PARIS: From why we follow our noses to trying to match Putin’s pecs. Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world.
Show him what we’ve got
World leaders are meant to rise above all this, but the heads of the G7 couldn’t resist a pop at Vladimir Putin’s penchant for bare-chested he-man photo shoots at their summit in Germany.
Asked if they wanted to take their jackets off for a group photo, Britain’s Boris Johnson declared: “We have to show we’re tougher than Putin.”
“We’re going to get the bare-chested horseback riding display,” quipped Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We’ve got to show them our pecs,” Johnson interjected, raising the stakes before someone sensibly hustled the leaders out of the room.
With typical disdain, Putin dismissed the barbs: “I don’t know if they wanted to undress to the waist or even lower, but anyway, it would have been a disgusting sight.”
Beeting up Moscow
Kyiv has declared “victory in the borshch war” after UNESCO put Ukraine’s beetroot soup on its list of endangered cultural heritage. Needless to say, it didn’t go down well in Moscow.
Several countries including Poland claim the soup as theirs, and Moscow immediately accused Kyiv of appropriation.
“Borshch has no nationality! Just like bread, potatoes and cabbage,” an outraged Moscow pensioner told AFP.
“This is xenophobia,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, clearly fearful that Chicken Kiev could soon become Chicken Kyiv.
But in time-honoured cloak-and-dagger fashion, Moscow may have pulled off a culinary coup of its own. Surely Russian salad didn’t turn up on the menu of the NATO summit in Madrid by accident. Touche!
Nose for friendship
Diplomats attempting to resolve tricky international disputes over soup and the like, please note. Try sniffing each other’s armpits.
New research suggests people with similar body odours are more likely to hit it off, seeming to prove “good chemistry” really helps develop friendships.
Israeli scientists used a rigorous set of lab and human sniff tests to show that we are more like dogs — who “constantly sniff themselves and each other to… decide who is friend or foe” — than we would like to think.
What’s more, the closer people smell, the more they reported liking and understanding one another.
Not so fast, Elon
Bad news for Elon Musk’s plans to colonise Mars. Scientists are warning that even if they get there, astronauts’ bone mass could be so diminished by years of weightlessness that they would have difficulty walking on the Red Planet.
US President Joe Biden briefly set off alarm bells in Moscow when he announced that neutral Switzerland was about to join NATO.
Realising his mistake, Biden — no stranger to verbal gaffes — quickly said: “Switzerland, my goodness.
“I’m getting really anxious here about expanding NATO,” he joked, before adding “Sweden” for the record.