Swiss city bans 'noisy' silent discos

  • 5 February 2016
File image of a silent disco reveller Image copyright AFP
Image caption City authorities say that silent discos are not necessarily silent

The Swiss city of Lausanne has banned outdoor silent discos, saying that they are too noisy.

Event organisers had hoped to hold two silent discos - where music is relayed to headphones worn by participants rather than be played on loudspeakers - on rooftop terraces in the Flon area of the city, The Local news website reports. However, after taking on board complaints from residents following earlier silent discos, Lausanne's business regulation department turned down the application for the parties which would have let revellers dance in silence until 5 o'clock in the morning.

Speaking to the Swiss 20Minutes news website, Olivier Meylan, director of the For Noise Festival which had previously held silent discos in Lausanne, said: "Given our experience in the neighbouring district of Pully, we could have tried at least one test in the centre of Lausanne and then make an assessment, but no!"

Unfortunately for the organisers, it appears that officials listened to the complaints of locals who said the events are not as silent as advertised, a concern aired by the Austrian city of Salzburg in 2014. Florence Nicollier, head of the department responsible for issuing licences in Lausanne, told 20Minutes that "during silent discos, the noise caused by the clientele is not negligible." The problem, The Local says, is that participants can't help singing along to the music. The department's decision on singing partygoers is final, and can't be appealed.

Next story: Russians donate valuables for Leonardo DiCaprio tribute

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Siberians donate valuables for DiCaprio 'Oscar' statue

  • 5 February 2016
A sculptor works on the planned award for Leonardo DiCaprio Image copyright Yakutsk.ru
Image caption The award will be cast in gold and silver and be at least 30cm tall

Russian fans of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio are casting a statuette in gold and silver to show their love for the film star.

No matter the result of the Academy Awards on 28 February - where DiCaprio is nominated for Best Actor for his role in The Revenant - he will be assured at least one award thanks to his fans in eastern Siberia, state-run TASS news agency reports. Around 100 locals in Yakutsk have donated gold and silver, which will be melted down and cast into a statuette of a man holding a choron, a traditional Yakut three-legged goblet. According to TASS, the goblet will be in gold, while the figure will be silver, "a metal sacred to the people of Yakutia with powers to purify and protect its owner."

Read full article Siberians donate valuables for DiCaprio 'Oscar' statue

Row over Spain's English-language Eurovision entry

  • 4 February 2016
Singer Barei performing on stage Image copyright EPA
Image caption Barei will take to the stage in Sweden, singing in English, representing Spain

Spain's 2016 Eurovision Song Contest entry has been criticised by a member of the country's top language authority because it is entirely in English.

The track, called Say Yay, will be performed by Madrid-born singer Barei at the annual extravaganza in Stockholm in May. It marks the first time that the country's offering features no Spanish at all - something which has irked the Royal Academy of Spanish Language (RAE), the official body responsible for overseeing the language's use.

Read full article Row over Spain's English-language Eurovision entry

Dubai ruler seeks student for cabinet post

  • 4 February 2016
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sheikh Mohammed rules Dubai and is also vice president of the UAE

Dubai's ruler is looking for a young person to sit on the United Arab Emirates federal cabinet as the voice of youth - and has used Twitter to announce the job opportunity.

In a series of posts on his official account, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum asked the country's universities to nominate three men and three women who have graduated in the last two years, or are in their final year of study, for the government post. He explained that young people represent half of Arab societies, so it is "only logical to give them a voice and role in governing the nation".

Read full article Dubai ruler seeks student for cabinet post

Finns warned of 'too big' snow shovel risk

  • 3 February 2016
A family shovels snow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Shovelling snow can be a dangerous business

Finns have been warned not to use "excessively large" shovels when clearing snow because they could be putting their health at risk.

A recent study found that the strain of pushing large shovels full of snow causes a spike in blood pressure which - combined with the cold air - can lead to cardiac arrest, the national broadcaster Yle reports. It cites cardiology professor Heikki Huikuri as saying exertion during snow clearing is the most common cause of heart attacks in Finland.

Read full article Finns warned of 'too big' snow shovel risk

Endangered New Zealand parrots to have genomes sequenced

  • 3 February 2016
Sirocco the kakapo Image copyright Department of Conservation
Image caption Scientists will study Sirocco the kakapo along with 124 of his relatives

A group of critically endangered flightless parrots will have their genomes sequenced in New Zealand, in the hope it will improve the birds' genetic diversity.

There are only 125 kakapo left and every one of them will have their genetic make-up studied as part of the project. It's the first time that genome sequencing of a whole population of one animal has taken place, Radio New Zealand International reports. Scientists say analysing the data will help them to save the kakapo from extinction by providing information on fertility and susceptibility to disease. It will also show which birds are closely related, so that inbreeding can be prevented.

Read full article Endangered New Zealand parrots to have genomes sequenced

Lost tourist finds fame after Iceland GPS mishap

  • 3 February 2016
The village of Siglufjordur in northern Iceland Image copyright Jakob Gleby
Image caption The bemused American tourist accidentally drove to the village on Iceland's northern coast

An American tourist who accidentally ended up in the wrong part of Iceland is enjoying local fame after his mishap became public.

Noel Santillan, a 28-year-old from New Jersey, typed the wrong address into his hire car's GPS and ended up taking a six-hour diversion to the fishing village of Siglufjordur in the north of Iceland, the Visir newspaper reports. His error was to type the word Laugarvegur - with an extra "r" - instead of Laugavegur, one of the main roads in the capital Reykjavik, where he expected to find the Hotel Fron.

Read full article Lost tourist finds fame after Iceland GPS mishap

Runners tackle Moldova wine cellar 10k race

  • 2 February 2016
A runner crossing the finish line Image copyright Jurnal TV
Image caption Organisers say runners from Brazil, the US and Finland signed up

Runners in Moldova have taken part in a 10k race around one of the country's largest wine cellars.

About 200 people limbered up for the underground Wine Run event in the town of Cricova, the Pro TV channel reports. Participants wore head torches to help them navigate the darker sections of the tunnels, but even the winner found the conditions tricky. "It took me 30 minutes. It was very difficult because of high humidity," Liviu Croitor tells the channel. "I ran 500m more than I should have because I got lost, it was dark."

Read full article Runners tackle Moldova wine cellar 10k race

Japanese police hunt prolific Tokyo Metro strap thief

  • 1 February 2016
File image of a man using a standing strap on a train Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Around 400 of the otherwise worthless straps have gone missing in recent months

Police are investigating the theft of hundreds of straps used by standing passengers on the Tokyo Metro system, it's been reported.

Officials have no idea why the hand straps are going missing, but they count at least 400 have been removed from train cars in and around Tokyo since November, Japan's Kyodo News Service reports. The straps are difficult to remove and are apparently worthless, which leads investigators to suspect it is vandalism for its own sake, which is rare in Japan. "I have no idea what this person is going to use them for, but it causes trouble for our customers so I hope this person will stop doing this," one railway company spokesman said.

Read full article Japanese police hunt prolific Tokyo Metro strap thief

Holographic protest against South Korea march ban

  • 1 February 2016
An anti-government protest in Seoul in December 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Protests have been banned from near the president's official residence in the South Korean capital Seoul

The human rights group Amnesty International is to hold a holographic "ghost rally" in the South Korean capital Seoul in protest against what it says is the erosion of free speech in the country.

The virtual protest, projecting life-size images of marchers, will take place in one of the city's main squares after police rejected an application from the group's Korean office for a physical demonstration near the Blue House, the official residence of President Park Geun-hye, the Korea Times reports. Demonstrations outside the Blue House have been banned after protests over the government's handling of the Sewol ferry disaster ended in violence, but police say their refusal of a permit is nothing to do with freedom of speech. "The rally is expected to cause serious traffic disruption," an official told the Korea Herald.

Read full article Holographic protest against South Korea march ban