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Battle of the Christmas Decorations for Hong Kong Malls

In the race to extract cash from Christmas shoppers, Hong Kong's myriad shopping malls have taken to heart the maxim that you must spend money to make money when it comes to decorations this festive season.

From two-storey-high polar bears to giant Disney characters, the southern Chinese city is awash with increasingly elaborate displays as luxury outlets bid to outdo each other and get wealthy mainlanders through the door.

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Caps Banned as Philippine Malls Fight Crime

Police in the Philippine capital have banned the wearing of caps in shopping malls to stop criminals concealing their identity from security cameras.

The ban was imposed after a gang of hammer-wielding robbers looted a jewelry store at a popular suburban Manila shopping mall on December 15. The suspects are believed to have used baseball caps to hide their identities.

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No Breast Implants Please, Brazil Samba School Tells Recruits

Two months before Rio's famed Carnival gets under way, a samba school said it was looking for dancers "without silicone breast implants" and would offer a free costume in exchange.

The school wants to recruit 20 dancers "with beautiful and natural" breasts "whatever the size," the news website G1 reported Friday, citing Paulo Menezes, Carnival producer for the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school.

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France: It's not Sexting, it's Textopornographie

France, a nation with a centuries-old reputation for seduction, now has a word for sexting.

If you want to send sexually explicit photos or text messages to your lover in France, it's called "textopornographie." That's the term recently chosen by the Academie Francaise, the respected institution that watches over the French language and regularly invents French terms for English or other expressions that have gone global.

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Macau Cracks Down on Philippine Fliers with 'Amulets'

Rising numbers of Philippine visitors are being arrested and deported by Macau for carrying amulets and lucky charms made of bullets, the foreign department said Friday.

"The consulate has noticed an increase in the number of cases where Filipino nationals were apprehended... in Macau SAR's ports of entry because they had bullet amulets in their checked in and carry-on luggage," it said in a statement.

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French Revolution's 'Monster' Gets Modern Diagnosis

Depending on what you read, Maximilien de Robespierre was a defender of the poor and downtrodden -- "the Incorruptible" who defended the values of the French Revolution to the end.

Or he was a monster who slaughtered thousands for revolutionary crimes, a lawyer who opened up the path of legalized terror later trod by Hitler and Stalin.

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Australia Deli Sued Over 'Semen' in Bottled Water

An Australian woman is suing a deli after drinking bottled water that allegedly contained semen, lawyers said Friday, with claims that DNA showed it matched the owner of the business.

Alicia Cooper has filed a writ of summons in the District Court of Western Australia against the owner, who no longer runs the business, according to media reports that were confirmed by Slater and Gordon, the legal firm representing Cooper.

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200 Cars Stolen in Germany 'Now Owned by Tajik Elite'

About 200 cars stolen in Germany have been tracked down in Tajikistan, where most are now driven by family and friends of President Emomali Rakhmon, media and officials in Berlin said Thursday.

The case of the German-registered cars, including 93 BMWs located via their GPS systems, has caused friction between Germany and the Central Asian country, mass-circulation daily Bild reported.

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Italy Police Kiss Photo Goes Viral

The photo of a young Italian woman kissing a police officer's helmet visor during a protest has gone viral, with a police union threatening to sue her for "sexual violence".

The 20-year-old student, Nina De Chiffre, was snapped by a photographer working for Agence France Presse as she went to kiss the policeman, Salvatore Piccione, at a protest against a new high-speed rail line in the Alps.

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42 Swedes Change Name for Chance to Move to Berlin

Forty-two Swedes legally changed their names to Klaus-Heidi to participate in a Lufthansa competition offering a flight to Berlin and a one-year free apartment rental, the German airline said Tuesday.

"This was on one condition: you had to change your name to Klaus-Heidi," Lufthansa marketing specialist Magnus Engvall said.

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