Ooh Ah, Cannes-tona. King Eric – footballer, film star, kung fu kicker – mystic and maverick, brushes aside the nubile, semi-clad starlets to promote Looking for Eric, the Ken Loach-directed film and a Palme d'Or contender. This time, with even the journalists looking for autographs on their battered old Man United programmes, it was less a case of "When the seagulls follow a trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea," and much more of "You know that's life. Up and down."
In the end, after so much convulsion, history always seems to happen in such quiet ways. It took just 34 seconds and amounted to 73 words, yet the resignation of Michael Martin, the speaker of the House of Commons, will go down in history as a very British revolution. His "…I have decided that I will relinquish the office of speaker on Sunday 21 June. This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new speaker on Monday 22 June. That is all I have to say on this matter. Order" may have been rather more prosaic than Oliver Cromwell's battle cry to the Rump Parliament in April 1653: "You have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" The centuries'-old gentleman's club that took root in the mother of parliaments is to be disbanded. Politicians will no longer be able to regulate themselves, or fiddle their expenses. Few have confidence that elected representatives in Britain – or anywhere for that matter – will have learned it is about service to the people, not themselves.
The physical, sexual, psychological and emotional violence perpetrated on the 35,000 and more children who lived in industrial schools, orphanages and schools for the disabled run by the Catholic church from the 1930s right up until 2000 is, at last, on official record. The Child Abuse Commission's final report runs to five volumes over 2,600 pages, and contains about 1,700 testimonies of abuse in 216 Catholic schools and institutions over seven decades. The report's many disturbing findings shows that physical and emotional abuse were features of the institutions; that regulations regarding use of corporal punishment were disregarded; that sexual abuse was endemic in boys' institutions; that children were frequently hungry, food was inadequate and inedible and that children went cold due to inadequate clothing; and that disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children were subjected to disturbing levels of emotional abuse. The report recommends that a memorial should be erected apologising to the victims. The Christian Brothers, which takes the brunt of most of the allegations, says it is "deeply sorry for the hurt caused". The story goes on to make headlines around the world, while the Catholic church is left reeling.
Wrongs and how to right them. Again, US president Barack Obama provides a moral compass to shake Americans into rethinking their way of viewing the world and their "enemies". The day after Congress refused funds to close the Guantánamo internment camp, he asks them to face up to the "misguided experiment" of Guantánamo Bay. He makes his impassioned, nuanced speech in the National Archive building, surrounded by the original US Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. "We must have clear, defensible and lawful standards…" he says. "We must have fair procedures so that we don't make mistakes." Yet another articulate, thoughtful argument from a politician determined to push his country along a more principled path.
They're off… Dublin airport and the ferry terminal at Belfast are blue with Leinster fans high on anticipation of bringing home the Heineken silverware for the first time. But will Munster supporters flying to Edinburgh wear blue in solidarity with the city boys' maul against the Leicester Tigers? Exactly 53.94% tell munsterfans.com they'll stick in the red, thank you.
"If girls realised the consequences of having sex, nobody would be having sex. Trust me. Nobody" Bristol Palin, Sarah's daughter, talking in People magazine last week as she continues her teenage sexual abstinence campaign, though it's unclear whether she's talking about the pregnancy, motherhood, her mother's reaction or the break-up with the father, fellow teen Levi Johnston
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