News in Briefs | Issue 20

World Watch

Reykjavik, Iceland
One of the central streets in Iceland’s capital city has been painted in rainbow colours as part of the city’s annual Gay Pride festival. Dozens of people arrived to help transform the road, including the city’s mayor, Dagur Eggertsson. Reykjavik Pride is one of Iceland’s biggest events, attracting more than 100,000 visitors for a week of festivities.

Shenzhen, China
Police in one Chinese city have come up with a novel way of tackling jaywalkers by making them wear green hats while helping to direct traffic. There has been opposition to the colour of the hats as in Chinese culture the expression “wearing a green hat” signifies that a man has been cheated on.

Edirne, Turkey
A governor in western Turkey is letting civil servants turn up late for work, as long as they spend the time exercising. Government workers in the province usually start their shifts at 8.30am, but they will now be allowed to clock in an hour later. Workers will be helped to find a sport that suits them, and will have access to a dietician.

Stockholm, Sweden
There has been an angry reaction to anti-begging adverts, which have been plastered across walls on Stockholm’s underground system. The adverts, created by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, apologise to tourists for the “mess”. Stockholm’s transport company says it has received hundreds of complaints since the adverts first appeared.

Frankfurt, Germany
A German conservative MP, Martin Patzelt, has taken two Eritrean refugees into his home and is helping the young men find jobs. The two men have been staying with him for a month, and Mr Patzelt says such initiatives help to “get rid of the polarisation and hostility” towards migrants in a country that has a high inflow of foreign migrants and refugees from Africa.

Texas, United States
A 20-year-old Texas man has jumped quickly into an arranged marriage after a judge told him he had a choice of getting married or spending 15 days in jail on an assault charge. Josten Bundy was charged with assaulting his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, but the judge said he would grant probation if he married his girlfriend, wrote Bible verses and attended counselling.

Papua New Guinea
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says officials in Papua New Guinea are drawing up legislation that would outlaw firearms, and he believes they should be removed from both civilians and police. O’Neill is quoted as saying, “You don’t need firearms to control law and order … It is about respect of the community, respect of the policemen and women.”

Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Scientists analysing pipes that were dug up in William Shakespeare’s garden have found residue of cannabis in the pipes, suggesting the famous playwright may have been smoking the drug when he produced some of his famous works. Of 24 fragments of pipe from the garden, four were found to have traces of cannabis in them. 


“The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling down its land with 5,000-year-long history and culture and pursuing the unheard-of policy of obliterating the Korean nation.”

North Korean Central News Agency
North Korea is set to launch its own time zone by taking its clocks back 20 minutes — returning the country to the time standard it used before Japanese colonisation in 1910. The new time zone takes effect on 15 August, the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule at the end of World War Two.

“The fact is, since then, many killings, murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in. And I said we need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.  And I don’t mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally.” 

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is maintaining his lead in the race to become the Republican nominee for the presidential election of 2016 despite being criticised for some of his controversial comments in the first debate. Trump has been outspoken on many issues, particularly illegal immigration, and has become characterised for his political incorrectness and willingness to make controversial statements.

“Many activists have been calling on the government to end rampant corruption here in Iraq. All of the people we spoke to here say they want to see an end to rampant corruption, they want the return of basic services, they want electricity, they want to have air conditioning at a time when Iraq is experiencing a blazingly hot record heatwave and they want to have clean water.” 

Mohammed Jamjoom,  Al Jazeera
Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abbadi, has issued a decree proposing the cancellation of the country’s vice president position and deputy PM role. The statement comes after mounting pressure from protestors over poor living conditions, including electricity cuts and water quality, and allegations of corruption within the government. Abbadi also suggested cancelling privileges and expenses for the three branches of government.

“We’re talking about an isolated problem in a couple of communities around a very large nation, and a nation where there is a very large number of Aboriginal communities, and every community is different.”

Wanda Morris, Dr John Boffa, People’s Alcohol Action Coalition
Vegemite sales will not be limited in remote Australian communities amid reports the spread was being used in home-brewed alcohol. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he did not want a “Vegemite watch” despite a report in a Queensland newspaper that Vegemite was being made into alcohol in large quantities in some remote Indigenous communities and the Indiginous Affairs minister had proposed banning it.

Facts & Figures

A cow farts enough each day to fill 30 party balloons.

98% of the atoms in your body are replaced every year.

Russia has a larger surface area than Pluto.

Approximately 55% of all movies released are R-rated.

1.6 million the number of ants for every human on Earth.

The average adult produces about half a litre of gas per day — the equivalent of 14 farts.

25% -  People generally read 25% slower from a computer screen than from paper.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2015.
Posted 12:02pm Sunday 16th August 2015 by Magnus Whyte.