News you can use - Labor sort of backs gay marriageNews
The ALP conference gave political tragics the country over a wild, if not exactly unpredictable ride over the weekend. In stark contrast to the 2009 conference, which Kevin "Most Popular Boy at School" Rudd used as an uncontested victory lap for his first two years as Prime Minister, this was marked by actual vigorous debate and knife-edge votes, even if those votes tended to go exactly as predicted/endorsed by Julia Gillard. There was also some loose suggestion that Kevin Rudd may have been using this one as the launching pad for a campaign to retake the Prime Minister-ship, but its not a good conference these days without some idle leadership speculation. Of course, the most notable shift was in regard to gay marriage, which provided support for the idea in much the same way that telling someone "don't worry, you're not that fat" is a compliment. While support for gay marriage is now official Labor policy, the inclusion of a provision allowing Parliamentarians a conscience vote on the matter insures that – with the Liberals unlikely to offer the same concession – an expected bill early next year will be defeated in the lower house. Meaning that once again electoral math will trump meaningful, progressive social change. And if the Liberals win by as much as is expected at the next election, we can probably shelve this ol' pipe dream until some point in 2020. Hooray. However, there was one happy, automatic result out of all of this – gay couples who want to get married in countries where its permitted will now no longer have their plans thwarted by our refusal to give them Certificates of Non-Impediment to Marriage. The other big change was to Australia's stance on selling uranium to India, which after years of prohibition due to their non-signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is now back on the table. With the obvious caveat that our uranium not be used if India wants to annihilate Pakistan at any point. They also voted in favour of offshore processing, ensuring that for every point of difference with the Liberal party, there's always one more thing that they want to do the same.
Well, that's the end of that, then. Herman Cain, who was experiencing a Tiger Woods-esque sequence of sexual scandals, has finally dropped out of the US Presidential race. I thought The Onion said it best. His position as anti-Romney frontrunner has been comfortably assumed by Newt Gingrich.
Russia is heading off to vote. For Vladimir Putin's party. Because what Vladimir Putin wants, Vladimir Putin gets. And right now, Vladimir Putin wants Russia to vote for Vladimir Putin's party. There's even suggestions that authorities may have deliberately taken down Livejournal – which, in a measure of how forward-thinking the place is, remains the most popular blogging platform – in order to suppress debate. You're right, this is better than Communism! Although, early reports suggest that Putin's party may have actually received less than half the votes, a significant drop off in support for the strongman/pseudo-dictator. The next closest, sitting on around 20%, are the Communists. Multi-party democracy may still have a way to go over there.
Julian Assange is making a last ditch effort to avoid extradition to Sweden today by imploring the UK Supreme Court to hear a final appeal. However, with arguments that have already been rejected twice, and a pretty patchy case that his deportation represents a matter of general public importance, there's every chance the guy could be making his way back to Sweden within days. At which point he will be abducted by Bolivians. Or aliens. Or something. I'm not sure where the conspiracists have got to on this.
Close to half the population of the German city of Koblenz is being evacuated after a giant WWII-era bomb was discovered sitting unexploded in the waters of the Rhine. Well, more specifically, in the riverbed of the Rhine, what with high-end drought having caused a perilous dropping of water levels. So, hard to know whether this is a story about unexploded ordnance or global warming, really.
Senator Ludlam of the Greens writes in the New Matilda about some of the more glaring issues and deficits in India's nuclear industry. Not exactly comforting reading.
The New Yorker muses on torture and inhumanity in Syria, in a poignantly written piece named Two Hundred and Fifty-Six Children.
The National Geographic has its list of the ten weirdest organisms discovered in 2011. Here's an ant that has been turned into a zombie by mind-control fungus. Why yes, that is utterly terrifying.
To be consumed with this story about the newly discovered world's largest grasshopper. Which can eat a goddamn carrot. AND YOUR FACE.
And who says copy editing is a dying art?
While I don't have a colossal amount of sympathy for the Occupy [AUSTRALIAN CITY] movement, even I've got to admit that Occupy Melbourne came up with a pretty killer way of defusing the latest showdown with police.
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