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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: 6 weeks 2 days ago

Who’s in the WEF in-crowd?

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 09:00
Making it on the participants list at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting is no easy feat. Just around 3,000 people make the cut. Despite efforts to attract more young people and women, the average participant is still a man in his 50s from Western Europe or North America. So, who can you expect in this elite crowd? More than half of the participants are from business, with a large portion chief executive officers and directors, such as Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and Roche Chairman Christoph Franz. Of the more than 330 public figures, 60 heads of state are expected to attend, including Swiss President Ueli Maurer and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as many new faces including recently elected leaders of Iraq, Brazil and Ecuador. Over 40 heads of international organisations, including Robert Azevedo of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will attend. + See who made it into the in-crowd at the 2018 WEF Although more than half of the participants come from ...
Categories: News EN

Humanitarians and Davos: Pure as the driven snow?

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 21:00
It’s that time of year again: the moneyed, the powerful, the famous, some who are all three, some who strive hopefully towards just one of those qualities, all are making their annual pilgrimage up the valley to Davos and the World Economic Forum. It’s an odd event, the forum, and not the most professionally satisfying for a journalist. I spent years reporting on it before a merciful editor decided it was someone else’s turn. The problem for us in the media is that, while there are plenty of newsmakers attending, from prime ministers, to billionaires, to despots, most, during their time in Davos, are more interested in networking than they are in answering awkward questions from news reporters. But it’s a networking opportunity the world’s humanitarian leaders rarely miss. My first ever Davos coincided with my first year as Geneva correspondent, and I remember being surprised that, in the run up to the forum, I was receiving multiple emails from aid agencies informing me that ...
Categories: News EN

Davos’s main runway, Zurich

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 17:20
This time around, Trump, May and Macron will not transfer at Zurich’s main airport on their way to the World Economic Forum in Davos. For those in charge of security, these cancellations are by no means a respite. Here’s a look behind the scenes in the WEF control room at Zurich Airport, and at how motorcades are checked before accessing the runway.   As Zurich Cantonal Police Chief Thomas Würgler said at a media conference on Monday, “WEF might be in Davos, but it starts in Zurich”. Airport operator, Flughafen Zurich AG, expects around 130 extra aircraft movements per day compared to an average day. About 110 guests protected by international law, such as four members of royalty and 19 presidents, are expected among the numerous representatives of foreign governments and international organizations. The World Economic Forum is a major undertaking for the Swiss police corps, also outside Canton Graubünden, where the forum takes place. There too, as in previous years, the Zurich ...
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Historic nuclear accident dashed Swiss atomic dreams

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 13:01
Fifty years ago today, a nuclear meltdown occurred in Switzerland’s first experimental nuclear power station. Built in an underground chamber in Lucens in the western part of the country, it was the site of the worst nuclear accident in Swiss history. The plant was opened in 1962, with the aim of not only producing energy, but also allowing Switzerland to develop a reactor bearing the “Made in Switzerland” label and enabling experiments with nuclear energy. But these plans were pushed aside when disaster struck in the plant’s reactor cavity on January 21, 1969. A pressure tube burst which created a power surge leading to the reactor malfunctioning and an explosion. Luckily, a member of staff who was scheduled to be working on the reactor at the time was found safe and sound elsewhere. The plant’s underground design also prevented people and the environment from being harmed. The accident’s severity registered at 5 out of a possible 7. The concentration of leaked cooling gas ...
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If investors don’t overhaul banker pay, populism will

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 10:28
When UBS, humbled by its near collapse in 2008, vast misconduct fines and a rogue trading scandal, began a corporate overhaul in the wake of the financial crisis, the Swiss bank went further than most rivals. It slashed the parts of its investment bank that made little or no money. It hired a new chairman - former Bundesbank boss Axel Weber - to bring a sharper focus on governance. Chief executive Sergio Ermotti brought better operational discipline. And it added bells and whistles to the pay reforms introduced across the banking sector, revamping bonus structures to ensure that staff did not profit in the short term by taking risks that could play out over many years. The news last week that Santander was abandoning its planned hire of UBS investment bank boss Andrea Orcel as chief executive, highlighted an odd side-effect of those pay reforms. Thanks to a complex system that mixes cash, shares, bonds and other perks, paying them out over a seven-year period, the aggregate value ...
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WEF 2019: Where global interdependence goes from here

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 09:06
Issues surrounding the networked world - so-called “Globalisation 4.0” - will top the agenda at this year’s edition of the World Economic Forum in Davos. What does that mean for Switzerland’s companies and its place on the global stage?​​​​​​​ International interactions among people, businesses and governments must become more inclusive and sustainable, says WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, adding that “We have to look after the losers, after those who have been left behind.” Meeting in snowy Davos, says Schwab, creates an opportunity for global leaders to step back from the daily grind of crisis management to set priorities, harness future opportunities and mitigate threats. How can the world aspire to sustainable progress in an era where disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence are fundamentally transforming how economies, business, societies and governments function, creating new winners and losers? With protectionism on the rise in many parts of the ...
Categories: News EN

The WEF in Davos, an Indian artist and Tezos blockchain

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 13:00
Here are some of the stories we’ll bring you the week of January 21: Monday The World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting kicks off on Tuesday in the Swiss mountain resort town of Davos with a powerful line-up of global leaders, business titans, creatives and innovators tasked with responding to the challenges of globalization. Our reporters will be on the spot giving you the latest news and views. Tuesday The Tezos blockchain is taking its first teetering steps following a difficult birth, marked by fractious rows and lawsuits. The Swiss-based foundation tasked with spending $500 million on its development is walking a tightrope between regulatory pitfalls and early adopters demanding rapid progress. Foundation President Ryan Jesperson speaks to swissinfo.ch about his hopes for the future. Wednesday How can we feed the rapidly expanding population of our planet without destroying it? By 2050, Earth will be home to nearly 10 billion people; feeding them will require a 70% ...
Categories: News EN

What makes Germany different from Switzerland?

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 12:00
It was romance that enticed David Schaffner, 25, to leave Switzerland and move to Germany. But there’s more to like about Germany than just the love of his life. swissinfo.ch: When and why did you leave Switzerland? David Schaffner: For love. I left Switzerland in 2016 for my girlfriend, who is now my wife. The points of view stated in this article, especially about the host country and its politics, are the interviewee’s opinion and are not necessarily in line with swissinfo.ch’s position. swissinfo.ch: Was it a one-way journey, or do you intend to return to Switzerland some day? D.S.: I am not planning to return, but I also wouldn’t rule it out. swissinfo.ch: What is your work? And how is it going? D.S.: I work in the food industry, in marketing. We specialise in “private label packaging” for organic tea and spices and have both big and small customers in central Europe. The organic sector is growing and constantly changing. It is a very interesting and varied job. I got ...
Categories: News EN

Deals, no deals and avalanche warnings

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 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 the past week’s stories. Monday 5 Following several deaths and injuries, the highest avalanche risk rating of “level 5” was declared for important winter tourism areas like Davos, Klosters, Grindelwald, Engelberg, Andermatt and Disentis.   Tuesday 1831 VoteInfo was launched. The government app helps users learn about upcoming votes and check the results over the course of a vote day. It’s also possible to explore archives that go back as far as 1981 at the federal level and even further in the cases of some cantons: 1831 for Zurich.  Wednesday 493 The number of merger and acquisition deals involving Swiss companies hit a record high of 493 in 2018.   Thursday 57 Around 57% of the Swiss population are middle-class. Wages are the main factor when deciding whether someone is ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss Guards get a 21st-century headgear update

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 12:00
The Swiss Guards, who have protected the Pope for 500 years, are about to receive new headgear: PVC plastic helmets made with a 3D printer. The guards’ traditional medieval armour is hand-forged in Austria, but the 2-kilogramme metal helmets worn at mass and ceremonial receptions are to be replaced by 3D-printed plastic headgear manufactured in Switzerland, near Stans. Marcus Risi, owner of a 3D printing company, was heavily involved in the development of the project. To make one of the new helmets, the 16th-century original is scanned, and the digital data is reworked on a computer before being printed. It takes approximately one day to produce a new hat. The new hi-tech helmets weigh just 570 grams, protect against ultraviolet rays and are fitted with air vents. But they are not cheap: each costs CHF900-1,000 ($911-1,012) to produce, though this is still cheaper than their predecessors, which also took almost 130 hours to make. The 3D printer makes a PVC helmet in one-sixth ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss youths strike for climate protection

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 18:18
Thousands of young people from schools and universities around Switzerland went on strike on Friday to demand greater action to combat climate change. Their protest was inspired by Greta Thunberg, who began a solo climate protest by striking every Friday in Sweden in August 2018. She was invited to address last year's climate summit (COP24) in Poland, where she accused world leaders of behaving like irresponsible children by not doing enough to address climate problems. Thunberg tweeted that she will be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos from January 23 to 25.  Thousands of students have followed her lead, striking in Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the US and Japan.  On Friday, Switzerland was the stage for the latest protest, where organisers said more than 20,000 students from schools and colleges in 15 cities took part in the action.  Organisers have said another strike is planned for February 2.  The video below was taken in the Swiss capital Bern, ...
Categories: News EN

Why gifted pupils need more support

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 18:00
Not all gifted children are receiving the support they need in Swiss schools, with an estimated up to one in five not fulfilling their potential. Time to take more action, the Federation of Swiss Teachers (LCH) says. The Swiss state school system runs along an integrative model to include a wide range of learners, but the focus often goes on children with special education needs, explained Beat A. Schwendimann, a board member at LCH, which represents teachers in German-speaking Switzerland. + Find out more about inclusive education in Switzerland here But gifted children also have special needs and require support. “Gifted education is often seen as an optional add-on,” he told swissinfo.ch via email. But it’s the school’s mission to develop the talents for all children, he added. Studies show that 15% to 20% of pupils would be capable of performing above the class average. That is why the LCH has drawn up a position paper, recently highlighted on its website, calling for ...
Categories: News EN

Time flies: iconic Swiss railway clock turns 75

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 14:21
The clocks in Switzerland's railway stations with their particular modern look have become an icon of Swiss design. The clock is the brainchild of Hans Hilfiker, an engineer with the Federal Railways, and was used for the first time in 1944. The timepiece remains eye-catching 75 years on. Hilfiker was inspired by the Bauhaus movement, a German art school noted for a synthesising technology, craftsmanship and design aesthetics. Instead of numbers, the clock face shows simple vertical lines as indicators and a rotating red second hand reminiscent of the traditional signalling disc of the station masters. Despite its age the design looks as young and fresh as ever. It served as a model for the clocks on the tablet computers which Apple introduced in 2012. In a bid to avert a legal dispute, Apple agreed to pay CHF20 million ($20.1 million) to the Swiss national railway company in exchange for the rights to use the clock design. It disappeared from iPads soon afterwards, when Apple ...
Categories: News EN

‘The EU will not renegotiate the framework treaty with Switzerland’

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 12:00
As the signs within Switzerland increasingly suggest that a framework agreement with the European Union is heading for failure, a political analyst warns that Brussels will not budge and will not return to the deal, which aims to determine the two parties’ long-term relations. Is the framework deal heading for a premature death? Recent comments by several top Swiss politicians suggest so. “We need to renegotiate significant points for the deal to have a chance of being accepted – that’s my view,” said Ueli Maurer of the conservative right, anti-EU Swiss People’s Party as he took on the rotating Swiss presidency for 2019. These comments generated considerable reaction, although the government has yet to take a position and is currently carrying out a public consultation on the agreement proposed by the European Union in December. In the meantime, Christian Levrat, president of the leftwing Social Democratic Party, has called for talks with the EU to be reopened. “The ...
Categories: News EN

New calendar forces watchmakers to choose between fairs

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 13:52
The decision by Switzerland’s biggest watch fairs - the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) and Baselworld – to run back to back next year has made life complicated for watchmakers.  On the penultimate day of the SIHH watch fair in Geneva an uninterrupted stream of Japanese, Chinese and European watch distributors and retailers keep the watch brand stalls busy.  The latest collections are unveiled to them in private rooms attached to the stalls. If sufficiently impressed, the international buyers will make the orders that will keep the Swiss watch industry afloat – that is until they have to do it all over again at Baselworld in March.  However, from 2020 onwards both fairs will be held back-to-back: SIHH from April 26-29 in Geneva, followed immediately by Baselworld (April 30 to May 5 in Basel). This new arrangement will continue until 2024. “We have sought dialogue with the SIHH and together have found a solution, which benefits visitors, the media, and the ...
Categories: News EN

Keeping slopes safe is risky work

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 18:11
What does it take to keep ski areas safe? Following the death on Monday of a snow patroller caught in an avalanche, Swiss Public Television, RTS, takes a closer look at the dangerous work. The 24-year-old Swiss victim and a colleague were working in ​​Crosets in the Porte du Soleil ski area in canton Valais when an avalanche was triggered at 1,970 meters. One of the patrollers managed to escape from the snow mass on his own, and dug out his colleague, buried under 1m 40cm of snow, but the victim was dead by the time a helicopter arrived to take him to hospital. Snowfall is currently at record levels in the Swiss Alps, making off-piste skiing particularly dangerous. A 20-year-old Swedish skier lost his life in an avalanche on Tuesday. It's the patrollers' job to try to limit the danger for the public, but they put themselves in the way of great danger by doing so. A television crew found out more about the profession from patrollers working in the resort of Ovronnaz in Valais.
Categories: News EN

Getting the Swiss back on skis

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 12:00
Switzerland has always thought of itself as a nation of skiers, but there is a whole section of society that is not tempted by the white stuff. Many of them would rather spend the winter holidays on a beach than on a mountain slope. In general, fewer people are skiing in Switzerland. A report published in 2018 by the Swiss Tourism industry shows ski days were down 23% between the 2008/9 season and 2017/18. This reflects a general world trend. Swiss researcher Laurent Vanat publishes an annual international report on snow and mountain tourism. He writes, "It is the global Western skier market that is flattening, although this is not reflected in the number of skiers worldwide, which is growing thanks to developing markets such as China”. The latest report from Swiss Mountain Railways, the association of ski-lift operators, notes that about two-thirds of skiers on Swiss slopes are locals. These are mainly younger people up to the age of 30, and baby boomers, aged 50 or over. The ...
Categories: News EN

Switzerland's oldest cookbook whets modern appetites

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:48
Want to whip up a storm in the kitchen just like the Swiss did 400 years ago? The oldest surviving German-language cookbook in Switzerland has been republished, and what once fed the clergy of the diocese can now be served up in your own home. It's a weighty book, not just in terms of its many pages, but also in terms of the dense recipes found inside. "Ein schön Kochbuch" (“A beautiful cookbook”) dates from 1559 and contains 515 recipes. The handwritten original was found a few years ago in the attic of a house near Zurich. The owner donated it to Swiss historian Walter Letsch, and today the original is stored in the Cantonal Archives of Graubünden.   Fancy beaver's tail or pike liver? However, cookbooks don't really belong in archives, but in kitchens: and so, Letsch edited the book and translated it into modern German. The newly-published book, available in Swiss bookstores, not only contains the recipes but also additional explanations on the dishes and ingredients as well ...
Categories: News EN

20 years of fighting the white death

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 10:27
Heavy snowfalls in recent days have prompted the authorities to issue the highest level of avalanche risk warning in the Swiss mountains. Similar dangerous levels were reached in the winter of 1999. What has changed in avalanche protection since then? (SRF, swissinfo.ch) Because of the heavy snowfalls over the weekend, the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos resorted to the seldom issued "level 5" warning of avalanche risk in some parts of the country.  Affected were the eastern areas of the Bernese Oberland, central Switzerland, the Glarus region and large parts of the southeast.  On Tuesday, the SLF expected slightly better conditions thanks to less snowfall. The avalanche danger, however, remains at level 4, the second highest and applies to practically the entire Alpine area. The conditions rekindle memories of the winter of 1999, when over a dozen people were killed by avalanches. At the time, in just over a month, the Alps saw over five metres of snow ...
Categories: News EN

Brits in Switzerland wonder about their rights amid Brexit countdown

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 09:00
Can British citizens in Switzerland feel reassured about their post-Brexit situation following a complicated deal between Switzerland and the UK? Embassy officials are working to clarify the situation, but several issues remain unresolved.  A citizens' rights deal between Switzerland and the UK, agreed in December, is said to “broadly” protect the existing rights of UK citizens living in Switzerland, and vice versa, after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union on March 29. The agreement – which will apply even if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal – also takes into account some 2,600 British cross-border workers who commute into Switzerland from neighbouring countries (they will still have to comply with residency rules in the country where they live). Jane Owen, the British ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, spoke to swissinfo.ch ahead of a series of “roadshow” events being held across Switzerland to answer Brits’ questions about Brexit. She discussed ...
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