Estonia gets taller after changing measurement system

  • 20 July 2017
Suur-Munamagi, Estonia's highest point Image copyright Wikimedia Commons/Vaido Otsar
Image caption Suur-Munamagi, the highest point in the Baltics, will be 20cm taller

The Baltic nation of Estonia is to become slightly taller after switching the way it measures heights above sea level.

It is switching away from the Russian-based datum to the European Vertical Reference System, which adds between 15-24cms (6-9.5 inches) to vertical measurements in the country, depending on the area, the Postimees newspaper reports.

That means local cartographers will have to add 20cm to Suur-Munamagi, the country's highest point, which will measure in at 317.4m (1,041 feet) above sea level from the beginning of next year.

Previously, heights were calculated from the Kronstadt tide gauge in St Petersburg, the reference system used for Russia and most countries which were under the sphere of the former Soviet Union.

But as a member of NATO and the European Union, Estonia is keen to move over to standards used by its allies. Estonian Land Board official Tambet Tiits told national broadcaster ERR that "The Baltic elevation system of 1977 is obsolete... and then there's the wish to be in one and the same system with Europe".

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India's PM would like books instead of bouquets

  • 19 July 2017
Narendra Modi leafing through a book Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption 'A book... becomes part of the family," Mr Modi has said.

Politicians may be used to bouquets and brickbats, but India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is urging his state governments to lose the flowers presented to him when he visits.

The Ministry of Home Affairs this week told states that "No bouquet may be presented to the Prime Minister during his tours within India," the India.com website reported.

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Food bug upsets Depeche Mode gig in Belarus

  • 18 July 2017
Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Singer Dave Gahan fell ill a few hours before the concert

Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan is reported to be recovering from a bout of food poisoning which forced the band to cancel a gig in Belarus.

The British synthpop legends announced on their website that they had been unable to perform the show at Minsk Arena on Monday night "due to band member illness".

Read full article Food bug upsets Depeche Mode gig in Belarus

Saudis grapple with fake street sweepers

  • 18 July 2017
A broom Image copyright US Navy
Image caption Someone wielding a broom might not necessarily be a cleaner

Beggars in the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Riyadh have apparently found a new way of getting hold of money - by posing as street sweepers.

According to Arab News, street sweepers in Jeddah only earn 400 riyals ($107; £82) per month, and rely on tips from passers-by to lift their income to a living wage, a fact not missed by people who the paper claims are largely "illegal foreign workers" looking for a slice of this largesse.

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Cook Islander tops the world of coconut tree climbing

  • 17 July 2017
George Iona celebrates his winning climb Image copyright TMTV
Image caption George Iona celebrates his winning climb

A Cook Islander has become the first ever world champion in the sport of coconut tree climbing, it's been reported.

George Iona emerged the winner in a field of 16 entrants, winning by the smallest of margins, Tahiti's Radio 1 reports. He scaled the eight-metre (26.25 feet) tree in 5.62 seconds at the event in the garden of the Tahiti Museum. His time was just one hundredth of a second ahead of American Samoa's Fiapa'i Ellio, the pre-race favourite.

Read full article Cook Islander tops the world of coconut tree climbing

Papua New Guinea court order bans 'tomato' insult

  • 17 July 2017
Patilias Gamato Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Mr Gamato claimed the insults defamed his reputation

Papua New Guinea's electoral commissioner has gone to court to stop a critical blogger from mocking his name as the country goes to the polls.

Patilias Gamato won the order against blogger Martyn Namarong, who referred to him as "Tomato", and was accused of posting an image of the election chief with a tomato for a head, the Post Courier newspaper reports. Mr Namarong denies ever posting the doctored image.

Read full article Papua New Guinea court order bans 'tomato' insult

China mall introduces 'husband storage' pods for shopping wives

  • 14 July 2017
Man sitting in a pod, playing a computer arcade game at a shopping mall in China Image copyright The Paper
Image caption Husbands can play old-school games such as Tekken 3 in the pods

A Chinese mall has introduced "husband storage" facilities for wives to leave their spouse while they shop, it's reported.

According to The Paper, the Global Harbour mall in Shanghai has erected a number of glass pods for wives to leave any disgruntled husbands that don't want to be dragged around the shops.

Read full article China mall introduces 'husband storage' pods for shopping wives

South Korea dumps 'dictator' stamp

  • 14 July 2017
Park Chung-hee and Yuk Young-soo Image copyright Woohae Cho/Getty
Image caption Park Chung-hee was assassinated in 1979, his wife Yuk Young-soo five years earlier

A postage stamp commemorating the centenary of former South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee has been scrapped while his daughter stands trial facing corruption charges.

Korea Post approved the stamp last year while the military leader's daughter - ex-President Park Geun-hye - was still in power, Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports. She was impeached this March, and is currently standing trial accused of bribery, abusing state power and leaking state secrets.

Read full article South Korea dumps 'dictator' stamp

Russian imperial hostel reopens for Jerusalem pilgrims

  • 13 July 2017
Sergei Courtyard Russian pilgrim hostel in Jerusalem Image copyright Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society
Image caption The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society flag already flies over the Sergei Courtyard

The Russian government is reopening a hostel for Orthodox pilgrims in Jerusalem in a hospice originally built on the orders of a Romanov grand duke, more than 100 years after it closed.

There will be a ceremonial reopening of the Sergei Courtyard next week after major renovation work by Israeli architect Uri Padan, the Israeli news site News1 reports. The imposing two-storey Renaissance Revival hospice was completed in 1890, with 25 luxurious rooms to accommodate aristocratic pilgrims visiting the Christian sites of Jerusalem. It is named after Grand Duke Sergei, an uncle of Tsar Nicholas II. He was head of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, which ran the Russian Compound district of Jerusalem after the Ottoman Sultans sold it to Russia.

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Taiwan museum makes exhibit images free to download

  • 13 July 2017
Art lovers can see the fine details of works by eleventh century artist Fan Kuan Image copyright TAIPEI NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM
Image caption Art lovers can see the fine details of works by 11th-century artist Fan Kuan

An imperial palace museum in Taiwan has made thousands of images of its artwork and artefacts available to download online, it's reported.

According to popular news website The Paper, Taipei's National Palace Museum has placed 70,000 high-quality electronic images in a free-to-download archive so that online users can enjoy its exhibitions. It also provides a database for users to download information on the history and use of the cultural artefacts.

Read full article Taiwan museum makes exhibit images free to download