Belarus villagers complain of army tanks on lawn

  • 29 September 2016
Tank drives over tyres in Zaslonava, Belarus Image copyright Tut.By
Image caption The tanks have been passing only metres away from residential apartments

Villagers in northern Belarus are complaining that the local tank brigade is using their streets as a short cut, it's reported.

Zaslonava in Vitsebsk Region is home to the 19th Guards Mechanised Brigade of the Belarusian Army, and local people have sent photos and video to the Tut.By news portal showing how tanks drive over pavements and churn up the grassy areas between blocks of flats.

"Military hardware rumbles past our houses constantly, even at night. It could be one tank, it could be a whole column," pensioner Vasil Zhernosek told the site. "The route through the village is a short cut for them to get from one tank park to another, but what about us?"

Above all, he says local people are worried about their children, as the tanks pass within 150m (about 500ft) of a school. A video from the village shows a tank driving over a set of car tyres near the school before heading off across an already-damaged expanse of grass.

As for remonstrating with the tank crews, Mr Zhernosek tells Tut.By that he once stood in front of a column to block its way, only to be told "If you don't clear off, I'll run you over!"

Read full article Belarus villagers complain of army tanks on lawn

Reykjavik goes dark for Northern Lights show

  • 29 September 2016
Media captionSaever Helgi Bragason captured the Northern Lights display over Reykjavik earlier this week

The lights went out in Reykjavik on Wednesday night to give people a chance to enjoy one of the night sky's most impressive spectacles - the Aurora Borealis.

Reykjavik council announced that street lighting would be switched off for an hour in the city centre and several other districts from 22:00 local time, in order to cut out the light pollution that can hamper sky-watching. It also encouraged the capital's residents to join in by turning off their lighting at home.

Read full article Reykjavik goes dark for Northern Lights show

Russia city backtracks on approval for gay rights march

  • 28 September 2016
Nikolai Alexeyev unauthorized gay rights activists rally in central Moscow on May 30, 2015 Image copyright DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Nikolai Alexeyev, here at an unauthorised rally in Moscow in 2015, called the decision to revoke permission "astounding"

A prominent Russian gay rights campaigner was delighted to announce that the city of Ivanovo had approved a march in favour of same-sex marriage, only to have the permission withdrawn the same day.

Nikolai Alexeyev, the founder of Moscow Pride, posted a letter from the deputy mayor on his VKontakte page on Tuesday, which said the parade and two other public meetings could go ahead, as long as they were moved to different locations in the city - to which Mr Alexeyev immediately agreed.

Read full article Russia city backtracks on approval for gay rights march

China police uncover $6m supermarket gift card scam

  • 28 September 2016
A screengrab from an animated video on the story shows a man at a computer with yuan notes being transferred onto the gift card Image copyright The Beijing News
Image caption The Beijing News used a digital animation to show how the cards were hacked

Police in China say they've detained a group of former supermarket employees for allegedly stealing 40m yuan ($6m; £4.6m) using fraudulently topped-up gift cards.

The six suspects are accused of hacking into computer systems to add credit to 6,000 cards and using them to fund shopping sprees at supermarkets across Beijing. Police in the city's Fengtai district detail the scam in a post on their Weibo account. "Apple mobile phones and high-end liquor were their first choices," the post reads, adding that one purchase was 50 boxes of the pricey Maotai liquor, each costing 5,000 yuan ($750; £577).

Read full article China police uncover $6m supermarket gift card scam

Thai tourism video stirs cultural heritage debate

  • 27 September 2016
A still from the vide showing the characters on the beach, with one on a horse Image copyright
Image caption Larking around on a Thai beach is fine for tourists, but apparently not for characters from literary epics

A music video promoting Thailand's tourism industry has been edited after the government complained about its playful use of characters from classical literature.

The video was released earlier this month and shows four people in traditional Khon masks dancing their way around the country's tourist sights. As well as visiting temples and snapping selfies on the beach, they're shown doing a host of other activities including go-karting and whizzing down a zip wire. Among the characters depicted is Thotsakan, a king of giants in Thailand's national epic Ramakien, The Nation explains.

Read full article Thai tourism video stirs cultural heritage debate

China city blocks sale of tiny 'pigeon nest' homes

  • 27 September 2016
A view of the Shenzhen skyline Image copyright Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images
Image caption Residents of Shenzhen have seen house prices soar in recent years, making home ownership unaffordable for many

Officials in a southern Chinese city have blocked the sale of apartments so small that they were nicknamed "pigeon nests" by the media.

The authorities in Shenzhen acted after photos of the micro-homes went viral on social media. Priced at 880,000 yuan ($132,000; £102,000), each of the nine units has a fold-down bed and what's described by the Sixth Tone website as a "kitchen-cum-bathroom". There also appears to be a television on the wall above the cooker.

Read full article China city blocks sale of tiny 'pigeon nest' homes

Graffiti artist brightens up Finnish prison

  • 26 September 2016
Artist EGS in a Finnish prison yard in front of a mural by him. Image copyright Helsingin Sanomat
Image caption Artist EGS created three pieces - the largest being in the recreation yard

A graffiti artist has been commissioned to brighten up the inside of a Finnish prison for the first time.

Vantaa prison, on the outskirts of Helsinki, gave its walls over to the street artist EGS to adorn both internal spaces and the prison yard with brightly coloured abstract works, the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reports. The cost of the work is being met by the Finnish State Art Commission.

Read full article Graffiti artist brightens up Finnish prison

Singer sorry for Tatarstan mosque belly dance

  • 23 September 2016
A shot of the singer's social media post showing her in the video with a camel Image copyright VKontakte/Rezeda Ganiullina
Image caption Rezeda Ganiullina shared a snap from the video online last week, announcing when it would be shown on TV

A singer has apologised for belly dancing in front of a mosque in Tatarstan, one of Russia's largest Muslim regions, after criticism from religious leaders.

Rezeda Ganiullina filmed a music video in front of the White Mosque in the town of Bolgar, performing her song My Soul while clad in a bejewelled, midriff-baring outfit. That didn't please the Mufti of Tatarstan, Kamil-khazrat Samigullin. "A mosque is not a place for dancing," he's quoted as saying on the local Evening Kazan website, adding that Bolgar is particularly significant as "the Islamic traditions of the Tatars originate from there".

Read full article Singer sorry for Tatarstan mosque belly dance

Mexico town women vote locally for first time

  • 22 September 2016
Women of Guevea de Humboldt, Mexico, queue up for first local election vote Image copyright Quadratin Oaxaca
Image caption The women have never been permitted to vote in mayoral elections before

Women in a community in southern Mexico have voted in local elections for the first time, after winning a three-year battle for the right to choose a mayor and councillors alongside their male relatives.

Women have had the vote in Mexican presidential, general and regional elections since 1953, but the persistence of traditional law in parts of Oaxaca state means many towns have men-only voter lists for local polls, El Universal newspaper reports.

Read full article Mexico town women vote locally for first time

Swedish town vows to protect giant Christmas goat

  • 21 September 2016
A composite image of the straw goat intact, and in flames Image copyright PER-ERIK JADERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption This has become a familiar sight for the town's residents each Christmas

A Swedish town famous for its Christmas tradition of erecting a giant straw goat has said extra efforts will be made to protect the attraction from arsonists this year.

Yule goats are a Scandinavian tradition, and a huge version has appeared in the town of Gavle every year since 1966. But despite pulling in the crowds, the goat has regularly met a fiery fate. It has been destroyed on 34 occasions, including last year when it survived Christmas, only to be doused with petrol and set alight on 27 December.

Read full article Swedish town vows to protect giant Christmas goat