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Potter & postmen

London, June 16 (AFP): Britain’s royal mail is to make extra vans available to deliver half-a-million copies of the new Harry Potter novel next weekend, amid fears that the newest tome of the popular series could weigh heavily on the country’s postmen.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the latest edition of a massively popular series, is to be published on Saturday and weighs in at a hefty 1 kg.

that safety regulations allow British postmen to carry a maximum of 16 kg, officials are making plans to make sure every book reaches its destination without postal workers suffering damage to their backs.

A spokesperson for the Royal Mail said: “Because the book is very large and heavy, we are making contingency plans so that deliveries can be made using vans. We have plans in place to ensure a successful delivery and to avoid disappointment.”

The book, fifth in the series is 768 pages long. It recounts the magical exploits of Harry and his wizard school friends and his struggle against evil Lord Voldemort.

Whale whack

Wellington (Reuters): A New Zealand man trying to free a 15-metre humpback whale ensnared in lobster pot ropes is missing and presumed dead after being hit by the whale’s tail, police said on Monday. The 38-year-old, who has not yet been named, had gone to the aid of a whale in waters near the popular whale-watching town of Kaikoura, 140 km south of Wellington. “He was trying to cut the rope free from the whale’s tail and the whale lifted its tail and struck him,” Kaikoura police Sergeant Tony Yardley said. A four-hour search by boats and a helicopter found no sign of the man and he was presumed dead, Yardley added. Several species of whale are attracted to the deep, food-rich waters off the coast of Kaikoura, which in turn attract large numbers of tourists to the region.

Pension plan

Canberra (Reuters): An Australian brothel is offering pensioners a 5 per cent discount in what it boasts is a world first. Neil Campbell, owner of the Viper Room in the east coast city of Brisbane, said men in their 60s, 70s, and 80s were among regular visitors to the brothel, but many complained it was a drain on their pensions. “All other businesses offer pensioners a discount, so we thought if we also offered pensioners a discount they might come more often,” Campbell said on Monday. He said the offer of a 5 per cent discount on the usual hourly fee of A$210 ($140) would initially apply only on Sundays, but the offer would be extended if it proved successful.

Prostitution is legal in some parts of Australia but brothels need to meet certain standards to earn a licence. An Australia bordello, the Daily Planet, became the world's first publicly owned brothel last month when it listed on the Australian stock exchange.


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