March 23, 2007

LinkNews Digest [03/23/2007]

Corpses Fly First Class

Every wonder what happens to the 10 people a year who die mid-flight? Well, if you're flying British Airways you get the final upgrade. Corpses fly first class.
Paul Trinder, who awoke to see the body at the end of his row, last week described the journey as "deeply disturbing", and complained that the airline dismissed his concerns by telling him to "get over it".

"It was a complete mess -- they seemed to have no proper plans in place to deal with the situation," said Trinder, 54, a businessman from Brackley, Northamptonshire.

The woman died during a nine-hour flight on a Boeing 747. Trinder was catching up on sleep when he was woken by a commotion and opened his eyes to see staff maneuvering the body into a seat.

"I didn't have a clue what was going on. The stewards just plonked the body down without saying a thing. I remember looking at this frail, sparrow-like woman and thinking she was very ill," said Trinder. "She kept slipping under the seatbelt and moving about with the motion of the plane. When I asked what was going on I was shocked to hear she was dead."

British Airways responds: BA said the dead woman was taken into first class because the rest of the plane was full. A spokesman said: "When a customer passes away on board it is always difficult and we apologise for any distress caused."

He said there were about 10 deaths each year out of 36m passengers.

Other carriers use different procedures. Singapore Airlines has introduced "corpse cupboards" on its Airbus 340-500 aircraft. Cabin crews use the locker if there is no empty row of seats to place a corpse.(LINK )

Chinese Decry Lack of Bribes from Candidates

BEIJING (Reuters) - Villagers in southeastern China are up in arms after missing out on lucrative bribes during a recent village elections when candidates foreswore the practice at a temple, according to a Communist Party monthly magazine.

Officials up for election in Dingmei village in Fujian province had to swear to the party they would not bribe voters, but they went one further and took the same oath at a village temple, magazine Xiao Kang said in its March issue.

But this did not go down well with villagers, said the magazine, run by the party's ideological journal Qiu Shi, which means "Seeking Truth."

"You can earn lots of money if you're elected village boss, so what's so bad about dishing some of it out?" complained one old man, whose surname was given as Chen. "But this election, they went to the temple and all we got was a bowl of rice and bottle of beer after all was said and done," he said. "It's peanuts."

The magazine said villagers were used to getting up to 1,000 yuan ($130) from candidates.

"The villagers aren't happy at an election without bribery," an old woman was quoted as saying in the article, headlined "In combating election bribery, the law is no match for praying to the gods."(LINK )

Would-Be Robber Leaves Credit Card

BERLIN (Reuters) - A hapless German thief snapped his credit card in two while prying open a lock, inadvertently leaving behind his name and account details for police.

"He tried to copy what he'd seen them do on television, but the flat-owner woke up and the criminal ran away," a police spokesman said Wednesday. "The victim called up and read us the details off the card."

"When we got round to the burglars house, the other half of his credit card was sitting on his kitchen table."

The 29-year-old burglar was trying to open the door to his neighbor's apartment in Moenchengladbach in western Germany, police said.(LINK )

Surprise Ingredient in Chicken McNuggets

Most folks assume that a chicken nugget is just a piece of fried chicken, right? Wrong! Did you know, for example, that a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget is 56% corn?

According to the handout, McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the "leavening agents": sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid.

But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to "help preserve freshness." According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.

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