Susan Boyle's anal bum party - 10 Things
Sorry, lovers of End Times doomsaying: Israel and Palestine have agreed to a Gaza ceasefire after eight days and almost 150 dead people (of which 140-odd were Palestinian). However, this ceasefire hasn't stopped Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu from making sabre-rattling noises about a more "forceful" action to come, so maybe don't put that "Israel + Palestine = BFFs 4 Eva!" banner on the front of the house just yet. It comes even after Israel's Vice President Silvan Shalom had his Facebook and Twitter hacked and filled with pro-Palestinian messages by the ZCompany Hacking Crew, which we're confident would never have potentially upped the face-saving ante in a volatile time but in fact gave Shalom a good chuckle and made him realise that hey, this conflict be totes cray and that we're all just humans trying to get on in this kooky world. Remember, kids: the best time to pull pranks is at flashpoint moments when one misstep could escalate to all-out war.
Speaking of Twitter, Susan Boyle's probably in the market for some new publicists as an attempt to get the Scots singer's new record trending worked a treat - but not entirely as planned. "Hey," some now-unemployed person on her social media team presumably said, "let's celebrate Susan's album with an online party!", promptly created the hashtag #susanalbumparty and went off to what was to be their final lunch break as a salaried publicist. Either that or Susan Boyle's decided to take an unexpectedly more hardcore direction in a sexy, sexy attempt to remake her image as a dowdy, simple, middle-aged reality show winner.
Everyone who's reading this in the office, pause for a moment and consider how much better your life would be right this second if you had a rubber band gun which could unleash elastic hell on the guy sitting over there. Well, thanks to Kickstarter, you could make that dream an insane reality by chipping in to the development of the Bandit Gun, a lightweight plywood weapon that is to the rubber-band-on-a-ruler what a stealth bomber is to a drawing of a pegasus. With single fire, rapid fire and shotgun modes, no-one will ever think of borrowing your stapler again. At the time of writing they'd reached $23,641 of their modest $5000 goal, although this new technology could see tensions escalate in the already-disputed breakroom. With elastic power comes tensile responsibility, kids.
The ironically-named "Pacific solution" is working out much as everyone said it would, with asylum seekers being released into the community on bridging visas that forbid them from working in a move that seems to have been adopted purely to maintain the government's "non-advantage" test under which people who turn up as refugees can just stand in line for up to five years like everybody else. "It is a difficult situation for them, just as it is a difficult situation for the 42 million displaced people around the world who don't have the chance to come to Australia by boat," Immigration Minister Chris Bowen rather huffily said when asked "so how does this help anyone at all, exactly?", before possibly adding "and I didn't get the chance to come here by boat either, and you don't see me complaining." OK, he didn't say that bit. Tony Abbott, meanwhile, slammed those thoughtless, selfish people risking their lives in a desperate attempt to save their families from persecution in their homeland as "taking unfair advantage of our decency as people." It shouldn't be a problem for much longer though, Tones, because it doesn't appear there's that much decency left to take advantage of.
In a move that either means that everything's going to be just fine in Afghanistan or that Australian forces are telling Afghan security forces that they're just nipping down the road to grab some milk but they'll be back in a bit, honest, no reason to be suspicious, comes news that Australian troops have withdrawn from operations in the province of Uruzgan and are now entering an "advising" role, as opposed to their previous "mentoring" role which followed their "wondering why the hell they were there in the first place and oh god that bundle of rags isn't an IED is it?" role. "This marks the culmination of a whole lot of hard work as well as some blood that's been spilt in bringing the Afghans up to a standard where they can do the job themselves," Commander Combined Team Uruzgan, Colonel Simon Stuart, even as packed his gear up, left the keys and a note on the end table and sprinted for a cab.
Today in Baseless Speculation About Star Wars news comes the suggestion that Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, has been approached about writing the middle episode of the forthcoming new trilogy. Kasdan was brought in as an emergency replacement for original writer Leigh Brackett, who died of cancer before she could complete her script, and went on to write Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and was nominated for Oscars for his scripts for The Accidental Tourist and The Big Chill, among other things. He also wrote The Bodyguard, though, and given that this sounds suspiciously like fanboy speculation we'll just wait for the inevitable statement saying that the room full of monkeys that wrote the second Transformers film have gotten the gig.
Fiona Apple's always walked a line between gawky oversharing and heartfelt sincerity, and her explanation to the good people of South America as to why she's cancelled her upcoming tour shows exactly why as she explains, in surprisingly moving detail, that she can't leave her 14 year old dog Janet who is in the final stages of cancer. Whether or not you find it moving or mawkish will depend very much on whether you've watched a beloved pet die, but as tour cancellations go it beats the hell out of "schedule conflicts". "Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to pick which socks to wear to bed," she writes in part in the handwritten letter on her Facebook page, "But this decision is instant. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship. I am the woman who stays home and bakes Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend." Look, we just have something in our eye is all.
Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne learned a valuable lesson earlier this month: if you simply must go and see an ill-advised musical based on your breakthrough album then maybe don't carry a grenade in your bag since you might end up getting arrested and having the entire airport on lockdown. The grenade was, predictably, not live - it was painted gold and had the bottom drilled out of it - and authorities reportedly accepted that it wasn't by any stretch an actual weapon, but it still triggered an automatic bomb squad response and Oklahoma City airport was shut down while trained personnel went "…well, this is awkward." Incidentally, Wayne, ask me about the time I accidentally took a ninja star through security at Adelaide Airport and got questioned by the Federal Police for two hours. True story.
In a dark day for press freedom it's looking less and less like journalists will be able to hack into the message banks of victims of crime and then pay authorities to look the other way when people start asking questions about it: former Murdoch press stars Rebecca Brookes (ex-editor of the now-shuttered News of the World) and Andy Coulson (former NOTW editor turned spin doctor for British Prime Minister David Cameron) are now being officially charged with bribery as part of Operation Elveden, which is an excitingly Tolkien-ish sort of a name for an enquiry into media corruption. There's been no official statement from either party, and when TheVine attempted to check their voicemail for comment we accidentally deleted all their messages and installed a Crazy Frog ringtone. Sorry guys.
And finally, because it's never the wrong time to watch footage of a polar bear looking after her cubs, here's a clip of a polar bear looking after her cubs. It's footage captured by live cameras set up in Manitoba by explore.org, Polar Bears International, Parks Canada, and Frontiers North Adventure, partially to make people think about the way climate change is affecting the frozen north of Canada, but for our purposes: awwww!