The Washington Post (yay for the US reporting on something other than the US!) had a brief story on a new customer relations technique debuted in Japan - service with a smile. Now, you're probably protesting this concept is as old as the hills, but the Japanese have taken it to a new technological level. Employees at the busiest train stations - ones that serve hundreds of thousands of commuters every day - now have the option to check their uniform in the mirror and their smile on the computer. Software on laptops in 15 of rail stations can measure the employees' smile curvature to tell how broad a grin the individual is sporting.
Also in the Pacific is news of a more far-reaching nature. Yesterday, the leaders of Taiwan and China exchanged their first direct messages in 60 years. The enmity between these two countries goes back a long ways, pretty much ever since China annexed Taiwan against the Taiwanese people's wishes. If I were Taiwanese, I'd be pretty peeved too. But according to USA Today, the Chinese president sent a congratulatory message to Taiwan's leader after he won an election to the ruling party's chairmanship.
Moving a little farther west, presstv.ir reports that a mosaic depicting an angel has been uncovered in the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Originally a basilica before the Ottoman Turks took over the city in the 15th century, the angel (one of a set of six, it is believed) were covered after the building underwent its own religious conversion.
Lastly, I finish up in the West - Canada to be more precise. The Toronto Star reports on some welcome relief to prospective adoptive parents. Recently, Imagine Adoption Agency, which was handling adoptions between Canadians and children in an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, filed for bankruptcy. That move halted the adoptions of over 40 families, many of whom spent years learning Ethiopian culture and language in preparation for their new child(ren). However, a mining company has stepped in and donated $100,000 to help the orphanage in Ethiopia keep going and facilitate the adoptions already in progress that were frozen.
(Photo courtesy of presstv.ir)