News you can use - Rudd still not Prime MinisterNews
Kevin Rudd, overseas for some high-end diplomacy and/or to get a handy vantage point from which to watch his colleagues eat each other, has once again dodged questions about his leadership aspirations, repeatedly referring to the fact that it's not even a question because we already have a Prime Minister, but grinning like the Cheshire Cat every time he says it. Much like in 2010, I'm starting to get the feeling that we're rapidly approaching a media-driven point of no return, a point where the amount of coverage and speculation has reached such a critical mass that, actual preferences of the parties involved notwithstanding, they'll have to hash it out soon. At which point their options are: keep a Prime Minister who, already beaten beyond recognition, will have had both her legs chopped off too; reinstall an electorally popular man who could cause the resignation of the entire Cabinet; or vote in Simon Crean and never see the light of day again. Positive choices abound! As it stands, Rudd doesn't have the numbers to make a spill worthwhile (currently about 60-30 to Gillard) and doesn't really want to be the instigator in all this anyway. Much better to just sit back, enjoy the show and harvest numbers while continuing to play the innocent.
And again, there's the slightly surprising fact that the business of government still rolls on underneath. Yesterday saw the release of the Gonski report into school funding, the first overview of the field conducted in over 30 years. The report recommends major funding increases to public schools, along with a model of private school assistance that takes into account certain standardised costs of educating a child, but with a promise to take it to the states to see what they think, we can probably safely assume that the fruits of this report will not be seen until after the next election.
More fun for Julia Gillard: tonight she hosts the three gay couples who were the recipients of a dinner with the PM bought by GetUp last year. Cripplingly awkward conversation with the your lamb, anyone?
Yemen heads to the polls today for a ceremonial vote that will see President Saleh deposed in favour of his Vice-President. Who is the only candidate standing in the elections. So we won't call it pure democracy, but he will nonetheless be the fourth leader deposed by the Arab Spring. Which, curiously, makes it as politically damaging as the EU crisis, also on its fourth scalp.
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have arrived in Tehran to resume talks about the prospect of readmitting the agency to the country. Hard to know whether this is a genuine gesture on Iran's part or just a desperate play to buy some more time without the international community lynching them. However, already facing the most stringent sanctions in decades and with costs of living soaring and parliamentary elections due on March 2, there's every possibility the regime is starting to feel the pinch of self-preservation.
Robert Mugabe just turned 88 and is determined to continue ruling Zimbabwe for the foreseeable future. WHY WON'T YOU JUST DIE, YOU SCROTAL PARASITE?!
In one of the less surprising happenings of the last decade, this Sunday Rupert Murdoch will be replacing the News of the World title he so summarily destroyed last year with a brand new Sun on Sunday, so now you can read your tawdry selection of salacious rumour, destructive innuendo and topless women every day of the week. He must be so proud of what he's wrought. Depressingly, I think he probably is.
The prospect of mutually assured destruction looms ever larger in the Republican consciousness, with Rick Santorum looking like he might take the nomination in Michigan, Romney's home state. Quite rightly, his rivals point out that not taking your home state is usually the mark of a failed candidacy, so expect a lot, and I mean a lot, of hand wringing/the entrance of a last minute candidate if this happens on February 28.
And here comes the towering wave of Rudd-related political analysis. Written for you, so I don't have to. Annabel Crabb writes about why this is so tragic for the Labor Party, Bernard Keane writes about the fact that Rudd and Gillard are essentially the same anyway and David Marr looks at why we still seem to like Rudd after all he's done.
As Russia rounds the corner on elections that will determine whether Vladimir Putin strides back into the Kremlin for another 8 years, the world's attention turns toward this strange and abjectly depressing land. The Daily Beast is leading with a fascinating investigation of a childhood that almost nothing is known about, Eurozine looks at the irrevocable erosion of Putin's authority over the last six months, and Foreign Policy summarises the "Dictator's Dilemma" – exactly how much should I win an election by? I bet Julia Gillard wishes for that kind of power every day...
At £250 000 ($290 000), It could well be the most expensive hamburger ever created, but this spring will witness the cooking and consumption of the world's first synthetically grown burger patty. Which may or may not end up being cooked by Heston Blumenthal. Don't expect it to trouble the McDonald's menu any time soon, but synthetic meat could provoke social change on a scale on par with the internet, so it's an interesting development.
Iran: home of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a medieval approach to Islam and an increasingly large number of lady ninjas. Left with the sorts of life choices usually afforded to well off dogs, many women are turning to martial arts to channel their rage. This includes around 3500 practitioners of ninjitsu, the modern artoculation of the ninja ethos. An unexpected photoset in the Guardian.
An example of some typically superlative letter writing from The West Australian. Every day was an adventure with that paper.
Well, it's not all that different from yesterday's video, but here's the K-Rudd swearing fiesta chopped up and set to some PHAT BEATZ. The head nod really does it for me.
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