Paris, France: Toilet troubles in McDonald’s, a steak fight in Spain, and the giant cat warming hearts in Tokyo … Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world.
The rumor has been doing the rounds on social media for a long time, but finally this week Australian prime minister Scott Morrison broke his silence and flatly denied it.
No, he had not soiled himself in a McDonald’s restaurant more than 20 years ago.
“Utter rubbish”, according to the premier, about the alleged incident at the fast-food outlet in suburban Sydney after watching his favorite rugby league team, the Cronulla Sharks, lose the grand final in 1997.
“It is the biggest urban myth ever, it never happened”, he said on a breakfast radio show.
“I found the whole thing incredibly amusing, and we’ve always joked about it… as I’ve driven past it on occasion, do you wanna pop in for a Big Mac?”
Baby elephant saved
In the latest twist involving the elephant herd roaming China, a badly injured baby born on the trek escaped a tragic end when authorities rescued it and took it to a center for treatment.
Locals had sighted the baby elephant weighing 180 kilograms (397 pounds) alone on a tea plantation, struggling with an infected injury on its leg that was potentially life-threatening.
“It’s possible that something like rattan spines pricked it and the injuries slowly became infected”, Bao Mingwei, director of the Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center, told CCTV.
State media footage showed around a dozen rescuers and police surrounding the animal in a rainforest clearing, as they tied its thrashing limbs with rope and loaded it into a van.
And that’s only the latest upheaval caused by the meandering mammals.
They have also nabbed villagers’ food and trampled crops worth over $1 million, with thousands of residents evacuated from their path.
Scientists remain baffled by what prompted the elephants to leave their home at the nature reserve on the border with Laos and set off on one of the longest ever animal migrations of its kind in China.
Rib eye rumble
Spaniards were outraged this week when a member of the government took aim at the meat industry over environmental and health concerns, prompting the prime minister to declare himself unable to resist a perfectly cooked steak.
In a nation where the average person tucks into around 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of meat per year, a backlash may have been inevitable when Consumer Affairs Minister Alberto Garzon served up a Twitter roast under a hashtag translating to “#LessMeatMoreLife”.
“One kilo of meat means 15,000 liters (4,000 gallons) of water”, said Gazron, a politician from radical left party Podemos, in a six-minute video laden with infographics and figures outlining how much water is needed to get a piece of meat onto a plate.
The comments sparked a beef with others from across the political spectrum, including fellow ministers in the left-wing government headed by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
“If you put me in front of a medium-rare rib steak, I can’t resist,” Sanchez declared while on an official visit to Lithuania.
That did not go down well with the environmentalist group Greenpeace, which called his comments “irresponsible”.
Beyond the cultural role of meat in the Spanish diet, where many restaurants serve tapas dishes of cured ham beneath ordered rows of the very same pork legs dangling from the ceiling, its production is also vital to the economy.
The national meat industry association says it accounts for almost 28 billion euros ($33 billion) of revenue or 2.3 percent of Spanish GDP, making it the country’s fourth-largest industry.
The rib-eye rumble rumbles on.
Tokyo’s new friend
A neon feline has been warming hearts in Tokyo this week, drawing crowds of admirers in Shinjuku, one of the Japanese capital’s busiest shopping and transit areas.
The neon cityscape’s futuristic new addition is a giant 3D cat that sleeps, meows, and looks gingerly down at the crowd gathered below its high-tech screen.
The white, black, and orange feline appears between adverts on a new digital billboard and has already drawn flocks of smartphone-clutching fans.
It “looks really real”, said one student Emine Atajanova.
The cat gets its uncanny three-dimensional appearance from the curved 4K LED screen, which has an area of nearly 155 square meters (1,668 square feet).
Another passer-by, who gave his name as Ryusuke, also said he was charmed by the creature: “It’s nice that it’s purring. I like it.”