Monday, May 17, 2010

Italy hosts its first divorce fair

Italy is holding its first divorce fair, offering services such as life coaching and beauty advice to a booming number of separating couples in the Catholic country.

The organizers said the fair (, which will be held in Milan on May 8-9, aims to help divorcing people start a new, happier life.

"Smiling is key to this fair, which also offers serious, practical advice for often dramatic situations," Franco Zanetti, who created the event, told Reuters.

The services include divorce planning, anti-stalking help, and "new look" tips, the organizers said.

Echoing similar initiatives in the United States and elsewhere in Europe, visitors will also be able to subscribe to divorce gift lists at department stores in Milan.

A growing number of Italian couples file for divorce every year, according to Italy's statistics agency ISTAT.

More than 130,000 couples split or got divorced in Italy in 2007, up more than 3 percent from the previous year, ISTAT said.

On the other side, the number of marriages nearly halved since 1972 to around 246,000 in 2008.

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"Cougar effect" boosts lingerie sales

Lingerie is displayed in the new Playboy store in central London September 19, 2007. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

Sales of sultry lingerie among older women are booming in Britain thanks to the glamorous 40-somethings of "Sex and the City 2" and "Cougar Town," retail chain Debenhams reported on Thursday.

The hit TV show, and forthcoming movie, featuring the bedroom antics of women in their 40s and 50s and their much younger partners, is being credited with a rise in demand for lingerie from women of the same age, Debenhams said.

The department store said a nationwide analysis of the most popular lingerie styles from October 2009 to April 2010, revealed that women over 40 have given the more seductive side of the lingerie industry a big boost.

"Positive female role models in this age group such as the women in the Sex and the City movies and Courteney Cox in TV's Cougar Town are giving the women confidence to splash out on themselves," Debenhams head lingerie buyer Annette Warburton said in a statement.

Women over 40 were rediscovering their figures, often after having children or getting divorced.

Previously, the store said, the main purchasers of cleavage-enhancing bras, basques, thongs, stockings and suspenders, have been women in their early 20s.

"With women's 40s being touted as the new 20s, and lingerie designers stepping up to the mark to feed this demand, it's a market we expect to see grow further in the future," Warburton said.

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"I do" goes high-tech with Japan robot priest

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The groom looked dashing, his bride resplendent in white, but all eyes in this Japanese wedding were on the priest, a four-foot tall robot with colorful, flashing eyes called i-Fairy.

The robot is usually used in museum and exhibitions to direct visitors, but with the help of a flower headpiece, and a new programme, it pronounced Satoko Inoue and Tomohiro Shibata man and wife at a Sunday ceremony.

The event is being billed as the first ever wedding presided over by a robot, a fitting marriage for the couple who met through the machines.

The bride, Inoue, works for the company that makes the i-Fairy, and her husband, Shibata, is a client.

"It's true that robots are what caused us to first begin going out, and as suggested by my wife, we decided that we wanted to try this sort of wedding," Shibata said after making his vows.

After saying "I do," the bride said that she wanted to use her wedding to show people that robots can easily fit into their daily lives.

"I always felt that robots would become more integrated into people's everyday lives. This cute robot is part of my company, I decided that I would love to have it at my ceremony," Inoue said.

Makers of the robot, Kokoro Ltd, said that while they are still selling the i-Fairy with the stated purpose of helping visitors, they're happy for the machine to help weddings cross the digital divide.

Japan is home to almost half the world's 800,000 industrial robots and expects the industry to expand to $10 billion.

It is also one of the world's fastest aging societies and experts say robots can help care for the growing number of elderly, and fill in for the lack of young people willing to take on jobs as chefs, cleaners or caretakers.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Gulf hotel installs gold-dispensing machine

Customers use a ATM at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi to buy pure gold. — Reuters pic
It’s the ultimate hole-in-the-wall — a money machine that dispenses pure gold.

But installed beneath the gold-coated ceilings of Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace hotel, where royalty and billionaires come for cappuccinos topped with gold flakes, the machine almost seems part of the furniture.

“The reason we chose Emirates Palace is because it really fits with the surroundings here,” said German entrepreneur Thomas Geissler, creator of the “Gold to Go” brand and chief executive of Ex Oriente Lux.

The exterior of the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and offers customers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customised gold coins.

“All the gold is imported from Germany, and soon we will have a customised gold bar with a print of the Emirates Palace logo, which will be a nice souvenir for guests to take home,” said Geissler.

Through a computer system, the ATM gold machine updates the gold price every 10 minutes to match international markets.

For now, it takes notes of the local dirham currency, but the option of using credit cards will soon be introduced.

The cash-for-gold machines were first tested in Germany in 2009, but Geissler chose Abu Dhabi for the official launch of his invention because of the region’s high demand for gold.

“On the first night we had a lot of demand,” he said. “One customer even bought one item of every product we have.”

Geissler’s timing is spot-on, as investors flock to gold as a safe haven from economic turbulence.

Yesterday, gold priced in sterling and euros reached record highs, while that priced in the more usual dollar denomination was quoted at US$1,236 an ounce, with dealers expecting it to reach fresh highs over coming days.

Source: TMI
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