x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 December 2017

Norwegian butter crisis churns up Christmas shortages

Plus a good defense against bedbugs, Al Qa'eda looks to change its name to shed its "baggage", and other news you can lose.

Norway is facing a butter crisis, with prices rising to €350 (Dh1,670) for a 500 gram pack.

The shortage is blamed on a wet summer that cut dairy yields and the popularity of a new diet that is low in carbohydrates but heavy in fats.

So desperate are Norwegians for supplies to make their traditional Christmas goodies, that butter is being auctioned online.

The country's dairy industry estimates a shortfall of between 500 and 1,000 tonnes, and has said things will not improve before the New Year.

Customs officials even stopped a Russian at the border with Sweden last week and seized 90 kilograms of butter that he was planning to smuggle into Norway.

 

Facebook bans Irish town

A woman from Ireland has complained that her Facebook account will not let her register the name of her hometown.

Anne Marie Kennedy, from Effin, believes the social networking site is blocking the name because it thinks she is using profanity.

Mrs Kennedy, 47, said: "I'm a proud Effin woman. There are other Effin people around the world and they want to put down that Effin is their hometown."

The name of the town, in County Limerick, is believed to be derived from Saint Eimhin.

In a statement, Facebook said: "From time to time we are alerted to oversights such as this in our mapping system."

 

Al Qaeda's image change

Al Qaeda plans to rebrand itself by changing its name in a bid to get rid of its "negative baggage", according to a Yemeni diplomat.

The branch of the terrorist organisation known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will become Ansar Al Sharia, or Army of Islamic Law, according to the diplomat, who briefed western news sources on a condition of anonymity.

He told Fox News the change aimed to attract sympathisers and that after the death of Osama bin Laden, the old name had "negative connotations and baggage".

Earlier this week, the private security firm formally known as Blackwater, which was accused of killing civilians in Iraq, changed its name for a second time, from Xe to Academi.

 

Fatties sink boat's capacity

A pleasure boat built in the 1990s has been told it must cut passenger numbers because Americans have got so fat.

On its maiden voyage, the Crystal Queen sailed from Atlantic City in New Jersey and was certified to carry 153 passengers and crew.

After moving to Florida, the boat, now called Island Time and used for dinner cruises, has been downgraded to 134 passengers.

The change is due to coast rules that have added more than 11kg to the weight of the average passenger.

Captain Ed Sparrow, of the charter company Holiday of Magic, said: "The US Coast Guard feels the US people have gotten fatter over time."

 

Hairy skin keeps bugs at bay

Hairy skin makes you less likely to be bitten by bed bugs, research has shown.

A study by the Animal and Plant Sciences department at Sheffield University in England used 29 volunteers to test the thesis, shaving the arms of some and leaving others hairy. They found that bed bugs were deterred by the hairier skin, feasting instead on bare arms.

But excessively hairy people might have more of a problem, because the bugs would have more places to hide.

jlangton@thenational.ae