2018 in news: The alternative end-of-the-year awards

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Congratulations, you've made it through another year of news.

We know it wasn't easy, so we thought you deserved a reward: here's our round-up of the moments that put a little smile on our faces in 2018.

Bungling criminal of the year


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Two would-be burglars in China... with unexpected results

This was a hotly contested award in 2018, but in the end there could be only one winner.

Watch as this Chinese would-be burglar arcs his arm backwards, lets go of the brick and...well, see the video for yourself.


Where do we begin?

In second place, there is the gang who hoped to rob a shop in Belgium, were told by the owner that he would have more money if they came back later, and were promptly arrested when they returned.

And bronze goes to this aspiring robber in Colorado who turned clumsiness into an artform.

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Three blunders in a few seconds: pure joy

The year's bravest animal


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Go, little trash panda, go!

Over several hours back in June, television viewers were gripped (pun intended) as an adventurous raccoon scaled the side of a 23-floor building in St Paul, Minnesota. Its motivation remains unclear, but its legend lives on to this day.


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A cat would never do what Max did

In April, three-year-old Aurora wandered out of her home in Queensland and into bushland. Her 17-year-old dog Max, who is partially deaf and blind, followed her for 16 hours, and eventually led rescuers to her.

Max was later made an honorary police dog. What a *sniff* very good boy.

Trumpian masterpiece of the year


Image source, EPA
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A penny for Shinzo Abe's thoughts

This photo of various world leaders speaking to US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in June was a masterpiece of timing and of body language. It was taken by German government photographer Jesco Denzel, and gained plenty of plaudits around the world (though other images taken soon after told a different story).


Image source, Andy Thomas Artist
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The eyes follow you around the room, and not in a good way

This is a painting called The Republican Club, by Missouri-based artist Andy Thomas, and it now hangs in the White House, as some eagle-eyed TV viewers spotted in October.

It shows a number of Republican presidents sharing a drink and a joke, and was a gift to the US president from a congressman.

Just don't ask why Trump's head appears to be on someone else's body. Or why everyone's eyes are looking in different directions.

Hangry customers of the year


One French supermarket offered a 70% discount on Nutella in January and, somewhat inevitably, a riot broke out. Other hazelnut-chocolate spreads are available, people.


Not to be outdone by our friends across the Channel, Brits also had a bit of an over-reaction in February, when KFC had to briefly shut 900 stores over delivery issues.

Police forces in England had to politely remind people that it's not really the done thing to make an emergency call if you can't find fried chicken. Again, other fried chicken restaurants are available.

The "Fake Gnus" award for the year's most misleading animals


Image source, Mahmoud A Sarhan
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Why the long face?

We should make one thing clear: the zoo in Cairo's International Garden Park has denied this is a painted donkey, and insist it is absolutely, indisputably, a zebra.

But on the other hand...well, just look at it.


Image source, Marcio Cabral
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Why the long face?

Unlike Cairo's phoney zebra, this anteater is real. There's just one problem though - it's dead. It is an ex-anteater. This anteater is no more.

The photo above, showing an anteater moving towards a termite mound, was a winning entry in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. But it ended up being disqualified after scientists concluded the anteater was a stuffed animal (though the photographer, Marcio Cabral, says the photo was not staged).

The Golden Cock-up Award


In a field rich with entries, please all give a round of applause to the person who accidentally sent an alert to every single person in Hawaii in January telling them to seek shelter because a ballistic missile was on its way.

Image source, Twitter
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It must be serious, because it's in all-caps

Needless to say, the false alarm created enormous panic, especially because North Korea was in one of its "let's-threaten-to-attack-the-United-States" moods at the time.


Or is it perhaps the artist who botched the restoration of a statue in Spain, thanks to a garish paint-job?

Or maybe the Japanese train driver who brought shame on their company by leaving a station 25 seconds early?

Image source, Cathay Pacific
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This is truly pathtic

2018's most astonishing discovery of a liquid


An unusual category, granted, but this is an unusual article, and you're still reading, so who cares.

The winner is this:

Image source, AFP/Getty Images


What you're looking at is a particularly pungent red-brown sewage-broth, that gently simmered away for 2,000 years inside a sarcophagus in Egypt.

The smell of the three rotten bodies was so bad that archaeologists had to abandon the relic as soon as they opened it this summer.

No curses were unleashed, so mankind will have to face its reckoning in some other way.


Water on Mars! Actual water on Mars! Delicious, fresh water! On Mars! (Disclaimer: we cannot confirm whether it is safe to drink the water on Mars).

2018's most heated family argument


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Michael Rotondo: "They said you need to get a job"

One wonders what Christmas will be like in the Rotondo household this year.

In the summer Michael Rotondo, 30, was sued by his own parents, who wanted him to leave their house in New York state.

They said he'd repeatedly ignored pleas to move out, but he eventually did so after he lost his court battle. But not before calling police in a row about Lego.


In July, Barbara Reddick posed for photos holding a big novelty cheque with her nephew Tyrone MacInnis. He was smiling, she wasn't. Then she turned to him, and said: "See you in court."

They'd argued over whether she had agreed to split the Canadian lottery jackpot. In the end, they didn't need to go to court - MacInnis was given C$350,000 ($261,000; £207,000) in a settlement, so he had good reason to keep on grinning.

The "Why didn't I think of that?" award for craftiness


Over New Year, there was a drinking ban in place on the Coromandel peninsula in New Zealand. So one group, somehow, built an artificial island in an estuary, claiming they were in international waters and exempt from the ban.

Image source, David Saunders


During the World Cup in June, there was plenty of speculation that France striker Antoine Griezmann might be set for a transfer to Barcelona. So when he took part in a press conference, Spanish reporters were keen to quiz him about this.

France's national team officials didn't want the subject to be discussed, so set a French-only rule at the press conference.

Here's what one Spanish journalist did next:

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What's French for "that'll teach you"?

We should also give an honourable mention to Tunisian football player Mouez Hassen.

In the weeks before the World Cup, Tunisia's players were fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. They could eat only at sundown, and so, during matches against Portugal and Turkey, Hassen feigned injury when the sun went down so his team-mates could sneak off the pitch and eat dates.

Now that's teamwork.

The Charles Darwin award for the survival of the fittest


Image source, Geoff Pearson
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Look at this absolute unit

He went up for auction in October, but meat processors said he was too big for them to handle.

Knickers survived to fight another day.


In August, a man in Germany called police because he was being terrorised and chased by a baby squirrel. Its reign of terror was brought to an abrupt end when the suspect fell asleep.

Its persistence - and cuteness - may have paid off however - the local police office decided to adopt the rodent as their new mascot.

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Behold, the face of terror