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Wierd and Offbeat News

  • Albania bulldozes restaurant after owner attacks tourists news

    Albanian officials on Wednesday razed a beachfront restaurant whose owner was captured on camera attacking a car rented by Spanish tourists, as the country scrambles to clean up its reputation as a burgeoning holiday destination. The incident, filmed by the victims' tour guide from inside their vehicle, took place at the weekend in Porto-Palermo on the Ionian coast in southern Albania, a popular tourist spot. The restaurant owner, 51-year-old Mihal Kokedhima, was arrested and faces trial for "verbally assaulting a group of Spanish tourists for futile reasons", damaging their car and causing minor injuries, police said.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:17:17 -0400
  • Mind the doors: Japan bullet train runs with door open at 280 kph news

    A Japanese bullet train hurtling along at 280 kilometres (174 miles) per hour ran for nearly a minute with one of its doors completely open on Wednesday, its operator said. The accident, due to human error, was a rare mishap for the Japanese "Shinkansen" bullet train which has a world-famous safety and punctuality record. The Tokyo-bound Hayabusa No. 46 train screeched to an emergency stop in a tunnel shortly after leaving Sendai station in northeastern Japan when the conductor saw a warning light that the door of the ninth carriage was open, East Japan Railway said.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:17:10 -0400
  • Siberian postwoman on DIY monster truck gives lifeline to tiny village news

    Every week, she travels 16 kilometres (10 miles) through the forest to the nearest post office in a larger village to collect the post, supplies and pensions for her neighbours. With her husband at the wheel, Yermolova can now reach the post office in an hour. Cows roam outside the post office, one of the largely wooden village's few brick buildings.

    Wed, 21 Aug 2019 07:30:18 -0400
  • Dutch plan big Brexit beach party news

    Thousands of people have signed up on Facebook to a Dutch beach party for Brexit, featuring food from across the European Union to mark Britain's departure. Created by media worker Ron Toekook, the event calls for partygoers to meet at the seaside village of Wijk aan Zee near Amsterdam on October 31, the date Britain is meant to leave. Suggestions for other songs to be played included Dutch novelty boyband "Breunion Boys" and their single "Britain Come Back".

    Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:09:55 -0400
  • Pilgrims gather for cosmic-like ritual in Bulgaria's mountains news

    Thousands of pilgrims gathered Monday in Bulgaria's Rila mountains to welcome their "spiritual" new year with a cosmic-like dance performed in concentric circles, creating a striking image on the verdant mountain plain. The white-clad dancers hiked up to Bulgaria's Seven Rila Lakes at an altitude of 2,100 metres (6,900 feet) and performed a special meditative dance known as "paneurhythmy" for more than an hour under the sound of singing and violins.

    Mon, 19 Aug 2019 15:14:49 -0400
  • Bulgaria seizes cocaine smuggled in banana shipment news

    A warehouse worker has discovered 75 kilogrammes (165 lb) of cocaine hidden among bananas shipped from Ecuador to Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas, prosecutors and police said Saturday. The drugs were packed in bricks wrapped up in metal foil and hidden inside the shipment of 20,626 boxes of bananas, Burgas regional prosecutor Georgy Chinev told journalists outside the Burgas warehouse of the InterCitrus fruit distribution company. A warehouse worker came upon the 2.5-kilogramme packages on Saturday morning and alerted police, Burgas police chief Kaloyan Kaloyanov said.

    Sat, 17 Aug 2019 12:57:08 -0400
  • Eye of the swarm: experts take sting out of urban beekeeping news

    "A swarm of bees... really looks like a biblical event," said 53-year-old Del Voss, one of about 100 amateur beekeepers in Washington. In 1947, there were about six million US honeybee hives but the figure dropped to 2.4 million in the following 60 years, thanks to pesticides, habitat destruction and other manmade threats, as well as parasitic mites. Hives typically house up to 70,000 bees.

    Fri, 16 Aug 2019 21:34:41 -0400
  • Greenland cold-shoulders Trump's buyer's interest news

    Greenland is not for sale, local authorities said Friday, after a newspaper reported that US President Donald Trump is looking into whether it might be possible for the United States to buy the mineral-rich Arctic island. Trump has expressed interest in the self-governing part of Denmark -- which is mostly covered in ice, -- asking advisors if it is possible for the US to acquire the territory, The Wall Street Journal said Thursday, citing people familiar with the discussions. Greenland is a self-governing region of Denmark, which colonised the 772,000 square-mile (two-million square kilometre) island in the 18th century, and is home to only about 57,000 people, most of whom belong to the indigenous Inuit community.

    Fri, 16 Aug 2019 17:37:54 -0400
  • EU's von der Leyen bids Germany goodbye with Scorpions hit news

    EU president-elect Ursula von der Leyen chose the Scorpions' smash hit "Wind of Change", which has become an anthem for the fall of the Berlin Wall, for her official departure ceremony in Berlin on Thursday. The power ballad by the German rock band, which has sold an estimated 14 million copies since its release in 1991, was performed by a military brass band during the ceremony attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Von der Leyen, who takes office on November 1, replacing outgoing European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, last month handed over as defence minister to Merkel's favoured successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

    Thu, 15 Aug 2019 17:17:24 -0400
  • One for the rodent: Rats a cheap street snack in Cambodia news

    As he tears off a leg of a charcoal-grilled rat at a roadside stall in western Cambodia, Yit Sarin hails the simple joy of rodent and rice washed down with beer. "It's delicious," he says of the snack. Barbecued field rats are not everybody's idea of a tasty treat, but in Cambodia's rural Battambang province they are popular as a quick -- and cheap -- snack, with small skewered ones going for $0.25 each while larger rodents can cost $1.25.

    Thu, 15 Aug 2019 10:08:23 -0400
  • Daredevils, balloons and bangles for Indian Independence Day news

    India became a sea of saffron, white and green Thursday as the nation of 1.3 billion celebrated Independence Day in characteristically colourful fashion. India became independent from colonial power Britain on August 15, 1947. Towards midnight Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister, had made his famous "tryst with destiny" speech.

    Thu, 15 Aug 2019 06:02:05 -0400
  • Playing god: Japan temple puts faith in robot priest news

    The android Kannon, based on the Buddhist deity of mercy, preaches sermons at Kodaiji temple in Kyoto, and its human colleagues predict that with artificial intelligence it could one day acquire unlimited wisdom. "This robot will never die, it will just keep updating itself and evolving," priest Tensho Goto told AFP. It's changing Buddhism," added Goto.

    Wed, 14 Aug 2019 09:31:34 -0400
  • The rugby-mad duo cycling from Twickenham to Tokyo news

    They survived angry dogs in Iran and stomach bugs in India, and have slept in monasteries, underpasses and on farms -- it's been a madcap adventure for a pair of rugby enthusiasts cycling from Twickenham to Tokyo for charity ahead of the Rugby World Cup. With little more than a weathered map in their baggage, Ron Rutland and James Owens have been on the road for 191 days and counting, having set off from London in February. The clock is ticking, however, as Rutland and Owens are also carrying the whistle which will be used for the Rugby World Cup's September 20 curtain-raiser between Japan and Russia in Tokyo.

    Sun, 11 Aug 2019 00:08:49 -0400
  • Medieval bridge faces troubled waters in Belgium news

    The demolition of a historic bridge across a Belgian river is triggering fears among residents of Tournai that the city symbol will be disfigured permanently when a new span replaces it. The authorities insist they chose the most cost-effective option to build a new crossing that will allow larger barges to sail underneath while preserving the character of the medieval monument, known locally as the "bridge of holes". Workers pressed ahead on Friday with demolishing the arches which were rebuilt after World War II when British troops blew up the original span, along with Tournai's other bridges, to slow the Nazi invasion of Belgium in May 1940.

    Fri, 09 Aug 2019 13:52:42 -0400
  • Iraqi transforms Kalashnikov into musical instrument news

    It may sound as if Baghdad resident Majed Abdennour is playing the lute, but on closer inspection the Iraqi musician is clutching a repurposed Kalashnikov. Wearing a blue blazer and dark tie, Abdennour strummed the strings of his unusual instrument which has an ammunition case as a sound box. The Iraqi teacher in his fifties had the assault rifle at home to "protect" himself and his family during the worst years of sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital.

    Fri, 09 Aug 2019 13:40:06 -0400
  • Fairway to heaven? UK cathedral golf course draws fans news

    A mini-golf course in the nave of a mediaeval English cathedral to encourage families to visit this summer is proving a match made in heaven -- and controversy. The nine-hole course blessing Rochester Cathedral in southern England, which dates back to 604AD, has been drawing in families since the miniature fairways were rolled out last week. The course will stay in the cathedral throughout August, in the latest move by the Church of England to stem dwindling congregations in an increasingly secular Britain.

    Fri, 09 Aug 2019 05:45:42 -0400
  • Donkey diva: Singing beast of burden becomes Indian sensation news

    An unorthodox Indian music star has won hearts online with her big teeth, lustrous white coat, four legs and melodic braying at mealtime. "Usually our videos have a lot of sick animals and animals being rescued, and it's generally heavy and sad," RESQ Charitable Trust head Jessica Roberts told AFP. Roberts said they were inspired by Harriet, a singing donkey from Ireland who also shot to social media fame for her "operatic singing".

    Thu, 08 Aug 2019 20:15:30 -0400
  • Too much to swallow: giant oyster named "Georgette" found off French coast news

    Talmont-Saint-Hilaire (France) (AFP) - Oyster farmers in western France have sacrificed a seafood feast and put a mega-mollusc weighing 1.44 kilogrammes (3.2 pounds) back in the water after naming it "Georgette" in honour of a retiring worker. The 25-centimetre (10-inch) long oyster was discovered at Talmont-Saint-Hilaire in the Vendee department last Friday. "I was working in the channel and walking along I felt something with my foot," said Mathieu Naslin, an employee of the Viviers de la Guittière oyster farm.

    Thu, 08 Aug 2019 14:20:51 -0400
  • Scientists produce radioactivity-free Chernobyl vodka news

    A team of British scientists has helped produce a radioactivity-free vodka called "ATOMIK" from crops near the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the University of Portsmouth said on Thursday. The team did find some radioactivity in the grain but said the normal distillation process meant the only radioactivity in the alcohol was natural Carbon-14 "at the same level you would expect in any spirit drink". "I think this is the most important bottle of spirits in the world because it could help the economic recovery of communities living in and around the abandoned areas," university professor Jim Smith said in a statement.

    Thu, 08 Aug 2019 07:46:07 -0400
  • Born in the USA, 'Boss' the bull fetches record price in Bangladesh news

    Dhaka (AFP) - "Boss", a Brahman bull born in the USA but raised in Bangladesh, has been sold for a record price as the country prepares to sacrifice over 10 million animals to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha next week, officials said Thursday. Raising animals for Eid al-Adha is a major job creator, and there is fierce competition among farmers throughout the South Asian nation to rear the best-looking and heaviest cattle. "Boss", imported from the United States and reared at a farm on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, broke all records when it became the country's most expensive sacrificial animal.

    Wed, 07 Aug 2019 20:17:02 -0400
  • China beach fans never without their inflatable news

    At one of China's most popular seaside resorts, a brightly coloured inflatable ring is an essential item for a day on the beach. "First it's for safety," said Pan Wenxiang, a young man cooling off with friends at Golden Sands Beach in Qingdao. For the more intrepid beach-goer, there are also large zorb balls -- giant inflatable orbs that people can get inside of and then roll around in -- although space to move on the busy sand appears limited.

    Wed, 07 Aug 2019 04:26:23 -0400
  • Artificial 'tongue' can distinguish between whiskies news

    Scientists revealed Tuesday they have come up with an artificial "tongue" which can distinguish subtle differences between whiskies. Experts at the University of Glasgow have built the miniature taster which can even tell the difference between the same brand aged in different barrels, with more than 99 percent accuracy. The technology can identify a host of different chemicals within a complex mixture.

    Tue, 06 Aug 2019 07:51:45 -0400
  • Indonesian man walking in reverse to save forests news

    An Indonesian man is walking 700 kilometres (435 miles) from his home on a volcano in East Java to Jakarta in the hope of drawing attention to the archipelago's quickly shrinking forests -- and he is doing it backwards. Medi Bastoni, a 43-year-old father of four, set out on his arduous, in-reverse journey in mid-July, with the goal of reaching the capital by August 16, a day before the Southeast Asian nation's independence day anniversary. "Of course I'm exhausted, but I'm willing to do this to fight for the next generation," Bastoni told AFP.

    Mon, 05 Aug 2019 06:51:19 -0400
  • Viennese turn noses up at scented subway trains news

    Commuters in Vienna have turned their noses up at scented subway trains after a month-long trial aimed at enhancing their travel experience. Four aromas -- including "energising" grapefruit and "relaxing" melon -- were tested in several carriages on two subway lines in the Austrian capital during July. Public transport company Wiener Linien said Monday it had dropped the idea to make fragrant trains a regular feature for now after 21,000 out of 37,000 participants voted against the plan in an online survey.

    Mon, 05 Aug 2019 06:22:48 -0400
  • No 'Guardian of the Galaxy': trapped US raccoon goes viral news

    He may lack the poise of "Guardians of the Galaxy" superhero Rocket Raccoon but this fur-tive little adventurer is becoming an internet star in his own right after coming off worse in an encounter with a storm grate. "He had been stuck for a while but we are happy to report he is free!!!" the local fire department tweeted after freeing the trapped trash panda in Newton, Massachussets. "We sent a fire truck and we tried to remove his head from the sewer grate with soap and water," said Newton Fire Lieutenant Michael Bianchi.

    Fri, 02 Aug 2019 17:16:31 -0400
  • Golden brew: rare Assam tea bags world record at auction news

    A rare Assam tea has sold for a world record price at auction in India, highlighting a boom for speciality teas while the industry as a whole is in crisis. An unidentified Belgian trader bought the tea through a local agent, an auction official said. Guwahati Tea Auction Centre secretary Dinesh Bihani said it was a record price at auction, shattering the 50,000 rupees a kilo paid for some Manohari Golden tea the day before.

    Fri, 02 Aug 2019 01:54:29 -0400
  • Facebook settles French 'censorship' case over vagina painting news

    Facebook has agreed to settle a years-long legal battle with a French teacher who sued after the social media giant shuttered his account when he posted a renowned 19th-century painting that features a woman's genitals, his lawyer said Thursday. The dispute dates to 2011, when the teacher, Frederic Durand, ran afoul of Facebook's ban on nude images after posting a link that include a thumbnail image of "L'Origine du Monde" (The Origin of the World), an 1866 oil painting by the realist painter Gustave Courbet. The painting is one of many treasures that adorn the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and Durand argued that the US tech giant was infringing on his freedom of expression.

    Thu, 01 Aug 2019 12:51:04 -0400
  • Total recall: N. Koreans in memory championship surprise news

    Behind her stand four trophies and a tableful of medals, the North Korean haul from the World Memory Championships in December –- the first time the country had entered. Despite fielding a team of just three contestants, led by Pang, they collected seven gold medals, seven silvers and five bronze. "I wouldn't say it's easy, but when you put in the time and make an effort, you can remember," said Pang.

    Thu, 01 Aug 2019 06:15:22 -0400
  • Seesaws let kids on each side of US-Mexico border play together news

    Two California professors have installed seesaws across the US-Mexico border in a blunt rebuke to President Donald Trump over his plans to build a wall along the 2,000-mile boundary between the two countries. The three pink seesaws were unveiled on Monday at a border fence separating Sunland Park, in New Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico, allowing kids and adults on either side to play together. Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California Berkeley who came up with the project with Virginia San Fratello, a professor of design at San Jose University, said the idea for "Teetertotter Wall" had been in the making for a decade.

    Tue, 30 Jul 2019 16:12:21 -0400
  • Grasshoppers invade Las Vegas Strip news

    Massive swarms of grasshoppers have descended on the Las Vegas Strip this week, startling tourists and residents as they pass through town on their northbound migration. Videos posted on social media show swarms of the bugs, called pallid-winged grasshoppers, converging on the bright neon lights of the Strip and sidewalks covered with the insects. The Nevada Department of Agriculture said the rare invasion was linked to an unseasonably wet winter and spring.

    Sat, 27 Jul 2019 12:43:30 -0400
  • Teetotaler Trump says US wine just looks better than French news

    Washington (AFP) - Wine connoisseurs talk about needing "a nose" to assess the quality of a vintage. President Donald Trump just uses his eyes.

    Fri, 26 Jul 2019 17:17:53 -0400
  • Luxembourg minister embarks on French bike tour news

    As cycling fans followed the Tour de France's progress through the Alps on Friday, Luxembourg's septuagenarian foreign minister pedalled off in the opposite direction on his latest solo jaunt. Despite having been in intensive care as a result of a fall as recently as June, and record high temperatures in western Europe, Jean Asselborn left the Grand Duchy bound for Provence's iconic Mont Ventoux. On his Facebook page, however, Asselborn's enthusiasm was a little more nuanced, and he admitted that the route chosen for his fifth annual tour is ambitious and will be a test for his powers of recovery.

    Fri, 26 Jul 2019 13:14:38 -0400
  • Rioting German teens stage boozed-up jailbreak attempt news

    Around 50 German teenagers rioted trying to free a 15-year-old reveller from police custody after he disrupted a school-leavers party, police confirmed Friday. Only a large-scale show of force restored order after the teens threw bottles at the windows of the police station in the Bavarian town of Starnberg, near Munich, and tried in vain to break open the entrance door late Thursday. "Only through a massive deployment... could the situation on site be brought under control," said a statement from Bavarian police.

    Fri, 26 Jul 2019 10:40:43 -0400
  • Fishing for plastic on Amsterdam's eco-friendly canal cruises news

    "It's a completely other way of visiting Amsterdam," Plastic Whale founder Marius Smit told AFP. Smit set up the company eight years ago, aiming to create "economic value" from the plastic waste the tours dredge from the canals. Plastic bottles are separated from the rest of the trash and are then recycled to be used in office furniture -- or in building more Plastic Whale boats.

    Fri, 26 Jul 2019 06:59:03 -0400
  • Feeling the heat, Belgian drug suspects call cops news

    It really wasn't the day to get trapped in a shipping container full of cocaine in the port of Antwerp. Wednesday was the hottest ever recorded in Belgium, and somehow two men got stuck in the metal box.

    Thu, 25 Jul 2019 10:07:17 -0400
  • Grannies for Future: 100-year-old German enters politics news

    German great-grandmother Lisel Heise's ambition to enter politics crystalised a few years before her 100th birthday, when organisers of a public hearing cut off her microphone. Heise, who retired from teaching school 40 years ago, was arguing for the reopening of an outdoor pool. What changed was Heise's election, against the odds, to the town council of Kirchheimbolanden in southwestern Germany just weeks after she embarked on her second century on the planet.

    Thu, 25 Jul 2019 06:19:51 -0400
  • Flying Frenchman fails in Channel crossing bid news

    A daredevil French inventor on Thursday failed in his attempt to fly across the Channel standing on a jet-powered "flyboard", crashing into the sea but vowing to try again. Franky Zapata, 40, a former jet-skiing champion, had to be fished out of the Channel by rescuers after falling into the busy shipping lane between France and Britain during a tricky refuelling manouevre. Zapata took off successfully from Sangatte in northern France and had planned to land in Britain at St Margaret's Bay outside Dover after a flight of just 20 minutes.

    Wed, 24 Jul 2019 20:06:53 -0400
  • Flying Frenchman to fulfil Channel crossing 'dream' news

    Saint-Inglevert (France) (AFP) - A daredevil French inventor said Wednesday he was ready to realise his dream of flying between France and Britain across the Channel on a jet-powered "flyboard" after finally overcoming bureaucratic obstacles. Franky Zapata, a former jet skiing champion, aims to soar above the Channel "like a bird" on Thursday morning in a scene likely to resemble a science fiction film. In a tribute to past aviation heroes, the 40-year-old has picked the day that marks 110 years since pioneer Louis Bleriot made the first airplane flight across the Channel on July 25, 1909.

    Wed, 24 Jul 2019 12:05:26 -0400
  • Hair apparent: Boris locks key to political brand news

    At different times described as a "straw-coloured mop", "eccentrically windblown" and resembling a "mediaeval monk", Boris Johnson's talismanic haircut has helped define a political career that has now led to Downing Street. The messy mass of platinum blond locks has become an unmistakeable brand in an era where celebrity and politics have combined, symbolising the chaotic and gaffe-prone style that charms his supporters and appals his critics. Obvious comparisons have been drawn between Johnson and US President Donald Trump, whose eccentric haircut also become intertwined with his political image.

    Wed, 24 Jul 2019 07:58:11 -0400
  • Morris dancers flock to London protest over holiday change news

    Stick-wielding, bell-jangling English Morris dancers descended on parliament Tuesday to protest plans to move the date of a public holiday when they traditionally gather to celebrate the ancient folk custom. Sporting musical instruments and trademark long socks, hats and white handkerchiefs, dozens of Morris men and women brought their unique brand of musical merriment to Britain's parliament to decry delaying the 2020 May Day holiday. "There was no consulting, very little consideration -- it was very high-handed," musician Gary Morris, 53, said of the government decision announced last month.

    Tue, 23 Jul 2019 11:13:25 -0400
  • With no sea, regatta on Drina is equally good for Serbs news

    Having no natural access to sea does not stop Serbs from organising a regatta: thousands this weekend boarded a motley fleet of craft floating on river waters for the "Regatta on Drina". The annual celebration of exuberance and excess starts with pallets of beer, often consumed before the improvised fleet casts off by the end of the morning in the western Serbian town of Bajina Basta on the Drina river, a natural border with Bosnia. With Serbian flags fluttering in the wind and "turbo-folk" music cranked up, hundreds of inflatable dinghies, makeshift rafts, lorry inner-tubes, even giant inflatable flamingos and the occasional boat float and row for hours on the Drina cheered on by the crowds and bands on the bank.

    Sun, 21 Jul 2019 07:41:56 -0400
  • Prized Thai buffaloes show off speed in muddy race news

    Sloshing across a muddy field with men sprinting behind them, prized water buffaloes blow past cheering spectators in eastern Thailand on Sunday in a rare display of bovine speed. Tractors have largely replaced the big beasts in daily work but farmers in Chonburi have preserved the more than 100-year-old racing custom to mark annual rice plantings. "Before, we used buffaloes to plough rice fields.

    Sun, 21 Jul 2019 06:15:21 -0400
  • Thai farmers on the cash trail with snail slime news

    Giant snails inch across a plate of pumpkin and cucumber in central Thailand, an "organic" diet to tease the prized collagen-rich mucus from the molluscs, which to some cosmetic firms are now more valuable than gold. The snails at Phatinisiri Thangkeaw's farm were once the scourge of rice farmers, loathed for eating the buds of new crops. It is one of more than 80 farms in Nakhon Nayok province, two hours from the capital Bangkok, cashing in on the global snail beauty market, estimated at $314 million, according to research group Coherent Market Insights.

    Fri, 19 Jul 2019 22:50:28 -0400
  • Venice coffee costs rule-breaking German tourists 950 euros news

    Two German tourists were fined Friday for making themselves a coffee on the steps of the famous Rialto bridge in Venice and asked to leave the city, the municipal authorities said. The two backpackers from Berlin, aged 32 and 35, had made themselves comfortable at the foot of the world-famous landmark and got out their portable coffee-making equipment when they were spotted by a passer-by and reported to the police, the city authorities said in a statement. Using a newly-passed law, police officers fined them 950 euros ($1,050) for unseemly behaviour and asked them to leave Venice.

    Fri, 19 Jul 2019 16:47:01 -0400
  • Shark attack: Florida city blaring 'Baby Shark' to deter homeless people news

    In a bid to deter homeless people from sleeping near its chic events center, a Florida city has been blaring aggravating children's tunes all night long. For weeks, West Palm Beach has pressed play at dusk on the mind-numbingly catchy bops "Baby Shark" and "Raining Tacos" next to its Lake Pavilion at Centennial Square Park, a tactic criticized by advocates who say it fails to address the structural causes of homelessness.

    Fri, 19 Jul 2019 15:42:07 -0400
  • Salvini and Berlusconi bet on pets as Italy coalition wobbles news

    Italy's strongman deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini appears to be taking a leaf out of former leader Silvio Berlusconi's book by wooing voters with pet-friendly initiatives to shore up support ahead of possible elections. The country's populist coalition may be heading full speed towards a crisis, according to Italian political watchers, who say far-right Salvini could force a vote as early as the end of this year. Salvini's anti-immigration League has far outstripped its government partner, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), in popularity since they joined forces after a general election last year.

    Fri, 19 Jul 2019 11:43:57 -0400
  • 'Smartphone zombie' halts Vienna driverless bus test news

    A test of driverless buses has been halted in Vienna after a woman distracted by her smartphone walked into the side of one of the mini-buses as it was moving, the city's transport authority said Friday. The woman had been wearing headphones and looking at her phone when the accident happened on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Austrian capital's public transport company said, citing witnesses.

    Fri, 19 Jul 2019 07:04:43 -0400
  • Swiss specialities: chocolate, cheese and ... wine? news

    When foreigners think of Swiss specialities that might excite their taste buds, world-renowned chocolate and cheese likely come to mind. In some ways, the Swiss Winegrowers' Festival (Fete des Vignerons), which opened Thursday, mirrors the country's appellations: both could be considered extraordinary, yet both are hardly known outside Switzerland. Ahead of this year's edition, industry experts agreed that the time had come for Swiss wine to spread its vines.

    Thu, 18 Jul 2019 06:20:08 -0400
  • "Don't Panic": Britain and EU trade sitcom jibes news

    Britain is due to leave the EU in 15 weeks with or without an agreement on future ties and officials from both sides are trading insults inspired by a 1970s WWII sitcom. In a BBC documentary to be screened on Thursday, EU Commission vice president Frans Timmermans recalls British negotiators behaving like characters in "Dad's Army". Timmermans, recalling Brexit talks with British ministers, said: "It's like Lance Corporal Jones, you know?

    Thu, 18 Jul 2019 05:30:29 -0400
  • A squeaky clean: friendly robots spruce up Singapore news

    Hundreds of "friendly" robots that speak multiple languages and sing are being rolled out across hi-tech Singapore, to help clean the city-state's hotels, shopping malls and government buildings. The robots speak all four of multi-ethnic Singapore's official languages -- English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil -- plus Japanese and "Singlish", a local patois that mixes English with words from the myriad local tongues.

    Thu, 18 Jul 2019 03:58:39 -0400
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