The Satchel Review - Friday 16 March

Bob the Blogger Carr and Bob Crazy-Pants Katter both gave their two bobs (ha) this week, resulting in two backlashes. 

Carr espoused on Papua New Guinea in an interview with Graham Richardson and set off a diplomatic row; Katter got the chatter started with an anti-gay marriage campaign.  

While Carr said Australia would be left with "no alternative but to organise the world to condemn and isolate Papua New Guinea" if elections were delayed, comparing the nation to Fiji, Katter brought on an unprecedented amount of hostility, the derision of his half-brother and the suspension of an ABC weekend presenter who provided the voiceover for his Australia Party ads.

The two Bobs detracted momentarily from the Bligh v Newman campaigning taking place in Queensland ahead of next weekend's elections (aka #qldvotes) and Peter Costello's airing of frustration over the appointment of David Gonski to head the Future Fund on the ABC.

"I think, Chris, that the process has been a shemozzle... the Future Fund was something that I conceived, I legislated it and I put every dollar of capital into it - every dollar," he told 7:30's Chris Uhlmann. "Shemozzle" became the word of the week on the political beat.

All the petty political jousting was set against a backdrop of a week in which we reflected on Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster and the 19,000 who perished after an earthquake on March 11, 2011, set off a chain of catastrophic events.

A year on, at least 340,000 people are still in temporary homes. But Sunshine Coast teacher Emma Gibson decided to return to her students in Japan. "I didn't just want to leave because I had somewhere else to go," she told the ABC. What a champion!

Speaking of which, sporting hero Ian Thorpe returned to the pool after a befuddling week of press conferences during which he, head coach Leigh Nugent and fellow champ Kieren Perkins defended the rights of Swimming Australia to fund athletes in whichever way they pleased.

"All these guys whingeing about the money... I think as long as Swimming Australia was using the money appropriately and transparently, there simply isn't a problem," said Perkins in defense of Thorpe's expensive comeback. "Even if he does fail in this bid, it won't in any way diminish his extraordinary achievements." 

The fatal shootings of at least 16 Afghan civilians by an American soldier; a suicide bomb attack by the Taliban on a funeral in Pakistan leaving 17 dead and 35 wounded; the massacre of 47 women and children in Homs; and reports of at least 14 teenagers found beaten or stoned to death for embracing emo culture in Baghdad added salt to the world's wounds.

But the arrest of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga brought some sense of just deserts. Lubanga was found guilty of recruiting and using children as soldiers and sex slaves by the International Criminal Court – the first such judgement in the court's history – after being arrested by UN peacekeepers in 2005.

"The verdict against Lubanga is a victory for the thousands of children forced to fight in Congo’s brutal wars," said Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Our attention turned to Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony by the power of an Invisible Children campaign, the Lubanga arrest gives traction to the social justice movement sweeping the world in the face of all-out calamity.

Closer to home, the mining boom is putting unprecedented strain on some Queensland communities ("The boom is really blowing the town up," said Russel Robertson of Moranbah), while Wayne Swan's billionaire bashing gave Clive Palmer's pursuit of media interests an extra boost.

"So what trends are left on the platform?" asked Francesca Fearon reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Black leather, apparently. "Romance Was Born for Action," reported Damien Woolnough of the Sydney label's action-hero collection, slated to be shown at Australian Fashion Week come April 30.

"I’m inspired by the way their clothing is also their armour and protection," said Romance Was Born designer Anna Plunkett. In the context of the rapid-fire chain of events taking place globally, it seems this is no time for simply sitting pretty.

Girl With a Satchel