6 Things You Need To Know Right Now: Scandals Abound!

Number 6 pool ballBenghazi. Tea Party targeting by the IRS. Associated Press records seized by the Department of Justice. Kerry Washington.

Okay. That last one is actually an actress from a television show called Scandal that has recently exploded in popularity.

The first three, though? Those are scandals that likely won’t see closing curtains for a while. They are capturing the lion’s share of the national media’s attention, not to mention all of Congress’ billable hours. But fear not, dear reader. Scandals are raging in plenty of other countries. You know what they say about misery loving company.

1. American to Be Booted From Russia on Suspicions of Spying. A U.S. diplomat has been labeled persona non grata in Russia. The Russians believe an American was trying to infiltrate the country’s security forces to recruit double-agents/spies. Authorities claim to have found the suspect with a “spy arsenal” of disguises and large sums of money. American officials dispute that the man is affiliated with the CIA, deny that he was recruiting spies, and claim that Russia has manufactured the incident to stir up anti-American sentiment. You can probably find further details at a cineplex near you in twelve to eighteen months.

2. Japanese Mayor Justifies Use of War-Time Sex Slaves. Before and during World War II, Japan’s military forced Asian women into prostitution for members of the country’s armed forces. Earlier this week, the young, male mayor of Osaka proclaimed that such forced conscription was necessary to “maintain discipline.” Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of an emerging conservative political party, referred to the women as “comfort women” and disputed that they provided their services as a result of coercion. Historians say up to 200,000 women, most from the Korean Peninsula or China, were forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers in military brothels. Hashimoto argued that it should be “clear to anyone” that the system was “necessary” to help the soldiers “get some rest.” South Korean and Chinese officials criticized the comments, and cited them as further evidence of Japan’s rightward political drift. You can find further details inside Todd Akin’s brain.

3. Turkish Court Fingers State Officials in Murder Conspiracy. In 2007, an Armenian journalist named Hrant Dink was murdered. Dink was an outspoken critic of Turkey’s treatment of the country’s approximately 60,000 Christian Armenians, as well as its diplomatic standoff with neighboring Armenia. He was shot in broad daylight in front of his newspaper’s office building in Istanbul, sparking public outcry and protests. Many believed the killing was yet another conspiracy-orchestrated, politically motivated murder, but in 2012 a criminal court convicted just two men of the crime. An appeals court has ruled that the men did not act alone, paving the way for a retrial that could implicate state officials. You can find further details on the European Union’s list of “Why Turkey Probably Shouldn’t Make The Cut.”

4. Daughter Whines About Table, Dad Loses Job. A senior Mexican official has lost his job after his daughter tried to use his name and position to shut down a bistro that did not seat her at the table she wanted. She somehow managed to get officials to raid the bistro after her seating disappointment. The brouhaha became an embarrassing distraction for the government, which is apparently taking abuses of power more seriously. In a lovely twist, the fired official was the attorney-general for consumer protection. You can find further details in the diary of any member of the Kardashian family.

5. Israeli Prime Minister Likes Expensive Haircuts, Etc. Just as Israel was getting ready to swallow the painful pill of austerity measures, a watchdog group has released a report stating that taxpayer funds have been used to support increased costs and expenses incurred by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s household. The list of expenses includes his three residences ($1.5 million) and monthly charges for cleaning services ($27,000), food and hospitality ($11,000) and personal expenses such as hairdressers and makeup ($1,450). Each of those figures represents a dramatic increase over charges from 2009. Netanyahu’s office defended the price tags, insisting that the money was spent for official events. This isn’t the first time this sort of scandal has touched Netanyahu. Earlier this year, he was forced to cancel a state contract when it was revealed he was spending $2,700 for his favorite ice cream. You can find further details in Mariah Carey’s contract hospitality rider.

6. Activists Jailed In Bahrain For Insulting King. Six activists posted Twitter messages that allegedly insulted Bahrain’s King Hamad. They have since been sentenced to a year in jail on charges of “misuse of freedom of expression.” The convictions and sentences come as part of a broader effort by the kingdom to stifle protest and dissent. You can find further details in the thesaurus under “antonyms for freedom.”

Remember to check back next here week for the latest edition of “6 Things You Need To Know Right Now.”

Image via iStockphoto/Les Cunliffe

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