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Vietnamese Blogger Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Reporting on Catastrophic Toxic Spill

A Vietnamese court recently sentenced 22-year-old blogger and journalist Nguyen Van Hoa to seven years in prison for reporting on the 2016 Formosa spill that devastated the Vietnamese coast. Arrested in April, Hoa had produced video footage, photos, and articles about Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group’s April 2016 toxic chemical spill from its steel plant located at the port in Ha Tinh. According to state-run media, he stands accused of “propagating against, distorting and defaming the government.”

The People’s Court of Ha Tinh province found Hoa guilty of violating Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code and also ruled that he be placed under house arrest for three years after his jail term is complete. No attorney was present to represent Hao in the closed trial.

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Turkish University Course to Prepare Students for Alien Encounters

If alien conspiracy theories are your thing or you simply believe in extraterrestrial life and eagerly await the first contact, you’ll feel right at home at Akdeniz University in Turkey. This educational establishment, based in the province of Antalya, has made a course called “Ufology and Exopolitics” part of its latest curriculum. Its aim is to get students ready to give a proper welcome to visitors from space, which tutor Erhan Kolbaşi believes to have already touched down multiple times.

Practical preparations and interstellar diplomacy are only part of the course focus. As Kolbaşi told the Dogan News Agency, students will also learn about alleged government cover-ups of alien activity on Earth. Kolbaşi, who serves as deputy chair of Istanbul-based Sirius UFO Space Sciences Research Center, claims that fiber optic cable, microchips and night vision devices are technologies we have because of information collected at UFO crash sites.

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Irish Beach That Vanished 12 Years Ago Reappears Overnight

Imagine waking up one day and finding that your beautiful local beach is no more – gone, its fine white sand swept away by a freak storm. You go about your daily business for 12 long years and then suddenly the beach is back, all its glory restored by another storm. This is what happened on the island of Achill, off the coast of Ireland, where the inhabitants are celebrating the return of the beautiful Ashleam Bay beach that was taken from them in 2005.

That in itself is remarkable enough, but the story gets even better! You see, another beach in Achill did a disappearing act once, but took much longer to return. The beach at Doonagh, located only six miles (10km) away from Ashleam Bay, was restored earlier this year after waves created by spring storms had swept away all the sand in 1984, leaving just rock pools behind.

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Loud “Booms” Occurring All Around the World Leave Experts Scratching Their Heads

Mysterious boom sounds have baffled people all over the planet throughout the past year. There have been 64 recorded incidents within the last 12 months, with the majority heard on the east coast of the USA, but also reported everywhere from the Middle East to Australia. Experts have no clear answer as to the cause of these sounds, but theories range from Leonid shower meteorites exploding in the atmosphere to supersonic aircrafts.

The most recent bang resounded over the US state of Alabama on November 14. Dubbed “Bama boom,” the noise shook houses and terrified locals. Residents notified authorities of a suspicious sound that rattled windows and seemed to originate on the northwest side of Lochbuie, Alabama. They could not figure out the source of the noise, however, and have ruled out an explosion as they could not find flames or an odor indicating one.

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Designer Creates “Substitute Phone” to Help People Battle Smartphone Addiction

Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger has created a therapeutic replacement for smartphones called Substitute Phones. The Vienna-based designer made a series of five of these non-devices which feature a row of stone beads to imitate various motions typical to smartphone use, such as scrolling, zooming, and swiping.

By using stone beads to emulate interaction with a phone’s touchscreen, Schillinger aims to create therapeutic tools that can provide the physical simulation that frequent smartphone users crave, and help them cope with the withdrawal symptoms of being away from their phones for long periods of time

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German Town Is Slowly Falling Apart Due to Geothermal Drilling Gone Wrong

The German town of Staufen is falling apart at the seams. The town of 8,100 residents, located on the edge of the Black Forest, decided to invest in geothermal energy back in 2007, aiming for a green energy future. Unfortunately, the decision backfired when the underground drilling went wrong causing hundreds of buildings to begin cracking apart.

The town rests on a layer of soft anhydrite, below which is a layer of groundwater confined to an aquifer. It was this combination which proved to be fatal for the Baden Württenburg hamlet. When the drills hit the groundwater, it poured into the anhydrate, which soon formed gypsum and expanded by about 50 percent. Over 270 buildings have suffered fractures in the ten years since and things don’t appear to be getting any better.

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Brown Bear Armed with Two Guns Is Apparently on the Loose in Siberia

What comes to mind when you think of Siberia? Maybe vast expanses of snow-covered land, teeth-chattering cold, Lake Baikal, and the Tunguska meteorite mystery. How about gun-totting brown bears? One such animal recently gave a hunter quite the fright, but more importantly, took off with the man’s bag, which happened to contain two firearms.

The incident took place in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, where an unnamed 57-year-old hunter stopped at a cabin in the woods, miles away from the nearest human settlement. He left his belongings there and went to get some water, only to find a brown bear prowling around the cabin. The man panicked and ran into the woods, leaving his guns behind. He only notified the local police about the incident after several days of searching for the weapons to no avail. For all we know, the furry offender may now be roaming the taiga with a Vepr carbine and an IZH shotgun in tow.

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Human Piggy Bank – Doctors Remove 263 Coins from Man’s Stomach

There’s strange eating habits and then there’s crazy eating habits. Sometimes the latter can be life-threatening, as in the case of 35-year-old Maksud Khan. The Indian man was recently admitted into hospital on suspicions of having severe food poisoning, but as it turned out, his three months of stomach pains were the result of having seven kilos (15.4 pounds) of foreign objects in his belly, including 263 metal coins.

The doctors who took Khan’s case got a massive shock when an endoscopy revealed that food poisoning had nothing to do with the problem. The surgeons at Satna’s Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in the state of Madhya Pradesh rushed Khan to the operating room and proceeded to extract 263 coins, 100 nails, a hefty piece of rusted iron shackle, dozens of razor blades, glass shards, and stones from his stomach.

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Chinese App Allows Celebrities to Sell Their Time by the Second, Fans to Buy It and Investors to Trade It

A new Chinese app called Miao A or “Seconds” allows celebrities and socialites to sell their time to fans, by the second. The unusual service has recently come under scrutiny, however, as investors are also able to buy and trade celebrity time, causing the app to operate as an illegal stock exchange.

The Beijing-based app describes itself as the first time-trading platform that helps fans get access to their favorite celebs. The company buys time in bulk from stars or their agents and then sells it in one-second packets to the public. The platform charges a 3% service fee on all exchanges, and all transactions managed through the Chinese online payment platform NetEase. An average month sees an exchange of 300 to 400 million yuan ($45-60 million) worth of celebrities’ time.

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Picturesque Swiss Mountain Village Wants to Offer Families $70,000 to Move There

Emigration is a big problem nowadays, and even breathtakingly beautiful mountain villages in Switzerland are not immune to its bite. But that doesn’t mean they are willing to give up without a fight. Just look at Albinen, where the local council will vote soon on proposals that could save it from extinction.

Exactly how does a shrinking mountain village plan to ensure its survival? Well, the 240-member community in the canton of Valais is betting that the gift of 70,000 Swiss francs (about US$71,000) will lure outsiders into settling there. The amount above is what the village will pay to a family of four willing to move to Albinen. Adults stand to receive 25,000 francs and the allotment per child is 10,000 francs.

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Man Protest Unjust Firing by Gluing His Hand to Former Employer’s Floor

A Malaysian man is protesting what he claims was an unjust termination from oil giant Chevron Malaysia Limited (Caltex) by supergluing his hand to their headquarters floor.

Fadzilah Abdul Hamid worked as a Caltex petrol station operator for the past 17 years at two sites in Kelana Jaya and Kampung Subang, Selangor, until being served an unexpected notice in May ordering him to vacate both locations within 30 days. The letter claimed that his termination was due to unpaid charges outlined on a circular regarding the Implementation of Self-Service at Petrol Stations.

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Pakistani Actress Has Spent the Last Seven Years Trying to Prove That She’s Not Married

Pakistani actress Irtiza Rubab, 40, known by her stage name Meera, has spent the past seven years entangled in a court case over whether or not she is married.

Meera is best known for her commercially successful and critically acclaimed Pakistani films, as well as making forays into Bollywood. She is also famed for her social media presence, mainly her videos and her presentation style. Recently, however, she has been making headlines for a different reason, a bizarre court battle against a man alleging to be her husband.

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Can You Spot the Mom? 40-Year-Old Mother Looks as Young as Her Teen Daughters

Photos of 40-year-old Kiyenia Booker and her two teenage daughters have recently went viral on social media, because people just can’t tell which one’s the mother.

Booker, from Nova Scotia, has been posting pics of herself and her two daughters – K’Lienya, 18, and Kolieya, 16 – on her popular Instagram account for a while now, but things got crazy a few days ago, after she shared a collage of photos from when her girls were very young compared to now. It showed just how much the girls had grown, but people couldn’t help noticing how Kiyenia didn’t seem to have aged at all in the years that passed between the two photos.

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Gun Violence in Rio de Janeiro Is So Widespread That People Are Using a Smartphone App to Avoid Dangerous Areas

Gun violence is a very serious issue on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so much so that people have begun using a smartphone app similar to the popular “Waze”, only instead of heavy traffic, they’re trying to avoid gun fire.

Rio de Janeiro is facing a crisis of gun violence, as police raids and shootouts between drug gangs echo daily through the streets of Brazil’s second largest city. Civilians are continuously caught and killed in the crossfires, with harrowing stories, such as that of a pregnant woman being shot in the stomach, continually emerging from the beleaguered city. The hardest hit area is the Maré complex of poor favela neighborhoods, the residents of which fear even walking down the street, both at night and during the day.

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UK Water Companies Still Use Medieval-Age Divining Rods to Find Underground Water Sources

Ten of the twelve water companies operating in the UK have recently admitted to using the medieval practice of water dowsing to locate pipes or underground water sources, despite the lack of any scientific evidence proving its effectiveness. Numerous studies have, in fact, discredited dowsing as pseudoscience after multiple experiments failed to demonstrate its eficacy. The disclosure that the firms are still using the practice, and passing the cost on to their customers, has prompted calls for The Water Services Regulation Authority, or Ofwat, to intervene.

Dowsers claim that their divining rods, two bent pieces of metal – typically copper or silver – cross over each other to make an X when they detect the presence of water below ground. Despite the claim being long discredited, some water companies insist that the practice is as effective as modern methods, such as drones or satellites.

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