Airline says no to men
Budget airlines are constantly on the lookout for ways to cut their fuel bills and India’s GoAir is no different. Its latest idea is to hire female-only cabin crew, refusing applications from their heavier male counterparts in a bid to limit fuel burn. The low-cost airline has calculated that the move will save up to 30 million rupees (US$500,000) a year, because women are on average 20kg lighter. Around 130, or 40 percent, of GoAir’s existing crew members are male, and they will keep their jobs. However, men will miss out in the future, as the airline presses ahead with ambitious expansion plans. The chief executive, Giorgio De Roni, said the decision was driven by the rupee’s sharp fall against the dollar over the past year. “The rupee’s fall has hurt the industry badly. All major expenses — aircraft leasing, spare parts and fuel costs — are linked to the dollar,” he told the Times of India. “We are looking at every possible way of cost-cutting to remain profitable.”
Orangutan goes on diet
An obese orangutan has been put on a strict diet by wildlife authorities after two decades of gorging on junk food handed out by tourists, a report said yesterday. Jackie reportedly weighs 100kg, twice the normal weight of an adult female in the rich jungle habitats of Borneo island. The 22-year-old ape was relocated more than three months ago by the wildlife department in the state of Sabah — which lies in the northeast of Borneo — because visitors to the Poring forestry park kept feeding her. Department director Laurentius Ambu was cited in a newspaper report saying that Jackie’s familiarity with her human carers led her to seek out tourists at the park’s visitors’ area. “I am glad that Jackie is a much happier orangutan now,” Ambu was quoted as saying in The Star. The primate’s new diet is said to include more leafy vegetables and fruit.
Site aims to preserve Angkor
Cambodia has joined hands with Australia in an effort to use the Internet to help preserve its fabled Angkor Wat temple complex, the Australian Embassy announced on Thursday. As part of a master plan to limit damage to the complex, a recently opened Web site, Angkor Sunset Finder, will give tourists recommendations for where in the 400km2 complex one can watch spectacular sunsets. A handful of well-publicized spots from which to watch the setting sun attract too many tourists, endangering the place’s physical and aesthetic integrity. The Web site at angkorsunsets.com allows visitors to select several criteria — including what kind of atmosphere, distance from gate and crowd conditions — to get a recommendation of alternative perches from a listing of 34 vantage points.
Mafia abusing EU funds
The Mafia is ramping up investment in wind farms to launder money and benefit from EU subsidies, according to a Europol report published on Thursday. Europe’s policing agency said an analysis of the financial activities of the Mafia’s four groupings found wind farms to be the most popular target for dirty money within the renewable energy sector, itself a criminal favourite. “The Italian Mafia is investing more and more in renewable energy, especially in wind farms, to profit from generous European grants paid for by member states which allow them to mix dirty money with legitimate economic activities,” the report said.
Internet laws sharpened
Lawmakers have introduced long jail terms for anyone convicted of going online to poke fun at the government or public officials. Under the new law, Internet users face up to 15 years’ imprisonment and US$90,000 fines for a raft of offences including spreading “false news” against or even “caricaturing” government functionaries and politicians. People taking to the Internet to impersonate public officials or to commit any offense already deemed criminal will also fall foul of the new sanctions. “In the recent past, some citizens have waged concerted efforts to pit the people and the security officials against their government,” Information Minister Nana Grey-Johnson told parliament before tabling the bill late on Wednesday. “They do this by inciting the people to engage in unpatriotic behavior, spreading false news and engaging in criminal defamation against government officials. Such tendencies, if unchecked, are a recipe for chaos and instability in any country.”
Tribes urged to spend wisely
Members of Samburu and Masai tribes who received payment from the British government say that the estimated 5,200 Kenyans waiting for compensation from Britain for colonial-era acts of torture should spend the money wisely. Kipise Lourolkeek, one of the more than 220 Masai injured by ordnance and compensated by Britain in 2002, is urging the next beneficiaries to “live humbly.” Lourolkeek, who was paid more than US$211,000, says most of the cash is now gone, lost in part through frequent trips to the bar. Last month Britain announced a settlement to pay US$21.5 million to the 5,200 Kenyans who were found to have been tortured during the colonial era. That is about US$4,100 for each victim, a substantial sum in a country where per capita income is about US$1,800.
Man breaks his eating record
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut devoured 69 hot dogs, breaking his own record to win the traditional Fourth of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island for the seventh straight year. With thousands of spectators cheering him on, Chestnut downed the 69 dogs — and their buns — in 10 minutes, improving on his previous personal best of 68. He retained the Mustard Yellow International Belt for a seventh straight year, his title run surpassing that of Japanese speed-eating great Takeru Kobayashi, who won six straight Coney Island crowns before he was beaten by Chestnut in 2007. Matt “Megatoad” Stonie was a distant second, scarfing 51 hot dogs. Sonya Thomas retained the women’s title, downing almost 37 dogs to win by a fraction of a frankfurter. The “Black Widow” of competitive eating could not equal her feat of last year, when she matched her age by consuming 45 hot dogs.