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Dirty notes

Dhaka, Aug. 4 (Reuters): Bangladesh’s currency notes have become so dirty that even fishmongers reckon they stink too much to use.

The central bank wants to replace the notes and is threatening to deny branch licenses to banks that refuse to cooperate.

The notes are losing their usefulness as currency because people are becoming unwilling to take them, central bank officials say. Fish-market traders, for example, have found that their customers are demanding coins as change, they say.

Dhaka’s fish-buying public confirmed that today. “I feel very uncomfortable taking paper money from sellers because they are not only soiled but smell very bad,” said Tanveer Ahmed, a buyer at a fish market.

Fish seller Mohammad Suleman said: “Customers often decline to take the notes we give them as change because they are too dirty. What can we do' We also get soiled and torn notes from the buyers, who often become angry if we refuse.”

Locked lips

Sao Paulo (Reuters): Hundreds of gay Brazilians locked lips at a Sao Paulo shopping centre on Sunday, rallying for gay rights after a security guard at the mall asked a homosexual couple to stop kissing. In front of curious onlookers and afternoon shoppers eating a snack, the gay couples staged the “kiss-in” at the Frei Caneca shopping centre’s food court. While some waited until the event coordinator gave the go ahead, others were happy to smooch for the cameras beforehand. “I think it’s wonderful. In a world so full of violence, getting worked up about a kiss is just nonsense,” said Beth Biagentini, a middle-aged woman eating lunch with her son and cousin at the mall during the rally. Taking full advantage of the publicity surrounding the event, the shopping centre plastered red lipstick kisses across its entrance and around the mall. A spokeswoman for the centre said as many as 3,000 people attended the rally, but not all joined in the kissing.

China plan

Beijing (Reuters): China, trying to help its tourism industry recover from the impact of Sars, will allow Japanese tourists to visit without visas, officials said on Monday. “We have such a plan and it is going to be announced soon,” a tourism official said. Another administration official said the decision would be formally announced during a visit by foreign minister Li Zhaoxing to Tokyo from August 10. The move was part of government efforts to revive the tourism industry, which was badly hit by Sars.


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