From Nespresso to BabyNes: Feeding Your Baby Has Never Been So Chic—Or So Stupid

A Swiss writer takes (Switzerland-based) Nestle' to town for inventing a machine -- and marketing campaign -- that she says turns the simple preparation of baby formula into a status symbol. And sign of our wasteful times.

An image from the BabyNes website
An image from the BabyNes website
Michèle Binswanger

Oh joy. A new highpoint in our evolution has been reached—maybe even The Moment that the human race has always been headed for. The media is spreading the good news: BabyNes is here. That's what Nestlé"s latest is called. It's a capsule system for baby formula. If ‘"capsule system"" doesn't ring a bell with you, just think George "What Else" Clooney, who hasn't had the time to slurp coffee since Brangelina's kids trashed his house. But what would George normally do? He'd press the button, and ping, a little cup of coffee.

The idea alone of baby milk formula capsules would be ridiculous enough. But even worse is the site about them that Nestlé has put online. The purring babble of the lady in the video clip is nothing short of infuriating. Breastfeeding is of course best for baby, and it's absolutely recommended, she says… Subtext: Who wants to ruin their breasts, or dirty their hands preparing bottles? You can also feed baby by pressing a button.

The "particularly ergonomic design" of the baby formula capsule machine makes for "rapid, intuitive preparation" of a perfect bottle, the BabyNes site says. And you are so not stressed doing it. Different types of capsules are available too, since mother's precious milk also changes frequently, and it would be just too stupid not to make a profit out of that. Surprise, surprise: cute little (pricey) accessories are available, as well.

The long and the short of it, Nestlé crows, is that BabyNes is a ‘"pioneering technological innovation"". Do I detect just a tad of defensiveness in the added assertion that this is ‘"technology in the service of love‘"? Heartwarming, I know.

Technological innovation? Yeah, a loose screw. Come to think of it, that's exactly what I thought about the original Nespresso, especially since the taste is nothing to write home about. But let's not go there. The point is that with friendly help from George Clooney, who has been the face of Nespresso around the world, Nestle" succeeded in marching onto the coffee market the way Napoleon's army marched into Russia. The result is that there are not only Nespresso shops—where machines, accessories and capsules are sold as if they were high-end jewelry—but actual Nespresso bars, where people can sip overpriced coffee in aseptically chic surroundings. Because they're worth it.

And I fear that BabyNes may just make a similar breakthrough. Because you don't need something like that to feed baby—you need it to feed your ego. There are certainly enough movie stars with kids who would also think it was a great idea to take them to a BabyNes milkbar, and enough women around to imitate them, and before you know it BabyNes will be cool, and who doesn't want to be cool?

The spirit of invention is one of humankind's most noble characteristics. You know the story: it began with tools, then machines; and I'm betting that when the first Stone Ager came along with a hand-axe, some horde members thought the newfangled gizmo was really stupid. There have probably always been people who are afraid of new things, and others who think new things are stupid because they don't understand them.

Maybe I don't understand BabyNes. But I will say this: in our day and age, to bring out a ‘"system"" that most certainly requires a lot of energy to produce and creates huge amounts of garbage, all for minimal gains in efficiency, is nothing short of irresponsible. BabyNes is an ecologically idiotic plaything for the rich that a company worth billions is using huge financial means to push on the market in order to turn on consumers who really don't understand anything—who couldn't care less so long as it's cool.

Switzerland is Nestlé"s test market, and I would cast my vote with any radical pro-breastfeeding fanatic who takes that stupid machine and smashes it down (metaphorically, of course) around Nestlé"s ears. My message to mothers who buy into BabyNes because it's easy is this: it's environmental madness; it's a product of greed. Anyway. Kids who drink milk capsules will probably drink Prosecco capsules when they grow up, and who wants a kid like that?

Read the original article in German

photo - babynes.ch

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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