Your world news update

Greenland parliamentary elections for 2009: Akitsinnguaq Olsen elected to the parliament with 112 votes; the biggest votegetter was Kuupik Kleist with 5,461. (“How about I say the surname and you try to guess the first name?”)

Marc Ravalomanana won’t come to Antananarivo no more: the former president of all Madagascar from Antisiranana to Ambovombe was sentenced in absentia for abuse of office. (Now read this paragraph out loud three times fast.)

In South Africa, the seemingly dissimilar words “harmony”, “gold”, “illegal”, “mine” and “death” have come together — not in some replay of das Rheingold, but in over sixty outlaw miners dead after something went wrong as they dug in a disused mine owned by the company Harmony Gold. The truly disturbing part of the story is this:

Harmony claimed the dead were members of an illegal mining syndicate they termed Zama-Zamas. The syndicate is claimed to regularly raid Harmony’s mines, armed with explosives.

First, illegal bandit miners is in itself a curiously outlandish thing to me, but armed with explosives? Dear empty heavens, I didn’t expect to hear anything like this outside a post-apocalyptic fantasy. What next: Are the Zama-Zamas maybe led by someone called Lord Humungus?

(Another South Africa news title, “Chombo blasts council“, while promising in the light of this line of thought, is actually rather dull. This could have been foreseen from the missing exclamation mark; the headline “Chombo blasts council!” couldn’t lead to anything except the Battling Tiger saying to his sidekick Arachnolad, “This is the third council he has blasted this week — we must put a stop to his reign of rampage and terror!”)

(Also, the city closest to the mine disaster? Welkom. What, “Welkom says goodbye to mine victims?” — I guess they avoid that headline template around there.)

And, finally, the remotely operated vehicle Nereus has reached the abysmal depths of the Challenger Deep, eleven kilometers below surface, catching images of the elusive aquachthonis lovecraftiae, a deep sea fish-like abomination with malevolently intelligent eyes and an aura of unspeakable evil. Actually, no, but that would have been something —

“Did you read that article in Aquabiology Monthly?”

“You mean the wrong geometry, loss of sleep, onyx obelisks one? Nah. What do I care about maths, psychology and archaeology. I wish they’d gotten more pictures of that walking or stumbling mountain thingie before it woke up and smashed the vehicle, though. Do you think Dr. Gill-Thestroy is sending a manned vehicle down next?”

“Dunno-maybe. I hear he’s been pestering his graduate students all day — the old ‘You succulent female thing! Are you a pure virgin suitable as a sacrifice to the Old One?’ shtick — you know, the whole ancestral submarine pilot choosing thing. By the way, is there any specific reason why we use just that question? Is it a gender equality thing or something?”

“Doesn’t mean a thing; that’s how things have always been done among us marine biologists.”

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