To combat a growing problem of obesity in France, a new baguette for slimmers is to be launched next week in boulangeries across the country. The "Optimatin" loaf has the same refined taste as a classic baguette but contains a unique combination of grains and fibres that staves off hunger for longer, according to to its inventor, food scientist Claude Godard. "I discovered that nine out of 10 obese people who came to see me do not eat breakfast," explains Godard who has a dietary consultancy in the eastern town of Chalon-sur-Saone. "But a substantial breakfast based on bread actually worked in reducing their appetite later in the day."
■ South Africa
40 legislators to be charged
Forty members of South Africa's parliament implicated in a travel scam will be charged with fraud and appear in court next week, officials said on Friday. Prosecutors say they suspect the MPs of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of parliamentary travel privileges, including vouchers for free air travel designed to enable them to return to visit their constituencies. "We've decided to prosecute 40 members of parliament," said Sipho Ngwema, spokesman for the elite Scorpions crime unit.
Bardot rips bear hunts
French former film star and now ardent animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has condemned Greenland's plans to organize polar bear hunts for wealthy tourists. "I have been fighting for years to stop the ice shelf being stained with the blood of thousands of seals shamelessly exterminated in Canada and Norway," she wrote in an open letter dated Thursday to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, of which Greenland is a dependent territory. "Your country also seems to want to leave its stamp on the ice shelf by causing the blood of these innocent bears to flow, bears whose survival is already threatened by global warming," Bardot said.
Singles site focuses on food
A German website for singles showed off its wares Friday with a dating service inspired by the motto the way to a man's (or woman's) heart is through the stomach. "Get to know friendly cooking enthusiasts in the neighborhood quick and easy, for hot cooking parties or romantic culinary dates," says the site, called "Cooking on your own is stupid" (Alleine-kochen-ist-doof.de). The recently started enterprise already has more than 11,000 members aged between 18 and 71, said site manager Tim Schaefer, presenting the service during Green Week, the annual Berlin agriculture and food fair.
Bribery how-to regretted
The Finnish government on Friday said it regretted sponsoring a book giving detailed examples of how to bribe Russian officials and businessmen published by the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce. "We would say that the book really encourages bribing, and we are absolutely of the opinion that one must not allow instructions on bribing to be published in an instruction manual we are supporting financially," Bo Goeran Eriksson, head of the trade department of the Trade and Industry Ministry, told reporters.
■ NorwayDevil's in the details
A hand gesture by US President George W. Bush was lost in translation in Norway, where many viewers watching his inauguration thought it was a salute to the devil. But in reality, it was just a sign of respect for the University of Texas Longhorns, whose fans are known to shout out Hook 'em, horns!'' at athletic events. The president and family were photographed lifting their right hands with their index and pinky fingers raised up, much like a pair of horns during Thursday's inaugural. In Scandinavia, the hand gesture is popular among death metal groups and fans as a salute to the devil. "Shock greeting from Bush daughter," a headline in the Norwegian Nettavisen said above a photograph of Bush's daughter, Jenna, smiling and showing the sign.