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Humankind moves closer to its dream of a cyborg Lemmy - 10 Things

It's here, Sydney: today is set to be the hottest day in 50 years. Temperature: the Heatening. El Diablo de Celsius. Dr Sweatsy's Fun-Time Temperature Incline. The Thing The Rest Of The Country Have Already Had And Mainly Dealt With. So, y'know, stay cool, stay hydrated and - most importantly - stay the hell off social media. It's hot, yes. We all get it. You can pre-emptively shut up about it.

Today in US-flavoured crazy: internationally respected New York Times financial columnist Paul Krugman has come up with a neat idea for Obama to avoid the coming re-cliffening of the financial cliff: mint a trillion-dollar coin that the US can easily borrow against. And before you say "that's just plain stupid, the government can't just print more money when it runs into debt, that causes hyperinflation, there are laws against doing this, something something Germany something WWII," it turns out that it's not actually an impossible idea. The loophole is that, technically, the US mint can print platinum coins of any value it likes (the idea being that this was to allow the production of commemorative coins), so it could totally make one, declare it's worth a trillion dollars and boom: solved. It's a ridiculous idea, but legally and economically sound - and, as Krugman points out, Obama's not got much wriggle room if the Republicans are determined to destroy the economy to win political points: "He will, after all, be faced with a choice between two alternatives: one that’s silly but benign, the other that’s equally silly but both vile and disastrous." And man, it'll make for an amazing heist movie.

We've always had a conflicted relationship with robots. Sure, we're happy to let them build our cars, pick up the garbage from our ravaged planet and maintain our X-wings, but the shadow of Skynet is always over us since we know that, ultimately, they will take over and destroy us with their cold, unassailable logic. So, which side of the helpful pals/emotionless nemeses equation does a band made up of robots playing Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades' fall? It does lack Lemmy Kilmister's trademark vocals, sure - but as the members of Compressorhead no doubt appreciate: win some, lose some - it's all the same to me, puny biologicals. 
Things in India are clearly remaining volatile: the five men accused of raping a 23 year old woman on a bus in New Delhi appeared in court yesterday, with protests and demonstrations continuing around the country - but the trial of another gang-rape/murder (yep, another one) in Noida became a farce as rival lawyers loudly argued whether the accused men should even be defended. The local police force's failure to maintain order even in the courtroom has been seen as another example of the institutionally lackadaisical attitude to the policing of sex crimes in the country.

And that's not all: a dispute over an unpaid restaurant bill in the city of Dhule has left four people dead and an estimated 175 injured. The city has a history of religious conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, and what started as an argument over the bill escalated into a full-blown riot when the disgruntled customer returned with "50 people from his community and assaulted the restaurant owner" according to special inspector-general Deven Bharti, who then recruited his community's best and brightest in turn. The event has forced police to institute a curfew on the town. 

If you seriously doubt that we're living in the future even as our proud robots play Motorhead, our fictional space captains are communicating with our actual space captains via Twitter: specifically, William Shatner - Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek series - and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who's currently passing above your head every few hours on the International Space Station. Both are mad tweeters and when Shatner asked Hadfield if he was in space he received the reply "Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we're detecting signs of life on the surface." Cue nerdgasms around the world - and it wasn't long before George Takai (Sulu), Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: the Next Generation) to all weighed in. Adorable.

Meanwhile the man who may yet rule Israel - Naftali Bennett of the right wing Jewish Home party - has confirmed that, if elected, the two-state solution's off the table. "It's just not going to happen: a Palestinian state would be a disaster for the next 200 years," he told the Guardian in the sort of non-inflammatory statement that should guarantee peace and prosperity for everyone if his party wins enough seats come January 22. They're not likely to defeat current PM Binyamin Netanyahu, but their influence has already led to more aggressive anti-Palestinian policy - including  Netanyahu's approval of new Israeli settlements in disputed territory along the Green Mile. So yeah, things in the region ought to remain excitingly dynamic.

Funk legend George Clinton has lost the rights to four songs - including the classic 'One Nation Under A Groove' - after failing to pay his legal team. Hendricks and Lewis represented Clinton between 2005 and 2008, but a court found that the venerable Funkadelic/Parliament leader had failed to pay them over a million dollars in fees and handed the copyright for four songs over to the company. Once they raise US$1.5 million, though, the copyright reverts to Clinton. Even so, with 'The Electric Spanking of War Babies' as a potential new jingle, Hendricks and Lewis are in from some sweet times.

In a move that is, frankly, unexpected in a country notorious for solving issues of public discord by having said public mysteriously vanish, authorities in China are facing public protests against the government's heavy-handed censorship. In a move that typically ends with denials that people even exist, supporters and staff of the paper Southern Weekend protested the Communist Government's actions when they removed an editorial criticising official Tuo Zhen. And it's not just local either: what started as a small and very specific protest has turned into a national call for greater press transparency, with protests popping up around the country and all over the internet. The government have responded by blocking slogans like "Southern Weekend" and "New Year's Greeting" on Sina Weibo, the nation's main microblogging platform, upon which the official government channel posted the cryptic message "Tonight stars and clouds are changing, temperatures are drastically dropping, with a piercing cold. People need to be careful wherever they go, and be aware of their feelings." Ah, China: even your government's veiled threats are awash in timeless poetry.

And authorities should be concerned, since clearly the public have some mad skills: a hotpants-wearing girl in Guangzhou, China, was filmed using a sweet taekwondo kick to disarm a woman allegedly threatening to commit suicide in the street. The story's not entirely clear - Google Translate's version of the story doesn't clarify much, aside from that the girl "looks younger than 20 years old, wearing boots with shorts in the cold, exposed legs suck very eyes" - but the footage is pretty awesome. 
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