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Thursday, 17 October 2019
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“They are the A-team!”
Tweeted recently returned NASA astronaut Anne McClain of something special that’s about the happen in space. Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will venture outside the International Space Station today or tomorrow to undertake the first all-female spacewalk in history. Their mission is less lofty – they need to change a battery…
HONG KONG NOT QUITE OVER THE RAINBOW
After almost four months of protests, it was always going to be a fraught affair… As Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam lined up to deliver the annual policy-setting speech yesterday, opposition legislators shouted and climbed on tables forcing her to stop. The session resumed, only for the Beijing-backed Lam to be interrupted again. In unprecedented scenes, her address to the legislature was abandoned and delivered via video-link instead.
WHAT’S EVERYONE SHOUTING ABOUT?
To show Hongkongers that she’s acting on some sore-points, the centrepiece of Lam’s pitch is to address Hong Kong’s housing squeeze. Particularly, she will increase the number of housing projects and take back large tracts of land from developers to tackle the red-button issue. As for the unrest, Lam said she believes Hong Kong will “emerge from the storm and embrace the rainbow”. But many residents are a long way from seeing the light with their worries about China’s influence deepening. As for what the opposition wants – it’s the ‘five demands’ outlined some weeks ago – and “not one less,” they chanted yesterday.
Yes. China’s grumpy about the passage of legislation in the US Congress that would allow for economic sanctions against individuals who undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy. And American star basketballer LeBron James is not popular with Hong Kong protestors after he characterised support shown for their cause by another NBA figure as uneducated. Critics said James was “kowtowing to Communist China and putting profits over human rights for Hong Kong”. Note: The NBA’s business in China is worth an estimated US$4 billion.
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ERDOGAN IN DEMAND
As US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jet into Ankara to see Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended an urgent invitation to visit him in Moscow. Pence and Pompeo are there to relay US President Donald Trump’s demand for a cease-fire in Syria, despite Edogan’s vow to continue the mission. Meanwhile, Putin is all about the new paradigm with the pair set to discuss how Turkish and Syrian forces will avoid a clash. And on the ground, medical agency Médecins Sans Frontières yesterday said the chaos created by the US withdrawal of troops has made it impossible for it to get in and provide care to Kurdish civilians who are caught up in the fighting.
It’s a story that’s only getting bigger – but how to the Kurds, America, Turkey, and Syria all fit in? Our latest Squiz Shortcut will get you across it in 10 minutes.
PALFREEMAN OUT OF DETENTION
Jock Palfreeman was released from detention in Bulgaria yesterday. He was granted parole almost a month ago but was detained again almost immediately by immigration officials after serving 11 years of a 20-year Bulgarian prison sentence for murder. The Australian’s surprise release from prison was met with local opposition, and his family and the Aussie Government are concerned that political pressure could see him back in jail. The prosecution’s appeal over his release is yet to be heard. “Of course I am happy. I am out of prison today for the second time. I hope everything will be over quickly,” he said. He also said that he would prefer to live in Bulgaria if he has the opportunity.
LOW INTEREST RATES WIDEN THE GAP, COSTELLO SAYS
Ding ding ding… In the red corner, we have the savers. And in the blue, there are the borrowers. That’s a scene former Treasurer Peter Costello says is playing out with record-low rates creating tension between people who can borrow money on good terms to buy assets, and those who can’t. Not only are ultra-low rates undermining the Aussie economy, but it’s also led to some of our political woes, Costello says. “This idea that all the people who blew up the financial system got out OK and all of those of us who weren’t in it are still where we were. There is a degree of truth in that,” he said. Low rates are usually used as a lever to get the economy revving, but that doesn’t seem to be happening this time around.
NO LATITUDE FOR COMPANY’S PUBLIC LAUNCH
It was pitched as the biggest launch onto the Australian Stock Exchange of 2019 but plans to make Latitude Financial Group a public company were cancelled yesterday. Confidentiality around the deal prevents those involved from talking about it, but reports say there were concerns the company, which offers personal loans and credit cards through stores like Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi, would not achieve the price investors were looking for when it hit the open market tomorrow. That’s bad news for owners Deutsche Bank and private equity firms KKR and Varde Partners. And its boss, former Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour, also misses out on receiving bonus shares said to be worth $22.5 million. Ouch…
AND NOW FOR A PHOTO GALLERY OR THREE…
Hea-vy is a word for the news today. So let’s balance it up with some pictures…
For the world news buffs, here’s North Korean leader Kim Jong Un charging through the mountains on a white horse.
For the Duchess of Cambridge fans, here’s Kate in Pakistan.
And for animal lovers, here are the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.
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Start of the European Union Leaders Summit (hello, Brexit…)
ABS Data Release – Labour Force, September
Annual General Meetings – Inghams; Perpetual; Whitehaven Coal
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