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Monday, 25 March 2019
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“She’s a very special horse. I’m sure she knows what’s going on.”
Said trainer Chris Waller of supermare Winx’s 34th consecutive win on Saturday. Diary note: she’s likely to have her last ever run in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes on 13 April in Sydney, so you might like to get ahead of the conversation here…
ISLAMIC STATE DEFEATED IN SYRIA
After nearly five years of fighting that’s devastated parts of northern Syria and Iraq, American-aligned forces declared victory over Islamic State and an end to their ‘caliphate’ on Saturday. The last piece of territory held by the militants – the village of Baghouz – was liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces. They raised a bright yellow victory flag to replace the jihadist’s notorious black flag.
WHAT IS THE TOLL?
• At its height, IS controlled a third of both Syria and Iraq. That’s about the size of Britain. More than eight million people were forced to live under its violent version of Islamic law.
• It’s likely that tens-of-thousands of Syrians and Iraqis were killed since IS asserted its authority in 2014. Hundreds of thousands were also driven from their homes.
• The US-led Coalition was involved in more than 100,000 airstrikes. And remember, 600 Australian troops have been involved in that effort.
IS THAT IT FOR ISLAMIC STATE? AND WHAT’S NEXT FOR SYRIA?
Anyone who’s anyone in this field says that it’s not the end for IS. That’s because there are still those loyal to the cause living in Syria and Iraq. There are also IS affiliates in Africa and in Asia (notably in the Philippines) that pose a threat. And experts say it’s likely the terror group will continue to live on the internet and inspire lone-wolf terror attacks.
As for Syria, its civil war is in its ninth year. And if the US does largely vacate the field, as US President Donald Trump has said it would do, the question becomes what happens to those who have been fighting the Iranian and Russian-backed government of President Bashar Assad. It’s that war that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds-of-thousands of Syrian civilians and the displacement of more than five million.
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COALITION GLAD(YS) FOR A WIN
The result was close, but maybe not as much as some pundits thought heading into Saturday’s poll. The key points are:
• Gladys Berejiklian’s Coalition won 46 seats – just one short of the number required to form a majority government. But there are still three seats in doubt, and it’s possible two of those will go the Coalition’s way. Berejiklian, who is the first woman to win a NSW election, said she was “relieved and grateful”.
• Labor leader Michael Daley is under pressure to step down after his performance in the last week of the campaign robbed it of momentum.
• Just three seats have definitely changed hands, and two of those went from the Nationals to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers. Pundits put a lot of that down to water management issues caused by the drought. And now the energised fringe party is eyeing a federal election tilt.
• Former Federal Labor leader/now One Nation representative Mark Latham has a job for the next eight years – he’s won a spot in the upper house.
MUELLER REPORT HANDED IN
But the findings of the investigation undertaken by special counsel Robert Mueller into accusations of collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia haven’t been made public… yet. Next steps? Attorney General Bill Barr will advise the Congress on the details of Mueller’s conclusions, possibly as early as today. But the headline is Mueller has not recommended any more indictments. Taking stock of what the investigation has netted so far – 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and five prison sentences. President Trump has not said/ tweeted anything on it yet – he’s been tied up with golf this weekend.
BREXIT BECOMING AN ILLUSION
New timelines have been set for the UK’s exit from the European Union – if MPs vote in support of the deal this week, they will have until 22 May. If a vote is unsuccessful and no alternative plan is put forward, then the UK will leave the EU on 12 April. But even with the new dates, the same impasse remains. PM Theresa May says a vote might not happen if there is not enough support to pass it. Cue leadership manoeuvring… And on the weekend, hundreds-of-thousands of protestors (organisers say there was a million…) took to London streets to demand a new referendum. But forget all that – trick-master (sorry, illusionist) Uri Geller says he’s going to stop Brexit “telepathically”. It’s probably not the silliest thing that’s been suggested in this chapter of political history…
QUICK DISASTER NEWS WRAP
CYCLONE TREVOR – The 2,500 residents who were evacuated to Darwin from the remote communities that were in harm’s way were praised for their resilience. Chief Minister Michael Gunner yesterday said there had been no known deaths, major injuries or significant damage to homes or infrastructure from the winds or flooding.
CYCLONE VERONICA – It’s made landfall between Karratha and Port Hedland as a category three cyclone and is moving slowly bringing tidal surges and destructive wind gusts of up to 220km/hour. “This is a very, very serious situation,” said WA Premier Mark McGowan.
VIKING SKY – It’s been called a ‘scary ordeal’ for the 1,300 passengers, but looking at the footage it has been that and more… More than 500 passengers were airlifted one-by-one from the Norweigan cruise ship by five helicopters after the vessel’s engines failed in bad weather and it drifted towards dangerous rocks. The crew were able to get it going again, and it has now arrived safely at the port of Molde. Reports say most on board are British and American tourists.
APPLE HOPES TO SECURE ITS FUTURE
CEO Tim Cook (or Tim Apple as President Trump calls him) will today announce plans for America’s most valuable company to become a leading digital services provider. And that means streaming video and news subscriptions if reports are correct. Think partnerships with movie studios and stars (like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston), newspapers and magazine publishers. It’s an attempt to answer questions the company has been asked about where its future growth is coming from with the market for smartphones, personal computers and tablets stagnating. Watch this space/screen.
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Start of a coronial inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell in 2014
Greek Independence Day
Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr leading 25,000 marchers to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama to protest the denial of voting rights to African Americans (1965)
Birthday for Sarah-Jessica Parker (1965) and Elton John (1947)
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