“I thought, ‘Oh, no! It’s too close.'”
No, that’s not a quote from [insert candidate/commentator/political watcher’s name here…] observing the US presidential election. It’s what kayaking enthusiast Julie McSorley was thinking as she ended up in a humpback whale’s mouth. So, a similar experience…
GEEZ IT’S CLOSE...
America hasn’t settled on who their president will be with yesterday’s election result up in the air. Republican candidate US President Donald Trump surprised with his strong showing as Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s campaign-long lead in the polls that promised a convincing win evaporating as the counting started. There are as many different tallies as there are media outlets, but as we start today, the Washington Post has Biden ahead on 227 electoral votes, and Trump sits on 213. That leaves 98 electoral votes up for grabs with millions of votes still to count.
WHERE ARE THE CRUNCH POINTS?
Results from 6 battleground states remain undecided, but it’s the states of Wisconsin (10 electoral college votes), Michigan (16) and Pennsylvania (20) that are in focus. When counting stopped last night, Trump was ahead in each. But that was before the northeastern states started to look at the mass of early votes that are thought to favour Biden – something they couldn’t do under their state election laws until election day. By this morning, Biden is ahead in Wisconsin and Michigan. And in an added complication, Pennsylvania’s rules see mail-in votes postmarked by 3 November accepted for counting if they arrive up to 3 days after the election. The state is currently leaning Trump’s way, but there are a million votes to count there.
HOW’S THIS GOING TO PLAY OUT?
Commentators say we’ll get a good indication from Wisconsin and Michigan today, but it may not be until Friday local time that all votes are counted in those crucial states. That didn’t stop Trump from falsely claiming the win as he promised to get “all the voting to stop”. What he was referring to was forcing a stop to the counting of ballots. It was a statement that outraged many with one commentator summing up the reaction saying Trump was seeking to “subvert the election itself” in a move that “represents the gravest of threats to the stability of the country.” Senior Republicans have since said that the party did not see the election as won. For his part, Biden has urged calm and says he believes he’s on track to win. But “it ain’t over until every vote is counted,” he said early this morning.
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ODDS MOUNT AGAINST CROWN
Crown Resorts casino licence in Sydney is under threat with Adam Bell SC, the lawyer assisting the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry, yesterday saying it was unfit to hold a casino licence. The inquiry has grilled investor James Packer and chair Helen Coonan amongst others about allegations Crown “facilitated” money laundering at its casinos and did business with people tied to Asian organised crime gangs. It also looked into Packer’s influence on Crown’s board and management team – something Bell said was damaging. Commissioner Patricia Bergin is due to hand down her findings by 1 February next year. In the meantime, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she is seeking “urgent and immediate advice” on asking Crown to delay the December opening of the Sydney casino. And reports say calls are mounting in Melbourne and Perth (where Crown already has casinos) to look into its suitability to hold licences there.
NSW AND VICTORIA TO RESUME NORMAL PROGRAMMING
Free movement between NSW and Victoria will be restored on 23 November. The border between Australia’s most populous states was closed on 8 July for the first time in a century as the second wave of coronavirus cases took hold in Melbourne. In recent days, NSW is reporting more cases than the southern state. Three new locally acquired cases were reported in NSW yesterday as Victoria racked up 5 days without a new case. Commenting on the numbers, Premier Berejiklian yesterday said it looks like the severe 3.5-month lockdown of Melbourne might have eliminated the virus from the city, which is quite something. All eyes are again on Queensland for it to outline when it will open its borders to residents of Victoria and Greater Sydney.
CHINA STEPS ON ANT
The world’s biggest ever launch on the stock market was set to happen today – until the Chinese Government stepped in and postponed it… Ant Group, a financial services offshoot of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group that runs the main online payment system in China, was to list on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges with the company selling shares valued at $US37 billion ($52 billion). That would make it the biggest initial public offering (IPO) the world has ever seen. Reports say Ma and senior Ant Group executives met with Chinese regulators on Monday and were told it hadn’t complied with regulations on online lending and other services. But analysts say it could be retribution for Ma’s criticism of China’s banking system. And they say it’s a reminder to businesses in China that no one’s immune from government control – even those connected to the man who’s held up as a major success story. Ant said it’s working on getting things back on track…
VALE DON TALBOT
Legendary Aussie swimming coach Don Talbot died at home on the Gold Coast on Tuesday. Talbot first took up swimming after nearly drowning at 4yo. He was a competitive swimmer before he started coaching in 1956, and made a name for himself as one of the world’s top coaches. As well as coaching in Canada, the US and England, Talbot served as Australia’s head coach for stints in the 60s, 70s, 90s and early 2000s. He was best known in recent times for overseeing the successful Olympic campaigns of Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Susie O’Neill and Kieren Perkins. Under his leadership, Australia won 5 gold medals in the pool out of the 16 won at the Sydney Olympics. The tributes flowed yesterday with Australia’s current head coach Rohan Taylor calling him “larger than life”. Others remembered him as a strict disciplinarian. Talbot “was tough till the end,” his son Scott said, finally “succumbing to complications with dementia.”
STATE OF ORIGIN GIVES SERIES ADVANTAGE TO THE CANE TOADS
They went in as underdogs and emerged as victors. The Queensland Maroons pulled off a surprise victory last night in Adelaide in the State of Origin rugby league series opener. Despite having a team packed with Origin debutantes, Queensland proved too strong against their NSW rivals, winning 18 points to 14. Leading 10-0 at half-time, the Blues were unable to hold off a highly energised Maroons as they stormed through the second half to claim the win. Also victorious – social media over Nine’s commentary team… Viewers had lots of views last night about the refereeing (standard) and the game call as the legendary Ray ‘Rabbits’ Warren flagged his imminent retirement. The Richie Benaud of rugby league told the Daily Telegraph (paywall) the recent grand final might have been his last. Until game 2 in Sydney next week…
NEED TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL?
Understandable. A lot is going on. As you’re reviewing the options to become a hermit, this might help you rule in (or rule out…) becoming a caretaker on a small British island. Set your Insta filter to ‘windswept’…
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ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods and Services, September
Guy Fawkes Day (marking the anniversary of the Catholic conspirator being executed for attempting to blow up King James I and the British Parliament in 1605)
Birthdays for singer Art Garfunkel (1941), businesswoman/reality TV star Kris Jenner (1955), singer Bryan Adams (1959), actor Tilda Swinton (1960) and guitarist Kevin Jonas (1987)
• the launch of Monopoly by the Parker Brothers (1935)
• Franklin D Roosevelt re-elected (1940) and Richard Nixon elected (1968) US President
• the release of the Paradise Papers (2015)
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