Quote Of The Year

Quote Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"

Thursday, September 14, 2017

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

September 14th , 2017 Edition.
On the overseas front we now see President Trump sulking in the White House frustrated with North Korea and the ongoing fiasco internally. It is interesting that the Secretaries of State and Defence are really seeming to still operate independent of Trump. Everyone is waiting for want comes next with the National Day in the DPRK on Saturday!
Elsewhere Trump is being a cruel and nasty as he can to those of colour and immigrants.
Hurricane Harvey has turned out to be a calamity of quite epic proportions and over the weekend it seems Hurricane Irma will be even worse if that is possible! Irma is now said to be the worst storm in the area ever recorded!
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In Australia we are seeing even more extreme solutions being argued on virtually every front and the dysfunction rolls on. The Energy Debate is becoming frenzied and we are going ahead with the postal survey so all is obviously well with the worst NOT!
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Thursday Update: Hurricane  Irma was very bad but not as bad as expected to Wall Street was pretty happy. Closed at all time highs last night!

Trump is making cosy with the Democrats - so we all have no idea where that will go.

In OZ Energy Policy is now officially a farce and we seem to be getting some Media Reform that notices the existence of the Internet!

It is all just nonsense. No missiles from NK so far this week!

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Here are a few other things I have noticed.
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National Budget Issues.

  • Sep 4 2017 at 9:53 AM

5 ways to shore up the grid without new coal power

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and energy minister Josh Frydenberg hope an imminent report from the Australian Energy Market Operator on eastern Australia's despatchable power supplies will help it navigate the backbench swamp to a rational clean energy policy.
But one thing the AEMO report is probably not going to do is placate the pro-coal power, anti-wind and solar power rump on the coalition backbench.
Instead, it is more likely to emphasise multiple paths towards grid stability that mean we do not have to go to the expense of building new coal power stations that are not all that much cleaner than the existing ones.
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Treasury must prevail against 'pushy young punks'

Ross Gittins
Published: September 3 2017 - 9:00PM
With the collapse of the "neoliberal consensus" between both sides of politics, which is reversing politicians' attitudes to intervention in markets, we're in danger of lurching from one extreme to the other.
My Financial Review colleague Alan Mitchell used to say that one of the econocrats' primary contributions to good government was to "keep the crazy decisions to a minimum". Never was that truer.
The challenge for Treasury, the Productivity Commission and the rest is to be less doctrinal – less true to the one true economic rationalist faith - and more practical in giving advice that satisfies the pollies' ever-present need to "do something" without the something they do causing a lot of harm, maybe even some good.
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Two full-time jobs now needed to service a mortgage on a typical Sydney home

Matt Wade
Published: September 4 2017 - 12:15AM
Sydney's housing crisis has reached an alarming new threshold with a key measure revealing it now takes more than two average full-time wages to affordably service a loan for a typical city home.
The Housing Industry Association's housing affordability index, which measures the capacity of households to service mortgages, shows Sydneysiders must fork out $4,729 per month, or nearly $57,000 a year, to service a standard mortgage on an averaged-priced home in the city.
That is more than 30 per cent of the earnings of a Sydney household with two average full-time wages – the portion of income widely accepted to be a manageable housing repayment.
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Why the RBA's hands are tied on interest rates

Michael Heath
Published: September 4 2017 - 9:49AM
Australia is stuck in an economic disconnect.
Business is regaining its strut and has begun investing, but debt-laden households are struggling with stagnant incomes and substantial hikes in power prices. Juggling the two is the Reserve Bank of Australia, which has kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record-low 1.5 per cent for the past year, and has little option but to do so again Tuesday.
Policy makers are blowing on the embers of the consumer in the hope of some sparks -- though in truth it's the strengthening business sector that needs to boost wages. As a result, traders are pricing in virtually no chance of a rate increase this year, but see about a 50 per cent chance of a quarter-point hike in June 2018.
Governor Philip Lowe summed up the predicament during testimony to lawmakers last month, noting wage growth in Australia has slowed more than productivity growth: "The consequence of that is that the share of national income that is going to capital is at a five-decade high and the share going to labor is at a five-decade low."
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Business doles out biggest wage rise in two years

Published: September 4 2017 - 1:18PM
Australian companies doled out the biggest increase in wages and salaries in two years last quarter in a promising boost to consumer spending power, though a rundown in inventories probably dragged on overall economic growth.
Monday's data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed gross company profits dipped 4.5 per cent in the second quarter, from a gain of 6 per cent in the first, when earnings scaled record levels. Mining suffered a fall of more than 15 per cent at the pre-tax level.
But wages and salaries rose 1.2 per cent, or $1.6 billion, in the three months to June in a sign that businesses are finally willing to share their fortunes with workers.
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Why Australians should not turn their backs on economists after Brexit, Trump

Alex Millmow
Published: September 5 2017 - 12:15AM
Rising populism has experts on the nose. But they played a major part in Australia's growth.
Australia has just assumed the mantle of the longest unbroken period of economic growth in modern world economic history. And New Zealand is doing even better when it comes to keeping the budget in the black. You might say that each performance is the result of successful economic policies, but what of the influence of university economists?
Most Australians, despite having a healthy appetite for economic news and living in a country where economic policy has a strong influence on nation-building, take a rather dim view of academic economists. Earlier the Australian historian WK Hancock once remarked that "the Australians have always assumed that economic problems are simple, and have resented those classifications and rewards which suggest that some men have a higher class of intelligence than those of the majority." In that light Hancock observed that "Australians have always disliked scientific economics (still more) scientific economists." In his book Australian Hopes and  Fears (1958) Colin Clark, who had been isolated by the local economic profession for his iconoclastic views, quoted a comment by French geographer Andre Siegfried that "A mystery broods over this continent; and it will not be the economists who will resolve it for us."  Nearly sixty years on, Australian economists have solved that mystery.  
Australian politics became more enlightened when prime ministers and treasurers, from Whitlam's time onward, began to place academic economists within their private offices. In Whitlam's case his administration was replete with academic economists. One of them, ANU economist Fred Gruen, infamously advised for the 25 per cent tariff cut of 1973 as an anti-inflationary measure. Another ANU economist Sir John Crawford drew up the blueprint for what would become the Industries Assistance Commission, now known as the Productivity Commission. Such was the number of university economists recruited by the Whitlam government that one university economist joked that there could be a study on "The economic consequences of economists". In the 1980s the ANU again offered academic wisdom with Ross Garnaut and Peter Drysdale offering strong leads on promoting engagement with Asia. Bruce Chapman designed a viable way of funding universities and opening up pathways for more young people. Bob Gregory told Australians about how mineral resource booms would stretch, distort but ultimately benefit the economy.
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Speaking of power, we need a lightbulb moment

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 5, 2017

Judith Sloan

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but, hey, vinyl is back in fashion. I’m surely not alone in being concerned about the crisis in our electricity industry and the implications of higher prices and lower reliability.
The fact that Malcolm Turnbull and Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg think that bullying the retailers as well as shouting about Snowy 2.0 will sort out the problems tells us everything we need to know.
Just think about retailers for a moment. The government is forcing additional costs on them, which will be recouped, to make sure that some customers get a better deal. But the flip side of this outcome is that other customers will get a worse deal.
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The most arrogant people in Australia are business people and we're sick of them

Ross Gittins
Published: September 5 2017 - 11:52AM
How the worm – and the world – turns. When the Abbott government came to power just four years ago, it claimed its arrival signalled the "end of the age of entitlement". Don't laugh, it's happening – but in the opposite way to what treasurer Joe Hockey had in mind.
As Hockey saw it, the sense of entitlement we'd acquired, but which could no long be afforded, applied to the social needs of individuals and families.
We saw the results of this attitude in Tony Abbott and Hockey's first budget of 2014, which got an enormous thumbs-down from the public and the Senate, so that pretty much all that remains of the attack on unwarranted entitlement is the unending crusade by the government's Don Quixote, Christian Porter, and his loyal Sancho, Alan Tudge, to root out the last welfare cheat.
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Peter Dutton's Australian citizenship crackdown doomed after key senators pull support

Michael Koziol
Published: September 5 2017 - 2:45PM
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's controversial crackdown on Australian citizenship appears doomed, with the crucial Nick Xenophon Team declaring it won't support the plan as it stands.
The proposal, which passed the lower house, would introduce a four-year waiting period for permanent residents, tough English language requirements and a test on Australian "values".
But the changes are set to be blocked in the Senate by Labor, the Greens and now the NXT, which confirmed its position to Fairfax Media on Tuesday.
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  • Updated Sep 5 2017 at 7:46 PM

RBA governor Philip Lowe says low wages no 'permanent state of affairs'

Rates on hold for September
Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe is expressing growing confidence that a strengthening economy will deliver widespread wage gains to households but warned the process was likely to take some time before it stoked inflation and higher official interest rates.
The governor's remarks - which also noted that Australia's banks are now "comfortably within" limits imposed by regulators on lending, and rang a fresh note of caution about China - followed the Reserve Bank's decision on Tuesday to keep the benchmark rate at 1.5 per cent for a 12th straight meeting.
A growing sense of optimism from Dr Lowe that economic growth will eventually bring relief to debt-laden households comes as economists upgraded their forecasts for Wednesday's national accounts.
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The economy is picking up, and wages are about to climb: RBA governor Philip Lowe

Peter Martin, James Massola
Published: September 5 2017 - 7:30PM
The Reserve Bank believes the Australian economy is picking up and that faster wage growth and higher interest rates won't be too far behind.
Speaking at a community dinner in Brisbane after the RBA voted to keep its cash rate on hold for the thirteenth successive month, governor Philip Lowe said the board had been patient and not sought to "overly engineer or fine tune" an economic recovery.
In recent months employment had picked up, the unemployment rate had begun to fall and the investment outlook had brightened.
Even so, it would be "some time before we are at what could be considered full employment," he said.
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Commission of Audit boss creating new blueprint of tax, energy and federal reform for Turnbull

5 September 2017 - 12:01am
By James Massola
The architect of Tony Abbott's controversial Commission of Audit has teamed up with a Liberal-leaning think tank to create a "blueprint for good government" for Malcolm Turnbull ahead of the next election.
But more than three years after his 2014 audit, which sank like a stone politically and helped to take the 2014 budget with it, Tony Shepherd is promising practical solutions that will set out the economic challenges facing Australia and outline policy solutions.
Mr Shepherd and the Menzies Research Centre will release five reform papers by the end of the first quarter of 2018, examining key challenges facing the economy; energy and infrastructure; pressures on state and federal budgets; innovation; and trade and investment.
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Electricity crisis: AGL boss rebukes Turnbull government plan to keep coal power stations operating for longer

James Massola
Published: September 6 2017 - 9:14AM
Australia's largest electricity generator has strongly dismissed a new push by the Turnbull government to make the country's coal-fired power stations run for years longer than originally planned.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the prosect in Parliament – and in a phone call to AGL chief executive Andy Vesey – after a new report from the nation's energy regulator warned urgent action was needed to stop homes and businesses losing power during extreme summer heat.
Mr Turnbull has revealed that the government wants NSW's 46-year-old Liddell plant to remain operating for "at least" another five years beyond its scheduled 2022 closure.
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A ‘broken property market’: Bank of Mum and Dad funding a third of first-homes

Jennifer Duke
One in three first-home buyers are getting financial assistance from their parents to help them get on the property ladder, new research shows. But experts warn this could be fuelling inequality in the housing market and making property prices even more unaffordable.
First-home buyers are increasingly tapping into the bank of Mum and Dad, with 29 per cent being provided help from their family in the form of cash hand outs, rent-free accommodation and guarantor loans, a survey by comparison website Mozo found.
On average, a first-home buyer borrowed more than $64,000 — and 67 per cent of parents were not expecting it to be paid back.
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Coal fight casts a pall over Malcolm Turnbull's clean energy reforms

Mark Kenny
Published: September 6 2017 - 12:00AM
Australia's energy grid remains messy, ad hoc, stridently politicised, and subject to an uncertain outlook.
The Turnbull government wants to address this, both for policy reasons, and for reasons more nakedly political.
Its Finkel Review proposed a clean energy target to begin in 2020-21, but the details of that are still to be hammered out with party room recalcitrants. It is part of the answer.
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Australia is stuck in its own Utopia: a lot of irrelevant hustle but no progress

Nicholas Stuart
Published: September 6 2017 - 12:15AM
Tonight marks, regrettably, the final episode of the ABC comedy Utopia. Fans of the series will need to go back to watching the nightly news for their laughs.
An obvious but incredibly resonant idea transforms the plots from simply entertainment into fly-on-the-wall-style documentaries. Each episode follows particular projects pursued by the (fictional) Nation Building Authority. We watch, transfixed, as each good idea is warped into something unrecognisable as sectional interests shape it to fit their own ends. Politicians, interest groups and bureaucratic pressures push until they've transformed the project into a self-serving undertaking, divorced from its original conception.
Unfortunately, it's this simple conceit that gives the series resonance and power. The reason is that we immediately recognise what's happening. It's never possible to finger one player and attribute blame to them; it's the interplay between all the actors and pressures coming from outside the authority that result in its emasculation.
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The cashless welfare card may not be quite the success it seems

Peter Martin
Published: September 7 2017 - 9:44AM
Drug testing is just the start. If you were going to make life much more difficult for people on welfare you'd want to be sure there was a point. You'd want to trial the indignities, you'd want to know they helped.
The so-called cashless welfare card has been tried before. It was called the Basics Card during the Northern Territory intervention. Back then 50 per cent to 70 per cent of each payment was quarantined and put on a card. It could be only be used at certain retailers and it couldn't be used for cigarettes, alcohol, pornography or gambling, or to obtain cash.
A searing government-commissioned evaluation of the $410 million program could not find "any substantive evidence of the program having significant changes relative to its key policy objectives, including changing people's behaviours".
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Scott Morrison’s better days ahead need to include better wages growth

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 7, 2017

David Uren

 “Better days ahead” was the slogan chosen by Scott Morrison for this year’s budget and the latest national accounts deliver some support for the claim. Business ­investment is rising again after four years of decline and state ­governments are cranking up spending on ­infrastructure, just as the IMF says they should. Resource exports are strong as giant LNG plants ramp up production, and the tourism and education ­industries are adding to growth.
But there is little progress on the measure that matters most politically: household incomes. Total disposable income over the past financial year was only 2.5 per cent ahead of 2015-16, the weakest result since the 1991 recession. The national accounts measure of ­average non-farm wages was 0.3 per cent lower in the June quarter than a year earlier. Output per person showed reasonable growth in the latest quarter, but income per person is at a standstill.
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  • Updated Sep 8 2017 at 12:00 AM

Who in Australian politics is left to defend free markets?

by The Australian Financial Review
Scott Morrison grasped at the economy's 0.8 per cent expansion in the June quarter to proclaim the national accounts a "strong set of figures". But, while the fourth quarter advance caps an impressive 26 financial years of unbroken economic growth, the picture remains sub-par. As The Australian Financial Review highlighted last week, non-mining business investment may finally be on the up following the end of our biggest ever resource development boom. The "real" economy – the volume of goods and services produced – may be accelerating from sub-2 per cent to more than 3 per cent growth as the Treasurer's budget forecasts suggest. But this comes from the deepest slump in non-mining investment in 50 years. And, this "real" economic recovery is struggling to break through the continuing weakness in Australia's nominal income. Without the gift of booming commodity prices, globalising supply chains are eating away at our bloated cost base. That leaves labour productivity growing 40 per cent less than what is needed to drive the prosperity gains of the past generation. Throw in an energy price shock, and business has little capacity to cough up the pay rises that would fuel household spending that even the Reserve Bank is calling for.
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Health Budget Issues.

'Woefully unprepared': Doctors sound alarm on flu as government plans new vaccine push

Adam Gartrell
Published: September 3 2017 - 3:22PM
Australia is woefully unprepared for the next pandemic flu, with doctors hoping this winter's deadly outbreak will serve as a wake-up call for people too lazy to get vaccinated.
Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon has expressed frustration that take-up rates for flu vaccines remain stubbornly low, warning it could end in disaster.
"Australia is woefully unprepared for the next pandemic flu," he told Fairfax Media.
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Health insurers blamed for rising healthcare costs

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 4, 2017

Sarah-Jane Tasker

Australians blame health insurers for rising costs in the nation’s healthcare system, new consumer research reveals, but an industry expert argues specialists and hospitals are fuelling rocketing costs, leaving insurers to pick up the tab.
A survey of 1535 people commissioned by health insurance giant Bupa revealed that Australians had identified addressing rising costs as the single most important factor for improving the healthcare system.
Dwayne Crombie, Bupa’s Australian health insurance boss, said the research presented the industry with an interesting conundrum because while people held insurers most accountable for costs, it was medical specialists and hospitals that set the fees, while insurers and governments were left to pick up the tab.
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Don't just lift the Medicare levy, remove the loopholes: ACOSS

Peter Martin
Published: September 3 2017 - 7:10PM
Australia's Medicare levy is riddled with loopholes and should climb with income, as do tax rates, according to a Council of Social Service position paper to be released as the Senate decides whether or not to boost the levy to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The government wants to raise the levy from 2 per cent of income to 2.5 per cent to help fund both the NDIS and a "Medicare Guarantee" to better pay for Medicare.
Labor has agreed to raising the rate, but only for the one-fifth of Australians earning more than $87,000. In addition it would reintroduce the so-called deficit repair levy on very high earners on more than $180,000.
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Young, healthy and demanding blood tests: The Americanisation of Aussie patients

Dr Elizabeth Oliver
Published: September 4 2017 - 12:05AM
I remember a great scene from the TV series House. A woman suffering a mysterious seizure disorder presents to Dr House and says: "I wonder if you could run a complete blood count?" As though running the most basic blood test hadn't yet been thought of by anyone and as if ordering a test was the best use of television's greatest investigative medical genius.
Fictional American TV doctors are uncomfortable with uncertainty. They like to label things, and then they like to do something about them. The use of time as a diagnostic aid is unheard of, as is talking, or examining the patient. The delicate art of watch-and-wait is just not done. People are wheeled into the emergency room via a full body MRI scan while the health insurance industry looks on in glee.
As a doctor and consumer of noughties American medi-drama, I've noticed a shift in this direction among Australian healthcare consumers. Our Americanisation is extending to how we view our health, and how we want our doctors to view it – which appears to be through the eyepiece of a microscope. Or rather, via a computer looking through the eyepiece of a microscope. 
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Diabetes poses growing challenge in Australia

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 8, 2017

Sean Parnell

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia and the three types of diabetes — type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes — are all increasing.
The most common, type 2, is the fastest increasing, associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors (especially obesity) and strong genetic and family-related risk factors. Often, people with type 2 diabetes show no symptoms, and without regular health checks it does more damage.
This is a condition that can lead to more serious problems such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks and stroke. In 2011, according to statistics released this year, it was estimated that about 730,000 Australians had diagnosed diabetes.
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Thousands of Australians have excessive need for codeine

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 9, 2017

Sean Parnell

Tens of thousands of Australians have been identified as having a seemingly excessive or worrying need for over-the-counter ­codeine tablets, ahead of a move to script-only supply in February.
Almost 18 months after the rollout of the MedsASSIST monitoring system, 72 per cent of pharmacies, or more than 4000 sites, are now recording transactions and more than 8.9 million transactions have been recorded.
The Weekend Australian has learned about 2 per cent of transactions have been marked as a “non-supply” and 1 per cent as a “safety sale” — 267,000 instances where pharmacists have identified potential dependence issues and raised it with the customer.
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International Issues.

North Korea has carried out its sixth nuclear test, South Korea and Japan say

Nick O'Malley, Adam Gartrell
Published: September 3 2017 - 4:45PM
North Korea is believed to have carried out another nuclear test just hours after claiming to have developed a hydrogen bomb, in an extraordinary show of defiance by leader Kim Jong-un against US President Donald Trump.
A seismic tremor, which was measured to have a magnitude of 6.3, was detected at 12.36pm Seoul time and was described by the US Geological Survey as a "possible explosion, located near the site where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the past".
ANU international security professor John Blaxland said if the blast was confirmed to be a hydrogen bomb it would represent a "quantum leap" in North Korea's lethal potential.
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North Korea's nuclear ambitions are not unstoppable

Dr Peter Layton
Published: September 3 2017 - 3:00PM
North Korea has the initiative. It is flying rockets over Japan, it claims to have mounted a hydrogen bomb on to an inter-continental ballistic missile and it may have conducted a sixth nuclear test.
It seems little can be done. Diplomacy, economic sanctions and military threats have proved ineffective. We may just have to learn to live with a nuclear-armed Korea. Or so many commentators would have us believe. But there are some options that might impose penalties that could have an effect on North Korea and its long-term ally and protector, China.
They will only change their deliberately chosen path if the cost of continuing towards building a long-range nuclear-tipped rocket force exceeds the benefits. First, during the Cold War, the US shared thermonuclear weapons with Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. The logic was to give Europe a means to defend itself when technological developments meant the American homeland became within range of Soviet long-range missiles.
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  • Sep 3 2017 at 11:45 PM

The West is sleepwalking to war with North Korea

by Roger Bradbury, Chris Barrie, Dmitry Brizhinev
The period from 1890 to 1914 saw numerous occasions on which various nations, large and small, faced off against each other over issues that made war a credible prospect. Over time, according to eminent historians such as Margaret MacMillan and Christopher Clark, a resort to war to solve contentious problems became an accepted means of managing international relations. And this attitude became one of the accepted reasons why we accuse leaders of that day of sleepwalking into the Great War.
Today, as North Korea claims it has a nuclear-warhead capable intercontinental ballistic missile, we see two megalomaniac leaders, one in North Korea and the other in the US, ratcheting up the threatening dialogue about each other and even pointing towards the much higher and unacceptable likelihood of nuclear war. Most analysts do not seem too concerned about this heightened rhetoric. Yet we cannot be confident, in the midst of such sabre rattling, about the outcomes of any miscalculation, misadventure, or poorly judged provocation. Both leaders seem to have tin ears.
In June, Jim Clapper, the recently retired US Director of National Intelligence, spoke at the Australian National University. He made his view clear when he said "there are no acceptable military solutions to the problem of North Korea". It seems that Washington is not listening to his sage advice, or maybe it is playing an extraordinary game of bluff for the highest of stakes. Each side is trying to rhetorically out-do the other.
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North Korea says it has a hydrogen bomb: here's what that means

Chris Buckley
Published: September 4 2017 - 10:29AM
Hong Kong: North Korea claimed that a nuclear blast on Sunday was a big advance from its previous five tests because it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb. But some experts suspect the North may have tested a "boosted" atomic bomb.
How are a hydrogen bomb and a regular atomic bomb different? And why would that matter to the United States and its allies? Here's what the experts say.
How do nuclear weapons work?
Nuclear weapons trigger an explosive reaction that shears off destructive energy locked inside the bomb's atomic materials.
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  • Sep 3 2017 at 8:00 PM

For China, North Korea's nuclear test must surely be a red line

North Korea has conducted its sixth nuclear test
China has always been careful about drawing red lines when it comes to North Korea, but last week it went very close to doing this.
In an effort to defuse calls for tougher sanctions after Pyongyang flew a ballistic missile over Japan, Chinese diplomats at the United Nations indicated further action would only be warranted if the North conducted a nuclear test.
This must surely constitute a red line for Beijing.
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Donald Trump's confusing talk and loose language on North Korean nuclear test

Paul McGeough
Published: September 4 2017 - 4:57PM
Washington: Americans and the world are still getting to know Donald Trump. But they've seen enough of the president to know he'll find it troubling that the optics of the North Korea nuclear crisis are not goodfor a self-declared "counterpuncher".
Trump likes to be seen walking the walk. But the reality here is that he's just talking the talk. There's a risk for all in how he might feel a sudden need to be seen to be walking, instead of just talking.
It's the unpredictable Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang who keeps doing stuff, and Trump and his administration, for now at least, just keep talking, confusing observers with conflicting messages and loose language.
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Nikki Haley tells UN North Korea is `begging for war,' demands new sanctions

Published: September 5 2017 - 1:34AM
The United States on Monday said countries trading with North Korea were aiding its "dangerous nuclear intentions" as the United Nations Security Council mulled tough new sanctions and the isolated regime showed signs of planning more missile tests.
South Korea said it was talking to Washington about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula following the North's sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump agreed in a telephone call to scrap a warhead weight limit on South Korea's missiles, South Korea's presidential office said, enabling it to strike North Korea with greater force in the event of a military conflict.
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After decades of peace, Japan wrestles with the day they hoped would never come

David Wroe
Published: September 5 2017 - 8:02AM
Tokyo: Japan's "J Alert" system was activated in the early hours of last Tuesday, popping up messages on mobile phones across the country.
Takashi Fuyumuro, a 52-year-old Tokyo taxi driver, read the message still half-asleep. It said North Korea had fired a missile towards Japan, though not where it was actually headed.
"I was wondering which part of the country," he said.
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Donald Trump dives to new depth of foolishness in Korean crisis

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 5, 2017

Greg Sheridan

The situation is never so desperate that it can’t get worse. Two ominous developments in the Korean crisis bear this out.
First, reports from South Korea say North Korea is planning another test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Each test brings the day closer when Pyongyang can deliver nuclear weapons to any part of the world. Given it now appears to possess hydrogen-bomb technology, this situation could not be more dangerous.
At the same time, US President Donald Trump’s insane ­attacks on South Korea are feeding into the problem.
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  • Sep 5 2017 at 10:31 AM

Miscalculation could lead to a Korean war

by Gideon Rachman
The great wars of the 20th century were often preceded by a catastrophic miscalculation. The Germans failed to anticipate that Britain would fight over Belgium in 1914.
Stalin failed to anticipate Hitler's invasion of Russia. Japan and America repeatedly misunderstood each other's motives and reactions in the run-up to Pearl Harbor. In 1950, the US failed to anticipate that China would enter the Korean war.
A similar threat - that miscalculation could lead to war - hangs over the Korean peninsula today. The two key leaders, Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Donald Trump of the US, are unpredictable. The dangers that they will miscalculate each other's actions, with catastrophic consequences, are real.
North Korea is such a closed society that even academic specialists struggle to interpret its behaviour. The mainstream view is that Mr Kim's pursuit of advanced nuclear weapons is motivated by a search for security.
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Chances of second Korean War between 20 and 25 per cent

Kevin Rudd
Published: September 6 2017 - 8:19AM
Having followed closely the events on the Korean Peninsula for the better part of 35 years, I believe the prospect of a second Korean War remains highly unlikely.
The reality is that it has now become an increasing possibility, but not a probability. Until recently most analysts would have regarded the prospect of a renewed conflict on the Korean Peninsula as a 5 per cent possibility. But because of a range of new factors, that possibility has now increased to between 20 and 25 per cent.
This reassessment has been driven by key advances in North Korea's capabilities – and the policy responses to these advances on the part of the US, China and the North Koreans themselves.
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Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump discuss North Korea in 'warm' phone call

Fergus Hunter
Published: September 6 2017 - 9:51AM
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and United States President Donald Trump have talked for half an hour in a phone call described as "warm and constructive", and dominated by the ongoing crisis surrounding North Korea's growing nuclear weapons capability.
The US leader has been in discussions with key allies in recent days as the world considers further sanctions against Kim Jong-un's regime after it conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test to date on Sunday. The detonation followed a series of missile tests that have rapidly raised tensions in the region.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said this week the North Korean leader was "begging for war", while Russia has resisted moves for further sanctions, calling them "a little premature". North Korea has warned it is ready to send "more gift packages" to the US.
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Kim Jong-un's North Korea nuclear test mountain may collapse, let out 'many bad things'

Kirsty Needham
Published: September 6 2017 - 6:45AM
 Beijing: North Korea has conducted all of its underground nuclear tests beneath one mountain, Chinese scientists believe, prompting one to express concern the mountain may collapse, causing an environmental disaster.
"We call it taking the roof off," the China Institute of Atomic Energy's Wang Naiyan told the South China Morning Post.
"If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things."
Chinese media reaction to the sixth nuclear test has been muted, social media comments censored, and the focus placed on the Chinese government's efforts to ensure the safety of its population through environmental monitoring for radiation leaks. China says no leaks have been found.
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Novice President Trump out of his depth

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 6, 2017

Paul Kelly

Every sign is that Donald Trump is being outmuscled and outfoxed by North Korea’s murderous dictator Kim Jong-un, who calls Trump’s bluffs, exploits the President’s follies to entrench his power and, unlike Trump, follows a ruthless, long-run strategy.
Trump seems out of his depth. His naivety about China is astonishing, his tweeting without any strategy diminishes the presidency. By threatening military action devoid of any viable military option, Trump only escalates the standing of Kim. The upshot is Kim’s hold on power is strengthened while Trump looks weaker, a high-risk political chemistry.
Trump’s frustrations are obvious and raise the fear he might be tempted into a pre-emptive military assault with catastrophic consequences for the Korean penin­sula and for the US itself.
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  • Sep 7 2017 at 10:01 AM

How Hurricane Harvey and Irma will cause the Fed - and Washington - to change tack

The devastation caused by two of the powerful hurricanes in recent history - Harvey and Irma - will force the US central bank to abandon plans to raise interest rates again this year, while Washington will have little choice but to accept a burgeoning US budget deficit.
Analysts point out that political relations in Washington are already being roiled by the massive storms. Overnight US President Donald Trump struck a stopgap deal with Democrats to increase the US debt limit and finance the US government until mid-December. But the agreement further soured Trump's relations with his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who had been pushing for a longer hike in the debt ceiling.
In the end, the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put on a brave face, saying that Trump's deal reflected a need for unity at a time of "genuine national crisis", after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and as the potentially catastrophic Hurricane Irma barrels towards Florida.
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If Trump gets his way, expect a 'perfect dollar storm' to rip through global markets

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Published: September 7 2017 - 10:21AM
Donald Trump's appetite is whetted. He knows that American companies have stashed trillions of dollars overseas in the greatest cash reserve in the world.
Apple has $US257 billion ($333 billion) parked abroad beyond the reach of the US tax office, the Internal Revenue Service. Google's parent company Alphabet has $US126 billlion, Microsoft $US84 billion and Cisco $US68 billion. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that total retained earnings outside the country have mushroomed to $US4 trillion.
The president is determined to lay his hands on this money, or at least to divert it back into the US economy. The latest briefings from Washington suggest that the White House is preparing "mandatory" action as part of his tax reform, unlike the previous voluntary attempts to lure back money through tax holidays.
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Korean nuclear crisis: tell Kim Jong-un we mean business

  • Paul Dibb
  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM September 7, 2017
There is a lot of excitable commentary of late proclaiming that Australia is a North Korean nuclear target and that we should urgently acquire ballistic missile defence for our major cities.
It is more likely that Pyongyang’s priority nuclear targets are US military bases in the region, as well as South Korea and Japan. As for ballistic missile defence, there is not a system that will reliably give us protection against an intercontinental nuclear warhead coming in at ­27,000km/h.
Existing missile defence systems are much more potent in proximity to North Korea when an intercontinental ballistic missile is at its most vulnerable during the launch phase. One of our air warfare destroyers loitering off Darwin has no military relevance in this regard.
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  • Updated Sep 7 2017 at 10:18 AM

Trump is like Captain Ahab on a never-ending hunt to harpoon Obama's legacy

by Edward Luce
If you work hard and play by the rules, you will move up. That is the gist of the American dream. In Donald Trump's view, however, hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers" who arrived as undocumented children were breaking the rules. Roughly two-thirds of Americans disagree, including virtually every business leader of note and many leading Republicans. If Congress fails to protect the Dreamers, President Trump can blame them. The buck never stops at Mr Trump's desk.
He has given Capitol Hill six months to agree on what it has been unable to do in more than 30 years: pass an immigration reform bill. After that, most Dreamers will be at fate's mercy. The odds that this Congress, which has had the least productive first eight months of any in US history, will do so are slim. No big reform is likely without White House support. In theory, Mr Trump is neutral on whether it should legalise the Dreamers, or kick them out of the country. In reality he is in favour of deportation. He just wants others to press the eject button.
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Donald Trump: the swamp rises to deliver 'the art of the steal'

Paul McGeough
Published: September 8 2017 - 1:45PM
Washington: The full impact is still being absorbed, but Donald Trump's ritual humiliation of GOP Congressional leaders along with one of his own Cabinet team at a White House meeting on Wednesday marks a dramatic turn in the tumult of American politics.
In siding with "Chuck and Nancy," as the president referred to Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, Trump threw Republicans under the proverbial bus. It was a political maneuver that assures the Democrats a seat at Washington's top table at the same time as it crimps the power of hardline Republicans.
GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell reportedly seethed throughout Wednesday's meeting and left perplexed, even stunned. House Speaker Paul Ryan is said to be furious. Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin was described as "chastened, shell-shocked." A senior Republican official told the well-connected Axios website: "[Trump] f----d us."
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How does the world deal with a new nuclear power?

Kirsty Needham, David Wroe, Nick O'Malley
Published: September 9 2017 - 12:15AM
The Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's last redoubt was a ditch by a drainpipe. According to the most reliable accounts he was tormented with a bayonet before he was shot dead. Later they put his body on display in an industrial freezer.
The Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was hauled out of a hole in the ground before a trial and a botched hanging that was captured on a jerky phone video. They buried him not far from his two sons, though the tomb has since been destroyed.
These acts of intimate violence, so redolent of our post-September 11 world, left a mark upon the impressionable young dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.
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'Pay a dear price': North Korea threatens US over ambassador's 'hysteric fit' at UN

Margaret Talev, Jennifer Epstein and David Tweed
Published: September 9 2017 - 11:34AM
North Korea said the United States will "pay dearly" after its United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley said the isolated nation was "begging for war," again ratcheting up tensions as world leaders consider a fresh round of sanctions.
Describing Haley's comments to the UN this week as a "hysteric fit", a commentary in the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Friday warned the US of unspecified retribution. North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb on Sunday, and South Korea has said Kim Jong-un's regime may be planning to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday.
"The US administration will have to pay a dear price for her tongue-lashing," KCNA said of Haley's remarks.
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Japanese defence figures: US prepared to use military action against North Korea

David Wroe
Published: September 8 2017 - 11:45PM
Japan: The United States of America has "a strong determination" to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis using military action if necessary, one of Japan's most senior defence figures has said.
In saying so, former defence minister Satoshi Morimoto has brushed aside widespread expert views that the rogue regime will drift into becoming a full nuclear power because there is no plausible way to stop them. The remarks also reflect a powerful strain of thought in Japan that the situation cannot be allowed to limp along until Kim Jong-un gets what he wants.
The former defence minister told Fairfax Media the next few weeks will be a crucial period of high tension and brinkmanship on the peninsula.
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I look forward to comments on all this!
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David.

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