>Japan sells million-yen masks
Japanese trendsetters can now protect against the coronavirus in luxurious style with opulent masks adorned with diamonds and pearls for a cool million yen each.
Cox Co's Mask.com chain began selling the handmade masks last week, with the aim of cheering up people and spurring sales in a fashion industry depressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The diamond masks are embellished with a 0.7 carat diamond and more than 300 pieces of Swarovski crystals, while the pearl masks contain some 330 Japanese Akoya pearls.
Some shoppers were concerned the million-yen masks might be out of their league.
Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash
>'Words of the year' for 2020
The Oxford English Dictionary has been unable to name its traditional word of the year for 2020, saying that 2020 is not a year that could neatly be accommodated in one single "word of the year".
The report, titled "Words of an Unprecedented Year," moves through the year, detailing the most important words in certain months, based on spikes in use.
It was "bushfire" in January, when Australia suffered its worst fire season on record. It was "acquittal" in February, when US President Donald Trump's impeachment trial ended.
Starting in March, terms related to the coronavirus pandemic dominated, like "COVID-19", "lockdown", "social distancing" and "reopening".
In June, use of the phrase "Black Lives Matter" exploded, followed by "cancel culture" and "BIPOC," an abbreviation of "Black, indigenous and other people of color".
For August, "mail-in" and "Belarusian" were both flagged, referring to the US election and the controversial re-election of the Belarusian president.
In September, it was "moonshot", the name the UK gave its coronavirus testing program, and in October, "net zero" and "superspreader" are highlighted.
"Net zero" refers to the Chinese government's pledge that the country will be carbon neutral by 2060, and "superspreader" spiked in use after a cluster of COVID-19 cases at the White House.
Photo from Pexels by Karolina Grabowska
>Free tampons and pads available
Scotland has become the first country to allow free and universal access to menstrual products, including tampons and pads, in public facilities, a landmark victory for the global movement against period poverty.
The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the Period Products bill on Tuesday, months after lawmakers had initially signaled their support.
It means period products will be available to access in public buildings including schools and universities across Scotland.
According to the new rules, it will be up to local authorities and education providers to ensure the products are available free of charge.
>'Operation Santa' online
For more than a century, it was a simple way of making a child's dreams come true during Christmas.
Volunteers could go to the post office, sift through piles of letters that children had sent to Santa Claus and pick one - or more - that tugged at their heartstrings.
Gifts were then acquired, wrapped and shipped to families whose space beneath the tree might otherwise be bare.
With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, however, the US Postal Service announced recently that it was taking its annual "Operation Santa" campaign nationwide, and that letters to Santa could be read exclusively online by people across the country.
This year, the letters will be uploaded to the Operation Santa website, so long as they are legible and make specific requests for items like toys, clothes or games.
Starting Dec 4, postal customers can then read them and choose to send gifts with their responses, with a signature saying it's from Santa.
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