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Kim copycat creates chance career

CHINA: A haircut and some makeup was all it took for a Hong Kong musician to transform himself into one of the world’s most notorious dictators, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

When Kim inherited power from his dead father, friends teased the Australian-Chinese musician about his resemblance to the leader.

“We joked back and forth ‘Maybe I should get dressed up and do some gigs with it’. After all, I’m a musician, so it’s about the performance,” said Howard, who declined to give his surname in order to keep his music and impersonation careers separate.

He turned heads and drew giggles this week when he paraded down the streets of a popular shopping district in Hong Kong. During the arranged media shoot, he jokingly waved at wide-eyed passersby and posed with a pornographic magazine for photos.

“Is he the real one or is he just impersonating? I can’t tell them apart. He really looks like him,” said Hong Kong resident Ada Ho.

At 34, Howard is older and taller than 30-year-old Kim, but they share many facial similarities. Howard has bushier eyebrows and weighs less, but he joked that he would work on that.

On April Fools’ Day, the drummer-turned-music producer chopped off his hair and, realising he could make something out of the resemblance, set up a Facebook page.

Within weeks, an Israeli production company contacted him and flew him to Tel Aviv for a hamburger commercial to rival a competitor’s ad that featured an impersonator of US President Barack Obama.

The clip, in which the imitation Kim abandons his plan to bomb Israel after enjoying its delicious burgers, got 400,000 online views in a country of 8m people, Howard said.

Then came more job requests. Howard said he was asked to do an ad for a pistachio company with Dennis Rodman, a retired professional basketball player who calls the reclusive North Korean leader his friend, but the plan fell apart when he could not get his US work visa in time.

US city hails ruling in smelly sauce row
A US city welcomed a court ruling which could force the closure of a US factory that makes famed Sriracha chilli sauces, after neighbours complained of spicy smells.

The California city of Irwindale, outside Los Angeles, asked last month for Huy Fong Food’s facility to be closed and that the company be forced to improve odour-filtering measures.

Judge Robert H O’Brien has ruled in favour of the city, ordering the sauce maker to stop any operations that could cause smells and immediately take steps to lessen the odours.

The full impact of the ruling was not immediately clear. It does not stop the company operating completely or say what actions need to be taken, according to the LA Times.

The legal action has threatened next year’s supplies of chilli garlic, sambal oelek, and the wildly popular Sriracha “rooster” sauce, according to the newspaper.

The chillis for next year’s sauce supplies are all harvested and ground in a three-month time period that is just completed, but the bottling and mixing is continuous, it said.

NIGERIA: Islamic police shouted “God is great” as a digger shattered 240,000 bottles of beer in a widening crackdown in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano.

Alcohol is banned under Shariah law imposed in the area in 2001 but authorities had turned a blind eye to its consumption in hotels and the Sabon Gari Christian quarter.

At the public destruction of beer, the head of the religious police board warned his officers will put an end to alcohol consumption.

Bars in Sabon Gari were the target of multiple bombings on Jul 29 that killed 24 people, carried out by suspected Islamic militants who have accused officials of not properly applying the Shariah law that governs nine of Nigeria’s 37 states.

ENGLAND: In plush South Kensington, just outside the imposing bulk of the Science Museum, a small technological revolution is taking place.

Simon Mott, a former London Underground driver and seller of the Big Issue, which supports the homeless, has become the first of its vendors to start accepting card payments.

Mott, 49, sees himself as a trailblazer.

“It’s novel to them,” he says of his customers’ surprise. “Sometimes they say to me, ‘Really, you take card payments? I don’t believe that, show me.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh look, you can.’

Mott sells 80 to 100 of the £2.50 issues a week, of which between five and 10 are paid for by card.

In an increasingly cashless society, Mott realised he was losing customers who found themselves without change, so in May he invested in a card payment system from Swedish firm iZettle.

The small black box which he carries links up with a smartphone to accept card payments and track cash transactions. Data from cards is not stored on the device.

Vendors keep half their takings from selling the magazine. Mott has been one for the last three years, after an accident at work eventually left him homeless. “It is a lifeline. It gives you a sense of purpose,” he says of the Big Issue, which has a circulation of over 105,000 copies a week in Britain.


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