“Kung hei fat choi”
That’s ‘wishing you wealth and prosperity’ in Cantonese to ring in the Lunar New Year. It’s officially a no porridge day – just lucky food, thanks. The world needs all the good luck it can get quite frankly…
BIDEN AND XI SAY HELLO/NI HAO
Newly-minted US President Joe Biden and China’s forever-leader Xi Jinping got on the blower yesterday for the first time since the American’s inauguration last month. Xi’s last call with former President Donald Trump was almost a year ago with the pair at odds over trade, regional security, and the pandemic. And with Biden’s approach not expected to deviate much on his predecessor’s course on some key issues, there are some thorny issues to navigate…
SO HOW DID IT GO?
Biden wants a “more purposeful and steady approach” in the Asia-Pacific region, while Xi urged cooperation because confrontation would be a “disaster” for both nations. China hasn’t detailed its side of the conversation, but for America’s part:
• On trade, the US will keep Trump’s tariffs in place while a review is undertaken. And Biden’s team say they plan to adopt Trump’s focus on ‘strategic competition’ with China – but they’ll do it in collaboration with others, including Australia.
• On China’s strategic ambitions, Biden told Xi the US will seek to counter their “increasingly assertive actions in the region”.
• And on human rights, Xi maintained his hard line on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan – matters of “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. That won’t stop the US from speaking up on abuses, Biden flagged.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?
Australia? Biden and PM Scott Morrison had their first call last week, and China was discussed. Morrison has previously said he thinks Biden’s arrival on the scene could “change the atmospherics” with China. That’s already happening with Xi offering to open the lines of communication “to avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment.” But with some unwieldy problems to handle, it’s not going to be easy. Reports say US officials acknowledge that “the lion’s share of the history of the 21st century is going to be written in the Asia-Pacific.” So no pressure then…
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MORE MOVEMENT AT CROWN
After a bruising week/year, reports say that Crown Resorts’ CEO Ken Barton will resign after a report to NSW’s gaming regulator found the company was unsuitable to hold a licence for its new Barangaroo casino in Sydney. Commissioner Patricia Bergin singled out Barton saying he was “no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee”. Barton started the gig at the start of 2020, and it’s said that he met with the company’s chair Helen Coonan to discuss his future yesterday. Board member Andrew Demetriou bowed to pressure yesterday ending his 5-year association with Crown. He hit back yesterday at what he saw as “unfair and unjust” criticism levelled at him by Bergin, who said he was a problem after turning in a “bizarre … unedifying performance” at her inquiry. The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s chair Philip Crawford yesterday said both men had to go if the company wanted to open the $2.2 billion casino.
MEGHAN HAS A WIN
The Duchess of Sussex has this morning won her High Court case over the Mail on Sunday. She took parent company Associated Newspapers to court over the publication of extracts from a letter to her father. The judge said she had a “reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private”. Meghan’s letter to Thomas Markle in August 2018 said he’d broken her heart “into a million pieces” by talking to the press about their faltering relationship. In a statement, Meghan said she was grateful the publisher would be held to account “for their illegal and dehumanising practices”. The royal couple broke up with tabloid media last year, saying they would not respond to their inquiries any more. There will be a further court hearing in March to decide “the next steps” in the case.
MORI’S OLYMPIC-SIZED GAFF SEES HIM GAWN
Tokyo Olympics boss Yoshiro Mori will resign today over his gender relations bombshell from last week. The 83yo former PM was widely condemned for saying that women speak too much during meetings. The International Olympic Committee slammed his take for being “absolutely inappropriate”, with major Olympic sponsor Toyota also voicing concern. Mori issued an apology, but it wasn’t enough to relieve the pressure to step down. It’s been yet another headache for the already delayed Tokyo Games which are scheduled to go ahead in July despite ongoing coronavirus woes.
OBESITY DRUG BRINGS NEW HOPE
For decades researchers have tried and failed to develop an effective obesity treatment. The current range of options includes drugs with side effects or surgery. That could be set to change with a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine offering hope to millions. The study saw 2,000 participants across 16 countries inject themselves with the Type 2 diabetes drug semaglutide for 68 weeks. The appetite suppressing drug delivered a 15% decrease in body fat on average, while those who received a placebo shed 2.4%. And unlike other obesity medications on the market, semaglutide has little to no side effects. The study’s lead researcher Dr Robert Kushner called the drug a “game-changer”.
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
If you’re on Twitter and you need a daily injection of ‘nice’, it’s hard to go past A Daily Cloud. To explain the complex concept – it’s a picture of a cloud, posted daily. Oh ok, these clouds are a bit more special than that…
If you’ve ever wanted to own a lock of George Washington’s hair, JFK’s Harvard sweater, or a cheque from Donald Trump, you’re in luck. The auction of some presidential heirlooms is open…
And if it’s not too creepy may we wish you a happy Valentine’s day for Sunday? Get some easy choccy mousse into ya with this winner. XOXO
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Lunar New Year rings in the Year of the Metal Ox
• the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin (1809)
• US President Bill Clinton’s acquittal by the Senate in his impeachment trial (1999)
• the start of trial of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He died before its conclusion (2002)
• the Morrison Government lost a substantive vote in the House of Representatives, the first such loss in 78 years (2019)
World Radio Day
• the start of the bombing of Dresden by Allied forces (1945)
• British boy band Take That officially announcing that they are disbanding, prompting the UK Government to set up counselling phone lines (1996). And it’s former member Robbie Williams’ birthday (1974)
• Former PM Kevin Rudd’s apology speech to Stolen Generations (2008)
Wear Red Day for heart disease
International Book Giving Day
Birthdays for Michael Bloomberg (1942) and Cadel Evans (1977)
• the release of the original Dracula film starring Bela Lugosi (1931)
• the patenting of the first microchip (called “micro on a chip”) by Texas Instruments (1978)
• the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which prompted protests against gun violence in the US (2018)
• the death of Captain James Cook (1779)
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