Asgardia website

Russian billionaire and rocket scientist Igor Ashurbeyli was this week inaugurated as the leader of a new independent "space nation" called The Space Kingdom of Asgardia at a lavish ceremony in an Austrian castle. The event in Vienna's Hofburg palace was held amid apparent hopes that Asgardia can become an official member of the United Nations. In 2016, Dr Ashurbeyli and those behind the creation of Asgardia reportedly unveiled plans to establish a space colony on the Moon complete with structures called 'Space Arks' upon which people will live and, last year, launched the nation's first satellite  Dr Ashurbeyli, who named himself 'Head of Nation' following parliamentary elections last year, said at this week's event that the next steps for the fledgling nation were to set up a foreign ministry and a national bank. Asgardians already number some 200,000-plus people according to the nation's official website - it's been suggested those wanting to become citizens may have to pass an IQ test in the future. Dr Ashurbeyli has vowed that Asgardia will be a reality within 25 years and is aiming for a population of 150 million in the next decade.

Remember the controversy which erupted after the botched restoration of the Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) fresco of Jesus Christ in a church near the Spanish town of Zaragoza in 2012? Now another another art controversy has gripped the country - this time involving restoration works conducted on a 16th century wooden sculpture of St George which now features a very pink face and matt gray armour. Spain's art conservation association ACRE reportedly said the work shows a "frightening lack of training of the kind required for this sort of job" while the mayor of the town of Estella, where church containing the sculpture is located, has lamented that the restoration was an "expert job" that should have been done by experts. Click on the link to see before and after shots.

A rodent in India recently made an odd choice for its last meal - banknotes stored in an ATM. Bank officers were reportedly called to investigate after the money-dispensing machine in the town of Tinsukia in Assam state started malfunctioning. When technicians opened it, they found almost $US18,000 of shredded Indian rupee notes inside along with a dead rat. The rat had apparently entered the machine through a hole meant for cables.