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  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Swiss to vote on enshrining cycling in the constitution - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Promote bike transport and build suitable infrastructure: this is the objective of a proposal to enshrine cycle paths in the Swiss constitution, to be voted on this September 23. A necessary step, for government and parliament. The Swiss People’s Party is the sole opponent. The article in the Swiss federal constitution on the principles of maintaining footpaths and hiking trails was accepted by the nation’s voters forty years ago. Will the current proposal to extend this article to cover bike paths have the same success at the polls? Swiss voters will decide on September 23. But one thing is already clear: four decades later, the context is similar. This time, as before, it all began with a popular initiative, withdrawn after a government counter-proposal (in German) gathered broad-based support in parliament. Consensus This time, with the initiative “for the promotion of bike paths as well as footpaths and trails (bike initiative)”, as forty years ago with the initiative ...
  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Reconstructing iconic images in 3D - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Is it possible to recreate an iconic photograph as a 3D model? That is the concept behind the “Double Take” project by Zurich-based artists Adrian Sonderegger and Jojakim Cortis. The World Trade Center’s twin towers terrorist plane crash, Tian'anmen Square, Abu Ghraib, or Marilyn Monroe in a white dress standing over a subway grate – all these iconic images are engraved in our minds, whether we like them or not. The Swiss artist duo Cortis & Sonderegger have re-produced these and other iconic photographs in their studio as detailed three-dimensional models. The mind-bending effect is like looking at the original photograph. Each model is meticulously built using glue, scissors, tweezers, cardboard, sand, lamps, tripods, cotton wool and plaster. But each time the visual illusion is shattered by the inclusion of the studio and articles used to build the scene. The “Double Take” exhibition, currently at the Fotostiftung Winterthur near Zurich until September 9, is an intelligent ...
  • Mon, 13 Aug 2018 15:00:00 +0000: The hardest job? Change at the top of UN Human Rights - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    “Silence does not buy you any respect – none.” The words of UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein during one of his final press conferences before leaving office at the end of this month.  By that standard, Zeid should be one of, if not the, most respected men on the planet. He has been famously blunt about human rights abuses around the world, sparing no one. Throughout his time in office, his speeches and statements were eagerly awaited by the Geneva press corps: here was a UN diplomat who spoke his mind, never flinching from the task of speaking the truth about human rights to some of the world’s most powerful violators.  Zeid has likened US President Donald Trump, or Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, to ‘demagogues’. He has suggested that Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines ‘needs psychiatric evaluation’. He has warned repeatedly of the dangers of xenophobia and populism.  His stance has endeared him to human rights activists worldwide.  “He has been ...
  • Mon, 13 Aug 2018 13:00:00 +0000: How the Holocaust-Swiss banks deal was brokered - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    It has been 20 years since Swiss banks agreed to compensate Holocaust victims for assets lost during the Second World War. A documentary takes a look at the dormant Swiss bank account scandal.  The conflict over Jewish assets in Swiss bank accounts culminated in the 1990s in what would become Switzerland’s largest foreign policy crisis since the Second World War. The following report and embedded videos are from a Swiss documentary, The Meili Story. Everything started with Greta Beer. She is 97 today and lives in Boston. Her father was a wealthy textile manufacturer in Germany before the Second World War with bank accounts in Switzerland. After the war, Beer and her mother’s search for their father’s money in Swiss banks was in vain.  Her case became public in the 1990s and eventually led Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato, Chairman of the Banking Commission, to invite her to a hearing in Washington. The Swiss government underestimated the brewing storm on the other side ...
  • Mon, 13 Aug 2018 09:45:00 +0000: From China, with love and grief - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Richard Bolisay from the Philippines, who took part in this year’s Critics Academy of the Locarno Festival, provides his insights into some of the Chinese entries at this year’s edition of the event, which ended at the weekend.  Locarno Festival has always been known for featuring a diverse range of films from all over the world, and this year has been exceptionally strong for Chinese-language films and works with strong ties with Chinese culture and people. What these films offer is not just a look into their nuanced lives but also a criticism of living in society filled with dread, anxiety, and longing, critical but also with occasional glimmers of hope and humour. The winner of the Pardo d'Oro this year is the Chinese-speaking Singaporean film A Land Imagined, whose central character, Wang, is a construction worker from China. Directed by Yeo Siew Hua, the film has a curious structure: It begins with two policemen looking for Wang and proceeds to show Wang before he goes ...
  • Mon, 13 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: The rift between natural birth and on-demand C-sections - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    When it comes to giving birth in Switzerland, for some women the process can’t be natural enough. Others want a Caesarean section (C-section) from the very early stages of pregnancy without a specific medical need. Both extremes can be problematic.  “Did you give birth naturally or did you have a C-section?” According to a mother from Bern, this is often the first question people ask after delivery and to her, it is clearly a judgement. “Natural is best.” The Swiss almost wage a religious war when it comes to C-sections versus vaginal delivery. And it’s not the only ideological front surrounding childbirth; the fight between conventional and natural medicine is even tougher. On the one hand, doctors are quick to interfere with natural births by using oxytocic (used to induce labour), forceps, or by administering a C-section. On the other hand, there is a growing trend towards natural childbirth among parents-to-be as well as midwives. Many Swiss women are keen to deliver ...
  • Sun, 12 Aug 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Your views: why life is good in Switzerland - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Annual international surveys frequently place Switzerland near the top of their lists when it comes to ranking the best places in the world to live. We wanted to find out from our Facebook and Twitter communities what makes Switzerland special. Here are some of the replies we received. But first, what the official surveys say:  According to the 2018 survey from consulting firm Mercer, Zurich offers the second-best quality of life in the world. Geneva was ranked eighth and Basel came in tenth place. Mercer’s survey takes into account factors such as political stability, health care, education, crime and transport. In a survey published by the World Economic Forum in 2016, carried out by the non-governmental organisation Social Progress Imperative, Switzerland was judged the fifth best place to live in the world. The report said that the country may be expensive, but its citizens get value for money, especially when it comes to “medical” and “nutritional” matters, and "access to ...
  • Sun, 12 Aug 2018 09:41:00 +0000: Zurich’s technocolour Street Parade in pictures - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    One million ravers, 200 DJs, 28 Love Mobiles – the 27th Zurich Street Parade, one of the largest house and techno parties in the world, meandered through Switzerland’s biggest city on Saturday under perfect weather conditions. (All pictures Keystone.)  What was louder, the clothes or the music? It’s hard to tell, but the kaleidoscopic crowd slowly following the 28 “Love Mobiles” – music floats – certainly enjoyed the sun and relaxed atmosphere, reflecting this year’s motto of love and tolerance.  That said, 724 people needed treatment at the medical centre, up a quarter on last year. Most were for cuts, insect bites or circulation problems. Four people picked up serious injuries, for example after falling from a height. While most people knew their limits, the medical staff had to look after around 280 people who had overdone it on alcohol or drugs. Police said they had arrested 70 people, mostly young men, for disturbing the peace while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. ...
  • Sun, 12 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: This profession calls for you to put your life at risk - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The judgement of the mountain guide can be called into question when a fatal accident happens in the Alps, like the one this summer when seven climbers lost their lives.  But if there is anyone who risks his life for the safety of climbers it is the one who leads them, says Pierre Mathey, who has been an Alpine guide for more than 25 years. With dozens of peaks over 4,000 metres, Switzerland is an inevitable destination for those who seek high-altitude adventure. Every year thousands of people try their hand at climbing the Matterhorn or the Jungfrau, driven by the desire to conquer a peak. "Someone who doesn’t manage to reach the summit talks in terms of failing. In my view, the only failure is if they don’t make it back home", says Mathey (52), who has been a guide for over 25 years and is general secretary of the Swiss Mountain Guide Association (ASGM). swissinfo.ch: From the stories appearing in the media, one might think that accidents in the mountains are on the increase.
  • Sun, 12 Aug 2018 08:19:00 +0000: A million people party at Zurich Street Parade - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Zurich’s Street Parade, one of the most popular house and techno parades in Europe, attracted a million ravers on Saturday, according to organisers. Around 25 floats packed with giant music systems trundled around Lake Zurich as part of an event officially billed as a demonstration for freedom, love and tolerance. This is the 27th edition, and apart from the parade, about 100 related parties also took place over the weekend. The perfect weather conditions meant the million-mark was cracked for the third time, after 2001 and 2015. How it all began The first Street Parade was held on September 5, 1992, initiated by maths student Marek Krynski. He was inspired by a television report on the Berlin Love Parade and went to visit the German city to find out how the event was organised. It was attended by about 1,000 people. The number seems paltry compared with the huge turn-out at recent Street Parades, but in 1992, it was regarded as a huge success as no one really believed that ...
  • Sat, 11 Aug 2018 19:06:00 +0000: Mixed messages about future Swiss-EU relations - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Switzerland’s relations with the European Union have been at the centre of the annual Congress of the Swiss Abroad. Two keynote speeches gave some indications of the delicate situation for both sides in crucial talks about the future of the bilateral accords. Some members of the audience might have come away from Saturday’s speeches, presentations and panel discussions with a certain feeling of disappointment. Hoping to get some insight into ongoing negotiations between Switzerland and Brussels, they were certainly told of the importance of stable relations both for the economy and citizens in Switzerland and the 28-nation bloc. But neither Roberto Balzaretti, head of the directorate for European affairs in the Swiss foreign ministry, nor Michael Matthiessen, the EU ambassador to Switzerland, were willing to reveal any details of the tricky negotiations. Brussels has been pushing for Switzerland to agree a framework accord to consolidate a system of bilateral accords, but ...
  • Sat, 11 Aug 2018 13:00:00 +0000: Facetime: when football fans pay price for burka ban - 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 40 Heavy rains and violent winds pummeled the Lake Geneva area with wind gusts of over 90 km/hour and 40 mm of rain flooding streets and cellars.  Tuesday 37 That's the number of legal proceedings initiated against people breaking the law in Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton of Ticino on covering up their faces in public. Known as the "burka ban", most cases haven't involved Burka- or Nijab-wearing women but masked football fans instead. Wednesday 1,900,000,000 Various costs related to traffic jams totalled CHF1.9 billion ($1.9 billion) in 2015, up 7% from 2010. The authorities said that costs stemming from wasted time accounted for 70% of the losses. Thursday 330 The Polish government announced that it had acquired a Second World War-era ...
  • Sat, 11 Aug 2018 11:44:00 +0000: Which issues are important to the Swiss abroad? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Hundreds of Swiss citizens living abroad are gathered in the Alps to compare notes and find solutions for issues affecting them. At the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) annual conference in Visp, we asked attendees from all over the world to tell us about themselves and why keeping up with Swiss affairs is important to them.
  • Sat, 11 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Annemarie Schwarzenbach: first port of call is Spain - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Her first major journey took Swiss journalist and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach to Spain. It marked the start of her travels around the world, which she photographed. In May 1933 Annemarie Schwarzenbach embarked on her first journalistic tour of Spain together with friend and photographer, Marianne Breslauer. The journey was financed by the sale of her stories and photos to the press. In October of the same year they both travelled for the first time to Persia and then to Moscow, completing their journey through the Orient in April 1934. Later on, she would travel to the United States and document the Great Depression as well as the re-election of Franklin Roosevelt. A passionate journalist, Schwarzenbach wrote her first book "Freunde um Bernhard" (Bernhard’s Circle of Friends) after finishing her studies at the age of 23. Submerging herself in the world of literature, she became life-long friends with siblings Erika and Klaus Mann. Klaus was a trusty travelling ...
  • Fri, 10 Aug 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Brussels’ man in Bern hints at Swiss protectionism - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The European Union’s ambassador to Switzerland, Michael Matthiessen, highlights the benefits for Switzerland of close relations with the EU, but he diplomatically warns against measures that discriminate against EU companies. swissinfo.ch spoke to Matthiessen on the eve of the annual Congress of the Swiss Abroad. This year’s theme is “Switzerland without Europe – Europe without Switzerland”. Since 2014, Bern and Brussels have been negotiating an institutional framework agreement with each other. Its purpose is to reorganise the selected bilateral agreements – in particular those agreements concerning single market access. But the procedure has raised various questions, for example regarding correct interpretation and application, adaptation to changing EU law and dispute resolution.  + Read more about Switzerland’s relations with the EU + Framing the terms for future Swiss-EU relations  swissinfo.ch: Why do we need this famous institutional framework agreement?  Michael ...
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