News you can use - al-Qaeda chooses new leaderFirst, the big news.
Australia's plan to dispatch a whole bunch of asylum seekers to Malaysia has been officially condemned in the Australian Parliament – the first time this has ever happened – after the Greens and the Coalition banded together to pass a motion to that effect yesterday. Abbott attempted to follow this up with a censure motion against the Prime Minister, but Adam Bandt refused to take part, quite correctly declaring it a "stunt". Irrespective, I think it's safe to say that things are not going particularly well for Julia Gillard right now. And just before the anniversary of Rudd's deposition too...
Australia is on the verge of containing more migrants of Asian than European descent for the first time in its history. Classify under "remarkable moments in demographic refashioning". Because that's such a big category.
Smiling maniac and all round nice guy, Abu Bakar Bashir, was yesterday sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment due to his role in organising a training camp for a new terrorist group. Which is understandable. At the age of 72 a man has to have a hobby.
In one of the more predictable outcomes of recent times, Anthony Weiner (ah, still funny) has resigned from the US Congress in the face of mass political and public outrage over the numerous crotch shots he had been sending to women he met online. Just no coming back from that one really.
Mexico: still screwed! When you consider that some 40 000 people have been killed over the last few years of this drug war, perhaps another 33 isn't the end of the world, but, still, 33 people have been killed in the last 24 hours in Mexico. Because that's a reasonable day to day event now.
Things are getting a little panicky in Europe, where the almost certain default on Greece's debts is leading to some pretty strenuous conversations about the future of Europe. And whether it will continue to, you know, exist.
After what I presume was a rigorous and democratic election process, Osama Bin Laden's second-in-command has officially taken over as the new head of al-Qaeda. With a policy of jihad on America and a can-do attitude, Ayman al-Zawahiri was the natural choice to take on the role made so deeply popular by Bin Laden. We look forward to hearing more from him soon.
Obama has responded to a domestic challenge to the authority of the US' deployment in Libya by saying that he did not need Congressional approval for the American effort because the bombing campaign does not strictly meet the definition of "hostilities". Being instead, I presume, a bit of light bombing horseplay. Meanwhile, a group of ten members of Congress have decided to push the issue to court, a positive outcome to which would make for a very, very interesting moment in international politics. Not very often that a sitting US President/Commander in Chief would be overruled in military matters by domestic political forces.
In Libya, some suggestion that Gaddafi and the rebels are currently in negotiations, although the continuing issue of Gaddafi himself seems likely to prevent any peaceable outcome. The regime is even proffering elections, but only on the condition that Gaddafi would get to keep hanging out in some sort of symbolic position. This is, to put it lightly, less than ideal and probably enough to keep the Transitional National Council from agreeing to anything. I mean, why would they? They pretty much have NATO on tap. And now that NATO has started, it's hard to imagine them actually stopping this side of regime change.
As the unrest in Syria appears to escalate to an ever more violent end point, the Guardian on why intervention cannot be the answer.
A quick history of the 60 000 poor and mentally ill Americans who were sterilised as part of a government sponsored eugenics program which ended in 1979. Grim!
Pretty much the ultimate definition of first world problem - the idea that an excess of happiness, particularly while being raised as children, can actually produce a lingering unhappiness in adult life.
Some whimsy for your weekend - Dear Photograph, a collection of photographs of photographs taken where they were originally photographed.
Well, here's something to put our volcanic ash woes into perspective - images from a lake in Argentina that has been filled with ash by the Puyehue volcano in neighbouring Chile. I'm not really sure what this guy is hoping to achieve, but every clean up has to start somewhere, right?
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