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The bone-picker that was a ghost in Switzerland

mer, 01/17/2018 - 13:00
The largest bird in the Alps, the bearded vulture was exterminated in the 19th century and is a vulnerable species today.  Starting in 1986, bearded vultures were reintroduced in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France; now there are roughly 200 in the Alps, and the population is doing well. In Switzerland, there are about a dozen breeding pairs.  It goes by other misnomers like the horse vulture, chamois vulture, or, most commonly, lamb vulture – highlighting the myth that the bird was powerful enough to attack these animals.  “By the end of the 19th century it was deliberately decimated and finally exterminated in Switzerland for competitive reasons, due to ignorance and because bounties were paid for shooting them,” according to the species profile by the Swiss Ornithological Institute.  In fact, the bird is not predatory. It feeds instead on the carrion and even the bones of dead chamois, ibex, and perhaps cattle or sheep that died while out to pasture. Raphaël Arlettaz, ...
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Why the Swiss are experts at predicting avalanches

mer, 01/17/2018 - 12:00
It may seem quite a leap from studying snowflakes with a magnifying glass to forecasting one of the greatest natural threats in the Alps, but the step is part of how Switzerland manages avalanches. The approach could soon win coveted Unesco cultural heritage status.   “What happens to fresh snow when it lands?” asks Gian Darms, an instructor at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos. Knee-deep in powder, his pupils stare blankly at each other. Whirring chairlifts can be heard in the distance.  “The arms of the crystals break off,” a bespectacled participant finally replies. “Well done,” says Darms.  The group of men in ski gear are standing in a snowfield just below the 2,692-metre Weissfluhjoch peak in southeast Switzerland.  The eight students on today’s avalanche refresher course – a mix of ski lift and communal employees and interested individuals – belong to SLF’s long-established avalanche observer network. Since 1945, when SLF took over the job from ...
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The Swiss chef who became the world's best

mar, 01/16/2018 - 18:36
With numerous Michelin stars under his belt, Swiss cook Daniel Humm is the head chef and one of the owners of the best restaurant in the world, according to an influential 2017 ranking. He took his first steps towards becoming a professional chef at age 14, and now lives and works in the United States. The Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York was chosen for the top spot in the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017. The ranking is a highly regarded rival to the Michelin Guide, and describes Humm’s fine dining experience as “the perfect partnership of outstanding hospitality and exquisite food in an iconic setting”. Humm was born in 1976 in canton Aargau. After completing his professional training at a large hotel in Zurich, he worked at the 3-Michelin star 'Restaurant Pont de Brent' near Montreux, canton Vaud. He was just 24 years old when he received his first Michelin star. He was working as the head chef at 'Gasthaus zum Gupf' in canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden.
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Swiss football: punching above its weight or Europe’s punching bag?

mar, 01/16/2018 - 12:00
As the Swiss national team goes from strength to strength in preparing for the World Cup in Russia, we dig into the numbers to explore the struggles of the domestic league. On the surface, Swiss football is enjoying something of a purple patch. The national side ‘Die Nati’ (unfortunately pronounced ‘Nazi’) has qualified for the fourth World Cup running, and will fly to Russia in summer with what’s widely acknowledged as its finest generation in years. The team currently sits eighth in the FIFA world rankings. Meanwhile, domestic powerhouse FC Basel (winners of the Swiss Super League for the past eight years) qualified in December for the last 16 of Europe’s Champions League, racking up wins along the way against Manchester United and Benfica. A “brilliant” achievement not just for the club, but for Swiss football generally, said CEO Jean-Paul Brigger at the time. But how reflective are these achievements of the state of Swiss soccer at home? How does the Super League stack up ...
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Swiss bank Vontobel adds ‘exciting’ to job description

mar, 01/16/2018 - 10:00
​​​​​​​ Uncontroversial, conservative, even dull: one of Zurich’s largest banks wants to overhaul the characteristics traditionally associated with Switzerland’s financial services industry. Zeno Staub, chief executive of Vontobel, has ordered a rewrite of the bank’s job adverts to attract “people that have an opinion, that challenge our status quo,” he told the Financial Times. “We even dared to put in there: excite. We want to have fun.” The change is part of Swiss banks’ efforts to stay ahead in the market for providing financial services and managing the wealth of the world’s richest families. Switzerland’s biggest private banks, including Vontobel, have successfully expanded overseas, especially in emerging markets. But they face tough competition from international rivals, with ultra-low interest rates and costly additional regulation since the financial crisis further squeezing profit margins. Previously, Vontobel’s job adverts emphasised employee benefits and career ...
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Does a minority rule Switzerland?

lun, 01/15/2018 - 12:00
Switzerland is often regarded internationally as a model of functioning democracy. But a closer look shows that Swiss democracy is far from perfect. The “rule of all” turns out to be the “rule of some”. It is September 24, 2017, a “voting Sunday” as we say here in Switzerland. Voters have the final say on a crucial reform of the old age pension system. This is a topic that will concern everyone, sooner or later. Over the course of the day it becomes apparent that the proposed reform isn’t getting a majority of votes and is going down to defeat. But the real letdown begins to be felt late in the evening, when the last municipalities send in their tallies to the election authorities. Sad but true: only 47.2% of eligible voters took the time to vote. Over half the country’s citizens either had no opinion, or stayed away from the polls for other reasons. Downside of Swiss democracy Switzerland ranks first internationally as regards the number of popular votes held. But even with ...
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SIHH sharpens contrast with Baselworld in battle of the watch fairs

lun, 01/15/2018 - 09:42
When Fabienne Lupo, who runs the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie watch fair in Geneva, says its ambition is “to become a kind of Davos of watchmaking”, this is not just an airy ambition of hers. By comparing SIHH, which opened this week, to the World Economic Forum at Davos, with its political and corporate heavyweight guests and policy-setting discussions, Lupo is continuing the polarisation between her more exclusive fair and Baselworld, the commercial engine of the watch world. Part of this ambition is about SIHH’s exhibitors, which already include Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre. (SIHH started as luxury group Richemont’s riposte to Basel.) The exhibitors have become more prestigious this year with the defection of high-end maison Hermès from Baselworld. In 2017, Ulysse Nardin moved to SIHH after almost 35 years, and chief executive Patrick Pruniaux is confident the shift was good: “I really like the fact that the audience is more select . . . SIHH gives a greater ...
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Football, snowfall and Trump free fall

dim, 01/14/2018 - 13:00
Here is a selection of stories we're looking ahead to in the week of January 15, 2018. Tuesday The Swiss national football team has been doing well of late, but not much is known about the country’s Super League. We look at why, and consider whether the team is punching below or above its weight in Europe, relative to its national success and the finances of its clubs. Wednesday Why are the Swiss such experts at predicting avalanches? What makes their approach so special? All will be revealed in our in-depth article. Thursday On March 4, the Swiss could vote to get rid of the radio and television licence fee. We look at the arguments on both sides, the facts and figures, and the potential consequences if Switzerland becomes the first country in Europe to abolish the bulk of its public service broadcasting. Thursday Also on Thursday, we’ll be comparing how Switzerland and the United States approach disease prevention in health care – an ...
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Gallus and the Irish monks: grandfathers of European culture?

dim, 01/14/2018 - 12:00
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages. It might have fallen further had it not been for the epic efforts of a band of Irish monks. Take a walk through the vast courtyard of St Gallen Abbey. The stone church towers stretch 68 metres into the sky, clichés of clanging bells sound out, a scent of hot waffle drifts from an old cafe. A few bemused Asian tourists stroll around. It’s difficult to imagine things were ever otherwise. But the history of the Abbey—and of founding father Gallus—is one of constant change. Enzo Farinelli, a Dublin-based Italian scholar, says it is also an inspirational story, one that needs to be retold for a modern and troubled Europe. He recently did so with a book about the impact of Irish monks on Swiss history (“On the Summits of the Highest Love”). Hibernian roots It all begins in Ireland, he writes. 590 AD. Cold, wet, bogged, forested. A period of history dangling between Romans and Renaissance, under the ...
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What does it take to get to the top?

dim, 01/14/2018 - 10:00
The answer is skis, stamina and stalwart determination in this photo by Swiss photographers, Dan and Janine Patitucci. The last 30 metres of the Bishorn, 4153 metres above sea level, is the only steep section as it climbs an ice cap. After 1800 meters of ascent on skis, the mountain summit requires a short climb without skis. While this is one of the Alps easier 4000 meter peaks, it does require excellent endurance to make it to the summit after a long slog up the Turtmann gletscher. Of course the advantage on skis is that the hard work getting to the summit is rewarded with a 2500 meter descent back to the village of Zinal. At work and play We are fortunate to call the mountains our workplace and still marvel at what we get to do on any given work day, be it in the Alps or Himalaya.  After all these years, the passion we have for life as mountain sport athletes and photographers hasn't faded. Experiencing the Alps on so many levels keeps us motivated for what comes next. ...
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By the numbers: Avalanche scare puts Switzerland on edge

sam, 01/13/2018 - 18:00
Behind almost every story about Switzerland is a number of some kind. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting statistics to appear in the week that was. Monday 2 That’s by how many degrees the average temperature in Zurich-area train carriages will drop as part of a Swiss Federal Railways experiment to lower the heat and save energy.  5 The maximum avalanche warning level of 5 was issued for large parts of southern Switzerland, and later in the week access to the resort town of Zermatt was cut off for several days as a result of avalanche threats. Tuesday 5,000 The European Court of Human Rights ordered Switzerland to pay €5,000 (CHF5,860) to an anti-racism group for infringing on the group’s freedom of expression. Swiss courts had forced the group to remove online comments citing a politician’s speech as “verbal racism”, a ruling that Europe’s highest human rights court did not agree with.  18 That’s the number of years that have passed since the last US President ...
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Annemarie Schwarzenbach: America's Great Depression

sam, 01/13/2018 - 12:00
Between 1936 and 1938, Swiss photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach travelled several times to the United States. looks at a selection of her work that documents the Great Depression. In the 1930s, Annemarie Schwarzenbach crossed America to get closer to the people and their stories. What emerged was a body of socially critical writings and images. In 1936, she followed the re-election of Franklin Roosevelt in New York, and the following year she traveled with American journalist and photographer Barbara Hamilton-Wright to the southern states. They used Rolleiflex cameras to capture prisons, cotton plantations, factories and the working population. "The vision of a better life, the long-held American dream, has a shadow cast over it as the roads lead south,” wrote Schwarzenbach in her report "On the dark side of Knoxville". To mark the 75th anniversary of Schwarzenbach's death on November 15, 2017, the Swiss Literary Archives has made more than 3,000 digital ...
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The most important ski race of the year – in numbers

sam, 01/13/2018 - 12:00
Here are some of the facts and figures about the Lauberhorn ski race this weekend in the Swiss resort of Wengen.  There are a lot of superlatives to describe the Lauberhorn ski race. It's the oldest and longest race of the International Ski Federation's Ski World Cup, and the most important sporting event in the Jungfrau ski region. It draws one of the largest audiences on Swiss television – more than one million viewers. Clearly, the race is an extraordinary event, but here are some concrete figures to help grasp its magnitude – and that of the resources it takes to organise it – even better. ​​​​​​​
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Influential artist Taeuber-Arp died on this day

sam, 01/13/2018 - 09:00
​​​​​​​ Sophie Taeuber-Arp, the long-neglected pioneer of modernism, died on this day from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty stove 75 years ago. In this 2014 article, reported on how the artist – who had been somewhat overshadowed during her lifetime by her husband Jean Arp, the Dada co-founder – had become the subject of a major retrospective in Switzerland.
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Swiss village showcases battle over lakefront access

ven, 01/12/2018 - 12:00
Countless super-rich people have fulfilled their dream of a Swiss villa with private access to water. But legally, the public has access to all lakes and rivers. A waterside “class war” has therefore been waged all over the country for decades.  In Uetikon am See, a small municipality on the shores of Lake Zurich, an old chemical factory owned by industrial group CPH blocks access to the water. For 20 years, Rolf Käppeli successfully fought to ensure that the plot of land belongs to the public. Käppeli says the factory is on built-up land – land that the lake would otherwise cover and as a result is public property. The former teacher argues that this should also count in the case of the factory’s grounds.  The local council sees things differently. The Zurich cantonal government previously decreed that built-up land could be entered in the land registry – and users could therefore become owners.  For Urs Mettler, the current mayor of Uetikon, the issue is clear: “This land ...
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A step towards a new global compact on migration

ven, 01/12/2018 - 09:23
Managing migration is one of the most profound challenges for international cooperation in our time.   Migration powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies.  Yet it is also a source of political tensions and human tragedies.  The majority of migrants live and work legally.  But a desperate minority are putting their lives at risk to enter countries where they face suspicion and abuse.  Demographic pressures and the impact of climate change on vulnerable societies are likely to drive further migration in the years ahead.  As a global community, we face a choice.  Do we want migration to be a source of prosperity and international solidarity, or a byword for inhumanity and social friction?  This year, governments will negotiate a Global Compact on Migration through the United Nations. This will be the first overarching international agreement of its kind.  It will not be a formal treaty. Nor will it place any binding obligations on states.   ...
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How a village profits from a giant downhill ski race

ven, 01/12/2018 - 09:00
The Lauberhorn, the oldest and longest race on the FIS Ski World Cup circuit, puts the Swiss resort of Wengen on the world stage once a year. Could the village survive without it?  “Lauberhorn is why Wengen is so famous and why so many tourists come year-round,” says hotelier Bettina Zinnert, noting that it’s a sure-fire attraction for all Swiss visitors who envision skiing the Lauberhorn race course at least once in a lifetime.  At the Hotel Schönegg, manager Caroline Ogi calls the Lauberhorn race coverage “perfect publicity – especially in good weather”.  Another person with a clear interest in the attention garnered by the race is Rachel Padley, who runs an apartment rental service in the ski resort: “Lauberhorn gets the word out about Wengen. It is a great way of publicising the town to the world.”  But without the race, it’s not just Wengen that would suffer. “It’s the most important event for this entire region,” says Marc Ungerer, CEO of the region’s tourist board, ...
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The radio course that helps refugees find work

jeu, 01/11/2018 - 18:00
Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. This week she visits the 'Klipp und Klang' radio school. The students, who are refugees, conduct radio interviews with managers of various enterprises to find out what sort of skills they need for different types of work. They also learn how to apply for jobs. (SRF Kulturplatz/
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Here’s to you, Swiss Family Robinson

jeu, 01/11/2018 - 12:20
Johann David Wyss, who died exactly 200 years ago, wrote the most-translated Swiss book ever: Swiss Family Robinson. Yet, at home, both Wyss and his book remain practically invisible and firmly in the shadow of a certain Alpine orphan, Heidi.  “This work is, as the title has said, for children and friends of children. It is not, however, for all children, but only for those who read with some understanding, who have a command of general terms of natural history and geography, and who have been versed in a range of knowledge from the better schools for 8- to 14-year-olds.”  The publisher who wrote the preface for the first printed edition from 1812 of “Der Schweizerische Robinson” knew his target audience.  Despite these seemingly limiting requirements, Swiss Family Robinson – or to give it its full catchy title, “Swiss Family Robinson or the shipwrecked Swiss preacher and his family. An instructive book for children and friends of children who live in cities and in the ...
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Why should WEF appeal to the US President?

mer, 01/10/2018 - 16:49
United States President Donald Trump has stirred up Switzerland by announcing he will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month. It won’t be an official state visit, so what’s the big deal and what is WEF all about? Trump will be the second US President to visit WEF after the Bill Clinton carnival stole the show 18 years ago. Trump is expected to arrive with a huge retinue to spread the “America First” gospel for the benefit of the US economy, businesses and workers. The annual Davos congress has grown exponentially since its first incarnation as the European Management Forum in 1971 (renamed World Economic Forum in 1987). Given the breadth and depth of topics it now addresses, it should perhaps be known as the “World Everything Forum”. In its nearly 50 years of existence, WEF has welcomed many global leaders, industry chiefs and bigwigs from the worlds of civil society, religion, technology and the arts. Some 3,000 delegates are willing to pay big bucks for the ...
Catégories: News EN