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BANGKOK 15 December 2018 19:27

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  1. Mi Youren, a 68-year-old pensioner from Jinan, China, loves nothing more than to put on a tight leopard costume complete with tail and pointy ears, and practice a fitness routine based on he created himself based on the movements of the athletic feline. Every day, Mi Youren puts on his goofy leopard costume and heads to parks and gardens in his home city of Jinan to practice “leopard fitness”. He walks, runs and climbs stairs on all fours, lays flat on the ground with his limbs extended, imitates the cleaning ritual of the leopard, does handstands, all to keep in tip top shape and at the same time entertain passers-by. Mi has been practicing leopard fitness for 18 years and, as goofy as some of his exercises look, they seem to have kept him in great shape for his age. Full article and video
  2. At just 12-years-old, Leonardo Nicanor Quinteros is still in secondary school, but he already runs his own free private school to help other children, and even some adults, with their studies. Leonardo loves to study, but he also wants to transfer his passion for education to his peers. After seeing some of his colleagues struggling to keep up at school, and other children spending too much time playing on the streets and completely neglecting their studies, he decided to do something about it. Last year, he told his grandmother, Ramona, that he wanted to operate his own school and asked her to help him build it next to her house, in the Argentinian town of Las Piedritas, near San Juan. She obliged, and today’s Nico’s free private school caters to nearly 40 young students. The 12-year-old acts both as teacher and principal and is proud that his initiative has already made a big difference for many of the children attending there. Nico’s school is not much to look at. It’s made mostly of adobe and is pretty small compared to most regular schools, but with the help of neighbors and organizations impressed with Nico’s work, it’s getting better every day. The school has work benches for all the students, lockers, a small library, blackboard and even a bell used to sound recess. They even managed to improvise a sound system that plays Argentina’s national anthem at the start of classes, just like in regular schools. But what’s most impressive about Leonardo Nicanor Quinteros’ school is the quality of the education and his dedication to helping others. He lives 20 minutes away from his grandmother’s home, but every day, rain or snow, he gets on his bicycle after coming home from school and pedals to his own school to teach classes on different subjects, like math and grammar. Sometimes, when his students cannot attend the school at the regular time, he runs the classes at night, to make sure they don’t get behind on their studies. “He does not miss school, he is amazing. I can not believe what he does, ” Nico’s grandmother, Ramona, said. Even though most of Nico’s 36 students are younger than him, some even in kindergarten, there are a few adults attending classes at the free private school as well. The 12-year-old teacher/principal does his best to help students improve at subjects they struggle with, and many admit that attending his school has paid off big time. Full article
  3. C’mon, Miss USA, doesn’t America already look bad enough? Our country’s constantly teased overseas for being oblivious to geography and world history, and now she’s having to apologize after proving one stereotype right: that we assume everyone speaks English. A video of the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand made the rounds on Instagram this week. It shows Miss USA, Sarah Rose Summers, delivering a shocked message to the camera as she huddles near her fellow contestants. “Miss Cambodia is here and doesn’t speak any English, and not a single other person speaks her language. Could you imagine?” To be fair, Summers then goes on to lament how isolated and confused the contestant must feel, but her concern did little to mitigate the internet’s rising outrage at her ignorance and surprised tone. “This is basically what normalized xenophobia looks like,” wrote the video’s poster, Diet Prada, a fan account that highlights injustices in the fashion industry. Another contestant originally apparently posted the original but quickly deleted it, Quartzy reported. Diet Prada’s version placed the damning clip alongside another of Summers praising Miss Cambodia and calling her “beautiful.” A single incident may have been written off, but Summers later made fun of another competitor, Miss Vietnam, H’Hen Niê. “She’s so cute and she pretends to know so much English,” Summers says, before imitating how Niê smiles and nods not once, but twice. Full article
  4. Enhanced water company Vitaminwater recently launched a contest challenging entrants to give up their smartphones and tablets for a whole year. That’s a tough thing to do in this day and age, but the Coca Cola-owned company is ready to make it worth your while by putting up a $100,000 prize. Vitaminwater’s #nophoneforayear challenge requires entrants to go a full 365 days without using a smartphone. That means giving up their own phone and tablet as well as agreeing not to use anyone else’s handhelds either. The selected person will have to sign a contract committing to no smartphone usage for the duration of the contest, and if they are found to have adhered to the strict rule for the duration of the contract, they will be rewarded with $100,000. Sounds easy enough, but first you have to convince the company that you’re the right person for the job. To enter this unusual contest, you first have to a photo to Twitter or Instagram telling Vitamin Water why you need a break from your smartphone, and use the hashtags #nophoneforayear and #contest. Submitted entries will be judged based on creativity, brand relevance, humor and quality. You have until January 8 to enter the contest, and the company will announce the selected participant on January 22. It’s worth pointing out that the selected person will not be required to go completely phone-free. In fact, Vitaminwater will provide them with a “1996 era mobile phone” complete with a monthly plan for voice communication only. Vitaminwater has confirmed that the contest is not some cruel prank, and brand manager Natalia Suarez told CNBC that it was simply an ingenious way to challenge people to do something interesting with their time. “We don’t think there’s anything more boring than mindlessly scrolling through your phone, and this is an opportunity to take that stance against routine and give someone $100,000 to do something uniquely awesome with their time,” Suarez said. Full article
  5. Thursday morning might mark the first time a New Jersey commuter preferred to be in a "cash lane." The East Rutherford Police Department said an armored truck spilled cash along the westbound lanes of Route 3 at about 8:30 a.m. -- right during the peak of the morning rush hour. The incident took place near Metlife Stadium, right outside of New York City. In videos posted to social media, motorists can be seen leaving their cars as they scramble to grab the cash from travel lanes. "$5, 20, everything," someone could be heard saying in a video posted by Sabrina Quagliozzi. "Look at the accidents. Wow." Police said "multiple" crashes were reported in the area due to people attempting to grab the cash. Travel also screeched to a halt as people got out of their cars. Betsy Richards, a Montclair resident, was on a NJ Transit bus into New York City, and told NorthJersey.com she saw a man in a Brinks uniform was also running through traffic trying to collect the money. Full article
  6. Footage of an artificial intelligence robot that Russian state television used as an example of the country's technological prowess has been exposed as a man wearing a robot suit. The Rossiya 24 news channel broadcast footage of what it presented as Boris the dancing, singing robot at a technology forum for school pupils. But viewers and other journalists spotted some human-like movements and other discrepancies - and discovered Boris was in fact a human wearing a robot costume sold by a Russian company. As the "machine" danced on stage, a presenter had said: "At the forum there's the opportunity to see state-of-the-art robots. Boris the Robot has already learned to dance, and not badly at that." In the report, the robot also appeared to speak in a metallic voice as lights flashed on its face in different colours, saying: "I'm good at maths but now I want to study art and musical composition." But images shared online from backstage at the event clearly showed a human inside a robot outfit, through a gap between a bodysuit and a headpiece. Bloggers found the Robot Show website where the suit, identical to the one shown in the news clip, can be purchased. Full article
  7. Food waste is one the greatest challenges of our time, and fruits and vegetables are particularly problematic, as an estimated 52% of harvests go bad before reaching consumers. But one Malaysian company claims to have come up with a simple and effective solution to this problem – a tiny sticker that keeps fruits from spoiling for up to two weeks. You’ve probably seen stickers on fruits before, but not like the ones created by Stixfresh. Those common stickers are used solely to provide consumers with information about the grower and how the fruit was grown, but Stixfresh has a completely different purpose. It contains a special, all-natural formula that slows down the ripening process, keeping the fruit fresh and juicy for much longer. Stixfresh are made with 100% organic materials and contain a mixture of ionized Sodium Chloride and beeswax, which helps slow down the bacterial activity in the fruit, and thus delaying the ripening process. That sounds like a very basic explanation of how these stickers work, but the company insists that the stickers are completely safe, so safe in fact, that you can actually eat them. Stixfresh founder Zhafri Zainudin says that he came up with the idea for the stickers four years ago, after visiting a friend who operated a fruit stall. The man complained about losing money every day due to spoiled fruits, but seemed resigned, as he knew that there was no way to stop nature from taking its course. However, the Malaysian entrepreneur had another idea. “It got me to thinking. Maybe I couldn’t stop nature, but could I slow it down?” Zainudin writes on his company’s website. The Malaysian businessman partnered with Selangor university Universiti Putra Malaysia, research institutions and agencies such as Mardi and Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia, and more recently with Bogor University and University of South Australia, to develop and test his stickers. It took him three years to perfect the manufacturing process and efficacy of his innovative product. Full article
  8. A Vermont man feuding with local officials over repeated denials for a building permit made his fury known in the form an illuminated 700-pound wooden middle finger. Ted Pelkey, 54, a business owner, told Boston.com that the Development Review Board of Westford has repeatedly denied his request for a building permit to construct an 8,000 square-foot garage on his property. “I’ve been put through the wringer by these people, and it’s just not right,” he said. “I’m not trying to cause hate and animosity to the people who live in that town, because there’s very good people in that town.” Officials said the proposal doesn’t meet the town’s standards, but Pelkey thinks they’re biased against him. “I was sitting at a bar and said to my wife, ‘Hey, I want to get a statue made of a middle finger, and I’m going to put it up on the lawn,'” he told Boston.com in an interview. Commissioning the structure – which was completed Nov. 30 and sits atop a 16-foot pole on his front lawn - costs $4,000, Pelkey said, adding he initially expected to be forced to take it down. Billboards are banned in Vermont, but because the giant middle finger sculpture isn't being used as an advertising tool, it can stay, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “Although the structure is visible from a state highway, it is outside of the State Right of Way and not within our jurisdiction,” Jacqui DeMen, a spokeswoman for the agency, told Boston.com in an email. “The structure does not meet the statutory definition of ‘sign’ and thus can’t be regulated under the Vermont Billboard Law.” Full article
  9. A woman was left stunned when she opened her front door to discover a seal pup on her doorstep, just yards away from a busy road. The lost pup lay innocently on its side by plants outside the woman’s home on Marine View in Seaton Sluice, Northumberland, on Tuesday morning, Northumbria Police said. The woman promptly sought assistance from the police, who tried to return the young seal to safe waters. Paul Moorhead, a community support officer with Northumbria Police, said: ‘When the sergeant asks you to go to a job like this you tend to think he’s pulling your leg. ‘So when we turned up at the property it was a bit of a shock for us to find the seal pup lounging on some plant pots and having a bit of a sun bath. ‘I’ll be honest, we didn’t really know what to do with it and I was half thinking of putting it in the back of my patrol car.’ Despite initially being baffled by the sight of the pup, Mr Moorhead and his colleague, Beverley Keenleyside, called out the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who attended with the RSPCA. Full article
  10. Google CEO Sundar Pichai had to explain to Congress Tuesday why looking up the term “idiot” on his company’s search engine produced pictures of President Donald Trump. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Pichai was questioned by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) on the issue in an attempt to refute allegations that the result was due to a political bias from Google. “Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” Lofgren said. “How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Pichai replied by stating that such results are based on “things like relevance, freshness, popularity” and what internet users are associating with a particular term as opposed to a specific decision by Google. “We provide search today for any time you type in a keyword,” Pichai said. We have gone out and stored copies of billions of pages in our index, and we take the keyword and match it against the pages and rank them based on over 200 signals.” “So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked in response. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.” Full article
  11. A Chinese man has been making national headlines after it was revealed that he has been waiting in a bookstore in Beijing for over 50 days hoping to meet a girl he has “fallen in love with” after making eye-contact for 10 seconds. To say that this 26-year-old man is a firm believer in love at first sight would be an understatement. He is so convinced that the woman he saw in a popular Beijing bookstore back in September is the girl of his dreams that he quit his job and has been staying in the bookshop every day from 11am to 7pm, hoping to meet her again so he can tell her how he feels. To improve his chances of bumping into the mystery woman again, the man, surnamed Sun, has been passing out hand-drawn sketches of her to other bookstore visitors, and recently tried to sue her for emotional distress, even though he doesn’t even know her name. Sun recently told reporters that the first time he saw this dream girl at the popular Wangfujing bookstore in Beijing, he was with another girl who had expressed interest in dating him, so he didn’t want to hurt her feelings by approaching another girl. However, he and this “perfect” girl did make eye contact for about 10 seconds and he felt that this “special connection”. Even though the girl eventually left the bookstore and he never got to talk to her, Sun claims he couldn’t stopped thinking about her, so he decided that he simply had to do everything he could to see her again. He started hanging out at the bookstore all day and eventually quit his job, because he couldn’t do both things. Ever since he became unemployed, the 26-year-old man has been borrowing money from friends and family to get by, but claims that he doesn’t regret his decision. “You earn money to support your family but if you don’t have a family then what’s the point of earning money now?” Sun said in a Pear video that recently went viral in China. The love-drunk man said that it doesn’t matter if his mystery woman isn’t interested in him, as all he wants is to find closure. If she agrees to explore the possibility of building a future together and it turns out that they are not compatible, he’ll at least be able to move on. Full article
  12. South Koreans are buying tens of thousands of Kim Jong Un moisturising face masks ahead of a promised visit to Seoul by the North Korean dictator. The "unification moisture nuclear masks" - nicknamed nuke masks - feature a picture of the smiling North Korean leader wearing a white sheet mask on the packaging. Propaganda-style slogans appear on the individual packs, which cost 4,000 won (£2.80) each, including: "All hail moisture for all women of the North and South!" Since the sheet masks were launched by skincare company 5149 in June, more than 25,000 have reportedly been sold in South Korea, which is known for its love of beauty products. The masks claim to contain moisturising mineral water from the Paektu Mountains, a sacred active volcano on the border of China and North Korea, where Mr Kim and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in posed at the end of a three-day summit in September. Many South Koreans appear to have eschewed Mr Kim's tyrant image, instead calling him cute and funny on social media. This is despite it being illegal to speak favourably about the North Korean government in the South since 1948. The law prohibits "praising, inciting or propagating the activities of an anti-government organisation". The South Korean government has not cracked down on the masks or any positive comments about Mr Kim, although the two nations have technically been at war since 1953. This year has been a turning point in their relations, with Mr Kim and Mr Moon meeting three times in 2018 - twice in the joint security area in between the two countries and once in Pyongyang. Full article
  13. Wedding rings are very precious and sentimental pieces of jewellery, so losing it in any way is pretty devastating. One woman thought her diamond encrusted 20th anniversary ring was lost forever when it was flushed down the loo while she was cleaning the bathroom almost a decade ago. "It was heartbreaking," Paula Stanton, from New Jersey told ABC. "I was embarrassed to tell my husband because it was meaningful." Although years passed and her husband got her a duplicate, Paula still longed for the original - and even enquired with the local public works department two years ago. Crew chief Ted Gogol remembered the conversation when he saw something shiny in the mud and sand recently on the shoulder of a pipe leading from Stanton's house. The discovery was incredibly fortunate, given that there are 1,100 manholes in Somers Point - the area where the house is. When he realised what it was, he left a note for the family asking for them to call the department. "I was thrilled. Stunned. I could not believe it," said Stanton. Full article
  14. A South Korean sports broadcaster has caused concern among local viewers after blood started flowing out of his nose during a live show. SpoTV’s Jo Hyun-il was doing a roundup of the day’s NBA action on Thursday when he suddenly had a massive nosebleed. Jo’s co-anchor jaw dropped as he soldiered on, even doing commentary while brushing aside the gushing red liquid that poured down his lips and chin. A clip capturing the dedicated sportscaster’s onscreen bleeding and his partner’s shocked reaction was posted on the network’s Facebook page on Wednesday. It has so far generated over 1.3 million views and thousands of comments. Netizens have collectively praised Jo for his admirable composure during an event that would have most people rushing for treatment. “Wow such a pro, at least he didn’t jump off the chair and scare the shit out of himself and other with panicking, he finished what he had to say,” one commenter wrote. “Probably he overworked, hope his boss gives him couple days off.” Others expressed worry about the anchor’s condition. “Why did no one give him a tissue? If I’m one of the crew I will help!” a netizen commented. “Can anybody tell me,is he okay? I am uneasy after seeing this video,” said another. Full article
  15. A 38-year-old man from Birkenhead, U.K. claims to be a “breatharian,” or a practitioner of the belief that one can survive on nothing but air and sunlight, Mirror reported. Khai Ho, a pizza delivery man, says he’s never felt hunger. In fact, thanks to his dedication to Hindu meditation, Ho can get by without food altogether, as he reportedly possesses the ability to absorb all the necessary nutrients for survival through air and sunlight alone. Ho does admit to eating mints or chewing gum every now and then, however, as his mouth tends to “get bitter” as a result of his extreme lifestyle. Ho, who weighs a healthy 182 lbs, credits the practice for improving his quality of life. “It’s helped me become more conscious in life, more aware of my surroundings, and being more energetic,” Ho said. “I feel great; I feel so much energy that I can use for work delivering pizzas.” He even claims it can help cure medical problems. “I suffered from pain with a liver problem and that has now gone thanks to meditation and fasting. I now know how to heal the human body internally and naturally from many major diseases.” And while others are baffled as to how he manages to stay healthy, Ho finds himself wondering the opposite. “People are thinking, ‘how do I do it?’ It’s like, I’m thinking, ‘how do youse do it, with eating and drinking and working?’ I would get tired of eating as I don’t feel the hunger to eat; I feel energetic always.” Full article
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