By Brian Tracey Associate editor

Judging from recent news, death is not just inevitable, it's increasingly profitable worldwide.

After we reported last month that an exhibition in Hong Kong was held to help  demystify dying , a German entrepreneur plans to launch a television channel dedicated to funerals and mourning, complete with video death announcements and documentaries about cemeteries.

South African newspaper The Star reported this week that the proposed channel, called Etos TV, is meant to inform people about funeral practices and to counter the trend in Germany to be buried anonymously, quoting Kerstin Gernig from the German undertakers' association.

"Every person has left his mark, raised children, paid taxes, done something," Gernig said. "We would like them to be shown respect. This channel will inform people in a discreet, serious way how to bury their loved ones.

"We hope that this will become the 'Arte' of the funeral culture," she added, referring to the Franco-German arts channel.

The channel is being promoted by businessman Wolf Tilmann Schneider who said he would like it to be on air by Christmas (happy holidays, dead people!) but he admitted he still needs to secure more funding.

Part of the proposed programming will be a paid death announcement service where a photograph of the deceased will be shown, accompanied either by music or the reading of a memorial message.

For a higher fee, the channel will screen a short film about the departed friend or family member, Schneider said.

And we thought all the greatest ideas for reality-TV shows have been done already.

Breakups are big business
Want to get divorced but not sure how it works? Need advice on how you discover if your partner is cheating on you?

Help is at hand in Vienna where the world's first "divorce fair" opened its doors last week.

Titled "New Beginning," the fair hopes to attract those wanting or having to separate.

Visitors have a chance to speak to lawyers and counselors as well as private detectives and real estate agents.

Dating agencies advise on how to find love again, travel agencies on how to spend holidays without a partner.

A paternity testing firm helps those seeking certainty about their offspring while a party organizer gives tips on how to celebrate the breakup in style.

Many visitors making their way from stall to stall already had experience of parting ways with a loved one. Silvia, 49, got divorced six years ago and is in a new relationship.

"I just wanted to get some information ahead of time, just to be prepared for the eventuality that such a terrible thing could happen again," said Silvia, who declined to provide her full name.

"Normally you don't think of these things, you have butterflies, you love each other, you want to live together. But I already got burned."

Around half of all Austrian marriages end in divorce. The rate is even higher in the capital Vienna where 66 percent of all couples opt to break up.

Organizer Anton Barz got the idea for the fair when he heard friends talk about their experiences during breakups.

"There were so many stories and people needed to go to one place, then to another, and then somewhere else again to get all the information together, which was really painful for them," said Barz, who used to organize wedding fairs.

"So I thought: Let's have a divorce fair."

Sorry, Neil Sedaka, breaking up is no longer hard to do.

Finding God at the bar
Jesus Christ may have turned water into wine, but for a group of Australian churchgoers the ideal place to worship on a Sunday is a pub.

Devoid of a church in the ports area of Melbourne, a group of Christians has created the "Docklands Church" inside the James Squire Brewhouse.

"Jesus did turn water into wine, he was kind of radical, he was connected with his culture, and yet he had a great message for our world," Docklands Church minister Guy Mason said after his first service on Sunday.

Mason told local media that worshippers were offered not only a message from the Bible but also a meal and tea and coffee, but anyone could have a pint before or after the church service. The choice of location was a way of modernizing the church, he said.

"All we want to be is relevant, we want to be applicable and contemporary and ... we're going to keep the Bible open as well," said one parishioner, with a beer in his hand.

Another parishioner said: "I think a lot of people who do want to go out and have a drink or go out and have a party often feel that they're excluded from God."

Just pass the collection plate and that bowl of pretzels, please.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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