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Funny old world: The week’s offbeat news

By AFP - Jul 23,2023 - Last updated at Jul 23,2023

PARIS — From a lion on the loose around Berlin to Indonesia’s most controversial newly weds... Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world.


Bye, bye Bella


It has been a dog of a week for man’s best friend. Take Bella, the Mexican mongrel who survived two months adrift in the Pacific with her owner Australian sailor Timothy Shaddock. 

He said the pair survived “many, many, many bad days” on their storm-struck boat with only rainwater to drink and raw fish he caught to eat.

But Bella, who shared his unrelenting sushi diet, kept his spirits up. “That dog is something else,” he told reporters. “She is a lot braver than I am. She’s amazing.”

So amazing in fact that Shaddock left the stray behind to return to Oz. Cue a growling kennel of consternation at the captain “abandoning” his shipmate.


Walkies will never be the same


The days of carefree pooping on the pavement could be over for French poodles after a hardline mayor introduced mandatory DNA testing to track dirty dogs.

Robert Menard said he was forced to act after street cleaners counted 1,000 turds in the centre of the southern town of Beziers. 

Police can now analyse doggy dejections to tail owners who fail to pick up after their pets. They will be made pay 120 euros ($135) to clean up the mess.


Just barking


Two Indonesian dog owners who married their mutts in a lavish “wedding” in a Jakarta mall faced howls of disapproval.

The pair shelled out 200 million rupiah ($13,350) — more than 40 times the minimum monthly wage — on the bash, in which they dressed their Alaskan Malamutes in traditional Javanese costumes.

It didn’t help that one of the women worked for President Joko Widodo, who has been lecturing the rich about not flaunting their cash as the country’s wealth gap widens.

“It’s wasting money and defying God,” one angry Twitter user wrote as the backlash grew. “Common sense has gone, trampled by the desire to show off.” 


Bedroom Olympics


With Paris being the “City of Love”, you can see why some might worry how the cardboard beds the athletes will sleep on at next year’s Olympics will stand up to the rigours of the planet’s most high performance physiques.

But the beds’ Japanese maker Motokuni Takaoka tried to prove that they can take “several people” at the same time by jumping up and down on one to calm claims that the singles were “anti-sex”. 

“They can support several people on top”, which is what can happen “when someone wins a medal”, Airweave founder Takaoka said.


Motivation Kyrgyz style


It’s summer holiday time in Kyrgyzstan, but heaven help any government minister who tries to kick back.

“There shouldn’t be a single minister lying on the beach in shorts and sunbathing. Don’t let me see this,” warned Kamchybek Tashiyev, the head of the Central Asian nation’s feared GKNB security service.

The spymaster, the iron fist of President Sadyr Japarov, has also outlawed lie-ins. He said he wanted to see ministers at their desks by 6am.

“We must work hard. We must not rest... If you become ministers, then work,” he growled.

How this has gone down around the Cabinet table is not known. But the former Soviet republic has seen three revolutions and numerous political crises in less than two decades.


Ich bin Lion Berliner


To Berlin, where police feared a lioness was on the loose after a man filmed what appeared to be a big cat chasing a wild boar down a suburban street. 

Worried locals were urged to stay indoors, with one dog owner telling German media: “I have two little dachshunds. They are probably ideal lion food.”

Wild pigs are a menace around the German capital, with one famously filmed stealing a computer from a man sitting in a city park, with the chase going viral. Wags inevitably wondered if the boar had taken the lion’s laptop.

But police called off the hunt for the lion after 24 hours, saying the mystery beast was a probably a boar. Berlin’s dachshunds can finally breath easy.

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