Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Joyce and ex-staffer expecting baby

News Corp outlets have alleged ($) deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is expecting a child with a former staffer. The former media adviser and Daily Telegraph journalist is reportedly due to give birth in April. The Daily Telegraph’s front page story, “Bundle of Joyce”, included full-page photos of the staffer, and noted that Joyce has refused to comment. Joyce admitted he was separated from his wife, Natalie, during a speech to parliament in December, saying during a debate on same-sex marriage that he “didn’t come to this debate pretending to be a saint”. In October The Daily Telegraph reported ($) on “the physical and mental toll” Joyce was suffering as a result of “vicious innuendo about [his] personal life” being circulated by political opponents.

The federal Labor opposition is developing a jobs package for regional Queensland as it reportedly prepares to announce its opposition to the Carmichael coal mine. Debate within Labor continued this week about whether to retain its public ambivalence towards the mine, with the impending Batman by-election empowering those in the party who believe the mine should be stopped. The party is also set to join The Greens in opposing a government plan to overhaul the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, allowing irrigators in Queensland and northern New South Wales to draw 70 billion additional litres from the river system without incurring financial penalties. In November the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists warned the plan is “in danger of failing”, with one author labelling many of the plan’s environmental outcomes “appalling”.

The Productivity Commission has warned that customers of Australia’s major banks are “ripe for exploitation”, and that government efforts to increase costs on the “big four” are likely to be passed on to consumers. In a 600-page draft report on competition in the financial system, released today, commissioners Julie Abramson, Stephen King and Peter Harris noted that the banks’ “substantial market power” let them “pass on cost increases and set prices that maintain high levels of profitability without losing market share”. The report, commissioned by treasurer Scott Morrison in July 2017, highlighted that consumers “would ultimately pay more” with the introduction of the Turnbull government’s $6.2 billion bank levy.

The Australian sharemarket lost $60 billion in value yesterday, following similar drops in the United States and Asia. Technology, healthcare and energy shares performed the worst, losing up to 5.1 per cent of their value on average, while the major banks all lost roughly 3 per cent. The downturn was triggered by a day of massive losses on the Dow Jones, which had its single largest day of losses in history on Monday. Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, meanwhile, signalled that interest rates would remain at their historic low of 1.5 per cent for the foreseeable future, noting that “inflation is likely to remain low for some time”

And far-right senators Cory Bernardi, David Leyonhjelm and Fraser Anning have formed a voting bloc in an attempt to exert influence on government legislation and put themselves “on an even standing” with One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team in the Senate. Speaking on Tuesday, Leyonhjelm said the alliance came about because “the government has decided we’re irrelevant” and the trio were “sick of being called by the government last” to negotiate legislative deals. Now they can be irrelevant slightly faster than usual.

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Cricket and me were once a stale marriage, but T20 was the wife slipping on a negligee and spicing things up.

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Why paper jams persist

“There are many loose ends in high-tech life. Like unbreachable blister packs or awkward sticky tape, paper jams suggest that imperfection will persist, despite our best efforts. They’re also a quintessential modern problem – a trivial consequence of an otherwise efficient technology that’s been made monumentally annoying by the scale on which that technology has been adopted. Every year, printers get faster, smarter, and cheaper. All the same, jams endure.” the new yorker

Eton and the making of a modern elite

“A delicate relationship seems likely to exist at Eton in the coming years, between deserving boys of modest background who enter the school on bursaries, often in the face of incredulity or even opposition at home, and the poised, prepared, nutritionally optimised children of the new upper class whose parents are expected to finance all this largesse – not simply by paying fees, but also by responding to pretty much continuous appeals for money.” 1843

How a US-backed university in Vietnam unleashed old demons

“Fulbright University Vietnam was meant to be a living monument to a new era, free from the stain of a brutal history. Instead, Kerrey’s appointment shone a spotlight on that history. The reckoning it spurred in Vietnam – catching American supporters of FUV by surprise – illuminates how the development of a historically improbable friendship has left unsettled some of the most painful issues of the past.” politico



What’s the only thing falling faster than the US stock exchange?

“The market sell-off in the United States ricocheted across the world on Tuesday, as investors from Tokyo to Hong Kong and London to Frankfurt voted with their feet and futures markets indicated the American stock market could be in for another tough day ... Market analysts digesting the numbers from Asia said they did not expect the selling to let up anytime soon.”   the new york times


Donald Trump’s ego.

“During the Dow’s recent rapid rise, a more responsible President than Donald Trump might have pointed out the dangers of the market overheating, or even kept silent. But that’s not Trump. As stocks soared, he gloated, and insinuated that his policies were responsible ... He lives in the moment and, even during his darkest days in the Oval Office, the stock market has given him something to crow about. For some reason, he didn’t mention it on Monday.”  the new yorker


and finally:

In memory of John Mahoney: Martin Crane’s hideous chair was the true star of Frasier

“Martin arrives trailing two horrors – his battered, vomit-green striped armchair and Eddie the dog, who spends most of the first season staring balefully at Frasier. That armchair is the single most meaningful object in the whole of ’90s comedy ... This is a metaphor for how family relationships are battered, worn and cosy rather than beautifully best-china pristine. The chair is a test of your values – of substance over appearance.” new statesman