Radiohead will not give free guitar lessons after the Mayan Apocalypse - 10 Things
Let's start the news on the saddest note: with 27 people confirmed dead in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting on Friday - 20 children, seven adults (including the gunman, Adam Lanza). There's an updated article at the Guardian here, but here are some highlights: While President Obama is planning to visit the town of Newtown, there are attempts to get him to take this opportunity to push for gun control laws - which is what Senator Diane Feinstein is pushing for via legislation she plans to introduce when Congress reconvenes in January, while NYC Mayor Michael Bloomburg is echoing the call, telling Meet The Press "If he does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns. That's is roughly the number of Americans killed during the whole Vietnam war."
Fortunately there are some voices of sanity in there, like Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, who puts the blame right where it belongs: people who think that maybe not everyone should have guns all the time. "Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered," he said in a statement released on Friday, because he is a fool and a terrible human being (and, as one sharp eyed Vine reader accurately pointed out, a man who doesn't know the difference between "ensure" and "insure"). Not as terrible as the Westboro Baptist Church, of course, who - predictably - reckon that God failed to stop the shooting of children to death because of gays, and are picketing the site of the shooting because that's obviously what He would want. Ah, God: you so cray!
And still all these left-wing types - like, y'know, us - think that having a society in which everyone, including crazy people with short fuses, are armed to the teeth and can turn a momentary impulse into a bloodbath is a bad idea. Obviously there's no connection between "having loads of guns" and "wanting to kill people". On an entirely unrelated note, on Friday police in Cedar Lake, Indiana, arrested 60 year old Von I. Meyer after he told his wife that he planned to set fire to her in her sleep and pop down the road to the nearby Jane Ball Elementary School "and kill as many people as he could before police could stop him", according to a statement. Police confiscated 47 guns and ammunition from the house. And Sammy Chavez, a student in Oklahoma was arrested on Friday for planning his own school rampage in which he planned to lure classmates and teachers to the gym, open fire and then blow the place up when the police arrived. Oh, and a guy in Alabama opened fire in a hospital on Saturday, wounding three people before being shot dead by police. And one Marcos Gurrola fired 50-odd shots in a shopping centre carpark on Sunday in Southern California. So yeah, no link. Guns don't kill: people (with guns) do (with guns).
After all that, let's look at something adorable, like the Leadbeater's possum: it's cute, it's the faunal emblem of Victoria, and… oh, it's critically endangered and facing extinction. Yes, it turns out that the 2009 Black Friday bushfires wiped out a huge percentage of the Leadbeater's possum population to the point where there are urgent concerns that the species may not recover, with only around 100 left in the wild. On the plus side, the chances of you being murdered by a Leadbeater possum have never been lower.
OK, let's try to find something positive out there: um, Palestinian refugees have been fired upon by Syrian forces in Damascus, with a air force jet killing at least 25 people when it fired a rocket into a mosque? OK, that's terrible. Alright, how about the news that the new right-wing Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has flagged his plans to develop the disputed Senkakus islands, principally as a fuck you to China who've indicated they'll respond militarily? Yeah, that doesn't sound so good either. Egypt looks set to descend into a new wave of civil discord and violence amid allegations that the constitutional referendum was rigged by president Mohamed Morsi's party the Muslim Brotherhood? Lordy, maybe we should all be holding out for the Mayan Calendar of Doom to be correct at this stage…
Speaking of which, you know the world really isn't going to end on Friday, right? Yes, of course you do because you're not an idiot: you're smart and cool and attractive and we should totally get coffee sometime. However, there are those who do genuinely take this all seriously - especially young people raised by parents who don't hold with all this fancy book learnin' and are genuinely terrified of what is, let's be clear, a big fat steaming pile of bullshit peddled by frauds - and that's why NASA have already released a video explaining why the world didn't end next Friday, in the hopes that maybe it'll stem the number of heartbreakingly inevitable suicides. The video is below, and in other Mayan apocalypse news, Radiohead's management have been forced to issue a statement claiming that guitarist Jonny Greenwood is not hiding out in Sao Paulo to escape the destruction, and furthermore that he will not be offering free guitar lessons to the city's youth if the world doesn't end. Which is, to be fair, not a statement they probably had to issue before.
Dave Mustaine from Megadeth has been honoured with the naming of a new species of tarantula spider, Aphonopelma Davemustainei. The spider was discovered in Arizona and New Mexico, and was named after the venerable metal legend because it too is a Bible literalist that believes Obama was behind the Colorado school shootings as part of a sinister One World Government plot.
Speaking of Obama, he's expected to announce John Kerry - remember that guy? - as his new secretary of state following Hilary Clinton stepping down from the position. Clinton, meanwhile, is concentrating on… um, sustaining a concussion after fainting. She's been seriously ill lately with a stomach virus, but by all accounts she's doing fine.
Australia's unbridled enthusiasm about its political leaders continues apace with the news that Tony Abbott's popularity has sunk to a new low following his AWU witch hunt against Julia Gillard. However, Gillard can rest easy that her party is still set to have its arse handed to it in an election, since Labor is trailing 48 percent to the Coalition's 52 according to a new Nielsen poll. So: we're set to decide on two leaders no-one likes leading two parties no-one trusts. Our bumper stickers "Election 2013: Australia shrugs for democracy" should be ready in February.
And finally: there might be a lot of doom and gloom out there, but you know what's big and clever? Swearing. And that's what Samuel L Jackson did on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, dropping a "fuck" followed by a "bullshit" which, as Kenan Thompson accurately assessed, "costs money". Ah, thank you, gutter language. You're the best thing that happened this weekend.