Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mueller says Trump not exonerated by Russia probe

In his first public statement since the investigation into Russian election interference, US Special Counsel Robert Mueller has announced his resignation and said that President Trump was not absolved by his report. Mueller said, “If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so,” but that charging Trump was “not an option”. According to Justice Department policy, Mueller said, “a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office”, as there could be no court resolution, which he called “unconstitutional”. Trump responded to the statement on Twitter, saying, “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report” and claiming that “the case is closed!”

Boris Johnson is facing a hiccup along the path to become the next British prime minister, as he was summoned to court for allegedly lying to the public about the Brexit campaign in 2016. The former British foreign secretary and London mayor is required to attend a preliminary hearing and then face trial to answer allegations over three offences of misconduct in public office. The application against Johnson claimed that he lied about the cost of European Union membership before and after the referendum held on Britain’s participation in the EU - for which he was a high-profile leave campaigner. Johnson’s lawyers said the application was a political stunt and that “none of the acts” took place.

The Australian reports ($) that the Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne has debts of $180 million and the Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli has warned clergy and staff that there will be a massive overhaul of finances. While the church has paid out millions of dollars in compensation for victims of sexual abuse by its clergy members, it is not thought to be the direct cause of financial difficulty.  It is speculated that part of the debt follows the purchase of new administrative quarters in 2014 for $35 million. It is likely that there will be job losses and budget cuts.

Economists predict that the Reserve Bank will slash interest rates to 1.25 per cent when the RBA board meets next Tuesday, and there are suggestions the cash rate could dip as low as 0.5 per cent, to counter the impact of a slowing economy. Australia’s economic growth is currently on par with its performance during the Global Financial Crisis a decade ago. Analysts suggest that the upcoming release of the national accounts for the March quarter could show it has expanded at a “feeble” 0.2 per cent, bringing Australia’s GDP down to 1.5 per cent. At the same time, the election result that saw the Morrison government return to power seems to be helping to “stabilise” the property market. Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn said home loan applications leapt to a 10-month high after the election, and while he cautioned against reading too much into the data, he felt there “was quite a big shift in sentiment”.

A national study of ambulance data has revealed that suicidal behavior among men could be up to three times higher than previously thought. The Beyond the Emergency data project, co-ordinated by mental health organisation Beyond Blue and the Movember Foundation, showed there were 30,197 ambulance attendances for men who had suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide between July 2015 and June 2016, compared to 9999 recorded presentations to hospitals during that time. More than 40 per cent of the ambulance attendances involved high alcohol intake and almost 30 per cent involved illicit or pharmaceutical drugs. The report also noted that paramedics felt poorly equipped in responding in these cases. “Findings consistently highlight a service system that is not working – for men or ambulance services,” the report said.

Lifeline 13 11 14 / Beyond Blue
In an emergency, call 000 immediately.



“At first glance, the project is politically charged. There are inherent problems with Huang, as a Chinese American artist with no prior connection to Australia, conceptualising a work using flora so grounded in country and First Nations history. Yet there is an interesting detachment to his angle. He has made Austral Flora Ballet with an alertness to his position as a visitor here, seeking to emphasise the beauty of the Australian landscape as his artwork swirls and ricochets off the sails.”


“He reminds us that his name was 'shipped here in chains': his ancestor John Grant, an Irish rebel, was transported to this penal colony; John’s legacy is a family, 'not just Aboriginal and no longer Irish, but something entirely new'. Grant’s mixed genealogy is partly why he is uneasy about the battleground that Australia Day has become. He asks, in a tone both plaintive and frustrated, why it 'must pit my ancestors white and black in some conflict without end. It is a fight with myself; I can’t possibly win.'”


“Bowen still believes Labor should oppose the top-end relief with its cost of $77 billion. But others in Labor argue the cuts should be waved through because in the last budget before the next election, Morrison will have to finally show how he will pay for them. The argument goes, if his government can’t afford to introduce them now, how will it in three years, given the deteriorating economy?”


"The recycling industry has been in crisis mode in Australia since January when China, which previously bought 50% of the recycling we collect, implemented a ban that cut out 99% of what we used to sell.”


“On Tuesday, Malaysia’s environment minister, Yeo Bee Yin, announced that 3,000 tonnes of waste, sent from around the world, would be returned because it was either rotting, contaminated, or had been falsely labelled and smuggled in. Recycling sent from Australia, Yeo said, included plastic bottles that were 'full of maggots'.”


“While having a mullet today may be undeniably Australian, Moore said the style was adopted from America. "When [Australians] were developing our own entertainment industry, it was easier to adopt an American influence, [and] because of that American influence in the 70s, American culture came to Australia," she said. She namechecked singer John Farnham, one of the mullet's most famous Australian wearers.”


Having once been rejected by government, the Uluru Statement from the Heart is readying for referendum. Stephen Fitzpatrick on what is next for the Uluru statement.

Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.