Bermuda walkers told to stop stacking rocks

  • 8 December 2016
A photo of one of the piles of rocks in Bermuda Image copyright Andrew Dobson
Image caption Rock stacking may be good for photos, but it's bad for wildlife

Nature experts in Bermuda have urged people to stop prising rocks from the ground to make artfully arranged piles as it's disturbing the habitat of a critically endangered lizard.

Conservationists say rock stacking - also called rock or stone balancing - is an increasing problem in the Spittal Pond Nature Reserve. It's one of the last remaining homes of the rare Bermuda skink which lives among the rocks. The reserve is a "crucial habitat for its future on the island", according to Andrew Dobson, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society.

Rock stacking is practised around the world and some consider it an art. Photos of gravity-defying piles can be found all over the internet, but it has faced opposition and the US National Park Service calls it "vandalism".

Mr Dobson says the craze started to catch on about nine months ago in Bermuda, but it's now getting worse because people are damaging the bedrock. "Virgin slabs of white limestone rock are being prised from the coastline rocks," he tells the BBC. "With climate change, Bermuda is experiencing a greater frequency and increased strength of hurricanes. The erosion from these storms is serious enough without unwanted erosion by people."

It's not just bad news for the Bermuda skinks - removing rocks from their natural place also damages native plant life and disturbs nesting seabirds.

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Former Russian lawmakers 'face eviction'

  • 8 December 2016
Screen grab of news item of Russian former deputies' apartments from Rossiya 24 Image copyright Rossiya 24
Image caption Russian authorities may need legal action to force former MPs to move out, state TV news says

Dozens of former Russian MPs who lost their seats in recent elections have yet to vacate their Kremlin-funded apartments and could now be evicted, it's reported.

According to business daily RBK, some 86 former lawmakers from around Russia are legally obliged to move out of their accommodation on Moscow's Olaf Palme Street after giving up or losing their seats in the 18 September legislative election, but have failed to do so. As a result, there aren't enough apartments at the prestigious address available for newly elected deputies.

Read full article Former Russian lawmakers 'face eviction'

Automatic golf carts for Japanese elderly

  • 7 December 2016
An automatic golf cart in Wajima, Japan Image copyright Asahi Shimbun
Image caption Look, no hands! An operator is required by law, but keep their hands off the steering wheel

A city in western Japan has introduced a free automated golf cart service for its elderly residents in a bid to stop a rising tide of traffic accidents.

In the first such service on Japan's roads, the carts travel along a 3km (two mile) route around Wajima, following an electromagnetic strip buried in the road at a sedate pace of up to 12km/h (7.5mph). As the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports, the road-legal vehicles can't be driverless due to current Japanese traffic laws, which means there's a always staff member behind the wheel to deal with unexpected obstacles and badly parked cars.

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Row over table manners training for Tbilisi officials

  • 7 December 2016
Traffic in front of Tbilisi city hall at night Image copyright Alamy/Juergen Ritterbach
Image caption Employees at Tbilisi's City Hall will soon feel confident about which fork to use for each course

Officials in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, are under fire over plans to use state funds to train city employees on table manners and dress code etiquette.

The mayor's office announced that it was holding a tender to select a trainer for 38 members of staff from its own ranks and from Tbilisi City Council, the pro-opposition Rustavi-2 TV channel reports. Natia Lataria, deputy head of the municipal services development agency, tells the channel that the training was chosen based on the results of a survey on employees' needs. She says dress code and dining manners are integral parts of official meetings and receptions.

Read full article Row over table manners training for Tbilisi officials

Kremlin to sell own-brand dairy products online

  • 6 December 2016
President Putin at Russian military dinner Image copyright Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
Image caption Dine like Putin: The produce comes from exclusive farms and is not usually available to the general public

The Russian government is to give the public the chance to sample a range of delicacies previously reserved for senior officials.

Presidential press secretary Elena Krylova says an online shop selling dairy products under the brand name "Kremlin Quality" will open in the new year. She tells Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that "milk, buttermilk, yoghurt and possibly cheese" made specially for the presidential administration, MPs and their staff will be "on offer to everyone, not just to officials".

Read full article Kremlin to sell own-brand dairy products online

Berlin transport company makes light of Twitter vitriol

  • 6 December 2016
A BVG employee reading out a tweet in one of the videos Image copyright BVG/YouTube
Image caption BVG's slogan is "Because We Love You", but the feeling isn't always mutual - this tweet ends #NobodyLovesYou. It raised a laugh from employee Verena

Berlin's public transport company has released a series of videos in which its employees read out expletive-ridden tweets from angry customers.

BVG, which runs most transport services in the German capital, filmed its staff reading the messages to highlight the vitriol it receives from some members of the public, regional broadcaster RBB reports. The idea has been lifted from late-night US chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live, where celebrities read out mean tweets about themselves.

Read full article Berlin transport company makes light of Twitter vitriol

Businesses offer freebies in Turkish currency campaign

  • 5 December 2016
A man changes money at a change office in Istanbul Image copyright OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Many people in Turkey have their savings in dollars rather than lira

Businesses in Turkey have started offering free goods and services to people who heed a call from the country's president to convert US dollars into Turkish lira, it's reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants people to exchange their foreign currency savings to shore up the plunging lira, which has lost nearly one-fifth of its value against the dollar since the start of the year. He says that those behind the failed 15 July coup attempt are now trying to sabotage the economy, but some analysts suggest the government's subsequent crackdown has fuelled the financial instability.

Read full article Businesses offer freebies in Turkish currency campaign

China care home rewards visits to elderly parents

  • 5 December 2016
Elderly people playing dominoes in a Chinese nursing home Image copyright GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Filial piety is a major aspect of Confucian tradition, but some elderly people see little of their children

A nursing home in eastern China is giving vouchers to people who visit their elderly parents on a regular basis.

The facility in the city of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, says consistent family visits will improve residents' quality of life, the Yangtze Evening Post reports. The biggest reward is worth 200 yuan ($29; £23) and is for those who show up 30 times over the course of two months. Lesser amounts are on offer for 10 or 20 visits during the same period.

Read full article China care home rewards visits to elderly parents

Russian Revolution given social network treatment

  • 1 December 2016
The front page of the Project 1917 website Image copyright project1917.ru
Image caption The project chronicles what was happening in Russia on this day 100 years ago

A new Russian internet project is reliving the events leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as if the historical figures of the time were posting on social media.

The project, called 1917: Free History, aims to recreate the world of the people whose lives were transformed and, in some cases, shattered by the impending revolution. Their stories are told through a mixture of Facebook-style real-time updates, historical live pages and interactive features.

Read full article Russian Revolution given social network treatment

South Korea political crisis causes cinema slump

  • 1 December 2016
A demonstration in central Seoul outside the Blue House, the President's official residence Image copyright AFP
Image caption Huge weekly demonstrations - complete with free entertainment - are keeping Koreans away from the cinema

The political crisis in South Korea is having unintended consequences for the country's cinemas, as customers stay away in droves.

Huge weekly demonstrations against President Park Geun-hye in Seoul and other major cities, in which hundreds of thousands have called for her to resign, have also kept people away from movie theatres, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports.

Read full article South Korea political crisis causes cinema slump