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Trump And The World

Circumnavigating In The Age Of Trump

—Analysis—

Back in the 16th century, it took Ferdinand Magellan"s crew more than two years to sail around the world. Yesterday, a new record was set in the prestigious Vendée Globe solo sailing race, as French skipper Armel Le Cléac'h took just 74 days to circumnavigate our planet.

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The front entrance to the Chateau de Versailles
Society

After 40 Years, Bidding Adieu To Versailles

VERSAILLES — With the attention to detail that comes with doing something for the last time, Béatrix Saule checks on the 200 clocks that chime one after another. She unfolds a shutter to protect the drapes from the sun. She tests the floor to see if there's any movement in stonework.

Saule has been doing some of these tasks for decades, going all the way back to 1976, when she first came to the Palace of Versailles. She's lived here — in France's grandest château — ever since. But now, after a 40-year career, the site's chief curator is finally set to retire.

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Preparing gado gado
food / travel

Inside Indonesian Kitchens, A Story About The Archipelago

From the rich peanut sauce of gado-gado to the spicy tang of the fried rice nasi goreng, Indonesian cuisine is known for its intense flavors and lavish use of spices.

JAKARTA The streets of any Indonesian town or city are filled by the sound and smell of food, often cooked on the spot and sold for less than a dollar a plate.

Rima Sjoekri says she isn't a great cook, not even a good one. She never learned to cook when she was young — and is not the only Indonesian who feels that way. "I feel like my generation is the missing link in Indonesian cooking because we were raised to have a career outside of the home. We were raised to go beyond our kitchen," said Sjoekri.

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Analyzing Mona Lisa
Future

Brains And Beauty, Can Neuroscience Measure How Art Affects Us?

Several decades of reflection and study have led neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux to stake out a new field that shows how art influences the brain.

PARIS — Walls covered by masters of the 17th and 18th centuries, an organ playing a Bach score, sculptures standing tall: It is only when you see Jean-Pierre Changeux's apartment in central Paris that you understand that he doubles as a neurobiologist and an amateur art collector. And now, he brings the two poles of his life, brain study and art history, together in a new book: La Beauté dans le cerveau (Beauty in The Brain).

This collection of previously published texts — including catalogues from exhibitions at the crossroads of art and science — aims to establish a "research program in "neuroscience of art,"" a still rarely explored field of study to which Changeux has devoted courses at the Collège de France in Paris.

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Working on the line in Copenhagen
Economy

Hard Questions For Denmark’s Soft Unemployment Cure

'Flexicurity,' the Danish labor approach, where it's easy to be fired but also rehired, has helped unemployment remain among the lowest in the world. But the lack of skilled labor creates new demands.

COPENHAGEN — Brian Winther Almind, a senior executive of DSV, a European transport and logistics company, has a logistical problem of his own: finding the right people to get the job done.

"It is one of the reasons why we set up our new headquarters off the beaten path," said Almind, standing in the ultra-bright atrium of the building in question, a large cube built about 30 kilometers to the west of the Danish capital. "Here, we are near the countryside. It is easier to find people here than closer to Copenhagen where companies fight each other for available employees. There's also a university right next door that we can recruit young people from."

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Ski, snow and sun
Switzerland

A Swiss Ski Pass Start-Up Looks To Uberize The Slopes

The Lausanne-based start-up Skioo is organizing trips from Swiss cities to Alpine resorts thanks to an alliance with the U.S.-based car-hire app.

GENEVA — One needs skiers, the other, passengers. Skioo, a pay-per-use sky pass, and Uber, a ride-hailing service, recently partnered to transport city residents to snow-covered slopes.

Gregory Barbezat, the founder and owner of Skioo, drove people to the slopes of Glacier 3000, above the Swiss village of Diablerets, in a minibus. "The atmosphere was excellent," he said with a smile.

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What do you want for Christmas?
Switzerland

Does Santa Exist? A Case For Telling Kids The Truth — And Keeping The Lie

According to new psychology research, lying to kids about the subject of Santa Claus risks ruining their confidence and altering the parent-child relationship.

GENEVA — The ritual has been respected for 60 years now. Each December, Switzerland's official postal service assigns five employees to respond to thousands of letters from children addressed to Santa Claus. "We send them a note and a present," says Nathalie Dérobert, spokeswoman for La Poste. And yes, to maintain the magic, the letters purport to come from Santa's helpers.

The letters come from all over Switzerland, even some from abroad, and they are increasing — an estimated 18,700 are expected this year. While everything else seems to have gone digital, the handwritten letter to Santa Claus is a tradition that is still holding strong. Of course, many of the kids' letters have been prompted and encouraged by their parents who tell of a fat man dressed in red ready to twist his belly down the chimney to spread goodies around the Christmas tree. The ritual and family joy is at the center of the holiday warmth in households around the world.

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Prayer beads below a name board on a tree at the Coburger Land Ruheforst forest cemetery in Germany.
Germany

The End Of Grief, How Modern Life Is Making Death Anonymous

MUNICHGrief is demonstrative resistance against loss. Cemeteries and funerals are ways to combat death, preserving the lives of the departed by allowing people to remember them. Death, we are told, is a part of life. But those who went earlier this month to the cemetery on All Hallows, All Souls Day, will have to ask themselves if these time-worn sentiments still hold true. There are far fewer people standing at the gravesides of their loved ones, and many more graves that have been left unmarked.

Local newspapers in the city of Münster recently complained that no funerals are allowed to take place on Saturdays, since weekday ceremonies force people to have to take time off from work to attend. What kind of customer service is that?, the papers asked. People would be much more willing to honor the dead on a Saturday because they wouldn't have to skip work. More willing?

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Forever young
Switzerland

Reaching Immortality, But Would We Even Want That?

The promise of eternal life gets a boost from the latest technologies, but there are troubling questions that go beyond science.

GENEVA — Can man become immortal in a decade? Ray Kurzweil, the director of engineering at Google, is familiar with this subject. He has written books on health, artificial intelligence and futurology.

Kurzweil's theory on immortality is based on the exponential development of technologies, which have been growing more and more efficient, more and more rapidly. Kurzweil believes that biotechnology will transform health in the near future. He thinks that medicine will use "nanorobots' to complement the work of the human immune system by the year 2020. These tiny machines would be able to modify each human gene so it would not age or allow illness in the body. Kurzweil has theorized that, by 2030, medical technology would allow people to add an extra year of life each year to their life.

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Bombed hospital in the Syrian village of Awaijel on Nov. 15
Geopolitics

In Syrian War, Numbers Can Be Numbing But We Desperately Need Them

Mohamad Katoub, a former doctor who escaped from eastern Ghouta, always felt that Syria’s daily toll of deaths and casualties are more than just numbers – until he saw the power those statistics had. Here, he explains why he changed his mind.

-OpEd-

GAZIANTEP — On Feb. 15, 2014, the medical staff in the Syrian region of eastern Ghouta, my home, decided to close the unit housing incubators for premature babies because the hospital ran out of fuel for the electricity generators. The siege made my neighborhood inaccessible and deprived the hospital of supplies. Incubators need round-the-clock electricity and, at the time, we were hardly able to save enough fuel for critical cases. I took part in making that decision, and I will never forgive myself. A little girl died that night. She was two days old.

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U.S. flag during a Marines parade in Westwood, NJ
Geopolitics

America And Us, Trump’s Victory Is Very Bad News For The World

With Donald Trump's arrival at the White House, America will enter the fifth phase in its relationship with the rest of the world. Despots have reason to cheer.

PARIS — America, since its birth, has embodied democracy. Democracy against the monarchy, against the old colonial world, against the ambitions of central powers during World War I, then against the totalitarianism of the Nazis and their Japanese allies, finally against the Soviet and Communist totalitarianism during the Cold War.

For a re-emerging but still fragile Europe, America has continued to stand as a form of life insurance in an ever more dangerous and complicated world. Global terrorism has been hitting us hard, Russia was becoming a threat again, China's ambitions were growing — but America was still there. It was sometimes incoherent, even occasionally brutal, but in the end it was our ally, if not our moral compass.

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