Erika Maier has upped sticks in Switzerland to run a hotel in Mali. Despite the outbreak of civil war and lack of tourists, she refuses to leave the country. Ironically, the conflict has now brought her guests in abundance. Four years ago, the 60-year-old from Schaffhausen started a new life: she built a hotel -- "Nanagaleni" -- in Koulikoro with her partner. In 2012, it was ready, but a coup and the subsequent civil war frightened off tourists. However, the conflict, which still affects the country, has proved a blessing for the brave entrepreneur, even if guests usually bear a uniform and weapons instead of civilian outdoor clothing. Indeed at the weekend, the hotel pool can be full of soldiers. Officers of the former colonial power France, which has taken on the jihadists in Mali, European trainers of the Malian units and staff of non-governmental organisations have allowed the Nanagaleni hotel to thrive. With the nearest airport around 60 kilometres away, Maier feels safe and says she would be evacuated if trouble were to break out.--- swissinfo.ch is the international branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Its role is to report on Switzerland and to provide a Swiss perspective on international events. For more articles, interviews and videos visit swissinfo.ch or subscribe to our YouTube channel: Website: http://www.swissinfo.ch Channel: http://www.youtube.com/swissinfovideos Subscribe: http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=swissinfovideos
A number of Swiss cheeses face an uncertain future due partly to the European economic crisis, which has hit the export market. But Appenzeller sales are stable thanks to the brand identifying strongly with the region where it is produced.(Julie Hunt, swissinfo.ch)
Chinese artists have been helping to celebrate Appenzell’s 500 years of membership of the Swiss Confederation with a shadow theatre at the Appenzell House in Zurich. (R.Rossello/J.Hunt, SRF Tagesschau)
FC Basel’s Champions League victory against English football team Chelsea was widely celebrated in the Arab world. The winning goal was scored by Egyptian player Mohamed Salah, who has a huge following in the Middle East.(SRF Tagesschau/swissinfo.ch)
Permaculture is an increasingly popular model of community farming. It’s about growing food and creating communities while minimising environmental impact. We visit Switzerland’s largest permaculture centre in the Bernese Alps. (R. Rossello/J.Hunt, swissinfo.ch)
Ursula Keller, physics professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), is one of the few females to achieve such high academic standing in this male dominated field. (SRF Einstein, swissinfo.ch)
When Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado finished Exodus, a project documenting the migration journeys of people across 40 countries in the late 1990s, he had witnessed so much violence that he lost his faith in humanity and was on the brink of depression.
When in 2008 the financial crisis arrived, Switzerland's major bank UBS was suddenly threatened with bankruptcy. Thousands of people in Switzerland, who had mortgage loans with UBS, could lose their homes. With UBS serving almost 1 in 2 Swiss companies, small businesses were threatened to collapse causing people to lose their jobs. Not to mention the more than 26,000 people working for UBS in Switzerland. Account holders were suddenly faced with losing all their savings. So the government had to intervene. Together with the Swiss national bank they created the stability fund, a bad bank, which would absorb all the toxic assets that threatened to bring down UBS. (Michele Andina, swissinfo.ch)
A fire that devastated hundreds of hectares in the Alps is still burnt into people’s memories. It lasted just a single night a decade ago, spreading more than a kilometer up the slope above the village of Leuk. Ten years on, the forest has regrown and new species have appeared. (rts/swissinfo.ch)
The first time I realised old tractors don’t have to end up on the scrapheap when they break down, get too old or become obsolete was in North Dakota. It was out in the countryside there that I saw a row of polished old green and gold John Deere tractors sitting beside the road. Typically American I thought: here everything is bigger, and when it comes to motors, the Americans love it even bigger. Shortly afterwards I moved back to Switzerland, to Möriken in canton Aargau where I grew up and which used to be a farming community. One of the first events to be held there after I returned was an old tractors meet. Something I had considered typically American was in fact nothing out of the ordinary back home either. I supposed that country folk weren’t a bunch of hicks and that a vintage tractor show was more than just a curiosity. The tractors had just been sitting in barns and garages, wasting away. But somehow the simplicity of their engines, the ease with which they could be repaired and restored by anyone with a little talent and patience, saw them take their place in the sun. But I am the only one who sees any deeper meaning in these old machines - perhaps the yearning for a simpler life. Today, farmers are not much interested in how things used to be; their lives are overshadowed by worries about political directives, complicated rules and regulations and often incomprehensible subsidy policies. Tractor collectors, with their rumpled shirts and greasy hands, seem to be the only ones wanting the good ol’ times to roll. Text and pictures: Thomas Kern
A farmer has called for a ban on base jumping in Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Alps, after watching someone die in his field following a jump that went wrong. He seems to be alone in condemning the sport, which attracts thousands of thrill seekers to the mountain village every year. (SRF 10vor10, swissinfo.ch)
Zurich officials are rethinking their criminal youth reintegration policy after an outcry over a costly rehabilitation of a convicted teenager. Instead of going to prison for stabbing another teenager, “Carlos” was put on a rehabilitation programme which cost canton Zurich CHF29,000 ($31,300) a month. Eighteen-year-old Carlos (not his real name) is the son of a Swiss father and a Brazilian mother and has convictions for robbery, weapon possession and drug use. Two years ago, when still a minor, he stabbed and wounded another teenager. His case was brought to public attention by a television documentary at the end of August. Afterwards, a public media outcry followed, and Carlos – who had been living in a special home – was sent to jail. “For his own protection,” the police said. Justifying the high cost, the private company in charge of the rehabilitation programme pointed out that Carlos was being cared for around the clock by ten people, including a social worker who lived with him full time and a personal Thai boxing trainer. (SRF- Reporter- Tagesschau- Rundschau. RTS le 19:30. swissinfo.ch)
Andreas Weigelt has made a heavy commitment to Switzerland’s conscript army, dedicating one month per year to helping to command a company in the tank regiment. He says it’s been a great way to learn leadership skills, but fears that further promotion in the army could hinder his civilian career. (Julie Hunt, swissinfo.ch)
Switzerland is home to some 8,000 Somalis who have fled the civil war in their homeland. They receive help with practical integration problems from the Somali Association for Integration in eastern Switzerland, among other groups. The founder, Leyla Kanyare, is set to receive a prestigious prize for her integration work from the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom in Bern. At a party to celebrate her award, swissinfo.ch spoke to her and other Somali women about escaping their homeland and the hurdles they faced on arrival in Switzerland. (Julie Hunt/swissinfo.ch)
Two years ago, a young Swiss couple was driving along the Old Silk Road when, in Pakistan, the adventure became a nightmare: they were kidnapped and held hostage for 259 days by the Taliban. Now, they’ve published a book about the ordeal. Tomorrow You’ll Be Dead, published in German, tells how they survived long months in captivity and how, upon their return to Switzerland after their escape, were harshly criticised by the public for taking too many risks while travelling. The media has accused the authors of stirring up “conspiracy theories” with the tale of their kidnapping. Many also note the couple´s refusal to give any credit in their book to Swiss diplomacy, as many Swiss officers spent months trying to free them, both in Switzerland and in Pakistan. The total cost ran into the millions, not counting any ransom which may or may not have been paid. The kidnapping victims have, in part, helped to offset the cost by giving public lectures and doing preventive consulting for travel agencies, NATO personnel and other institutions. However, they still haven´t admitted that travelling across Pakistan in such a way was risky. Following their case and those of others who may be travelling in danger zones abroad, the Swiss government wants to pass a new law which will exonerate the state from any form of liability if someone disregards foreign ministry travel recommendations or who acts negligently. (swissinfo / SRF- Kulturplatz).