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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)

2019
02/15

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PUP to be a power in Senate

Mining magnate Clive Palmer’s political party looks set to hold the balance of power when the new Senate takes shape next July.

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The coalition will have 33 senators but needs six more votes to pass legislation.

Labor with 26 seats and the Greens with nine – possibly 10 after a recount – are likely to vote together to oppose government plans.

Both parties oppose repealing the carbon tax, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott has at the top of his legislative priorities.

The coalition would need to seek support from the eight senators on the crossbench, including five independent/micro party senators.

They’re independent Nick Xenophon (SA), Democratic Labor Party John Madigan (Vic) and three newcomers: Liberal Democratic Party David Leyonhjelm (NSW), Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Ricky Muir (Vic) and Family First’s Bob Day (SA).

The other newcomers are Palmer United Party (PUP) senators Glenn Lazarus from Queensland, Jacqui Lambie from Tasmania and probably Zhenya Wang from Western Australia.

However senator-elect Wang is facing a partial vote recount in WA, requested by the man he seems to have ousted on preferences – Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam.

Mr Abbott will be able to count on the PUP senators, Mr Day and Senator Madigan since all have publicly opposed the carbon tax.

But Mr Abbott may have tough negotiations ahead with Senator Xenophon, Senator-elect Muir, and Senator-elect Leyonhjelm.

Senator Xenophon supports the repeal of the tax but wants it replaced by a model developed by Frontier Economics, which rewards low-emission industries and punishes high-emission polluters.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s policies state that, should evidence become compelling that global warming is due to human activity, the party would favour market-based options.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s stance is not clear.

Its environmental policy is to support a balanced approach towards sustainability of the environment and the use of the environment, both for the survival of mankind and for the unimpeded recreational use of the environment.

However, the party also advocates removing the need for government to waste time on the introduction of “nanny-rules” to protect ourselves from ourselves.

Mr Abbott’s signature paid parental leave scheme may pass parliament before the changeover next year, if he agrees to the Greens push for a $50,000 payout cap.

2019
02/15

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Lynch shocked by Buddy’s big AFL deal

Alastair Lynch, the AFL star who signed an extraordinary 10-year contract at the age of 25, believes Sydney wouldn’t expect Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin to keep playing until the end of his nine-season deal.

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Lynch, like most in the AFL, was shocked to learn 26-year-old Franklin is headed to the Swans on a $10 million deal instead of joining expansion side Greater Western Sydney.

The 45-year-old, who reluctantly left Fitzroy to join Brisbane after the 1993 season, knows first-hand how unusually long deals brokered by Andrew Ireland can work.

Lynch ended up signing a one-year extension to his landmark contract, bowing out of the game in 2004 with three premierships at the age of 36 – one year older than Franklin will be at the end of the 2022 season.

However powerhouse full-forwards like Lynch are rarer these days, and the former Brisbane captain senses Sydney won’t be banking on Franklin fulfilling the sum total of his deal.

“It’s a big aggressive move by a footy club to get someone over the line, so I understand that,” Lynch told AAP on Wednesday as Franklin confirmed he was Sydney-bound.

“I don’t think the Sydney Swans would expect Buddy to play for the whole term.

“They’d be rapt if he did, but I’m sure they have got in the back of their minds that it might only last six or so years.

“You’re still getting to a fair old age at 33. So six years would probably be a good result, if so they’d have to wear the last three years in the salary cap.

“But I’m sure that’s something they’ve considered long and hard over the last few months. If they can grab two more premierships in that time with Buddy, I’m sure they’d take the pain at the end.”

Lynch admitted he had “no thought of playing the 10 years out” when he first joined the Brisbane Bears.

“That’s where the guarantee was very attractive … it was impossible to knock back,” he recalled.

“It (the 10-year contract) worked beautifully for me … and hopefully the club felt it balanced out in the end.”

Brisbane’s retention allowance was abolished after winning three consecutive premierships, much to the relief of Collingwood president Eddie McGuire who declared “war on the AFL in regards to the salary cap” a day after his side lost the 2002 grand final to the Lions.

McGuire, long outraged over the Swans’ cost-of-living allowance (COLA), has been at the forefront of a swell of COLA angst after news of Franklin’s imminent departure broke on Tuesday.

“They work within the rules that have been provided by the AFL,” Lynch said of the Swans.

“It sounds like there’s an ongoing review of this allowance to live in Sydney, and this might bring it to a head.

“Once we (the Lions) started to become successful it was pretty swiftly knocked on the head – that may happen again.

“There has been talk over the last few years about it. At some stage it was deemed to be a valid competent of the salary cap for the Sydney-based clubs, so I’m not quite sure why it should change.”

2019
02/15

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Arthur in line for Eels coaching job

Parramatta are set to offer their vacant coaching position to Manly assistant Brad Arthur.

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Arthur worked alongside Stephen Kearney last year but left when Ricky Stuart was appointed at the end of a season that saw the Eels claim the first of two successive wooden spoons.

However, the 39-year-old impressed in his short time as caretaker coach when Kearney was axed, leading the struggling team to wins over Brisbane and the Sydney Roosters and AAP understands he’s the favoured choice of several board members and will be offered the job.

North Queensland were also interested in Arthur but opted for Roosters under-20s coach Paul Green as Neil Henry’s replacement leaving the door open for Arthur at Parramatta.

“He did a very good job when he was here and more importantly he worked well with Jarryd Hayne and a lot of our younger players,” an Eels insider told AAP.

“We will have Will Hopoate here next year and that will put pressure on Jarryd at fullback and we hope he’ll react to that and have a great year.

“Financially we are in good shape the leagues club is making money and we have just signed two new sponsors. We just need to get the coach in place now.”

Test coach Tim Sheens was interviewed by the club on Tuesday but the younger Arthur is the favoured with his knowledge of the team’s younger players working in his favour.

The news will be a dent to Jason Taylor’s hopes of returning to the club.

Parramatta are also struggling with their salary cap for next season and aren’t likely to bring in any other players after South Sydney pair Nathan Peats and Justin Hunt, Hopoate and English prop Lee Mossop.

Knowing most of the squad is something else that works in Arthur’s favour with the board impressed at the way Trent Robinson turned around the Roosters two years after leaving his post as Brian Smith’s No.2.

The club announced on Wednesday they’ve secured a major sponsor after severing ties with long-term partner Pirtek.

Dyldam and UNIBET will don the front and back of the club’s shirt respectively for the next three seasons in a lucrative seven-figure deal.

Private residential group Dyldam were already a club sponsor, but have upgraded to become the main partner.

Recently-appointed Parramatta chief executive Scott Seward said the deals prove how strong a brand the club still are despite two awful seasons.

“Today’s announcement represents the faith shown in us from within by Dyldam upgrading to become our major sponsor and also how strongly we are positioned in the marketplace to be able to attract new corporate partners such as UNIBET,” Seward said.

“I hope securing the largest sponsorship deal in this club’s history off the back of two wooden spoons instils confidence in our members and fans in the job this administration and board are doing right now.”

2019
02/15

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De Jong impresses but Dutch recall hinges on role in side

On Wednesday, the Dutch media described him as a “windshield wiper” offering lateral protection in front of the central defensive duo of Philippe Mexes and Cristian Zapata.

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The solid performance came just days before Dutch coach Louis van Gaal finalises his squad for World Cup qualifiers against Hungary and Turkey, where the 28-year-old is hoping for a return to a side already qualified for next year’s finals.

He was named in a preliminary squad last week but whether he can force his way back into the starting line up for the first time since recovering from an Achilles injury, remains unclear.

Van Gaal has previously gone on record as saying he would prefer to use a defensive midfielder who could also provide assistance going forward rather than just being an extra lock on the defensive door.

“Last night’s game will have shown Van Gaal little that fits in with his tactical plans,” Dutch daily the Algemeen Dagblad said.

De Jong’s role at his Italian club precludes him from any adventure and whether van Gaal believes he can play differently in a Dutch shirt will only become clear next weekend when the side host Hungary in their penultimate World Cup qualifier.

That match will also be at the Amsterdam Arena where de Jong was hailed like a returning hero by a partisan crowd of more than 50,000 on what he said would be an emotional night.

“I ran around here for a long time. It is where I grew up,” he said prior to the match referring to his early career at Ajax.

Tuesday’s game was only his ninth after an extended spell on the sidelines after rupturing the tendon in a Serie A match against Torino last December, just five months after joining Milan from Manchester City.

De Jong, who won international notoriety for a kung fu-style challenge on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final that went unpunished by referee Howard Webb, claimed the last of his 67 caps in a friendly against Germany last November.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by John O’Brien)

2019
02/15

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Corby wins parole approval in Bali

Schapelle Corby has edged closer to parole after winning crucial approval from the Justice Ministry office in Bali.

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A spokesman for the office on Wednesday confirmed the 36-year-old’s parole application had been approved and would be immediately forwarded to Jakarta for further consideration.

“From the hearing yesterday, we have issued a recommendation which is approving Corby to receive her parole,” Justice Ministry office spokesman Made Badra said in Bali on Wednesday.

“Our consideration is that Corby has fulfilled a substantive requirement, which is she has served two-thirds of her sentence and behaved well.”

It’s still likely to be months before Corby, caught in 2004 attempting to smuggle more than 4kg of marijuana into Bali in a bodyboard bag, wins final approval for parole from the Justice Ministry in Jakarta.

Another hearing is expected to take place within the next two weeks in Jakarta at the office of the Director-General of Prisons.

“Based on previous experience, the answer of approval or rejection to parole should be received within 12 days after the documents are received by the Prisons Director-General,” Made Badra said.

However, even if Corby wins the support of the Prisons Director-General, the final approval for her parole application would still have to come from the Justice Minister.

In another promising sign, Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin has told AAP he does not believe there are any impediments to Corby being granted an early release.

“As long as she fulfils requirements in its regulation and has finished her obligation, and didn’t break any rules, no one can prevent her to get her parole,” he said.

Mr Syamsuddin also insisted the final decision would not be affected by critics in Indonesia, including anti-drug activists and some politicians, who are ardently opposed to Corby being granted any leniency.

“About this Corby thing, I always become the target of critics,” Mr Syamsuddin said.

“But I couldn’t prevent someone from getting their rights just because I’m afraid of critics. That can’t be happening.”

Corby must also obtain a letter from the Immigration Ministry confirming her visa status before she can be released from Bali’s Kerobokan jail, but this is expected to be just a formality.

“We have sent a letter to Immigration Directorate-General to ensure that Corby’s stay permit will be issued once she’s released from prison,” Made Badra said.

Corby is serving a 15-year jail term after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last year granted her clemency on humanitarian grounds and slashed her sentence by five years.

The convicted drug smuggler would have to serve her parole in Bali, where she would live with her sister Mercedes and brother-in-law, Wayan Widyartha, in Kuta.