Chris Brown and Chad Kroeger's douche-off - 10 things
It's been ages since there's been a good Sydney vs Melbourne story (which, as we all know, is just a smokescreen for the far more bitter Port Lincoln vs Launceston rivalry that threatens to tear this nation apart), so we're chuffed at the news that Sydney's racing cabal is supposedly planning a mid-April racing carnival based on California's Breeders Cup, which naturally is being posited as a rival to the Melbourne Cup. The question on everyone's lips is a simple one: does Sydney have the necessary quarantine infrastructure to allow large-scale international horse trading? Sorry, that was meant to say: do we get the day off?
Of course, the real rivalry this week is between competing factions for Who Is The Biggest Douche In Popular Music, and it's a close run race. First up, singer and domestic violence enthusiast Chris Brown, whose reconciliation with Rihanna gives hope to everyone who has ever beaten the hell out of a woman, then gotten violently angry every time it's raised in interviews, then had a very visible tattoo of what looks like a beaten woman on his neck - but this Halloween he showed he has the same deft touch with cultural sensitivity as criminal assault by dressing up as - oh, how delicious! - members of the Taliban. Fortunately, since he's a hard man from the streets, he had his mum defending him on Twitter by advising critics of his playful antics to to "get a life please". Boom, haterz: YOU JUST GOT CHRIS BROWN'S MUMMED.
However, Brown has a challenger in the form of Nickelback's frontman and lead japester Chad Kroeger who, in the spirit of showing off his more hilarious side, recently told Men's Health that he paid one of the band's drum tech's to stick his penis in the blades of an electric fan. "I can still hear the "bleh-bleh-blehhhhhhh" of the blade slowly sputtering to a stop, and this blood-curdling scream," says the modern-day reincarnation of Wilde and Swift, "It was fantastic. Somebody has video footage of this somewhere that needs to be resurrected and shown at the guy's next birthday party." Coming as it does on last week's Halloween tweet takedown of Derecky Whibley, ex-husband of Koreger's fiancé Avril Lavigne, it's clear that sophisticated comedy has a new face: though that face looks weirdly like the Paddle Pop Lion.
With the US election happening on Tuesday, and most polls predicting either a slim win for Obama or an absolute lock for Obama, the Romney campaign have pulled out Rudy Giuliani - mayor of New York City during 9/11 - to slam Obama's post-Hurricane Sandy behaviour, for example campaigning in the days before the election instead of just letting Romney campaign before the election unopposed. “I feel pretty darn offended seeing my president floating around campaigning while people are suffering,” he declared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, presumably while bailing water out from a flooded subway since to be doing otherwise would make him some sort of hypocrite.
While we're talking politics, and with our own elections happening next year, it's worth having a little think about the way that economic philosophy determines policy. You may recall that the Rudd Government flew in the face of the US and UK experience by dealing with the Global Financial Collapse with a stimulus package, and note how the Australian economy proceeded to not destroy itself. The UK, on the other hand, embraced massive austerity measures under the Cameron government, cutting services left and right, and are now buying up cheap housing blocks outside of London to house the masses of homeless families predicted in the wake of cuts to social services from April. In fact, if you're homeless in London and need public housing, you might be moving to South Wales. Then again, if your policies are going to lead to large-scale homelessness, maybe it's worth loosening up your commitment to market-based solutions to economic crises just for a bit.Of course, David Cameron can't be worried about the plight of those pesky homeless right now, since he's currently having to defend the palsy texts he'd been exchanging with his bestie - former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks. She's facing trial over last year's phone hacking scandal and attempting to pervert the cause of justice, and the latter charge isn't helped by text messages to Cameron after his election expressing that she "Will love 'working together'", and it's implied that the currently unreleased emails and texts get downright racy (and, apparently, that Cameron thought "LOL" meant "lots of love", just like your mum hilariously does). And we are outraged by all this: this isn't an attack on the increasingly opaque and corrupt relationship between the government and media - it's an attack on love! Heck, if saucy texts between a married Prime Minister and the editor of the UK's most successful muckraking tabloid are wrong, we don't ever want to be right.
Yep, things are going pretty well in Russia at the moment. A highly dubious election giving Vladimir Putin complete executive power, the incarceration of young female musicians in labour camps for daring to play a song, and now news that police have been targeting gay and lesbian clubs in the wake of new laws banning "homosexual propaganda", which includes a ban on Pride marches in Moscow for the next century. Eight Russian regions have embraced laws banning LGBT visibility, and reports are coming out that the police have decided to celebrate by beating the hell out of people during Russian celebrations for International Coming Out Day. "Homosexuality is a sickness," St Petersburg MP Vitaly Milonov recently declared in a statement definitely based on reality and not on crazy prejudice. "It must be treated like a tooth that hurts."
Good news about your bank fees: every time you get slugged with that $2 surcharge for using a rival bank's ATM, you can breathe easy knowing that it's going to a good cause: record profits for Australian banks. In fact, the big four - ANZ, Commonwealth, Westpac and National Australia Bank - are set to reap a $25 billion windfall this year, money that they're pumping back into hiring back all those people they sacked and reducing some of the insane fees that they charge you for letting them looking after your mon… nah, just kidding, they're hanging onto it. In fact, if anything, they should be profiteering even more, according to NAB CEO Cameron Clyne: "We're not necessarily performing to the level that we've historically enjoyed," he told the Sydney Morning Herald, presumably from the mezzanine of his solid gold hovercraft.
Expect a lot of fake obituaries for Maggie Smith in the coming weeks as the Downton Abbey star has been discharged from hospital after suffering from chest pains last Friday. The 77 year old universally acknowledged best thing about the show underwent tests and has reportedly stabilised, but even as you read this, get ready to have a whole lot of announcements of her death turn up on your Facebook feed. Don't click like, you'll just encourage them.
And finally, in the wake of our announcement last week that the asteroid dubbed by TheVine as Ol' Twelvesy will spend next February giving Earth its nearest miss in recorded history, comes news that MIT grad Sung Wook Paek might have a solution for dealing with pesky asteroids in future: paintballs! It's a surprisingly elegant idea, actually: five tonnes of white paintballs, strategically splattered on an asteroid, would increase its reflectivity - meaning that photons of light from the sun would bounce off it more at a higher rate, which would gently nudge it off course. The plan needs 20 years to work, as do just about all of our anti-asteroid schemes, but the largest disadvantage is the lack of anything explosive for Bruce Willis to do. WILL NO-ONE THINK OF BRUCE WILLIS?