Afghan star burns controversial dress

  • 25 May 2017
Composite image of Aryana Sayeed burning her dress Image copyright Facebook/Aryana Sayeed
Image caption Aryana Sayeed wore the dress during a concert in Paris earlier this month

An Afghan singer and television personality has publicly burned a skin-coloured dress after religious figures and members of the public criticised her for wearing it during a recent concert.

Aryana Sayeed uploaded a video to her Facebook page, showing the contentious outfit going up in flames after it caused uproar in her native Afghanistan.

The controversial tight dress, which she wore at a concert in Paris on 13 May, sparked condemnation from religious figures and on social media, with several people saying it was against Afghan culture and non-Islamic.

She was certainly not pleased to be burning the dress, telling her more than 1.6m followers "If you think that the only problem in Afghanistan is this dress, I will set this on fire today because of you."

Ms Sayeed is well known in Afghanistan as a singer, songwriter and TV personality who sings pop, hip-hop and Afghan songs. She's also a judge on the Afghan version of The Voice talent show, which is aired by Kabul-based Tolo TV.

Aryana remains defiant

Read full article Afghan star burns controversial dress

Russian explorers find 'swamp' of Soviet money

  • 25 May 2017
One of the Abandoned Country team holds Soviet-era banknotes Image copyright YouTube/Abandoned Country
Image caption Just some of the worthless banknotes found at an old mine near Moscow

A group of explorers in Russia have found around a billion roubles in old Soviet money at an abandoned mine, but it's all completely worthless.

The group from Saint Petersburg, who publish a blog on abandoned sites across Russia, came across the money after following rumours that large quantities of cash had been dumped in old missile silos near Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Komsomolskaya Pravda news website reports. After travelling for several hours across rough terrain in Russia's Vladimir region, they found the mine literally overflowing with cash.

Read full article Russian explorers find 'swamp' of Soviet money

French Polynesia yacht wreck leads to drug problem

  • 24 May 2017
Authorities destroy a bale of cocaine Image copyright AFP
Image caption Polynesian authorities are trying to catch up with looted bales of cocaine

Authorities in French Polynesia say that drug use has spiked on one of its atolls after a yacht ran aground there last month.

Radio New Zealand reports that when police were called to the burning yacht wrecked on the Faaite atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, they found its cargo to be over half a ton of cocaine. In all, 237kg (522 pounds) of the drug was taken to Papeete, the capital of the French overseas territory, along with two Spanish crew members. Another 370kg of the drug was thought to have been consumed in the fire.

Read full article French Polynesia yacht wreck leads to drug problem

Kyrgyz president shows off his musical skills

  • 24 May 2017
Kyrgyzstan's president Almazbek Atambayev at an awards ceremony for Kyrgyz mothers Image copyright
Image caption Almazbek Atambayev celebrates Kyrgyz motherhood through an award ceremony, and then in song

Kyrgyzstan's president Almazbek Atambayev has released a pair of guitar ballads, backed up by professionally produced music videos.

The first, Enekem, is dedicated to his mother and was released in time for Mother's Day, along with a slick video produced by a local studio.

Read full article Kyrgyz president shows off his musical skills

Puzzled Russians hail a bus, board a hearse

  • 23 May 2017
The back of a public bus in Omsk that looks like it has been used as a hearse Image copyright
Image caption The hatch where the coffin enters and leaves the bus is one of its more disturbing features

Busses are not usually the most comfortable modes of transport, but some in the Russian city of Omsk are making passengers particularly uneasy.

In some cases, instead of the usual seats lining both sides of the bus all the way to the back, passengers have found "a weirdly disguised back hatch, no seats at the back, and extra radiators", the news portal wrote.

Read full article Puzzled Russians hail a bus, board a hearse

Tokyo police crack down on cosplay kart tour safety

  • 22 May 2017
Drivers in Super Mario cosplay outfits drive kart on Tokyo public roads Image copyright Twitter/@ReubenEasey
Image caption Tour drivers are encouraged to dress up as game characters

Police in the Japanese capital Tokyo are urging operators to improve the safety standards of their popular fancy dress go-kart tours of the city.

The sight of convoys of go-karts snaking through Tokyo's streets, their drivers wearing outfits based on the cult Super Mario Kart video games, is becoming increasingly common the Japan Times reports, but this has corresponded with an increase in accidents.

Read full article Tokyo police crack down on cosplay kart tour safety

Pop music used to ridicule Russia's young protesters

  • 19 May 2017
Vox tells off a teenager at a desk Image copyright YouTube/Alisa Vox
Image caption "It's never too late to learn from your mistakes," singer Alisa Vox tells a young demonstrator

The Russian authorities appear to have a new weapon to combat any appetite for protest against them: pop music on YouTube.

In Russia's controlled media environment, YouTube has become a prominent outlet for the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has used it to publicise allegations of corruption against government figures.

Read full article Pop music used to ridicule Russia's young protesters

Kenyans query maize imports amid price hikes

  • 17 May 2017
Corn cob in someone's hands Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The rising cost of maize has been prompting jokes about how the food staple is now a luxury in Kenya

Kenyans have been facing shortages of basic foods following a drought last year that affected the country's food stocks.

The shortage is such that the price of maize flour, with which people make the staple ugali, is currently twice its usual level, and people living close to the border with neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania have taken to shopping there.

Read full article Kenyans query maize imports amid price hikes

Australians sizzle over vegan sausage offer

  • 16 May 2017
Cheltenham Cat Rescue promotion for their vegan cook-out Image copyright Cheltenham Cat Rescue
Image caption Cheltenham Cat Rescue say they sold hundreds of meat-free sausages on the day

One of the great Australian traditions, the community event known as the sausage sizzle, became a bone of contention this weekend after customers of a well-known DIY chain store were offered only vegan sausages.

The charity event, held at a Melbourne branch of the home improvement store Bunnings, was organised by a cat protection organisation last Sunday, Mother's Day in Australia. But, as the Herald Sun newspaper reported, there were "a few tantrums" as customers realised that the "snags" - slang for a barbecued sausage - were meat-free.

Read full article Australians sizzle over vegan sausage offer

Saudi authorities say no romance in the staff room

  • 12 May 2017
Cakes and a gold necklace Image copyright YouTube/UrgentNews
Image caption Money, cake, jewellery and flowers - one man's way of saying sorry in Saudi Arabia

A principal at a girls' school in Saudi Arabia was perplexed this week to open the door to her staff room one morning and find it covered in elaborate declarations of love.

Rose petals and bank notes were strewn over the floor and furniture, large helium balloons lined one wall and on a table in the middle of the room were several cakes, the largest several-tiered and covered in white royal icing.

Read full article Saudi authorities say no romance in the staff room