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Singapore reclaims longest flight

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Such a lengthy flight would surely leave your body pleading for mercy if you had to endure it in a cattle-class seat, so the airline has opted to fit the plane with luxurious business seats as well as a number of still-not-that-comfortable-sounding premium economy seats.

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Taking 18 hours and 45 minutes between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Newark Liberty Airport just a short drive from New York City, the service, which starts on October 11, is actually a relaunch after the Asian carrier scrapped the route in 2013 due to running costs.

Having deemed it viable again, the carrier is using Airbus A350-900 ULR (ultra-long range) aircraft with 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats for the colossal 10,377-mile (16,700 km) flight. The airline’s other A350-900 aircraft are configured to carry a total 253 passengers instead of the 161 we see here.

In a bid to increase comfort for what sounds like a grueling journey — it does, after all, last just five hours short of an entire day — the aircraft has been designed with special lighting to reduce jet lag (there’s a 12-hour time difference), larger windows, and higher ceilings.

Perhaps wisely, Singapore Airlines also teamed up with health spa resort Canyon Ranch, which has knocked together a wellness plan to ease passengers through a flight that spans half the globe. It includes specially designed menus that focus on hydration, nutrition, and bold flavors; “subtle sleep strategies” to improve rest quality; and guided stretching exercises to ensure that your body doesn’t completely seize up halfway across the Pacific.

For in-flight entertainment, the airline has added 200 hours worth of movies and TV shows to the 1,000 already available as part of its regular services, and for anyone who needs to stay connected even at 38,000 feet, there’s Wi-Fi, though it’s not free.

Seat prices vary according to demand and date, but some passengers have been paying around $4,000 for a premium economy return ticket.

“Singapore Airlines has always taken pride in pushing the boundaries to provide the best possible travel convenience for our customers, and we are pleased to be leading the way with these new non-stop flights using the latest-technology, ultra-long-range [aircraft],” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a release.

Singapore Airlines’ new service takes the place of Qatar Airways Doha-to-Auckland, New Zealand, route as the world’s longest flight. That one launched in February 2017 and takes 17 hours and 30 minutes to reach its destination.

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24 Hours Across Africa

World food prices hike for first time in five months: U.N. FAO

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World food prices rose for the first time in five months in October, boosted by jumps in quotations for sugar and cereals, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.7 points in October, up 1.7% on the previous month and 6.0% year-on-year.

FAO also predicted that cereal production would be 2.704 billion tonnes in 2019, slightly lower than its last forecast.

The FAO sugar price index jumped 5.8% from September levels, largely because of expectations of lower supplies in the year ahead following forecasts of large reductions in sugar output in India and Thailand.

The cereal price index rose 4.2%, with wheat and maize export prices climbing on the back of reduced crop prospects in several major producing countries and “robust trade activity”. By contrast, rice prices fell, hit by subdued demand and expectations of an abundant basmati harvest.

The vegetable oil price index increased 0.5% to reach its highest level in more than a year, while the meat price index rose 0.9%, driven by higher import demand especially from China.

By contrast, the dairy price index dropped 0.7% in October, as lower quotations for cheese offset increases in those for skimmed and whole milk powders, FAO said.

FAO lowered its forecast for global cereal production in 2019 by some 2 million tonnes, pegging world cereal output at 2.704 billion tonnes, but still up 1.8% from 2018 levels.

The U.N. agency said worldwide coarse grain production in 2019 was seen at 1.425 billion tonnes, down 1.3 million on the previous forecast.

Wheat output was seen at 765 million tonnes, down nearly 1 million tonnes on the last outlook, but still on course to set a new record and up 4.5% on 2018 levels.

The forecast for global rice production was put at 513.4 million tonnes, little changed on the previous forecast and slightly below 2018 levels.

Source: Reuters

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24 Hours Across Africa

Director Genevieve Nnaji reacts over Oscar snub.

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Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission for best international feature film has been disqualified by award organisers, sparking criticism from its director.

Films in this category, formerly best foreign language film, must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.

However, the 95-minute film Lionheart is largely in English, with an 11-minute section in the Igbo language.

Director Genevieve Nnaji  said the film represented how Nigerians communicate.

The disqualification of the film by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was announced to voters in an email on Monday, according to The Wrap.

Ava DuVernay, director of Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, questioned the decision on Twitter, pointing out that English is Nigeria’s official language.

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Ms DuVernay became the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of more than $100m in 2016.

Ms Nnaji, who directed and starred in Lionheart, thanked Ms DuVernay for speaking out, saying the film “represents the way we speak as Nigerians”.

She added: “This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country.”

In another tweet, she said: “We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian”.

English is still the official language of Nigeria because of British colonisation, which lasted for nearly a century until independence in 1960.

Lionheart, which is currently streaming on Netflix, is about a Nigerian woman trying to keep her father’s company together in a society dominated by men.

Media captionThe Tanzanian making ‘pure African’ film costumes

The best foreign language film category was changed ahead of the 2020 awards to best international feature film, with the Academy saying that the reference to “foreign” was “outdated within the global filmmaking community”.

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