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  • Tue, 17 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Social status plays ‘no role’ in career choice - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Swiss vocational training has a good reputation internationally, but fears have been raised that it is losing ground at home. But this only really applies to migrants, a study finds. At the recent International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training in Winterthur, participants praised the Swiss dual VET system, that combines education with an apprenticeship at a host company. Currently at least two thirds of Swiss school leavers go down this route. So why is there talk of a decline in its status? “I think that has a lot to do with developments in the economy, so in part with the trend towards upskilling because the labour market increasingly demands a post-secondary education” said Thomas Bolli from the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, part of the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. People may have the impression that apprenticeships are not a good enough basis for boosting their skills and education, Bolli said. There has been, for example, much ...
  • Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:00:00 +0000: The making of International Geneva - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    2019 will mark 100 years since the creation of the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations. With United States President Donald Trump attacking the UN system, it is more timely than ever to rally behind International Geneva, the seat of the League from 1919, write historian Sandrine Kott and Geneva politician Grégoire Carasso.  At the end of the highly destructive First World War, US President Woodrow Wilson recommended the creation of a "general association of nations" to protect world peace. In February 1919, the Treaty of Versailles laid the foundation for the League of Nations, the precursor to the UN, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) (simultaneously created in response to the labour movement). The two new organisations had their first meetings in Geneva in 1920, helping elevate the small Swiss town to an international city. Swiss writer Robert de Traz later mythologized this international status as a natural fulfilment of "the spirit of Geneva", ...
  • Mon, 16 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Can the City of Peace resolve trade wars? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In the grand corridors of the World Trade Organisation, there is a new sense of urgency.  As Donald Trump ramps up trade tariffs, WTO headquarters, originally designed by Swiss architect George Epitaux in 1923 to house the new League of Nations International Labour Office, are coping with an unprecedented number of dispute cases.  “It’s fair to say our mettle is being tested,” says the WTO’s Director of Information, Keith Rockwell.  It’s all rather different from 2008, the last time I reported extensively on the World Trade Organisation. Then, trade ministers from around the world had gathered, they hoped, to put the final touches on an ambitious new deal which would lower trade barriers around the world and help developing countries access global markets.  That optimism was short lived: after nine days of fractious meetings, hours and hours of stalled talks followed by late night last minute developments, the deal known as Doha looked dead.  It was partially revived in Bali ...
  • Sun, 15 Jul 2018 11:26:00 +0000: New Swiss stock exchange (gingerly) mulls cryptocurrencies - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A Swiss digital stock exchange, designed to trade tokenised assets from next year, is playing coy on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering (ICO) tokens that do not qualify as securities. The established financial industry is wary of the new asset class, but SIX Group is not ruling it out. SIX Group, which runs Switzerland’s stock exchanges, announced a week ago that it would launch its digital trading platform by mid-2019. But will the bridge between traditional and digital financial services eventually allow for the conversion of bitcoin to francs?  swissinfo.ch asked SIX Group spokesman Stephan Meier for some more details. swissinfo.ch: Will the SIX Digital Exchange allow the trading of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin? Stephan Meier: With the new service we will provide a safe environment for issuing and trading digital assets, and enable the tokenisation of existing securities and non-bankable assets to make previously untradeable assets tradeable.  Currently we ...
  • Sun, 15 Jul 2018 10:00:00 +0000: Lover, leader, prisoner and carer: The multiple lives of Ma Anand Sheela - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Once leader of the almost 5,000-strong Rajneesh spiritual commune in Oregon, Sheela Biernstiel now runs homes for the disabled in Switzerland. A flashback to the time swissinfo.ch met her. 
  • Sun, 15 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000: American by birth, Swiss by imprint - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A dog sits on a wooden sleigh bed, chewing on a rabbit bone. The bed seems outsized in Claudia Bucher's small cottage. But it’s understandable why she keeps it. It’s one of the few possessions she has from her eccentric Swiss father.  The bed has travelled from Florida swamplands to the lawn of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to its current resting place in an adobe home near Joshua Tree in California.  “It’s a family heirloom,” Claudia says. “For a while this was the guest bed, and we had all these illustrious characters like William Burroughs sleeping on it. And for a while it was my bed and I’d have to give it up so a visiting artist could sleep on it.” An art history professor by day, Claudia’s father François Bucher had a vision of building an artist and writers’ colony in Florida. He started by buying up plots of swampland near Tallahassee.  “I would go out in the pick-up truck with him. The first order of business was putting in some roads. We’d go traipsing through ...
  • Sat, 14 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Recruiting voters to be part of the campaign - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Traditional politics has relied on influencing public opinion largely through the press. The new politics is all about mobilising crowds.  Does this mean the end of political discourse as we know it? Hardly. But campaigning for Switzerland’s next parliamentary elections is going to be different from what we have ever seen before. A press release from Zurich University recently created a stir: “Disappearing media are a threat to democracy,” it was headed. It quoted a political science study which claimed to show that turnout for local votes depends directly on the (dwindling) local media. This claim revealed a significant assumption. Our current understanding of political campaigning is based on the idea that information provided through the press is what citizens need to form their opinion. Claude Longchamp is a senior political expert and one of Switzerland's most experienced and highly-regarded political scientists and analysts. He founded the polling and research institute ...
  • Fri, 13 Jul 2018 07:50:00 +0000: Christoph Blocher: ‘The Swiss have to stay out of the EU’ - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Christoph Blocher’s hilltop home above Lake Zurich is the best known private residence in Switzerland. The modern, cream-coloured mansion, with manicured lawns and a glimmering 21-metre outdoor pool, features in campaign videos for his ultra-conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the most popular political movement in the country. Blocher is shown cutting the grass with scissors and belly-flopping into the pool. The comic clips, viewed more than 1m times on YouTube, attempt to soften the image of a hardline political party that backs tough restrictions on foreigners living in Switzerland and for Swiss independence from the EU. Wearing the same style of straw hat as in the clips, Blocher is in a humorous mood as he greets me on the driveway. A sprightly 77 years old, he apologises for his poor English but proudly notes “an Englishman’s home is his castle” as he surveys his property, built in terraces on the hillside. His cheery politeness and the house’s dreamy setting, with ...
  • Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:00:00 +0000: "Even deaf people are into music" - 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.  Fabienne is 33 and was born deaf, but that doesn't stop her from loving techno music. Unlike people who can hear the beat, she feels the rhythm through her body. But the similarities between the deaf and those who can hear don't end there. Just as there are different spoken dialects throughout Switzerland, there are also regional dialects in sign language.  On the negative side, she says,"Many people think you must be stupid if you can't talk, which is not the case. It makes people feel uncomfortable talking to a deaf person". She makes an appeal for more openness in society towards those who can't hear.   
  • Thu, 12 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Family separation under US immigration law has a long history - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The US government’s separation of children and parents at the Mexican border has sparked disbelief around the world. But as Alexandra Dufresne explains, the separation of parents and children has been a part of US immigration law for a long time. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that between the fiscal years 2009 and 2013, possibly as many as 500,000 parents of American children were deported. Separations stemming from everyday detention and deportation are more mundane perhaps than those in recent news. But the harm these separations inflict on children is nonetheless significant.  From 2003-2005, I worked as the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Detention Attorney at Boston College Law School. My students and I, along with a colleague from a local nonprofit, were responsible for giving “Know Your Rights” presentations to the roughly 1,000 immigrants and refugees detained in four local jails. We also represented as many individuals in Immigration Court as we could, ...
  • Thu, 12 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Combating the spread of wartime rape - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The Swiss non-governmental organisation Trial International, supported by Swiss diplomatic efforts, is campaigning to put an end to rape as a weapon of war, and the impunity which protects the perpetrators. “Today there is not a single conflict in the world where rape is not used. As a weapon of war it is extremely effective, with multiple repercussions which affect the victims, their families and their communities. And it is used all the more because impunity is the rule for the perpetrators of these atrocities.“ This is the summing-up of the situation from Céline Bardet, founder of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) “We are not weapons of war”.  Along with about fifty other activists, Bardet was attending a meeting organised by TRIAL International on June 18 and 19 in Geneva to mark the 15th anniversary of the Swiss NGO. Susannah Sirkin, of the NGO Physicians for Human Rights, takes a similar view: “The first thing needed is prevention. One of the things to do is to put an ...
  • Wed, 11 Jul 2018 15:00:00 +0000: A new model for Swiss innovation - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    ​​​​​​​ On Tuesday, the World Intellectual Property Organization named Switzerland the most innovative country for the eighth year in a row. André Kudelski, president of the newly rebranded Swiss innovation agency Innosuisse, spoke earlier this year with swissinfo.ch about how the country can avoid complacency, and why taking risks is a sure path to success. Traditional Swiss excellence in the areas of trademark filings, scientific publications and education spending, as well as emerging strengths in mobile app creation and green technologies, all helped the alpine nation claim the top spot in WIPO’s 2018 Global Innovation Index of 126 countries. + WIPO crowns Switzerland as world’s most innovative nation The report was published a little over halfway into the inaugural year of Innosuisse, which in January replaced the government’s executive Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI). Since 1996, CTI had been responsible for providing consulting services and financing to ...
  • Wed, 11 Jul 2018 09:43:00 +0000: Glencore: an audacious business model in the dock - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In a sleepy Swiss town 30km from Zurich sits one of the companies that keeps the global economy ticking, supplying the raw materials that touch every facet of modern life from mobile phones to automobiles and petroleum. Since its creation 44 years ago Glencore has become the biggest commodity trader in the world. But with that has come notoriety and this week the attentions of a US Department of Justice investigation into bribery and corruption that some believe will force the Switzerland-based group to change its business model. As well as being a major miner, it is the ultimate middleman, moving millions of tonnes of commodities across the globe, linking the suppliers of raw materials - often in developing countries - with consumers in wealthy and fast-growing ones, earning wafer-thin margins on large volumes along the way. But what sets Glencore apart from its peers is its appetite for risk, at times pushing the limits of what is allowed in the modern global economy.
  • Wed, 11 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000: Meet a Neanderthal woman from one of Europe’s oldest cave sites - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Some 70,000 years ago, a Neanderthal woman about 40 years old died in a small cave in western Switzerland. Or if she didn’t die there, her body was brought there, - maybe by family, maybe by a cave lion or wolf. We know of her because her upper jaw with teeth still intact was found in the cave. Now you can see the exact spot where the woman was discovered. Since early June, this cave, “La Grotte de Cotencher” – just a short drive and walk from the town of Neuchâtel – has been open to the public for guided tours. The cave is the oldest archeological site in this part of Switzerland showing human habitation. The woman’s jaw was found on a little shelf of earth the size of a dinner plate.  “We call her ‘La Dame de Cotencher”, says archeologist François-Xavier Chauvière, who has been in charge of excavations at the cave since 2016.  But the discovery of La Dame is only one dramatic archeological pinpoint along the 700-century timeline of this small cave. Here, in the layers of earth ...
  • Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:00:00 +0000: Crypto-finance beyond the ‘boom’ - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Traditional financial players should not violate the core values of crypto-finance, such as decentralisation and community, as they delve deeper into the new digital world, argues Alexis Roussel, co-founder and CEO of Swiss crypto exchange Bity.com. Crypto-finance is coming out of the woods but governments, banks and industry players in the global financial system need to make sure they understand its core values. The skyrocketing bitcoin price at the end of 2017 got the financial world talking about the credibility of cryptocurrencies in finance.  Even traditional financial exchanges like CBOE, CME Group and Nasdaq, which began listing Bitcoin futures earlier this year, are capitalising on the unprecedented rise of the bitcoin price. But, they’re missing the point of bitcoin.  They criticise bitcoin for being a highly speculative investment, yet futures are essentially for speculation only, unless you are a miner or large consumer of bitcoin. There is more to the hype and ...

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