x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Junk food out, tabbouleh in

As Lebanese chefs serve up the world's biggest plates of hummus and tabbouleh, scientists warn we may all have to give up meat to stop global warming. Meanwhile, KFC's bid for nationhood founders and Iceland loses it's Golden Arches.

Under the watch of a Guinness adjudicator, Lebanese chefs prepare what they hope will be the largest bowl of tabbouleh to set a new world record in Beirut.
Under the watch of a Guinness adjudicator, Lebanese chefs prepare what they hope will be the largest bowl of tabbouleh to set a new world record in Beirut.

Two car bombs just seconds apart exploded outside government buildings in Baghdad, killing 150 people and injuring hundreds, in one of the worst days of bloodshed since the US began a pull out from Iraqi cities. A suicide bomber detonated two tonnes of explosives packed on a bus outside the ministry of justice in the first attack, then two seconds later a one-tonne car bomb exploded outside a provincial office near the Green Zone. An al Qa'eda-linked group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A heart-broken Julia was left pining for the return of her Romeo who was last seen heading for Sharjah after the rope tying him to his perch at a birds of prey show in Al Khawaneej came undone. The Rüppell's Griffon Vulture has a two and a half metre wing span which his keepers hope will make him more easily identifiable. His keepers emphasised that Romeo is well-behaved and harmless to the public. The spurned Julia, on the other hand, may not be so.

The Saudi king pardoned a female journalist who had been sentenced to 60 lashes for her involvement in a controversial TV show in which a man, commonly known as the "revealer of sin", detailed his love conquests. Rozanna al Yami, 22, would have been the first female to receive a flogging sentence in the conservative kingdom. A Lebanese broadcaster had produced the show, in which Mazen Abdul-Jawad, 32, a divorced father living in Jeddah, described how he used Bluetooth mobile phone messaging to pick up women. He was sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes earlier this month for "incitement to sin".

The British government's leading scientist on climate change warned of an impending crisis- the kind that has not been seen for 30 million years - unless there is a drastic reduction in greenhouse gases. Lord Stern, who was chief economist at the World Bank and is the author of a 2006 study on the economics of climate change, said these kind of changes "will have huge consequences - southern Europe is likely to be a desert; hundreds of millions of people will have to move. There will be severe global conflict". Methane, he said, was the main culprit and warned that the only way to avert this apocalyptic vision was for the world's people to stop eating red meat and turn vegetarian.

The global burger behemoth McDonald's pulled out of the Iceland due to financial constraints. The company closed its three franchise outlets in the tiny country of 300,000 saying that with the collapse of the local currency, the krona, it was no longer a viable option to do business there. All ingredients have to be imported from Germany, making an onion the same price as a bottle of whisky.

Just days after lobbying the United Nations for its 60 million strong "nation" of grilled chicken lovers to have its own seat in the General Assembly, a man dressed in the trademark white suit and black bow tie of the late KFC founder, Colonel Sanders, was seen shaking hands with Ali Treki, the new president of the assembly. It seems an actor playing Col Sanders had breached security to reach a restricted area of the UN headquarters in New York.

In Afghanistan, Taliban gunmen dressed in police uniforms stormed a foreigners' guesthouse in the capital, Kabul, killing six UN workers, and raising concerns about the ability of the government to secure elections next weekend. Foreigners scrambled over roof tops and leapt from windows to escape their attackers. Hours later, rockets were fired at a foreign-owned luxury hotel near the presidential palace, forcing more than 100 guests into a bunker. The Taliban said it had attacked the guesthouse because of the UN's role in organising elections.

Kuwait's female MPs will not be forced to wear a hijab or see their parliamentary membership invalidated after the Constitutional Court, the country's highest legal authority, rejected a case by a Kuwaiti man who said the women broke rules relating to Islamic dress. Two female MPs, Aseel al Awadhi and Rola Dashti, have refused to wear the hijab, which was said to be a violation of an election law which insists women abide by Sharia law. The court, however, said that Sharia law had many different interpretations and that it was not necessary for a woman to wear the hijab in order to abide by the terms of the law.

Lebanon fired a new salvo at Israel, smashing its erstwhile foe's record for the largest plate of hummus, and demanding the Jewish state stop claiming the dish as its own. Some 300 chefs were involved in preparing the massive 2,056kg plate of dip which was then entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ever made. A few days later, the same chefs smashed another record, making the biggest ever bowl of tabbouleh. Over in the Palestinian Territories, women in the West Bank town of Hebron were hoping to break still another world record by creating the largest dress. About 150 women helped make the dress, which is 32.6 metres long and 18.1 metres wide.

Archaeologists discovered the fossilised skull of what they believe to be the world's largest marine creature, a veritable "sea monster" that could swallow a man whole or bite a car in half with its razor sharp teeth. Based on the fossil, experts put the creature at close to 16 metres in length and weighing 80 tonnes. The ferocious marine lizard terrorised the oceans 150 million years ago and its skull was discovered on a beach in Britain, along the Jurassic Coast near Dorset.

Waves of disappointment rolled through Ras al Khaimah after a ruling by a New York state court that a 19th-century deed ruled out the emirate holding the America's Cup sailing race in February. The Deed of Gift, a set of rules drawn up in 1887, states the race cannot be held in the Northern Hemisphere between November 1 and May 1. The RAK government claims to have poured US$120 million (Dh440m) into projects to prepare for the race and hotels were already expecting an influx of guests. Alinghi, the Swiss team that chose RAK to defend its title, said it would appeal.

* The National