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Cutting Corners

by on Aug.10, 2014, under Culture, Games, Recreation

The Tonghe County Stadium in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province had been undergoing renovation, and was behind schedule. tonghe_stadium With time running out for finishing the 10,000 square foot stadium, and an impending inspection by provincial leaders and Communist Party officials, the project managers cut a few corners. tonghe_track3 The oval track had already been finished, except for the surface marking. Figuring out how to lay out concentric ovals requires math. tonghe_track1 So they laid out the track as a rectangle, with 90 degree corners. “In order to get it ready for the leaders, we painted it like that,” one of the stadium managers said. “We think it is ugly too but if the leaders don’t ask us to change it, what are we supposed to do?” tongue_track2 The innovative layout hasn't been popular with the public. “It’s impossible to run on such a surface,” said long distance runner Zhang Yong. He went on to  call the track a disgrace to the sport of running.
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Rolling Under

by on Aug.03, 2014, under Culture, Education, Games, Kids, Recreation

When it comes to skating under cars, a six year old has beaten all other contenders flat. gagan12 Gagan Satish, only six years old, is from Bangalore, India. He's become a celebrity in his own community, and is rapidly gaining fans around the world. gagan06 Gagan, who received his first pair of roller skates at the age of three, covered 230 feet in just 29 seconds. gagan11 What makes his accomplishment unique is that he skates close to the ground. gagan08 His face remains no more than five inches from the pavement. gagan07 That's how he performs his signature feat. gagan04 Gagan likes to skate under cars. gagan03 "I love skating," he said. "I have been doing it since I was three years old. My next goal is to skate underneath 100 cars. I also want to go to the Olympics." His record 29 second run took him under 37 cars. gagan02 His amazing flexibility allows him to do the splits and slide right under the chassis. gagan01 Gagan trains rigorously to keep up his skills. He starts the day at 5:00 AM and spends a few hours being coached before going off to school. gagan10 After school, he skates in the streets, spending a couple of hours on speed training and muscle flexibility before he goes into his limbo position. gagan09 Gagan has inspired some of his friends to take up limbo skating. His coach, Yatish Gowda, expressed great pride in his young student.    
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Crossing The Line

by on Jul.30, 2014, under Animals, Culture, History, Racism, Religion, War and Terrorism

Islam is a paradoxical religion. Like Christianity, it has a history of using violence to advance the religion while preaching discipline and self-sacrifice. The Koran is the framework for Islam, just as the Christian bible is the framework for Christianity. And like Christianity, there are different sects of Islam. sunnishia It's hard to know how widespread some Muslim practices are, but people in the Western Hemisphere might find some of them discomforting. muslim_marriage The Prophet Mohammed had an 8-year old wife, so most Muslims wouldn't consider letting their daughters marry below that age. 8-year old Rawan from Yemen died on her wedding night. bachabazi01 Young girls aren't the only option available. bachabazi02 If you have enough money, you can have Bacha Bazi boys. bachabazi03 The boys are usually dressed in costumes, to dance and otherwise entertain their owner and his friends. Sex with young boys is neither considered to be homosexual nor illegal extramarital sex. cir015 Female circumcision is not practiced exclusively by Muslims but many of them consider it to be a cultural tradition. islam_hand Limbs, like hands and feet, may be cut off for various offenses, like stealing, or handling the wrong literature. It's usually done in public. muslim_stoned People are stoned to death for such things as sex outside of marriage, or associating with someone from another sect or religion. muslim_heads1 They behead their victims and proudly display their trophies. muslim_heads2 What could possibly be so horrible that it offends people like this? puppy_sibhusk The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth games recently held in Scotland features Scottie dogs, each representing a participating country. cgames01 Mohamad Sabu, the deputy president of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party said, "Malaysia and all Islamic countries deserve and apology from the organizer. This is just so disrespectful to Malaysia and Muslims – especially as it happened during Ramadan. Muslims are not allowed to touch dogs, so the organizer should have been more aware and sensitive on this issue. It is hoped this incident can teach other Western countries to be more respectful in the future." cgames02 Dato Ibrahim Bin Ali, a far-Right politician, former MP and founder and president of Malay supremacist group Perkasa also called for an apology. "I think it is unbecoming. The hosts have not been sensitive enough – especially in a so-called knowledgeable and civilised society like Britain," he said. "It is shameful and has offended not only Malaysia as a Muslim country, but Muslims around the world." cgames03 We have it on good authority that Muslims don't like Scotland's other namesake famous product. whisky_springbank
A police force has apologized to Islamic leaders for the "offensive" postcard advertising a new non-emergency telephone number, which shows a six-month-old trainee police dog named Rebel.
The German shepherd puppy has proved hugely popular with the public, hundreds of whom have logged on to the force's website to read his online training diary. Police Poster Many Muslims believe that dogs are impure and therefore 'haraam' - or forbidden - except for use in hunting or farming, and that it is not hygienic to keep a dog in the house. They say that the "impurity of dogs is the greatest of animal impurities", and anyone who touches one must wash the body part that has come into contact with the animal seven times. puppies_sink We're not sure how that applies to postcards.
 
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Heavy Metal ATM

by on Jul.23, 2014, under Consumer, Culture, Technology

You can find almost anything, from live lobsters to a new iPad, in a vending machine. But ATM's typically only dispense cash. atm_haloThey're so ubiquitous, you can find them in lots of convenient, safe locations. atm_graffitti Cash is king -- but not everybody wants the local currency. atm_cup1 Gold is the universal money standard. While its value may fluctuate, it's one of the most sustainable currencies in the world. Wouldn't it be great if you could get gold from the ATM instead of the local currency? emirates_palace If you're in Abu Dhabi, you can! The ATM at the Emirates Palace Hotel dispenses gold bars and coins. goldmoney The machine, which monitors the price of gold minute-by minute, offers small bars that weight up to 10 grams engraved with the Emirates Palace logo, as well as a variety of coins. Six coins of differing weights come engraved with a maple leaf, kangaroo and Krugerrand, symbols of the gold-producing nations South Africa, Canada and Australia. atm_gold3 Emirates Palace Hotel general manager Hans Olbertz said, “We seized upon this idea and, as one of the most exclusive hotels in the world, we wanted the Emirates Palace to play a pioneering role and be the first hotel in the world to offer its guests this golden service.” atm_display The machine is armed with various security measures, including anti-money laundering software. If the machine develops a fault, it will automatically shut down. A website that updates the price of gold every 10 seconds transmits the information to the ATM, which updates its rates every 10 minutes. atm_arab The Gold ATM is now being manufactured and distributed by PMX Gold, and machines are currently in place in Abu Dhabi, Germany, Italy, Spain, and at the  Town Center Mall in Boca Raton, Florida. atm_boca atm_madrid
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The Bell Ringer

by on Jul.22, 2014, under Crime, Culture, Health, History, Religion

Sergey Bogdanov, 28, was on vacation from Russia, spending time in the village of Mandrem. He visited a local temple to take pictures. sergey1

He told Russian media by telephone, "It seemed really peaceful here and the locals are friendly, all that changed when I went to a local temple to take a few pictures and I saw a bell which I rang."

mandrem He wasn't aware that the bell was sacred, and is only rung for Puja, which entails showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. temple_bell For this act, Sergey Bogdanov, from the Russian seaport city of Kaliningrad, said he was badly beaten by a mob after ringing the bell and was even refused help by doctors.

"Before I knew it there was a mob rushing up to the temple and I was dragged out onto the streets and kicked and beaten with sticks."

sergey2

‘Some monks dragged me away from the mob but they then didn’t help me at all, and I had to make my own way to the local medical centre where the doctors had heard about my apparently sacrilegious act – and they also refused to help me other than giving me a few bandages."

sergey3

“My wallet and my money had vanished and I had no alternative but to go back to my accommodation in agony. I managed to get a telephone message to my mother who flew over immediately but I need paperwork and money to fly back with her. My poor mother almost had a heart attack when she saw me, she is doing her best to look after me but I need proper medical attention that I can only get it seems in Russia.” Mr Bogdanov has appealed to Putin to help him get the paperwork and a ticket back home via the Russian Embassy in Mumbai.
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Indian Folk Tail

by on Jul.07, 2014, under Culture, Family, Health, Kids, Nature, Religion

In our article Tales of Woe,  we discussed caudal appendages,  which look much like a tail. While they can usually be removed surgically, there are some sufferers, like Xiao Wei, who cannot have the surgery and must learn to live with it. xw_tail Not everyone considers a tail to be a detriment, even when it affects their ability to live a normal life. arshid01 Arshid Ali Khan, from the Indian state of Punjab, is unable to walk and has to use a wheelchair to get around. Locals consider him to be a reincarnation of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman; they refer to him as बालाजी, or Balaji. hanuman01 Arshid said, "This tail has been given to me by god. I am worshipped because I pray to god and the wishes of people come true." arshid02 Arshid lives with his grandfather, Iqbal Qureshi, and two uncles since his father died when he was four. His mother has since remarried. arshid04 Arshid's home has become a temple where his devotees come to visit him to receive his blessings and touch his tail. arshid03 “A lot of people’s wishes have come true after they have visited,” claimed Mr Qureshi, a local music teacher. “Sometimes there are childless couples who come to Balaji for help. He blesses them, and often they are then able to conceive.” arshid06 Despite his status as a god, Arshid needs a wheelchair to get around, and his condition is yet undiagnosed. arshid07 He is due to see a doctor who may be able to successfully remove the tail, but his family says they would rather he keep the tail than risk an operation. arshid08 Mr. Qureshi says that it's Balaji's decision. Arshid does not believe that the amputation of his tail will keep the crowds from flocking to his house for his blessings. "Doctors can remove my tail," he said, "but people will continue to believe in me."
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Silent Scream

by on Feb.25, 2014, under Crime, Culture, Family, Health, Kids, Parenting

Chris Elvis, a security guard from Lagos, Nigeria lived with his wife and four year old son in the Meiran neighborhood. lagos_meiran The 30 year old was arrested after the child's mother arrived home after a trip to the market, and found her son dead. The charge-sheet reads: "That you, Chris Elvis, on February 10, 2014, about 5pm at 7, Adetola Adelaja street, Meiran Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did unlawfully kill one Godrich Elvis, aged 4 years by using hot pressing iron to burn him all over his body and putting him inside a plastic drum and locked the drum with padlock and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011." Elvis has blamed the four-year-old Godrich for his recent bad luck and decided to kill his son as he thought Godrich was an  "Ogbanje" or "child of evil". nigeria_padlock Elvis padlocked the boy's mouth to keep him from screaming as he was being tortured. He tried to convince authorities that he was mentally ill, but they considered his condition "normal".
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Rat Pack

by on Feb.20, 2014, under Animals, Consumer, Culture, Food, Nature

The Red River delta and southern Mekong River delta in Viet Nam constitute half of the country's fish harvest, but there's an old regional favorite that isn't made from seafood. ratmeat16 The rats are captured in the wild ratmeat15 and sold in markets. ratmeat4 Compared to other types of meat, it's fairly cheap at about 50,000 dong, or $ 2.50 a pound. ratmeat5 If you're squeamish about the thought of eating a rat, just think of it as the analog of a cornish hen and chicken. A rat is nothing more than a tiny capybara. capybara_friends The rats are washed before they're prepared for cooking. ratmeat11 Then they're skinned ratmeat8 And gutted. ratmeat3   ratmeat9 If you want a night out, you can order your favorite entree at a rat restaurant. ratmeat1 They can be roasted over an open flame. ratmeat2 Or if your culinary delight is stuff on a stick Stuff_on_a_Stick You can get your rat to eat on the go. ratmeat6 The rats are roasted until they're charred. For that outdoor flavor, you can cook them right in the back yard using manure for fuel. ratmeat7 Eat up! bushrat owl-eating-rat
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Jonas’ Brother

by on Feb.20, 2014, under Culture, Education, Family, Kids, Nature, Parenting

When we posted Two of a Kind two years ago, we wrote about Jonas and Wyatt Maines, identical twins with a big difference. maines3 Wyatt had a much more refined sense of style. And he knew he wanted to be a girl from the age of two. By fifth grade, her name was legally changed to Nicole. Her family, especially her identical twin brother, were very supportive of the changes. Recently the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the highest court in the state, ruled in favor of the family, which accused the Orono school district of discrimination by prohibiting Nicole from using the student bathrooms. We're happy to see that the courts supported her rights to be treated according to her gender, though disappointed that it took four years. maines10 The heartwarming photos of the family show how adversity cements relationships. maines12 We hope Jonas continues his strong support for his identical twin sister. maines11
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