Visit Western Wall while still at home
IPhone users can now visit Judaism's holiest prayer site from anywhere in the world. The Israeli foundation that administers the Western Wall has launched an iPhone application that streams live from the site round the clock — except on the Jewish sabbath and holidays, when transmissions are forbidden by Jewish law. The application allows users to send e-mails to be placed in the crevices of the old wall, a Jewish custom. It also includes a compass that allows users to pray in the direction of Jerusalem, another Jewish practice, said Michal Ophir of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
English words out in German ministry
Germany's Transport Ministry has launched a crackdown on English-style words in the German language, handing out a list of more than 100 banned terms. Spokeswoman Sabine Mehwald said Wednesday that Minister Peter Ramsauer had appealed to his staff to preserve the German language, mainly protecting it from words of English origin. For example, staff members were told to stop writing "der laptop," and call the device "mobiler rechner," which means "mobile computer."
Britain studies ATM to boost charity
Britain's government said Wednesday that it is considering plans that could result in customers being asked to donate to good causes each time they use an ATM. Ministers confirmed they are consulting with banks on the idea, common in Colombia and Mexico, to allow customers to give money to charities when they withdraw cash, or check their balance. The government will also discuss a plan to allow shoppers who pay for goods or services using debit cards to round up the cost of purchases and donate the difference.
Coming soon to a grocery store near you: Those nutrition labels slapped on everything from cereal to soda pop will soon be required on packages of meat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the new rule, slated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, requires that 40 of the most common cuts of poultry, pork, beef and lamb include labels that disclose to consumers the total number of calories, the number of calories from fat and the total grams of fat and saturated fat.
The labels also must include details about protein, cholesterol, sodium and vitamins in the product.
The rule will apply to whole cuts of meat and poultry, including boneless chicken breast, tenderloin steak and ground or chopped meat such as hamburger or turkey, officials for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said. The new nutrition labels will either need to be attached to the package itself or be available to shoppers at retail stores and grocers, the officials said.
USDA officials say the new rule is designed to help consumers be better informed about the health benefits and drawbacks of the meats they buy. All this comes as consumer advocates and lawmakers alike rail against the obesity problem among American children, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that American men consume 7 percent more calories — and women 18 percent more — than they did in 1971.
"More and more, busy American families want nutrition information that they can quickly and easily understand," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
Los Angeles Times