News: $1 trillion to save the world?

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IMF Chief Christine Legarde

The world’s economies need cash, fast

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it needs about $1 trillion in order to stave off a worldwide recession the likes of the big one in the 1930s. IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, told an audience in Berlin $1 trillion would be needed to support ailing governments and stave off a deeper crisis – half of which would have to come from Fund backers such as Australia. The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, backed Ms Lagarde, saying without “larger firewalls” to protect embattled European nations the global economy was at risk. The SMH reported: Ms Lagarde said the world was facing “a 1930s moment, in which inaction, insularity and rigid ideology combine to cause a collapse in global demand. This is a defining moment,” she said. “It is not about saving any one country or region. It is about saving the world from a downward economic spiral.”

Fly the Aussie flag on your car … means you’re racist?

University of Western Australia sociologist and anthropologist Professor Farida Fozdar and a team of assistants surveyed 513 people at the Australia Day fireworks on Perth’s Swan River banks last Australia Day to test a possible link between flag flying on cars and racist thoughts. 102 of them had flags attached to their cars and almost half (43 per cent) agreed the White Australia policy was a good thing – ‘saving’ Australia from apparent multicultural troubles in Europe. A quarter who did not fly the flag agreed with the same statement, put to them by the researchers.

The survey also found that a total of 56 per cent of people with car flags feared for Australian culture and believed that the country’s most important values were in danger, compared with 34 per cent of non-flag flyers. Thirty-five per cent of flag flyers felt that people had to be born in Australia to be truly Australian, compared with 22 per cent of non-flag flyers. Twenty-three per cent of flag flyers believed that true Australians had to be Christian, while 18 per cent of non-flaggers agreed with the statement.

New words make the dictionary

It’s that time of year when the new words in the Macquarie Dictionary are announced. And they’re a varied bunch! Fracking is one of them – a term used to describe fracturing of rock during some Coal Seam Gas drilling – and is indicative of the national debate about the CSG industry. Devo took a few years but finally made it (short for devastated, in case you were wondering) and burqini popped up. That’s a swimsuit for Muslim women, to cover up. Then there’s photobombing, food coma and food porn all in the top five. What a mix. What words would you add?

Oscar nominations are out!

The pinnacle of the awards season isn’t too far away and the nominees have now been announced. Hollywood mates George Clooney and Brad Pitt are up for Best Actor and Meryl Streep joins Viola Davis (The Help) for Best Actress among a field of others. Film Hugo, for which director Martin Scorsese won the Golden Globe, is nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture followed by the French silent film The Artist with 10 nominations. Some British filmgoers walked out and complained about the movie after they realised it was silent. Changes to the rules allow even more to be nominated so these flicks are up against The Descendants, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Nominated for best director is the previously unknown French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names – Martin Scorsese for Hugo, Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Alexander Payne for The Descendants and Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life.

If you missed the fun from last year, here’s a reminder:

Gillard in ‘crisis’ talks with her own MPs

Some reports are suggesting the Prime Minister has dragged the rest of the Labor Government MPs into a special caucus meeting to assuage their anger at some of the policy decisions she’s made over the past few months. In other world the caucus policy ‘planning’ meetings are a regular feature of Government as they regroup for the year but this is the first meeting of its type in which MPs are asked to figure out which direction to head in a general policy sense. There’s no doubt the meeting on February 5 is important and that some MPs are angry so Gillard will make any attempt she can to listen to their ideas during the brainstorming sessions. As one MP reportedly told news.com.au: “We will be getting the butcher paper and Textas out and solving the country’s problems.” So, if you were in the room, what would you tell the Prime Minister?

More single mothers in the workforce

Researchers who studied the outcomes of three major reforms designed to boost the workforce participation of mothers concluded that about five per cent more single mothers were working after the Howard Government tightened parenting payment conditions. Others increased their work hours where they could. The measure was introduced in 2006 and ‘forced’ some single mothers into the workforce once their youngest child turned eight, in order to keep their benefits. The other big reform that made a difference was the childcare tax rebate which was also introduced in 2006 and led to more higher-income, further-educated women heading into the workforce.

The ‘right’ way to handle a divorce

British etiquette experts have compiled the Civilised Guide to Separation to give people a guide to good manners when breaking up, particularly in divorce. It was put together by society yardstick Debrett’s and includes such advice as ‘don’t become a divorce bore’ lest you be struck from dinner party guest lists. “Throwing your husband’s vintage wine collection down the loo or cutting his suits to shreds might seem like a therapeutic gesture when you’re in the throes of rage and despair, but it can rebound on you and undermine your case. It advises that being ‘relentlessly polite’ is the best course of action and to continue sending polite Christmas cards to the ex-in laws. What say you?

And in case you missed it, Mia was on The Today Show this morning talking about whether it’s okay for parents to have a favourite child, and the definition of a Facebook friend.

What else is in the news and on your mind?

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