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  • Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Terrorism 20 years after the Luxor tragedy - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    On November 17, 1997, Islamic extremists killed 36 Swiss tourists in Luxor, Egypt. It was the deadliest terrorist attack ever involving Swiss citizens. Twenty years later, terrorism is still causing fear. But contrary to what might seem to be the case, there are now fewer attacks and fewer victims. “Massacre of the innocents”, “Death on the Nile”, “Horror in the Valley of the Kings”, “Swiss butchered in Luxor”: on November 18 the frontpage headlines of Swiss newspapers were all about the previous day’s killings. At the archaeological site at Deir el-Bahari, near Luxor, a group of terrorists belonging to the Islamist organisation al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya had opened fire on a crowd of tourists: 62 dead, 36 of them Swiss. Since 1970 there have been about 60 Swiss victims of terrorist attacks. The Luxor incident remains the deadliest ever attack on Swiss citizens. Swiss are obviously not the only victims of terrorism. And Egypt is not the only country plagued by the phenomenon.
  • Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:00:00 +0000: Tamil street food, all chopped up - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. This week, she meets up with Thileeban, who talks about his difficult start to life here in Switzerland. These days, apart from selling Sri Lankan street food, he's also involved in film production. (SRF Kulturplatz/swissinfo.ch)
  • Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:00:00 +0000: Do American and Swiss patients get what they pay for? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Health care doesn’t come cheap in the United States or Switzerland, and depending on your situation, the bill can vary widely. Are Americans and the Swiss getting top-quality care for their money? Several readers wanted to know how much residents in the two countries pay for health care, in terms of public and private contributions, and whether the quality of care justifies the costs. We’ve already given a primer on the health care systems in each country, and how many different insurance options US residents have depending on how much they make, what they do, and how old they are. What does it cost, and why? US healthcare spending is a whopping 17% of GDP, or more than $9,000 per capita. (Some estimates put the cost per person over $10,000).  By comparison, Switzerland spends about 12% of GDP, at more than $6,300 per capita. One reason for the higher cost in the US is that variety in coverage we mentioned before.  With so many different insurance options and programs, ...
  • Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Paradise Papers fuel Swiss better business initiative - for now - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The "Paradise Papers", which have shed light on the offshore dealings of some of the world’s richest people and biggest companies, are increasing conversations around a people’s initiative, on which Swiss citizens are set to vote in the next couple of years.  In Switzerland, a coalition of 85 non-governmental organisations and trade unions are backing an initiative called “responsible business”. It aims to make Swiss companies comply with human rights and environmental standards when they operate abroad – or be brought to account before Swiss courts. It has already gathered 120,000 signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue.  The initiative text is currently being examined in Bern. For the government, the initiative goes too far. It fears that extra regulations could hurt Swiss businesses, which may simply move abroad, and that existing rules suffice.  The Federal Council said it does not plan to issue a counter-proposal to the campaigners’ text, but a Senate ...
  • Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Should Swiss vote hackers be rewarded with cash? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In order to ensure the security of online voting systems used in Switzerland, the government needs to issue a challenge to the worldwide hacker community, offering rewards to anyone who can “blow holes in the system”, says a computer scientist in parliament. Since it began in 2000, Switzerland’s e-voting project has been a matter of controversy. While some have been calling for its introduction to be fast-tracked in all the country’s 26 cantons, others would like to see the project slowed. In parliament there has been a call for a moratorium on electronic voting in the whole country for four years, except for the Swiss abroad. To put an end to all the concerns and convince the critics that security and secrecy of online voting can be guaranteed, Radical Party parliamentarian Marcel Dobler thinks there needs to be an unequivocal demonstration that systems used in Switzerland are proof against computer piracy. The best way to do this, he says, is to invite hackers to target them. ...
  • Thu, 16 Nov 2017 07:09:00 +0000: ‘I am counting on all youth to influence decisions in their countries’ - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The Swiss Youth for Climate organisation has sent a group of delegates to this week’s United Nations Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany. One of the young participants wanted to know how small island nations are being affected by a changing climate and spoke with a representative from the Seychelles to find out. The island nation of Fiji is presiding over the 23rd United Nations Climate Conference (or COP23). That means a key topic of discussion has been what such island states, which most keenly feel the effects of climate change, can expect in the coming years. Anaïs Campion, a Swiss Youth for Climate delegate, discussed the issue with Ronny Jumeau, permanent representative to the UN and Ambassador for Climate Change of the archipelago Republic of Seychelles. Anaïs Campion, Swiss Youth for Climate: How do young people in the Seychelles perceive climate change? Seychelles Ambassador to the UN, Ronny Jumeau: In the Seychelles, we don’t make a distinction between climate ...
  • Wed, 15 Nov 2017 13:01:00 +0000: Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s extraordinary life, in pictures  - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The writer, reporter and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach lived her life to the fullest, becoming a cultural icon. On the 75th anniversary of her tragic death, more than 3,000 pictures are being made available to the public. (SRF, swissinfo.ch) Schwarzenbach was born in Zurich on the 23rd May 1908 into a wealthy family of Swiss silk producers. As the third of five children, she decided to become a writer at the age of 17, and studied history in Paris and Zurich where she graduated from school in 1931. In 1933, she started to work as a journalist and photographer for Swiss magazines and newspapers for almost 10 years, travelling around the world.  Following a bicycle accident, she died on November 15, 1942 at the age of 34. The writer and reporter achieved early fame during her lifetime, but it was not until the end of the 1980s that her work was rediscovered. The Swiss National Library has now made available online more than 3000 of her photographs taken during her travels ...
  • Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: What it’s like to be a poor child in wealthy Switzerland - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Niels doesn’t go hungry. He has his own room, wears clean clothes and attends football training. But his mother’s income is not enough to support them both and they rely on welfare. Financial precariousness in Switzerland is usually not apparent at first glance, but it leaves its mark on those affected.  Niels, 5, and his mother, 38, recently treated themselves to a “day of luxury”. Thanks to discounted tickets, they went to the circus. And it got even better. “We drank a coffee in a café and had a small sandwich,” she says in a quiet voice and smiles.  Universal Children’s Day  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was passed by the UN general assembly on November 20, 1989. Switzerland signed up in 1997. Today, 193 states are signatories.  The convention commits Switzerland to providing all necessary assistance for children affected by poverty as far as is possible.  (Source: humanrights.ch) Her son is beaming broadly. He is twirling through the kitchen, ...
  • Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: A bird that sings in the shower - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    This rotund and bibbed bird is the only songbird that swims. It even flies through waterfalls! To thrive, the dipper needs fresh, clean waterways with safe and quiet nesting areas.  ​​​​​​​ Named “Bird of the Year” by BirdLife Switzerland in 2017, the European – or white-throated – dipper dives into streams and rivers to find food such as insect larvae. It can stay underwater for up to 15 seconds before surfacing, taking a breath, and heading back underwater. The dipper has ample downy feathers and is highly waterproof thanks its extra-large uropygium gland, which secretes an oil that the bird uses for preening. Its tail is fairly short.  BirdLife Switzerland chose the dipper as “Bird of the Year” because it’s a “perfect ambassador” to promote natural waterways – also in settlements.  “It’s easily possible to plan streams and rivers in settled areas so that they meet the needs of both humans and nature,” according to Christa Glauser, deputy managing director of BirdLife ...
  • Wed, 15 Nov 2017 08:57:00 +0000: Which fighter jets would you buy? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The Federal Council wants to spend CHF8 billion ($8.1 billion) on new fighter jets and missile defences for the Swiss army. These five planes are high on the shopping list. Defence Minister Guy Parmelin says the current fleet of planes and anti-aircraft missiles are coming to the end of their service life: the 30 F/A-18s can be used until 2030 and the 53 F-5 Tiger jets are already no longer suitable for “real operations” (26 still fly regularly). The anti-aircraft missiles are operational until 2025, he says.  The Federal Council has not revealed how exactly it wants to spend the CHF8 million, the biggest arms procurement programme in modern Swiss history. It has tasked the defence ministry with evaluating potential jets, wanting it to begin talks with Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin and Saab.   Will voters – who in 2014 rejected spending CHF3.1 billion on 22 Gripen fighters – have the final say? That’s still to be decided. “The situation today is totally different,” ...
  • Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:00:00 +0000: Is 5G mobile wireless a health risk? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The Swiss government has revised the allocation of frequencies, clearing the way for 5G, or fifth generation mobile wireless, but critics are warning it could be bad for our health. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) 5G is 100 times faster than 4G. It’s a wireless connection built specifically to keep up with the proliferation of devices that need a mobile internet connection. The first 5G applications will be available in 2020 or 2021, allowing higher data transfers with shorter response times. That means content will download quicker, or websites will load faster. Multiple input and output antennas (MIMOs) will probably be used to boost signal anywhere 5G is offered. Typically when a new mobile wireless technology arrives, it’s assigned a higher radio frequency. 4G occupied the frequency bands up to 20 MHz. Soon the 694-790 MHz frequency range, originally reserved for broadcasting, will be made available for broadband mobile communications applications in Switzerland. The government has also ...
  • Tue, 14 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Stadler Rail makes US inroads - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    After 15 years of doing business in the United States, Swiss railway vehicle manufacturer Stadler Rail is finally getting a foothold in the country. It has broken ground on a factory in Utah – a production site that could help take the company’s US operations to the next level. After a dry and very hot summer, the new Stadler Rail factory site looks a little like a wasteland. But the builders will soon be arriving to start work on the $50 million (CHF49.9 million) project. “It’s a great location,” says Stadler US CEO Martin Ritter, during a site visit. Salt Lake City’s international airport and Interstate 80 are just a few minutes away. And crucially for a manufacturer of railway vehicles – also known as rolling stock – the site also has its own connection to the Pacific Union western rail line that links Denver to San Francisco. Once operational, the factory will employ around 1,000 people. By building an American production facility, Stadler Rail will be able to access ...
  • Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:00:00 +0000: The difficulty of putting forward fresh ideas - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Four days of debate, passion, commitment and policy proposals – the Swiss Youth Parliament is a real laboratory of ideas. But what do their elder counterparts take from it? For four days, up to and including last Sunday, the Swiss capital of Bern played host to the 26th session of the Youth Parliament. Despite the name, the institution, which has existed since 1991, is not elected. The 200 participants, ranging from the ages of 14 to 21, are all volunteers, chosen by the Swiss Council for Youth Activities (CSAJ) according to a quota system. Factors for selection include gender, education level, and origin (it is not necessary to hold a Swiss passport). Swiss living abroad also take part, as do unaccompanied minors arrived through the asylum system. “This way, we have an assembly much more representative of the population than the actual parliament,” says Valérie Vuille, spokeswoman of the CSAJ. Duly backed up by experts and even national politicians, the parliament debates ...
  • Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Aid money: spending every penny wisely - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The news that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) had uncovered fraud in its Ebola operation in West Africa caused surprise and dismay.  The statement was released curiously discreetly on the IFRC’s website on October 20. To find it, readers had to click on ‘Who We Are’, then click on ‘The IFRC’, then click on ‘Performance and Accountability’, then click on ‘Internal Audit and Investigations’, and there, finally, in fine print on the left, click on ‘IFRC Statement on Fraud in Ebola Operations’.  A cynic might suspect the Red Cross was hoping no one would ever notice the statement, but more generous-minded observers note that as soon as the story did leak out, Red Cross officials, including the Secretary General Elhadj As Sy, made themselves available to the media.  He told journalists the Red Cross was sad and angry at the losses, which could come to CHF6 million ($6 million) or even more, across the three countries worst affected by Ebola:
  • Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0000: How far does CHF6,000 really get you in Switzerland? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Salaries in Switzerland can seem high to people living in other countries, but a look at the expenses facing Swiss residents tells a different story. When travelling abroad, especially to countries with much lower wages, the Swiss may immediately try to change the subject, or even lie shamelessly, when asked how much they earn. How to explain that your monthly income of CHF5,500 to CHF6,500 ($5,520 to $6,530) simply cannot be compared with the salaries earned by those around you?  To make sense of the Swiss situation, let's delve into the financial affairs of people working in the country, using data from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office's household budget survey. Mario is our typical Swiss resident. He is 30 years old, lives on his own and is a commercial employee. He earns exactly the country’s average wage of CHF6,250 a month.  A salary can vary considerably depending on a person’s profession and location - employees in Zurich and Lugano do not earn the same amount for ...
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