Top news from our partner swissinfo

  • Finding refuge inside Chiasso’s church

    Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:00:00 GMT

    A church in canton Ticino on the Italian border is opening its doors to the homeless who gather at the local railway station. The basement of the Church San Vitale Martire in the Swiss town of Chiasso has been turned into a temporary shelter for sleeping and washing. (tvsvizzera.it) Meanwhile, up to 100 asylum seekers wait every night in the nearby Italian town of Como to continue their journey north. The Como ‘Volunteers Without Borders’ and other organisations find these people temporary shelter nearby. There are fewer asylum seekers in Ticino than Como, yet recently some people in need have still had to spend the coldest hours of the day in the Chiasso railway station. News of a makeshift campfire started at the station sparked immediate reactions in Chiasso, as it made people realise just how cold those sleeping outside are at the moment. Politicians from different political parties asked the government to open civil protection shelters to homeless people in such emergency ...

  • Saying prayers and answering questions at local mosque

    Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    How and what does an imam preach in a Swiss mosque? How much does he know about secular society? swissinfo.ch sought answers during a visit to a nearby mosque. The Kevser Mosque in Ostermundigen outside Bern is only about two kilometres from the swissinfo.ch offices. However, neither the German-speaking journalist, who knows the city like the back of his hand, nor his colleague from the Arab service, have ever been there. On their way to Friday prayers, the two reporters have to rely on the locals’ directions since the centre hides behind the brown-grey façade of a former wine shop. The Turkish-Islamic Association has used this building as a mosque since 2010. Even though most of its 300 members have Turkish roots, the mosque is open to all Muslims. Men from Somalia, Ghana, Tunisia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have also joined Friday prayers. Among the approximately 200 believers there are a few adolescents and a handful of boys. From an adjacent room women and ...

  • Multilingualism: Switzerland’s unique selling point

    Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:21:00 GMT

    The ability to speak more than one language is one of the more notable strengths of the Swiss people and economy. It also makes Switzerland a good test case for how the world might benefit from more multilingualism in economics and trade, argues Gabrielle Hogan-Brun, a language expert who is Swiss and has taught at universities in Lithuania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States. We Swiss are known for our multilingualism. In the marketplace, this hallmark is our unique selling point. It is one of the cornerstones of ‘Swiss made’. The market benefits of multilingualism seem evident. So, would the global economy be better off if everyone embraced multilingualism? Or would a move towards one global language make more economic sense? What are the costs and benefits of this language choice? At the moment, we have ample hard evidence from both sides of the Atlantic that language-skill shortages in the workforce can harm the economy. Recent ...

  • Monet exhibit marks 20 years of foundation

    Mon, 9 Jan 2017 13:47:07 GMT

    Art dealers Ernst Beyeler and Hilda Kunz appreciated classical modernism, collecting hundreds of paintings and sculptures. Their collection became a prominent Basel-area foundation, which opened its doors 20 years ago. To celebrate the occasion, Fondation Beyeler is exhibiting a selection of Claude Monet's early and later works. A founder of French impressionism, Monet celebrated perceptions of nature through his experimentation with changing moods of light and color. The exhibit opened on January 22 and runs through May 28, showing off masterpieces such as his well-known water lilies, meadows of flowers, haystacks and fog-laden rivers and coastlines. It comprises 63 works from private collections and museums including the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, Japan's Pola Museum, Metropolitan Museum in New York, and Art Institute of Chicago.

  • What’s the secret to Switzerland’s success?

    Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland is regularly ranked one of the most competitive countries in the world. So, what’s its secret? That’s what author James Breiding wanted to find out in his book, “Swiss Made: the Untold Story Behind Switzerland’s Success”. Since it came out in 2013 his book has achieved bestselling status and has been translated into different languages. He spoke to Matthew Allen about the Swiss brand and new regulations over the ‘Swiss Made’ label in force since the start of 2017, the goal of which is to better protect the use of the ‘Swiss’ name in product packaging.

  • Marching for Dignity in Geneva

    Sun, 22 Jan 2017 11:07:00 GMT

    Over 2,000 men, women and children took to the streets of Geneva on Saturday – the day after the presidential inauguration in the United States – to march for human rights. The Geneva Women's March for Dignity was one of more than 600 'sister marches' to the Women's March on Washington, which took place the same day.  Unlike the Washington event, the Geneva march was not promoted as a specific reaction to the US presidential election, but defined its mission as "the next chapter in the global non-violent civil rights movement in response to the recent wave of xenophobia, sexism, racism, disregard of environmental concerns, intolerance and nationalism expressed across the globe." 

  • At the movies

    Sat, 21 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    Going to the movies is still a beloved pastime in Switzerland, which has more than 270 cinemas. A new book, “Rex, Roxy, Royal”, takes us inside a few of them. Sandra Walti, one of the book's publishers, has long worked behind the scenes at an independent cinema in the town of Aarau. The idea of creating a photo book featuring movie theatre interiors came to her over the years, while cleaning her cinema after a screening or creating the programme for the following month. The project finally came into being about a year ago, with her co-publisher Tina Schmid. Ten collaborators from across Switzerland scoured archives and conducted historic research for the book. Photographer Olivier Lang travelled throughout Switzerland and documented cinemas in big cities and small towns, from mini-to-multiplexes.  The resulting book takes readers across the country and brings them closer to the history of the cinemas, at a time of declining ticket sales. The switch from analog to digital is an ...

  • Why more Chinese companies will come to Switzerland

    Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland can expect to see a lot more companies coming over from China in the coming years, according to Liu Jiren, co-founder and chairman of leading Chinese software firm, Neusoft. Chinese companies made the headlines in Switzerland last year with several notable merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, including the record $43.3 billion takeover of Basel agrochemical giant Syngenta by the China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina). Yet more are taking advantage of Switzerland’s political stability, technical know-how, strong financial system and low corporate tax rates to set up regional headquarters in the alpine nation. It also helps when diplomatic relations between the two countries are at a high point, as witnessed by the free trade agreement and visit earlier this week of Chinese President Xi JinPing. Speaking to swissinfo.ch at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Liu said Chinese companies are expanding their horizons abroad as they transform their ...

  • Sion Olympic bid is ‘a wrong signal at the wrong time’

    Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:00 GMT

    After Sion’s failed bid to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2006, the capital of canton Valais is trying again. Not everyone shares the Olympic dream, however. An environmentalist and tourism expert tells swissinfo.ch why he is not convinced. On Friday, officials launched their campaign, “Sion 2026 – the Games at the heart of Switzerland”. It would involve four cantons in western Switzerland, and Sion as host city. Another bid, from canton Graubünden, also plans to share events among several cantons, including Thurgau, St Gallen and Schaffhausen. The national organising committee, Swiss Olympic, will decide between the two options in April, and the international selection process will conclude in June 2019. However, Christophe Clivaz, a Green Party politician from Valais and professor of sustainable tourism at the University of Lausanne, denounces what he considers an expensive bid based on an outdated model of tourism development. swissinfo.ch: Is ...

  • Trump or a conflict of interest in a modern democracy

    Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    With his global portfolio of business projects, loans and deals, Donald Trump is forcing the United States to confront an unprecedented number of entanglements. Never before in American presidential history has there been such a high degree of apparent conflicts of interest, and the issue will likely gain in importance in Switzerland in the view of Martin Naville, CEO of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. A functioning democracy particularly depends on whether its government representatives are free of conflicts of interest and, therefore, can carry out the duties of their office without pursuing their personal agendas. It is crucial for a functioning democracy that representatives of the state are not involved in any conflict of interest so they can exercise their office without clashing with personal goals, be they financial or of another nature. But it is equally important for citizens to be aware of this absence of conflicts of interest. The ...

  • As Trump takes oath, LeVine says goodbye

    Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:00:00 GMT

    The United States’ social media-savvy ambassador to Switzerland, Suzan “Suzi” LeVine, leaves office on Friday, the day Donald Trump – the man shaping politics and business with his own tweets – is inaugurated as the 45th US president. Their approach to Twitter couldn’t be more different. On the one hand there is the US president-elect taking regular shots at the media, the American intelligence services and Hillary Clinton, choosing words and phrases like ‘dishonest’ ‘sleazebag’, and ‘guilty as hell’. On the other, there are the US ambassador’s upbeat and optimistic messages. LeVine’s 140-character tweets are more often than not messages of encouragement, using adjectives such as ‘inspiring’ and ‘awesome and amazing’. “I use it as way to communicate but more importantly to listen to people across the two countries, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and to be able to reach folks that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.” In an interview with swissinfo.ch ...

  • Cartoon of the week

    Fri, 30 Dec 2016 07:27:00 GMT

    Each week cartoonist Marina Lutz takes a look at an issue in the news in Switzerland. She has worked with different Swiss media as a caricaturist, including the Nebelspalter satirical magazine. Lutz has won several awards for her work, notably during the Fumetto international cartoon festival.  Click through to see the different images.

  • Melting polar ice ‘directly threatens business profits’

    Thu, 19 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    “There are no jobs, no business opportunities and no profits to be made on a dead planet.” That was the message to business executives at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, who were told their future business prospects could melt away as fast as the shrinking polar ice. The quote comes from Christiana Figueres, who brokered the Paris climate accord in her former role at the United Nations. She delivered the message at the “Arctic Basecamp”, an event held on the fringes of WEF to highlight the perils of global warming on the polar regions. Figueres says she has lost faith in what she describes as the increasingly protectionist political world – reflected in the trade views of Donald Trump, the next president of the United States – to see the global climate accord through. She called for expecting less from politicians and more from “people who can really make a difference: businesses, cities and investors”. That is also the view of Konrad Steffen, ...

  • The big freeze: your pictures

    Thu, 19 Jan 2017 13:29:00 GMT

    When the temperature drops in Switzerland, it doesn’t just get icy. Fantastic natural ice sculptures are created alongside lakes, particularly in the west of the country. The cold “Bise” wind, which blows across Switzerland, picks up moisture from lakes in the west, and then collects in marvellous frozen shapes on the lake shores. On Wednesday morning in Switzerland, passengers who usually travel to work by boat on Lake Geneva found themselves trapped on dry land. Weather conditions prevented the boats from setting off.  Earlier in January, lakes high up in the Swiss Alps froze over, creating a unique chance for people to take to the frozen lakes’ surfaces and skate.  We asked our Facebook and Twitter fans to get in touch with their pictures. Here are some of the best. 1. Étang de la Gruère lake, canton Jura 2. Montreux 3. Irchel park, Zurich 4.  Hergiswil, Nidwalden 5. Chamby, Montreux 6. Zurich main ...

  • Stopping Chinese products being sold as ‘Swiss’

    Thu, 19 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    The Chinese are still being sold products dressed up as ‘Swiss’. This is despite the signing of an agreement between the Chinese and Swiss in 2012 to better protect intellectual property rights when it comes to Swiss products in China. But the president of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce says the situation is improving in the People's Republic. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

  • Smartphone apps replace exhibits at Swiss museums

    Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    Two Swiss museums have now closed exhibitions to the public, but made them available online through the Google Cultural Institute in Paris. (Julie Hunt, swissinfo.ch)  In 2013, the Ethnographic Museum in Neuchâtel packed away a display of masks, becoming the first Swiss museum to take the virtual route. The Coach and Carriage Museum in Basel’s Merian Park followed suit. The museum closed completely at the end of 2016, due to cuts, but only after experts from Google’s team had photographed the exhibits in minute detail and created a virtual tour for a new smartphone application. These two Swiss collections are now part of a huge database linked to more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions across the world. But the Hü-Basel association, set up to protect and promote Basel’s historic coach and sledge collection, is not impressed with the move. Its members are planning to open a private open-air museum to showcase the region’s carriage building history, putting the ...

  • Are Davos elites facing a ‘middle class rebellion’?

    Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:51:00 GMT

    These are nervous times for the world’s leaders gathering in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Voters have spoken in Britain, the United States and Italy – and their voice has been interpreted as a middle class challenge to the establishment. Elections are looming in the Netherlands, Germany and France. Several world leaders, including French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have opted to address voter concerns at home rather than attend WEF. Even Switzerland, a bastion of comfortable living, wealth and staid politics, has been recently experiencing political polarisation and controversial referendums. WEF is determined to meet the challenge by adopting the slogan “Responsive and Responsible Leadership” for this year’s forum. Leaders “have to listen, you have to interact with those people who have entrusted you to leadership,” WEF founder Klaus Schwab said ahead of the forum.

  • Chinese president talks trade, innovation on Swiss visit

    Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:09:00 GMT

    Chinese President Xi Jinping is in the middle of a state visit to Switzerland. So far, the two nations have signed ten new bilateral agreements ranging from free trade to tourism. Following an official reception in Bern, Xi discussed bilateral relations with representatives of Swiss government including President Doris Leuthard and Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann. Among other issues, the countries reached accords on a "year of tourism" project, university cooperation and a deepening of their free trade agreement originally reached in 2014. Switzerland was the first continental European country to sign a free trade agreement with Beijing. Xi underlined the need for Switzerland and China to work together in an era of isolationist and populist policies. Leuthard responded in kind, expressing gratitude that China stands for free trade in a time when protectionism is increasing.  "The Swiss government appreciates that China is assuming more and ...

  • Global shifts give Xi chance to steal limelight in Davos

    Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:26:00 GMT

    In January 2016, with China’s equity and currency markets in turmoil, a sheepish Beijing dispatched two relatively unknown officials to the World Economic Forum in Davos. This year the star attraction will be none other than Xi Jinping, whose attendance tomorrow will mark the first time a Chinese president has attended the global gathering. According to people involved in the preparations, discussions about Mr Xi’s visit began in May, a month before Britain voted to leave the EU. At the time, it seemed the Chinese president would be appearing just ahead of the inauguration of president Hillary Clinton. But the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the November US presidential election have transformed Mr Xi’s turn at Davos into an unexpected opportunity. The Chinese president is expected to use his speech to enhance his status as one of the few responsible adults left standing on the global stage, committed to protecting progress made over ...

  • Ten key aspects of WEF

    Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:01:00 GMT

    How much does it cost to be a partner or member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and to attend the annual meeting in Davos? How much does Switzerland spend on security during the four-day event? We answer your top questions. (SRF/JH/swissinfo.ch)  1 What is the WEF? The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based foundation, operated and funded by a private international initiative. It has partners and members who make financial contributions to the organisation’s activities and who exchange experiences and tackle multiple issues in various parts of the world. The main annual meeting is held in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos every January.  2 Who are its partners? A select group of 100 large multinationals such as ABB, Nestlé, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank and Google. They participate in agenda decisions and provide the bulk of the funding: each chips in CHF115,000 francs ($113,500) a year.  3 And its members? Some 1,200 companies, ...

  • Xi Jinping: a ‘responsible leader’ in Switzerland?

    Sun, 15 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    On a state visit to Switzerland, Chinese president Xi Jinping has the chance to demonstrate a commitment to free-trade agreements and the United Nations. China has been asserting leadership on climate change but remains a source of tension in the West particularly for its worrisome record on human rights that includes its crackdown on Tibet, cyberhacking of foreign business and institutions and growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. The leader of the world’s most populous country, who arrived on Sunday and will spend time in the Swiss capital Bern, is headed to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the UN in Geneva and the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne. “The mere fact that this state visit is taking place is an event in itself,” says Blaise Godet, former Swiss ambassador to China and president of the French-speaking branch of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. “The Chinese president is one of the most sought-after ...

  • ‘I don’t lecture, I make people happy’

    Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Angelina Jolie, Kofi Annan, Richard Gere, Angela Merkel - the list goes on. Ernst Wyrsch has welcomed many famous guests at the Steigenberger Grand Hotel Belvédère during the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meetings in Davos. Between 1996 and 2011, Wyrsch and his wife ran the five-star hotel in Davos. He spoke to swissinfo.ch about the significance of WEF, the profits it brings in and guests from countries with dubious reputations. swissinfo.ch: You left the Belvédère five years ago. How do you look back at your experiences during WEF? Ernst Wyrsch: I was in the eye of the tornado for 15 years, and I say that with enormous gratitude and pride. It was often chaotic. Thankfully myself, Switzerland, canton Graubünden and Davos always understood that this brought more profit than expense. swissinfo.ch: Today you are president of the Graubünden chapter of the Swiss Hotel Association. In that role, do you have any special tasks at WEF? E.W.:

  • Much more than a pretty face

    Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:00:00 GMT

    The human face is a powerful communication tool, especially if you are Miss Switzerland. But good looking or not, every face can literally open doors thanks to technology. 

  • A trip down a snow-filled memory lane

    Sat, 14 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    The historic pictures of Johann Schönwetter (1875-1954) and his son Hans (1906-1997) from Braunwald in canton Glarus are part of the private collection of Fridolin Walcher, also a photographer from eastern Switzerland. The bulk of the Schönwetter’s legacy was bequeathed to canton Glarus. This comprises more than half a million negatives, slides, photo montages, postcards and prints on paper and film (some 50 kilometres) in various formats. The material gives a unique insight into the past and is of great aesthetic and historic value. Images from Foto Schönwetter appeared as postcards all around the world and featured in countless publications, thus contributing greatly to the identity and image of Glarus and its inhabitants. Here is a selection of pictures that document the early days of the mechanisation of winter sports: the Braunwald funicular, the 1901 cable car, the legendary sledge run that was still used until the mid-1970s. The second T-bar ever built in Switzerland was ...

  • Why are Swiss-Chinese relations so close?

    Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:00:00 GMT

    Whether it’s the economy, finance, research, the environment, culture or even human rights, hardly a month goes by without a Chinese delegation visiting Switzerland. Bilateral relations are based on mutual respect and trust, according to one Swiss ambassador. In April 2016, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who held the rotating Swiss presidency last year, travelled to Beijing. Less than 12 months later, China’s president Xi Jinping arrives in Bern on Sunday. Such a return visit at the top level is unusual. “It’s a clear sign of the importance that China attaches to Switzerland,” says Johannes Matyassy, head of the Asia-Pacific region at the Swiss foreign ministry. He emphasises that Xi’s visit is not just a question of courtesy, but is “thoroughly substantive”, although Matyassy doesn’t want to divulge any details. Internally, the talk is of “a few documents” that both countries will sign in order to underscore long-term cooperation. So why does China ...

  • Can gifts help save local democracy?

    Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    Free garbage bags, grilled sausages, cold beer and vouchers. These are just a few of the gifts some local authorities are using to tempt citizens to participate in local decision-making. But does direct democracy really need such handouts? Switzerland’s system of direct democracy appears to be struggling. At least that’s the impression given by the large number of empty chairs at the 4,000 local assembly meetings that take place every year in 2,000 communes across Switzerland. This article is part of #DearDemocracy, a platform on direct democracy issues, by swissinfo.ch. At these mostly evening gatherings, local citizens decide how much money the village can spend, whether a new school building may be built or if taxes should be increased. According to Daniel Kübler, a professor of political science and head of the Center for Democracy in Aarau, there is very little data on the number of participants at community meetings. "But over the decades, a steady decline ...

  • Schools try to smooth waves in Muslim swimming controversy

    Thu, 12 Jan 2017 09:13:00 GMT

    How do schools cope with Muslim families who want to prevent their daughters from attending swimming lessons? Swiss public television, SRF, talked to school principals and an imam about the controversy. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights upheld a decision by Swiss authorities to fine Muslim parents who had kept their girls from mandatory swimming lessons during school hours. In 2010, Basel City authorities fined the couple CHF1,400 ($1,382) for pulling their nine- and seven-year-old daughters from swim class. The family had argued that it was against their religious convictions to send their girls to co-ed swimming lessons on account of the required attire.  This was not the first time that a Muslim family had a problem with the swimming lessons that are a standard part of the Swiss curriculum. SRF talked to two school principals to see how they had dealt with the issue, as well as an imam to get his thoughts on whether donning a typical swimming ...

  • Where Switzerland is growing the most

    Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:18:00 GMT

  • How hot was it in 2016?

    Thu, 12 Jan 2017 09:26:00 GMT

    More than 150 years of Swiss weather data illustrates our changing climate. If 2015 was the warmest year on record, 2016 is not far behind.  The animated graphic below shows how the monthly average temperatures in Switzerland have evolved over the past century and a half. Since the 1980s, temperatures rose markedly and have since remained at a high level. Switzerland experienced a particularly warm start in 2016, but overall the year ranks as the eighth hottest since 1864.  Rising average temperature for all of Switzerland is clearly evident when looking at the deviation in yearly temperature against the 1981-2010 average.   A global situation Experts have observed the same warming trend on an international level. Even though all of the data for 2016 has not yet been published, it appears that the first half of 2016 was the warmest since 1880, according to US space agency NASA. The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) based in ...

  • Can one be refused a Swiss passport for being too Swiss?

    Wed, 11 Jan 2017 10:59:00 GMT

    Dutch-born Nancy Holten has lived in Switzerland since she was eight, speaks fluent Swiss German, has three children with Swiss passports, has no criminal record, doesn’t claim welfare and is politically active. A shoo-in for a Swiss passport? Wrong. Her neighbours have twice rejected her application. Holten’s story is essentially one of personal beliefs versus tradition, set against a uniquely Swiss political backdrop. Gipf-Oberfrick is a rural municipality of 3,500 people in canton Aargau, northern Switzerland. Horse racing is popular there, as is sitting down to a Sunday roast with the sound of cow bells and church bells in the background. However, this pastoral image of Switzerland is anathema to Holten, a vegan, who has repeatedly organised protests against horse racing, Sunday roasts and various bells. As a result, when she applied, twice, to become Swiss – and the citizens of Gipf-Oberfrick were called on to give the thumbs up or down – the decision ...

  • Not for sale: freedom of expression in Geneva

    Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:58:00 GMT

    In a city accustomed to offices and advertisements for many of Switzerland's luxury brands, Geneva has been temporarily offering a competing approach. Enter the blank billboard, where people have been given a chance to express themselves publicly. Below is a swissinfo.ch gallery with pictures of some of the more notable results. With the start of this year, the Swiss city has been posting billboards that contain no advertising. City-dwellers were free to express themselves, in an appropriate manner. About 3,000 such billboards were being put up. The experiment came about because of some disputes over the legal contract for some 3,000 city billboards. As long as it lasted, Geneva residents and visitors had a chance to seize the day, or at least their creative passion, or political demands, and share it with a wider audience.

  • Famous figures have forgotten Swiss bank accounts

    Wed, 11 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    As one of the world’s most prominent rock climbers in his day, Royal Robbins liked to erase any traces of his ascents. Following a stint of instructing in Switzerland he did leave something behind – a forgotten bank account that is now one of nearly 4,000 publicly listed as dormant. Each account has been dormant for at least 60 years and must contain a minimum CHF500. Put together, they bulge with well in excess of CHF52 million ($51 million). Account holders, or their descendants, have a maximum of five years to claim these assets or lose them to the Swiss state. Robbins, the first climber to ascend the northwest face of the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park and founder of the successful outdoor clothing company that bears his name, now lives in the United States – his home country. He is currently in poor health, hence his wife Liz responded to swissinfo.ch. “I honestly don't recall having an account there, but we most likely did,” she said by emailed ...

  • Is street medicine a cure for elitist healthcare?

    Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    Can medical practices adapted for the poor help reduce costs in a country with one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world?  It is almost freezing cold on a foggy December afternoon in Geneva. The waiting room at the Community Care Unit (CAMSCO) of the Geneva University Hospital is full of people wanting an appointment. Some have come more than an hour before opening time. Few mind waiting, as it is a chance to get away from the cold streets they call home. Some are homeless or clandestine migrants who otherwise have no chance of accessing Switzerland’s pricey health care system.  “The idea of this unit is to allow people who are reluctant to go to state health institutions or who do not have money to visit private health care providers to receive the care they need,” Yves-Laurent Jackson, head of the unit, told swissinfo.ch. “This includes people without residence permits or mandatory health insurance.”  Most of the underprivileged and marginalised ...

  • Switzerland marks ten years of same-sex civil unions

    Tue, 10 Jan 2017 20:13:00 GMT

    Gay and lesbian couples have been able to have their civil union officially recognised in Switzerland since 2007, when a new federal partnership act came into force. But many homosexuals hope marriage becomes the next official step, as a way of ending the stigma that surrounds registered partnerships (RTS/swissinfo.ch).  Florent Jouinot, from the Vaud association for people concerned by homosexual matters (VoGay), believes there is a stigma attached to same-sex civil unions as the couple is not able to decide whether or not they wish to reveal their status themselves.  “When you look for a job, an apartment or pay taxes you have to present your civil status. And as same-sex unions only exist for homosexuals, this can lead to discrimination,” Bastian Baumann, from the gay rights group Pink Cross, told swissinfo.ch.  “There is discrimination in terms of the relationship between the state and its citizens. There should be no difference in treatment according to gender, colour of ...

  • Private banks eye Asia’s new super-rich

    Tue, 10 Jan 2017 08:59:00 GMT

    The natural optimism of the seasoned Asian private banker has been hard to dent. It has withstood the implosion of BSI in Singapore, the private banking operation found culpable of anti-money laundering failings, and the continuing problem that Asia has the some of the lowest private banking margins in the world – a factor in the withdrawal of some banks from the region. In fact, ABN Amro’s recent sale of its business to LGT Bank has been spun into a benefit by some rivals. One less competitor for a market that bearish analysts describe as one of the most overbanked in the world – but also undoubtedly home to some of the deepest pockets among the new generation of Asian super-rich that may require private banking help in the future. “There’s opportunity as others exit,” says Julius Baer’s head of Greater China private banking David Shick. “There’s less pressure on the cost side.” Shick, one of the less effusive among his Asian private banking peers in Singapore and ...

  • When global leaders meet: WEF’s biggest moments

    Mon, 9 Jan 2017 16:41:00 GMT

    How did a remote Swiss mountain resort, and the highest town in Europe, become the site for the most important leaders from around the world to meet and debate pressing global challenges? (SRF, swissinfo.ch, cp) Born in Germany, Klaus Schwab became a business professor at the University of Geneva. He laid the foundations for the World Economic Forum, when in 1971, he set up the European Management Forum to bring together European business leaders to talk about global management practices. The idea was to bring together the key players in the worlds of business, academia, arts and politics to meet in an isolated setting to discuss the top issues of the day. Over the years the annual meeting has brought together key figures in history who have never sat down in public before to discuss major points of contention, and it has been the scene of numerous deals and steps in important negotiations. This year more leaders from around the world will come for the public events and the ...

  • ‘My future is in Switzerland’

    Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    The Bianco brothers, Alex and Thomas, currently live with their parents – Swiss mother and Italian father - in central Italy. They talk to swissinfo.ch about their passion for Switzerland and why they are so certain their future lies in the small alpine country.  swissinfo.ch: Why did your parents leave Switzerland? Alex Bianco: I am Swiss via my mother’s side. She didn’t live for long in Switzerland and she’s now a Swiss citizen living abroad. She lived for four years in Switzerland, first in St Gallen, where she was at university. She then lived in Dietikon, where she worked. That was where she lived with my father, who originally comes from southern Italy, from the Puglia region. He had a permanent job in Italy, so in the 1990s my mother decided to move to La Spezia to join him. swissinfo.ch: When did you realise that you are half Swiss? Why are you so interested in Switzerland? A.B.: I’m interested in Switzerland as I’m Swiss. And I will definitely consider ...

  • What statistics show and what they don’t

    Mon, 9 Jan 2017 16:13:00 GMT

    Increasing violence against police officers in Switzerland over the past decade keeps making the news. In the latest incident last week, a police officer was shot and wounded by a man they were trying to arrest in a rural region in the east of the country. Ahead of the publication in March of the latest crime statistics, two Sunday newspapers featured reports and witness accounts of the violence against officers. “Attackers are becoming more disrespectful and more brutal,” Johanna Bundi Ryser, president of the police officers’ association, is quoted as saying. The SonntagsZeitung highlights a series of violent incidents, involving demonstrations, football hooligans, drivers caught speeding, late night revellers and quarrelling family members. Based on statistics that came out last nearly ten months ago, the graphic shows that cases of violence jumped from 774 in 2000 to 2,080 in 2015, peaking in 2012 with 2,957 incidents. However, Markus Mohler, a ...

  • Swiss army stands to attention on social media

    Mon, 9 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    The Swiss army has decided it needs to get a firmer grip on its online image, so it’s taking to social media sites to try and influence how it’s seen, especially by the younger generation. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

  • Music in a new homeland

    Sun, 8 Jan 2017 10:00:00 GMT

    How does music help someone settle in a new country? We hear from an African choir director, a Hindu and a Spanish musicologist living in Switzerland.

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