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Melbourne protests fizzle on fourth day
Protestors did not gather in Melbourne’s CBD today, with police patrols returning in numbers to protect vaccination centres, following abuse directed at health workers in previous days
Community organisation cohealth was forced to temporarily close its vaccination centre in Melbourne’s Town Hall, after health workers were reportedly spat on and abused yesterday.
cohealth chief executive Nicole Batholomeusz said staff had been physically and verbally abused in the city during the protest, and that they had been “targeted because they were wearing their cohealth identification”.
“We have instructed all staff not to wear their cohealth uniforms, lanyards or scrubs in the city, to avoid being targeted.
Premier Daniel Andrews condemned the actions of protestors who targeted health workers, and said he expected Victoria Police to identify and “deal with” those responsible for the abuse.
Police arrested more than 200 people at the Shrine of Remembrance yesterday, after a stand-off between officers and protestors lasted several hours
Protestors were mostly given infringement notices, with some charged with more serious offences for using flares and throwing objects.
Two police officers were struck in the head with bottles, while another officer was admitted to hospital with chest pains.
The demonstrations were originally planned to protest against new regulations that saw the entire construction industry shut down and tradespeople forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to return to work.
But the state’s Deputy Commissioner says it is difficult to determine what demographics the protestors were from with speculation some may have been right-wing extremists.
It comes as Premier Daniel Andrews says many of the individuals who attended the demonstrations are an insult to the majority of tradies across Victoria.
Meanwhile, Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young believes Australians should be on high alert.
Air-traffic to resume over Melbourne CBD following flight ban
Meanwhile, media organisations in Melbourne have successfully challenged the flight ban over the CBD which would have banned live broadcast of the protest this week.
Nine Network, owner of The Age, Seven and the ABC were granted a stay by the Federal Court, which means live coverage can now resume until the case progresses.
Restrictions were placed on air-traffic by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority at the request of Victoria Police, after concerns were raised that protestors were watching aerial live streams to monitor police operations.
The case will now proceed to a trial.
Debt limit fight in Washington: will the U.S. default on June 1?
It’s déjà vu all over again. Today Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the United States will be unable to pay its bills on June 1 – unless the debt limit is raised. Now.
It feels like the Washington summer of 2011. Debt limit politics were hurtling Congress and the White House towards a default for the first time in its history. On August 5 of that summer, Standard & Poor’s, surveying a battlefield of stalemate and brinkmanship, lowered the credit rating of the United States. It cost US taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in higher interest rate payments. S&P said:
That was then.
American policymaking and political institutions are significantly weaker today.
The debt limit – the number of dollars the overall national debt can reach – is set by Congress by statute.
The amount of debt reflects the money Congress has voted to spend and the tax revenues that are collected.
In Washington, when Congress refuses to increase the debt limit, it means Congress is refusing to pay for the expenditures it has required the government to spend. Raising the debt limit means authorising a higher level of national debt to cover spending that has already happened.
The debt limit is like your credit card: each month, you have to pay back the money you have spent – or you go into default.
The politics of the debt limit are invidious. For three decades, Republicans have played “gotcha”: with the debt limit – especially when Democratic presidents are in the White House.
Why play “gotcha”? To go after those wild-spending, reckless radical Democrats with their out-of-control programs that add to the deficit and bankrupts the country. To get an edge in the next election for control of the House and the Senate.
It does not matter that the currency of debt-limit-gotcha politics is counterfeit – nothing to lose in making the attack.
In 2011, the Republicans demanded, with the debt limit approaching $14.3 trillion, President Obama accept $2 trillion in spending cuts – cuts that would reach deep into Medicare and a host of other domestic programs – in exchange for $800 billion in new revenues.
It was a searing confrontation. On August 1, Vice President Joe Biden met with the House Democrats to discuss what was an unholy mess. (I was in the room, and this is recounted in my book with Bryan Marshall, The Committee). That day, Biden said:
Those “far out guy” numbers among the Republicans in this Congress have doubled.
Last week, with Joe Biden as president, House Republicans voted to raise the debt limit – provided Biden accept their cuts of $4.8 trillion in everything from health care to education to child nutrition to clean energy, and much more.
Joe Biden remembers all the lessons from the closest of calls with default 12 years ago. Those “far out guys” are now the Trump MAGA Republicans with their slash-and-burn agenda and priorities. Biden hated being muscled by them then and he has no intention of surrendering to them now and allowing them to “decimate the social structure” of the United States.
Biden also knows what the Republicans did when Trump was president. Those same Republicans increased the debt limit 3 times, by $7.8 trillion – with no government spending cuts and huge tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthiest Americans.
Biden is asking the Republicans simply to do what they did for Trump 3 times. They have refused. They were not shocked by the Trump deficits, but the Biden deficits are a catastrophe.
Biden is done playing this game.
This is why he says he is happy to discuss government taxes and spending until the cows come home – but that raising the debt limit is “not negotiable.”
The current debt limit impasse is more dangerous than the 2011 crisis, for three reasons:
- Republican Speaker McCarthy has told colleagues that the spending cuts passed by the House – by a 1-vote margin – was not a “ceiling” but a “floor” on spending cuts. In other words, he has no intention of retreating from those cuts. He cannot give them up. As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said:
“He’s (McCarthy) stuck. How is he going to negotiate when he’s promised everyone he’s not going to change the bill? … His passing a bill was a step backward and brought us closer to default.”
- A default by the United States is likely to plunge the economy into a recession that will last well into next year. While Republicans will get the blame for starting it, President Biden will get the blame for not ending it – just as he faces the voters for re-election in 2024.
- There are no guardrails on how radical the Republican mood is. As Norman Ornstein, a leading US political scientist, advised last week:
“Far more than in 2011, a hard core of hard-core extremists in the House would be fine with a default. For many, blowing up government would make the price of economic chaos worth it; for others, the likelihood that a default would be blamed more on the president makes it a tempting ploy.”
President Biden is not going to dismantle his legislative achievements to capitulate to Republican demands to cut spending and cripple his presidency when they rewarded Donald Trump’s uncontrolled fiscal binges.
This crisis is much harder. Democrats will not give in to the Republicans taking the debt limit hostage and using it to harm the livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans. In the House, McCarthy dare not cut a deal with Biden that fails to get a majority of his caucus to support it. And even if he does reach a deal with Biden, the Republicans in his caucus may well move to oust him. In the Senate, any deal with Biden has to get the support of no less than 10 Republican votes. Those votes do not exist today.
The alchemy to solve this problem – substantively or procedurally – has not been invented yet.
This calculus means that default is more likely now than at any time in American history. More likely now than when Biden faced this crisis and spoke to the Democrats 12 years ago.
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Treason charges for Windsor Castle intruder
An intruder who carried a crossbow into the grounds of Windsor Castle on Christmas Day 2021 has been charged under the UK’s Treason Act
20 year old Jaswant Singh Chail was charged under the 1842 Treason Act.
He is accused of ‘wilfully producing a loaded crossbow with intent’ to harm the Queen.
Police say he was stopped within moments of entering the grounds of Windsor Castle on Christmas morning 2021, and did not enter any buildings.
The Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle that Christmas, instead of her usual Christmas stay at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.
Under the Treason Act of 1842, people are prohibited from “discharging or aiming firearms, or throwing or using any offensive matter or weapon, with the intent to injure or alarm her Majesty”.
Mr Chail will appear before Westminster Magistrate’s Court on August 17.
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Officer dubbed a ‘hero’ after killing Texas school shooter
18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos was reportedly shot and killed at Robb Elementary in Texas by the unidentified policeman
The border patrol agent was reportedly working nearby the area when Ramos opened fire at the school in Uvalde, Texas.
Before the officer stopped him, Ramos murdered 19 students and two teachers while wounding many others on Tuesday.
Without waiting for backup the ‘hero’ policeman allegedly rushed to the scene when the shooting was reported.
Police say the gunman barricaded himself inside a classroom shooting anyone that got in his way.
The officer was allegedly wounded during the confrontation but was able to leave the school without sustaining further harm.
He was reportedly part of an elite tactical unit.
Authorities say Ramos shot his grandmother then drove and crashed his vehicle in a ditch near the school before going on the rampage.
Tuesday’s massacre was America’s worst elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012.
VictimsFirst network has pledged to donate the Texas Elementary School Shooting Victims Fund directly to the victims’ families, “with no strings attached.”
Danaya Malenda contributed to this report.
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