Funny old world: The week's offbeat news

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Paris, Feb 26, 2021 (AFP) -Our weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world:

Sheer relief 

A wild Australian sheep called Baa-rack has been given a new fleece of life after being relieved of the 35 kilos (77 pounds) of wool he had been carrying around on his back.

The ailing ram was found wandering in the bush north of Melbourne weighed down by around five years of matted, unchecked growth.

"I couldn't believe there was a sheep alive under all of that wool," said Pam Ahern of Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary.

Inevitably Baa-rack became a TikTok sensation after being shorn and given a smart new makeover, complete with natty blue coat to help him adapt to "the chill" of an Australian summer.

His moniker is an homage to the former US president. A 2017 study by Cambridge University scientists found that eight sheep out of 10 could recognise Barack Obama after being shown his photo a few dozen times.

"Humans tend to underestimate the ability of sheep," researcher Jennifer Morton told AFP.

We can see you... 

The entire board of a California primary school has resigned after they were caught dissing parents as pot-smoking slackers.

The trustees of the Oakley school didn't realise their online meeting was being broadcast to horrified parents who they accused of wanting the locked-down school to reopen just so they could get their "babysitters back".

As trustees traded foul-mouthed allegations they were told that the parents were listening.

"Uh oh," said trustee Lisa Brizendine, who quit immediately.

Oakley mayor Sue Higgins said, "I am embarrassed for our community as this meeting has gone national and international."

This won't hurt at all 

Wars have started for less. There was much clenching of teeth and lots more besides at reports that China was asking US diplomats to undergo anal swab tests for the coronavirus.

Beijing denied subjecting State Department staff to the indignity, but it still sent a Cold War chill up the spine of Sino-American relations.

Meanwhile in North Korea - more cut off than ever from the world because of Covid-19 - Russian diplomats got themselves home over the closed border on a Keystone Kops-style hand-powered rail trolley.

Their video caused much hilarity online until a Korean commented, "Please return your cart to where you found it."

Funny old game 

The award for the week's hardest - and most elegant - neck goes to model and self-styled princess, Rani-Vanouska Modely.

She declared Qatari football star Almoez Ali a Unesco goodwill ambassador, persuading former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to preside at the ceremony.

Only problem is that Modely has nothing to do with the UN body, though that hasn't stopped her rubbing shoulders with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham and a host of world leaders.

A UN source told AFP that Modely has previously presented herself as an envoy in Africa.

"Ms Rani (Modely) is not affiliated to UNESCO in any way," the organisation told reporters.

Which means the unfortunate Sudanese-born "Mr Moez cannot be a Unesco Goodwill Ambassador" it added.

Not cool, dude 

The sign at Dude Chilling Park in Vancouver, Canada has been stolen for a third time since it was put up in 2012 as an art installation. It has since inspired a line of T-shirts and a pale ale.

Police haven't identified a suspect but you can be sure he's reclining on a couch somewhere.

Feel the power 

A Chinese man with rock-hard abs caused a power cut in the southwestern city of Chengdu by doing sit-ups on top of an electricity pylon.

When a video of his stomach crunches suspended 10 metres (30 feet) off the ground went viral on Chinese social network Weibo, "the local power company did an emergency power cut... affecting tens of thousands of households".

Super Great-Gran! 

If you thought the Chengdu fitness enthusiast sounded tough, he's got nothing on 90-year-old Fran Goldman, who trudged six miles through heavy snow in Seattle to get her coronavirus vaccination because driving there was too dangerous.

Goldman, a doggedly independent great-grandmother who had a hip replacement last year, did a trial run the day before with her sticks.

"My mother isn't going to let a little snow stop her," her daughter Ruth said.

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