QUIRKY WORLD ... Disney staff get animated over dirty costumes

USA: Walt Disney World must rehire three performers who were fired when they refused to wear soiled Spandex unitards as part of their costumes for the “Festival of the Lion King” show, an arbitrator ruled.

The workers said their clean unitards became wet and soiled while hanging from a rack where sweaty costumes that had been rained on were pushed up against them.

Disney managers said that the two sets of costumes on the racks never touched and that the performers were given other options.

Arbiter Robert Moberly said a collective bargaining agreement “states unconditionally that all wardrobe shall be clean and dry, without reference to the existence, or not, of actual danger”.

The clean-costume provision was added to the agreement more than a decade ago after incidents of rashes, scabies and other infections.

Skin deep

ENGLAND: A man once dubbed the fattest in the world is to undergo surgery to remove excess skin after huge weight loss.

Paul Mason, 54, from Ipswich, once weighed 70 stone, but has lost about 45 stone. Now living in the US, he is engaged and has been raising funds online to remove up to 100lb of left-over skin, particularly from an area around the waist known as “the apron” and his “bat wing” arms.

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Art honours

ENGLAND: Artists from almost 100 countries have been whittled down to a trio in the search for the world’s best portrait painter.

The three people in the running for the BP Portrait Award include Leicester-based Michael Gaskell, who has been runner-up three times already. His painting of his then-14-year-old niece Eliza is up against Israeli artist Matan Ben-Cnaan’s oil painting of a friend and their stepdaughter, and Spanish painter Borja Buces Renard’s portrait of his mother and brother.

Runaway car

ENGLAND: An elderly couple had a lucky escape when a runaway car plunged through their conservatory.

In a freak accident, the Nissan Almera rolled backwards off a driveway, through a neighbour’s fence and over a garden pond, before smashing into the house in Bilston, West Midlands, according to recovery crews.

Beer we go

USA: An Oregon wastewater treatment operator has asked home brewers to make great-tasting beer from hops, barley, yeast and the key, not-so-secret ingredient: treated sewer water.

The point of the contest is not to find Portland’s next trendy craft beer, but to get people talking about how a vital resource can be reused thanks to advanced water-filtration systems, said Mark Jockers, of Clean Water Services.

The utility plans to release 300 gallons (1,135 litres) of highly-purified water in early June to about 20 home brewers from the Oregon Brew Crew, the state’s oldest home-brewing club. A panel of experts will judge the beers in late July or early August. The winner will get $100, five others will get $50, and their kegs will be taken to an international water conference in Chicago. Though state regulators have approved the safety of the water, the beer will not be sold at shops or bars.

Light bulb moment

VENEZUELA: Venezuelan government workers are getting a few extra hours off each day as officials try to save on electricity.

Electric energy minister Jesse Chacon said public offices will start at 7.30am and shut down at 1pm.

The country saw a sudden jump in electricity usage over the last week, because high temperatures led to greater use of air conditioning.

Key sectors, like schools, clinics, the oil industry and security forces, are exempt from the cutback. Officials said they will also increase inspections to ensure private businesses cut back use.

Group flunking

USA: A professor at Texas A&M University’s campus in Galveston has flunked his entire strategic management class amid claims of cheating and harassment, though university officials say the decision won’t stick, says the publication Inside Higher Ed.

Professor Irwin Horwitz sent a scathing email last week to the 30-plus students in the course, saying he had issued across-the-board failure grades after reaching his breaking point due to online rumours about himself and academic dishonesty on exams.

“None of you, in my opinion, given the behaviour in this class, deserve to pass, or graduate to become an Aggie, as you do not in any way embody the honour that the university holds graduates should have within their personal character,” Horwitz wrote in the email.

The university told Houston television station KRPC it is investigating Horwitz’s claims, but failing grades would not stand unless a student did not academically pass the class.

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