Quirky World...Smiling police officers given warrant for a jest

Police officers are being told to lighten up — with smiles-

The southern African country is launching training to get police to “say cheese” more often, in hopes of winning over tourists who go to see Victoria Falls and other sights.

“A smile can change a lot,” said Ziyambi Ziyambi, deputy home affairs minister.

Ziyambi told parliament in September that Zimbabwe’s hospitality agency would conduct sessions to make police more friendly toward visitors.

Tourists driving through the country often encounter roadblocks with grave-faced officers. Zimbabwe’s economy is struggling, and the government is trying to revive its tourist industry to bring in badly needed revenue.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said she could not provide details of the smiling programme. “But I can tell you I am smiling,” she said.

Some Zimbabweans are sceptical about the smile policy, citing concerns about police corruption.

“The only thing that can make a policeman smile is money,” said Willard Shupai, a resident of the capital, Harare.

PARDONNEZ MOI

ENGLAND: The managing director of retailer John Lewis has issued an unreserved apology for what he said were “tongue in cheek” remarks about France, in which he said the country was “finished”.

Andy Street told an audience of entrepreneurs in London that France was “sclerotic, hopeless and downbeat” and advised those with investments there to “get them out quickly”, the Times reported.

He added: “I have never been to a country more ill at ease... nothing works and worse, nobody cares about it.”

But after the remarks were publicised, Mr Street was forced to backtrack in a statement issued by John Lewis.

WALRUS HAVE LANDED

US: Pacific walrus looking for places to rest in the absence of sea ice are coming to shore in record numbers on Alaska’s north-west coast.

An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed near Point Lay, about 1,100km north west of Anchorage, theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed. The enormous gathering was spotted during NOAA’s annual arctic marine mammal aerial survey.

The massive gathering of walrus on shore is a phenomenon that has accompanied the loss of summer sea ice as the climate has warmed.

Walrus dive from sea ice to feed on snails, clams and worms on the ocean floor. In recent years, walrus have come ashore as sea ice has receded.

JEANS JAUNT

US: Tourism officials are planning a three-day festival in Reno, Nevada, next autumn to celebrate and promote the city as the birthplace of what became modern blue jeans.

Reno tailor Jacob Davis created riveted denim jeans in 1871 in a city centre shop.

Two years later, he and Levi Strauss & Co patented the trousers with the rivets to the corners and pockets that made them the sturdy favourites of miners, loggers and cowboys who helped tame the west.

The Blue Genes Jam next October 2-4 will celebrate the iconic trousers’ impact on popular culture with concerts, fashion shows, a retail marketplace and a mini-festival of films that were milestones in the history of blue jeans.

BODY BAGS AUCTION

HOLLAND: The Dutch government is selling off 2,500 body bags in an online auction.

Rob Meijer, commercial director of BVA Auctions, said his company sells plenty of strange stuff, but this one is “special”. He said there has not been a great deal of interest — except from the media — in the unusual offer.

The bags are being sold in a single lot, which has a minimum price of €4,000. The auction closes on Monday.

Mr Meijer thinks an organisation such as a relief agency could be interested in buying the bags.


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