Anthology

‘Safer than London’: N Korea woos tourists

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The tour company, which is based in Moscow, promises a “full immersion” in the rogue state’s culture as Pyongyang grapples for money.

Hit by economic sanctions for two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July, North Korea is offering Russian punters a 15-day stay for £1,500 each.

The tour includes visits to a farm, a mineral water factory, a Buddhist temple, museums, walks in the mountains and an introduction to national cuisine.

But long talks with locals “are not recommended”.

The sense of immediate danger is dissipating - but there could still be trouble
Image:The most expensive package costs just over £1,500

Other less demanding tours include relaxation on a beach, an aviation show and even a beer festival.

Groups of up to 10 people can book through the NKOREAN.RU website, which claims it wants to “show travellers the multi-faceted life of this most closed of countries”.

Any guests will still be subject to strict surveillance and inspection, with a guide appointed who will monitor the “adequate behaviour of the tourist and guarantee his safety”.

It is unclear how popular these trips will be among Russians, who have already developed a fondness for visiting Europe and cheap resorts in Turkey and Thailand.

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Young people think filibustering is a sex act

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Two-thirds of 18 to 25-year-olds polled by the youth news platform Shout Out UK believed “filibustering” was a slang term to describe a sex act.

Filibustering is, in fact, when a politician speaks for an extended period so as to waste time and obstruct progress in a parliamentary debate.

More than half of those polled thought the Speaker was a villain in a game – and only 23% of people correctly answered that they chair debates in Parliament.

Matteo Bergamini, founder of Shout Out UK, said: “We commissioned the survey just to get an idea of what people’s knowledge is on political terms – we didn’t expect to get such funny results.

“Although it is funny that most young people think filibustering is a slang sex term, I think it reveals a deeper problem that most 18 to 25-year-olds aren’t engaged or educated in politics enough.”

Think you can do better? Have a go at our quiz of political terms below:

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Stray dogs turned blue by pollution in river

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It emerged the animals had been wading through water as they searched for food in the Kasadi river where untreated industrial waste from nearby factories had been dumped.

There are claims at least one of the dogs had gone blind and other animals, including birds, had also been affected by the pollution in Navi Mumbai.

Arati Chauhan, who runs the Navi Mumbai animal protection shelter, was the first to highlight the issue.

She told Sky News: “It’s just not dogs. All other animals are being affected by the environment pollution. I witnessed five such dogs. In fact, one of the dogs has gone blind.”

Ms Chauhan said she when she went to survey the area her eyes started burning and she fell sick. She said: “I had to see a doctor and am still recovering.”

Dog
Image:Dumped industrial waste has been blamed. Pic: Arati Chauhan

She added: “Workers in the factories and security men guarding various factories tell me they have health issues, breathing is a problem, but say ‘We are helpless, we have to work here it’s our bread and butter’.”

There are about 1,000 pharmaceutical, dye manufacturing and food factories in the Taloja district.

A quality check by the Navi Mumbai municipal corporation found the waste treatment of effluents was inadequate.

The level of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) was 80 milligrams a litre.

According to official guidelines, fish die when the BOD level is above 6mg/l, and a level above 3mg/l makes the water unfit for human consumption.

For years, activists have complained to authorities of indiscriminate dumping of untreated effluents into the river, but to no avail.

Ms Chauhan and her group have now filed a complaint with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).

Anil Mohekar, regional officer of the board, told reporters they were aware of the complaint, adding: “Discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment.”

One of the industrial units producing chemical dyes has been sealed by authorities.

Ms Chauhan claimed only part of the factory was sealed and not the manufacturing unit.

She said: “It’s all hogwash. How can only one factory pollute the entire area. Hundreds of factories are saving money by dumping toxins in the river instead of sending it to the mandatory common effluent treatment plant.”

The Taloja industrial zone, located outside Mumbai, employs almost 76,000 people and generates billions of pounds a year for the economy.

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Boy arrested for street dancing in Saudi Arabia

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The 14-year-old, wearing shorts, a striped tee-shirt and headphones, is accused of “improper public behaviour” in Jeddah, a statement said.

Jeddah boy dancing in the middle of Tahlia Street is the hero we need pic.twitter.com/fui9v2UuDF

— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) August 19, 2017

It is not clear what his nationality is or if he has been formally charged.

In the clip, which has been shared thousands of times, the boy can be seen dancing back and forth amid heavy traffic in the background.

The clip, featuring the popular 1990s song by Los Del Rio, was believed to have been first posted in July 2016.

Some on social media have hailed him a hero – while others have condemned him as “immoral”.

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Rare white baby koala born at Australian zoo

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“Welcome to the world little one… we love you ’cause you’re different,” Tourism Australia wrote on its Facebook page on Tuesday, calling for suggestions on naming her.

She is not albino. Keepers at the zoo say her fur is due to a recessive gene inherited from her mother Tia, who has given birth to other pale joeys – baby koalas – in the past.

A rare baby white koala
Image:Her pale fur is due to a recessive gene inherited from her mum. Pic: Australia Zoo

“In veterinary science it’s often referred to as the ‘silvering gene’ where animals are born with white or very pale fur and, just like baby teeth, they eventually shed their baby fur and the regular adult colouration comes through,” said the zoo’s wildlife hospital director Rosie Booth.

Facebookers gushed over the “gorgeous white koala” and “precious darling”.

“I wish her a very long happy life filled with lots of love and all the eucalyptus leaves she wants,” wrote one.

So far, they have come up with suggestions including Snowflake, Pearl, Sugar, Lily, Snow White and Baringa, which means “dawn” or “light” in the aboriginal language, for a name.

A rare white baby koala
Image:Name suggestions include Snowflake and Sugar. Pic: Australia Zoo

One posted: “Daenerys…like from Game of Thrones. They have the same color hair and are both beautiful.”

Koalas have been under increasing threat across the Southern Hemisphere nation in recent decades due to bushfires, disease, dog attacks and loss of habitat.

Ms Booth said had the koala been born in the wild, she would have been more visible to predators.

She is one of 12 joeys born at the zoo this season.

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NASA praises British boy’s ‘great’ rocket design

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Idris Hylton, who is now aged five, wrote directly to the organisation urging it to make the craft and he even offered to fly it into space.

He also said he wanted to be given an astronaut licence.

Idris claimed his rocket would fly faster than any of NASA’s ones.

His letter read: “To NASA, I made a letter for you to report about. This rocket is for you. Please make it and send it to an astronaut in space.

“I will fly my rocket to space for NASA. Please can I have an astronaut licence. From Idris, aged four.”

His father Jamal Hylton, from St Albans in Hertfordshire, said his son “went crazy” when the agency sent a formal letter back thanking Idris for his “great” design.

Letter to Idris Hylton
Image:The letter sent to Idris Hylton from NASA’s Kevin DeBruin

Kevin DeBruin, a systems engineer from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wrote: “Thank you very much for your design of your rocket, it’s great!

“Creating work like this is the start to a great future astronaut who can pilot a rocket. Keep it up!”

He added: “Working with outer space vehicles and equipment takes hard work and dedication. This means you have to be enthusiastic in school to try put forth your best effort every time.

“Continue your interest in outer space, rockets, and all aerospace related things! With your enthusiasm and hard work, hopefully you may contribute to one of NASA’s many exciting programmes in the future.

“Best of luck to you in your journey towards space!”

Mr Hylton told Sky News: “Idris went crazy when it came through the post, phoned me at work shouting ‘Dad, NASA replied’.

“We’ve read the letter together countless times and he’s waiting to get back to school in September to show it to his teachers.

“The best thing is that he’s now set on a career as an astronaut or engineer, and the letter from Kevin DeBruin has inspired him to believe it’s possible.”

He explained his son didn’t get a response from NASA for several months after sending the letter to its Washington HQ.

But then Mr Hylton tweeted the agency directly and Mr DeBruin saw the tweet and asked for more details.

Mr Hylton went on: “He responded to my son with a really motivational letter and NASA stickers.”

Earlier this month, a nine-year-old boy received an encouraging response from NASA after he applied for a job at the agency.

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Woman finds diamond ring on carrot after 13 years

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Mary Grams, an 84-year-old from Canada, was astonished to be reunited with her engagement ring she lost 13 years ago after it re-emerged with a misshapen vegetable growing through it.

Her daughter-in-law, Colleen Daley, pulled the carrot – with the ring around it – while collecting vegetables for dinner on the family’s farm in Alberta.

Mrs Grams had never told her husband Norman, who died five years ago, that she lost the ring while weeding more than a decade ago and had long given up hope of ever finding it.

She was left in disbelief when the treasured jewel, which she had replaced with a much smaller ring, reappeared.

Ms Daley admitted she had almost fed the strange-looking carrot to her dog before noticing the ring while washing the vegetables.

Mary Grams, 84, found her lost engagement ring - which had been missing for 13 years - with a carrot growing through it Credit: Sarah Kraus, Global News
Image:Mary Grams, 84, had never told her husband she lost the ring Credit: Sarah Kraus, Global News

She told her husband, Mrs Grams’ son – who had known about the ring’s long disappearance, before the pair then revealed the news.

“I said we found your ring in the garden. She couldn’t believe it,” Ms Daley said.

“It was so weird that the carrot grew perfectly through that ring.”

A delighted Mrs Grams scrubbed the dirt off the ring before sliding it onto her finger as easily as the day her late husband had given it to her.

“I feel relieved and happy inside,” she said. “It grew into the carrot. I still can’t figure it out.”

The pensioner added: “We were giggling and laughing. It fit. After that many years it fits.”

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Man shoots himself in heart with nail gun

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Doug Bergeson was framing a fireplace when his nail gun fired, sending a nail ricocheting off wood and into his chest with the speed of a .22-calibre bullet.

The 52-year-old from Peshtigo, Wisconsin, said he could only see an inch of the 3.5in nail sticking out of his chest and “common sense” told him not to pull it out.

“I could see the nail moving with my heartbeat,” he said. “It was kind of twitching with every heartbeat.

Doug Bergeson
Image:The nail narrowly missed a major artery

“I was frustrated because I knew I wasn’t going to get home until late and I couldn’t get anything done.”

After driving to a hospital 10 minutes away, Mr Bergeson started to feel more pain and needed the help of a security guard to make it inside.

X-rays showed the nail was a 16th of an inch – about the thickness of a piece of paper – from a majority artery.

Mr Bergeson was rushed to a cardiovascular hospital by ambulance and underwent open-heart surgery.

“A wrong heartbeat, a wrong position, and he would have had a much more complicated problem than he was bargaining for,” Dr Alexander Roitstein said.

Doug Bergeson
Image:The 52-year-old drove himself to hospital after the accident

“He’s quite fortunate from that standpoint.”

Dr Roitstein added that Mr Bergeson’s decision to leave the nail in place “shows the great composure this gentleman had after a very bad day’s experience”.

Mr Bergeson spent just two days in hospital and has been recovering at home since the accident on 25 June.

He said: “I feel pretty good. I’m back to doing things carefully.

“It was a pretty awakening experience.”

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Festivals ban fireworks, drones – and pineapples

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The tropical fruit will not be allowed into either the arenas or campsites when the music event takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

READING, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: A fan soaks up the atmopshere as the Kaiser Chiefs performs live on the Main Stage on Day Three during the Reading Festival 2012 at Richfield Avenue on August 26, 2012 in Reading, England. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Image:The Reading and Leeds festivals take place from 25 to 27 August

The move is thought to be down to the band Glass Animals and their song Pork Soda, which features the lyric “pineapples are in my head” and has previously inspired fans to take the fruit to gigs.

The band have responded to tweets about the ban on social media, replying “yes good idea” to one fan who suggested wearing a pineapple costume instead.

Pineapples are the latest addition to a list of banned items which includes paper lanterns, drones, fireworks and animals.

The line-up at the festivals, which take place from 25 to 27 August, includes Kasabian, Eminem, Muse, Liam Gallagher, Haim and Korn.

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Goldfish turn to alcohol to get through winter

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Unlike most vertebrates which die within a few minutes without oxygen, goldfish and their wild relatives crucian carp are able to survive for months in oxygen-free water.

Biologically speaking, the fish convert their anaerobically produced lactic acid into ethanol which diffuses across their gills into the surrounding water.

The researchers from the Universities of Oslo and Liverpool have discovered the unusual molecular mechanism behind this unique ability.

They have pinpointed sets of proteins which are normally used to produce energy by channelling carbohydrates towards their breakdown within a cell’s mitochondria.

While one set of those proteins is very similar to what other species of vertebrate possess, the second set is uniquely activated by the absence of oxygen.

Dr Michael Berenbrink, an evolutionary physiologist at the University of Liverpool, said that the blood alcohol concentration in these fish can exceed the drink-drive limit during the winter.

“During their time in oxygen-free water in ice-covered ponds, which can last for several months in their northern European habitat, blood alcohol concentrations in crucian carp can reach more than 50mg per 100 millilitres,” said Dr Berenbrink.

“However, this is still a much better situation than filling up with lactic acid, which is the metabolic end product for other vertebrates, including humans, when devoid of oxygen.”

Lead author Dr Cathrine Elisabeth Fagernes, from the University of Oslo, said: “The ethanol production allows the crucian carp to be the only fish species surviving and exploiting these harsh environments.

“Thereby avoiding competition and escaping predation by other fish species with which they normally interact in better oxygenated waters.

“It’s no wonder then that the crucian carp’s cousin the goldfish is arguably one of the most resilient pets under human care.”

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