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  1. She thought that by getting a seat with extra legroom she had made a wise choice. But in fact, Lizzie Thompson may have chosen the worst seat on her flight. She was waiting on the tarmac on an Air France aeroplane when a man on a seat on the opposite side of the aisle decided to get more comfortable. By removing his trousers and socks. Lizzie summarised her feelings at that point by tweeting: ‘This is going to be a long flight.’ But problems were not over for her and the nightmare seemed to be about to get worse. Another passenger boarded with a ukulele and she said that boxer-man – whose nationality is not known – asked him to sit next to him to make some music. Lizzie’s reaction: ‘<deleted> is going on?’ Lizzie kept us all updated with the progress saying she alerted the flight attendant who said he’d move her, but she didn’t want to lose the legroom. When asked if he could get the man to put his trousers back on, she said that the member of cabin crew simply shrugged. This was all before the flight set off. Full article
  2. A volunteer translator at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in Oita Prefecture, Japan caused outrage after describing her experience with African athletes and calling them “cute chimpanzees.” The unnamed woman, believed to be in her 50s and who has worked with athletes from Africa including Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa, made the comment in her now-deleted blog, according to NHK News Web via SoraNews24. In her entry, which she wrote on February 10 — seven days after the marathon ended — the woman wrote: “It felt like communicating with cavemen,” adding, “They were shy chimpanzees at first, but little by little they opened up.” Then, in a video, she added a caption of her and the athletes saying “cute chimpanzees.” Her blog post was eventually discovered and later reported to the office she worked with. She then closed down the blog and admitted to creating the post: “I didn’t have any feelings of racism or malicious intent. I regret my thoughtless choice of words.” “The blog post was extremely inappropriate, and we deeply apologize to the athletes and all the people who saw it,” the office wrote in its apology letter. “We will strive from now on to stress the importance of responsibility to our volunteers, and to educate them.” Japanese netizens reacted negatively to the woman’s comments: “Wow. I’m not sure if she’s evil or just stupid.” “How does someone this small-minded become a translator?” Full article
  3. Eight months ago, a 59-year-old Thai woman with dementia left her house to see her son who lived nearby, but ended up walking 400 miles to China. The woman, identified as Kaeomanee Arjaw, belongs to the ethnic Akha hill tribe. She lives in Chiang Rai, which is situated in the mountainous Golden Triangle zone, bordering Laos and Myanmar. She was first reported by her family to be missing on June 12, 2018, reports MailOnline. Last week, Arjaw was finally reunited with her daughter after Chinese officials discovered her roaming through Kunming in late January. The officials reportedly found a Thai identity card on her, allowing them to immediately contact the local consulate. It remains unclear which route she took that eventually led her to China, since it borders both Laos and Myanmar. “She told officials she went there by foot, she kept walking, asking for food from stalls along the way,” said Colonel Aekkorn Butsabarbodin of the Chiang Rai immigration police. Accompanied by Thai officials, Arjaw’s 35-year-old daughter Suchada flew to Kunming on Thursday to pick her up. The emotional reunion was captured in a touching video in which the mother and daughter can be seen, in tears, hugging each other. According to the daughter, her mom had lost 20 kilograms (around 44 pounds) by the end of her journey. Full article
  4. In an effort to get the younger generation off the couch and exercising, the French fencing federation recently recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport. Just like medieval tales like The Three Musketeers once inspired youths to take up classic fencing sports, so too can Star Wars save young people from the clutches of the evil currently plaguing public health – sedentary lifestyle. Or at least that’s how officials from the French fencing federation explain their decision to acknowledge lightsaber dueling as an official sport. They even included some specific rules designed to make battles between Jedi Knights and Sith Lords more visually appealing and get young people interested in taking up the sport. “With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” fencing federation secretary general, Serge Aubailly, told The Associated Press. ”It’s becoming difficult to (persuade them to) do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.” But what makes the Star Wars franchise so special is the fact that it appeals to many adults as well, many of which grew up watching George Lucas’ original episodes and still consider the opportunity to fight against Siths or Jedis in real life – be it with polycarbonate, LED-lit lighsabers – a dream come true. According to the now-official regulations of French lightsaber dueling, battles are carried out in a circle marked with tape on the floor, and last for 3 minutes. The goal of the duelists is to reach 15 points before their opponent and win the bout. If both players reach 10 points within the 3-minute time limit, the duel enters an exciting “sudden death” stage where the first combatant to land a body or head blow wins the match. Strikes on the head or body count for 5 points each, hits on the arms and legs are 3 points, and touches on the hands are 1 point. If neither of the fighters reaches 15 points before the 3 minutes are up, the fighter with the higher score wins. The scoring system is similar to that of traditional fencing sports, but the federation did implement some special rules to make the duels more exciting. For example, blows only count if the fighters first point the tip of their lightsabers behind them, which is designed to both prevent the quick front lunges typical of fencing, and also give the duels a realistic Star Wars feel, by encouraging swishier blows. Full article
  5. A mum has said she felt "violated, creeped out and unsafe" after a taxi driver sent her a string of strange messages. Natasha claims the driver got her number from the dispatcher of the company he works for and sent her a number of unsettling questions. She claims he made her feel a little "unsettled" during the journey and quizzed her about her house, but she didn't really think about it once she got out of the car. Early the next day she received a text from an unknown number. Speaking to Australian radio show 3AW Drive , Natasha said: "I got a text on my personal number saying, 'If you need taxi tell me I come get you (sic)'". "I had quite the freak out — actually at first I was confused and texted, 'Who's this?'" She claims the driver said his home is "full of junkies" and as asked her to "put in a good word to the landlord" of her block of flats. Natasha has shared photos of the text conversation on social media and has since been contacted by a number of women who have been in similar situations. She has complained to the taxi company, writing: "I'm feeling incredibly violated, creeped out, upset and extremely upset. "The man knows where I live and now he has my phone number." They have apologised for the fact she was upset and says they "don't condone invasion of privacy at any time". Full article
  6. About 48 years ago, Pham Ngoc Canh, a Vietnamese man who was sent to North Korea to study during the Vietnam War, met Ri Yong Hui, the woman he’d marry nearly four decades later. Canh was one of 200 students that Vietnam sent to North Korea in 1967 to gain the skills needed for rebuilding the country once the war with the United States was over, according to Reuters. Their love story began several years later after arriving in North Korea when Cahn, who was a chemical engineering apprentice at a fertilizer factory on North Korea’s east coast, spotted Ri working in a laboratory. It was love at first sight for both of them. “From the moment I saw him, I was so sad because I felt it would be a love that could never be realized,” Ri, who is 70 years old now, told Reuters. Cahn was determined to marry Ri the moment he laid his eyes on her.“I thought to myself, ‘I must marry that girl,'” the 69-year-old Vietnamese man said. He recalled how he eventually managed to muster up the strength and courage to approach Ri and ask for her address. “As soon as I saw him, I knew it was him,” Ri said of Cahn. “He looked so gorgeous. Until then, when I had seen so-called handsome guys I hadn’t felt anything, but when he opened the door, my heart just melted.” Unfortunately, things did not end well for the both of them. At the time, Vietnamese and North Koreans were not allowed to date foreigners. But this strict rule did not stop them from being together. Cahn, treading carefully after hearing a comrade had been beaten for being caught with a local girl, decided to dress up as a North Korean, travel for three hours on a bus and walk for two kilometers (1.2 miles) just to see Ri. He did this monthly until he went back to his home country in 1973. “I went to her house secretly, just like a guerrilla,” he said. “I just couldn’t agree with a socialism that stops people from loving each other,” Cahn, a son of a high-ranking cadre, said after he refused to join the Communist Party when he returned to Hanoi, Vietnam. After five years, Cahn was again able to go back to North Korea when he asked to join a trip to the hermit nation in 1978. There, he finally met Ri once again, but the latter became more heartbroken with the thought that they might never see each other. Cahn, desperate to be with Ri, brought a letter he had written in which he’d beg North Korean leadership for permission to marry her. However, he decided to not send the letter and asked Ri to wait for him. Full article
  7. While most men spend hours pondering over the perfect engagement ring before popping the question, John Elliott took a slightly different approach. The 27-year-old decided to hire a ring from a complete stranger to use as part of the romantic proposal he had planned for girlfriend Ashleigh. He splashed out £50 to use Jenni Parker's £7,000 engagement ring after listing the unusual request for a ring online. The unusual idea came about because John wanted Ashleigh to choose her own ring but didn't want to propose without one. The recruiter, who lives in Balham, said: "I wanted Ashleigh to pick the exact ring she wanted and this was the only way to propose without her knowing it was happening. "For the photos, I wanted it to be the calibre of ring she deserves. She said yes!" John listed the ring request on Fat Llama , a website for lending and borrowing all different sorts of items. He admits Ashleigh was a bit sad when she realised she couldn't keep the stunning ring, but says she now knows the kind of ring she wants. He said: "She loved the ring, she was a little sad it was only for the evening but ultimately it gave her a better idea of what she was looking for." Full article
  8. While North Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year like many of their Asian neighbors, they do some things slightly differently, a new report has claimed. Instead of red envelopes filled with cash, citizens have reportedly been giving crystal meth to one another as a gift, according to The New York Times. Called “Pingdu” among locals, the highly addictive drug is reportedly a popular gift item in the country during birthdays, graduations, and “holidays such as the Lunar New Year.” Experts noted that while methamphetamines are illegal in the country, it is an open secret that North Koreans have been giving the drug as gifts. “Meth, until recently, has been largely seen inside North Korea as a kind of very powerful energy drug—something like Red Bull, amplified,” Kookmin University professor Andrei Lankov was quoted as saying. Lankov, an expert on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) issues, stated that the practice of giving each other crystal meth was common in stories from North Korean defectors. The drug is consumed either through injection or snorting casually, just like smoking a cigarette. Due to the lack of healthcare in the country, some users allegedly use the drug for self-medication as an alternative to other traditional medical options. The alleged practice was first reported last week on U.S. government-funded news outlet Radio Free Asia, citing an anonymous source from the DPRK. According to the source, “Ice has become a best-selling holiday gift item.” It also noted that “most of the buyers are young people, even those still in middle school.” “They usually buy ice to snort together during holidays,” the source explained. “They want to forget their harsh reality and enjoy themselves.” “In the past, ice users would try to be discreet, not wanting others to know that they were buying, but these days nobody seems to care.” As the New York Times pointed out, methamphetamine has long been associated with North Korea. The Nautilus Institute published a report in 2003 that revealed: “the North Korean regime has been involved in illegal drug production and trafficking since the 1970s” and that “these efforts increased in the 1990s as the country’s economic situation worsened… [and] heroin production was supplemented by methamphetamine production.” Based on a 2014 report, the state started manufacturing and exporting methamphetamine in the 1990s as a means to access currency to defy trade restrictions. The report alleged that most of the meth was exported across the northern border to China or handed off at sea to criminal organizations from China and Japan. Full article
  9. If you’re looking to give your backyard barbecue a macabre touch, these charcoal skulls created by Japanese artist Sekisadamu are sure to do the trick. When Sekisadamu came up with the idea for his creepy charcoal skulls, he never really though about commercial potential. He merely wanted something cool to show off at the recently concluded Wonder Festival, in Chiba, Japan. But after posting photos of his creations on Twitter and inviting people to the festival to check them out in person, he got an overwhelming response – over 13,000 likes and almost 9,300 retweets at the time of this writing – and started contemplating the idea of making charcoal skulls for the masses. The Japanese artist has already announced that he has set up a domain name for them and begun procedures to register a trademark on them. So fire up your grill, cause charcoal skulls are coming. Wonder Festival Winter 2019 Menu | Table 7-28-06 | New work | Skull charcoal | 500 JPY / each. | I’ll bring more than 200 of them | They’re made of 100% plant-derived ingredients | I’ll put a heap of them on my bonfire stand, so choose the one you’d like. | I think it’s the first time for this material at Wonder Festival. Please read the instruction manual and use them properly,” Sekisadamu posted on February 7th, along with some pic of his macabre creations. The response was overwhelming, both online and at Wonder Festival Winter, where the Japanese artist sold all of his charcoal skulls. But people were still asking for more on Twitter, and after photos of them went viral on Reddit, demand for the flammable skulls increased even more. Sadly, Sekisadamu announced that international shipping isn’t an option yet, but asked potential buyers to be patient while he works out a way to get his hit product mass-produced. In a recent tweet, the Japanese artist said that while preparing for Wonder Festival Winter, he approached Chinese companies about mass-producing the charcoal skulls, but they declined, without specifying the reason. He believes that it was because the processing of raw materials and the shaping technique are considerably more complicated than regular charcoal. A Reddit user who claims to be the author of this post on Japanese site Grapee said that he spoke to the the artist about making the charcoal skulls, and as far as he understood, Sekisadamu “ground charcoal into powder and mixed it with plant-derived ingredients to form a putty which he then molded into that shape”. Full article
  10. When it comes to cleaning, most people will agree that scrubbing the bathroom is the worst job. But a new rather unusual hack could save you a lot of time - but it's a bit bizarre. People in Australia have been covering their bathrooms in shaving cream, claiming it gets rid of the smell of urine. The clever trick could be the end of getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing to get rid of that horrible smell, so understandably people are loving it. Hundreds of different people have posted photos of them trying it out on the Facebook group Mums Who Clean, reports Mail Online . They say it works better than product they've used before, believing the chemicals destroy the urine rather than just covering the smell. One member of the group wrote: "I'd just like to say a huge thank you to the beautiful mum who said to use shaving cream in the toilet to get rid of urine smell. I sprayed it everywhere and rubbed it in went back a few hours later to wipe down and the smell has gone. "It worked for me and yes I only paid a couple bucks for the stuff best tip ever! Thank you once again." Another commented: "Anyone who has a house full of young boys will understand why it's spread far and wide and to all of the grout and corners. "I'm leaving it on overnight. I hope it does well!" Full article
  11. A mum has spoken of her pride after her son used his pocket money to make sure every girl received a Valentine’s Day rose. Callum Drew, eight, bought 68 roses for them all so that they would have something to open yesterday. For the past few years he has given out flowers at Lacey Gardens School in Louth, Lincolnshire, from his grandmother’s shop. She died earlier this year, but Callum wanted to keep up the tradition so used money raised from washing cars to buy them silk roses. He said: ‘I just wanted to get some flowers for the girls in year four as I don’t want them to feel let down on Valentine’s Day. ‘I will go around every class and give them their present. I have done it before for the last four years. The girls jump on me and scream because they are happy.’ Callum’s biggest gift is being reserved for his girlfriend, who he says is okay with him treating all the other girls despite it being their first Valentine’s Day together. Callum’s mum, Stacey says she is incredibly proud of her son for his consideration for other people’s feelings. She said: ‘He’s been doing it for four years, he started out with just his class but now he gives roses to every girl in his year – he says that no girl should be left out. Full article
  12. One of the candidates to be the mayor of a US city has made it to the final round of an election - even though he died in December. In a three-horse primary in Edmond, Oklahoma, Charles Lamb finished second behind Dan O'Neil, who described it as "sort of awkward". Mr Lamb, who had been mayor since October 2011, put his name forward for re-election before he died. When he passed away, it was too late to remove his name from the ballot or to add anyone else. Were he to win on 2 April, a mayor would be appointed by Edmond City Council. Mr O'Neil, who served one term as mayor from 2007-2009, said there were "people advocating for his election for their political reasons ... they want to be mayor". A Facebook campaign supporting Mr Lamb was led by Edmond resident Michelle Schaefer, who referred journalists' questions to councillor Nick Massey. Ms Schaefer has reportedly said she would like Mr Massey to be mayor. Echoing Mr O'Neil, Mr Massey also said it was an awkward situation, adding that had Mr Lamb not sought re-election, he would have run for mayor himself. While he would be "honoured" to accept the position, Mr Massey said he would not be calling for people to vote for Mr Lamb. However, he added: "If you like the direction the city has been taking over the last six, seven, eight years, you might consider voting for Charles and let the city council decide who to appoint." Full article
  13. A 10-year-old boy in east-central China broke down in tears when his mother turned down his attempt to buy her a diamond ring. The scene, which was caught on video, took place inside a jewelry store at a shopping mall in Tianmen, Hubei province on Monday. In the video, the boy is seen letting his mother try a ring, which he planned to buy using money he had collected over the Spring Festival. “He said he wanted to buy a diamond ring after seeing his classmates’ mothers all wear diamond rings,” a store employee said, according to the Global Times. However, the boy chose a ring worth 8,800 yuan ($1,300) — which naturally deterred his mother from accepting his kind offer. As such, he burst into tears. To save her son’s money, the mother deliberately picked a more expensive ring that costs 50,700 yuan ($7,485). “Mom likes this one. You can save more money and buy this one for me later,” the employee quoted her as saying. Full article and video
  14. The small town of Belushya Guba, in northern Russia, is in a state of emergency, with locals afraid to leave their houses because of dozens of polar bears roaming the streets in search of food. Located on one of the two islands that make up the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, Belushya Guba is home to roughly 3,000 people, many of whom are terrified to leave their homes and send their kids to school, because of the dozens of bears running around in the streets and even entering buildings in search of food. While polar bear sighting aren’t exactly uncommon in the remote town, the scale of this invasion is reportedly unprecedented. Over 52 sightings have been reported in only three days, with up to 10 bears seen in the settlement at any given time. “I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there have never been so many polar bears in the vicinity,” local administrator Zhigansha Musin told Russian news agency TASS on Saturday. He added that the hungry animals had also taken over a military garrison where they “literally chase people”. “The people are scared, they are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken,” Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of Novaya Zemlya, told TASS. “Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten.” Polar bear activity in and around Belushya Guba started increasing in December, and the animals have reportedly become more aggressive ever since, attacking people and entering residences. Polar bears are considered an endangered species in Russia, and despite the threat they currently pose to the people of Belushya Guba, the government has refused to issue licenses to shoot the most aggressive specimens. Instead, a team of experts and a special task force have been sent to the island to monitor the situation and protect the local population. However, killing some of the bears may be a last resort, if scare tactics prove unsuccessful. Fences and loud noises, such as gunshots and car horns have so far failed to keep the animals away. Full article
  15. A hungry Slovenian politician has stepped down from parliament after admitting he stole a sandwich because he had been ignored by staff at the checkout counter for several minutes. Darij Krajcic, 54, a member of the ruling List of Marjan Sarec List [LMS] party, told Slovenian media he went to a shop in Ljubljana, the country’s capital, to purchase some food but became annoyed after apparently being ignored by the staff, the BBC reported. Krajcic said he felt like he was being “treated like air.” Krajcic said he was in a hurry at the time, and decided to test the store's security by walking out and shoplifting the sandwich. However, he ended up regretting the “social experiment.” "So, I left the shop with the sandwich, walking slowly, very slowly," Krajic told Euronews. He said that no employee appeared to notice. Krajcic later told fellow parliament members about the sandwich incident and some lawmakers found it amusing, the BBC reported. However, on Thursday, Brane Golubovic, the head of LMS’ parliamentary faction, said Krajcic’s actions were "unacceptable" and condemned them. Full article
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