Meet Jon Gnarr, By Far the Coolest Mayor in the World

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The coolest mayor in the world never went to university, is an ex-taxi driver and used to be in a local punk rock band called ‘Runny Nose’ before he became a comedian and actor. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as Jon Gnarr is concerned, a man whose achievements in life are so bizarre that it is truly a wonder how he became the mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city and home to over half of the nation’s population.

You’d think that a goofy guy has the chance to be President for the day only in the movies, but it seems in Reykjavik anything’s possible. Jon Gnarr, who was diagnosed with severe mental retardation and ADHD as a child, started his own political party in 2010 after refusing to join up with any of the existing parties. Funny enough, he named his party ‘The Best Party’. Simple, yet brilliant, isn’t it? It had to be, because he won his very first election to the office of mayor with 34.7% of the popular vote. According to what Gnarr told the media, his first real challenge as a politician was deciding between the names ‘The Best Party’ and ‘The Cool Party’. He ultimately settled for the first because it sounds dorkier, which was the vibe he was looking for. Called ‘Besti Flokkurin’ in the local language, the party is a motley group of artists, comedians and punk rockers, none of whom have had any prior experience in city-planning or politics. The only thing they did do well before the elections was record an Icelandic take on the Tina Turner song ‘Simply the Best’ and use it as their official campaign song. With lines like “We want a city that’s cuddly and clean and cool,” and “Tell the squatters in-charge that it’s time to leave,” the song was both silly and attention-grabbing at the same time. If the goofy mayor is to be believed, the city was being run by ‘blathering loons’ and it’s no surprise at all that the Best Party won.

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Homemade Dialysis Machine Keeps Man Alive for 13 Years

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A man from Nanjing, China, has recently made headlines after it was discovered he built his own dialysis machine, and managed to keep himself alive for 13 years, after he couldn’t afford to receive proper hospital care.

A research fro 2008, shows only one in ten Chinese people can afford regular dialysis treatment, but one man refused to give in to his illness simply because he couldn’t pay the high hospital costs. Hu Songwen was studying to become a meteorologist when he was diagnosed with renal failure, in 1993. From that point on, he was forced to visit the hospital every six days to have his blood cleaned through dialysis, a treatment that cost him around $80 per visit. He hand his family managed to support the costs for six years, until all their savings were exhausted. That’s when he decided to build his own dialysis machine, using only a textbook, kitchen equipment and medical supplies. ”When I told the doctors what I was doing, they said I was crazy,” he said, but his homemade contraption has kept him alive for the last 13 years, at a fraction of the hospital costs. He spent an initial $800 on a pump, after failed attempts to make his own, and now each dialysis session costs him around $10 in filters and chemicals. ”The most important part of the machine is the filter, and I can use each one eight times. A new filter costs $16, while a proper medical machine can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds” Hu said.

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Education Anywhere – Underprivileged Indian Children Attend Outdoor School under a Bridge

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40-year-old Rajesh Kumar Sharma, from New Delhi, started a makeshift school under a metro bridge, where he teaches children from the city’s slums too poor to attend regular schools. He believes education is the most important weapon for India’s youth, and if they don’t have it, they are doomed for life.

Mr. Sharma is not a real teacher. He runs a general store in the city, but for two hours a day he leaves his brother in charge of the business and rushes to his improvised outdoor school, under one of Delhi’s metro bridges. If it wasn’t for Rajesh and the dozens of children who go here daily, you would never guess this is a place for education. There are no walls or desks, just the bridge acting as a protecting roof in case of rain, and three squares painted black and used as blackboards. The teacher doesn’t only provide his knowledge for free, but also all the reading and writing materials, and the rugs his students sit on during classes. The kids, aged 4 to 12, learn math and basic reading and writing, in preparation for future admission into Government schools. In fact, out of the 140 children he started the school with a little over a year ago, 70 are already attending public schools. ”They still come here everyday. I manage to keep them ahead of the school curriculum,” Sharma told India Express.

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Sound of Silence CD Sold by Church Proves Big Hit

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St Peter’s Church, in East Sussex, England, has found a novel way to found its repairs – selling CDs with the sound of silence recorded inside the 800-year-old house of worship.

Believe it or not, the 30-minute recording featuring only dull sounds like squeaking pews, soft footsteps and the hum of distant traffic proved a hit not only with local parishioners eager to contribute to the repair fund, but also peace and quiet lovers from countries like Germany, Austria and even Ghana. It seems that in this day and age, chill-out music like Buddha Bar just doesn’t cut it anymore. People have such busy and noisy lives they often feel the need for simple silence.  ”There are a few noises here and there – if it was total silence people might get bored,” said one East Sussex churchgoer. “Those who have bought it have enjoyed it.”

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French Haunted House Auctioned Off on eBay for Just 1 Euro

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A listing on the French version of eBay recently went viral after being picked up by major news outlets. Apparently, someone is selling a haunted house in Arbresle, Rhône-Alpes region, for just 1 euro.

It’s true that the place doesn’t look like much, if the photos are anything to go by, but still 1 euro for a 110 square meter home and a 350 square meter piece of land is really cheap. Maud69620, the person who listed the house does have her reasons for basically giving away the house for free. According to the description on eBay, a horrible murder took place there sometime during the 1950s, and now it’s haunted by troubled spirits. Paranormal phenomena observed inside the house include knocks on windows, strange voices and murmurs, weird noises and moving objects. All that’s missing from a complete haunted house package is a ghost. But Maud is not in the mood for jokes. In fact she specifically asks those who think her listing is a fake not to contact her, as the ad is only addressed to those who believe in the spirit world.

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Downsize Fitness – The Gym That Only Accepts People Who Are At Least 50 Pounds Overweight

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Have you been wanting to join a gym, but hesitated because it feels weird to work out among all those super-fit people? Well, what you need is a place exactly like Downsize Fitness, the gym chain that only accepts clients who are at least 50lbs overweight. With branches in Chicago, Las Vegas and Dallas, the gym chain was inspired by the hit TV show The Biggest Loser, and aims to reduce the insecurities that larger people go through at regular gyms. So the only skinny people allowed at Downsize Fitness are the trainers.

And it doesn’t stop just there. The gym has gone a great length to ensure that its clients do not feel bad about themselves and stay motivated to come back every day. The facility has no mirrors lining the walls, and the windows are frosted so that passers-by cannot look inside. The machines are also specifically designed to suit those who are chronically overweight and obese. 39-year-old Francis Wisniewski, the owner of Downsize Fitness, was once overweight himself, so he knows exactly what it feels like to enter a gym filled with trip and super-fit people. When he finally shed his extra pounds, he identified the gap in the market. He is now the perfect ambassador to promote the business, having lost 60 lbs in the past year with the help of his team at Downsize Fitness. “Large clubs make you feel on display,” he said in an interview. “I’ve been big my whole life, and small incidents probably make it seem worse than it really is. But at the gym, it’s all out there for everyone to see. I was embarrassed to go the gym myself, it’s intimidating to go in when you can’t do all the exercises, when you feel like people are going to be staring at you and people are going to be judging you. And I know if I’m feeling it, overweight women feel worse. ”

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Family Is Literally Living under a Rock in the Mexican Desert

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For the last three decades, Benito Hernandez and his wife have been living under a huge rock, in Mexico’s Coahuila Desert, 80 kilometers from the US border.

Benito Hernandez started visiting the 40 meter diameter rock that now serves as a roof for his sun-dried brick home when he was just eight years old. He liked it so much that he decided to one day make it his home. Many 8-year-olds have crazy dreams, but Benito’s followed him into adulthood. 55 years ago, when he and his family first discovered the remote rock formation, a man could claim a piece of land by settling on it for long periods of time, so during the many years they spent working in the area harvesting the Candelilla plant, he beat off other who would claim the rock for themselves and 20 years later he finally became its legal owner. He could finally build his dream house under the boulder that fascinated him all this time.

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French Company Offers Thrill-Seekers the Chance to Be Kidnapped

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A basic abduction package in France will cost you about $1,300. No, not the ransom, but actually getting yourself kidnapped.

If you’re looking for an experience straight out of a Hollywood movie, Eastern France is the place you need to be, where a small company called Ultime Realite provides the unique service. The basic package consists of being seized by strangers, bound, gagged and bundled into a car, and kept in a dark cellar for four hours. Advanced packages include tailor-made services such as boat chases, helicopter escapes, and being kept for longer periods of time.

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Brazilian Company Offers Fake Facebook Girlfriends for $20

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Do you want to make your ex-girlfriend by hooking up with a hot chick on Facebook? Are your parents pressuring you to go out and get a date? Are you tired of being teased about not having a girlfriend? If any of this sounds familiar, know that there’s hope for you yet. It’s called Namoro Fake, and it’s a Brazilian company that offers fake Facebook girlfriends, for a fee.

Just because you couldn’t get a girlfriend if your life depended on it, doesn’t mean all your friends have to know about it. What if you could make it seem like you’re dating this beautiful woman, who seems crazy about you that she leave romantic comments on your profile every single day? That would probably make you look cool in front of your friends and maybe even score some points with the ladies in real life, right? Well, that’s probably all the guys that are using Namoro Fake’s services are thinking, anyway. The Brazilian company offers guys the chance at a fake virtual relationship for as little as $10. The relationship may not be real, but the girls behind the profiles certainly are. Namoro Fake hires female Facebook users to act as girlfriends, and apparently splits the proceeds with them. Since you’ll be sending them the exact messages you want posted on your Wall, all they have to do is paste the messages and keep their profiles active to make them seem more real. If you purchase the expensive packages, they’ll even list you in their relationship status. Users can choose their girlfriend from various Facebook profiles listed on the company’s website.

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Indian Student Invents Electrifying Alarm Clock that Shocks You Out of Bed

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Tired of waking up very late and missing his university lectures, Indian student Sankalp Sinha decided to do something about his problem – he invented a special alarm clock that “rewards” the owner with an electric shock if he tries to press the snooze button.

19-year-old Sankalp Sinha came up with the idea for his shocking alarm clock a couple of years ago, when he was having trouble getting up in the morning to attend university classes. He had developed a habit of hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep, so he started thinking about a solution that would force him out of bed. A student of automobile engineering at Sharda University in Uttar Pradesh, India, Sinha came up with an idea for an alarm clock that administers a small electric shock via the very popular snooze button. “The shock it administers is harmless but is enough to energize you”, the young inventor says, adding that users will be able to adjust how strong the electric shock they get is. He added that the power of his Good Morning Sing N Shock clock will be a fraction of the 50,000 volts delivered by the standard Taser gun. Pretty weak, but you want the thing to wake you up, not put you to sleep, right?

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Dog Attends Daily Mass at Church Where Dead Owner Used to Go

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Ciccio, a 12-year-old German shepherd, whose owner passed away two months ago, visits the church she used to frequent and where her funeral was celebrated, patiently waiting for her to return.

The people attending the church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Donaci, Italy have received a lesson in love and loyalty from a dog that for the past two months has been coming in for the daily mass, hoping his beloved owner would return. Local Maria Margherita Lochi, 57, had adopted Ciccio years ago, after she found him abandoned in the fields near her home. She was an animal lover who had taken in several stray cats and dogs, but her connection with Ciccio was special. Apparently he felt the same way, as even though Maria died two months ago, the dog keeps coming back to the place he last saw her. She would walk with him to the church, for the daily Mass, and the priest would allow him to wait patiently at her feet. He was even there with Maria’s loved ones at her funeral. But Ciccio seems to have a tough time letting go, and he comes back into the church each day, as soon as he hears the bells calling in the faithful for the Holy Mass. He just sits by the side of the altar, quietly, hoping Maria will come back…

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Ugly Model Agency Redefines Fashion Business Standards

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Every model agency has strict criteria based on which they select their workforce, and so does the Ugly Models Agency. As the name suggests, of course, you have to be ugly. Well, ‘unusual-looking’, to be more specific. Ugly Models is one of the world’s biggest character model agencies based out of London. The bold and unique company has managed to place its models in some top assignments, including James Bond films and Marks and Spencer ads. Literally anyone can apply at Ugly Models, ranging from size 6 to 30, and 18 to 100 years old.

Case-in-point is Dell, one of the top models at Ugly Models. He got into the modeling business only a few years back, totally by accident. He was actually delivering a package at the agency when owner Marc French spotted him and asked for a few test shots. And everything just snowballed from there. According to Marc, “Dell is not a conventional good-looking boy, you know, he’s got buck teeth, sticking out ears, he’s not what people say is normal-looking, because he’s quite ugly, really. But ugly in a great way and I love his features. I mean, I think he’s quite striking.” Sure enough, Dell is not the kind of guy you would expect to see on a catwalk. “I don’t see myself as ugly,” he says. “I see myself as tall, dark and handsome. I’m a model, innit? When I was growing up, I never thought I was going to be a model. People just made fun of me when I was young and all that.”

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Milagros Caninos – A Haven for Mexico’s Disabled and Tortured Dogs

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Milagros Caninos, or Miracle Dogs, is a very special canine shelter in Mexico City. For years it has been a true paradise for dogs suffering from terminal illnesses, are blind, paralyzed or have been tortured and abandoned on the streets of Mexico’s capital.

Patricia Ruiz, the founder of Milagros Caninos lost her pet dachshund, Clavo (Spanish for “Nail”) in 2004. She knew the meaning of his life – to love her and her family, to play with her children, to bring joy to their lives – but she couldn’t understand the meaning of his death. Like she would have done for any lost member of the family, Patricia posted a eulogy in the newspaper as a symbol of the love and respect she had for Clavo. After that, she started getting all these emails from like-minded people, who shared her pain at the loss of their four-legged companions, and that motivated her to become involved in rescuing animals. She first rescued one dog, then another, and so on, to the point where she needed a place to keep them all. Her eyes and ears were always focused on pain, so she ended up with a number of animals suffering from severe illnesses like cancer, were paralyzed, or had been tortured or drugged by humans who didn’t share her compassion. So she founded Milagros Caninos, a haven for dogs in extreme situations, in need of special care and attention. That’s when she understood the meaning of Clavo’s passing…

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The Fattening Farms of Mauritania – Force-Feeding Young Girls in the name of Beauty

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While the whole world is obsessed over getting thin, it seems there are far-flung places in the world today where fat is still considered a thing of beauty. Not in a good way, though. In the West African nation of Mauritania, it is so important for girls to be fat that they are sent away to fat camp – the opposite of the western version – during school holidays, to put on oodles of weight.

According to women’s rights campaigner Mint Ely, girls as young as five are subjected to the tradition known as Leblouh each year. Leblouh is an attempt to groom young girls for potential suitors, involving the consumption of gargantuan amounts of food; even vomit, if it refuses to stay down. Ely says that in Mauritania, a woman’s size indicates the space she occupies in her husband’s heart. So to make sure no other woman can ever have room, girls are sent away for Leblouh at special farms where older women will administer the necessary diet. It’s rather appalling to know that 5, 7 and 9-year-olds are expected to consume a daily diet of two kilos of pounded millet mixed with two cups of butter and 20 liters of camel’s milk. Their daily consumption comes up to a whopping 16,000 calories.

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Japan’s “Infidelity Phone” Keeps Extramarital Affairs Private

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These days, the world is going crazy over smartphones, but in Japan, people who engage in extramarital relations remain faithful to a seemingly outdated mobile phone which does a great job of keeping their affairs private. It’s even been nicknamed the “uwaki keitai” or “infidelity phone”.

The Fujitsu ”F-Series” flip-phones are not coolest-looking or most feature-full mobiles you can buy in Japan, but they remain very popular thanks to some very efficient stealth privacy features that help people cheat on their partners without being caught. According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, not even the latest smartphones come close to the aging Fujitsu, when it comes to keeping their private business private. Apparently, the F-Series “private mode” is a layer of invisible security that does a perfect job of hiding incoming calls and messages from contacts marked as private. The only visible signal that lets users know they’ve been contacted by one such contact is a subtle change in the color or shape of the battery or antenna icons. The changes are practically undetectable by the untrained eye, and even if someone might get suspicious, the private mode can only be turned off by a secret combination of keys, to make concealed calls, text messages and voice mail available.

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