Switzerland in the News

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  • Sat, 18 Aug 2018 06:00:00 +0000: Remembering the Chapel Bridge fire - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Lucerne’s world famous covered bridge spanning the River Reuss is a magnet for tourists from all over the world. But the medieval Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, was nearly lost in a massive fire 25 years ago.  The bridge, built in 1365 as part of Lucerne’s fortifications, contained paintings dating back to the 17th century. Many of these were destroyed in the blaze, along with two thirds of the bridge. Lucerne residents were devastated. The exact cause of the fire has never been established, but it’s thought that it started on a boat beneath the bridge. The iconic structure was rebuilt and opened to the public again on April 14, 1994, and a surveillance system was put in place to prevent future fires. The renovations cost CHF3.4 million ($3.41 million) .  In 2013, Swiss Public Television, SRF, prepared this report to mark the 20th anniversary of the fire. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
  • Fri, 17 Aug 2018 10:32:00 +0000: Government’s stance on nuclear ban under scrutiny - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Switzerland has decided not to sign a treaty banning nuclear arms saying it puts at risk the country’s approach to disarmament and security policies. But disarmament expert Marc Finaud questions the government’s arguments. Switzerland was one of 122 states to adopt the United Nations treaty in July 2017. As a result the government asked a working group to consider the pros and cons of ratifying the document. “During the negotiations Switzerland noted numerous issues requiring clarification. Since then, an interdepartmental working group headed by the Foreign Ministry has concluded that, from today's perspective, for Switzerland the arguments against an accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) outweigh the potential opportunities of an accession,” according to a government statement published on Wednesday. “The report is very detailed. All aspects of the treaty have been covered, be it legal, humanitarian, military, political and economic,” says Marc ...
  • Fri, 17 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: The crowd, the digital motivator, and his mobile phone - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The tall young man looks like... well, a tall young man, dressed casually, fluffy stubble around the jaw, friendly dark eyes. Just as he was described in several newspaper articles over the past few months. And yes, Dimitri Rougy does come across as open-minded, clued-up, curious and passionate about politics all at the same time. Needless to say, the digital campaigner produces his mobile phone, which he puts on the table, when we meet in a café not far from parliament in the Swiss capital, Bern. Always reachable, his fingers twitching to send out a tweet, post a picture, answer a call? He politely apologises for the delay. He missed a train – entirely his fault, he says. Rougy is one of a team of four using a new form of crowd campaigning and social media to challenge a law cracking down on suspected welfare fraudsters. The 21-year old’s star has risen ever since he and three other citizens decided to collect the 50,000 signatures needed – as part of the direct democratic ...
  • Fri, 17 Aug 2018 07:13:00 +0000: Perils of haven status haunt rebounding Swiss economy - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Business is good this summer for the operator of cable cars that take tourists to near the summit of the 3,000 metre Titlis mountain in the Swiss Alps, where a shop sells luxury watches to Asian and other tourists. “We reached quite a high [revenue] level in 2017 — maybe this year is even better,” said Peter Reinle, marketing director at Titlis Bergbahnen. Like the cable cars on Titlis, the Swiss economy is again reaching the heights. Since a severe foreign exchange shock in 2015, which saw exports wilt as the franc soared against the euro, Swiss industries have staged an impressive recovery, buoyed by a global economic upturn — with tourism boosted by rising visitor numbers, particularly from China. “The weather is favourable, the Swiss franc is a bit less strong and the economic situation in Europe is better — people can afford Switzerland again,” said Maurice Rapin, head of tourism at the Swiss cable car association. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is cautiously projecting ...
  • Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:00:00 +0000: 'I've got elf ears, a split tongue and canine teeth, but I'm not a freak' - 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.  Sandy is 28-years-old, an entrepreneur, dog owner and body artist. She's had operations to lengthen her canine teeth, add scars to her chin, split her tongue and make her ears look elf-like. She has a magnet embedded in her finger.  Sandy tells True Talk about the prejudices she faces because of her appearance and ponders on what society would gain by just accepting her for who she is.
  • Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:00:00 +0000: US plane wreck to be cleared from Swiss Alps - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Over 70 years after its emergency landing, a US military plane is emerging from a melting glacier in Switzerland. Local authorities want to clear the wreckage before winter.  The American Dakota C-53, which landed on the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Oberland in 1946, is a magnet for visitors thanks to its exposed propellers, wings and engine parts.  But not for much longer. Recently, the crash site was visited by the mayor of Innertkirchen and representatives of the Bernese archaeology and environmental departments. Although there is some oil spillage, there is no immediate risk to the local environment, they found. Now they must decide what should happen to the remains of the plane, which could interest museums. The clean-up is expected to begin in September.  On November 19, 1946, the American Dakota C-53 came off course in the fog before making a safe landing high in the Bernese Alps, where it was spotted by coincidence at an altitude of 3,350 meters on the Gauli Glacier.  ...
  • Thu, 16 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Initiative aims to tighten food checks and balances - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Do you know where the food on your plate has come from? An initiative before voters on September 23 aims to make the food we eat more ethical. Supporters say it will make production more sustainable, while opponents have criticised it as an utopian idea that will cost the consumer dearly. According to the ‘Fair Food’ initiative', the public should be eating food that meets the most stringent environmental and social standards. It comes in the wake of various food scandals in Europe, including the 2013 discovery of horse meat in beef lasagna products. The production of fruit and vegetables in the Almeria region of southern Spain, known as "the vegetable garden of Europe", was also a factor. European supermarkets are supplied year-round with strawberries, tomatoes or aubergines that have been intensively farmed in massive greenhouses. A feat that relies in part on migrants, who work in precarious conditions for only a few francs an hour, as shown in a report on the Kassensturz ...
  • Thu, 16 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Radical change for Swiss agricultural policy goes to vote - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Farmers should be providing the local population with food produced in a sustainable way: that’s the vision behind an initiative going before voters in September. Opponents fear it will result in excessive state intervention in the agricultural market and a pricing policy that could be detrimental to foreign trade. The food sovereignty initiative was launched by the trade union groups Uniterre and L’autre syndicat from the French-speaking part of Switzerland in 2014 and is supported mainly by leftwing parties and an alliance of development aid and environmental groups. If passed, it would radically change Swiss agricultural policy. The initiative text is among the longest in the history of Swiss direct democracy. It outlines a ten-point programme for diversified and sustainable local agriculture, free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with an emphasis on job creation and good salary conditions. It is based on the concept of food sovereignty developed by Via Campesina, ...
  • Thu, 16 Aug 2018 06:25:00 +0000: How does Switzerland compare when it comes to university tuition fees? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The US and UK are the top destinations for international students looking to study abroad. Can relatively low tuition fees help Switzerland give them a run for their money? This June, swissinfo.ch asked readers what they would like to know about the university system in the US, UK and Switzerland. Our correspondents in these three countries then set about finding the answers. Here is what they were able to dig up about tuition fees: For the 2016/2017 school year, students from India and China made up about 50% of all international students in the US. The bulk of them were from China, but the growth of Indian students is outpacing those from China. These students are largely attracted to graduate-level, and practical training programs. Some universities target Indian students directly, like Arizona State University that offers fast-facts about its degree programs, or even the prevalence of Hinduism in the state. American universities tend to like international students because ...
  • Wed, 15 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000: ‘My parents loved me as if I were their own child’ - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    ​​​​​​​ With photographs and audio recordings, the photographer Carmela Harshani Odoni shows how adoption can be a stroke of good luck or bad luck. She was adopted and taken from Sri Lanka, and to this day, she hasn’t managed to trace her birth parents. Nonetheless, she is happy.  Carmela Harshani Odoni’s apartment in the Schosshalde district of Bern radiates family contentment and happiness: children‘s clothes lie alongside a laptop, a family calendar on the wall reminds everyone to take the dog for a walk, mice are burrowing noisily in sawdust in a spacious cage designed for their comfort. A terrier jumps around barking, gets stroked on his tummy, and then makes himself comfortable on a sofa on the balcony.  Carmela Harshani Odoni Carmela Harshani Odoni was born in 1980 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. When she was three weeks old, she was adopted by Swiss foster parents and grew up in Lucerne. After a photography apprenticeship and an internship at the Neue Luzerner Zeitung, she ...
  • Wed, 15 Aug 2018 07:37:00 +0000: Why Swiss people use CHF200 banknotes - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    ​​​​​​​ The Swiss National Bank is rolling out its newest banknote – and it’s one that people will actually use in the high street despite its high value.  Starting next week, Swiss ATMs, cash registers and wallets will carry the latest CHF200 note, which is worth about $202. Wallets, you ask? Indeed, especially those of people who forget to ask for small notes when withdrawing cash.  “The CHF200 note is a part of Swiss history. We’re used to paying with 200- or even 1,000-franc notes. And the stores say money is money,” points out Rafael Domeisen from the ZHAW School of Management and Law. + Why Switzerland still has a CHF1,000 note He says that unlike a €200 note ($227), the risk that a CHF200 is fake is much lower, thanks especially to the security features of this latest series of Swiss banknotes. Unveiled on Wednesday, the CHF200 bill features images related to scientific exploration.  Zurich business psychologist Christian Fichter agrees that the Swiss don’t worry ...
  • Wed, 15 Aug 2018 06:00:00 +0000: Reliving the 1918 General Strike - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The General Strike on November 12, 1918 was the most serious political crisis ever faced by the Swiss confederation, the climax of class tensions that had been building up for decades. In August, a theatre group in Olten plans to show the world how the drama played out. The stoppage was the culmination of the social unrest at the end of the First World War that swept across Switzerland and other European countries. In Switzerland, the entrepreneurial classes made enormous sums of money out of the war, and farmers also improved their lot. But the workers became increasingly poor, suffering from high inflation, low salaries and food shortages. The call to strike was launched by the Comité d’Olten (“Olten Committee”), an action group of Social Democratic Party members and trade unionists. Nearly 250,000 people responded and the country was paralysed. In the municipality of Grenchen, in the north-western canton of Solothurn, three strikers were killed by the Swiss Army on November ...
  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 12:19:00 +0000: Alpine 'rollercoaster' goes viral - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A video of a ride on the Gelmer funicular - one of the steepest mountain railways in Europe - has gone viral, having been seen by millions of people on Instagram. The power company that produces hydroelectricity from dams near the Grimsel pass in the Bernese Alps opened the  funicular to the public in 2001. Up until then it had been in service to provide employees with access to the many dams and turbine plants on the pass. It's become a popular tourist attraction due to its near vertical ascent and descent down the mountainside in open carriages. But now a video of the descent, done in time lapse, could make it even more popular. The national tourism marketing body told swissinfo.ch that such viral posts reach people who may have never considered holidaying in Switzerland. The office said it would begin using more "influencer marketing" (targeting influential people) in future alongside traditional approaches. The viral video was posted on the "Visit Switzerland" ...
  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 12:00:00 +0000: When school holidays might be too long - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Children in Switzerland are returning to school after the long summer break. But have they forgotten much of what they learned before the holidays? Mid to late August means the end of the summer holidays for most school children. Many, it seems, will not have looked at a school book for some time, which might be a problem. “What is clear, is that the longer the holidays, the greater the tendency to forget what was learned during the school year,” confirmed educationalist Bruno Suchaut to Swiss public radio RTS. According to recent studies from Germany, Austria and Sweden, this is particularly true for maths, but less so for reading, although writing also suffers. In the United States, which has done more research on the area, the phenomenon is known as “Summer learning loss”. It is particularly true for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the US results show. In France, too, the effect on children from less privileged backgrounds, especially at primary school level, ...
  • 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 ...
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