Debate over Chinese city's women-only bus

  • 29 April 2016
A screengrab of the women-only bus Image copyright China News Service
Image caption The bus carries a red "women only" sign and is decorated inside with cuddly toys

The introduction of a women-only bus in one Chinese city has riled some local men and sparked an online debate.

The new summer service will run during morning and evening rush hours in the eastern city of Zhengzhou, in an effort to cut the number of groping incidents, Dahe Daily reports. The local bus company says it'll protect women from being harassed when wearing lighter clothing, and also help breastfeeding mothers feel more comfortable.

Female-only train and metro carriages have been introduced in many countries with varying degrees of success, but single-sex transport is a relatively new concept in China.

Women interviewed on board the bus said they were pleased with the service, with one telling a reporter: "Of course this is a good idea, it is very respectful to women."

But some local men are less impressed. One tells Dahe Daily that harassment isn't common on public transport: "The bus company has made a fuss over it - this measure will cause men to feel humiliated." Another man complains to China National Radio: "I had to wait a really long time for another bus to arrive because I wasn't allowed on."

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Russian 'eternal flame' replaced by cardboard painting

  • 29 April 2016
Picture of the piece of cardboard with flames painted on it, stuck on top of the monument Image copyright Vitaly Nevar / Novy Kaliningrad
Image caption The village's addition to its war memorial didn't pass muster with Russian state TV

A Russian village has replaced the eternal flame on its war memorial with a painted piece of cardboard.

The monument, in the village of Pereslavskoye near the western city of Kaliningrad, honours Soviet soldiers who died in World War Two. Despite being referred to as an "eternal flame", the monument is actually only lit on big occasions using a gas canister, the Novy Kaliningrad website reports.

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Poland to stage Pope John Paul II musical

  • 28 April 2016
Polish actor Jacek Kawalec at a press conference for Karol the musical Image copyright EPA
Image caption Actor Jacek Kawalec has been cast in the lead role

A new musical about the life of Pope John Paul II will open in Poland early next year, the first to be produced in the late pontiff's home country.

Hundreds of tickets have already been sold for the show, entitled Karol, which will make its premiere in Krakow in February, Radio Poland reports. Born Karol Wojtyla, he was archbishop of the city for more than a decade prior to being elected Pope in 1978.

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Mixed reaction to S Korea's last-minute long weekend

  • 28 April 2016
A family picnics by the banks of the Han River in Seoul Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The government hopes that Koreans will use the time off to spend more money

South Korea's government has approved a "temporary holiday" next week to give the country a long weekend, but the last-minute decision hasn't pleased everybody.

The holiday will fall on Friday 6 May, meaning South Koreans will get a four-day weekend after celebrating Children's Day the day before, the Korea Times reports. It's intended to coax citizens to go out and spend money in an effort to stimulate the country's economy, and highway tolls and entry fees for tourist sites will be waived. A previous temporary holiday in August last year brought in 1.31 trillion won ($1.1bn; £790m) according to the country's Chamber of Commerce.

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Japanese mascot rules relaxed for quake fundraising

  • 27 April 2016
Kumamon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Officials are banking on Kumamon's popularity to encourage public donations

Two earthquake-damaged Japanese prefectures have loosened rules on the use of their highly lucrative mascots in an effort to raise more money for victims.

Businesses and public bodies will now be allowed to use the familiar form of Kumamon, a chubby black bear who represents Kumamoto Prefecture, in fundraising activities without prior approval, Jiji Press news agency reports. A similar fast-track process has been adopted in neighbouring Oita Prefecture, which is encouraging the use of its cuddly green bird mascot, Mejiron, to help raise cash.

Read full article Japanese mascot rules relaxed for quake fundraising

Moscow 'Shawarmageddon' averted by web campaign

  • 27 April 2016
Still from TV report on kebab shops in Russia Image copyright Rossiya24
Image caption Safe for now: Kebab outlets are a familiar sight in the Russian capital

Moscow city council appears to have beaten a hasty retreat after threats to close down the Russian capital's kebab kiosks sparked a lively online campaign to save them.

The head of Moscow's department of trade and services, Alexei Nemeryuk, prompted the outcry when he told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily that the ubiquitous stalls selling shawarma or shaurma - as doner kebabs are variously known in Russia - would be removed because of concerns over hygiene. "We're eliminating shawarma from the streets," he told the paper. "It won't exist anymore."

Read full article Moscow 'Shawarmageddon' averted by web campaign

Japan region revises 'patronising' Chinese tourist guide

  • 26 April 2016
A cartoon from the booklet telling visitors in Chinese not to soil the toilet and to flush their toilet paper Image copyright Hokkaido Tourism Organisation
Image caption Don't make the toilet cry: The new booklet tells visitors to leave conveniences clean and to flush used paper

Tourism officials in northern Japan have revised a visitor guide designed for Chinese tourists after it was criticised as being condescending.

Originally titled Common Sense When Travelling in Hokkaido, the Chinese-language booklet featured numerous examples of bad tourist behaviour and illustrations plastered with large X marks, the Kyodo news agency reports. But a Chinese resident made a complaint, saying it implied that visitors don't already have good manners and common sense.

Read full article Japan region revises 'patronising' Chinese tourist guide

Australians angered by TV advert during Last Post

  • 25 April 2016
Military bugler plays the Last Post during an Anzac Day commemoration at Melbourne Cricket Ground stadium on 24 April 2016. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Viewers saw 20 seconds of the bugle call before the channel cut away

An Australian TV channel has apologised after causing outrage by interrupting the playing of the Last Post for an advert.

Channel 7 made the faux pas while broadcasting an Anzac Day commemoration ahead of an Australian Rules football match in Melbourne on Sunday, The Age newspaper reports. Soon after a military bugler began the Last Post - a call used to remember fallen servicemen and women - the TV station cut to a trailer for a cookery show, enraging many viewers.

Read full article Australians angered by TV advert during Last Post

Beijing ambulances to get taxi-style meters

  • 25 April 2016
A Beijing ambulance Image copyright AFP
Image caption Calling an ambulance can be an expensive business in China

Ambulances in Beijing will be fitted with taxi-style meters in an effort to allay public concerns about overcharging.

From May, the emergency vehicles will charge a fixed rate of 50 yuan ($8; £5) for patients being transported up to 3km (1.9 miles), and then seven yuan for each kilometre travelled after that, the Beijing Morning Post reports. If an ambulance is called but then not needed, a 50-yuan charge will still apply, the paper notes.

Read full article Beijing ambulances to get taxi-style meters

Reykjavik's skeletons cause controversy

  • 22 April 2016
An archaeologist working at the cemetery site in Reykjavik Image copyright Visir
Image caption The cemetery dates back to the earliest days of Christianity in Iceland

Plans for a new hotel in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik are causing controversy, as part of it will be built over the city's oldest cemetery.

Skeletons are already being removed from the site of the Vikurkirkjugardur cemetery, in which Reykjavik's dead were buried from around the year 1000 to 1838, Iceland Monitor news website reports. However, there's disquiet from some sections of the city council and a former director of the National Museum of Iceland, who think the reburial of the capital's former residents harms national heritage.

Read full article Reykjavik's skeletons cause controversy