Our Sydney-based weather machine reaps diabolical results - 10 things

Following the example of Channel Nine's NYE coverage, as discussed here only yesterday, Australia's weather has become inexcusably Sydney-centric. The rest of the nation is about to get a mad dose of heat - high 30s for Hobart, Canberra and Perth, 40s for Melbourne and Adelaide, at least of a week of 40+ for central Australia - while it's going to be mid-high 20s and really quite delightful in Sydney (and Brisbane, the Sydney of the North). It's also kinda-sorta in keeping with rainfall patterns over the last century, by the way: eastern states are getting more - hence those exciting floods in recent times - while everything left of the SA border is getting more and more parched. So basically Nature is out to get everything that's not in Sydney, is what we're saying.

Like any great piece of entertainment, the US Congress waited up the last minute to resolve the question "should we plunge our nation into years of untenable chaos?" before going "…yeah, nah" and passing legislation that avoids the "fiscal cliff" and is actually a pretty decent compromise: Republicans didn't get the service cuts they wanted but they did preserve tax cuts; Democrats didn't get the tax increases they were gunning for but preserved protections for the middle- and lower-classes. And Tea Partiers are having meltdowns about how this is not the America they died for, or something, but most of them should be out of the way when the new Congress takes over in February.

Well, it's taken a while but the perennial Xmas favourite 'Fairytale of New York' - the timeless duet between Irish-via-UK folk-punks the Pogues and the late, great Kirsty MacColl has become the 126th UK single to pass the one million sales mark, a mere quarter century after its release. It got to #2 in 1987, but has been a top ten hit almost every year since 2005, when digital downloads started to contribute to the UK charts. And let's face it, it's also one of the best songs ever - just like Aerosmith's 'I Don't Want to Miss A Thing' which also ticked over the million sales mark in 2012. OK, maybe not the best example.
Oh, Jenny Macklin. Turns out that making the claim that one could live on $35 a day - as is the lot for folks on Newstart allowance, which now includes an extra 80,000 folks who've had their parenting payment removed - is just going to piss a whole lot of people off. Now, there is some doubt that the federal Families Minister did actually say that she'd be able to live on $35 a day but that hasn't stopped Greens firebrand Adam Barndt getting all Super Size Me on her arse and declaring that he's going to try it for a week and see if it's actually possible. "There has been inquiry after inquiry, report after report saying this is an income that's below the poverty line," Bandt told reporters. "Perhaps the minister needs some first-hand experience, maybe that will change her mind." Macklin's office declined to comment, except to say that Newstart's not their area of responsibility and to go pester Employment Minister Bill Shorten about it, if you love the dole so much.

Fighting in the Central African Republic has paused for a bit while the Séléka coalition of rebel fighters cease seizing settlements and mining operations in order to give president Francois Bozizé a bit of time to rethink a proposed peace deal, and maybe about taking another line of work. "I am in discussion with our partners to come up with proposals to end the crisis, but one solution could be a political transition that excludes Bozizé," said Séléka spokesperson and master of understatement Eric Massi. it's worth mentioning that Bozizé has been elected twice by the people of the Republic, although - this being central Africa - he did originally get the gig through a military coup in 2003.

So, you've been drinking energy drinks and wondering where that burst of sudden power comes: is it taurine? Glucuronolactone? A scientific balance of carefully concocted ingredients proven to improve performance? A shittonne of caffeine? Turns out it's the latter and you're better off with a NoDoz or, for that matter, a cup of coffee since they're both a lot cheaper and have more caffeine in 'em. That's why we'll be ordering ourselves a nice hot ginandtonicacinno on our next big club night, thanks.

Light a candle for the Unknown Paparazzo this evening, readers, as an unnamed photographer has died from his injuries after being run over while trying to photograph Justin Bieber's Ferrari (which Bieber wasn't reportedly in at the time - suggesting that his car has developed a Herbie: The Love Bug level of sentience). It's a genuine tragedy - a man is dead, after all - but for this? Seriously? Still, we're quietly confident that this photographer's sacrifice will lead to a period of finger-pointing and discussions about our intrusive celebrity culture before continuing on exactly as before.

Oh, you know how we said the other day that deaths in the current Syrian civil war were estimated at around 40,000? Up that to 60,000. Any time you want to step in is fine, United Nations, but now might be good.

Hugo Chávez is fine, honest, and you should stop all this talk about how the Venezulean president is about to die in a Cuban hospital. That's the message from vice-president Nicolás Maduro, who reckons that everyone's focussing far too much on some silly little third round of surgery to remove an abscessed tumour, and not enough on how lovely a day it is and how pretty the sky looks this time of year. And also, they should stop worrying that Chávez may not be healthy enough to be sworn in as president on the 10th of January for his fourth term, definitely. Nothing to worry about. He's fine. If anything, probably too fine. Anyway, aren't puppies adorable? Who fancies a game of Uno?

And finally: metal legend, eponymous-spider-inspiration and born again right-wing nutjob Dave Mustaine has a new nemesis: not his former Metallica colleagues, or those who think Megadeth have sold out, man: mid-priced US couture retailers Suit Warehouse, who have proved tardy with a gift certificate which is totally not metal. "For almost 9 days now I have been waiting for delivery of this gift certificate, and I wouldn't say anything because it IS the holidays, but these salesmen promised that they would GUARANTEE a two-day delivery of the certificate... I for one, will never set foot in a Men’s Warehouse, even for shelter from a blizzard." he posted on his Facebook before exhorting his legions of fans to shop elsewhere - which should terrify Suit Warehouse, assuming they're about to change their business model to exclusively selling black t-shirts and grease-stained jeans. 

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