Nature vs Australia II: the Soakening - 10 Things
Who's saying what
We had bushfires and record-breaking heatwaves, now nature is trying a different tack to get us the hell out of its country. Queensland is still reeling from a nest of cyclones hitting all at once, bringing extensive flooding - with Brisbane set to be flooded again either today or Tuesday, even as the storms themselves shimmy along the coast past Newcastle and down to Sydney. Speaking of which, if you're reading this from QLD and are about to drive back to NSW, stop reading and start driving: there's a decent chance the coastal highways are going to be closed so either get going now or find somewhere to hunker down for a bit.
At least 232 people are dead after a fire roared through a packed nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, on Saturday night after a band decided it would be a great idea to light flares on stage which ignited the ceiling. In a terrifyingly similar event to the Great White fire (in which 100 people died at a club in Rhode Island when US band Great White's pyrotechnics set fire to the soundproofing), the fire quickly spread through the Kiss nightclub - which only had one exit, which was apparently locked. Expect the news to get even more unpleasant as more details emerge.
So, has the Warmest 100 been a game changer? The website set up by stats nerds using the publicly available social media data about Hottest 100 voting successfully picked the entire top ten and got the order right for half of it, including the top three. Will we see the Js changing their public voting, or does this just make people more excited? In case you missed it, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis took out the #1 spot with 'Thrift Shop' - a return to the hallowed days of novelty songs taking out top positions. And with that in mind, let's go back to 1993 and remember the first time the Hottest 100 was won by a song you inexplicably loved at the time and yet couldn't understand for the life of you why you voted for a few years down the track.
Warriors, come out and pla-yay! Forces in Mali were a bit surprised when they rumbled into Timbuktu (yes, it's a real place) all ready to fight the insurgents that have been successfully claiming territory through the West African nation, only to find that, um, they'd gone missing. There is some concern that Timbuktu was quiet… too quiet… but the French and combined African forces are no pressing on to Kidal, which remains in rebel hands. Or at least, so they're assured.
Silvio Berlusconi's presumably thought that taking another run at the top job in Italy would be a fun distraction from all those charges of bribery, fraud, corruption and various sex-trade-related offences which he's currently fighting in court. So you can understand why he might not have time to really think hard about whether or not it might be, say, a great idea to suggest that Mussolini might have been a pretty OK guy with an unfortunate penchant for anti-Semitism that blighted an otherwise fine record of public service, and doing so at an event commemorating the Holocaust. Yes, the colourful former PM, convicted felon, horndog and media magnate (who also reportedly dozed off during the ceremony, because nothing was performing oral sex upon him and he's Silvio Berlusconi so who can blame him?) bemoaned the plucky little fascist dictator's treatment of the Jews and alliance with Hitler, especially since he was a chap "who, in many other ways, by contrast, did well". The response has not, it's fair to say, been especially positive.
And since Italy are one of the largest and crappiest economies in the Eurozone, one can understand why people are considering a return to the Berlusconi-era policies of massive public spending on Berlusconi with some concern (in our favourite Berlusconi story, the man spent public funds on getting priceless works of art installed in his own house, including replacing a penis on one statue which time and ill-care had rendered tragically wangless). So best of luck there, UK Labour leader Nick Clegg, in trying to sell the British public the idea that a referendum on whether the nation remains in the EU would be a bad idea. That said, having seen the bounce that David Cameron got in the polls since announcing his promise to give Brits the vote on the EU, he's also saying they should totally do something like that - just not now, when the economy's looking the way it does. So at least everyone's on board with political point scoring rather than rational policy making, then.
But who needs to look overseas for dodgy politics when we can gaze upon the wonder that is Tony Abbott's bestest pal Cory Bernardi, SA Senator, climate change denier, Islamophobe and gay-marriage-is-basically-bestiality advocate. It turns out that the playful li'l hatemonger forgot to mention his ties to US right-wing group the American Legislative Exchange Council, the powerhouse behind the Tea Party and organisation currently fighting against US gun control efforts. And it's funny that he hadn't mentioned his involvement with them, since he's the chair of the Senate standing committee whose responsibility it is to make these exact sorts of relationships public - but then, you can see why this sort of thing would slip his mind. It's reportedly making some of his Liberal party colleagues a bit antsy, especially those who see John Howard's sweeping gun reforms in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre as being the high point of his leadership.
Oh, bless you Mike Joyce. The former drummer from the Smiths still thinks there's a chance that the legendary Manchester band could yet reform, despite the fact that frontman Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr have definitively ruled it out for the last quarter century since the band split, and also since Joyce successfully sued them from unpaid mechanical royalties in the 90s (and was subsequently defamed by Morrissey in song, the hilariously awful 'Sorrow Will Come In The End', for which Joyce also got a settlement after he threatened to sue). "If they asked me, I'd probably say yes," he adorably told the NME. "If you put everyone in the same room it’s amazing how things can turn around." Also, Alison from year nine maths? If you want to give Mike a call, he'd totally be up for getting a drink. No pressure.
Wikipedia are umming and ahhing over whether the late Jill Meagher deserves a whole page on the site just because she was raped and murdered last September, with one online commentator reportedly suggesting that "events should be included only if they had a 'lasting influence' or had an impact on society over the long term." Which makes this as good a time as any to remind everyone of what happened: the 29 year old ABC staffer and Irish national was abducted, raped and murdered while walking from her local to her home in Brunswick on Sept 21 last year, with her body discovered in a shallow grave in Gisbourne South a week later after the arrest of Adrian Earnest Brady. There were two marches in her name in Brunswick with over 30,000 people n attendence and it appeared to be a watershed moment in the debate over whether or not women should have the right to feel safe in the street (among a lot of hand-wringing about whether she should have gotten a male to accompany her and whether or not she must have lead someone on with her feminine wiles and other must-have-been-her-fault bullshit). So: how about we keep that momentum going and honour Meagher's memory with some sort of social change, starting with a once-and-for-all end to blaming victims of assault for having the temerity to walk in their own neighbourhood, if only to give Wikipedia an excuse to retain the page?
And finally, here's a fun new game for you kids and your civil disobedience: Camover! It's where you go around smashing CCTV cameras whilst ironically filming yourself on your own camera and uploading it to YouTube in a 1984-meets-A-Clockwork-Orange celebration of state control and recreational violence. It's the dystopian vision of the future that everyone can enjoy! As long as the young people continue to stay off our lawn, we're fine with it.