Your second hand clothes are full of demons - 10 ThingsSo, today's the day that Pope Benedict XVI hands over his magic red shoes and loses all his Pope powers, reverting to his alter ego of Joseph Ratzinger, mild-mannered octogenarian and former Hitler Youth member. But he's not leaving the job without an exit interview, which he gave to tens of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square yesterday in which he seemed to imply that God could have done more to make for a supportive work environment. "I have felt like St Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee," he said, presumably while dumping his personal effects into a shopping bag. "The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us - and the Lord seemed to be sleeping." So the lesson here for future Popes appears to be "check the weather forecast before getting on the Papal trawler", then?
J-Ratz may be gone, but don't think your spiritual needs are being neglected. In fact, fans of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, be advised: yes, you may indeed look like a cold-ass honky in your thrift shop duds, but have you considered that your clothes might be haunted? Probably not, unless you're mad, but be reassured that US evangelist and well-documented crazy person Pat Robertson has been giving this some thought on your soul's behalf. Watch a grown adult explain that he heard that some witches have been attaching demons to objects and then donating them to secondhand stores because that's the sort of thing that happens in the real world, and conclude that yes: you'd better better pray over that big ass coat before bringing it home. Seriously.
Italy, you really do have a problem with your leaders at the moment. First you can't sort out your Pope, meaning that you're about to have a bi-Pope system in the Vatican with a new Pope and Benedict kicking around in the new role of Emeritus Pope (a term invented when the Church determined that Benedict's preferred term, Catholic Mack Daddy, lacked the necessary gravitas), and now you can't even vote for a president. Markets are plummeting in anticipation of the results of the Italian election delivering an ungovernable mess with both houses lacking a winner: both Silvio Berlusconi's right wing Freedom Party and Pier Luigi Bersani's centre left Democratic Party failed to get a majority, and former comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star Party - who currently hold the balance of power - have ruled out making a coalition with either of them. Or, to put it another way: Italian politics are muddling along pretty much as normal.
Showing the sort of lightning-quick resolve that makes them such a well-respected decision making body, the EU have issued a report suggesting that Israel is "systematically undermining [the] Palestinian presence" in East Jerusalem with it's illegal annexing of land and building of settlements, which the Israeli government presumably responded to with "…well, yeah, that's sort of the whole point of them." The report calls for economic sanctions against these and other West Bank settlements - but before you think "hey, that sounds like the EU being unexpectedly decisive" be advised that the report is non-binding and that therefore the Israeli government give not a shit about it - or, as an unnamed official was quoted by the SMH, "They have never presented it to us, so we cannot comment on it." Look, EU, we know you're all for modern parenting, but maybe someone needs to be sent into time out for a bit?
Meanwhile in Iran things are going uncharacteristically well with negotiations over the country's nuclear future, with promises of a lift in international sanctions in return for limits of the amount of uranium they can enrich - specifically, that they stop processing uranium to weapons-grade level. It's weird that this should even be an issue because Iran have always maintained that they're interested in enriching uranium purely for power generation, honest, and in fact didn't even realise you could make weapons from it. Both sides are reporting that the negotiations have reached "a turning point" in getting nuclear stability for the region.
Remember how climate scientists have been warning that there are a series of "tipping points" where things progress irretrievably into catastrophic feedback loops, like with Arctic sea ice a few years ago? Well, the good news is that there's probably one less for you to fear looming in the future; the bad news is that it looks like that's because it's happening right now. The Siberian Permafrost is melting, which allowed bacteria in the soil to become active, who start munching on the carbon rich soil, which heats it up, which melts more permafrost, which… well, you get the idea. Not all scientists agree that the trend is beyond reversal, but none of them seem to think that everything's going to be OK either. Happy Thursday!
You might want to sit down, Batman fans: Robin is dead. OK, more accurately, the latest Robin is dead. Alright, even more specifically, the current Robin - Bruce Wayne's ten year old son Damien - has been killed off in the forthcoming issue of Batman Incorporated. Writer Grant Morrison insists that the child "dies an absolute hero", and that this tragic event will spin off a story arc which we assume sees Wayne facing investigation for neglectful parenting. We don't care if this child is the offspring of Batman and Talia al Ghul, fighting crime is not appropriate for a kid that should still be learning to colour in properly. DC Comics, expect a visit from the Department of Community Services.
We'd like to introduce a new section to 10 Things: Territory Watch. For those not familiar with the magic and mystery that is the NT News, know this: it's where joy goes to sink tinnies and talk about the biggest croc it's ever seen, and is the only paper of record which still regularly runs headlines that contain the word "Struth!". And today we'd like to celebrate "Croc sale gig shut to rogues", a wonderfully evocative headline on the current front page which is almost Zen in its everything-and-nothing power. It transpires that the NT Government would like to sell their captured rogue salt water crocodiles "removed as part of their problem croc removal program", but warn that this is not a gig for the faint of heart or the amateur of crocsmanship, explaining - and this is a direct quote from the article - that "the crocs have to be taken from the Parks and Wildlife Commission yard in Palmerston and being chucked in the back of a ute next to the dog is probably not considered appropriate." Consider yourself advised, would-be ute-chucking crocthusiasts.
Vale Stéphane Hessel: the French author, rabble rouser, diplomat and spiritual leader of the Occupy movement has died at the age of 95. He lived a pretty damn full life, mind: a childhood raised by unconventional parents (who lived in a polyamorous arrangement with mum, dad and mum's lover - supposedly inspiring the classic Truffaut film Jules et Jim), escaped Nazi concentration camps not once but twice, was one of the contributors to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and was a passionate lifelong supporter of the downtrodden, whose short pamphlet calling for the young to recapture the spirit of the Resistance, Indignez-Vous! ('Time for Outrage'), became a bestseller in 2010. What a guy.
And finally, kick off your Thursday with Taylor Swift's 'I Knew You Were Trouble' augmented with goats yelling like humans. Because dammit, that's the sort of day you're likely to have. Sorry, but it's true.
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