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John Boehner: shot himself in the foot. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
John Boehner: the latest Tea Party stooge
Before British prime minister David Cameron went into his fateful European Union negotiations regarding the euro earlier this month, it is said he used the "full bladder technique". To concentrate the mind on the task at hand he remained "desperate for a pee" throughout both the formal dinner and talks. When it came to sealing the deal he subsequently went and pissed Britain's bargaining position up the wall.


Illustration by Toby Morison
The US is blind to the price of war that is still being borne by the Iraqi people
On 19 November 2005 a US marine squad was struck by a roadside bomb in Haditha, in Iraq's Anbar province, killing one soldier and seriously injuring two others. According to civilians they then went on the rampage, slaughtering 24 people. They included a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair and a three-year-old child. It was a massacre. "I think they were just blinded by hate … and they just lost control," said James Crossan, one of the injured marines.


America
US immigration laws bow to the bigots and the opportunists
While travelling along the US-Mexican border, from Brownsville to San Diego, I met a man in New Mexico who went by the name of Quasimodo who claimed he "could tell an 'illegal' by looking at them". I found this doubtful, and so asked Quasimodo, one of the Minutemen, an anti-immigrant vigilante group how. "It's like wild dog versus tame dog. They just don't have the same kind of look."


Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in Grease. Photograph: Cine Text/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar
Grease is the one that I want
The easy way out would be to make some great claim for very little. To say I love it because of its celebration of white working-class culture or the campest rendition of heteronormative adolescence to make it out of 70s cinema. I'd be lying if I said these justifications had never crossed my mind; I've tried to overexplain it to myself a number of times. After all, the plot, acting and script are all pathetic. And most of the other films I really like – Torch Song Trilogy, Do The Right Thing, Quiz Show – have a point. But when it comes down to it I have to admit there are really just two basic reasons why I love Grease – the singing and the dancing.


Rocky Anderson in 2002. The former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah expects to launch the new Justice party this month. Photograph: Douglas C Pizac/AP
Rocky Anderson's radical third way
As a progressive former Democrat in Utah, the most reliably conservative state in the country, Rocky Anderson is no stranger to long odds or short shrift. Among other things, Anderson has been a fierce opponent of the Iraq invasion, supports gay marriage and is an ardent environmentalist. (Think former London mayor Ken Livingstone surrounded by conservative Mormons.)


US food stamps: Republican lawmakers want to cut the Department of Agriculture
Land of the free, home of the hungry
On Monday afternoon this week, Rachelle Grimmer went into a Department of Health and Human Services in Texas with her two children, Timothy, aged 10, and Ramie, aged 12, and asked for a new case worker who could assist her application for food stamps. She had first applied in July but had been told she hadn't provided enough information and, by most accounts, had been struggling to get by and get help since she moved from Ohio.


Rod Blagojevich does not have to report to federal prison until 16 February. Photograph: M Spencer Green/AP
Blagojevich handed 14-year jail term as judge ignores pleas for leniency
A district judge ignored pleas for leniency as he sent the former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, to prison for 14 years for trying to sell a vacant seat to the US Senate.


Rod Blagojevich: sentenced to 14 years in jail. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Rod Blagojevich: stiff sentence for shamed ex-Illnois governor
Pity the voters of the great state of Illinois. For if the electorate really do get the leaders they deserve, these people must have done something terrible in a former life. They've had eight governors in the past 50 years, excluding the incumbent, Pat Quinn. After today, half of them have been behind bars. It's been a bipartisan effort. George Ryan, the former Republican governor, is still inside for funnelling millions in contracts to friends and supporters in return for cash and holidays. He has been joined by Rod Blagojevich, his Democratic successor, who on Wednesday was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption.
What’s Race Got to Do With Herman Cain?
If Herman Cain’s entrance onto the national stage was a peculiar affair, his departure from it was no less so. Quoting Pokémon, while barbecue was served to supporters in colonial dress and a blues band played—the atmosphere of his farewell speech was almost as absurd as the campaign itself. Befitting the skewed values that have underpinned this Republican primary circus, it was not allegations of sexual harassment that finished him off (let alone the ignorance he wore as a badge of honor) but the suggestion of a consensual affair.


Illustration by Toby Morison
Indifferent elites, poverty and police brutality – all reasons to riot in the UK
At the beginning of August, in a fit of collective pathology, thousands of young people across Britain took to the streets and started breaking into shops, stealing and confronting the police. What triggered this is a mystery. But whatever it was, it wasn't politics, poverty, alienation or despair. That would be making excuses for bad behaviour and imply a humanity to which the rioters had no right. For the riots were not the work of mostly disaffected teenagers but a "feral", "uneducated" "underclass" who somehow managed to outwit the police for the best part of a week using new technology. Venal, entitled and irresponsible, they adhered to values entirely unfamiliar to the British political establishment.
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