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Happy VanHalentine's Day, Internet! - 10 Things

If you're not reading this from beneath a pile of plush teddybears expressing the depth of your wuv or under your beloved's window where you're about to sing a heartfelt version of Peter Gabriel's 'In Your Eyes' and/or the Troggs' 'Love Is All Around', you're basically dead inside. Which is, of course, good since about the only thing anyone's at all certain about when it comes to St Valentine is that he spent February 14th being beaten to death with clubs and then had his head cut off - so you can see why the Catholic Church would decide his holy day would be the perfect celebration of romance. No wonder the Pope decided to skip it this year. We, however, will be celebrating things properly as per today's headline, thanks to writer, bon vivant and love pioneer Jocelyn Brewer: happy VanHalentine's Day, everyone! 
Speaking of ol' Popesy, Joe made his first public appearance since his shock resignation, declaring to the faithful that "I did this in full freedom for the good of the church after praying for a long time and examining my conscience before God." He then held the Ash Wednesday Mass, presumably while checking his watch and occasionally furtively updating his Linkedin profile. Hey, dude's gotta eat.

President Obama gave his State of the Union address yesterday in which he laid out a whole lot of stuff for the Republicans to get in a tizzy about: predictable stuff like gun control  and cuts to carbon emissions, but also a $9 raise to the minimum wage which was accompanied by the sound of monocles falling in the collective soup of the nation's plutocrats. And as agendas go it was rousing and inspiring and ambitious and probably mainly doomed, but the highlight came when Republican Senator Marco Rubio gave his televised rebuttal: during his ten minutes in which he explained why Obama's plans would destroy The America, he clearly needed a drink of water, which he took in the most awkward way possible. Those planning to go on television with a dry throat, take note: always maintain creepy eye contact when having a drink. 
It's only taken 40 years and an estimated 120,000 dead people, but there are signs that the Philippines may be heading towards a lasting peace between government and rebel forces. The hardline Islamist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (which has the most inappropriate acronym of any anti-government guerilla force we know of) has decided to cut ties with al-Qaida affiliated groups in the region and is in discussions with president Benigno Aquino, who in turn visited the rebel stronghold for face to face talked with their leader Murad Ebrahim - and brought lollies to share too! With concessions on both sides, the likely outcome will be a self-governing Muslim state within the Philippines in 2016, if Aquino can negotiate it through the nation's Congress. See, we CAN all get along!

Speaking of getting along, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott were in rare concord with the passage through the lower house of an Act of Recognition yesterday, the first step in officially acknowledging our nation's indigenous people in the Australian Constitution. Both leaders got florid with their descriptions of post-Colonial relations: Gillard called it "the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story" while Abbott went for the more metaphysical "stain on our soul", while neither plumped for "institutionalised human rights atrocity", but y'know, baby steps. It's looking likely that there'll be a referendum to amend the Constitution in 2014. Fun fact: the last successful referendum was in 1967, giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders the vote. Yep. Took our country that long.

The sanctity of Australia's noblest and crankiest of birds is under threat with the news that an emu was stolen from Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney's Blacktown. Police are baffled as to why anyone would steal an emu in the first place, which just goes to show that they've never tried to gussy up the house by installing a living Coat of Arms in their loungeroom. For those planning to give their house the equivalent of a Southern Cross tattoo, be advised that preventing the kangaroo and emu wandering off is the biggest challenge. That, and the poo. You're going to have a lot of poo.

It's the first dumping of Valentine's Day. Sorry, lovers of watching men in lycra sweatily grapple with each other, we've got some bad news: the Olympics have told wrestling that they want to see other sports. Yes, from 2020 wrestling is no longer an Olympic event, supposedly because no-one representing the sport thought to mention to the IOC that they'd like to it remain. This opens the way for Lobbying For Sports To Still Be Olympic Sports to itself become an Olympic Sport come the XXXII Olympiad.

Jesus, it's getting to the point that a man can't even lie abut the community service of a convicted felon these days. We reported a few days back that domestic abuser, Grammys sore loser and car park fisticuffs enthusiast Chris Brown was in a pickle after making hilariously made-up claims about having completed 500 of the 800-odd hours of community service he'd been sentenced to for beating the shit out of then-and-current girlfriend Rihanna, and now Bryan T Norwood - the police chief whose job it was to investigate the claims that Brown had been, say, picking up garbage whilst also on a private jet - has resigned. The mayor of Richmond, Virginia, Dwight C Jones issued a statement earlier in the week that "We've reached a mutual agreement that his time as Richmond police chief has come to an end." Whether or not Norwood was gettin' too old for this shit was not reported.

The first of what's likely to be a depressingly large amount of court cases against the BBC in the wake of the Jimmy Saville sex abuse investigations has begun: an unnamed victim has started proceedings against the British national broadcaster and NatWest, the bank that is executor of Saville's estate. The claimant's lawyer Alan Collins has gleefully added he has 31 more cases ready to roll, presumably while thumbing through a catalogue of lovely houses and deciding to buy all of them. 

And finally, anyone needing that little bit of inspiration as to whether they should go back to uni in semester two, this video ought to be all the encouragement you need. Science Now have the winner of the international Dance Your PhD competition, and it's an Australian boy! Specifically, it's Peter Liddicoat, a materials scientist at the University of Sydney, and his winning dance is all about his thesis 'Evolution of nanostructural architecture in 7000 series aluminium alloys during strengthening by age-hardening and severe plastic deformation' - which should be obvious the second you hit play, really. Science!

A super-alloy is born: The romantic revolution of Lightness & Strength from Peter Liddicoat on Vimeo.

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