Vegemite gets makeover
The iconic vegetable spread Vegemite is getting a makeover. Kraft Foods announced on Sunday that a creamier variation of the product would be on store shelves on July 5 alongside the original, which has been a staple in pantries almost since its invention in 1922. Vegemite — a salty, slightly bitter spread made from brewer’s yeast — is such a part of the lifestyle that it even made mention as a sandwich in the 1980s hit song Down Under by Men at Work. People spread it on toast or crackers, top it with tomatoes or avocados, use it to flavor soups and gravies, pack a jar when traveling and write home for more when living abroad. Kraft decided to make a new product after conducting a census of 300,000 local citizens and New Zealanders to find out how they use Vegemite. The end result is a Vegemite mixed with cream cheese for a smoother, more spreadable consistency. Kraft said the new product was given to 600 homes for testing and came back with overwhelmingly positive results. Kraft touts the still-unnamed product as “the new Vegemite experience.” Just like the original, which was named in a national poll in 1923, the new version will also be named by a public contest. Jars that go on sale next month will carry the label: “Name Me.” The contest is open-ended as Kraft selects the best name for the Vegemite partner.
Hundreds riot over tax
Several hundred furniture makers blocked traffic and overturned police cars yesterday in an eastern city to protest a new tax they said imposes a heavy burden on their businesses. The protest was the latest in recent months by workers and companies worried about government moves to restructure industries or job losses because of the economic crisis. Photographs and video footage posted on Web sites showed crowds in Nankang, Jiangxi Province, filling a street junction, surrounding overturned police cars and spilling over onto a highway and halting traffic.
Dead voters to be logged
A lawmaker frustrated by rampant electoral fraud has proposed legislation to get the names of the dead off voter rolls. Representative Maria Victoria Sy-Alvarado said yesterday she wanted to make it mandatory for doctors and family members to report deaths to the civil registrar, which has to give the information to the Election Commission so it can update its voter lists. The bill must go through a long legislative process before becoming law. If enacted, government officials or employees would face up to 10 years imprisonment and be disqualified from public office.
Croc narrowly misses boy
Two schoolboys playing on a riverbank on the west coast had a lucky escape when a 3.5m crocodile picked on their 10-year-old black Labrador instead of them, news reports said yesterday. “It was a heavy dog, at least 40kg, and would be heavier than at least one of the children,” Police Sergeant Mike Wells said of the Sunday attack on the May River near Derby in Western Australia. “The crocodile came out of the water and grabbed the Labrador effortlessly and took it away,” Wells told the West Australian newspaper. The parents were locals and were nearby having a picnic when the crocodile lunged at the dog. “Unfortunately everyone knows there are crocs there but people tend to get complacent,” Wells said.
Bacon boosts cancer cases
A dramatic fall in the consumption of processed meat such as bacon and ham would stop around 3,700 people a year in Britain from developing bowel cancer, scientists said yesterday. Martin Wiseman, scientific and medical adviser to the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “The evidence on processed meat is convincing and our scientists estimate that up to about 3,700 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented every year in the UK if everyone ate less than 70g of processed meat a week, which is roughly the equivalent of three rashers of bacon.” The fund said people should ideally eat no processed meat at all in order to minimize their cancer risk. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK. Around 36,500 people are diagnosed with it annually. Half die within five years.
Giant jeans may set record
A pair of jeans the size of six tennis courts, stitched together from thousands donated for charity, should be recognized by Guinness World Records as the biggest anywhere, organizers said on Sunday. “We’ve made the world’s largest pair of jeans!” the Cockta Jeans Fashion project said on its Web site. “People were bringing in their old jeans ... and sponsors were immediately giving money for humanitarian purposes,” project head Boris Juric told national television. The jeans were put on display in Zagreb on Saturday. They have a leg length of 45m and a total width of 34m and were sewn up in a local factory. For each pair of donated jeans, the project paid US$1.30 to a local association providing therapy to disabled people.
Egypt fights for Nefertiti
Egypt will soon provide evidence that the 3,400-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti was taken illegally out of the country by Germany, Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said on Sunday. “We are still gathering information, but I expect we will shortly have enough to place a formal request to the Berlin Museum for the return of the bust,” Hawass told the Tagesspiegel in an interview. The fabled bust of Nefertiti, renowned as one of history’s great beauties, was brought to Berlin in 1913, a year after German archeologist Ludwig Borchardt unearthed it on the banks of the Nile. Cairo began demanding the statue in the 1930s.
Forest burned in air strikes
More than 125 hectares of forest were burned in the past month as a result of Turkish bombardment, a senior official in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan said on Sunday. The official said that an emergency team of firemen and border and forest guards had been formed to extinguish the fires in the Kurdish province of Dohuk. “More than 500 dhonam [125 hectares] of forest was burned as a result of Turkish bombardment this month,” said Najat Sufi Hariri, the planning director in Kurdistan’s agriculture ministry. Aided by US intelligence, Turkish jets have been bombing hideouts of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in northern Iraq since December 2007.
Hoses used to fight cobras
Power hoses and AK-47 assault rifles have succeeded where snake-charmers failed by removing 400 cobras and vipers that overran a police station. Authorities in the southern district of Bo called in police, army and fire fighters after the snakes scared away police officers and residents reporting crimes.
Face transplant patient dies
A man who underwent the world’s first face and double-hand transplant in April after being disfigured in an accident has died, hospital officials said on Monday. The man, in his 30s, died of cardiac arrest while undergoing a follow-up operation on June 8, said Laurent Lantieri, the surgeon who performed the groundbreaking transplant near Paris. “He developed a facial infection a few weeks after his operation, and during an operation to try to tackle the infection he suffered cardiac arrest,” Lantieri told RTL radio. He said the man’s death was linked to a heart problem, not to the transplant itself. Surgeons had replaced the patient’s entire face above the lips, including the scalp, nose, ears and forehead, in a 30-hour operation involving a 40-person medical team of more than 40. Worldwide, there have been five other face transplants to date, three of them in France, but it was the first time a transplant of both hands and the face had been completed in one go.
CIA chief criticizes Cheney
Former vice president Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of security matters suggests he wants the US to be attacked, CIA Director Leon Panetta said. “I think he smells some blood in the water on the national security issue,” Panetta told The New Yorker magazine for next Monday’s edition. “It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.” Cheney has said that President Barack Obama is making the US less safe by banning the controversial methods and planning to close Guantanamo Bay. Asked whether he agreed with the intelligence chief, US Vice President Joe Biden told NBC’s Meet the Press that he would not question Cheney’s motives. However, he added: “Dick Cheney’s judgment about how to secure America is faulty. I think our judgment is correct.”
Obama kin inks book deal
A memoir by George Obama, the president’s half brother and a resident of Huruma, Kenya, will be published by Simon & Schuster in January. George Obama, 27, shares the same father with his half sibling. He is the youngest of the senior Obama’s seven children and was born six months before his father died. The book will be written with author-journalist Damien Lewis and tell of George Obama’s fall into crime and poverty as a teenager and his eventual embrace of community organizing and of advocacy for the poor, an identification so strong that he chooses to live among them. “Even had George Obama not been our president’s half brother, his story is moving and inspirational,” David Rosenthal, Simon Schuster publisher and executive vice president, said in a statement on Sunday.
Scouts receive Parton badge
Country singer Dolly Parton delighted hundreds of Tennessee Girl Scouts when she made a surprise entrance at a ceremony to present them with a patch created in her honor. Parton appeared on stage at the Pines Theater in Pigeon Forge, where 400 Girl Scouts were receiving the new “Coat of Many Colors” badge. It is named for Parton and her 1971 song of the same name. The badge requires Scouts to help others, then design a collage of what makes them special. “A person can make money, but money can’t make a person,” she told the girls. Parton is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference