competing in the Australian Open, he told a local TV channel how he felt about his wife, former tennis player ...
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How the government is regulating Airbnb in Switzerland

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 17:00
A new proposal could make it easier for tenants to sublet using online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb. But other regulations continue to clamp down. The pattern is familiar: a new technology or innovation appears; public enthusiasm drives it beyond the scope of regulators to keep up; it grows more dominant; associated problems arise, competitors kick up a fuss; the public cools, politicians belatedly try to impose some order. Many pioneers of the tech economy – from Uber to Facebook – have seen themselves chased by regulators in recent years. All the more surprising, so, that in Switzerland – a country where change is often slow – legislation recently proposed at the federal level appears to facilitate Airbnb’s growing foothold in the accommodation market. On July 3, a three-month consultation process launched by the government comes to an end. It proposes (link in French) relaxing a current rental law that obliges tenants to ask permission from their landlord each ...
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Bird diplomacy, urban mining and tricky tongues

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 12:00
Here are the stories we'll be following the week of July 2, 2018: Monday Swiss involvement in an Israeli project to control rats using barn owls has become much more than just scientific cooperation. By expanding to neighbouring Jordan and the West Bank researchers hope the enigmatic birds will also help to build dialogue despite political tensions in the region. Tuesday Blockchain startups are denied basic banking services in Switzerland due to banks’ fears of potential fraud and money laundering. Can setting up minimum standards for such startup companies encourage banks to deal with cryptocurrency firms? Wednesday We visit what is arguably the most environment-friendly student apartment in the world. Made from recycled materials “mined” from urban environments, the flat itself is designed to be dismantled in five years. Thursday As the new president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Swiss Senator Liliane Maury Pasquier has her work cut ...
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‘Science is the brain, but photography is the heart’

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 11:00
Nature photographer Daisy Gilardini, originally from Ticino, now lives in Canada, where this year she was appointed “photographer-in-residence” for the magazine Canadian Geographic. The 50-year-old works especially with animals from polar regions. swissinfo.ch: When and why did you leave Switzerland? Daisy Gilardini: I left Switzerland in 2012 for… love. I married David McEown, a Canadian watercolour artist, and moved to Canada. swissinfo.ch: Was it a one-way trip, or are you planning to return to Switzerland some day? D.G.: I love Switzerland and, in my heart, I will always consider it home. However, Canada is also a great place to live, especially for my job. I doubt that I’ll return for good, but I never miss my yearly visit. The points of view stated in this article, especially about the host country and its politics, are the interviewee’s points of view and are not necessarily in line with swissinfo.ch’s position. swissinfo.ch: How did you get into your line of work? D.
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Double-headed eagles and medieval skeletons

Sat, 06/30/2018 - 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 25,000 The total sum, in francs, that three Swiss footballers were fined by FIFA for “unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play”, referring to their “double-eagle” hand gesture during a match against Serbia at the World Cup.  Tuesday 29 Canton Bern’s Office of the Attorney General opened a criminal investigation into suspected irregularities surrounding the funding of Switzerland’s merchant navy, which comprises 29 ocean-going cargo vessels.  Wednesday 125,000 The numbers of signatures collected by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party for an initiative to stop the free movement of people between Switzerland and the European Union. The signatures still need to be validated (100,000 valid ones are required), but it look like the issue will at ...
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Swiss traditions captured by a Sri Lankan refugee

Sat, 06/30/2018 - 11:00
Sasi Subramaniam, a refugee from Sri Lanka, has completed a photography diploma, which includes a thesis on Swiss traditions. For his project he has photographed 16 festivals across the country, shooting local customs and rituals.  Before being forced to flee Sri Lanka in 2008, Sasi Subramaniam was a war reporter in his country. On his arrival in Switzerland, the authorities sent him and his wife to canton Glarus, where he currently lives and works.  "I was never interested in popular cultures and rituals," he told swissinfo.ch in Glaris. "I don't even know the customs of my people. I was obsessed with politics.”  In 2010, he was hired by a publishing house to contribute photographs to a book on Glarus’ traditions. By then, he had already worked as a freelance photographer for regional newspapers. This work made him realise how much he enjoyed observing people and their rituals with his camera.  "This helped alleviate the pain that burned in my chest and gave me access to this ...
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Urbanisation poses challenge for Swiss development aid

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 17:00
Switzerland is adapting its international assistance policy to put more emphasis on aiding the urban poor in developing countries. Never before in history have so many people lived in urban areas. The number is expected to grow from four billion today to five billion by 2050.  Rapid growth coupled with inadequate urban planning, as well as weak financial structures or mismanagement make cities the biggest polluters. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), along with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), want to help prevent urbanisation from leading to more inequality and pollution. The challenges of urbanisation for the benefit of all are enormous in developing as well as emerging countries. Their cities are growing so rapidly that planning can hardly keep up. The number of people living in African and Asian cities 60 years ago was about 15% of the total population. By 2050 it's expected to be between 60 and 65%. "Developing urban and rural areas ...
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The lasting appeal of picture book characters

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 17:00
Swiss picture book characters that have inspired generations of readers are in the spotlight again at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. A new exhibition features Lisa Wenger‘s Joggeli, Pitschi the kitten, who's been popular for 70 years, the children from the Maggi song book, a teddy bear who sets off for Tripiti, and Globi, who started life as an advertising slogan and became a children’s story character. Thanks to their illustrations, some Swiss artists became known outside their country, such as Ernst Kreidolf, Felix Hoffmann or Hans Fischer. Political caricaturist Hans-Ulrich Steger had a poke at Switzerland through the teddy bear he created. "Reise nach Tripiti" ("Journey to Tripiti", 1967) was one of his most successful children's books and has been translated into various languages, including Japanese.  The interactive exhibition, which continues to mid-October, allows young visitors to hide under the bed and pull pears off trees, in reference to the century-old ...
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Globus Riots: When the Swiss youth took to the streets

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 13:41
Clashes between protestors and police in the centre of Zurich 50 years ago are seen as a watershed moment in recent Swiss history. The so-called “Globus Riots” marked the beginning of an anti-establishment youth movement in Switzerland in the wake of similar protests across Europe, notably in neighbouring France.  The violent confrontation on June 29, 1968, was preceded by clashes with security forces following rock concerts by Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, two icons of the young generation, earlier in the year.  The demonstration and the ensuing pitched battles brought public transport in the usually peaceful Swiss city to a standstill. More than 40 people, including police and firefighters, were injured. Police detained nearly 170 protestors. More than 30 people, including one policeman, ended up in court.  The demonstration focused on demands for a self-governed youth centre in a warehouse of the upmarket department store Globus near Zurich’s main railway ...
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