New Zealand's war on kitties has begun - 10 ThingsWe're not afraid to get political here at TheVine, and we're prepared to nail our colours to the mast and make boldly partisan statements like the following: we don't care for the Taliban. They just don't seem like they'd be fun at parties, we find their strict interpretation of Sharia law to be inflexible at best, and overall they're just a bit too… well, terroristy for our tastes. However, we've found ourselves in unexpected agreement with them on the subject of Prince Harry, who recently told the press that he totally killed a guy while serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan and described being a gunner on an Apache helicopter as "a joy for me because I'm one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I'm probably quite useful." Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid responded "I think he has a mental problem, that's why he is saying it is a game." When the Taliban start saying you're nuts, you need to really have a think about how you're presenting yourself.
New Zealand's known for a lot of things: its beautiful environment, spectacular vistas, fine wines, rich musical legacy, and unparalleled access to Hobbits. However, it's now set to be known for another reason: hating kitties. In a move that puts the plucky nation in direct conflict with the second most popular reason for the internet, environmental crusader Dr Gareth Morgan is calling on New Zealanders to "make their current pet cat their last" with a view to eradicating the adorable scourge from the islands, pointing out that NZ had a whole mess of awesome avian wildlife before cats came along and wrecked the joint. Opposition to his Cats To Go website has been predictably fierce, given that NZ has one of the highest cat-to-household ratios in the world (41%, fact fans), but also from pockets of pro-cat environmental scientists who argue that egg-eating rodents have been a far bigger problem for kiwis and other NZ birdlife and that, if anything, cats have been a bit helpful in that regard. Speaking of which, Morgan is also attempting to raise $1 million to eradicate mice from the remote Antipodes islands, which is actually a great idea. But while we're here: kitties!
If you're feeling a bit stressed out and time-poor, then the UN has some good news for you: the world is set to have more leisure time in 2013. Or, more specifically, global unemployment is set to hit a new all-time high - but why do you have to put such a negative spin on it, International Labour Organisation? Yes, the ILO have released a report predicting a record 202 million unemployed worldwide in 2013, mainly in the US and Europe, thanks in large part to "incoherent monetary policy" in the G20 countries - principally, the politically-driven debt ceiling negotiations in the US and the failure to focus struggling economies in the Eurozone. So: party at Spain's house?
The hot new exciting totally now music drive way of the future MySpace is already turning heads - specifically, the heads of lawyers representing independent labels who are a wee bit curious as to why the service is using their tracks without permission. The once-dominant social media site had negotiated rights with Merlin, the European umbrella organisation that represents the likes of Rough Trade, the Beggars Group, Merge, Domino and other oh-so-cool indies, but that deal expired in 2011 and hasn't been renewed. In response, spokesperson Neda Azarfar rather sniffily said that MySpace had "decided not to renew its contract with Merlin" and insisted any tracks up on the service must have had been uploaded by users of the service. We had no idea that Justin Timberlake was that big a Scritti Politti fan.
More national pride, fellow Australians: following yesterday's revelation that Australia is among the world's least affordable countries to own a home comes the news that we're set to become second only to China in the hotly-contested field of carbon emissions, at least if 14 new projects mining coal and gas are approved. The forecast is made by Greenpeace - who are, it's fair to say, not huge fans of the mining industry - and based on data from sustainability consultants Ecofys, and make the prediction that our little ol' industry could contribute over 300 billion tonnes of carbon to the biosphere by 2050. Dare to dream, Australia. Dare to dream.
Every so often in the news-accumulating game one will see a story - say, that investigations are continuing into who exactly uploaded the video of Kevin Rudd swearing on camera a year ago, just after he announced a challenge to Julia Gillar'd leadership - and think "well, it's not all that huge a story - but it's an excuse to link to a funny video!" So: that's what's happening, and you're welcome.
In a move that certainly doesn't play to any national stereotypes that we know of, a motion was passed in the Irish county of Kerry yesterday to allow drunk driving. Specifically, this proposed law would give police the freedom to not charge people with more than the legal amount of alcohol in their system if they fancy it. The argument goes that people in the most isolated and public-transport-free parts of the county are being driven to depression and suicide by their inability to get out and socialise at the pub lest they lose their license, and letting people drive drunk would certainly be cheaper from an infrastructure point of view than, y'know, buses. It also appears to be a beneficiary of some very good timing, as the Journal reports: it was passed by "five votes to three…seven councillors abstained while 12 were absent when the vote was taken towards the end of a long meeting." Every time we slip a piece of legislation through when no-one's around, take a shot!
Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you just need to make lemonade. And sometimes when life gives you a barista unable to open the till of the Starbucks you're attempting to rob, you should accept the free cup of coffee they offer instead, and then just sort of hang around the car park until police turn up and arrest you for attempted robbery. That's what Phillip Sawdey did in Huntsville, Alabama on Sunday morning, and we're certain he feels perfectly sanguine about his decisions. Carpe diem, Phil!
Enormous PR gaffe, or cry for help? That's the question we're asking about Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, who isn't having any of that venerating-the-elderly stuff that Japan is so well known for, complaining on Monday that the nation's old people are a drain on the economy and that they should "hurry up and die" rather than cost the state valuable money on fripperies like health care. And we could dismiss this out of hand as being the predictable bleating of a right wing nut who doesn't understand how this whole state's-responsibility-to-the-citizens-that-comprise-and-fund-it thing works, but Aso is 72 years old - hardly a spring chicken. So we want to ask: has anyone checked in with him? Is he OK? Maybe someone should remove the sharper cutlery for a little bit, just until he settles down.
And finally, watch an old Welsh man wrestle a shark in Queensland. Paul Marshallsea, we salute you.
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