News you can use - Farewell Mr Squiggle
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Mr Squiggle has died. The man who played Mr Squiggle, Norman Hetherington, died yesterday morning at the age of 89. While I cannot begrudge a man of 89 his death, it weirds me out to think of children growing up without his beneficent hand guiding their misplaced artistic aspirations. Vale Mr Squiggle.
Oprah has come!... Or rather her contingent has come. Oprah herself isn't due to arrive until Friday - when she hangs out with both Julia Gillard and Jon Bon Jovi - but that's not going to stop her cadre of gawping gift vacuums from seeing all the best that Australia has to offer. According to the 7PM Project's Carrie Bickmore, primary amongst these are the McCafe's at which all the Aussie blokes and sheilas hang out. You sold us out Bickmore!
More Australian Wikileaks fun, this time with still to be released cables identifying 23 Yemen-based Australians who the US suspects of terrorism, as well as six high value targets around Australia that the US saw as being potential terrorist fodder. Included on the list: two South Australian factories that produce the world's only supply of rattlesnake antivenin - the US evidently still seeing us as being made up of 5% blokes, 5% sheilas, 90% terrifyingly dangerous animals - a Melbourne sedative factory and a magnesium mine. Not included on the list: any of our numerous laser tag facilities. Phew.
The extent of our failures in trying to secure the World Cup are becoming more evident, as The Age dredges up a list of gifts and favours we offered to various FIFA officials and journalists in return for their vote. Which perhaps explains why we felt quite so betrayed by our $46 million failure.
Overseas Wikileaks fun now, with cables now showing what everybody already knew but which noone really liked to acknowledge because gosh aren't they just being so helpful in the War on Terror, namely that Saudi Arabia is basically the financial epicentre of global Islamic terrorism. And that the US is in full knowledge of this. And has been for quite some time. But hey, their dictator isn't quite as high profile as certain others, so let's all just turn a blind eye, shall we? Also out over the last 24 hours - a list of high impact terrorist targets around the world and notes on negotiations surrounding last year's aborted Copenhagen conference on climate change. Also interesting - the suggestion that Qatar uses influence with the putatively independent Al Jazeera news network as part of its negotiations with other nations. To which I say, GIVE US BACK OUR WORLD CUP YOU SELFISH BASTARDS!
Israel has been on fire, but it's better now, thanks for asking. Always strange when you hear about countries in the Middle East being afflicted by forest fires, because the first thought that jumps into your mind is "don't be ridiculous, they don't have any trees". But then you realise, well, yes, they probably do have trees, and more to the point, that's probably what everyone thinks about Australia...
A brilliant piece of analysis on the generally shameful nature of the attacks currently being launched against Julian Assange. To be followed up by this explanation of why he hasn't actually done anything illegal. Oh yeah, and you know the "rape" allegation? Turns out it's actually a uniquely Swedish and far less serious offence called - hilariously - "sex by surprise". Sounds like he's more a bit of an asshole, rather than an out and out rapist. All of which is really just to say that Assange's actions are certainly complicated and the necessary good of at least parts of this release can be debated, but the way authorities, companies and media outlets have so readily turned on him over the course of this past week has been worryingly peremptory and shallow. If anything, I'd say the paucity of the response has proved the necessity of a Wikileaks-style project all the more.
In the wake of the arrest of a 14 year old Mexican boy with a passion for punitive beheadings last week, PM's Mark Colvin interviews a Mexican correspondent about the changes seen in the increasingly violence wracked nation. Those changes can largely be summed up as "more mutilated bodies left hanging in public spaces".
The best way of getting to grips with the Wikileaks diplomatic cable onslaught? The Atlantic's Cablegate Chronicles, a carefully curated selection of the oddest, funniest and most gossipy memos to come from this most recent tranche and featuring such hits as '...And then the taunting, the yelling and the photos begin', a description of the death of Saddam Hussein, and 'Haitian President goes Clubbing', which is, uh, about the Haitian President going clubbing. My personal favourite though: this legitimately LOL-worthy four part account of an insanely lavish wedding in the Caucasus, 'The Oligarch's Wedding' - The Setting, Lunch, Day 1 and Day 2.
And now for a list - seven batshit mental dictators of the modern age. My favourite is the one who changed the name of bread to the name of his mother.
With Silvio Berlusconi perhaps within days of being finally ousted from power, here's a highlight from his back catalogue - a video of him jokingly air humping a female parking inspector. What a larrikin.
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