Thursday, February 29, 2024

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NZ woman refused entry to Japan bath over traditional tattoos

Sapporo: A public bath facility in Japan refused entry to a Maori woman from New Zealand due to her face tattoos. The Maori language lecturer, 60, has the tattoos, called ta moko, worn traditionally by some indigenous New Zealanders, on her lips and chin. She was in Eniwa, Hokkaido, for a conference on indigenous languages in the town of Biratori in the northernmost prefecture.

On Sunday afternoon, a group of 10 people involved in the conference visited the thermal baths but were refused entry by a facility staff member.

When a member of the group claimed the decision was discriminatory, the staff replied that the facility prohibits entry to anyone with tattoos in order to put customers at ease. “Even if it is traditional culture, a typical person cannot judge the context behind the tattoos,” the facility official told reporters.

An Ainu language lecturer who was in the group said he felt sorry to disappoint an important guest. “It is unfortunate that other cultures are not understood,” he said.

According to the food and sanitation section of the Hokkaido prefectural government and the National Federation of Public Bath Industry Trade Unions, the law on public baths allows operators to refuse entry to customers with infectious diseases, but does not rule on customers with tattoos.

Prohibition of tattoos is often used by public facilities in Japan to prevent entry by members of the country’s organized crime groups, many of whom have tattoos on their bodies. (PTI)

Punch-up over giant pandas divides Belgium

BRUSSELS: China’s latest round of panda diplomacy has triggered a row in linguistically divided Belgium – leaving Dutch speakers angry that two loaned bears will go to a zoo in the French-speaking region.

China offered to lend the giant pandas during a visit by French-speaking Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo this week. The bears – prized for their ability to draw in thousands of visitors – will go to Pairi Daiza, a wildlife park in the French-speaking region of Wallonia, not far from Di Rupo’s home.

Di Rupo said the 15-year loan of male and female pandas, Xinhui and Haohao, was an honor for Belgium. But not all of his compatriots agreed.

Zuhal Demir, a lawmaker from the Flemish separatist N-VA party, said it was clear that Di Rupo had intervened to ensure the pandas went to the French-speaking south rather than the older Antwerp Zoo, in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

The head of Flanders region, Kris Peeters, also visiting China, said he would seek an explanation from the Belgian prime minister.

The 170-year-old Antwerp Zoo said it was disappointed by the decision, noting it had already housed pandas in 1987 and had bid unsuccessfully for another pair 10 years ago. “All in all we are rather surprised that the prime minister did not think of us,” a zoo spokesman said.

Di Rupo’s office said only Pairi Daiza had made an official request for the pandas and had contacted China directly.

China has agreed to long-term panda loans to a list of countries, including Britain, Australia, Austria, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.

Many zoos have seen visitor numbers spike by 20 percent or more after pandas arrive.

Belgium has long been split between the two regions, with different languages, education systems and regional policies. Wallonia was the engine of the economy until the immediate post-war years, but has slipped behind in an era of services-based and digital industries.

It is now Flanders, with an export-minded services and manufacturing economy, that is wealthier and has an unemployment rate about half that of southern Belgium. (Agencies)

Ancient road to Stonehenge uncovered

Washington: Archaeologists have found a road that they believe may have led to the ‘mysterious’ Stonehenge.

The archaeologists discovered two ditches, which were remains of an ancient pathway known as avenue, while a modern road near Stonehenge was being dismantled, LiveScience reported. Archaeologists have known of this and believe that it led directly to the monument, but the modern road cut it in two, obscuring its purpose.

The ditches used to connect the truncated parts of the avenue.

The finding confirmed that the avenue, measuring 1 foot wide, went for about 0.3 miles straight to Stonehenge before snaking onward for about 1.5 miles to the Avon River in the nearby village of Amesbury. (ANI)

Dog bites UK toddler, leaves tooth in her cheek

London: In a horrific attack, a ferocious dog bit a six-month old girl in UK so hard that it left a tooth embedded in the baby’s cheek. The toddler, Lexi, was left with four puncture wounds, a split lip and a burst vein when she tried to hug the seven-year-old Japanese Akita.

The strong pet called Thi clamped its jaws so tightly around the baby’s face that surgeons had to remove a chunk of the dog’s tooth that broke off and became lodged in her flesh, website ‘’ reported. The girl’s mother Gemma fears Lexi will be scarred for life and has set up a Facebook page demanding that police destroy the dog, irrespective of it being legal to own.

“The dog needs to be put down and we’ll go through all the right channels not stop until it is. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen,” said Gemma. Gemma claims the Thi has lashed out at kids in past as well, snapping at a baby’s face but failing to draw blood. Her Facebook page ‘Justice for Lexi’ has already garnered support of hundreds of people, the report said.

The brutal attack took place at the home of Gemma’s friend, in St Austell, Cornwall, who was looking after

Thi as a favour for its owner. Gemma and her friend wrestled the animal away from the tot before taking the little girl to hospital. “She was beaten up as a puppy and I rescued her,” Thi’s owner, who refused to be named, said. (PTI)



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