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  • Wed, 25 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Meet the engineers who make machines for understanding the universe - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    She may not be one of CERN’s vaunted physicists, who theorise about what happened nanoseconds after the Big Bang; but without engineers like Marta Bajko, who work on the giant magnets of the Large Hadron Collider, these physicists wouldn’t be able to test their theories. At pop concerts there are the rock stars, who make the music, and there are the roadies, who make sure the music happens; tuning the instruments, and plugging in and powering up the amplifiers and speakers. The rock stars at Geneva-based CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, are the particle physicists. They get most of the attention when the centre discovers a new subatomic particle that helps us understand what the universe was probably like at its birth, and what it’s composed of today. But without the engineers who design, construct, and test the complex machines and instruments that send those particles colliding into each other (on purpose) at nearly the speed of light, the mathematics ...
  • Wed, 25 Apr 2018 04:00:00 +0000: Switzerland moves up in press freedom ranking amid global slide - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Switzerland has risen from seventh to fifth in this year’s World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries compiled by Reporters without Borders (RSF). This comes, however, in a deteriorating environment for journalists worldwide, including in Europe.  Prem Samy, who is in charge of the index at RSF, says there are two reasons behind Switzerland’s rise. “This year was a bit more optimistic for Switzerland, because the No Billag initiative, which was a threat to public TV and radio, was rejected by referendum,” he told swissinfo.ch.  The second reason for Switzerland’s rise is “purely mechanical”, he says, because with countries like Costa Rica and Denmark dropping down, others move up.   While the “No Billag” initiative was a “threat that didn’t happen in the end”, Samy says the Swiss context “is still a bit dangerous in terms of pluralism and the restructuring that is coming, especially for ATS [the Swiss News Agency]”.   +Read more about job cuts at SDA-ATS  Asked about the trend ...
  • Tue, 24 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Our environmental crisis is a social crisis - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Although we have known the causes of our environmental problems and possible solutions for decades, not much has changed. Christoph Küffer asks why. One core task of the environmental sciences is to analyse the causal drivers of environmental problems and to develop technical solutions. We have achieved a great deal in this regard: we understand global environmental problems such as climate change, and we are documenting the loss of biodiversity around the globe and how this is threatening quality of life. We know what the solutions are: renewable energy, ecological agriculture, city planning that favours bicycles over cars. We also know how to make our own lives more sustainable: consume less, fly less, eat less meat, and buy longer-lasting products. A cultural crisis Despite all of this, little has changed. In my opinion, one major reason for this is that we think of environmental problems as just that: problems arising from the environment rather than from people. But of ...
  • Tue, 24 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Lucrative gambling business comes under public scrutiny - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The stakes are high as Swiss voters decide in June about a new gambling law, including a ban on using the websites of foreign casinos. Youth wings of several political parties have mounted a challenge. Supporters argue the legal amendment is a financial boon for society and will help prevent gambling addiction. For opponents, the law will preserve the monopoly of the 21 casinos in Switzerland and amounts to censorship of the internet. Under the new law agreed by parliament last September, Swiss casinos can offer online versions of roulette, blackjack and poker if a majority of voters comes out in favour on June 10. In the future, licenced operators of lotteries and sports betting would be allowed to offer new forms of gambling, notably with bookmakers and real-time bets, in other words while a race is in progress. The limit of tax-free winnings from lotteries and sports bets would be raised from CHF1,000 ($1,040) to CHF1 million. In addition, the amended law lifts ...
  • Tue, 24 Apr 2018 06:05:00 +0000: Renovations set to transform International Geneva - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Cranes and construction workers have become commonplace in International Geneva, where around a dozen major renovation and new building projects are underway for international organisations based in the Swiss city. (RTS/swissinfo.ch)  Over CHF2 billion ($2.05 billion) is being invested over the next ten years in the district, which is home to 37 international organisations and 380 non-governmental organisations. Much of the finance consists of federal and cantonal loans.  The biggest chunk is for the historic United Nations Palais des Nations building, which is being renovated at a cost of CHF836.5 million – half financed by interest-free loans from the government and canton Geneva. A new building is also being constructed in the UN complex for 700 staff. At the World Health Organization (WHO) a nine-storey office block is replacing an ageing wing in a style that mirrors the original Sixties design of Swiss architect Jean Tschumi. Since 2015, construction has also been underway ...
  • Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:55:00 +0000: Sulzer shows how to avoid Russian sanctions - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    When the US announced tough new sanctions against Russia this month, Swiss industrial group Sulzer received no official warning of what could have been a disaster for the company. “The first clue you have that things are going to be complicated is your bank calls you up and says: ‘Look, we’re going to have to stop working with you’,” said Greg Poux-Guillaume, chief executive of the company. “It was pretty clear that we were going to be frozen out of all the banks’ US dollar business, across the board.” Sulzer is not alone — since the US measures were imposed a fortnight ago, global lawyers have been scrambling to work out how many other companies could be affected through shareholdings, loans, investments or trading relationships. Commodity traders such as Glencore and Rio Tinto have cancelled contracts with affected companies, and banks have cut ties, while the Russian state is considering nationalisations to help those most affected. But for international companies ...
  • Mon, 23 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Sovereign money: the answer to financial crises? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    ​​​​​​​ Today money is mainly put into circulation by the private banks and not, as is often thought, by central banks. This is claimed to cause speculation and financial crises. The “sovereign money” initiative is intended to restore stability to Switzerland’s financial marketplace with a radical reform of the monetary system. For the government and parliament, however, this would be too risky an undertaking. Launched and supported by a number of economists, financial specialists and entrepreneurs, the people’s initiative “For crisis-proof money: only the National Bank to issue currency! (Sovereign money initiative)”, proposes to set up a more secure financial order in this country. The text cites the world financial crisis that struck ten years ago, and which did not spare Switzerland: among other problems, the government and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) had to intervene to rescue the country’s biggest private bank, UBS. The promoters of the initiative base their argument on ...
  • Mon, 23 Apr 2018 08:09:00 +0000: If you don’t book online, you’ll get left behind - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    To help the elderly use their online services, the Swiss Federal Railways has teamed up with a charity to offer training courses for their non-tech-savvy customers. (SRF, swissinfo.ch) Saver tickets, which offer cheaper fares for specific train times, are only available online. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is generally becoming increasingly digital, and many ticket counters are closing. But what does this mean for older people? Pro Senectute, an organisation that supports the elderly, is running free courses with the Swiss Railways to help this generation learn how to use the public transport app.  The aim of the course is for the participants to feel confident using a smartphone to check the train timetable, look for the best connection and buy tickets. The training is interactive and takes about two hours.  In 2017, 84.8% Swiss Federal Railways' tickets were sold through self-service methods and of these, 32.7% were purchased through digital channels, a trend that is on ...
  • Mon, 23 Apr 2018 07:00:00 +0000: Switzerland’s global role in fighting malaria - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Each year, some half a million people die of malaria around the world, with particularly high fatality rates among children. Switzerland is a world leader in research to combat the disease. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal is to reduce incidences of malaria by 90% by 2030 – an ambitious target. Indeed, the number of malaria infections has recently increased once again; over 200 million people now contract the disease each year. The exact reason for the uptick is unclear. Thomas Gass, deputy director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), believes that it could be due to increased travel worldwide. With more movement, the pathogen can be transported back to areas that were previously considered malaria-free. Various projects spear-headed by the SDC are also at the forefront of Switzerland’s global fight against the disease. “In Tanzania, for example, we support integrated programmes,” says Gass. “It’s about informing the population, distributing ...
  • Sun, 22 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Thomas Amsler: Loves lobster, misses Bratwurst - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    After living in coastal Massachusetts for over 50 years, Swiss architect Thomas Amsler says he loves New England, but misses Swiss sausages.  However, the 81-year-old says he has never felt homesick since arriving in the United States in 1964.  “We missed certain things, but there were so many new things to explore. And I’m a forward-looking guy who doesn’t spend much time dwelling on whether I should be home again,” says Amsler, born in the north-eastern Swiss canton of Schaffhausen in 1936. On a recent visit to Switzerland, he dropped by swissinfo.ch to talk about his study of a Ticino village with remarkable architecture.  Without knowing that he’s an octogenarian, you wouldn’t think to offer the elevator, and Amsler takes the stairs in stride, asking, “Is this a new building?” and looking around with curiosity. Atlantic crossing Having been offered a travel fellowship to see American architecture first-hand, Amsler and his wife and two young children embarked on the ...
  • Sat, 21 Apr 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Can England learn from Swiss apprenticeships? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    English businesses would benefit from a Swiss-style apprenticeship system that starts earlier and lasts longer, a report authored by Swiss experts has found. But not all English businesses agree that apprenticeships are a good thing. Apprenticeships are a key part of the United Kingdom’s government’s plans to improve technical skills among young people and to ensure the country can meet labour market needs post-Brexit. Reforms include a new employer levy (see infobox), and the target is to create three million more apprenticeships by 2020. In contrast, Switzerland has a long tradition of apprenticeships. Two thirds of school leavers opt to take this route, and the system has been singled out as one of the best worldwide by the OECD and researchers at Harvard. + Why Swiss apprenticeships are seen as a model in the US “Apprenticeship training in England – an effective model for firms?” was published by the London-based Education Policy Institute (EPI), German think tank ...
  • Sat, 21 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000: Drab summer, hot jazz, weak franc - 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. Monday 1,231 The number of seconds it took for the head of the Böögg, a stuffed snowman, to explode in Zurich. The 20 minutes and 31 seconds (a relatively long time) traditionally means a poor summer.  Tuesday 52 The Montreux Jazz Festival will take placed for the 52nd time from June 29 to July 14. The line-up was announced on Tuesday, with headline names including Nick Cave, Jamiroquai, Van Morrison, N.E.R.D, Jack White, Chick Corea and Gilberto Gil.  Wednesday 996 Between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019, a total of 996 work permits can be issued to Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants, the government announced.  Thursday 1.20 As the Swiss franc weakens towards the threshold CHF1.20 exchange rate with the euro, the likelihood remains slim that Switzerland’s central ...
  • Sat, 21 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Switzerland - through the lens of a German photographer - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A new book, capturing Switzerland through the lens of German photographer Andreas Herzau, gives an insight into how the country’s northern neighbour views the Alpine nation. It’s been a few years since I met up with my fellow photographer Andreas Herzau for a beer in Bern’s old town. He was telling me about his new project; the idea was still very fresh and, at the time, there were yet only a few pictures he could show me. But the intention was clear: to create a portrait of Switzerland from an extremely personal perspective. German immigration to Switzerland has been a hotly debated subject in the Swiss media since 2011. The relationship between the German-speaking part of Switzerland and its big neighbour north of the Rhine has affected people in a myriad of ways. Walking a tightrope of clichés The photographer, who lives in Hamburg, also had a particularly personal reason for choosing this subject. His partner was one of those newly arrived Germans in Switzerland – trying ...
  • Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Rhine river sailors meet again - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In April 1968, a group of sailors began their apprenticeships on the training ship MS Leventina in Basel. A half-century later, they met once again to see whether they’ve still got a nose for the nautical. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  The Swiss mariners talked of travelling for miles across the country to join the ship's crew in Basel, the tearful separation from their parents, the strict regime with an obligatory daily dip in the Rhine before breakfast, and how camaraderie brought them through the hard times and demanding work.  Between 1939 and 1973, about 1,500 young men aged between 14 and 16 were trained as sailors in Basel. The school closed at the beginning of the 1990s, and trainee mariners from Switzerland have since travelled to Duisburg in Germany for their theoretical training, at Duisport – the world’s largest inland port, at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr. Between 15 and 20 young sailors still get their practical experience on the Rhine in Basel, which is also home ...
  • Fri, 20 Apr 2018 09:26:00 +0000: Celebrating Hodler’s harmonious vision - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    On May 19, 1918, Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler passed away in his lakeside apartment in Geneva. A major new exhibition celebrates the work and aesthetic ideals of one of Switzerland’s greatest artists from his later “Parallelism” period.  To mark the centenary of the Swiss artist’s death, the Museum of Art and History in Geneva has joined forces with Bern’s Kunstmuseum to show 100 of his works from 1890 onwards. The Hodler/Parallelism' exhibition, which runs from April 20 to August 19 in Geneva, will later move to Bern from September 14 until January 13, 2019.  “Our challenge with this exhibition was to find a new angle,” Jean-Yves Marin, the Geneva museum director, told reporters on Thursday. Since the beginning of 2000s, Hodler has been the focus of major exhibitions, including those in Switzerland in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2011, and in Paris in 2007.  “When you ask people in Geneva about Hodler some say he was a landscape artist, others describe him as a portrait painter, ...
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