RSS feed
21 August 2014 Last updated at 06:09 ET

Interpol building 'raided five times'

Gloved hand with crowbar

The high-security building housing Interpol's South Africa office has been burgled for the fifth time in three weeks, it's reported.

The thieves made off with laptops, cameras and other electronics, and in one incident they may have entered the building using internal access cards, the Times Live website reports. A spokesman for Hawks, the anti-corruption unit that suffered the break-in, confirmed the incident but added: "At this stage it does not appear to be serious."

Police think the burglars want the expensive equipment. "The people involved in the first burglary may be involved in the latest incident," says police spokesman Solomon Makgale. "It is highly unlikely that those behind the burglaries are interested in the information contained on the laptops but are rather more interested in making quick cash."

But a crime intelligence source says the repeated break-ins could be a sign the thieves are looking for specific information - and simply haven't found it yet. Police say that some laptops stolen in the first burglary have surfaced in a local pawn shop.

Criminologist Rudolph Zinn says he's concerned that serial break-ins were possible in the first place, and that Interpol could respond by limiting what information employees in South Africa can access. "If it this easy to break into this building multiple times one needs to ask what other unauthorised access has occurred," hey says.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


UAE map says Oxford Circus dangerous

Oxford Circus Oxford Circus is among the "more dangerous" areas

Piccadilly and Oxford Circus are among the "places to avoid" in a new official safety map of London for tourists visiting from the United Arab Emirates.

The safety advice for the capital was published on the UAE foreign ministry website after attacks on UAE nationals in London, The National daily reports. Areas that the map classes as "more dangerous" include tourist hotspots such Soho and Oxford Street - where Selfridges, a well-known department store "which attracts many Emiratis" is located.

Further out from the centre, Shepherd's Bush market and Queensway are singled out as being "less safe". The foreign ministry warns of fraud, theft and pick-pocketing, and says its advice is based on information from the Metropolitan Police website.

Several UAE residents say they'll take the advice seriously. "You have to follow the guidelines from the government," says Mohammad Al Awadhi. Meanwhile, 29-year-old Mona Al Ali, thinks people from the Gulf may be targeted in particular. "They might not be too discreet with their jewellery when they travel and they wear nice clothes."

The warning comes after two incidents involving UAE nationals in London. In April, three women were attacked by a burglar with a hammer in Cumberland Hotel, near Marble Arch, and a couple were threatened with guns in a Paddington flat two weeks later.

UAE foreign ministry map of London dangers ... as is Piccadilly Circus

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Norway books 'first drunk Segwayer'

People on Segways

Norwegian police have booked what's likely to be the country's first drink-driving Segway user - a mere month after a national ban on the devices was lifted.

The man was arrested in a smart restaurant area in central Oslo after several witnesses reported him for "strange behaviour" as he struggled to balance on his Segway, the Aftenposten daily reports. Police suspected him of being drunk in charge of a Segway and took him in. They are still awaiting the results of a blood test, but Finn Erik Groenliveien - head of Oslo traffic police - is already concerned Segway users may think rules about drinking and driving don't apply to them.

"I really hope we're not risking having lots of drink-drivers on two-wheeled vehicles," Groenliveien says. "These are treated like any other vehicle when it comes to the limit on blood alcohol." Police inspector Jan Guttormsen says it's the first case he's heard of. "I'm not surprised, but disappointed they don't appreciate the danger."

Before 1 July "self-balancing vehicles" were banned in Norway because their top speed of 20km/h (12mph) meant they would've been classed as mopeds, and the roads administration didn't think they were safe enough. But the government legalised them anyway, hoping the vehicles will help "revolutionise traffic patterns".

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Thousands 'look for leader's mobile'

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks at the opening of a mosque in the Palestinian town of Abu Ghosh in March 2014 Rarely out of the headlines: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

More than 1,000 people have been questioned by police into the night, apparently after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov - known to be a prolific Instagram poster - mislaid his mobile phone at a feast.

At the end of a museum opening party, where Kadyrov was a guest, organisers announced the regional strongman had lost his mobile and bodyguards started moving through the crowd in search of it, human rights group Memorial says. Later, more than 1,000 people were reportedly called out to a police station for questioning - and were asked about where they were standing and whether they had seen any "ownerless items".

Kadyrov has dismissed Memorial's account as a "barefaced lie". In a post on his extremely popular Instagram account he said the phone in question belonged to the head of a dance troupe at the event, and has been safely returned to her. "I've no idea how many people they questioned," he says. "Whether it was a thousand or tens of thousands, it means they were doing their work." He adds: "As for my telephones, they are both in front of me, have a strong connection and show no signs of going missing."

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Drone drops mobiles into Greek jail

Thinkstock The drone was carrying a stash of mobile phone equipment instead of a camera

A remote-controlled helicopter carrying a box of mobile phones has reportedly landed inside the grounds of a jail near the central Greek town of Larissa.

The toy aircraft flew over the prison fence - which is topped with barbed wire - but was soon spotted by a guard when it landed in a patch of open space inside the prison. It was handed over to bomb disposal experts, who found five mobile phones inside a cardboard box strapped to the aircraft, the daily Ekathimerini newspaper says.

Along with the phones were five charging cables, six Sim cards and two sets of headphones, the Greek news agency ANA-MPA reports. But even though the prison's security was alerted immediately, guards didn't find anybody in the surrounding area and continue to search for the person who was controlling the helicopter.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Tickets for world's tallest clock

Abraj Al-Bait clock tower

The world's tallest clock tower is to open to the public later this year, it's been reported.

The 601m (1,971 ft) Abraj Al-Bait tower, overlooking the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, will allow paying visitors to see the inside workings of the clock after the Hajj pilgrimage finishes in October, the Arab News reports. Entry to the clock tower will be by ticket only, local officials say.

While hundreds of thousands of people visit Mecca every year for pilgrimages, the tower has apparently revived secular tourism in the city. "The Clock Tower revived our business during the last three years," says Abbas Subhi, the marketing manager of one of the hotels in the Clock Tower complex. "Most visitors come only to stay in our roof to enjoy the panoramic view of the Grand Mosque," he says.

The Abraj Al-Bait tower was built on the orders of King Abdullah to be the tallest clock tower in the world, and briefly held the title of the world's tallest building - now held by the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai. The dials of the clock are 39m across - more than five times the diameter of the 7m dials on the clock at the top of London's Elizabeth Tower, commonly known as "Big Ben".

Abraj Al-Bait clock tower

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Robot ends 6,000km Canada hitch-hike

Picture of HitchBOT

A robot sent out to travel across Canada by hitch-hiking has completed its 6,000km (3,728-mile) trip - apparently in one piece.

HitchBOT reached Canada's Pacific coast at Victoria, British Columbia nearly three weeks after leaving Halifax in Nova Scotia, far away on the Atlantic coast, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports. "I'm on a boat," one of HitchBOT's last tweets says. "Well, a ferry to be exact. Victoria, I'm on my way." An arrival event is due to be held on Thursday.

The robot was made by a group of Toronto researchers as an experiment in human-robot interaction and artificial intelligence technologies. Built from an old beer-cooler bucket, foam pool noodles, wellies, solar panels and a computer, it uses GPS technology to send its creators details and pictures of its location. "This project asks: can robots trust human beings?" researcher Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University says.

David Smith of McMaster University tells the Toronto Star newspaper it took only two minutes for HitchBOT to be picked up after being left on a roadside in Halifax on 27 July. Since then, its journey - which included attending a wedding in the province of British Columbia - has gathered more than 30,000 followers on Twitter and over 40,000 likes on Facebook. "We're elated," Smith says. "It's been really great fun and to me it seems like it brought people together in a really interesting way."

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


'Swiss-made food for Swiss soldiers'

Swiss soldier "An army marches on its stomach"

The Swiss armed forces have promised that servicemen will only be given food produced in Switzerland or in accordance with Swiss food standards, apparently in response to animal rights concerns about imported fare.

New rules coming into force next year say bread, dairy and meat produce must be sourced inside the small Alpine country, the Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper reports. Fish can come from abroad but must meet international sustainability standards. Ration packs will also be Swiss-made as far as possible, although things like coffee will still have to be imported.

The patriotic diet will reportedly cost the military an extra $1.7m (£1m) a year, up from the current $72m. With a daily food budget of only 8.50 Swiss francs ($9) per soldier or airman a day, the army uses a lot of imported produce. But servicemen have complained about being served chicken from Hungarian batteries with poor animal rights standards.

The change has won applause on social media. "Only 8.50 francs per soldier per day! Now I know why I had to send my nephew food packages to his training camp," one Twitter user jokes. Switzerland still has compulsory military service, and more than 90% of its servicemen are conscripts.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Singapore tourists 'told to shut up'

Man making a "Shh" sign

Singaporeans travelling to the nearby Indonesian island of Batam have been ordered to be completely silent while queuing for immigration, or face being sent straight back home, it's emerged.

Signs showing a picture of a raised finger over a pair of lips have recently gone up at the immigration hall at the Batam Centre ferry terminal, the Straits Times daily reports. Travellers say they're being abruptly told to take the next ferry back to Singapore if caught talking in the queue. Another report says about 50 Singaporeans are being turned away every week for speaking too loudly.

"I was there for a holiday - why couldn't I open my mouth?" one rejected Singaporean tourist tells the Straits Times. "I was just chit-chatting with my friend." Another traveller says she saw a woman turned back even though the rest of her family had already been let through, while a Singaporean Twitter user reports: "We got scolded! They think they are managing a library."

The silence is needed to keep order and ensure tourists can hear officers' instructions, says Batam immigration office chief Irwanto Suhaili. The one-hour journey to Batam is popular with Singaporean day-trippers, and a return ticket costs about $40 (£24).

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Smuggler who 'ate money' sentenced

Some of the cash recovered

A Venezuelan man has been sentenced to three months in prison in Jamaica after being found guilty of swallowing more than $100,000 in cash.

Eddy Alberio Mancipe was stopped as he tried to board a flight from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay to Trinidad, The Gleaner newspaper reports.

Officers became suspicious while questioning Mr Ortega, 41, and he was later arrested. He complained of sickness and was taken to hospital, where over two days he passed 80 plastic packages containing the $103,500 (£62,000), which he had been trying to smuggle off the island. As he had already been held in police custody for eight months before being charged and sentenced this week, he was "deported with immediate effect", the agency says.

Financial Investigation Division chief Justin Felice says Jamaica will step up port and airport checks, adding "This is the first instance that we have found cash being smuggled from Jamaica in such a fashion. It is indicative of how far persons will go in an effort to evade detection by law enforcement tasked with combating money laundering".

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Malaysian police book 'vulgar' driver

Summons with obscenity blocked out

A man in Malaysia has found himself in jail for a week, with a hefty fine to pay, after scrawling an obscene word on a traffic ticket.

Police stopped gravestone mason Lim Pei Jye outside the "I Love U" cafe in Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Penang Island, after he'd run a red light, and issued him with a court summons. But the "enraged Mr Lim scrawled an offensive word, referring to one's mother's private parts, on the ticket", reports The Malay Mail. Police officer S Thanesran told a court in George Town, Penang State, that Mr Lim wrote the obscenity in the signature column reserved for acknowledging receipt of a summons. The officer promptly charged the 41-year-old under Section 509 of the Malaysian penal code for "using sounds, gestures or words to insult the modesty of a person".

Defence lawyer Muhammad Arif Shaharuddin said his client was suffering from stress after divorce proceedings, and was sorry for what he'd done. Public Prosecutor Muhammad Hafiz Hashim was unimpressed, arguing instead for a deterrent sentence, as divorce was "no excuse for humiliating a policeman who was just doing his job". Magistrate Dianne Nigrad Nor Azahar agreed, and fined the father of two £944 ($1,500). But he got off lightly with only a week in jail, notes The Malay Mail, as Section 509 carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Monastery tempts Chinese IT workers

A Buddhist monk in Beijing checks his mobile phone

A monastery in China is offering courses for "troubled" IT workers, it appears

The Longquan Monastery in Beijing is advertising an "IT Dhyana Camp" for employees in the city's internet and technology companies, state-run Xinhua news agency reports. "Dhyana" is the Sanskrit word for "meditation", and technology professionals are taking part in the free course which insists that applicants follow the temple's rules of simple lodging and a vegetarian diet. According to Xinhua, participants will be deprived of their phones and other digital gadgets for the duration of the three-day course, and they'll be taught meditation, Buddhism and farm work.

Master Xianxin from Longquan Monastery tells Xinhua that many of the 400 applicants for the course are suffering anxiety and pressure relating to the fast pace of life and technological advances, and are looking for both clarity and new personal goals. "Many people today lack self-awareness," he says. He's also certain that Buddhism should embrace the internet: "We don't see an inevitable clash between Buddhism and technology. Instead, new technology can assist with the spread of Buddhism."

According to Xinhua, some Buddhist masters have a "huge" online following in China, offering guidance and wisdom to internet users. Academic Jiang Hong told the news agency that Buddhism and other religions are becoming more popular thanks to improved living conditions. "Chinese society has reached a stage where many people no longer lack basic necessities and want to pay more attention to their spiritual needs," he said.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Clenched fist to foil Ebola

P M News President Jonathan watches Lagos Governor Babatunde Fashola sanitise his hands

The governors of Nigeria's 36 states have started greeting one another with clenched fist salutes - not out of revolutionary fervour, but to avoid transmitting the deadly Ebola virus.

President Goodluck Jonathan summoned the governors and regional health commissioners to an emergency meeting in the capital, Abuja, to discuss how to stop the spread of Ebola, and the governors "opted to greet one another with clenched fists", This Day newspaper reports, quoting the official News Agency of Nigeria.

The health ministry's Ebola awareness programme is discouraging Nigerians from shaking hands to avoid further infection, and the clenched fist is the latest in a series of changes people are making to avoid physical contact. MPs stopped shaking hands earlier this week, and even the Catholic Church has reviewed its 'Sign of Peace' gesture of shaking hands with your neighbour during Mass.

Three people have died of Ebola in Nigeria since it arrived in late July, and 10 more have been diagnosed with the disease. Many Nigerians who had initial contact with carriers have been quarantined, and several others are under observation, the paper says. At their meeting with the president, the governors agreed to set up seven laboratories nationwide to test for Ebola, and upheld a decision to ban the movement of corpses from state to state without a waiver from the federal ministry of health and proper safeguards.

Scientists at Aberystwyth University have established that shaking hands is one of the most effective ways of passing on bacteria, and recommend 'fist-bumping' as a much less risky way of greeting if people don't want to avoid physical contact altogether.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Russia's Atlantis rises again

Mr Nolotelnov lays flowers at Mologa

Stalin ordered the flooding of the historic city of Mologa to make way for a giant reservoir in 1935, but now the 'Russian Atlantis' has risen from its watery grave - to the delight of its former inhabitants.

The city on the River Volga dates back to the 12th Century, and was a major trading post between the Baltic Sea and Asia. But the Soviets decided Mologa had to go to make way for the Rybinsk Reservoir and hydroelectric power station. The 130,000 townspeople were forced out, and the city gradually disappeared beneath the waters in the 1940s. Nearly 300 people refused to go and were left to drown, Soviet secret police files have confirmed.

The former inhabitants and their descendants sail to the site every year to pray and cast wreaths on the water. But a mild winter and hot summer have seen water levels drop dramatically, exposing remnants of the former Cathedral of the Epiphany and surrounding streets. The reservoir authorities allowed Nikolai Novotelnov, who had to leave Mologa when he was 17, to walk on his native turf again, Russia's TV Tsentr reports.

There is little to see beyond the cathedral foundations and the outlines of the streets, but Mr Novotelnov described the pre-war scene to television reporters. "Here was the inn, over there was the Voikov school and the flour store. Communist Street ran that way, towards the district administration building, the chemists, and my house," he told reporters. He laid flowers at the metal navigation marker that stands on the cathedral site and gathered brick fragments for his fellow Mologans.

Cathedral remains, Mologa The last of Mologa

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Little Mermaid gets a Seoul 'sister'

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen

South Korea's capital Seoul is to get a "sister" copy of Copenhagen's Little Mermaid as part of a statue exchange between the two cities, it's been reported.

A replica of the century-old statue, which attracts over 1.5 million visitors to the Langlinie promenade in the Danish capital, is to be placed on the banks of the Han River in Seoul, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports. In return, the Danes will receive a statue that represents the South Korean capital, although it's currently unclear what that will be.

The statue exchange is the result of a meeting between the mayors of the two cities in Denmark this week, with Seoul's Park Won-soon saying that the Danish offering will be the "Little Mermaid's sister."

Park's Danish tour has had a distinctive Hans Christian Andersen feel to it. He's also agreed with Odense mayor Anker Boye to create a theme park bearing the Odense-born fairytale writer's name, Korea Bizwire says. Seoul's city government will consult with the Danish city over designs of buildings and attractions.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


New York bans 'tiger selfies'

New York has banned posing with big cats in photos Getting close to tigers is now an offence in the state of New York

The state of New York has effectively banned the popular trend of taking "selfie" photos with tigers or big cats by saying people are no longer allowed near dangerous animals at zoos, circuses and carnivals.

The new law comes after the online-dating app Tinder saw a surge of photos - mainly of men - posting profile pictures of themselves next to tigers and other big cats. The phenomenon has come to be known as the "tiger selfie" - local website Politics on the Hudson reports. A report earlier this year from the Wall Street Journal estimates that one in 10 photos on Tinder has a tiger in it - perhaps because the men want to appear adventurous to potential partners.

But assembly member Linda Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill, tells the Daily News website the measure is there to stop animals from being exploited. Wildlife activists say tiger selfies encourage people to take cubs from big cats who are later neglected, mistreated and abandoned when they grow up. Similar laws are already in force in states such as Mississippi, Arizona and Kansas.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Turkish shops sell refugee 'boat kit'

Greek coastguards help refugees disembark from a rescue boat  Greek coastguards help refugees disembark from a rescue boat

Traders in the western Turkish coastal city of Izmir have started selling life vests and other vital equipment - apparently intended for refugees wanting to illegally cross the Aegean Sea to Greece.

The shops in the neighbourhood of Basmane - which has seen a large influx of people fleeing from Iraq, Somalia and Syria - are stocking the necessary equipment and local officials tell the Hurriyet daily newspaper that Izmir has become a "hub for migrants wanting to illegally cross into Greece". The paper reports that some 5,789 migrants have been caught by the Turkish coast guard in 2014 alone.

Many people attempt the dangerous sea journey from Turkey to Greece and accidents are frequent. In the latest incident, four people drowned when a boat carrying migrants from Eritrea and Afghanistan sank off the Turkish Aegean coast in July on its way to the Greek island of Lesbos. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that by the end of the year, Turkey will have to accommodate over 1.3 million refugees fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Denmark opens 'free' supermarket

Young woman at the supermarket Tryvertising is thought to be an innovative way of reaching customers

Shoppers in the Danish capital will soon be able to buy groceries without paying for them - if they write a review about the products.

Copenhagen's first "free" supermarket is scheduled to open in a few days, The Copenhagen Post reports. Once customers register online with Freemarket, they place an order and pick everything up at the shop.

But shoppers have to review their products quickly - they might have their profile shut down if they take too long, or have to pay a fine if they want it reopened. Freemarket also charges 19 kroner (£2.02; $3.40) a month to pay for the "physical operation" and has a monthly limit of 10 products.

"Experienced consumers switch off or even get angry about the commercials, ads, banners and pop-ups foisted on them," says Cutting Edge PR. "'Tryvertising' is an innovative way to reach them." The concept isn't unique to Denmark, but has been gaining popularity as companies try to harness the power of customer reviews online. Big brands from the car to coffee industries have been offering perks such as free use of cars at hotels or complimentary coffee to commuters at bus stops in the same spirit.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Colombia bullfighters on hunger strike

Bullfight in Medellin in January 2014 Bullfights are still held outside of Bogota, such as here in Medellin

Colombian bullfighters have gone on hunger strike to push for bullfighting to resume in the capital Bogota, two years after the mayor effectively banned it.

Eight bullfighters have been striking for more than a week in tents outside the city's only bullring, La Santamaria, the El Tiempo newspaper reports. "We don't want food - we're hungry for bull!!!" says a banner hanging above their picket line. The bullfighters reckon 35,000 jobs have been affected by the closure of the stadium and that the city's been deprived of $1.6m (£1m) in income.

Mayor Gustavo Petro effectively ended bullfighting in the city when he cancelled the bullring's lease in June 2012. He said he wanted public places to be used for activities of "life, not death". The constitutional court was supposed to rule on the issue last year, but a final decision has been repeatedly postponed.

The issue of bullfighting - associated in the minds of many Colombians with country's traditional landowning elite - has been passionately debated on Colombian social media. Many Colombians say it's cruel, but defenders insist it has significance as art. A 2004 law protects bullfighting as a form of artistic expression, but many Colombian mayors - under pressure from animal rights campaigners - have used loopholes to stop it.

Protesters holds up a placard against bullfighting in Medellin during elections in February 2014 The number of Colombians campaigning against bullfighting as a form of cruelty to animals is growing

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Greece to drop 'eternal students'

Greek students protest against plans to overhaul the country's university system in 2013 Plans to reform universities and cut funding are often met with protests

Greece's new education minister says he wants to put an end to the problem of "eternal students" - tens of thousands of people who have been enrolled at university for years without graduating.

Andreas Loverdos has ordered anyone who has spent longer than 11 years on courses that should last five years or less to be struck off all university registers in September - and he insists there'll be no extensions "for petty political reasons", Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reports. Loverdos says this could affect as many as 180,000 people, some of whom have been "studying" since the 1950s. OECD figures say fewer than 20% of Greeks graduate from university.

Loverdos insists the move shouldn't come as a surprise, saying that in 2007 a law was passed setting a 10-year deadline on obtaining a first degree. The university system was also reformed in 2011 - apparently to little effect. "Everybody has had a long enough time to prepare," the minister says. Although he admits these long-term students don't actually cost the state much money, he thinks cleaning up the records will help accurately assess universities' needs.

Greek higher education was badly hit by the country's economic crisis, which left students facing poor job prospects and triggered an exodus of Greeks to seek to work or study abroad. The country's universities are highly politicised and frequently wracked by staff strikes and protests against government spending cuts.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


India radio sacks presenters over 35

Radio show being produced at All India Radio in 2005. All India Radio wants journalists to prove they are not "mature and boring"

India's national public radio broadcaster appears to have sacked around 100 presenters for being over its new age limit of 35.

All India Radio says it had to bring in the new age rules because the station needed to "infuse freshness in presentation of programmes". The Kolkata-based broadcaster initially set the cut-off at 30 years - but then raised it to 35. The measure was then put on hold by an employment tribunal until 8 August - but the journalists in question were dropped the day after the freeze expired, the Hindu daily reports.

Most of the journalists affected have worked at the station for many years and say they are shocked. "It is absolutely irrational to terminate our services just because we have crossed 35," Avantika Ghosh, of the station's Broadcasters' Welfare Association, tells The Times of India. "There is no scientific reasoning that says that once a person crosses 35, the voice modulation ceases to sound good."

All India Radio has responded by saying it will allow presenters to stay on if they pass a test to prove they don't sound "too mature and boring", according the Kolkata paper The Telegraph.

Although outstripped in recent years by India's booming television sector, radio is still an important medium, particularly in rural areas. Publicly-run All India Radio - which broadcasts in 23 languages - faces growing competition from a proliferation of new private stations.

Radio repair man in India Radio still plays a big role across much of India

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


N Korea currency 'drops Kim Il-sung'

North Korean 5,000-won banknote showing Kim Il-sung in 2009 How the 5,000-won note looked in 2009...

North Korea has dropped Kim Il-sung from its highest-denomination banknote, completely erasing the revered founder's image from its currency, it seems.

A new 5,000-won note introduced at the end of July no longer features current leader Kim Jong-un's grandfather, the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reports. Instead, it now has a picture of what North Korea officially regards as his birthplace - Mangyongdae - on the front, and a Pyongyang museum that displays gifts from foreign leaders on the other.

The note - officially worth $40 (£23), but thought to be be less than $1 on the black market - was already the last to bear Kim Il-sung's features after he was dropped from the 1,000- and 2,000-won notes in 2009. That was part of a much more far-reaching currency reform that reportedly prompted widespread anger inside North Korea, and is widely seen as a political disaster. This latest change could be aimed at flushing out privately hoarded money reserves, South Korean politicians say.

As for the dropping of Kim Il-sung, the Daily NK website says it could mean that Kim Jong-un is signalling that he's now fully in control since coming to power in 2011, and may even be showing an openness for economic reform. Alternatively, North Korea might just be preparing to introduce a new 10,000-won note in response to inflation - which would again feature Kim Il-sung.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Belarus 'breeds blue and pink spuds'

"Blue potatoes"

Shoppers in Belarus may soon be tempted by new breeds of potato with luridly blue and pink flesh, it's reported.

It's all part of a wider national effort by Belarusian scientists to develop new kinds of spuds with non-traditional colours, the Minsk Novosti news website says. There'll be blue, pink and purple potatoes that will taste as good as the more common white-yellow ones, according to Ivan Kalyadka, who heads the Research Centre for Potato Cultivation and Horticulture at the Belarusian Academy of Sciences.

Now that the nine-year breeding process is complete, the new kinds of potato are currently undergoing state testing. After that they'll be given the green light for full-scale cultivation, the report says. Their creators hope to use them in a variety of products, including crisps, chips and instant mashed potatoes. The potato is central to Belarusian cuisine, used in dishes such as draniki (potato pancakes) and babka (potato bake).

Non-traditionally coloured spuds have in fact been developed elsewhere, including the "Adirondack Blue", bred by potato breeders at Cornell University in the US. It's not known whether the new Belarusian breeds are similar to existing types, or entirely new creations.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Site tracks UK passport backlog

UK biometric passport Delays to passports have hit tens of thousands in the UK and around the world

A Hong Kong-based journalist frustrated at delays to British passport applications has set up a website to publicly track how long it takes to process hers - and she wants others to join in.

Laura Ma's website hasmypassportarrived.com - which says No in big letters at the top - has a counter totting up the days, hours, minutes and seconds since she applied for her passport on 1 August. It also invites readers to share the time they've been waiting for their passport.

Britain's passport system has been hit by huge delays after a change in the way applications are processed. The UK's Passport Office says it is dealing with the highest demand for passports in 12 years. In July, the number of delayed passports was put at over 30,000, and hundreds of UK passport workers went on strike over pay and staffing.

"The thinking behind the website is to boost awareness of the backlog," Ma tells the South China Morning Post. Ma, 26, holds three passports - she was born in Hong Kong, acquired British citizenship as a child and has since become a naturalised citizen in in Canada. She had to send off all her documents to renew the UK passport. "It means I will have no travel documents whatsoever for as long as it takes for them to process everything," she says.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Mexican Christ statue has human teeth

Statue of the Lord of Patience in Mexico

The statue of the Lord of Patience in the parish of San Bartolo Cuautlalpan, Mexico, has always looked ghastly.

His tortured look, blood streaming down his neck, open wounds on his face, hands and knees send shivers down your spine. But it turns out that the statue is even more realistic - and macabre - than previously thought. Specialists restoring the 18th Century artwork have discovered that the statue's eight teeth used to belong to an adult human, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History has announced.

"The teeth were probably donated as a token of gratitude," suggests head restorer Fanny Unikel. Elsewhere in Mexico, parishioners are known to have volunteered their hair to make wigs for saints, as well as clothing or money. But the teeth and nails of statues are usually made of bones and animal horns. "It's the first time human teeth have been found in a sculpture," says Unikel.

As unique as it is, the director of Mexico's National School of Restoration, Conservation and Museology says the find isn't surprising. "The statue is a very convincing depiction, so naturally, if someone could lay hands on this kind of teeth, he would use them." Unikel adds, in a museum video, the teeth are in perfect condition, even for a centuries-old sculpture. She rules out the idea that they belonged to a holy person. "Relics would be used in a different way to stress their significance."

X-ray of the sculpture with teeth visible The teeth can be seen in an x-ray of the scultpure

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Court battle over IVF mix-up babies

Twin babies

Twin babies born this week in Italy are at the centre of an unprecedented custody battle after an apparent blunder at a fertility clinic in Rome.

The biological parents of the children are hoping that the courts will rule in their favour after the their embryos were implanted into a different couple during an in vitro fertilization procedure at the end of last year, the Italian edition of The Local news website reports. The biological parents's own IVF treatment ended in failure, but DNA tests later showed that they were the biological parents of twins being carried by another woman. The babies were born this week by caesarean section, adding a further complication to the court process, La Stampa newspaper says.

But the unnamed couple have an uphill task on their hands, since Italian law recognises the woman who gives birth to a child is their legal mother. And the birth parents are adamant that they won't be parting with the babies. "We are happy. Very happy: our children are born, they're very well and we have already registered their birth," says the birth mother, named only as Francesca. "No one will be able to take them from us," she tells La Stampa.

The case highlights the high emotions that surround IVF treatment, with one lawyer involved in the case saying it would be "very distressing" for both couples. Speaking to the BBC last year, Lisa Jardine, former chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the UK said private clinics are in the business of "marketing hope" to would-be parents, and that two thirds of couples have to come to terms with the heartbreak of failure.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


McDonald's ad denies 'Israel link'

Burger

McDonald's in Malaysia is pleading against a planned boycott of its products over alleged links to Israel, saying it is not linked in any way to "any political activity, violence or oppression".

In a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper, the fast-food giant says that taking action against it will only hurt its 12,000 Malaysian employees - over 85% of whom are Muslim - the Malay Mail Online reports. McDonald's has recently been facing accusations that it has been helping to fund Israeli attacks on Gaza. The chain is also having to deny rumours it will give away free burgers and drinks on Friday. "We would like to clarify that the notices on free McDonald's food posted on Facebook were not issued by McDonald's, and we are unable to honour it. It is a hoax produced by an irresponsible party," the company says in a statement.

A pro-Palestinian rally in the capital Kuala Lumpur saw calls to boycott a list of products and companies including McDonald's, and similar calls are circulating on social media. Two protests have also been held outside the McDonald's outlets in Malaysia this week. A majority of Malaysians are Muslim and sympathy for the Palestinian cause is widespread. Earlier this year, a survey by the Anti-Defamation League found nearly two-thirds of Malaysians admitted to having anti-Jewish attitudes.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Colombia gets own Christ the Redeemer

Piece of Christ statue being assembled in Colombia

Traffic in the Colombian city of Floridablanca has come to a standstill as a giant statue of Jesus Christ - that is hoped to rival the iconic monument in Rio de Janeiro - has been delivered to the town in pieces.

Bystanders have been tweeting pictures of the statue parts, which are destined to stand in the EcoParque El Santisimo (The Blessed EcoPark) due to open next year, the Colombia Reports website says. "In #Santander #EcoParque #PaNaChi the Christ of Juan José Cobos at 40m will be higher than the Corcovado in Brazil," tweets onlooker Karina Alvarez.

District governor Richard Aguilar Villa also tweets enthusiastically about the project, saying: " The #ElSantísimo monument is made of nine pieces in total. The view from the project will be spectacular!" The sculpture will reportedly stand 131ft (40m) tall when finished. The pieces of the Christ statue are arriving over two weeks, each weighing four tonnes. Its creator, Juan Jose Cobos, says the statue has taken more than 20 people two years to create.

But not everyone is impressed. A YouTube video showcasing the park and statue has been viewed more than 3,500 times but has only one comment: "What a waste of money." And many on Twitter ask why so much has been spent on the statue, rather than tackling a serious drought that has has affected the region and which is expected to continue for months.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


China plans 'Christian theology'

A Chinese priest during Mass

China says it may try to create a theology based on Christianity - that integrates the religion with Chinese culture and is compatible with the country's socialist beliefs, it's been reported.

Wang Zuoan, a senior official for religious affairs, says China supports the development of Christianity within the country. But "the construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China's national condition," the state-backed China Daily website reports. His comments came at a conference for Sinicization of Christianity in Shanghai.

It's thought there are about 23 million to 40 million Protestants in China - 1.7% to 2.9% of the total population - and that each year, about 500,000 people are baptised as Protestants. But China's ruling Communist Party is officially atheistic and relations with the church have sometimes been strained. People are only supposed to worship in places approved by the government, but many underground churches operate in China too.

In Wenzhou - sometimes called China's Jerusalem, where more than one in 10 people are Protestant - state authorities are cracking down on what they say are illegal church buildings, taking away or threatening to remove crosses at more than 130 Protestant churches and demolishing some entirely, the Taipei Times says. It cites experts and church leaders saying they believe the authorities are alarmed by the quick growth of Protestantism in the area, and are trying to suppress it.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Nude female cyclist told to get dressed

Shoes of a woman on a bike Apparently the mysterious naked cyclist wore nothing but trainers

Police in Austria have warned a young woman to stop shopping naked while on her cycling holiday, it seems.

Austrians are generally relaxed about nudity in parks and on beaches, but not so elsewhere. People complained that the blonde woman had dropped by a petrol station and tobacco shop in the town of Pernitz, Lower Austria, wearing "little more than white trainers and a friendly smile". Apparently, whenever people approached her she fled, the Oesterreich tabloid reports.

Austrian papers have been trying to track down who the woman is. The Kurier got a tip-off through a YouTube clip that went viral from the nearby town of Pottenstein, showing the same woman leaving a cake shop - also in the nude. The shopkeeper couldn't see what all the fuss was all about. "She's dropped by two or three times, I don't think it's a big deal," says Gabriela Leithner. "She's not done anything wrong. We had a naked man in here the other day," she laughs.

But Pernitz police chief Harald Windbichler is less amused. When he almost stumbled over the nude cyclist on a country road while carrying out a routine speed check, he gave her a verbal warning for "breach of public decorum". The policeman let her ride on, but told her that she faces a 1,000 euro (£794; $1,340) fine next time. "You could buy an entire wardrobe for that", mused Oesterreich.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Crimea ditches Ukrainian mobile network

Crimean mobile phone shop

Ukraine's largest mobile phone network is ending its service in the Crimean peninsula - the region annexed by Moscow in March - amid a controversy over what prompted the move.

MTS-Ukraina says it's being forced out of Crimea, accusing Crimean authorities of cancelling its coverage in the regional capital, Simferopol. It's appealing to the other major Ukrainian networks - Kyivstar and Astelit - to provide emergency roaming for customers in Crimea "who have been illegally deprived of our services", the Novosti Kryma site reports.

But Crimea's communications chief, Dmitry Polonsky, says the carrier is quitting of its own accord, the Ukrainian Centre of Investigative Journalism reports. He's advised customers switch to Russian companies - on the same day that the Kremlin announced a certain K-Telekom will be providing services in Simferopol. Back in May, Russia transferred MTS-Ukraina's Crimean frequency bands and 3G coverage to K-Telekom, Vedomosti newspaper reports.

There are several K-Telekoms in Russia, and it isn't clear which one would start operating in Crimea. Russian and Western analysts think the firm could be one owned by Russia's own MTS mobile network - which also happens to be the parent company of MTS-Ukraina. Crimean reporter Roman Nikolayev thinks "it all sounds like noise to hide the fact that Russia's MTS is gradually taking over the equipment and customers of its Ukrainian filial MTS-Ukraina, through a second identity" and has suggested this could be a way for MTS to avoid US sanctions for operating in occupied Crimea. Neither Russian company has commented.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Ban on Saudi unions with some expats

Marriage rules from Makkah newspaper Saudi newspaper Makkah summarises the new marriage rules

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced tighter regulations for men wanting to marry foreigners, and has banned them from marrying expat workers from four specific countries, it seems.

Bridegrooms must give the police a marriage proposal and ID signed by their local mayor - which will then be sent to the government for consideration - says Mecca Police Chief Assaf Al-Qurshi. The suitors must be aged over 25 and wait at least six months after a divorce, the Makkah newspaper reports. For married men, "He should attach a report from a government-run hospital proving his wife is suffering from a chronic disease... or is sterile." Meanwhile married men with healthy wives need to have written proof their spouse will let the wedding take place.

But men are apparently banned altogether from marrying expat workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Burma. Unofficial statistics say that Saudi Arabia, which already has a very large foreign workforce - some estimate it at nine million people or 30% of the population - has about 500,000 female residents from those four countries.

The move has raised eyebrows in the Gulf and Pakistani press. Comments on the the Pakistani Dawn newspaper site range from accusing the kingdom of racism to suggesting "our women are safe now". And the Saudi Gazette asks why women from these four countries are singled out in particular. The Saudi government has not commented officially on the report.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Mongolia switches to digital TV

Analog TV

Television channels in Mongolia are switching their terrestrial broadcasting to digital, and plan to complete the transition within two years - quicker than their hi-tech neighbours Japan and South Korea managed.

Like viewers elsewhere, many Mongolians are unsure about the change-over and want to know whether they can still watch their favourite programmes on analogue sets, the Ulan Bator Post newspaper reports. The head of the official broadcast authority, Tsagaan-Ovgoniy Jadambaa, decided to answer questions at a public meeting in Genghis Khan Square in central Ulaan Baatar, broadcast live nationwide.

Jadambaa says the analogue signal will not be switched off until January 2016, but advises people to buy a set-top box or a television that supports the new digital system. He says Mongolia has opted for the European standard DVB-T2 because it "will allow viewers to receive high-definition channels direct". Japan operates a similar system called ISDB-T, while South Korea and China have chosen to use different standards.

The broadcast authority will install 10 transmitters in Ulan Bator and 244 others in the provinces by the end of August, giving the whole country full digital coverage by the time the analogue signal ends. "Japan and South Korea were able to do a complete transition in five years. Mongolia will do it in two," he told viewers in the live broadcast. Television companies in trial areas report that digital broadcasts are already operating normally, the newspaper says.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Norway's tiniest pub opens in Arctic

Britt Kramvig and Marry Ailonieida Somby at Raketten Raketten bar's first customers

A hot dog stand in Norway's far north has turned itself into the country's tiniest pub - just in time for this week's Chess Olympiad.

The Raketten (Rocket) kiosk is an historic landmark in Tromso city centre, and has been serving sausages to hungry locals since May. Now its owners have relaunched it as a bar. At only 4.6 square metres (50 square feet) it has little room inside for more than a small kitchen, but the terrace can seat up to nine, reports Nordlys newspaper.

Despite being well inside the Arctic Circle, Tromso's drinkers prefer a chilled light ale with their hot dogs, though the Raketten also offers a sherry for visitors looking for something warmer to wash down their wieners. The local Mack brewery has come up with a special craft beer for the Raketten, and sausage maker Mydland has produced a wurst to the bar's own recipe. As there's only room for one tap, the owners have imported the latest US technology to deliver the beer fast - another first of its kind in Norway.

The first customers were local author Marry Ailonieida Somby and academic Britt Kramvig, who enjoyed the location and fare. "I think it will be good," Somby says. "It's lovely to sit here and watch the crowds go by. You won't miss anything on the Main Square or High Street."

Raketten opening times

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Japan tackles Snapping Turtle menace

Snapping turtle in Japan

Japan is reportedly facing a surge in its population of snapping turtles - threatening some of the country's fragile ecosystems as well as its people's fingers.

Snapping turtles originally come from the Americas, but turned up in Japan as pets in the 1960s, Kyodo news agency reports. Some turtles must have escaped to the wild, as there were an estimated 1,000 turtles roaming the Chiba Prefecture 10 years ago. The turtles have been classed in Japan as an invasive species and are eating up fish, bird and weed stocks, and chewing their way through fishermen's nets.

Last month, fishermen caught 44 of the mighty amphibians in rivers feeding the local Lake Inba, and the environment ministry has taken a total of 3,000 into captivity so far. But scientists say this isn't enough. Biologist Hideaki Kato of Shizuoka University says: "By the time an increase in the population of snapping turtles is noticed, it is likely to have done considerable damage to the ecosystem already". He thinks authorities should focus on destroying the turtles' eggs - they lay 20-30 a time, The Japan Times reports.

But it is difficult to find people willing to tackle the turtles. They can be up to a metre long and weigh 35kg (77lb), and can apparently cause serious harm with their bite. Local authorities are already reporting cases of children being bitten, the paper says.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Swiss nurseries seek male staff

Father and son play with colourful block

Swiss nurseries have embarked on a recruitment drive for male staff after a dramatic drop in job applications.

Jeannette Good, head of nursery group ABB, tells the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper: "We were flooded with CVs not so long ago, but now we have a shortage of qualified staff." Men make up less than 10% of nursery staff, and the official Kibesuisse childcare agency is targeting a campaign to encourage more to train as care workers.

Zurich city council recently scored some success in recruiting foreign workers, filling several hundred places with qualified German staff. Kibesuisse says foreigners and migrant workers are free to apply, but the paper wonders whether a clear referendum vote in February to limit migration from the EU to Switzerland with new quotas might scupper this.

Kibesuisse's Stefanie Knocks also admits there are deep-seated problems with recruiting to nurseries. "Pay is low, and it's both physically and psychologically demanding work," she says, adding that there are social barriers to getting men into the industry. Some male care workers endure teasing from friends, she says, not to mention malicious gossip about men who want to work with small children.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Siberian Republic campaign taken down

Campaign poster for autonomous Siberia "Let's Show Moscow Siberia!"

Campaigners who want more autonomy for resources-rich Siberia have had their pages blocked on Russia's most-popular social network.

The prosecutor-general's office ordered the Vkontakte site to block the March to Federate Siberia page, which now carries a message saying: "Access is limited on the orders of the law-enforcement agencies." The page was shut down after discussion of the campaign began to build online, with some people comparing it to protests in Kiev that brought down Ukraine's pro-Russian government earlier this year.

The Vkontakte page called Enough of Feeding Moscow! says it wants to create a Siberian Republic with its own government that "can stand up for the region's interests" in Moscow. The campaign, which has been endorsed by writer and artist Artur Solomonov, says more of the money from Siberia's enormous oil, gas and mineral resources should be be spent for the benefit of local people - especially those who live in harsh Arctic and tundra conditions.

It calls for a march in Novosibirsk, Siberia's informal capital, on 17 August, the TJournal media website reports. Nearly 2,000 people have agreed to join the march so far.

Online media in Russia and Ukraine picked up the story, and soon politicians joined the debate. Opposition MP Ilya Ponomarev - the only politician to vote against Russia's annexation of Crimea - tweeted in favour of the march, declaring "Siberia is Ours". Other supporters, such as artist Artem Loskutov, are drawing parallels with the separatists in eastern Ukraine - who enjoy the encouragement of the Russian government and media.

Autonomous Siberia Vkontakte page blocked Vkontakte page blocked

But MP Nikolai Valuyev, loyal to President Vladimir Putin, dubbed the march the "first attempt of global efforts to promote separatism in Russia". Vkontakte began to see demands that the authorities investigate the campaign - some pointed to a law passed last month by Putin that imposes tough penalties for promoting "separatism" online.

Within days the prosecutor-general's office acted, and the Vkontakte page was gone - along with an interview Loskutov gave to the liberal website Slon. But the Siberians appear undaunted. They have set up another VKontakte page, while it lasts, have asked the mayor of Novosibirsk to have their demonstration, and are continuing their campaign on Facebook - beyond the reach of the Kremlin censors.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


'Web rehab' weans children off devices

Indian girls play with a tablet

A centre has been set up in the Indian capital, Delhi, reportedly to help young people suffering from "internet addiction".

The Centre for Children in Internet and Technology Distress is teaching around 60 children to "discover the joys of traditional games and physical interaction", says Rahul Verma of the Uday Foundation. Parents have turned to the centre because their children are choosing to spend time alone on their smartphones instead of playing outside or with friends. Sometimes children refuse to eat or sleep, or compulsively check the popularity of their social media posts, the Hindustan Times reports.

The centre encourages group play, yoga and reading as well as games. Its walls are decorated with posters of outdoor fun with messages such as: "Life was much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruit." Doctors in Delhi are registering a sharp increase in children spending too much time online. The respected National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, which opened a similar centre in India's IT hub Bangalore a few months ago, estimates web overuse is causing 73% of teenagers there some psychiatric distress.

Meanwhile, several parents told the paper their children had benefited from counselling at the centre, and are no longer neglecting their studies or becoming aggressive if the WiFi goes down.

Wall at Delhi Centre

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Canada sets oyster-shucking record

Oysters

A Canadian team has managed to open 8,840 oysters in one hour flat, beating the record set by a French team back in 2002.

The 10-member team at the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival on Canada's Prince Edward Island had to meet strict criteria - "shucking" the oysters with a knife, and without damaging the meat or surrounding tissue. The jubilant shuckers "hugged and sprinkled beer over each other" as Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator Philip Robertson announced they'd overtaken France's achievement of 8,472 oysters, the Journal Pioneer reports.

Judge Robertson "kept the crowd in suspense" as he read out the individual shucking scores of the Team Canada members - before finally announcing it was Patrick McMurray who had pushed them over the finishing line with a personal total of 1,114 oysters opened in an hour. McMurray is a record-holder in his own right - for opening 38 oysters in one minute - a record he set four years ago. Two other team members managed to open more than 1,000 oysters in the allotted hour.

Festival chairman Jeff Noye, a Team Canada member himself, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the shucked oysters will not go to waste, as they will feature prominently in the Friday night festive fried oyster supper.

Oyster shucking

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Ukraine leaks Stalin's 'KGB secrets'

Stalin-era file released by Ukraine The top secret file, with Ukrainian 'declassified' stamp

Ukraine's SBU security service has published "top secret", Stalin-era files that Russia does not want to release.

The SBU chief archivist, Ihor Kulyk, says his colleagues recently read on Facebook that - at the request of Russia's FSB security service - a court in Moscow denied Russian historian Sergei Prudovsky access to look at a cache of documents dealing with Japan's efforts to recruit right-wing Russian emigres as spies.

After hearing about the case, the archivist "decided to help the Russian researcher by publishing the document in question" - since there was a copy in the Kiev vaults, Ukraine's Centre for the Study of the Liberation Movement reports. "It is purely of historical value, and so in Ukraine access to it cannot be denied," the Ukrainian archivist says, adding that anyone interested can drop by the SBU archives and have a look at the file.

The papers, which were signed off in 1937 by Stalin's notorious secret police chief Nikolai Yezhov, look at the community of tens of thousands of Russians who fled the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and escaped to Harbin - a Japanese-occupied Chinese city on the Soviet border.

But in 1935, thousands of Harbin Russians fled back in to the Soviet Union to escape the Japanese occupation. According to Russia's Memorial Society, which publishes material on Soviet political oppression, 48,133 of those people were arrested on charges of having spied for Japan, and 30,992 of the "Harbinites" were later shot.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Prisoners sorry to see jail farm close

Ex-prisoner says goodbye to favourite cow Patrick says goodbye to Katta

One of Norway's largest prisons has decided to shut down the farm on its premises - but inmates are reportedly heartbroken at bidding farewell to the animals that helped them fight addiction and move on from lives of crime.

Half of the 200 animals at Ana farm are cows, and the prisoners look after them, milk them and maintain the farm. But the authorities say the farm doesn't occupy enough prisoners to be cost-effective. A former prisoner at Ana, who prefers to be known as Patrick, is campaigning to halt the closure. "I got so much from working on the farm," he tells Aftenbladet newspaper. "It taught me a lot about responsibility. I couldn't skip a day, as the cows depended on me for milking at regular times."

The hard, regular work also helped Patrick overcome drug dependence. "Something happens to us addicts when we come into contact with animals," he says. "It leads us to open up to other people."

The KY union for prison staff agrees, saying the farm is part of Ana's history and its closure will affect staff and local community - not only the inmates. But Prison Governor Inger Klementrud insists other work such as joinery, carpentry, construction and modern machinery will give prisoners more chances in the labour market. "It's nice for inmates to be around animals, but the Correctional Service oversees their sentences, not therapy," he says.

Patrick says he will miss one cow in particular, called Katta. "She is very fond of people and responds to their names," he says. "She's put on a few pounds, as everyone is happy to give her treats. Plenty of people now on the outside are going to miss Katta."

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Every Armenian 'to write a Wiki entry'

Sevanavank monastic complex in Armenia National heritage is getting a boost via a flurry of articles on Armenian Wikipedia

Armenians are being urged to do their patriotic duty - by each writing an article on Wikipedia, it seems.

The national campaign - One Armenian, One Article - aims to raise the number and quality of articles in the Armenian language and promote the culture, an ad on EU Armenia TV says.

It could even be competing with Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Wikipedia stakes.

It seems Armenian Wikipedia is outstripping its neighbours in page numbers - with more than 390,000 now.

Reporting the number of Wikipedia articles has been on the agenda of Armenian TV and news agencies since the campaign began in March, and it's been noted there are around 102,000 Wikipedia pages in Azerbaijan and almost 84,000 in Georgia.

What started as a YouTube clip has a new lease of life running on satellite TV to Armenians across the world. The Armenian diaspora - thought to number some eight million people - far outnumbers the country's resident population of about 3 million.

High profile artists, musicians and politicians are getting in on the act too. Education minister Armen Ashotyan says in the clip: "One Armenian, one article - I will definitely do that and believe you will too."

Meanwhile, Defence Minister, Seyran Ohanyan, says he's already added an article about the Armenian army. Articles by celebrities and ordinary citizens are equally valued, the ad says, and a young person is even shown writing an article about radishes.

Wikipedia page in Armenian

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Donetsk artists poke fun at separatists

Skeletons lobbing grenades are there to remind people the insurgents won't be around forever Skeletons lobbing grenades are there to remind people the insurgents won't be around forever

An underground group of Ukrainian artists is apparently trying to ease the tense atmosphere in the eastern city of Donetsk by putting up cardboard cut-outs of gunmen on walls and fences.

The life-size cut-outs make fun of the threatening presence of pro-Russian separatists patrolling the streets, Ukrainian news website Podrobnosti reports. The caricatures of separatist leaders with guns, and skeletons lobbing grenades, started to appear around the city in the middle of July.

The group, Murzilka, gets its name from a Soviet-era children's magazine. The artists say they want to show people that the rebels are not here to stay and there is resistance to their presence in the city. The guerrilla artists try to remain anonymous as as some of them fear for their lives. But they have a website where they show how they produce their art.

Apparently, the reaction from the separatists has not been especially negative - some of them even perceive the art as a kind of homage to them, Podrobnosti says. Other images project a less neutral message, such as a wall painting which shows the pro-Russian separatist Igor Strelkov - who has been leading the insurgency in eastern Ukraine - with a gun to his head.

A caricature of pro-Russian separatist Igor Strelkov putting a gun to his head

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


German team 'drops' paralympic athlete

Markus Rehm

A Paralympic athletics champion has been dropped from the German national team ahead of the European Athletics Championships because officials suspect his artificial leg may give him an unfair advantage in the long jump.

The German athletics federation cut Markus Rehm loose, saying there was a "significant difference" between jumps with his blade-like prosthesis and natural jumps, the Associated Press reports. But the German body that oversees disabled sport says the decision is a "step backward".

"I find it a pity and disappointing," Rehm tells Der Spiegel newspaper, adding that he may appeal the decision. Rehm won the long jump at the national competition in Ulm with a leap of 8.24m (27ft). But he may have benefitted from an unfair "catapult effect" from his prosthesis, says Clemens Prokop, president of the athletics federation. He adds that it's not clear whether jumps made with a prosthetic blade could be compared with a natural joint.

In the long jump, experts question whether Rehm's leg may give him an advantage at two points: during his sprint down the track, and when he plants for the take-off into the jump.

Rehm, 25, had his right leg amputated below the knee after a boating accident when he was 14. He has the same kind of carbon fiber prosthetic leg as runner Oscar Pistorius. The disqualification adds to the debate about prosthetics in sport that Pistorius faced when he fought for - and won - the right to compete against able-bodied athletes.

Markus Rehm Markus Rehm won the gold medal at London's Paralympic Games in 2012

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Rare leopards born in French zoo

Leopard cubs

Two rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs have been born at a zoo in northern France, it is reported.

Only about 700 of the rare leopards, which have been classified as gravely endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are left in the wild, says Jimmy Ebel of Maubeuge Zoo, AFP news agency says. The cubs were born on July 1 and weighed around 2kg (4.4lb), reports say.

"These leopards are under great threat due to deforestation and poaching," Ebel says. About 60 Sri Lankan leopards are living in captivity, in zoos around Europe.

Leopards are the largest wild cats to roam Sri Lanka, and due to their geographical separation, have some different characteristics from Indian leopards, according to the Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Leopard cubs

Maubeuge Zoo in northern France is close to the Belgian border and houses about 300 animals including Asian elephants.

Leopard cub

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Kenya warns: 'No booze for baboons'

Baboon

Travellers along one of Kenya's busiest highways have been warned not to give alcohol to baboons, it is reported.

The Kenya Wildlife Service says it is "irresponsible and careless" to offer intoxicating drinks to the primates, The Nation newspaper reports. "Liquor has the same effect in animals as on human beings," says the service's director, William Kibet Kiprono. "They might become violent, or distract road users, causing accidents. They might also start fighting people and cause death if unchecked."

He was speaking in Naivasha, a town on a motorway linking the city of Nakuru with Kenya's capital, Nairobi. The area is sandwiched between several nature reserves, where wildlife abounds. It is not clear how common it is for people to give alcohol to monkeys, but up to 7,000 baboons are believed to live outside nature reserves. Kenya's NTV television says the busy highway is "under siege by groups of marauding baboons".

Meanwhile, locals have been complaining about the nuisance tipsy animals are causing. "They eat our goats, and we have been unable to plant food for the last three years," one farmer tells The Nation. Another villager adds: "We chase 20 monkeys every night. They enter our kitchens and steal food."

Baboon

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Benefits given to '100-year-old women'

Hands of an Indian woman using a sewing machine

A government agency in India has released information showing that it has been giving sewing machines and bicycles to women registered as being as old as 532, it's been reported.

The Labour Department in the central state of Chhattisgarh acknowledges that records for thousands of women list them as being more than 100 years old - but have no address associated with them. "The list of beneficiaries includes 6,189 women who were shown aged 114 years," reports the Times of India newspaper.

"Besides these, the list has six women showing age 202 years, three showing aged 212 years, two showing aged 282 years," it adds. "Age of one woman was mentioned as 532 years." The paper is calling for an investigation into a possible scam involving benefit schemes that have cost the state a total of 400m rupees (£4m, $6.6m).

The data, which were released after activist Sanjeev Aggarwal submitted a Right to Information (RTI) request, also says women as old as 212 received free bicycles from the state. Aggarwal thinks the discrepancies could be just the "tip of the iceberg", since his request only asked for information about the state capital of Raipur. Chhattisgarh's deputy labour commissioner, Savita Mishra, says the errors were caused by a software glitch. But an inquiry is under way, she says, and "whosoever is found guilty would not be spared".

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Book 'lifts lid' on who shot Escobar

Diego Murillo surrounded by police officers Charges for massacres and disappearances are pending for Diego Murillo in Colombia

A convicted Colombian drug trafficker has written a book from his Miami prison cell claiming that his brother fired the shot that killed notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

In the book How We Killed The Boss, Diego Murillo - widely known as Don Berna - describes Escobar's final hours when police caught up with him in 1993. Murillo claims that he and his brother Rodolfo Murillo Bejarano, nicknamed Semilla, were helping police hunt for Escobar as part of a mafia-funded death squad called Los Pepes, and were there with the police when they entered Escobar's safe house, the Colombia Reports website says.

Murillo says in an excerpt of his memoir published by La Semana that when Escobar ran out on to his roof, Bejarano took aim and shot him in the head. But General Hugo Martinez Poveda, head of the search unit, has rejected the explosive claims. "It's not true what he says," Poveda tells Colombian daily El Tiempo. "I was constantly communicating by radio with police officer Hugo Aguilar and with the Lieutenant Hugo Martinez Bolivar (my son) and the operation was carried out entirely by policemen." Official reports say that three policemen shot Escobar.

Murillo, a former paramilitary leader, is still wanted in Colombia in connection with numerous disappearances and massacres. His memoir is due to be released in early August.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Lebanese TV 'backs Iraqi Christians'

Screenshot of Dima Sadeq wearing a T-shirt in solidarity with Christians N stands for Nasrani, an archaic Arabic word for Christians

A Lebanese TV channel is using the Arabic letter N in its logo, in what appears to be a show of solidarity with Christians in Iraq.

Dima Sadeq, one of the main anchors on the channel LBCI, has appeared on screen wearing a T-shirt with the letter N - pronounced Noon in Arabic. "From Mosul to Beirut, we are all Noon," Sadeq said just before a recent edition of LBCI's nightly news bulletin, The Daily Star newspaper reports. N appears to stand for the old Arabic word Nassarah - a term used in the Koran to describe Christians.

Since the Iraqi city of Mosul fell into the hands of Islamic State militants in June, houses where Christians live have been marked out with the letter N. Many Christians have fled the city after they were told to pay a tax, convert to Islam, or face death. "We are all targets to be pointed at with a finger or a sword because we're different, whether in terms of sex, religion, or colour of our skin," Sadeq said, adding: "We are all targets of murder in this insane era."

Naharnet news website says LCBI was inspired by the Iraqi Muslim journalist Dalia al-Aqidi, who started a campaign to wear cross pendants in solidarity with her Christian countrymen, and Lebanese social media users are using the letter N on their Facebook avatars, The Star says.

Composite of houses in Mosul that have been marked with the letter N Houses in Mosul where Christians live have been marked with the Arabic letter N

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Thai parents 'watch kids' in game shops

Boys in a Bangkok video game shop

Parents in Thailand have a new ally in their quest to keep track of what their children are watching, as the government plans to set up an internet network monitoring games shops.

The system will connect CCTV cameras in video games shops with Google Maps, the Bangkok Post reports. Parents can click on an icon on an official website to see inside the shops where their children are playing games. The network was apparently dreamt up by the Thai Cultural Promotion Department, whose remit is to preserve and promote Thai culture. The director-general, Chai Nakhonchai, says people should help the authorities by reporting games shops which are breaking the law, and monitor their children at the same time.

To keep track of all the children, each one will need to register with a 13-digit identification card to be able to use a computer in a shop. A pilot scheme is starting in Bangkok - where there are more than 6,000 game shops - before rolling out across the country.

After a military coup in May, Thailand has been run by a junta which has censored media content and spoken out against external cultural influences. Last month, it banned people from using the three-finger salute, said to be influenced by the book and film series Hunger Games. Also, a man was recently arrested for reading the George Orwell novel 1984 in public.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Bird-plucking woman on Montreal train

Uncooked goose

A woman who appeared to upset passengers on a train in Montreal by plucking the feathers off a dead bird has been giving interviews to Canadian media about why she did it.

Christina David, a resident of Montreal who comes from the Inuk village of Kangiqsujuaq in arctic northern Quebec, says she was amazed to see that a video of her preparing her meat for dinner attracted a lot of attention on YouTube. "I didn't know that it was going to affect any other people like that because in my culture it's completely normal," she says in a phone interview with the national CBC radio.

The grainy video shows a young woman bent over a plastic bag on the floor, while other passengers stare, hold their noses or move away. Police spokesman Manuel Couture told the local newspaper Nunatsiaq Online that while some people were disgusted by the incident, if plucking or even eating an animal in public was a common activity in other cultures, there was a good chance she wouldn't face any charges.

David says she was simply excited about cooking a goose her aunt had brought her from the north. "It's not like we get to eat our country food every day," she says in a message on her Facebook page. "I was so happy that I didn't care where I was at the moment - but all I have to say is that I ain't crazy. I couldn't wait to go home so I can put it on the big pan with onions and mushrooms."

Comments posted on the website of CTV news mainly support David. One reader says: "We do live in Canada. These city folk have to realize what their food looks like before the supermarket."

Woman plucks a dead bird on the metro A grainy video of the woman on the train has been widely viewed online

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Mumbai official passes as "vendor"

Mumbai street vendor

Frustrated residents in Mumbai have managed to register a local official as a one of the city's thousands of street vendors to prove a point about how infuriating a new set of rules are.

Residents complain that hundreds of illegal street vendors are coming into Dadar - a bustling, residential area in central Mumbai - but instead of evicting them, city officials are charging a fee and registering them, The Times of India reports. So a group of residents applied for a stall and registered it under the name of Mumbai's municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte to see if anyone would notice - but no one did.

"They gave me a form and an acknowledgement slip," says resident Swapnil Karbhari. "I wrote my name as Sitaram Kunte in their register, but they did not ask for any proof. They were only interested in collecting the Rs 100 (£0.98) for the form." Flustered city officials have promised a probe into how the top commissioner's name could have passed unnoticed. "We will take stern action against those responsible for this," says Anand Wagralkar, an official in charge of the vendor survey. "It is shocking that such a registration was done. It looks like there was carelessness."

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Turkey's high-speed train breakdown

High-speed train arrives in Istanbul

Turkey's first high-speed train has broken down just a few hours after the prime minister inaugurated it in a glowing speech about the country's technical prowess, it's been reported.

The glitch happened when a dislocated contact wire cracked the windshield of the sleek new train, and the electricity had to be cut for 30 minutes to fix the problem, Hurriyet newspaper reports.

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, travelling from the capital Ankara to the financial hub of Isanbul with his wife Emine, praised a number of infrastructure projects launched by his ruling Justice and Development Party. "We are now a nation who is admired," he said in a speech in the town of Eskisehir. "Not a nation that looks at European cities and admires those places, seeing high-speed trains there."

"You should have no doubt," Erdogan added. "Aren't we now producing our own helicopters? We are. Are we starting to produce our own local tanks? We will move further." He went on to describe Turkey as a country that turns its dreams into reality.

The train's maiden journey comes less than three weeks before Turkey's first-ever direct presidential elections. The $4bn (£2.3bn) project was completed in phases between 2009 and 2014, with $183m from the European Union. Erdogan said he hopes Turkey will become one of the world's 10 largest economies by 2023.

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan (centre) and his wife Emine (left) cut the ribbon for a new high speed train

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Spain doubles royal plane food budget

Iberian ham

The Spanish Ministry of Defence has doubled its catering budget for a fleet of seven planes carrying Spanish royals, ministers and other senior officials, it seems.

The government's congressional record has said the annual budget is going up to 133,000 euros (£105,000) from 65,000 euros the year before, news website 20minutos reports, adding that it's not unusual for officials to end up exceeding the budget. The website suggests the final bill for 2014 could come in at around 414,000 euros.

Trays of peeled seasonal fruit, sirloin steak, Segovia suckling pig and Bilbao sea bass are among the 29 dishes on the menu - although it's reported that alcohol hasn't been served on board since 2012. Prices will be capped for some individual items - for example, the government won't pay more than 35 euros for a kilo of pecorino cheese - and some of the most expensive items have been taken off the menu altogether.

The new budget comes amid a defence department review of the fleet's maintenance procedures following two recent breakdowns, and may consider renewing some of the aircraft in the fleet.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Church app for praying on-the-go

Ukrainian church app Churchgoers can send their prayers straight to a priest

Orthodox Christian Ukrainians in search of spiritual guidance need look no further than their smartphones, after a cathedral in the capital Kiev launched its own prayer app.

The Svyato-Troyitskyy (Holy Trinity) Cathedral in the city's Troyeshchyna district has officially endorsed the iPhone app, dreamt up by Kiev University history student Volodymyr Shemarov, the V Gorode website reports. The 21-year-old says this is the first mobile platform for any church in a former Soviet state. "Young people rarely go to church, preferring to sit at their computers and visit social networks," he says. "I want to pique their interest somehow by integrating the church with mobile technology."

The app lets you "enter a virtual church to pray, seek inner peace and ask a priest for advice", as well as check service times. The priests themselves are actively promoting the app, and even made an announcement about it in church. Shemarov tells the Interfax news agency that he hopes to design apps for as many more churches as possible in order to help believers communicate through mobile technology, the app store MacDigger says.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Metal fans cheer Joko Widodo poll win

Joko Widodo Like his heavy metal heroes, Joko Widodo also draws huge crowds

The winner of Indonesia's presidential election has been receiving congratulatory messages from an unlikely group of supporters - heavy metal music fans around the world.

Soon after Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo - widely known as Jokowi - declared victory on Tuesday, Randy Blythe, singer of the metal band Lamb of God, expressed his support on Instagram: "Incredibly, ladies and gentlemen, the new president of Indonesia is a metalhead and a Lamb of God fan," adding that Widodo is "the world's first heavy metal president". Another heavy metal band, Anthrax, posted a congratulatory message on Facebook, saying: "Now if only all other countries would follow suit."

Widodo, a former furniture-maker who grew up in a small village, is seen as a man of the people who comes from outside Indonesia's political establishment - which has traditionally been dominated by figures from the political elite and the military. Indonesian metalheads also hope that, with a president who is an open heavy metal fan, the genre will gain acceptance and popularity across the country, the Jakarta Post reports.

Metallica's James Hetfield Among other rock bands, the newly-elected president is said to be a fan of Metallica

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Eva Peron's Cadillac goes on sale

1951 Cadillac Limousine

A 1951 Cadillac Limousine owned by the former Argentine president Juan Peron and his wife Eva is due to be sold at auction in the UK.

It was the official state car for the Argentine first lady, affectionately known as Evita, and has been valued at £200,000-£260,000, the Buenos Aires Herald reports. Inside, the auction house discovered a jewel that appears to have fallen off one of her dresses and it will stay with the car when it is sold. Staff at the Eva Peron Museum in Buenos Aires, where the car has been on display for many years, are reportedly trying to find out which dress it came from.

Evita was a very popular figure in Argentinean politics, and when she died of cancer at the age of 33 an estimated three million people lined the streets of Buenos Aires at her funeral.

Eva and Juan Peron board their Cadillac limousine Juan and Eva Peron get out of the state Cadillac to attend a state function

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


German club in Erdogan vote row

Pro-Erdogan ad on Klub Taksim website The original ad offers people a free pass if they take a picture of their ballot

A Turkish nightclub in western Germany has offered free membership to people who support Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey's forthcoming presidential election, it seems.

Klub Taksim Bochum, which claims to be "Europe's largest Turkish entertainment venue", published an advert on its website supporting Erdogan as the "new president of the new Turkey", Turkish news portal Diken reports. The ad says: "Vote, take a photo of the ballot, bring it to us, and receive free membership for a year."

Turkey's 2.7 million expatriate voters - 5% of the total electorate - could be influential in August's poll as they cast their ballots at more than 100 embassies and consulates worldwide. Erdogan has recently become embroiled in corruption allegations, but correspondents say he is still expected to triumph in the election.

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Some Turkish news sites have elaborately described the alcoholic drinks available at the club - since the piously Muslim prime minister is teetotal and disapproves of dancing. But while Turkish leaders have refrained from comment, German politicians are appalled. "This is not compatible with our democratic principles, and is punishable by law," Social Democrat MP Serdar Yuksel, himself of Turkish origin, tells the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. And Christian Democratic Union leader Christian Haardt hopes this "apparent offer to buy votes has been checked by the relevant authorities".

As for the club's owner, Ibrahim Demircan, he blames the ad on a local marketing company and says he may take legal action. "I make my living by selling alcohol," he tells the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. "My guests are 95% anti-Erdogan. I would have to be mad to make such an offer. Imagine if 10,000 people turned up having voted for Erdogan - I wouldn't be able to afford it!"

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


France 'to simplify immigration rules'

Asylum seekers living in a slum in France Many asylum seekers live in slums while they wait for their applications to be processed

The French interior minister has proposed new legislation to simplify the country's immigration and asylum rules.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says reforms are necessary so that France can remain "a land of immigration and a land of asylum", in an interview with the Liberation newspaper. "Countries that are closed in on themselves are doomed to decline," he adds.

The proposed legislation would create a new four-year residence permit called a Talent Passport - for artists, scientists, athletes and business workers. Also, people who already have residence permits would be allowed to extend them for four years - cutting out the headache and bureaucracy of the current system where visas have to be renewed annually. Foreigners who have been in France for more than five years can apply for a 10-year visa if they prove they read and understand French.

Meanwhile, for people seeking asylum the bill aims to cut the waiting time - from the current average of two years to about nine months by 2017 - for their application to be processed. It would also give access to a lawyer and government housing - since many people have to sleep in slums or make-shift housing because of the lack of government facilities. But the plans have already been criticised by immigration groups who say they do not go far enough.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Canadians uncover 'bear highway'

Grizzly bear mother with cub

Bear trackers on Canada's Pacific coast say they have found a "highway" used by grizzly bears to travel across hundreds of miles of forest.

Tracker William Housty and other members of the Qqs Society - in the Heiltsuk First Nation - have been studying the bears for more than three years. They say the population of grizzly bears may be as much as six times bigger than they first thought, and their territory in the Great Bear Rainforest is far more extensive than they realised, CBC News reports.

Most intriguing, though, are the bears' favourite routes. One in particular - along the banks of the salmon-rich Koeye River - amounts to a "bear highway" for the 65 grizzlies identified in the valley, Housty says. "The bears walk in the same steps every time. Their feet are imprinted in the trail." He adds: "You can follow these trails and really walk the same highway the bears walk."

The Heiltsuk Coastwatch team is planning to extend their tracking to other river systems on British Columbia's Central Coast, this time using fur snares to collect DNA, and hope their findings could lead to the development of a wildlife management plan for the whole region.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Greenland bill 'bans mining appeals'

Greenland Greenland has plans to start mining uranium

Environmentalists, politicians and members of the public in Greenland are protesting against a law that could keep major mining projects under wraps and restrict the right to appeal against them, it's been reported.

The bill making its way through Greenland's parliament limits access to mining information until after a project has been given government approval. It would also deprive the country's 56,000 citizens of the right to appeal against the decision, the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper reports. The bill comes as large-scale mining plans - including uranium extraction - are in the pipeline. The plans promise to transform but the economy there are concerns that mining will damage the country's fragile ecology.

Opposition leader Sara Olsvig is not convinced that the government merely wants to cut down on paperwork for civil servants dealing with information requests from reporters and activists. "If we shut down civil society," she says, "It will be a major weakening of our system." The University of Greenland's Klaus Georg Hansen is also sceptical. "If it takes a long time to process requests for access they must be tackled with extra staff, otherwise it looks like an attempt to keep people out of these potentially controversial decisions," he says.

But campaigners may yet see their concerns addressed, as Ombudsman Vera Leth - the official who scrutinises government decisions - has asked Mining Minister Jens-Erik Kirkegaard to explain why he thinks the bill does not threaten the public's right of access.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


China bans blow-up toad reports

Giant inflatable toad in Beijing, China

China's censors seem to have banned internet reports about a giant inflatable toad floating in a Beijing park, amid mockery on social media comparing it to ex-president Jiang Zemin.

References to the 22m (72ft) toad unveiled in Beijing's Yuyuantan Park last month have vanished from all major news portals, and a story on the Xinhua news agency site is now unavailable, Channel News Asia cites the AFP news agency as saying. One paper - the official China Daily - dismisses the toad as a "poor attempt to replicate the success of an original work", but fails to mention the still-powerful Jiang - who was nicknamed The Toad during his 13-year rule.

There has been a nationwide fad for huge blow-up animals ever since a Dutch designer floated an enormous rubber duck in Hong Kong harbour last year. In fact, the giant duck triggered so much discussion on social media that the government banned online searches for 'big yellow duck' after Sina Weibo mini-blog users posted photo mock-ups of the iconic lone Tiananmen Square protester facing down not a column of tanks but a parade of bath toys.

As for the toad itself, a traditional Chinese symbol of good luck, it is still floating in the park lake, and a spokesman told Channel News Asia there are no plans to remove it.

Jiang Zemin Former president Jiang Zemin is still an influential figure in Chinese politics

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


Russia moves to year-round winter time

Arctic sun Politicians say people struggled with long hours of darkness in the winter months

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that the country will permanently switch to winter time on 26 October.

The move will reduce the time difference between Moscow and most of Europe by an hour, Itar-Tass reports, and at the same time create two new time zones. Russia already has nine time zones - but now the area around the Volga River will run one hour ahead of Moscow, and the country's remote Kamchatka and Chukotka regions in the far east will be nine hours ahead - giving Russia a total of 11 time zones. Correspondents say the aim is to make sure local time matches the rising of the sun as closely as possible.

This ends an experiment that began under former president and Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev. In 2011 he switched the clocks to year-round "summer time". The change was initially popular, but a survey last year showed less than a third of Russians wanted to keep the clocks forward all year.

MPs say permanent summer time created stress and health problems, especially for people in northern Russia where the mornings would remain darker for longer during the harsh winter months. They cited medical reports of increased morning road accidents in 2012 compared to previous years, and blamed them firmly on the 2011 time change.

A woman looks at clocks of the Russian time zones There will now be 11 time zones in Russia

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


A modern home for indigenous design?

Mapuche housing complex

A group of Chilean architects are using designs from the indigenous Mapuche culture to create homes for them in a conventional social housing development.

The 25 two-story houses were commissioned at the request of the Mapuche people themselves, and the architects, from the Undurraga Deves agency, say the houses will allow them to "take part in modern society without abandoning their identity," Argentinean newspaper Clarin says. The houses are inspired by the Mapuche "ruka" dwellings, made from tree trunks and branches. They are arranged in a row facing east, as the Mapuche prefer their front doors to greet the rising sun, and have shady, private interiors which contrast with a large outdoor communal area.

But there are modern touches as well - for example the facades have diagonal wooden beams to hold the side walls together in the event of an earthquake - central Chile is home to the major San Ramon Fault. Incorporating the indigenous way of life into modern architecture is something Undurraga Deves is getting good at - the agency has been nominated Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for another Andean project.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


3D body parts for anatomy classes

3D print of a human heart 3D organs might be useful to medical schools in places where people rarely leave their bodies to science

Scientists in Australia are using 3D printers to make copies of body parts for medical schools to use in anatomy classes.

The team at Monash University, Melbourne, has printed hands, feet, brains and hearts exact in every detail - except they're made of dry powder instead of human tissue. Professor Paul McMenamin tells Australia's ABC News these 3D kits could "change the future of medical education" by eliminating the problem of obtaining, handling and storing cadavers. The model "has all that a student would need to learn that particular part of anatomy," he says, adding it's a bonus that 3D printed organs can be made in artificial colours that will never fade.

Making a 3D-printed body part involves multiple CT scans of the real thing. Then the printing can take up to 12 hours, layer by layer - but it's easy to print out more later. "If you drop one and it breaks, you just order another and we press print," says McMenamin. In addition to being convenient, the 3D option might help hospitals in Middle Eastern countries, where doctors say there are taboos around donating and dissecting human remains. The Monash team hopes to have the anatomy kits ready for sale within six months.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.


news from elsewhere

About #NewsfromElsewhere

A collection of stories being reported by media around the world, as found by BBC Monitoring. Find out more.

More from BBC Monitoring

  • BBC Monitoring logoAbout BBC Monitoring

    Reports and analysis from TV, radio, web and print media around the world


  • Country profiles logoCountry Profiles

    An instant guide to the history, politics and economics of countries and territories


more from the magazine

More from the Magazine

Answering life’s questions through daily features, quizzes and opinions.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.