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  • Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:00:00 +0000: India needs firms on board for vocational training success - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    India’s attempts to incorporate aspects of Swiss-style vocational education and training (VET) could stumble without industry involvement and investment. As one of the fastest growing economies with the world’s largest youth population, India seems poised to cash in on its demographic dividend. However, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), close to 30% of Indian young people (aged 15 to 29) are neither in employment nor in education or training. Even the country’s engineering graduates are under pressure, with around 60% of the 800,000 that pass out every year not sufficiently prepared to secure a job.  “The kind of people we churn out of our education system are not job ready,” Sunita Sanghi, adviser to India’s apex planning body NITI Aayog, told Swiss and Indian VET providers at an event organised by the Indian embassy in Bern on September 20.  The government is aware of the problem and has created a Ministry of Skill Development and ...
  • Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:00:00 +0000: What Hindus and Muslims have in common - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland – to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. She’s interested in cultural and religious diversity in Switzerland. This week she meets members of the “Dialogue en route” project. They take groups of young people to religious buildings and teach them about different faiths and cultures. (SRF Kulturplatz/swissinfo.ch) 
  • Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Sport and study: a high hurdle, but help on hand - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    It is not always easy for Swiss elite athletes to combine a demanding training schedule and competitions with their studies. But help has come in the form of a new declaration aimed at making it easier for them to study part-time and access the support that they need. The declaration was signed by Swiss Olympic, representing Swiss sports associations, and swissuniversities, the umbrella group of Swiss universities, on Monday. “The main points are that elite athletes can do part-time studies, or extend their studies. In some universities, this is already possible, but with this agreement we would like all universities to offer this option to athletes,” said Alexander Wäfler, Swissolympic’s spokesman. Part-time study is already possible in Swiss universities, also for non-athletes, although full-time courses are still the rule. Wäfler said the agreement was a first step, but was not binding. “Universities have their own rules, we can’t tell them what to do, but we can make ...
  • Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:06:00 +0000: Election of Cassis ‘positive’ and ‘smart’, say papers - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    ‘It’s a fact: Ticino’s returning to the cabinet!” The Corriere del Ticino could barely contain itself given the news that Ignazio Cassis will on November 1 become the first cabinet minister from Italian-speaking Switzerland since 1999. Newspapers elsewhere thought he was a solid choice, although they stressed his responsibility to the nation.  “The choice of Cassis is also a chance for Switzerland, after 18 years, to have an executive in which all the national sensitivities are represented,” the Corriere wrote. Italian, one of Switzerland’s three official languages, is spoken by around 8% of the population.  “Ticino's got what it wanted, let’s now look after the rest of the country,” sniffed 24Heures in canton Vaud, disappointed that its local candidate Isabelle Moret had been comfortably beaten in Wednesday’s election.  The long absence from the seven-person cabinet had led to a sort of “insidious unease” in Ticino, it added. “A sort of lament, a mixture of incomprehension, ...
  • Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:30:00 +0000: Ai Weiwei: Art is a way of questioning power - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Art is innocent, says contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, but it is also a means of questioning the establishment. The Chinese native was in Lausanne on Wednesday to talk about his life in exile and a new exhibition which has taken over the city’s Palais de Rumine and museums. “I’m always very grateful to Switzerland as this is where I really started my career as an artist,” the 60-year-old tells reporters. Ai Weiwei’s early work was showcased at Bern’s Kunsthalle in 2004 – his first European solo exhibition. “I feel I have drawn a circle and the two ends have met. I’m like a Swiss product,” he joked. His new exhibition entitled ‘Ai Weiwei. It’s Always the Others’, which runs from September 22 to January 28, 2018, features 46 of his works, many well-known, but in new and often unusual settings. The Zoology Museum on the top floor of the Rumine building, for example, features a 50-metre-long silk and bamboo dragon suspended over the glass displays of stuffed animals. The ...
  • Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:22:00 +0000: The lightning election of Ignazio Cassis - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Every election of a Swiss cabinet minister actually begins in the bars of Bern – the night before. This is where surprise candidates are chosen in backroom deals. This year, however, the election of Iganzio Cassis was not only surprise-free but also extremely quick. (Photos: Keystone) Traditionally politicians and journalists meet on the eve of a cabinet election in the foyer of the palatial Bellevue Palace hotel, right next to parliament. This is where coalitions are discussed and final interviews are given – and from time to time a surprise candidate is chosen.  But not on Wednesday. Cassis was quickly chosen as the 117th cabinet minister in two rounds, having just failed to get an overall majority in the first round. It's the first time Italian-speaking canton Ticino has been represented in the cabinet since 1999.  The centre-right Radical Party had put forward three official candidates to replace Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, who is stepping down at the end of October.
  • Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:00:00 +0000: What’s behind Switzerland’s vaccine shortage? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    It’s one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet Switzerland is struggling to maintain stocks of 16 key vaccines, forcing doctors to adapt their practices. What’s causing the shortfall, and what’s being done about it? Primarily affected are ‘combination’ vaccines, which protect against multiple diseases – for example diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), and a form of meningitis – with a single jab. With restricted access to these critical vaccines from pharmaceutical manufacturers, doctors have been left to tap into their own local clinic or hospital reserves, or to rely on the remaining stocks from wholesalers. But it’s not just Swiss healthcare providers who are struggling to make ends meet.   “This isn’t a Swiss problem – it’s an international problem. However, I can’t remember a situation like this in my 30 years of professional life as a vaccination expert,” Daniel Desgrandchamps, a paediatrics and infectious disease specialist, told swissinfo.ch. ...
  • Wed, 20 Sep 2017 06:00:00 +0000: Lost Greek temple found by Swiss scholars - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A Swiss-led team of archaeologists in Greece has made a spectacular find: the temple of Artemis, a famous open-air sanctuary of antiquity. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  Researchers have been looking for the sanctuary for more than a century. The site was found at the foot of the Paleoekklisies hill near the small fishing town of Amarynthos on the Greek island of Euboea. It’s about 10km from the place where the temple was wrongly thought to be located. Since 2007, the search for the sanctuary has been led by Karl Reber, a professor at the Universty of Lausanne and director of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Athens. Researchers found parts of a massive wall dating back to the classical era, which they believe belongs to the stoa or portico built near the temple. Exploratory trenches were opened in Amarynthos in 2012, and the Swiss team brought to light a bigger part of the building.  Now, after also finding artefacts with inscriptions, they are sure that they have located the site of the ...
  • Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:34:00 +0000: The king of chocolate in Mexico - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A rags-to-riches career straight out of a film script: as a young man, the protagonist emigrates to Mexico. Once there, he becomes the first ever manufacturer of white chocolate and goes on to become an entrepreneur worth millions. The life of Gianfranco Arnoldi. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) Arnoldi has always been in the confectionary business. He learnt his craft at the Vanini pastry shop in Lugano and, by the age of 19, was already a chief chocolatier. Later, Arnoldi produced chocolate at the upmarket Palace Hotels in Gstaad and Lucerne, then at the Ritz in Barcelona.  Switzerland had become too limiting for him and he was attracted by the revolutionary atmosphere of Mexico. In 1956, a Hilton hotel was opened in Mexico City and Arnold signed a one year contract. He moved from Hilton to Hilton, married a Mexican, and finally opened his own confectionary shop in Mexico city in 1968. The firm prospered, even though he had to overcome some cultural differences. Mexicans mostly knew ...
  • Tue, 19 Sep 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Are India's daughters a good return on investment? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The world’s first private, performance-based investment aims to keep girls in rural India in school. But can projects like the one supported by the UBS Optimus Foundation change societal attitudes that lead to high drop-out rates?  Nani doesn’t have much time for journalists, especially when there is a bullock munching on her maize crop. The sprightly grandmother gives chase and the opportunistic bovine is shooed away. She finally finds some time to talk to swissinfo.ch under the shade of a mango tree.  “I did not go to school. In my time, there were no schools around and our family never sent us, so we didn’t go,” she says.  Half a century later, Nani's granddaughter Maya has hardly fared any better. She used to go to school but dropped out as someone was needed to graze the family’s goats. In the village of Jaliya - and all over the Bhilwara district in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan - goats represent the end of the line when it comes to a girl’s education. Few ...
  • Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:56:00 +0000: Trump pushes for UN reform at New York meeting - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    United States President Donald Trump made his debut at the United Nations in New York on Monday, urging the world body to reform by cutting down on bureaucracy. Some 120 states, including Switzerland, signed up to the US-led initiative in support. However, observers in Geneva remain dubious about the impact of the event.  Switzerland signed up to Monday’s US-sponsored event in New York and a ten-point declaration distributed by UN envoy Nikki Haley backing the broad "effective, meaningful" reforms proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.  According to Paola Beer Ceresetti, spokesperson for the Swiss foreign ministry, Switzerland wants a “strong, modern and efficient UN capable of fully meeting the ambitious goals it has fixed”.  “The UN must continually renew itself, strengthen and adapt to new challenges. In this regard, Switzerland supports reform efforts by the new UN Secretary General, reforms of peace and security, reforms of the UN development system and ...
  • Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:00:00 +0000: High-tech protection from rockslides - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In times of climate change and melting permafrost, modern surveillance systems are a matter of life and death. Researchers are developing new warning systems to give mountain residents more time to evacuate when the rocks start tumbling. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) In August 2017, eight people went missing, believed to have been buried under 4 million cubic metres of debris. The landslide in Bondo, close to the Swiss-Italian border, was one of the largest to hit Switzerland in the last century. On September 16, a further landslide occurred though nobody was hurt. Officials had already warned that a rock mass of between 200,000 and 500,000 metres squared was on the move. As nobody was in the danger zone increased safety measures were not needed. In a different part of the country earlier in September, the bulk of the ice tongue of the Trift glacier in canton Valais collapsed. More than 200 people were evacuated from their homes in Saas-Grund. About a third of the unstable ice masses are ...
  • Sun, 17 Sep 2017 16:00:00 +0000: Switzerland keeps US and North Korea talking - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In public, threats. Behind the scenes, diplomacy and de-escalation. Switzerland has been negotiating between the United States and North Korea without fanfare but with success. This week a former US diplomat and a representative from North Korea spoke to each other in Montreux.  It was one of those meetings that happen from time to time: at the lowest level, during an international get-together, discreet and informal. Yet it is significant because it represents a moment of normality in relations between the North Korea and the US. These are more strained than ever, following a series of weapon tests in North Korea and threats from the White House. In times like these, even small steps are large.  The conference began on Monday; the UN Security Council had just imposed very tough sanctions on North Korea. The Japanese national public broadcasting organisation NHK reported that Evans Revere, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, had spoken ...
  • Sun, 17 Sep 2017 13:00:00 +0000: Swiss apartment glut puts pressure on landlords - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    It's a good time for people looking to rent an apartment in Switzerland, as there are a huge number of empty properties and landlords are slashing rents in some places. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  There are around 55,000 empty rental flats in Switzerland. For example in Wangen bei Olten, Canton Solothurn, where ten percent of all flats are unoccupied. Because of negative bank interest rates, pension funds are investing in real estate, so in many areas, more apartments are being built than can be filled.  Landlords are coming up with novel ideas to counter this trend, with rent reductions among them, which is great news for tenants.
  • Sun, 17 Sep 2017 09:00:00 +0000: A professor’s appointment wreaks havoc in Zurich - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    ​​​​​​​In 1839, the election of a reform-minded theologist to Zurich’s education council caused an uproar – followed by a deep liberal-conservative rift that split the canton in two. On January 26, 1839, the Zurich education council met to discuss the appointment of a new theology professor. The panel was deeply divided. The liberals wanted to appoint David Friedrich Strauss, in the hope that 300 years after the Reformation, the church would modernise. For the conservatives, the 31-year-old German was out of the question. In his publication, Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet (The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined), Strauss not only differentiated between the historical person Jesus of Nazareth and Christ as a construct of faith; he also declared biblical stories in general to be myths. After a stormy session, the council was evenly split – seven against seven – and mayor Conrad Melchior Hirzel, as the president of education, had to cast the decisive vote. This historical ...
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