Switzerland in the News

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  • Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:00:00 +0000: Switzerland is no longer a cinematic island - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The traditional image of Swiss cinema lies on the cutting room floor. International co-productions have become the norm and a significant number of young film-makers have an immigrant background or were born abroad. Many live and work outside Switzerland.  Of the 15 Swiss films recently shown at the 13th Zurich Film Festival (ZFF), only a third were made by Swiss directors living in Switzerland.  “People talk a lot about Swiss cinema here in a very nationalistic way. But I’m not nationalistic at all in my perception of the world,” Berlin-based Katharina Wyss, director of “Sarah joue un loup-garou” (Sarah Plays a Werewolf), her first feature film, tells swissinfo.ch.  “That said, my film is very ‘Fribourgeois’: it’s geographically and personally based around Fribourg; it’s nurtured by the city I come from.”  “But I’m also influenced by long-established European culture, especially the German and French culture that I grew up with and which gives all my work a very European ...
  • Wed, 18 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: The stolen childhood of the factory children - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    During the industrial revolution, children slaved away in Swiss factories to the point of collapse. A political outsider is to thank for the fact that child labour was banned relatively early. “Workers sought: Two big working families with children capable of work will be well cared-for at a spinning works.” With this advertisement placed in the Anzeiger von Uster gazette, a Swiss factory owner was looking for employees in the 1870s. It was a matter of course that the children of labourers had to work too. Child labour was nothing new when the first factories opened, but the industrial revolution turned it from a day-to-day reality into exploitation. Peasants and home-workers saw their children primarily as labourers before the industrial revolution. The family was first and foremost a labour unit; working children were essential for its livelihood. As soon as a child was old enough, he or she helped out in the farmyard or the workshop. But they were spared the more demanding ...
  • Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:00:00 +0000: Why Switzerland feels like ‘heimat’ - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The German term 'heimat' means, roughly, having a home or a sense of belonging. The term can have profound meaning for members of the Swiss diaspora. For Beth Zurbuchen, president of the Swiss Center of North America, connections to "heimat" are both very personal and an integral part of her everyday work.  People living in Switzerland have their own perspectives on the term, an issue explored by a current exhibit on "heimat" at the museum Stapferhaus in Lenzburg. As part of the exhibit, organisers asked people riding the Ferris wheel at fun fairs around Switzerland different questions around what home and belonging means to them. Zurbuchen recently spoke at the Stapferhaus about her experiences finding "heimat" and her work with members of the Swiss community in North America. (Additional footage courtesy of the Stapferhaus Lenzburg).
  • Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Swiss help to illuminate the Middle Ages - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Researchers at the University of Fribourg hope to reveal more about the Middle Ages by piecing together fragments of manuscripts.  (RTS/swissinfo.ch) In medieval times, the vellum of discarded manuscripts was not thrown away, but reused as bookbinding material to strengthen or decorate new volumes. Thus, over time, hundreds of thousands of manuscript fragments became scattered all over the world. Twelve different research teams in leading manuscript libraries across Europe and the US are now working together on significant fragments for a research platform called Fragmentarium. Using this platform, reproductions of medieval fragments can be uploaded from different servers, catalogued, scientifically described, transcribed, and collated online. By properly identifying and studying these fragments, historians hope to create a more accurate picture of the Middle Ages. The University of Fribourg is leading the project, because it has dominated the field of digital manuscript ...
  • Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:45:00 +0000: The legal difficulties of online expression in Switzerland - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Drawing the line between freedom of expression and discrimination was difficult enough in the pre-Internet era. Social media and instant communication have made it a nuanced minefield, as a case in Switzerland shows. Last week in the western Swiss town of Delémont, an altercation between two boys outside the train station was filmed, then posted online. It showed one approaching the other, throwing him to the ground, before both went their separate ways. Some 50,000 views and 20,000 shares later, the video was taken down by the mother of the assaulted teenager on the advice of local police. The reason? Many of the (hundreds of) comments below the video focused on ethnicity: the aggressor was black, the victim was white, and the discussion veered into a spiralling storm of abuse, much of it anti-immigrant. Before the boy’s attacker had even been found, the regional prosecutor’s office had warned that any further comments inciting hatred or retribution would be pursued and ...
  • Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:00:00 +0000: A breakthrough in natural crop protection - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    With their bug-banishing products the Andermatts have been proving for years that natural crop protection works. Swiss public television, SRF meets the entrepreneurs behind this success story. (SRF, swissinfo.ch) The Andermatts, Isabel, 59 and Martin, 58 are partners in life as in business. They are Switzerland’s pioneers in organic crop protection. Thirty years ago the only products for crop protection were chemicals. The Andermatts then established themselves as important organic crop protection innovators, with their virus-based product. In 1986 the Andermatts researched and developed a method that used granulosis virus to combat the codling moth, a pest that at the time infested up to 50% of Swiss farmers’ apple crops. By 1987, after successful field trials they had received the provisional approval to market their product, which is now known as 'Madex'. At present the group Andermatt Holding has a diverse product portfolio of biological plant protection and biological ...
  • Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: How decisions in Geneva impact all of our lives - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    What actually takes place behind the scenes of the United Nations in Geneva? In a new swissinfo.ch series, longtime Geneva correspondent Imogen Foulkes provides insights into the often criticised institution, from the drama to the humdrum.  The United Nations in Geneva, known affectionately as ‘the Palais’, has been my place of work for over a decade. There is a danger, when you have become so familiar with a place over a long period, to get a bit blasé about it. The working days are full of meetings, press conferences, and deadlines. We Palais residents tend to scurry from one to the next, breathlessly racing, often, down the many kilometres of corridors.  But to really understand this Geneva landmark, and perhaps to regain some perspective about what we are actually doing inside the Palais, it is worth slowing down from time to time, and taking a careful look around.  Look, for example, at the door handles in the oldest part of the building, they are a carefully crafted art ...
  • Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: ‘I feel like a man and a woman’ - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Edward learned he was intersex at age 16 – a diagnosis that changed his life. After years of what felt like a nightmare, he’s learned to accept himself, but he often feels misunderstood. He wishes doctors had taken him more seriously from the start. Somewhere between man and woman. Hate and love. Passion and despair. Long torn by these contrasts, Edward bewilders the people he meets. With his hard shell and soft centre, he struggles to be understood in a society that has trouble accepting what is different. With his tattoos and piercings, Edward sits with his mother Kate in the living room of his family home – complete with a breathtaking view of Lake Geneva. Above his head, old black and white portraits of relatives seem to lend an ear to his story. “You’re a mutant. You’ll never be able to have children or live a normal life.” These were the words of Edward’s doctor when he told him about being intersex. Edward was 16. He was sitting alone in the doctor’s office at the time. ...
  • Sun, 15 Oct 2017 12:00:00 +0000: Tree of life’s a beech - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In autumn, Switzerland’s beech trees are aflame with red leaves. However, they struggle with the higher temperatures that come with climate change.  If it hadn’t been for the interference of mankind, the European beech would be the most common tree found in central Europe. Already in the 600s, people made books using thin boards cut from the versatile tree. In fact, the German word for book, “Buch”, is a derivative of the German name for the tree, “Buche”. Along with spruce and silver fir, the European beech is one of the most important trees for Switzerland’s timber industry. Yet like many species, it is under threat. As the climate becomes warmer and drier, it has to adapt. Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research have been experimenting with growing seedlings at different elevations.  A European beech tree can reach a height of 40 metres, and its leaves grow anywhere from five to 15cm long. The beech nuts, encased in prickly husks, ...
  • Sun, 15 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: When love turns to hate - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Indian and international film star Irrfan Khan talks about the twisted relationship between men and women showcased in his latest film, The Song of Scorpions.
  • Sat, 14 Oct 2017 15:00:00 +0000: Olma fair turns 75 - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The Olma fair in the city of St Gallen, showcasing agriculture and traditional food from around Switzerland, is one of the country’s biggest and most popular. This year it celebrates its 75th birthday. Visitors can expect pig races, cattle shows and of course the wafting allure of grilled local Bratwurst (sausage). Here we present some images from over the years.
  • Sat, 14 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Planning permission by popular consent - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Have you ever come across a collection of metal pylons on a patch of grass next to a house and wondered what they were for? In this episode Diccon Bewes explains how democracy works when the Swiss build new homes. (Diccon Bewes for swissinfo.ch)
  • Sat, 14 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Immortal portraits - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Sébastien Kohler’s portraits are mesmerizing and confrontational. The subjects gaze directly in to the camera, resulting in images of depth and intensity. And: he uses an old technique for his art. Born in Switzerland in 1969 and resident of the western city of Lausanne, Sébastien Kohler is a self-taught photographer. He has focused on the wet collodion process of photography for several years. The method was developed in 1851 by the English sculptor, Frederick Scott Archer. The principle is simple: if one places a negative in front of a black background while lighting it from the front, it appears as a positive, because the light illuminates the metallic silver, which develops the picture. The wet collodion process produces excellent negatives on glass, which creates a timeless impression. The full richness of Kohler’s photos can be savoured in person at the Camera Museum in Vevey until March 14, 2018. In the exhibition, a video shows him at work in his studio, how he prepares ...
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000: How to implement successful people's initiatives - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    After the people vote in favour of an initiative, parliament gets to work. It’s their job to figure out how they can make new decisions compatible with existing laws. It's not always easy to implement a decision taken by the people. Popular initiatives in Switzerland are often launched as ‘elaborate drafts’ - a complete text. When a majority of the people vote in favour of an initiative, this text is added exactly as it is proposed, directly into the Constitution. Neither parliament nor the government may alter this text.  When initiatives are unclear or contradict the Constitution, parliament has to create additional laws in order to best reflect the people's will. Law scientist Nagihan Musliu is working on a manual to help this process of implementation along. In our series, 'Inside the Democracy Labs', researchers answer all kinds of questions about democracy.
  • Thu, 12 Oct 2017 15:00:00 +0000: Is Switzerland being 'Muslimised'? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Tama Vakeesan was born in Switzerland to Tamil parents from Sri Lanka. This week, she attends a delegates' conference of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party in Bern and finds out why they are afraid of the increase in Muslims in this small, Alpine country. (SRF Kulturplatz/ swissinfo.ch) 
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