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Based in Lausanne, Le Temps ("The Times") is one of Switzerland's top French-language dailies. It was founded in 1998 as a merger among various newspapers: Journal de Geneve, Gazette de Lausanne and Le Nouveau Quotidien.
Forever Godard: 20 International Newspapers Bid Adieu To French New Wave Icon
Chloé Touchard

Forever Godard: 20 International Newspapers Bid Adieu To French New Wave Icon

International outlets are saluting the passing of the father of the Nouvelle Vague movement, considered among the most influential filmmakers ever.

Jean-Luc Godard, the French-Swiss filmmaker who revolutionized cinema in the late 1950s and 1960s as the leading figure of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) movement, died Tuesday at the age of 91.

The Paris-born Godard produced now-cult movies such as À bout de souffle (“Breathless” 1960), Le Mépris (“Contempt” 1963) and Alphaville (1965), with his later works always garnering interest among cinephiles, even if often considered inaccessible for the wider public.

Godard's lawyer reported that that the filmmaker had been “stricken with multiple incapacitating illnesses," and decided to end his life through assisted suicide, which is legal in Switzerland, where he'd lived for decades.

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In France, from Niqab bans to handshake holdouts.
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.

It is not the first time the topic of handshakes has caused a stir in the country. In 2016, two Syrian immigrant brothers refused to shake their female teacher's hand, arguing that Islam did not permit physical contact with a person of the opposite sex who is not a family member. Shaking the teacher's hand before and after class is a long-standing tradition in Switzerland, and the regional educational authority ruled that parents of children who refuse would face a fine. Swiss Muslim groups disagreed over whether the brothers were justified in refusing.

The Swiss Federal Court has previously rejected a local ban on wearing hijabs in schools. The board of education, however, ruled that forcing the students to shake the teacher's hand was a reasonable intrusion on their religious beliefs, since "it did not involve the central tenets of Islam," The New York Times reports.

Hafid Ouardiri, a Swiss mediator who is active in the fight against radicalization, told Geneva-based newspaper Le Temps: "We need to take this case very seriously. It is unacceptable that these students refuse to shake their teacher's hand in the name of Islam Above all, our religion teaches respect." The newspaper asked whether the refusal could be the sign of a "slide" towards radicalism, after one of the boys posted videos of soldiers on Facebook in which there was "no explicit violence, but a black flag, identical to those used by the Islamic State group, was visible."

She puts her hand to her heart.

Also last week, a Swedish Muslim woman won compensation after her job interview was cut short when she refused to shake the male interviewer's hand. Sweden's Labor Court ruled that she had been discriminated against, since there was no evidence her refusal would cause difficulties in her work as an interpreter, The Local reports. The woman had argued that when both men and women are present, she greets them the same way, by putting her hand to her heart.

France, where the battle over the Muslim veil has been a major issue for years, has also found itself at the center of the handshake debate. In 2017, an Algerian women was denied citizenship after she refused to shake the hand of a senior official during her naturalization ceremony. Le Figaro reports that the ruling was recently upheld by the Council of State, France's highest administrative jurisdiction. The government claimed that the actions of the woman, who has been married to a French man since 2010, "reveal a lack of assimilation."

The question of gender boundaries is not limited to Islam. When Mike Pence became Vice President of the United States, an interview from 2002 resurfaced in which the evangelical Christian revealed that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife. A 2015 survey by National Journal found that several female aides in Washington reported being barred from "driving alone with their congressman or senator, or even sitting down one-on-one in his office for fear that others would get the wrong impression," reports The Atlantic. The magazine argues that similar policies harm women's progress by cutting them off from powerful people for long parts of the day.

Also Orthodox Judaism has rules forbidding a man from touching a woman who isn't his wife. Earlier this year, a Jewish candidate in a local election in Antwerp, Belgium, caused controversy by initially refusing to shake hands with women, the Flanders news site VRT NWS reports. He planned to run representing the Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V). One of the party's leaders, Hendrik Bogaert, wrote on Twitter that a man who refuses to shake a women's hand "doesn't belong on a CD&V list."

Krk Island, Croatia
Jean-Arnault Dérens and Laurent Geslin

Will Croatia's Quest For Energy Independence Cost It Krk?

A popular tourist destination in the Adriatic sea is bracing for the construction of a floating, 400-million-euro regasification facility.

NJIVICE — The tourism season hasn't begun yet on the island of Krk, in the northern Adriatic, where silhouettes of tankers and container ships on their way to the port of Rijeka stand out against the background of the Kvarner Gulf, casting their immense shadows on the fishermen's boats.

Drazen Lesica looks out at the sea from the window of his family restaurant, founded in 1934 by his great-grandparents in the village of Njivice. "Fishing is our wealth," he says. "We've been working with the same families of sailors for three generations. But with the construction of the gas terminal, the bay will turn into a chlorinated pool."

Tourism also contributes to the lives of the locals. In a few weeks, the first contingents of German pensioners should begin to colonize the hotels and campsites. During the summer months, vacationers bring the island's population from 19,000 to more than 190,000. But this financial windfall could dry up if the Croatian government's projects come to fruition.

For a decade, the inhabitants of Krk heard repeatedly that the diversification of Europe's energy sources could one day involve their island, but until now, it was all just talk. What was decided, in 2015, was to build an onshore regasification terminal, but then the plan changed.

Clear waters off the island of Krk, Croatia Photo: Kiedrowski, R/ZUMA

"We were not delighted by this project, but we had decided to accept it because the ecological consequences seemed limited," explains Mirela Ahmetovic, the mayor of the municipality of Omisalj, in the northern part of Krk. "We granted a building permit for the onshore terminal but, without telling us, the government decided to build an offshore terminal instead and use a polluting technology that uses seawater for regasification. This decision violates the laws of the Republic of Croatia on urban planning, the environment and the protection of maritime property."

It would supply gas to a large part of central Europe, still dependent on Russian supplies

With a capacity of around 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year, the terminal — a 300-meter long ship anchored on the side of the island — is expected to cost 383 million euros. The European Union pledged in July 2017 to contribute to the tune of 101.4 million euros.

It would supply gas to a large part of central Europe, still dependent on Russian supplies. "A 16-member commission was set up to assess the project's environmental consequences, but nine of them were appointed by the government, and of course they concluded that the terminal was safe," says Vjeran Pirsic of the environmental association Eko-Kvarner.

Desperate measures

In defiance of local opponents, who demonstrated in Rijeka on March 3, and to override opposition from the municipality of Omisalj, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is considering special legislation to allow construction to begin. U.S. President Donald Trump himself welcomed the project, which could provide an outlet for U.S. gas.

"We are accused of being pro-Russian," Ahmetovic says indignantly. The mayor believes that the "geopolitical" arguments serve mainly to hide private interests, while no study on the profitability of the offshore platform has been made public.

"The Kvarner Gulf is connected to the rest of the Adriatic via only three canals. Tts shores are home to 200,000 inhabitants and as well as big industrial centers," says Milvana Arko-Pijevac, a biologist at the Natural History Museum in Rijeka. "The bay's northern seabed is devastated and the use of seawater for regasification will lead to another disaster. To rid the water of organic matter, you need to add chlorine, up to 2 milligrams per liter. Discharged into the sea, the wastewater will sterilize the seabeds. Soon, our children won't find anything alive on the continental shelf."

We are accused of being pro-Russian.

The offshore terminal should be located on the western bank of Krk, between Omisalj and Njivice, near the Jadranski naftovod oil terminal (JANAF) and the Dina Petrokemija chemical plant. "The island was industrialized during the Yugoslav period, but we now derive most of our income from tourism," Ahmetovic explains.

A few kilometers from the future terminal, 80 homes are under construction on a wooded hillside. "We have invested millions of euros to improve our accommodation capacity, but pollution will make the sea unfit for swimming," sighs Zvonimir Tudorovic, co-owner of the Njivice Hotels group. The businessman says that unless the government backs down, the inhabitants of the island will have to mobilize. "Our only resort will be to block the bridge to the mainland."

Youths tend to stay in their parents’ homes for longer.
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."

Sandra was not the first daughter to come back to the nest. Six years ago, she housed her youngest daughter and her boyfriend. The couple was situated in the house for two years, enough time to have a baby and find an apartment. "The atmosphere was better, but they weren't much help either. This generation is bizarre," said Françoise. "In my youth, it was necessary for everyone to leave their parents' house as soon as possible. But now it seems they'll come back under any circumstances."

They've been named the Boomerang Generation: a new set of offspring thought to have been given every possible tool needed to ensure their success, until they return home, key in hand, years later. According to sociologist François Höpflinger at Zurich University, who specializes in family, aging and intergenerational relations, the phenomenon is growing in Switzerland. "Already youths tend to stay in their parents' homes longer, sometimes until 25 or 28 years of age, but now that number is currently rising so that 40-50-year-old adults are returning home in the aftermath of divorce or loss of a job," Höpflinger explains. "This is especially prevalent in wealthier cities like Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich, where often parents have lived in the same place for more than 20 years, with below-market rent and spare bedrooms."

The London School of Economics did a study that measured the quality of life for parents aged 50-75 in 17 countries who were forced to live again with their grown children. The impact of these returns was calculated by looking at "feelings of control, autonomy, and every-day pleasure and self-realization." The results: These parents showed an average loss of 0.8 points on their measurement of quality of life, equivalent to that of a handicapped old woman who has trouble dressing herself and moving around.

The return of their children is seen not just as a sacrifice for parents, but also a failure of the child's transition into adulthood. The usual contract remains: I will pay for your studies for however long they take, but after that, you're on your own," confirms Caroline Henchoz, a sociologist who specializes in finance for couples and families at the Fribourg University. "In the modes of familial solidarity, parents provide economic aid as much as they can as an investment, in order to conserve the independence of both themselves and their children. Most of these returns happen in modest families." This can be seen through the 615,000 Swiss now affected by poverty. "These returns offer a way to get back on your feet, but they remain a last resort," continues Henchoz. In our interviews with young people aged 18 to 30, it was clear their aim was not to return home. Even when faced with enormous debt, they try to get by on their own.

When will you be home? Who are you seeing?

At 29 years old, Alice had to move back into her childhood room after living in the United States for six years. Questions like: "When will you be home? Who are you seeing? Are you eating dinner with us? are insufferable when you have already tasted independence. My relationship with my dad was so strained and tense that I escaped home as soon as I could."

But often parents of this generation allow their children to stay as long as they please as François Höpflinger notes, "Sociologically we are staying young longer, in Switzerland, the average age that people have their first child is 32. So living with parents or returning to them until then is easily tolerated. The boomerang effect has almost become a phase of life, it's only at 40 that the feeling of failure is felt on both sides."

Behind closed doors, even the parents of twenty-year-old boomerangs suffer. "At first I was depressed when our son found his first job and apartment, but then I rediscovered the freedom I had had in my 20s," says Sabine, 54. "But then he crashed and came back. Since then, he has found a job but has also discovered that he likes saving a piece of his salary to party and travel. He'll empty the fridge without buying anything and brings girls back to the house. Watching him has taught us great life lessons, considering that he considers himself an adult. Maybe to encourage him to move out, I will start to ask for rent."

Knowing the future has been a major concern for all civilizations
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.

Each era has its own oracles

One last pithy pitch? "By 2045, human and artificial intelligence will have merged, and humans will live forever, in digital form." This is from Ray Kurzweil, head of engineering at Google and "pope" of the movement of transhumanists. For him, humanity is on the verge of "Singularity," a formidable technological leap that will make it immortal, either via a decisive medical discovery or the possibility of uploading one's mind onto a computer. What a future!

These and other openly undeterred optimists or grim Cassandras of technology are among us. Their prophecies abound on social media, and they themselves abound in the media. "They" are the futurists, experts who care so much about our future that they feel invested with an almost sacred mission to spread the good (or bad) word of the future. In the current era of technological developments and the questions they raise, such Prophets 2.0 disseminate their predictions to anyone willing to listen, operators of a fascinating social phenomenon.

Knowing the future has been a major concern for all civilizations. To know whether the hunt would be good, whether a drought or rainfall would hit the city or whether it was necessary to attack the neighboring kingdom has always interested humans, hunter-gatherers and powerful urban bigwigs alike. This thirst for the future is what paved the way for the druids, the magi, the shamans, the fortune tellers and the like, a way that's now occupied by professional futurists.

"Each era has its own oracles," says Nicolas Nova, a professor at the Geneva University of Art and Design and co-founder of the Near Future Laboratory, which specializes in foresight and innovation. "Since the end of World War II, there has been a more rational corps of professionals dedicated to these questions." It's something the Americans call future research.

The 1960s marked the golden age of futurology, although the predictions made at the time for the dawn of the third millennium now seem rather grotesque. We were told that we'd be using flying cars, though we're still rotting away in ground traffic. We were supposed to make the Moon or Mars colonies of the Earth, but they'll remain deserted for a long time. And what about visions of jetpacks, which science promised us, but haven't gotten past clunky and dangerous prototypes?

Laurent Alexandre introduced himself as a "televangelist" to a French Senate committee in January 2017 that listened to him talk about the future of A — Photo: Olivier Ezratty/TEDX Paris

In the midst of the Cold War and the excitement from the conquest of space, most of the predictions focused on space. But now, they are being replaced by artificial intelligence and transhumanism. "Futurists are opinion leaders. They are listened to, though they don't have any real scientific legitimacy," regrets Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, specialist of artificial intelligence and author of an essay that deconstructs the "myth of singularity." Could it be that, like their elders, today's futurists have it all wrong?

It's more complicated than that. "Their role is not so much to predict the future as to anticipate possible futures," says professor Nova. Futurists always make a point of reminding us of this. "I don't make predictions, but short-term forecasts over the next five to ten years," insists Gerd Leonhard. While Laurent Alexandre declares that his "thinking is rather nuanced, I outline several scenarios."

Futurists have a certain tendency to forget black swans.

To produce such scenarios, Leonhard, who says he reads five or six books each month, says he spends a lot of time gathering material and exchanging ideas with experts at his conferences. "If you look closely at how a sector works, you can develop forecasts, it's not that difficult," says the former guitarist and music producer, who rose to fame after the publication the 2005 essay The Future of Music, a book that got it right about how music would play out on the Internet.

While their predictions are sometimes confirmed, their rhetoric tends to underestimate the complexity and unexpected side of reality. In 2007, the philosopher Nicholas Taleb developed the "Black Swan" theory, in which this animal represents an unpredictable event with major consequences. "Futurists have a certain tendency to forget black swans," Nicolas Nova says. "Of course, they are very difficult to predict since they are, by definition, unpredictable. But to make good predictions, you have to integrate unexpected or harebrained events." In other words, and as risky as it might be to do so, you need to add some whimsicality if you want to be taken seriously.

Laurent Alexandre knows a thing or two about whim. He introduced himself as a "televangelist" to a French Senate committee in January 2017 that listened to him talk about the future of AI. And he went on with an almost theatrical intervention, delivering one quotable sentence after another: "We risk becoming the Zimbabwe of 2080!" The video of his hearing was viewed more than 1.4 million times on his Facebook page.

And never mind if he's got it all wrong. "We must accept that futurists don't think like everyone else, that they can say stupid things. If we block any debate on the future, we're not allowing the maturation of society to prepare for the future," says Alexandre, who has also been singled out for uninhibitedly calling for eugenic policies in a column for the French weekly magazine Le Point.

Gerd Leonhard and Laurent Alexandre sell their expertise at conferences and company seminars. Though they're sometimes gratis, these interventions — when paid — can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Alexandre says he gets "about ten requests a day," though he doesn't reveal any financial figures. Predicting the future is already a profitable business.

Rolex watches on display in Basel, 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.

"How do they do it? That's the million-dollar question," said Carsten Wegmann, director of the Reputation Institute. "Rolex has quality in their blood, from their highest director to their first apprentice." Part of maintaining high global standards is to keep operations close to home: all Rolex watch models continue to be developed and manufactured between Geneva and Bienne.

We noticed a decline in trust across the board.

In terms of methodology, the Reputation Institute contacted more than 230,000 people from 15 countries. The selected companies must meet three criteria: Have a "significant" presence in the countries surveyed, an "above average" reputation in their home country and a "global familiarity" of more than 40%.

Dominique Turpin, a professor at the International Institute of Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, believes this methodology "holds up." He stresses the infinite difficulty of accurately measuring one's reputation. "The public is fond of it and we are doing it today for just about everything. Even here at IMD, for example, we have a ranking of competitiveness that works very well. But, in the end, it allows the company that produces the rankings to become recognized."

Tennis champion Roger Federer playing in the Shanghai Masters — Photo: Fan Jun/ZUMA

Reputations, overall, took a hit in 2017. "This past year, we noticed a decline in trust across the board. Large companies are more easily criticized and challenged. But Rolex has never been in the spotlight for a misstep," said Wegmann.

"This ranking demonstrates the know-how and expertise that we can have in Switzerland with an international reputation," Rolex said in response to their victory.

Their expertise no doubt also includes smart marketing, and it should be noted that Rolex is the "Official Timekeeper" at Wimbledon, and the company sponsors fellow Swiss icon, tennis champion Roger Federer, who has 20 Grand Slam tournament titles over the past 15 years — and counting. That's the kind of quality you can set your watch to.

Syrian soldiers in Eastern Ghouta on April 11
Marie-Hélène Miauton

Here We Go Again: Iraq To Syria, Chemical Weapons And Collective Amnesia


Tensions are reaching a bursting point over Syria! Just as Saddam Hussein's (hypothetical) possession of weapons of mass destruction led U.S. President George W. Bush to invade Iraq, the (alleged) use of lethal gases on Douma, a district in Syria's Eastern Ghouta controlled by Islamists, now allows Donald Trump to announce harsh reprisals.

Once again, a coalition of the "good" is forming against the "axis of evil," embodied in this case by Russia — which supports Syria, whose president is "a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it," as Trump tweeted with his trademark sense of moderation. Failing to learn the lessons of the past, the Western world is therefore trying to overthrow a secular regime in Syria, just as it did in Iraq, a move that allowed the emergence of this Islamic state that they claim they want to annihilate. Nonsense!

What Trump and others want to destroy in Syria is the regime in place supported by Moscow, which is definitely taking on far too much importance at the moment. This land thus becomes the battleground for monumental geopolitical and economic interests.


Incidentally, Russia has become the second largest arms exporter in the world after the U.S. Although Russian exports are four times smaller than those of the U.S., the American hawks must be thinking that it cannot be allowed to last! This is why the aircraft carriers are on the move, as are the submarines and the war planes ... preparing for the full-scale demonstration of the superiority of the F-22 over the Sukhoi-24, or of the U.S. military's "nice and new and ‘smart""" — as Trump put it — missiles, over the new Sarmat, which, according to Putin, are "capable of striking targets both via the North and South Poles."

What are we playing at here, under the watchful and totally useless eye of the United Nations? Have we forgotten everything already? The justifications given for invading Iraq, with the aim of supposedly "establishing democracy and pacifying the Middle East by way of an example effect"? Saddam Hussein's alleged ties with terrorist networks when he was actually actively fighting them?

Have we forgotten Colin Powell's incredible claim that Saddam Hussein "investigated dozens of biological agents causing diseases such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus, tetanus, cholera, camelpox and hemorrhagic fever"? Or the false statement of a pseudo-Kuwaiti nurse paid by the U.S. to claim she had seen Iraqi soldiers loot the maternity ward of a hospital in Kuwait and "take babies from the incubators and kill them mercilessly by throwing them to the ground"?

Have we really forgotten everything?

What about the luxurious press service that was stationed in the desert and tasked with feeding the international media with war and technological exploits? Don't we remember that? Or the so-called "surgical war" that actually killed over a million people? Have we really forgotten everything?

It is astonishing to see that Donald Trump, whose unpredictability, recklessness and ridicule are unanimously and constantly denounced, regains his former glory as soon as he proposes to pound Syria, or what's left of it. That Theresa May, whose strategic and tactical weakness is largely deplored, is showing no hesitation in pushing Britain, entangled in the Brexit negotiations, to play war games with its American big brother. That France, which used to know better, is joining the club of good intentions while its trains are on strike, its university campuses blocked by protesters, its reforms badly accepted.

While these heads of state are often judged poorly when it comes to their domestic programs and governing ability, they're considered instantly credible, for some reason, when making major international decisions. And yet, those decision could very well lead to a world conflict or, at the very least, a new bloodbath in the Middle East. Go figure!

“They can come and control me. I’ll just keep on making delicious fries!'

Between Healthy Fries And Guilt-Free #FatSwissGirls


The Western world isn't short of public enemies right now. There are, of course, the usual suspects: Putin, Assad, even Mark Zuckerberg seems to have joined the club. But there's another, more discreet nemesis that may loom closer than the rest: acrylamide, a natural chemical that's produced as part of the cooking process for certain foods.

You can find it in coffee (it's produced during the roasting process), French fries and bread. And though the science remains inconclusive, some researchers now consider as a potential carcinogen. Acrylamide is the reason why coffee in California will soon come with a consumer warning about cancer. It's also the reason why fries in Germany — or pommes frites, as they call them — won't be as crunchy anymore.

Yes, starting this week, new European Union legislation comes into force imposing benchmark levels in a bid to reduce the amount of acrylamide in various products, from muesli and biscuits to coffee. For fries, (French and otherwise) that means blanching them before frying, and frying them at lower temperatures.

Bad news for people who like their fries extra-crispy — or even brown, as the German newspaper Die Welt reports. But then again, how exactly do they plan to enforce it?

"They can come and control me," Raimund Ostendorp, a popular German chef who now owns a takeaway in Bochum, in the Ruhr district, told the newspaper. "I'll just keep on making delicious fries. Who are they going to send? The frying squad?"

There are obvious benefits to the fact that politicians are paying more attention to what lands in our plates. But there's always the risk of overdoing it: Too much control, and people may instead decide to rebel, and take things in the opposite direction.

A popular new Instagram account from Switzerland — the land of cheeses and chocolate — may be a case in point. As noted recently in the the Swiss daily Le Temps, the account celebrates an #unhealthylifestyle as a reaction to the "omnipresence of stereotypes online" and "overrepresentation of a lifestyle based on happiness and slenderness."

Sure, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek. But there's also a real message involved, according to Agathe Hauser, the 26-year-old comedian behind the @Swissfatgirls Instagram account. "Let's stop feeling guilty," she told the paper. "Let's enjoy life to the fullest and accept that nobody's perfect."