News you can use - the end of news you can use
Who's saying what
Now, ON TO THE NEWS!
Well, that makes things interesting. At 130 am Washington time (i.e. just in time for the evening news over here), Kevin Rudd appeared before a weary press cabal to announce that he was resigning from the position of Foreign Minister because he no longer felt he had the confidence of Julia Gillard and her Cabinet. Which he definitely didn't. However, the timing of the announcement and the fact he did it without even talking to Gillard suggests that this is less about saving the good governance of Australia than it is firing the first shot in the almost inevitable leadership spill next Monday. It's hard to imagine he'll have anywhere near the numbers required to take Gillard down, especially after an act of political bastardry like this one, but it will be easier for him to foment dissent from the backbench, where he can really push the fact that if Gillard remains in power, on current polling numbers, a whole bunch of his colleagues will be unemployed next year. And for the rest of us? Well, on the plus side, it probably means that after next Monday the media will have to talk about something else for a while. Which is a nice thought, but really just means Tony Abbott gets to start speaking again. What a genital wart.
Guards have once again been repelled from Kerobokan prison, the home of Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine, after a second night of rioting tore through the massively overcrowded facility. No word yet on how our Schapelle or our Bali Nine are faring, but at least it's spicing up the monotony of prison life a little.
Two journalists, England's Marie Colvin (who had a bad-ass eye patch) and France's Remi Ochlik, have died/been killed/been deliberately murdered in Syria, after the Government began its horrific bombardment of the city of Homs. One of the few journalists on the ground in the beleaguered country, both had been telling a tale of ceaseless bloodshed and cruelties by the Assad government. Colvin's final post from the warzone makes for harrowing reading. While international opinion was already pretty against Syria, the killing of journalists is frowned upon by almost everybody... except perhaps for stalwart Syrian allies Russia and China, for whom it has, in the past, been a perfectly acceptable government initiative.
Kill hundreds of their countrymen and the Afghans just wear it, but accidentally burn a few Korans and you got yourself an incipient riot there, buddy. The US is apologising profusely after some of its soldiers incinerated a couple of Korans the other day. Next thing you know, 5000 locals are hurling rocks and burning shit and the blackened pages of the holy book have been sent to Kabul for further inspection. Yep, I imagine the US cannot wait to be out of that place.
In the good news basket: India is on the verge of entirely eradicating polio, which would make it the fourth last country on Earth to do so. Oh happy day!
Malcolm Farnsworth with a surprisingly enthusiastic take on the rich Australian tradition of the political challenge.
Amidst all the international moralising over Syria, a skewering of the idea that anyone has clean hands in this affair.
On Iran and the creeping approach of Obama's Bay of Pigs moment.
The problem of America's prison system, a country that currently incarcerates people at a higher rate than ever achieved by Stalin's Gulag Archipelago.
A profile of Dick Tuck, the greatest prankster in American political history. Best part was, he was actually employed by JFK to be a professional asshole. My favourite: the 1968 campaign where he hired pregnant women to show up at Nixon rallies wearing T-shirts that said "Nixon's the One".
Well, this is something to worry about for no good reason - the capacity of the placebo effect to kill you in your sleep.
Venezuela shows us how negative campaigning is really done – after another contender for Hugo Chavez's Presidency finally emerged, Chavez turned on him violently, calling him, among other things, a "low-life pig" and, more astoundingly, a "mendacious gay Nazi Zionist".
It's easy to get lost in the negative when you track the news day in, day out, looking for any small shift in humanity's grand capacity for cruelty to itself. So, I thought it only fitting that we wind this column down with pure, unadorned laughter. Enjoy your day. It's been real.
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