Monthly Archives: March 2019

2019
03/15

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What will be the consequence of the US shutdown?

According to experts, that depends on how long it continues, and whether it leads to US default on government debt repayments.

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The partial US government shutdown came into effect after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to pass a new budget.

 

The main point of contention has been President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, popularly known as Obamacare.

 

David Smith is a lecturer in American politics at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

 

“This is the first time in American history that there is going to be something approaching universal health coverage. Now to Democrats this is fantastic, but Republicans see this as a precursor to a government takeover of medicine and a government takeover of the healthcare system and even though in most other advanced industrial democracies the government does actually play a very major role in the health care system as it does in ours. This is not traditionally the way that its been done in the United States where everything is being done privately often with government money, but through private medical providers and private insurance providers and a lot of people in the conservative part of the Republican party actually see this as an entree into socialism and they see it as completely un-American and destructive of American capitalism.”

 

President Obama has condemned the blockage of the legislation by the Republicans.

 

“But I want every American to understand why it did happen. Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act. They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.”

 

However, House Speaker John Boehner accused the President and the Democrats of an unwillingness to negotiate.

 

“The bill we passed last night would have funded the government through December 15th and provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare – no exemptions, no exceptions, let’s treat everyone the same. Last night they not only rejected that, but they also rejected our call to sit down and resolve our differences under the Constitution which makes it clear that if the two Houses disagree we should sit down and discuss and try to resolve those matters.”

 

US government bodies seen as doing work regarded as essential, like the military, are continuing to function.

 

But the partial closure of the government means that many non-essential federal services have been closed, and up to 800,000 public servants have been told to stay at home or left working without pay.

 

This man was angry over the inability of veterans to visit the now-closed National War Memorial in Washington.

 

“These guys they’ve flown three or four hours today. They got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get here, they’re 80 and 90 years old. The Germans and the Japanese couldn’t stop them and now the God damn politicians in Washington are. This is ridiculous and these guys are paying the price.”

 

David Smith from Sydney University says the shutdown won’t have an immediate impact on the US economy.

 

“If it’s only a few days, then it’s an inconvenience and it’s unpleasant. But if it goes on for say, a week or more, then that is a lot of money that doesn’t go into the economy, so that’s a lot of employees who can’t do grocery shopping, who can’t fill up their cars with petrol and not only is it just incredibly inconvenient for them it means that their communities suffer a lot economically.”

 

And Mr Smith says that could also have a significant impact on the rest of the world.

 

r”The real problem is that in two or three weeks time, the United States is going to reach its debt ceiling again and there’s actually a serious possibility this time that the US could default on its debt. Now if this government shut down is a precursor to a debt default, then that is going to have a really serious effect on global financial markets, because a government default would signal to investors that the United States is actually too politically dysfunctional to be trusted to pay back its debts and this would lead to a massive downgrade in United States credit, which would mean a huge interest rate rise right across the United States, right through out the American financial system and it would cause massive insecurity within the global financial system because there is so much United States debt sloshing around in the system.”

 

Barack Obama says he’s worried about the possibility of default.

 

“If they go through with it this time, and force the United States to default on its obligations default for the first time in history, it would be far more dangerous than a government shutdown, as bad as a shutdown is. It would be an economic shutdown. So I’ll speak more on this in the coming days. Let me repeat: I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up. I’m not going allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hard-working families over a law you don’t like.”

 

Despite the partial government shutdown, the Obamacare health policy has actually been launched.

 

 

 

 

2019
03/15

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AFL’s Saints sign US ruck prospect

St Kilda have signed a 203cm former US college basketballer whose brother plays in the NFL and whose athletic capacity they predict will excite AFL fans.

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Jason Holmes, a 23-year-old from Chicago whose older brother Andre plays with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, has been tested alongside other hopefuls at this week’s draft combine in Melbourne.

Saints head of football Chris Pelchen said learning the finer points of the game would be a gradual process for ruck prospect Holmes, a newcomer to the sport, but the athletic feats he displayed at the combine couldn’t be ignored.

“That’s exciting for not just Saints fans but all AFL people,” Pelchen told reporters.

“I think we all watch American sport with great interest and are obviously sometimes amazed by their athletic prowess.

“Jason comes from a basketball background, played at college level and I think he’ll bring some very interesting aspects to the game in terms of his athletic ability in the short term.”

Holmes has been signed as an international rookie for the next two seasons.

He’s the second international rookie for the Saints, who recruited New Zealander Joseph Baker-Thomas in April, while in Wellington for their Anzac Day clash with Sydney.

Holmes, who was introduced to the sport at a talent-spotting camp in the United States in April, said deciding to shelve his basketball career was a tough choice but he was committed to trying to make it in the AFL.

“My passion is to compete,” he said.

“Obviously I had time to think about what I want to do and I’m glad I did have that time and I wouldn’t be here if this wasn’t serious to me.”

2019
03/15

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NZ no consolation prize for refugees: PM

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat that they should not expect to get New Zealand as a “consolation prize”.

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Mr Abbott hosted NZ Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday, the first foreign leader to visit Australia since the change of government last month.

The pair discussed NZ’s previous commitment to annually settle 150 refugees that Australia has processed, under a deal struck with former prime minister Julia Gillard in February.

AAP understands NZ has left the offer on the table but the Abbott government has indicated it won’t take it up because it wants to focus on sending asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island.

The intake had been slated to start in 2014 and was to make up part of New Zealand’s annual quota of 750 refugees.

Mr Abbott cast doubt over the arrangement during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday.

“We’re grateful for New Zealand’s help,” Mr Abbott said.

“If and when it becomes necessary obviously we’ll call on it.”

He reiterated his determination to stop the boats.

“One of the ways we stop the boats is by making it absolutely crystal clear that if you come to Australia illegally by boat you go, not to New Zealand, but to Nauru or Manus and you never ever come to Australia,” Mr Abbott said.

“People ought not think that New Zealand is some kind of a consolation prize if they can’t come to Australia.”

There’s strong support from NZ to take refugees from Australia with 60.8 per cent of people surveyed in a Herald-DigiPoll backing the arrangement.

2019
03/15

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Trade balance narrows in August

Australia’s recent trade deficits have been pushed further into the red by the new inclusion of small purchases by consumers of goods made overseas.

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The total value of imports below $1,000 ordered directly from overseas vendors in the 2012/13 financial year was $7.61 billion.

The ABS estimates that between 88 per cent and 95 per cent of that was consumer goods.

The ABS has also revised figures going back to 1998, and JP Morgan economist Ben Jarman said it shows domestic spending is leaking overseas more than previously thought.

“This is an attempt to get more of a handle on the increasing prevalence of online consumer spending with offshore retailers,” he said.

“The revisions get smaller as we move back through history, but were worth over $600 million in July alone, taking the balance for that month down.”

For the record, Australia’s total trade balance remained in the red in August, with a deficit of $815 million, official figures show, which was worse than the $450 million deficit the market was expecting.

Still, the August figure was a little bit better than the July deficit of $1.375 billion, which was revised from the original deficit estimate of $765 million.

Mr Jarman said the improved trade balance came via a surge in iron ore exports.

RBC fixed income and currency strategist Michael Turner said he expects Australia’s trade balance to improve as more mining and resource projects go into production and export shipments start moving.

“The ABS estimate of total imports includes the value of goods falling under the low value threshold,” he said.

“Beyond these distractions, the trade data were reasonably positive.

“Exports were up three per cent, led by iron ore and gold, while the one per cent rise in total imports was driven largely by broad rises in consumption goods – which ties in well with the slightly better environment for retail reported for August.”

2019
03/15

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Atletico demonstrate credentials with victory at Porto

Buoyed by a stunning 1-0 win at Real Madrid on Saturday, their first success against their bitter city rivals in La Liga this century, Atletico recovered from conceding a 16th-minute Jackson Martinez goal at the Dragao stadium to secure a ninth victory in 11 matches in all competitions this term.

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Their only blemish was a reverse on away goals to Barcelona in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup and they top the La Liga table alongside the champions with a perfect 21 points from seven matches.

Atletico’s progress under coach Diego Simeone has been spectacular since the Argentine took over at the end of 2011 and he has moulded his squad into an outfit that looks capable of challenging the Barca-Real duopoly in Spain and progressing to the latter stages of Europe’s elite club competition.

A combative and passionately committed midfielder for his country and during stints at Atletico, Sevilla, Inter Milan and Lazio, Simeone has instilled the same qualities in his players and praised their grit in Tuesday’s post-match news conference.

Their success against the Portuguese side was all the more remarkable given that forward and top scorer Diego Costa was suspended and that they sold prolific Colombia striker Radamel Falcao to Monaco in the close season.

“We have an extraordinary group,” Simeone said. “I am no doctor but the players were wounded and tired and that is a source of satisfaction as it shows they gave their all.”

Atletico’s Uruguay centre back Diego Godin headed the equaliser in the 58th minute before a well-worked free kick routine set up Turkey playmaker Arda Turan to snatch the winner four minutes from time.

The Spanish side top the group with six points from two games, with Porto on four in second and Zenit St Petersburg and Austria Wien, who drew 0-0 in Russia on Tuesday, on one point each in third and fourth respectively.

“We are just taking each match at a time,” Godin told reporters.

“We are fighting to the death in every game and I think that is the right path to follow,” he added. “Then we’ll see how far that takes us.”

Atletico’s next outing is a La Liga clash at home to Celta Vigo on Sunday before away and home matches against Austria Wien on October 22 and November 6 respectively.

(Editing by John O’Brien)