QUIRKY WORLD ... Tourist worshippers get up on their high heels

TAIWAN:  Budai, a township in southwest Taiwan, is building a church in the form of a giant high-heeled shoe, made of metal and blue glass tiles, seeking to attract more tourists to the area.

Still under construction, the structure is 17m tall at the highest point, the heel.

Talia Pan, manager of the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration which is running the project, said she wanted to turn a sad part of history into something positive.

“Because of (a) drinking water shortage in the southwestern coastal area in the 1960s, (residents) had to drill deep wells to get drinking water. Because of arsenic in the water, there were cases of Blackfoot disease ... (which if) severe, the only option to save a life is to amputate both legs,” she said.

“Because of this, a lot of women lost the opportunity to walk into marriage, walk into a new life chapter on high-heeled shoes ... Because of that history, we hope to create a place in Chiayi County, where people can get married, invoking the fairy tale of Cinderella.”

SPAIN:

Hundreds of people ran through the streets of a small town in south-western Spain, chasing a fancy-dressed, beast-like figure and pelting it with turnips.

The event is part of the bizarre ‘Jarramplas’ festival which is held in Piornal each January 19-20.

Following the yearly tradition, a town volunteer donned a costume of multicoloured ribbons and a protective devilish mask with horns. He then charged through the streets, beating a drum and continued for as long as he could stand the punishment.

Farmers supplied 18 tonnes of turnips for the festival. Its origins are uncertain but the tourism office says the ‘Jarramplas’ figure represents a cattle thief. Others say it has religious roots.

UK:

They traditionally turn to shops or bars, but now students are being offered the chance to secure a summer job with a difference — at spy agency GCHQ.

Teenagers and undergraduates selected to attend the listening post’s summer schools programme will earn £250 (€325) a week while learning about how its operatives protect Britain against cyber threats.

Now in its second year, the scheme has been expanded from two to four sites across the UK.

ENGLAND:

As any X Factor contestant or learner driver knows, anxiety induced by being watched can be disastrous.

However, now scientists have identified the brain network system that causes us to slip up when we least want to.

Experts have been able to pinpoint the area of the brain which causes performance mishaps in an experiment using functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging.

In the study, published in Scientific Reports, participants’ brain activity was monitored while carrying out a task that required them to exert a precise amount of force when gripping an object.

USA:

A cat which vanished without a trace in 2011 and mysteriously reappeared last week is to fly halfway across the US to rejoin the family who never stopped missing him.

Hemi was a kitten when Robert and Jennifer Connell discovered him curled up on their engine block in 2009 at their home in Havelock, North Carolina.

When Mr Connell deployed with the Marines in 2011 and the family moved to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, Hemi disappeared.

The family moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, in 2013. Last week, Hemi turned up at a North Carolina shelter, where the staff found his microchip and called Mrs Connell. A friend who works for an airline will fly to Bismarck with Hemi next week, the Connells said.

INDIA:

Coconut trees are no longer considered trees in the tropical Indian state of Goa, where authorities have reclassified them as palms to allow farmers to cut them down more easily.

Officials said that they dropped the cocus nucifer from Goa’s official list of trees in order to help coconut farmers cull old or ailing plants without having to deal with red tape. However, environmentalists and the state’s opposition politicians are incensed, and accuse the state of catering to industry and developers.

Goa produced more than 1 million coconuts in 2013 from groves sprawling over 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) in the western resort state, a holiday hotspot known for its sandy beaches lined with the swaying palms.

UK:

A top private school has scrapped its traditional uniform to accommodate “gender dysphoric” pupils.

Brighton College said that it has axed the 170-year-old code to meet the needs of youngsters who see themselves as the opposite sex from their biological gender.

Instead, the school is introducing a ‘trouser uniform’ and a ‘skirt uniform’ for pupils up to 16.

Girls who have gender dysphoria will be able to wear a tweed blazer, tie and trousers, while dysphoric boys will be able to wear a skirt, bolero jacket and open-neck blouse.


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