Iran's space programme provides a Vine masterclass in hilarity, racism - 10 Things

He's always in the last place you look: a skeleton found beneath a car park in Leicester has been identified as being that of Richard III, English king, Shakespearean protagonist and final Plantagenet monarch before being defeated by Henry Tudor (aka Henry VII) at Bosworth Field during the War of the Roses in 1485. The lines of enquiry are several: one, the skeleton has the spinal deformity that the plucky monarch was known for; two, that DNA testing found a match with two of the known members of the Plantagenet family line; and three, that the site also had remains of the Grey Friars church, where Richard was known to be buried but the location of which had been lost to history. There are also ten or so wounds on the skeleton, most of which were probably dealt posthumously, so now authorities can begin the arduous task of bringing his killers to justice. And frankly, they'll probably find it a relief after carrying that sort of guilt for 528 years. 

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was so displeased with our fiery criticism of Iran's monkey-swapping space programme yesterday that he's come out swinging. He's now insisting that he's willing to be the first human sent into space by his nation's scientists - a big call since Iran hasn't even mastered monkey-photo-doctoring technology, much less manned space flight. "I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists," he declared yesterday, although given that he's just publicly accused his likely political successor Ali Larijani of corruption, has just had his ninth minister impeached by the Iranian parliament (thanks for playing, Labour Minister Abdul-Reza Sheikholeslami!) and since he no longer appears to be in the good books of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, heading into space is probably a shrewd exit strategy.

Did you notice how that last joke was both hilarious and educational, allowing you to giggle at the thought of Ahmadinejad ending his rule by escaping into space like Artoo and Threepio while also giving you an accurate picture of the political landscape of modern Iran? Well, John McCain, former US presidential hopeful and current Tea Party ideologue and racist, thought he'd make a far less sophisticated stab at humour with a tweet yesterday: "So Ahmadinejad wants to be first Iranian in space - wasn't he just there last week? "Iran launches monkey into space"" Oddly enough, people got a bit antsy at the senator rocking the well-worn but comedically weak "brown person equals monkey" trope, leading him to follow-up with "lighten up folks, can't everyone take a joke?" - to which Michigan Republican congressman Justin Amash countered "Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes." That, friends, is a solid heckle. Similarly: the picture of Ahmadinejad in space that Gizmodo did and we used above? Hilarious! 

In infinitely more inspiring news, Malala Yousafzai - the 14 year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head last October by Taliban gunmen for her blasphemous desire for an education - has given her first public interview since the attempted assassination, and in this clip she announces the foundation of a fund to fight for universal education for girls in Pakistan. Just try not to tear up. And seriously, Taliban, shooting an articulate and passionate young woman in the head for wanting an education? At the very least - the very least - that's the sort of PR faux pas that's going to be hard to come back from. Especially since she's now in the harder-to-get-at-her UK and is clearly going to be one of those people that changes the world. 
Julia Gillard must be looking forward to September with impatience, since it'll be win-win: either she'll pull off an unlikely victory and retain the Prime Ministership, or she'll lose and never again have to endure speculation as to whether Kevin Rudd has the numbers for a leadership challenge. Which is what's happening right now, obviously, because it's been weeks since punters last wondered whether the former PM and failed-leadership-challenge enthusiast was ready to spring another attack on his ex-deputy. We've done this before, haven't we?  

Poor Axl Rose. Can he never get a break? His latest indignity is coming at the hands of Activision, who look set to not have to pay him US$20 million for the use of 'Welcome to the Jungle' in Guitar Hero III, for which Rose gave the company permission and for which he was paid a lot of money. Naturally, this being Axl Rose, that sort of insult cannot stand and he launched a suit against the gaming giant declaring that they were in breach of contract, principally because they've used a character in the game series that looks like Slash, former Guns n' Roses guitarist and person that Rose hates like a bitter ex-girlfriend. Superior Court Judge Charles Palmer announced, possibly while giggling, that he was inclined to dismiss the suit out of hand - not least because Rose took three years to file against the 2007 game - but that sure, if he really wants to throw a hissy fit in court then let's do it later this month. Should end well.

You know how the closest asteroid ever is whizzing past us later this month, making us a little bit antsy about the whole being-made-extinct-by-space-rocks thing? Well, more good news: a new study printed in Earth and Planetary Science Letters suggests that the impact that ended the Cretaceous period and killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago quite possibly was a binary impact - two asteroids orbiting one another - rather than one big one. Which is interesting, and a hell of a lot harder to deflect by any of the (still unavailable) means by which we're thinking of using. Katarina Miljković at the Institute of Earth Physics in Paris, told New Scientist "I am not sure if any of the proposed asteroid deflection techniques could deflect both binary components with a single weapon." So, keep watching the skies, since you won't be sleeping any time soon.

Looking for that perfect Hollywood Hills home that combines traditional/Modernist fusion design with existential horror from beyond the veil of sleep? Then you're in luck: the house from A Nightmare On Elm Street is up for sale! Yep, a cool $US2.1 million will score you this perfect family dwelling complete with pool, garden, open plan kitchen-living area and terrifying wall demons (not advertised). Oooh, and a Bertazzoni stove!

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has pushed through tough new laws on rape and sexual assault, replacing the existing laws that apparently pretty much went "pfft, like we give a shit." It follows national protests in the wake of a series of horrific gang rapes, one of which ended with the death of a woman in New Delhi. The laws are effective immediately, although since Parliament is currently in recess the laws haven't actually been ratified - which will need to happen within six months. 

And finally: awwww, kitten! And also a valuable lesson in… who are we kidding? Kitten! 
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