The astronaut and the burqa

We’d like to start this rundown of popular stories with an apology to our readers.


Had we known there was such an appetite out there for stories about long-deceased Russian astronauts, we would have sought out as many as possible and published them earlier.

Unfortunately, however, that kind of tale is rare, which is perhaps why Russia’s sudden decision to shed light on the mystery surrounding Yuri Gagarin’s death drew far more clicks than anything else this week.

Perhaps it was the overall weirdness of the news landscape lately that drew clicks to our gallery of the best news images from last week. Or perhaps it was the opening picture of a ridiculously cute baby red panda that got the attention – who can tell?

But that was enough wonder and weirdness, as France finally implemented its long-debated burqa ban, sparking protests, inflammatory comments and general anger from women worldwide.

The flurry continued on our message board, with hundreds of posters wrangling over whether banning the burqa is religious discrimination. It’s a lively debate, even after the offensive comments are moderated out, so join in if you haven’t yet.

If you don’t know your burqas from your niqabs and hijabs, though, check out our cheat sheet beforehand.

With the burqa madness well and truly clicked out, readers turned next to the story of a New York serial killer who – at first glance – looked like a potential, real-life Dexter.

Several bodies were found dumped on a beach by a killer who apparently had an excellent (inside?) knowledge of police workings.

Alas, the next story outed the suspect as nothing at all like TV’s meticulous vigilante murderer – as it seemed the victims had been female escorts, not hardened and heartless criminals. In light of that, the initial comparison very likely sickened true Dexter fans.

As entertaining as it is trying to find segues between each of the stories on this list, there’s really no way to do so between here and the next one. So here it is straight up.

A rather lovely painting of a basking shark on a water tank near a NZ beach was removed, because it was apparently ‘scaring off tourists’.

It’s not hard to relate that to the next yarn, though – with an incident that may well scare off another kind of visitor.

The (now ex-)manager of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Melbourne restaurant had a turn that could be described using the quintessentially Aussie term ‘doing one’s nana’, and burnt down his office.

In more ocean-related news, the controversial scuttling of the HMAS Adelaide took place off Avoca Beach though not before a hefty 80-minute delay caused by a large pod of frollicking dolphins.

There was cerainly no frollicking in the next item, as US President Barack Obama brokered a last-minute deal to avoid a government shutdown over his proposed budget reforms.

In an eery coupling, the story of a strong aftershock hitting catastrophe-harrowed Japan came next, followed by the first ever official scientific assertion that climate change is causing the Earth to move.

In other words, all this seismic activity – including the ginormous quake responsible for Japan’s current misery – has been caused by stuff we might have been able to avoid.

Faced with horror of that magnitude, it’s no wonder our readers clicked a tender and animal-y moment in to complete the list. A deer in a cemetery in Buffalo, USA, has been standing guard over a goose as she nested.

The young buck watched over the goose until she settled in, and there is a lovely video to prove it – though it comes nowhere near offering an explanation.

Perhaps it is just that – the inexplicable – that keeps news consumers clicking. From this week’s combination of space history, face coverings and wildlife, it certainly seems that way.

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