The next 168 hours - Slipper's sex slip-up, Syria shelling continues, Egypt's undemocratic democracy

Peter Slipper

Good lord, seriously? I mean, I'm as willing to castigate the Gillard government for their endless stream of fuck ups as the next man, but there are just some moments when you feel like the entire goddamn universe is conspiring against them. Well, that and the entire Murdoch newspaper and media empire. So, approximately four months after completing one of the more graceful political coups of recent memory by coaxing Peter Slipper into the Speaker's chair and giving the Labor party an effective two seat majority in the House of Representatives, the man is forced into standing aside because of accusations that he sexually harassed a male staffer. My favourite part of which is this claim:

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So, Slipper is both a sexual predator and suffers from hallucinations. Excellent pick, Gillard et al. The deputy Speaker has stepped into the role, thereby restoring the Government's previously held one-seat mini-majority and opening the way for a whole swathe of new claims about the Government's incompetence and illegitimacy. I know I've said it before, but there really is part of me that just wishes an election could be called right now, just so we could put this depressing farce to bed once and for all. And enjoy the depressing farce of three or more years under an Abbott government. Good God.

Syria

Despite the presence of a handful of UN observers, from all reports it sounds as if the Syrian government continues to shell on their merry way, simply having a break from the slaughter when another batch of observers come through. However, not to be daunted by early failure, the UN has voted to send in hundreds more observers, which should, at the very least, make the logistical considerations of the ol' shell-and-wait a bit more difficult for Assad and his crew. Still, awful as it is, the closer the Syrian government comes to failing in front of the UN, the more external pressure there will be to do something more concrete against the Assad regime. Of course, what that more concrete action may or should be is a difficult question (I looked at some of the endgames a few weeks back), but either way, it's nice that the international community is making a bit of an effort.

Murdoch to Face the Leveson Inquiry


Media tragics around the world should pencil Wednesday into their diaries, because old mate Rupert is being dragged in front of the UK government (again) to answer more questions about the scale of the criminal enterprise that he's been running for the past few decades. Will it be a repeat of his doddering old man routine from last year? Or will he, absent the distracting smokescreen of his son, James "Sacrificial Lamb" Murdoch, actually have to look like someone capable of running one of the world's largest media organisations. And will Wendi Deng get to punch another protester?

Aung Sun Suu Kyi to Enter Myanmar Parliament... Probably


It's a historic day that many probably thought would never happen, but today was going to be the day that Aung Sun Suu Kyi's NLD party would finally enter the Burmese Parliament. Until they took issue with the wording of a pledge in which they would have to promise to "safeguard" the constitution. A constitution which currently reserves 25% of the seats in Parliament for the military and which the NLD is largely in Parliament to try and change. So, no Parliament quite yet, until the regime changes safeguard to "respect" or ASSK and friends gets frustrated and/or imprisoned again.

Sacre Bleu! Sarkozy's Election Woes!


The biggest little man in European politics is in serious trouble following the first round of Presidential elections in France, held yesterday. His opponent, the Socialist party's Francoise Hollande, took 28.6% to Sarkozy's 27%, with ultra-rightist Marine Le Pen getting a tidy 19% to remind everyone that poor economic circumstances usually means a whole bunch of immigrant bashing. While the margin is quite close and there's nothing about Hollande that is particularly invigorating, the fact that he's not Sarkozy and is willing to push back against Germany's harsh austerity prescriptions for the beleaguered continent should hold him in good stead for the main event, to be held in the middle of May.

Egypt's Presidential Elections

Hooray for undemocratic democracy! This week Egyptians will go to the polls in order to choose which of the Presidential candidates left standing (after the wide-ranging bans issued by the electoral commission knocked out the three leading contenders) will head the first popularly elected government in half a century. The primary reasoning behind the bans seem to be an effort by the military to ensure the President chosen is a weak figure, unable to properly combat their influence, so it makes for a jittery start to Egypt's democratic experiment. Especially considering another one of the likely contenders is Amr Moussa, a former Foreign Minister for the Mubarak Government. Still, as the article above points out, none of the three rejected candidates would make a particularly appealing President, so maybe there's something to be said for this brand of diabolical double dealing.

Verdict to be Handed Down in Charles Taylor War Crimes Case

One of the most repugnant of all the post-colonial African warmongers, former President of Liberia Charles Taylor will find out on Thursday – after five years of court proceedings and 12 months of deliberations – how many years the International Criminal Court thinks his campaign of murder, rape, terrorism and sexual slavery in neighbouring Sierra Leone is worth. (The atrocities committed against his own people in Liberia remain, as yet, unprosecuted) Taylor has remained defiant until the end, calling the well documented atrocities "diabolical lies", but this is likely to be a historically significant moment in the annals of post-dictatorship prosecution, featuring, as it does, a defendant who is still alive, mentally competent to stand trial and likely to survive for long enough to actually languish in prison.
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