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A Swiss Thief With A Fondue Fork Tries To Dip Into Till At Funeral Home

Switzerland is famous for its fondue, a national specialty that is eaten by dipping bread into melted cheese, using uniquely shaped long-stemmed forks. Now a 60-year old Swiss man has found a rather unexpected use for his fondue fork, reaching with the length of the utensil and its sharp prongs to steal envelopes containing condolence cards from boxes in funeral parlors. He managed to fork 17 envelopes in three different funeral homes in the towns of Delémont, Bassecourt and Porrentruy, reports Swiss daily Le Matin. The thief, who later admitted that he was hoping to find money left in the cards by mourners to the deceased's family, was eventually caught by an undertaker last April.

It is unclear whether the man actually found money, as no banknote was recovered by the police in his house, but in July, a court ruled his "motives were financial" and condemned him to a fine of 600 Swiss francs ($663) plus 570 CHF to cover fees, for theft, property damage, disorder of funeral service by inappropriate behavior and for undermining the peace of the deceased.

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Bertrand Piccard: Profits And Saving The Planet Go Together

Five Questions for the legendary pilot, environmental activist and founder of Solar Impulse Foundation, supporting solutions that are profitable and protect the planet.

In partnership with: ChangeNOW

Environmentalist, Psychiatrist, Aviator, Explorer, Entrepreneur. Bertrand Piccard's many hats have made him a pioneer and leading voice on the themes of innovation, clean technologies and sustainability. He is the first person to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe, as well as the co-pilot of the maiden around-the-world flight in a solar-powered airplane.

Founder and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, the Lausanne-born 63-year-old has made it his mission to select 1000 solutions to protect the environment in a profitable way. He is currently United Nations Ambassador for the Environment and Special Advisor to the European Commission.

Ahead of the 2021 changeNOW summit, the world's largest gathering of innovations for the planet, where he will be sharing his vision and pioneering spirit, we asked Bertrand Piccard 5 questions about building a smarter future.

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Spring Rolls Sprung At Swiss Border Crossing

Drugs, weapons and... spring rolls? Add the Asian fried staple to the list of contraband items that have been seized in the illegal international smuggling market.

Police discovered 61.5 kilograms (136 lbs) of chicken spring rolls stashed in a car trunk during a control at a France-Switzerland border crossing on Feb. 16. The driver, a Vietnamese national, and the passenger, a French national, were returning to Switzerland where they own a restaurant. But they did not declare the rolls to the Swiss administration at Ferney-Voltaire.

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Switzerland's 'Contract Children' - Abused, Exploited, Forgotten

A report turns much-needed attention to a dark and long-ignored chapter in Swiss history.

In Switzerland, well into the 1970s, children of unmarried mothers or from poor families were taken away from their parents and sent to live with new ones. They were placed in new homes, especially on farms, where they were made to work.

In many cases, they were exploited, beaten and abused at the hands of those who were meant to look after them. And yet attacks were rarely investigated, not least because foster families were barely controlled by the authorities.

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Switzerland
Ayaz Ali

When China Went To Davos: Those Chilly Winds Of Global Capitalism

-Analysis-

Two years ago Chinese President Xi Jinping — in the wake of the twin election victories of Brexit and Donald Trump — arrived at the Davos World Economic Forum as the would-be savior of international free trade. "We should adapt to and guide globalization, cushion its negative impact, and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations," he declared in a landmark speech. Last year it was Chinese Vice Premier Liu He's turn at the Swiss ski resort, boldly claiming that within three years Chinese debt would be assuaged and the nation would be able to comfortably withstand a trade war with the U.S. As the 49th World Economic Forum opens today, China is again center stage, but the storyline is shifting, following reports that Chinese growth is at its lowest rate in nearly 30 years.

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BBC
Martin Greenacre

Just A Handshake? Touchy Subject For Pious Muslims In The West

A series of recent legal cases across Europe have questioned whether those who refuse to shake hands with people of the opposite sex for religious reasons are guilty of discrimination.

PARIS — The traditional Muslim veil has long been a source of conflict in the West over integration and gender equality. Now, another familiar practice is prompting debate: the handshake.

Last week, it was reported that a Muslim couple had been denied Swiss citizenship after refusing — for religious reasons — to shake hands with people of the opposite sex during their interview. Officials cited a lack of respect for gender equality as the reason for their decision.

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Switzerland
Megan Clement

Crisis In Family Care Demographics, Women Pay The Price

Women have the most to lose if governments don't start investing more in quality care services, the International Labour Organization warns.

When it comes to care provision, the world faces something of a perfect storm as populations age, family structures shrink and more women enter the workforce. It's a crisis in the making, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned in a recent report. And unless governments start properly investing in care services, gender inequality will increase and economies will suffer.

The demand for care work is set to increase significantly in the next decade, with 2.3 billion people needing care by 2030, the ILO report concludes in its report released in late June. What remains to be determined is whether this work will be high quality and well remunerated, or low quality and exploitative. The answer to that question, lead author Laura Addati explains, will determine in large part how the crisis plays out.

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Switzerland
Julie Rambal

(Even Older) Boomerang Children Weigh On Parents' Well-Being

More and more young and not-so-young people are returning home to live with their parents. A phenomenon which is hard on their aging parents.

GENEVA — Françoise, 71, couldn't have dreamt of a more complicated relationship with her 39-year-old daughter Sandra. They used to speak every day, and not a week would pass without them seeing one another. But their relationship changed last September when Sandra arrived and unpacked her suitcases after a break-up. "She stayed seven months. Hell!" sighs Françoise. "She never ceased to remind me that I am old and decrepit and that she can't stand my retired life. Worse, she didn't do anything around the house, despite the fact that she acted very autonomously. I found myself stuck with a 40-year-old teenager."

Françoise says her grown daughter, who wanted a child of her own, had been stung badly by her boyfriend who changed his mind at the last minute. "She took her anger out on me," the aging mother said. "I didn't dare to invite friends over for lunch if she so much as seemed to be in a bad mood. I felt obliged to constantly be at her disposal."

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Switzerland
Fabien Goubet and Florian Delafoi

Behold Tomorrow! Meet The Professional Futurists

GENEVA — One day last October, during the morning talk show on Swiss state broadcaster RTS, still groggy viewers were brutally awakened by a sentence dropped live on-air: "Schools train children who will be decimated by artificial intelligence." The voice that dragged them out of their reverie belonged to a French doctor and entrepreneur named Laurent Alexandre. His words hit their mark, so much so that the video clip instantly went viral on social media.

Laurent Alexandre doesn't have a monopoly on snappy sentences. "Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 300." This prediction is trademarked by Gerd Leonhard, one of Europe's leading thinkers of the future. The website of this Zurich-based German thinker is worth its weight in divinatory herbs. In the background, a video plays on a loop, showing the spry 50-year-old in a dark suit with a sly smile and wavy gray hair. Leonhard's face turns in slow motion towards the horizon, his gaze plunged serenely towards the future. A yellow sticker that reads "Top 100 Wired" reminds us that Leonhard is among the world's most influential personalities on innovation. Visitors are then invited to "futurize their business', in other words, hire Gerd's services for a conference.

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Switzerland
Valère Gogniat

Rolex, Making Of A Worldwide Reputation From A Swiss Backyard

GENEVA — At a time when trust and truth are under attack, it's somehow comforting to see that some reputations can still go untarnished.

For the third year in a row, Swiss company Rolex has earned the designation as the company with the world's best reputation, as awarded by the Reputation Institute, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The timeless watchmakers beat out (in order) LEGO, Google, Canon and the Walt Disney Company to the top spot.

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Switzerland
Mathilde Farine and Céline Zünd

Is Switzerland Finally On Its Way To Being Cool?

It may not be Europe's biggest trend setter, but in subtle ways, the land-locked, quadrilingual republic is fashioning a hipper, more confident cultural identity.

ZURICH — Ask any Swiss person if they think their country is cool and you're likely to get a raised eyebrow, maybe even a burst of laughter. Efficient? Sure. Switzerland is also safe, tidy. All that. But cool? That's just not the first word that comes to mind — unless you're Nicolas Bideau, director of the federal agency Presence Switzerland.

Bideau's job is to promote the country's image, which is his mind, has every reason to be considered cool. Take Roger Federer. He's "the king of coolness," in Bideau's opinion. There's also the "Nati," as the Swiss national soccer team is known. And so on and so forth. "The Swiss-made brand is so cool that everybody wants to copy it," the Presence Switzerland head insists.

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Smarter Cities
Luc Debraine

Design And Ecology, An Ugly Truth About Green Energy

Alternative energy projects might be good for the environment. But with a few exceptions, they're awful on the eyes.

LAUSANNE — Fyodor Dostoevsky no doubt, had other things in mind when, in his famous novel The Idiot, he wrote that "beauty will save the world." And yet, a century-and-a-half later, those words have much to say about the current state of green energy technologies.

Simply put, we need energy alternatives to save our planet. But to encourage more people to embrace them, we also need to focus on aesthetics. We need to make them more beautiful, in other words. Because honestly, is anything more unseemly than a massive hydroelectric dam, or solar panels fixed awkwardly onto a roof, or rows of wind turbines breaking up the countryside? It's as if such energy alternatives have to be ugly to be taken seriously.

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Switzerland
Virginie Montmartin

Emissions, Ecology And Cures For The Common Cow Fart

In their own silent but deadly way, cattle are contributing to climate change. Adapting their diets may be one way to ease the problem. Changing our eating habits is another.

LAUSANNE — Fighting climate change means limiting our greenhouse gas emissions, which for most of us means carbon dioxide (CO2). But methane is also a major problem. Though less persistent in the atmosphere, this gas has a warming power 25 times higher than CO2. And the bulk of it is emitted by bloated bovines: cattle.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that methane gas from the burps and flatulence associated with ruminant digestion accounts for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, making it the leading source of emissions in this sector. To reduce these emissions, various possibilities are being explored, including adjustments to livestock feeding.

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Switzerland
Julie Rambal

Easier Rider, The Era Of Packaged Road Trips Has Arrived

LAUSANNE — "We struck off, heading for the horizon with a fever we thought could be cured by accumulating kilometers. But it just riled us up even more. Still, moving quenches something. It eases our melancholy at not having done anything with our lives, at having been born too early and having failed at everything. We weren't gamblers, we missed the boarding time for pirate ships, we never met up in Sherwood Forest. What's left? Motorbikes, my friend."

So begins writer-adventurer Sylvain Tesson's new book, En avant, calme et fou (Forward, Calm and Foolish), published by Editions Albin Michel. The book recounts a quarter century worth of road trips, illustrated with photos from his companion, photographer Thomas Goisque. The travel buddies rolled through India, Russia, Mongolia, Siberia, Finland, China, Serbia, central and southeast Asia, Bhutan, Chile, Nepal, and Madagascar. And on Nov. 5, the Travel Channel aired a documentary about one of their motorized misadventures on a Royal Enfield, the legendary Indian motorcycle, on frozen Lake Khövsgöl Nuur by the Mongolian border.

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Switzerland
Anne-Sylvie Sprenger

Internet Insomnia, The New Scourge Of Our Nights

LAUSANNE — There are books and newspaper articles, technologies promising relief, even theater productions devoted to the topic. Indeed, it seems like everyone is talking about insomnia these days.

In Switzerland, insomnia already affects about a third of the population, according to a study carried out between 2009 and 2012 by the Center for Investigation and Research in Sleep at Lausanne University Hospital. And it's only getting worse, say doctors José Haba-Rubio and Raphaël Heinzer, authors a book entitled Je rêve de dormir ("I Dream of Sleeping"). "We are clearly facing a public health problem," Heinzer insists.

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Switzerland
Pascaline Minet

Kinder Laws Of The Jungle: Understanding Altruism In Animals

LAUSANNE — Is wildlife a world of bullies? We like to imagine the relationships among living beings as a no-holds-barred struggle for survival, a twisted vision of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, conveyed by the political and economic doctrine of social Darwinism. And yet, examples of cooperation abound in the animal world. Mammals, insects and even microorganisms, virtually all living beings who live in groups actually, have developed forms of collaboration. Helping each other out can be beneficial to all parties, for example when killer whales team up to hunt and improve their chances to feed and ultimately survive.

But are there really authentic altruistic behaviors in the animal world? "Altruism is a selfless act, with no other benefit than to improve the state of the other," says Jennifer Mcclung, an ethologist at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland. "As far as animals are concerned, this behavior can be observed mostly in how parents care for their offspring, while human beings can be altruistic with perfect strangers." Not all experts agree with the idea of talking about bona fide altruism in animal behavior. Yet, examples defy the doubts: Some animals really do bend over backwards for others.

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