Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Macro View – Health, Financial And Political News Relevant To E-Health And The Health Sector In General.

July 6, 2017 Edition.

In the USA the big news is the attempt from the Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Amazingly the effect of what they want to do is basically give the poor less health care coverage while giving the rich huge tax cuts. This is apparently what Republicans do. The effect is just to widen inequality and suffering which Trump was meant to help remedy. Plan B now seems to repeal Obamacare now but replace it later when they can figure what to do. It is getting madder and madder as are Trump’s tweets. He is really not fit to govern IMVHO.

Of course with the July 4 ICBM missile launch we are in a whole new world of pain. I have no idea how this will play out - but I am sure it won't be good!

Over hear we have Tony Abbott wanting his old (PM) job back. This is getting sillier and sillier too!

I have no idea where this will end up – surely not Rudd/Gillard/Rudd and then Abbott/Turnbull/Abbott? I just can’t cope!!
Here are a few other things I have noticed.

National Budget Issues.

  • Updated Jun 23 2017 at 11:00 PM

Bank taxes recall time when governments felt they could meddle with the sector

The twin serpents' eggs of economic collapse and bank nationalisation explain the virulent reaction to the federal and South Australian governments' decisions to levy transactions taxes on banks.
What makes this significant is it doesn't come just from the usual suspects – banks executives and conservative economists. As bankers warn that a "Pandora's box is officially open" and the BCA claims Australia has become a "laughing stock", former Labor premier Geoff Gallop says of such taxes: "I don't think they're sustainable."
The point is not how much money the new imposts will raise, because it's small compared with bank profits, but what else might be in the pipeline, and this is where the serpents' eggs come in.
"We want a secure banking system and the last thing we need is the banks under stress," Gallop says. "Australia has a proud history of strong banks and personally I think it's good for us that we can get through a crisis without a collapse."

Scott Morrison just explained the state of politics around the world to his Liberal Party colleagues

Jun 24, 2017
Treasurer Scott Morrison just delivered this speech to the Liberal Party Federal Council in Sydney today on the state of the Australian economy and global politics as he sees it.
Politics across the globe has been turned on its head.
In election after election we have seen conventional politics left standing at the polls.
Entrenched cynicism. Widespread disconnection. Broad based economic frustration and disempowerment.
Distrust of whether the system is working for them.
Our election victory last year, led by our Prime Minister, was achieved against these strong global political headwinds for incumbent Governments – an environment where the electorate is rewriting the political rules, rightly in their favour.

Debt binge leaves economy vulnerable: BIS

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM June 26, 2017

Michael Roddan

The financial sector faces an improving but still challenging environment, according to the Bank of International Settlements.
In its annual report, the Switzerland-based BIS, known as the central bank for central banks, says building resilience domestically is a multifaceted challenge.
There is a broad consensus now that monetary policy has been overburdened for far too long. It has become, in that popular phrase, “the only game in town”.
BIS says that in the process, central banks’ balance sheets have become bloated, policy interest rates have been ultra-low for a long time, and central banks have extended their direct influence way out along the sovereign yield curve as well as to other asset classes, such as private sector debt and even equity.
  • Jun 25 2017 at 4:35 PM
  • Updated 48 mins ago

Ian Narev warns sovereign risk soaring after 'unprincipled and reckless tax grab'

The chief executive of Australia's largest bank has warned that sovereign risk is rising "exponentially" because of unpredictable government policy, as he lashed the South Australian government's bank levy as an "unprincipled and reckless tax grab"
Ian Narev, Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO, said most global investors were now pointing to "significantly elevated levels of sovereign risk" when asked about their view of investing in Australia.
"It is in this context that we should view the South Australian government's unprincipled and reckless tax grab as it walked through the gate the federal government left open," Mr Narev said.
He warned about the serious damage to investment markets and confidence in the state when the South Australian government next tried to encourage companies to invest there.
  • Updated Jun 26 2017 at 6:50 AM

Bank for International Settlements: Official warning as Australian household debt hits all-time high

High household debt levels amassed in the past decade have left Australian households among the most vulnerable to a sharp rise in global interest rates, the Bank for International Settlements warned on Sunday.
Australia's household debt-to-income ratio is at an all-time high of 189 per cent, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.
In a generally positive outlook on the global economy, the Basel-based bank of central bankers points out the generally high risk in many economics due to high debt levels amassed during a period of low interest rates.
"Maturing financial cycles and high debt levels raise the risk of potential weakness in consumption and, in some cases, investment," said BIS head of monetary economics Dr Claudio Borio. "In many economies, the expansion has been consumption-led. The empirical evidence indicates that such expansions are less sustainable. Our analysis suggests that a number of economies where household debt is historically high can be vulnerable, especially should interest rates rise considerably."

As bank wars escalate, shareholders are the losers

Clancy Yeates
Published: June 26 2017 - 12:15AM
Paul Keating's classic line "never get between a premier and a bucket of money" has new relevance for the country's five biggest banks, after South Australia decided to whack its own tax on the lenders.
True, the amount of money being fought over here barely moves the dial compared with a big bank's profit. SA is trying to get its hands on an estimated 0.2 per cent of earnings – a fraction of what lenders gain from recent fiddles with mortgage interest rates.
But don't let that fool you. The move by SA could have much greater significance for shareholders than this narrow financial impact. That is because it is yet another sign of the growing pressure on bank profitability from governments that are fed up and cash-strapped, and regulators worried about a build-up of risks.
Let's be clear – much of the political and regulatory pressure on banks is entirely warranted.

Debt bomb puts nation in danger

  • The Australian
  • 10:00PM June 25, 2017

David Uren

Soaring debts in a handful of countries including Australia and Canada are putting the global economy at risk of recession, ­according to the peak global central banking authority, the Bank for International Settlements.
In a stark warning delivered as Australia’s political system fails to generate meaningful economic reform, the BIS says Australia is one of the countries most at risk from a rise in interest rates, which would push up the cost of servicing mortgage debt to a level that would force a slump in household consumption.
“The main cause of the next ­recession will perhaps resemble more closely that of the latest one — a financial cycle bust,” the BIS, known as the central bank to the central banks, says in its annual report, released last night.
“The classical signs of financial cycle risks are apparent in several countries largely spared by the global financial crisis, which saw financial expansions gather pace in its aftermath.”
  • Jun 25 2017 at 11:00 PM

Appalling policy surprises like the bank levy have a name: sovereign risk

by Ian Narev
Australia is a country rich in potential. Our natural resources, human resources and proximity to centres of global growth provide the foundations of a strong economy, which can benefit all Australians. The only limitations are those we place on ourselves, and sadly this is what both the federal and South Australian governments are doing with unprincipled bank levies: reducing Australia's potential by increasing our sovereign risk.
The combination of our relatively small population, and the capital intensiveness of many of our industries, means that demand for investment will for the foreseeable future exceed the local supply of savings. In other words, if we are to reach our undoubted potential, we will rely on foreign investors to provide capital. 
This reality was noted in the comprehensive review of the financial system undertaken in 2014 by a committee led by David Murray. In his report Murray noted: "Ongoing access to foreign funding has enabled Australia to sustain higher growth than it otherwise could. The financial system has an important role in facilitating funding from, and investing in, offshore capital markets."
  • Jun 26 2017 at 1:28 PM

BIS' debt bomb scenario unlikely to occur as RBA reserves firing power

The rapid 250 basis point rise in domestic interest rates that would leave Australian households facing a mammoth debt servicing burden is unlikely to occur, local economists said.
The Bank for International Settlements warned overnight that Australian households were some of the most vulnerable to rising interest rates.
At 189 per cent of household income, household debt levels are at a record high, but debt servicing remains manageable because interest rates are at record lows.
But were this to change, households could very rapidly find themselves facing a debt servicing burden far beyond historic norms.

Artificial intelligence could be the answer for productivity woes

Jessica Sier
Published: June 26 2017 - 8:11PM
Artificial intelligence could be the most revolutionary force affecting productivity in the United States economy, says the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
"Everyone in Silicon Valley thinks statisticians are mis-measuring the productivity provided by the internet, but it's not that," says John C. Williams, on a trip to Sydney this week.
"Instead, the technologies that we now use and love mostly affect our consumption of leisure rather than affect our output in factories or offices."
Positive data showing the US economy is nearing full employment and that inflation is edging higher prompted the US central bank to recently raise interest rates for the second time in three months.

Bank for International Settlements sends warning with Australian household debt at all-time high

Myriam Robin
Published: June 26 2017 - 9:55AM
High household debt levels amassed in the past decade have left Australian households among the most vulnerable to a sharp rise in global interest rates, the Bank for International Settlements warned on Sunday.
Australia's household debt-to-income ratio is at an all-time high of 189 per cent, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.
In a generally positive outlook on the global economy, the Basel-based bank of central bankers points out the generally high risk in many economics due to high debt levels amassed during a period of low interest rates.
"Maturing financial cycles and high debt levels raise the risk of potential weakness in consumption and, in some cases, investment," said BIS head of monetary economics Dr Claudio Borio. "In many economies, the expansion has been consumption-led. The empirical evidence indicates that such expansions are less sustainable. Our analysis suggests that a number of economies where household debt is historically high can be vulnerable, especially should interest rates rise considerably."

Happy birthday, GST – time to grow up and tax more food

Michael Pascoe
Published: June 27 2017 - 12:29PM
Our goods and services tax turns 17 this Saturday, but there will be no party. About the only attention the GST gets these days is protests about the "tampon tax" and states complaining about its carve-up.
The GST has been frozen in time by the deal John Howard did with the Australian Democrats to get it through the Senate. It's failed to keep up with our changing spending patterns and thus no longer quite does what it was supposed to do.
There's also the little problem of any attempt to change the GST being political poison for a government already behind in the polls, a free kick for the opposition.
Yet there are still good people crunching the numbers to try to help the GST grow up, to show that it would be possible to adequately compensate the disadvantaged while changing the mix and/or the rate. The goal would be to restore a better balance of consumption and income taxes, part of what's required to reform and improve our tax system.

Census 2016: Fifty years on Australia, it's amazing how much you’ve changed

Eryk Bagshaw
Published: June 27 2017 - 6:07PM
We are more Asian, less Christian and more openly gay.
Fifty years and 11.8 million people later, Australia has become unrecognisable from the country portrayed in the 1966 census.
For the first time, the number of people ticking the box that said "No Religion" has trumped both the number of Catholics and Anglicans in Australia.
In 1966, 34 per cent of people said they were Anglican, 26 per cent said they were Catholic and 0.8 per cent said they had no religion. 
  • Jun 28 2017 at 9:22 AM

The economic origins of the populist surge

by Martin Wolf
Why has the appeal of populist ideas grown in western countries? Is this a temporary phenomenon? In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the collapse in support for established political parties in France and the rise of the Five Star Movement in Italy, not to mention the surge of authoritarian populism in central and eastern Europe, these are important questions.
What, first of all, is a populist? The abiding characteristic of populism is its division of the world into a virtuous people on the one hand, and corrupt elites and threatening outsiders on the other. Populists distrust institutions, especially those that constrain the "will of the people", such as courts, independent media, the bureaucracy and fiscal or monetary rules. Populists reject credentialed experts. They are also suspicious of free markets and free trade.
Rightwing populists believe certain ethnicities are "the people" and identify foreigners as the enemy. They are economic nationalists and support traditional social values. Often they put their trust in charismatic leaders. Leftwing populists identify workers as "the people" and the rich as the enemy. They also believe in state ownership of property.

Rising interest rates and the RBA

By John Edwards

Shrugging off slow first quarter growth in the US economy, the Federal Reserve increased its policy interest rate earlier this month, and intends to do more. Not long after, minutes of a meeting of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee surprised markets by revealing that three of its eight members now look to increasing the UK policy rate – despite political turbulence, uncertainty over Brexit, modest output growth and low inflation. Around the same time, a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, Carolyn Wilkins, hinted at a tightening there much sooner than the market was expecting. Last week the Reserve Bank of New Zealand left its policy rate unchanged, but markets look for the next move to be up.
Where does this leave the Reserve Bank of Australia? My guess is that it is already thinking about a program of rate increases that will continue for several years.
As the RBA has been arguing for some months, global growth is picking up. Output in the US, the Euro area and the UK all grew by 2% in the year to the March quarter. China’s output expanded by 6.9% over the same period, and East Asia generally was firmer. Output in Japan increased 1.3% - pretty good for an economy in which the workforce is actually shrinking. These outcomes are certainly not hectic but they are more consistent across the global economy than we have seen in most of the years since the 2008 financial crisis.

Sorry, I doubt the RBA will be raising interest rates eight times over the next two years

Michael Pascoe
Published: June 29 2017 - 7:01AM
Nothing like a former Reserve Bank board member saying the RBA could hike interest rate eight times in the next couple of years to get attention.
I could also win Oz Lotto – "could" is rather vague word.
To be more precise, John Edwards wrote on the Lowy Institute website that it was "distinctly possible" rates could be up "something like" 200 points over 2018 and 2019 "if the RBA's economic forecasts prove correct".
That's a considerable qualification. The RBA admirably acknowledges its forecasts are like everybody else's – best guesses. Each quarter it publishes the reliability range of its forecasts. It's rather wide. 

GST reform would give WA $10 billion, Premier says, amid warning Liberal seats are in jeopardy

A plan by the WA Government to reform distribution of the GST would add more than $10 billion to the state's troubled budget bottom line, Premier Mark McGowan has said.

What the productivity commission submission wants:

  • Commonwealth would take on equalisation role and provide top-up funding to states which needed extra support
  • WA estimates this would add almost $10.5 billion to state's finances by 2020-21
  • Other options include a 75 or 80 cent "floor" below which GST returns per dollar could not fall, a simpler method to assess States' revenue capacity, and quarantining a proportion of mining royalties.
The idea, to share revenue on a per-capita basis, is one of a suite of proposals being put forward to reform what WA has long argued is an unfair system.

Retirees ‘punished’ for saving more

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM June 30, 2017

Glenda Korporaal

The combination of the government’s cuts to age pension qualifications and tighter super-annuation rules this year will mean a couple can be better off ­financially with only $400,000 in super than with $1 million in ­savings, according to a paper ­produced this week by superannuation experts.
The paper, produced by Melbourne QC Jack Hammond, founder of lobby group Save Our Super, and former Treasury official Terrence O’Brien, argues that the combination of the changes to super and age pension eligibility, which come into effect this year produces a “retirement and ­income savings trap”.
The combined impact of the changes has been described as “Retirementgate” by SuperGuide superannuation commentator Trish Power.
The Hammond-O’Brien paper shows that a home-owning couple with $400,000 in super, when combined with the aged pension, can earn more than a couple with $800,000 to $1 million in super whose assets mean they don’t qualify for the pension.

Phillips curve won’t survive long

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM June 30, 2017

Adam Creighton

If the Phillips curve were an animal it would be time to put it down. To be sure, that would be sad, as it is when any much-loved pet has had its day.
The Phillips curve — a vague inverse relationship between the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation — has been a boon for economists for a half century.
New Zealand economist Bill Phillips seemed to find a reliable relationship between inflation and unemployment from 1861 to 1957 in Britain.
The notion of a “trade-off” between inflation and unemployment was born, and with it policymakers’ supposed power to influence that trade-off.

Scope: Flat shares, housing, income. The year of muddling through

Peter Martin
The economy will be too weak to justify a rate rise in the year ahead as growth falls short of targets, the dollar sinks, housing investment and home prices stall and the sharemarket treads water.
The exclusive financial year forecasts from the BusinessDay Scope forecasting panel are predicated on continued strong growth in China, an improvement in the US, a further decline in the iron ore price, and a slight contraction in Australia's terms of trade.
Approaching its 40th year, the survey is made up of forecasts from 26 leading economists in the diverse fields of financial markets, academia, consultancy and industry. Over time its average predictions have proved to be more accurate than those of any of its individual members.
This year, for the first time, the panel has been asked to assign a probability to a conventionally defined recession. The average probability assigned to two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth during the two years ahead is 21 per cent. Panel members warn that the probability would increase dramatically if economic growth in China slowed or the housing market turned down sharply.

Interest rate rises won't happen overnight, but they will happen

Jessica Irvine
Published: July 1 2017 - 4:28PM
At precisely 1.11pm last Monday, an article appeared on the Lowy Institute's "Interpreter" blog under the relatively benign headline: "Rising interest rates and the RBA".
It was penned by John Edwards, a pedigree economist of the highest order, not to mention a former member of the Reserve Bank's board.
Edwards served as an adviser to Paul Keating between 1991 and 1994 before a decade-long stint as chief economist at HSBC.
But before all that, Edwards started his career as a journalist; a reporter for The Australian Financial Review who went on to become political correspondent for The Australian and finally The Sydney Morning Herald's Washington correspondent immediately prior to starting in Keating's office.

Health Budget Issues.

Guild caned on pharmacy review ban

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM June 27, 2017

Rebecca Urban

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has been criticised over attempts to boycott an independent review of the industry after it advised its 5000-plus members against participating in the process.
The industry has also been slammed over its reluctance to provide information that would ensure “accountability and transparency” for the billions of dollars in public funds it receives for dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme drugs across the country.
The expert panel overseeing the Turnbull government’s Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation has called for an end to the guild’s 27-year exclusive hold on the multi-billion dollar community pharmacy agreement, suggesting that other stakeholders, particularly the Consumers Health Forum of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, should be included in future negotiations.

Cuts to GP home visits could push an extra 2700 people into emergency every night: peak body

Adam Gartrell
Published: June 27 2017 - 12:00AM
Proposed cuts to Medicare-funded after-hours home visits by doctors will force more than 2700 extra people into the nation's hospital emergency departments every night, the sector's peak body has warned.
New modelling by the National Association for Medical Deputising Services finds an average 668 people in NSW and 660 people in Victoria will present to the ED each day if the Turnbull government adopts the plan.
Nationwide there will be an extra 2768 presentations every night, adding up to just over one million visits a year, the modelling finds.
After hours doctors are calling on Health Minister Greg Hunt to reject a government taskforce proposal to put new limits on Medicare rebates for their work after annual costs ballooned from $90.8 million to $245.9 million.

Five ways to keep residential aged care costs down

  • Rodney Horin
  • The Australian
  • 8:26PM June 26, 2017
The professional standards and pricing structures of retirement communities are back in the news once again for the wrong reasons.
It is certainly the case most Australians pay way too much for residential aged care.
In fact, some pay hundreds of thousands of dollars too much, particularly if they rush into signing a contract without looking at the options available.
The major sharemarket-listed companies are the biggest offenders because of the pressures they have from shareholders: The latest listed group to hit the headlines is Aveo (AOG), the ASX listed retirement group was sold off sharply today after media investigation into poor practice at the company.

Pharmacists have started ordering pathology tests

27 June 2017
Pharmacies are charging patients up to $220 for pathology screening tests for kidney, thyroid and liver function under a new push into preventive healthcare.
The service is being run through the Amcal pharmacy chain — one of Australia’s biggest — with marketing telling patients that “timely access to pathology is crucial for effective health outcomes”.
The screening tests are being sold in packages covering diabetes, heart health, kidney function, fatigue, vitamin D deficiency and general health (see below).
Prices range from $25 for a simple HbA1c test performed in the pharmacy to $219.50 for a "comprehensive general health screening" that includes HbA1c, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, TGs,  full blood count, iron studies, liver function test and a kidney function test (urea electrolytes and creatinine).

It’s time to break the great pharmacy racket

at 1:25 pm on June 29, 2017 |
You would be hard pressed to find a bigger racket than Australian pharmacies.
How many any other industries in Australia have had laws implemented that ban new entrants from opening within 1.5 kilometers of an existing business?
How many other industries allow only registered professionals in the field to own and operate a business?
And how many other industries get to entrench a cartel in a bilateral agreement with the Government every five years?

Rare cancer sufferers given reprieve with new drug subsidy

Adam Gartrell
Published: June 30 2017 - 12:15AM
Sufferers of a rare blood cell cancer will get cheap access to a new drug after an unprecedented move by the Turnbull government.
For the first time, the government has listed a medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme after an application by patients, rather than a drug company.
From Saturday, sufferers of relapsed or refractory cutaneous t-cell lymphoma - a white blood cell cancer that predominantly affects the skin - will be able to get a drug at the heavily subsidised price of $38.80 per script or $6.30 for concessional patients.
Vorinostat normally would normally cost patients about $18,950 a year.

Trump called it: Australia has better healthcare than the US

Josephine Tovey
Published: June 29 2017 - 7:03PM
America's attitude to healthcare is one of the most confounding cultural differences many outsiders confront.
When Malcolm Turnbull visited the United States last month, he was part of a now-viral moment in the debate over American healthcare. Donald Trump was holding court with the Prime Minister, riffing on America's "failing" healthcare system. Hurtling off script, as he does, the President turned to Turnbull and said: "I shouldn't say this to … my friend from Australia, because you have better healthcare than we do."
The praise for Australia's universal healthcare system - from a president whose legislation would roll back coverage - pricked ears across the country. On MSNBC that night, Bernie Sanders, who was being interviewed in the studio, burst into laughter.
"The President has said it!" the former Democratic presidential candidate - and dogged proponent of universal, government-funded healthcare - shouted. "That's great! Let's take a look at the Australian healthcare system."
It was a neat little TV moment that has been endlessly replayed because it was  a bizarre and true comment.

Half a million in Aust not fully immunised

Almost half a million young Australians - aged between 10 and 19 - are not fully immunised.
It comes as the federal government expands a program to provide free catch-up vaccines to those aged 19 or under and all refugees and humanitarian entrants.
'The expansion of the program will allow these groups to access free catch-up vaccines equivalent to those received in early childhood,' Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Saturday.

International Issues.

Former CIA chief David Petraeus says war in south-east Asia 'a big concern' for Australia

Peter Hartcher
Published: June 26 2017 - 12:15AM
The war launched by so-called Islamic State in south-east Asia in recent weeks will be a big problem for Australia for decades, according to a top US military and intelligence figure.
A force of about 500 Daesh fighters took control of the city of Marawi in the Philippines five weeks ago and the Philippines army has failed to retake it, despite fierce daily fighting.
"This is a big concern for you," retired US general and former CIA chief David Petraeus told Fairfax Media.
"This is not a problem that can be resolved in years but in decades, and one where Australia could take the lead," he said. "A point that political leaders have to communicate is that this is a generational struggle.

A 'dangerously erratic' Donald Trump doesn't solve crises, he creates them

Peter Hartcher
Published: June 27 2017 - 12:05AM
Donald Trump is unique among US presidents not for his rough treatment of America's enemies but of its allies. His Vice-President, Mike Pence, must be aware of the problem. He offered Julie Bishop a way around it: "If you ever have any issues with the boss", he told Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, "give me a call". It's the diplomatic equivalent of a detour around a crash scene, a scene that Malcolm Turnbull had to fight his way through in his notorious first phone call with Trump.
Since then, Australia's dealings with the Trump administration have been sound, by all accounts. Probably because the federal government deals chiefly with officials other than the President himself. "It's excellent that there are impressive individuals around Donald Trump," says the head of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Michael Fullilove. "The system is trying to wrap itself around him and restrain him." But he's not convinced that this is any solution to the problem: "In times of crisis, the restraints fall away. In the end, presidents make history. The long-held instincts of the president cannot but determine overall US foreign policy. It was the case with George W. Bush, it was the case with Barack Obama and it will be the case with Donald Trump."

Trump marches on to a showdown with Iran in Syrian wasteland

  • Richard Spencer
  • The Times
  • 12:00AM June 27, 2017
Newspapers love maps, particularly when it comes to wars. Colour printing has made them miniature works of art, as countries are lit up with pastel shades to distinguish areas of control.
Recently our maps of the Middle East have gone from Piet Mondrian to Jackson Pollock. Neat lines derived from post-colonial history enclosing snug blocks of pink, blue and yellow have been replaced with a crazy jumble of splashes and drops. Adopting the critic’s mindset, journalists and analysts attempt to explain what it all means. The artists, meanwhile, sit in their garrets, superhuman minds refusing to condescend by explaining their intent.
Syria, though, is not a work of art, but a wasteland of fear and death, and the creators owe us more. The latest conundrum concerns a multicoloured patch of the country’s southeast, where the US, dragging allies including Britain behind it, never mind the poor bloody infantry of the Syrian people, is risking an international conflict with Russia and Iran through an apparent lack of focus on the consequences of President Donald Trump’s ambition.

Republicans delay vote on healthcare amid revolt, delivering setback to Trump

Published: June 28 2017 - 4:42AM
Washington: Facing intransigent Republican opposition, the Republican leader in the senate, Mitch McConnell, has told senators he will delay a vote on his legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, dealing President Trump an embarrassing setback on a key part of his agenda.
Republican leaders had hoped to take a page from the playbook used to get a bill over the line in the House, appeasing the most conservative members of their conference while pressuring moderates to fall in line with fewer concessions.
But as opposition mounted in both camps, even against a vote just to take up the bill, Mr McConnell decided he would delay consideration until after the Senate's weeklong July 4 recess.
The delay in the vote was a sign that Mr McConnell and Mr Trump have failed so far to attract enough votes amid a solid block of Democratic opposition and attacks from both moderate and conservative Republican senators.

Four brutal numbers in that Pew poll showing the world hates Donald Trump

Aaron Blake
Published: June 29 2017 - 8:11AM
Washington: The world doesn't have much regard for the president of the United States. That's the somewhat unsurprising take-away from a massive new Pew study polling attitudes toward the United States in 37 countries, from Canada to Russia to South Africa.
But the degree to which the world dislikes President Donald Trump is, by some measures, rather remarkable. Below are four findings that stood out.
The world distrusts Trump more than even Vladimir Putin
Plenty of folks have pointed to the finding that Russia is one of the few countries that actually likes Trump - a 53 per cent majority there has confidence in Trump to do the right thing on the world stage - but another Putin-related finding is even more telling.

'Their fictitious state has fallen': Iraq declares end of IS 'caliphate'

Published: June 30 2017 - 10:42AM
Mosul: ​After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque at the heart of Mosul, and the prime minister declared the group's self-styled caliphate at an end.
Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in coming days as remaining Islamic State fighters are bottled up in just a handful of neighbourhoods of the Old City.
The seizure of the nearly 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque - from where Islamic State proclaimed the caliphate nearly three years ago to the day - is a huge symbolic victory.
"The return of al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba minaret to the fold of the nation marks the end of the Daesh state of falsehood," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement, referring to the hardline Sunni Muslim group by an Arabic acronym.

Donald Trump says 'era of strategic patience' with 'menace' North Korea is over

David Brunnstrom and Lisa Lambert
Published: July 1 2017 - 4:28AM
Washington: US President Donald Trump called for a determined response to North Korea after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday at which he emphasised the importance of their alliance but took aim at Seoul over trade and sharing the cost of defence.
Mr Trump said the United States was renegotiating what he characterised as a "rough" trade deal – known as KORUS – that was agreed five years ago by his predecessor, Barack Obama. He also said reiterated that an era of "strategic patience" over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs had ended.
"Together we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea. The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime required a determined response," Mr Trump said while standing alongside Mr Moon in the White House Rose Garden.
I look forward to comments on all this!


Anonymous said...

Rudd/Gillard/Rudd and then Abbott/Turnbull/Abbott? I just can’t cope!!

How about Dr. Steven Jon Hambleton MBBS FAMA, Tim Kelsey RAG BSE MAD FAX, Dr. Steven Jon Hambleton MBBS FAMA

Just an observation of late.

Anonymous said...

July 06, 2017 8:03 PM. Sounds like a plan, I know I would sleep easier and I think things might progress a little more logically and safely. The damage done to date will not be easy to repair, but Dr Hambleton MBBS FAMA at least knows the landscape and appreciates the value of keen minds.

Anonymous said...

That is amusing, friends at the ADHA would be happy with someone who can build and operate a business.