Julia Gillard announces election, defiles Swayze, wears glasses - 10 ThingsSo, it's settled: we're getting an election on Saturday 14 September, then. While there's already plenty of speculation about why Gillard's giving us seven months warning - is she planning to stifle legislation? Does she want to force the Coalition to actually come up with some policies other than "we're not Labor"? Is she planning a US-style electioneering cycle? Is she courting the hipster vote by wearing black-rimmed glasses for the announcement? - the choice of date has already proved worthy of debate: it's awfully close to the NRL and AFL finals and the first day of Yom Kippur, but we at TheVine are more concerned that it's falling on the fourth anniversary of the death of Patrick Swayze. Too soon, Gillard. Nobody puts Australia in the corner.
Speaking of the election, Julian Assange has announced that he'll be running for the Senate (and his mum told the Age "He will be awesome," which is the sort of ringing parental endorsement that so many of our senators lack). He's revealed that he'll be running as a WikiLeaks candidate and that there will be others in the party, but not how he plans to run - much less serve - while holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Turning back to Gillard, can we point out that there's been far too much speculation about why she was wearing glasses for the announcement. Seriously, if she was a dude would anyone really give this level of a shit? Dame wears glasses, folks. Can we maybe talk about policies around refugees, now? No? Oh.
The push for gun control continues in the US, with Senator Gabrielle Giffords - the Democratic senator who was badly injured when Jared Lee Loughner attempted to kill her during a public rally in 2011, shooting 19 people and killing six of them - taking the floor to make a plea for more controls on gun ownership. And then a few hours later a dude (seemingly a disgruntled employee) decided to shoot up an office building
in Phoenix, Arizona, injuring five people. The problem is obvious: video games. At least, that's the claim made by Republican Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander, because it just makes sense. Seriously: watch this adult make this claim with a straight face.
It's OK, everyone: you've been lying awake at night, fervently hoping and praying that justice will prevail, and now you can breathe a sigh of relief: Shell have been acquitted of charges of pollution in Nigeria. Yes, the plucky little multinational oil conglomerate have been found not guilty of four out of five charges of oil spills that destroyed farms and polluted waterways in the villages of Oruma and Goi were the work of others, possibly unquiet oil ghosts. Sadly, they have been found liable in the remaining case and will have to pay a yet-to-be-determined settlement, but here's hoping they get it overturned on appeal. WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE OIL COMPANIES?
Speaking of Africa: have you got $218? Congratulations, you are officially richer than Zimbabwe! That's according to finance minister Tendai Biti, who told reporters that after paying government workers on Tuesday the country could maybe afford one more nice meal and a taxi home before presumably moving in with its parents. That's why its asking for donations to fund its elections later this year, which should have no implications for the smooth functioning of democracy, at least as far as we can see. After all, don't we all think that democracy is as refreshing and revitalising as a tall glass of Coke?
With two members of Pussy Riot safely behind bars for two years, and one more given a suspended sentence, maybe Russia can begin to put this ugly period of their history - you know, that terrible period in which a band played a song in a church - behind them. To that end, they're starting the healing process by banning the clip of their performance. Any ISPs that show the clip in Russia could be hit with a $3k fine under what's been described as Russia's "extremism" laws, but others are more accurately calling it "heavy handed censorship". Yekaterina Samutsevich - the member with the suspended sentence - is planning to fight the ban in court, which ought to go pretty well. Don't watch the below if you're in Russia, mind.
In your face, Melbourne: Sydney once again triumphs in the hard-fought battle to see which city can make its housing completely unaffordable, with houses racing ahead to a median price of over $650k and units at almost half a million dollars. "The result will add confidence that a recovery is under way," APM senior economist and capitalist breadhead Andrew Wilson told the SMH, presumably before diving into a vault full of coins and performing a comical backstroke.
We said that the details of the Brazilian nightclub fire were going to be depressing, and so they have proved: it appears that 234 people could still be alive today if Gurizada Fandangueira hadn't been so damn cheap. They used outdoor-only flares for their pyrotechnics because they cost less than $2 apiece, rather than splashing out $35 for indoor flares specifically designed for the sorts of use to which the band were putting them. People might be dead, sure, but can you really put a price on thrift?
And finally, one of the surprise beneficiaries of the success of Silver Linings Playbook - the quirky dramedy that you'll find insufferably twee in about 18 months time - is former glam star and sex-with-children enthusiast Gary Glitter. The man born Paul Gadd is set to pocket a healthy sum for the use of his song 'Rock and Roll Part 2' being used in trailers and TV spots for the film, which should keep him in tissues and laptop-memory-erasing software for years to come.