News you can use - Greece passes austerity measures as violence rages
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The carbon tax teeters towards an agreement that might actually allow a real policy to be put to the Australian people, with the announcement that the Greens and Labor had reached agreement on a number of issues, with hope for a finished proposal within two weeks. Like, actual policy. That perhaps we can have an actual discussion about. Rather than this sequence of histrionic declarations and counter-declarations that have done nothing except to debase our already pretty debased national dialogue. Not that I imagine anything pesky such as "details" would stop a man like Tony Abbott in his tracks. There's a whipping boy to be whipped! In other fun news, as of tomorrow, the Greens single-handedly take the balance of power in the Senate. What fun!
Defying 48 hours of general strikes and often violent protests, the Greek parliament has passed a wave of drastic austerity measures to try and save the country from defaulting on its comically over-sized debt. This is one of the final steps required for them to receive the next batch of 110 billion euro in loans from the EU/IMF which are the only thing keeping them from immediate bankruptcy. And with that the international financial community took a single, short, but slightly relieved breath. The Greek parliament is back in session today to pass laws aimed at actually implementing the changes.
Egyptian protesters have been showing the Greeks how its done, with 1000 reportedly injured in a flare up of tensions over the last couple of days. The violence is the worst since the fall of Mubarak, with heavily armed riot police confronting rock flinging protesters angry about the slow pace of reform. The transitional military junta has gone a bit Syria and blamed the protests on "sedition", which does seem to give the protesters' qualms some credence.
So, yesterday's assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul wasn't the best start from a post-withdrawal announcement Afghanistan. The affair was started with 5 or so suicide bombers wreaking havoc in the lobby and was ended a few hours later when NATO helicopters fired missiles to kill three militants making a last stand on the roof. Ten Afghans died, along with eight militants, the true wonder being how none of the many foreigners staying in the hotel were taken down in the carnage. I mentioned it yesterday, but it probably bears repeating: the hotel was, at the time of the attack, holding a conference to talk about Afghanistan after the departure of the Americans. Yep.
In Libya, still in the midst of awkward stalemate, France has become the first country to admit to actively arming the rebel armies, a fact which might explain their recent, unexpected successes in the country's west. And in Syria, well, the situation is bad enough that people are legitimately excited about being in refugee camps in Turkey because of the comparative sense of freedom.
The first of the US' 30-odd legal claims against universal health care – yes, they're still massively angry about the prospect of letting poor people have medical care – has been rejected in Cincinatti, a reassuring sign for the Obama Administration. Of course, it's gone straight to appeal, but it's a good start for an issue likely to continue dominating the debate for the next 15 months of pre-election patter. And speaking of Obama, here he is addressing the National Robotics Centre at Carnegie Mellon: "One of my responsibilities as Commander in Chief is to keep an eye on robots. And I’m pleased to report that the robots you manufacture here seem peaceful. At least for now."
On China's expanding influence in Zimbabwe, where a deeply corrupt regime and desperate poverty are leading to a fire sale of Zimbabwe's resources and some sort of strange, neo-colonial vibe. Also to be classified under the always expanding archive of 'Robert Mugabe is a dick'. Selling your country's $40 billion platinum deposits for $3 billion? You're 87! Why are you still alive?!
How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD - a pretty remarkable and devastatingly frank account of a journalist returning from the horrors of Haiti and finding solace in extreme sex.
Prepare to have your fragile little mind blown: sounds that have been designed by engineers to make humans feel better. ATM whirring? Car door thunks? LIES, ALL LIES!
Maths battle throw down! Tuesday was Tau-Day, the day of the year when tau enthusiasts get enthusiastic about the prospect of tau replacing pi as humanity's mathematical constant of choice. The reasons are pretty arcane – although, at a basic level tau is 6.28, rather than pi's 3.14 – but tau suffers from the fact that a) they're about 4000 years after the fact; and b) the whole pi/pie pun thing has got a lot of cultural traction and tau doesn't really pun well with anything...
The Pope has an iPad. And knows how to use it. Kind of. I dunno. This video creeps me out a little. It's like a whole bunch of mad doctors standing around a patient they've just lobotomised and watching him struggle with tasks that were once simple. Vanity Fair has a deconstruction.
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