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Sri Lanka's 'Mrs World' quits amid criminal charges

Colombo - A Mrs World winner facing criminal charges after an on-stage fracas at a Sri Lankan beauty pageant has relinquished her title, organisers said Wednesday.

Smartphone sales surge as consumer upgrades gain momentum: survey

Washington - Global smartphone sales snapped back in the first quarter of the year to show the strongest growth since 2015, a market tracker said Tuesday.

Backlash in Australia's Byron Bay over Netflix reality show

Sydney - Surfers in the coastal Australian town of Byron Bay staged a "paddle out" protest Tuesday as locals rally against a planned Netflix reality show some say could attract hordes of "vacuous" Instagram tourists to their beachside paradise.

Solo swim: the fighting fish raised alone in Vietnam

Hanoi - Thousands of glass and plastic bottles lie across the floor of Tran Ngoc Thang's farm in Hanoi, each one home to an aggressive, brightly coloured fish that must be raised alone.

Review: Samuel Ray is a beauty and lifestyle guru to watch in 2021

Makeup artist Samuel Ray is the up-and-coming "beauty and lifestyle guru to watch" on the Internet. Digital Journal has the scoop.

Scar tissue: Vietnamese women find healing with tattoos

Hanoi - In her tiny Hanoi apartment, tattoo artist Ngoc inks middle-aged women whose lives have been upended by divorce or illness, each of them searching for healing through an art form that is still largely taboo in Vietnam.

Sri Lanka arrests 'Mrs World' over assault

Colombo - Colombo police on Thursday arrested the current "Mrs World" on charges of assault over an on-stage fracas in which she pulled the crown off the head of the new "Mrs Sri Lanka".

Virginia becomes first southern US state to legalize pot

Washington - Virginia on Wednesday became the first southern US state to approve the use of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Sakura selfies: Tokyo enjoys cherry blossoms despite virus warning

Apo - People in Tokyo flocked to admire cherry blossoms in full bloom at parks, shrines and rivers on Friday, despite coronavirus warnings against holding traditional parties under the delicate flowers.

UK pubs look to rejuvenate after bitter lockdowns

St Albans - Pots of paint rather than barrels of beer are the order of the day at the Great Northern pub, one year after the UK entered its first Covid-19 lockdown.

Tourists in Mexico party like there's no Covid

Tulum - Tourists writhe their bodies to pumping techno beats on dance floors along Mexico's Caribbean coast -- a magnet for people from around the world who want to party during a pandemic.

Clubhouse a sandbox for talking 'influencers'

San Francisco - An internet spin on talk radio, the new social network Clubhouse has become a sandbox for people tinkering with ways to win fans and make money with audio.

Luxury oasis draws elite Saudis locked in by pandemic

Apo - Well-heeled Saudis frolic in an artificial oasis built on salmon-coloured dunes, splashing the cash after a year-long pandemic lock-in that dovetails with efforts to discourage citizens from splurging overseas.

Buzz in Bordeaux: France's first cannabis tipple

Bordeaux - A young entrepreneur has launched France's first wine infused with a cannabis extract in the heart of the Bordeaux wine-growing region, hoping to shake up traditions and score with millennials.

Star Wars fans build Mandalorian spaceship in Siberia

Yakutsk - Star Wars fans in Russia have built a giant replica of a spaceship from the spinoff series "The Mandalorian" and installed it in a park in one of the coldest cities on Earth.

Bloom boom: Malaysians get passionate about pot plants

Kuala Lumpur - Learning to tell your elephant ears from your flamingo flowers has become the latest virus lockdown escape in Malaysia, where houseplants are very much in season.

Instagram-ready: Vietnamese influencer teaches art of posing

Hanoi - How to smile, where to place a hand, which direction to face: young Vietnamese social media users are snapping up a popular influencer's course on posing for the perfect photo.

The unstoppable revenge of the mullet

Paris - "Business in front, party in the back": a hairstyle considered so obnoxious that for years it verged on being an arrestable offence, the mullet has made the unlikeliest comeback of the century.

Ice surfers carve up Finland's frozen sea

Apo - What to do if you are a windsurfing enthusiast in a country where the sea freezes over for months of the year?

Tear-jerker Chinese film proves massive box-office success

Shanghai - Audiences are cramming into Chinese cinemas to watch a sentimental comedy that has rapidly become one of the most popular films of all time in the country and marks a triumphant debut for its female director.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, bedrock of the Beat Generation, dead at 101

San Francisco - Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the last great poet of the Beat Generation who helped to establish the counter-culture movement of 1950s America through his City Lights bookshop and publishers, has died, the store announced Tuesday. He was 101.

Facebook rolls out news feeds with less politics

San Francisco - Facebook said Wednesday it began rolling out news feeds with less political subject matter in line with a plan outlined by chief Mark Zuckerberg to reduce inflammatory content.

Eat your heart out: Covid-safe Valentine's Day dining

Apo - It's a Covid-era conundrum for Valentine's Day: how to eat out with your beloved when you live in a country where all restaurants are closed?

Jordan make-up artist lightens lockdown with celebrity impressions

Apo - A young Jordanian make-up artist has beaten the lockdown blues and shot to online fame with videos of herself imitating famous figures from across the Arab world and beyond.

For sale: London's thinnest house

London - Blink and you could easily miss it. Wedged between a doctor's surgery and a hairdressing salon, London's thinnest house is only identified by a streak of dark blue paint.But the five-floor house in Shepherd's Bush -- which is just 5ft 6ins (1.

Franco-Swiss cold war breaks out over ski border car park

Gingins - Switzerland and France are in a snowball fight over a cross-border car park which serves Swiss ski slopes but has been closed by the French due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ex-cop behind China's largest gay dating app

Bejing - Browsing the internet as a young policeman in China, Ma Baoli recalls the sheer volume of web pages telling him he was a pervert, diseased and in need of treatment -- simply because he was gay.

Japan celebrates coming-of-age day despite virus surge

Apo - Young adults dressed to the nines in kimonos gathered at venues in Japan on Monday to celebrate reaching the age of majority, although many of the usually jubilant events were cancelled over virus fears.

The ex-cop behind China's largest gay dating app

Bejing - Browsing the internet as a young policeman in China, Ma Baoli recalls the sheer volume of web pages telling him he was a pervert, diseased and in need of treatment -- simply because he was gay.

The Bavarian town where US troops are life and soul

Apo - When the United States said it would be withdrawing troops from Germany earlier this year, shockwaves rippled through the country -- but nowhere more than in the Bavarian town of Grafenwoehr.
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