South Korea: Alcohol advert ban for young celebrities

  • 27 April 2015
Olympic skater Kim Yuna
An advertisement featuring skater Kim Yuna prompted lawmakers to act

Young celebrities could soon be banned from advertising alcohol in South Korea, as figures show more people than ever are drinking, it's been reported.

A bill restricting people under the age of 25 from appearing in advertisements for alcoholic beverages has passed a key committee vote, and will become law if approved in the National Assembly, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports. That means 21-year-old singer Lee Ji-eun, known to her fans as UI, would have to stop advertising a popular brand of soju liquor, the paper says. According to Chosun Ilbo, the bill was proposed after skater Kim Yuna helped advertise a brewery when she was 22 years old, leading lawmakers to question whether young idols could be enticing teenagers to drink.

The bill comes at a time where government figures show drinking levels are at an all-time high in South Korea, CNBC Asia-Pacific reports. Locals drink 13.7 shots of liquor per week, twice as much as Russian drinkers. Alcohol consumption is particularly high among young women, with 64.8% of women in their twenties saying they drink regularly, and one-in-ten admitting they are heavy drinkers, the Korea Times says. A Seoul Metropolitan Government survey cited young women as saying that their alcohol consumption was the combined result of stress and "the necessities of social life".

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Russia TV reporter 'lights grass' for wildfire report

  • 24 April 2015
Russian journalist Mikhail Akinchenko does piece to camera in video report on wildfires in the Russian republic of Khakassia in April 2015
Mikhail Akinchenko says he wanted background interest for his report on forest fires

A Russian state TV reporter is in under fire after admitting to setting grass alight to embellish a report on wildfires.

Locals of a village in the Siberian republic of Khakassia accused Channel One journalist Mikhail Akinchenko of throwing a carefully aimed cigarette butt to get nearby grass smouldering, according to local news agency Khakassia. He later told police he had wanted to create "background shots" for a report on forest fires that have claimed 30 lives in the region. Channel One confirmed the incident and apologised, describing the move as "negligence". Police are investigating whether it's a case of arson.

Read full article Russia TV reporter 'lights grass' for wildfire report

China: Funeral strippers in authorities' sights

  • 24 April 2015
A stripper performs at a funeral in the central Chinese province of Henan
Funeral organisers hope the crowds attracted by the strippers will reflect well on the deceased

The Chinese authorities say they will push to end the rural practice of having strippers perform at funerals.

The culture ministry put out a statement condemning as "uncivilised" habit of inviting exotic dancers to induce more people to attend the funeral, the official news agency Xinhua reports. The ministry named two recent examples where strippers had been invited to stage "obscene performances" - one in north China's Hebei Province and another in east China's Jiangsu. In both cases, both organisers and performers have been punished, it said, adding that it will work with police to stamp out the practice.

Read full article China: Funeral strippers in authorities' sights

Russia: Funeral home criticised for pensioner tea party

  • 23 April 2015
Two of the women at the funeral home tea party
The women told Russian media they had been expecting to go on a tour of the city

Pensioners who helped the Russian war effort against Nazi Germany have been treated to a party - at a funeral home.

The group of about 50 elderly women thought they were going on a city tour in Yekaterinburg, but instead found themselves at a tea party surrounded by coffins, headstones and funeral wreaths, state-owned Channel One TV reports. The event was ostensibly a celebration in advance of Victory Day, held on 9 May in Russia. But the women were also slipped business cards with the funeral home's contact details. While some took it in their stride, others were upset. "This is horrible - I was in such shock that I wasn't even able to attend Saturday of Souls," Yevgeniya Vyatkina says, referring to the Orthodox day for commemorating the dead. "I still have some life ahead of me, it's too early to go to a funeral parlour."

Read full article Russia: Funeral home criticised for pensioner tea party

Kenya: Cow 'starts eating sheep' on Nakuru farm

  • 23 April 2015
The black dairy cow in its enclosure
The dairy cow's behaviour may be due to a lack of nutrients

A farmer in Kenya says one of his cows has given up its usual vegetarian diet and started eating sheep.

Charles Mamboleo, who runs a farm in south-western Nakuru County, discovered the cow feeding on a sheep one morning, having apparently gored it to death, the Daily Nation website reports. Fresh food and water couldn't tempt the cow, and another sheep met its end the following day, the report says. "After the first incident, we thought the cow was starving, so we increased the supply of fodder and water, but it still continued chasing after sheep," says Mr Mamboleo.

Read full article Kenya: Cow 'starts eating sheep' on Nakuru farm

Turkey: 'Model Mecca' opens in Istanbul district

  • 22 April 2015
Hilmi Turkmen surrounded by people in front of the replica Kaaba
Mayor Hilmi Turkmen (centre) says the models celebrate the Prophet Muhammad's birthday

A district mayor in Istanbul has been criticised for building models of some of Islam's most sacred sites, it's reported.

The replicas were unveiled on Sunday in the city's Uskudar district, and include a model of the Kaaba and a copy of the Well of Zamzam, the Hurriyet Daily News website reports. The real Kaaba is located inside Mecca's Grand Mosque, and is visited by millions of Muslims each year during the Hajj pilgrimage. The models are part of celebrations for the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, according to Uskudar's mayor, Hilmi Turkmen. "In these days that we say 'happy birthday' to our master, we wanted to experience the feeling of Kaaba in our city," he tells the Anadolu news agency.

The front cover cartoon from Le Man
Le Man magazine's front cover referenced the replicas

Read full article Turkey: 'Model Mecca' opens in Istanbul district

Japan: Low-level radiation in drone found on PM's roof

  • 22 April 2015
Police surrounding the drone which is covered in blue plastic
The drone was found by a member of staff at the prime minister's office

A drone carrying a tiny amount of radioactive material has been found on the roof of the Japanese prime minister's office in Tokyo.

The four-propeller device was found on top of the building on Wednesday morning, and was carrying a container of liquid which was marked with a radiation warning symbol, the public broadcaster NHK reports. The 50cm (20in) wide drone was also equipped with a small camera. Police say "minute" levels of radiation were detected on the drone, which they think is likely to be radioactive caesium, but that the amount is too low to be harmful to human health. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wasn't in the building at the time, as he's currently in Indonesia.

Read full article Japan: Low-level radiation in drone found on PM's roof

New Zealand: Council tries to thwart wallaby advance

  • 21 April 2015
A wallaby
Officials say the wallabies cause environmental damage and must be contained

A regional council in New Zealand is trying to stop an invasion of wallabies, it's reported.

Officials in the southern Otago region are considering proposals for "search and destroy" missions to root out any wallabies that have already set up home there, Radio New Zealand International reports. While beloved by many, the marsupials are considered a pest in New Zealand for their tendency to munch through vegetation. The animals have been scaling a dam in order to cross the river dividing Otago and the neighbouring Canterbury region. The intrepid creatures have then been traversing a mountain range, according to the council's environmental director Jeff Donaldson. "I have no idea how many there are but we want to make sure they don't have the opportunity of spreading further afield," says Mr Donaldson.

Read full article New Zealand: Council tries to thwart wallaby advance

China: Gamers hire 'online escorts' to beat loneliness

  • 21 April 2015
Gamers in a Chinese internet cafe
Online gaming is hugely popular in China but it can be a solitary pastime

Gamers in China are hiring female "online escorts" to keep them company while they play, it's reported.

Men who are fed up with spending long hours alone in a virtual world can now buy time with a woman, known as a gamecaster, who will join in, the Want China Times website reports. It costs between 20 and 100 yuan (£3-$16; £2-£10) per hour, and some women also demonstrate games and give advice via a face-to-face online chat, the report says. But the women don't have to be particularly skilled gamers themselves - one escort company says having a "sweet voice" is a more popular feature. Men vastly outnumber women in China, partly due to years of a one-child policy which led to a preference for male babies. That has left many single men looking for female company.

Read full article China: Gamers hire 'online escorts' to beat loneliness

Tajikistan: Dushanbe bans 'un-Tajik' black clothes

  • 21 April 2015
Women in colourful clothing in Dushanbe
Tajikistan's president has said women should wear traditional colourful outfits

The mayor of Tajikistan's capital city has ordered shops to stop selling black clothing for women, in the latest move against Islamic cultural influences in the country.

The mayor of Dushanbe, Mahmadsaid Ubaydulloyev, wants existing stock to be removed from the shelves because he says it doesn't fit with Tajikistan's culture and traditions, the privately-owned Asia-Plus news agency reports. He has also told officials to prevent women's garments from being imported if they're black. The move is being seen as part of a broader government campaign against the adoption of Islamic cultural practices in Tajik society, including women wearing black headscarves.

Read full article Tajikistan: Dushanbe bans 'un-Tajik' black clothes