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  • Sun, 24 Jun 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Swiss government guilty of repeated miscalculation - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    For the first time in the history of Swiss direct democracy, voters may have go back to the polls at the national level, to decide for a second time on the same people’s initiative. This text is part of #DearDemocracy, a platform on direct democracy issues, by swissinfo.ch. Contributors, including outside authors frequently share their views. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of swissinfo.ch. This is due to the fact that the government published erroneous figures in its official booklet for the 2016 initiative for proposed tax breaks for married couples. The initiative, promoted by the centrist Christian Democratic Party, appeared to spark no major controversies in the run-up to the vote in March 2016, and voters threw it out with a wafer-thin majority of 50.8%. But with the recent revelation about misleading information, things could take a spectacular turn. The party which traditionally campaigns on family issues has submitted legal complaints in ...
  • Sun, 24 Jun 2018 10:00:00 +0000: Mountain aid, Swiss jets and sex-ed for asylum seekers - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Here are some of the stories we'll be following the week of June 25, 2018. Monday Could the arrival of new immigrants threaten the jobs of older, experienced construction workers in Switzerland? This is the question we’ll be looking at ahead of the introduction of a new system of hiring preferences on July 1 that gives favoured treatment to Swiss workers in specific sectors. The construction industry is one such field, as it suffers from high unemployment levels and employs many workers from abroad.  Tuesday Life in the Alps can be tough for farmers and other professions struggling to earn a living. But there is growing awareness of the problems and solidarity from people living in Swiss towns and cities. Last year the Swiss Mountain Aid charity raised CHF31.2 million ($31.3 million). We’ll bring you more on the story. Wednesday The revolutionary fervour of 1968 led to a thirst for new ideas and social concepts, especially in the education sector. We look at ...
  • Sun, 24 Jun 2018 09:00:00 +0000: How the Alps inform polar research - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    At first glance, Switzerland might seem like an odd location for a summit on polar studies. But as a nation with high mountains, it is part of what researchers refer to as the “third pole” after North and South.  The elongated mountain resort of Davos – better known for hosting the annual World Economic Forum – is vulnerable to avalanches, especially in the wake of climate change. Home to the Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos is the kind of place with a main street featuring ski shops, traditional hotels, and an engineering firm touting its avalanche protection solutions.  This week the town welcomed 2,200 international scientists and decision makers for the POLAR2018 conference. It was the first time that mountain researchers were invited to join their polar colleagues for such a summit.  “Climate change is a global problem. The poles and the mountains need to come together, and we as scientists need to join forces,” Michael Zemp, a glaciologist at the ...
  • Sat, 23 Jun 2018 15:00:00 +0000: ‘We have a pope’ – and record food prices - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    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. Sunday 1 The number of goals scored/conceded by both Switzerland and Brazil in their first match at the football World Cup in Russia. The draw meant the qualifying group, which also includes Serbia and Costa Rica, was wide open.  Monday 454,000 Two years ago, Swiss voters narrowly rejected tax breaks for heterosexual married couples. The Christian Democratic Party, which organised the initiative, is demanding a re-run, saying government figures were wrong. Indeed, the cabinet has admitted that instead of the 80,000 married and registered couples in line to receive the tax break, it was in fact 454,000 couples.  Tuesday 5,800,000 Although 5.8 million people own a driving licence in Switzerland, applications are dropping – especially among the young.  Wednesday 68 ...
  • Sat, 23 Jun 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Hidden parts of Switzerland revealed - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    What do a pink “pacification cell” in a high-security prison, the Federal Council’s secret meeting room, Dignitas’s room where people carry out assisted suicide and the research station inside the Jungfraujoch mountain ridge have in common? They are all inaccessible to most people.  As part of the art project HIDDEN, art historian Catherine Iselin and photographer Kostas Maros looked into what makes hidden places so fascinating. They found 25 places across Switzerland that are closed off to most people, unknown or known but unphotographed.  Iselin and Maros say they hunted for the unusual, the strange and the unique. The resulting images have been displayed in an exhibition and a book.  All of the locations share the quality of arousing curiosity or leaving a deep impression.
  • Fri, 22 Jun 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Swiss psychologist launches slum tourism in Nairobi - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A Swiss psychologist has come up with a unique way to help combat poverty in the Kenyan capital: slum tourism. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) Gianmarco Marinello from Zurich studied in Switzerland and worked in the private sector before giving it all up to go and work in a poor settlement in South Africa. He moved to Nairobi in 2016 to study social innovation management at the Amani Institute, where he met his project co-founder Sriram Damodaran from India. The two were struck by the high number of street children in the city. Many of the estimated 50,000 street children end up scavenging in dumps for scraps to sell, others turn to crime. Marinello and Damodaran wanted to expose these terrible conditions and offer a way out of the circle of poverty.  They realised that many tourists wanted to discover more about life in the slums, so they set up Nai Nami, "Nairobi with me" in Kiswahili, offering tours with the young people themselves as guides. The idea is to use their existing skills to ...
  • Fri, 22 Jun 2018 08:08:00 +0000: Holidaymaker becomes village chief - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Heading the local council seems to have lost its appeal in the mountain village of Tujetsch. That’s why it took a headhunter to find Beat Röschlin, a former company manager who owns a holiday flat in the village.  “When I agreed to take on this position, I had no idea what to expect. No clue at all,” Beat Röschlin says. Clad in a grey polo shirt with his collar turned up, he sits in his wood-panelled office in the local community building in Sedrun, the main village of the spread-out commune of Tujetsch in canton Graubünden. The big window behind him offers a view of a green meadow with high snow-capped mountains towering above it. A manager, not a politician Unlike many other local politicians in Switzerland, the 64-year-old comes across strong, direct and ambitious. It is rare to find a man of this calibre serving as a mayor. “I’m a manager. I’ll never be a politician,” he notes. It is no secret he draws on management principles to govern his community. But how does a ...
  • Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:23:00 +0000: Pope Francis makes rare visit to Switzerland - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Pope Francis has visited the Swiss city of Geneva – a centre of Protestantism – on a whirlwind one-day tour to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and to promote Christian unity.  The pope flew into Geneva – historically known as the “Protestant Rome” for its links to John Calvin – on a hot Thursday morning for a packed schedule that began with a meeting at the airport with Swiss government officials.  After a 20-minute tête-à-tête, Alain Berset, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, told reporters that he shared the pope’s commitment to peace and human rights.  Berset said the pope had urged Switzerland to use dialogue to help prevent conflicts around the world. The two leaders also discussed the issue of immigration and refugee boats from north Africa that were being blocked by Italy. The previous papal visit to Switzerland was in 2004, when Pope John Paul II came to Bern and Geneva not long before he died.  + How much does ...
  • Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:08:00 +0000: ShapeShift aims to reinvent Swiss banking privacy - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    If cryptoassets are ever to fill the gaping hole left by the now-defunct Swiss banking secrecy system, then look no further than the ultra-discreet exchange platform ShapeShift, which has quietly operated out of Zug’s Crypto Valley for the last three years. ShapeShift offers services to anyone with a hankering to convert their bitcoin into ether, litecoin or a host of other cryptotokens. No annoying ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) paperwork. No awkward questions asked. In that respect ShapeShift resembles an old-school Swiss private bank. But it differs by only accepting small transactions and never touching fiat money or securities, thus flying under the radar of heavy-duty regulation. It also refuses to hold customer assets on deposit – one type of cryptoasset is simply traded for another, usually in a matter of minutes. The company says this cuts out the risk of clients losing their money if the exchange gets hacked - as has happened elsewhere on several infamous occasions, ...
  • Thu, 21 Jun 2018 06:43:00 +0000: Has yoga lost its soul in the West? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Aerial, Bikram, Yin, Baby, Dog, Goat, Tantrum, Karaoke, Ganja and even Beer yoga: Are faddish yoga trends harming the integrity of the discipline?  “Yogic practice should be performed in a calm and quiet atmosphere with a relaxed body and mind,” states guidelines issued by the Indian ministry in charge of yoga (AYUSH).  However, the atmosphere at the Suburb Yoga studio in Zurich is anything but calm and quiet. It is 7pm on a Friday and instead of headbanging in a nightclub, 11 women and two men are tuning into the latest craze in the city: Heavy Metal Yoga.  There is definitely a market for yoga-induced relaxation or stimulation as in the case of Heavy Metal yoga. A Swiss Sport report published in 2014 estimated that 7.1% of the population between the ages of 15 and 74 practiced yoga, tai-chi and qi gong. The average practitioner is a 46-year-old woman who attends classes at least 45 days a year.  In the US, the biggest market for yoga, the number of practitioners more than ...
  • Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:00:00 +0000: When US migrant policy debates invoke the Bible - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Many nations, including Switzerland, must grapple with the challenge of migration. The news of controversial recent border-security measures along the US-Mexican border has made headlines not only in North America, but in Europe as well. Almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents between-mid April and the end of May in what many have denounced as a cruel and immoral approach to deterring unlawful crossings. The US administration has staunchly defended this heavy-handed policy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions even cited chapter 13 of Paul’s letter to the Romans to silence clergy who protest the sharpening of anti-immigration policies. This unusual twist in the raging political debate across the Atlantic inevitably struck a chord in me, a pastor and life-long student of the New Testament. I immediately thought of a scene in Eric Till’s 1999 biopic, Bonhoeffer – Agent of Grace. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian, had been detained in wartime Germany without ...
  • Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:46:00 +0000: 'In the summer I have everybody's armpits at eye level' - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    "True Talk" puts people in front of the camera who are fighting prejudice or discrimination. They answer questions that nobody would normally dare to ask directly.  Markus Hofmann finds himself having to constantly explain that as a person of small stature, you’re not physically impaired and as such, you can still basically do any job. Despite having a height of 146cm, he wouldn’t want to be even an inch taller. However, this has not always been the case. The 41-year-old actor had to learn the hard way to accept his height and stand up for himself. Today he is even convinced that his size brings as many advantages as disadvantages.
  • Wed, 20 Jun 2018 09:26:00 +0000: Switzerland regrets US move to quit human rights body - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The Swiss government has reacted with disappointment to the United States’ decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, defending the Geneva-based forum’s “key role” and “tangible impact”.  “Switzerland regrets the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Human Rights Council, which it sees as a core body in the promotion and protection of human rights as a whole,” the Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.  The Swiss ministry said it remained committed to the 47-member forum, which has a "tangible impact on the ground, in particular by deploying fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry into situations of concern”.  After much speculation, the US confirmed on Tuesday that it was pulling out of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, calling it “hypocritical and self-serving” with chronic bias against Israel and lacking reform.  “Switzerland is convinced that the active engagement of the United States in the work of the ...
  • Wed, 20 Jun 2018 05:45:00 +0000: Behind closed doors: where refugees call home in Switzerland - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    There are 68.5 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide as a result of war, and natural or man-made disasters. Photographer Yvain Genevay’s photos show what temporary shelters look like for the small number of them who reach Switzerland. People seeking asylum in Switzerland may stay in the country while awaiting a decision from the authorities on whether their application has been successful. They receive temporary accommodation where they will stay during the first three months of their application. According to the State Secretariat for Migration, there were 18,088 applications for asylum in Switzerland at the end of 2017 and 6,360 people were granted asylum. Every asylum seeker arriving in Switzerland receives an N-Permit, proof that they have applied for asylum and are awaiting a result. A first impression In these pictures, Genevay makes a political comment about what some of Switzerland’s asylum seekers might see when confronted with their temporary housing for the ...
  • Tue, 19 Jun 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Can research tame the excesses of the blockchain revolution? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The cryptocurrency craze has attracted hundreds of millions of francs in crowdfunding cash to Switzerland, often based on the flimsiest of concepts. The Crypto Valley Association (CVA) is banking on research to lay a more solid foundation for the industry in Switzerland. To this end, CVA has invited academics and researchers from around the world to rub shoulders with entrepreneurs at a three-day blockchain conference to be held in Zug this week. Switzerland’s appetite for blockchain needs a more balanced diet than speculation and fanciful notions, according to Alexander Denzler, head of blockchain research at Lucerne’s University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU). Research can add healthier, and more palatable, ingredients to the mix. There is a big need for a conference that focuses on technology rather than marketing for start-ups,” he told swissinfo.ch. “The blockchain hype of the last few years has resulted in a lot of heads being lost up in the clouds. We need to ...
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