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What Kind Of Week Has It Been? 15 February

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The 500/1 outsider for Pope of news

No one has any sticktoitiveness any more. Where once the man in the Vatican hot-seat would have held on until the Camerlengo gave him a doink with a hammer, now some Popes seem to think that being God's spokesman on earth is something you can walk away from, be it for a dicky heart or the shame of being an accessory after the fact to acts of depravity committed by members of the Catholic clergy. Taking a leaf from Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands's book, Pope Benedict XVI announced this week that he was jacking it in and retiring to spend more time with his best buddy, playing golf, raising hell and chasing tail. It was in Latin, so that's a rough translation. There are those who claim that Benedict is stepping down to head off some potentially catastrophic revelations about to emerge about child abuse within the Church, but is there really much more that could be considered shocking in that regard? Which sounds horrific to say, and rightly so. The cynic within me feels that Vatican insiders could have 'taken care' of the Benedict problem, had there been a pressing one, in much the same way they handled John Paul I. Everyone loves a bit of trutherism once in a while, especially me. More prosaic a suggestion is that an elderly man with heart trouble decided he wasn't physically up to Popery, having seen his predecessor spend at least a decade with the words "the ailing Pontiff" never far from his name. And so begins The Pius X Factor of a Papal Conclave. Remember kids, canvassing will disqualify.

As the Pope was walking away without even announcing a farewell tour (he's still smarting after the disappointing turn-out for last year's Eucharistic Congress), Barack Obama was delivering the first state of the union address of his second term. He performed all the hits his adoring liberal fans love, with gun control, immigration and a new deal for the middle classes being key points. President Obama wasn't heckled by a Xander Berkeley look-alike this time, which is always a bonus. In place of Joe Wilson going off on one, the Republican in the limelight this year was vehement gun afficionado Ted Nugent, who claimed last year that he'd be either dead or in gaol in a year should Obama be re-elected. Instead, he's invited to the state of the union speech as a guest of a Republican politico. That's Obama's fascist America for you. Ted went predictably doolally because, y'know, you don't ask Ted Nugent to your party and expect a douce evening of backgammon marked by the ticking of a grandfather clock.

Meanwhile, all across Europe the horsemeat scandal trotted on, with Findus frozen meals turning out to be filled with the type of 'beef' at which even Adam Richman would baulk. There is a large amount of commentary around putting forward the idea that people who buy cheap, frozen meat products almost deserve to be hoodwinked. Piffle. Would anyone seriously claim that buyers of Mercedes's A-Class deserved a car with serious stability issues, because they were buying a cheaper Merc? Not likely. But apparently it's okay to scoff (not meant as a pun, but like Jimmy Greaves netting from one yard, they all count) at wanting foodstuffs associated with lower-income diets to actually be truthful about what goes into them. That's some nice foodie snobbery right there. Whoever's to blame for beef not being beef is basically a case of picking one's prejudice, as a French MEP this week claimed that it's all due to Romanian laws forbidding horses from travelling on the country's roads. Yeah, those pesky Romanians, forcing major meat manufacturers to put Buckaroo into their burgers.

Kevin Ward is available as a write-in candidate for Pope, contact him here.