Hot weather shrinks size of German fries (Reuters)

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BERLIN (Reuters) – French fries in Germany could be significantly shorter this year due to the heatwave that has baked Germany and much of Europe this month, the German Farmers’ Association (DBV) said on Friday.

Hot and dry weather has led to a meagre harvest of extra-large potatoes used to produce the ideal-length French fry.

“The French fries industry and consumers will have to brace themselves for shorter fries,” said spokeswoman Verena Telaar, adding that smaller potatoes mean that fries will probably be 45 millimetres (1.8 inches) long at best, down from the usual 55 mm (2.2 inches).

Germany produces 11 million tonnes of potatoes a year, about 10 percent of which are turned into French fries.

(Reporting by Max Chrambach; Editing by Steve Addison)

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Overweight people should pay ‘fat tax’ to cover healthcare costs, German MP says

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16 billion a year

“The question must be admitted whether the immense costs that, for example, arise from excessive consumption of food, can be permanently paid out of the consolidated health system,” said Marco Wanderwitz, the conservative MP for the state of Saxony.

“I think it’s sensible that people who knowingly live unhealthily carry a responsibility for it in a financial respect,” said Mr Wanderwitz, who is also head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats’s group of young parliamentarians

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He was supported by Juergen Wasem, an economist who said foods like chocolate should carry health warnings.

“As with tobacco, we should tax the purchase of unhealthy consumer goods at a higher rate and pay that tax into the health system,” he said.

Germany’s health system is funded by a series of mandatory health insurance funds, all of which are reporting serious deficits as the system is overused.

Bild, the German newspaper, estimated that treatment for obesity-related illnesses cost Germany some £16 billion a year.

Recently the German Teachers’ Association recommended weighing children in class each day and reporting the seriously overweight to social services, who would have the power to remove them to clinics.

Although opposition politicians blasted the “fat-tax” proposal, researchers at the Jacobs University in Bremen claimed its work proved that the majority of the public would back a tax on people whose unhealthy lifestyles landed them in hospital or under other medical care.

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German man dumps son on motorway 300 miles from home

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Photo: EPA

The grumpy dad had just collected his son from a summer camp in northern Bavaria but they argued and he pulled the car on to the hard-shoulder.

The man, who has not been named, ordered the teenager out and then drove off, leaving him with just five euros.

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Another motorist witnessed the argument and was told by the father: “I’m leaving him here for his own good. It’s to teach him a lesson.”

Officers took the chastened boy to a police station and rang his father in the Rhineland.

A Bavarian police spokesman said: “We phoned the father, who told us he was already at home. He eventually agreed to come and collect his son, and when he arrived they hugged and both said sorry for shouting at each other.”

But he added: “They may have settled their differences, but we shall still be informing social services that this child may be at risk.”

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‘Rabbit-fearing’ German teacher loses case against pupil

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The teacher had a fear of rabbits. Photo: Rex Features

The teacher claimed that the pupil was abusing her by playing on her fear of rabbits.

The court in Vechta, northern Germany declined to hear the complaint of the teacher, who was seeking an injunction against the 14-year-old girl to stop her from making the drawings or claiming the plaintiff had a paralysing fear of rabbits.

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“The plaintiff now has a month to appeal the verdict,” said Mechthild Beckermann, the court’s chief judge.

Witnesses had told the judge that the teacher ran sobbing out of the classroom when she saw the image of a rabbit on the blackboard.

The girl denied making the drawings.

Two years ago at another school, the teacher took a pupil to court and reached a settlement in which the teenager agreed never again to claim that the plaintiff “freaked out” when she saw a rabbit or heard the word.

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German policeman wins extra week of holiday for time spent getting dressed

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Photo: EPA

Martin Schauder, 44, calculated to the second how long it took to don his regulation undershirt, trousers, thruncheon-holding belt, handcuffs, weapon and gas canister, overshirt, tunic, boots, protective kneepads (when on riot control), hat and gloves.

He claimed it took 15 minutes each morning outside his paid shift hours to get dressed, and 15 minutes at the end of each shift to undress, which a Münster administrative court agreed constituted overtime.

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The officer in the north-west German city had argued with his superiors for months, demanding either getting a pay rise or time off in lieu for what he said amounted to 45 hours of his time he was giving to his employers each year. They refused on both counts, saying it was part of his duties as a policeman.

So he took the force to the city’s administrative court – and won.

The decision has prompted fears that German courts may face a raft of similar lawsuits.

“We could, in theory, have judges arguing for extra time off because of the amount of time it takes them to robe up, or receptionists claiming overtime for lipstick application as they have to look good for clients,” said Joachim Wulfmeyer, legal expert.

Officer Schauder’s case was a test complaint representing over 120 other officers; granting them all the extra paid week’s leave that he is entitled to would seriously challenge the city’s police budget at a time of rigid cutbacks.

His employers will have a chance to appeal the ruling in a higher court.

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