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Terms such as “veggie burger” and “veggie sausage” for plant-based food items could potentially be banned, if farming and meat industry lobbyists have their way. The European parliament will vote on the proposal next week.

The veggie blacklist would also include such terms as “yoghurt-style” and “cheese-like” for dairy-free alternatives. The vote is expected next Tuesday, when the latest Common Agricultural Policy will go to a plenary vote. 

Lobbyists say the terms mislead consumers, with European agricultural trade body Copa-Cogeca going so far as to suggest they amount to “an obvious case of cultural hijacking,” in a recent statement. The agri-cooperative even implied that branding on plant-based foods could be intentionally deceiving, claiming, “Certain marketing agencies are using this to deliberately confuse consumers.”

“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that consumers are confused or misled by the current labelling of vegetarian and vegan products,” Jasmijn de Boo, of the food advocacy organization ProVeg, said in a statement. “Just as we all know there’s no butter in peanut butter … consumers know exactly what they’re getting when they purchase veggie burgers or veggie sausages.”

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The UK House of Lords agrees that the terms currently used by plant-based food manufacturers are unlikely to be confusing. According to a 2019 report by a parliamentary committee, fewer than four percent of people in the United Kingdom had ever bought a veggie product by mistake.

Boo, and others on the ‘pro-veggie’ side, including major food companies such as Unilever and Nestlé, say the ban would also contradict the EU’s stated goals “to create healthier and more sustainable food systems” and combat climate change, according to the Guardian.

The proposal to ban the veggie terms requests that “names currently used for meat products shall be reserved exclusively for products containing meat.” The list of those supposedly ‘meat-only’ names includes steak, sausage, escalope, burger, and hamburger. A similar name ban would also apply to plant-based chicken-style products.

The concept of forbidding food manufacturers from applying generic words such as ‘burger’ to plant-based products based on their ingredients was slammed as “absurd” online.

“Do you mean a vegetable-bas

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‘We cannot let fear prevail’: As free speech debates rage after teacher’s beheading, French magazine reprints Mohammed cartoons





France’s L’Express magazine has reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, some of which were used in a lesson by murdered teacher Samuel Paty. Local authorities want to publish a book of caricatures and distribute it in schools.

The French publication ran a story featuring cartoons of the Islamic prophet, two of which – the drawings taken from satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – were part of a lesson on freedom of speech given by Paty. 

Back in 2015, twelve people were shot and killed after two Islamist extremists stormed Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office, as retribution for the cartoons.

The French magazine argued that Paty, who was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, had been murdered for “doing his job” and promoting France’s secular values. The outlet warned that the country cannot allow itself to self-censor. 

The fear is there. Fear is everywhere. But we cannot let it prevail

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The decision to run the cartoons comes amid an outpouring of anger over Paty’s murder. On Monday, the presidents of France’s 13 administrative regions announced that they were launching an initiative to publish a book of political and religious caricatures, and they want it to be distributed in schools across the country. 

In a statement, one of the leaders behind the initiative said the book was intended to “defend the values ​​of the Republic and the fundamental right of each and every one of our fellow citizens to live in peace and in freedom.” 

Paty was attacked and killed last week after the father of one of his students published several videos on social media in which he denounced the instructor as a “thug” and said that he had issued a complaint against him. The videos reportedly spread among the region’s Muslim community, and one of them was even shared by a local mosque, the Grand Mosque of Pantin. 

The mosque removed the video after Paty’s murder and expressed “regret” for sharing it, while arguing that the teacher was never identified by name in the

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Singapore to introduce pre-event rapid Covid testing to allow weddings and mass gatherings to resume safely





Singapore will pilot antigen rapid tests that can return “fairly accurate” Covid results within 15 minutes. The move aims to reduce the risk of transmission at weddings and large-scale events as the economy opens up.

The Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong announced on Tuesday that the antigen rapid tests (ARTs) pilot runs from mid-October to December. For the duration of the pilot phase, the government will identify selected events such as business-to-business conferences, wedding receptions, live performances, and sports matches for pre-event testing, Gan added.

The antigen-based rapid detection tests which will be used for the pilot are not error-free. But the Ministry of Health (MOH) claims that the ARTs can return “fairly accurate” results within about half an hour. Up to three percent of ARTs may falsely test positive but this was an “inconvenience that had to be weighed against the need to open up society and the economy,” the ministry said.

Participants and wedding goers would either be tested at the event venue or at an offsite testing facility with a negative test certificate giving Singaporeans the ability to attend multiple events over a 24-hour period.

“If you go for a multi-day event, you would then require daily testing, with that cert being valid for 24 hours. However, if you’re attending multiple events within a 24-hour window, that same cert will gain you access to multiple events if you’re negative,” noted an MOH representative.

During the pilot phase, the ARTs will be provided free of charge to the participants. Once the project becomes mainstream, the event organizers are likely to be charged for the tests, the authorities added.

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Closest to Earth ‘black hole’ turns out to be rare kind of star, after all





A growing body of research posits that the star system HR 6819 does not contain a black hole, contrary to earlier findings. It may instead boast a unique pair of stars.

The object located some 1,120 light-years from Earth has been preliminarily demoted from a bewildering black hole to a binary star system with a rather unusual orbit. 

The system consists of a very hot Be spectral type star which spins at approximately 200km per second, shooting out a disc of hydrogen gas which surrounds it.

Previously, it was found to be accompanied by a B3 III star, measuring approximately six solar masses, with a roughly 40-day orbit. The Be star, also measuring in at about six solar masses, seemed to be spinning on the spot, which made no sense as two objects of similar mass should spin about a mutual center of gravity. 

Following a serious amount of number crunching, researchers earlier this year concluded that the pair must be orbiting a third, massive object that wasn’t visible which would explain why the spinning top star was essentially locked in place – a black hole.

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However, as is often the case in science, there was a competing theory: that the B3 III star was actually a low mass star that had been worn down by its companion, and that the initial calculations were off.

If this were the case, the almost imperceptible movement of the larger Be star would be visible via wobbles and shifts in the hydrogen gas disc emanating from it. 

Sure enough, astronomers Douglas Gies and Luqian Wang of Georgia State University discovered variations in the disc which aligned with the B3 III star’s orbit. 

“This indicates,” they wrote, “that HR 6819 is a binary system consisting of a massive Be star and a low-mass companion that is the stripped down remnant of a former mass donor star in a mass transfer binary.”

In other words, the Be star took a huge chunk out of its companion and, according to the recalculations, the B3 III star would be between 0.4 and 0.8 solar masses.

By coincidence, a second paper, produced by researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium, conducted an independent analysis of the hydrogen disc emitted by the star and reached almost exactly the same conclusion as Gies and Wang. 

In their analysis, they found the pair to have solar masses of 0.4 and 6 respectively. 

“This indicates that the primary might be a stripped star rather than a B-type giant,” they wrote. “In the framework of this interpretation, HR 6819 does not contain a BH.”

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By yet more happenstance, a third paper, currently in preprint, produced by astronomers Kareem El-Badry and Eliot Quataert of UC Berkeley also found 0.47 and 6.7 solar masses for the B3 III and Be stars respectively, providing yet more evidence of an unusual bi

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