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By On January 12, 2018

Japan, Switzerland set up warmup

BERN, Switzerland (AP) â€" In a final warmup before both teams go to the World Cup, Switzerland will host Japan on June 8.

The Switzerland Football Federation says the friendly will be at Lugano. The Swiss team has a training camp in the town near the Swiss-Italian border before traveling to Russia.

The federation says it is seeking another opponent before the Japan game.

Switzerland leaves for Russia on June 11 ahead of its opening game against Brazil in Group E on June 17. The group also includes Serbia and Costa Rica.

Japan is in Group H with Poland, Colombia and Senegal.

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Source: Google News Switzerland | Netizen 24 Switzerland

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By On January 12, 2018

France to pay Switzerland over 40 million francs in social welfare deal

Geneva cantonal government member Mauro Poggia, who has been negotiating with the French authorities on behalf of the Swiss cantons, confirmed the deal on Swiss public radio SRF on Friday, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.

The money is to be paid next year, and most will go to the cantons, in particular Vaud and Geneva which have the largest number of French welfare recipients, it said.

The deal was struck after the two neighbouring countries last year dissolved a social welfare agreement that had been in place for almost 90 years.

Under this agreement France and Switzerland pledged to recompense each other for social welfare benefits paid to their citizens in the other country.

France had argued that the agreement no longer had validity after the free movement of persons agreement with the European Union came into force in Switzerland in 2002.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis paid a visit to his counterpart in Paris last December to discuss the issue.

According to the SRF report, Switzerland also owes France for social welfare payments made to Swiss citizens â€" but these amount to only 3.5 million francs.

It also said France had not sent any social welfare bills to Switzerland for a number of years.

Source: Google News Switzerland | Netizen 24 Switzerland

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By On January 12, 2018

Watch World Cup bobsleigh from Switzerland

Coming UpWatch World Cup bobsleigh from SwitzerlandWatch live as Canada's best bobsleigh athletes are in action at the World Cup in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Live coverage continues on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET

3:34 am Heat 1 - 5:04 am Heat 2 - St. Moritz, SUI 0:00

Click on the video player above to watch live action from the bobsleigh and skeleton World Cup stop in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

  • The hot seat: Everyone wants to ride with Kaillie Humphries

Action continues on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET with the women's bobsleigh competition, followed by the two-man event at 7 a.m. ET.

The event wraps on Sunday with the four-man bobsleigh event, set to begin at 5:45 a.m. ET.

You can also catch more skeleton and bobsleigh action Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on Road to the Olympic Games, our weekly show spotlighting the best high-performance athletes from Canada and around t he world.

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By On January 12, 2018

Switzerland bans boiling lobsters alive

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Studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems that may feel pain.

(CNN) - Lobsters are a delicious delicacy loved by coastal dwellers across the world -- but is boiling them alive inhumane?

In a new law, the Swiss government has banned the common culinary practice of throwing the crustaceans into boiling water while they are still conscious.

The move is a response to studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems that may feel pain.

From March 2018, lobsters being prepared in Switzerland will need to be knocked out before they're put to death, or killed instantly. They'll also get other protections while in transit.

Lobster laws

"Live crustaceans, including the lobster, may no longer be transported on ice or in ice water. Aquatic species must always be kept in their natural environment," says the new law, according to Swiss Info. "Crustaceans must now be stunned before they are killed,"

The new edict comes in the wake of a recent Italian law that decreed lobsters can't be kept on ice in restaurant kitchens.

Switzerland's decision is applauded by Professor Robert Elwood, emeritus professor in ecology, evolution, behaviour and environmental economics at Queens University, Belfast.

Elwood has conducted a serie s of experiments that suggest crustaceans are sentient and that boiling them alive is inhumane.

"With the data we know, it is highly likely that the animal will be in pain," he says. "We give protection to birds and mammals, currently we give very little protection to decapod crustaceans -- lobsters and crabs -- and the question comes, why is there this difference?"

First step

Elwood's studies suggest crustaceans will make serious life and death decisions when exposed to pain. In experiments, hermit crabs were quick to abandon a shell if it was exposed to a large electric shock.

"They are really giving up a very valuable resource that means life to them, essentially, in order to escape from the noxious stimulus," explains Elwood.

The scientist says he is pleased governments are considering this data and mak ing changes accordingly.

"It's a positive move, the Swiss are looking at a potential problem and trying to deal with it," he says.

But for Elwood, this is only the first step in addressing this issue.

"I don't know how many lobsters are boiled in Switzerland per year, but it's probably quite a small amount compared with the billions upon billions of crustaceans that are used each year in the human food chain," he says.

Humane solutions

The new law doesn't mean taking lobster off the menu. There are methods of killing them which are considered more humane -- and which Swiss chefs might now adopt.

"With an experienced chef, using a large, sharp knife, thrust into the right place into the head of the lobster and then cutting down along the midway -- that should kill the l obster very quickly and effectively -- and is probably the most humane way in a small operation," suggests Elwood.

Elwood also pinpoints a device called the Crustastun, which destroys the lobster's nervous system.

Elwood hopes to discourage the practice of not only boiling but also dismembering while the animal is alive. "I would question the use of that in a modern society," he says.

Time will tell whether other countries will follow Switzerland's example.

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By On January 12, 2018

How to combine a city break with a ski holiday in Switzerland

Use Switzerland’s efficient and comfortable railway system to combine ideal winter city-break destinations â€" Lucerne, Bern, Basel and Zurich â€" with a ski holiday and other excursions for the perfect alternative to hibernating

The scale of Switzerland is at once both grand and intimate. The mighty Alps and lakes provide the epic sweep, but its culturally rich cities (the largest, Zurich, isn’t even in the top 100 for population in Europe) are small.

So it’s easy to enjoy beautifully preserved old city centres, architecture from medieval to contemporary, museums, shops, bars, restaurants and clubs… and then take excursions across the lake, along the river or up into the mountains. Combining a city break with a ski or snowboard holiday is also easy, with packages that include flights, hotels and train travel; the country’s rail network is one of the most efficient and picturesque in the world.

The Bahnhofstrasse is one of Europe’s grandest international shopping streets

With a Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Travel Pass Flex from the Swiss Travel System, you have unlimited train, bus and boat transport covered in the country. This includes public transport within cities (if you get tired of walking and craning your neck at the sights) and paddle steamers on lakes.

Not only that, but there is complimentary access to more than 500 museums across the country and free mountain excursions, as well as 50 per cent reductions on many others. What’s more, children under 16 travel free with an accompanying adult, so a family break makes even more sense.

The Swiss Travel Pass (£162 for three consecutive days, £194 for four) is perfect for short breaks, while the Flex version â€" where you choose which days you use it within a month â€" is great for longer holidays where you might not travel on consecutive days (from  £187, available with three, four, eight or 15 days’ travel).

The largest city in Switzerland, Zurich, is a thriving, culturally diverse metropolitan centre and, at its heart, the main railway station (hauptbahnhof) is a hub for travel all over Switzerland and beyond.

The mountain village of Wengen
Winter wonderland: the mountain village of Wengen Credit: Getty

In fact, the mile-long Bahnhofstrasse is one of Europe’s grandest international shopping streets. But there are more street-fashion brands to be found in Aussersihl, one of the city’s youthful quarters. Zurich is a clubbing hotspot, too, no matter what your style, whether you like house music, hip hop, the gay scene or a bit of 1980s nostalgia.

If you’re more inclined to traditional culture, there is plenty: as well as many galleries (including the Kunsthaus Zurich and Museum Rietberg, which specialises in non-European works), art suffuses the city â€" a police station with a Giacometti entrance hall; stained windows by Marc Chagall in Fraumünster abbey.

Bern has stunning cathedrals, clock towers, fountains, cobbled streets and fountains

A must-visit excursion from the city is the Rhinefalls at Schaffhausen. This dramatic, 150m wide cascade â€" the largest in Europe â€" is even more stunning in the winter months, with the water fighting its way between rocks and ice, and the visitor numbers vastly reduced.

Furthermore, Zurich is the gateway to many of the great resorts of Switzerland. St Moritz, Davos, Klosters, Engelberg, Arosa and Andermatt are among the world-famous ski and snowboard destinations between two and three hours from the city by train.

The Swiss capital Bern is also capital of the Bernese Alps â€" the Berner Oberland, where the grand trio of mountains (Mönch, Jungfrau, Eiger) play out their eternal drama, as the monk protects the virgin from the ogre. It’s the perfect place to combine a weekend city break with a winter sports trip.

The city’s medieval old town â€" a Unesco World Heritage site â€" is held in the crook of the meandering River Aare, crossed by the city’s dramatic bridges. A picture-postcard central-European city, Bern has stunning cathedrals, clock towers, fountains, cobbled streets and fountains, as well as the unique lauben (covered arcades with traditional and contemporary shops, restaurants and wine bars).

From Bern, the Swiss Travel Pass allows you unrestricted rail access to the great resorts of the Berner Oberland: Grindelwald, from where you can continue by rail into the Eiger itself (stopping at the viewing window in the North Face, before continuing to Europe’s highest railway station, the Jungfraujoch); the unspoilt car-free village of Wengen, home of the world-famous Lauberhorn downhill ski race; or Mürren, where you can complete your mission On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Old town of Basel with red stone Munster cathedral on the Rhine river
Cultural capital: the beautiful old town of Basel Credit: Getty

Book the Bond Experience and you can spend three nights in the traditional village, including a visit to “Blofeld’s lair” for brunch at the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant at nearly 3,000m atop the Schilthorn. After a visit to the interactive Bond World 007 exhibit, escape 007-style by riding down on a toboggan.

Winter brings out the magic of lakeside Lucerne, as the lights from its pretty buildings (a living history of architecture â€" neo-Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque) reflect on the water, and snow settles on the roof covering the Chapel Bri dge.

The importance of Lake Lucerne is apparent from the moment you arrive by train â€" Jean Nouvel’s futuristic railway station seems to float on the water. From here, paddle steamships (part of the Swiss Travel System and included in the price of a Swiss Travel Card) depart for excursions across this beautiful mountain lake.

The importance of Lake Lucerne is apparent from the moment you arrive by train

For a different perspective on the lake, take an excursion to Pilatus Kulm, via the Dragon Ride cable car, taking you to 2,073m in comfort with unrestricted views. There, you can enjoy a toboggan thrill ride and other activities. Alternatively, spend the day at nearby Rigi, one of Switzerland’s little ski-resort gems, with 9km of pistes, plus 35km of groomed hiking trails and four toboggan runs. Both excursions are included with the Swiss Travel Pass.

Easily reached by train from Zurich, Basel is Switzerland’s cultural capital. The Kunstmuseum Basel is virtually a history of art degree spread across two buildings. It was born from the acquisition in the 17th century of what’s still the world’s largest Holbein collection.

Artists from the four centuries since are represented â€" famous names from the Flemish and Dutch schools, Impressionism, Surrealism, Pop Art et al through to living artists such as Bruce Nauman and Andreas Gursky.

A great starting point for further cultural exploration, the Beyeler Foundation is worth a visit for its Renzo Piano-designed building alone, but often has fascinating exhibitions (such as Paul Klee until 21 January); get a tingly feeling at the museum dedicated to the huge metal contraptions created by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely; and dive into cultures, not only of the Alps and Europe, but all over the world, at the Museum of Ethnology. As is the case in more than 500 museums across Switzerland, entrance to all of these is free with the Swiss Travel Pass.

Swiss rail breaks

For more details of these holidays, as well as booking information and more on how to get the most out of the Swiss Travel System, go to myswitzerland.com or visit switzerlandtravelcentre.co.uk for hundreds of other Swiss winter holiday ideas.

Source: Google News Switzerland | Netizen 24 Switzerland

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By On January 11, 2018

Switzerland's Zermatt ski resort reopens after heavy snow and rain

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GENEVA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Train service resumed and roads to Switzerland's ski and winter resort of Zermatt have restored so as to allow trapped tourists to leave, local Swiss media reported Thursday.

Swiss National Radio reported that the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn railway company resumed its service between Tasch and Zermatt on Wednesday evening, after the track had been successfully cleared of snow.

The Zermatt tourist board on Thursday morning also said on twitter that the road between Zermatt and Tasch was now completely open, and some ski pistes and winter hiking trails are reopening.

Following heavy snowfall and rain on Jan. 9, road and rail access to Zermatt in southern Switzerland was cut off as the region was facing the maximum level of avalanche risk.

Local authorities said that a level 5 avalanche risk -- the highest r isk level -- has been declared in parts of canton Valais (where Zermatt is located).

It was estimated that some 13,000 guests were affected since then.

Source: Google News Switzerland | Netizen 24 Switzerland