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Funny old world: The week’s offbeat news

By AFP - Aug 13,2023 - Last updated at Aug 13,2023

PARIS — From a memorable scout jamboree to North Korea’s embracing of bourgeois golf... Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world.


Burgers beef


Influencers can make us swallow anything, it seems, except awful burgers, as Jimmy Donaldson — aka MrBeast — the world’s most popular YouTuber has found to his cost.

He is embroiled in a court battle with the ghost kitchens who cook his MrBeast Burgers, which began as delivery-only. Court documents quote one New York reviewer “echoing the sentiments of thousands, stating that MrBeast Burger was ‘the absolute worst burger I’ve ever eaten in my entire life! It was like eating spoonfuls of garlic powder’”.

Bad as that must have been, Donaldson himself might have been tempted by it on his latest stunt, “7 Days Stranded at Sea”, where he and his friends spent a week on a raft. Nor has the debacle affected his popularity. The video of the raft jape clocked a record 46 million views on its first day.

Flee the jamboree


Be prepared is the Scout motto, but it was clearly lost on the South Korean officials who organised the world jamboree on a scorching recently reclaimed mud flat.

With little shelter from the sun during a horrific heatwave, and the few rudimentary toilets filthy and overflowing, British and American scouts upped and left. Then the whole site had to be evacuated as a typhoon threatened to bare down on the 43,000 parched campers, many of whom were falling ill.

In a desperate damage limitation exercise, with the Korean media dubbing the disaster a “national disgrace”, the government organised a huge K-pop concert in Seoul to try to make amends.

Chief among the attractions were groups NewJeans and The Boyz, with officials assuring the scouts and their terrible tummies that they would be extra loos too.


Nothing like it


Rumbling innards may also have played a role in ending a day-long standoff between a Brazilian fugitive and the police after he climbed up an electricity pole in a vain attempt to escape arrest.

Power was cut to homes in the town of Itabira until the 38-year-old convicted bank robber was talked down.

And there is no doubt Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel was able to win the road race at the World Championships in Scotland thanks to the comfort stop he squeezed in when climate activists blocked the riders.

“I had to go to the toilet... [so] I went into a house,” the 28-year-old told reporters. “I wasn’t the only one. So thanks to the people who welcomed us.” 


What’s the hurry?


Somalia’s Olympic committee has suspended its athletics chief for “shaming” the country after the abysmal showing of a sprinter in the 100 metres at the Summer World University Games in China.

She crossed the finish line a whole 10 seconds behind the winner, sparking online ridicule and outrage from embarrassed Somalis.

Amid allegations of nepotism, Sports Minister Mohamed Barre Mohamud said the woman was neither a “sports person nor a runner”.


North Koreans, get your priorities right!


North Koreans have been told that their “foremost focus” as a deadly tropical storm hits should be “ensuring the safety” of propaganda portraits glorifying its leaders the Kim dynasty. 

Images of current leader Kim Jong-un’s father and grandfather adorn every home and office in the country.

Let’s hope Tropical Storm Khanun spares Pyongyang’s golf course, where North Korean media said Kim Jong Il scored an incredible 11 holes-in-one the first time he ever played golf.

Earlier this week the closed communist state invited foreign golfers to a tournament there.

It is not known if an invitation has been extended to golf-mad former US president Donald Trump, who said he was proud to call Kim Jong-un a “friend” after earlier nicknaming him “Rocket Man”.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper sounded a cautionary note, saying Kim has been using the course for his banned missile tests. Fore!

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