Notes and shorts from around the world


In-car breathalyser
French motorists convicted of first time drink driving offences will not in future have to forfeit their licences – if they pay instead for a breathalyser to be connected to their car’s power supply. Each time they want to start the car, they will have to blow into the gadget to show that they are below the legal limit. They will then have to blow into it again at some point between five and 30 minutes into their journey, to make sure they are still under the limit – and to make it harder for them to cheat by getting a sober friend to take the test. Under the scheme, which has been trialled for a year, courts can order drivers to install the devices, which cost 1,300 Euros to buy, or 100 Euros a month to rent, for six months, though this can be extended. In 2017, 3,448 people died in road accidents in France, twice as many as in the UK; drink driving was a factor in a third of those deaths.
Tooth whitening kits “unsafe”
Demand for them has increased in recent years, but many tooth whitening kits do not work, and may even damage teeth, experts have warned. Following a 2011 EU directive ruling that hydrogen peroxide – the whitening agent used by dentists – could only be present in minimal amounts in non-prescription products, an array of reformulated over-the-counter kits flooded the UK market. When Manchester University researchers tested five popular brands, they found that all, to varying degrees, weakened tooth enamel; two of them were also found to be less effective at whitening than the saline used as a control. “The lack of research and ease of availability of these products from major retailers is alarming, and may potentially be harming the consumers’ dentition,” said co-author Dr Linda Greenwall.
Bad influence
Rival supporters of two social media ‘influencers’ clashed in central Berlin recently, forcing the deployment of police armed with tear gas to break them up. As many as 400 people gathered after the two YouTubers – named in the media as “ThatsBekir” from Stuttgart and 17 year old Bahar Al Amood from Berlin – reportedly urged fans to attend a face-off in Alexanderplatz following weeks of mutual online goading. About 50 of them were involved in a mass punch up, which spilled over into the square’s U-Bahn station. Thirteen people have been charged with various offences. Online influencers are “sometimes very negligent with their influence,” commented a police spokesman.
Racing fame
Armando, a racing pigeon from Belgium – so fast he is known as the “avian Lewis Hamilton” –  was sold for a record 1.25 million Euros. The bird was bought by an enthusiast from China, for use as a stud.
Bons mots
“Gentility is what is left over from rich ancestors after the money is gone.” – John Ciardi, poet, USA

Scroll to Top