Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

"Quick Takes" Continued...

Issue: "2011 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 17, 2011

H2O no-no

After three years of intense investigation, a European Union bureaucracy opted to ban bottled water makers on the continent from claiming that water prevents dehydration. Last February, two German scientists asked the European Food Safety Authority if bottled water makers could include a label that read, "Regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration." The continental bureaucracy rejected the proposal, saying it lacked scientific basis. And in November, the European Commission banned such labels for bottled water, making violators subject to a fine and three years in prison. "This is stupidity writ large," Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said. "The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true. If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project, then this is it."

Pay or stay

Passengers may have expected a weather report when the captain came over the loudspeaker of Comtel Airlines' Boeing 757. Instead, the captain was looking for a handout. Midway through its Amritsar, India, to Birmingham, U.K., journey on Nov. 15, the Comtel Airlines captain announced that the plane would be stopping in Vienna, Austria, for refueling. He also announced that the airline had just run out of money, so passengers would need to scrounge together more than $31,000 in cash-or roughly $173 per passenger-to pay for refueling. Otherwise, the captain said, the Indian and British passengers would be stranded in Austria. Some passengers disembarked in Vienna, while still others emptied cash machines at the airport to help the plane get back underway.

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