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A Little More than “Sprechen Sie Englisch?”

A Little More than “Sprechen Sie Englisch?”

In 2014, the people of Basel ordered change: they voted for the government to help newly-arrived expats feel welcome.  As an expat myself, I was pleased to hear this, but not everyone – locals or foreigners – supports these attempts. By Ella Revitt With Switzerland ranked sixth in the world for the largest proportion of the population born abroad, 35% of those living in Basel are non-nationals. The overarching group of foreigners include refugees and asylum seekers, blue-collar workers (once known as “Gastarbeiter”) as well as white-collar business professional “expats.”  Amalgamation for the latter has been difficult in recent years

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Comments Off   |  20/02/2016 Society, Uncategorized

City library goes digital

City library goes digital

Bookworms among locals and expats alike are already aware that the “GGG Stadtbibliothek Basel” has a huge selection of books and other media in English – and now membership to the city’s library allows access to digital media. By Anne-Lise Hilty and Martin Pütter The locals in Basel are all aware of what “GGG” stands for: The “society for the good and the common benefit” (the unofficial English translation according to Wikipedia) is a very active private non-profit organisation – and among many other things it is in charge of the “Stadtbibliothek Basel” (the city’s library), with the main library

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1 Comment   |  07/02/2016 Society, Uncategorized

Basel’s Brits and the Brexit

Basel’s Brits and the Brexit

By the end of 2017, or already by the end of this year, voters in the United Kingdom will decide whether their country remains in the EU or not. Many Brits living in Basel and the surrounding area would like to know whether they are allowed to cast their vote as well. By Martin Pütter To start chatting with a Brit in a pub has always been quite easy, actually: Just make a remark about the weather, and you have broken the ice. This applies both for pubs on the British Isles and for any of the pubs in Basel

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2 Comments   |  04/02/2016 Society, Uncategorized

Ten years after Katrina

Ten years after Katrina

Many, and expats of US-origin in particular, will remember how hurricane Katrina dominated the headlines ten years ago. At the end of August ten years ago Hurricane Katrina, the most momentous storm ever to hit the USA, devastated the southern states of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. After the dams had broken in New Orleans three quarters of the city fell victim to the floods. An estimated 1’500 people lost their lives, over one million people became homeless, and after their evacuation many of them still have not been able to return, have become uprooted and lost their social environment. In

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Comments Off   |  27/08/2015 Society, Uncategorized

Thoughts across the borders

Thoughts across the borders

By Martin Pütter A new communications project called Dreiland News is trying to promote territorial cohesion across the national borders in the Oberrhein region. The motto sounds quite political: “Freedom of speech knows no border” is written underneath the name “Dreiland News”. It is a communication project that currently uses only some new media channels (Facebook, blog – others channels are considered for the future). However, a website for Dreiland News is in the pipeline, says Sam Baumann, who is the founder of this project. However, politics – at the moment – seems a topic “Dreiland News” keeps to the

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Comments Off   |  31/05/2015 Society, Uncategorized

Spring in Basel before the big bloom

Spring in Basel before the big bloom

Text and picture (Sunset at the Ermitage in Arlesheim, on an early March day) by Dan Jones The countryside around Basel has a lot to offer, even when winter is in its final throes. During the first week of March I saw my first honeybee of the New Year. This was the final sign, that day, that the wheels of spring were slowly getting into gear. This solitary and hopeful honey-making forager will not be seeking out the meagre offerings of our earliest flowering trees, like the blackthorn, when spring finally explodes. It will instead be dancing from plant to

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Comments Off   |  01/04/2015 Society

Eco festival: a sustainable party

Eco festival: a sustainable party

By Martin Pütter Sustainability can also be a lot of fun – a number of events at the 10th Eco Festival right in the city centre of Basel this weekend should be able to prove this. In some (limited) ways sustainability could help you to have the cake and eat it. Fancy watching a film, but worried about the effect popcorn, ice cream and soft drinks high in calories might have on your fitness and body shape? Then the “Velokino” (bicycle cinema) at the 10th Eco Festival this weekend might be the right thing for you. To watch any of

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Comments Off   |  26/03/2015 Society, Uncategorized

Laudable attempt with unintended side-effects

Laudable attempt with unintended side-effects

A comment by Martin Pütter The Washington Times recently tried to give its readers some insights into Switzerland, with somewhat unusual examples.  Recently I came across an article in the online edition of the Washington Times, saying that “Switzerland seeks skilled foreign workers amid anti-immigration push”. The article appeared the day after Swiss voters had soundly rejected the “Ecopop” initiative aimed at limiting annual net immigration to 0.2 percent of the nation’s population. The article in the Washington Times was an interesting follow-up, trying to clarify why Switzerland, and Basel in particular, actually depends on skilled foreign workers. It was

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3 Comments   |  14/12/2014 Society, Uncategorized

Basel sealed off

Basel sealed off

By Stéphanie Erni, English by Nigel Hulbert This coming Thursday and Friday, foreign ministers from 57 countries will be convening in Basel for the annual OSCE Ministerial Council meeting. The event also involves a large-scale military exercise. The Basel Exhibition Centre is being sealed off. On 4th and 5th December, Basel hosts this year’s meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), whose 2014 chairman is Swiss Federal President Didier Burkhalter. With 1,200 delegates from 57 countries expected to attend, including major world players such as US Secretary of State John Kerry and

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Comments Off   |  01/12/2014 Society, Uncategorized

Another initiative concerning immigration

Another initiative concerning immigration

By Stéphanie Erni (based on swissinfo.ch) A controversial approach to reduce population growth in Switzerland will be decided by voters on 30 November. The Ecopop initiative wants to curb immigration and promote birth control in developing countries. According to a plan by a group of ecologists behind Ecopop, net immigration  (the number of immigrants minus the number of emigrants) should not exceed 0.2 per cent of the population over a three year average. Further information is available here: www.swissinfo.ch/eng/immigration-caps-to-reduce-ecological-footprint

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Comments Off   |  14/11/2014 Society
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