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Inside Geneva: In charge at the UN in trying times

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 14:33
With questions swirling about the role of the United Nations and its agencies in today’s world, what’s it like to be in charge of one? In the latest episode of our Inside Geneva podcast, we speak with former UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who provides an honest look at the challenges facing the UN system and what needs to change. You can read more from Imogen on the topic here, in her monthly column. For more insights and discussions from Switzerland's international city, subscribe to Inside Geneva on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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The chocolate treat at the heart of a Swiss racism debate

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 13:48
Amid worldwide anti-racism protests, Switzerland’s largest retailer Migros has taken the famous “Mohrenkopf” chocolate confection off its shelves. The name, which means "blackamoor's head", has caused controversy for years, but still finds defenders. Why? A look at the debate. The “Mohrenkopf” confection has a soft white interior covered in chocolate and was invented in Germany in the 19th century. But its name has been highly criticised over the years as being racist (in the French-speaking part of Switzerland it is now more often referred to as tête du chocolat (chocolate head), but its original name has persisted in the German-speaking part). In 2017, an online petition urged the popular Swiss “Mohrenkopf” producer Dubler to give the confection another name. At this point Migros, which sold Dubler’s products, did not take any action. But recently, after worldwide anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States, the retailer decided to remove...
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Baking the Swiss way in Boston

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 11:00
Swiss couple Helene and Thomas Stohr run their own bakery in Massachusetts. Every day, they produce an array of Swiss and European treats, including croissants, jelly doughnuts and braided bread. From a young age, the Stohrs dreamed of seeing the world, so they left Lucerne for North America 20 years ago. Thomas, a professional baker, worked in Canada and the US for various eateries, including Mövenpick, while Helene looked after their sons Tobias and Nicolas. The push to launch their own bakery came from the boys, who missed homestyle crusty bread. As orders increased, the Stohrs eventually converted their spare room and watched the business expand like fresh dough. Today, the whole family contributes to the success of “swissbäkers”. They now have three stores in the greater Boston Area, including the central bakery café complete with a Swiss-themed playground. The warm-hearted Stohrs refer to their employees as “guest huggers”, although Covid-19 has forced them to adapt their...
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Switzerland re-opens its European borders

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 16:07
On June 15 Switzerland re-opened its borders with many other European states after improvements to the coronavirus situation. Since midnight on Sunday, the Swiss government has allowed travel between Switzerland and all European Schengen states as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom. One exception is Spain: Spaniards can now visit Switzerland, but Spain won't re-open its borders to most European countries until June 21. The so-called Schengen area operates control-free crossings, but they have been mostly closed for three months to all but goods traffic and critical workers due to the pandemic. The Federal Office for Public Health said on Monday that all passengers on direct flights from Sweden to Switzerland would be tested for possible fever on entry into the Alpine nation. Travellers from Sweden are the only ones affected by this measure for now. For the moment, Switzerland has said it is not yet possible to allow travel from outside the Schengen...
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Racism in the US: a cautionary tale for Switzerland

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 13:53
American Christine Worrell, a Swiss resident, has experienced discrimination in both countries she’s called home. She lays out the origins and manifestations of the problem in both places, arguing that despite their differences, the response must be the same. The situation in the US It is easy to look with horror at the killing of George Floyd and systemic racism in the United States and think that these sorts of things could never happen here in Switzerland. It is true that the US has a unique history of slavery that is firmly at the root of the racial divide. But while I would hope that racism could never evolve in Switzerland in the same way as it has in the US, I know that racism is a cancer that if allowed to grow will sicken and weaken a civilized society. Police brutality The history of denying African-Americans the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which affords every American due process (or the right to a fair trial) and equal protection...
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The day Switzerland's women had enough

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/14/2020 - 11:00
On June 14, 2019, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets demanding gender equality in Switzerland. Thirty one Swiss women photographers decided not to join, but to document the strike from their perspective. The colourful demonstrations and noisy protests across the country took place 28 years after the first Swiss women's strike in 1991. They attracted media coverage around the world, and it led to broader discussion about inequality and discrimination faced by women, whether in the job market or at home. The photographer Yoshiko Kusano, from Bern, came up with the idea that she and her female colleagues should comprehensively document the women's strike from a female perspective. Over 30 photographers joined her in an effort to capture the day’s mood and atmosphere. This gallery is a selection of the results of this collaboration. A more extensive photobook, titled “Wir” (We), will be published this year. The photographers Basel: Eleni Kougionis, Corina...
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Did the 2019 women’s strikes give Swiss care workers a boost?

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/14/2020 - 11:00
A massive women's strike took place across Switzerland one year ago. As a gender and diversity expert, I wanted to revisit the core demands of these demonstrations and measure our progress. Are we any closer to achieving equality and valuing our care workers? In 2020 Switzerland, along with the global community, had to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. We are all navigating unprecedented experiences. Some of the questions raised by this crisis are new and shook the pillars of our social lives. Others are long-running issues that have been brought into sharper focus by these cataclysmic events. Back in the summer of 2019, a central demand of the women's strike was that paid and unpaid care work should be much more highly valued. Last June 14, it was argued, as often before, that this appreciation should be reflected in higher salaries and better working conditions in the care sector. The pandemic has highlighted once again the importance of the nursing and extended care...
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Homeless in Switzerland during the pandemic

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 06/13/2020 - 11:00
Coronavirus affects businesses, schools, industry - in fact all of us. But what about people on the margins of society? The pandemic has also turned the lives of marginalised people upside down. A report by Klaus Petrus. There are supposedly 400 such vulnerable people in the city of Bern alone. Just as in the rest of Switzerland, no-one knows the exact figures. People without a permanent home, addicts and sex workers are all affected - less by the pandemic, they say, than by the government imposed counter measures. Some cannot stay at home, even if they want to, because they have no home. C, 46, two children, jobless, homeless L, 35, one child, jobless, homeless P, 49, three children, sex worker N, 36, jobless, homeless D, 34, jobless, homeless L, 53, one child, jobless, homeless D, 38, addicted for 20 years, jobless, homeless T, 38, jobless, homeless Spaces at emergency sleeping shelters in Swiss cities have been restricted to comply with federal...
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Switzerland joins debate about removing controversial memorials

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 15:16
Global anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd have reignited the debate about contentious monuments in the United States and Europe. In Switzerland, links to the slave trade, statues and even a mountain peak are under the spotlight. In the US, Britain and Belgium, a number of controversial statues have been torn down by protestors, removed by local authorities or defaced (see infobox below) as nations grapple with their colonial pasts and racism in the wake of Floyd’s death. The black man died in Minneapolis, US, on May 25 after a police officer kneeled on his neck. In Switzerland, over 2,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the removal of the bronze statue of David de Pury from the centre of Neuchâtel in northwest Switzerland. The “Collectif pour la memoire”, which launched the petition on June 8, says the wealthy entrepreneur and benefactor who died in 1786 made his fortune through investments and trading in precious wood and diamonds in Brazil.
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Without foreign visitors, Switzerland’s summer tourism season looks gloomy

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 11:00
As coronavirus travel restrictions keep many foreign tourists away, Swiss tour operators are coming up with creative ways to attract local visitors this summer. But it is unlikely to make up for the revenue losses. Japanese tourists taking selfies on the Jungfraujoch; Indian families admiring the panoramic views from the Montreux-Bernese mountain train ride; American rock climbers carrying ropes and pitons along Lucerne’s Schwanenplatz. Scenes like these will be missing in Switzerland this summer. With borders closed around the world and most air traffic at a standstill, the tourism sector is suffering under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the impact of the pandemic could see the number of international tourists this year decline 60% to 80%; a fall never seen before in the 70 years since records were first kept in 1950. Switzerland will be no exception. The opening of borders within the European Union and with the...
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GE Renewable Energy Secures 5-Year FSA with Naturgy in Spain

News Machinery - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 22:24

GE Renewable Energy today announced that it has been selected by Naturgy to provide a 5-year full-service agreement (FSA) for the La Rabia Wind Farm in Spain. The wind farm includes 13 Eco-80 turbines. GE will be providing full preventive and corrective maintenance tasks on these 13 units in addition to the 50 units of the same technology at Naturgy's Pehimo Wind Farm, already under contract. Commercial flexibility and added value through technology upgrades have been key to reach a final...

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A death blow or a new lease on life for the responsible business initiative?

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 19:04
Years of back and forth on imposing legal accountability for companies overseas have come to an anticlimactic end in parliament. For campaigners on both sides of the initiative though, it is just the beginning. Our regular analysis of what the biggest global companies in Switzerland are up to. This week: future of the responsible business initiative, cocoa in Ivory Coast and palm oil deals. This week the Swiss parliament finally agreed on a counter-proposal to the highly contested responsible business initiative. After more than four years of debate, one would think a compromise would be cause for celebration. However, the compromise is far from what campaigners of the initiative had in mind. As my colleague Andrea Tognina reports, the legal liability clause – the big bone of contention – was removed. The requirements on due diligence were also whittled down to such an extent that it would hardly push big companies beyond what most are already doing. Campaigners for the...
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‘Efforts at police reform are being blocked’

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 11:00
Police researcher and consultant Frédéric Maillard says that while better training has reduced incidents of racial profiling and violence in Switzerland, what goes on behind closed doors is troubling and reforms are hard to implement. Maillard spoke with about the state of the Swiss police force amid anti-racism protests and calls for law enforcement reform around the world. You wrote in 2015 that racial profiling and discrimination were a problem for the Swiss police force. Is that still the case? What are departments doing to address it? Is it being sufficiently addressed, in your opinion? Frédéric Maillard: The amount of police violence and overt racial profiling has changed; there is much less of it. This is because training has greatly improved across the board. Although Switzerland has some 300 police forces working at different levels, it only has six training centres, overseen by a single organisation. There is a unified approach to training.
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Pandemic points the way to sustainable agriculture

Swissinfo EN - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 09:30
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many weaknesses in our global food system and could present a unique window for reform. The way forward involves a combination of natural, artificial and high-tech approaches, according to leading agriculture and consumer experts. “What we learn from the shock of the pandemic is that we are already sitting deeply in a broken food system,” said David Bosshart of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI) for economic and social studies, based near Zurich. The global lockdown caused significant disruption to food supply chains on an international and local level, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Restrictions on movement curbed farmers’ access to markets to buy animal feed, seeds and fertiliser, and to sell products. The breakdown in transport systems led to the dumping of perishable food and dramatic price reductions at the farm gate. In Switzerland, the hotel, restaurant and catering sector vanished overnight, along with...
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Game on for Swiss corporate responsibility vote

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 15:31
After years of discussion, a popular vote on the “responsible business initiative” is now a sure thing. Parliament, opposed to the initiative, has adopted a counter-proposal that avoids new rules on legal liability of multinationals. The campaign promises to be heated; the result is uncertain. How can multinational companies ensure that their subsidiaries respect human rights and the environment in the various areas of the world where they operate? This issue has long been discussed at a global level. In Switzerland the debate has been particularly lengthy and complex, thanks to a popular initiative launched in 2015 by a coalition of NGOs, associations and unions. The responsible business initiative is based on two pillars: an obligation for multinationals to conduct due diligence in the area of human and environmental rights, and the definition of legal liability for any violation of this obligation. The government opposed the initiative, proposing to parliament that it be...
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Ban on begging hits Switzerland’s most vulnerable

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 11:00
Begging is prohibited in most Swiss cantons. Vaud was one of the last to apply this controversial measure. Eighteen months on, the authorities are satisfied, but those directly concerned are suffering. Begging was banned throughout the French-speaking canton of Vaud on November 1, 2018. The new law upended the daily lives of hundreds of socially and economically vulnerable people and altered the way police officers work on the ground. The city of Lausanne had already adopted a by-law in 2013, which prohibited begging in a wide range of public places and made it an offence to call out for alms. “Before, begging was regulated – now the law is clearly repressive,” says Christian Pannatier, head of partnerships and multiculturalism for the Lausanne municipal police. “This has not transformed the work of police officers on the street, but the old rules left greater scope for flexibility and dialogue. Today, the decisions to be made are more clear-cut.” Begging widely banned in...
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Wärtsilä to deliver advanced emissions abatement technology for two new shuttle tankers

News Machinery - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 18:22

The technology group Wärtsilä's emissions abatement technology is again recognised with a new order. The company will provide its  Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Recovery System, together with an LNG Fuel Gas Supply System, for two new 124,000 DWT shuttle tankers. The ships have been ordered by Knutsen NYK Offshore Tankers (KNOT), a leading independent owner and operator of shuttle tankers, and will be built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine yard in Korea. The order with Wärtsilä was p...

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Swiss to pioneer use of coronavirus tracing app in Europe

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 17:24
Parliament has given the green light for the public launch of SwissCovid, a contact tracing application to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, the House of Representatives followed the Senate in approving a law setting the legal basis for the app, which will use Bluetooth waves to allow smartphones to communicate with each other anonymously. The DP-3T system was developed by the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne with expertise from the US technology giants Google and Apple. The app stores users’ smartphone data for 21 days, allowing them to be notified if they have come into close contact with infected people. The use of SwissCovid is voluntary and the data collected is stored on decentralised servers, some operated by the state, as well as some by Amazon Web Services in Germany. It is expected the app will be made available to the general public at the end of June, serving as a tool to prevent a potential second wave of...
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Is racism a problem in Switzerland? A look at the latest numbers

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 17:00
The anti-racism demonstrations currently seen in the US and around the world have found echoes in Switzerland, where thousands have protested in the streets and thousands more on social media. Though Switzerland has not witnessed such levels of racial tensions, the Alpine nation nevertheless harbours widespread xenophobia towards foreigners, statistics show. Racial profiling According to Kanyana Mutombo, secretary-general of CRAN, an organisation that fights anti-Black racism, racial profiling exists in Switzerland: Black residents are targeted more often for searches and identity requests from police. “Each of us has had a bad experience with the police,” Mutombo recently told Swiss public radio, RTS. Several other young men told RTS that “we have to show our hands are clean in everything we do.” In the French-speaking canton of Vaud, there have been several recent cases of black suspects dying during or following an encounter with the police, including a Nigerian man who died...
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MHIET to Build Collaborative Framework with Seika Corp. through Transfer of Domestic Marine Engine Sales and Parts Servicing Operations

News Machinery - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 15:51

- New company, handling marine engines and auxiliary equipment for domestic market, will be established in Tokyo - - Agreement calls for spin-off of operations of MHIET's wholly owned subsidiary MHIES, followed by transfer on October 1 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engine & Turbocharger, Ltd. (MHIET), a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, has concluded an agreement under which the domestic marine engine sales and parts servicing operations currently performed by Mitsubishi Heavy Indus...

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