Food could get pricier again if El Nino hits sugar and palm oil – dpa international

While consumer price inflation (CPI) has tapered off compared with the spikes seen in 2022, food in Europe remains more expensive than before the Covid pandemic. By March 2023, European Union shoppers were paying 61% more for sugar on average than they were a year earlier, a surge that has put further upward pressure on prices of sugary goods such as confectionery. Worldwide, the year-on-year increase was 40% to June, according price data analysed by business intelligence company The Smart Cube. And while the European Union (EU) CPI was 5.3% in July, down on the 8.9% in the same month in 2022, the onset of the El Nino storm system is prompting concerns about supplies and prices later in the year.

Singapore Changi heads the queue for shortest airport waiting times – dpa international

When the aviation industry got back to work in 2022, many businesses appeared ring-rusty and short-staffed after two years of pandemic border restrictions. Europe’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, was forced to put a temporary cap on traveller numbers, while across the Irish Sea, Dublin Airport was swamped with complaints as lines of passengers stretched out of terminal buildings and onto pavements. Passengers flying in and out of Singapore Changi Airport, meanwhile, have had the least to worry about, going by number-crunching done by Casago, a US-based holiday property business, which went through passenger review data on air transport monitor Skytrax.

Ryanair adding France-bound flights ahead of rugby’s world cup – dpa international

“We’ve had record bookings from rugby fans travelling this year for what is set to be a spectacular Rugby World Cup taking place throughout France,” said Dara Brady, Ryanair’s marketing chief. The extra flights depart Edinburgh, London Stansted and Manchester airports for Marseille, Nice and Paris, and include from London to Marseille for a prospective mid-October quarter-final involving England. No such flight has been lined up from Scotland, possibly as the country’s team faces the daunting task of pipping one of defending champion South Africa or the world’s number-one ranked nation, Ireland, for a quarter-final spot. England, despite being a lower-ranked team than Scotland, face what appears to be an easier path to the knock-out stages.

Portugal cuts rail transport costs for passengers with new €49 monthly pass – dpa international

Issued by Comboios de Portugal, the country’s national rail company, the pass allows for unlimited travel on most routes and follows the recent introduction of a €49 pass in Germany. The pass cannot be used on urban rail services in Lisbon and Porto. Germany recently launched a similarly priced “Deutschlandticket,” which, in contrast to the newer Portuguese version, takes in buses and local or regional trains, as well as urban transport in Berlin, Munich and other major cities.Spain last year permitted free rail travel while inflation, notably higher car fuel prices, added to rising costs-of-living. The price for the new Portuguese offering, which was announced in July ahead of being rolled out in August, compares favourably with some of Europe’s priciest rail networks. In Britain, for example, so-called “peak time” day-returns by rail to and from London can cost around £50 (US$63.55) for a journey of an hour each way.

Taking drugs adds to risk of heart attack, going by French hospital data – dpa international

“Compared with other non-using heart patients, users were more likely to die or to require emergency intervention for events such as cardiac arrest or acute circulatory failure,” the medics warned. They found only half of all patients whose urine samples suggested they had taken drugs actually admitted to it. A third of the patients younger than 40 had taken drugs, the tests suggested, while 25% of all drug-using patients had dabbled in more than one substance.

Survey links saying hello with being healthier and wealthier – dpa international

The likelihood of being categorised as “thriving” in Gallup’s overall life ratings increased from 38.1% among those who regularly say hello to zero people in their neighborhood to 60.5% among those who say hello to at least five. But there’s no point overdoing it, as people who say hello more than 7 or more times registered “no meaningful increase in well-being” compared to those who stuck with this version of the rule of 6. Older people were more likely to be friendlier than other groups, particularly if they were well-to-do. So-called Generation Z and Millennials were the least friendly, probably eyes down on their phones as they walk, imagining themselves replying with a snarkily-inflected “OK Boomer” to the old codger croaking a “hello” from across the street while mowing his lawn.

Teenagers who smoke drag down their brainpower – dpa international

Teenagers who succumb to peer pressure and start smoking likely do so because they have less grey matter in the part of the brain that influences decision-making and abiding by rules. Worse again, those youngsters who develop a smoking habit tend by the end of their teenage years to have experienced a reduction in grey matter in the part of the brain that controls how pleasure is managed. That’s going by a study of adolescents and young adults in Britain, France, Germany and Ireland, which was carried out by the universities of Cambridge, Fudan and Warwick and the findings from which were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Drivers face further price increases as tyre maker warns of costs – dpa international

Inflation-addled car owners could face further price pressures this year if tyre production cost increases are passed on. After automotive company Continental’s early 2023 earnings “fell short of expectations” the company revealed that “inflation-related price negotiations scheduled for the second quarter are still ongoing.” Continental, perhaps best known as a car tyre producer, put the disappointing earnings down to “currency effects and continuing costs for special freight” in its latest financial report. The company warned it “continues to expect significantly higher costs for materials, wages and salaries as well as energy and logistics”. It also fears the global tyre-replacement business would see its sales fall or stagnate (-2% to 0%), down on expectations (1% to 3%).

Americans increasingly split over spliffs, sparking health warnings – dpa international

An increasing number of people are seeing smoking a joint, including passive or second-hand inhaling, as less harmful than cigarettes.  That’s according to a new study published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open journal. “While rates of cigarette use are declining, more US adults are using cannabis,” reported the researchers, who were led by Beth Cohen, a doctor at the University of California, San Francisco. However, as Americans ditched the cigarettes, they “increasingly” have “perceived daily smoking and secondhand exposure to cannabis smoke as safer than tobacco smoke.”

Google reportedly lining up AI deal for Universal Music stars – dpa international

Google and Universal Music are discussing a licensing deal that could see artists’ voices made available for songs generated by artificial intelligence (AI), according to the Financial Times newspaper. The reported talks come amid concerns about so-called deepfake audio and video material that could see artists mimicked without their consent, potentially taking in the unwary listener. But artists would receive royalties for any content generated under the Google-Universal proposal. An opt-out clause for artists is also under consideration, according to the newspaper, which further reported that a similar Google-Warner Brothers deal is being lined up.